Tuesday, September 30, 2014

De-Worming the Worm Guard

The rising popularity of the Worm Guard has made the Jiu-Jitsu world take notice.  We can thank Keenan Cornelius for the boom in competitors utilizing this guard in competitions.  Thankfully we are finally starting to see some technique videos popping up showing how to prevent, pass, and even counter this tricky guard.  I am a firm believer that you don't have to be a fan of any particular guard but it is important to understand it enough to be able to defend against it.  That being said, studying the offensive side of this guard will help you understand defense even more than just working on the counters.  

While that quote is so true...in the event that you DO ALLOW your opponent to establish the lapel control they need to set up the worm guard you need to be familiar with methods to regain that lapel control and focus on passing the guard.  

Isaac Doederlein, Cobrinha brown belt, shows a really cool way to neutralize the Worm Guard and turn it into a back-tack opportunity.  

Here, multi-time World Champion Rodolfo Vieira shows how to pass the worm guard with a pressure pass type of approach.

I would be remiss to not post BJJ Scout's videos here.  He does some excellent work!  There are a variety of counters and concepts in these two videos.  

I have found that the worm guard is 100% dependent on lapel grip control.  Because of this it seems that the most effective way (at least for me) to defend against it is to address the grips. This is particularly true if the grips have been established and your base has been compromised or threatened...they have progressed if you will deep into the guard.  I have spent more time playing with the offensive side of this guard but recently started working on defense/counters.  My advice so far is:

1. Defend the lapel!
2. In the event the lapel control is established...focus on your base!
3. Try and square up to your opponent as much as possible to eliminate the angle they need to sweep
4. Dominate/control their own lapel and use it against them to remove THEIR grip on your lapel.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Watch Keenan Roll with 7 Black Belts (No Rest)

So Keenan is in Denmark for a seminar (BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp) this week...that's right there are 151 people in attendance!  I once attended a Romero "Jacare" Cavalcanti seminar once and thought that was a big seminar.  I'm not sure what the BJJ culture is like in Denmark but clearly they know a superstar when he visits. After watching the first couple of rolls I can relate to how those black belts must feel.  I've had the pleasure of being dismantled by really good grapplers like Robson Moura and Sean Roberts.  It's kind of like a regular human vs a superstar.  A good reminder of the difference between a regular, everyday grappler and a professional.  Who doesn't dream about being able to effortlessly handle black belts like this?

Visit Keenan's website to purchase his 5 disk DVD set: http://keenan-cornelius.com/

You can also see what he offers for free on his YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRgkTBcGRHlRQUVsxoesKBA

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Flashback Friday Match: Andre Pederneiras vs Rumina Sato (MMA)

I generally don't post MMA fights on the blog but felt like there should be exceptions particularly when it involves someone that has had a massive impact on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  If you don't know Andre Pederneiras (also known as "Dede") then you probably know some of the high level grapplers or MMA fighters he has had a hand in training.  

Notable black belts and MMA fighters:
1. Robson Moura
2. BJ Penn
3. Renan Barao
4. Jose Aldo
5. Gustavo Dantas
6. Vitor Ribeiro
7. John Lewis
8. Marcus Aurelio
9. Renato Verissimo
10. Thales Leites

Andre Pederneiras was originally award his black belt by Carlson Gracie when he was 22 years old. After starting his own gym he became frustrated with his teams inability to be competitive for team points at tournaments.  His team was almost always outnumbered by the likes of Gracie Barra and Carlson Gracie Team.  Andre befriended Wendell Alexander, another black belt, in a similar situation.  Together they formed Nova Uniao which means "new union."  Andre began to focus on MMA and compiled a professional record of 1 win, 1 loss, & 2 draws.  Eventually Andre turned his focus towards training MMA fighters leaving Wendell Alexander in charge of the Jiu-Jitsu side of Nova Uniao.  

Here is a great fight between Andre Pederneiras and Rumina Sato at Vale Tudo Japan 1998 which was Andre's professional debut in MMA.  Very good fight with a spectacular ending.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 IBJJF Dallas Open

The IBJJF came to town last weekend and I was fortunate enough to be healthy and able to participate.  I don't compete often but I do try my best to give it a go when the IBJJF is in town.  The federation does get a lot of flack from some people in the sport but overall it is still the best and brings out the highest level competitors on average.  I feel that they still set a high bar that others try to reach with running tournaments.

This is the 3rd Dallas Open I have competed in and all three have been at the same venue.  I do think they have outgrown the venue a bit but the predictability of location is nice for me.  This was my first real tournament as a brown belt.  There were no competitors in the my age group (Master 2...yeah I'm old) so I decided to move down into Master 1 with 3 other guys already there.  Unfortunately a few days out one of the competitors moved out of our division leaving us in a three man bracket.  My preparation was probably better than any I have had leading up to the tournament.  My cardio felt as good as ever so I felt confident I could at least just focus on NOT making mistakes and playing my game.

