Friday, December 17, 2010



 I've been refereeing Jiu Jitsu for a couple of years. Several hundred matches, at least. It might look like an easy gig, but it's not.

A good BJJ referee requires:

  •  Ability to concentrate and observe
  • Ability to work closely with the scorer, timekeeper, and other officials
  • Excellent knowledge of the rules and of jiu jitsu itself
  • Ability to make FAST decisions based on knowledge if the rules
  • Confidence
  • A high tolerance for abuse, both in the local language and Portuguese
Depending on the size of the competition and the size of the pool of referees, you'll probably be refereeing between twenty and fifty matches in a day at a reasonable sized competition. The largest competitions I've refereed at have had about 300 competitors. Even with six mats running concurrently, that's a long day of competition. Keeping the a high level of concentration to see every point and advantage is hard, and it's taxing. There is talk of "mat madness", where it becomes too much, and it's true. By the end of the day, my brain is floating in the stratosphere. Make sure you get the occasional break, especially if you are feeling stressed.

You also need to work closely with the scorer and timekeeper. The scorer should watch the referee like a halk to ensure he picks up all the referee's hand signals; the referee needs to watch the scorer closely to ensure the scorer awards the points correctly. I had a scorer once miss six points I'd awarded during a match; but when I swapped roles with him, I only missed doing the same thing because he kept checking what I was doing. As a referee, award points verbally, "two points white - takedown", as well as using the hand signals. As a scorer, watch the referee rather than the match. If there is a separate timekeeper (the electronic scoreboards keep time themselves), they should also watch the referee and make sure the scorer misses nothing.

I've been fortunate enough to avoid the competitions that are poorly organised, schedule matches on the fly and end up running late into the night. I have been at well organised competitions and know that it doesn't have to be a dog's breakfast.

The rules aren't as complex as quantum mechanics, but they aren't always logical and consistent. There are a few quirks and grey areas, especially regarding their interpretation and determining the difference between points and advantages. There are a few unwritten rules as well, things like what is required to get an advantage when passing from full to half guard, and what you can and can't do when applying straight footlocks.

Decide on points quickly, but make sure you do not award points too early. Positions normally have to be held three seconds for positional control. But make a confident decision and award points - or not - confidently.

Competitors' coaches, teammates, crew and hangers-on will get in your face about your interpretation of the rules, and yell at you when they feel their guy was treated unjustly. Knowledge of the rules is your best defence - you should know the rules better than they do, or why are you refereeing at all? Often those who argue the most have a sketchy or nonexistent knowledge of the rules.

You will make mistakes. And you will remember them. The aggrieved parties may get in your face about it. Many seasoned competitors will tell you they have benefited as often as suffered from referee's mistakes, but few complain when a bad decision goes their way (though some do, to their credit). Apologise if you feel you should (or even if you feel you're right, but the argument will end earlier if you pretend to concede), and move on. I usually tell anyone with a problem to see the contest organisers, who so far have always backed me up, should anyone bother to take it further. Move on. The next match is ready to go, the last one is done and dusted. As a referee, you must live totally in the Now.

The sport need more good referees to grow. Some instructors require their students to referee a number of matches, maybe fifty, to be eligible for promotion to the higher coloured belts. Fifty matches is probably only two or three competitions. You get to see jiu jitsu from a different perspective. It will improve your ability to coach jiu jitsu.

Put something back into the sport we love. Be a referee!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

John Will Seminar 24 Oct 2010 - Anaconda, D'arce, Peruvian Necktie, Shackle

John Will Seminar 24 Oct 2010

Tabata warm up

20 secs intense work, 10 secs rest X 8
30/15 x 6
40/20 X4

Rest 2 minutes repeat up to 5 times.

Different drill each period

He is in your guard, sit up to kimura each side
Armbar from mount, switch off and remount
Switching armbars from guard
Drop to low single start, up, bounce, drop low other side
You are in his guard – do “burpees”

Good to make the drills a little sport specific and technical, so you get used to performing technique even when aerobically and anaerobically stressed.

