Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Takedowns & throws
I started initially by ensuring a good takedown base, by implementing takedown training as a warm up, giving my students 20 minutes or so takedown practice every class. Takedowns are important, and the confidence to shoot will only come from practice, which regrettably I have to admit, I didn't concentrate on for years.
The objective is for my students to gain confidence and have at least ONE "go to" takedown, one takedown that he is confident in and use like his second nature. Like a favourite standup combination. This will be useful in a competition, or if need be on the street. By then it is too late to decide which takedown in a few hundred to apply, you must already have your favourite.
I have been implementing animal movement drills for warmup and warmdowns the last couple of months, not with the intention of it being a workout, but a warmup/down. Get the body comfortable with moving a certain way.
Here are a few examples of animal movement drills on Youtube, my current students will be familiar with most of them:
Animal drills, the majority of them demonstrated
Andre Galvao mixing animal drills with tornado rolls, throw drills etc.
I will be implementing with these animal drills, tornado rolls, wrestling shoots and sitouts etc for warmups and warmdowns.
Lastly, and I have been trying this for years with varying success, I will want to continue pushing for the technical "light" roll.
I first started with just generically telling my students to roll light. Some more experienced students got it, others did not. The issue is, how light is light? If you let them go too easily, we started seeing unrealistic WWE escapes (rolling backwards out of back control to a backwards mount???) and slightest push reversals which IMO does not benefit the students technically
I then tried letting my students take turns, similar to what the CM guys in the gym call the "tennis drill" these days for their standup sparring. This is where one student will attack, then the other will defend, then the first counter, and the other counter again. This worked to a certain extent, but it gave an unrealistic sense of timing, and the student being countered against flopped too easily.
Then I started trying out what I call "cops and robbers". One person will continuously attack, flowing from one attack to another, but only using 50% weight and strength, while the other will be flowing from one escape to another. This again did benefit the advanced students, but the beginners had a hard time understanding it and implementing it.
Then I started my "Taking and keeping initiative roll" by one student lying down in a reverse scissors position. Not exactly a guard, but with the other person between the legs, its more or less a neutral position IMO. Again varying levels of success. The advanced student will eventually take and keep the initiative, the lower skilled student will end up underneath.
I will try another approach in the coming classes, I call it my "three second initiative roll". This means one student will take the initiative for 3 seconds, the partner does not flop but try to stay where he is, then the other partner goes for 3 seconds for his escape/attack/move. If one person can only do one move within that 3 seconds, so be it, if he can go 2-3 moves, good too. The objective is to stay light, but flow as much as you can within your 3 seconds.
This overcomes the common problem of when do you start your counter attack? If he is passing your guard, do you let him pass all the way to a control position, or do you work your counters to guard passing before he gets a control? The above drills I attempted always have this issue, when do you initiate your counter without discouraging the lightness of the roll and making the roll competitive and tight.
Here is a great example
Fabio Gurgel and Leo Vieira rolling light.
Notice that they are not clamping down, but there is a distinct rhythm, not so much each take a turn, but roughly a 3 second initiative each one takes once they hit the ground.
Have fun! And remember to "Play Jiu Jitsu, not Fight Jiu Jitsu"
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You’re actually younger than Randy Couture. Is there any chance that you could fight again?
No, there’s not. My knees are a mess. I have no cartilage in both my kneecaps. Zero. Bone on bone. It’s really bad. There’s nothing they can do, except surgeries, until that stem cell stuff. People think a knee replacement, but you can’t do a knee replacement. You can have the best surgeons on the planet, which I already went to, and they say, “Bas, it’s a really bad problem.” …
I can’t do any ground work anymore. If I bike, I have to have a bike with a high seat. I can’t run at all. If I jog half a mile, I can’t walk for five days. It’s so bad sometimes when I walk down my driveway I walk backwards.
Do you think that 10, 20, 30 years from now, we’re going to see a lot of former MMA fighters with serious, long-term injuries?
No. Everybody is training smarter. I have so much explosive power that what happened with me is my training scraped my kneecaps up. People like Randy Couture are training smarter. If you train smart, you’re OK. I was a maniac. I went balls-out every training.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I graded my long time training partner Rich Hudson his long overdue purple belt a couple of weeks ago.
Which brings me to the question what is a purple belt? I am sure my numerous blue belts would want to know what my requirements are and what to strive for to attain the next belt level.
The generic answer to this is that "to be a purple, you have to be able to beat or fight at the same level as a purple". However the problem is both the purples I've graded, Rich and Vince are so far better than my blues, that it is hard as a blue to measure yourself against them.
Traditionally in Brazilian gyms, you get the next belt level when you win tournaments regularly. If you keep winning tournaments in your belt level, it is pretty obvious you should get to the next level. I have heard further that some gyms have the facilities whereby in order to grade, you have to fight an MMA fight within the gym.
However, for us here, this is not an option. That being said, with cheaper travel, and more tournaments in the region, this may be an option for many in the future, who knows?
On the other hand, I know of gyms that have 3 hour gradings, where you have to demonstrate technique upon technique, with the last hour saved for rolling.
What about my requirements? I have broken it down to several categories that I think are essential to be a purple belt.
Have a Complete Game
If my simple requirement for blue belt is that the student must have a game (eg a guard game, or a top game), then a purple belt must have a complete game, meaning s/he should have a game in most common positions. Quite a few of my blues are getting there.
