Last night was my first roll of 2012. It felt great to get back onto the mats in a new year. I had two weeks off from jiu-jitsu over the holidays and that two weeks provided me with some good things.

1- A chance to rest my body from a year of training.

2- Some time to think deeply about what techniques are included in my game.

3- An opportunity to map out my gameplan.

Number 1 was great because I had a few bumps and bruises that weren’t healing. As anyone else that does BJJ knows, we pretty much always roll with some kind of injury. Since most of us are at least slightly addicted to the game we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to rest when we’re hurt. We usually just figure that if we end up losing whatever limb it is that’s hurt we are better off without it. After all, less limbs probably make escapes easier… right?


Number 2 was great because it allowed me to simplify my game. I didn’t go away and gather more information. I went away to narrow things down.

I’m not sure if I’m the only one with this issue, but when I’m heading to class every week during the year I end up processing so much information. Most weeks are introductions to new techniques. Even without thinking about it I end up adding them into my gameplan. By the end of the year I find that my gameplan map is a lot wider than it should be.

I’ll explain. In all things there’s width and there’s depth.

Width is all the moves. There is soooo much width to jiu-jitsu. There’s closed guard, butterfly guard, deep half guard, z-guard, x-guard, DLR, side control, switchbase, headlock, reverse switchbase, kneeride, mount, and so on and so on and so on and so on. There are positions within positions.

Then, there are armbars, cutting armbars, figure 4s, keylocks, americana, omoplatas, monoplatas, gogoplatas, enough chokes to… well… choke a mule, and all sorts of other ways to hurt your friends.

Then you’ve got sweeps and reversals and escapes.

With all that, it very easy to create a very wide game. A game that has a huge number of positions and attacks within those positions. However, all that creates is a ‘jack of all trades- master of none’ fighter.

Then, there’s depth. This is the thing that all great fighters have in common. Watch Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie, and all the other greats. They all have simple gameplans consisting of a few moves that are understood at a really deep level.

Roger Gracie makes the most of the Single Underhook Pass, Scissors Sweep, and Cross Collar Choke from Mount. He uses basic jiu-jitsu at a depth that years and years and years of mastery of a single thread within a single subject creates.

Then, look at Marcelo Garcia. He has a depth to his Hooks Sweep from the Butterfly Guard that has no rival. He focuses on that sweep and figures out how to get it from anywhere. All his escapes put him in positions to transition directly into the sweep. He adds variations and counters to counters. He’s added depth to the Hooks Sweep.

So, I simplified my gameplan over the holidays. Now I have a map of what I want to do from any position. It’s simple, with just 3 or 4 options, all based on a priority scale.

Last night, in my first roll of 2012, with my new, simplified gameplan, I felt pretty good. I was able to concentrate on the real basics of jiu-jitsu. Things like grip fighting, underhooks, posture, weight distribution, anticipation, and creating set-ups. I was computing those things because I wasn’t having to compute a hundred different moves instead. I was able to focus all my attention on getting back to where I felt dangerous and adjusting to the reactions of my opponent.

As Josh Waitzkin puts it in his fantastic book The Art of Learning, I was ‘making smaller circles’.

Number 3 was a natural follow on from number 2. In fact, I’ve probably already talked about it since it works so closely… in fact, I probably should have only had 2 numbers.

Lesson learned.

Keep rollin’ (DMX styles)



Every December I get into a bit of a funk.

I have spent 2011 is learning mode.

I took up a new job that required adjustments. Those adjustments required learning, not just of material, but of people and systems and other ‘ways’.

I spent the year traveling and speaking at all sorts of places. Churches, conferences, seminars, and study groups. That required that I spend a year learning new things so that I didn’t just attempt to share the same material everywhere I went. Sometimes, I would share the same material as I did previously, which was a learing process because I had to take a view of improvement instead of simple duplication. I learned how to plan series of presentations, how to speak to vastly different audiences, and how to revisit with groups.

I also picked up Jiu-Jitsu. I fell into a massive universe of techniques and positions. It’s got a human chess element to it. I learned protection and survival. I learned reversals and attacks. I learned drilling disciplines and mental practices.

I have spent 2011 in leaning mode.

