Month: February 2010

Last Friday’s Class (19 Feb 10)

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Last Friday was a solid class. I am progressing at a steady clip and feel good about my development.


Jogging, acrobatic rolls, shrimping and stretching


We worked on a takedown that involved popping up our partner’s leg with one of our feet. Following that we worked on passing guard after our partner has established half-guard and an under hook. It  involved over-hooking the elbow and the tension makes the person forget about their guard and worry about protecting their arm. Meanwhile, the top guy can pass.


I rolled with Vick (white belt) first. Vick had a gi for the first time on Friday. He’s been coming to class for months without one so I decided to ‘take advantage’ of this opportunity. Usually our rolls are spent with me in his guard while he is attacking using my gi. This time I used his gi to control his movements and maintain positional dominance. He defended all of my attempts at chokes well though and as he will continue to wear the gi I suspect I won’t be able to ‘take advantage” of him for long.

I also rolled with Dan (white belt). Dan is improving at a lightning speed. He’s 6’4 and 200+ so I suspect he will be a monster. I inadvertently crushed his groin when I tried a knee pass. Sorry Dan! Although I was able to maintain top control during our roll I wasn’t able to get a submission.

My final roll was with Prof. Smiley. Although he taps me pretty regularly I am gaining the ability to breakdown more and more of what he is doing to me. I can actually begin to see some of the techniques even if I haven’t figured out how to stop them yet. After class Prof. showed me the spider guard sweep that he is always catching me with. I have been solo drilling it all week trying to make sure I have the rudiments down.

Solid class.

Chokes and Chokes and Chokes…..

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Last Friday we had a mini-seminar in how to choke from the guard. Prof. Smiley taught this class and it was loaded with tweaks we could use for our chokes. We worked on the Guillotine, front choke, a choke when someone is in Turtle and a choke you should only do in an emergency. I also learned on Friday that it is now legal to perform windpipe chokes in certain BJJ tournaments. I will stick to the blood (carotid) chokes though.

It was funny though, when he he mentioned windpipe chokes, Joe pointed at me and laughter erupted. My favorite choke is the Knuckle choke and as far as I know its a blood choke. I have tried to tap everyone that I could mount with that choke so I hope I am not that guy in class who’s a jerk and doesn’t know it.

The last choke Prof. taught us was what to do when you have someone in your guard and they are defending the cross collar choke.

You shake em.’ —————  You shake them and shake them until their head rises up and then you sink in the choke. I had it performed on me and it is disorienting and confusing when it is happening. Prof told us to be wary of applying such a move in a tournament and that we might want to cover up once we let the person go just in case they decide to punch you. I just decided to file it under Self Defense move or if for some reason I am in a championship match or something.

I’ll be thinking, “Where’s my money?” the entire time I doing it.


During the rolling session I got to roll with my White Belt Nemesis Joe (I am blue belt for new readers). Joe hasn’t been around for a couple of months so I wanted to take advantage of him before he could get his sea legs back. [On a side note, when I first rolled with Joe about a year ago I was able to take him down, put him in side control, then mount and apply my knuckle choke. But Joe turned out to be one of those guys who would come every day and when I rolled with him a month or so later he was a completely different player.]

I was able to achieve over-wraps and secure a take down by placing my left foot on his left heel and pulling him down backwards. I was able to achieve side control and then mount. When he tried to upa I was able to grapevine one of his legs, which he uses all the time by the way. When he was able to get out of mount I didn’t remain in his guard. I stood up. Since I’ve learned a few more guard passes I decided to play the outside game and ran a bull pass to side control. I used my new stapling technique to keep him pinned and to keep him from shrimping out.  When he was able to shrimp away I stood up again and he pulled a sweet sweep on me. It’s the one Roy Dean does where he sweeps you and uses your momentum to pull him up like he’s on waterskis and you’re the boat. I saw him coming up but I met him half way and pushed him back to the ground and fell into his guard. We played there until the buzzer sounded. Joe is probably a blue in spirit and the way he trains that was probably the easiest match I will have with him from now on.

I also rolled with Jamie for the first time. He’s our wrestling coach. We stalemated and he ended up on top in the end. In the early part of our tussle I used my weight to keep him from driving forward. The entire time it just felt as if he was driving forward even when I was on top of his back and he was turtling. I was afraid that if I tried to spin to his back he would explode upwards and I would lose positional dominance. I rolled harder than I wanted to with him but I wasn’t winded at the end so that is a plus.

