Oct 30

The five commandments of the underhook half guard

In Jiu-jitsu, there is a hierarchy of positions and everything is interconnected. It all forms a complex web with many different paths to any destination. Within that system of multiple possibilities, there is the half guard.

It is unique.

Half is the one position where you can get anywhere else within one or two steps. No matter where you are, there is always a path back to the half or to somewhere else.

That connection is what makes it such a versatile position, but there is also a drawback. The balance of control in half guard is fragile. Small changes in grips or positions can shift control out of your grasp. That fine line is what makes it a tough position to master.

For that reason, I’m going to share some insights I’ve gained from playing the position for several years. These commandments will improve your game:

  1. I will fight to stay on my side.
  2. I will keep my bottom elbow glued to my side.
  3. I will win any battle for the underhook because I won’t stop.
  4. I will make my opponent uncomfortable.
  5. I will control the distance and establish leverage.

I Will Fight to Stay On My Side

Hands down, this is the one thing that you absolutely have to do when playing half. By staying on your side, you will not only make it harder for your opponents to pass but it will also be easier to attack.

Your opponents will try to flatten you out by:

  • Pulling your bottom knee up and moving laterally.
  • Taking the underhook away from you and pulling your bottom elbow out from under you.
  • Gripping your bottom sleeve and opposite collar, so that they can pin the shoulder as they pull up on the sleeve.

Be aware of all those possibilities. We’ll discuss how to deal with them in later commandments.

I Will Keep My Bottom Elbow Glued To My Side

By keeping your elbow glued to your side, you reinforce the arm with the mechanical structure of your body. It will decrease the possibility of your opponent pulling that arm away from you and make it easier for you to stay on your side.

This piece is often overlooked but it pays dividends. Just by doing this one little thing, your half guard will become more fearsome. Also if you pull your elbow as far back as possible and then lay on it, the difficulty of flattening you out will increase.

So as a reminder, keeping your bottom elbow glued to your side will:

  • Make crossface less effective.
  • Make it difficult for your opponent to flatten you out.

Try it and test the results for yourself.

I Will Win Any Battle For The Underhook Because I Won’t Stop

When it comes to any battle for the underhook, you’re at an disadvantage if you’re on the bottom. The reason for that lies in the power of gravity.

It works in their favour and against you.

As your hand attempts to weave into position, you have to lift your upper body, and all they have to do is drop. Then once the battle has been won, you have to work harder to maintain control because gravity won’t help you maintain the ideal distance.

So going in, we know that they don’t have as much at stake as we do. It’s a war of attrition, and we have to be willing to die on that battlefield rather than quit because the cost for us is higher.

I Will Make My Opponent Uncomfortable

You never want your opponent to be comfortable in any situation. That’s true especially for half guard.

To accomplish that, we must establish grips that will give us advantages and create micro movements that force them to react. I’ll give you examples


A common counter to the underhook half guard game is to overhook. In good hands, it can also transform the position and make it really uncomfortable for you on bottom, but we can neutralize it.

Here’s how:

  • Open their gi and pass the far lapel around to your underhook hand then pull your elbow tight.
  • Hug their hip with your underhook hand and pull it tight.

The overhook pressure comes from your opponent moving their hips away and then twisting downward. If you control the hip, you will prevent them from ever getting the necessary leverage.

Micro Movements

The goal is to make them react in small ways so that they can never quite settle. So push them, pull them, bump them with your knee, hook their ankle and pull it away from them.

There are many options.

Our focus is just on doing something. We can’t allow ourselves to be complacent.

I Will Control The Distance And Establish Leverage

The main things that you have to worry about when it comes to distance control is being smashed and protecting your neck. So let’s start with a basic gameplan for addressing those two things:

  • If you’re flat on your back, you must create space.
  • If you’re firmly on your side, you must close the distance.

We never want to be caught in the midrange, where it is easy to pummel for the underhook or choke us. So make a conscious effort to glue your head to your opponent. It will also naturally teach you to shoot your underhook as deep as possible.

For leverage, one thing that will change your game for the better is using your feet as independent limbs. One leg should also focus on pinning your opponent’s trapped leg down, but the other should be free.

It is that leg that will give you a structural advantage when it comes to attacking. All you have to do is use to pull your opponent’s ankle away from them. That will force their hip to twist and weaken the structure of their body, making everything you want to do easier.

