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

Monday, October 17, 2016

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Hmmm...

I've had an interest in martial arts since seeing a movie trailer for a film called "The Chinese Boxer" in my mid-teens. Shortly thereafter, I went to the cinema to see "Five Fingers of Death."
Serendipity took a couple of years to bring David Crook into my life, or mine into his. I trained Kung Fu with him for eighteen fantastic months, pretty much all private lessons, him and me in a park across the road from the building in which we both worked.
Martial arts did become a passion, avid practice of various Kung Fu styles but definitely majoring in Wing Chun, with Rick Spain, earning a gold instructor's sash after about six years, and a red Master's level sash after about twenty. Alongside this I was training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and was awarded my black belt at the end of 2013 by Anthony Lange ... About a week before I retired from full time work as a computer programmer.
My passion was martial arts. I have taught it on and off for at least twenty years. I taught two or more regular evening classes a week for years. Sometimes I totally loved it, other times not quite so much.
Make your job your passion, and you'll never work a day in your life. I thought about making that jump, pulling the trigger starting an academy, getting paid for my passion.
I never did. And looking back, I don't regret it.
I was good at maths and a bit of a Science nerd at school. Not an avid student, did enough to make it through without busting a gut. I majored in computer science and pure mathematics at university. Worked as a programmer while slowly and reluctantly becoming a responsible adult. Took responsibility for computer operations at one job, and found I was actually starting to enjoy myself there. Good friends, met my future wife at work.
I've had seven jobs, though a couple were for consulting companies where I had multiple assignments and sites. I was retrenched/fired twice. Excellent times, horrible times. Always at least a couple of good friends at work. As at the martial arts academies.
Coming out the other end, I was free. I could train martial arts pretty much as often as my body could handle and my wife could tolerate. But ... I took an online course on Android development. It took most of a year. I got full marks for every module and assignment, and my final project won a prize ... One of the top thirty projects from a starting student base of several thousand. It was hard work and I only just got it completed on time.
I've done other programming courses since. I'm doing on now on Java and Data Structures. And this is exactly what I want to be doing with my time. Besides the 3-5 Jiu Jitsu sessions per week and walks and runs in Pennant Hills Park, plus time with my wife and cats.
I wouldn't consider programming my passion, ever. But as a career choice ... Things worked out very well. And most of what I wanted from martial arts I've managed to get, even as an avocation.
More than one way to follow that passion and live a good life.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

John Will seminar 9th Oct 2016 - Ashi Garami, footlocks

Ashi Garami is best translated as "leg entanglement" or "leg control".

In developing leg attacks, same as with most of Jiu Jitsu, we need to work on control, and control positions, before considering how to apply submissions. John's strong belief is that one has no business playing around with footlocks until an understanding of ashi garami has been developed.

Introductory and warmup drills come first.

Drill 1 - Standing Ashi to Ashi

You are lying on your back. Your partner is standing over you, one of his feet in each of your armpits.

Wrap your L arm around his R ankle like an overhook. It should be deep and tight, with your L fist on your chest. Lift your legs and drive your hips up, wrapping your L leg around the back of his R thigh and the L heel over the front of his R hip, toes pointing out (to your L). Your L knee comes between his legs. Try to touch your R knee to your L shin and clamp the leg tight. This is similar to a single leg X guard, but closer to regular ashi garami.

Release the legs and let the hips drop back down. Now wrap his L leg with your R arm, and perform the same movement on the other side.


Drill 2 - Seated Ashi to Ashi

You are both sitting facing each other, legs out in front. You can pummel with your legs similarly to the way you can pummel standing with your arms. You win the pummel by getting both your legs inside his. That way you can footlock either of his feet, but he cannot footlock either of yours.

Get a fairly tight overhook on both his ankles with both arms. Your R foot moves outside his L hip. Your L knee comes up between his legs as you roll onto your R, placing the sole or instep of your R foot, heel towards the midline of his body, on his L hip and ribs.  Pinch your L knee onto your R shin and lay on your L elbow, your ribs keeping his L foot trapped. You are now in the regular ashi garami position. John Danaher would have you curl your R toes and push with the foot to make it harder for him to push it off his ribs.

Take your R foot off his hip. Take your L knee out and straighten the leg as you roll to your L, taking him with you. roll toward your L side, drive your R knee between his legs, then put the L foot on his hip/ribs. Pinch your R knee onto the L shin to consolidate the ashi garami position.

(I found it was important to, when I took my L knee out, to keep my L foot a short distance from his hip, otherwise my  L gi pant leg would catch under his hip, stopping me from then being able to put my L foot on his hip. Should be safe provided you keep the foot flat and move reasonably quickly. Plus, it's a drill).

It is important your partner be compliant and move with you cooperatively. It is in the best interest of his knees and ankles.

Pretty much what we did at the seminar

Eddie Cummings and ashi. Arm position is different - they do more heel hooks than footlocks

Drill 3 - Triple leg position

As for drill 2, get regular ashi (garami) on his L leg.