Anaconda Choke - Static

You have H2H sprawled on top, R arm between his head and L arm to stop the shot, L arm outside his R arm. Grab your L wrist with your R hand down near his elbow and use your joined hands to pull his R elbow forward and into the centre. Keep the grip on his elbow with your L and shoot your R hand up into and past his R armpit. Bring your L elbow next to your R hand and grab your L bicep with your R hand. Place your L hand on his side or back. Fall on your L side, taking him with you onto his R side. Walk your feet toward him and use your stomach to drive his head toward his chest as you squeeze for the choke.

Anaconda Choke - Opponent Rolls

There is no need to roll him to apply the choke. But if he rolls, you follow. With the same grips as above, roll him to your R over the top of you until you are on your R side and he on his L. Walk your feet toward his and push his head forward with your stomach and squeeze with your arms to apply the choke.
Darce choke from H2H

You have H2H sprawled on top, same hand positions. This time move around to your L his R. Block his R elbow with your L knee to prevent the sitout and slide  your L hand under his R armpit, across his chest until it pops out on the L side of his neck. "Judo chop" the back of his neck with your R forearm. Keep the R arm horizontal with your weight on him. Join your hands in a gable grip R hand horizontal, L hand vertical. Push with the R hand and pull with the L so he falls onto his L side. Put your R fist on the floor and grab your R wrist with your L hand. Use your hands to push his head toward his chest, then drive your L hand through deeper. Grab your R elbow with your L hand, put your R hand on his back. sprawl on his R shoulder and squeeze to apply the choke.

One possible defense he has is to hide his L arm between his legs. He will then go face down to break the grip. You can pre-emptively prevent this by putting your L knee in the way. If he does try to hide his arm, you can use your L knee in the same way to extract the arm.

Elbow Roll from H2H to Darce Choke

Same starting position. This time pull his elbow forward as for the start of the anaconda. Move your feet around to your R to make it more difficult for him to block your roll with his R knee.  Duck your head under his armpit and roll him over you to your L so he ends up on his L side with you on top. your arms should be in a position to slide your L hand through and apply the darce choke in the same position as above.

Peruvian Necktie

You have H2H sprawled on top. This time your L arm is between his R shoulder and his neck, your R arm outside his L arm (opposite to preceding techniques). Weight on your fists. Jump up to your feet, hands in same position, land with your body turned c. 90 degrees to the left,  L foot near his R elbow, L knee pressing your L elbow into his R shoulder. Ideally your L foot is slightly on its outside edge to facilitate the “sitting down” to come shortly.  Your R foot is back. in line with but well away from his L knee and elbow so they do not catch on it when you take it over his back later.

Your L hand goes under his neck, palm down, “looking at your watch”. Your R arm goes under his L armpit and joins your L hand in an S grip, left hand on top, palm down. Sit down on your L butt cheek so the back of your L knee is on the back of his neck. Put your right leg over his back so he cannot roll forward and escape. Straighten your L knee and pull up with your hands to apply the choke.

Peruvian Necktie, he turns to the side, armbar

He tries to relieve the pressure of the choke by turning  onto his L side and even onto his back. As he turns grab his R arm with your L, pull his R shoulder towards you and apply a straight armbar.

Peruvian Necktie, he rolls forward, follow him on top and Darce choke

He tries to escape the Peruvian Necktie by rolling  forward before you can get your R leg over his back. Turn to your L as he rolls and get him on his R side with you in side control on his R. Your R arm is already in position to apply a darce choke from here.

Peruvian Necktie, he jumps over the leg, roll to crucifix control

He tries to escape the Peruvian Necktie by jumping to his L over your R leg before you can get it over his back. Roll him over you to his L, your R and trap his L arm with your legs. Get your R arm out from underneath him and get a seat belt control with your L arm over his L shoulder and your R arm under his R armpit - crucifix control which leads to a number of submissions.

