The Fire

When I first started BJJ, I just got thrown in with a bunch of adults as a fifteen year old kid, that was jiu jitsu in 2003. You rolled on your first day even if you knew nothing, and you either survived or you left. That’s not conducive to people wanting to stick around, but I also believe in giving people agency over their training. When you walk in our door with no experience, I will tell you when our basics class is and try to steer you towards taking at least a few of them before jumping into rolling. However, you are an adult, if you want to come to the mixed levels classes I won’t stop you. What you should know is it’s hard, it is a difficult path to jump into the mixed levels class and roll when you don’t know what’s going on. Most likely you’ll get beat up, you’ll get tapped, and you’ll  be sore in places you didn’t know you had places. It’s defeating, humbling, frustrating, and all the other things you probably don’t want to feel, but it’s going to be that way. Psychologically and physically it is incredibly difficult to just jump in to grappling. It is however more practical, making mistakes in real time against someone who’s resisting is always going to be the path to the quickest result. Just like immersing yourself in a language is the best way to learn. So then it is up to you to determine what path works best for the longevity of your jiu-jitsu career, stockpile knowledge for a bit and then execute when you feel more comfortable, or jump in to an admittedly frustrating initial period for a quicker knowledge gain. Neither is wrong, just be aware that it’s not supposed to be easy.

The Days That Suck

The days that you don’t want to train and make it in are some of the best days sometimes. I’ve never been upset that I trained, but I’ve definitely been mad that I didn’t. Nor do I ever leave in a worse mood than I walked in. The mats are where I feel most comfortable and where I can put the rest of the world away for a bit. One of the black belts in my home town said that he needed at least 10 good reasons to not show up, otherwise he was coming to class. There’s a lot to learned in the classes you’re missing. Even if you’re beat up, you can train light(that is a thing). It’s good to go to class when you don’t feel like it, just as much as when you do. It’s building a habit, it’s making progress, it’s showing yourself that you’re capable of more than you believe. You don’t have to be like me, placing BJJ before almost everything, but when the choice is go to class or sit on the couch, try to pick class more often.

Arm Attacks

There’s really only 6 ways to hurt someone’s arm and only 3 of those are legal across all belt levels
1. Wrist Lock- palm down
2. Wrist Lock- palm up
3. Elbow Hyperextension
4. Bicep Slicer
5. Shoulder Lock- hand up
6. Shoulder Lock- hand down
You can take your arm and test the mechanics of the positions it moves in and those will function the same across all humans. If you can place someone’s arm in one of these six positions that is the entirety of arm locks in grappling. It is more important that you understand how anatomy works than that you memorize every individual technique independently. If you can begin to connect the moves that you see through commonalities, it opens up what is possible in your BJJ game.

Attacking Legs

A leg and an arm function very similarly as the joint setup is basically the same.
So in much the same way there are only a handful of actual leg submissions, and understanding how a leg functions will allow you to better navigate the nuances of individual leg positions.
1. Hip Locks- we will include banana splits and other attacks of the thigh in this category. There are very few true attacks on the hip joint, but they do exist(I have absolutely seen someone get their leg kimuraed). We do however see many attacks splitting the legs in the 10th planet system, and given the legality of such attacks across all belt levels 13 and up, you would think it would be more prevalent.
2. Leg Hyperextension- functions the same as the arm hyperextension with the heel serving as the thumb to designate direction of pressure.
Calf Compression- compression locks occur when we take the top and bottom of an extremity and squeeze them together over a sharp frame. In compression submissions like a bicep or calf slicer, we take our opponents bicep/hamstring and connect it to their forearm/calf with our shin or forearm sandwiched between, a lot of the time it is very painful and occasionally it will snap a forearm.
3. Straight ankle- Guillotine the foot, that’s how I look at a straight ankle lock. Both attack and defense have very similar mechanics to the easiest choke in grappling. It’s legal across all belt levels and if you get good at it it’s very frustrating to deal with.
4. Toe holds- You can basically hit a toe hold from anywhere, the most similar to a wrist lock on the lower body, you don’t even have to be in a good position, but it is preferred.
5. Heel Hooks- Inside and outside heel hooks function the same, toes bent under the armpit, opponent’s knee is bent not straight, control the hip so as you twist they don’t. There’s a lot of nuances to a really good heel hook, but most people will tap before you get the chance if you do it right.


Here’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, how often do you need to roll hard to be successful in jiu jitsu? Is it beneficial to constantly crash into each other attempting to impose your will, or is there a better way? I like to just slap, bump, and go as much as the next person, but are we getting much out of it? I think it’s a valid question that we don’t really have enough information to form an educated opinion about. At this moment, I feel like training within strict parameters may be more useful and beneficial to a long term jiu jitsu career than the standard live go system. It seems like an interesting test, reserve free rolls for open mat classes and make bola bola and position rolling the norm in the regular classes. I guess we shall see what comes of working this way.

