Archive for May, 2010

27 May 2010

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  • No Gi Made Easy DVD Giveaway!

    This Article comes from SLC MMA
    To see the full original article click here

    Here’s the deal.

    I’ve got the new Mike Fowler No Gi Made Easy DVD’s, and they’re pretty bodacious.  If you remember, a while back I got the first version of the No Gi DVD’s, and I reviewed them here. Now I’ve got the first edition and the second edition of the DVD’s, which is one too many DVD sets to be cluttering my nightstand.

    So I’ve got an extra DVD set floating around, waiting to be gifted away to you!

    The Giveaway “rules”

    Pick your favorite youtube video  and leave a comment  with the title of the video, the web address, and why you love the video so much.


    Vid: Saran wrap and syrup prank

    Reason: I love the way she reacts to the prank.


    Vid: The most most powerful 2010 Fedor Highlight

    Reason: Fedor is so awesome  I would have his children if it were physically possible.

    After about 30 days, or 40 comments – depends which comes first – I’ll randomly pick a winner, email them, and then mail off the DVD’s to him or her.

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    26 May 2010

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  • Nice Judo Throw (even No GI): Harai Goshi

    This Article comes from Utah Judo
    To see the full original article click here

    I’m not a small person (6’1″, around 260lbs.) So I have long since come to grips with the fact that I cannot (as they say in the Motley Crue song) “move like a cat.” So I’m always on the lookout for a good Judo throw for my body type. A while back I did a post on what has become one of my favorites, the Makikomi. As a big guy, once I get my weight behind the Maki, people will tend to hit the ground pretty hard.

    But I have recently started to get a good feel for, and quite like a derivative of the Harai Goshi. Now, a typical Harai Goshi uses a lot of Gi gripping. but the way I prefer to throw it doesn’t so much. I like this better not only because I feel it lets me man-handle an opponent a little more, and I have a better success rate. but also because it makes the move applicable for use in a non-Gi situation as well (something I always watch for in throws.)

    The key to how I like to throw the Harai Goshi is that instead of grabbing the collar of the Gi, I slip my arm under the opponent’s/ victim’s arm. I tend to like to have my arm pointing up a little more than some of the videos we’ll be showing here… a little bit more like the Uki Goshi.

    This first video is a good example of a couple of big guys, using a lot of strength (yes…I know it’s about Kazushi and not strength… but sometimes it take both.) The throw is pretty much at the end of the video. Unfortunately our view is a bit obstructed in this shot, but I think it still gives a pretty good view of what I’m talking about with this throw.

    Another great video of this throw actually comes to us from Sambo, who refer to the throw as a “Forward Leg Sweep.” This video really does do a nice job of showing the mechanics of the throw. As this is done in the video, you might find yourself thinking that the momentum shown is a little contrived… Throws never seem to work as well against an opponent as the do against a willing target on a youTube video. While that’s true, the power shown here is very real. I have moved very large opponents effectively with this. It really does work well on people who can be difficult to move in other ways.

    Finally, I want to add another option on the throw. You can’t always get the foot clear across the other person to pull of the Harai Goshi. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t still nail a good throw here. the following video shows several versions of the Uchi Mata throw. Pay particular attention to the version that leverages the same under-the-arm-and -up-the-back grab that we have seen on the other two videos. I think, particularly with a large opponent, that the grab over the arm, rather than under can be tough to pull of… their base is sometimes just too good.

    Enjoy, and happy throwing :)

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    24 May 2010

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  • Judo / Jiu-jitsu Crossover Principles from Small Axe Jiu-jitsu

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    As I expand into the BJJ blogosphere, I am continually amazed at the amount of quality technique you can learn about online. Here’s a real gem of a post I stumbled across at the Small Axe Jiu-jitsu blog. I love it when instructors break their technique down into general principles that have near-universal application. I don’t cross-train in judo (I hope to someday) but I can understand the kuzushi principle that Tim Sledd talks about in these videos.

    Finish reading Judo / Jiu-jitsu Crossover Principles from Small Axe Jiu-jitsu.