However, every December sees me get a case of Decemberitis.

I get to a point where I just can’t be bothered learning anything new. My brain goes into hibernation.

My work turns into autopilot as much as I can make it.

My traveling and speaking stopped in November (because I knew I wouldn’t be very productive in December).

My Jiu-Jitsu is a bit of a different story though. Mostly because I can’t understand how you can go into a training session without learning something. I don’t understand how you can spar without learning something new.

I know how it happens. I know those nights where guys come to the gym and munt their way through the sparring sessions. They grab submissions as hard as they can and growl until they get a tap. They panic when they get into a bad position which usually leads to them being let go of because the other guy doesn’t feel like munting. They don’t use technique to control, they use pain and heavy breathing and an unshaven face and the little metal band they left on thier arm. They grab collars and try to rip it off. They get to side control and hold as tight as possible until they can get their forearm into your neck or get their knee on your belly in order to pull up on your leg and shoulder in an attempt to push the knee through said belly.

That’s all ‘legit’ Jiu-Jitsu. I know how it happens. But, I don’t understand it. You see, when I get in that mode I don’t learn anything. When people do that stuff to me, I know they don’t learn anything. How do I know? Well, because it doesn’t work but they still try it next time without any adjustments. That simple concept says a lot about someone’s willingness to learn.

Please note that I said, ‘willingness’ and not ‘ability’. There’s a huge difference in those two words.

So, come December and the onset of Decemberitis I learned that going into Jiu-Jitsu with the ‘I can’t be bothered learning anything this entire month’ attitude doesn’t actually last long. I think I ended up learning more last night than I usually do. The reason has a lot to do with what’s stated in this blog. When I can’t be bothered I tend to be a lot more clear in thought. When I’m clear in thought I roll a lot better. When I’m rolling better it’s because I’m using more brain and less hairy face/munter elbow/growl growl jiu-jitsu and more technique based combat.

As John Will via Glen Tarrant says, it’s Jiu-Jitsu (the soft art) vs Go-Jitsu (the munter art).

In my annual month of not wanting to learn anything new I have come across two news lesson.

#1-  Experience will always teach but only if you’re willing to learn.

#2- If you’re not willing to learn your bound to end up as a munter… no one wants to be one of those.

#3- If you spend so long in munter mode (not learning) you’ll get well left behind because you’re not growing, you’re just munting.

#4- Don’t state how many lessons you’ve learning until you’re done making the list…

Happy December everyone!


Understanding yourself is a key to understanding your game as a jiu jitsu practitioner. It’s one of the greatest things about the art. It’s just as alive as you are. It reflects it’s user. It adapts to who you really are.

With all the teaching out there today it can become more an more difficult to know what your natural style might be. There are a lot of people learning someone else’s game. We watch the latest world champ, get his DVD, and model our game cometely on him. The problem with this is that it doesn’t always reflect your personality.

Our entire society refelcts this. More and more rules are being applied to expressions of art. Other people’s rules. Rules are okay. They usually come from an established truth. But, when truth is used to hinder the discovery and expression of further truth… well, we just start to become bored and struggle with our chosen art. The struggle is that we’re not expressing who we really are through it. At that point, it’s no longer art.

It’s copy and paste.

So, here’s a practice to try out:
Go into sparring without any kind of gameplan. Don’t hold on to submissions. When you see one, grab it, lock it, then let it go. Don’t hold a position without activity, but don’t just abandon them lightly either. As much as you can, follow your instincts. Don’t stop to think. Just roll. Let go of all thought. Just roll. If you get caught, tap. You’re not aiming to win here. Just roll. You’re aiming to get a feel for your natural game.

When the session is over, go back and think about what felt right and what felt forced. What felt natural and what didn’t. What felt like instinct and what felt like programme.

I have done this over the last year in jiu jitsu. I have also done this over the last 20 years playing sports and video games. I have discovered my natural game.

Tight and patient.

I think defensively. I protect first. I naturally limit options for the opponent, and anticipate action. When I see what I’m looking for I test it. If it’s good I’ll take it. If it’s not I’ll toss it back. I wait until the right moment instead of forcing.

My natural game is to slowly back my opponent into a corner taking an inch at a time until I’m ready to cover that last metre.

