Marcos Tinoco vs Vitor Oliveira

This match gives us a lot of good material to review. First the mandatory safety talk

DO NOT JUMP TO CLOSED guard. If it is something purple/brown belts want to drill with each other in agreed upon training - No problem. If you are not yet at the purple belt and want to drill this, just grab me and ask and we will go over it.

Here is a video explaining why

Here is a lengthy post from John Danaher explaining it with bigger words:

Anyways, on with the match.

1) grips, posture, and not giving your partner your weight. I deviate from the norm on grips. I do think they are important, but I don't think they are the be all/end all of competition. In fact they can be a mental barrier/excuse. You cannot have parts of your game lead to mental weakness. Grips do that for some. Some grips are better than others, but if you don't win the grip battle you can't let it rattle you.

Here Tinoco (Marcelo Garcia gi) initially gets poor grips. Oliveira controls Tinocos right sleeve, (like we covered in class), and with his other hand he has what is often considered the dominant grip - strong side lapel with the under grip. That is not set in stone, but it easier to control with his grip than it is with Tinocos grip.

Notice that they both keep a very low, classic Jiu Jitsu stand up posture (bent at the waist - heads forward/feet back. Neither guy is giving the other guy his weight. They are not pushing into each other and they are not standing upright. This is illegal in Judo as it is considered stalling. In Jiu Jitsu we aren't just trying to throw, but also have to keep the pulling guard element in mind.

Tinoco acknowledges that he has inferior grips and jumps guard. For tournament Jiu Jitsu, (when legal) it is not a bad strategy. In Wyatt Earps video he shows a few examples of why it could be a bad idea and I agree with most of what he says.

Oliveira doesn't buy into the guard pull. He keeps his elbows and knees connected so that when Tinoco opens his guard Oliveira IMMEDIATELY starts to get an angle and begins passing. I love this example because neither guy really lets the other guy get set up with his attack. I talk about this in class all the time. One way to avoid a big pass the guard battle, (or any other battle), is to not jump into the game but immediately attack.

Tinoco eventually lands the sweep that Gavin gets on me all too often (!!) but Oliveira doesn't accept the sweep. He immediately makes space and gets back to his feet. Once back on the feet Oliveira give up that classic Jiu Jitsu stand up/stalling posture for a half a second and Tinoco lands a beautiful foot sweep.

Notice in the sweep Tinoco doesn't trip the leg that is weighted but sweeps the leg that doesn't have weight on it. If you have taken my class on this you understand. If not, ask me and I'll show you....... (alternatively come to comp class tomorrow and ask me).

2) Controlling the pace and learning how to pick your wave. Disclaimer: I don't surf - so my analogy could suck. Surfers don't paddle out, immediately turn around and then just ride the first random wave they get. They paddle out and wait. They compose themselves. They feel the ocean. They get a sense of the timing and when they spot a wave coming they focus everything on timing it correctly. Jiu Jitsu is exactly the same.

When I talk about using the connection with your partner to see what moves they are giving you that is our version of a surfer reading the ocean. Watch Oliveira throw takedowns at Tinoco; he isn't timing anything or reading his partner, He is just trying moves to see if anything sticks. Contrast that with Tinoco, even though he doesn't always have the best grips, he uses them correctly and reads his partner. When he feels the opening he hits a move that makes sense and has a fair amount of success.

There is a martial strategy of forcing the opening that contrasts with what I am saying. This is where you throw moves at your partner and then relentlessly follow up until something works. There is typically a tremendous skill disparity between those who can pull this off well and those who do not.

One of our training partners uses this strategy well. Watch Matt Loeskamp use this strategy. He doesn't use it exclusively - he has a number of strategies he uses. However when he forces the opening notice that his position is never compromised and he follows up over and over again until he gets something he wants. Notice that he doesn't neglect timing or balance, he respects those elements as well.

Matt is skilled and uses the strategy well. There is a big difference between that and being frustrated and randomly throwing moves are your partner. That is kind of what Oliveira is doing here. He eventually gets frustrated and pulls guard. Tinoco composes himself well in the guard and stands up. When he does Oliveira decides to abandon guard which puts him in an interesting spot..... He can't take Oliveira down, and he can't make his guard work. At about 8 minutes even he does a great job of getting in on a single, but Tinoco has a good sprawl and shrugs it off.

Tomorrow we are going to go over "the drill", which is our formula for navigating the stand up portion of the game. If you are purple belt and up and want to deviate from the drill.... awesome, you should at least a bit. You need a sense of what makes take-downs work and what doesn't. If you are not yet purple belt..... learn to master the drill before you go off road. I didn't make it up because I was bored and didn't have anything to do. It was to give you the basics of how to handle the stand up game. If you practice it enough then you will GREATLY increase your chances of scoring first AND not injure your training partners in the process. It's called a win/win.

