Tag Archives: combat sports

Jiujitsu Training – June 14th

Yesterday we were taught several techniques.

The oldie but goodie Omoplata with two set ups: one from spider-guard and the other from half-guard.

The other oldie but goodie butterfly-guard, put your shoulder in the mid-section, jumping pass.

Finally we wrapped with a new way to set up and finish the RNC. New to me anyway. I’m gonna detail the RNC.

So How’d Class Go?
First you’d start off with over-unders, or as Tomari-sensei calls it getting the “seatbelt.” I wasn’t aware of new English jiu-jitsu terms but I’ve been out of the loop for two years.

Anyway, gain the “seatbelt” and make sure to trap the underhooked arm. If you’ve got underhooks on the left side, trap the left arm. Next step would be to “walk” the overhook and around the neck. Most likely at this point, your opponent will most definitely try to prevent any type of closing in around the neck. The walking movement is done with the hand, doing a creepy crawly I’m-going-to-cut-off-the-oxygenated-blood-flow-to-your-brain up until arm is completely secured around the neck.

This is where things get tricky. Most times people let go of the trapped arm and bring up their other arm up in order to lock in and finish the choke. When that happens their opponent usually spots the arm going up, grabs hold of that arm and controls it thereby nullifying the choke. It happens a lot of times in MMA matches.

If I was sparring no-gi in my apartment and I had back-mount on the invisible man, this would be a picture of a typical RNC set up; palm on bicep, bring arm up and around behind my opponent's head.

The approach I learned yesterday hides that, it slides the second arm in. First arm around the neck, palm towards you. Second arm hangs back, comes up and covers the back hand of the first arm, palms are facing in the same directing. Lift your head up to create space, slide second arm all the way in. Your arms should be in the typical RNC positions.

This sneaky set up first starts with placing the palm to back of the hand of the choking (right) arm.

Next, after putting palm to back of hand, slide the non-choking arm up until the (right) hand touches the bicep or get in the bend of the (left) arm.

A photo is a very poor way to convey motion, but my hands are "slicing" down while I stick my chest out and arch my back. The smile on my face lets me know that I'm winning in my mind's eye.

To finish the choke arch your back, stick out your chest and move your hands downward in a scissor motion like you’ve got blades for arms and you’re cutting off your opponent’s head! MUH HA HA HA! Gruesome, but so are chokes by their very nature, yes?

Finishing Thoughts
I did a round of positional and full sparring, and I got my butt swept and submitted easy. Good times.

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Jiujitsu Training – June 11th

We learned guard passes today. Half-guard pass, knee-on-shoulder open-guard pass, gorilla pass, gorilla smash pass, gorilla pass to knee-on-the-belly and movements to secure side-control.

The half-guard pass was the tail end of the z-guard pass I wrote about earlier.

The open-guard pass where your opponent’s knee is up on your shoulder was a simple pass dependent on keeping a grip on the nearside leg to prevent it from establishing a hook. It also uses the secure-side-control movements in case bottom guard pushes at the shoulder to prevent the pass. Head up and dive bomb like a hindu push-up to break the arm support pushing away at the shoulder.

Gorilla pass to gorilla smash pass to knee-on-the-belly was a chain combo. Bottom guard pushes away, gorilla smash (the hindu push-up motion) or knee-on-the-belly.

Then it was positional sparring time.

So How’d Sparring Go?
First I partnered up with a three stripe white belt who was clearly out of my weight class. Since we were going from closed guard to side-control I took it easy. He opened my guard with no problem – he actually elbowed my right knee after I told him lets go easy. I let him pass at least three times before time ran out. When we switched positions, he did the typical pull down on the small guy and attempt a triangle plan of action I’ve been seeing a lot of lately. I sighed, and passed his guard.

He benched me off of him and scrambled for top guard position. I spun and tried to lock in a crucifix. He shucked me off of him as I was rolling forward, and we ended there as time ran out.