Shackle control from standing

He gets an underhook on your L arm with his R. Overhook his arm and angle off to his right, placing your forehead in the pocket between his R shoulder and jaw. This will diminish the effect of the underhook. Grab his L wrist with your R hand and drive his L wrist into his stomach, then grab your own R wrist with your L hand. This is a pretty good control and nullifies his ability to punch. He may want to extract his R arm from your hold. Let him do so as you will then be able to get his back. It also sets up 2 on 1, leg attacks, etc.

Shackle control from hooks in guard

You have hooks in guard. He beats you to the underhook on your L arm. Secure the overhook and grab his L wrist and your own R wrist as before. Sweep him to the R, but only onto his side, because your L arm is already in a good position to snake through for a Darce choke.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

50/50 Guard

While the 50/50 guard has been out there for a while and I'm usually pretty technique-inquisitive, Anthony has been encouraging me to work various other open guards: butterfly (hooks-in), half guard, quarter guard, De La Riva, X guard and I figured that was more than enough to keep me occupied.

He introduced it to most of us in class last night. Simply put, the position is with both of you sitting up. You lock a leg triangle on his near side thigh; he can do the same to you. There is the usual plethora of video clips which are easily found via Google. Anthony said he wasn't a fan but knew he would have to learn the position because guys would be trying it on him and his students in competition.

To me it seems to run against the philosophical grain of what I have been taught that good BJJ is about. My understanding is that good BJJ involves achieving a superior position, so your opponent is put in an inferior position. With the 50/50 guard, you both end up in an identical position, and it comes down to who has the better understanding of the position and can apply it first.

Anthony showed us an entry to 50/50 from where the opponent is on his back and you are standing, and another from a failed legbar attempt, where you keep spinning and end up in 50/50. He also showed us several footlocks - heel hooks are right there, though illegal, so we looked at straight footlocks instead. We also looked at a sweep, and defense against all of those attacks, and a method to pass the guard. All of these would need a LOT of work for me to use them effectively. The guard pass in particular seemed to have large gaps.

Much of the criticism of this guard seems to be that it often ends in a one way or mutual stall on the competition mat, with both guys locked together for minutes with next to nothing going on. You can sweep the guy and then keep him locked up till the match times out. Can you really call it a sweep if the guy is already on his butt?

Love it or loathe it, this is something every competitor will have to deal with at some stage. The continual evolution is one of the things you have to love about this art.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A nice vacation, and reassessment

I'm just coming to the end of a couple of weeks vacation. During this time I only went to Jiu Jitsu once, the Monday night class with Anthony.

The first week Pat and I spent on Daydream Island in the Whitsundays. We felt a bit locked in on a small resort island and there were peculiarities like the water getting turned off between 11:30 pm and 6 am, the room aircon not always working, and one of the three main restaurants normally available for dinner being closed for renovations, but really it was pleasant and from what we saw it looked to be one of the better resorts in the Whitsundays - Long Island had a fantastic outlook but had fewer facilities than Daydream, and the buildings and facilities at Hook Island were way run down, though it had nice snorkelling right off the beach. If we ever go up there again I'd go for staying at Airlie Beach and go for day trips to the islands. Being on the mainland we could rent a car and get out of the place for a while too if necessary. Airlie had a much wider range of facilities than any of the islands. Hamilton Island has lots of facilities as well, including an airport, but I'd been there before, a business junket back in the late 80s when companies still did that sort of thing, and was looking elsewhere.

We took day trips to Airlie Beach on the mainland, Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, and Knuckle Reef, part of the outer Great Barrier Reef.

I got up early most mornings to do some training. I'd had some niggling back problems after an injudicious session of kettlebell windmills - with a permanent spondyolisthesis of L5/S1 there ARE some things it is counterproductive for me to do. I did some yoga, ROSS solo grappling drills, one arm and divebomber pushups. Felt strong and flexible.