The Many Variations Of Half Guard

Several Variations of Half Guard

Underhook Half Guard is the basis of developing a solid half game, but from there, it branches out. You have deep half, kneeshield (93 and Z), half butterfly and several more.

Each have their own unique systems and rule sets.

That’s why only the underhook game was focused on here, but if there’s interest, we can go over the rest down the road.

Depth Over Breadth

This post is focused on giving you a conceptual foundation for underhook half guard. Later posts will expand out from there and approach the topic from the framework of entries, initiation and execution. So if you have any specific frustrations about half guard, feel free to mention them in the comments.

So we can resolve them.

And if you would like to learn my wicked half guard ways in-depth, click the link below to check out the online course.

Oct 28

Must learning be easy in order to be effective

“Expert performance is a product of the quantity and quality of practice, not of genetic predisposition.” Make It Stick

A few months ago, there was a debate on the best training methods for jiu-jitsu, which focused on drilling. For those of us who train, it is an interesting topic of discussion because time is limited, and we desire to maximize the effectiveness of every moment we spend in the gym.

The question is how, and the answer may be counter-intuitive.

There is an assumption that learning must be easy for it to be effective. That just seems right. It’s intuitive, but what if it was dead wrong? What if instead difficulty and challenge are the seeds for massive growth?

The Tale of Two Practices

As an experiment, players from a baseball team were split into two groups, and each were given a different training program.

The first group had a structured practice where they each had to hit 45 pitches, split evenly into three sets of curveballs, fastballs and changeups. By contrast, the batters in the other group were thrown 45 completely random pitches.

What do you think the result of that experiment was over time? Do you think the first group improved at a quicker rate because their practice was more structured?

Yes is the intuitive answer. We expect that if there is structure to your training, you’ll improve faster than someone that is all over the place. That’s why the result of this experiment is interesting.

At the start, the first group had a clear advantage. Their rate of improvement was superior, but over time, the situation reversed. The second group slowly crept up until they were neck and neck then boom they were gone and the first group was left in the dust.

When you step back and think about it, there is logic to the result, and it starts with acknowledging that the programs of each group had different difficulty levels.

The first group had an easier path because they didn’t have to worry about recognizing what type of pitch would be thrown. They knew the structure and order so they only had to focus on hitting the ball. The situation was different for the second group. They had to recognize the pitch and react in time to hit.

The challenge forced them to develop more skills but it required more time for the results to appear. The lesson we can take from that is that the difficulty of practice is what determines the growth potential of what can be achieved.

How the Lesson Applies to Jiu-jitsu

In the long term, it is better to focus on movements, concepts and techniques that challenge us. When you encounter something that doesn’t come easy to you, that’s exactly what you should focus on.

In my own experience, whenever I have made a consistent effort to learn something that I struggled with, it has paid dividends far beyond the time invested in training. The first example I can think of is the granby roll. At the start, I couldn’t do it at all, but I wanted it so I spent time outside of class drilling it, and within two weeks I had it.

That opened the door to every last technique that uses that movement.

Assume That You Can Learn Anything

“I’m just not good at this.”

“How do you know?”

That’s a recent conversation I had with a student. We were going over the simple armbar from closed guard, and he was having trouble with it. He just couldn’t understand how it worked so he made fundamental errors. That’s natural though. Struggling when learning something new is expected.

In fact, it is something that we should embrace.

In this specific situation, it was only his sixth class, so he had so much room to grow but believing that you can’t is the best way to ensure that you won’t.

An Experiment of My Own

Within the next week, I’m going to take video of me attempting to perform all the techniques shown in the video below. Then I’m going to initiate a training program where I’ll drill one of the options for a few minutes either before or after training for a period of a few weeks, and then make another video to see if any progress has been made and how much.

For this experiment, I’ve chosen a position that is far removed from my own game, and we’ll see the result.

Oct 16

How you can maximize your benefit from beyond technique

Many others have already reviewed Beyond Technique, so I won’t follow that well trod path. Instead the focus is on how you can maximize the benefit you receive from watching it. The tips are simple, but I’ll give you examples of how I have followed my own advice. The goal is to make the material in the instructional easier to absorb and hopefully inspire you to be creative.

So let’s start! These are the steps you can take to more effectively benefit from Beyond Technique:

  • Teach the concepts.
  • Find technical applications.
  • Focus on one concept.

