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Winter Wisdom

Winter Wisdom #7You have reached a new level of wisdom when you don’t remember the six pieces of wisdom preceding the piece that you have been allegedly quoted upon. So I will now attempt to reconstruct all the pieces the Joker mokuroku that I don’t actually remember ever uttering:

  1. Don’t run in the snow. The cardio benefits are probably not mitigated by the potential ankle, knee, and blunt force traumatic injury of falling on your @$$.
  2. Don’t leave your gear in the car all day, there is nothing more futile than trying to warm-up in a subzero jiujitsugi. Either grab your gear at home just before class or bring it into your nicely heated office (if you have one).
  3. Warm the mats up. Cold mats are harder and suck to fall on.
  4. Not a clue. But I want 12 Winter Wisdoms.
  5. Check the weather forecast and road conditions before going to class. No amount of rolling around with sweaty dudes is worth getting stuck in the snow or in a fender bender.
  6. Wear gloves from home and into class, jamming your ice cold fingers onto a frigid floor ranks up there with kidney stones and child birth in pain level.
  7. Wear a hat from home and into class, cold ears have vasoconstricted blood vessels that are more likely to burst if traumatized and hence produce cauliflower ear.
  8. Garage training is for the late spring, summer, and early fall.
  9. Cold does not sterilize. You still need to wash your combat sports attire after each use. Anecdotally the incidence of skin infections increase over the holiday season, probably because people believe that a cold, sweat-soaked gi is magically cleaned as well as the fact that people are going home and training at the filthy gyms there.
  10. The cold does not cause upper respiratory tract infections (e.g. “colds”), you need germs and people infected with them to get sick. If you are snotty, sneezing, coughing, or febrile stay away. Your training is not worth my health.
  11. Bring separate (dry) shoes for training, ice in treads turns into a water hazard.
  12. Remove all wet attire prior to leaving practice. The Northwind will find it. And inflict frigid pain for it.


2014 Fall Megaton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Seminar "Don't look at my eyes, look at the technique"

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Counter Intuitive De La Riva Guard Pass: Free the grips, grab their ankle on the unhooked side (with either one or both hands) rapidly pop your hips forward. As your hips return to neutral, guide their leg to your opposite side (a lá the “leg drag”), slide the hooked knee to the mat. Bring the elbow on the side medial and then laterally, clearing their top thigh, then underhooking their head. Switch step your free leg across your opponents legs, insert your free hand at their hip to control. Now draw your other leg through to obtain side mount.

50-50 Guard to Straight Ankle Lock: Their distal leg should be next to your flank, overhook their ankle and grab your opposite lapel. The leg on this side is just lateral to theirs, your contralateral foot is tucked under their butt on the same side. Roll laterally, externally rotating their hip, until your are nearly face down. Now extend (don’t arch) your body to submit with the straight ankle lock

Lasso Guard Pass: Take your free hand and adduct their knees, place your shoulder on their lateral thigh, weaving your arm posterior and medial to their top leg, grab their opposite pant’s leg or bottom sleeve. Place your head on the mat next to their torso, pike up, control their lapel with your free hand, and slide your knee medially, over their bottom shin. Clear their legs with this knee. A variation would be to control their ipsilateral sleeve with your free hand, drop laterally to your hip on this side, using your sleeve and leg control from allowing them to come on top. Pull your leg free and take side mount.

Reverse De La Riva Guard Pass: Your opponent has reverse De La Riva, deny them control by grabbing their hook side, ipsilateral, lapel. Transition out to your hip and underhook their head. Free your leg.

Over-Under Guard Pass: Push one of their feet down, enter your opponents guard but they have this hook in. Overhook this leg and grab their distal pant leg, underhook their opposite thigh, keeping their hamstring on your shoulder, control their pant leg just distal to the draw string line. Place your head on this side of their stomach and walk your legs, circling toward their head. You may need to circle back to free their hook or to push it down with your lateral-most leg to step over with your other leg.

Spider Lasso Guard Sweep: Set-up lasso guard and place your other foot in the ipsilateral cubital fossa. You can perform a simple sweep by pulling them toward you and lifting either way, although I found sweeping to the lasso side more easily done.

Worm Guard Defense (before they cross the gi to the opposite side)

  • Use our ipsilateral hand to reach behind you and push their leg down, step around this leg and pass it between your legs
  • Pull the kimono skirt up, prying it from their grip

Worm Guard Defense (after they cross the gi to the opposite side)

  • Spin and go to the mat while grabbing the foot and look for a figure four ankle lock

Oma Plata Lock In: Once you have the oma plata and are sitting up, free the skirt and obtain a good grip, drop your elbow behind there back to tighten the grip, scoot laterally to finish.

Spider Guard to Overhook X-Guard: From spider guard, scoot underneath and bring your hip control leg through their legs. Overhook his ankle on this side with your arm. Bend your knee and thread your foot back to his anterior side, placing your foot in the far inguinal area. Now if your opponent tries to step around this hook, pull him back into place by applying pressure on his arm with the foot in his cubital fossa. Now reestablish this foot behind his popliteal fossa. Pass his sleeve to your overhook hand, control the collar on the same side, Extend your legs and pull laterally, they will fall on their side.

Quarter Guard Knee Bump Sweep: From quarter guard your opponent posts to his free foot. Pass their far skirt to your top hand, giving them a “gi-string”. Your opponent grabs your bottom sleeve. Re-grab his sleeve, bump them with your top knee and come on top.

Half-Guard Half-Somersault Sweep: From Z-guard (shield guard) obtain contralateral sleeve control and ipsilateral grip on their distal pant leg on the side opposite the Z. Bump them toward the gripped leg, if they fall over come on top. If they resist pull their arm across your body, loading them on your knee, now lift them over your head with your legs and roll backwards until you are in the top half-mounted position.

Megaton talked a good deal about his approach to jiu-jitsu:

“I love to compete, I hate to lose” He talked about the importance of competing at least once in your life. He also noted that there is only winning or losing, whether by submission, points, or a single advantage it does not matter, a win is a win, a loss is not. He noted the importance of attending a rules course at least once a year.

“Train like you compete.” If you practice giving up position and points you will do it when you compete. Always grapple with the guy that gives you the most trouble. Become a black belt in a particular position and know how to get there and what happens there.

“For every action, reaction”. In the context of the game we play, we can limit that reaction to options that we have answers for. We should do what we know to do best, and expect reaction and have our own to react with.

“Jiu-jitsu is simple, we make it complicated.” We need common sense and moves that work for us, not an ever expanding lexicon that is ineffective. Do the simplest, biomechanically effective method of getting the result you desire.


Vicious Details

On the Gaussian distribution of vicious, I’m at least in the 90th percentile of humanity. I cultivate methods of hurting other human beings. But I’m an amateur compared to the likes of muay thai former world champion, Matee “Dragonleg” Jedeedpitak, as demonstrated by his seminar at Top Level Gym. Matee has an apparently inexhaustible set of ways to control and inflict damage in the ring.