I should have secured over-unders when he was in turtle and I’m finding that while my thought process is getting quicker – I usually look around at what’s happening and thinking about techniques to attempt – my reaction time is still slow. Doesn’t help that I’m playing tourist and enjoying the sites when I’m sparring either.

Afterwards I rolled with a three stripe blue. I have yet to get his name, I see him at every class I’ve been to. His technique is good but he’s still jumpy and has a lot of holes I can spot.

We started this round in open-guard with the knee-on-shoulder position, not closed guard. The guy always passed to my left, my right knee on his shoulder. It never occurred to me to try pushing away with my right leg and shifting over to my left side so I’d be in a stronger position to fight the pass until now. See, writing stuff down does help open up the brain to jiu-jitsu.

When we switched positions and I was in top-guard, I stood up and almost passed his guard. Too busy thinking and watching his movements to react or do anything of worth, he eventually got behind me and was about to sweep me to gain back mount when I lowered my base to prevent myself from falling back. So instead of pulling me back he kept his hooks and reached from my ankles and tried to sweep me forward.

That’s when I noticed that he was pulling my feet in a laterial direction and pushing my knees in the opposite direction – the same kind of movement you’d do if you were applying a heel hook. Very bad for the knees. I immediately rolled forward and spun to face him.

My lightning fast barrel roll caught everyone by surprise. Including me. I never knew I had it in me to move so fast, but it felt like my knee was gonna be in trouble so I got out quick.

Instead of telling him, “Hey, dumbass, I don’t wanna roll with you anymore cause you’re dangerous” I said “Let’s take a break. My knee feels funny.”

It prompted concern from Tomari-sensei, plus a remark from a purple belt I’ll address later, but I told everyone I was cool.

Sure enough, the following sparring round that 3rd stripe blue rolled with a white belt and the white belt got his knee messed up.

Finishing Thoughts
Screw that 3rd stripe blue belt guy. I’m never rolling with him ever again. Never ever.

Jiujitsu Training – June 7th

Yesterday, we went over a DVR sweep that took the back from a breakdance-like shoulder-roll while still keeping grips. It left all the white belts, me included, stratching our heads.

Our second and third techniques were all attacks from the back mount and what to do when the person in your back mount is defending. Simply put; create space, use that space to create even more space, uncomfortably submit.

For Positional Sparring, I rolled with Brent. Even though he was rolling at a low intensity, I could tell just how much his jiu-jitsu has grown and how much I’ve back slid. Nice.

Then I had a full sparring round with a white belt. Good times.

So How’d Sparring Go?
He was the same size as me and when we did the secret handshake, I immediately ran down a mental checklist of how I was going to approach this match. NO fighting sweeps. NO fighting guard passes. NO scrambles. NO crazy fast movement of anykind from me. The only thing I’ll work hard for are escapes.

He immediately stood up and passed. I like to think I did a fairly decent job of giving him a hard time but he was really good or I really suck still, either way he was in a very high top kesa gatame when he finally lands side-control. I think he was baiting me to escape sweep – wrapping my arms around him, bumping, then follow through turning over to the side sweeping him – but each time I’d move my arms he’d rapidly pull at them hoping to set up a submission. I kept my arms in.

Eventually he worked to mount, I bump escape and he death-grip hugs me to prevent me from posturing up. I manage to sit up only to have a sloppy triangle slapped on me. I drive my shoulder forward, grip his collar and attempt to make him uncomfortable by having his knee touch his forehead while planting my entire weight on him. He doesn’t budge.

I work to slide my trapped arm out. Tomari-sensei gave a comment to another sparring pair which for some strange reason my sparring partner thought was directed to him so he lets go and goes from full to zero resistance flat. Then he starts talking to Tomari-sensei, which cause both me and Tomari-sensei shoot puzzled looks at him. He realizes what’s going on, appologies to both of us and gives me side-control to start with.

