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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.