Wednesday, December 04, 2013

BJJ Black Belt 4th December 2013

I am nearly fifty-nine. About to start my sixtieth trip around the sun on this pale blue dot.

My goal was to achieve a Jiu Jitsu black belt before I was sixty. I have been fortunate beyond all expectation to have achieved that goal ahead of time. In realising my good fortune, I also realise I have much to be grateful for.

The saying is, "You don't get good at Jiu Jitsu by yourself." I started on a list of people I wanted to thank, but soon realised it would be enormously long and I'd probably leave important people out.

Jiu Jitsu is challenging and fun, but it can also be hard, frustrating and punishing. The best lessons come from losing. Every black belt has tapped out tens of thousands of times. So often what has made the difference to me has been a smile, a kind word, a gesture of welcome, friendship, encouragement, sympathy or inclusion, a shared wisecrack to lift the mood, or a helping hand. And not only from an instructor ... an insight, example, or gesture of support can come from a fellow student of the art with any belt colour. The is the Art Suave, the gentle art. Be kind to your training buds, even when you're slamming a clock choke on them.

I've had people tell me I have been a role model or inspiration to them, people about whom I've felt exactly the same in reverse. I've met true warriors of both genders and all ages, and only a small proportion of them are black belts.

There *are* some fine human beings who do deserve a special mention.

My wife and best friend Patricia Nerlich, who has provided the home base of love, support, and stability, putting up with my three nights and one weekend day away for decades, and enduring on occasion some very strange martial arts related situations, along with the usual trials of dealing with a martial arts obsessive-compulsive that most of our significant others have to deal with.

When I told John Will (one of the finest martial artists on the planet in his own right) that I had started training with Anthony Lange, John, completely unsolicited, said something like, "With Anthony it's about YOU ... while with X, Y and Z its about THEM". Damn straight. Anthony to me exemplifies the modern martial artist, the modern warrior. The motto of Langes MMA is "Developing the individual" ... and that's what Anthony does. He is a man of his word and a man of integrity ... qualities that should be universal amongst martial arts instructors, though I have found them to be much rarer than they should be. Had I not met Anthony, I would not be a black belt today. That simple.

Peter King and Darko Zaric have also been essential parts of my Jiu Jitsu education and development. Knowing both gentlemen has been a pleasure and a privilege.

Rick Spain introduced Jiu Jitsu to his Wing Chun academy via John Will about fifteen years ago. He was my principal BJJ coach most of the way to purple belt. He also helped me realise that nearly all perceived limitations can eventually be overcome, even some physical ones.

David Crook started me off with Bac Fu Do Kung Fu back in the days when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. Much of it was basically free private lessons, just me and him in a park near our office. He showed me that you don't have to hate people who practice martial arts other than your own, or even more to the point people who practice the same art as you but at a different school, and that I had the inner strength to transcend wimphood and pursue warriorhood. He also set the bar very high for any other instructor I was going to consider training with.

Jiu Jitsu has introduced me to many other intriguing and challenging subjects and people: Tool, Alex Grey, the various guests on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, the not-jiu-jitsu-but-still-sort-of-jiu-jitsu stuff John Will talks about, etc.

Just about everyone says it, but its true; black belt is just the beginning of where the real learning starts. I really feel a need to go back to square one and relearn the fundamentals properly this time. What I can do properly is a tiny proportion of what I know, and what I know is a tiny proportion of everything there is to know.

My Jiu Jitsu goals are on track! Black belt a few days ago, setting me up for a coral belt at age 89, and a red belt when I'm 107!

Peace. Love. JIU JITSU.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

John Will Seminar 29th September 2013 - Crucifix Control

Held at Rick Spain's gym.


(done as a warm up rather than in depth technical analysis)

Major outer reaping throw from Judo


You both have judo grips (R hand on his L collar, L hand on the gi seam under his R elbow). Pull his collar to your R and sleeve to the L as you step past his R leg with your L then chop th back of his R leg with your R leg. Get your R shoulder driving into his chest.


Judo grips as before. His R leg is too far away for you to step. Hook his leg with the back of yours and hop until you are in a suitable position to take him down.


