Master Behring talked about “honing your best weapon” in his seminar. He also said you should “look for ways to get your best weapon”.
I know the weapon of choice for my friend Justin at West Side. It is the baseball choke. I heard him mention the other day that he didn’t want to be a one choke wonder. He expressed the thought he needs to stop doing baseball chokes and find a new submission. Brad, another friend at West Side, said the same about his favorite neck crank.
Wouldn’t Master Behring’s advice then seem counter intuitive? As I thought it over I thought of a funnel. The mouth of the funnel is the setup, transition and positions. The spout is a very limited set of submissions. The larger the mouth of the funnel the more likely you are to get the liquid into the funnel and container no matter the size of the spout at the end.
This began to boil down in my mind to the old idiom “The best offense is a good defense”. If you are working on building understand of various ways to get to your submission you are increasing your defense. The other option is to increase you offense or arsenal of submissions.
I came to the conclusion that Master Behring’s advice is the better of the two. BJJ is about survival first. A stalemate is not a loss. Build your defense by increasing your skills and technique in getting positions and improving transitions. This way you can direct the fight to your chosen out come, the weapon you have honed to perfection for the kill.
I am amazed at how no matter how well you know a technique you can always find out something new about it. For example, just recently I attended Sylivo Behring’s seminar. He talked about a tweak for the triangle. He showed us that by turning the guys head towards the hooking leg and pulling to the that same side it greatly maximizes the triangles effect. This is in contrast to the traditional pulling down of the head. Master Behring said that it is easier to turn someone’s head and you use less strength to do it. It looks like this essentially opens up the arteries to more pressure.
I attempted to use it at the Scrap For The Skull but my opponent tapped out just before I was going to try it. I hope that mean my Triangle Choke is already that effective.
REVIEW: I have to say I’m very impressed with the quality and type of instruction in the DVD’s. Roy Dean is easy to understand (no pidgin English). The video is shown from different angles so you can see the technique done from all sides. It has a easy to use interface that shows submissions based on positions. The video looks professional not like it was done in a garage with a mat and curtains hung up for back drop. If you are a beginner I wouldn’t start here. I’d start with Saulo Ribeiro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Revolution Series One. I did a post a while back called "Review of Saulo Ribeiro’s Jiu-Jitsu Revolution, Series One". Why I say that is, Roy Dean shows techniques that build upon foundation learning. If I had looked at this in the first few months I was training I would have been over whelmed and would be missed the finer points that make it advanced.
The video goes into submission combinations and talks about having what I call "fall back positions". If you miss the submission you "fall back" to another submission. I took what I learned to class, after watching the Back and Mount segments of the video, it made a huge positive difference in my game. Mr. Dean really helped me capitalize when I got a superior position. In layman’s terms, once I got the back or mount I submitted them with little effort.
I’m going to buy Roy Dean’s other videos and he has a permanent place in my BJJ video collect. Great video!
I’ve started reading "The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi. Its subtitle is "A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword" but just like "The Art of War", which has become so popular in business circles, it teaches concepts that can be used for more then just the Sword. I think it is even more applicable in the case of BJJ. I was reading "Hearing the Sound of Wind and Water" (pg. 115) and it reminded me a lot of the post "The Mental Game Ch 2" done by Mark some months ago. Musashi says "when outwardly intensely aggressive, if you are calm within while aggressive without, so that your inner mind is not captured by the outside, then you will not be outwardly wild." Have you ever seen a white belt freak out because he is in a very bad spot? I think what Musashi is saying, is his inner mind is in aggressive mode and so is his body. He acts "outwardly wild" and thrashes about wasting energy with brute force. If you can keep a collected inner calm you can direct the force into effective technique. So how do you do that with some one sitting on your stomach or while you are being smothered? With what Musashi has told me I know what to do and now I have to experiment until I can do it.
This weekend I listened to two recent interviews done by FightWorksPodCast.com. They were Royler Gracie (#200) and Chris Moriarty (#201). I also read Georgette’s World, her post "Why Compete" along with Liam of Part Time Grappler’s thoughts on her post entitled "On Competition Motivation". They all had a central theme in my mind, that was happiness and BJJ. It seems Royler is tired and needs to spend more time with his family. He has turned over teaching for the most part to others in Brazil and moved to the US. Chris burnt out on other’s expectations and over training. He had to scale back and do BJJ for himself and his love of it. Georgette competes for the rush of it while Liam finds coaching the most fulfilling. I think all are valid. I have been struggling with some of the same thoughts. I especially connected with what Chris Moriarty had to say. He admitted to being so rabid about his involvement with Jiu-Jitsu and so worried about what others thought of his game that he trained with ringworm on his face and denied it when asked. Royler and Chris talked about not worrying about winning every time you roll. Royler said you should prefect a technique against a white belt. Be willing to take chances and learn during a roll. You can lose and still win by learning. This is what I have found to some degree. If I let my ego go and worked on the technique I had a goal of mastering, instead of worrying about the win, I had a much better time. I lose now to people that in the eyes of others I shouldn’t but I think I’m starting to see the pay off. I’ve found my "Happy Place". I’ve seen the techniques I’m working on improve against more difficult opponents and I want to be in at Jiu-Jitsu each week despite injury. I hope this helps you find your "Happy Place" in BJJ. As always . . .
