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среда, 26 мая 2010 г.

The Wristlock from the Closed Guard

I am trying constantly to develop my game, selecting techniques that really work for me and practicing them in a competition setting.

When I look at techniques that I really want to use, I look for two kinds of factors. i) how much they put me at risk i.e. if I fail to carry out a technique, what will this lead to? will I get submitted myself if I fail? will I get mounted?

The reasons why I love the back grab from north south is because it is effective, it gives me plenty of choices and a chance to get another 4 points in a match. If I fail, I still have a decent chance securing the mount or at least the cross body.

ii) the second thing is of course how effective the technique is. Of course if you practice a single technique over and over, you will get better, but I prefer to have a set of techniques for every position which I are already well-practiced by me. You don't want to try a new technique in competition.

There are techniques which are more effective for you. I personally love going for the kimura, especially from the guard but also from cross body or north south. Very often I can recover my position from the kimura and there is very little I lose.

Now one technique that I recently been thinking about however is the wristlock from the guard. The closed guard is kind of a safe place to be if you are on the bottom as long as you can keep your opponent off balance and from passing your guard. There are some moves that really expose you while others are really safe.

Moves that I consider relatively safe and want to develop are things like the basic cross choke. You don't open your guard and if you can secure the under arm hold or a brabo choke, you are safe if your opponent powers out because you are still in guard and you start over trying something else.

To add to this one, I am thinking about the wristlock. Of course I think it takes a lot of practice but it is worth exploring. The opponent very often does not expect it and in many schools the wristlocks are very often overlooked.

At the same time wristlocks in the adult divisions are permitted from white belt level unlike leg locks for example so you can start developing wrist locks from your closed guard right from the beginning.

вторник, 25 мая 2010 г.

Scissor Sweep

The scissor sweep is probably the first sweep from the guard that every beginner learns when he first comes to a bjj academy.

I have to say I love this move because it is so effective against most beginners and sometimes intermediate level guys.

Often of course it does not work perfectly since the guys often have a very good base and understand this move very well. Opponents that are heavy are of course good at using the opportunity to pass the guard.

The scissor sweep I understand is always criticized for being one of these moves that only works on beginners, but I think it is always worth exploring your opponents base and taking advantage when he is off balance to try to go for a submission like the triangle from there.

My personal favourite is kind of a modified scissor sweep where you try to push away your opponent's leg which he uses to stabilize himself. Alternatively you can underhook your own leg under his and take advantage to take him off balance to the other side. I have found that this one does not always work however.

If you have a great defensive guard then I think you should always be able to recover your guard if the move does not work and then go for something else.

The hip bump sweep and the flower are two alternative sweeps which I try to use but these are harder to implement in my personal experience. The hip bump depends on how tied up you are and you really need to find the timing. In a no-gi situation I have had better success with the hip bump becuase your opponent cannot control you as much and make sure your back remains on the ground.

So go for the scissor sweep first. If it does not work and your opponent keeps his base, look for the submission. Check out the armbar here http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9042427621842584977#

If that fails recover back to closed guard and try something else.

Judo and jiu jitsu are similar I think in one thing. Both standing and on the ground, your opponent will proceed to try to defend against any technique you will do and therefore it is a combination of techniques and how well you can do it that is going to make the difference.

The scissor sweep on its own may not work but if this is your position from which you regularly work from, then you will practice regularly a combination of moves which will give you a game that will allow you to be prepared from any situation.

If you take the scissor sweep, all too often your opponent will try to defend by stabilizing his base and then trying to pass your guard. Consider how you would counter this situation and practice it over and over again.

One option could be to stay in control and proceed to pull your opponent into a loop choke as you can see below:

Too many times you see the loop choke being performed with rolling but this is a more simple variation which is more practical I think and has been performed successfully at a higher level. The key I understand is not to make the grip too deep as this will not allow you to gain the appropriate position to make the hold tight enough to submit your opponent.

Taking the Back

Reaching the back mount is a really important part of my game. Position before submission is my moto as well and if you can pass the guard and then achieve back mount that really puts you in the lead for points.

The back mount for me is also a great position to be in terms of attack vs defense. You can continue looking for the submission and rest while your opponent is a bit demoralized. When you lose the position, very often you still achieve mount, which is a great place to be for a down-side scenario.

There are many ways of achieving back mount from a whole variety of positions: from cross body, guard, half guard... to name a few.

Below is a video that I have found on youtube with the new generation of Gracies demonstrating another variation of achieving back mount from the closed guard.