Same grips. This time step back and to the L with your L foot, pulling his weight onto his R leg. step and complete the throw from here.


Same grips. Cross step toward his L foot with your L foot. Step back with your R so you are facing away from him. Left your R leg back, lifting his R leg with it (like Uchimata). He should step back to counter (if not he gets thrown). Take three steps to chase down his R leg and sweep it with your R.



Counter to bad single leg

He makes the mistake of trying to do a single leg from head to head with his head on the outside (L) of your L leg. Turn to your L 90 degrees and pinch your knees together, trapping his L arm. His L forearm will normally be on top of your L calf ("upstream"). You L arm posts out to your L in front of his head. Get underarm wrist control on his R arm with your R arm. From here, either:

- He tries to turn to his L and pull guard. Put your R ear to the ground, roll over your R shoulder and take him with you. L hand goes around his neck, R hand grabs over the top of L wrist. (He will try to peel your R hand off, leaving your L hand with a direct path to the choke. Do it the other way round, if he peels the top hand off you have nothing).

- He just sits there. Turn back toward his head, join your hands under his R arm, straight arms, and drag him over to your R. Finish in same position.

(John demonstrated a third way of rolling them over where you scoot your butt back and roll them over your ankles, which sets up a reverse omoplata. I had this done to me and couldn't see it and will have to get some free mat time to see if I can work it out)

Sprawl and snag

He shoots at your legs, double or single, you sprawl. Post out behind him with your L hand and move up on his back to "stare into the abyss". Hook over his L arm with your R leg, then turn ninety degrees L and pinch you knees to trap his arm. This time his L forearm should be over your R calf ("downstream"). Roll either way as above to similar position, same arm position around his head and arm.

Snag and drag from side/back control

You sprawl on him. Step up with your R foot to block his arm and prevent you from grabbing it as you move to side/back.  As you move to side/back on his L, drive your R knee between his L elbow and knee. Use your R knee to drive his elbow forward and away from his body. Snag it with your L heel and drag it down to pinch between your knees. His arm usually ends up upstream. Roll either way to  crucifix control as before.

Changing upstream to downstream

You have his L arm trapped upstream. Keeping both knees on the mat, drag your L knee along you R shin toward your R ankle, and then across your calf/achilles tendon, taking his forearm with it. Once the forearm is on the R side of the R shin, slide your L knee back to its original position. Put your R foot in the crook of your L knee to triangle it off and keep the arm trapped.

Back control (from non master side, he starts to escape)

Normally when you get back control with a seat belt grip, you roll him to the side away from the trapped arm ("master side"). If you get him on the other side and he gets off your hooks and onto his back on your L side, apply choke pressure to his neck. When he grabs your R wrist with his R hand to peel off the choke, use your R hand to push it away and snag it with your R leg. Consolidate crucifix control with your arms.

John Will and Sean Kirkwood demonstrate the Crucifix


Near collar choke (upstream/downstream)

From crucifix control, turn on your R side and get your L thumb as deep as possible in his R collar (touch your chin with your fist - Rodin's The Thinker). Take your r arm circling wide to snag his R arm as low as possible and drag it around so your hand grabs behind your head, at the same time, rolling onto you back, pulling him on top of you and pulling your L elbow to the floor to apply the choke.

Far collar choke (downstream)

His L arm must be downstream. Get both arms gripping around his R  arm rather than around his head. Push his head down toward your L hip as far as you can. Your L hand reaches over his throat to grab his L collar. Hook the crook of your L leg over his head. Pull on the collar and push away with the hamstring and glute for a strong choke.

Stocks neck crank

From crucifix, get both your arms around his R arm. Turn belly down with your L forearm going under his R arm, L elbow to the floor. Your torso is under his head as if he were using you as a pillow. Your R hand circles down to beside your R hip so you can use it as a "pectoral fin" to push and rotate your body to the right, putting cranking pressure on the back of his neck. You can start switching your base out to the R for extra pressure, but this is usually not necessary.