Post questions below or hit me up in class.

Leandro Lo vs Luis Panza

Grips, Strategy, and Pacing

The other day Gavin told me about a training method he and Raoni use to prepare. If I understood it correctly each partner took turns starting the training with the grips of their choice. Meaning we are going to train, but you get the grips you want to start with. We train the position, then we restart however this time I get the grips I want.

We often use a version of this in our up/down/out training. Depending upon what we are working on and which partner the training is focused on, one or the other partner gets to pick the grip they start with. There are two reasons I like this kind of training; 1) grips matter, 2) who cares - no they don't.

1) grips matter. Both of the competitors in this match know each others game well. Panza sweeps well, likes 50/50, and likes to attack the feet. Lo passes like he wrote the book on it.

You will notice that Lo, (typical of his approach, not sure how much he tailored this strategy to Panza), stays somewhat out of reach, grips the pants, splits the guard, and tries to set up either a bullfighter pass or knee through the middle. He actively fights against Panza's attempts to get a grip on his leg.

Panza tries to get a lower lapel guard established but I think it is more to control Lo's hips enough to establish 50/50 or attack the foot. Panza does not let Lo get a grip on his upper lapel. He fights pretty actively to fight a grip on his upper torso every bit as much as he tries to reposition his guard.

One of the few times Lo gets a grip on Panza's upper torso he passes and secures side control. This one grip/pass is the match winning move. Which brings me to me second point.

2) grips don't matter, (as much..... if you don't mentally let them). Grips do matter, they are elements of how you control your partner or how your partner controls you. However there is a large spectrum of grip control ranging from barely hanging on to locked down and secured.

Grips are also just an element of a much larger game. If part of your brain gives up when a small element of a larger game is decided, you severely limit your ability to perform. You will notice that both Panza and Lo fought off unfavorable grips and then adjusted their strategy in the moment. They are Pros'. Pros' don't shrink when things aren't going their way. They handle the situation and move on.

This is what makes training like Gavin and Raoni's, and the similar training we do during up down out so important. Grips are only useful if you know how to use them. So train that. Start with the best grip possible and see how it goes. Start with the worst grip possible and see how that goes. Then adjust accordingly and train some more.

A lot of fuel is required for a match. Gripping can take a tremendous amount of energy. If that gripping isn't fruitful then you risk wasting energy. Fighting a grip you can't escape can also burn a lot of energy. If that fighting doesn't advance your position then you are tired and still in a bad spot.

You will notice that both competitors here have moments when they are on the gas. For most of the match though they are just swimming like sharks. Not moving too quick. Always aware of their opponent and always having a eye for strategy. They are masters of conserving gas for when it is needed. That is a hallmark skill of a predator. We think of predators as the embodiment of their greatest physical feat, when actually most of the time they are just chilling and paying attention.

When we try to set up the progression of training in our curriculum so that it looks a lot like chilling with a bits of tiger thrown in, that is why. You shouldn't be on the gas unless you know why you are on the gas. Everyone gets tired. If you take the time to train all the elements of winning and losing, then have the presence of mind to select the correct strategy at the correct time you will have plenty of gas in the tank to advance position or get the finish when the opportunity arises.

Two week out before we start comp training! Right now is a good time to think about what you need to add to and subtract from your game.

Dom Bell Denver Open

One thing that you can learn from good middleweights is how to combine big guy games and small guy games. Here our friend Dubious Dom does that very well. Look at the overall arch of this match, (spoiler, watch the match first if you don't want me ruining it for you).

His opponent comes out strong. Dom is relaxed and makes the guy carry his weight wherever possible and appropriate. Dom uses a little bit of mobility and little guy game to out transition his partner. What you should notice is that he doesn't "buy in" to his partners pace, meaning his opponent is at times a little on the frantic/hustling side. Not a bad thing by itself, however when using out hustling as a strategy; a) you better be able to out hustle your partner. If they have cardio for days that strategy may not work, and b) if the strategy doesn't work you need to recognize it and adjust appropriately.

Here his partner doesn't adjust, he keeps throwing the kitchen sink at Dom who continues to out transition him, (staying on top whenever possible - very important), and makes him carry his weight whenever possible. Eventually his partner gets sloppy/desperate/tired and Dom capitalizes.

The question is, who made that finish somewhat famous and what submission is it?

Liera vs Igor Paiva

We drilled passing this past saturday at comp class. I am putting a couple of videos of Liera Jr.'s matches up because they highlight the basic strategies we covered.

