Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pedro Sauer seminar 24 Oct 2016

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu, at the City of Sydney PCYC in Woolloomooloo.

This will be a difficult write up.

We did some techniques, certainly, but to just write them up would be a "finger pointing to the moon" type of mistake.

This really was a "this will make you think about all your Jiu Jitsu differently" or "everything you know is wrong" sort of seminar. I doubt I can do justice to how interesting and profound it was. Maybe you had to be there.

The Professor himself talked about "planting a seed" within us, that he hoped would take root and grow with the proper nourishment and attention.

The main conceptual ideas I received were as follows. Any confusion is the fault of the receiver (me) and not the transmitter (Prof. Pedro).

Start with a mindset of self defence and safety

Whatever position you may find yourself in, the first concern is your safety. Against all attacks, submissions, strikes, whatever, find a position of safety where you can weather the onslaught. Survival, per Saulo Ribeiro in Jiu Jitsu University.

Be patient. Wait for the opponent to move and thus provide an opportunity. Prof. Pedro's type of Jiu Jitsu is not about time limits and points. Do not be impatient and overreach.

This attitude has utility outside the gym and Jiu Jitsu.

Conceal your cards and make the opponent show his

Stay in a safe position and let the opponent try his attacks, so you get an idea of his techniques and strategy.

The analogy is a game of poker. It will be much easier to win if you can entice the opponent to show you their cards while you keep your own concealed.

Leverage, Timing, Intelligence, Details, Mechanics

Explore ways to make the techniques as effortless as possible, using leverage and timing rather than power and explosiveness. Power and explosiveness can be useful additions, but are never a substitute for leverage and proper technique.

White belt Jiu Jitsu uses 100% effort, often for 0% result. We want 20% effort to produce 80% of the results through intelligent use of leverage and body mechanics.

Study and understanding of body mechanics can yield big dividends in developing good Jiu Jitsu.

There are small details in every technique that can make a huge difference to their efficacy. Often these details are almost invisible even to the trained eye. This is the "invisible" or "hidden" Jiu Jitsu Rickson, Henry Akins, etc. talk about.


Most techniques, especially sweeps or reversals require you to fully attach yourself to your opponent in some way.

Countering these techniques usually requires you to detach or disengage yourself from that attachment in some way and move in a different direction, perhaps around the opponent's attachment to you. Perhaps illustrated best by the mount escape and counter thereto described below.

Confusing the Computer

The human motor nervous system deals well with countering a sustained application of force, as it can set itself against it. It is far less competent against force applied in a shaking or stuttering fashion. The nervous does not know when to apply tension to counter the force and finds it difficult to keep up. "Confusing the computer".

Prof. Pedro demonstrated this by having John Smallios overhooking his arm, and trying to pull his arm free with  a sustained pull. All he could do was pull John across the mat, still connected.

When the Prof. instead posted with his free hand on John's shoulder and used a series of fast little tugs, it was comparatively easy for him to free his arm.

Most of us have experienced escaping an armbar from guard by freeing our arm in a series of small movements.

Pedro also demonstrated how he used a shaking movement to dislodge the guy (Marlon Lambert) he'd lifted in closed guard for a standing guard pass.

Crossing the Line

There comes a point when defending a technique, like a guard pass, where he "crosses the line" and resisting the technique becomes ineffective. When this happens you need to allow his momentum to carry through, but move him in that direction a lot farther than he wanted to go. See the knee slice pass counter below.


See wrestling as giving something to get something, "negotiating a deal". You might have to get him to deal with a problem or pretend to give him something in one area to set up an attack elsewhere. Illustrated with the harpoon sweep.


Persistence in chasing a technique or going for it in a roll or match isn't necessarily a good thing. You are "showing your cards" to the opponent. Mix it up, bother him with a variety of attacks and moves to unsettle him to keep him guessing.

Prediction, Expectation

If he gets one hand in your collar, you can be pretty sure he would like to get the other one in and go for the choke. Be ready to counter obvious follow ups like this and exploit them. You can also control the elbow of the hand in the collar to make choking more difficult. The hand in the collar is not the only circumstance where this concept could be applied. If you know what he's likely to do in a particular position, take preemptive steps to make it more difficult to get what he wants.

The mat is your best friend

Use the floor for base. The floor allows a base for you to move and apply or receive force.

50% Credit, 50% Responsibility

Both you and your training partner or opponent have and have to take 50% of the credit, and 50% of the responsibility for everything that happens on the mat.

