Neil Melanson is a grappling coach who has trained under “Judo” Gene LeBell and has taught Chael Sonnen, Rand Couture, Frank Trigg, Vitor Belfort and many others. He specializes in catch wrestling and is known for his closed guard technique, which focuses on an MMA style guard, always protecting the head from strikes.
Luckily Neil has posted numerous videos available on YouTube, which provide insight into his unique grappling style. Spending some time studying these videos will give you a new perspective on how to use the closed guard. Particularly interesting is how he uses grapevines when he has someone in guard to control them.
Closed Guard: Getting off the Center Line
Another technique of interest is his way of controlling your opponent by locking your knee behind their shoulder for a shoulder pin. This gives excellent control and opens up numerous opportunities for attacks.
Masakazu Imanari is a Japanese MMA fighter and grappler who is renowned for his leglock skills. His nickname “Ashikan Judan” means “The Great Master of Leg Submission”, and the “Imanari Roll” and “Imanari Choke” are moves named after this leg lock master.
In the video below Masakazu Imanari shows off the leg lock skills that earned him his accolades as a grappler:
When I first started Jiu Jitsu I was looking for any advantage I could gain to speed up my progress. I found that too often life got in the way of me getting to the mats more than a few days a week. I would sometimes make it to open mat and find someone willing to do a little drilling, but as we all know, drilling quickly turns into full out rolls.
I wanted to find a way to drill at home by myself. I learned some solo drills (check out Henry Akins solo drills for some good ideas for drilling at home: Henry Akins Solo BJJ Drills), and these helped some, but I really wanted to get a grappling dummy to practice my moves on. The grappling dummies I found online were pretty pricey (if you’re interested in checking those out, here’s a link: Grappling Dummies on Amazon), so I thought it might be fun to try to build one myself and save a little cash.
In doing so, I tried to document as well as I could my process in building the grappling dummy. I created a website and YouTube video which shows the steps I took to build it. You can find it here: Build a Grappling Dummy
I used this dummy a lot as a white belt. I don’t use it as much now, but it does still come in useful when I want to solidify a confusing move that I had learned in class. I think for the amount of money that I spent building this grappling dummy it has served it’s purpose well. If you decide to build one I hope it works out well for you too.