Because of all that, my natural game also involves a lot of movement. In BJJ I’m constantly adjusting to the reactions of my opponent. They move an arm, I move a leg. They lean forward, I shift to the side. They sit up to attack, I hip out.

The vast majority of my taps have come from counters because the opponent didn’t have any other options but to play into what I’d set up. Or, slow and patient work from a dominant position.

It’s important for me to note here that I haven’t played my natural game for some weeks now.

I’ve felt off. I’ve been in a jiu-jitsu funk. The reason for the funk has been that I haven’t been playing my natural game. I’ve been trying to play someone else’s. That’s lead to me ending up stuck underneath most of my opponents, not holding top when I do get there, and trying to force things (which usually starts the cycle of underneath and loss of position all over again).

So, I’m going to find my calm, do a bit of clear minded analytical thinking, and get back to my natural expression of art instead of attempting to copy and paste someone else’s personality.

Out Before It’s Too Late

Escapes are harder the longer you hold on to whatever it is that lost you control in the first place.

Last night I was an armdrag machine. Not one of those really good machines that does its job. I was one of those machines that’s meant to do one thing and only did it once out of 100 attempts. I was playing a seated guard while sparring. My gameplan in the seated guard is this:

Sweeps- Armdrag, Hooks Sweep, Hook lift to Back

Submissions- Guillotine, Omoplata

My aim last night was to armdrag to the back. So, here’s what would happen.

I would get a hold of a same side wrist. I would jump up to get a hold of the arm. I would drag back down. I wouldn’t get out to the side. I would allow them to grab my leg and keep me underneath. I would keep dragging them as if it might work the second or third time. I would get my guard passed. I would get stuck underneath in a well established side control. I would have to work my way out of a deep, weighted control.

Lessons I took away.

Stop insisting on moves. I should be shooting for a technique and letting go if it’s not there. By shooting for the armdrag and missing, and still holding on like they might forget what was going on and stop defending the move that they are in the process of defending, I am giving them everything they need to pass. If I miss I need to be willing to reset.

Bail out. The second one is the half a step deeper than the previous one. Bailing on lost moves saves lives. It really does.

Escape early. I should be looking to escapes well before they ever get into side control. The problem last night was that I was still trying to armdrag as they came around, got a crossface, and underhooked an arm.

So, to help me get back into a good mindset I’ve decided to watch more Marcelo Garcia videos.


This is Marcelo. I watch for his grip fighting, submission set-ups, and early escapes. This is a great video that shows how simple his game is. It shows how good he is at bailing on a lost technique and, most importantly, not letting a bigger fighter establish a dangerous control.


Natural Consequences

Another year gone by. Another year where I’ve successfully repeated my cycle of trying to get into shape, eat right, and be more productive.

Granted, every year get’s a little bit better. Every year I sleep a little less, eat a little better, work out a little bit more, and form other slightly better habits. I feel like I need to give myself a little pat on the back, especially considering that this year is probably the most flexible my shoulders have been in my young adult life… I can now actually pat myself on the back.

But, I’m still not where I want to be. I want to eat better. I want to be more fit. I also can now add ‘- Better BJJ technique’ to the list.

So, the battle against myself will continue into 2012. However, I feel like I’ve come to a bit of a landmark.

A few days ago I had my Gi with me in town. There was a seminar on that evening so I brought the thing in and was just going to stay in town. I was aware that there was a group that had a lunchtime roll during the week. I thought, while I had my Gi, I would head down for a bit of a workout.

I got there and was told that changed it from just an open mat sparring session into a drilling session. So, we did an hour of drills. For me, that was a good solid workout. I got back to the office and couldn’t bring myself to eat the big pasta lunch that I’d brought in. I grabbed a light sandwich from the bakery down the street. It was perfect.

That evening we had the seminar.

The next evening, on my usual night at home while my wife is at Pilates, I decided to get out the mats and run some more drills.

The next morning I woke up early and hit the mats again for some more drills.

Since that lunchtime roll I’ve stayed away from sugar and cut down my meal portions. Why? Because while my body is recovering from workouts it doesn’t want to have to digest heavy foods. It wants what it needs, and no more. It’s not a decision that I made. It’s my body saying, “Alright, that’s enough” whenever I eat.