(well, it seems to me if you can't secure the arm at the last moment, this one maybe quite difficult to accomplish but a Gracie from the academy replied to my post on youtube that it can be done effectively so I will just have to practice it more and see) If I am not mistaken, Rener Gracie is demonstrating the technique in this video.

Taking the back is an important element of the positional game and in my opinion it is also worth thinking about how you can transition to the back from the half guard, perhaps one of the most common positions which you typically end up in, trying to defend so your guard is not passed.

Below is one of the best videos I have seen on this subject.

Of course the video also shows quite a few other ways to reverse the position and attack your opponent which need to be mastered. Right now I am working on trying out some of the Rigan Machado techniques he demonstrates in one of his DVD sets and really enjoying it.

As I train with guys that I close to my level in terms of technical knowledge of jiu jitsu, the more I see that I need to improve my technique and think about where the holes in my game are which I need to improve in order to win fights. Very often I actually find myself in the half guard either on the bottom struggling to defend or on top struggling to pass and this is what I am working on now. The gi game is so technical and allows you to use so many different techniques that it takes a lot of mat time to master but this is what everyone of us has to give in order to gain the knowledge and grow.

Check out the detail in transitioning to the back from half guard here from the Yamasaki BJJ school.

Lastly, Rubens Charles Cobrinha (4x BJJ World Champ) and Romero Jacare Cavalcante demonstrate how to take the back. Instructions from the greatest stars from Alliance

Finally I found this video as well about taking the back from the guard which looks very good. Taking the back from the guard is not an easy task when you are fighting against an experienced opponent with a good base but I think this one is doable if you can stay really tight and focus on not allowing the guy to get back upright.

Journey to Blue Belt

The Blue Belt is the first grade in jiu jitsu and perhaps one of the most sought after. One of the first things white belts aim to get is not success in competition but the blue belt actually. Of course it is not the belt itself that people seek but the level of technical proficiency that the blue belt represents.

What I think is important however is to focus first on being a great white belt. First try to be the best white belt that you can be.

At the start of your journey you will tap and lose to everyone. Even white belts that have gone to a few classes, but with time this will change. The initial improvement in jiu jitsu can be very quick and soon you will tap newcomers to the sport with armbars and triangles yourself, passing their guard and mounting them since they do not even have a vague understanding of the concepts.

Once this stage has passed, there will be a group of guys that have been going to classes for several months now, all still white belts but already dedicated to develop the skills further.

You should focus on developing your technique and at some stage you see that your technique allows you to overcome these beginners who already know something about the basics of jiu jitsu.

Once you are regularly tapping many of the newcomers, its time to test yourself in competition. You may have six months or more experience on the mat nad this time you get to test yourself against similar white belts in a competition setting.

Winning in a division with 20 or so guys demonstrates that you are a quality white belt, that you have mastered well the techniques of jiu jitsu.

The last test at white belt once you have accomplished something in competition is to test yourself against bigger guys. At your academy you are bound to find guys that are bigger than you and are still at white belt. Choose some guys that maybe 15-20 pounds heavier than you and test your skills in this case.

You will be at a weight and size disadvantage but this is exactly what you want. You want to test not you strength or athletic ability but your jiu jitsu. If you can sweep several guys that are 20 pounds heavier than you, then this should tell you that your technique is working.

This is a way of progression that I see in jiu jitsu. It is based on where you are relative to fighters of the same grade. The more often you train, the faster you will progress and develop you defensive and attacking game.

пятница, 21 мая 2010 г.

UFC 116 - Terrible card apart from the main event

They have got to be kidding us if they think we are going to pay for such a card. Brock Lesnar and Carwin everyone wants to see, but Wandy does not qualify for a co-main event. The rest of the fights are for the undercard. Seriously, well done to Scott Coker. Strikeforce does make better cards and the fights are far more exciting. No one wants this garbage.

Preliminary Bouts:

Jon Madsen vs. Karlos Vemola
Daniel Roberts vs. Julio Paulino
Julio Paulino vs. Daniel Roberts
Jacob Volkmann vs. Paul Kelly
Goran Reljic vs.Kendall Grove
Brendan Schaub vs. Chris Tuchscherer

Main Bouts:

Kurt Pellegrino vs. George Sotiropoulos
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Stephan Bonnar
Matt Brown vs. Chris Lytle
Wanderlei Silva vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Shane Carwin (UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion) vs. Brock Lesnar (UFC Heavyweight Champion)

четверг, 20 мая 2010 г.

How long to get a BJJ Blue Belt?

