With the world on lockdown (crazy to think that we can legit type that sentence) it was only a matter of time before the coronavirus pandemic impacted our training. At this time scientists are still scrambling to understand what the coronavirus is, who it impacts, to what degree and what can be done about it. As a precautionary measure governments world-wide are instituting mandatory quarantine procedures. Here in the states local elementary, middle and high schools are shutting down for a minimum of two weeks (and potentially moving to remote learning when school goes back in session), companies are sending employees home to work remotely, and events of all sizes are getting cancelled.
The academy I train at is closing its doors for two weeks, and possibly longer depending on what happens with the nationwide quarantine. I know that many other academies are doing the same. FaceBook is filled with posts announcing temporary academy closings.
So this has got me (and probably you and everybody else) wondering what can be done to keep our conditioning in shape while we’re off the mats. Being furloughed from training does suck, but it actually opens up some opportunities to get stronger while away from grappling.
This video popped up on my YouTube feed today. Steven starts off the video with a great point where he is talking about what the best throw is for a transition to the ground for BJJ. His point is that it depends on what kind of a player you are. Depending on if you are more comfortable playing top position vs bottom will dictate what kind of throws you’d use to get you to that position.
He also talks about the degree of physical exertion and conditioning that is required to really throw someone. As he says, you’re trying to throw someone 180lbs (or more) who is fighting the whole time to not land on their back. This requires a ton of effort.
The setup that he uses in this vid is an Uchi Mata to a foot sweep to an ankle pick. It’s not only a nice combination, in my opinion a foot sweep is less physically exhausting than a throw, single leg or double leg take down. The combination he shows here is nice in that it leads your partner down a path where they have to give up the foot sweep if you do it right. This takedown finishes with you in a good top position.
The second takedown he shows will land you in an advantageous guard position in the event that the takedown doesn’t work. He calls it a “safe guard pull that could potentially be a takedown”.
Catch wrestling is a brutal combat style of grappling developed in England during the 1870’s. It was used by laborers and dock workers to pass the time at work, and picked up by sailors who traveled the world, collecting techniques which helped to grow the style. It has roots in various wrestling styles including Irish Collar and Elbow wrestling, and is also known as “Catch-as-Catch-Can”. Catch-as-Catch-Can refers to the way that catch wrestlers will attempt to grab any submission available. This approach to submission hunting differs from the typical jiu jitsu approach, in that a jiu jitsu practitioner typically aims to establish control prior to hunting for submissions, while a catch wrestler’s approach is to explosively grab for submissions from any position. This approach can take other wrestling styles off guard, and open up opportunities for other submission attempts based off the reaction of their opponent in these attempts.
Catch wrestling found it’s way to America where it was used in carnivals as a type of entertainment combat sport, and today professional wrestling tips it hat to catch wrestling. In Brazil during the heyday of Vale Tudo Catch Wrestling was used effectively by Luta Livre fighters against jiu jitsu fighters. Catch wrestling emphasizes inflicting pain and pressure on a fighter’s opponent to cause them to move in a way that the catch wrestler can take advantage of. Kazushi Sakuraba famously used his catch style to defeat Royce, Royler and Renzo Gracie.
Neil Melanson is a huge proponent of Catch wrestling, and I’ve written about his instructional material here before. His approach to grappling is novel if you come from a pure jiu jitsu background, and well worth checking out.
Today one of my team mates sent me the video below from the Snake Pit. Here we see how to counter the De La Riva with leg locks. There is a nice heel hook and toe hold available when you’re stuck in a De La Riva guard. After seeing the techniques in this video I was struck by the simplicity of the submissions, and was surprised at how obvious they were as options, and also how I had failed to see them in spite of the many times I’ve been caught in De La Riva.
Ramsey Dewey shows variations of the rear naked choke in this video. He talks about why it’s a bad idea to tuck your chin to defend a rear naked choke, and shows how a well connected choke can dislocate a jaw and still choke someone in the process.
