Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flashback Friday: Clark Gracie vs Ken Primola

You've probably seen the Most Ridiculously Photogenic Jiu-Jitsu guy memes.  Clark Gracie has only recently become more of house hold name due to him winning his first world title at the 2013 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships.  Clark Gracie won in epic fashion against Marcelo Mafra that saw him come from behind and choke him out in the final seconds to claim his first gold at the highest level in his career.  Clark Gracie's "meme fame" came about as a result and the very match this photo was lifted actually took place at the IBJJF New York Open in 2012 (before the Pan match).  

Commentary (Skip to the bottom for the video):

This match would start in typical fashion.  Ken Primola with his wrestling background obliges Clark Gracie's open guard pull.  Both fighters waste no time establishing grips.  Ken tries to pass low on the knees but Clark is able to keep his grips and invert preventing the pass. 

Clark manages to set up his spider guard with leg lasso.  At the 1:00 mark Clark removes his right hook that was used to prevent Ken from passing, then inverts underneath him for the omoplata. Because Ken is standing it is imperative that Clark sucks his arm in and shoot his hips high to secure the omoplata shoulder lock position on his standing opponent.  

Ken steps over to the far side but his shoulder is still trapped.  Ken attempts to drive his near side knee into Clark to help him posture but it's no use.  Clark manages to secure his left arm over Ken's back.  

Ken stands and Clark maintains a grip in the collar and one on the leg to disturb his base.  Clark alternates his grips in an attempt to make him come back to the ground.  It's worth noting that once he brings Ken lower, Clark lets go of the collar and focuses more on the legs.  When Ken begins to posture back up Clark attacks at the collar again to disturb his posture.  

At 2:20 Ken finally has to set him back down out of frustration.  Clark does an excellent job to move his hips away from Ken to keep him broken down.  At 2:26 Clark uses his far hand to attack the collar and begin setting up his choke.  Clark begins sitting up and Ken chooses to roll which is exactly what Clark wanted.

Clark lands in a crucifix and the lapel choke is on. The omoplata still trapping the far arm and the near arm is under hooked making it nearly impossible to defend the choke.  Clark forces the tap at the 2:33 mark.

For more awesome references to omoplata setups, take some time and watch this episode of Budovideos Rolled Up with Shawn Williams.  Shawn is a big fan of the omoplata and goes in depth with the position.  Around the 4:18 mark Shawn does cover the omoplata choke and details to finish it.  Give it a look.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Caio Terra Seminar Review

Caio Terra is easily one of the most visible and vocal competitors in recent years.  His gym, Institute of Martial Arts is based in San Jose, California.  He has not only built a gym with excellent competitors and instructors but he has been spending a great deal of his time traveling the globe giving seminars.  In addition to this he has established over a dozen affiliates throughout the country.

I have been following Caio Terra for the last 4 years both in competitions and his instructional DVD's.  Being a small grappler myself, I can relate to a lot of the techniques that Caio teaches and uses with a a lot of success.  His dominance in major tournaments speaks volumes about his abilities and I have found his teaching methodology to be fairly easy to follow.

When I heard a local gym would be bringing him in for a two day seminar I jumped at the opportunity.  Caio has never visited Texas for seminars and considered myself lucky that he would be in my own backyard.

Day 1 (Gi portion)
Caio gave our group about seven topics of things we could focus on for the gi portion of the seminar. The majority vote would decide on the focus for the techniques he would show.  We chose to work the De La Riva/Berimbolo stuff.  Caio made a comment about this before starting.  He said, "most of the time everyone wants to work really hard techniques because they think they are better...the reality is they are just harder." That seemed funny at the time but was a great point.  I think sometimes we tend to over-complicate Jiu-Jitsu and lose sight of the importance of executing clean, basic techniques that are high percentage...or at a minimum easier to achieve a higher level of understanding.

