Friday, April 07, 2056

Seminar note links

image by Bluefluke

John Will

15 Oct 2017 - Half Guard, the Seed
5 Mar 2017 - Ashi Garami 2.0, Honey Hole and Heel Hook
9 Oct 2016 - Ashi Garami, straight footlock
John Will Seminar 16 April 2016- Legbars
21 Feb 2016 - collar grip guard, single leg X guard
30 Aug 2015 - post clinch takedown strategy, Z guard, kneeride
22 Feb 2015 - Snatch Single, Vale Tudo Guard, Darce/Anaconda
24 August 2014 - a Spider Guard Plan
23 Feb 2014 - Advanced Spider Guard
29th September 2013 - Crucifix Control
24 March 2013 - X Guard
21 Oct 2012 - ankle picks, Z guard
21 April 2012 - Z guard
25 Mar 2012 - Guard Passing
2 Oct 2011 - takedown strategy, 2 on 1
20 Aug 2011 - D'arce choke, Deep Half Guard
3 July 2011 Side control escapes and counters
John Will Seminar 16 Apr 2011 - attacking from the turtle
20 Mar 2011 - Hooks and hooking sweeps
24 Oct 2010 - Anaconda, D'arce, Peruvian Necktie, Shackle
15 Aug 2010 - Back Control
14 Mar 2010 - Kata Gatame
18 Oct 2009 - Getting the back, back attacks
1 August 2009 breaking out of the clinch, roundhouse kicks and takedowns
4th April 2009 - hooking sweeps, S Mount armbar
1 Nov 2008 - open guard, side control escapes
5 April 2008 - Shell, Omoplata
20 Oct 2007 - X guard
Jul 28, 2007 - MMA defence from bottom, darce
31 MAR 2007 Shell in depth and takedowns
29 October 2006 - Triangles,knees in guard. passing half guard, visor
29 July 2006 - handstand sweep, side back escapes
8 Apr 2006 - turtle escapes, pillow escape
9 Jul 2005 - half guard bottom
9 Apr 2005 - better choke and armbar from mount
23 Oct 2004 - hooks-in and side back techs
10 Jul 2004 armdrag from guard, crossface
6 Mar 2004 - sweeps, legbar against open guard, passing
18 Oct 2003 - basic takedowns, legbars

Interested in going to a seminar with John Will? Check his seminar schedule and sign up.

Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell's Jiu Jitsu for a Lifetime Seminar 4 Feb 2017
Steve Maxwell's Integrated Breathing Seminar 11th February 2017
Steve Maxwell - Gracie Jiu Jitsu Core Concepts - 11 Feb 2017
Steve Maxwell's Jiu Jitsu for a lifetime /Mobility Conditioning for Jiu Jitsu and MMA seminar 6th February 2016
Steve Maxwell's Jiu Jitsu for Life seminar - 14 March 2015

Carlos Machado

Carlos Machado Seminar - 7th May 2015
Carlos Machado seminar - 8th May 2014
Carlos Machado seminar 16 May 2013
Carlos Machado seminar 10 May 2012

Rigan Machado

The Gathering 2017
Rigan Machado 17 Sep 2016
Rigan Machado Seminar 15 Sep 2007
Rigan Machado Seminar 21 Aug 2004

Jean Jacques Machado

Jean Jacques Machado seminar 28 July 2012

Richard Norton

Richard Norton seminar 21 November 2015

Gui Mendes

"Secret Session" at Langes MMA with Gui Mendes

Dave Camarillo

Dave Camarillo 16 Sep 2017 - offside grip, King's chair, SAP
Dave Camarillo seminar 3 Sep 2016 - Kimura grip, armbar

Pedro Sauer

Pedro Sauer 24 Oct 2016

Stanley Tam

Stanley Tam Qigong Seminar 25 Feb 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Creativity and Martial Arts Training I

The Natural Order of Things?

A recent seminar with John Will brought home to me the value of imagination and a creative approach to martial arts training, and, specifically, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The seminar was on half guard on the bottom - more specifically, a type of Z guard - and we were looking at how to attack from there with a kimura.

As white belts, students are usually taught to force the opponent to put his hand on the mat, and then grab the wrist with the same side arm, then sitting up and overhooking the elbow, securing the kimura grip, and applying the kimura submission.

John explained that this hardly ever works on an experienced grappler, as they will rarely put their hands on the mat, or allow you to grab the wrist, as they have seen that setup so many times before. And even if you do manage to pull that off, you may still have to contend with them grabbing their belt or inner thigh to avoid being submitted.

