Study: Asking The Right Questions

A very popular question is along the lines of:

If you could have just one technique or position what would it be?

Could you imagine asking an artist such a question?

Jiu-Jitsu is about expression and how principles work in concert with each other to create an effect greater than the sum of each part.  It’s simple, but oversimplifying acts to place boundaries in a mind that thrives when open and possibility oriented.

Jiu-Jitsu & The Force Part 6: Movement

The days of closing up a Guard and exploiting an opponents lack of knowledge by waiting for a mistake are over.

Of course, as Jiu-Jitsu practitioners we’re always looking to build depth in positions like Mount, but it’s not an end game anymore, and it was probably a bit short-sighted to have ever been interpreted as such.

Susumu Nagao's Photograph
The copyright of this photograph belongs to Susumu Nagao

Why?  Jiu-Jitsu is more about flowing, adapting, and being open than anyone one position because every structure has strengths and weaknesses.

One illustration of the above is that while you can get more direct body weight on a person through a heavy mount, THAT makes you easier to reverse compared with a lighter, more conservative Cross-Side approach.

For the new-school, I’m suggesting we START from the premise of our friends being good at Jiu-Jitsu and dedicate as much time to heavy, relaxed, flowing transitions as we do individual positions.  This way we’re not attached positions and generally heavy from everywhere.

Xande Ribeiro demonstrating a Cross-Sides Domination approach predicated on movement as opposed to controlling individual positions:

Movement is healthy, movement is life, movement is Jiu-Jitsu!

Jiu-Jitsu & The Force Part 5: Humility

You know the humility post had to come on Thanksgiving baby!


Don’t know what keeps the boys at going, but THANKS to them once again because if it wasn’t for their site would probably have like 10 readers. =)

Another turkey day shout out to all the Jiu-Jitsu practitioners across the world who share for the passion and natural camaraderie of two people rollin’ regardless of affiliation, politics, or rank.

Onto humility…

Humility is huge because it gives us the ability to evaluate versus judge information.  The difference being judgement comes out of nurturing ego through comparison, while evaluating is about learning.

On a related note, yes competition is about measurement to some degree, but being egoless helps one play better because their mind is free and in the moment.


Back to information and learning, I know what I know, and know what I’ve invested time on and haven’t so why the extra baggage?  Haven’t spent a lot of time studying leg locks, nor grappled a lot of great leg lockers , so Eddie Cummings would likely rip my feet off.  This is as it should be, and it’s up to us to make skill/specialization disparity sources of inspiration not insecurity.

Be thankful, be humble, be free and remember this isn’t a sport, it’s an art with different sportive expressions.  Create and fly accordingly!




Jiu-Jitsu & The Force Part 4: Structure

‘Structure’ is why we go to class and buy DVD/streaming sets.  We study and drill to understand the structure at deeper levels, as well as find relaxation within structure.  In absence of effective structure we’re like a giant sack of potatoes, that while heavy, can eventually be pushed away or disengaged from.

In a Jedi/Sith metaphor, if relaxation is the body, structure is our lightsaber.  The Jiu-Jitsu player is of course empty handed, but structure is our equalizer against the bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic adversary.


Mount, Back Mount, Cross-Sides, Knee-On-Belly, Turtle, Half Guard, Closed Guard, Open Guard Configurations:  All these geographies are different, specific structures with inherent advantages and disadvantages…

To apply, why for example, are you using a figure-four control from Back Mount instead of traditional hooks?  Are you just copying some one you deem more knowledgeable, or have you really taken time to study the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches?

Don’t get me wrong, copying is fine in the beginning as we need to some kind of reference point to get the ball rolling both functionally and intellectually, just understand it is surface knowledge to be grown. =)

Jiu-Jitsu & The Force Part 3: Possibility

Talked about potential as it relates to mind and insights in the first post, and while ‘possibility’ is similar notion, what we’re moving into is using potential in positive way.

How? While everyone has different gifts, why would you ever put limits on yourself?  The key is coming at Jiu-Jitsu from the highest level of inspiration you can imagine.  That’s harnessing and directing the Force, and the lesson Yoda was trying to impart on Luke in the swamp; that of limitation being a thought projected onto possibility.


My instructor has been a model for possibility, routinely doing and accomplishing things most people would never consider, much less attempt.

In applying this idea the isn’t really anything to ‘do’ so much playing free and being aware of limitations you we give ourselves in the moment.  Really, it’s a state of mind.  When we’re in a positive state we don’t even care about such things because they don’t have any bearing on anything beyond joy-killing. =)

To close, Leo Vieira taking shots on Mark Kerr in his prime, something Jiu-Jitsu players in Kerr’s own weight category wouldn’t do at the time!:

Jiu-Jitsu & The Force Part 2: Relaxation

Relaxation does everything for everyone, which can be experienced in real-time through noticing how our tactile awareness increases when we chill.  If there is a ‘Martial’ force in Jiu-Jitsu it’s this, as a relaxed body is both H-E-A-V-Y and hyper sensitive:


Now there are a million and one relaxation techniques, but the problem is by nature, they require a portion of our attention.