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    24 May 2010

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  • Escapes From Half Mount and the Spatula Sweep

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    After spending two weeks reviewing half guard technique, last week’s training was focused on half mount. We only trained two days this week because of various work conflicts and injures – but we learned some effective half-mount escapes. There are submissions from this position, of course, but our focus was freeing the leg and establishing side control.

    Finish reading Escapes From Half Mount and the Spatula Sweep.

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    21 May 2010

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  • Your Amygdala Needs Your Attention…

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    Beware of your lizard brain.

    If you’ve read Seth Godin’s excellent business book Linchpin, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If anything shows how bad I have the BJJ bug, it’s the fact that I can read a book about business and instantly start applying it to jiu-jitsu.

    The lizard brain is Seth’s label for the amygdala, the tiny dual organ near your brain stem that is responsible for your most primal emotional reactions. It tries to protect you and make you safe and comfortable at all costs. Fight or flight, sex, and especially fear are all parsed by that brain. (For a demonstration of how your amygdala works, click here.)

    This is of course a gross oversimplification of the amygdala’s role, but the lizard brain concept is intriguing.

    Fear can keep us alive…and it has for eons. The amygdala’s job is to shut the higher-level thinking down and keep you out of danger. But now that man isn’t being chased by saber-toothed tigers, Seth contends that the lizard brain’s favorite pastime is to keep you from being a genius and an artist. It’s to keep you wrapped in the safe arms of mediocrity where you can’t get guillotined, arm-barred or choked.

    How does it do that? Fringe products of the lizard brain are things like excuses, rationalization, procrastination and avoiding commitment or social contact.

    Which begs the question: if Jiu-jitsu is a martial art, does that make us artists?

    If not, what’s holding us back? There are certainly great artists in the world of BJJ.

    See, becoming an artist is the real point Seth drives home in his book. It means placing a greater emphasis on creativity and delivery than on obedience, conformity and tradition.

    I can’t help but feel that part of the journey to mastering Brazilian jiu-jitsu, to becoming a truly great grappler, is to become an artist.

    I’m not talking about scrapping the principles of BJJ, acting like a hot-shot and trying to invent your own new martial art. Quality and delivery – making things work and work well – is a huge component of artistry in Linchpin.

    Artistry in jiu-jitsu would mean learning the principles that make BJJ work by being willing to take risks.

    By staying calm while sparring.

    By not being afraid to try new things, even if you have to tap.

    By throwing your heart and soul into making you and the people around you better grapplers.

    By recognizing that no matter how much you want to fight like Rickson Gracie, no matter how many times you watch your Demian Maia dvds, you are always crafting your own unique brand of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and you can take pride in that.

    If we’re not OK with mediocrity, somewhere along the line we have to identify what it is that is keeping us from being a genius and kick it in the nads. More often than not, that’s <a href=”“> fear</a>, in all its aforementioned forms.

    <a href=”“>“Fueled by Fear”</a> is a BJJ blog I really enjoy reading. Dev’s whole “Fueled by Fear” concept has up until now escaped me, though. Fear has always been the enemy from my point of view. But reading this book has caused me to realize a few things:

    1. I will never be able to outrun my fears, only face them. Even then, they never completely go away.
    2. Fear can be your motivation, because experiencing fear is the very catalyst that allows you to overcome it. Whether it’s competition, grappling with that 250- lb brown belt in your school or just stepping through the door for your first class, you can’t progress until you identify your fears and move through them.
    3. If you have hammered jiu-jitsu into your sub-conscious, when Freddy Krueger attacks you in your sleep you will break both his wrists, throw him in a crucifix hold and crush his atlas rather than crapping your pants and running.

    Brazilian jiu-jitsu is full of great artists – people who push the envelope, innovate, try new things and aren’t satisfied with mediocrity. It’s how BJJ was born, and it’s how it continues to grow. Just because you we aren’t all world champions doesn’t mean we can’t be artists.

    I’m probably preaching to the choir, since people who read this are probably the more active practitioners. But it’s a “sermon” I need to hear, and I daresay we all need to be reminded occasionally that no matter where we are in our game, there is a higher level of excellence waiting for us if we don’t let the lizard brain hold us back.