We started with a light warm-up of bouncing on the balls of our feet, then translating this into stepping out on alternating sides throwing a jab-cross. We then did one sided kicks and knees.

When you slip it is a more lateral motion and slouch than boxing to avoid getting kicked or kneed. It is important to keep looking at your opponent. Recover to your original posture, slipping back and then to the angle off the cross. To warm this up we slipped our partner’s jab, then cross, then the combo jab cross.

The jab slip counters:

  • Elbow: As you slip, step deeper bringing your inside elbow up, fist pointed at the floor, and rotate the shoulder to provide power. In practice, target the flat part of your proximal forearm to their chest. In a fight, consider the axilla or chin (depending on your rules).
  • Hook: Whip a hook to the chin, using the second knuckle (index finger) thumb down as of you were stabbing at a 45° degree angle into their neck. It is like throwing an inverted back hand but hit with your knuckle. We subsequently drilled this with the pads, but threw it to the belly pad for safety, followed by cross-hook-cross.
  • Lead Kick: As you slip, slap/check their jabbing arm at the elbow, spinning them away from you. Now from there deliver the lead kick to the ribs, no step, simply use the spring rotation of the check. It is even more important to keep your rear heel elevated to allow the pivot.
  • Hop Rear Kick: Again use the slap/check, if they step away use a small hop to deliver the kick to the leg with your rear leg. It is important to note that if they are in motion Matee recommends delivering the kick to just above the knee while if they are stationary to hit the mid-thigh.
  • Side clinch: Enter as if throwing the elbow, but roll the hand up to (a) either grab the neck and push on the trapped arm or (b) clinch the hands together. Step back and knee, then pivot out to knee again.
  • Body clinch: Lower your level and clinch at the waist, place your leg behind their near leg, bump it and throw them over this leg.

In order to apply this concept we drilled:

  • Jab slip practice: Slip the jab laterally, straight back and medially but pretend you are sparring so that the jabs come in a broken rhythm.
  • Jab-cross slip practice: As above but now slipping the jab and cross.
  • Jab slip counter practice: As the first drill, but now try to apply the slip counters.
  • 4-strike clinching: They throw any four alternating punches and you slip them all, return two strikes to their gloves.

Lastly we worked on some clinch counters:

  • Side clinch escape: Your opponent has you side clinched. Drop your weight by bending your knees and post on their hip with your lateral hand. Lean laterally and lift your medial (formerly trapped) arm up and back (think backstroke) to escape.
  • Face push clinch defense counter: You have the plum position and your opponent is pushing on your face. Look to your strong side and snap your opponent toward you (down if they are taller) as you lift the elbow on this side. Pummel your head to their triceps.
  • Side clinch forearm insertion counter: Your opponent defends the slide clinch by placing a forearm in your neck, rotate your shoulder (catch their elbow between your pectorals and deltoid) and pass their frame, step behind them.

Of course Matee stressed relaxing, but also pointed out that anticipation and nervousness did not make things better. He points out not forcing your counters but having them as options depending on the rhythm of the fight.


Eddie Bravo Jiu-Jitsu for Mixed-Martial Arts Seminar

“I’m not that flexible. I just use my flexibility all the time” — Eddie Bravo

I have had limited exposure to Eddie Bravo’s variant of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, basically from reading his book Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed, intermittent clips by his students covering miscellaneous techniques, from Joe Rogan’s commentating of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and mostly the unflattering attempted application by training partners who have limited knowledge obtained in an even less systematic way. That’s a long way of saying that I had an ambivalent to negative view of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. But if it didn’t work, why have I continued to hear about it for the past 10+ years? Things that don’t work in applied martial arts do not flourish, they wither and die. So when a friend of mine messaged me about an Eddie Bravo seminar at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Indianapolis, I decided to be scientific about my opinion and check it out.

Eddie is an excellent instructor, he’s passionate about jiu-jitsu, explains and demonstrates well, and breaks some fairly complex stuff into digestible chunks. Occasionally he calls out what each side does, drill sergeant style, other times he has you work on your own. And yes each position and submission has a name. I’m not sure I caught them all. His jiu-jitsu is different, an addition for doing jiu-jitsu when neither you nor your opponent is wearing a gi, but it is not so radically different that someone like me, who has trained for a quite some time couldn’t pick-up the “pathway” he was elucidating.

I’ve been focusing on grips and grip fighting for the past few months, from my observations today the 10th Planet System allows you to have grips where normally there isn’t anything to grip. Eddie’s pathways are a method to prune your opponent’s decision tree.

Today’s seminar worked on grappling for MMA. We started from the butterfly guard with the over-under control of your partner’s arms (Cocoon). You could simply butterfly sweep but instead. break your opponent’s posture and pull them with you to the mat, free the foot hook on the overhook side and bring this calf up across your opponents shoulders. Your underhook hand grabs your ankle on the lateral side of your leg, palm facing you (Jersey because it’s close to New York the same position from the closed guard). Attempt to bring your knee and heel together. Free your overhook and grab his contralateral axilla, bringing your forearm superiorly to your shin. Release your grip on your shin and place a C-collar with this free hand in their cubital fossa (Meathook).

From the Meathook you could replace your C-collar with wrist control and free the leg underneath your opponent to set up the triangle, by sliding this leg inferiorly to your leg across their shoulders, and then cinching it behind this knee as it transitions back to parallel with your opponent’s body.

If they attempt to control your leg with their free hand, i.e. preventing the C-collar control, instead place your free hand on their pectoral, free your Meathook and grab your foot. Lift it over their head allowing it to land on the shelf formed by your forearm. Release your foot and S-grip behind their head, your former Meathook hand superior to your shin and your shelf hand inferiorly. Figure four your legs a lá an “air triangle” to finish the Gogoclinch.

  • If you can get “deeper” either due to the size of your opponent or latent flexibility, consider a Gable grip, including your knee inside the circumference of your arms, or even applying a D’arce choke including your own leg
  • If your opponent disrupts or prevents your leg figure four, simply go for gogoplata by grabbing your foot with the same side hand, scissoring their neck between your forearm/wrist and shin.
  • If they defend the gogoplata by grabbing your foot, peel it off with your free hand and reapply or use this to set-up your Gogoclinch but now with your foot hooked into their axilla on this side (Hazelett). Now take the hand that would have been applying the gogoplata and grab the wrist of their free hand, abduct your knee of your bent leg to flatten them, preventing them from rolling. You can do a one handed kimura by attempting to push this hand to back of their head.
  • If they post up on their leg, you can hook the free foot of your Gogoclinch in their popliteal fossa and then rather than grabbing their wrist grab their ankle on this side (Hazelip). You can again apply the one handed kimura as above.
  • If you end up in the Gogoclinch and your free leg is superior to their shoulders drop your calf across their posterior neck, grab this ankle and pull down to submit (Double Bag).