Caio began by showing how to initiate and maintain the DLR guard.  He also pointed out that dragging your opponent to the ground for Berimbolo can be very laborious (which I totally agree with) and that it is vital to break down your opponent in order to get it.  One might not necessarily go straight for it by pulling/yanking on them and trying to force but first to hide your intentions with lapel and/or sleeve grips.  His methods for initiating the sweep were a bit different than what I have previously studied.  I have spent a great deal of time utilizing the Mendes brothers stuff so it was good to see a different perspective.  In some ways it was a challenge to execute his technique as I tended to get confused on occasion due to my muscle memory.  So over the course of day one we covered the following from DLR guard:

1. Back take (Babybolo)
2. Leg drag from Berimbolo (probably my favorite)
3. Back take from Berimbolo
4. Mount from Berimbolo

This may not sound like a lot of techniques but it really was.  The amount of detail Caio shows could be overwhelming for a white belt but necessary.  We ended the day with Q&A over anything we wanted, even techniques which were not covered during the seminar.  This was excellent as he showed us how he sets up and finishes his secret ankle lock attack from DLR guard.  Video below shows him hitting this same ankle lock in a recent IBJJF tournament.  He has used this same submission against Fabio Passos (Cobrinha black belt) in competition a little about a year ago.

Caio Terra vs Fabio Passos

Caio rolled with pretty much everyone that was interested after pictures were taken.  It was apparent pretty quickly he intended to triangle choke every single victim opponent.  When it was my turn we exchanged some pleasantries.  I attempted a sitting guard-->single leg technical stand-up which he quickly shut down.  I joked about it and he actually allowed me to attempt it again which I managed to get and sweep he let me. As I was attempting to pass towards the back he started to invert a bit and forced me into 50/50 guard (see exhibit A):

Exhibit A
That week I had been working on some 50/50 guard stuff from his half-guard DVD (specifically the ankle lock) and was pretty nervous in this position with him as he's known to be a killer with leg locks.  As I was battling for grips he stood up and began removing the 50/50 guard and moved quickly into side mount.  As I was preventing the cross-face he slid into mount, trapped an arm, and threw up a triangle rolling to his back. This happened so quickly I really didn't see any of it coming.  I defended pretty well but he transitioned into an armbar to finish the roll.  I lasted maybe 2 minutes.  I can honestly say that he is the smoothest I have ever rolled against.  I have experienced world class black belts pressure, explosiveness, etc. but Caio never exhibited any of those traits.  He was just smooth as can be.  There was nothing wasted...simply efficient.

Day 2 (Nogi portion)
At the beginning of the second day, Caio reiterated that we chose a difficult topic the day prior and he would pick for the second day...something much easier.  We spent the entire second day working from the side mount.  The focus was on moving to north-south, trapping the far side arm with an over hook and moving into side mount on the far side to eventually finish the armbar.  We worked the following scenarios:

1. Finishing same side armbar (2 different methods)
2. Switching sides to far side armbar (2 different methods)
3. Finishing the armbar many different ways on the far side based on your opponents responses to defend and interlock their hands.

The nice thing about this particular series was that after each variation, he would add a layer or option depending on your opponent's response or attempt to escape the submission/position.  It is worth noting he covered the armbar he managed to finish with against Jeff Glover at Metamoris earlier this year.  (Video is linked at the bottom of this article.)

Again, it may not sound like a lot of material but it really built layer upon layer from beginning to end.  I probably got more out of the second day for some of the basic concepts that I had not seen before. There was no rolling at the end of the second day but again he allowed questions which I took full advantage.  I asked how to finish the ankle lock from 50/50 when your opponent hides their feet really well (particularly figure four).  He showed multiple ways to attack the non-hidden foot by way of ankle lock and toe-holds. One of the great concepts I took away from it was almost anytime your are working the 50/50 guard...if you want to sweep, submit, escape you have to be willing to make space with your hips.

Overall I think it was a very good seminar.  Caio showed some excellent techniques and details. I do get the impression that Caio is a perfectionist while showing technique.  There were some moments when he appeared to get a little frustrated with his training partner while trying to show technique.  Some positives to take away from those moments that should be applied during training are the following:

1. The training partner should never feed any moves; don't make the technique easy because the reality is most techniques will not be easy to apply on a resisting opponent.
2. The training partner should react naturally (not necessarily defend) but use good posture when stuck in DLR guard rather than slumping over, don't just lay flat on your back while your partner attempts Berimbolo, etc.  These are not natural during a live roll so why would you do this while training?  Giving that much natural resistance makes it more real for the person attempting the techniques.