I drew the first match with a guy I have never competed against.  The other competitor I was familiar with and had the 1st round bye.  During training I had really focused on my closed guard game and felt great about my ability to chain submissions and sweeps from here.  I was able to pull closed guard right off the bat and get to work.  He did a good job of shutting down my first attacks and attempted to stand a couple times.  I transitioned into De La Riva guard briefly then back into closed guard.  I was able to secure an over hook on his right arm from the closed guard and immediately started to control his free hand.  This allowed me to set up a triangle choke from this position.  He did a good job of hiding the trapped arm which made finishing the choke difficult. I switched from a orthodox triangle to a reverse triangle a couple times trying to wear him down.  I was able to eventually control the trapped arm and finished the match with a kimura from the triangle choke position.

Getting the win was a real confidence booster for me especially since I knew the fresh guy would have to go next against the person I had just defeated.  About ten minutes passed giving me time to talk to my coach and discuss the upcoming final.  After some time had passed the table called for me back on the mat which caught me off guard.  I'm not sure if my previous opponent was injured or what but he didn't compete again so the final came up a bit unexpectedly for me.  I had mentally prepared myself for this opponent and knew I had to avoid his closed guard.  When the match started I was careful and managed to secure my own closed guard.  The match was difficult and most likely boring to watch.  He did a very good job of neutralizing my ability to attack controlling one of my lapels and using a stiff arm to keep me down.  He used his other arm to jam my opposite side hip in order to open and create space.  Some people were confused as to why I couldn't attack that extended arm but the hip pressure he applied made it very difficult and dangerous for me to open and attack without allowing him to move into a passing position.  Most of the match was spent fighting for grips in this position.  Neither one of us was very willing to open up and switch our game plans.  There was at least one time that I did open and transition into half guard.  He immediately started to use a leg weave attempting to pass.  I was very fortunate to avoid the pass and not have an advantage awarded to the opponent here.  I got back to closed guard and the same fight ensued working for grips.  We were both hit with a stalling penalty with the score 0-0, 0-1 0-1 (negatives) around the 3 minute mark. I worked really hard in the final minute to sweep and avoid a referee decision.  With only 00:17 remaining he was hit with another stalling penalty.  Time in the match ended and I was lucky to win.

I hated to win the final in that manner but not every match or final for that matter are going to be the most exciting.  I have found that finals tend to be more closely fought and this one played out just that way.  I have a lot of respect for both of the guys that I competed against over the weekend and hope to have a chance to meet them again in competition.  Huge thanks to all my teammates and friends from other gyms that helped me prepare for this competition.  Five Grappling is coming up next!

2014 IBJJF Dallas Open Results:
Our gym website:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Guests at the Gym this Week

This week has been pretty fun at our gym.  My coach's first black belt, Hector Munoz, has been in town for the week training with us.  He brought along friend and training partner Leonard Garcia (most known for MMA and his fights in the UFC).  Rather than focusing on MMA during the week they are here working their Jiu-Jitsu.  Leonard Garcia is still based out in Albuquerque, New Mexico and spends most of his time training at Jackson's MMA but said he was going back to his roots and focusing on his grappling.

Garcia is well known for his slug-fests in the UFC and WEC organizations.  He is now fighting for Legacy Fighting Championships and is scheduled to fight Daniel Pineda on November 14th in Houston.  Pineda has excellent Jiu-Jitsu (12 of his 16 wins by submission) so it's not a big surprise that Garcia is focusing on his ground game for this fight.  I didn't know it but Garcia's first exposure to the martial arts was through Jiu-Jitsu.  I got to train with him on Monday night; my coach paired us up and it was cool seeing him train in a gi.  He is currently a brown belt and has been for quite some time.  He said that he was initially a submission guy when he started MMA winning most of his fights utilizing his ground skills.  As many know organizations like the UFC pay very well for fighters willing to keep it on the feet and slug it out.  This had an influence on his training and focus in MMA.  Garcia basically stopped training Jiu-Jitsu and put his focus on Muay Thai kickboxing and nogi/mma grappling.  He says that he wish he had chosen a different path because he knows his first real strengths have always been in Jiu-Jitsu.

It was a real pleasure getting to train with him on Monday.  I can't express enough what a nice, humble person he is. Many of my training partners said the same thing.  We got to roll one round at the end of the class.  I was able to catch a sweep from open guard and almost completed a pass.  He was able to escape and catch me in his closed guard.  From here he had some nice attacks.  He was constantly moving chaining sweeps and submissions.  He caught me in an omoplata that he came close to finishing but I was lucky enough to escape.  I wish I would have had a little more time this week to train with him but my schedule simply didn't allow it.