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    19 May 2010

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  • Tough Guys Pwned by BJJ Girls…On National TV

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    To be fair, the women in these clips are significantly more skilled in jiu-jitsu than the guys they’re fighting. And I don’t know if it’s accurate to call Steve-O a tough guy…but then again, that’s not the point. I’ve mentioned this a number of times, but thing I love about jiu-jitsu is the advantage a physically weaker, more skilled person can have over a stronger, less skilled person. I’m a huge proponent of women learning BJJ. It’s one of the only sports I know of where the women’s competition is just as impressive to watch (in some ways more so) as the men’s competition. Plus I can’t think of any other single art that would give a woman a greater advantage over a male attacker than jiu-jitsu.

    For some reason I get a huge kick out of watching guys learn this lesson the hard way as they get their limbs ripped off by innocent-looking women. On national TV.

    So, sit back and enjoy these two classic clips, one featuring Steve-O from MTV’s “Wildboyz” getting arm-barred by Leticia Ribeiro (thanks to The Figthworks Podcast for reminding me of this in their recent interview with Leticia). The embed isn’t working for this one, so you’ll have to follow the link and watch it at MTV’s website. The butt-kicking takes place in the first five minutes of the episode.


    Click here to watch the video.

    The second is from Discovery Channel’s awesome series “Fight Quest,” where Doug gets choked out by a Brazilian women’s champion. This fight starts around 7:40 in the clip. I don’t know her name and haven’t had any luck finding it online – if anyone can tell me I’ll update the post.

    Fight Quest

    On that note…

    Since we’re on the topic of women in jiu-jitsu, here’s a women’s purple belt fight I caught while I was at the Pan in April – this was an exciting match to watch live. I wasn’t around to watch any of the other belt ranks, but I was glad I got to see this.

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    18 May 2010

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  • Learning To Use Technique vs. Muscle

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    What is it that makes relying on muscle in jiu-jitsu such a hard habit to break? Learning to relax and use technique over muscle is a constant topic of discussion and analysis in BJJ (especially among lower belt ranks) – and usually it applies to big tankers who are built like a Brahma bull. But I’m here to tell you it applies to tall lanky guys as well. I’ve been doing better with this, butfter working on half mount position this morning my coach informed me that I am still too often muscling my way through positions that I know the techniques for. To make matters worse, I have apparently driven away one newbie by accidentally hurting him during training. I feel bad about that, because I honestly do my best to be nice to new people. Being an MMA gym, our school can be a little intimidating for people who are not “tough guys” and are there because they want to learn and have fun, and getting physically injured on your first day by some hot shot is not a good way to start out.

    So, here’s my self-directed lecture for the day:

    Take a look at these two pictures. On the top, we have Tiger Woods, and on the bottom, we have a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Now, who would you say is the stronger of these two…um…dare I say gentlemen?

    If you picked young Arnie, you would be correct.

    But let’s compare these chaps again, in a different light. Who can drive a golf ball further?

    The answer, of course, is Tiger Woods. Although not necessarily the stronger of the two (we’re talking young Arnold, not the Governator), Tiger has technique behind the muscle. If we were to go further and stick them together at a driving range, big, strong Arnold would actually end up looking pretty silly.

    That’s not to say muscle isn’t a good thing. Bursts of power in BJJ can help you cinch in the submission, and technique being equal, strength and weight can tip the balances. But at the end of the day, technique fuels the BJJ engine. I’ve personally felt technique used against me by much smaller and weaker opponents.

    Unfortunately, talking about it does not automatically make me a better grappler.

    Here’s the problem I’m facing (and I’d love to hear your input on this, especially those of you with more experience who have gone through this phase):

    I know I need to relax more during training and focus on technique rather than muscle. How do I train this way without being a pushover? When I initially tried to focus on this, I felt like people were actually having an easier time getting the upper hand on me, which led me back the gut reaction of using muscle to defend myself.

    Does learning to relax mean going through a phase of being tapped over and over until you learn to rely on technique?

    And most of all, what methods do you use to remain calm while training in order to focus on technique?

    I’ll start by relating what my coach has advised, which is to perform the technique as if you were training with a child – someone who you don’t want to hurt accidentally by applying too much muscle. I’m going to try thinking this way as I train this week.

    Please, comment away.

