BJJ / Grappling Tips: Guard passing - Advice from John Will - Getting the most out of each session.

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Guard passing is the other side of the coin of guard recovery and I'd like to share a tip I got from Mr John Will: turn every grappling/BJJ session into a grappling/BJJ private. I don't mean that you should try to hog your instructor's attention for the duration of the session. That's neither fair nor feasible.

Rather, if you are focusing on your guard passing, keep your eyes open and look at what your partners and peers are doing. How do they pass but most importantly what keeps them from passing? Focus on grappling fundamentals like hip movement and hip control rather than the cartwheels and the attribute-driven passes. What are they doing with their hands and where are they touching their partner? Notice also that if someone keeps failing to pass guard then maybe the guard player is the one to watch and learn from.


BJJ / Grappling tips: the Half-Guard. How to avoid getting crushed.


The half guard is a position that has evolved massively in BJJ / Grappling. The Half-Guard fundamental concepts are:

i, stay on your side,
ii, prevent the Cross Face,
iii, work for the top underhook.

Every time I drill half guard bottom with a partner I'm always reminded that you have three weapons in the oh-so-important fight against the Cross Face. These are, in order of employment:

The bottom-arm paw
The top-arm paw, and
The Heavy Head.

Some people use both hands at the same time but I just prefer giving them different jobs. Most people know about the paw-grip controlling the biceps but looking around the mat I often see a lot of people giving up the Cross Face once their arms were bypassed instead of gluing their heads to the floor, at least until they can re-insert their hands and resume the fight.

Of course, you shouldn't dwell/stall in half guard but rather get deep in and start your attacks, reversals and sweeps but that's moving forward. Giving up cross face is a HUGE step backwards so remember to Heavy Head. It'll save your ass!

If you have the time, I strongly recommend watching this fantastic video by Indrek Reiland and Jorgen Matsi. It's long and extensive, but it will arguably teach you all you will ever need to stay safe and aggressive from the half guard in both nogi grappling and jiujitsu.



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BJJ / Grappling / MMA DVD review: UFC coach Nathan Leverton Super Grappling Seminar - The Turtle

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Nathan Leverton is a great grappling and MMA coach with several fighters from his team, Leicester Shootfighters representing on a scale of MMA shows from local events to the UFC.

I was recently contacted by Nathan to review his latest product:  A DVD instructional on the turtle position, which is a huge part of grappling, jiujitsu and MMA so I was more than happy to oblige. As I am very busy with school at the moment, I told Nate it'd go in the queue and I finally got an hour or two free so here it goes.

You can download Nathan's Turtle Top MMA curriculum here.

Here is a great example of Nathan's MMA / grappling coaching skills: Here he is teaching the Front Headlock - 3/4 Nelson - Darce Choke chain.


BJJ / Grappling Tips: Guard recovery / Escape Game - Folds of the Body

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Recently we drilled Guard Recovery. This is an incredibly important, and fun, aspect of playing guard. After all, what good are your submissions and sweeps if your guard keeps getting passed?

The focus was to get in there as early as possible and stop the passer from dictating where the grapple goes with their grips, following that up with the usage of a number of frames to stop the progress of a guard pass. The frames were against the collar bone / lapel, the hip, shoulder or the wrist, with emphasis on starting early and engaging the whole body in the escape / guard recovery rather than just pushing with the arm.

Check my review of Saulo v Comprido where Saulo uses
the collar bone / lapel recovery tactic he so well teaches in
Jiujitsu Revolution II


BJJ DVD Review: Nic Gregoriades & Kit Dale Concepts.

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Review Nic Gregoriades and Kit Dale Concepts DVD

Two funny guys presenting concepts and techniques that will turbocharge your jiujitsu. Nic and Kit are both very comfortable with the camera and with working with each other. The sound quality is crystal clear and the two black belts wear white and black gis respectively, working on light and dark grey mats so the HD quality of the picture is very high.

Where to buy this DVD:
In DVD format ($59.99) or digital download ($49.99) at: http://www.gobeyondtechnique.com/
I have never met these gentlemen but I have known Nic online for a few years. This review is based solely on my own opinions.

Here are a few words from Nic himself:

You can purchase the BJJ Concepts DVD here.
The DVD starts with the two black belts discussing how the contents will become tools for the learners to develop their own jiujitsu, with technique examples of course.


BJJ Tip: Saulo Ribeiro shows his attacks from mount: Cross choke and armbar

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You go to the gym to learn, not to compete. Grappling/BJJ has a series of positions and the fastest way to get good is to immerse yourself in the "map" that is grappling. You need to visit all the locations and familiarize yourself with the neighbourhoods. I know that many grapplers give this advice but they usually refer to starting in disadvantageous positions (working escapes...etc.), which is very sound advice indeed.