I’m drinking a lot more water because I’m a lot more aware of the need for it.  Not that I’m sitting there thinking, “I should drink more water”. I’m simply applying logic to the reasons I feel thirsty. Because I’m drinking so much more water, I’m cutting down on all the other junk that I could be drinking, like coffee and coke.

I’m getting plenty of exercise because of the extra drills that I’m doing. Jiu-Jitsu is basically a non-stop core workout. Great for that six-pack that I’m trying to create. It’s a great cardio workout as well.

Which brings me to my lightbulb moment of the day.

There are things in life that you want to change. Many, many things. The key is to find the thing that triggers natural consequences. BJJ, and improving its practice through drilling has the natural consequences of better fitness, better eating habits, and drinking more water. Those things lead to being fresher during the day, sleeping better at night, and no longer constantly feeling bad for not exercising, eating right, and drinking enough water. 

Likewise, I’ve found out that a recently acquired passion for cooking has a natural consequence of making me do more dishes. That’s because I only like working in a clean kitchen.

Engaging in more theological (the study of God) discussions has made me have to learn more, which encourages me to read and study more.

We all have lists of things we want to be better at. Find the thing that triggers the natural consequences.


Find Your Calm

We had a training session last night, and I felt really good during sparring.

I was really calm and focused and relaxed. It reminded me that I am at my best when I’m in that space. Since then I’ve been thinking about what it may have been that helped me get into that space last night. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

I didn’t care- When I don’t seem to care I find it quite easy to stay relaxed and calm. I just don’t care about winning or losing. I don’t care about getting a tap, or getting tapped out. I just relax and roll. If I don’t care about the win I won’t hold on to a lost position or submission. I let go and move on. If I don’t care about losing I won’t try to muscle through to keep a botched guard. I simply allow the pass and set myself up for the escape. If I don’t care I anticipate. When I do care I hold on tight until it’s too late.

I accept that others are better– This one might sound funny, and if taken the wrong way can actually be a defeatest attitude so don’t get me wrong. I never go into a roll assuming that I’m going to lose. I never go in thinking that there’s no way for me to win. What I do is go in with the assumption that my opponent is better than me. That changes my style to a more relaxed focus. If I beileve that they are better I focus a lot more on defending myself. When I focus on defending myself I find that I play more of a countering game rather than an all out aggressive, attacking game. I absorb, deflect, and counter. Because I’m thinking about staying safe I find that people will open themselves up in order to penetrate. I simply wait for those openeings and counter.

If I think I’m better I go into what I’ve come to call ‘lost position denial’. If someone grabs a leg I fight and fight and fight because I’m better. They shouldn’t be able to get a leg. If someone passes my guard I fight and fight and fight. They shouldn’t be able to pass my guard. If I believe that I’m better I can’t let them beat me. But, if I believe that they’re better I have to be smart in order to beat them. So, I simply apply that attitude to everyone. When I roll smarter, I roll better.

I roll like I’m tired- When I’m tired I have to rely 100% on technique. I have to stay relaxed. I have to be fluid and smooth, and quick, and smart. So, if I come to training already tired, and I keep my don’t care and they’re better attitudes my fatigue becomes an ally rather than an enemy. If I come rolling like I’m already tired then I can reserve my energy for when I really need it, like when I get caught in a submission or am applying one that needs a bit of burst.

When I come with those three attitudes I find that I roll much, much better. It’s all about finding the attitudes that trigger the desired outcomes. My desired outcomes are always around relaxation, calm, focus, and technique. Not caring about winning or losing, being in a defensive mindset, and being tired are the attitudes that trigger those outcomes.

Accepting the Bottom

“I don’t like leaping around the whole spar. I prefer to get solid grips from the bottom, think carefully, keep them away with my legs, then hopefully sweep to the top and progress with a slow, steady, pressure game. Obviously it is important to still move, e.g., with things like side control transitions. I just don’t go very fast.” – Slideyfoot

I was left with the above comment on my last post. It acted as a great reminder to another aspect of my gameplan against bigger opponents. It’s what I call, ‘Accepting the Bottom’.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was an adaptation of early (pre-olympic) Judo. It was adapted by a small practitioner. He saw what worked so wonderfully in Judo and tweaked things just enough to make it work for a 135lbs guy. One of those tweaks was the Guard.