Both he and Hector have been training twice a day at the gym (nogi days and gi in the evenings) so they along with our own guys have gotten some great work cross-training.  Having them here to visit has really brought in a lot of people that want a chance to train with them.  Both are headed back down to Corpus Christi to train at Hector's gym Full Contact Fight Academy.
Me & Leonard Garcia

I had not rolled with Hector Munoz since I was a newbie white belt in 2008.  All I can say is wow is he good.  He is a little older since then (so am I) and probably even better now having been a black belt for about seven years.  I can say that Hector is a true prototype of my coach; simply a younger version.  He is planning on competing at Nogi Worlds in a couple weeks.  If you are visiting the South Texas area I highly recommend dropping in and training with Hector and his crew.  Very tough and technical bunch of people there.
Me & Hector Munoz
Funny sidebar note.  One of my friends is about to open a new business in Frisco called Below Zero Cryo.  I saw this picture posted on Facebook...somehow Leonard managed to find this place yesterday.
Leonard Garcia test run in the Cryo
Leonard got to talking to the owner and realized they had a common friend in me.  Justin Miller, the owner of Below Zero Cryo, managed to make it up to our gym last night for open mat to train with all of us. Packed house with tons of talent.  I'm hoping to try out the Cryo-craze soon as it's a much nicer experience than the typical ice bath according to everyone I have talked to.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reilly Bodycomb Seminar Review

This seminar review has been a long time coming.  I was fortunate enough to train with Reilly about a year ago during one of his visits to the Dallas area.  I've managed to stay in contact with Reilly since then and was able to help coordinate a seminar at our newly opened gym in June.  If you are not familiar with Reilly he is primarily a nogi grappler with a big concentration in sambo and leg locks.  He offers a very fresh point of view when it comes to grappling as I personally am very gi oriented and more accustomed to competing under a more strict rule set than he prefers.

The subject material for the seminar focused on leg locks and attacking the seated guard.  Reilly has a very cerebral approach to instruction that I can appreciate.  Rather than diving right into the "legal leg locks" most of us wanted to see he spent a good deal of time teaching "illegal" leg locks.  Why might you ask?  Well it's important to understand what makes them illegal in most BJJ competitions and why they are effective. Reaping ankle locks and heel hooks.  Explanation and demonstration about inside versus outside heel hooks were covered.  To finish up leg locks he showed us how to escape the positions which was refreshing.  Lots of time was allotted to drill and explore the positions/attacks.

Moving on from here Reilly showed various ways to attack with straight ankle locks over a seated opponent in open guard and the De La Riva guard (belly down ankle lock).  I can attest this is very effective.  I have seen him and his students pull these off in competitions.  I've also had good luck using the belly down ankle lock against teammates in rolling sessions to counter the De La Riva.

Reilly has a pretty interesting philosophy about guard passing and attacking.  He states that 'there are guards worth passing and guards not worth passing.'

"The purpose of a guard is to defend yourself against attack.  This is true for any combat sport if it's boxing, fencing, or grappling.  If a boxer leaves their hands to high or too low, then it is obvious for their opponent to attack them when they are open.  This is true for grappling in a way."

"Many guards that people employ are designed to stop the pass but not to stop the submission attacks on the legs.  The natural conclusion is that if the guard is not protecting the legs then there is no point to go out of your way for a pass when the nearest submission is right there."

"So I break guards up into three categories:
1. Guards that you pass

2. Guards not worth passing
3. Better guards that require an attack to see what opens up first...the pass or the leg lock"

So moving on from the leg attacks Reilly showed an excellent way to attack for the kimura over a seated opponent.  Specifically if the opponent attempts a single leg from the seated guard.  The situation sets up perfectly for a kimura from the standing position.  Even if the kimura cannot be finished a quality passing opportunity/scramble is initiated and option to get the back of your opponent.

Reilly has an excellent DVD on leg locks "Sambo Leg Locks for Nogi Grappling" that has been around for years.  You can purchase it directly at his website: http://www.rdojo.com/.

He also has digital downloads that you can purchase from his site.  The cool thing is you can pay what you want.  That is a pretty innovative offer you don't see very often.  That being said if you download I do recommend paying what you feel is fair as the material covered is very good.  Something worth noting is that Reilly only shows techniques that are functional and have been competition tested.  I have rolled with him and can tell you that he doesn't waste time on techniques he doesn't use himself.  Reilly is very open-minded when it comes to grappling as he cross-trains in various arts and is always looking to add tools to his unique and effective style.  If you get the opportunity to train with him or at a minimum study/train his instructional videos I highly recommend it.

Reilly's newest offering coming in September 2014:  "No Kurtka"
Purchase here: http://www.rdojo.com/dvds.html
& here: http://www.budovideos.com/no-kurtka-dvd-by-reilly-bodycomb.html

Still not convinced?  Reilly recently won gold at an ADCC event in New York's Pro Division.
Here is a highlight of his matches from a month ago.


Reilly's Top Rock