Vale tudo / side neck crank

From crucifix control, Lift his R arm with your R arm so you can thread your L arm underneath it and grab the back of his head. H is R arm is caught behind your L armpit. You can now punch his face with your R hand while he can't defend. Alternatively, join your hands in an S grip behind his head and crank his head toward you for a side neck crank (similar to the twister). grab near the top of his head for best leverage with the crank.

Prone armbar (60s bikini girl on the beach)

Get the starting position on his back with the legs trapping the L arm and underarm wrist control on the R. His L arm must be in upstream position. Cross L foot over R. Lift the feet off the mat and walk your knees backwards, gradually straightening his arm. Keep pulling your heels to you butt, engaging the hamstrings. when the arm is fully straight with the knees pinching the wrist you can use the hips to apply pressure to the elbow and get the tap. You end up sort of like this:

Supine armbar

From crucifix control, Get your head down as close to his as possible. His L arm must be in the upstream position. Flare your L knee out to the side and slide the outside of your ankle down to his wrist,, straightening his arm. Your R leg can triangle over your L foot to stop him getting his arm out. Pull down on his wrist with your foot and lift your hips under his elbow to get the tap.

John also discussed the T Choke (used when he won't let you overhook the arm for a rolling half nelson lapel choke form head to head), and the importance of acquiring a training buddy with whom you can work together to solve problems, using situational sparring.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Carlos Machado seminar 16 May 2013

At Langes MMA Artarmon.


You have your R hand in his R collar. Stiff arm. You are up on your L elbow. Guard is not closed but you are "setting the stirrups", holding onto and controlling him with your heels.

You "swim" clockwise, moving around to his R on your elbow, getting an angle on him. Your R knee goes onto his chest as for a basic sweep. Fall back onto onto your shoulder, use your R knee to lift him, either block or underhook his R hand depending on where it is, scissor your legs and sweep. Pull slightly on the collar as you sweep so he lands close to you and you can get mount more easily.

If he pushes into you , move your hips out to your L and pull him forward to your R with the hand in the collar so he face plants (You can go for the back), or ends up in your guard with you having a deep grip on his belt. 

If he pulls away, come up onto your shin on push him over to your L using the stiff arm in the collar. You can block his knee or his R arm with your L hand.

The concept is to feel the direction his weight is moving and use the hand in the collar to drive him further that way than he wants to go.

He is in "combat base" on his L knee and R foot with his R knee up. You have your usual R hand in his collar, stiff-arming. Use your R foot on the inside of his L knee as a "facilitator" and you L foot on his R ankle. Up on your L hand. Move around clockwise to his R, toward the R leg and push on his L knee with your R foot so his base is compromised further. Grab around the top of his R shin with your L arm and come up over  your R shin to your own half kneeling position. Lift his R knee with your L hand and push on the collar to flatten him out and pass his attempt to roll to guard to get side control.

Side control step over to mount

You have side control on his R side. You do not want to be at 9 o'clock. Instead, move toward 8 and lay heavy on his hip, light on his arms. You want him to try and escape. When he does, cup under his near R shoulder with your L arm. Now, move your bodyweight toward 10 o'clock, onto his shoulder and drive his head away by lifting your L elbow and pushing his head with it, turning onto your L hip at the same time. Move your L knee near to his hip and then step over to mount with your R leg.

Cowboy mount and collar choke

If you have one hand in his collar and are sitting back in mount so your weight is on your knees, it is easy for him to bridge and roll you. Instead, if you have your R hand in, sprawl on him in the skydiver position and post on your head on the R (your R side of his head, also posting on your L hand. He cannot bridge and roll now. Post early and wide so you do not have to block the bridge and roll by head butting the mat. Wide so any impact is glancing rather than direct.

Try to get your R foot braced on his L hip. He cannot roll you from here.

To choke, with the R hand in bring your L hand and your head around to the R and grab cloth on his L side of his neck. "Make yourself tall", and slide your head back toward 12 o'clock, parallel with his body, also pulling on the R collar. This ratchets the choke tighter and tighter. He should be tapping well before you reach midnight.