If your opponent defends the Gogoclinch position and gogoplata by dropping their head to the mat, prop yourself on your elbow and place your gogoplata foot flat on the floor next to their head. Grab their chin with your free hand. Now transition up to your other knee, pushing into your opponent and rolling them laterally. If they post, switch the angle and push over their shoulder and head. They will roll to their back and you will be seated perpendicularly to them. You can control their far wrist and reapply the gogoplata with your other hand.

  • You can apply a shoulder separator by creating a loose triangle, putting your free foot in his axilla and extend as you grab his free wrist and pull.
  • If this is unsuccessful, free your foot from the axilla and lift it over his head and arm. Now lift his straight arm against the popliteal fossa to arm bar. 
  • Lastly you can return to the loose seated triangle and attack his trapped arm by hooking the elbow with your forearm and locking it out (Monoplata).

The Cocoon is the “golden clinch” it is an optimal place to set-up this game, most people will not give it to you. One method to do this is to allow your opponent to get to the half-guard. Overhook their arm on the same side as you have their leg with your straight arm controlling their free knee (Pimp Hand). To keep them from advancing, bring your lateral leg superiorly to their trapped leg and triangle it with the medial leg, which then hooks your foot inferior to their ankle (Lockdown). Now insert your hook laterally to their thigh and bend the medial leg superiorly to their leg, clamping it between your legs (Stomp). Your opponent will pinch their knees together to prevent you from going back to butterfly, so start kicking/wiggling the medial leg to free it (Mermaid). You can now return to hooks inside but in the Cocoon position, if your opponent doesn’t limp arm out.

Next we worked from the Z-Guard with our opponent throwing blows (opened handed slaps). Free the top leg, removing the support of your knee from their chest, by shooting it wide while diving your head to their stomach. Grip around their waist with an S-grip, the arm anteriorly tight to your body, they will wi. Pull them forward, professionally overhook their near leg with the leg you initially freed and transition your other leg laterally, using your shoulder and head to post. Now drive into them to put them on their back.

Eddie Bravo Seminar



Above Garage Door Grappling Mat Storage Rack

As someone who feels that martial arts training is an important part of their life, it is inevitable that some sort of home gym set-up occurs. I had grown tired of the climatological extremes of garage training at our old place so I had not pursued it at our new home. However with available training partners only a few blocks away, I felt that it was a good time to have a midlife training crisis and supplement with some garage rolling.  Unfortunately although my garage is advertised as a two-car garage, it really only feels like a car and a half.  There is very little room for storage, particularly something as bulky and space consuming as mats. The next house we get will have a finished basement.

I did some investigation on the internet and found this interesting article on the Family Handyman. I wanted something like a shelf but the idea of using rollers to assist with storing the mats appealed to me. A friend of mine had some solid (non-folding) mats he was interested in getting rid of, they measure 3’ 6” by 6’ 6” and weigh approximately 50 lbs, so this needed to be a sturdy arrangement. I decided on using three rollers based on six foot 5/8” threaded rods, with 5’ PVC as the roller.

Mounting Bracket, View 1Mounting Bracket, View 2

Mounting bracket (upside down) constructed from 14" 2” x 4” with two 5” corner braces bolted on with three 1/4-20 x 2 1/2” machine bolts. SAE 1/4” washers were used on both sides. The hole at the “top” is 5/8” to accommodate the six foot 5/8” threaded rod used in the roller assembly.

The mats I have are 6’ 6”, so I placed the brackets every other ceiling stud thereby spanning approximately 5’ 6”. Originally I tried placing the rollers as near the outer wall as possible, but the garage door would impact the mounting brackets as it turned from vertical to horizontal, so I moved it in one ceiling stud in and had no clearance trouble.  I measured the opposite mounting bracket position with an assembled roller and confirmed that the bracket would be mounted into the ceiling stud with a stud finder.

I used six #14 x 2 1/2” wood screws into the ceiling stud to mount each of my constructed mounting brackets.

Next I made a 5/8” hole in another 2” x 4” and mounted it on the end of the threaded rod to line the mounting bracket furthest from the garage door. Using this “straightedge” and a stud finder I positioned the mounting bracket. Once mounted I measured and trimmed the connecting 2” x 4”. I did the same thing on the opposite side but confirmed my position with a roller assembly before fastening the opposite mounting bracket. I then attached the connecting 2” x 4”s to the threaded rod.

At this point I weight tested the assembly with my own (not inconsiderable) bodyweight. Nothing moved, nothing broke, and nothing sounded like it was going to give.

Using the connecting 2” x 4” and a stud finder I fastened the middle mounting brackets. Then I bored out the 5/8” hole for the threaded rod in the connecting 2” x 4” on both sides. I assembled the inner hardware of one side and the PVC pipe of the roller, and slid it through the inside holes nearest the wall. It was slid far enough to allow the opposite end to clear the mounting bracket on the opposite side and then I slid it into the mounting bracket hole after placing washers and inside nut. I then tapped the rod into place gently with a mallet, adjusting the nuts on both sides to allow equal amounts of the threaded rod to be seen bilaterally projecting.

A roller assembly is a nut, locking washer, flat washer, connecting 2” x 4”, mounting bracket, flat washer, locking washer, nut, 5’ of PVC pipe, nut, locking washer, flat washer, mounting bracket, connecting 2” x 4”, flat washer, locking washer, nut.

All told this project took me between 6-8 hours including hardware shopping time. But I’m a pretty poor excuse for a carpenter.

Mat Rack with Garage Door Closed

Empty, finished mat rack with garage door closed

Mat Rack with Garage Door Open

Empty, finished mat rack with garage door open

Loaded mat rack

Loaded mat rack


Physics of Disdain

I hate losing more than I even wanna win.” — Billy Beane, Moneyball

I am secure in my knowledge that I’m pretty good at jiu-jitsu, but I’m also very aware that I can only get better while being one injury away from never getting on the mats again.  Ultimately my goal is to be able to blow through anyone on the planet and submit them at will. Realistic, no. Inspiring, yes. Recently I’ve been less than happy with my ability to pass the guard (not that I’m thrilled about my ability to play guard) so I’ve been watching the best and thinking about the rest. Part of my conceptual thinking was inspired (stolen) from Jeff Serafin’s Art of Uncomfortable guard passing concepts and the Mendes Brother’s Leg Drag.

Fighting is essentially trying to get ahead and if you are ahead, staying there. In combat sports that has to be done within the rules of game. For example, get grips first, if you’re not first, get a better grip than your opponent.  When I pass, for whatever reason, I am often faced with an open or spider guard.  I’m not light and I’m longed limbed so it is difficult to contain me in a closed guard, passing on the ground while certainly feasible does leave a certain amount of space for opponents to re-capitalize given my length of limb and spaces it provides. This is a long way of saying, I often finding myself standing and trying to pass the open guard.  I’ve been watching how Rodolfo Vieira passes and it has been inspiring, BJJ Scout has an excellent analysis of this:

When I first watched Professor Vieira pass, it seemed to me as if he had nothing but disdain for his opponents guard. It would have been called cocky if it didn’t work.  The key that I noticed, which is true for all top competitors, is that they do what they do not regardless of their opponent but because it prunes the decision tree of possible actions by their opponent.  The open and spider guard work by getting the legs at a 45° angle with the floor, this provides the maximal amount of force against your opponent with your feet having the greatest amount of friction. Vieira destroys this by changing the angle reducing the efficacy of his opponent’s legs and the ability to control the open guard with their feet.  He increases the angle by advancing, contemptuously appearing to walking into the guard. By driving in, dropping and then lifting the hips, your opponents feet are displace upward, they lose contact with your arms or hips.