John's alternative was to overhook the elbow first, kick the top leg out and rip the elbow away from the hip and rib cage as he flattens out. Then grab the wrist. This will significantly reduce the size of the window of opportunity he has to grab his belt, and give you a significantly better chance of completing the submission.

John discussed the possibilities involved in kickboxing when, instead of stepping into range, then throwing the kick; instead, throwing the kick, while/then sliding or hopping towards the opponent. Old-time greats Bill Wallace and Chuck Norris' premier fighter,  Chip Wright, both employed this tactic to great effect.

More generally, by changing the order in which things are done, we may end up with a significantly better result. It doesn't always work, but when it does ...

This seemed to be a good jumping off point for a wider consideration of creativity and its role in martial arts training and evolution.


From a strict psychological perspective true creativity is very rare. In this context, creativity can defined as your ability to, from one idea, come up with a number of ideas that are both useful and novel. "Novel" here meaning ideas that that not nearly everyone else will come up with in the same situation.

Monetizing your creative output to any meaningful extent is extremely difficult and rare. The number of people who can make a decent living solely from their creative output is vanishingly small.

One of my intellectual heroes, Dr Jordan B. Peterson, discusses these issues in considerable detail in this video:

About 45 minutes, worth it if you have an interest in this area

The good news, however, is that just about everybody can - and does - harness their creativity in everyday life. Much of it is extending pre-existing ideas or concepts in various directions, or combining them in different ways. There are heuristics and methodologies for this which we all can employ. 

If you don't think you have a creative bone in your body, the book "Steal Like An Artist" may change your mind and give you some confidence. No Jiu Jitsu in here ... not specifically, that is. 

This applies to  Jiu Jitsu and other martial arts training, and indeed just about all areas of life.

Creativity and Evolution in Jiu Jitsu

Many Jiu Jitsu positions and techniques have been invented through necessity. The mother of invention. As John Will states often, it helps to understand the origin of how and why techniques and positions originated. Also, finding out how a top Jiu Jitsu player learned a technique, rather than how they do it now, and only then learning about the steps in between that led them to the current way they do, may be highly instructive to understanding that technique fully.

The de la Riva Guard (as one story goes) was invented out of necessity because people got really good at blocking Ricardo de la Riva from putting his feet on their hips in open guard. Swinging out to the side and getting an outside hook is one counter to that strategy.

The X guard came about when opponents started standing up to avoid the butterfly guard.

You don't need the berimbolo if you can sweep them to their back from DLR guard and thus just lie there. You can go to mount. It's when they begin to struggle to get back up, and that mount is no longer an option, that the berimbolo and subsequent back take can come into play.

Many chains or groups of techniques come about as responses to counters that people developed to an original lone technique. The techniques John Will showed at the most recent seminar at Red Boat were an example. 

From Z guard, you kick up and get the underhook and frame on the opposite elbow. Then:
  • If he does nothing, come to your knees, drive him forward and go to his back
  • If he whizzers to stop the back take, go to tthe Dogfight and take him down with the Dogfight Double (Eddie Bravo calls it the Half and Half)
  • If he whizzers to avoid the back take, and stands up on his far foot to stop the Dogfight Double, you roll under and sweep him over you with the Plan B.
There are more techniques from Dogfight - limp arm out from the whizzer to take the back, a triangle entry called the Powder Keg, and a roll to the Spider Web position called the Drowning Wizard. And more, much of which is still to be invented, no doubt.

Z guard itself is arguably the solution to a common problem, the battle for the far side underhook in half guard. If he wins the battle, he can flatten you out and will probably pass. If you get the underhook, you get to try your stuff. Using Z guard rather than the flat style of half guard increases your chances of getting the half guard from 50/50 to 80/20 ... or thereabouts.

These are a series of creative solutions to a succession of related problems. One problem arises, you find a solution. Somebody counters that solution, they present a new problem. You work out a solution to THAT problem, someone will eventually come up with yet another counter. And this arms race continues, indefinitely. In this way, Jiu Jitsu becomes truly endless.

Creative Problem Solving

I bought a book back in the early 1970s called "The Universal Traveler", by Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall. The cover blurb goes on : "A companion for those on problem solving journeys, and a soft-systems guidebook to the process of design." It is still in print today. The fact I still own and use it 45 years later indicates that I continue to find it significant.

 Jiu Jitsu is, at one level at least, a continuous process of problem solving.