Something else worth noting.  After circling up to review some of the covered techniques, if someone had a question about a detail he would have them perform the move in front of the group and then correct the issue.  This is good for both the people directly involved and also the group.  Being able to evaluate what others are doing or having issues with may answer some questions for everyone involved.

All in all it was an excellent two days of training.  I might not recommend a Caio Terra seminar to a white belt but every one's learning curves are different.  I've seen my fair share of blue belts that have a hard time keeping up with the level of techniques during some seminars.

Things Caio has upcoming:
1. World Jiu-Jitsu Expo in November.  I asked him if he had an opponent and he said that had not been determined yet.  Stay up to date on this event here:
2. Pan Jiu-Jitsu Nogi Championships the last weekend of September.
3. Rumor has it that Caio will be launching an online training site.  I confirmed with him via Facebook that he indeed plans to launch the site.  No target date was provided.

I'd like to extend a huge amount of thanks to Collin Grayson for hosting the seminar.  He provided most of the pictures for this article.  He is also now the first and ONLY Caio Terra affiliate in Texas!

Related Blog Posts:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flashback Friday: Rafa Mendes vs Justin Rader (Pan 2012)

This is a great match that exemplifies Rafa Mendes when he is at his best.  It's not often that you see Justin Rader get dominated but Rafa simply has his number.  Some of the techniques you see on the Mendes Bros. training site are executed in this match.

Commentary:  (Skip to the bottom for the video)
The match starts with both competitors working from their preferred positions.  Rafa pulls open guard and Rader looks to establish his own grips and pass.  Rafa transitions quickly to De La Riva guard, controls the hooked pant sleeve with a solid grip and stands up into a single leg passing immediately a leg drag position, then into side mount.  This worked well for Rafa for a couple reasons:  1. Rader's posture was not favorable & 2. Rader's trapped leg completely extended and disturbed his base.

Rafa wastes little time and appears to work Rader's lapel free from the side mount, feeds it under his head and attempts to set up a baseball bat choke.  Rader does an excellent job of staying mobile underneath and forces Rafa to let go.  

When the action restarts Rafa moves to knee on belly, then switches sides (as seen on his training site).  He controls the far arm with a figure four and as Rader defends awkwardly by standing up. Rafa transitions brilliantly into a back mount dragging Rader to the ground.  Still threatening with the arm control he slides his leg over and attacks the armbar.  In typical fashion Rader manages to defend very well and escape from deep waters like few others can do.

Action restarts in the center at 2:11; Rafa grabs the same side lapel and shoots a well-timed triangle. The timing Rafa uses to lure him in and bump Rader's elbow inward enough to lock in the triangle is worth noting here.  Very smooth technique.  Rader crouches down trying to survive the choke but it's in too deep.  Rafa forces the tap at the 3:00 mark.  It's not often you see Rader get taken apart like this and simply a HL reel match for Mendes.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Flashback Friday: Dean "The Boogeyman" Lister vs Kyle Griffin

Those in the grappling community should be very familiar with Dean Lister's body of work.  He is a veteran MMA fighter in multiple organizations most notably Pride FC and the UFC.  He still remains fairly active in the grappling scene by competing in super fights and ADCC.  Did I mention he's won ADCC three times?  The guy is incredibly good and well known for his brutal leg lock game.  

In this particular match, no points are scored for the first 10 minutes to encourage submissions. Only in the last 5 minutes are points tallied to determine a winner should the match exceed the time limits.  It took place earlier this year at the UFC Fan Expo 2013.  

Commentary:  (Skip to the bottom of the page for the video)
As one might expect, Lister engages enough to take a seat and begins working a semi-open guard. 

Lister fighting from his half-guard sits up with an under hook while Griffin counters with a whizzer and tries to remain in the top position.   

Griffin hits a very nice back step pass from the half-guard at 1:32 and attempts to move back into the topside half-guard.  Lister sees this and begins lacing Griffin's left leg and hunts for a submission.  Griffin is wise and immediately starts to defend and retreats out of bounds.  

When they restart at 1:57 Griffin attempts a nice pass but Lister is so quick to recover, gain the under hook and works from the turtle position.  Lister traps his right leg and forces a take down from the knees.  

Trying to prevent the pass Griffin manages to tie up Lister's upper body and they reset again. Griffin secures the head attempting to pass and Lister easily reverses position again.  

Positions are exchanged again after Lister attacks for a leg.  Shortly after Lister reverses to the top position with ease.  At 4:52, Lister begins to sit back and create a figure 4 lock on Griffin's left leg preventing Griffin from being able to escape as easily this time.  Lister fights to secure the toe hold forcing the tap.

I think this format is really great for Lister.  He doesn't mind giving up position and has an uncanny ability to reverse and regain dominant positions if he loses a potential submission.

Link for those using mobile:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homemade Acai Smoothie

Acai pronounced (Ah-Sigh-EE) has become somewhat synonymous with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle these days.  If you have an Instagram account you've no doubt seen lots of pictures of Acai bowls and smoothies littered all over.  The Acai berry looks similar to a blue berry but closer to the size of a grape. While the fruit by itself isn't all that sweet, a bit tart to be honest, it is believed to offer some anti-oxidant properties.  Since this fruit is naturally grown in South & Central America you aren't likely to run across any fresh offerings at your local supermarkets.  You can, however, purchase it in frozen (concentrate) flat packs from some nutritional health stores.  I have had good luck finding them at my local Market Street stores.  They are not terribly cheap costing about $4.99 for a 4 pack.  I thought it would be a nice post workout snack after a hard training session and have experimented with some different ingredients.  Below is a recent smoothie I mixed up.

1-Banana (73 calories, 18.7g carbs)
1-Frozen Acai flat pack (110 calories, 18g carbs)
A little less than 1 serving frozen pineapple (<70 calories, <18g carbs)
12 oz of 2% milk (170 calories, 15.92g carbs)
Total Calories (Approximately): 413 calories
Total Carbs (Approximately): 66.62g

Keep in mind that you can always fine tune the nutritional side based on what you throw in there.
And there you have it, a total of a little more than 12 total ounces due to the the other ingredients added.  If you find that it's not icy, cold enough...throw a little bit of ice and blend.

While experimenting with different version of the smoothie I have used yogurt to add some flavor and calories and found it to be very good..  If you wanted to drop the calories and carbs overall I would suggest substituting the yogurt (Activia Light) for a banana.  I have also used orange juice instead of milk which was also excellent.  The concentrate Acai is very potent and could probably be cut in 1/2 to save on the calories and put towards your next smoothie.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Flashback Friday: Paulo Miyao 2013 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Match

Here is a match with Paulo Miyao from the 2013 IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu tournament earlier this year. Unfortunately I don't know his opponent's name but it does appear to be an Absolute match.

Miyao threatens early with a leg-lasso spider/De la Riva hook which eventually allows him to attack with Berimbolo as you would expect.  His opponent does a good job to prevent the back-take by taking a seat himself and controlling Miyao's grips (note: Miyao's non-DLR leg).

At the 3:00 mark Miyao attacks with an Omoplata which was the beginning of the end.

His opponent attempts to posture out of the shoulder lock at 3:47.  Note how Miyao compromises his posture (at 3:56) and bring him back to the floor.

Miyao does an excellent job of keeping the pressure on as his opponent finally tries to somersault roll and Miyao obliges him.  He allows him to feel safe, remove the shoulder lock, then takes his back for all his efforts at 4:26.

Interestingly Miyao appears to finish the match with a modified sleeve/collar choke rather than the typical lapel choke from the back.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nogi Volt 2.0 Grappling Shorts Review

I've been meaning to do a review on these shorts for quite some time now.  I have been a customer of Nogi Industries since 2006 and own a few older pairs that still held up well to this day.