The Guard was one of the biggest breakthroughs in BJJ (to say nothing of the impact on the rest of the martial arts world).

One thing that Slidey pointed out was that he likes to get solid grips from the bottom, maintain proper spacing, and attempt to sweep to top.

Well, that’s my game too. But, that only comes with an attitude of accepting the bottom.

When I first started I hated being on the bottom. When I got there I would struggle and push and fight. I found that I was always exhausted. My arm would be fatigued. My neck would be sore. I would feel defeated.

Every week my coach would say that small guys at our gym (remembering that we have a lot of bigger men there) tend to get really good off their backs because they always end up there anyway. It took about 9 months for that to sink in for me.

When I started most guys were okay with me playing a top game. They would see me (a new guy) as an opportunity to work on their bottom game. They would pull guard and let me do my thing. After I got better and started putting together a submission or two less and less guys would allow me on top. As I started solidifying mount and back control even less people would let me on top. Now, the only people that let me take top are the guard players, or the ones that are specifically working on the guard. I’m finding it harder and harder to get top, and maintain it. Bigger opponent’s just refuse to let me run around up there. It stared to become a real struggle. I couldn’t figure out what had changed, and what was so wrong with me.

Then, I decided to spend a month working on my escapes. The month after that I spent working on my guard. Those 8 weeks completely changed my game. Not just in ability, but in mentality.

I learned to accept that I’m going to most likely end up on the bottom when I’m fighting bigger opponents.

I would start fights by looking for grips and pulling guard. Like Slidey, I use my feet to push on hips and arms and maintain space. I pull and push with my grips. I keep moving. I look for a scissors sweep. If it’s not there I might attack an arm. I might push for another sweep. Sit up- hip bump sweep- guillotine- arm drag- scissors sweep- attack, attack, attack. 

My aim is to sweep. Submission are usually set-ups for sweeps. If I get a tap, it’s a bonus. But, I want the sweep. Why? Because, the acceptance of the bottom doesn’t mean that I want to live there. I still want top. But when I didn’t want to be on the bottom I would never attack. So, people didn’t have to worry about my guard. Before I had accepted being on the bottom I wasn’t willing to attack from there. I wanted to get out. I would escape from guard rather than use it.

Once I accepted that I would be on the bottom I realised that I was saving a lot of pushing and pulling. That means that I’m saving a lot of strength.

This acceptance has turned what I once hated into a significant part of my gameplan. Embracing the bottom is the best thing I’ve ever done in my short BJJ life.

I had a roll this morning and I really, really wanted to be on top the whole time. I’m now very tired and quite sore. Did I end up on top? Not really. Did I get to attack at all? Not really. Did I still spend all my time on the bottom? Yeah, but this time I wasn’t looking to get comfortable, sweep, and attack. I was looking to escape. Did it work? No.

On the way home I thought about it and was given a great reminder that a simple acceptance is half the preparation.

If you know the storm is coming you can defend. If you’re insistant that the storm isn’t coming you’ll probably end up in an armbar… put that on your Facebook status.

Float Like a Butterfly

Shout out to all the little guys!

Over the last week or so I’ve read a lot of stuff about little guy BJJ.

Being 5’6” and ~70kg (155lbs) puts me in the little guy category in my academy for sure. There are a few of us there, but we’re definitely out numbered by the big folk. Our gym seems to have it’s fair share of big men. Because of this I have had to be very aware of the kind of game I play when sparring.

Don’t let them get a hold of you- Float like a butterfly

This may sound odd at first. I mean, we’re grappling. We literally hug each other for the vast majority of techniques. That’s taken into account when this rule was established. So, I’ll explain.