Obviously I try to get a good grip on their pant legs to help facilitate good posture and re-positioning of their legs as I glacially displace their open guard. Either I grab first, or break their grips to get there. Sometimes simply to slow them down, I step in first and then break the grips, if I’m a step or two behind.  It is important not to hunker over your opponent but to try to lift their hips off the mat as you approach.

My first iteration was the “horse stance” I ended up moving in but with my feet parallel and both within reach of my opponent.  While this was effective it is is limited because they can bump you backward and have a choice of legs to snare.  Remember that you are trying to get them off-balance and defensive, no trying to climb on top of them, you climb on top of someone and you will be swept.  You will notice, as BJJ Scout points out, inserting a knee either inside or outside their knee is a more effective way of breaking them down.  So my second iteration was to try to control the pant leg and drive my knee on the medial side of theirs, bending and abducting their leg laterally.  Do not allow them to hook inside. A third variation is step slightly laterally and pull their leg in the contralateral direction, placing your opposite knee on the lateral side of theirs, bending it medially and adducting it, into a leg drag-esque position.

From the medial knee insertion, you can start to pass by knee slide, by “hiking” their opposite leg through your own, or switching to a leg drag. From the lateral knee insertion you can practically drop into the side mount from there, if they turn back fast enough you can drop into their half-guard and pass from there (after getting your advantage for placing their shoulders on the mat).  You will also notice that Vieira switches directions, so drive for your pass but if it’s not working try passing on the other side by switching to another pass, e.g. “hike” to one side, knee slide to the other.  One thing that I found effective, when I couldn’t hip lift in well enough was to grab both legs and toreador pass, they’re fighting your pressure so much that their legs are easily extend and get stapled to the mat.

Attention to this concept will make you do something else: when you play open guard you will not want them to do this to you, so you will get good grips and stretch them out, making sure their posture is something their mothers would bemoan.



If they catch your kick:

  • Your kicking leg foot dorsiflexes, then bend your knee pulling your opponent to you. Grab their neck with the ipsilateral hand, your contralateral hand can control their free arm biceps. Place downward pressure at 45° across their hip line. If necessary push their head toward the floor, turn through and pull your leg out (as if finishing the turn of the kick).
  • Recoil your kick leg by turning the knee laterally, this rotates the foot in front of them.  Tiip them away.

If they get double underhooks #1:

  • Place knee on there abdomen just inferior to the umbilical line, your foot should hook medially to their knee. Create space to inset the ipsilateral hand in plum clinch and use pressure with your forearm to create space. Pop your hips back to break their grip, overhook with your free hand and load your wedge knee to throw it.  If your opponent reaches for your leg while the “hook” is in, elbow him to the head.

If they get double underhooks #2:

  • Drop your weight and put your hands on your opponents hips.  Place the back of your head on the side of theirs, step laterally to this side and drive their head toward the floor.  Overhook in the side closest to them, rotate your body away to insert your other hand on the side of their face and drop step this leg, to set-up a lunging side clinch position.  Keep your weight on them but at the range of your extended arm. If they stay, knee to the head.  If they stand-up let them go. If they rise, go with them and throw the head kick. If they try to rotate away from you, step in a kibadachi (horse stance) behind them, placing your leg midway between theirs.  Now calf raise on this side, displacing their legs as your upper body turns, dumping them backwards over your leg.


Flick, Interception, and Chasing Kicks

After an unintentional several week hiatus due to professional and personal commitments, I got to do a muay thai lesson today! We worked on kicking combinations after leg cover.  This is in defense of a kick to the medial side of your lead leg.  Your lead leg elevates and crosses diagonally to meet their shin perpendicularly.

  • Lead leg cover, step back to the opposite stance and then step back again to regain your original lead, creating distance to allow for interception.  As your opponent steps forward dropping their weight to throw another leg kick, shift your weight onto your rear leg, straightening and rising, as you drive your lead knee upward towards your opponents neck, turn it over to flick a quick kick to their head as they duck in to kick.  Do not step with your base foot!  Recover by bringing the kick back, opposite stance, then rear step to your original lead.
  • Lead leg cover, step back to the opposite stance and then step back again to regain your original lead, creating distance to allow for interception.  Your opponent remains tall on their second kick, again leg check, switch step off the 45° with a slight step forward to throw the kick.  As you switch step your kicking leg arm rises to head level.  Recover by bringing the kick back, opposite stance, then rear step to your original lead.
  • As your opponent engages, throw a stopping tiip, from here switch step off the 45° with a slight step forward to throw the kick.  Again lift your “kicking” arm on the switch step.  Recover by bringing the kick back, opposite stance, then rear step to your original lead.
  • As your opponent engages, throw a push tiip, making them step back.  Drop your kick leg to step, letting your body pivot toward this side to load the kick from this side, throw the kick.  Again, recover by bringing the kick back, opposite stance, then rear step to your original lead.

And a personal note: my lead hand does not need to move to leg cover.


Clinchology 101

Until today I consider myself as someone who knew how to handle the clinch.  That was until Ian dropped some knowledge on me.  True muay thai fights with elbow strikes, which changes the dynamics of the clinch significantly.  Your desire to drive forward and wrassle in the clinch is diminished by the prospect of cuts and knock outs due to crisply thrown elbows.

Loose clinch (heads are far apart)
  • Pivot step 90°, keep pushing away, deliver a knee to the body or head as appropriate to the rules you are fighting under.
  • Swim inside (bring first one hand, then the other inferiorly and medially to their clinch) and establish your own clinch.
  • Swim one hand inside, use the other to drop inferiorly pulling on their arm while pulling them into the upward elbow.
Hip space clinch
Overhook and grab their head on one side, place the ipsilateral shin across their waist like a roller coaster seatbelt.  Drive your shin down and away from you by extending the hip while simultaneously turning your chest away from your opponent

Tight clinch (heads are tight)

Overhook one side and on the contralateral side place your palm in their axilla or hip. Step the foot opposite the overhook in close to your opponent, dip the knee.  Immediately thrust with this hip as your pull with your overhook and push with your contralateral hand.  Rotate as if to throw your opponent behind you while simultaneously sweeping with the leg opposite the side you bumped their hip.
If their arms are parallel, their elbows will close off the space to allow you to swim inside and re-clinch. Overhook one side and turn 90° away from this arm, lifting your chest higher.  This should extend and break their clinch, but you may need to do the same going back the other way to free yourself. If they stop your turn with flared elbows, swim inside.