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    17 May 2010

  • Posted by Utah Martial Arts Feeds
  • Half Gard / X-Guard Seminar by Ica Medina This Saturday at U.C.T.C.

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog

    To see the full original article click here

    Just a heads up to all you practitioners in the SLC / Utah Valley areas – this Saturday U.C.T.C. will be hosting a half guard and x-guard workshop taught by Ica Medina, a half-guard guru and a BJJ black belt directly under Rigan Machado. The charge is only $30 for over two hours of top-notch instruction. Ica is considered one of the great innovators and experts in the half-guard position and has the distinction of being the first Mexican to achieve black belt status in BJJ.

    The workshop will go from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, May 22 at the U.C.T.C. in Kearns.

    I have already used this video in a previous post, but it really shows the level of mastery Ica has achieved from half guard:

    Ica is an experienced BJJ competitor (he just placed 1st in his division in the 2010 Pan Jiu-jitsu Championship in April). I’ve gotten to know Ica a little in the last few months; he coached me through the last two weeks of training before the Pans, and I can say without hesitation that his teaching skills are second to none. The techniques and principles he taught me made a huge difference in my game during competition. Ica taught a similar workshop last year when I was just starting out, and most of it went right over my head, so it will be nice to get a refresher now that I have more experience.

    Bottom line: this workshop will help you take your half guard and x-guard skills to the next level, and $30 is dirt cheap for a seminar of this quality. Hope to see you there.

    The Ultimate Combat Training Center is Located:

    4101 W 4715 S

    Kearns, UT 84118



    (801) 967-5295

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    16 May 2010

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  • Of Violence and Virtue

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    This video was posted on a friend’s Facebook page yesterday, and it had me laughing out loud (no offense to anyone involved). This is not a venue for me to wax religious; but this was just so amusing that I had to share it.

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    God Smacked
    Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

    There are a million directions one could go when commenting on this, but really, what’s the point? Let’s just say that kicking the crap out of someone in the ring definitely isn’t the worse thing that has ever been done “in the name of Jesus,” but it’s pretty hard to say that MMA is not an act of aggression or violence. It may be voluntary, sportive, controlled violence, but it is violence nonetheless.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love it. And I’m a Christian. Let’s just call a spade a spade, here.

    Even though the entire attitude of this piece was mocking a sport I enjoy, I couldn’t help but chuckle – even when they pulled out that tired joke of jiu-jitsu being “gay.”

    The gay accusation is something usually heard from the sidelines – mostly from people who are too afraid to jump in because they know they’d get their butt handed to them in three seconds. It’s meant as an insult. But we know it for what it is: a thinly veiled excuse as to hide their fear of physical challenge.

    This whole jiu-jitsu-is-gay attitude has lead me to an interesting realization regarding the definition of homophobia.

    I used to think homophobia was a fear of gay people. I see now that people who are homophobic not only fear gay people, but fear any sort of same-gender contact, any intimate conversation, any sort of interaction that could remotely be perceived as gay. They’re afraid of being infected or something. They see gay where there is no gay, and try to ignore it when it is there and causing them inconvenience.

    I compare it to guys who think that dancing is gay or girly and use it as a justification to never, ever, ever dance with their wife or girlfriend. It’s a sad and pathetic way to avoid having a great time and learning something new. And it’s a little window into their comfort level with their own masculinity.

    Let’s face it – in jiu-jitsu we can end up in some convoluted, potentially awkward-looking positions. But anyone who has been the victim of a vicious collar choke or arm lock knows that “gay” is the last word to accurately describe the experience. More like “painful.” It’s martial arts – no one gives a flying crap about your personal preferences as long as you are a respectful, solid and safe training partner.

    Jason Jones, if you don’t like grappling, fine. It’s not everyone’s boat. But let’s get one thing straight.

    Jiu-jitsu is not gay.


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    16 May 2010

  • Posted by Utah Martial Arts Feeds
  • Two Weeks of Half Guard

    This Article comes from Arcanum Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blog
    To see the full original article click here

    There’s at least one way in which my school has a slightly different technical focus from other schools. My instructor and his instructor both admittedly prefer the half guard to the full-guard. In Dave’s words, it’s because once he has the half guard “I feel like I’m halfway to their back.”