The Universal Traveler describes creativity in this way:
The 'design process' is a process which demands creative, constructive behavior ... it is an exercise in the activity of attempting to improve existing conditions. 
... Although  partially necessary, problem solutions which merely 'work' and last for a time do not represent what we refer to as 'creative solutions'. Creative problem-solutions are those which lead, which inspire, which provoke; those which help us to imagine more advanced problems or which provide us with the models for solving other, similar problems, and which generally turn others on to the correctness or appropriateness of themselves.
Essential to creativity, the book goes on to say, is an attitude of constructive discontent.
... constructive attitudes are necessary for a dynamic condition; discontent is prerequisite to problem solving. Combined, they define a primary quality of the problem solver: a constantly developing Constructive Discontent.
Martial arts training is a constructive activity. Being unable to complete a sweep from half guard because the other person counters it, or getting swept yourself from half guard, are pretty strong sources of discontent in my experience.

I discussed above how problems posed by the opponent in Jiu Jitsu obligate creative problem solving. One of the reasons Jiu Jitsu is so attractive to "assassin nerds" like us.

Jocko Willink and Joe Rogan: BJJ makes "assassin nerds"

We also briefly discussed one method we can try to solve a common problem, where the most common entry to the kimura, grabbing the wrist. results in the common counter of the opponent grabbing their belt. John Will's solution to this problem was to REORDER the sequence of movements in which we applied the kimura, resulting in significantly reducing the window the opponent has to grab his belt and shut the submission down.

What other methods are at our disposal to creatively solve Jiu Jitsu problems? I'll discuss that in part II of this article.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Black Belt - Rick Spain

Not many people get to have the privilege of occasionally teaching a martial art to their own instructor.

In 1998, I'd been training in Wing Chun Kung Fu for close to a decade, with Rick Spain as my Sifu (instructor). Under his tutelage and expectations, I sought and found competence, and a way to transcend some former physical limitations resulting from youthful injury. I was literally, indeed physically, transformed - not into a specimen or prodigy, but into a capable martial artist and instructor. Rick Spain would not allow me to remain limited and average as a student, and fortunately I did not.

The sense of freedom and confidence I achieved as a result cannot be overstated.

 My gold sash instructor level grading, 1995

Now Sifu brought in a friend from his early training days in Melbourne, John Will, to teach an introductory BJJ seminar at the Surry Hills kwoon.  This, we were told, was the necessary next step in the evolution of the Academy.

John Will (L) and Rick Spain

John is a living legend, one of the Dirty Dozen, the first twelve non-Brazilian BJJ black belts. His autobiography (see the bottom of this blog post) reads like a martial arts action/adventure novel.

There weren't enough mats on the floor for everybody. I was toughing it out on the polished floorboards, baby.

Some of the purple belt assistants that accompanied John, like Anthony Lange, John Simon, and Sean Kirkwood, moved like ninja Jedi on the mats, as did John.

We wanted some of that.

I took the Jiu Jitsu red pill, and couldn't get enough, enthusiastically sticking my face into the BJJ firehouse, trying to gulp down as much knowledge as I could without drowning in the deluge.

Running a full time Wing Chun school like the Red Boat Academy six or seven days a week is a huge commitment, which doesn't leave a lot of time left over for Sifu to train deeply in a second martial art, especially one as demanding as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Everyone reading this should understand at a deep level that this is a huge challenge.

I had a different career, and thus the luxury of being able to immerse myself in Jiu Jitsu exclusively for quite a few years. As a result, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a black belt in Jiu Jitsu by Anthony Lange in late 2013.

I still made it to the Red Boat Wing Chun Academy every now and then, with some significant breaks. Life is what happens when we have made other plans, as John Lennon said.

Last Thursday, and not for the first time, I taught a lunchtime BJJ class in which Rick Spain was an avid student. A privilege and an honour, every time.

Then, on Sunday, John Will was at the Kwoon in Redfern to present one of our regular seminars, and presented Rick Spain with his BJJ black belt.

Presentation and speeches by John And Sifu

This is a great thing for Rick Spain and the Red Boat organisation. While we were always super legit, this takes it to yet another level.

8th Degree Karate Black Belt and BJJ Black Belt Hanshi George Adams, Rick Spain, and myself 
(L to R)

I have been proud to have been on this Jiu Jitsu journey with you right from the start, Sifu, and I owe that start to you. I am confident that Jiu Jitsu at the Red Boat Academy will go on and on to greater and greater things.

Another milestone on an endless highway, but a pretty damn significant milestone.

Peace, Love, Jiu Jitsu.

John Will's autobiography - in three parts:

John Will's seminar schedule. Get on board with one of the best Jiu Jitsu coaches on the planet.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

John Will Seminar 15 Oct 2017 - Half Guard, the Seed

The seminar was held at the Red Boat Wing Chun Academy in Redfern.

