Fighting Off The Wall

Brick WallLast night at class we spent most of the evening working on stand-up self defense tactics. In jiu jitsu we tend to spend most of our time fighting on the ground, either off our backs or with our weight distributed on our partner. Anytime I work on stand-up I’m reminded of how different the strength and cardio requirements are. It gets even harder when you’re standing up and pinned against the wall. And harder still when you get taken down, pinned against the wall, with your partners full weight on you and your trying to stand back up.

We started the class with out typical warm-up of hip escapes, and then quickly transitioned into pummeling drills. These drills switched to pummeling “sparring”. After warm-up we started our wall work. One person would stand with their back against the wall, the other would stand in front of them, with double underhooks and attempt to keep them pinned there. The person on the wall had the job of getting at least one underhook, and spinning their partner so that they were against the wall. Back and forth we went with that drill.
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Prof. Jorge Pereira – Spider Guard Pass to Armbar

Jorge Pereira is a coral belt under Rickson Gracie. He is originally from Rio de Janeiro and has competed in many jiu jitsu and Vale Tudo matches. His best quote was spoken after a particulary tough fight with Alessandro Stefano, “A warrior doesn’t bleed, his honor overflows”.

In this video Pereira shows an awesome guard pass straight into an armbar. This move is a great example efficiency and effectiveness:

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Knee Shield Woes

I recently attended an open mat where all the blue belts had really great open guards. It was extremely frustrating (in the best possible way) to try to pass their guard. The usual pressure passing that I do just didn’t seem to work. They were able to handle the pressure well with their legs, and if I was able to beat their legs, then as I swung around to try to get to side control their far leg somehow made it’s way between me and their torso and I was stuck in open guard again.

I talked to a few people after the open mat to see what their strategy was, and they all said they had played a similar guard, essentially using a knee shield and variations to control me. Being only a blue belt myself I hadn’t really seen the knee shield used to such great effect, but as I understood it the school they belonged to focused heavily on guard all through the white belt curriculum. That was an “ah-ha” moment for me. I had also been focusing on guard heavily for the past year, but to see how effective a good guard game could be so early in a jiujiteiro’s development really solidified my thought that a well developed guard can lead to a more confident offensive game.

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How to Fold Your Jiu Jitsu Gi for Travel

Jiu Jitsu GiI’m traveling this week on vacation, down in Florida visiting family and friends. Though the week will be spent mostly poolside with a drink in hand, my daughter lives here and trains Jiu Jitsu locally, so I will be spending some time on the mats, working off my gluttony and catching up with her while bonding in the gentle art.

I didn’t want to fly here and be dependent on the school I was visiting to loan me a Gi for training. I wanted to bring my own, it fits better anyways. I tend to travel light, so I wasn’t too concerned with being able to fit my Gi into a travel bag, but I still researched the best way to fold a Gi. My usual method of balling up the pants and jacket and shoving it into a bag tends to take up a lot of space. I wanted to be able to get it to the smallest size possible so I wouldn’t run out of any room in my duffel bag.

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The Wim Hof Method for Jiu Jitsu Performance

Wim HofWim Hof is somewhat of a medical phenomenon. He is an extreme athlete from the Netherlands who holds 26 world records and is best known for his ability to perform well in extreme cold temperatures. He holds the record for the longest ice bath, he has climbed Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing other than shorts and shoes, completed a full marathon above the arctic circle in Finland (again, in shorts), and boasts countless other physical feats in extreme weather conditions.

Wim Hof travels the world giving seminars on his unique method of training for these challenges. Known as the “Wim Hof Method“, it is a combination of cold exposure and breathing exercises aimed at building brown adipose tissue, reducing fat and inflammation, fortifying the immune system and raising oxygen levels for more energy and reduced stress.

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Profile: Henry Akins

Henry AkinsHenry Akins is a Jiu Jitsu black belt under Rickson Gracie. He has the distinct honor of being the 3rd American to receive a black belt under Rickson. While training at the Rickson Gracie Academy he worked as a secretary, instructor and even as a training partner for Gracie to help him prepare for his fights in Japan. He earned his black belt in 2004 and was the main instructor at Rickson’s place until a back injury forced him to stop.

In 2010 he founded Dynamix Martial Arts with Antoni Hardonk. Henry maintains an active schedule not only teaching at Dynamix, but also travels the world teaching seminars, and has created an online site of paid video courses at HiddenJiuJitsu.com. A sub section of the Hidden Jiu Jitsu site houses a members only area, the Mind Blown Jiu Jitsu club, which features exclusive content, and gives members access to a Facebook Group where they have direct access to ask Henry questions, and discuss technique with other members of the group. Being a member myself I can attest to the availability of Henry to the members, and of his deep knowledge of jiu jitsu. He has stated that he wants his legacy to be to make Rickson’s style of effective jiu jitsu accessible to everyone, and the content that he is publishing is serving him well to this end.

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Foam Rolling for Hip Health

Lately I’ve been having a lot of aching pain in my right knee. I thought I had injured it, maybe waited too long to tap to a heel hook, or hurt it drilling take downs. It would start aching, I would dial back the intensity on the mats, it would get better, then as soon as I started ramping up the intensity it would start aching again. A few nights back I woke up in the middle of the night with my knee, quad and hip aching so bad that I couldn’t get back to sleep.

I had talked to some guys in class about this, and a couple of them had similar issues at one point in their training. The general consensus was that the issue may not be in the knee, but rather in the IT Band and/or tightness in the hips. Recommendations included using foam rollers and looking up Kelly Starrett mobility videos.

So I looked up some vids, bought a foam roller, took a night off of jiu jitsu and worked on loosening up my hips and quads.

I started with this routine:

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The Utility of Visiting Open Mats

This past weekend I went and visited an open mat at a new school that recently opened in my area. The new school’s owner was a friend and old training partner of one of the guys I regularly train with, and we thought it would be fun to check it out and to show some support for a new local school. Since this was the first week that this school was open we didn’t expect to see too many people, but luckily some guys from other gyms also decided to show up to see the new place. This turned out to be a friendly open mat with a variety of jiu jitsu practitioners from various schools in the area.

I don’t often hit open mats at other schools, so I don’t get a lot of chances to roll with people outside of the circle of athletes that I train with. But at this open mat there were people from at least 3 different schools, and when I rolled with some of these practitioners I got to experience different styles of rolling than I’m used to. The first thing I noticed was how contrasting most of the guys I rolled with were in terms of aggression, which was a little lighter than where I normally train. Our school is a highly competition oriented school, and though we have a tight knit group, all willing to help each other grow, the rolling style tends to be aggressive, with a lot of speed and smashing. At this open mat, however, most of the guys I rolled with had a smooth and fluid style that seemed to be more centered on waiting for you to make a mistake rather than trying to force you into making a mistake. Rolling against this more fluid style was a strange transition, in that I wasn’t sure how to counter some of their moves (or even effectively pass their guard) since the level of resistance I’m used  to wasn’t there. I had new puzzles to solve, and that made things challenging and a lot of fun.

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Neil Melanson Closed Guard Techniques

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.

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