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Two hands are better than one

Tonight I explained the concept behind the figure four. Simply put the figure four grip concentrates maximum power on the extremity, neck, or joint you are attacking. There are several variations of pattern recognition that are needed to attack with figure fours, and if you miss them your opponent will keep slipping out of them again and again. The figure four uses mechanical advantage of over and under arm control, a two-on-one grip, placing the gripped target anteriorly and inferiorly to you as if it was a tightly sealed jar of succulent peanut butter, just waiting to be pried open. I showed drills that I've done in the past and some news stuff, too:
  • Surrendering Gorilla
  • Every 60°
    Assume the side mount position, use a figure four to attack the arm in whatever position it is closest to, i.e. the sidemount kimura (you will need to shift your base to bring the superior side thigh over the head to lock your opponents body down before you apply pressure to the shoulder), the extended crossbody armbar, or the americana. Make sure you go through all three positions on this side and then transition to knee on stomach and hop to the other side, reset the sidemount and do the same on the other side.
  • Round-the-world chokes
    The rear naked choke is essentially a figure four based off the biceps rather than the wrist, a figure four guillotine uses one wrist under the neck with the hand on the opposite wrist, with this side posted off the shoulder. Work both sides guillotine and both sides RNC
  • MALRotation
  • Kimura flow
    Attack with kimura from the guard, let the roll and attack the shoulder base kimura (post your hips on the same side shoulder as your grip and apply pressure posteriorly). Readjust to straddle their head as you pull you partner on to their side and apply posterior pressure. The extension not trained to day would to transition to side mount reapply the kimura and then have your partner shrimp the guard and reset the drill


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - The Animals Drill

Three Thai Pad Drills

  1. Turn Knee
    Clinch up with the holder, turn them 180° by stepping up next to them and pivoting using your body weight to move them and your arms to snap them around at the end. At the end of each turn deliver a knee. I wanted people to develop a feel for moving and kneeing an opponent repeatedly.
  2. Thai Clinch Arm Developer
    Your holder pushes on your hips with the pads as you work on rapid repetitions of tugging on the head in the air, at random times they yell clinch and you grab the head and knee. This should work to develop the attributes need to shake and bake the neck with your arms during the clinch.
  3. Catch and Release
    Throw a soft kick and have your holder catch it for you, then repeat the same side delivering a hard kick to the pads. I'm trying to get people to develop their kick mechanics and power using this drill.


Team McVicker Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Camp, Part II

Warm-up with Ginastica Natural

Again Jeff Serafin warmed-up the team with Ginastica Natural some of the motion elements used today were:
  • Frog: Feet twice shoulder width, place your hands forward and jump you feet parallel to your hands. Proceed down mat.
  • Chimpanzee: Shoulder width stance, place hands next to you, parallel with your legs and hop your feet past your hands. Rotate and repeat, move down the mat.
  • Basic cricket: From push-up position alternatively hop your hands forward, moving down the mat
  • Seal: Lying prone lift torso up and forward, dragging yourself down the mat
  • Shoulder roll, extension: Controlled roll over one shoulder, stretch with same side leg and end up prone. Spin through to sitting position. Repeat to move down mat.

Brad Peplow shows the Mad Dog guard
  1. Set-up (gi)
    Detach the lapel grip by gripping your partner's wrist with both hands, crunching inward, and then pulling away using your arms to hold their hand in place and your body to move away. Pass the gripped hand to the opposite side and maintain control with your same side grip. Feed the gripped limb under your opposite arm, and grab the shoulder on this side. Simultaneously, feed your knee over the trapped arm's shoulder and cross your ankles. The idea is to tightly control the shoulders.
  2. Set-up (no-gi)
    Your partner is basing on your abdominal muscles, pivot sideways and push the hand on that side across the midline under your opposite arm. Finish the set-up by controlling the shoulders as described above.
  3. Straight arm bar
    Use the elbow overhooking the opposite arm to pinch their elbow against your body. Reach your free arm across, placing your elbow on the seam between their face and shoulder. Slide your elbow and then forearm into place, creating just enough space to bring the same side leg over the head to finish the arm bar
  4. Reverse straight arm bar
    Pivot slightly away from the trapped arm, letting your center point towards it. Slide your arm down their arm to a point just proximal to the elbow. Trap the hand next to your neck. Apply pressure by arcing your body (abdomen away, neck towards) while hugging the arm.
  5. Reverse straight arm bar (head variation)
    If they block the reverse arm bar by placing their head in the void, use your free hand to push the head further down, then reestablish the reverse straight arm bar.
  6. Extended Bump Sweep
    If all else fails, place your foot on the side trapping the arm, into the hip. Extend this foot as you bump with other thigh. Ideally by extending and rotating your partner they should be swept to a mounted position rolling over their trapped arm.

