Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sweet Technique Variation of the Day: McKenzie-Tine/Guillotine

Ah, the Guillotine. I thought I knew thee well.

Coming from Judo, the guillotine wasn't a submission I spent much time on when I started grappling 7 1/2 years ago. 1) it's illegal in Judo due to something about strain on the neck and 2) with the upright posture most Judoka use, the move rarely presented itself except occasionally in matwork. At any rate, the more time I've spent doing NoGi (and watching the inimitable Marcelo Garcia) and MMA, the more I've come to attack the neck. From the top, from half-guard, defending the takedown, from a single leg counter, from north south.....the moves I like best have a ton of entries or set-ups which present themselves.

On that other favorite thing in the world is a grappler having a move he does, that everyone knows is his move, and he still catches people with it. Whether it's Marcelo Garcie and his arm in/neck out/flying cartwheel/whenever-he-wants-guillotine, Toquinho's leg attacks, or Imanari's foot locks (No, I don't care for Rafa and his 50/50 anything), something in my grappler heart loves the idea that an opponent knows your signature move is coming and the end still inevitably comes at the hands of that submission several minutes later. 

In Judo, we call this "Tokui waza", meaning something like pet technique. It's your specialty. It's the throw, transition, pass, submission, pin that is your move you've been developing and doing to everyone in the gym.You typically tried something out, or made a small variation that makes it "yours". 

Wait for it....Wait for it.........Chop Chop Chop time.
Because I decided to start going for the arm in and no arm guillotine from the top when I'm in half-guard, I came across a guillotine variation popularized by Ultimate Fighter contestant and UFC fighter Cody McKenzie.

On the show they discussed McKenzie's record and number of previous wins by guillotine: he had 9 straight wins by Guillotine heading into the show.
On the show he got another win by guillotine.
Then on the finale show, he guillotined another contestant from the house.

1st up

2nd up

Detailed explanation of the "McKenzi-Tine":

And an add'l variation of the Guillotine I've seen Donald Cerrone use (among others)

On that note....go attack that neck...and protect your own. 
Happy Trainingz!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saulo Ribeiro: The Road in Jiu-Jitsu stays tough

The inimitable Saulo Ribeiro before a match

Great article over on Saulo at the American Nationals @ (where I got the above picture)

BJJ Heroes article on Saulo
Wikipedia article on Saulo

Sadly, I first became acquainted with Saulo through his book, Jiu-Jitsu University when I happened to pick it up in Barnes & Noble.I know, I know. BJJ n00b is what you're thinking right now. I read a bit more about Saulo and his belief in top position and pressure-passing and I picked up the book. Other than the book on the guard I found at a Borders book store, Saulo's Jiu-Jitsu University is the BJJ book I've read and analyzed the most. Similar to Saulo early in life, I began picking up BJJ to complement my submission game for Judo competition/matwork/newaza.

Jiu-Jitsu is more than a book/index of moves, he discusses in a fair amount of detail his belief about the meaning/value of each belt in Jiu-Jitsu in terms of concepts and understanding as a greater part of the system of belts in Jiu-Jitsu. Again, the emphasis in the book is as much more about the progression of concepts than as a set of moves to be haphazardly chosen by the reader. Saulo knows more than you.  Read the book as he wrote it, not as a "hey, I need a new armbar to try" or "a new transition to go with my omoplata to RNC monoplata reverse Tornado-half-spider sweep."

At any rate, back to my initial purpose of this post, the article on Graciemag is one of those well-written pieces that elucidates the love of Jiu-Jitsu. Saulo discusses his being away from hard training for a year after major surgery on his shoulder. I started grappling (Judo and wrestling) about  7 1/2 years ago, and the longer you train, the more you see that there will be major setbacks/time off the mats if you train hard and consistently. It's eye-opening to see that even down the road, no black belt, no number of world championships, nor multiple ADCC titles (all of which Saulo has in spades) will prevent the dangers of this rough and tumble sport. Cyborg Abreu comes to mind as another competitor who had a major injury that could have derailed his fame/success in the sport.

Shhhhh, don't fight it. What will be, will be.

Some choice quotes from the article:
"Last December Saulo had three surgeries at once on his shoulder to repair his rotator cuff, his labrum, and to reattach his biceps."

“I feel great,” Saulo says, referring to coming back from such an extensive injury, “It’s a mix of happiness for coming back to the mat. I felt like I was in jail for a year not doing what I love the most. I wasn’t free.”

"When he comes to compete, for him it’s just plain fun. “Competing is the true expression of myself and who I am,” he says, “I want to lead by example. Today, I’m here as a soldier to earn points for my team.”

