Sunday, May 24, 2020

Gripfighting for BJJ Playlist - Reality > Theory

Realized I should put together some longer sequences of gripfighting from matches of mine to show the sequence of what it looks like in real time with resets by the referee, the boundary, and the pace and flow of a match:

Created a playlist for the 4 Episodes of gripfighting basics for BJJ.
The topics in the playlist include:
Episode 1 - Basic gripfighting vs defensive posture
Episode 2.1 - Stripping the Lapel Grip
Episode 2.2 - Lapel Wrap Omoplata Counter to lapel grip
Episode 3 - Addressing the Fist Punch grip (knuckles down sleeve grip)
Episode 4 - Cross Collar Grip Counter
Episode 5 - Gripfighting in Competition

Frustratingly enough the individual episodes I've put together don't come up very well in searches for gripfighting on YouTube's algorhythm. What you'll get when you search "gripfighting for BJJ" is the usual suspects of Kesting, Keenan, and a smattering of other folks who having not seen them use any of the things they're showing in actual competition, nor their students, who knows if it works.

I had a wrestling coach whose mantra was always "the truth is what works," and as a result, if it's not replicable in a duress/competitve setting against competent opposition, I'm not interested.
The same ethos applies to these 14 part grip switching fluff leg lock series you see on Instagram. By the 4th transition on a leg entanglement anyone with even remotely competent skills will have escaped their knee to a likely safe position.

At any rate, the basics I show come from my background in Judo, but more importantly come from having competed in Brazilian JiuJitsu for the past 10 years. 2009 I began competing in BJJ in the Gi.
The concepts and grips below anticipate the gripping tendencies of opponents in JiuJitsu.
Even more crucially, there are no gripping restrictions or parameters (other than no fingers inside the sleeve or pant) AND your opponent in JiuJitsu can at any point in time decide to simply sit down. When you're watching Judo you are watching the product of a multitude of gripping and time limit restrictions on how long you can keep a particular grip without attacking (3 seconds at best, but basically almost immediately in the eyes of the ref).

Keep this in mind when watching Judo for BJJ and other theories espoused by folks on this topic.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

There are no secrets: Don't let them sell you a re-invented wheel

There is good technique. There is good understanding of fundamentals. The myth of the natural is not something that I'm even going to bother debunking. If you believe some people have some large innate advantage I'm not going to waste time convincing you otherwise. My short response is that natural advantage is an easy fall back to explain small differences multiplied over time for which you cannot account or an unwillingness to examine to what extent you actually prioritize your craft.

Moving on...on my Instagram I've been posting over the past few weeks old school primarily Japanese leg lock finishes from Shooto and even smaller tournaments (Lumax) that can be found on YouTube & UFC Fight Pass. I post them as proof that the same baseline leg locks we see in grappling and MMA aren't new. Nothing is new. Perhaps the structure of how it is taught, or the prevalence of venues which allow them has broaded/deepened, but the base principles of attacking the leg are not new. You could argue that new forms of lapel guard did not exist in competitive Jiu-Jitsu in much capacity until you saw some Lapel-oplata or were limited to ideas such as threading the lapel between the leg ala Bernardo Faria or Saggioro more recently, but by and large there has been some obviously discernible change in the form, function, and utility of lapel aided Jiu-Jitsu. I don't, or have yet, to see much in the old school leg locks that doesn't exactly mimic the "new age" or "contemporary" leg locking systems. The Danaher/Renzo "control the second leg" or "double trouble" and handfight to the finish is unseen in old MMA footage and Shooto but as back then it was MMA, as the main leg locking venue, you often saw the attack of the leg from giving up top position and diving on the sole leg. The core set of finishing leg entanglement positions is laregely unchanged or improved upon. The comprehension and systemitization by Cummings and Danaher (and to what extent who deserves credit is a matter of debate depending who you ask) are the true additions of merit. Their use in competition in a non-MMA setting also is a venue for a true deep dive into modifying and discarding theories regarding grip, breaking mechanics, transitions, and escapes.

All the Instagram fluff leg locks you see with 14 different grip switches never turn up in MMA or even in competitive grappling for a reason. They're not real and even if they were it would mean you were in such control of your opponent and anticipating their reactions that you would have been able to tap them 7 transitions previously anyway. If anything, the access to information thanks to the internet has led to some improvements in awareness and defense but this is still laregly misunderstood because guys are basing their efficacy of defense on utilizing it against their training partners who themselves are sub par leg lockers. I don't care about what works in your gym against your students. I don't care about your whatever system that works at local tournaments in an area with no serious competitors showing up.