My roll with Prof. Smiley (Black belt) was as always an experience. What I do like about rolling with Prof. is that even though he is a lot stronger and bigger than I am (muscle-wise) his rolls are laid back and controlled. Although I tapped often he told me that I was moving well and he gave me a lot of instruction throughout. I take that as a sign that I am improving. (He handcuffed me at one point and held my arm behind my back like I was Chris Horodecki in the IFL. I vow to not let that happen again. I am a grown man.) 🙂

Good class!

Interesting Guidelines to Purple Belt

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Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission WrestlersTapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

I know that many people who read this blog are blue belts or are close to becoming one. I happened to bump into the Alliance’s (in Atlanta) requirements for promotion to Purple Belt yesterday. It is pretty interesting. I always like to quantify what it takes to get to the next level and even though we all train under different guidelines I think this is probably a good tool to use.

ALLIANCE BJJ (Atlanta) – Home of Jacare, Cobrinha and Chris Moriarty (Alliance’s Blog)

Purple Belt Requirements (other belts – click here)

On average, 3 years of training with a minimum of 360 classes plus passing the following test. Belt promotions are always at the discretion of the head instructor. Factors such as above-average class attendance, natural ability, or competing could possibly shortened the time to purple belt, while a poor attitude, bad temper, or a lack of common morality outside the school could lengthen it.

Throws and Takedowns
One leg throw
Four hip throws
Two double legs
Two single leg

Two ways to defend the guillotine standing up
Two ways to defend the headlock standing
One way to defend the headlock on the ground
One way to defend the guillotine on the ground

Passing the Guard
Five different ways to pass the guard and get side control

Two sweeps from the half-guard
Two half-guard passes

Sweeps from the Guard
Five different ways to sweep your opponent

Two ways to escape the mount
One way to escape the side-mount
One way to escape the rear-mount
One way to escape the knee-on-belly

Five from the mount
Two double attacks
Three from the side-mount
Two from the back
Two from knee in the belly
Five from the guard

*These requirements are posted on Alliance’s Website – Links are above.*

That’s the Slowest Foot-lock I’ve Ever Seen!!!

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Check out Jiujitsu365′s new book, Grappling for Newbies on!

Friday’s class was a great session. I was able to actually notice a jump in my ability to defend guard passes and I was able to pull off a submission I’ve never done before and another that I think I have never done before.


Warm-ups were led by Art (blue belt) and we started off with a light jog (with short sprints), followed by the Geisha Duck Walk (on the balls of our feet and toes), Geisha Hops and Animal drills. After stretching, Carlos (Brown Belt/1 stripe) led us in drills.


Today Carlos provided us with a clinic on how to obtain, maintain and reverse Knee on Belly. I have rolled many times with Carlos and I have literally frozen when he has applied his knee on belly techniques. From below it looks as if he is spinning around like helicopter blades. My Knee on Belly technique is ‘suspect.’ I mainly do it to see if I can get it. I don’t have a string of techniques that I apply after achieving it, although I know a few I can do. What usually happens it that I will give up a mount or side control to try it and then the person under me will either explode or shrimp out and I end up in a scramble with my sparring partner. Carlos took us through many scenarios and I learned where I have been going wrong.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

My first roll was with Dan, a 6ft 4 and 217 pound white belt. (Earlier I asked Dan if he was okay because I had inadvertently hurt his back by performing an Ippon Seo Nage (shoulder throw) from a standing position when I should have been on my knees. He said that he was fine and that the pain subsided by the next day.) We started from our knees and I immediately pulled guard. I set up a flower sweep and had everything in place, or so I thought. He went halfway and then anchored down. I then worked for a head an arm choke and actually got his head and arm off to the side but trying to lock my arms around his frame proved to be impossible.

Carlos, who was observing, told me to play open guard. I played for a few seconds and then Dan pulled off a Torreando (bull fighter) pass on me. I remember thinking, “I didn’t know Dan knew how to do that.” I was able to reverse him after he obtained side control though by turning into him and then turning the other way and flipping him onto his back. From there I transitioned to mount, he recovered to half guard and then I was able to obtain a one collar side choke for the tap.

I also rolled with Art and I was able to work on the solo drills I had been practicing all week. Art shut my defenses down the previous week with his Torreando Pass. So much so that I was up late thinking about it one night and wondering what I was going to do. I kid you not, I had a thought to grab my University of Jiu-jitsu book. I opened it and the page was on how to defend the Torreando pass. Saulo Ribeiro provided four different techniques to stop, defend and counter the pass. I began practicing them immediately.

I must admit Dan caught me off guard when he did it, but I knew that Art was going to do it. When he did it was as if he was moving in slow motion. I could hear the instructions in my head as tried to pass and I was able to counter successfully and was able to go on offense. It reminded me of the boxer’s adage that it’s the blow you don’t see that knocks you out. I realized it’s the same with BJJ. It’s the techniques that you are unaware of and can’t decipher that renders you blind and the tap will soon follow.