Happy Trainingz!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mais ADCC 2011 Hype

Pretty sure we'll see some sweet guillotines @ the ADCC this weekend in Nottingham.
To quote Marcelo Garcia's school T-Shirts "Protect your neck"

First, a 20 min. video of Braulio's Road to the ADCC/Supermatch with Jacare.

And, 2 blogs that have done a far better job going over the divisions and competitors than I am able to do

Kid Peligro

Jiu-Jitsu Laboratory

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ADCC 2011/Some BJJ Documentaries to grapplify your Day

The world's most prestigious NoGi Tournament (really the precursor to the Abu Dhabi Pro as well) takes place this weekend. Budovideos will be livestreaming the broadcast for 24.95 if you order now, $30 if you order last minute.

The hopes of Roger meeting Rodolfo somewhere in the bracket died after King Mo knocked Roger out in the first round of their Strikeforce bout.
But, the Superfight between Braulio and Jacare will go on. Renzo Gracie will also be having a Superfight with Ze Mario Sperry. Sperry's old @ 44 years of age, but it's easy to forget, Renzo is roughly the same age. For both, I'm sure the snake still has its venom. Renzo looked atrocious against Matt Hughes in his Abu Dhabi UFC bout, but then this is submission grappling, not Mixed Martial Arts from which Renzo had been away from for quite awhile.

Documentaries for Zee Grapplerz in all of us:
The documentary, "Day of the Zen" about Sperry was (along with Rickson's "Choke" - kinda the original BJJ documentary) one of the first BJJ documentaries/videos I saw other than the first couple UFC's.
Speaking of documentaries, "Legacy" is a relatively new documentary following Renzo for about 10 years or so. It's in the vein of "Choke" but has it's own flair and behind the scenes stuff you'd expect from the locker room. I personally prefer both "Day of the Zen" and "Choke" but moreso b/c they are classics than b/c "Legacy" falls short in any regard.
AND one more documentary for the classics, "Smashing Machine" following the wild and absurd days of Pride and the rise/fall/addiction of Mark Kerr is a great film/documentary regardless of its relation to MMA/vale tudo.

On to some Documentary Links for the day.....

The full documentary on Googlevideo: "Choke" - Rickson Gracie
The full documentary on youtube: "The Smashing Machine"- Mark Kerr
The full documentary on youtube: "Day of the Zen" - Mario Sperry

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jiu-Jitsu in MMA: The McKenzie-tine that didn't happen :***(

Here's a link to Vagner Rocha vs. Cody McKenzie from Saturday's UFC. 
Some high level BJJ/mat work taking place. 
If the above doesn't work, try this one 

For the armhunter/triangle fans out there - check out TJ Waldburger's textbook spinning armbar to triangle finish here

Rocah's standup is passable at best. His leg kick bonanza via Cerrone showed holes in his game, but unless you've got great striking, that will happen against Cerrone based on his pro kickboxing background.
I have digressed...

The players:
McKenzie: likable everyman character coming off a cardio-induced RNC loss to long-time veteran Yves Edwards
Rocha: recently leg kicked into a living death (thanks Ken Shamrock) by Donal Cerrone

The outcome: mata leon/Rear naked choke loss for the 2nd time in a row for McKenzie :(

McKenzie goes for the guillotine arm in and arm out at a couple points int he fight, but once he's on bottom he's in deep water. Rocha keeps top position and looks hard for the kimura. McKenzie nearly sweeps with the butterfly hooks but never gets hit time on top to test Rocha's bottom game. In looking to escape, he gives up the back and Rocha capitalizes. The D'Arce Rocha had earlier looked deep, but you only get some many get out of jail free cards against a black belt like Rocha and he gets the choke.

Note the way Rocha trapped McKenzie's arm with what I call the seatbelt grip, where it's pinned behind him. Great pposition for passing, dishing out punishment or to set up a submission from the top.

Happy trainingz.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Drysdale, Roger, Bigfoot Silva out of ADCC :**(

The full article is here @ Graciemag.

Drysdale is the latest high profile competitor (they kind of all are high profile if they're at the ADCC, but I digress....) to withdraw from the vaunted biannual competition.

Now is the winter of our discontent.
After Rodolfo's past year at the top of the mountain due to Roger Gracie's absence, there was hopefully going to be their first showdown.

In the past week (thanks Strikeforce and guys thinking they can fight MMA one weekend and a few weeks later compete in the most prestigious NoGi grappling event in the world) we've lost Roger Gracie and Bigfoot Silva from the tournament. I don't know how many grapplerz out there on the interwebz were looking forward to Bigfoot squashing another heavyweight in half-guard, but not having Roger in the tournament to potentially face Rodolfo sucks.