Enjoy the grade you are at, and be the best! train hard, and if you are that good, go compete and bring back the gold. worry about improving your game, not about the colour of your belt. You will attain respect by showing great technique

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a martial art that takes a lot of practice and a lot of dedication. Unlike many other martial arts where you go to a grading and just display some techniques, in jiu jitsu you really have to earn your belt with plenty of hours on the mat.

The more often you train the faster you will likely progress. With 2 sessions a week it will probably take you over two years to get it but if you train say 4-5 times a week, you progress will be much faster.

BJJ blue belts vary in skill level enormously. Some guys on the mat will be the newly graduated, 2-years into jiu jitsu guys with plenty of holes still to get rid of.

On the other hand there are some guys who have spent years and years as blue belts, perfecting their technique, competing regularly and training intensively in order to perfect the skills. Some of these guys may already be at a purple belt level but are still training and competing under blue.

Draculino talks a bit about this. When he was winning and competing with his blue belt, he was already beating brown belts in his academy and I think this just shows how varied the skills levels can be.

There are two other things I wanted to mention about promotion:

1. Being a Fresh Blue Belt - Basically means you are a Target!

When you do get the next belt, especially blue belt, it becomes a time when all the white belts focus on you, focus on beating you. Yesterday I went to a different BJJ club and literally there were 30 or 35 white belts and no one else. I was the only blue belt there and since no one knew me, they all wanted to try sparring with me.

When you become blue belt, every white belt wants to try and win in sparring so I think it changes everything for you. When I was a white belt, I loved sparring with blue belts and submitting them. When I became the blue belt, I became the target of the white belts.

2. Competing sucks if you've just been promoted, because really you are no longer that good for your grade!

When you become a great white belt, this is the time for competition. Any time soon you are going to be promoted to blue belt and once you get the blue belt, its going to be much harder for you to compete because the blue belts competing have years and years of experience and likely far more technical skill than you at this point. So take your time with each belt, first enjoy sparring in class, sparring against guys your level now, above and below and once you feel that you are up for promotion again, go compete and prove your are great at the belt you are at before you go up!

Enjoy the belt you have and your time will eventually come when you will be promoted. In the end, it is your skills that matter so focus on perfecting them but investing in mat time.

Jiu Jitsu - Train More

The thing with jiu jitsu is that the only way to get better is to train more. Training more though does not mean violently sparring with everyone in your gym three times a week and getting injured every other month.

The way to train is to train often, focus on technique and add weight training when possible. You want to train your cardio as much as possible but also you have got to focus on stay away from injury and on the mats practicing as much as possible.

When sparring, I think it is optimal to give it your 60% of strengh and effort. Focus on technique though. Look for openings and go for a better position. Look to take the back of your opponent, look for the submission but in any case control the fight.

The thing I hate the most is those crazy sparring fights when the whole fight is just scrambling from one position to the next. Avoid this. I enjoy the gi game. Securing some nice grips and working to pass the guard, but then also controlling the opponent and not letting him do what he wants.

When you see the big jiu jitsu guys at the worlds, you notice how calm and calculated they are. Speed is good but you want to focus on control and technique.

вторник, 18 мая 2010 г.

Fedor vs Werdum

ground. The guy has really improved his striking since fighting Nogueira and on the ground I think he could really control the fight.

People keep saying that noone can submit Fedor and that Fedor can submit anyone, but really who has he submitted that was so amazing? Randelman, Coleman, Hong Man Choi, Sylvia ... all guys who are blue belts at best in BJJ.

Fedor is good on the ground, but when you have a guy on par with the skills of Ricardo Arona, you will see Werdum taking Fedor's back, taking mount and in these situations Fedor is going to use all his skills.

The other thing is that if you look at the photos, Fedor is not in the best shape of his life. He visibly is slower then three years ago and I think the Brett Rogers fight showed a lot of wholes where Werdum could play.

Fabricio is also taller and a very well conditioned fighter. He can go the full three rounds and unless Fedor pulls out another KO which I think would be hard to do, then the fight is going to the ground.

For Werdum, I can see him working on putting Fedor on his back and from there it could get really interesting.

There is so much media attention out ther about Fedor not fighting the top competition and they are right. Fighting Werdum is really a waste. If Fedor wants to fight two time a year, he has to fight only the best.

However looking at Fedor's conditioning and at Werdum's skill on the ground, I believe people are in for a surprise. I am going to really enjoy Fabricio both in striking and on the

Fedor is not really a guard player and I have always noticed that his ground game is very judo-like. He has excellent submissions but his positional game is not good. Fedor passes the guard mainly using his effective ground and pound but you could see that he has trouble taking the mount. (look at Cro Cop or Mark Hunt fights).

