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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I don't teach submissions very often

It's a strange thing, because all my students are good at getting submissions... but most of my lessons I just teach something about control or passing, sweeping, defending, fundamentals of a position etc. Then in the odd class I will throw a submission on the end.

My thinking is that if position before submission is so important, why ignore that when teaching? If people can get to dominant positions easily, they'll quickly be able to learn how to submit people easily whether you show a new technique every lesson or not. There are lots of movements and positions and transitions in jiu-jitsu, but there aren't that many different ways to submit someone... there are lots of variations, but not many fundamentally different ways mechanically. There are definitely lots of minor details which will make a difference to whether you finish a submission or not, but in the overall scheme of things, knowing the minor details of a sweep or pass is always gonna be more useful and more likely to help more students overall. Everyone body shape and size can use butterfly guard well, every one can use pressure passing... but not everyone will benefit from another triangle lesson... nor arm-triangle lesson. Everybody ends up in half guard, no matter shape, size or game, but not everybody ends up going inverted to a toe-hold (although all that stuff is effective and does have it's place :) ).

Actually, submissions are probably the easiest thing to learn from instructional videos. If you can get regularly get dominant position on training partners you can easily practice stuff you've seen in a video. It's much harder to learn how to control and move in a certain position from just watching a video and not having instant correction from an instructor.

My instructor, Chris Rees, taught me the same way... he used to show me how submissions worked by wrecking me with them all the time haha. The vast majority of my wins in competition are by quick submission.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Thoughts on Metamoris 3

Well, first up I absolutely loved the show... pretty much every fight was interesting to watch and the fighters all went for it with lots of aggressive attacking. So specific fights...

Zak Maxwell vs. Sean Roberts
Thought Maxwell looked awesome. His style is pretty much what I try to do, solid ultra tight basics... slow and steady progress to a dominant position. Sean Roberts flexibility is ridiculous, what a guard to try to pass. Loved the fight.

Gui Mends vs. Samir Chantre
As expected, an easy submission for Gui. I thought this was the most pointless fight on the card but it was still great to watch.

Dean Lister vs. Babalu
I was hugely impressed with Babalu, not only being able to defend against everything Lister offered but also attacking flat out whenever he got the chance. For two big guys and a 20 minute fight the pace was amazing. Probably my favourite fight of the night.

Keenan Cornelius vs. Kevin Casey
So Casey was in for Magalhaes. I thought Keenan would get the submission much quicker than he did so fair do's to Casey, he showed he definitely has great jiu-jitsu. A pretty boring fight at times, but then it can't be easy to do much but defend against a guard like Keenan's.

Rafael Mendes vs. Clark Gracie
I was very surprised that this turned out to be the worst fight of the night. Nothing but repeated failed attempts to take the back from berimbolo. I have seen people criticising Clark for just defending, but what else was he meant to do when Rafa is attacking with his best guard attack? I just wish Rafa had chosen to go to the top and tried to pass rather than falling to his guard again every time... or at least tried something other than berimbolo.

Royler Gracie vs. Eddie Bravo
So surely it's gonna be hard for a 48 and 43 year old to keep up the level of action which had been seen in the rest of the fights? That's what I thought, but man these two gave an awesome performance. An amazing ending to a great event!
It's easy to be critical of people in fights, and I've seen many people doing just that, so all I'll say is that I was surprised it seemed Royler hadn't really studied Bravo's game and just stuck to the same plan of attack even after being repeatedly swept with the same thing.

Wow, I really enjoyed this event and I hope Metamoris goes from strength to strength. It was a bit sad to see that loads of people were getting free streams of it, it's one of a very small number of options for professional competitors to get paid to fight. Support the event!!