I went into the gymnasium there to do some pulldowns on the cable machine - there were two women there running on treadmills. There's one of the more beautiful environments on this planet and a .5 kilometre track to run through it on right outside the door, but no, stay indoors on that treadmill and watch Robbie Williams music videos instead. People are strange.

I've decided to stop using my age (55 now, 56 in December) as a reason to treat myself with kid gloves as regards my training. Aging is inevitable, and your sphere of possibilities may gradually shrink, but you can still push up close to those limits rather than not even try to find out where they are. I'd cast myself as an old man who has to to go easy because of fear of injury or making a fool of himself otherwise - I'm changing my role to that of a sensible but mature athlete who still pushes himself as far as he can. Or someone who will, as George Carlin advocates, "Take a f***ing chance!"

I live about a kilometer from Pennant Hills Park, a bunch of sporting fields which back on to Lane Cove National Park, a large and pretty unspoiled stretch of Australian bushland in the middle of northern Sydney. Before I started to have knee problems and let the psychology of aging get to me, I used to run a couple of circuits on the fire trails and single tracks there - one about 6 K's the other about 8, each with a big, demanding hill either at the end or towards the end, depending on which way you go around. I resolved to run the big circuit, going from home, through the bush and back to civilisation after 6 K's through the bush at Thornleigh Oval, then another 2 K's home again via the back streets and Pennant Hills Road. It was further than I'd run in ages, and I had to slow to a walk on the final big hill through the bush to the Oval, but at the top of the hill I started running again and kept it up all the way home without dying and without knee issues. This was much more of a mental rather than physical challenge.

I reread Pavel Tsatsouline's Naked Warrior before the break and resolved to get some of the bodyweight skills back. In my early BJJ days I'd learned to do pistols (single leg, butt-to-heel squats) using a progression involving a flight of stairs and progressively lowering your butt to the third stair, then the second, then the first, and then finally going all the way down and back up without the stairs.

I had an arthroscopy on my left knee about 18 months ago, to fix a meniscus tear, and my other knee is also a bit dodgy, and thus had assumed that pistols were of necessity a thing of the past. I used Pavel's "Grease the Groove" - I got the left pistol on the second day, but my right knee didn't feel up to it. Lots of what Scott Sonnon calls "Fear-Reactivity". I was hoping I'd get the right pistol by the end of the week before I went back to work but I ended up getting it on the second day and am currently running on sets of two with alternate legs. My right knee gets a bit sore and cracks a bit, so I'm not going to push it by stacking on kettlebells or adding jumps, but regaining the pistol is hopefully part of reclaiming my potential and raising my standards.

I'm also working on standing ab wheel rollouts. Rolling out to a barrier (in my case, the doormat) and coming back up, and gradually increasing the distance between the barrier and my feet. These are a bit harder to manage than the pistols because they really fry my abs and the DOMS is a b*tch for the next day or so. I got there today, the full monty with no barrier, though my form could be improved. I did five (not one set of five, but five sets of one, or more accurately three sets of one and one set of two, which is about all I want to put on my abs at the moment, because it really does stress them to the max. Tomorrow, it's gonna hurt, and Sunday I want to roll.

Rest assured, dear reader, that you will not have to wade through microdetails of my fairly ordinary numbers and achievements. This is more about challenging my self-imposed limits and self-image, and is way more mental than physical. Challenge and living outside the comfort zone is what develops and sustains a warrior.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

John Will Seminar 15 Aug 2010 - Back Control

John Will Seminar 15 Aug 2010 - Back Control

The essence of maintaining back control is not the hooks. Rather, it is keeping your chest on the other guy’s back. You have to be prepared to move with him rather than try to clamp him in place, per John’s fly fishing analogy.