Fortunately, Jacare who's been off doing MMA is still going to face Braulio in something that based on interwebz youtube videos, Braulio's been preparing for this whole time.
Think I read that Braulio's something like 0-4 against Jacare, but perhaps with Jacare's attention on MMA for the past year or so, Braulio can finally take a bite out of Jacare's resume.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fatigue: It will make you a coward

Fatigue leads to fear.
Fear leads to indecision.
Indecision leads to doubt.
Doubt leads to losing.
Losing sucks.

 I read a quote long ago, attributed to Vince Lombardi: "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

When I began training in Judo and even when I had my first couple MMA fights, I did little if any actual conditioning other than drilling, live rolling/randori, and sparring.

I didn't lift weights. I didn't do sprints. I did uchikomis outside of Judo for supplemental training, but other than being in the gym, hitting pads, the heavy bag, and sparring....that was it.
Crazy, right?

It amazes me the number of Judo clubs that train hard and train hard in randori and even BJJ clubs that do the same, but rarely if ever before tournaments mention strength and conditioning.

If you compete at the highest levels or even intermediate to advanced levels, you need to address your strength and conditioning.

In training, rolling, randori, sparring; we find clever ways to cheat. We find ways to take a breather that we won't find in a fight or a tournament. We lay back against the ropes/cage. We stall in the guard. Our training/sparring partners are not hyped up on the adrenaline that our opponent will have in a fight. The intensity of a fight or a match is different than much of what takes place in the gym or in the academy or dojo. We also know something about the game/style of many of our training partners. In a fight or a tournament then, our opponent(s) seem to hit harder, move faster, and feel much stronger than otherwise due to adrenaline, nerves. Perhaps you feel weak due to the drain of cutting weight etc. They also don't tap to the same submissions they would in training. And so, the fight feels like an entirely different animal and we may panic or let fear take over. Worse yet, this stress-related fatigue can cripple or lead to a lapse in judgment or a split second error that costs us the fight or match.

Meet the Airdyne.
It knows when you are tired.
The airdyne does not let you cheat or take breaks.
Have a coach with a stopwatch watching to see your actual work rate.
The efficacy of experience:
I went through several phases of training when it comes to strength and conditioning.
Due in part to the adage of technique trumping strength, I told myself that if the other guy out-muscled me, it wasn't the same as losing. I wanted to make sure I used technique only when fighting and training.
This is simply not so.
1) Just Cardio
I did little to no cardio-specific training before my first 2 MMA fights. I perhaps did some running but that was about it.
I realized that being tired in an MMA fight sucks. I don't just mean it sucks like losing a bet. I mean it sucks like it is a nightmare. The hurricane of the crowd, the fight, the punches, and kicks, and knees, your corner and his corner screaming at you all while you feel like you're moving slow motion underwater....I never wanted to feel that way again. Simply put, feeling helpless as someone shoots a single leg, or punches you in the face against the ropes or the cage is a terrifying feeling. Taking a beating with no energy to fight back is an eye-opening experience. I began using the airdyne to work on my cardio and do sprints.
My conditioning improved, but then I found a new menace....

- I fought several more MMA fights and competed in Judo as well as BJJ. I realized that due to the prevalence of weight cutting, I was still fighting guys who not only outweighed me, but had more overall strength. I was not overly strong for my weight class to begin with, and since I didn't cut weight, I was more accurately fighting about 2 weight classes above my natural one. Again, cardio wasn't enough if I simply wasn't strong enough to hang with my opponents.

Just Weights:
 In preparation for several BJJ tournaments I began doing olympic lifts and doing Judo/BJJ. My overall strength increased. I was able to force the submission I previously would not have, I was able to scramble better and drive through the takedown and finish that I otherwise previously would not have.
I showed up feeling stronger and (based on rolling in class 3-5 days a week) well-conditioned.

I finished my first match of the day more exhausted than I think I've ever felt in a grappling/Judo/BJJ tournament and having completely blown my grip. I grinded my way through the rest of my Gi division and the NoGi but I was finished strength and cardio wise. Lifting weights and going to sport-specific Judo or BJJ, or NoGi class was also not priming my body for the physical demands of competition.

Your best friend and worst enemy: The Prowler
Do prowler sprints and you will learn the meaning of "tired"
In Summary:
Cardio + rolling/randori/training is not enough.
Weights + rolling/randori/training is not NEARLY enough.

A healthy mix of strength that maintains over time and cardio that allows for explosiveness repeated through the course of a round or a match, however, is enough.....assuming anything is ever really enough.

Happy Trainings!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Move of the Day: Paulista Pass

Guy who trained at my gym for awhile came from a Ralph Gracie school. I looked up the gym, and the instructor, and lo and behold, the guy puts out simple, effective video clips.