I especially like the one armed choke variations he shows in this video. I’ve been giving up on the RNC lately because I can’t seem to get it. My partners will tuck their chins or fight for wrist control and I haven’t been able to get past that. Looking forward to trying some of this next class.
The other day I got caught in a bicep slicer as I was attempting to pass my partner’s guard. He was playing open guard, and I reached in to attempt a leg weave pass, which ended up with me in lasso guard. Not realizing the danger I was in I attempted to simply continue passing. I was caught totally by surprise when my partner hit this submission. It wasn’t something I’d ever seen before. I must admit, these are my favorite moments in jiu jitsu, when you are hit with something completely foreign and it expands your awareness of what is possible in this martial art.
My partner showed me how to perform the move after he caught me in it. But I couldn’t keep the details straight the rest of the class, though I attempted the submission many times that evening. So at home I dug into YouTube and studied several videos that showed the details of the bicep slicer. This video is really straightforward in it’s explanation. Hope you enjoy it.
I spend an irrational amount of time watching jiu jitsu videos on YouTube. Certain channels I come back to over and over again. Here’s a list of my favorite YouTube channels of 2019, hope you enjoy them too.
It’s that time of the year again. Time to round up the list of my favorite jiu jitsu blogs from the year. These are blogs that I’ve found myself visiting often. A lot of these are repeated from the previous year, but good things bear repeating.
In the struggle for increasing mat performance I am always tinkering with my workout routines. It seems that a constant struggle is balancing jiu jitsu training with complementary workouts. I know that the common adage is that if you only have enough time to do one workout, then it should always be jiu jitsu. But I find that I really do better in training if I do some additional workouts off the mats.
The big struggle for me has been learning how much and what type of ancillary training to do, so that the additional workouts don’t burn me out too much. I used to lift heavy weights using the stronglifts program but I found that it left me overly tired when hitting the mats. I also found that the strength I was gaining from lifting heavy didn’t exactly transfer to the mats.
It seems to me that once you reach a certain level of “strong” that being much stronger is not generally going to help jiu jitsu. That’s not to say that if you’re sparring with someone much stronger than you that it won’t be more of a struggle to deal with their attacks, but I think if you have a baseline of strength then that will take you far in jiu jitsu.
I find that having muscular endurance is much more important than having an over-abundance of strength when rolling. I feel like I can more easily leg press someone if I’m attempting something like an airplane sweep than I can keeping my legs under me when attempting to pass the guard of a strong guard player. My legs simply get tired out trying to scramble around their guard for too long of a time.
It’s the loss of muscular endurance that signals the beginning of the end for me in rolling. My goal is to be able to roll round after round without having my muscles give out from exhaustion (easier said than done for sure). So I’ve been tweaking my workouts to get there, and I’ve found the following routine to be the most helpful so far.
Priit Mihkelson is a black belt from Estonia who trained under SBG found Matt Thornton, and a member of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotters. I just found out about him last week when a friend that I train with sent me one of his videos. Since then I’ve traveled down the rabbit hole with Mihkelson’s material. His approach to jiu jitsu is very scientific, and from the videos I’ve seen he challenges some of the conventions that we’ve come to know in jiu jitsu.
The video below is a perfect example of challenging conventions. The guard break that he shows is essentially a stack pass. He says that we should sit in guard with “active toes” rather than flat feet (I think he’s calling flat feet “seal feet” in the video). His contention is that we should be on our toes, and pressuring down towards our partner so that we can react to things better. He’s not against posturing back, or standing up, but says we should also explore posturing into our opponent when we’re stuck in closed guard.
I’ve tried this pass a couple of times at class this week, I was able to put some pressure on my partners that they weren’t expecting, but I couldn’t quite get the legs to open to pass the closed guard. I’ve since re-watched this video and noticed that I didn’t have the correct angle. I took better notes, and will give this a try in the next class.
He’s also got a few videos for sale at BJJ Fanatics, which I’m looking forward to getting as some point. This one in particular I’m interested in: