Brazilian Jiujitsu

Open Mat – De La Riva Style!

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Friday’s class was a nice one. After a short hiatus I was worried how my cardio would stack up, but I did fine. Seems like the Fitocracy kick I am on is keeping me fighting fit. However, nothing beats grappling in class so I was a little winded near the end.

We rolled for an 1hr 20 min for open mat so I will just provide highlights:

I wrestled with one of the newer guys (Dillon) who was promoted to Blue belt last Tuesday. He’s a former wrestler and he has cat like reflexes so I usually just pin him down a lot. I went a little bit harder with him this time since he’s a Blue belt now, but he still weighs at least 80 pounds less than me so I didn’t go gorilla on him.

I also rolled with Jerry, one of the veteran guys, who is also a Blue Belt. I started out with Spider Guard and then I remembered a video I had been watching on Youtube last week and I switched to the De La Riva Guard. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to latch it on. I followed it up with a sweep and then gained side control. From there I went North/South then pulled him up and jumped to his back. He fought me on the Bow and Arrow Choke so I went for an arm-bar from behind and got the tap. —  I surprised myself with that one. First, Jerry is usually super hard to deal with. Second, I don’t know what possessed me to try the De La Riva. Third, I am usually a choke or Kimura type of guy, I hardly ever attempt arm bars.

On another note, we had a Brown Belt (Jason) from one of our affiliates visit. He showed us a cool choke when you are seated and have back control and a bicep crusher for the omoplata and from a guard pass.

Excellent practice!

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Tapmonster: 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.

Two Grapplers apprehend robber at hotel!

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It’s getting rougher for people who rob banks now-a-days. It seems every other week there is a story about a potential crook getting foiled by your friendly neighbor hood grappler. This time, two of our brethren, who were in California for the 2011 No-Gi Worlds Championship, nabbed a down on his luck robber who had just robbed a clerk in the front office.

Although none of the news outlets I watched provided the cashier with any credit WHATSOEVER for his role in stopping the guy, he actually wrapped up the robber with a bear hug after the robber walked out of the office and ‘stupidly’ place his gun in his bag. (I’m not rooting for the guy, but I’m just sayin’.) BJJ grapplers, Brent Alvarez and Billy Dinney, just happened to be walking out of the elevator at the same time the robber was dragging the clerk on his back out of the hotel. They literally walked smack into what looks like a scene from a badly scripted movie. Not only do the trio disarm him, but after the clerk takes the gun away, Brent Alvarez holds the robber down with a Rear naked choke while Billy Dinney holds other body parts down.

Here’s the video with no boring news video in the beginning (note the body triangle at the end):

Here’s one with the news clip (note Billy Dinney does his interview with his medal around his neck from the competition/I would have too!):

In one of the interviews one of the guys said that maybe “they should have just knocked him out” instead of fighting him and holding him for so long.

Here’s Brent Alvarez doing the same thing he did to the robber at a NAGA event earlier this year:

I don’t think it takes much to make Brent Alvarez jump on your back and choke you into submission. I wouldn’t drop anything around him and expect to pick it up without a fight! :)

Just Joking!

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Tapmonster: 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.

20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills Off the Mat

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Excerpt from 20 Ways to Improve your Grappling Skills Off the Mat It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Smashwords


We used to train a lot at my house… People used to wake me up at night… Like at midnight, people would come… I would train every time…Caio Terra, Multiple BJJ World Champion, talking about training from home when he had no academy. (Inside BJJ)

Like most people who practice the art of submission wrestling, I try to spend as much time as possible on the mat. And when I’m not on the mat, I think about grappling entirely too much. Yet, sometimes, the only thing I can do is think about grappling because I have other responsibilities clamoring for my attention.

Since I have grappled for nearly a decade, I have had to come up with ways to insure that gaps in training don’t derail my hard earned gains. As a consequence, I have developed numerous strategies. Those strategies are what this book is about. 20 Ways to Improve your Grappling Skills off the Mat will share with you how you can increase your grappling abilities when you can’t make it to class.

It discusses mindsets and approaches and it is designed to help you become a better grappler when no one is looking. The ideas provided in this book will give you an edge when it comes to training. — Following a few of the suggestions will take your game to the next level.

Imagine if you used all of them.

20 Ways also contains quotes from grappling and MMA veterans. It explores:

-How to be 8 steps ahead of your opponent

-The real deal with heavy bags and grappling

-What’s up with grappling dummies?

-Ways to use visualization that are never discussed

-Why solo drills matter

-How a few simple words can change your game

-How Claude van Damme can improve your grappling

-Why maps are important in submission wrestling

-How being a bookworm is good for grapplers

-How you can improve without lifting a muscle; and

-Ideas that will revolutionize your game and make you a tapping machine

Thanks for purchasing this book and I hope you enjoy.