Getting your hands in

If he is protecting his neck, use the "jackhammer" to get then past his blocks. Pu one or both hands in position and drive with the hips, moving side to side, forcing them through bit by bit. You may get both hands in at once, but one is enough.

If his blocks are really tight, grab his R wrist with your L hand and turn his forearm up, screwing it to the outside. His pulling power is much weaker like this and you should be able to pull his R hand away enough to get your L hand into his collar. you can post on your head on your L of his head and use the other hand to work the collar until you get a good grip.

Armbar from mount

You have mount with your R hand in his collar. Move back slightly and get your belly under his R elbow. Reach out with your L hand to 11 o'clock, drive with your hips and use you belly to push his elbow up and away from his chest. Reach out with your L hand grip the mat and pull, and push with your feet, so all of your body is working against his elbow. If he moves, drive your L knee up under his shoulder so his arm is now trapped. sink the stirrup with the R foot on the other side. Move out slightly and use the space to pull his R elbow across and trap it under your R armpit. Keep moving your knee up toward his head and start turning. control his head with your L forearm. You are now in a great position to go for the armbar. If the armbar is not there, choke him instead.

The "Tunnel" guard pass

The "tunnel" is a space near his hip on each side, between his arm and leg. While passing, head is down and hips up. Keep trying to get your head into the tunnel. Just move around from here and see what openings he gives to pass, probably to front control or mount.

The "Zombie" guard pass

The Zombie shifts from side to side, either stepping or moving his head. Inside closed guard, you are vulnerable to being pulled down if you are straight on. Move your head off to the side, it is very hard to pull you down. Step up on the opposite side to where your head is and block his hip with your knee. Stand up, keep stepping and moving from side to side. The zombie position will stop him from being able to armbar or triangle you if you employ it properly. Never stop in the centre, always keep moving.

If he has open guard and gets both your sleeves,  pull your elbows in toward each other (maybe rotating the thumbs outward slightly to facilitate this). If he has a foot attached, get a grip on it with both hands while zombieing, move out and back to the centre and use your arms to dislodge the foot, then  drive the leg over to the side so it is on top of the other leg.

If he keeps his guard closed as you stand up, grab around the knee and use zombie body movement against the closed ankles.

If he has you in a potential sweep situation (reaping sweep was the example used), you can incline or turn your body so the leg to be swept become light and can be moved out of danger. If you can't move your feet, move your head. Keep switching zombie-style and a pass should appear.

Basically it's all about changing your shape so as to nullify whatever he is attempting to do.

This was an unusually good and deep seminar as it presented a number of concepts to be explored and games of partial games built on (the guardwork, cowboy mount tunnel and zombie), as well as some specific techniques.


Monday, April 01, 2013

John Will seminar 24 March 2013 - X Guard

John Will seminar 24 March 2013 - X Guard

George Adams and I were wrestling before the seminar. John stopped us and gave us a brief lesson on getting the necessary arm controls for effective use of our hooks - the double hook sweep is much more about arm controls than about the hooks themselves. It can be very hard to get those arm controls against an experienced guy who hides his elbows.

Instead, work your way in by first pulling Z guard, say on his L leg. Push his head to the R with your L hand so he posts on his L hand and grab your L overhook and R underhook, inserting your L hook. You are now in position to sweep. John no longer uses the overhook on the sweeping side, preferring to use a slap on the elbow, pak sao style, to take away the ability to post.

A lesson as useful and topical as that to follow:

X Guard

An advanced style of hooking guard. Used extensively by Marcelo Garcia among others. Marcelo's books and Dvds on the X guard take it a lot further.

Key points

If your legs are holding his R leg:

Your L hook is behind his R knee. Your R hook sits above it, in front of his thigh. Knees are splayed, L knee in front of him, R knee behind. Ankles hold his knee in place.

His L ankle is held in the R crook of your neck, above the shoulder, next to your R ear. NOT in the crook of your elbow, that grip is not strong and it is easy for him to pull his foot free. R hand holds and controls his L kneecap.

You should be slightly on your L side.