Build your own game
As a blue belt, your instructor will tell you, you need to work on your guard, or your passing etc. But a purple belt should be able to be self taught. That is not to say that you stop learning in class (as we are always growing in BJJ) but that you do not need your instructor to spoon feed you anymore. You have enough technical ability to form your own game, and add and build it yourself. Of course you can ask and learn from your instructors, but the growth and direction of your game is up to you, not your instructor.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
By mental aspect, I am not talking about whether or not you are an aggressive player or defensive counter attacking player or whether or not you can handle pressure in an MMA match, BJJ competition or even real life street fight. Those mental aspects are too complicated, rely on too many factors and too individual to cover in one post, and different coaches, psychologists and other so called mental performance specialists all have their own differing opinions on the subject.
What intend to post about is the second to second mental attitude as a BJJer you should take in every grapple with every opponent, no matter if you are grappling the newest and most helpless white belt, to grappling Rickson Gracie.
John Will once told me the difference when wrestling someone like Rickson, Rigan or John Jacques, compared to anyone else is not simply that they are technically excellent, but that they are always pushing the buttons, holding the reins or forcing the issue. It seems simple enough a concept, but took me many years to assimilate this into my game. Its only now that I try to do this to everyone, in every position that I am in.
What does it mean?
It means that in all positions, you must always keep your opponent on the back foot. Keep your opponent always on the defensive mentally, although you might not be in the best position to attack.
If you are on top, you should crush, smother, suffocate, irritate, attempt multiple submissions, and completely scatter your opponent's attention to the wind.
If you have guard, never EVER let your opponent get comfortable enough to even start thinking of initiating a pass. Thus you disrupt his balance and posture endlessly, making him forever adjust, force him to defend sweeps, your getting to his back, and submissions. As the guard player especially, you have to keep attacking until he cracks (you sweep, get the back or submit). The moment you stop keeping him on the back foot, THEN he will initiate a pass.
If you are in your opponent's guard, even if he is a good guard player, and you are being pushed to the limit defensively, especially against a good open guard player always give a threat of a leglock. This does not necessarily mean dropping backwards at every opportunity, but for example, grab the ankle as if you are going to for an ankle lock. When he defends that, thats the time you can go for your pass.
If you are underneath, especially against BJJ players, you never let him settle in any position. No doubt its tiring, but you must always be initiating an escape, blocking his positioning, and forcing him to chase after you to get position, all at the same time avoiding easy "obvious" submissions. Easier said than done, but although its tiring, forcing him to fight for position is better than defending from a good solid position and defending submissions.
Lastly, especially against players who are undoubtedly better than you, you just have to bear in mind that even black belts go for basic submissions. So while you defend against the obvious chokes, arm submissions and even leg locks, if possible do something that is not obviously going to give him a submission, yet even if futile, make him mentally defend. For example if under a knee ride, one handedly grab his foot as if you are going to initiate a toe hold. It might not do anything, but it hopefully will force him to think of defending, and that few seconds while he is not attacking, is where you might escape.
Not ground breaking stuff, but a reasonable goal to try an achieve. If you can do all that on a constant basis, you will be a nightmare to roll with, and thats good Jiu Jitsu!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I have attended classes and seminars by high level BJJers. Many of them will tell you the same thing, that they only teach and believe in the basics, because its what works for them. Unfortunately, most of these guys, being high performance athletes can do their moves to anyone, because they are typically big strong guys.
There are no basics that work for everyone. One thing I have realized teaching in Malaysia, is that the students here come in all shapes and sizes. My lightest student weighed in at 40kgs and my heaviest 120+kg.
There will be moves that work for the lighter one that won't work for the heavier one and definitely vice versa.
There is an old saying "Fight a Boxer, Box a Fighter". This exact phrase is used by John Will and Gene Lebell as their basis of their success in their individual autobiographies. This is the reason how they climbed to the top in their fields (John in Silat, Gene in Judo).
Every technique, there is a counter. So if you do basics only, the counter will quite easily counter it. Furthermore, different instructors have different ideas what the basics mean. Even a simple technique, say armbar from mount, 10 black belts will give you 10 different emphasis on the same move. So most instructors will say learn the basics, but more often than not, they are all talking about different sets of techniques.
To me the beauty of BJJ is the variety of moves. I try to teach as many games as possible, and the techniques that make up those games, although perhaps physically or attribute wise, I am not able to play those games at a good level.
Thus I have students who play rubber guard as their primary guard, and one particular blue belt plays a mean upside down guard with triangles and oma platas as traps. My purple belt plays a mean Z and De La Riva guard, and another blue belt plays primarily half guard.
Does that mean that these guards (or othe techniques) are useless and we should only learn "the basics"? Eddie Bravo, Ricardo De La Riva, Gordo and many others would take offense with that.
In a class I typically teach my students perhaps 4-8 techniques for a particular position. That is not to say I expect them to remember all of them. In fact I expect them to remember only those that fit in to their game.
This is my montessori way of teaching BJJ. You pick and choose what you want to learn, and how fast you want to learn is up to you.
BJJ first and foremost requires intelligence. As instructors, I believe our place is to show you the way, give you the tools, but it is up to you which path you take, and the level and direction of your growth. We help you develop your game, answer your questions the best we can. But at the end, there is no "best" game that everyone leans. There is a best game for you, that only you can develop.