Teach the Concepts

“Learning jiu-jitsu is something for the subconscious, not for the consciousness.” – Helio Gracie

Every time you explain a concept in your own words, you learn it at a deeper level. That process increases the probability that you will discover creative applications because it transfers knowledge to the subconscious.

With that in mind, it would be helpful for you to imagine that you are trying to explain each concept to a novice of the art. You should envision yourself as a mentor and ask yourself what is the best method of passing the knowledge on.

Find Technical Applications

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” – Steve Jobs

If you can connect concepts to techniques you already know, it will strengthen your level of understanding in an instant. It will also make the concept easier to remember while also making the technique easier to explain.

There is also a benefit when it comes to learning new technique because if you already know the concept, you already have a foundation that will help you master the rest. So for each concept, find at least one application that is different than what was shown in Beyond Technique.

Focus on One Concept

“From one thing, know ten thousand things.” – Miyamoto Musashi

It is better to specialize than generalize, and if you focus on delving deeper on just one concept, it’s more likely that you will quickly find a creative application of it. So choose one of the twenty concepts discussed in Beyond Technique and find or create at least five applications.

That will start you off on the process of creating your own unique expression of jiu-jitsu.


 How I Would Explain Them

Fundamental Sweep Concepts

  •  The Quadrant – In relation to the space around them, your opponent is like a table. At any time, there are four different areas where they can be potentially swept into. So if you can recognize when one of the legs of the table is weak or knock it from under them, your sweeps will be more successful.
  • Post, Posture and Leverage – You have to create opportunities to sweep when none seem apparent, and you can do that by blocking their ability to post in one direction, breaking their posture, and using leverage to move them into the open space you created.
  • Weight Distribution –  If you know where your center of gravity is at all times, you can predict where you can be swept and counter the attempt early by shifting your center.

Guard Retention and Position Control

  • Collapsing and Inserting Structures – It’s possible to shift the level of resistance that you give an opponent by either creating a wall reinforced by the structural strength of your body or become like water by relaxing and moving in unexpected ways. Those shifts will give you a greater range of options for dealing with the problems that arise during rolls.
  • Double-barrel Shotgun  – The knees form a central component of defense when it comes to prevent guard passes. So if you make an effort to always keep at least one blocking the path to your hips, it will make your guard harder to pass.
  • Border patrol  – Your opponent has a line of defense, or a border, that consist of their feet, knees, elbows and hands. That defense protects the area between their hips and their shoulders, and once you get pass it, control becomes easier.

Fundamental Pass Concept

  • Spinal Torque – The alignment of the spine plays a large role in determining how effective many movements are. When the spine is aligned, a person has the ability to maximize the effectiveness of their bodies, but the inverse is also true. If you force someone’s spine out of alignment, it is minimize their effectiveness. In essence, it is a method of structurally weakening an opponent and tipping the balance of power heavily into your own favor.

Action – Reaction

  • Loading the spring  – If you can force your opponent to react to the wrong stimulus, it creates opportunities for you to do what you truly intend. For example, if you want to pull someone, it is better to push them first. Your action will create a dilemma for them. They can either let you push them around or push back, and if they push back, it will make your pull more effective.
  •  Misdirection – Use your eyes and movement to focus your opponent’s attention on the wrong thing. That will make it easier to do what you really want to do.

Offensive Force Generation

  • The Pendulum  – It’s impossible to increase the speed and force of your movements by using parts of your body as counterweights. Just like a clock that uses a swinging weight to keep time, you can swing your weight in order to cover more distance in a shorter period of time, and that increase in speed will make some of your attacks more effective.

( I completed this process for all of the concepts on Beyond Technique, but I decided to focus on a few. My criteria consisted of concepts that I liked or concepts that could be grouped together because of similarities.)


Technical Examples

Fundamental Sweep Concepts

Let’s look at this technique through the lens of the quadrant and post concepts. What are the specific things Nic does that align with those concepts? Let’s list them.

  • He overhooks the arm to prevent it from posting on one side.
  • He escapes his hips and inserts a butterfly hook to give him leverage.
  • He uses his elbow to break Jake’s posture towards the direction of the sweep.
  • He blocks the leg as he lifts with the butterfly hook to sweep.

In effect, he was able to create an open quadrant by preventing the arm and leg from posting on one side, and then the leverage he created allowed him to take advantage.

Why did he need to block both the arm and leg though? I asked myself that question and I realized something. It is possible to take the idea of your opponent’s body representing a table to a deeper level.