Bakari Akil II, Ph.D./Jiu-Jitsu365

Heavy Bag

You only have two options, you win or you lose. Why not just win.Daniel Cormier-Olympic Wrestler

I would argue that when most people pull up YouTube, looking for a grappling clip, it is not to learn how to achieve or maintain dominant positions. They are looking for ways to tap chumps out. Admittedly, it’s not a bad idea. If you grapple for more than a few months, you quickly realize how difficult it is to make your partner submit when he’s learning the same things you are. Springing a surprise wristlock you learned from your favorite online guru makes training that much easier.

However, most grappling techniques offered online begin with the instructor ordering the uke (one being demonstrated against) to take a certain position on the mat. Then the uke jumps down like he’s expecting a Scooby snack in return. Yet, when is the last time you were able to tell your grappling partner to lie on his back so you could assume side control during a live roll?

Dominant positions have to be earned. Then they have to be maintained. Now, there are many ways that you can practice catching people in submissions and we will explore them in this book. But let’s start off by covering how you can use the heavy bag to improve your ability to dominate positions and improve your overall grappling ability.


Using the heavy bag is the blue-collar way of learning how to hand out beat-downs. It doesn’t do everything you want it to do, but it can get the job done. Its design is simple, sturdy and it can take a beating. They are also large enough to give you the feeling of dealing with a person and heavy enough where you have to exert yourself when working out with one. The length of heavy bags allow you to practice a wide range of moves and its bulk lets you apply pressure that even your training buddies wouldn’t allow.


They are also relatively cheap, especially in relation to the many years of use you can extract from one. I paid $65 for my 60 lb. bag and have owned it for 8 years. You can also purchase one cheaply from a second hand store like Play it Again Sports or from a yard sale. Now if you’re really cheap, you can learn how to make a heavy bag by watching a YouTube clip of some weird guy creating one in his mom’s basement.

No matter how you obtain one, your investment will pay off each time you can’t make it to class due to work or other commitments, yet you still have enough energy to drill at home. (Or, in my case, when I lived in the middle of nowhere and had to use my bag as a training buddy for a few months.)


Whether boxing or grappling, the heavy bag can help you review the basics. Just like in boxing where you can practice jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts and combinations, the heavy bag will allow you to practice the rudiments of grappling. Side control, mount, North-South and Knee-on-belly are all fair game on a heavy bag. You can also practice applying pressure to the chest and the proper spacing of your legs when trying to hold an opponent down. You will never, ever find a drilling partner who will allow you to work on your positioning as much as a heavy bag. If you do, money will be involved.

You can also work on transitioning from one position to the next. For instance, transferring from side control to the mount, mount to side control and side control to North-South. The bag can help you develop the speed and timing required to jump from side control to Knee-on-belly and from Knee-on-belly on the right to Knee-on-belly to the left. Drilling these basic positions will give you the ability to ride opponents. I have to admit, I feel like a bull-rider when I am controlling a ‘spazzy’ new guy and a pimp when I’m jumping from position to position on an experienced guy. Sometimes I have to restrain myself from asking, “Where is my money?” That skill doesn’t come from attending class once or twice a week. It’s from my heavy bag training.


You can also practice more advanced positional drills on the bag as well as work a little technique. For instance I cemented my ability to capture…

End of Excerpt

Thanks for reading! If this caught your attention you can purchase 20 Ways to Improve your Grappling Skills Off the Mat at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

This book can be read on your computer, tablet or cell phone using your Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble free apps. You can also read it on the computer using Smashwords or Lulu.

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Tapmonster: 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.

2nd Stripe Blue and Extra Sensory Perception

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Check out my books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling  and Grappling for Newbies on!

Class started off as usual today. We were going through drills (from side control) and then our Prof. called for a break and told us, “Get water guys!”

As we headed off in different directions he went up to the front counter and started pulling up tape. Long story short, I received a stripe. He told me that I had been working hard all summer and really improved my game. So now I am a second stripe blue.


(I didn’t blog this but I had a dream on Monday that I was getting promoted. The major difference is that he called me into his office and told me he was going to promote me after an event on Saturday. He also gave me a ribbon and a medal instead of a stripe or belt. I woke up that morning and told my wife that I was going to get promoted.)

Luigi also received a stripe on his blue belt (to 4 stripe blue).

Seth and Brian received a stripe on their purple belts (to one stripe purple).

Congrats to all and time to get back to the grind.

Time to switch the style up!

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Check out my other blog: Psychology of Jiu-Jitsu

Before I talk about the training session, first let me gush about my new place.

I finally made it to my new BJJ home last Friday and I made it official. I joined JaxBJJ. I really like this place. I started visiting it last month and was able to try it out for a month at a vastly reduced rate. I didn’t want to sign a contract and then be severely disappointed so I wanted to make sure this was the right place.

It is.

