Month: May 2009

Last Class – Points and Submissions

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Last Thursday’s class was all about working from different positions. After the warm-up we took turns holding guard, being placed in side control, the mount and being mounted from the back. The person in the defensive position had to work their way out or reverse their partner while the person on top went for the submission.

This class was geared more toward competition. Ryan, one of the instructors and a purple belt, talked about the importance of being able to escape positions and to score points in a match especially if you become aware that the person may be better at BJJ. I know that goes against some of the purists ideas on competition and the reason for BJJ but from a competition viewpoint I can see the logic. 

After about 40 minutes of this type of sparring the call went out for rolling. I opted out as I was seeing stars. I am feeling the effects of gaps in practice. Since my promotion to Blue Belt I have only been to class 10 times in 3 months. Five or so weeks were due to my knee being injured and other times due to my writing and other professional commitments. I don’t skimp when it comes to BJJ and I go when my schedule permits but I hate being the guy that shows up every once in a while. I do know that I don’t want to join the Blue Belt Hall of Fame.

I guess I just have to reminding myself that it’s a journey for me and not a race.

Lights Out Jiu-jitsu!!!

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I was watching this video on Youtube and soon into the match the lights go out. You think that’s the worst that could happen during their match, but it’s not.

Mario Sperry Butterfly Guard Pass

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In my last post I talked about using Mario Sperry’s guard pass in class. I picked it up from this clip. I was able to pass with it once and had a number of near misses. I have used a natural variation of it in the past as a response to butterfly guards but never the well thought out version that Sperry presents.

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This guy just oozed confidence…

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I was finally able to return after a two week layoff (writing projects, deadlines, life in general). 

I paid for it though as my back began to seize up during warm-ups. We started by running around the academy for a long time and followed that up with shrimping.  We always shrimp for a long time but I didn’t pace myself and my lower back began to cramp a little.

During drill we worked on counters to a double leg takedown and a stack guard pass. During the stack guard pass, which requires you to pull on the pants or back of the person after you have already stacked them, I had to yell out tap because I could feel the pressure on my spine. It was not a good day for my back.

At the same time, I have got to become more flexible. I am still stiff as I write this a day later.  Last night when I walked into Publix from my car I looked like Fred Sanford. I can usually fake it when I’m sore and walking around in public. Yesterday, I couldn’t get it together.

I sat out the first two rounds of rolling and then rolled with Christine in the third round. We started from standing as she said she didn’t care where we began. I heard her say earlier that some of the guys were too strong so I made sure I took our height, weight and strength differential into account (I do it for everyone anyway). I baited her with exaggerated foot sweeps and when I tried to hook her leg from the inside she went for a single leg and then gave it up. Smiley shouted out asking her why she had let go.

So I baited her again and this time she committed and took me down.  Her defense is improving rapidly and it is hard to pin her down. She also tried the Superman tap on me when she had me in her butterfly guard. (For those who may be wondering the Superman tap is where you have someone in butterfly guard and use your legs to stretch out their legs while bear hugging their upper torso.) I heard someone say, “She’s trying to Superman him?” and others going “Oooooh!” But when I was fully extended she lost her grip on my back.

After rolling with Christine I rolled with a brand new guy. I just played the positional dominance game with him. I would get a position; hold it for a few seconds and then transition to another position. Once in mount I thought about knuckle choking him but felt that it was unnecessary so I just went through the mechanics of it and let go.  For a new person though he had real good instincts.

The last guy I rolled with was a guy named Terry. He had on an Ohio State University t-shirt and had a wrestler’s physique so I didn’t take him lightly. I saw him giving the other guys a hard time and tapping out some of the regulars so I knew even if he hadn’t wrestled he’s done BJJ before.  When I asked him if he wanted to roll, he didn’t say yes, he responded by saying, “You ready?”


We knelt down and before we began he said, “You got any injuries I need to watch out for?” This guy just oozed confidence.

I told him my knee and my back because of the drilling we had just conducted. When the buzzer went off he didn’t move. He just knelt on one knee and held his head down. I asked him was he ready because he looked like he was thinking about something else. He shook his head and just kept looking down.

I thought okay and then I ankle picked him and pulled his leg up so he landed on his back. He pulled full guard and I went through my litany of guard passes before I was finally able to break it by pinning his biceps down and standing up. When I was able to break the hold I knelt back down and tried to pass. He caught me in half guard and tried to take my back. I was able to stop him with a few timely whizzers. 

Eventually he was able to get to all fours and in our scramble I ended up on my back. I pulled full guard because I had seen him easily jump around other people’s guard earlier. When he did break it I was able to scissor sweep him off of me. He landed on all fours though and again we were in a scramble. It ended with me defending a pass attempt. 

Something else that happened during that sequence is that I was able to pass his guard once by using a butterfly guard pass I learned from watching a Mario Sperry You tube clip.

It was a good day!

GSP’s demonstrates the “Clamp”

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While looking up guard passes on Youtube I bumped into this Georges St. Pierre video. GSP demonstrates his guard defense, which he calls the “Clamp,” during a seminar. The “Clamp” does three things:

1. Protects you from strikes

2. Immobilizes your opponent; and

3. Allows you to work for submissions

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First Day of Summer Break – Jiu Jitsu

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I am drained, but in a good way. I’m recovering from a day time class of BJJ and not from teaching in a college classroom.  I am “off” for the next 3 ½ months, so I can invest a lot more time improving my BJJ skills among other things.

Today we worked on a drop throw from the clinch and three escapes from the Kesa-gatame. One of the escapes led to setting up a variation of the Twister.


I held up pretty good during sparring. I rolled with Joe (white belt) during my first roll. Joe is becoming a fixture at the academy (gym) as he has been there every time I have been in the last two months. I haven’t been able to go regularly so I know he must be there all the time.

We started standing up and I was able to get a sweep and an ankle pick during our roll. Eventually I was able to tap him out with a knuckle choke.  I hadn’t sunk one in a while so I was fumbling a bit when setting it up. Joe asked, “ Are you doing a knuckle choke?”  I said yes as I locked it in and he tapped.

My next roll was with Steve (purple belt). Steve is a dominating type player, real aggressive. We started from our knees.  Let’s just say he spent time practicing his knee on belly and mounting skills during our roll. He literally jumped to the mount when I tried to insert my butterfly hooks.  We ended our session with him tapping me with an arm-bar.

My last roll was with Smiley (instructor).  I spend a lot of time thinking about how to pass his guard. He has this way of sitting up with one leg up and one leg down but they are both folded inward. He always manages to sweep or roll into guard (to keep you from passing) when attacked. I went for broke today trying to pass. I did a ridiculous move where I threw my legs past  his in order to get to his side Almost like a 35 degree cartwheel.. I think it caught him off guard because I almost landed in side control. But I ended up in his open guard after the scramble. He tapped me with an arm-bar in that exchange.  The next one I grabbed his head with both hands and tried to leap frog over his legs. I ended up in his open guard and I ended up being caught in the Billy Jack (neck crank).

After we rolled, he told me I was getting much smoother.  


Another cool thing that happened was that I was able to give advice to Christine after she finished rolling with one of the guys in class. She asked me what she could have done differently and I was able to rattle off a few options. That’s how I really know that I am growing in the sport.

For those who have been following: My knee held up just fine today.