First, you have to imagine that table vividly and see each leg as the arm or leg of a body. If you can do that, imagine that someone to align that table so that its head was facing directly north. Now if one of the legs was chopped out from under it and could no longer serve as support, which way would it fall? Would it be north, west, south or east? I don’t think so. It would fall at a diagonal, right? It would be northwest, northeast, southwest, or southeast.

Two of the legs would have to be taken for it to fall in one of the major four directions. What that means is that Quadrant concept is perhaps a simplification. Instead of four, there are eight possible open areas where your opponent can be swept. Also you can predict it based on where they can post.

For example, if you block an arm (hand and elbow), you can sweep diagonally in that direction. Then If you block both feet, you can sweep them backwards.

The only difficulty beyond blocking their arms or legs lies in creating the leverage to take advantage of it, and their best counter focuses on preventing you from doing exactly that, as evidenced by the weight distribution concept.

Guard Retention and Pass Control

This technique is mainly an example of inserting structures in order to prevent the pass. Ostap does the following things to accomplish that objective:

  • He transitions to reverse de la riva to create a frame with his thigh.
  • He reinforces the structure of that frame with his arm.

He also frames against the shoulder to prevent his partner from getting pass his border. That falls into the conceptual framework of Beyond Technique as well.

Fundamental Pass Concept

This is called the dope mount, and I have been using it for a few years now with success. It’s also one of the best examples of spinal torque that I can think of. Jeff does a great job of teaching it, and he does specific things to take the spine out of alignment:

  • He twists his Ryan’s hips by switching his knee laterally.
  • He underhooks the far arm so that both shoulders are pressed towards the mat.
  • He elevates the near arm, which increases the spinal rotation.

On the bottom, that is a horrible position to be in, and that’s why it’s effective. It allows you to decrease a person’s mechanical ability to move and generate force, and this is the concept that I focused on.

So I’ll expand further on it later.

Action – Reaction

If you can get your opponent to react to the wrong thing, it will make it easier for you to do what you really want to do. These techniques are examples of that.  These are the things I noticed:

  • He sets up the possibility of sweeping to his left by gripping his partner’s right sleeve.
  • He grips the left leg, which will be used for sweep leverage but it also makes the threat of sweeping to his right slightly plausible.
  • He places his left foot on the hip and bridges. That creates a plausible sweep threat to his right.

That threat creates several offensive opportunities because the natural reaction is to use the free hand to base.

Offensive Force Generation

At first, I was going to pull up the pendulum sweep itself because it is one of the best examples of the pendulum movement in action, but this variation is fascinating. So let’s look at it. The pendulum piece is the circular rotation that Max uses to create enough momentum to escape his head out from under his partner.

The swing of his legs made it possible to move where otherwise it would have been difficult. So our task to continue thinking of ways that we can use that motion to improve our techniques.


Conceptual Focus

How many pressure passing depend on taking the spine out of alignment? It’s a lot. It makes sense too because truly good pressure is dependent on body mechanics more than weight, and when you create spinal torque, you weaken the body on a structural level.

That is the reason why I chose to focus on this concept above all the rest, and I’m going to share some of the examples I found while I was doing research. Hopefully you’ll learn something new or you’ll think of even more possible applications.



Other Beyond Technique Observations

When I first heard about this instructional, I liked the idea. You can even say that I was the ideal customer because I value concepts, and I haven’t regretted the decision to buy. Here are the reasons why:

  • It was easier to watch and study than most other instructionals.
  • It has helped me to teach more effectively by increasing the concepts I can draw on for explanations.
  • It gave me a reason to do more targeted research, which has expanded my knowledge.

Now with that said, the best way to look at Beyond Technique is as a tool to inspire your own creativity. That’s also the best way to think about concepts because they give you a framework for innovation. Then it’s up to you to decide how you want to use them, but I’m sure that you will find an unique application.

So Let’s Review

You can maximize your benefit by teaching the concepts, finding applications, and focusing on one. It’s simple, but it will require an investment of time and effort. It’s worth it though because the process will accelerate the upward trajectory of your growth.

Sep 26

Notes from Nic Gregoriades’ seminar at first state bjj

If you desire knowledge, you must seek it out.

That is a simple principle, and I believe it. That’s why I spent over five hours driving to and from Nic’s seminar. I gained some knowledge from that experience, and I’m going to share it with you.