A few things I'd like you to note:

1) he is patiently persistent. This is a big message I am always trying to get across on our mat. Where a lot of people miss it in Jiu Jitsu is that they think good Jiu Jitsu is aggressive, meaning domineering via forceful execution. There are a few times that Liera does dive on things, however that is either because a) he see's a large opening, or b) masters of varying tempo can utilize the full spectrum of execution speed. If I lull you into one rhythm and then suddenly downshift and accelerate, I can complete the move. Note though that at least 98% of his movement, (particularly his passing), is simply patiently persistent. Which leads to point #2....

2) he is almost always moving. 100% of the time he is "reading" his partner and trying to make it difficult his partner to read his movement. A big part of Jiu Jitsu is just that; who can read the other player better. Look at two great example in our academy.

I've said before that my primary training partner as a white belt was 125 lbs. By the time I got to blue belt I could hang with all the big guy blues, not because I used a pressure game, (easy to learn), but I used a tempo game, (hard to learn). My friend was forced to learn the tempo game. Because I was a good training partner, I got to learn the tempo game.

What drives me nuts is when people who have minimal Jiu Jitsu experience think that competition training is just beating the shit out of each other. That is easy to learn. Learning tempo, timing, and good technique is hard. You can't add more horsepower to shitty Jiu Jitsu and then magically turn it into good Jiu Jitsu. It's still just shitty Jiu Jitsu. As an aside, that is where the self defense nuts drive me crazy. You can't add aggression to horrific technique and then expect that to magically transform into martial skill that allows you to defeat someone 100lbs heavier than you.

Next tempo example; Ji in a gi. He would be too shy to say it, but he is a master of tempo. He trains it everyday. Note that above I said masters of varying tempo can utilize the full spectrum of execution speed. If I lull you into one rhythm and then suddenly downshift and accelerate, I can complete the move. Often times new students focus on that end of the spectrum. That doesn't make them spazs, it means they are uneducated and it is an opportunity for us to show them a better way.

Being a master of tempo, Ji will lull you into a tempo and then. just. stop. moving. He will freeze and do nothing. While just a moment ago his partner was trying to read him and figure out what he is doing, he will slightly disengage and then freeze. That gives him the opportunity to keep reading his partner. He can then choose to pursue an opening he sees or just go back to moving. Either way it gives his partner one move thing to think about which is kind of the goal. You can overwhelm your partner with analysis paralysis much more effectively than you can by blindly using aggression.

Remember, the goal is to get a better position than your partner. I can forcibly move you, or I can trick you into moving to the bad position for me. One of those you can still do when you're old, sick, etc.

Liera vs Rodrigo Barbosa

Another recent match from Liera. Please note:

1) in this match and the last one I put up it is clear that Liera wants to pull guard. He doesn't make a big production of it he just grabs the lapel and has a seat. However what might separate his guard pull from yours is that he is playing guard the second he sits down, meaning he is using push/pull to break disturb his opponents base.

2) When Liera sweeps or is threatening a sweep he never lets go of his partners foot. Gavin covers this in a lot of the sweeps he teaches. It is a key detail. It's hard to stand up if someone is not letting you put both feet on the ground.

3) Even when things aren't going his way, Liera is still patiently persistent in all positions. He keeps moving in the negative positions and wins all the small battles of control so that even if he isn't where he wants to be, his opponent isn't allowed to get an excess amount of control over him.

4) Successful competitors can alter plans mid match. Liera switches up his passing strategy after getting swept a few times. He gets away from splitting his partners guard and goes with double underhooks, (a pass that his teacher champions). Even when he gets his partner stacked up on his neck he doesn't rush the pass. He remains patient and looks for a solid side control to pass to, rather than just trying to shuck the legs aside and risk a scramble. Once he gains control he keeps it and is still patiently persistent in looking for greater control.

Leandro Lo vs Ricardo Evangelista

This is a match from last year. Spoiler alert: Lo wins. I am posting because I'd like you to note two things.

1) Evangelista looks confident as hell at the beginning and takes it to Lo. He gets ahead on points. Lo gets a little bit ahead of him on points and Evangelista just gives up. There is such a thing as "being better than the other guy". There is also such a thing as "not believing you can win". Sometimes in a match it isn't just who is better, but it is who believes they can win. Lo, Buchecha, and Roger have all been down on points in their matches and have rallied to win.

2) The score board shown is the wrong score board. I doubt they blew it at the tournament, but the production team must have had a snafu somewhere. The point is, even at the biggest show with the biggest stars things get done incorrectly from time to time. Don't focus on fair, focus on winning. Lo is a pretty good example of this.