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:
Bernardo Faria just released this video with Xande Ribeiro on guard retention. Ribeiro hasn’t had his guard passed in competition since 2005. That’s 14 years of matches without a single guard pass from his opponents. Amazing.
He talks a little about how he uses his frames to get into a “geometrical position” that allows him to extend pressure into his opponent. He calls this the “Diamond Concept”. I have to study this more, but it seems that there are two factors at play. One is always connecting your elbows and your knees to create frames. The second is to extend yourself away from your opponent using those frames so you can recompose guard.
I’ve been playing with the rubber guard lately. I like how it frees your hands up when you’re using a closed guard. Seems to make it easier to get submissions going that way. And having one of your legs in the high guard makes slipping into triangles and omoplatas really smooth if you can get them.
This video has some great details. Eddie Bravo walks through a few of the control points of the rubber guard like the “double bag”.
We worked on this throw a few weeks ago. I was having trouble getting the angle right for the end of the throw. After watching this video a few times I think I see what I was doing wrong. I was trying to throw backwards, but Osiander emphasizes laying to your side at the end of the throw. Will have to continue to work on this one.
I’ve been on a Gordon Ryan kick lately. Specifically his guard passing. I’m trying to get my guard passing sharpened up (sometimes it feels non-existent), so I’ve been studying a lot of guard passing on YouTube. I found this great list of videos analyzing Gordon Ryan’s guard passing.
What’s particularly interesting to me is that to pass in the style of Gordon Ryan, you put your hands on the mat, distributing your weight to your hands while your legs and hips float freely, allowing you to pummel your legs around your opponents.
I’ve always that you should stay heavy on your opponents legs when passing, but this style of passing is opposite of that. I guess in practice the style of passing will change depending on how you want to pass, and what your opponent throws at you. It’s nice to have options.
I’m a huge fan of breakdown videos. I really appreciate it when someone is able to watch a jiu jitsu match, see the details of what is going on, and actually takes the time to make a video explaining it all and sharing it. One of my favorite YouTube channels for this is DPS Breakdowns, but I just stumbled across this video from Ayrshire Grappler and I’m really enjoying it.
The video below goes into great detail explaining this match between two jiu jitsu legends, Marcelo Garcia and Xande Ribeiro. I’m still in the stage of learning where I feel like I’m only catching a small fraction of what actually goes in a high level black belt match. These match studies are extremely helpful to me when doing analysis of competition footage.
Perusing their channel it looks like there are a ton of great breakdown videos to watch. Really great work here. Looks like it’s time to binge watch some jiu jitsu….
If you’ve been in jiu jitsu for any length of time whatsoever, you’ve probably seen your fair share of funny jiu jitsu sites. The colossal amount of jiu jitsu memes proves that the jiu jitsu community as a whole likes to have fun. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen any, here are a few of my favorites:
There are no shortage of Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Instagram personalities creating and sharing memes.
But there are also plenty of funny jiu jitsu YouTube channels, and social media pages that create quality, funny videos.
This video showed up on my YouTube timeline today, it’s Bernardo Faria talking about pressure passing. Some good stuff in this video. He demonstrates how to angle your body so that more of your weight is on your opponents body. For example, using your shoulder to pin your opponent to the ground when passing can be more effective if you angle your body in such a way that more of the weight is going into that shoulder.
This can be generalized to say that when attempting a pressure pass, if you can focus your weight into a small point on your body and apply that point to your opponent then you will generate more pressure. Pedro Vianna talks about applying pressure in this manner to large muscles. He says that if you can focus pressure in the middle of a large muscle then that becomes like a pressure point, making things very uncomfortable for your opponent.
Check out the video to hear Fari discuss pressure passing. It’s a short video, but has some great info.