Class – 2/20/2012 – Renzo Gracie Gi Choke

I finally was able to practice the Renzo Gracie Gi Choke that I had posted a video of several weeks ago, because we went over it tonight. If you don’t remember, here’s a video of the technique:

Justin showed us the normal version, where you don’t really try to hide the lapel “handle”. He then taught us, what he called, the “prison shank” version that Renzo shows above, where you keep the lapel “handle” hidden. Side note, I noticed that when Justin did the technique, the lapel feeding hand should shoot up to your opponents ear, sliding along their torso, which keeps it more stealth. Other details Justin included was getting the lapel out from a reverse kesa gatame position, because it keeps your opponent blind so that they can’t see what you’re doing. In case you don’t know what reverse kesa gatame is, here’s a picture:

Justin likes to be sneaky from this position. He said he’ll often pull out their lapel to make them think he’s doing something with it and fake as if he’s going for mount so that they’re worrying about all kinds of things. If done properly, it’s actually easy for your opponent to miss you wrapping your gi around their neck, until they’re getting choked. If you have the same colored gi as your opponent, it actually makes it even better for you, because they don’t know if your choking them with their gi or yours. One other side note is that Justin, once he has the lapel locked into the neck, likes to pre-choke by pulling the gi tight even before he moves his head to the other side.

After, since we drilled the choke for a while, we were only able to roll for one round. I rolled with Guillaume, who showed some improved guard retention, which was great! I was finally able to pass his guard and get to knee-on-belly and then transitioned to mount where he tried to turn away from me. As soon as he did I got into s-mount and was able to work for an arm and pull out the armbar.

Anyway, the gi choke is rather sneaky and I seem to get a lot of choking power from it, which means I’m going to add it to my arsenal. It won’t be the number one thing I like to get from side control, but it will be readily available.

Exercise Balls: Getting Pressure & Balance

One year ago I weighed 260lbs, which was overweight for my height. I realized it and started to work out and eat healthy, which in turn resulted in me losing 55 lbs. With that said, when I started BJJ I began looking around for BJJ specific exercises that would give me a good cardio workout and would help my BJJ game. While searching for exercises I stumbled upon this video of Andre Galvao and Leo Vieira balancing on an exercise ball.

I then decided to research what they were doing and found out it was to help their balance. Several days later I was at Ross and found an Everlast exercise ball for $5, so I got it. I then added some balance ball work to every workout and the benefits have been tremendous! The balance I have on top feels so much better and it has also helped my pressure on top. In fact, one of the BB’s at the school I attend even commented on that, saying that I had excellent pressure and felt much heavier than I actually was.

I recommend an exercise ball and some balance training if you really want to improve your top game. With that said, here are some tips:

1. Get a burst resistant exercise ball. And pump it up all the way. A slack ball is easier to balance on. You want it to be hard to balance on.

2. Practice in a safe area. I practice on a 12x12ft. square of mats and I’ve accidentally fallen into stuff. Some good places would be a huge open room with soft carpet, some mats obviously or outside in a huge patch of soft grass.

3. Start slow. I started just balancing on my knees, using my hands on the ball to help me stabilize.

4. Build up slowly. I’ve been using a balance ball consistently 2-3 times a week for 7 months and I can’t stand on it yet. I can stand on it and use my hands, so I’m in a bear crawl position, but I can’t stand straight up.

If you start training balance with an exercise ball, let me know in the comments whether or not it helps you!


Class & Working the Toreando/Bull Fighter Pass

My wife let me go to class Monday night, even though we just recently had a baby (and by recently, I mean last Wednesday). Everything with the baby has gone great and it really hasn’t been hard on us at all, which is why I think it was fine with her that I go. Anyway, we had a good number of people at class (13 or so) and we started warming up doing armbars from the guard. After drilling arm bars for a good amount of time, we then added in the basic arm bar defense for the person getting armbarred. It’s the stack, lawnmower pull, and then pass defense. Here’s a video:

We did have a slightly different detail on the pass. Once you get the arm being armbarred out, instead of taking your other arm out (the one that is gripping the pant leg) you keep it there. You pass by keeping pressure on the legs with your chest, sprawling out and then walking towards their head. By keeping the grip on the pant with your arm cupping their one leg, it makes it impossible for them to shrimp and hip back in. If you have good pressure it also makes it practically impossible for them to get their leg back over your head to triangle you. Everything else is the same as the video above. It’s very basic, but basics are great to drill. I also received some gi burn on my face from doing it so much, which is fun. Tim then had to leave, so Justin gave us a couple of other details that mostly included making the other person even more uncomfortable than they already were.

We then rolled six rounds, three minutes each with a minute rest in between. It was crazy, but everyone seemed to be dropping like flies. By the time we were on the sixth round, instead of having 13 people, we had 8 people left, and that included Justin (so 7 of the 13).

Anyway, I’ve recently been working on my passing game and I’ve decided to take down one pass at a time. After looking at many passes and trying many in class, I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to pass standing up. I’d seen several people, especially Andre Galvao (one of my favorite BJJ competitors), do the Toreando/Bull Fighter pass in competition footage and it seemed as though it would be a good pass for my body type, so that’s what I’ve been working on. Here’s two videos on the pass from Andre Galvao and Demian Maia:

I’ve hit the pass several times, but I’ve been forgetting the important detail of having your pressure on your hands and your head, which should be under their chin. When I’ve tried to do it either a) their hips are to mobile, because I’m not putting enough pressure on my hands or b) they sit up and scoot back, because I haven’t flattened them out with my head under their chin.

When I’m trying to absorb a technique I usually watch it over and over, but I’ve been so busy that I only watched the Andre Galvao video above, two or three times. I’ve now got it on my iPod and will be watching it frequently. Hopefully I remember the pressure and am able to start working the pass better.


Slick Gi Choke from Side Control – Renzo Gracie

I was actually watching some competition footage on YouTube when I saw this video recommended in the side bar, and since I go to a Renzo Gracie Affiliate, with a Renzo Gracie black belt, I thought I should watch it. It’s quite an interesting, slick, and a seemingly simple choke with your own gi. I might give this a try tonight, just to mess around, but I’ll mostly be focusing on my basics still. If the chance arises though, I’ll definitely take it. Here’s the video:

Awesome Nogi Match

I think watching instructionals is important as they are good supplemental tools, but even more important in my opinion, is the viewing of high level matches. Depending on the time of the week (Mon.-Tues. we have gi at Team Mannon/Thurs.-Fri. we have nogi) I’ll be watching different matches according to what they are, either gi or nogi. As it is Thursday and we’re doing nogi at Team Mannon, I’ve been watching nogi matches. I must say, the match posted below is one of the most exciting, on the edge of your seat, technical matches I’ve seen. It’s from the Ultimate Absolute, which took place in July of 2011. Sixteen high level grapplers came together to fight for the winning prize of $10,000, plus submission bonuses of $1,000. The rules are slightly different, as they are a hybrid of ADCC and IBJJF rules. So, I hope you enjoy, because I certainly did.

Andre Galvao vs. Rustam Chsiev PART ONE

Andre Galvao vs. Rustam Chsiev PART TWO

Andre Galvao vs. Rustam Chsiev PART THREE