As a result of rolling with Art last week and being handled my BJJ skills increased and I told him so. I learned four defenses, a guard pass, a submission and was able to incorporate them into my arsenal. I need more beatings like that from guys who are just above my level. Often with purples, browns and blacks the submissions come and I don’t know what happened. I don’t even know what to ask about what happened. When I rolled with Art (who is a fellow blue belt), I could see what was happening even if I didn’t know exactly what occurred.

Note: Art did tap me out twice during our roll.

My last roll was with Chase (4 stripe/White belt). Long story short, I was able to sink in a foot-lock that I have been working on in my solo drills. He was playing a loose guard, and I saw the opening. I started to wrap my arm around his ankle and I was thinking the whole time, “Is he going to let me do this?” After I locked it in I began to fall backward. He tapped before my back could hit the ground. Carlos called out, “That is the slowest foot-lock I’ve ever seen!”

I’ll take it. But I made a mental note that I have to speed up my solo drills because I practiced that technique slowly and I applied it slowly while rolling.

Great class!

“Any Excuses Tonight Roy?”

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*Boxing note: First, let me say that I am and always will be a major Roy Jones, Jr. fan. I think Antonio Tarver just had Roy’s number and if it would have been earlier in Jones’ career he would have destroyed Tarver. That being said, you couldn’t help but enjoy Tarver’s taunt of Roy Jones before their fight.

How does this relate to me? Well, I attended a tap clinic that was held by Art last Friday. He totally shut down my guard, nullified my side control and tapped me out. But I’ll talk about that in a second.


Although the warm-up period was shorter than the Wednesday night class it still was pretty intense. After jogging and shrimping we performed animal drills again; duck walks, jumping duck walks, variations of bear crawls, gorilla crawls, etc. My breathing was labored but I made it through.


We performed a drop version of ippon seo-nage, which is a shoulder throw. I accidently hurt Dan because I didn’t drop to my knees and performed the throw standing. I tried to do the throw as softly as possible, but later on he was complaining of his back hurting. I felt terrible. I know how it feels to be hurt by another person’s carelessness. I am always railing against this behavior and now look who’s guilty.

Sorry Dan.

We also drilled a version of the flower sweep and reviewed a butterfly guard sweep we worked on Wednesday too.


My first roll was against ______ (I want to say Dustin). I need to find out and remember, but he is a young guy with a beard. He’s a white belt and a regular. Since he didn’t have a gi, I took my gi top off. As we pummeled for position, I gained an overhook/under-hook, placed my left leg behind his legs and twisted him backwards onto the mat. The last time I rolled with him I had my gi on and we played that game where he grabbed onto my sleeves and collar and I had to keep breaking grips and make sure I was always square. This time it was different, but only a little because he has an incredibly strong grip. I was able to posture more and eventually broke his grips and split his guard. After opening his guard, he was able to scramble to his knees and then he stopped.

Carlos, who was watching asked him what was wrong. ‘Dustin’ explained that he was holding me so tightly with his legs that he needed a small break.

When we started again, I was able to pass and I gained side control for a little while but he was able to get to his knees. I jumped guard and after a few moments used the flower sweep we had been working on earlier. I ended up in the mount from the sweep and eventually jumped to knee on belly using a technique I have been working on at home. He pushed me off, we scrambled, I jumped guard and that’s how we ended.

My next roll was with Art. Art started off by asking me if I wanted to be on the top or the bottom. Since I usually end up on top with Art (and most people) I chose bottom. Long story short, Art used the Toreando pass and basically stapled me to the ground. Usually I can get a hand on the hip and a forearm on the neck before whoever I am grappling against settles, but this time both of my hands were ‘out of position.’ He tapped me twice using that pass.

But that’s not the end of it. He tapped me also when I landed in his guard. I asked a lot of questions after we rolled because I wanted to know what technique he used and how.

Following that I rolled with Carlos (Brown Belt, 1 stripe/Congrats Carlos!). He tapped me at the very end of a 3 minute roll.

Lessons Learned

I found out how to use the Toreando Pass effectively and that I need to shore up my defense on passes. I was able to use a knee on belly technique I have been solo drilling so that’s a plus as well.

Glover’s Travels

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I just bumped into these videos tonight. Jeff Glover, Budovideos and Nogi have teamed up to create a small 20 minute show called Glover’s Travels. It is a entertaining and pretty laid back show with interviews, technique and BJJ action w/top level grapplers. Above is Ep.1, part 2.