Technique

Mount Attacks! And you can too!

Mount attacks seem out of fashion right now.  Leg locks and side control seem to be the attacks that are “in,” and for good reason!  Lots of really neat developments in leg attacks have made it to the mainstream jiu-jitsu communities, while side control attacks obviate the extra step of mounting your opponent and allow you to maximize your pressure while attacking.

But I prefer mount attacks.

So, without further ado, here is my mount attack YouTube playlist:

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Technique

YouTubing your way to greatness…or at least out of side control

Given my choice of bad positions to be in, I will always pick something other than side control.  Mount?  Definitely.  Back mount?  Sure.  Knee on belly?  Yup.

Side control sucks to be in and when rolling with someone halfway decent it can be exhausting to escape.  Your opponent can put endless weight on you with little effort all while setting up chokes, armbars, americanas, kimuras, kneebars, footlocks, transitioning to the mount, knee on belly, your back, or gift wrap.  Not fun.

When I started back at jiu-jitsu after a 7 year hiatus the first thing I noticed was my jiu-jitsu wasn’t as rusty as I would have expected.  The second thing I noticed was how much I hated being on the bottom of side control and how little I could do about it.

So, I did what any sensible BJJ practitioner does: I searched YouTube for “BJJ side control escapes.”

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Technique, Thoughts

YouTube: Not just a place for cat videos

I started jiu-jitsu in 2004 when the internet was still young.  And I’m not just being facetious when I say that.

  • Instagram, founded 2010.
  • Twitter, founded 2006.
  • YouTube, founded 2005.
  • Facebook, founded 2004.

That third bullet point is the one worth squinting at.  Let me reiterate: when I started jiu-jitsu YouTube did not exist.

So where did we go for mindless entertainment?  How did we learn elaborate moves that are as stylish as they are impractical?

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Technique, Thoughts

The Circuitous Path to Learning a New Guard

When you first start out all guards are new.  Nothing will work great, but some will work better than others.  Over time, this is the guard you will spend most of your time using.  This is partially because it will be the most rewarding, but also because it will be the guard you are best able to get to and maintain.  The process becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophesy: you’re good at the guard you’re good at because you’re good at it!

This is how I developed my guard game until very recently.  My closed guard and a sort of bastardized collar and sleeve open guard represented about 90% of my guard skill.  But then I saw shin to shin and I knew I wanted more from my guard.

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Technique

Finding moves in negative spaces

When you are first learning moves in jiu-jitsu you often are taught how to exploit bad habits.  From the mount you are taught the spinning armbar in response to your partner trying to bench you off.  From the guard you are taught how to kimura or bump-sweep when your partner puts their hands on the mat.  These techniques share a common thread: you are assuming your partner is doing something wrong.

Jiu-Jitsu is often compared to chess, and this is one of those times where the comparison is apt.  Beginners are more likely to make mistakes and so the person who gets a submission is most likely the person capitalizing on their partner’s mistakes.  But, just like in chess, as time goes on you’ll find your partners less likely to make mistakes.  The rolls become more and more about finding the perfect timing, misdirection – and if mistakes do happen jumping at the chance to exploit them because they might not come again.

Ok – so whats the point?  Well, if as a beginner your instruction begins with “an unskilled person will do X” then as an advanced practitioner you’ll start to hear “a really good player will do Y.”  When your instructor says these words your ears better perk up and you need to start paying attention!

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Technique

How to Actually Roll with Bigger People

I don’t like to criticize other people’s articles.  I know its hard to write and it takes courage to publicly say what you think.  But “Which BJJ Techniques Work and Don’t Work w/ a Small Man Against a Big Man” really got me fired up.  The title assumes gender for no real reason, the size difference is never specified, I don’t agree with the suggested techniques, and the grammar is terrible.

Rather than tell you everything wrong with the BJJEE article – I would like to explore what techniques work for smaller jiu jitsu players from an actual small jiu jitsu player’s point of view (I’m 5’2″, 115lbs).

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Technique

Combinations from the Closed Guard

One of my teammates was preparing for a competition last week (he double medaled!) and he mentioned that he wanted to learn more combination attacks.  He has been working on his closed guard recently, which is my favorite position.

Depending on how you choose to play the closed guard your partner may feel completely trapped or under constant attack (or ideally both).  Currently, I focus on keeping my partner trapped when I using my guard because it is a position I feel safe in with a larger partner.  But I would like to incorporate more combinations so my guard can feel both vicious and suffocating.

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Technique

Making the Most of Pressure: Side Control

There few terms in jiu-jitsu that get tossed around more than pressure.  You might hear ‘base’ or ‘posture’ more frequently, but understanding pressure is a vital component of any BJJ top game.  Pressure refers not just to physical weight (or the sensation of weight) but also constant attacks that keep your partner on the defensive.  This post will focus on the physical pressure, and at another time I’ll revisit this issue to address attack pressure.

Occasionally referred to as the “100 kilos position,” side control is best known for immense pressure.  Learning to apply more pressure from side control can make the difference between your rolls ending in a draw and having them end in a submission.

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Technique

The Minutiae of Grips: It’s Not Just Where You Grab but How you Grab It

The first time I rolled after a seven year break my forearms burned.  It had been so long since I had fought to hold on to a grip that my arms were exhausted.  But since then I have not had any issues with my grip.  Contrast my experience to my friend’s.  He started in May of this year and is constantly complaining about his fingers hurting and his grip burning out.  He’s much stronger than me so I suspect he has not learned how to relax while gripping.

Some people do experience finger pain in jiu jitsu that seems unavoidable (my husband loves Grappz for this reason).  But holding on the right way is important too.  Sometimes how you grab is as important as where you grab in jiu jitsu.  Ok – that’s a bit of an exaggeration but if you can’t hold on, where you grab doesn’t really matter.

Here are four kinds of grips in jiu jitsu and two tips that apply to all grips.

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Technique

The Lowly Headlock: Worthy of Knowing how to Defend.

Today a newcomer showed up at my university’s BJJ club practice.  He had trained Hapkido before and had “done some grappling,” so we walked him through the basic positions of jiu-jitsu, gave him the jiu-jitsu spark notes, and then got him rolling.

You see, our club is small and relatively informal.  And Thursdays are the most informal day – more of an open mat than anything else.  Also, lets be honest: we’re mostly there to roll.   But I digress.

I paired him up with John (not his actual name mind).  John is probably 5’6″ and all of 140lbs – not a big fellow, but fit and tenacious.  He has been training at the club for a couple of months and knew enough to move through the positions, pass the guard, attack from the mount, and the like.  I figured it was enough for him to hold his own with Mr. Hapkido, who probably outweighed him by 40 lbs.

Well, I was right and I was wrong.

Continue reading “The Lowly Headlock: Worthy of Knowing how to Defend.”