Divergence

230749096_900_pic_2The Worm Guard…
yet another Gi only grappling innovation.
A specialization of a specialization.

Despite my lack of practice in the Gi,
I’m not a Gi hater.
It’s a specialization
and specialization is the hallmark of evolution.

Just as organisms have diverged from each other
over long periods of time and formed new species,
the Martial Arts has splintered and specialized
over and over again.

I like this recent Gi Specialization,
because it means that there will be an opportunity for No Gi specialization,
and MMA Grappling specialization.

If BJJ is a complete system
and effective as a means of self defense
and in the cage, as well,
then it must further specialize, too.

It must move beyond:
-front kick
-close the distance to clinch
inside trip
-pass guard
-take mount
-slap/punch
-arm bar or rear naked choke

It must provide an answer
for the superior defensive wrestler
who thwarts inferior takedowns.

It must provide an answer for the striker
with better offense than the grappler has defense
so that the grappler cannot close the distance to the clinch.

Gi players, by all means,
continue to specialize using the
skirt, lapels, and belt.

But No Gi grapplers, diverge from the Gi practice.
Only without the Gi can we make Jiu-Jitsu what it once was:
the dominant Martial Art in the cage…and beyond.

128

128signcropped128 is a magic number in grappling.
It’s the product of 8 x 2 x 8.
The first 8 represents the 8 positions in grappling:
-Standing
-Guard
-Half Guard
-Side
-Mount
-North South
-Turtle
-Back

At any given time, most positions in grappling can be described using these terms. But to better describe both parties grappling, we have to break down the positions into aspects. That’s where the “2” comes in.

In every position, one of the players is in more of an advantageous position, or “top” position. The player in the disadvantageous position is in the “bottom” position. Offense and Defense works in lieu of those terms, as well.

To even better understand what is happening at any given time, it helps to describe our players in terms of their gross movements: which way are they going? There are 8 cardinal directions they go in:
-Forward
-Back
-Right
-Left
-Up
-Down
-Circle Forward
-Circle Back

These three numbers, 8, 2, & 8, don’t describe the whole of grappling. After all, in “Bottom Guard,” how may guards are there? Open, closed, butterfly, De La Riva…just to name a few. But these numbers’ product, 128, offer a scaffolding for one to build one’s game on. In these 8 positions, 2 aspects, and 8 directions, will I be know and be able to attack and defend effectively?

128 may sound like a big number but it is the minimum number of scenarios we need to drill. Are you drilling them?

Escape

In article after article,
I’ve told you to go with the flow.

But there is one instance when going with the flow
will end the game…and not in your favor…
the submission.

The last vector of force your opponent with apply
is in the direction of hypermobility of a joint
(or compression on a strangle).

If you find yourself in this position,
you’ve already not been going with your opponent’s force
but the good news is
you can do what you’ve already been doing
fighting against it.

When your opponent is extending your elbow in an armbar,
you must get that weapon back.

If you cannot bring that limb back to the body
by flexing the elbow,
then you’ll have to bring the body to limb.
All armbar escapes, no – all escapes,
are based off of that principle.

There is always time to escape a submission
until there isn’t.
Up until the tap,
you still have options.

A submission is separating the limb (or neck or torso)
you are attacking from the rest of the body.

It is in the rest of the body where your options lie.
If you cannot move the limb to your body…
what part of your body can you move to the limb?

Where you can move is where you make your escape.

If I knew then what I know now about Injury Prevention

InjuryPreventionI sign up to a lot of newsletters…
especially those in Martial Arts and fitness.

I do so for a couple of reasons.
1) I do it for my own education and edification.
While I think what we offer is absolutely unique,
we know that we don’t know everything.

2) I do it because I want to see what other people are talking about.

I saw one today that prompted me to write.
It was about injury prevention.
Injury prevention was something I was I had known long, long, ago
as my life would have taken a VERY different direction.

Here are a couple of things I wish I had known that could’ve saved me a lot of pain experienced and time (almost completely) wasted.

1) How it feels is more important than how intelligent it sounds
Whether you lean more towards the natural or supernatural, either God or nature endowed us with sensations to guide our actions. It’s best we not ignore them no matter what information is presented to the contrary. If something hurts, it’s not because we’re weak…it’s because it’s making us weak. Don’t do what hurts. Do what helps.

