Defense: Reversals Vs. Escapes

A training partner asked me this morning about when to do reversals versus recover guard and my answer was to try attempt to reverse some one if it’s there and escape second because if the design is good a failed reversal should create enough space to open up escape/recovery routes.

A point that deserves emphasis, is reversals aren’t always there either, but can usually be set up if the person on top isn’t aware of the potential threat as evidenced in a Luke Stewart vs. Andre Galvao MMA match that took place a few years back @ 2:22, 5:32 respectively:

Preceding reversal generously taught by Stewart:

Defense: Cross-Sides Situations & Reversals Notes 10/30/14

Worked some situations this morning from an outside modified overhook position Ryron Gracie is using in video below. For our purposes we were sucking down our arm as far as possible to maximize it’s framing capability, as well as sucking our head in to add power to frame and prevent the blade of the opponents forearm coming over neck for a choke (our other arm was under the blade of the neck, not overhooking the neck as seen here):

First, we worked this Harpoon Sweep with the situation being the top player walking toward North-South instead of us walking in that direction as Pedro Sauer demonstrates here:

Second, if top player turned head away to alleviate pressure of the bottom players forearm frame, it set up this version (:58-1:16) of the harpoon sweep (we used a stiff arm with palm against the carotid to add pressure):

If friend on top posted to stop THAT sweep, we found they were down so low that it was easy to adjust our body and get a stiff arm on the hip demonstrated here @ 2:26-2:33 for an easy guard recovery:

I saw Brad Jackson recently posted a follow up reversal from nearside stiff-arm against the hip position above that looked like one of those pipe dreams you see, and write off as I once wrote off many the above reversals:

But then you see his teacher Ralph Gracie hit the same position in an MMA match (4:13-4:18) and it opens your eyes:

Lots to practice here, just keep in mind it’s the initial arm position and specific situation that make all these positions work. Ideally, you have the posture and the top player puts themselves in the position, but you can force situations as demonstrated too. My advice is to wait a bit to see what they do, that way it’s more like Kung-Fu where you’re using their energy against them should the get impatient.

Domination: Controlling Mount Top Source Material

Controlling Mount top references for class @ Enso Jiu-Jitsu 10/25/14:

Leg work from Low Mount (defending bridge attempt @ 1:08-1:25):

Transitioning from Low to High Mount with Ezekiel threat:

Roger Gracie transitioning from Low to High Mount in MMA match (notice feet cross for control @ 2:57, tight head control @ 3:00-3:11, before transition to high mount @ 3:12.  Lots of details here and a reason for everything):

Study: Understanding Context

I had a training partner recently want to learn the sweeps Eddie Bravo used against Royler Gracie, missing the point that Jiu-Jitsu is situation based. Put differently, BJJ is not a series of moves and/or strategies you force on some one from the inside out, rather it’s the art of taking what some one gives you.

Along these lines, just as, if not more important than understanding the mechanics of a position, is comprehending the ideal context:

When is the perfect time to execute said mechanics? Why? and What does ‘that’ feel like?

Defense: Pendulum Motion From Cross-Sides Bottom

Have seen my coach use the following pendulum motion, but forgot about it until coming across top video below.

Timing is essential on this one as you’re training partner has to give you energy by attempting to put their body-weight on you after a pass, or sitting back aggressively in an attempt to re-position themselves.

Yeah you got a bridge and shrimp, but why not rock out with a pendulum when it’s there!? (:31-3:22):

As a bonus, here is Rickson Gracie demonstrating a shrimp to belly-down motion from a similar position (:48-:54):

Lastly, I think we often give up on motion as a concept from structurally inferior positions because of the congestion and immediacy of the situation, not to mention we’re probably tired. For example, how often do you see people get out after being flat-backed for several minutes? People usually try a little bit depending on their energy level before conceding the position. You can actually feel it on top.

Training: The Technical Cycle

The Technical Cycle runs as follows:

Positional Sparring > Problem Solving > Drilling.

1) Positional Sparring – The ‘position’ we want to explore. The more we can narrow the focus the more technically we can train, i.e. ‘cross-sides’ to ‘cross-sides with specific arm position’ to ‘cross-sides with a specific arm position and weight distribution.’ Regardless of how specific, we are at least somewhat specific here, otherwise we’re gathering general information by chance via free rolling. Everything has it’s place and time, but the more intentional we can be relative to what we’re trying to achieve, the better.