One hand push variations
Each of these uses the push to your opponents face to set-up clinch counters.  The hand goes superior and lateral to their arm on the same side. Straighten your arm to create space.

Long range sweep

Hook their opposite cubital fossa with your glove, pull down as you push, spinning them, sweep with the same leg if needed.

Pivot step

Using the push pivot 90° away on the same side as you are pushing, control the far hand with your free had, throw the knee to the gut
With near elbow: If you feel them pushing against your hand, collapse it medially to throw a horizontal elbow to the head
With far elbow: Collapse your outstretched arm on your opponents arm to tug them close, throw the horizontal elbow with your opposite arm.


Tiip Combinations on the Suitcase Pad

Today we worked on tiip combinations.  Now, the mindset is different to one that I’ve previously trained and preached.  The tiip is an opener followed by a fake.  Rather than predetermining that I will do combo xyz, I need to to obey the energy of my opponent.  I’m proactively reacting, what they do predicates my next move.  So in each “combo” I’d tiip and then fake it by raising my lead leg to knee height.  Options:

  • Rear kick
  • Lead kick
  • Jab
  • Jab cross
  • Lead hook
  • Lead hook, rear (leg) kick, lead hook
  • Cross, lead kick, cross

If my opponent runs on my fake tiip and then returns, I can fake it again but hop forward and laterally to throw the rear kick.  This allows the fake to cover distance.  Also if the jab is working, fake it and throw the tiip.

Interestingly enough, Ian fed all these using a suitcase pad.  This is a new use of a pad I had sort of relegated to developing leg kicking power.  When a knowledgeable and creative person holds pads it really elevates the level of training, so drilling with the pad was a lot of fun.


Swing Evasion

I’m calling the lesson today, the swing evasion because I practiced it by getting out of the path of my son’s swing.  Probably not it’s intent, but usable for this purpose.

We worked on high kick evasion, from a short, medium, and deep penetration step.  In each case there is a posterior lean, staying on the ball of the rear foot, to allow you to spring forward immediately after the kick has passed.  The rear hand stays high on the temple.  The lead hand rotates making the forearm parallel to the floor, the elbow at right angle.  The shoulder meets the ear on this side.

  • Short kick: Just lean, feet don’t move
  • Medium step kick: Rear foot drops back
  • Deep penetration step kick: Rear foot drops back, lead foot is dragged with you (almost a karate rear leaning stance)

We worked this shadowboxing and then on the pads, delivering a kick relaxed and rapidly after each.

Ian also showed a bit of dirty pool, catching a kick and then throwing onto the ropes.


Step Kick

The step kick is used when you and your opponent create space after engaging with them.  This can either occur because they retreat dramatically, they’re hurt, or you push them to range.  Basically the rear leg steps to the lead leg, on the ball of the foot, it then springs your forward, your lead leg landing laterally depending on how aggressively you chase and the rear leg kicking.  The rear leg is the coiled spring that not only drives you forward but simultaneously drives the kick.

  • Rear catch-lead scoop/step-push-step-kick
  • Rear catch-lead scoop/step-push-cross-two lead kicks: Remember to extend the base leg and stand tall, hip rises on the kicks
  • Rear catch-lead scoop/step-cross

Rear catch is a regular catch of the jab.  The lead scoop/step is performed by turning the hand 180° inferiorly while stepping laterally off-line, use the arm and lead step to push the shoulder of your opponent.

Howe It's Done

Today I sat in on Chris Howe’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class and had the pleasure of seeing him teach.  Chris and I share the same Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Jack McVicker, and have trained together in the past.  It is fascinating to see the details that Chris explains, because while much of the source is the same, we have different contexts and insight into the same technique.  Although we have trained with different people and gone to different seminars it was illuminating to have someone teach familiar technique with a different viewpoint.  Just a reminder to take advantage of the knowledge that might be sitting right next to you.

Dive Pass

We started with the Dive Pass, control both pant legs just distal to the knee, thumbs toward you.  Push the leg laterally to the mat, then dive the ipsilateral shoulder to their abdomen, head crosses the midline.  Underhook the unpinned leg and regrip the pinned leg on the lateral side of the pants.  Now, use a “windshield wiper” to free your leg, that is, trap their leg with your lateral leg to allow the medial leg to overhook.  You can use your outside knee laterally, to push their leg medially to facilitate an easier pass.

Rather than passing you can also knee bar, by transitioning back in-line with your opponent while squeezing your knees, this should straighten their leg with it the knee pointed straight up.  Your pubic ramus should be just proximal to their knee, loosely triangle their leg and do a leg curl.

North-South Attacks

To set-up the north-south attacks from side mount, reach the arm nearer their head over your partner’s head, your arm tucked just under their lateral arm, your hand over their kidney (I like to grab the kimono here) and tuck your elbow to their head.  Your other hand controls the near hip, now rotate to north-south position to force their arm in their hip to “pop out”.  Underhook this and grab their trapezius/kimono sleeve.

Paper cutter choke

Transition back to the side mount.  Using the arm over your partner’s head, pull your elbow to your hip, catch the far lapel and drop your forearm across their neck, drop the elbow under their chin, and flare the elbow slightly, roll your weight by dropping the hip nearest the head to the mat.  If they try to turn into you pull them flat with your triceps grip arm.  This arm will also cause counter tension as you choke

Reverse, arm-in, guillotine

Transition back to the side mount.  Place your knee next to their ear and your head overhook elbow near the contralateral ear.  Pull your elbow to your hip, lifting their head onto the “ramp” formed by your thigh.  Wrap their head and grip your opposite wrist (now freed from controlling the arm/sleeve).  Now transition back to be parallel with your partner.  Move inferiorly, trying to slide such that your arm stays wrapped tight to their neck and your trapezius tight to the opposite side.  Your head should slide next to their chest, so that you can hear their heart beat.

Near straight arm bar

From the paper cutter choke, if blocked, rotate your distal leg so that your toes point to their head and your opposite hip.  Shift your weight unto your blocked choking hand on their chest or onto their far arm.  Slide the leg nearest their head around their head until perpendicular but across their head.  Now sit back as the knee nearest their legs rotates to the ceiling, squeeze your knees together.  Grab this knee with your free hand to increase arm bar pressure.


If you obtain north-south and you decide or if their arm does not “pop out”, you can instead pick-up the kimura.  Use the overhook to pivot your opponent on to their side, using your legs to push.  Slide the overhook arm underneath their forearm and grab your opposite wrist which in turn grabs their wrist.  Tuck your leg to their face and your opposite knee to their back, foot on the floor.  Lift their hand free from their body, use the push-pull of the figure four to rotate their shoulder posteriorly.