A wonderful surprise at the start with Red Boat Wing Chun's chief instructor, Rick Spain, being awarded his Jiu Jitsu Black belt by John. David Suker of Stealth Fighting Arts in Bargo, received his the day before, and drove John to the seminar.

I will have more to write about this, shortly. This is a great thing for Sifu Spain and the Red Boat Academy.

 John Will and Rick Spain

L to R: George Adams, Rick Spain and myself

The Seed

John is keen when teaching to come up with a "seed" for a particular position or concept, from which everything else can go. If John taught that lesson and never saw a properly motivated student again, that student could take what John had taught him and come up with an entire system and the many other existing variations that come from that position or concept.

Pulling half guard from standing

Do not just sit down and pull your opponent straight on top of you. He will knee slice pass straight over your bottom leg and get side control in a millisecond.


Grab his R sleeve with your left hand and his L collar with your R hand - judo grips, more or less. Kick your R leg out to your L behind his R leg as you sit down and fall to your R, pulling his R arm hard over the top to your R with the L hand grip on his sleeve as you do so. Grab his R leg with your R arm, and come to your knees. Do some sort of single leg takedown now (the exact technige depends on how he steps or falls) and put him on his back, or side, ready to pass.

Starting half guard position

We start from a Z guard position, rather than the older style flat and close style of half guard. This avoids the underhook battle initially, and gives us a significant advantage for getting the underhook when we are ready. We are:

  • On our right side
  • Our R leg is between his, not too deep. We want our R knee bent with our calf hooking around the back of his R thigh but no deeper
  • Our L knee is framing near the front of his R shoulder, keeping him away, our L shin under his R armpit, our L foot close to his hip to avoid footlocks
  • Our head is angled towards his L knee, our R hand controlling below his L elbow, the L hand above his L elbow. Our hands are shaped in a "paw" grip, like a fook sao in Wing Chun. We control with the wrists rather than the palms or fingers. Our main aim here is to prevent him grabbing our head with his L arm.
  • Or L elbow is under/inside our L knee, the arm frame backing up the frame with the L knee
While passing guard we are pummelling for advantageous grips or arm positions. Using Z guard instead of other types of half guard gives you a better chance of getting what you want, the underhook.

Z guard demonstrated by Stephan Kesting of Grapplearts. He has his top hand on the shoulder and forearm against the throat, whereas we would just have it on the other guy's bicep. Note how he holds his right hand

Getting the underhook - the first move

Use your L leg to kick him away slightly, so you can sit up and get your L underhook, wrapping your arm tight around his waist. Waist, not  his L armpit or lat. At the same time sit up and bring your R elbow underneath you, so you are angled away from him slightly to his R. Your upper arm and chest should be aligned so that he is unable to force your back back to the mat.

Drill this move, repeating many times. What judo guys like Dave Camarillo call uchikomi.

Getting the back from the underhook

You get half guard and the underhook as above. He employs no countermeasures like the whizzer (explained below).

Move your R foot to the mat and take your L foot over his R shin, so both your feet are between ("inside") his. Go to your knees HARD, keeping your R foot between his legs, and drive your L shoulder to the mat. He should slide straight over your head, you do not need to shuck your L arm up to free your head. You should now be able to jump on his back, getting a seat belt control, with the L arm under his L armpit and R arm around the R side of his neck. Put all your weight on his R shoulder and break him down to the mat.

Move your hips away from him as he falls onto his R side. You do not want him on top of you, but beside you. If all goes well you are both on your R sides, you behind him with your R hook in and the seat belt control. Use the outside of your R foot to "staple" his R calf to the mat, and use your head (your R ear to his L ear) to "staple" his head to the ground as well. Get this right and he should be very strongly controlled.

He whizzers to stop the back take, go to Dogfight Double

You get the underhook as above. Knowing the backtake is coming, he overhooks your L arm with his R, so his arm is between your bodies. This will prevent you from going to his back.

The overhook counter to the underhook like this comes from wrestling, and is called the whizzer. It has many other uses besides this in grappling, usually as a counter to an underhook from any position, including standing.

So, he gets the whizzer. Keep the underhook and move the feet inside his as before. Use your L heel to "scorpion tail" his foot out toward you as you come to your knees hard. Your R foot should come out and you should end up on your knees, sitting with his R lower leg trapped between your L calf and hamstring. This is a position Eddie Bravo calls the Dogfight.