What’s suggested instead is being receptive to the relationship between thought and tension, and having a bit of faith that relaxation will take your Jiu-Jitsu far, far beyond linear, A+B=C processes.  This at times means giving up our preconceptions, which are just that, preconceptions!

An insight just had writing this is, this has massive technical applications because the best ‘Jiu-Jitsu’ positions WORK from a relaxation premise in that we’re not trying to control anyone thing, but be loose and responsive enough to manage all things.

Xande Ribeiro teaching a Cross-Side approach that maximizes the effect of relaxation:

To sum things up, relax and use the force in all things from selecting to studying on through applying positions.

Jiu-Jitsu & The Force Part 1: Mind, Potential & Insight

With the upcoming Star Wars release, thought it might be fun to talk about ‘The Force’ as it relates to Jiu-Jitsu, as probably the biggest single piece of advice I give people is to try and conceive of Jiu-Jitsu as a whole (hint: it’s an approach, not a sport!).  Accordingly, my vision of Jiu-Jitsu Master is more that of a Jedi than a World Champ.


Will get back to the idea of what being open to the idea of Jiu-Jitsu as a whole gives us as a student, but let’s tackle ‘The Force’ at a base level first:

Pure force is the formless energy behind life.  The root of ‘enlightenment’ level of experiences.  Next, we have the ability to harness this force/energy on an individual level by bringing it into form via thought.

To relate the above to the pursuit of Jiu-Jitsu, we are taught in school to learn by modeling, repetition, and study.  While these things are necessary for every prospective student, we can make massive leaps in understanding through insight by staying receptive to Jiu-Jitsu as a whole as it relates to nature, energy, mind, thought, intention, or in the case of this post, Da Force.

I know this is a Zen ‘answer is the solution, solution is the answer’ sort of thing, but hopefully there is some common sense logic here:

There is pure potential aka ‘force,’ Jiu-Jitsu is related to this force, and through being receptive to this relationship we can supersede traditional learning by way of insight. =)

Mindsets: Playing To Your Potential

A ‘breakthrough’ in grappling means you’re even MORE of a white belt, because you have a whole NEW area(s) of things to refine.  The difference being it’s at a fresh level of understanding.

So, always play to your potential versus perceived level of understanding, which by definition is always limited by where you’re at.

To summarize, shoot for the stars, while letting them ground you as well, as ‘potential’ is the widest open space we can imagine.  Letting this guide our creativity leaves us far more open and ‘in’ the process than comparing ourselves with other practitioners.

Insight after writing this:  Have read a ton of sports psychology books chasing understanding from other coaches and fields, and I think process as a concept is what I was looking for.  Simplicity itself!  Humbling. =)

Guard Passing: Freezing Part 2, Preventing Stand-Up

The ‘Freezing’ Guard Passing principle was/is possibly my biggest leap forward in 2015, first discussed here:

Another benefit to ‘leg freezing’ is it prevents the top player from standing up…

Brad Jackson demonstrating this principle and a pass through 3:21:

Saulo Ribeiro ‘freezing’ legs with arms before stepping around with leg to pass (notice the angle is identical to Jackson’s Butterfly Pass even though leg and correlating arm position is different):

Brad Jackson freezing the bottom player in Z-Guard with leg position discussed @ 3:11-3:38:

Per principles discussed in other posts, I try to avoid grabbing the collar during Leg Weave/Z-Guard passes as it simultaneously opens up a hand fight with that arm and puts your weight over the bottom players hips.  Instead, I Leg Weave (further freezing the leg) and shoot my knee out past their legs at 45 degree angle, and come over the top of the body with my arm to avoid hand/arm fights.  For those of you who have Saulo Riberio’s must have ‘Jiu-Jitsu University’ the Side-Control landing position is similar to the Guard Pass on pages 227-228.  Thought I made up preceding diagonal Knee shot, but then remembered it came from this Xande Ribeiro video @ 6:55-7:44, reminding me it’s best not to take credit for anything! ;o):

Generally, these Passes and Passing Strategies are more wrestling and MMA oriented which I feel is where the more progressive grappling is taking place compared to tournament Jiu-Jitsu where people spend a lot of time trying to find solutions to scenarios that either have nothing to do with combat, or just a plain bad idea in a fight.

Domination: The Most Important Question

In terms of dominance, the most important question is not what position I’m in but how much of my body weight is the opponent carrying?

If some of my weight is on the mat, I want that weight as light as possible to maximize the weight they are receiving.  During transitions, same thing, I want as much weight on the opponents as I can, using their body as a pivot point if possible.