What I’m referring to however is giving EVERY POSITION a chance. Are you decent from side control top but you often get bucked up from mount? Are your gi chokes miles better than your arm bars? Make a commitment to shelve what your good at for a couple of months and exclusively work on what you feel is shaky, but don’t see it as a chore!

In this clip, one of the best jiujitsu fighters and teachers Saulo Ribeiro shows us his secrets to attacking with the double attack (cross choke and the arm lock) from the mounted position:

Remember why we are in this game. It’s because we love it. Look at working your weaknesses as a fantastic opportunity to tighten your game but also as a gift to your partners to sharpen their counters. Or as every great jiujitsu coach / instructor I have ever met and learnt from says: Enjoy the process!



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Metamoris 5 Analysis - Saulo v Comprido

The recent Metamoris Pro event - submission only super-fights - saw the meeting of one of my jiujitsu and grappling idols, Saulo Ribeiro, and a man who's done enough to earn a permanent place in jiujitsu history - Brasa's own Rodrigo Comprido Mederios in what was, ironically, the night's only gi match. The match is still available from Metamoris Pro's website but here is my own breakdown of the event. 

In the above photos, you see that Saulo opened up the match with aggressive belt gripping which Comprido countered with double leg attacks. Saulo's impeccable timing of the sprawl defence saved him every time.

Beyond that, the following segments / grappling exchanges where the most fruitful with tons of jiujitsu knowledge to be extracted and drilled.


BJJ / Grappling tips: guard attacks - armbar - triangle - omoplata - sweep


An important principle when playing guard in jiujitsu is to keep it alive! The guard was never meant to be a defensive, stalemate position and the beautiful thing is if you play it that way, it will soon get passed.

When playing guard (open, closed, half…etc.) you should be constantly threatening with your guard attacks. The opponent sitting in your guard should never feel comfortable or confident enough to start imposing his or her game. You should immediately:

1. Break down their posture
2. Deny them their grips
3. Establish your own grips
4. Set up your attacks (sweeps, submissions or transitions)

You must remember that when you are attacking, the opponent is constantly defending and while you are both getting tired, he/she is getting far more frustrated and pressured than you.

So, keep attacking!

Here's a great attacking drill (armbar, triangle, omoplata) from Jiujitsu Brotherhood founder, Roger Gracie black belt Nic Gregoriades:

and another on sweeps:



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BJJ / Grappling Tips: Creating Your Own A-game

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The above is my own jiujitsu / grappling A-Game.

1 A5 page. That's it. Obviously, I do other techniques but this is my core jiujitsu / grappling game*.

If you don't have an A-game, then you are going from grappling position to grappling position, rolling at least 2 gears too slow. I'm not referring to speed of movement, but reaction time.

You don't get to point B after leaving point A on your pre-chosen path. You simply find yourself at point B.

Here you see Gracie Barra black belt Brandon Mullins discuss gameplans with Stephan Kesting:

Creating an A-Game is not hard. It's not time consuming. It shouldn't be, at least.

On a small piece of paper, A5 or smaller, write the following areas:


BJJ Tips: How to get a blue belt in BJJ

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In order to get a blue belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, you need to show your instructor that you have embraced the fight ideology of jiujitsu (close the distance, take down / pull guard, climb the positional hierarchy, finish the fight) and demonstrate that ideology by leaving your strength and speed at the door and embodying the fundamentals and basics of jiujitsu.

Fundamentals of Jiujitsu:

The fundamentals are, in my opinion, not jiujitsu techniques per se but rather the solo movements that build jiujitsu and, consequently, all healthy movement. These movements are performed in a very similar fashion by all jiujitsu practitioners and other grapplers irrespective of belt and level.

Bridging (3 variations)
Shrimping (3 variations)
Getting to your knees from lying flat on your back (2 variations)
Rolling over your shoulder (3 variations)
Pivoting over your knee
Hip switching / Box drill
Standing up from lying flat on your back (Technical Stand-up)
Generating momentum on your feet (6 directions)
Generating momentum on the ground (2 variations)

While two jiujitsu black belts may show you two slightly different methods to perform an arm lock from guard or  how to set up the triangle choke from side control top, 99% of grapplers and jiujitsu practitioners will perform the above fundamentals the same way. This, to me, is the true heart of jiujitsu. Not the medals, not the self defence, but learning how to move correctly.

Basics of Jiujitsu:

The basics are what we recognize more as jiujitsu and or grappling techniques.

Since jiujitsu can be seen to include 1000s of techniques, how do we decide what makes the cut for this list of basics? I use the following principles: