How do you get water (or whatever) in your Grappling Class?

Posted on Updated on

I was reading an old article in the NYTimes about Guy Ritchie training in a Beverly Hill Jiu-Jitsu club. What stood out about the entire article is not the fact that Guy Ritchie has a Black belt in Judo and a Brown belt in Jiujitsu, but that at the end of the training session the writer said that Ritchie and his rolling buddy stood by the water cooler drinking out of a cup.

I had to say that it sounded really refreshing. I would love to sip cold water out a water cooler after a practice. It also made me think about how people get their water where they train. Where I train now its bring your own water (BYOW) or you can buy water out of the machine for ($1 or 1.25/ I don’t know because I always bring my own). I have also trained at a place that had a water fountain. But in the majority of places, I have brought my own water. I absolutely had to.

What about you?

Don’t forget to answer this one too.

Michael Clarke Duncan – A BJJ Man

Posted on Updated on

I was very sad to hear about Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing today. I heard about his heart attack several weeks back, but I always assumed he would be okay. Not to mention that his family, friends and close ones lost someone dear to them, but he also made a huge impact in our world.

Not just from great films that he starred in, but Duncan is also a cultural icon; especially when it comes to BJJ and MMA. Although the man was a giant among men (6’5 300 lbs), he still loved BJJ (he was a Purple belt) and took the time to learn the art. Here is a man who probably never, ever, EVER, needed to know a ‘lick’ of grappling who respected the art and heralded it. I have seen him many times at UFC events, front and center, and heard about his ventures training with the Gracies and in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

He’s a part of my cultural landscape and I wish him good travels.


Michael Clarke Duncan wrestles Tom Arnold below:

Michael Clarke Duncan discusses MMA, NBA, Boxing and tries to avoid looking at Eva Longoria.

Non-stop Grappling!!!

Posted on Updated on

Class was fast paced today. We had one minute rolls for the majority of class in various positions. We paired off and started in guard, switched positions after a minute and then went to side control, back control etc. Then we had people get down in the center and if you were swept, reversed or submitted then you were out.

Near the end of class we rolled until the other person tapped out. My first roll lasted with Justin, a Blue belt who takes about 8 to 10 classes a week. He caught me with a triangle while in mount at the end. Jeff, another Blue Belt caught me in a Kimura. Not my day, but at least I can say I am not worried about a lower belt tapping me out. I wondered about that before I was promoted, but it was just like any other day. I do need to continue to work on my endurance though. I could feel my resolve leaving me near the end of class and I was being sloppy with my defense.

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.

My Fingers Gave Out….

Posted on Updated on

I was trying too hard. I have a fair amount of grip strength and from my Judo days I know how to grip without fatiguing. But my fingers still lost every ounce of strength tonight. My instructor kept quasi-yelling, “Grip the back of his gi.” Instead, I just placed my hand on his back, curled my fingers and made a face like I was squeezing lemons. I was pretending. There was nothing behind it.

Advanced class tonight was half-guard mania. We worked on a half-guard escape 15 times to each side and then Prof. Roberto discussed the philosophy behind it and some ideal uses for it in competition. Then he divided us up for positional rolling. He paired me with Aaron, who is a Blue belt (3 stripes). Aaron had his way with me as I have never used half-guard as an offensive tool. I am not mugging for my blog and pretending that I have no game when I really do or possess even a smattering of half-guard ability. I have been grappling since 2004 and I literally have no experience with it except for catching people in half-guard as a stalling technique.  I am the anti Robson Moura.

When Prof. paired me up with Derek who is about 5’6 and 130 pounds I held onto him like a tiger holding onto a baby goat to keep him from passing my half-guard. I admit that when I was in his half-guard I used my weight to anchor him to the mat.

Am I evil?

I was so embarrassed by my performance that I am going to devote way too much time to learning half-guard. I think my fingers ‘dropped the ball’ because I was trying to overcompensate my lack of skill with grip strength. I don’t usually do that.

Until next time!

BJJ Car Magnets, Bumper stickers, Etc….

Posted on Updated on

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.

As most of you know, I have been practicing BJJ since 2004. I have always felt an affinity to the art/sport that I have never fully been able to explain. I am proud of my BJJ training and I like to spread the ‘gospel’ whenever I can. At the same time I am not a particularly flamboyant type of person so I do it in casual ways.

For a few years I have looked for different products that could let me demonstrate my love of BJJ. I’ve traveled the t-shirt, beanie and other accessories route, but I’ve always needed something a little more lasting. Well, earlier this year, I started working with a graphic designer and a printing company and came up with a more permanent solution to representing the BJJ lifestyle. I created a new line of BJJ car magnets and had them professionally designed and manufactured.

For the past few months, I have been keeping them under wraps and enjoying the use of them, but I realized that other people may wish to ‘represent’ their love of BJJ as well. I enjoy seeing them every time I walk up to my car.

I have placed two of the designs on e-bay if anyone is interested. Since I opened a new account I had to use the auction format. Once I sell a few on their site I can offer it at a fixed price.


Bakari (Jiujitsu365)

Click to Visit

Click to Visit

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

Last Thursday – Butterfly Guard Pass

Posted on Updated on

In drill we focused on securing a number of arm-bars from the guard. However, my main goal Thursday was to work on my butterfly guard  (BFG) passes during the rolling session. I have dabbled at it before but it occurred to me in the last class that it is the guard of choice for a lot of the experienced guys at our academy. I want to be able to pass butterfly guard as easily as I can full and open guard (on some players).

