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.