I think it is still a decent fight, just not for a fighter who is ranked #1 thats all. I think the poll supports my view.

понедельник, 17 мая 2010 г.

Strikeforce Heavy Artillery - Great Success

I don't think there is an event this year that can even compare itself with Strikeforce Heavy Artillery. The fight card was great, the action was great, the commentary was poor as tradition but then you can't have it all.

Overeem is a beast, he looks on top form, at his peak and Vadim should be even more afraid then he was before. They don't want him to fight Fedor because look at him. He made Brett Rogers look like a child.

Respect to Brett Rogers, but he really needs to get in the gym. He has been exposed as a novice and he really needs to get his wrestling going and submissions too. He seemed to just collapse and then on the ground he looked even worse. Hard training is the only way to get better.

Jacare is the new golden boy of Strikeforce and he really deserves to be. He is such a great talent but also a really hard worker. He is really getting those takedowns but also landing the accurate strikes.

Andrei Arlovski just does not look like himself anymore. He did look slow and not controlling the action at all. Antonio Silva was not threatened even for a minute there. Something needs to change.

I like Andrei, but all this stuff on youtube he does it is just over the top. You look the way he trains and then you look how Brock Lesnar trains. You can then see why Brock is the HW UFC Champion and Andrei is on the way down in Strikeforce.

Roger Gracie I enjoyed a lot in the cage. The guy basically didn't do much MMA preparation, just jiu jitsu but I loved the way he delivered those jabs on Kevin. In the end I would have loved to see some more ground work but still it was cool. Kevin did the right thing trying to avoid going to the ground but it was going to happen eventually.

Great event, thank you Scott Coker!

суббота, 15 мая 2010 г.

Shogun, is he one of the top pound for pound fighters?

I think the thing is that MMA especially at the top level is extremely demanding and not only physically. Guys like Anderson Silva, GSP, Fedor and BJ Penn indeed have managed to accumulate great records but there are many explanations. There are so many factors are at work.

The important thing is that Shogun took the UFC LHW title. He is no doubt the number 1 light heavyweight in the world. The pound for pound rating has no value in reality. Shogun accomplished an enormous amount and will now make a lot of money for sure.

What is now interesting is how well his career is going to go. He has some very tough competition in his own division including Rashad Evans and Rampage coming up. Shogun does not need to use much jiu jitsu, striking will make the difference here. Couture I don't think is any threat either.

The really exciting fight that it would be really exciting to see is the fight with Anderson Silva. Shogun is one of the few that has the stand up to take Silva on. UFC should really make this fight happen.

среда, 12 мая 2010 г.

Strikeforce Heavy Artillery Showcase for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Wrestling has really done so well in the UFC, particularly with the dominance of powerful wrestlers in the heavyweight division, that some have even started to discount brazilian jiu jitsu in favor of boxing and wrestling.

This weekend we will have an opportunity to see some huge BJJ stars, demonstrating what they are capable of in the cage.

Firstly we will see Roger Gracie, perhaps the best grappler and jiu jitsu player ever, testing himself against the well-known but at the end of his career Kevin Randelman.

Roger will have to make sure he does not get knocked out by "the Monster" who is known to be a hard puncher, knocking out Mirko Cro Cop back in the days of Pride.

Nevertheless, it is certain that Kevin will be no match for Gracie on the ground. I can see Roger going for the RNC choke after taking the back or doing his classic armbar from the guard which he used to submit Ron Waterman.

The fight really puts Roger on the map in Strikeforce and I agree with observers who see Roger on a fast track to meet with Mousasi, Sobral and King Mo Lawal.

Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, who is scheduled to meet the very tough Joey Villaseñor will likely be no less exciting and I can see this fighting being more competitive.

Joey has good hands and it will be a task for him to keep the alligator at bay which may be tough to do considering Souza's great takedown ability both from the top and bottom.

On the ground, there is no doubt that Jacare will dominate anyone in his division and I think it is only time before he comes in to face Henderson or Mayhem Miller.

One of the main reasons in fact for Jake Shields to leave the UFC right now is Ronaldo Jacare. Following the win over Henderson, Jake Shields is in a great bargaining position with the UFC. Better than every before.

At the same time in Strikeforce there is a high probability that Shields will lose. Having delivered a less than stellar performance against Miller, nearly getting submitted in the process, Jake Shields will most likely have difficulty delivering a win against Ronaldo Jacare. Jake is simply not at this level in grappling. He has great takedowns, but once he is on the ground, he will likely get submitted by a guy that has overwhelming technique from the top and bottom.