Nogi Industries has been on the cutting edge of manufacturing grappling shorts for some time now.  The brand was originally founded by MMA fighter Chris Brennan back in 2003.  Back then, Nogi was one of the first companies to utilize stretchable fabrics that lent themselves well to the sport of grappling.  My first pair of Nogi shorts were the OE model that I still train in to this day.  One of the reasons I have been a fan of the shorts produced by this company is not only for grappling but they work well in other areas such as working out in the gym and even for casual activities like swimming.  They are versatile to say the least.  Today Nogi has become a pretty main staple in the grappling apparel business and a big sponsor/contributor to Budovideos during IBJJF pay per view events.  The Nogi brand has really set the standard for "ranked gear" consisting of rash guards and grappling shorts.  In addition to the training gear Nogi Industries has to offer, they also have a nice selection of outerwear such as hoodies, t-shirts, and hats.
Old faithful pairs of Nogi shorts

One of things that has always attracted me to the Nogi Industries brand is the simplicity of their designs. I have never been a fan of designs featuring blood, get the idea. These shorts feature some well thought out embroidery vertically along the side, and horizontally along the bottoms (front right panel and back left panel).  The font of the embroidery resembles a cross between Gothic and Old English font and looks nice.  Black piping is utilized on both the front and back panels and gives the shorts are very clean look.  I also like to use these shorts to lift weights at the gym so the clean design is nice and avoids unnecessary conversation from people I typically try to avoid while working out.

The quality of construction seems very good which has been pretty typical of past Nogi shorts that I have owned.  The stitching does have one spot that isn't perfect but doesn't seem to be enough to affect the long term durability of the shorts.  Other than this one spot, the stitching throughout the shorts is very good.  Not much has changed with the enclosure system and it is pretty par for the course with respect to their older models.  The hook and loop enclosure coupled with a draw string help ensure that the shorts have a secure and comfortable fit in the waistline.  The crotch area boasts a super stretchable material that seems to be very durable.  I've become a big fan of embroidery over laminated logos and Nogi has upgraded in this area.  The rigors of grappling combined with regular trips through the washing machine take their toll on laminated logos.  For this reason I prefer shorts with embroidery like that used on the Volt 2.0's and these have proven to be durable so far.
Black portion features stretchable material
Inner drawstring + enclosure system
Velcro stitching failed here

Fit + Rolling Impressions
The overall fit of these shorts doesn't disappoint.  They are by far the most comfortable pair of Nogi shorts I've owned.  The 30" waist size I ordered fit very well.  The amount of leg room is impressive and don't leave the feeling that they are restrictive.  The stretchy fabric used in the interior panels and crotch area is a big upgrade over the older model shorts.  This is very important for me as I am primarily a guard player and need the freedom in the leg and crotch area.  The material feels nice and light and don't feel laborious to train in.  They are sturdy enough to feel durable but not overly stiff like some shorts that use rip-stop material.  My only gripe about these shorts is a mishap I had while putting them on after I had them for a couple months. While opening the Velcro enclosure, the portion that is stitched into the shorts came apart.  It seems the stitching that holds the Velcro simply gave way.  I'm sure these can be fixed fairly easily but I was surprised to see this happen.  It either says something about the strength of the Velcro or lack of good stitching holding the Velcro onto the shorts.  I doubt this is a common problem with these shorts as my other three pairs have never done this.


Closing Thoughts
Nogi Industries really hit the mark with the Volt 2.0 grappling shorts.  They continue to set a high standard in grappling apparel creating designs that are nice and not overly gaudy.  Out of all the grappling shorts I have owned over the years the Nogi brand shorts seem to hold up the best and look less worn than other brands making them a very good investment.  Nogi Industries products can be purchased through various online vendors including their homepage.  I do recommend checking out their homepage as they tend to offer some nice sales throughout the year.  Since we are in nogi season I hope to have some more reviews on shorts and rash guards soon.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Flashback Friday: Ramon Flores vs Ryan Hall

July was an insanely busy month but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with the blog. Here is a nice, short match from Ultimate Absolute II which took place just over a year ago.  This is a very cool event that encourages submissions (nogi) by allowing reaping & heel hooks.  This match shows that the 50/50 guard can actually be an exciting position when heel hooks are allowed.