    We work a lot from the full guard, don’t get me wrong. But I’m guessing we spend more time earlier on with the half guard than other schools.

    I’ve heard opinions that half guard is better suited to a more advanced level, like blue belt. There’s some merit to this; half guard is harder for beginners to conceptualize and understand than full guard. And it has its obvious downsides – the primary one being that your opponent is halfway to side control.

    But the flipside is that if you’re looking for it, ending up in half guard is pretty common. Your opponent may be half way to side control, but you’re halfway to his back and halfway to recovering guard. Half guard is an escape from side control, it’s there during guard passing, it’s there when someone tries to mount. It’s there all the time, because if you’re in danger of being dominated, trapping a leg is a surefire way delay your opponent and work for some control yourself. With the right setup, just that one leg can be the doorway to some very advantageous positions.

    In anticipation of a half-guard / x-guard workshop that Ica Medina will be staging at my school in two weeks, Dave has been really pushing this position in the early morning classes. (To read more about training, check out my Training Log for May 3 – 14. )

    The intent of this is that when we actually take the workshop, we will be primed for the level of detail a half guard master like Ica will bring to the table and be able to get more out of the seminar.

    The focus has really paid off for me. I’ve developed a level of confidence in four basic half guard escapes and sweeps and finally felt natural balling up underneath my opponent.

    I’ve already summarized the positions in my training log, but here I think it appropriate to summarize the general principles we reviewed and progress I’ve made (not in any particular order).

    • Trap the leg in a lockdown. The most important thing is to prevent your opponent from progressing into side mount or mount by trapping a leg. There are varying leg control tactics, but first and foremost, trap it.
    • In half-guard, you want to be either parallel or perpendicular, not in an X position.
    • Get the underhook. If you have only the semblance of an underhook, work until you have a full, shoulder-to-core underhook and you are on your side.
    • Staying flat = near certain death. The easiest way for an opponent to flatten you is by crossfacing and getting an X position on you.
    • Ball up. You do this by using your legs and core to buck your opponent. Literally, you can insert your knee in his backside and hoist him up over your head, creating space for the underhook. Arching and hoisting works, too.
    • Use your legs to hoist more than your upper body. Much, much more effective.
    • Depending on how you want to sweep, you can switch the leg you’re trapping with.

    For each move we trained Dave would break it down and show that unless we had applied the basic principles to it, it didn’t work as well, if at all.

    My greatest success during this training was finally comprehending this notion of using your lower body and core to move your opponent’s base and create space for yourself. By inserting a knee in their butt and crunching up with your legs and down with your core, you can literally work your way into a very nice ball and take their back or sweep with ease.

    This is especially the case if you’re doing the old-school sweep with a toe trap. The lower you are, the easier it is to trap the toes with your opposite hand.

    This principle even applies when you are perpendicular and working for a scoop. By bucking, you can cause them to base out toward your arm, which will put their leg in reach for a scoop sweep.

    Balling up underneath them is not only advantageous for every single move from half guard (except the scoop sweep when you are perpendicular…but even then it has application) but it is the gateway to other positions such as deep half, which is enjoying quite a bit of popularity now.

    During training, I have been experimenting with different grips that will aid in sweeping in particular. Also, I’ve tried to notice setups.

    With the elevator sweep, after you hip out and set the butterfly hook with your outside leg, I have found it helpful to trap their opposite arm, and sometimes even reach clear over their arm and grab their gi pants, then clamp their arm in just before sweeping. It is helpful in this sweep also to use your inside leg hoist their weight forward before letting go of the half guard and following through with the sweep.

    I’ve also noticed that when executing the old-school sweep and driving into them, it works for me to actually use an arch rather than trying to sit up into them. I arch with my outside leg, then let go with the inside leg use it to power off the arch as well. I end up with both feet in the air for a moment, but it gives me more power than just trying to sit up.

    Here’s an example of the old-school sweep, no-gi (video originally from

    And just to show you how totally wicked Ica is when it comes to this position, here’s a video of him performing a helicopter sweep to armbar from half guard.

    I don’t expect to get to that level of control for a long, long time. But you have to admit, that’s beyond awesome.

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