Don’t Get Passed

How do I defend this?
How do I escape this?
The cookie cutter answer of the BJJ black belt is “don’t get there”. That really doesn’t seem that helpful, but it is true, and the underlying message is key. The problem you are having is not the problem, the problem is what ended you up in that situation to begin with. So when we look at something like how to escape pins, the first step is having a guard that’s difficult to pass. What does that look like?
Grips- At all points in playing guard at least one of your hands should be on your partner

Points of Contact- to go with the grips, you should in contact with your opponent with 3 of your 4 limbs (ideally all 4 are doing something)

Positioning- not only having points of contact but having optimal points of contact, knowing what positions benefit you and where you can be beat, the risks and rewards of the guard systems you choose

Activity- if you are attacking they have to worry about that rather than strictly focusing on passing your guard

Recovery- knowing when your grips and attacks have been beat and being able to bail and reset is just as critical to avoiding pins as any technique in your arsenal

Think about how the idea of prevention applies to your game, what would you add to this list of impassible guard concepts? What about other aspects of your game?


We don’t really choke people in BJJ, but somehow that sounds more acceptable than strangle, so it’s the become the common nomenclature. No matter what you call it, all we’re trying to do is close off the carotid artery on either side of the neck. So how do we do that? Glad you asked, really there’s 3 groups we can place chokes in that cover a lot of territory.
1. Naked strangles- chokes that function only utilizing my body as a choking mechanism
2. Gi strangles- chokes assisted by the cloth
3. Triangles- chokes assisted by part of the opponent
As we have seen in recent IBJJF competition the two handed predator choke can work, however it is not the most efficient means of accomplishing the task at hand. When we discuss naked strangles, usually our best tools become the forearm and bicep working in tandem to close off blood flow to the brain causing unconsciousness. In gi chokes the cloth can be both the choking mechanism as well as an accessory to forcing the tap. In triangles we use our opponent’s body usually a shoulder or arm to close one side and our leg or arm to shut down the other forcing the panic button shut down and putting our partner to sleep. I think in some ways we often look at grappling to microscopically especially in the beginning, hopefully by categorizing the techniques in a larger sense it will allow you to understand things more broadly and expand outside of the 3 techniques a day model.

Face the Opposition

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art first and foremost. That means we still have to think about training and rolling as combat. Yes, we can work on sporting aspects that we won’t use in a street fight, but the principles of what we do should still remain based in conflict. If nothing else, facing the person we are grappling should remain of great importance in all techniques we utilize. Unlike most grappling styles, there are no pins in BJJ, so there is no need to belly down. Within the confines of submission grappling, BJJ, MMA, or self defense going to our stomach places us at a disadvantage a majority of the time. When you can’t see what’s happening you lower your ability to defend what’s coming making the strikes and submissions of your adversary more effective. Turtle is a last resort and I can’t think of a time where flat is good. In life and in jiu jitsu, face the opposition.

WOD 4.11

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Maecenas sagittis nisl in est vulputate, eu finibus arcu mollis. Sed sodales ultricies sem, non condimentum tellus dapibus ac. Integer dictum tortor id augue hendrerit, blandit elementum purus fringilla. Vestibulum quis luctus nulla. Quisque in fringilla orci. Donec ullamcorper quis ligula sit amet tincidunt. Quisque arcu ligula, semper non est eu, dapibus egestas lectus. Donec vel nibh vel mauris aliquet sollicitudin.

Nam faucibus, massa quis iaculis egestas, quam metus placerat eros, vitae efficitur nisi elit a nibh. Quisque ac ipsum nunc. Cras commodo consequat tellus, et pretium ante sagittis eget. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Duis et velit lorem. Nunc non orci maximus, rhoncus magna in, pellentesque nisl. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Nunc rutrum, diam id dapibus condimentum, turpis nisl eleifend magna, at aliquet est arcu id eros. Aenean malesuada suscipit purus, in laoreet erat viverra a. Sed nec malesuada arcu.

Etiam euismod enim at dapibus consectetur. Aenean hendrerit risus ut dolor laoreet commodo eget in elit. Maecenas sed pharetra mi, quis sodales sapien. Nam nulla quam, iaculis id finibus sed, consequat a dui. Donec vitae est urna. Duis sit amet porta mi, quis gravida arcu. Phasellus ac sapien semper, viverra tortor quis, aliquam est. Mauris a diam leo. Donec nec leo id elit mollis tristique sit amet bibendum libero. Nullam pulvinar elementum turpis, elementum congue risus.

WOD 4.10

When you get into a good rhythm at the gym, it can be challenging to keep momentum during periods when you cannot be in the gym.  With the holiday season quickly approaching (I saw Christmas lights at Target already….) here are 10 workouts you can crush at home, your parents, in-laws…wherever the wind takes you!

  1. 10 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)

20 double unders/40 singles

100m run


  1.  10 rounds

5 burpees

10 push-ups

15 squats

  1.  2 rounds

50 squats

50 situps

40 double unders/80 singles

40 lunges

30 push-ups

30 double unders/singles


  1.  10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1




  1.  12 minute amrap

200m run

15 squats

15 push-ups


  1.  7 min burpees


  1.   4 rounds

20 squats

15 push-ups

1 v-ups


  1.  4 rounds

1 min each

Shuttle run



1 min rest at the end of each round



  1.  14m AMRAP

22 lunges

10 push-ups

15 sit-ups


  1.  20 push-ups

40 burpees

20 squats

30 burpees

20 lunges (Left+Right=1 lunge)

20 burpees

20 broad jumps

10 burpees


Looking forward to cooler weather and sweatpants,