2) What you’re not practicing will keep you healthy
As important as specific practice is for specific improvement, practice all movement. Moving what’s not moving will keep you healthy. And when you’re healthy, you’ll have more time to practice what you specifically want to…including the Martial Arts.

(If you’d like a little more specific direction, check out THE MASTERPLAN!)

Kuzushi Striking

got_kuzushi_bargain_t_shirt-rb1eb0282f116478eb28cefd7c63c980b_804gs_324“Yeah…but that doesn’t work for striking.”
That’s what I hear nearly everytime someone hears how I approach grappling.

In actuality,
I couldn’t disagree more.
Part of how I approach all Martial Arts is the principle of Kuzushi,
or unbalancing of the opponent, popularized in Judo. I find this principle to be so important, that I think it is the first step and every step thereafter except the last step in a match or fight.

I believe Martial Art is expressed best when we keep our opponent off balance until we can make our final move – whether that be a submission, pin, and of course – a finishing strike.

So when I teach (or practice) striking, it is about keeping the opponent off balance until the opponent can be hurt, or better, finished.

Many of our best strikers make use of feints and footwork to get their opponents off balance. They minimize their defensive blocking and maximize their parrying and slipping.

And when they finally hit their opponent with the final strike, whether it be a punch, elbow, knee, shin, or foot, their opponent is so off balance that they don’t see the strike coming or if they do there is nothing they can do about it. This is Kuzushi Striking.

So the next time you are watching a boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, or MMA bout, pay attention to the replay of the knockout and I’m sure you’ll see the victim being the victim of Kuzushi.

What Ronda Did That You Didn’t See On TUF

z13087862Q,Ronda-RouseyI think Ronda Rousey has lost a few fans since the start of The Ultimate Fighter.
She hasn’t lost me as a fan.
While I could do without her antagonism of her opponent,
I couldn’t be more impressed with her as a Coach.
When a fighter of her’s doesn’t perform,
she takes full responsibility.
In a demonstration somewhere between penance and possibility,
Ronda led from the front.

“She jumped on the scale after Anthony missed weight and was 152 pounds. Without any sort of prep (diet, water loading, sodium loading/cutting, etc.) jumped in the sauna and was in there for FIVE hours before it was time to go to the coaches challenge. Yes, Ronda Rousey cut weight in the sauna for five hours, went to a rock climbing challenge, won, and then went BACK to the sauna that night and cut some more.

The next day when it was time for Jessica and Raquel to fight, she was at the gym before anyone else arrived and was back in the sauna cutting weight. When the rest of us arrived she was sitting at 136 pounds in the locker room. I watched her warm up Rakoczy for her fight while on weight and then step on the scale in front of Dana and be 135 pounds. She did this to prove a point.”
–Jessamyn Duke

Take from:
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1859469-tuf-18-jessamyn-duke-fighter-blog-episode-12

There is a reason Ronda is the champ.
If she ever decides to be a full time coach,
she’ll make champions.
What an example she is.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

eecac1bb-cb91-4ec3-b9e9-66c7f1d24463_anderson-nocauteadoAs many predicted,
Anderson lost, Weidman won.
The King is dead, long live the King.

I like Anderson but I’m kinda glad he lost. I wished it had happened sooner.
I wish Chael would had done it the first time
to show Anderson’s “wrestling shaped” hole in his game
(and in turn, someone would’ve exploited Chael’s jiu-jitsu shaped hole…
but Anderson did that too soon).

The time for Champions with holes in their game is past.
Mixed Martial Arts champions are truly integrated…
are truly modernized.
Long live Modern Mixed Martial Arts.

What is the Modern Mixed Martial Artist?
I think its analogous to having both a major and minor in college.

There are three main divisions in MMA:

  • Striking
  • Wrestling
  • Submissions

No matter which of these three you major or minor in,
one of your two has to be wrestling…at least in defensive wrestling.
Why?

Wrestling is the cornerstone of Modern Mixed Martial Arts.
The ability to dictate where the fight goes is a huge advantage in a fight.

The Modern Mixed Martial Artist is still a Specialist (having both offensive and defensive skills in their major), but his competence extends beyond his specialty.

