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.
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.
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.
Hard 2 Hurt is Icy Mike’s YouTube channel. But just who is Icy Mike, and what is his channel about?
Icy Mike is an ex-police officer turned martial arts instructor/enthusiast/fighter. He has been in several fights in episodes of StreetBeefs and his YouTube channel is focused on exploring the effectiveness of martial arts training in self-defense scenarios (aka: “THE STREETZ”).
This post is a bit of a departure from the regular jiu jitsu topics that I write about, but I think it’s valuable to keep in mind real-world self-defense scenarios during training so that you have an awareness of what works and what doesn’t.
In the video below, Professor Ryan goes into some detail regarding how the Pareto Principle can be used to improve your jiu jitsu game. As he states in the video, if you know one hundred moves, maybe ten of those moves would account for 50% of your success on the mat.
To take this further, the 80/20 principle finds that it’s actually 80% of your effort that will lead to 20% of your success.
So what does this mean? Essentially that you should identify the moves that lead to your greatest successes, and concentrate your training on those moves. Not the exclusion of others of course. You’ll still want to learn new stuff, refine moves that maybe aren’t coming as naturally, etc. But the core of your training should be focused on improving those moves which are already winners for you. At least according to the Pareto Principle.
Professor Ryan gives one caveat in this video: if your best moves are complex moves such De La Riva, at the expense of fundamentals, then you should really focus on sharpening up your fundamentals. You may be a wizard at flying armbars, but those kinds of moves will never be as high-percentage in success as a good old-fashioned Mata Leão.