I've read an unbelievable amount of nonsense written about Gracie/Bravo... people saying Eddie Bravo "won" it. No, it was a draw... the only way to win was to submit and he didn't do that. Obviously he had the better of the match, but it was a draw. Then I read people saying how Bravo was sick after and was totally gassed but Royler was ok, so if they'd kept fighting... NO, it was a 20min fight, they knew that going in. Being tired after is a good thing cos it means Eddie had gone as hard as he could over the distance. There's no point having anything in reserve. "Eddie would have won on points"... but there were no points, this is meaningless... they weren't fighting with points in mind. Man, it was a great fight and people should just be happy with that. Unreal showing from a 43 and 48 year old, congratulations to them!!

A point above ties in with my only big criticism... the commentators talking about "under IBJJF" rules all the time. What other sport does this?? Commentate on how things would work under a different ruleset? I found it really annoying and off-putting. They should just stick to describing the techniques being used/tried, talk about how an attack or counter worked etc

Regardless, I'll definitely be buying the next event :)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The mental aspect of a jiu-jitsu fight

This is a subject which I have been discussing with my students a lot recently, due to a lot of recent competitions. I think it can be almost as important as the physical side of things, but is often neglected by people as it's something they just don't think about.

Now I'm not talking about mental preparation for fights. I know some people spend a lot of time on that but I find it quite difficult to understand. I never step on the mat without thinking I am going to win and have never felt doubts about my own ability before a competition. What I am talking about is the mental ebb and flow during a fight. So many times I have seen students win fights, or lose very close fights (or even fights they have overall dominated) and they come off the mat with the feeling that they performed poorly or almost lost when in reality they won easily.

Why does this happen? First, I think adrenaline is a big factor, it numbs the mind and means that memories of a fight can be very foggy... I have had fights which I couldn't remember until watching a video! There is also a natural tendency for most people to be critical/negative of themselves and, lastly, people often only think about the last thing which happened during a fight.

What does this mean? Well, there are two fights going on during a match... the physical fight and the mental fight, and they are both vitally important. I have seen people winning fights easily who then make one mistake and suddenly panic, causing them to lose the fight. Or people who have been getting smashed but are so strong mentally they never give up and manage to win by submission.

So how does this all relate to aspects of a fight? The easiest way to explain is looking at the situations this stuff most often applies...

1. If you're in a bad spot and you escape then realise you are winning the fight at that point. Ok, you might be losing on points, but the ebb and flow of the fight is going in your favour, so when you get back to a good or neutral position don't stop, keep moving forward, it's the best time to attack. Your opponent has just lost a strong position and could be disheartened. The same for escaping a submission attempt... it may have been their best attack, they might have been sure they would submit you and now you've escaped... attack!

2. The opposite of the first point; you had a strong position and your opponent escaped. Relax, you got ahead of them once so can do it again. Don't freak out and do something silly, just control the position they have escaped to and go back to attacking.

3. You get reversed from side control. This is a classic that I've seen totally change a fight. Not only were you in a good position which your opponent has escaped, they've put you straight into a bad position. You need to stay calm, if you freak out and desperately try to escape you may end up in an even worse position or get submitted. This is another reason to learn the rules and points system... side control reversal, or being put in side control from top turtle doesn't score your opponent anything. In these circumstances you need to be strong enough mentally to relax, defend and take your time, your chance to escape will come.

4. The fight starts and you end up exactly where you didn't want to be... they took you down, or they pulled guard first. So what? You can panic or you can back yourself to win the fight. Stuff goes wrong in a fight and you have to be ready for it.

There are obviously other ways that show how mental strength during a fight is important, but from my experience they are the most common. Just like learning techniques I believe you can learn methods to improve your mental game. First of, as mentioned earlier, learn the rules and points system back to front... if you know exactly what is happening in a fight it makes it much easier to cope with adverse situations. Also, try to have someone coaching you from the sidelines they can help you by telling you the points and time. Think more deeply about what is happening when you're training, don't just live totally in the moment. Try to think about the overall round and what is happening at each point; you might have been getting smashed for 4 minutes but if you then get the upper hand... go, go, go, push forward hard and work to get the submission or enough points to turn it around. If you're winning the fight at a specific point, whatever came before doesn't matter.

Fight hard, be strong mentally and never give up no matter what has happened!!