Sep 01

Hope still exists even when the underhook has been lost

Just another day playing half guard, and it happens.

You lose the underhook.

And then the guy proceeds to smash you without any mercy at all. Where is the consideration? It’s supposed to be the gentle art. But noooo. There’s nothing gentle about the pressure that’s raining on your chin.

It sucks.

I know. I’ve been there many times.

But it’s not the end of the road. You still have options. You can still strike, even in that situation. And guess what??

I’m going to show you some tricks of the craft. First though, let’s talk about concept.

You Lost the Underhook. Oh Noes!

Hearken to this.

Your most severe issue isn’t the underhook; it’s the fact that you’ve been flattened out. Once both your shoulders hit the mat, it spells trouble. You lose mobility and your ability to leverage is damaged. Keep that in mind at all times. It may just save you.

Anyway, we’re going to assume that you’re flat.

Because otherwise, you would still have the ability to move as you wish for the most part.

And in that case, you must damage the structure of your opponent’s position. And your tools for that will be hip movement and bridges. Ahh. It’s basics 101. Just goes to show that there is a reason behind all the movement drills.

They actually have a purpose.

And their applications are countless.

Well, well, that’s enough with the abstract principles, take a gander at how they can be used to either sweep or take the underhook back.

For more tips and tricks for the underhook half guard game, mosey over to my course on the topic. I’m sharing all of my experience playing the position over the duration of seven weeks jammed packed with little lessons. Jump in, and improve your game.

Aug 09

Stacked on your head in the armbar no more

For me, the closed guard armbar is the submission that I love most. Not because it’s easy though (there are a lot of submissions that are easier for me). It’s actually the complete opposite.

I love it because it’s so difficult.

Almost everyone recognizes the threat early and defends powerfully.

And many times, I’ve lost it before the threat truly began. That forced me to start developing little tricks to disguise the threat but that is a topic for another day.

Let me tell you a story instead:

About two years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a Pedro Sauer seminar. And he ran it a little differently than I’m used to. It was entirely Q&A. Everyone asked questions, and we covered a wide range of topics. When it was my turn though, I only had one little simple question.

How do you finish the armbar from closed guard?

That’s all I wanted to know.

And he gave me a detail that blew my mind. No joke. I cannot overstate how powerful that little detail was. It revolutionized the mechanics of my finish. I’ve never forgotten it, and I never will.

And guess what?

I’ll share it with you today.

Be warned though. It absolutely slaughters the stack in its infantry. May it rest in peace. And I’m going to show you some other small adjustments that will help you make your attack more lethal.

Aug 08

I have a preference for stupid simple solutions

On top of half guard, you have the underhook, and your position is dominant.

All should be right with the world. The pass should be inevitable, and your opponent should be sweating bullets, worrying about how they’re going to reverse the situation.


It’s not always the case.

Sometimes they do something annoying. They lock you down.

Let me tell you a story about that:

Back in 2003, at the most prestigious no-gi in the world, Eddie Bravo steps on the stage against Royler Gracie. And at that time, no one knew who Eddie was, and he was expected to lose in spectacular fashion.

Royler was not just a Gracie. He was the man. When it comes to competition jiu-jitsu, he was out there smashing people left and right. And his accolades were massive. So there was no doubt that he was the favorite.

But in that match, something unexpected happened. He got caught. He got submitted. And it was by some unknown American.

That event was the claim to Eddie Bravo’s fame.

Fun story, right? But that’s just the background. Gather around for the true tale.

Many years passed after that, Eddie vowed that he would only compete again if it was against Royler. He wanted a rematch because many considered his victory to be a fluke. And he wanted to prove the naysayers.

And then there was an opportunity.

At Metamoris, they met again, and both came in with something to prove. Eddie wanted to show that his first victory was legit, and Royler wanted to show the world who the true top dog was.

They stepped on the stage, slapped hands, and right off the bat, Eddie pulled half and immediately went to lockdown.

Royler got the underhook right away, and his head position was good. He aligned it right with the jaw and drove in to apply pressure from hell. Then he started to trying to blow past the position with a knee cut pass.

Only…. It didn’t work.

There was one attempt, then a second, a third, and more. All failed, and you can see the frustration in Royler’s eyes as he increased the intensity. But he didn’t even come close.

I don’t want you to have that experience.

Lockdown is specifically geared towards killing the knee cut, but it has flaws. There’s an easy way to pass it. And now you can learn it:

Jul 30

Technique has no respect, regardless of your belt

I’m doing a little mental review from a seminar  I just attended.

There were some SERIOUS gems of knowledge dropped on that mat, and I can say without a doubt that it was more than worth the investment. And if there was an opportunity to learn from David Onuma again, I would jump on it in an instant.

But beyond the technique (secret squirrel stuff OH BOY), one small bit of philosophy shined bright.
First though, imagine this:

Suddenly, out of nowhere, you had to urge to do something that must people will never do. You decide to focus on mastering just one technique and devote weeks to that project.

At first, you struggle. You fail. Over and over again. But you soldier on, and it starts to click.

And then after all that work, you reached a high level of proficiency. And then you have an opportunity. By chance, you find yourself in that position against a higher belt.

What do you think is going to happen?

You just might succeed.

Whoa. You’ve been practicing, and in that specific situation, you are the expert, even against higher belts. They only have a chance if they’ve spent as much time as you have practicing their defense.

If not, shock and awe them.

No mercy.

When technique is precise, it works. And it has no respect at all (if only I could do Rodney Dangerfield’s voice justice).

Skill is absolutely situational. Anyone can be beat if you put them in a situation where they are a novice and you are a master.

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!

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