(To be honest, I've forgotten the context and larger story behind this idea. I would be grateful if anyone could remind me).


Training should be about exploration and play, learning to use the mechanics and leverage in an intelligent fashion, rather than trying to beat each other up using brute force. But it should be about patience and eventual submission rather than racking up points.


Note: the techniques demonstrated and practised resulted from Prof. Pedro asking us what we wanted to see, problems we were having, etc. Unscripted.

Bridge and Roll Escape from Mount

We did this in several stages to explore various mechanics.

1. He puts his R hand in your R collar to set up a choke. Grip his R forearm (at the wrist rather than the elbow) with your R hand, not thumb, and pin it to your chest. Grab his R sleeve above the elbow with your L hand. He should try to pull his R hand out. As he tries to remove his hand, bridge and lift your hips, barely a centimeter. He should find himself falling forward and have to post with his L hand to avoid face planting. Experiment to find the smallest lift of your hips necessary to cause him to fall forward. It really is very small.

2. This time, attach yourself to his hips completely by connecting you elbows to his thighs. There should be no play between his hips and yours. As soon as your hips move, so should he. With your L hand, connect the elbow to the thigh, push R his elbow to your R towards the centre of his chest to counter the possible choke, then reach up for the sleeve grip and reattach the elbow to the thigh. Trap his R foot with your L - toes first, then heel to the mat. Push his R foot across to your L with your L foot to disrupt his base. Your R foot goes between his feet as close to your butt as possible. Lift your hips as in the first stage, but further now so as to take him to your L. Keep bridging - your goal now is to put his R shoulder on the mat. His R ankle should be caught by your L shin as you bridge. Once his R shoulder hits the mat, your R foot comes off the floor and takes a big step over to your L as you roll him over. Put the R foot down on the mat, not the knee ,and drive your knee into his L hip. This placement will stop any attempt he makes to keep rolling you to Your R. Consolidate your base and prepare to pass. Be prepared to block his L hand from going for the cross collar choke after or during the roll with your L or R hand.

You can stop him getting a decent grip on your collar in the beginning by grabbing each collar with your same side hand and pulling down, Thus removing the gap he needs to get his hand in deep.

3. He may post with his L hand over and to the L of your head with his L hand to stop you rolling him. You can nullify the effect of this by taking your head away to the R, effectively bridging on your L ear and shoulder, continually trying to bring your L shoulder underneath you and allowing you to turn face down. If done correctly this will make his post ineffectual.

This video from Rickson on This Week In BJJ illustrates this:

That was part 4 of 4. The other parts have more invisible Jiu Jitsu. And it's Rickson, so ... just watch them.

On the other hand

The other side of this was what the top guy should do in this situation.

Recognise the potential leverage he has on your R arm in the collar. Don't give him the leverage by trying to pull your arm out.

Instead, push down on his chest with your R elbow, disengage your hips and slide  to a sidemount / technical mount facing R, moving around the point of leverage, timing it as he tries to roll. Keep the R hand grip and Trap his R elbow with your chest. You should end up with an underhook on his R arm, and then are in a good position to go for the half nelson lapel choke.

Should he fight the choke, you have other options from here, e.g. top kimura, or pick up his bottom elbow with your L hand and slide up to S mount, then armbar.

Bottom Turtle

Multiple stages as for the mount escape.

1. Rule #1: survival. DON'T put your hands on the floor! Stay on elbows, and active toes, not ballerina feet. If he is on your L side/back, he will try to get his R knee between your L elbow and knee, grab your R collar with his L hand for the clock choke, and/or grab your R lapel under the armpit to open the collar,  or put in in the crease of your hip for the spiral ride, etc. Your hands are crossed. If he is on your L, put your L thumb in your R collar to block any choke, and use your R hand to block his L hand coming in. Your L arm is "hidden" by your R. If he swaps sides, you should do the same. Practice this until you are comfortable surviving attacks in this position.

2. He has side/back control on your L.With your active toes, lift your hips up. You want him to slide forward and post on the mat. Extend your L leg and place your L foot between his as you collapse onto your R hip, sort of driving underneath him. Try to catch his R arm between your ribs and your R leg. Come up on your R hand and roll him over you as you turn to your L and sit up. Grab his L pants leg at the knee with your L and tiurn towards his feet to move to side control. Or step over both legs with your R leg, hooking them both behind your R knee and go to mount (note you are using your one limb to trap his two, almost always a good thing).