Kyle Watson shows the team how to wrap
  1. Wrapping with the kimono set-up
    Attempt to wrap your opponents same side arm with the lapel of the same side kimono. As they withdraw, fade this laterally such that when they reengage you can pass the kimono over the arm and grip it with opposite side. Set-up a figure four, you may have to do a small hip bump correction to pass the same side arm under their trapped arm. Now pull the trapped arm across the body as you move to the trapped side.
  2. Back threat sweep
    By threatening to attack the back, you will force your partner to react. They will try to move back toward your center to avoid the rear mount. Maintain control of the kimono grip over the trapped hand and use your free hand to reach the kimono under the opposite axilla. Use the free leg to pendulum away and then back toward your partner, and the bottom leg to bump as you pull "steer" them over with your grips. Sweep them to side mount.
  3. Lapel-collar choke
    Reach behind the neck with your free hand from the setup above, pass the gripped kimono to this hand. Use your newly freed hand to apply pressure to the neck from side nearest you by either, gripping a fold in the kimono, sliding down your arm, or sliding under the arm.
  4. Back threat sweep to lapel-collar choke
    Do the back threat sweep but once in mount reach behind the head with the free hand and pass the lapel to this grip. Again set-up the choke as above.
  5. Wrapping with the arm
    Pistol grip your opponent's opposite sleeve, and bring your same side hand underneath to figure four. Pull your partners hand superiorly past your head and use your same side arm to wrap their gripped limb and reach through control the opposite collar, freeing the hand that was pistol gripping. Adjust the grip with your newly freed hand.
  6. Cross collar choke to triangle set-up
    From the set-up above, use the free hand to attack with a cross collar choke. If they defend with the free hand, trap it and loop your knee over this side, setting up a triangle.
  7. Stretched oma plata
    Spin toward the arm inside the triangle and grip the pant leg on this side. Extended this arm as you pull forward into the oma plata. Control their elbow with the opposite side. Move laterally away to flatten them and apply pressure to the shoulder.
It was very interesting this weekend to see the vast diversity in strategies and tactics presented by different students all coached by the same instructor. Jiu-jitsu has certain fundamental, biophysical concepts but their application and the approach varies widely between competitors. Their goals in grappling and their attributes are both limiting step and fuel to overcome the tactical problems they encounter on the mat. It was interesting to contrast three jiu-jitsu veterans' approaches to attacking from guard. All right, all different.

Pictures provided by Pedro can be found here.


A coach's contemplative musings

As I sit in the extremely well decorated Lansing Emergency Department it gives me pause as to why I coach. Tonight, last night at this point, three of my fighters competed in amateur muay thai for the first time at the ActiveEdge Saturday Night Smoker Fights. I think fighting is a valuable, life affirming experience that teaches oneself a lot about themselves and adversity. It is also fraught with physical, social, and emotional risks. You can be grievously hurt or even killed. You can lose your job and your family because you fight. Winning is addictive but the high is short lived, while losing is a bitter pill to swallow and makes you crave the highs of victory.
Tonight Tom, Willy, and Chris made their debuts in the ring, albeit in a smoker that does not count for or against their record. Tom did battle with a fighter of smaller stature but reportedly greater experience. Although hesitant at first, he felt his opponent out. In the second and third rounds he landed devastating punch/kick combinations finishing with clinched knee work. Prior to the third round he said he was exhausted, but looking over at his opponent who had clung to him for support in the second round, I told him to do another two minutes as hard as he could. He went and did, winning a split decision.
Willy also faced an opponent with greater experience, but he attacked with devastating precision landing several strike combinations. Although not usually appreciative of the clinch game he did well there too. He would often land multiple punches and kicks, then wait to see if his opponent would fall down. He seemed a bit surprised when his game enemy attempted reaction. Willy earned a unanimous decision in decisive fashion.
Chris' initiation to the ring was not so smooth. His opponent was a touch taller and carried a record of 2-0, he was also a heavy brawler. As Chris engaged with him he was caught repeatedly with looping lefts and rights. Refusing to quit, Chris battled on, throwing some solid shots straight down the pipe, but eventually get sucked into the all out brawl initiated by his opponent. Chris lost the fight to a unanimous decision. Right after the fight he became quite nauseous and politely vomited in a trash can. Due to this and some right supraorbital pain we took him to the Lansing ED. His eye checked out, he got a CT which was read as normal (which is surprising even at baseline). With Chris' permission I am posting this tonight.
Remember it is a good day when you can wipe your own @$$ and I'm glad Chris' is alright and proud of everyone's performance this evening. Who am I kidding, I love coaching, I just worry about my sociopathic children.