The most valuable insight I got from Eddie Cummings was "the biggest threat to your JiuJitsu is not what doesn't work, but what seems to work, or works against sub-optimal opposition." I'm paraphrasing but that always stuck with me.
The biggest threat to your JiuJitsu is spending time on positions which cannot be reliably forced/achieved against knowledgable opposition. Sure, the palm to palm grip counter foot lock from double trouble works, but knowledgeable guys don't get tapped by it or don't even let their foot be placed there. Sure the calf-slicer is a submission, but the opponent has to not be paying attention or react incorrectly to the position/hips relative to the lock to get tapped. Et cetera.

When you start competing, even at the Advanced/Expert/whatever level, you start to realize how many of your opponents either panic tap, or get tapped due to a lack of competent defense. You didn't overwhelm knowledgable opposition, you had an iron age weapon vs a bronze or stone age weapon. This is only exacerbated by a black belt with a school who's crafting programs based on beating their own students who already often have some deeply subsconscious pedestal effect they put onto their coach even while rolling or while they inadvertently find themselves in a dominant/advantageous position.

In the Gi, the transitions are different, especially without reaping across the hip. The grips of a top position player to pass and backstep are also more formidable. Being a competent NoGi leg locker is not the same as tapping a competitive adult black belt with positional awareness. My point in all this is that the real secret is in training methodology and positional training to develop nuanced understanding of the reactions and transitions of knowledgable opposition. Crafting theory in the training room is ONLY the beginning of developing and hammering out a truly matrix level understanding of a position. A guy like Lucas Leite comes to mind. He has competed absolute, Gi, NoGI, and for years on end continually modified and refined his outside/Coyoto half-guard position. Sean Spangler, a previous coach of mine knew more about head/arm choke/front head lock variations than anyone I've yet to encounter in person or online. This has been a long term project of his for well over a decade.

This indefatiguable pursuit of experties is the true mark of what I define as a "professional" and also the basis upon which I discard standard explanations of "heart" and "luck" or "natural" or "secret" explanations and above all the "reinventing the wheel" phase we seem to be in to varying degrees in JiuJitsu.

A primary motivation of mine for teaching is the efficacy of systems. You can discredit the takedowns I teach based on my background in Judo and MMA as not working for JiuJitsu, but if folks with no combat sports background can repeatedly score with components of the takedown curriculum I teach and implement, then it's a different conversation. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

UFC Overeem vs Harris & F2W 139/140 Recap & Reflections

Lots to unpack here, F2Win returns to hosting events sans the crowd, the UFC rumbles on, and ESPN/UFC milk a man's family tragedy for marketing ploy.

I found it pretty cringe to watch the UFC and ESPN milk the Harris family tragedy for programming as a way to hype his fight with Overeem. I'll just leave it at that.

Moving on, at F2Win 139 Tama faced Crelinsten with Tama coming off of his NoGi world black belt title awhile back and Crelinsten the consensus "world's most dangerous brown belt" (in NoGi). Tama decided to play legs/feet with Crelinsten early on until he nearly got popped in 50/50 and after that was decidedly & visibly more gunshy in the leg entanglements. He spent 3-4 mins of the second half of the match to counter and foil Ethan's passing attempts from bottom. I guess Tama's foot attacks garnered him the win, but I saw it going to Ethan tbh after that near finish from the 50/50 heel hook attempt and doing most of the work trying to pass with Tama content to simply recompose guard for 3-4 minutes of the second half of the match. Other than that the Paiva match was solid to watch but I tuned out during some of the other boring HW Gi matches. I get it when you gotta sell tickets to put on the bottom line of events, but if there's no audience and no ticket sales, I'm confused as to why we had to suffer through boring aged black belt matches. Santos vs Gomes & Paiva vs Hammond both put on better big man Gi matches than I've seen at most F2Win events when the second half of the event really starts to lag with a lot of big man black belt Master 3+ match-ups slowing down the pace of the event.

F2W 140: Jimenez vs Almeida was the real one to watch as Agazarm hasn't competed in the Gi in ages. Jimenez had some nice backtake attempts throughout but was also shut down in 50/50 by Almeida who used a lapel to solidify the position and control the younger more action heavy Jimenez. I felt like Jimenez probably attacked more throughout the match and was semi surprised they gave it to Almeida given the action/transitions was/were pressed largely by Jimenez.

Agazarm vs Moizinho: no surprised here as Moizinho's much stronger Gi resume and focus on Gi training rather than AJ heading off to Bellator crystallized into what you'd expect: within about a minute Moizinho had passed and/or almost passed his guard, was threatening an ezekiel choke, but the 6 minute mark he was hunting for a lapel feed/cross collar choke from knee through position with AJ still largely just hanging onto half-guard, Moizinho shot a triangle from a sprawl, omoplata, to sweep, then armbar, then even foot on the shoulder breaking mechanics to try and finish the armbar, then to the omoplata again. All in total, getting as dominated as was possible without getting finished. But, he came to the mat with nunchuks guys, so he's like a great showman, right? Look over there!