3. (Demonstrated by Phil Grepsas, we did not drill this) If you can't trap his R arm above, instead, put your L knee between his instead of your foot, attaching your hips to his. Pull your L foot toward you, dragging his lower leg with it to disrupt his base. Drive to your L pushing with your arms and R leg to push him onto his L side and roll over the top of him, basing out with your R foot behind you as you extract your L leg, to finish in side control.

To be honest, I don't feel that I completely got the feel of either reversal/sweep technique. Prof. Pedro mentioned Eduardo Telles in glowing terms while this was going on, and I intend to revisit his "Turtle Guard" videos in detail in the very near future to get a better handle on them.

Kneeride Escape

Demonstrated, not practised.

He has kneeride on your R side with his R hand in your collar. Your R hand goes under his L arm and cups his L knee, just above the kneecap. Hold his R elbow with your L hand to prevent him crushing down or choking you. Hold his knee in place and use your feet to walk your body to the L out from under his knee. Don't turn towards him, just stay flat. If he stands up tall. block his femur near the knee to stop him getting it back. If his knee goes to the floor, block it and shrimp away.Near the knee provides the best leverage. From here you can look at recovering to guard, etc. Be alert for him trying to grab your other collar with his L and choking. Intercept and grab his L arm with both of yours, keep it controlled with your L as you get your R hand under his R arm.

If you can't get your R hand under, a slight bridge and turn towards him will create space.

If he grabs your R arm with his L and tries to pull it up and extend it as a prelude to an armbar, post out on your L with your L foot, shin at about 45 degrees, so you can you can turn slightly on your side. This will give you the base and structure you need to pull your elbow down to your hip and keep it there. He can't armbar you now - he may switch his L hand to try the cross choke, in which case you grab it as above - now your R hand is free and you can get your R hand under his R arm to set up the escape.

Countering the knee-cut pass

Demonstrated, not drilled. I must admit I didn't get the best view of this or the best understanding of the details.

He is passing to your R, his R knee/shin passing over your R thigh. You may be able to block him with stiff arms, etc, but there comes a point where he "crosses the line", and even if you block him with your hands he will still be able to slide his hip and knee through and pass.

If this happens you change strategy and instead help him on his way, but further than he wanted, by bumping him overhead with your L knee, and an underhook if you have it, then either get his back or put him on his. If he turns to guard you want to make sure you control his R leg with both of yours so you end up in top half guard.

Professor did some nifty handfighting here, to deal with the situation where he has a grip on your R arm with his left and is pulling up to keep you flat and stop you blocking his knee with your elbow. I must admit I didn't get a great view of this.

I can't see this approach working if he gets a deep underhook on your L arm with his R. Which implies you try to avoid that at all costs, but get your own underhook if you can. Other people taught me that the best defence against the knee cut passes is for you to get that underhook and guide him overhead.

Harpoon Sweep

Also called a "Rolling Reversal" (by John Will et al). Demonstrated, not practised.

The basic move is shown here by Prof Pedro:

One of the problems often encountered here is that (per the above position) the opponent will use his R arm to post out and block the sweep. If you try to pull guard from here by sliding your R knee under his R hip, you may be able to entice him to bring that R hand back over the R side of your body to block the guard pull - which would then be the perfect time to hit the sweep, as his R arm is no longer in position to post and stop the sweep.

More harpoon sweep stuff here:

"Single arm" guard break

Prof. developed this when he had a significant injury to one arm which made it difficult for him to full extend it or push or pull with any authority. How, then, do we break open the closed guard from here?

You have your L arm holding down his hips. Instead of using your R arm to control his chest and stop him sitting up or pulling you in, come up on your R foot next to his hip and drive your R knee across his hip to the L. Knee pushes across and down. If you can grip his collars with your R you can also drag his shoulders across to your R, thus putting a sideways bend in his spine. The stress on his spine and ankle grip should allow you to open his legs by pushing his R knee down with your L hand.

If you stand up, from here you can use a shaking technique to "confuse the computer" and break the grip with his legs.

I am probably not doing the seminar justice. It was really thought provoking and made me want to explore doing just about everything differently. The gym should be like a laboratory, not a gladiatorial arena.

Prof Pedro Sauer is a nice, friendly man who is also a Jiu Jitsu master.

Matt Klein, Master Pedro, Marlon Lambert, me doing my best Stephan Kesting impersonation

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