 Dogfight position. Athlete in blue has applied the whizzer

You are going to take him down to his and your L. Rather than reach for his L knee with your R hand, which won't work, instead:

Post your R hand on the mat, elbow locked, fingers pointing away from him. Push with the hand and try to headbutt his L knee. He will fall to his L side. Pass around to his back and move your L underhook so it is under his R arm. Get up on your L side and put all your weight on his R arm, trapping it with your L underhook. Get your hips off the mat for maximum pressure and block his R hip with your R leg (maybe L?). Your L arm goes over his head, above eye level.

He will want to get his L arm around you and try and go to the top. The pressure on his R arm from your L underhook should make this impossible. This move of his allows you to get your R arm around his neck and move to headlock control.

Move to headlock control in three steps:
  • R knee comes underneath you
  • L foot steps out ahead, allowing you to
  • scoot/step your R foot through again all the way to consolidate headlock control.
Trying to be greedy and rush the process may leave gaps for him to escape or counter.

Keep the underhook. Your L elbow and thigh should stay joined so he has no opportunity to get his R arm around your waist. Instead it will be out in space and available for you to attack.

Moving to headlock control is what John terms a "Blowfish" technique, referring to the traditional Japenese dish of fugu, or poisonous blowfish. One wrong move on the Japanese chef's part while preparing the blowfish for consumption, and everyone dies.

Many of the more obvious ways of moving from headlock control from side control etc. can leave you vulnerable to getting your back taken or reversed with a bridge and roll. The method John uses with the underhook is much, much safer.

He gets the whizzer and posts on his L foot, stopping the takedown

Get the underhook as before. He whizzers. Before you have the opportunity to push him down and get headlock control as above, he posts up on his L foot, effectively preventing the Dogfight Double.

Still come to your knees and trap his R shin in the crook of your L knee (the Dogfight position), as for the Dogfight Double. You will be unable to push him over. Instead, put your R arm and shoulder on the mat and roll to your left over your back, using the scorpion tail pull of your L calf on his R shin to roll him over you and onto his back. Most of the drive from the technique comes from cranking his R leg with your L, rather than the roll itself. Though pushing into him and timing the roll to use his energy as well as the shin crank as he pushes back would not hurt.

Not that if their leg is bent at ninety degrees and you are pulling on it near the foot, this configuration will give you maximum leverage.

You end up in a similar position to that of the Dogfight Double, and can go to headlock control the same way.

John demonstrated how you might pull the L lapel out of his belt with your R hand and pass it around his back to your L hand to aid in pulling him over. Though the scorpion tail crank on his leg remains the main driving force in the sweep.

John told us about Todd Nathanson, a Californian black belt who used this sweep extensively if not exclusively during John's visits. He even used it to deal with a road rage incident which kicked off outside a jiu jitsu academy in front of many other students. I'll let John tell that story with the funnier details if you see him.

In both the Dogfight Double and the sweep, it is important that you realise ahead of time that if you leave the underhook around his waist for too long it will get trapped underneath him, making the follow up move difficult. Do not "over-clap". As soon as he starts to go, you should already be setting up for the follow up. 

Do not oversweep, do not get too far behind or ahead of what is happening in the present moment.

If in either the Dogfight Double or the sweep he lets go the whizzer to post in front of him and prevent the takedown or sweep, switch then to drive your L shoulder to the mat and take his back, as for the first technique.

Attacks - Kimura

Grabbing the wrist first and the trying to apply the kimura is unlikely to work against any experienced grappler. They are too used to such attacks and can see them coming. They will pull their elbow to their hip to stop it, or if you get the lock on, grab their belt or inner thigh.

Instead, from Z guard:
  • Wrap your L arm around the top of their L arm, elbow to elbow
  • Kick your L leg through and go flat, pulling their L elbow away from their hip and rib cage as their body extends and also flattens out
  • Grab the wrist and complete the lock.
The closer your elbow is to theirs, the better the leverage. NB there are situations where you do not want to cut this too fine as they may be able to reverse it on you. This is not one of those situations if set up as described.

If they straighten their arm, move it up next to their ear, get your R ear pushing on their tricep near the armpit and wrap the R arm around the neck for an arm triangle. (Result of a great question asked by a visiting brown belt).

Experimenting with the order in which things are done can be worthwhile. It does not always pay off, but occasionally may produce something of real value. This approach to the kimura is such an example. Chris Brennan on his "King of the Kimura" video also advocates sitting up, wrapping the arm, and isolating the open elbow before grabbing the wrist, this time in the context of applying the kimura from closed guard.