UFC Overeem vs Harris:
Overeem survived an onslaught that Dominic Cruz's ref would've stopped probably 4 punches in, then stopped to have the cut checked, in every possible way to try and end the fight. Overeem appeared to wobbly Harris with a kick, then as he drove him across the cage, put him to the mat and him out from top position ride with punches until it was over in the 2nd round. Harris doesn't lose any stock by losing to Overeem as he nearly finished him, but his ground work in a division with guys like Stipe, and Blaydes is a TOTAL liability.

Barboza vs Ige: Ige came with the right gameplan which was to stay in Barboza's face and unleash sharp punching combinations for the better part of 3 rounds. It was a split decision and neither guy could've complained for getting the nod or the loss as close as it was.

Jotko showcased improved striking as he beat Anders in an entertaining fight that went all over the cage with both guys staying busy with punches, kicks, elbows, in the clinch et cetera.

Chikadze struggled to showcase his stopping power against Rivera who despite coming on short notice accounted himself well against a far superior stand-up technician with a true striking pedigree to his credit. Chikadze picked up a unanimous decision but his unwillingness to showcase other parts of his game to finish a guy who wasn't going to be put away via strikes suggests more gameplanning and MMA fight IQ needed before he'll threaten the upper echelon of the division.

Nascimento vs Mayes was a solid HW battle with the more polish Nascimento patiently walking down Mayes and pouncing once he got him down to get the RNC.

Elkins vs Landwehr: Landwehr is the stand n' bleed guy who will try to visually fool the judges by taking punches and then waiting for his opponent to come meet him in the center of the ring. It's not a gameplan that will work against more craft veterans. Elkins for his part didn't bite and I think the judgest largely got it wrong, because with the gushing caught, I thought the strikes that snapped back the head and stopped the other guy from moving in his tracks were when Elkins tagged Landwehr. It's a crafty play to act as though you're the one stalking forward and waving your hands, but really Landwehr is an innacurate counter puncher who can't hit a moving target, and largely missed Elkins even with his less than tactical striking. I wasn't fooled by the gamesmanship and hand waving but some the judges, but if you saw the event you saw some wildly suspect scoring, so y'know.....

Thursday, May 14, 2020

BJJ Scout's BJJ Digest: Craig Jones talks Magalhaes & Other Breaking Joints Moments...

Post Smith vs Teixeira Thoughts & Aftermath, Moises with the leg lock win, & Rothwell proves too Big for OSP

By the 2nd round the pop in Smith's punches and speed was waning and his mouth was open. Teixeira, a lot like Oleinik is a guy that fights in the same gear but can do it for 3-5 rounds with no let up. Teixeira rolled with the jabs and the punches early on, avoided any big shots and getting stunned and walked Smith down. Once the takedowns presented themselves he kept Smith under duress to further sap his energy. Smith's corner sent him out to take punishment in the final round in the fight. It was plain on Smith's face with the faraway look in his eyes that he wasn't going to turn around the fight under the onslaught of Teixeira's consistent pressure and pace that had shown no signs of faltering. Poor cornering as the corner's job is to make the difficult decision to wave off the fight and avoid UNECCESSARY damage to prolong the professional career of a fighter. 

Elsewhere Rothwell proved far too big a HW for OSP. I think OSP would have fared better with a Lins or another HW that's more like  LHW who doesn't want to cut than the towering, awkward Rothwell who has battered other lifelong HW's like Barnett et cetera. OSP got paid, didn't take a ton of damage, and did no damage to his LHW reputation for the outing. 

Simon outwrestled Borg who has nice punches and body punches when he lets them go, but never put them together en masse. Simon put Borg on the mat and chained his wrestling together to prevent any lengthy offensive periods for Borg who didn't look outsized by finally being in his right weight class after missing weight at 125 more times than is worth mentioning, but Simon looked the better mixed martial artist in combining level changes and punches to drag Borg to the mat and pass his guard at times. 

Arlovski won a decision with scores that were wider than I would have expected. Arlovski is one of the few guys who can win a decision backing up in a stand-up engagement. A good fight for Lins to face that level of competition and striking experience, but a stylistically flat affair with kickboxing throughout. Arlovski continues to be the gatekeeper willing to fight whatever veteran, prospect, or familiar face they throw his way. A shoutout to Arlovski for showing southpaw stance in the fight, and in his post fight interview saying and showing that he is still at this age after 20 years in the UFC evolving his fight acumen and wheelhouse. 

