Jul 28

There’s no such thing as a mistake on the mat

Two roared out onto the mat, slapped hands, and then after a flurry of activity, only one hand was raised.

That was a familiar scene at the New York Open.

It happened countless times, and it is the one thing that you can predict in competition. There will be a result.

And when you’re in the arena, instead of on the sidelines, it’s easy to say what if. What if I had pushed a little harder? Or what if I hadn’t let go of that grip? Mistakes seems to be abound everywhere, especially when the result is undesired.

But there are no mistakes on the mat.

You do what you prepare for (reps, reps, reps). And in the absence of adequate preparation (and that is very situational), all you can do is guess.

In that instance, you flip the coin. It could be heads. It could be tails. It could be right. It could be wrong.

But it’s not a mistake. It’s a guess.

And the only thing you have absolute control over is how you address it in the room afterward. Make sure that in the future no guess will be required for that situation.

That’s how you get the most out of competition.

Jul 02

I’m escaping from this and you can’t stop me

I’m going to share a chain drill with you that connects the back escape with a rolling back take.

There’s two techniques in the flow. So by the standards of chain drills, it’s a simple drill. And it also combines a basic technique with a more advanced one, which can make things a little more interesting.

Beyond this particular drill though, I want you to understand the power of chain drills, in general.

So let’s begin there.

Including Chain Drills in Your Training


The meaning behind that word forms a large part of the conceptual framework of the art.

Not only are there the connections that we create between us and our opponents but also there’s endless connections between techniques. In isolation, no technique is effective. It’s only through connection that the power is revealed.

What chain drills offer is the ability to easily include repeatable transitions within the execution of techniques.

The drill you’ll learn later will an example. but let me outline the characteristics of a chain drill for you:

  • It has at least two techniques.
  • Once a full flow is completed, the positions must reverse.

And it has some great benefits:

  • It disguises repetition, which can make drilling more enjoyable.
  • It allows both partners to practice all the techniques of the drill without any pauses or resets.
  • It helps increase awareness of transitional opportunities for attack and defense.

Consider that my encouragement to start creating chain drills of your own. It’s a largely unexplored territory. The possible combinations are endless, but much brainstorming will be required.

On to the Back Escape Chain Drill

Whenever possible, I create chain drills because it makes the game more fun for me. I’ve created a lot of them, and I will create far more. This one though… was not one of them.

It was shown to me by a student. He learned from a seminar, and immediately I saw the value and added it to my practice.

It’s been majorly beneficial for me, and I know it will be for you. So check it out!

Jun 06

Flowing between closed guard attacks like a magician

In Jiu-jitsu, there are several techniques that you’re likely to learn early on, no matter where you train. One of them is the cross choke from closed guard.

And it’s effective at all levels.

But there’s a problem. Almost everyone learns it. That increases the chance that the threat will be recognized and addressed early.

For that reason, some make the choice to focus their attention elsewhere and give up on the cross choke. It’s sad because the choke is a strong tool to have. And there are specific things that you can do to make it more lethal.

You’ll learn a few right here if you read on.

How People Commonly Defend the Choke

The first step to finishing the cross choke requires that you establish a strong cross collar grip. There are exceptions to the rule (almost always the case) but in general, that’s how most cross chokes are initiated.

And since our goal is to have technique that works on the very best, we have to assume that our opponent will recognize the threat immediately (if they don’t, punish them).

In that instant, they will decide how to respond, and the common responses are:

  • They will focus on breaking your grip.
  • They will focus on posturing up to take themselves out of attack range.
  • They will focus on shifting away from your first grip, which makes the second grip harder to get.

Depending on how they respond, other opportunities will arise. And that’s true no matter what they do. There is a constant give and take, and when they act, they close one path while opening another.

Your job is to recognize the opportunities that appear as a result of their action.

And I’ll share one possibility with you right now.

Offensive Path When They Shift Away From The Cross Choke

When your opponent shifts away from you to prevent the cross choke, it opens attacks on the near arm. And in the video below, you’ll see the possibilities that exist in that situation.

In addition to that, there’s some details on how to improve your effectiveness with the cross choke.

Study it and put the cross choke back in your arsenal.

May 19

Your lapel is my weapon, I will use it as I wish

Beyond honing your execution of technique to the highest level possible, you must also develop a deep understanding of strategy.

In any situation, your opponent has ideal responses from their point of view.

You have to expect them to choose their best course of action. And if you pay attention, you’ll be able to not only recognize how they’ll respond but also punish them for doing the right thing.

Then as you expand your understanding of their counters and how to destroy them, your skill will also make massive leaps forward. And just from me to you, this way of exploring the art is just FUN.

I’m going back through all the techniques I know with that intent in mind. And I’m going to share some of the sequences with you, starting with this one from closed guard.

Closed Guard Lapel Offensive Series

The first fight in closed guard is always breaking posture. That MUST be done before you can open up the vast majority of your attacks.

That’s why you’ll see one method of doing that when they’re framing against your hips in the video. But I encourage you to expand your tools in that area and learn how to use your hips to assist you.

That small thing will do a lot to make your closed guard more dangerous.

Now in this sequence, the goal is to create a funnel where each attack pulls them deeper into the depths of danger. It starts with getting the lapel out, and then things progress from that point.

You’ll also notice that the individual tools are basic. It’s a triangle choke, cross choke, armbar and brabo choke. And those aren’t even the limit of what you can do.

Be creative.

Play with it.

And if you have success with it, let me know. I want to hear about your success.

May 03

Take a little Demara and add a bit of lapel to get devastation

Nowadays, closed guard isn’t given all that much fanfare. That isn’t because the position is obsolete. It’s still LETHAL.

It’s just a question of your investment. If you put time into the position, you’ll get results from it.

And I’m going to give you some more tools to play with. The three attacks you’ll learn in this article is the start of an incredibly strong attack system.

Closed Guard Challenges

First though, understand that closed guard isn’t an easy position to master.

It requires all kinds of small adjustments and angles. The basic attacks are easy to defend. And many people switch their focus to easier positions before they truly start to have success.

Thus, one of two things are necessary: High level refinement of technique or trickery.

Focusing on closed guard, though, until you have success has a significant advantage. It will teach how you smash through resistance. And it will give you a special kind of confidence.

The Demara Closed Guard Attack System

I learned this system from Rachel Demara, so I always like to give her credit for it.

One of my best memories watching it in action was years ago at Worlds. Rachel was a blue belt back then, and one after another, her opponents all fell to this system.

They saw her use it.

It didn’t matter.

They knew it was coming.

It didn’t matter.

Their coaches gave them advice on countering it.

It still didn’t matter.

It was a thing of beauty. And I’ve never forgotten it for that reason.

The only difference in how she does it and how I do it is that she doesn’t use the lapel. Instead, she reaches around the back of the head and grabs the cross side collar similar to a bow and arrow grip.

Also these three attacks are not the full system. They are a great place to start, though. Work on them and let me know if you have success.