The traditional way of setting up a kick is to step into range and then chamber and throw the kick. Back in the 80's, guys like Bill Wallace and Chuck Norris student Chip Wright(?) started experimenting with throwing  the kick while out of range, then (very shortly thereafter) hopping or sliding in to connect. The step after the kick instead of before. This worked well for a number of high level fighters.

True creativity (creating something entirely new from the Void) is very rare. Most creative solutions are the result of combining or synthesizing pre-existing elements, perhaps from unrelated disciplines. An interesting subject which deserves its own blog post.

Kimura - they grab the belt

You are a bit slow with the kimura or they see it coming and grab their belt to counter. Let go of the wrist with your R hand, "high five" with your R hand and place it on your L bicep as you slide your R hand onto your R bicep, trapping their L wrist under your R elbow. They should feel totally unable to remove your arm, with some bicep slicer pressure to boot. Let your R leg go flat and allow them to pass their R leg over it to side control on your R. If they don't pass, move your leg out from under theirs so they pass by default. Take your R ear to your R hip. Bring your feet over to the L and right up near your butt, up on your toes. Bridge and roll them and end up in top in side control. 

Do a "commando crawl" and push their wrist away from their body. "Jump the fence" and get your R elbow between their wrist and their body so they cannot grab their belt again.

Switch base, take the L leg over their face, use it to lift their L shoulder off the ground and up on their side slightly so you have room to apply the kimura from side control.

John talked about he Kimura and its history, and Masahiko Kimura, the great Japanese judoka aftern whom it was named. Here is the iconic picture of Kimura-san beating Helio Gracie which John mentioned (which is actually a perfect illustration of how the technique should be performed).

 Masahiko Kimura applying eponymous technique to Helio Gracie

The kimura can also be applied By moving your body over to the other side of his head, with your arm beneath his, and putting pressure on his wrist with your hand and on his shoulder with your chest. Your body cannot abide both wrist and shoulder on the floor in such a position. John advocates using his weight and the pressure of his rib cage to drag the opponent's arm into position before applying the lock from here.

Bridge and Roll Escape from Mount

With Sifu's promotion, John discussed how this is a new beginning, and we start learning EVERYTHING over again, properly this time. The bridge and roll escape from mount, which many people learn in their first Jiu Jitsu lesson, is no exception.

They have mount on you, but you can trap their R arm.
  • Trap the R elbow with your R hand on top, L hand behind their elbow. 
  • Your L foot traps their R shin, as usual. 
  • Bring both feet up close to your butt.
  • Move your head to the right, try to touch their R hip with your R ear.
  • Flare your L knee out to your L, putting pressure on their R calf with your thigh, at the same time pushing their R foot into the centre. This pressure on its own should make them feel very unstable, and their leg trapped, in a poor position, about to lose balance, and under pressure. 
  • You should need only a small amount of bridging energy to take them over. As they fall to their back and you come on top, bring your R knee up between their legs to prevent them closing their guard. 
  • Finish on a "combat base" position ready to pass.
Combat Base position, demonstrated by excellent Jiu Jitsu blogger Cane Prevost

That's all, folks.

A morning well spent

John's autobiography. Ripping yarns and great advice.

John Will's seminar schedule. Get on board with one of the best Jiu Jitsu coaches on the planet.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dave Camarillo 16 Sep 2017

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu in the Woolloomooloo PCYC, organised by John Smallios.

Dave's first major statement was "Athleticism begins on the feet." You want to be on your toes, moving, and always in a position to move. Not flat footed.

All the running, sideways stepping, two in two out, etc. that you do in the warm up assists athleticism.

We played a few games to warm up:

You and a partner face off, and try to tag each other's knees with your hand without getting tagged yourself.

Next, everyone against everyone, try to tag anyone's knee without getting tagged yourself. Situational awareness.

Next, with a partner, each tries to get the other with a two handed grip on one wrist, or even an actual 2 on 1 Russian tie, while avoiding it yourself. When you do get the grip, put your hed in the pocked next to the shoulder, push them around and do not let them get their arm back for a couple of seconds.

Games like this get you active and warm without the "workout"  or "drill" drudgery vibe and can develop good attributes.

The Offline Grip

This grip was used to set up all the following takedowns.

Rather than a "strong side" and a "weak side", Dave and the US military prefer the terms "strong side" and "stronger side". You should normally engage you opponent with your stronger side forward.

The technique is a counter to a lapel grip, or attempted lapel grip. He should tend to try to grab your collar with a parallel grip (e.g. he tries to grab your L collar with his R hand. A cross grip should expose his back. With your stronger side forward (say, the R), the collar on that side should be most accessible to him, especially if his R side is the stronger and he too is following Dave's advice.