Everyone, I mean everyone, speaks to you when you enter the academy. Further, they go beyond that. They actually start conversations with and want to know about you. (It is really important to me that the environment is a friendly one and that I feel comfortable with the people I train with.) Also, there are belts of all types. I have never seen so many blues, purples and brown belts in one place. Every rolling session is like receiving a private session and people have been very eager to share their knowledge as well as ask questions when I do something they haven’t seen.

No egos.

The professor is friendly and won’t hesitate to demonstrate techniques to improve students game, even to the point of pulling students to the side for 20 minutes or so and reviewing technique with them. Also the place is full of people who have been training 2, 3, 4, and 5 years at JaxBJJ and up to 15+ years with Prof. Shealy. It also has a huge kid’s class, which suggests stability to me and not only does it have a lot of guys and gals in their 20s training but also a lot of guys in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is cool because it means that it is a safe environment and one that doesn’t burn students out.

Anyway, here’s what happened in class.

Usually the morning class is run like a open-mat but this morning Phil led the warm-ups then Prof. led us through some drills on finishing front chokes from the guard. We then sparred from position, trying to obtain a front choke from guard while the other person tried to pass. After drilling we started doing progressions where the time (rounds) is gradually increased as class goes on and when you switch to a new partner you get in the same position the previous person was in. Sometimes it works out great (you end up in mount), sometimes you end up screwed (your partner has your back.)

For the past month or so I have been working on my butterfly guard and trying to improve my defense to side control. As a consequence my guard has been passed, — a lot. Plus, almost everyone I go up against is a blue belt or higher so there isn’t much wiggle room to play. After being outgunned on the bottom so much I started to feel like a scrub. I think I am going to have to re-think my butterfly training for a bit, because ‘it ain’t working.’

Anyway, I still enjoyed class and look forward to heading back again when my schedule lets up.

Check out my new books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and Grappling for Newbies on!

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling

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A lazy mans way of coping with hard-charging grappling environments.

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Tapmonster: 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.

With The Lazy Man’s Guide to GrapplingI decided to look at grappling from a humorous point of view. This book is  semi-autobiographical and all too real look at what goes on behind the scenes in the grappling world. I discussed the underbelly of grappling environments that exist but no one ever really talks about.

I started grappling in my 20s and in my 30s I am still going strong, but throughout my experience I have had to deal with many issues that affected my ability and desire to continue grappling. The loss of flexibility, weight gain, aging in general, injuries, humiliation on the mat, 30 minute warm-ups, over aggressive newbies, issues with claustrophobia caused by grappling and sometimes the feeling that I was a victim in a snuff film have all played a role in my level of motivation in my grappling career.

I’ve developed a number of coping strategies and have observed other people’s coping strategies and I share them in this book. It’s a light-hearted take on issues rarely discussed in the grappling community and I felt if someone had to pull up the mats and see what was under them, then it might as well be me. In the book I discussed:

Lazy Man Takedowns

The Truth about Warmups

Magic Funk Taps

Credit Vision

Superhero Taps

Blue Belt Heaven

Injured Grapplers’ Psyche Out Methods

and more.

I had fun writing it and found myself laughing at my own thoughts quite often. So if you are interested in a fun and entertaining read on the art and sport that we all enjoy, check out The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling.

Bakari – aka Jiujitsu365

Oh yeah, I also wrote Grappling for Newbies but I  never officially plugged it on this blog. Check it out too!

What every new BJJ and Submission Grappler should know!

Open Mat – March 6th

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I went to open mat expecting a light workout and roll but I am beginning to realize that I should expect the unexpected on these days. Five white belts were testing for stripes; Big Josh, Dan, Vick, Cedrick and Melissa. Smiley asked us (Art, Jamie, I believe Andrew helped and me) to help roll with them (or rather jump them) during the grappling session. Before that I drilled with Art and he showed me one or two guard passes that he uses.

When it was time for us to ‘jump’ the white belts it turns out that they had to roll for 15 minutes. I began the roll with Vick and he went all “Grrrrrr” on me. I had to tell him to relax because he had a lot of time left. They would roll one minute with us and one with each other. I probably shouldn’t have, but I Tomoe Nage’d one of the guys. I let him down easy though. They all lasted 15 minutes with no problems as most of them come to class at least 3 times a week. Congrats to all of them.

On another note. I found a blaring hole in my game while flow rolling with Art. One, I need to work on defending my guard from the bottom while the other person is standing up. I usually end up on top so I don’t practice sitting down and letting guys approach my guard. When we drilled with me sitting and him standing it didn’t take long for him to bypass my guard. I used to fold my leg like a chicken wing when people would try to pass so I could block most attempts. But when I injured my knee while using that technique I vowed to never do it again. I have to come up with new defenses.

Second, I have always been a sucker for knee-on-belly so when Art used it I had no real defense. I vowed to master defenses for this and came up with some remedies that I will talk about in my next post.

Open mat was more than I expected but just what I needed.

*I wrote about my boxing days at Psychology TodayRecognizing when you’re in the Pros

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!

“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.