Deep kimura/biceps slicer

You get a kimura set-up but your opponent stays flat on their back.  Release their wrist and shoot the hand gripping the wrist, like a hook, so that forearm is trapped proximal to your elbow, posteriorly.  Your other forearm is in their cubital fossa, the palm of this hand on your distal biceps.  Imagine a really loose rear naked choke of their elbow joint.  Your free hand and forearm should be on the mat, their hand near their hip.  Move out next to your opponent on this side.  Keep your chest on your hands, walk your feet toward their feet as you lift your trapped forearm.


Steel tests steel

Training today with Mat Stratta of Endurance Training Center Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we talked about a challenging training environment.  The idiom that “steel sharpens steel” is often used to describe training hard or with people that push us.  While I appreciate being compared to an amalgam known for its durability and ability to keep an edge, the idiom is historically inaccurate and more importantly perhaps not the best way to view training.

When steel hits steel, it was in battle, blades were notched, bent, and blunted not sharpened.  Blades that were true served their masters without breaking but certainly they lost some of their edge.  Competition tests but it also injures, if you are always competing you’ll be tried but you’re unlikely to improve.

Steel is sharpened on stones, either a whetstone or grindstone, whose friction was carefully applied to sharpen and straighten.  The battle tested the mettle, the sharpening was a careful and skillful assessment of weakness and dullness that was then meticulously ground out.  When we train we refine, we sharpen, our coaches and training partners are our grindstone, they smooth our imperfections and sharpen our edge.

Steel tests us.  Stone sharpens us.


Grab first for advantage, grab best for victory

Megaton feels that 80% of your grappling will either be passing or attacking from guard so it is important to train from there.  We used various training scenarios to warm-up.  All these are trained at 50%, there is no winning at warm-up:
  • Passing the guard versus partner trying to prevent passing, no submissions or sweep, e.g. the bottom player is ahead,
  • Staying in the guard versus partner trying to sweep or reversal, no submissions, e.g. player inside the guard is ahead.
Upa technique: Even as basic a technique as the upa can still have details that make it more efficient and technical.  When you upa, grab their sleeve distal to the shoulder on the side you plan to turn toward and pull them to you, making everything more cylindrical.  Drop your elbow on top of their thigh (the same one you are trapping with your foot).  Use both feet to bridge straight, trying to put your opponent on their head, before trying to turn over.
Shark cross collar choke: Open the lapel with your ipsilateral hand to insert your contralateral hand, palm up as deep behind the neck as you can.  Twist your shoulders, chest perpendicular to the opposite collar and position your hand like a shark going in for a bit, that is, so that the fingers will not collide with the kimono lapel.  Square up.  Your choke should be tight even before starting to try to submit them.
Z-guard tripod pass: The Z-guard is basically the half-guard with the superior knee inside and diagonal across the thorax.  Underhook the top leg and grab the pant leg on the bottom just proximal to your partner’s knee.  With the other hand grab the same side lapel.  Tripod up and slide the trapped knee through, then use it to clear their bottom leg, take the side mount.
Z-guard shrimp out pass: If you are unable to secure their collar, grab their ipsilateral sleeve, transition to this hip, shrimp your butt away from your opponent, using your bottom shin to pry your leg out.  If they try to get up pull them flat with the sleeve control or with both sleeve and pant leg.
Cross collar and arm choke: From guard (or half-guard) obtain cross collar control,  reach across and pull their arm across forming a choke with their arm and your forearm.  Shift in the direction of their crossed arm to avoid getting drilled by their elbow, place pressure with your chest on their arm as you pull them in with the cross collar control.
Hooks-in elevator sweep variation: Obtain ipsilateral collar and sleeve control, transition onto the same gluteal as you have sleeve control.  Elevate the hook on the collar control slide to sweep them to the sleeve control side
Hooks-in to X-guard sweep: Grab both collars and lift onto your hooks, pivot to one side placing your head on one shin and under hooking this leg.  The leg that was ipsilateral stays hooked behind their knee while your opposite foot pushes the medial thigh away from you.  Transition to kneeling and to your feet, pull/step backward to pull them to that mat, reversing position.
Hooks-in to reverse arm bar:  You do the above and your opponent posts both hands to the mat.  Under hook one arm, rolling your forearm over their arm just proximal to the elbow, grip your hands together.  Simultaneously, bring your hook out on this side and place in their hip, rotate the knee to their ribs.  Apply the reverse arm bar.
Toreador hooks-in guard pass:  Your opponent has you in hooks-in guard, grab their pant legs distally thumbs toward you.  Staple their feet to the mat, stand and pass to one side, try to find their heart beat and drive your weight into them to pass.
Tilt hooks-in guard pass:  Your opponent has you in hooks-in guard, underhook his leg and grab the distal pant leg, with your other hand grab their kimono in the back.  Post the leg on the same side as your under hooking arm.  Pull, tilting your opponent right to the mat.
Knee tap takedown:  From standing, grab the ipsilateral collar, pull them so that they step with their opposite foot, then drive laterally over this leg, tapping their knee on the way for the takedown.
Reversing reverse side control: Your opponent has obtained reverse side control, the arm nearest your head reaches across your body and is near your hip.  Grab this sleeve with the hand nearest your opponent.  Post up and roll away from your opponent, pulling them over you and somersaulting onto their back.
50-50 guard ankle locks
  • Straight ankle lock:  Wrap their ankle, wrist in their Achilles tendon, roll away from them, sliding your outside foot underneath and through their legs, posting the top of your foot on their far hip,  straighten your back to finish.
  • Inside figure four: Bump their knee to expose the ankle and foot, reach across your body to grab their toes, pinky finger to pinky toe.  Slide your near hand underneath distal ankle and grab the figure 4.  Attempt to put your opponent’s toe in their rectum, they should submit prior to this occurring.
  • Reverse straight ankle lock:  Again expose their ankle and foot, place your near wrist on their Achilles tendon, use your other hand to pull your hand toward your face for the ankle submission.  This is not a heel hook but a straight ankle lock.
My title comes from an observation today.  I believe that grips are critical for securing advantage and victory.  Megaton pointed out that sometimes your opponent gets a grip and you cannot free yourself.  In these cases, obtain your own grip to shut down their game.  Similar to Tony Blauer’s “Closest Weapon, Closest Target” this is “Nearest G, Nearest Grip”.  Then capitalize on this change in the control dynamic.


I'm a sick person

I have a problem.

I take particular pleasure in learning novel ways to maim other human beings.  I have no guilt regarding this.

Today my muay thai private reviewed the straight knee to the head.  Either you can jab and then grab with the lead hand, pulling the head down by pulling with the arms as the hips drop back or you can pull their jab inferiorly with your rear hand, catch the cross with your lead and then undertook as you rotate laterally while grabbing the back of their head with your rear hand.  Ian then noted that this same thing could be done when someone tries to block your knees with their forearm.  If they frame against your body, or simply try to block your thigh you can pull their arm out of the way by underhooking as above.  If they post their arm on their own body, knee them with the intent of breaking their arm.  Stupidity is punishable.