I am a software developer by trade. "I code therefore I am" is my motto. I knew I wanted to be a programmer in 7th grade. What on this green earth does that have to do with BJJ you are asking yourself. Patterns. Patterns are logical common algorithms to me when it comes to coding and techniques when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu. These time proven patterns give us blocks for building complex powerful routines. But to often we become set in our patterns. We don’t think "outside the box". I catch myself doing it all the time. Its the recognition of other possibilities that I enjoy. Programming and Jiu-Jitsu both give me those eye opening moments regularly. I then see how it also translates into everyday activities. The real trick is keeping my mind open. Open to new ways of doing things. Here is a little but silly example that happened yesterday. The diaper collector was full. It has a special lid that keeps the stink in. Kind of like a hazardous materials container from a science fiction movie. My wife changed the baby’s diaper. I was watching to see if she would shake the collector like I did to compact things and make it so you might get one more diaper in. Instead she opened the secondary latch used for emptying the thing and stuffed the diaper in. I was shocked! Of course, why try and work through the standard approach that was less efficient. She might have gotten a larger sniff of stink but she accomplished her designs. She saw a solution where I didn’t. She looked out side the pattern of . . . diaper entry! Hilarious as that sounds it translates into programming and BJJ. Opening yourself to the unknown possibilities of a technique makes you innovative, unique, and successful. The challenge is to master the pattern and then see outside the pattern.
John B. Will in his book "Rogue Black Belt – Book 2" talked about paying attention when being taught a technique. He said "Sometimes I pay such close attention that I don’t listen to what the instructor is saying. I very, very closely observe what he is doing, and do not become over-reliant on what he is saying" [Rogue Black Belt – Book 2, pg. 69]. I myself have noticed that while watching BJJ videos I watch with different learning goals in mind. The first time I watch I listen to the instructor. After that I find the instruction annoying and want to just see the technique over and over so i can understand it. So when my instructor, Mark, blogged about trying a experiment of teaching that nights class with minimal talk, I was interested. Here is his post on the experiment: The Mental Game Ch1. That night it was very different. He did a step by step instruction on each technique but didn’t say much else. He answered questions that were raised but didn’t go into long explanations. Being a visual learner I loved it. I felt I could focus more fully on what was being done. In my day job it is very important to listen so that you can answer questions after. I felt that I was giving partial focus to what was being said and what was being done. When I gave full focus to what was being demonstrated, I learned better. Mark tried teaching a more difficult defense against a head lock. The class was mostly white belts. I was of course practicing with my training partner and didn’t pay as much attention to the whole group as Mark did, but in the end he said, and I felt that the class had done much better in learning without the added talk.
Try the experiment at your school and let me know what your results are.
During class last month my instructor, Mark, said you should be attacking high and low. When your arms are bound up then you should be working with your legs to get sweeps, create space, or anything that will increase your position. Like wise if you legs aren’t being effective then work with your arms. I’ve taken this to heart and tried to remember to move my mental focus to the part of the battle where it can be most effective. In doing so I realized I didn’t know any leg attacks. This has led me find 5 leg locks that I think are a good starting point to build my arsenal. All of them come from Encyclopedia of Leg Locks (Encyclopedia of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) by Rigan Machado. Last night at class we went over some more purple belt test techniques. After class I got two of the more experienced guys to go over one particular leg lock with me so I could get a good feel for it. One disadvantage to my Submission Master Grappling Dummy is he feels no pain. I get good reps on him but I first have to make sure I’m doing the technique right. In keeping with my idea to give techniques more memorable names, I have dubbed this one "Cobra in the Grass". It is found on page 60 of Encyclopedia of Leg Locks. The below videos show the "snake" motion I use to get the first part of the leg lock.
"Cobra in The Grass" – Leg Lock, View 1
"Cobra in The Grass" – Leg Lock, View 2
"Cobra in The Grass" – Leg Lock, View 3
These give you the idea of how to get the legs. After that you need to get your knee on the belly that is opposite the arm that is holding the legs. You do this by controlling the hip on the same side as the arm that has the legs. Once you have the knee in the belly you lay back and swing the opposite leg around the opponents hip. If they don’t straighten their leg you will get a calve cutter right off and if they do then you roll into the straight leg to get the leg lock. I know my description isn’t the best. I’ll try to get video of it next class.
Isn’t that obvious you say? When it hurts, tap! Apparently it isn’t that clear to everyone. This Russian model and bodyguard didn’t know when to tap, "Former Russian Model Killed in Carjacking", even though she had Jiu-Jitsu experience. There are more factors that play into it. In her case the Porsche was more important then her life. What are the things that hold me back from tapping? Pride has to be number one. I don’t want to be beat. I have to hold out at least long enough that my opponent doesn’t think I’m a push over. Those are the kinds of things I tell myself. I tore my MCL because of that kind of thinking. I changed my philosophy after that to "In a war there are lost battles even on the victors side". I live to fight another day now. I try to make each battle an accumulative learning experience, win or lose. I feel I’m winning the war on most fronts now. But it is far from over. I have often wondered why Helio Gracie refused to tap when he said a technique was not "good technique". I understand that Helio passed out in his fight against Kimura because Kimura was squeezing his ribs and stopping his lungs from expanding. What about when Kimura broke his arm? So I will end this post with this thought, tap when a technique is effective or accept the consequences.