First, I’m going to give you an overview of the class structure. Then, I’ll go into each specific piece and share my observations. After that, I’ share some examples where I’ve started applying movements and concepts elsewhere. As a bonus, I’ll also share my non-technical observations.

(Oh, two notes – I’ve created or changed the names to help me remember. These are my notes, after all. Also thanks to First State BJJ for welcoming me. There are some great people there.)

Class Overview

  • Yoga Warmup
  • Ankle Pick with the Overhand Grip
  • 93/Z/Knee Shield Passes
    • Knee Smash
    • Knee Ply
    • Hip Shift
  • Butterfly Pass
    • Leg Wrap

Yoga Warmup

There were three specific movement flows in the warmup. One was known, but two were new. It is those two that I am going to focus on because I like them, and I’m planning to incorporate them in my classes well.

The first was a walking pigeon flow. In essence, it takes the pigeon and turns it into an active stretch instead of a static one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any videos for it, but I did choose one that just shows the pigeon stretch by itself.

The second was a downward facing dog flow that moved between several standing hip and lower body stretches.

Ankle Pick with the Overhand Grip

  • Possible when your opponent establishes a strong lapel grip first.
  • Grip his sleeve with opposite hand and glue his hand to your chest while reaching over for the over the shoulder power grip with your other hand.
  • Initiate an uchimata attempt by stepping off to the side of your power grip and sweeping your near leg (relative to his body) in to elevate his near leg.
  • Once all of his weight is balanced on one leg, step in with near foot and trap his standing foot behind the ankle as you lower your level for the ankle pick. Use the overhand grip to compromise his posture as your center of gravity drops.

This was relevant to me because I already had this technique with a different gripping initiation. So now I have a new application.

Knee Smash

  • Always try to elevate your trapped knee first to see if his control is loose (Concept in action – control of the knee is a crucial aspect of bottom half).
  • Grip his lapel on your hand on the same side of your trapped leg.
  • Angle your elbow until it makes contact with his top knee as close to the knee as possible (Concept in action – control at the joints).
  • Smash his knees together using your elbow as the hammer and your upper body as the force behind it (Concept in action – the closer your elbow is to your side, the stronger it is).
  • Sprawl heavy and then decide which way you prefer to pass.

This was most interesting to me on the conceptual level.

Knee Ply

  • Shift your body laterally to make easier for you to raise your trapped knee and flatten your opponent out (Concept in action – the angle of the hip dictate the strength of half guard).
  • Establish a lapel grip and bring your elbow inside of his top knee (Concept in action – elbow centric movement can increase the speed and power of grip establishment).
  • Pin the bottom knee with your other hand.
  • Ply the knees apart and knee cut.

The piece that I took from this is the focus on using the elbow first to establish grips in many situations.

Hip Shift

  • Shift your body laterally to raise your trapped knee.
  • Place the hand on the same side as your free leg.
  • Rotate your free knee into their chest. The position is a bait, since it depends on your opponent reacting by switching to a butterfly hook on your trapped leg.
  • If they give you that reaction, hard hip shift the other way to kill their hip and initiate your pass.

The hip shift to deal with the single butterfly hook is fascinating. I’ll tell you later how I found a new application for it already.

Leg Wrap

  • Overhook one of his legs and weave your hand under to establish a grip on his other leg, low on the gi.
  • Overhook his other leg and establish the same grip on his first leg.
  • Stretch your arms out and bring your elbows together to mash his knees together.
  • Sprawl out and use your hips to straighten both of his legs.
  • Choose a side. Your head must go to one side while your legs move to the other.
  • From there, your opponent will still have some mobility, but he will never be able to disengage and you will win the battle because of your domination of his lower body.
  • Release one grip and tightly transition up their body to establish firmer control (Concept in action – climbing the ladder).

I’m going to have to think about this more. I don’t see any clear applications yet, but they may reveal themselves once I start playing with it.

Applications So Far

Last night, after I taught a class at Evolve, I was asked about passing open guard. So I went over general concepts but I also showed a loose pass that I play with often. You can see what it looks like in the video below.

Now one of my training partners has gotten good at shifting his hip and getting a butterfly hook when I backstep. So as I was demonstrating, I had an AH HA moment because it mirrored the hip shift scenario and that movement was directly applicable to a new sequence.