Next we worked on leg kicks (pun not intended).  The style that Ian teaches, has balance and speed as its central dogma.  To stay on balance while kicking the body stays erect and above the hips.  To deliver a higher kick the base leg and torso lengthen.  To deliver a low kick the base leg bends.  To throw the low kick the rear foot springs forward landing just behind where your lead foot was.  The lead shin should be hitting the target as your base foot lands.  Your shoulders turn over with the kick as if you were a stiff man trying to tie the laces on your base foot.

After practicing on the bag we went to the pads.  I threw the jab stepping into and out of range, when my opponent stays put I follow with the low kick.  If he stays put, bring the kicking foot back to a good stance (easy if I kept by balance)  and throw the cross.  If he evades backward, fake the right cross,  step the lead foot off to the diagonal as I lead slap hook and pivot my rear foot laterally, shifting off line from my opponent.  Throw the rear kick.

Note to self, throw jab-cross.  If you throw cross-jab (particularly when I switch stances) I might be better served with a lead hook.  And you can turn a rear uppercut into a cross.


The Thrill of the Chase

A fight is a hunt, a chase.  Not like the big game hunter but like a predator.  Always on balance, never greedy, positioning oneself to strike with absolute surprise and ferocity.  In the ring you chase but do not over-extend, you may even go backward in pursuit of the optimal position to deliver damage.  Your tactics determine how you chase, depending on if your opponent is hurt, off-balance, or evading.  The chase is addictive, do not let the thrill of the hunt lead you to lose your prey.

In my lesson today Ian had me work some tiip derived combinations.  We worked front and rear defensive and offensive tiip.  The defensive lead tiip shifts your weight over the rear leg, base foot rotated externally to keep it straight.  The knee rises up between the umbilicus and inferior chest before the kick extends using the hips,  This is a defensive jab, thrown just as your opponent shifts onto their lead foot off their rear to advance forward.  The offensive lead tiip, bring your rear leg to the lead, foot rotating externally, throw the kick as described above.  The rear tiip is thrown by rising onto the ball of the lead foot and driving the rear foot through and extending from the hips.  Again on defense attempt to catch them on the step.  Ian held all these combinations, occasionally making me miss to see if I stayed on balance.

We also worked jab upper cut elbow, lead and read. For the lead throw the jab (no wind-up!), step the lead foot to mid-line and bring the elbow up, as if the hand were to rapidly style your hair.  Do not punch yourself in the face. The rear combo again enters with the jab, then step laterally to bring your rear elbow midline. Throw the elbow upward, catching with the tip.

We also worked offensive and defensive tiip. One key is to keep the base leg “locked” and straight. The lead offensive tiip is thrown by stepping the rear foot to the lead, lifting your knee to the target height and jabbing with the ball of the foot.  The rear offensive tiip is throw by stepping forward, rising on the ball of the lead foot, and driving the rear foot through to kick.  The defensive tiip needs to be timed, try to catch your opponent as they step onto their lead foot, shifting the weight off their rear foot.  For the lead defensive tiip shift your weight to the rear leg, keeping it straight and foot flat, throw the tiip.

Coming full circle to the chase argument, using the concept of the offensive tiip.  If you throw the lead tiip and your opponent backs-up, follow-up with the rear tiip.  If your opponent is hurt, remaining fairly close to you, the lead tiip is followed by a kick on this side.  To throw this, hop your rear leg laterally, making sure your weight shifts over this leg, your tiip leg sets posteriorly to throw the kick.  If you knock your opponent off balance and need to “run them down”, step forward with the tiip, step through with your rear leg, setting it as the base leg.  Allow your shoulders to twist to slightly to the side throwing the kick to generate more torque, throw the Thai kick.

“Side-kick” tiip, both offensive and defensive.  Defensively, throw this tiip as if you are throwing a Thai kick, but the leg comes out straight, turn your hips to allow the leg to extend further, foot at 45° from the ground.  Your weight stays over your foot.  For the offensive version, the leg comes up and you spring forward to deliver the kick.


Teaching to my detriment

I’ve been involved with martial arts since 1985 and have always had a striking component to my training.  I started with hard styles of Uechi-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do, but found that I wasn’t training the way I was fighting.  I gravitated to the eclectic Goshin Jitsu which used a boxing and kickboxing framework for their striking which seemed more applicable.  I’ve trained for many years in Jeet Kune Do, which is more of a philosophy than a style as it evolves to what works rather than being a dogmatic method.  I subsequently became interested in Muay Thai and have trained that for over a decade.  The unfortunate side effect of training this long is that eventually you become the senior member of the class.  It is not because I am more skilled or more able that I coach, it is because I’ve been too dumb to quit.

Now that I’m doing muay thai private lessons my technique is under a microscope.  I have bad habits, mostly I assumed from injury and lay off.  In muay thai, the way that you throw kicks or knees is by extending on the base leg.  I don’t do that.  I see people doing it, but I don’t do it.  I teach the extension, but I don’t do it.  Sure I can blame deconditioned leg muscles or poor balance but honestly my legs are stronger now than they have been in years.  Training this week, we figured it out:  It’s a bad habit from teaching.

In order to show that I was using the point of the knee to strike and since on average people are smaller than me, I was pulling my knees and crouching so that I didn’t obliterate half my demo partner’s rib cage.  I look sort of like a toddler being toilet trained who is trying not to pee themselves.  The more you coach, the more you teach, the less you train.  So by demoing it to prove one point, I managed to teach myself wrong.  You can do the extension and rapidity of a knee well, and focus on that by “slapping” them with the distal anterior surface of the thigh rather than trying to drive the bony part of distal femur through their thorax.  Try.  You like.

The above point came up when we reviewed material from the Matee seminar a few weeks back.  We review catching the jab, cross, clearing the cross hand and pivot stepping while side clinching to deliver the knee. Alternatively you can slap their rear hand down and let them step into your rear horizontal elbow.

The other (cool) thing we worked on was saving yourself from a caught thai kick.  I threw the rear thai kick rapidly and relaxedly.  As soon as it hit, I rotate the knee outward and recovered.  Next when working with my coach, I threw the kick on Ian, who caught it.  The rotation freed my foot so that I could place it on his torso/hip and push kick away.  You’re not pulling your leg out, you’re freeing it to push your opponent away.


Matee "Dragon Leg" Jedeepitak Muay Thai Seminar

Today I had the opportunity to attend a seminar by Matee Jedeepitak, a Lumpinee Champion for 6 years (something like 14 years longer than me j/k).  He is humble and humorous, apologizing when in his excitement to teach he slips into Thai.  His legs are massive, his calves are nearly spheroid from bouncing on the balls of his feet for decades.  His grace as he demonstrates footwork and technique is like watching fine art but I have the distinct impression that getting within range of his eight limbs would be akin to stepping into a man-sized blender.  Thanks to Ian Ransburg and Top Level Gym for hosting the seminar.


“Footwork” consisted of being high on the balls of the feet and gently bouncing from foot to foot while keeping your hips over the feet.  We then did alternating lead jab cross, by shifting the weight forward with the new lead, going through the “footwork” steps for two beats.  Next was kicking, one side repeatedly bringing the knee and leg straight up to throw rapid kicks.  No hip rotation for this warm-up.  We then did same side knee kick then transitioning to the opposite side.

Catch Lead Elbow

Use your rear hand to catch and hook their jab, curling the wrist to grip their glove at their wrist.  Rotate the shoulders, pulling their jab hand and throw the lead elbow, bring the hand to the opposite side of your head, acting as a defensive shield should the elbow miss.

Catch Catch Lead Elbow

Catch the jab with your rear hand, catch the cross with your rear hand, simultaneously step 45° on the ball of the foot and rotate on your lead foot, letting their momentum pull them by while you throw your lead elbow.  The elbow is horizontal if your opponent is your height, downward diagonal if shorter, and upward diagonal if taller.

Slip Outside Clinch Drop Step Knee

Slip to the outside of your opponent’s jab, the contralateral hand on their elbow.  Step forward with your rear foot while your free hand grabs their neck on the far side.  Push their arm to cinch the grip, drop step your new rear foot and pivot 90°.  Slouch and keep the knees bent, keep your shoulders horizontal, your goal is to make your opponent support your weight.  Throw the rear knee.

Fake Jab Clinch

Throw the jab, provoking your opponent’s catch, now fake the jab and step to catch their neck on the outside.  Drop step and pivot 90°, pulling them forward, push against the side of their head with your free hand, throw the rear knee.

Catch Catch Cross Clinch Clear Drop Step Knee

Catch jab, catch cross, reach your rear hand (that caught their jab) and grab your opponent’s neck on the opposite side.  Sweep their hand clear with your lead hand and drop step for the rear knee.

We subsequently did a variation of this where we just tapped our opponent’s hands to clear them and then used a forearm that might accidentally be an elbow to the face to secure a cross clinch grip, not cheating but certainly not sporstmanlike.  From here we cleared the arm to then drop step pivot them to the rear knee.

Defense From the Above

Bring your swept hand thumb up and grab their neck, use your free hand to cup their elbow and rotate upward, setting up your own clinch (cupping the far neck and putting pressure with your other hand on their arm), either step back and knee, or grip palm-to-palm and do the same.

Underhook Kick Catch Pass

Your opponent throws a Thai kick to the body, they will hit your arm and you catch their kick by reaching across your body with your contralateral hand, hook their distal leg with your glove by curling the wrist.  Drop step your lead leg as you pull their leg across your body, drawing them to you.  Grab their neck with your free hand.  Now knee to the near butt cheek as you lift their leg and pull them backward for a throw.

If they throw their kick low, use the underhook catch to pull the soft part of the shin into your elbow.

Overhook Kick Catch Pass

Step with their kick and cinch a tight overhook kick catch.  Drop step your lead leg and pull them toward you as you pull their kick to the opposite side by letting it slip to the hand that caught it and passing it to the curled wrist grip on the opposite side.  From here you can either clinch if you are close enough, punch, or knee.

Freestyle Rounds with Single Element

We finished with a freestyle round where the holder called various combinations.  During each round we highlighted one of the techniques learned above, and in order to integrate the technique into our arsenals, it was set-up without a verbal cue.  We did catch lead elbow, jab trap forearm “elbow” knee, and out choice of catching the kick to clinch.  After each round we did 30 seconds of punches, knees, and kicks. After both sides had done their rounds we did 30 seconds of push-ups, crunches, push-ups, and seated cross toe touches.


Matee wasn’t trying to provide us with answers, combat sports are too chaotic, too uncertain to be definite, instead he was giving us options.  Options that are dependent on our body type and our opponent.  He repeats the advice that every champion I have ever trained with has told me: play, don’t force it.  A personal aside, I need to to keep my torso upright when I kick.


Play or play not, do not try

Having finally foiled the conspiracies of the holidays, work, and aberrant weather I made it back to a muay thai private.  Ian has been trying to teach me to relax.  One of the concepts he uses is that of play, like tag, don’t try the technique, play it.

We reviewed and warmed up with shadowboxing, looking at my movement and striking.  On the thai kick, I need to keep my weight evenly distributed so that after I throw it and miss I land with my weight evenly balanced between my feet.  This way I can push off my rear (kicking) leg and land on the ball of my lead leg to pivot back toward my opponent.

We then worked on flowing into kicks, using a jab-cross-hook combination to close, then stepping away and going either left or right to the kick:

  • Jab-cross-hook, shuffle back (rear leg moves first), flow step in the lead direction around the bag pushing/checking with the lead hand twice and then without changing tempo or range, throwing the rear kick.
  • Jab-cross-hook, roll step to the opposite lead, flow step in the new lead (former rear) direction around the bag.  Again push/check with the new lead hand twice and then, also without change in tempo or range throw the rear kick.

This, of course, uncloaked an inadequacy in my hook: I slap like a prepubescent girl.  So Ian made me increase my range to the bag, I tend to shorten punches rather than extending them, I can reach the bag with more power on the hook, by snapping the hip rotation, driving the hook a few inches by arm, but a few feet by this rotation.  The 90° frame of the hook remains intact, it is the quick synchronous, rotation of the hips and shoulders, that delivers power through speed.

Ian also pointed out a good way to work on the very balanced style he teaches is by alternating leads and doing the same combinations in shadowboxing, transition from lead to lead by pivoting and roll stepping.


Maximus Sweep Series

I had the pleasure of rolling with Max Burt of Muncie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tonight.  He swept me with his sweep series, so of course I had to ask how he did it:

  • Lat load sweep: Obtain cross arm control and pull across your body, reach your ipsilateral arm to grip their far lat just inferior to their axilla, or if you can lapel wrapping it inferior to the axilla.  Free your opposite arm and post the elbow on the floor, keep your torso tight to their arm so they cannot retreat and escape the sweep.  The foot on the ipsilateral side as your lat control arm, goes to the floor, blocking their leg.  Use this post and your elbow to lift, using the lat control to pull them forward and then sweep them over the shoulder of their crossed arm.
  • Extension sweep:  If they block the sweep above, by posting up with their leg, undertook the arm opposite, pulling it straight and extending past your head,  now kick with your posted leg, using the thigh against their flank to sweep them laterally over the side with the extended arm.
  • Take the back fake:  If they’ve shut down both the above sweeps, work toward the back (cross arm side), your trail leg foot hooks their far thigh at the knee.  Kick your free leg across their back, perpendicular to their body, this should make them roll and if not, take the back.

Max also showed me a sweep from 50/50 guard, grab the lapel on the grape vined side with your opposite hand, obtain ipsilateral sleeve control with your other hand. Pull your opponent toward you as you shift your legs to the outside, rolling your inside knee to the floor, but preventing your opponent from going belly down.  Free their leg and move it to the opposite hip, now hip switch out and take the back.