He starts bucking and bridging non-stop so I step over to north-south to trap his near side arm, killing movement in his shoulders, and move back to side-control. His free arm actually helped keep me in place, on top of him, by pulling me down. It was actually a perfect set up for an armbar – the way his arm was positioned – but each time I tried to move he’d keep stuck right next to him. Instead, I slowly worked between a baseball choke and the Shoulder of Justice until time ran out.

We shake hands and I sit on the sidelines for the rest of class.

Finishing Thoughts
Afterward, Tomari-sensei asked if my knee was doing fine. I replied that it was. He said that was good and that he likes how I’m taking my progress.

I’m cool with how things are going too.

Jiujitsu Training – June 4th

Today we went over submissions. The ankle lock, the baseball choke and the straight armbar from top-turtle position.

The straight armbar was a good review. It could easily be escalated to several different submissions depending on how bottom-turtle defends or fights the attempt.

I got swept a lot during our positional sparring. Let’s see what I did wrong.

So How’d Sparring Go?
First, I went in against a two-stripe blue. He didn’t keep me in closed guard and I was in the process of posturing up to pass when he swept. I had no grips to control his legs, so surprise, surprise, he pulls a basic scissors sweep on me. Always have grips.

The next opening I go in, it’s up against a four-stripe blue. He immediately puts me in spider guard and I free one arm and start working on the other. He tries to sweep me a few times but I would adjust my weight or push off a hook. Eventually I see an opening for me and commit to it. I posture up and free my other arm but he transitions nicely to a sweep by entrapping my right leg limiting my movement.

I could have fought it by basing my weight, dropping a level and stepping back with my left leg, but since it was my right leg that was wrapped up I stood there and let him have the sweep. When I postured up I didn’t have control of his hips. I was heading over to his left side, had a grip on his left gi pants and failed to push that grip away. Had I done so he would have had a much more difficult time setting up the sweep.

The last time I went in it was against a white belt who was probably on the higher end of the next weight class above me or at the least on the lower end of two weight classes above. He kept me in closed guard and slowly broke down my posture, setting me up for a triangle. Before he could lock it in, I used the opportunity to pass, gave up too much space, he got me in half-guard.

I played with the idea of slapping on a baseball choke and by doing so I gave him enough time to place me in x-guard. I checked his top leg, pushed down on it and gave myself enough room to step over or step back but – as is the case with x-guard – my right leg was stretched out and secured by a death grip. I sat my weight on him and gave him the sweep. Don’t pause to think too much about it. In fact, don’t pause. Your sparring partner will take advantage of it.

Finishing Thoughts
I really don’t care about “losing” all that much. Mostly, I care about learning. And I care about not getting injured most of all.

I’m still getting my body familiar with all the funky movement only found in grappling, and with the timing and resistance that only comes from sparring. So it’ll be a slow process.

Jiu-jitsu Training – May 31st

Yesterday we learned a confusing spider guard sweep to use if top-guard tries to stand-up pass. Then we learned a not-so-confusing sliding knee pass that I really liked and plan on using. And finally we learned an utterly confusing z-guard pass.

I wanted to write out the z-guard pass and post it for my benefit, give it some sort of clarification as writing about a technique tends to do that for me. Originally, I had just my notes on the pass but it was too vague to understand. I added tons more detail in the hopes of making it read better, but then it became far too complicated that if you read it you’d need a cipher to decode it.

So instead I’ll just write about my first sparring session.

So How’d Class Go?
It really wasn’t a sparring session, more like positional drilling at full resistance for 6 minutes. Start from guard, top-guard passes gets to side-control: winner. Bottom-guard sweeps, submits, or stands up: winner. Loser leaves, winner stays as bottom-guard, and new top-guard comes in, re-start.

I paired up with Brent, we went slow. I almost passed his guard but he stood up. I leave.