I only rolled twice after class so I could only work on it with Big Josh. I’ve noticed that we tend to nullify each other’s strengths so Josh was a perfect person to try it on. Usually when someone plays BFG I maintain my posture and try not to get sucked into playing his or her game. However for me to work my passes I had to go in close and in one pass I have to actually allow my opponent to wrap me up in order for me to practice the pass.

I noticed immediately that when I took this approach (trying to pass with an actual technique) it put Josh on the defense. I placed my right hand around his neck and with my left I tried to grab his left ankle and pull it so I could twist his body around and gain side control. I think with a smaller guy it might have worked more effectively. He’s about 6 ft and 215 lbs so it wasn’t as easy to pull his leg out from under him. I was able to force him on his side and make him switch to an open guard. When I tried the guard pass where you have to be wrapped up I allowed him to get position and then tried to work the pass. I was able to break the hold but not get the pass. The next time I baited him I think he sensed I was up to something. Almost as soon as he had me wrapped up, he let me go. He must have ‘smelled’ my eagerness.  As we went back and forth I was able to pass his butterfly guard a couple of times but I couldn’t establish side control. I will try that at a later date.

I also rolled with another Josh. He’s more of an MMA guy but he often attends BJJ classes. I hadn’t rolled with him in about 5 months and since that time he has mastered the 360 guard.  When he was on the ground I spent the majority of time trying to hold him in place long enough to work an attack. I tried to hold his ankles and pin him to the ground but once he started spinning I had to let go. At one point he was able to get my back but I was able to defend and turn into his guard. Every time I tried to pass he started to spin. The most I could accomplish with Josh was two takedowns.  (I was on the ground and he was standing on both takedowns.)

An overall good practice….

Last Class and sometimes it may be better not to roll (22)

Posted on

Last Thursday’s morning class was relatively small. Four of us were vets (including the instructor Ryan/purple belt) and there were three new people. As I have to arrive late because I teach in the morning, I caught the last half of drill which consisted of setting up an elbow lock from the guard.

The new guy I was drilling with packed up right after the drilling portion of class so I ended up rolling with two people who were in their first week. The woman I rolled with quit within 1 min and so did the guy. My clothes were fresh and I have no hygiene issues so that wasn’t the reason. The woman I rolled with seemed unsure of what to do so I just postured up in her guard and let her work from there. I tried to be encouraging but I think it may have been a little too intimidating.

The guy I rolled with said that he had tweaked his shoulder in the previous class. However, when we begin to roll he seemed to be exerting full strength. We were on our knees so I tried to guide him to his back. He resisted and ended on his hands and knees instead. I grabbed one of his arms and an ankle and flipped him onto his back (gently) and gained side control. After a few seconds he verbally tapped.

It has been a while since I have rolled with pure beginners. Usually the guys and women that I roll with have an athletic or wrestling background that helps them even if they don’t know what to do. Instead of rolling I probably should have just asked if they wanted to review something instead.

Judo Man ‘Got’ Judoed

Posted on Updated on

Yesterday (Tuesday) was my first day back since last Tuesday. My wife and I went on a ‘mini-vacation’ so I didn’t have an opportunity to go to class.  My instructor (Smiley) noticed I hadn’t been there for a week.  I am trying to maintain consistency so I may have to dig a little bit deeper to attend another night class on a different day.

The good thing is that I have been working out everyday so my cardio level was intact. We reviewed a self-defense technique for the headlock, a defense to the mount and an escape from the mount that leads to the heel hook.

When it was time to roll two of my sparring partners, Charlie (blue belt) and Carlos (brown belt) wanted to start standing. They are both smaller than I am, but they are muscular and strong. In my first roll with Charlie we went back and forth with takedown attempts and he finally ended up trying to pull me down into a guillotine. I was able to defend properly but the first roll ended with him achieving a triangle choke. It’s been a while since I got caught with that submission. Charlie is very aggressive (controlled though) so I had to up my intensity level and we ended up in a stalemate the second roll.

I immediately rolled with Carlos (brown belt) next. While jockeying for position and grip fighting he came out of nowhere with a shoulder throw.  It was very well executed and I appreciated the efficiency of it. As I landed I thought to myself, “Wow, that was a nice throw!” I don’t remember if he tapped me, but I do remember him jumping from knee on belly, to mount, to knee on belly pretty much at will.

When it came time to roll with Smiley, who is 6’1 or 2 and 265 lbs, he asked if I wanted to start up or down and I chose down. I am not a big fan of standing up during practice, but I may need to polish up on my Judo skills. Smiley tapped me at will but I did make progress in trying to pass his guard. I almost pulled it off, but almost is an opinion and not a fact.

Breaking through Plateaus

Posted on

Yesterday was an all star day for my development. It was one of those days when you break through the plateaus you have been experiencing. During the drilling portion of class we worked on a technique from guard that  can lead to a number of submissions; armbar, omoplata, triangle choke, etc. 

However, it was the rolling session of class where I noticed my growth. For some reason, I was able to implement a number of counters to techniques almost as soon as they were happening. Further, even if I wasn’t able to pull off a counter, the fact that the ideas were coming so quickly gave me a boost in confidence.  I first rolled with my instructor, Smiley, who tapped me out as usual, but I was able to use a new approach that Carl (formerly Big K) taught me. He had to follow a different road map to tap me out, which is encouraging.

I also rolled with Charlie (blue belt) and Ryan (purple belt). I was able to roll with them without being tapped and I was surprised at some of the techniques I tried to carryout as well. I have been adding some defensive tweaks to my game that have been paying off and it is from one of my new favorite books. I will talk about it in the next post.