He goes to grab your L collar with his R hand. Break the grip  with your R hand gripping underneath his wrist (cloth grip is great if you can get it, but the best grip you can get if not), R hand goes over the tip of his wrist. Step/move your chest straight back as you push his wrist forward with both hands this creating a push/pull effect - "two step pressure", this breaking the grip. If you get your grips on and control his wrist before he has a chance to grab, that's a bonus.

Quickly step forward and drive your head in next to his  R shoulder and just under his jaw. Go STRAIGHT in, don't circle. The straight line is the shortest and quickest. While keeping the grip on his wrist with your R hand, extend your L arm fully as you reach around behind him to get a grip with your L hand on the far waist/hip. Gripping both belt and gi skirt would be ideal, but get the best grip you can. Thinking of fully extending the arm as you reach stops you tensing up and short cutting the move. Cinch the grips in and experiment with driving into him, on your toes. Also drive shoulder pressure into him with your L shoulder to stop him squaring up.

This is the offline grip. (Will put up some pictures in the near future).

Reverse Single Leg Takedown

From the offline grip, drive into him, pushing his weight onto his back L leg. Quickly drop your level and scoop up his R leg with your R arm. Don't just grab with the hand, you want to get your elbow under it. You can grab your lower lapel with your R hand to keep the grip. often you will end up keeping his R arm trapped as well. Your slightly bent left leg can also serve as an additionaal platform to hold his leg up. From here you can either:

Trip him using your L foot on his L leg to take him down (kouchigari?)

Backstep with your L leg, drive him backwards using your head, circling him anticlockwise to the ground.

Keep the grip on his belt, as this will prevent him rolling to his back. Keep driving your head into his jaw as you set up a control position on the ground. Dave talked about staying below the "elbow line", thus keeping his hips controlled while preventing him effectively using frames with his arms to create space or reverse you.

Complete the pass and consolidate your control position.

Foot Sweep

Important points about foot sweeps:
  • Think of sweeping with your little toe inwards, not the big toe. This naturally turns the little toe side of the foot down, making the sole rather than the edge of the foot the point of contact, making the sweep both more effective and less prone to injury.
  • Keep the sweeping leg straight. This allows most efficient use of momentum.
  • The idea is not to kick his foot out from underneath him, but to hook and hold it off the floor while you push him over.
  • You want his weight on the foot you are NOT trying to sweep, so the leg you are sweeping is light.
From the offline grip on his R arm, drive him back so his weight goes onto his L leg and his R leg becomes light. Step R with your R foot so your foot and both of his form a roughly equilateral triangle, then sweep his R leg to your R with your L foot. Hold his R leg up with your L and drive him down with your upper body controls and your head. Keep the waist grip and drive with the head as you take him to the ground as before.

In side control, turn your feet out and engage the toes for better base and pressure.


Similar setup to before, get his weight on his back L leg. Step R with your R to the triangle position, this time turn your back to him a bit more and lift his leg by lifting it with your heel and the back of your R leg, while driving his upper body down towards the floor with yours. Keep his R leg elevated with your L as you hop toward his R foot with your until he falls over. Keep the belt grip, use your head and move to pass as before.

(Fanboy moment - Dave told me I had a good uchimata. Which I have seldom practised. Jeez, I wonder what I should do with that information? 😎 )

Combination / Kuzushi

Set up the foot sweep and go. He manages to free his foot, or you find it difficult to throw him and let his foot go. Immediately his R foot touches the ground, hit him with the uchimata.

Stumble Throw / Modified Taiotoshi

Set up the offline grip as before. This time he is trying to square up to you again, as most trained people will do, and gets there or most of the way.

This time, step your L (not R foot) onto the triangle point with his feet. Take a small backstep with your R foot so it is outside his R foot, then take a bigger backstep with your L foot inside his R, the back of your L thigh hits the front of his R thigh just above his knee, this knocking his R leg out from underneath him so he needs to put his hands out so as not to face plant.

While you could follow him down, this time stay on your feet, and let go momentarily, ready to grab whatever opportunity for attack is now presented. You want to be on your toes and balanced, ready to move no matter what he does.

Do NOT overextend the step back with the L that bumps his thigh. You do not want to compromise your balanced stance. The move is subtle, not brutal. You should not need your feet any wider than double shoulder width to take him off his feet. He can attack YOUR legs if you take them too wide. Always trying to keep a stance you can move quickly from.

Attacking the turtle and rolling him to the King's Chair

Dave prefers getting double underhooks and lapel grips, rather than the seat belt grip, when attacking the turtle. The seat belt will not stop a good wrestler from turning towards you and attacking your legs. Seat belt is OK once you have him face up.