Roll back to your L and get your L hook under his R knee. Use the L hook to lift his R leg, so you can thread your L shin over his R thigh and under his R knee. His knee will be getting reaped pretty strongly here and he will need to roll with you and bend his L leg to avoid injury. You end up on your L side, still holding his L foot under your R armpit. Roll from your R to L slowly enough to be able to complete all the leg movements - you will not be able to get your R foot under his leg if you roll him fully onto his L side beforehand. This position is called inside ashi.

(A decent picture of this position proves elusive. The Knot video from Reilly Bodycomb below will show it as a transitional position)

Without releasing the overhook with your R arm on his L leg, start rolling back to your R. Take your R foot out, and your L, rolling onto your R side. Your L foot goes next to his L hip, your R foot this time stamps on your L foot, try to hide you feet as close to or behind or under his L hip as you can. This position protects both feet from footlock attempts. This position is outside ashi.

Outside ashi by Eddie Cummings - foot position is different but notice how both feet are well hidden and protected

The "Seed" drill

Beginners are generally discouraged from learning footlocks early, because their success in choosing them over trying to pass the guard can stunt their progress at passing the guard, and working toward a strong top game.

From a strategic point of view, the usual sneaky white belt move of falling back to take a footlock from inside someone's guard is VERY poor.

If he is on his back and you are standing over him, you are in a strong strategic position from which to throw punches, run around his guard, pass, etc ... or to run away.

To sit back for a footlock is NOT the way to follow the "improve your position" mantra of Jiu Jitsu. Position wise, you are giving up a strong position to effectively roll the dice. If the guy can grab your collar, he will get a fairly easy ride to the mount, ground and pound, etc.

A more strategically sound path from which to use ashi garami (leg entanglement, not necessarily the footlock) is for the guy on his back in open guard. And this is what is called the "Seed" drill:

You are on your back. He is in front of you, down near your feet.

Stop him from punching you by using both feet on his ribs. (not hips - he can still hit you with feet on his hips. Foot in hip is for when you have grips on his arms).

If he steps forward, say with his L, wrap that foot up with an overhook with the parallel arm (in this case the R).

Kick your R foot between his legs and "thread the needle" bringing your R leg behind his putting your R foot on his L hip, lifting your hips (as per the first drill above)

Hide your L foot by putting that hook behind his R knee. Turn to your L and sweep him by pushing on his hip with your R leg in a sidekick motion, using the L hook to stop him stepping to compensate. Keep hold of his L ankle the whole time. He should fall over and you should be on your L side. Come up on your L elbow, then hand, and perform a technical standup. You still have hold of his L ankle with your R hand, Your positions are now reversed. You can now run away or take the fight to him.

Your hook behind his knee can stop him rolling and take you straight into inside ashi.

This sequence has a continual improvement of the bottom guy's position. Which is good jiu jitsu. Unlike sitting back for a footlock from top position.

Straight Footlock - upside

Do the seed drill and sweep the guy. He hits the floor, you are on your L side with your L hook behind his R knee and your R foot on his L hip. Use your L hook to lift his leg and insert your R hook under his L leg as well to reach inside ashi. It is essential to use the L hook to ensure he falls on his back and does not roll to his stomach, and to keep his R leg up to get inside ashi.

If you have a deep tight overhook with your R arm on his ankle, the straight footlock is not far away. There are five pressures you can apply from here which will almost certainly break your partner's ankle if done all at once. So for training, drill only one of these pressures at a time. Each should get a tap. In a fight, you'd do all at once.

5 Footlock pressures

From inside ashi, push your R leg straight. This puts torque on his knee.

Thread your L hand under his trapped L leg and grab the outside of your R thigh, This creates a small space which you can use to slide your R ulna (wristwatch bone) right up just above his heel on the Achilles tendon. One you have the R arm positioned right, grab your R fist with your L hand in a guillotine type grip and pull your R thumb up toward your chin. This really digs the sharp ulnar bone into that spot.

Pull the R shoulder back to hyperextend the toes, metatarsals and ankle joint.

Pinch the R elbow into the ribs to torque the foot and ankle.

Drive the hips forward.

Remember, only one pressure at a time in training!

If he rolls - Prone footlock

If you have his L leg and inside ashi, He can really only roll one way without shredding his knee, to his L.

If he rolls L, go with him - "follow the knee".

Roll face down, keeping hold of his L foot with your R arm, Take your R foot out from the "honey hole" as you roll. So it does not get stuck.

In order to avoid being stuck with your hips directly over your knees, "reach out" with your chin and head. so your head ends up further away from him than would be the case if you stayed compact. You can now apply hip pressure as part of the footlock ,which you can't if your hips are directly over your knees.. You should be facing directly down into the mat in your knees and forehead, from where you can apply all the same pressures for the footlock.