Often, from head-to-head I’ll start in a seated guard position (see Marcelo Garcia for an amazing example of a seated guard). While here, I am in grip fighting mode. If someone grabs a foot I rip it away. If someone grabs a collar I rip it away. If someone pushes my shoulders I scoot to deflect the pressure. I scoot in and test the hooks. I fish for arm drags and underhooks. I scoot away if I’m not getting what I’m after… breathe… I scoot to the left. I scoot to the right. I jump up to combat stance. Fish, hook, shoot a single, grip fight, sit back down, scoot, pull, push… you get the idea. Basically, I never stop moving. Why? Because I can’t let bigger opponent’s dictate where the game takes place. I can’t let them get a hold of a leg or a collar or a sleeve. If they do, I’m stuck.

It’s the same in closed guard. I attack an arm, I attack a collar, I attempt a sweep, I attack another arm, I arm drag, I scoot to create a new angle, I attempt another sweep, I push on a hip, I pull on an arm, I push on a shoulder, and most importantly, I never let my opponent get comfortable when in my guard. I move and move and move and move… breathe… and move and move and move. Why? Because if I just close my legs and hold on I lock myself into their game. I give them permission to dictate how the fight goes. As the smaller fighter (most of the time) I will lose that fight. But, if they can’t catch me, they can’t beat me.

When passing the guard I never settle for one pass. Rule #1 for me is to never let an opponent close his legs around my back. That’s not safe for me. Big men can muscle sweeps on little men. I can’t allow that. I keep moving. I grab a leg. I push on a hip. I hold an arm. I move back. I stand up. I step in. I step away. I shoot a knee through. I pull back and get double underhooks. I push knees to the ground. If I get stopped in a pass I give up on it and reset, or transition to another pass. Pull the legs, push them, shoot around, grab a collar, overhook a knee, push a hip, stand up, kneel, combat stance, stand up again, step through… breathe… never stop moving. Never stop testing. Never just get stuck on one pass. If they get a hook I fight it. If they grab a collar I fight it. If they sit up I push forward, or kneel, or think about doing a front flip over their head but decide not to because I would probably break my neck. I never stop moving. Why? Because if they get a hold of me I lose my advantage. They can’t attack what they can’t catch. They can’t pin down what they can’t get a hold of. It’s my game (which might be the most important attitude for little guy BJJ).

When in side control I test submissions. If I don’t have what I need I transition to mount. No mount? Kneeride. If that’s not there I go to north-south. If I can isolate an arm I go to side control to attack. Mount? Kneeride? Rinse, repeat. I don’t stop and hold someone down and slowly work on an arm, or hold on tight to their head. That locks me into them and allows them to use their weight and size. My game is constant movement. When I stop moving I am playing their game.

From mount I tend to stay very light. I ride mount rather than hunker down and hold mount. I lift my legs. I throw out baits. I attack collars. I attack arms. I turn. I twist. If I lose position I bail quickly. If I get one deep collar grip and need them to move an arm to get the other I just let them roll me. If they roll me they usually don’t defend their collar at the same time. I’d rather finish a collar choke than hold mount. Mount is full attack mode. One after another after another after another… breathe… after another. My game isn’t holding on for dear life. That’s them. My game is changing angles and attacks. If they’re having to defend they’re not escaping, are they?

Underneath it’s the same. From side control I’m always looking to escape. If a big man decides to just hunker down, and I know I’m safe from submissions, I’ll take that time to rest. But, once he moves, I attempt an escape. I shoot for a mile with every inch he allows. If he’s moving I’m moving. He doesn’t get to rest up there. He doesn’t just get to apply weight.

I don’t stop moving. That’s not to say that everything is super speed. I can take it nice and slow. I can inch my way along. But, my natural game is fast and flowing. I don’t stop moving.

As a smaller fighter I would say that this is the biggest reason that I’m able to compete with bigger opponents. Movement, and lots of it. On the days when I don’t move, I tap a lot more often.

So, if you’re small and you find yourself constantly stuck against bigger opponents I would suggest spending a couple session in constant movement. See how it feels. See how they react. See how things open up.

Float like a butterfly.

A Breather…

As the end of the year comes around I find myself getting busy.

I work a full time job. Leave for work at 7:20. Get home at 5:30

I have a wife and 2 children. My wife is Naomi. My oldest boy is Josiah. He’s 2 1/2. My youngest is Noah, who is 6 months.

I travel most weekends teaching, preaching, playing music, or just hanging out at some conference or church or something like that.