I immediately went to an open spot and paired up with a three stripe white belt. He complained of having a sore neck but stayed in. We went slow, I almost passed again but he spazzed out and tried for a single leg during a scramble. I dropped my weight on him, triangled the arm hooked around my leg attempting the single leg, rolled forward and found myself on the better-end of a crucifix. I shrimped out to neck crank him, remembered that he had a bad neck and submitted him with a collar choke. I stay in.

Next up was a purple belt I knew as a blue when I first joined Paraestra. Actually, he became a blue belt a couple of months after I joined Paraestra. Two years later, he’s a purple. We went slow and I don’t know how much trouble I gave him stopping his passes but when he gave me a ton of space, I stood up. I stay in.

Finally, a rather large white belt comes in. Tomari-sensei immediately voices his concern, I tell him I’m good. We’re gonna go slow and I look the white belt dead in the eye when I say it. He nods. We start off and he uses big man strength to pass my guard. Fact was I was giving him a hard time passing on my left side when he switched over to go to my right side (right leg is the post-surgery leg) I dropped my leg to give him a clear path to pass.

On his way to secure side control I bumped – out of habit, I didn’t need to cause I had lots of space – and spun out to escape. He was so surprised that he kinda stalled getting back on track and seemed apprehensive to engage again. So I pulled him in butterfly guard. He went into gorilla pass mode and I let him have the pass after pushing against his shoulder and shrimping away to make him “earn” the pass. I leave with a big goofy grin on my face.

Finishing Thoughts
I felt incredibly happy to roll again even if it was limited. I did much better that I thought I would have. And even better than that my right leg is feeling quite outstandingly well.

If there’s more positional sparring drills I’m definitely heading in. I think that will improve my movement, slowly work up my comfort level especially with my knee, and help my reaction time and grappling skillset in a much safer manner than sparring straight out. Plus I’m staying away from spazzy big guys for as long as possible.

When I can stay in for the entire round of positional sparring that’ll be the time I step up to full sparring.

Knowledge vs Skill

I want to touch upon something I wrote about yesterday. It was about having technique and the ability to perform it on demand. In simplier terms: knowledge and skill in jiu-jitsu.

Absolute knowledge in jiu-jitsu is showing up to class, watching lots of instructionals, learning tons of techniques by heart and drilling them but never sparring much. Basically being a walking jiu-jitsu encyclopedia.

Absolute skill in jiu-jitsu is the other side of the coin; sparring at every chance, focusing only on improving/heavily relying on strength and conditioning. Basically Big-Man jiu-jitsu.

This is an extreme example but one way of looking at this would be comparing an online-awarded Gracie Combatives blue belt to a competition gained BJJ blue belt. One side sees the benefit of knowledge (techniques that are “street” ready) as superior, while the other side sees skill (being able to perform in an “alive” setting like a tournament) as a clear advantage.

Let me make it clear, I have nothing against either side because I know exactly what each side is addressing. I’m a Relson Gracie blue belt and my current instructor, Tomari-sensei, gives promotions on a competition-you-enter-you-win basis. So, it concerns me when people are more than capable of sparring and choose not to, and it concerns me when someone is a terror on the ground but can’t even breakfall properly.

Other forms of this arguement show up as watered-down jiu-jitsu vs “real” jiu-jitsu, belt testing vs tournament wins, and gi vs no-gi.

The way I see it, there has to be an escalation of both aspects in order to be really, really good in jiu-jitsu.

You can’t be dependant on knowledge if you lack the strength and conditioning to apply it. And you shouldn’t be dependant on skill alone because it lulls you into a false sense of ability.

I write this because this is my current predicament. I’m in absolute knowledge. I’m not sparring, I’m untested. I have zero skill. I can mention with certainty that if I sparred against a white belt with even a couple of months of training under them, I’d lose.

It’s not that it bothers me. I’m fine with tapping out and all that good stuff. It’s more so to illustrate my point.

Balance between knowledge and skill is key.