Team McVicker Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Camp, Part I

Warm-up with Ginastica Natural

Jeff Serafin warmed-up the team with Ginastica Natural a form of stretching, strength, and conditioning using body movements. Some elements emulate animal motions while others are yoga poses. There is lots of rolling and movements transitions. I cannot recall the exact order but some of the key elements were:
  • Z-sit: One leg is placed with the knee at midline and the foot at the opposite hip, the other leg is in a hurdler stretch. Several exercises involved rolling to different Z-sits and lifting your body to fold into and out of it
  • Spider man leg-up: Transition from the spider man to the inverse spider man, but rather than placing the foot where the hand was point the leg straight in the air.
  • Push-up hop: From a low push up position, hop alternating your hands superiorly and inferiorly on the map.

Jack McVicker shows passing the hooks inside guard
  1. Sprawl and sit out pass
    From the hook's inside guard, tighten the position by compressing your opponent's legs, pushing their feet against their posterior. Use your head in the center of their chest to hold them down, grip the kimono at the armpits to lock the down. Look to the side you want pass, now sprawl laterally on their leg, flattening it to the mat. Block this knee and sit out, transitioning the far leg underneath your sprawl leg, then turning back into you partner to obtain side mount.
  2. Ankle grab and over hook pass
    As above lock in the top position, now reach back and grab the ankle opposite the side you want to pass. Simultaneously overhook the passing side, pinning that side hook leg to the mat. Pin with your head and shoulder as you walk around the trapped hook leg.
  3. Yoga stretch pass
    Again from the locked in top position inside the hook's inside guard, swing one leg as far back as it will go, freeing it from the same side hook. Bring this leg back in, trapping the hook on the opposite side against their bottom. Now collapse this hook down and move around this side staying low and tight.
  4. Over hook jump pass
    Overhook one side and look away from this side, jump and roll over your overhook shoulder, into a bridge, turn toward your partner's legs and progress superiorly up their body to secure the side mount.

We did several rounds of practice from this position.
Serafimura (Serafin's kimura)
  1. Set-up
    From the half guard, use the top hook to pull your partner forward forcing him to post. Reach with your opposite hand, over hook the post hand, then secure your figure four by grabbing his wrist with the same side hand. Lock the grip pull his elbow superiorly, eliminating the slack in the shoulder.

  2. Freeing the grip
    If they grab the kimono, bridge into them and then use your body to pull the grip off. If they grab the belt, slide the belt to their back and free the grip once their hand has been moved past their grip. If they grab their hand kick your thigh and pull simultaneously.

  3. Over-the-head sweep
    If they sink the arm you have in figure four and you cannot free the grip, sweep them. First pull and bump your hips, loading him toward your head. Then swing your legs over your head, leaving them straight, this should lift your partner over your head. Uncurl and turn over while maintaining a figure four.

  4. Hip bump sweep
    If your partner bases and sinks his jeopardized am deeply, release the figure four and feed the arm trapped in his elbow to his knee, grab the pant leg. Post your other hand and hip bump your partner over.

Jack did a Q & A session on position, one example was the half guard position. With your arm on the side trapping his leg, "pop" your partner in head with your biceps in the direction of your bridge. This either allows you to bridge to the their guard or as they base you acquire the guard.

We finished this day of the camp with about 2 hours of open mat. Yesterday in the evening pre-session I got tagged team by Team McVicker Texas, the Redings, T, and Morgan. Today Team McVicker/Serafin were hot to beat one me. I can't imaging who will be gunning for me tomorrow.

Congratulations to Mark and Nick Reding on their promotion to faixa marrom.


But I saw Rickson do it...

An interesting idea to warm-up and relax a competitor. However just as after "Rickson Gracie: Choke" (Robert Raphael Goodman) came out and everyone plus their mother was out rolling around on the beach because "Rickson did it!" I can see a lot people doing this at tournaments in the future. Remember a warm-up is what gets you primed and ready to compete and will consist of unique behaviors and drills that gets you in fight mode. Practice what works for you which may not be what works for Kron and Rickson Gracie.


Drawing Triangles

Jack taught some triangle set-ups today.
The Belt Grab
Open your guard and reach over one of your partner's shoulders and grab their belt. Readjust your guard to be off center on this side. Hold them tight (they can escape by evading to the inside of your arm) and work on pushing their free hand (opposite the side you grabbed) inferiorly to set up the triangle.
The Kick
Your partner is controlling your lapels in the guard, use one foot to create space by pushing in the hip. The other knee comes over and medially, thrust your knee to their midline, driving the shin into their biceps. As they loosen thier grip, throw this leg for the triangle.
The Leg Catch
From the closed guard work the knees medially under your partner's arms and then laterally, place the feet on the hips and control the center line. Kick one leg just past your partner's head and the other just inferior to their opposite arm pit. Your ankles should cross somewhere behind their shoulder, grasping your partner. From here cinch and adjust your triangle.
I think the Belt Grab has some interesting applications for taking the back (when your partner tries to free themselves from the position) and for cinching them down (by underhooking the opposite side and grabbing your own hand/forearm in an inverse Garcia "seat belt" position).