All that has finally caught up with me. Last weekend did me in. I came down sick on Sunday morning and have just recovered on Wednesday. I decided (well, my body decided) that it was a good week to take evenings off.

So, I’ve missed three training sessions in a row, and haven’t worked out once this week.

That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s probably the best decision I’ve made in a while. I missed getting on the mats. I missed learning some new techniques, or tricks to apply to old techinques. I missed chats with my instructor about the things that happened at class the night before. But, I know I am going to be better off for it. I’ll come back to the mats fresh.

I’ve realised that my body needs rest. Go figure.

I’ve also realised that my mind needs rest. Double, go figure.

After a week off I feel ready to take in some new stuff. That brings me to my newest revelation.

There’s such a thing as too much information.

In my week off I got a BJJ newsletter that highlighted the fact that for the first couple years of BJJ you should only concentrate on the basics. I also re-read an article from JB Will saying the same thing. I also ran over a note in my journal in big, bold letter saying, “DO THE SIMPLE THINGS WELL”. 

It’s been a very timely reminder for me in my week off. I am now simplifying my training, simplifying my thinking, and simplifying my gameplan. I’m not starting over, I’m simply getting back to some things that I know work.

What I expect will happen is that I will see them from an angle I’ve never seen them from before. I will gain new insight into some old stuff. It’s already happened through some visualisation that happened on the train home from work. A new path to a sweep combo.

Oh the glory that is A Breather…

Mount-ober: Session four

My last training session didn’t actually bring with it any specific lessons. Mostly, I just found that I was still making the same mistakes, although slightly less. It’s progress, but I won’t be fully satisfied until I’m not making those mistakes at all.

If you’re wondering what I’m going on about read this, this, and this to see the lessons I’ve picked up so far in my training focus on the mount.

In today’s blog I would simply like to make an observation, or two.

My focus is attacking from the mount position during sparring. I’ll lay out my current game plan and make note of the things that I find interesting.

From Head to Head the Arm Drag is what I’m looking for from standing/kneeling starts. From standing I would likely look for a single leg as my second option. From kneeling I usually look to (1) Arm Drag, (2) Pull Guard, or (3) Collar/Neck Drag. This is where those usually lead to:
Arm Drag to Back/Turtle Top/Guard Top
Pull Guard to Guard/Half Guard
Collar/Neck Drag to Turtle Top/Back

From Guard Top I look to pass the guard (obviously).

From Turtle Top I look to pull over and attack the Back.

From the Back I look to scoot around to Mount.

From Closed Guard I look to sweep into Mount (Scissors Sweep, Hip Bump Sweep), or scoot around onto the Back.

From Open Guard I look to sweep (Hooks Sweep, X Guard Sweep). Usually I end up either in Side Control or Guard Top.

From Half Guard I have been looking to get deep and scoot out the back door to the Back.

From Side Control I either look to switch base and Mount or transition to North/South.

From North/South I look to take the Back, or go to the other side into Side Control.

Now, that all looks pretty simple and straight forward. Here’s what I’ve observed from this game plan.

I have developed a Guard to Mount game.

I would say that I’m in one or the other 80% of the time, if not more. I believe a lot of this has to do with the previous month I spent working in Guard. It didn’t make me some amazing guard player, but it did get me very comfortable there. It also made me confident in my ability to get back to top once I am in guard. The previous month was spent on escapes, so I’m still rather confident getting out of trouble once I’m there.

When I do get to Mount I am not worried about getting rolled back into Guard. So, if I get a deep collar grip and have to give up the upa in order to get the other grip in, I’m happy to do that, and finish it from Guard. I’m comfortable and confident there.

In fact, in my last four sessions I have only finished once in Mount. All my other taps have come from a setup in Mount and a finish in Guard. Triangles, Armbars, Guillotines, and Cross Collar Chokes. All are set up in the Mount position initially. In order to lock them in I have been allowing the opponent to roll over into Guard. If they’re turning me, they’re not protecting their necks or arms.

If I don’t get the finish I let go and look to sweep back to Mount, or climb around to the Back.

Back to Mount. Mount attack. Finish in Guard OR restart.

This was not expected, but it has become welcome. It’s part of learning to embrace my natural game.

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