Get double underhooks with lapel grips on your turtled opponent, on his R. Pass his L lapel from your L hand to your R underneath his chest. Run around behind him to your L to gain momentum, put your L shin on the ground next ot his L shin to block it, post out in front of you with your L arm and use the momentum and your R hand in his collar ("the straitjacket") to roll him into a sitting position between your legs.

You are sitting behind him supporting yourself on your posted L arm. You want him sitting up at this stage, not flat. Use the R reverse hook under his R leg to stop him spinning out that way. Your L foot should be flat on the ground, it and your L knee stopping him from escaping that way. You still have your R hand grip on his collar.

This is the King's Chair. You have dethroned the King.

Setting Up the Kimura Grip and Moving to the SAP

Once you decide to move, let go your post with your L and go for the seat belt grip, R arm under his R armpit, L arm over his L shoulder around his neck, R hand grabbing his L fist.. Push on his L hip with your L foot to help you move your R foot to his L hip and if possible hook his hip with your R heel and/or toes, as you fall onto your R side. This is the Belt Line Hook.

Your head should be below his, your L ear to his R ear, preventing him getting his head and shoulder to the mat to escape.

Grip his R wrist with your R hand. Your L hand snakes around behind his neck, the forearm sliding down the R side of his neck, the R hand grabbing his R wrist under his forearm in the Kimura grip. Your R fist goes wrist to wrist with your R. Drive the R fist down ("Thor's Hammer") as you drive your hips into him as if bridging and use the bicep slicer pressure with your arms to open his elbow and drive his R upper arm and elbow away from his ribs as far as possible. Do a small hip escape if necessary to get the space to omve off to his R and get your L leg over his face. Cross your ankles. flare your knees and go to the Standard Armbar Position (SAP).

SAP variation demonstrated by Draculino

Do not allow your elbow to go below the line if his chin when applying the kimura, as this allows him to grab your upper arm and counter. Your elbow should be driving into the side of his neck. This position means you no longer need to use your head to prevent the escape as the forearm is now performing that function admirably.

The SAP is a control position. Get really good at setting up and keeping this position with maximum pressure on the opponent. The sub will come from the pressure.

Uchikomi Drill

Get back control on your fellow trainee, with both arms underhooked. Fall to your R and set the blet line hook with your R foot while getting the kimura grip on his R arm with both of yours, then taking your L leg over his face and sitting up for the SAP. Spin back to hooks in back control, do the same thing on the other side. Repeat. Your partner needs to move cooperatively with you to allow the drill to flow.


So - work the Stumble Throw to get them on all fours, get double underhooks and roll them into the King's Chair, fall to your side, get the belt line hook and kimura grip, move to the SAP. Repeat.

Better to start slow and move smoothly, then make that smooth and quicker. Dave prefers to use "quick" to "fast". As John Smallios relates, "slow is smooth and smooth is fast".

Dave demonstrated a nice clock choke to rolling back take to SAP combo.

He also answered questions about people who try to push the leg off the head from the SAP. Dave stated that as soon as you see that hand moving to start pushing the leg, grab the wrist and attack it immediately. Be prepared to move to attack the other arm or go to the back. Do not hang onto a position that you have more than a thirty percent change of losing, Move on.

Dave uses chokes or their threat to set up armbars. Every time you pull his arm away from your neck your arm becomes vulnerable.

The SAP can work from guard the flared knees push his head sideways, making the stack very difficult.

"Pressurise the position", e.g. using crushing chest pressure when getting the underhook and moving into the top kimura position. The pressure on his elbow in the SAP should be such that he wants to give you the arm.

Dave also talked about will being as important as correct technique. I mention this as food for much further thought rather than just another statement.

Many people felt they got a lot out of Dave's last seminar, even to the extent of "that seminar changed my game". And they had huge success with the SAP.

I found Dave extremely impressive, friendly, encouraging, approachable. Watching him perform jiu jitsu is a pleasure, he moves so smoothly and quickly and always has multiple options from anywhere. Only when you read some of his online biographies do you realise what a badass he is as well. I feel bad that I didn't work harder to encourage more of my jiu jitsu friends to attend the seminar.

Another writeup here from John Smallios. Really good, and picked up on aspects I overlooked:

The Return of Dave Camarillo - Reflections

Video showing just how slick and smooth Dave's Jiu Jitsu is

Dave's speciality, Machine Gun Submissions

Dave Camarillo and myself

Marlon Lambert (L), John Smallios (R) and yours truly