Leg Drag

You have both hooks in, he stands up. Stick your L hook behind his R knee. It does not move. Come up on your R elbow and grab behind his L knee with your L hand,  palm towards you. Grab behind his L ankle with your R hand, palm towards you. Pull yourself underneath him so his L foot is above your R shoulder, next to your neck. Grab his L kneecap with your R hand. Stretch him out a little with your L hook and insert your R hook to consolidate the X guard.

Big Step

You have both hooks in and he stands up. Slide your L hook down to his ankle. Stay shin on shin. Sit up, post on your R hand and wrap your L arm around his R leg at the knee. Helps to move your hips a bit to the L so that you can get a bit of an angle on him and "protect the circle" inside your legs.

Fall back and drop your head to the right. Elevate his ankle with your R hook as you roll to your L across your lower back, making him take a "big step" with his R foot. Spin underneath him until your R shoulder is next to his L ankle, slide your L hook back behind his R knee, grab his L kneecap with your R hand, insert ykur R hook above the L and consolidate the X guard.


He is kneeling. You have both hooks in. Get double underhooks, and rock him backwards, elevating him. Your L hook stays, your R leg straightens vertically or slightly behind so that his L leg slides down it and into your waiting R underhook, his L foot ideally landing right next to your R ear. Grab his L kneecap with your R hand, insert your R hook, and consolidate the X guard.

Failed hook sweep

You set up a double hook sweep to your R as normal from hooks in guard. Use the R palm on the L elbow rather than the tight overhook to stop him from posting with his L hand. If his L arm is properly controlled, his only counter will be to post with his L foot near your R ear. Underhook his L ankle with your R hand and proceed to the X guard much the same as for the flagpole.



You have the X guard, same side as for the entries. Slide your R hook up to his hip, your L foot down to behind his ankle (two ends of the lever). Push the hip back with the R hook, pull the ankle forward with the L hook so he falls backwards. You can manipulate his L knee with one or both hands to assist. As he hits the floor, keep his R ankle elevated with your L hook and use it to pass his R leg to your L underhook. Come to your knees and drive/crush directly forward to set up the basic underpass - go too far to the side and you risk him being able to slide a shin between you to block the pass.

Sidekick sweep

X guard, same side. Push with your hooks to stretch his legs as wide as possible. He may fall back (2 points) or put his hands on the ground. Get on your L side,  put your R foot on the inside of his R knee and push it away, like a sidekick. The weight should come off his L leg, allowing you to get up on your L elbow and then your L hand. From here, stand up in base as if you were doing a Turkish get up, his L ankle still on your R shoulder. If he does not turn to his back of his own accord, sweep his R ankle to the inside with your R foot.

Back take

Grab his ankle with both hands, elbows tight to your chest. Do a small crunch to take the weight off his L leg, and quickly transfer his leg from your R shoulder to the other side of your head. Reach up with your R hand and grab his belt, skirt of his jacket, pants, whatever you can. Get your L forearm and elbow behind his L knee and use it to get your L hook behind his L knee. You should now be behind him with both hooks behind his knees. Pull with your R hand control and kick his legs out with your hooks so he lands on his butt between your legs. Quickly get seat belt upper body controls and hooks in to consolidate back control.

Flagpole sweep

Tricky. According to John, Rigan Machado told him this sweep was unteachable. He suggested we learn by watching. As I was the crash test dummy for the demo, this was a challenge.

This time your R hook is BELOW your L hook on his leg. Slide it down to the ankle. Your L hook stays where it is - the L shin stays pretty much horizontal with the L knee pressing strongly out to the left. If the L knee comes up so the L shin is vertical, the sweep will fail.

Use the R hook to lift his R ankle straight up, retaining the L hook. Your R leg goes vertical like the earlier flagpole entry to X guard, but his R ankle slides down your R leg and his R instep ends up on your R hip. Your L hook remains in the crook of his R knee, so your ankle ends up sandwiched between his hamstring and calf in the crook of his R knee, almost a calf crush action going on. Triangle your L ankle with the crook of your R knee. You are still holding his R patella as at the start of the move. If you post on your L elbow and hand now and sit up he will be swept.

Video of this complicated sweep thanks to Barwin and Pete: