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When your opponent has turtled up and you are attempting to attack with a clock choke but your opponent is defending the choke hand. Push their hand down and away from their body, hook it with the leg nearest their head. Pull it laterally and pinch it between your thighs. Reattach your choke hand on the far lapel and roll over your opponent across the shoulder. As you land on your back, cinch the choke and pull your non-choke hand to your head.

If your opponent rears up consider sitting backward to pull them into the crucifix position.

If they wrap the leg closer to their rear, make a tight roll forward to catch them in a kimura, control their legs as quickly as possible to prevent them from rolling out. WARNING: GO SLOW, THIS COMES ON FAST!


Jab Slip Counters

Worked four jab slip counters:

  1. Opponent’s rear hand low, throws jab, slip outside. Your medial hand wraps behind your opponent’s neck far from you, hook with wrist, palm of lateral hand just distal to jab arm deltoid. Step up with your rear leg, then drop step and pivot 90° with your new rear foot laterally from your opponent.  Attempt to put your weight on top of your opponents, shoulder/back. Deliver knee with rear leg to body.
  2. Opponent’s rear hand low, throws jab, slip outside. Your medial hand wraps behind your opponents neck far from you, hook with wrist, palm of lateral hand just distal to jab arm deltoid. Step up with your rear leg and knee with your new rear knee to the medial side of their leg at midline, simultaneously pull with the neck control and push their arm, as your body twists.
  3. Opponent’s rear hand high, throws jab, slip outside. Hug at waist, deliver knees, stepping with foot posterior to opponent behind their leg, bending them laterally away from you, trip over your rear leg.
  4. Opponent’s rear hand high, throws jab, slip outside. Your medial hand wraps at their far waist, palm of lateral hand just distal to jab arm deltoid. Step forward next to opponent, leaving about a fist distance between your shoulders, then pivot 90° toward opponent and deliver downward elbow.


Andre Galvao Passing the Guard Seminar and Coach Los Faixa Preta Promotion


Andre Galvao Seminar

Andre Galvao of ATOS presented a seminar hosted by Impact Zone in Lafayette, IN. Professor Galvao is a top-level competitor yet simultaneously an excellent instructor. Today he presented part of his top game against the open guard and De La Riva guard. One of the key elements of his game is the "leg drag". The leg drag concept is a solution to the problem with clearing the legs and going directly to side mount, your opponent invariably shrimps out and reestablishes guard or half-guard. To remedy this, all the passing we did has a step where your opponents knees are directed away from you and you attempt to control their hips, before going to side mount (or taking the back). In essence you take a step back to get eventually get ahead.

Galvao is similar to other top level competitors in that he does not worry about what his opponent will do, rather he attacks the way he wants pruning the decision tree of responses that he has to deal with. We can all learn that confidence in our game is not arrogance and is necessary to obtain victory.

Open Guard Passing

  1. Simple open-guard leg drag pass: Your partner is seated, back off the floor with feet on the floor. Lower your level and place one hand on the ipsilateral hip and the other on their ipsilateral knee. Push the knee laterally to the floor and circle in the same direction as you push their legs away from you, their knees should switch to being pointed away from you. Now “park the car” by circling behind them sliding your knee nearest their legs between them, stay on the balls of your feet. Your abdomen should pin their hip and your near arm comes over trapping their thigh between your triceps and knee, your “far” hand controls the kimono. If they should try to stop you with their top leg use your hip control arm’s elbow to relieve the hook.
  2. Take the back from leg drag: As above but as your push their legs away from you they shrimp out, “running away” from you. Step the foot nearest their head, superior to their head and spin to their back. Your ipsilateral arm underhooks their arm and grabbing your opposite hand which comes between their neck and mat, over the shoulder to form a seat belt grip. Stay on the balls of your feet, control their shoulder with your chin.
  3. Shin hook pass: As in #1 but this time they attempt to use their bottom leg to hook inside. Step your contralateral foot so that you hook shin-to-shin and push their foot to their butt. Now step your free leg up, with a shin just superior to the hip and pinch your legs around theirs. Post a sit to your butt, in an inverse kesa gatame.
  4. Outside-inside toreador pass: Your partner is flat on their back, pushing gently on your thighs with their feet, grab their ankles, one hand outside and one hand inside, hollow yourself slightly and throw them to your hands open side. Step in, placing your shin hook nearest their legs against their thigh.
We then drilled each of these for speed, one side doing repetitions for time, going through all four passing types.
De La Riva Guard Passing
The De La Riva guard has three ways to grip your opponents leg (1) cupping the heel, (2) controlling the pant leg, and (3) overhooking the leg and grabbing your own thigh. They increase in the difficulty of freeing your leg. One of the keys of passing the De La Riva was to lift the leg that is controlling your hip and pushing the knee down on the hook side, freeing the medial thigh hook.
  1. Shin hook scissor step: Loosen the De La Riva by lifting the straight leg and pushing down on the hook knee. Control the lifted leg and step your free leg back placing a shin hook, their leg is now trapped around your “hooked” leg. Squat to prevent them from sliding up and control both lapels as you slide your trapped leg’s knee laterally and to the floor to free it. Clear the thigh and then move their legs away from you to the leg drag position
  2. Check mark pass (heel cup): Push their straight leg down as you pull your opponent to a seated position, rotate them 90° by pulling their leg through yours and pushing them back flat to the mat. Now knee slide over their thigh as you grab their sleeve with the hand contralateral to the knee slide and drop the lapel control arm to their body to block their knee from creating space. Slide your shin distally between their legs to free it. Get hip to hip then shift toward your opponents hip and legs to get to the leg drag position.
  3. Shin knee slide (pant leg control): Lift their straight leg and push down on the hook knee, move your hooked leg outside of your elbow, drop the knee laterally to the floor, trapping their grip hand under their leg. Use a window wiper to clear the leg, then retrace your steps to the leg drag position. Option 1: simply let them take half guard, option 2: get head control and long step out, or option 3: if they are pushing step all the way around and take the back.
  4. Leg drag (pant leg control): Lift their straight leg and push down on the hook knee, move your hooked leg outside of your elbow and underhook it. Push forward then shift back while passing their legs to the far side, ending in leg drag position.
  5. Stack pass (overhook control): Lift their straight leg and push down on the hook knee, get double under control grabbing their pants at the belt line on the straight leg side and your opponent’s triceps on their overhook side. Pull their posterior upward stacking them on their neck and shoulders. Squat as if your were sitting, placing your free leg behind back. Knee slide over their arm, window wiper to clear, as your opposite arm cradles them and brings them to the mat. If they try to post their free hand on their hip to stop this, grab their wrist and pull it behind their back. If their overhook remains high (or you pull it higher), drop to your hip distal from their head and pull them across your body feet to head to the crucifix position.
And then we drilled, starting from open guard until submission for two minutes then switching. This was followed by starting from De La Riva until first point.
That's a lot of black belts
James Clingerman, Max Burt, Evan Mannweiler, Carlos Soto, Tim Sledd, Andre Galvao, Thabet AT, Mat Stratta, and your humble blogger.


Quick Evasion

A late update:

Rather than doing a two step evasion, sometimes it is necessary to do a quick evasion. Imagine a right triangle in front of your opponent, who is standing inside it, the right angle pointing to your midline. We are going to move both feet off line simultaneously. This will place you on a neutral stance, on the 45° diagonal. To your lead side it is a slide, to your rear side you will have to switch stance and end up in the neutral on the opposite diagonal.

The set-up is off the jab, using the bounce to throw the jab and then retreating, so that you have time to step off.

From either side you can:

  • Throw a short kick or round knee
  • Push their counter off-line and throw the cross, pivoting into your stance as you do
  • Pull their arm down at the elbow, throw horizontal elbow


Dedication or Desperation

Today I did a 7:30 am private lesson in muay thai. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would ever train before 10 am I’d have called you a crazy person. But with maturity, comes responsibility without a loss of the desire to be a better martial scientist. Ian worked with me from the clinch, a lá judo tie-up each person with one hand behind the neck and the other on with lateral control of the elbow. We traded hook knees to the ribs and flanks, alternating sides, until one person rolled the elbow grip hand underneath their partner’s arm securing medial control of the biceps. Stay hips close, head on your partner’s shoulder. It behooves the partner with outside control to roll an “overhook” over the elbow and underneath their partner’s axilla. Otherwise push their arm away and deliver a horizontal elbow to the face.

  1. As your partner throws their hook knee on the side you have biceps control, twist their body by pulling with the neck control hand and pushing with the biceps side. They should fall, particularly if the movement is done from a hips in position and rapidly.
  2. As your partner throws their hook knee on the side you have neck control, pull with both your grips as you sweep the their base leg with your ipsilateral foot.
  3. Your partner delivers the straight knee on the neck control side, slide your arm control hand to the shoulder to push and throw the hook knee ipsilaterally to sweep them.


Possibly violating the Geneva Convention

Today I worked on more jab counters. In this set-up you step laterally 45° off line switching to the opposite lead. Simultaneously slap their jab offline.
  1. Pivot 90° to original lead and deliver cross
  2. Pivot 90° to original lead and deliver rear kick to the back of their leg
  3. Pivot 90° to original lead and deliver rear kick to the kidneys
    1. Step through to throw cross
    2. Step through and in to throw rear elbow
    3. Step through and throw the rear knee to the midsection
    4. Step back and use this hip torque to throw a lead kick to their midsection
    5. If they create space due to injury or trying to escape, you can pursue by stepping through to throw the kick again
  4. Throw the (new) rear kick to the midsection by lengthening and pivoting
  5. Throw a jabbing side kick with the (new) rear leg to the lateral side of your opponent’s knee. Then pivot 90° to original lead and deliver rear kick to the back of their leg (careful you could really jack up somebody with even mild overzealousness).


Excellent technique is retrospect

Today I worked some elbows off my opponent’s jab. Each of these used a “draw”, that is a parry and retreat to make your opponent advanced more aggressively to land their jab.

  1. Rear jab catch slide back, rear jab catch while bringing elbow parallel to the floor, step and twist to deliver the horizontal elbow. Remember to step forward and not off to the 45° angle. Stepping forward is a better representation of hitting and cutting the head, stepping at the angle makes for more sound on the pad…guess which one is better?
  2. Rear jab catch slide back, lead jab catch slide back, lead jab catch downward pull, twist and deliver horizontal elbow.
  3. Rear jab catch slide back, rear jab catch hook the jab hand, pull by twisting the body, pulling them into the lead upward elbow.


My First Wrestling Class*

*This title should be taken with a grain of salt. My BJJ coach, Jack McVicker, has made wrestling a part of his game and passed what he considers the highest yield on to his students. I had numerous wrestlers teach when I was chief instructor of Goshin Jitsu.

At the young age of 40, I participated in my first wrestling class. That is, a class that only did wrestling, not as part of another grappling art or mixed-martial arts training. I think I know now why wrestlers start a “little” bit younger than 40.

Penetration Step: Step forward on the heel, roll to your toes, then to your same knee. Bring your trail leg up so that the toes land parallel with your knee line. This allows for greater variability when turning the corner. Hands grasp behind the knees. Face welds to their hip.

Sprawl: Toes back, hips forward, cross face. We practiced off our partner’s penetration step, sprawling on top of them. Rotate the hip opposite their face weld into your opponent, this gives space for you to cross face from their ear to their nose to their opposite ear. Underhook on the opposite side. Remember that if their takedown folds you, it is better to reestablish the cross face then try to hold their hips.

Go Behind: From the front headlock, sprawled on your toes, cupping their chin with one hand while placing your shoulder at their proximal thoracic spine. Cup their opposite elbow, rotate away from this side, pull/lift their elbow, so that their head goes toward the mat and their arm comes away from it. Now, release their chin and place your forearm on the back of their head and the back of your hand on their triceps. Step a little forward with the foot on this side and then pivot step bringing your other leg around so that you are parallel in the same direction as your opponent. Secure grips under each arm pit.

Snap Down: Tie up behind their head and controlling their opposite biceps, push into them and then violently snap their head forward. Secure the front headlock grip on their chin. Then sprawl to pull them to the mat.

Peek Out: More optimal, less intuitive, go in the direction away from the headlock. Place the hand that is on the same side as their headlock between their legs, touching the opposite knee if possible. Bring this leg through so that it is outside and perpendicular to where it started. Your head should trace under his body, with your neck being attached to his lats. Your other arm swims, almost as if you are trying to elbow/backhand your opponent. Reverse direction to spin behind/next to your opponent and be able to take their back.

Half Sit-Out: Less optimal, go in the direction of the front headlock. Post up on the foot on the same side as the headlock, sit on the opposite thigh. With the outside hand secure your opponents elbow, with the inside secure his wrist. Now bring your head toward his centerline, essentially unwrapping the front head lock. Secure the 2-on-1 grip on their arm.


Catching kicks means using your head...just not literally

I’ve always considered myself an expert at catching kicks…I mean that I’m really good at getting kicked in the legs, liver, and head. Apparently there is a better way. Always step laterally with the kick to decrease its kinetic energy.

Overwrap catch: As you step laterally away from the kick over wrap the kick and tuck their shin into your trapezius. You can wrap at the knee or the ankle. For these variations we are doing it at the ankle.

Elbow Underwrap: Reach across your body and cup the kick pulling the kick into the ipsilateral elbow. Literally, pulling the kick into your elbow to damage their shin.

Overwrap Series Kick to Rear Leg Side:

  • Pull their leg by twisting at the hips and throw a cross
  • Obtain cross control of their neck with your free hand, step forward with rear leg and deliver knee opposite their kicking leg
  • Obtain cross control of their neck with your free hand, step forward with rear leg and kick sweep their base leg with ipsilateral leg, simultaneously pull their head

Underwear Series Kick to Rear Leg Side

  • Pull their leg and throw cross
  • Pull their leg, step forward, and deliver rear up elbow
  • Pull their leg across your body, step behind them, reach across their anterior body to their far shoulder, lift their leg, push backward, and kick sweep their far leg. This works best if they are leaning backward or bending their knee to defend the knee clinch.


The poetry of footwork is not well suited for words

More footwork today. When I started my lessons at Top Level Gym, I learned the slow, soothing rock step from foot to foot. A gentle rhythm of a swaying cobra, soothing unto lethality. Now, we’ve added the more aggressive darting of a mongoose. Using a 60-40/40-60 rock from lead to rear, we are bouncing in and out of range, the front leg returning to the rear but neither staying in the exact same place. Thus constantly moving getting close enough to strike and then exiting. The stance has become quantum, not static within its structure. Imaging skipping rope, with the a lead leg moving the body into and out of range.

We worked throwing two jabs, then faking the jab by shortening the lead step in, followed by a lead kick (forcing the rear leg to move with the rest of you so that you have a stable, base kicking leg).

We then switched up the two jab fake by dropping the level for a body cross, pivot stepping out at 45 degree angle throwing a hook, finished with a rear kick.


Light Bulb

So after an unholy warm-up of sets of 10 individual then rapid kicks we worked on a series of simple “same-side” combos:

  • Cross-same side kick
  • Same side kick-“simultaneous” cross: that is throwing the cross immediately after the kick lands with your kicking leg in the air. Formalizing what I already do sometimes when the target presents itself right after I’ve kicked
  • “Superman”: Fake the kick, by lifting the knee then winging it inferiorly as you throw the cross

The idea is that is you are throwing opposite, e.g. jab-kick, the breaking of the cycle or rhythm with the cross and same-side kick will be more likely to score.

In order to make this kicking sequence more effective we worked on the step-out bounce. Previously I’ve been rocking foot to foot, but sometimes it helps to bounce foot to foot, bring in the lead foot to the base leg (think Matee’s warm-up at his seminars). Bringing the lead leg back, loads it allowing your to spring forward, switch leads to step back retreat, or to easily reset for tiip or kick.

Years ago I trained for a week in Kyoto Japan. While sparring, I had a number of folks do exactly this to me. It was incredibly frustrating because they could transition into and out of range more rapidly than I could. Having it broken down makes it more easily added to the arsenal.


I still do muay thai...really...

Today’s private lesson focused on the reaction after defending the lead kick:

  • Use the rear leg cover to defend their lead kick, rather than returning the cover leg to its original position, use it to step backward and retreat. Read your opponents reaction. You may have to do this multiple times to read them appropriately.
  • If they stay there, rear leg cover, return the rear kick.
  • If they retreat, step with the lead kick to close, return the rear kick.
  • If they are aggressive, that is step in after each kick but without punching, check the kick with the lead leg, return to your original stance as you throw the cross.
  • If they step in with a cross, rear step with the kick but leave the lead foot in place (a rear slip). Use the lead hand to cup their wrist, keeping your arm parallel with the ground, pull laterally, tipping them forward into your short hook or elbow. Use the sudden twist of your hips, without turning your legs, to increase power.

Always remember to circle out when you get near the ropes to restart the process of pulling them into this game.


You don't have to push very hard, they're standing on one leg

Today I warmed up with three rounds of progressively faster:

  • 1-2
  • Right kick
  • Left kick
  • Alternating knees
  • Alternating tiip

First round was at my own pace, the second had at least 20 kicks and knees, and the third at least 30, in the same time interval.

Next we worked against the fighter who is attempting to close with a knee. That is, throwing the ranged knee to close, because that is either their style or you have shut down the game elsewhere. At first you read your opponent by check hand (simply extending your lead hand to push/guide them away as you step away), jab, and tiip. As they wear down, you work into landing your shots.

Throwing their left knee, you will typically evade to your left, and vice versa.

Lead evasion

Step your lead foot off 45° and your rear foot follows shifting but not changing your stance, simultaneously your lead hand checks, followed by a rear kick or cross. Alternatively, you can step and throw a diagonal downward  lead elbow, trying to cut the eye. Your hand will tuck to your ribs.

Rear evasion

Step your rear foot through to the 45°, bring you off line but not switching your stance, throw the downward diagonal elbow with your stepping leg. Alternatively, use this hand to check, and bring your lead foot back (switching to the alternative lead), to throw the kick with your new rear leg.

A final alternative is to catch the knee and sweep, again “circling” the knee (they knee left, you step left). In the direction you are circling, this hand will push on your opponent’s chest while the other underhooks their knee. You can throw a knee to their thigh, before sweeping them backward by pushing and lifting while placing your leg behind theirs.

I used the bag to work on this, giving it a shove or a kick to move and then as it swung back toward me to work on any of the above. I would try to push to hard, and the bag would push me aside. My coach, Ian, explained that this provoked set-up was for a fighter trying to knee you, they are standing on one leg, when they do this is when you check. This necessitates less physical force, to stop and place them at range.


The Sadistic Relationship Between My Right Foot and I

Today my private muay thai lesson focused on range finding the leg kick using the pendulum action of the heavy bag.

  • Warm-Up Kicking Round: Alternating leg kicks, throw the kick, return to the “loaded” lead for this kick, then step backward to load the opposite side and kick. The idea is to have a relaxed and therefore rapid pattern of kicks, as these are leg kicks remained in the hunched position and bend the leg to lower the kick line
  • Warm-Up Punching Round: Jab-cross-hook in the upper line, then jab, shift the weight over the lead foot to lower the cross line, and finish with a body hook. It is important that the lead knee does not over rotate creating a target for a oblique kick to the lateral side of the knee. Keep the lead hand slightly more extended, thumb toward your, shortening the distance to the target (greater speed) without overextending and not defending the head.
  • Lead hand-rear leg kick: Throw a jab, lead hook, or jab-cross-lead hook followed by a rear leg kick, adjusting your stepping to allow the kick to be thrown and land effectively, depending on the changes in range due to the swinging of the bag.
  • Jab-lead leg shift cross-body hook-rear leg kick.
  • Lead tiip, rear leg kick, lead push, rear leg kick. Get the heavy bag swinging, as it come toward you meet it with the tiip. Hit with the flat of the foot to stop your opponent without sending them to far backward, the target would be just medial to the iliac crest trying to lock their leg out, the foot then drops anteriorly and laterally to allow the delivery to the follow-up leg kick. The push is an extension of the lead hand catching your opponent in the chest (e.g. when the bag swings back to you), followed immediately by the rear leg kick.
  • Lead step push, rear leg kick. Your opponent is attempting to clinch, extend your lead hand and step, pushing them to kick range, throw the rear kick.

This week


Asthmatic Obscene Phone Call

Is what I sounded like after:

5 sets on each side of 10 kicks then 10 quick kicks

2 x 3 minute round of jab, right knee, right kick, right kick x2, cross, left knee, left kick, left kick x2. 10 kicks each side at the end of each round

1 x 3 minute round of jab retreat, jab cross retreat, and jab cross hook retreat

1 x 3 minute round of jab cover, jab cross cover, and jab cross hook cover

Jab-Range Find

Jab, then side step with range find twice, cross

Jab, then side step with range find twice, rear kick

Jab, then side step with range find twice, rear round knee

Lateral step to parallel, cross (kick)

Slip, upward deflection, rear round knee

Step off, grab and pull, elbow