Seat belt grip 

(on his left arm) - keep your R hand (the one you will use to choke) on his chest directly under his neck. Do not let the hand move out to his L where he has more chance of grabbing it and it has to move further to attack his neck. Grab the R wrist with your L hand - Your L hand protects against his attempts to grab your R hand and run interference on the choke.

Master side

The best place to keep him is on the “master side”, the side your choking hand is on, or with the underhook side up. If you underhooked his L arm, you want him on his (and your) R side. That way if you try to choke him and he tries to escape to that side, he ends up tightening the choke. If he is on the other side, he will end up undoing the choke and has a better chance to escape.

If he is on the wrong side, Take off your hook on that side and move your hips back under him until he is on the master side. If you have the L underhook and he is on your  L, take your L hook out and use it to shimmy your hips under him until he is on your R. This is less effort than trying to roll the guy over you, which may not work at all if he is heavy. Take both hooks out if necessary.

You can also change master sides by switching grips. However this is more difficult and you run the risk of not being able to reclaim the seat belt.


To keep him on the master side, “staple” him there by (assuming you have the L underhook and he is on your R side, the master side):
Pushing the R side of his head to the floor with the R side of your head
Pushing his R knee to the floor using your own R hook, and possibly your L foot as well
Thus preventing him from turning toward you and/or moving to the other side.


If you just bring your choking hand up in an arc, it leaves air between your wrist and his neck and it is too easy for him to grab your wrist and use it as a chinup bar to stop the choke.

Instead, slide your hand quickly from its ready position on his chest around the neckline and “snake-bite” the back of his neck with your hand (let’s say it’s your R hand). He will still try to grab your wrist, but it will take considerably longer. Use your L palm to run interference on his grab attempts, pushing his hands away, until you are ready to snap the choke on. It would be best to preemptively put your L hand in fending position as you snake-bite his neck with your R.

Transition if you lose back control

He is on your master side (say, your R side, you have the L underhook), but is getting his shoulders to the floor and is about to escape. Switch your L hook to the outside of his L knee to prevent him turning toward you. Release the seat belt grip and slide your L hand back so your wrist is in his armpit, as you come up on your R elbow. Switch base and come up to side control angled toward his head. Turn your wrist sideways and put your weight on his L elbow to complete the “up and crush”. From here you can move to top kimura, snap armbar or kata gatame (or forearm choke).

How to get the back

From Head to Head

You are sprawled on top of him. Slide the back of your L hand onto the L side of his head; run around to side/back control on his left, getting the seat belt with his R arm underhooked. From here, focus your weight on his L shoulder sprawling hard on it to collapse his arm so he rolls to his L falling on his L shoulder. Get your R hook in and then your L. Finish with him on your L, master side.

If you get side/back control with the seat belt and he rolls to his R, taking you with him, get your L hook in. Keep the grip fairly loose so you can get on your R elbow and then to your knees. Bring the R knee up as far as you can trying to touch your R elbow. Now Roll him back the other way, over your knee. Keep the knee up and hip flexor engaged as this will cause the knee to help carry him over. Now insert the R hook and consolidate position on the master side.

If he rolls you from side back control and balls up so you cannot get the first hook in,get behind him on your R side, come to your knees and hoist him up to a sitting position (helps to post with your r foot and push with your leg to get him up, then drop back to your knees. Straighten up on your knees and pull him up as tall as possible. Now put your L (master side) hook in, then the other. Use the “boat ramp” principle by sliding back after you insert the first hook to give enough room to get the second hook in.

From side control

Get side control on his R side, L elbow on the far side of his head, R hand at his hip. “Add Pulling” to increase pressure by getting your L hand under his L arm, R hand underneath his torso and pulling up. Suddenly move back away from him him using your L hand on his L arm to pull him up on his R side, then run around his head so you are now facing his back. Get your chest on his back and behind his L shoulder so he cannot turn back toward you.. Your L hand slides under his L arm so you can get the seat belt. Push into him to encourage him to roll back, then get your hooks in by one of the last two methods from side/back control.