Watch the trailer below:

воскресенье, 9 мая 2010 г.

Shogun Rua Defeats Machida!

Shogun is an incredible fighter. His jiu jitsu is great, he did amazing things in Pride and now he has taken the UFC belt after such a struggle with health.

Having gone through some ups and downs with health myself, I really see how well he has done and I see that he has put in a lot of work to get back in the ring. Mr. Anderson Silva should be the next opponent. Thats what everyone wants to see. Well done to him!

четверг, 6 мая 2010 г.

How Many Lessons a Week Does Your Academy Offer?

A real issue I think for many training a bit more seriously in BJJ is how many sessions per week does you academy offer. My BJJ academy for example only offers 3 lessons per week which for some may be fine but for many this may not be enough.

Unless you are studying at a really big jiu jitsu academy which has five or more sessions per week, you may want to or have to cross train.

Right now I am cross training in Judo (2 sessions per week) in addition to my jiu jitsu/grappling (3 sessions per week). Three sessions a week is kind of the minimum I think if you want to progress reasonably fast and therefore I think this is a real issue for some of us.

What worries me is in fact that too many academies now look to satisfy not high level jiu jitsu fighters but MMA fans. They add boxing and muay thai instead of adding more hours for BJJ guys devoted to instruction. Unfortunately this is an issue. Some of the guys could devote more time to BJJ but the academy does not offer this and private lessons may be expensive or not convenient. This is I think a problem bearing in mind.

Devoted BJJ guys that want to grow need long sessions, lots of technical practice and sparring and more hours on the mats. Academies cannot afford to instead opt to offer other martial arts just because its suits better the demand. My opinion

вторник, 4 мая 2010 г.

Grappling Proves MMA Wrong

While it has been virtually accepted that to win an MMA fight against the best you have to be a well-rounded fighter, today guys with great grappling continue to prove people wrong.

Grappling is a difficult and sophisticated art to master. The ADCC, the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling World Championships is the biggest event in the sport so far but it is clear that there are few who can deliver an all rounded game in grappling.

Grappling seems to have two crucial elements. The first is takedowns. Takedowns are critical in an MMA fight, but in grappling they can mean the difference between winning and losing against a strong jiu jitsu player. Freestyle wrestlers perhaps have the best takedowns in the sport. UFC fighters like Brock Lesnar, Velasquez, Matt Hughes, GSP and many others have shown that their ability to take down their opponents makes them superior fighters.

Jiu jitsu is the second part of grappling however. If you have great takedowns, you also need to pass the guard and submit your opponent. Most wrestlers who for the first time meet a jiu jitsu fighter struggle here. Jiu jitsu guys are phenomenal fighting from the guard and their amazing guard retention makes it difficult not only to escape every submission attempt but also to get anywhere from there.

Judo is a great takedown martial art but it is mainly a gi-focused art. Judo without the gi can be difficult to do when you have a freestyle wrestler facing you who is looking for a single or double leg.

Don't get me wrong. I am a great fan of the gi game and Judo, but to be successful in grappling you need to have a great takedown defense. You have to defend a single leg and counter yourself and I think Judo does not prepare you in this case.

Jake Shields is a great example of a guy that is not the king of grappling but has mastered it well enough to cause trouble for guys even as good as Dan Henderson. You can't submit Henderson but he has shown that you can consistently take him down, pass his guard and cause trouble. This is something that GSP has managed to do in his division as well.

Other guys like Frank Mir and even Shinya Aoki have shown the opposite. Their wrestling is poor and they try to rely on unorthodox and less effective takedowns . Once they are on the ground, they can do their magic, but without a good takedown they are not going to win the match against a great striker and here is the great flaw.

Jake Shields I think just proves how effective grappling is though. Dan Henderson was so much better at the strand up striking game but by setting up his takedowns and getting the fight to the ground Shields managed to defend his title against a guy that was highly favoured to win and who seemed a lot bigger and more powerful than him.

понедельник, 3 мая 2010 г.

Taking the Back

One of the major principles of brazilian jiu jitsu is position before submission. Your ability to take the back of your opponent from different positions can mean all the difference in sparring and competition.

There are so many ways of taking the back of your opponent and sometimes he may give his back to you especially if you have already mounted him, but most of the time you have to work to get it.

Below are some clips that I found on youtube on taking the back. The first one, taking the back from north south is a move that I think is fundamental to BJJ.

Now check out this video of a gi match between a judoka and Leo Viera (BJJ World Champ). Watch the beautiful back take by Viera 1:00.