Sticking with the theme of yesterday's mention about when I came from Judo and began learning BJJ separately: the following clip is a pass to sidemount I've been using a lot since I watched it a few months ago. I first learned this pass early on in Judo, probably about 6 years ago. I was taught the pass with a regular sleeve/lapel grip immediately following a failed throw/when the opponent falls to his side type scenario.

The cross grip shown here lends itself to a lot of passing power/control in the Gi + can set up a sweet "simple choke" as the guy points out. It's worked for me against small, big, and everything in between size guys. Can't hate on that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Evolving Your Game: Identify. Address. Implement. Repeat.

A lot of times, in Jiu-Jitsu, we begin learning defensively. We learn first how to survive. For those who have read Saulo Ribeiro's Jiu-Jitsu University, his white and blue belt sections emphasize this point thoroughly: as a white belt you must first survive. As a blue belt you must escape.

Phase 1: 
When I came from Judo I did what a lot of Judoka do: played top position whenever possible, got to my feet, and played an aggressive, physical, if not less than overly technical game. I cut corners, smashed and passed and occasionally got a choke or armbar.

There's nothing wrong with an aggressive, smashing, top control based style. I'm simply calling it for what it is.
I realized that my energy expenditure did not much what I was actually accomplishing when I was rolling with so much effort. I had the conditioning from Judo to roll hard for 5 min's straight, but my energy expended versus what I was achieving was woefully disparate.
I watched the precise way the purple and brown belts would control and pass and submit and I wanted that. Call it lazy, call it effective, call it smart, but I wanted it. 

I decided to make en effort to learn Jiu-Jitsu for what it was, or what I felt like it had to offer in filling in the holes in my game: I started playing the guard, fighting off of my back, and doing the positions I was not good at. I wanted to find the control, finesse, and smooth, relaxed pressure game I felt from higher ranking BJJ players who made it seem effortless. 

Phase 2: 
Fast forward 2-3 years when I began fighting competing in MMA. I realized that being on the bottom is a dangerous place (moreso than the top). Judges tend to score a round more favorably for the top position fighter, and in general, more damage can be inflicted from the top. My primary goal was to absorb as little damage as possible while on bottom, and sweep or get back to my feet.
My game from off my back became breaking down posture, minimizing damage, and scrambling to a standing position.

Phase 3: 
After 4 1/2 years of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I've found that my passing/top game now needs to be polished every bit as much as my bottom game. 

In class, I virtually always start off my back or in a bad position, work to escape, transition to top then look to pass to dominant position then submit. However, what I've found is that due to my Judo background, I spend far more time in tournaments working to pass open guard or some half-open-guard transitional position.

Recognize tournament performance and class performance.
Address areas in need of attention.
Prioritize training time/training with partners accordingly.

Judo World Championships: 3 days of Prelim Highlights

Day 1

Day 2 Part 1

Day 2 Part 2

Day 3

Some great nagewaza, osaekomiwaza, and shimewaza during the transitions from failed throws to the mat.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Recap

Check out the below for Barnett's head/arm triangle win over Kharitonov.
His bodylock/outside trip takedown into full mount was impressive enough. The patience from mount then taking the head/arm that Kharitonov gave him was equally slick/opportunistic.

I would have been more excited to see Jacare use his BJJ and to see Gracie lock up with King Mo on the canvas, but then, this is fighting, not Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, or wrestling.
Same goes for how Cormier would have fared against Silva off his back....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Technique of the Week: Pedro's Ouchi Gari

This is probably one of the best instructionals I've seen on this throw. Period. I've used this in the Gi and also in NoGi. I've hit this with 16 0z. gloves on, in sparring, doing mma style sparring, etc.

The throw works. You read on forums about how Judo doesn't work for MMA. Like I said, I've pulled this off with gloves on, gi, and nogi, and hit it in the blue belt Gi, and intermediate NoGi division in submission only tournament before more than once.
I usually hit it in NoGi from a bodylock rather than an over/under tie up position, but try the different grips with a partner and find the one that feels right for you. It's (for me anyway) a relatively low risk throw from Judo that works from a variety of grips, bodylock, and clinch positions. Even if the Ouchi Gari fails, it gets the guy moving, gets him off balance and lets me step behind him for an outside trip.

Over/Under grip:
However, I personally prefer to hit the bodylock grip whenever possible, in NoGi or in MMA style sparring/in a fight. I feel it afford far more control, better control of his hips, and nearly always leads to my scoring a takedown. It also minimizes the number of knee strikes he can effectively land on me.

Body Lock:

Clearly the bodylock in the above is more of a set up for an outside trip/tani otoshi type throw, but the bodylock to me in my fights and in sparring with wrestlers, Judo players, mma fighters, is the most powerful position in the clinch. What I lose in the variety of strikes available by taking the bodylock I gain in control and efficiency with getting the takedown.

Cheers. Go Train.