From mount

Both hands on his R arm, push it to the floor as if for a figure 4 by lifting your weight off the floor and putting it on the arm. If he turns toward it to rescue it from the figure 4, shift to side mount, underhook his L arm with your L arm to get the seat belt, and get your chest behind his R shoulder. Take your R foot back so you can use it to push into him and stop him from turning back to his L. When ready, bring your R knee up behind his back and roll him into back control, inserting your hooks.

If he doesn’t turn to his side to stop the figure 4 ... then hit him with the figure 4.

From hooks in guard

You are in his guard, he grabs your pants cuffs with both hands. Cup both hands behind his R elbow and arm drag him to your R. Reach around his back and under his L armpit to get the seat belt. Lift your butt off the floor to put weight on his R shoulder, and roll him back to your L and get your hooks in. You can also use your L hook to push at his R knee to corrode his base if he is very stable.

From half guard bottom

His R leg is in your half guard. He puts his L elbow on the far side of your head, puts his L hip on the floor to begin the basic half guard pass. Grab his pants at the L knee with your R hand. He will now bring his R foot up to his butt and push you legs down over his knee to move to mount. As he moves to mount and his weight shifts to his L knee, use the grip on his L knee to put his L leg into your half guard. Underhook his R arm with yours and get the seat belt, You are on the master side with one hook in already.

From inside his closed guard

Open his legs and then get double underhooks on both legs. grab his belt at floor level with both hands, elbows on the floor. Head in his stomach, and jump to both feet. Quickly stand up and lift him, flipping him backwards over his head so he lands on his knees. Quickly move to his R side, get side back control with the L underhook and seat belt. You already have options from here.

Using your weight

1. Hover. Try to get every part of your body except the one(s) you are using to apply pressure off the floor.
2. Focus your weight on a small area.
3. Focus that weight strategically so as to get what you want, e.g. at the end of the lever to make the guy move in the direction you want, or stop him going in the direction you don't want.
4. Add pulling.
5. Apply pressure at the right angle.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

John Will seminar 14 Mar 2010 - Kata Gatame

Kata Gatame (shoulder hold)
The hold itself
He is on his back. You are on his right side. Slide your R hand, palm down under his head from the L, his R arm between your head and his. Join your L hand palm up with your R hand in the S grip. Your L elbow is out wide to the L, widening your base and preventing him from rolling you. Head is on the floor or your joined hands so he cannot extract his R arm. Your R hip is next to his R hip. Your hips and legs are facing away from him; if you are flat and he hooks your lower R leg with his L, he has control of your whole leg because bending your knee won't help you free it. If your knees face away from him and he hooks your leg, he only controls the lower leg and you can free it fairly easily by bending your knee and stretching your body out. Your L foot is posted out fairly wide.
Tightening the hold, getting the choke
Push him up on his L side about 45 degrees. Use your L hand on your R to manipulate your R bicep to make the gap smaller. Drop down, and stretch the L elbow and your body as far away from him to the L as possible. The hold should be much tighter now and you should be able to squeeze and drop the R shoulder to get the tap.
Head/arm choke
If you can't get the choke from kata gatame, move on to the head/arm choke.. Roll him up on his side the same way, tighten the hold with the R arm as before. Now take your L arm away, and then drive it back in hard, trying to touch your elbows together to make the hold as tight as possible. Face down. come up only slightly on your knees and drive "chest through the hole" for the tap.
Armlock counter to "telephone defence"
He may grab the back of his head with his R hand in "telephone defence", preventing you from closing the gap enough to get the tap. If he does this, let go of your R hand with your L hand. "Scratch his head" from the crown with the fingers of your L hand until you find his R wrist, then hook your L fingers around it and get a grip. Keep your head on the floor, tripod up and walk your feet around until you are approx. perpendicular to him. Drive your head forward with your legs, wedging your head between his R wrist and shoulder until your head is touching his. Walk back again SLOWLY, applying a lock on his R shoulder.
From side control, jumpover
You are on his R side in SC. Your L forearm is under his head, palm down. His L upper arm is next to your L ear. Put your head on the ground, and drive it up and to the L, so your L ear is on his L shoulder. Your spine bends so the top of your head faces the same direction as the top of his head. This puts a pre-stretch on your spine, so the when you do the jumpover, the pre-stretch will align you to be parallel to him. Come up on your toes and walk them in so your hips go up in the air; when there is no weight on your toes you can easily jumpover without getting caught in a guard. Join your hands in S grip and align your body in the correct kata gatame position on his L. Practice back and forth both ways.
From headlock control
If you are on his R side in side control, overhooking his R arm with your L, then switching your base to headlock is a bad idea; his R arm is already in place for him to get the body lock, and your body movement is almost perfect to set up the rolling escape for him.
Instead, UNDERHOOK his R arm with your L and lie on his bicep. Pull up with your L arm and try to hover, thus putting as much weight as possible on his arm. This will hopefully give him the idea that he can try to roll on his R side and take your back. As he tries this, you then have the opportunity to hook his head with your R arm and switch base. Bring your L knee high and make sure he has no gap to get his R hand through. Do not grab his hand as that will make him resist. If he pushes on your jaw with his R hand, push his elbow to your R with your L hand and drop down into kata gatame position on his R.
From mount
Push his R forearm to the floor with both hands as if going for an americana, but with his hand close to his head. Trying to lift your knees and feet off the floor as you push means ALL your bodyweight goes onto his arm. Hold his arm down with your L and slide your R arm under his head, grabbing his R wrist with your R hand. Now slide your L hand under his upper arm and grab your R wrist in a figure 4 position. Use the grip to lever his R elbow up and put your head on the mat next to his R shoulder. Release his arm and move to kata gatame on his R.
From front control
Your forearms are under his upper arms. Drive your L wrist in under his L armpit, twist it up and lay your chest on it for the "up and crush" to lift him up on his R side, as if setting up the top kimura. He may grab his arm or elbow because he knows the kimura is coming. If this happens, keep the up and crush, and walk your feet clockwise  until your L hip is next to his. Now, back off enough for him to free his L arm; then drive your L shoulder under it and your head to the floor with your L ear next to his L shoulder, hook his head with your L arm and move to kata gatame on his L side.
Keep your L elbow on the L side of his torso so he can't roll you to his R. If you let it drift over to the R he can roll you.
From side/back control
You have side/back on his L. If he has a gi, use your L hand to pass his L lapel to your R hand under his arms. If no gi, just hold his R hip with your R hand. Your L arm goes under his L armpit and "snake bites" his R trapezius muscle from underneath. Push into him to create a reaction back; as he resists, use the push back to "disappear", rolling him over you until you are on your R side, Go slightly face down, enough to post on your R knee and head. Your grips prevent him turning away from you; encourage him to turn back toward you and as he does, move to kata gatame on his L side.
John wrote up how to do it as a counter to an escape from back control, but ran out of time before teaching it.
Using your weight
1. Hover - not so much "put your weight on him", but "get your weight off the floor".
2. Put your weight on a small area for maximum pressure.
3. Use your weight strategically, to get a reaction.
4. Find a way to pull up in the opposite direction at the same time.
You need to loosen up sometimes to allow the person to move the way you want. Shut off three sides of a room, but allow an easy, red carpet exit in the direction where you have the trap waiting.
In the old days, there was little information about MA. People got very good at a few basic techniques because there was nothing else to practise. Now there are thousands of techniques, and the temptation is always there to discard a technique after a few failed attempts and move on to the next. Work on the kata gatame submission before giving up and switching to the head/arm choke.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Poor Judgement

A recent training session found me as part of a class practising some intermediate level setups for double leg takedowns, and for the fireman's carry.