Other Observations

  • Nic incorporated stories in his instruction that focused on how the technique was learned and how it has been applied.
  • He also made an effort to find out and remember the names of everyone.
  • He incorporated conceptual reinforcement into the instruction.
  • He went over the outline of the whole class beforehand.
  • At the end, he went around the circle and asked everyone to recall one specific thing they had learned.

Those are all related to how he taught, and if you teach or desire to teach, that’s interesting. I also had five questions that I wrote down, and I’ll share those with you.

  1. How do you apply the concept of Spinal Torque?
  2. What are some ways that you apply the shrimp movement offensively?
  3. What is your most successful submission, and how do you do it differently?
  4. What do you consider the most important concept white belts should know?
  5. What class structures have you had the most success with?

I ended up only asking two of them, but it was good to create a list of possibilities beforehand.

Sep 16

Shrimping ain’t easy (but perfecting it will boost your skills)


Shrimping is one of the first movements you learn in Jiu-jitsu. It’s also often included in warmups in gyms all across the world. You’re told how important it is but it is often hard to see the relevance in the beginning.

The movement also doesn’t come naturally to everyone. In fact, I remember struggling with it during my first class, but now I have a stronger concept of how it applies to directly to the art.

That is what this post is about. We will explore what the shrimp is and focus on its applications.

It will be split into the following sections:

  • Shrimping variations
  • Defensive applications
  • Offensive applications
  • Partner drills

Just as a forewarning, there will be a lot of videos. I spent a few hours diving deep into Youtube, and I picked out some of the best videos on shrimping.

 Shrimping Variations

There are primarily three types of shrimps:

  • The backwards shrimp where you move your hips away.
  • The forward shrimp where you move your hips in.
  • The lateral shrimp where you move your hips to a side.

Both of them have many applications, but we tend to focus far more attention on the backwards motion. For example, out of all the videos I watched on shrimping, only two focused on the forward shrimp (or reverse shrimp as it’s also called) and one on the sideways shrimp. I bring that only to make it clear that you would benefit from not neglecting the other sides of the equation.

Shrimping is about more than just escaping from bad situations. It is a method of increasing your mobility on the ground, and if you’re mobile, the possibilities of what you can do increase exponentially.


  • The backward shrimp: Did you notice how he shifts his weight to his shoulder and elevates his hips? That one piece is crucial because if the hip is on the ground, friction will retard the movement. Realizing that, years ago, helped me make my shrimp more effective.
  • The forward shrimp: In essence, this movement is just the standard shrimp in reverse. It’s really not complicated. The most common areas where this movement is applied is in spider guard and some triangle setups. I’ve also noticed it in some positional escapes.
  • The lateral shrimp: This movement is mostly used for offense. The ability to angle your hips off changing the dynamics of the contest. Off the top of my head, I use it for armbars and scissor sweeps.

This last video gives you an overview of many hip movements. It includes:

  1. Regular hip escape
  2. Double hip escape.
  3. Sitting hip escape (butt scoot)
  4. Forward sitting up hip escape.
  5. Forward hip escape
  6. Turning on your knees (shrimp out).

Did you notice how Rafael’s shrimp differs from Henry’s? In the last video, Rafael was able to flex his knee completely. That allows him to cover a lot of distance on his shrimp, even despite the fact that he didn’t elevate his hips much. In the other example though, Henry couldn’t bring his heel all the way to his butt, so he had to elevate to cover the necessary distance.

This is a difference between physical attributes.

In my own case, I don’t have the flexibility to flex my knee completely, so elevation for me is really important. How you use the shrimp may be different, but find a way to make the movement work for you.

Defensive Applications

The two most common defensive applications of the shrimp are seen in side control and mount escapes. They are the first two that come to mind when you think about the shrimp. So these first two videos review the concepts that go into those escapes.


Now let’s go into more uncommon territory.

Shrimp movements, both forward and backward, are very common in a lot of techniques. In fact, I’ve only started to realize how often I use the movement. My goal here is to help you realize the same thing, if you haven’t already, by giving you examples.

The first is a knee on belly escape that uses the forward movement to establish a position of leverage, and the second uses the same movement to escape from S mount.

When it comes to escaping bad situations, movement is only one component of success. There is also an element of timing. For that reason, the next examples I found for you focus on when to shrimp for the maximum effect.


There are many more examples of the shrimp in action when it comes to defense, but shrimping is not only a defensive movement.

Offensive Applications

When it comes to offense though, there is an issue. We take offensive hip movement for granted, and it is uncommon for it to be emphasized in instruction. That made it more difficult to find examples. So I will come back to this topic at a later date, with more information.

For now though, here are three examples:

  • Spider guard triangle: The shrimp is used to create space for offense. That’s a very common use, and in this case, it’s initiated from foot on hips.
  • Closed guard triangle: This is the lateral shrimp in action. A scissor motion on the body is used to escape the hips to the side, which gives you the angle to proceed with the attack. I use that movement in some of my armbar and scissor sweep variations from guard. It removes the need to place a foot on the hips or on the ground.
  • Half guard shovel sweep: Did you notice how he shoots his hips under to gain leverage for the sweep? That is a reverse shrimp movement, and you also saw the same thing earlier in that knee on belly escape technique. All these movements have many applications.

Consider this just the tip of the iceberg. Common movements can be identified in a wide array of techniques and finding them all will be a long term project.

Partner Drills

As a bonus, these are a series of drills that you can use to make practicing shrimping a little more interesting.


  • Butterfly hip escapes: This drill emphasizes two shrimp movements. It’s composed of both the forward and backward shrimp. It serves the same purpose as the triangle drill you see above.
  • Standing partner hip escapes: The main benefit of this drill is that it intuitively demonstrates how the shrimp can be used to create space. I’ve found it helpful when teaching the movement to kids.
  • Knee on belly shrimp outs: This focuses on a shrimp variation that only has one other mention in his post, but mastering it pays incredible dividends. So play with this drill.

If you’ve gained some knowledge from any of the videos shown here, go to Youtube and subscribe to channels, comment on videos and share content. It will encourage them to produce more, and we all benefit from that.

Jiu-jitsu still has far more room to grow.


Sep 11

I don’t need no stinking gi for the ezekiel choke

When I was a white belt, I was often paired up with a brown belt at Evolve, who was known for his brutal ezekiel chokes. It didn’t matter the position or the situation, it was always a threat, and I lost count of how many times I tapped.

I consider that a formative experience because it taught me that the ezekiel was effective.

After that, I started making a conscious effort to develop it but I ran into a problem. The way I learned it could only be used in the gi, and I wanted it to work for no-gi as well. So I developed a method for doing exactly that, and I am going to share it with you.

How the No-Gi Ezekiel Works



There are several elements to how this choke works, and I am going to break them down to the best degree that I can.

  • The hand that is under the neck has to be deep. Try to reach for their tricep with your hand and make sure that your bicep is against their neck.
  • Use your head to turn their chin away. That will expose the neck.
  • Slide the blade of your other wrist in so that it presses against their carotid. It doesn’t have to be that deep.
  • Keep both elbows on the mat and walk the wrist of your bottom hand up your other forearm. That elevates their neck into the choke, and the higher you walk, the tighter the choke will be before any pressure comes into play.
  • Roll your bottom wrist towards the mat and flex your biceps and forearms to finish. Think of it as a compression with your elbows slightly closer together.

I’ve been doing the ezekiel this way for several years now, and I have lots of success with it, both in competition and in the gym. Play with it and see if it works for you.

Why I Discarded the Ezekiel I Was Taught

Right now, in or out of the gi, I use the same method for the ezekiel because I have found it to be far more effective. These are the primary reasons for that assessment:

  • Using the sleeve required me to get my top wrist further across the neck for maximum effectiveness.
  • The chopping motion often required the use of significant strength.
  • It was easy for the choke to move from being a blood choke to a windpipe choke, and I only wanted clean blood chokes.



I won’t deny that the old style ezekiel worked for me, especially at white belt. Often, it was a fight though, and why should you work harder if you don’t have to.

Further Innovations


Recently a new application of the ezekiel revealed itself to me while I was drilling. Conceptually, it uses all the same principles of the choke I’ve been using but now the possibilities have expanded.

First though, here are some ways that the choke differs:

  • It requires that you to be partially on your opponent’s back.
  • There is no need to turn the chin.
  • The elbows don’t have to be on the mat.

Other than that, it follows the same rules:

  • The bottom hand has to be deep.
  • The top wrist still has to press against the carotid. Going too deep actually makes it more difficult to finish.
  • The finish comes from compression.

I also played with it from the arm triangle position of bottom closed guard with success. In fact, I hit it during a roll last night.

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