At a mininum, a Modern MMA needs to be a:

  • Wrestler with (at least) defensive Striking and defensive BJJ
  • Striker with (at least) defensive Wrestling and defensive BJJ
  • BJJ with (at least) offensive wrestling (gotta get it to the ground) and defensive striking

I don’t think this describes Anderson. While he is no slouch in defensive wrestling, I don’t think he “minors” in it.  I think that’s why Anderson may be the last of the Pre-Modern Mixed Martial Artist Champions.

By way of contrast, Weidman fills the role, even exceeds the role, of a Modern Mixed Martial Artist.  He majors in Wrestling.  Some may say he even has a double major with the other being in BJJ.  His striking is coming along and is evidently good enough to capitalize on the champ’s mistakes.  Weidman has the skill set to where he could be champion for quite a while.

Weidman isn’t the only “Modern” champion. In fact, when you look at the champions in the other divisions of UFC, you’ll see wrestling skills being present…at least as a “minor.”

MMA has evolved. It has become modern. The King is dead. Long live the King…and Let the King be modern.

An Impossible Game

I want a game.
A game that can beat anyone who goes against it.

Someone who might be bigger.
Someone who might be stronger.
Someone who might be faster.
Someone who might be…better.

Sounds like an impossible game, right?

I think it is something to shoot for.
Isn’t that what BJJ is all about?

So, what does this require of me?
It requires I:
Train with people bigger than me.
Check.
Train with people stronger than me.
Check.
Train with people faster than me.
Check.
Train with people better than me.
Check.

What’s left to do?
Continue developing a game that can answer all those challenges.

How am I going to do that?
In those situations where someone who is
bigger
stronger
faster
better
than me…
bests me.

I’ll look to my game to see
if my technical options needs improved
or if my techniques need to be abandoned
in lieu of better techniques.

I’ll drill the problem positions.
If I do them wrong, I’ll do them slower.
If I do them right, I’ll do them faster..
all the way to game speed.

From there, I’ll work my way to advantage rolling
and when I can win by my training partner
intentionally going slower
then I’ll attempt the position again.

I’ll do this for each problem position
and if I run out of problem positions,

I’ll look for
bigger
stronger
faster
better
oppponents/training partners
and I’ll start all over again.

I think that’ll keep me busy.
I recommend you try it, too.

Return of the Dragon!

It’s happened.
I’ve been able to go back to BJJ.
Finally.

I had a tendon injury
which lead to pain
when abducting, adducting, extending, flexing and internally rotating the hip…
almost every hip motion.

If you’re at all familiar with anatomical terms of motion
then you know that those motions are
very important to jiu-jitsu.

So, how did I come back?

I took the old fashioned approach.
If it hurt, I didn’t do it.
Well, that’s not all I did.
If it didn’t hurt, I did do it.

Sounds fancy, huh?
It’s not…but it’s incredibly effective.

I’ve spent a lot of time as a professional
helping my clients relieve their pain
and students teaching them how to relieve pain.

One of the most important tenets of pain relief
is to not give up any function
you don’t have to.

I couldn’t do BJJ
but I could go to the gym.

I couldn’t do all my lower body lifts
but I could do some of them.

The ones I could do,
I modified.

My body was injured,
my body was different,
so my exercise form had to be different.

And each time, I came back to the gym,
I tested to see if I could do my former lifts again.
Eventually I could.
Not as symmetrically at first.
Not through a full ROM, either.

Since I knew what movements
didn’t feel well (or test well),
each time I went to the gym
to see if I could train that motion yet.

Once I could,
I experimented to see if I could perform those motions
in the context of my BJJ drilling.
Once I could, I kept practicing until I could move up to game speed.

It felt good, it tested good to do BJJ movements,
so I came back to class.

That’s where I’m at now.
I had originally planned to do some drilling in all positions
until nothing hurt and then work may up from positional rolling
to advantage rolling to full rolling.

That wasn’t an option.
So I rolled.
I rolled somewhat handicapped.
But I rolled.

I didn’t try to use strength to complete a sweep
or out scramble my opponents.
My jiu-jitsu was pure…out of necessity.

It feels so good to be back
so that I can get back to
building my game…
as my game is unfinished.