The fireman's carry is a throw where- one way - you overhook the guy's arm, wizzer to make him step with his outside leg, dive underneath him, and roll him over the top of you. A beautiful throw when executed well. However, safe practice of the throw requires your training partner to know how to roll with the throw and break his fall correctly.

On this occasion my partner was a beginner, and by his own unsolicited admission, a bit out of shape. I asked him several times if he was comfortable with me throwing him, and having to roll over his shoulder.

I threw him a couple of times, repeatedly asking him if he was OK, and to ensure he was happy for me to throw him again. I threw him tentatively - a recipe for a crap throw - and he said he was OK with that. I found the tentative throws unsatisfying and frustrating, and so, advising him I was going to do so beforehand and being assured he was OK with it, executed a smooth, fast, throw.

My partner lands awkwardly and injures his shoulder.

I get him an ice pack talk to him afterwards - he says he is OK, but is holding his arm and is obviously not OK. He tells me he moves refridgerators for a living. I feel like a prick.

While I was not in charge of the class and was following the instructor's directions, I am unhappy with my behaviour in this instance. I should have made sure my partner understood the throw and knew how to fall and roll properly. I should have taken his assertions that he was OK and comfortable with the throw with scepticism - he was an unfit beginner and couldn't possibly have known enough about the fireman's carry.

The situation for him would have been full of conflicting emotions, the desires to be seen as cooperative, and not as a wimp, overriding any reticence about the unknown and instinct for self-preservation.

I was concerned with my own desire to practice than his well being. I could and should have practiced only partial reps, or worked on a less risky takedown.

I have been doing martial arts for over 25 years, and have a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu. I should have known better. Hopefully I will do better in future.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The real problem with Wing Chun, and the solütion

Long and heartrending are the lamentations about the sorry state and fractured nature of Wing Chun. The reasons given are many, but the solutions proposed few and sorry.

Wing Chun needs a tougher image. The pathetic adherence to antedeluvian cultural associations and wishy-washy attempts to make it into some new age pussified version of the already pussified internal martial arts and Buddhist traditions have got us nowhere. The New Age is over, and as The Clash predicted, nobody escaped, especially Wing Chun.

A tougher image. We need a quantum leap into gnarliness and sheer psychic terror. We need ...

The heavy metal umlaut. What got Motörhead charging like a nitro-injected road missile.

Wing Chün. Yes, Wing Chün.

As David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap said. "It's like a pair of eyes. You're looking at the umlaut, and it's looking at you."

You want gravitas? Depth? Try the Abyss. As Nietsche said. "Gaze into the Abyss for long enough, the Abyss gazes back at you." The Abyss. Depth up to here (or actually, down to There). Same thing with the umlaut. Two eyes, wormholes into the depths of the Abyss. Get some of THAT Godless rocket fuel into your Wing Chün and scare the crap out of those keyboard warriors.

Nietsche spoiled that by prefacing it with "Take care when fighting monsters, that you do not become a monster." Screw Nietsche. You can bet he never won a challenge match or fought MMA. Wing Chün is screaming out like a damned soul for a few real monsters.

I sort of get the WT guys were trying to do when they changed to Wing Tsun, but they missed the point totally. In Germany, of all places, where Nietsche and the two eyes of the umlaut were staring them in the face. A HUGE opportunity missed. The Gracies would have run from Emin had he used the umlaut, that I can guarantee. Unless the Gracies started doing Jiü Jitsu, that is (only one umlaut; two shows a certain desperation).

The pain you endure to include the umlaut in your KFO posts will make you stronger.

Are you going to remain a loser, or will you start practising Wing Chün instead?

Note to fanboys: Yes, I know Spinal Tap is properly spelt with no dot on the i and an umlaut over the n. If you can work out how to do that inside a KFO post, your HTML-fu is stronger than mine, and I will duly grovel at your cyberfeet for the chance to learn from the master.