2) Problem Solving – If the positional sparring session is fruitful, we’ll run into questions we don’t have good or even passable answers for. To build self-reliance and nuture a Jiu-Jitsu intelligence I recommend relaxing and sitting with question(s) overnight before asking your coach, assualting youtube, or consulting an online school. You never know, you might have a better, more elegant and efficient solution than the critical mass does. Remember, here’s a fine line between learning from everyone and co-dependence.

3) Drilling – With a bit of resistance you will find out if said solutions actually work. Positions that work well generally cause a person to have to change positions to compensate. I could write more about what I think constitutes a solid Jiu-Jitsu solution (energy efficient, low risk, non-athletic), but that’s a whole ‘nother subject. ;o) For now, we’re drilling the solution/technique until our body understands and we’re not flailing. That is, you don’t have to think, you’re body just does.

Once we ‘got it,’ go positional spar some more to discover the next order of business…and the cycle continues…

Defense: The Frame Game

Still bridging and shrimping to nowhere but wasted energy a bit much from cross-sides bottom, which upon reflection is likely a frame game that isn’t as technical as it could be.

Not 100% sure about this, but currently working off the idea that once proper frames are in place relative to specific geography, the escape is imminent if the top player stays in that position.

A bit of the challenge is figuring out how and when to contour frames to the top players adjustments, as if they are good, they WILL adjust. This requires being strong but loose with frames.

We’ll see how this translates to practice. =)

Passing: Re-Visiting The Smash Pass via Re-Pass

I come from an old-school BJJ background and smash passes were my bread and butter for years. From 2008 to now I began a journey of abandoning this approach in favor of standing and manipulating the hips via the weakest part of the leg, the ank…


Learning tends to be cyclical though, and I’ve come back to loving smash passes with the difference being how and where they’re used. Instead of completely re-setting and standing when some one starts to recover guard, I usually try a quick re-pass via smash, although it’s not really a smash anymore so much as a re-counter based on my training partner’s successful leg recovery. That is to say, it’s more of a timing based thing now than a control methodology as used in the past.


Defense: Angling Vs. Bridging Part Two

Another example of angling:

In the previous post on this subject, I pondered when it was wise to bridge and shrimp versus creating angles?  After some experimenting it seemed the tighter the upper body attachment, the more efficient it is to frame and bridge.

Why?  Because you’re training partner is literally pulling themselves into your frames if you have them, making them twice as strong when backed by bridging.  Contrarily, holding your partner is place while trying to move away when they have deep attachment is like trying to escape the smell of your own fart, as angling requires some degree of separation.

More broadly, these two ideas work together seamlessly, as your friend will likely loosen up after being flung by frames, or tighten up after being repeatedly walked into the power of your hips.  Either way, you’re prepared cause you’re a tough guy with smarts.

Defense: Turning Crap Positions Into Fertilizer

My theory behind why crap positions are internalized as such is we build games around avoiding them at all costs, and in the event we do find ourselves there we’re not only stumped because we haven’t invested the hours there, we’re frickin tired.

Too add to the problem, instead of addressing it directly, we look instead to make our guard harder to pass because let’s face it, a wicked bottom game is zero function and no sexy.

Probably on a high horse right now, but I think defense is probably more central to great BJJ than Guard. Doubtful? Follow the logic:

A) Great defense makes your Guard more relaxed and sensitive as you’re arguably happier on bottom.

B) Good defense translates to better dominance and control because it requires a deep knowledge of a top person’s objectives and possible routes. And, while I admit my control is decent enough to be considered passable black belt, it was developed through feel instead of foundation. A good reminder that just because something works doesn’t mean we really know it.

C) BJJ is rooted in survival, and Ryron Gracie recently brought up the point that the worst submission to get caught in is cardio tapping, because it’s essentially something you do to yourself by using strength and cardio to compensate for lack of knowledge. Good defense is not only about escaping, but finding the most energy efficient escape in a given scenario.

D) You become sexy by doing things no one else is doing. Consider cross-sides bottom the BJJ equivalent of the Grunge movement waiting to happen and rock the structural equivalent of hand-me-downs with pride.