Moises! With the double leg, to single leg, to fall back on the leg and transition to a belly down ankle lock. Submission of the night if there ever was one. It's a standard Renzo blue basement style series you could easily see Garry Tonon hitting in ONE FC (and in fact has a similar single leg to sit back on the leg finish. Moises looked outclassed on the feet but showed the type of wherewithal to listen to his corner and go out and do exactly what he was told and fight a different fight in round 2, a rare skill even at this level in MMA as guys accept a pace and style of a fight and then just finish that out regardless of ever decreasing odds of winning after the first round. 

Dober picked up a finish over Hernandez as Hernandez stayed on the backpedal for almost the entire fight but Dober corraled him to the cage with lateral movement and never stopped landing heavy shots. The punches accumulated much like the Ferguson/Gaethje affair and the referee wisely called off the fight despite Hernandez still being on his feet. Hernandez is a skilled fighter, but his inability to switch gears in the fight is concerning. He had a big win in his debut over Dariush and followed it up with a win over Mercier, but in his 3rd UFC fight faced Cerrone which was likely way too big a jump in competition. Since that loss he won a decision over Trinaldo and now has a loss by stoppage to Dober. It's time for him to slow his roll, polish some new skills as his wrestling was there when he needed it in the first 2 rounds, but not keeping his opponent down and pocketing rounds and dishing out some punishment once he had his opponent down cost him the fight. Had he drained Dober, or put him on the backfoot with the takedowns by parlaying them to winning rounds and sapping Dober's gas tank, he could've either won the fight and/or not been stopped in the third round. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Post Cringe King Era: Flyweight Division Landscape

If the King of Cringe stays retired, it's safe to say it'll be worse than when GSP won the Middleweight belt and retired again (that left us watching 2 guys coming off of a loss fighting for a title: Romero vs Whitaker and Romero failed to make weight meaning Whitaker was the only one who could even "win" the belt....what a trainwreck that was. Romero would then miss weight again and lose to Whitaker again with a second title shot). With no clear title holder casual fans recognize but a bunch of guys most fans vaguely recall seeing fight on various prelims over the years it's a hard sell to think it will move beyond that slot in the matchmaking and preference with fans. At least when Cejudo was flyweight champ it was someone that as cringe as he was, folks recognized and had a marketing leg up over Mighty Mouse who never seemed to do more than film Countdown specials of him playing games online and waltzing over out classed opponents. Mighty Mouse despite his precision and acumen for fighting never took hold in the public viewership.

The flyweight division was dogged by rumors of being folded until Cejudo beat Mighty Mouse, so, bear with me as I'm less than hopeful for some mighty resurgence.

Figueiredo - 7-1 in the UFC, but also missed weight in his last win over Benavidez and they were slated to run it back. He could have won the belt as it was vacated at that point but missed weight and now Benavidez gets yet another title shot (think Urijah Faber). He's got wins over Moraga, Pantoja, and Elliott amongst others.

Formiga - he's got 15 fights in the UFC, which is wild. He dropped his last two fights to Benavidez and Moreno. He's got wins over Sasaki, Nguyen, Pettis, and is the guy who's got a win over Figueiredo. He's a tough sell coming off of two losses but much like LHW, it feels like guys can have a win or 2 then end up fighting for the belt as most of the guys have a loss in their last 2-3 fights.

Benavidez -  the dude's got 19 UFC fights on this record. He's got wins over everyone from Formiga and Cejudo to Bagauunitov, Mighty Mouse, Moraga, and Elliott but has dropped fights to Figueiredo and Sergio Pettis, Mighty Mouse, and even Dominic Cruz (up a weight class). He'll be running it back with Figueiredo for the vacant title at some point, but I didn't see anything in that first round or two that suggests it will go differently the second time around. The long career and accumulation of damage I think means that this is Benavidez actual last title shot.

Pantoja Moreno- 6-2 in the UFC with losses to Figueiredo and Ortiz but wins over: Schnell, Reis, Sasaki, Moreno, and & Seery. Figueiredo is the common thread for handing a bunch of these flyweights a loss in the UFC.

Askarov - it says a lot that a guy who's 1-0-1 in the UFC if ranked 6th in this division. He stopped Tim Elliott and had a split draw with Moreno in his UFC debut but it's a hard sell to put him in a title fight with 2 UFC fights under his belt.

Tim Elliott - currently ranked 11th, I've included him because he had one of the better showings against Demtrious Johnson after winning a title shot by winning the TUF flyweight season. He's 2-3 since losing that title shot to Mighty Mouse. He's won against Louis Smolka and Mark De La Rose but lost to Askarov, Figueiredo, and Nguyen.