If he keeps rolling - back to normal ashi and downside footlock

He keeps rolling, stay with him. As he turns face up, you should already be sliding your L knee between his legs and putting your R foot on his hip/ribs for regular ashi. Go right onto your R side with your R elbow underneath you. The footlock is right there, too. The elbow pinch pressure is already be on, thanks to gravity.

You could then go from regular to inside ashi, and go again, all the way across the mat as a drill. However, we don't want our opponent to keep rolling us off the competition mat, or off a cliff or the edge of Discworld, so, we need to find a way to stop him from rolling. The L hook in inside ashi actually can do this pretty well, but to be sure, and to top him pushing at or kicking at us with that free R leg ...

The Knot

From inside ashi, overhooking his L leg with your R arm, use your L hook to lift his R leg so you can grab his foot (not ankle) with your L hand.

Bring your L knee to your chest and pass your L foot over his R leg. (Place the L foot on the floor here, Dean Lister calls it "Game Over").

Hook your L instep behind your R heel. (This is important, if your feet are the other way round he may be able to use his R leg to kick your L leg away).

Move your butt to go butt to butt with him. (Yes Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, we are playing touch butt). This bends his L leg and exposes his L foot even more. Dean Lister calls this position "Ultimate Game Over". John calls it The Knot. It is also referred to as the Russian Knot.

Sambo practitioner Reilly Bodycomb demonstrates the Knot final position

Nice video demo of an entry to inside ashi and then the Knot by Reilly Bodycomb

Three Rules of Ashi Garami

  • Control the leg (the leg to be footlocked)
  • Follow the Knee aka Follow the Fish
  • Control the other leg

A Drill

You are on your back. He is standing. You go:

Feet on his ribs to keep distance and not get punched.

Overhook the L leg with your R arm.

"Thread the needle" and get single leg X guard on his L leg with your R leg.

Your L hook behind his R knee.

Turn on your L side, sidekick him away and sweep till he falls.

Go to inside ashi.

He rolls, go to prone footlock.

He keeps rolling, regular ashi. Downside footlock. (You could maybe add in going to outside ashi and back here).

He tries to roll again. Go to inside ashi and stop the roll with your hook.

Go to the Knot.

Footlock from standing guard top

For the purpose of providing balance. A footlock from standing in someone's guard which does not require you to compromise your position.

You are standing. His feet are on your ribs.

Use your L hand to knock his L foot into your R armpit. Secure a tight overhook with your R arm.

Push his R knee to the floor with your L hand. (This prevents the footlock escapes where he turns onto his L hip and pulls his foot free at an angle, optionally stomping on your R upper arm with his R foot to assist).

Big step to 1:30 on the clock with your R foot.

Reach out to the R and put your L hand on the mat ouside his L ear. Your L shin goes over his L thigh as you collapse under control onto your forehead and knees.

Take your L foot out from between his legs and put it on his L hip.

Apply the prone footlock, pushing on his hip with your L foot to help drive your hips forward and hold him in place, so he can't come up and try for your back.

This footlock does not require you to go backwards in the positional hierarchy.

A good summary positional video, though it includes some extra positions and leaves out some of those we did in the seminar

A nice related article:

Leg Locks Decoded

A little philosophy

Even if most leglocks are illegal in competition, it is sensible to learn and practice both them and the escapes from them. A standard BJJ maxim is, if you want to be able to counter a move effectively, learn to do that move effectively yourself.

John spoke of inoculating yourself against the threat of footlocks by sensible and graduated exposure to them. He mentioned this book

Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Which is, in essence, about how to thrive in a world of uncertainty. The other books in his Incerto series are excellent also, though perhaps a bit dry and technical for some. He is able to make some pretty cerebral subjects interesting and even entertaining. Taleb's The Black Swan in particular is a favourite book of mine.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Ido Portal's 30/30 squat challenge

I took this up on a whim, perhaps out of boredom and a certain lack of goals since I took a break from online university courses.

Described pretty much completely in this image:

I didn't feel I had any major issues with this posture, though my ankles are a bit stiff, I had one knee arthroscopy about eight years ago and the other one is a slightly dodgy. I used to be able to do pistols (one leg squats), even after the knee op, and I'd like to think I could get them back, this regime maye marking a step along the way. Then again, I used to be able to do standing backflips too, at 59, but I think those are probably a thing of the past now. I'm 61, give me a break.

Ido Portal is known as a "Movement Guru", and has featured on the London Real podcast a couple of times. He also spent some time training UFC champion Conor McGregor, most notably before the latter's loss by submission to Nate Diaz. Nate had some unkind, though extremely funny, things to say about both Conor and Ido before that fight.

(Conor won the rematch on points. It was a great match and fairly close.)

It's hard to work out exactly what Ido's overarching approach is, and at  a reported $1800 per person per seminar you'd have to be keener than I am to find out. That's about ten times as much at least as what my favourite trainer of all time, Steve Maxwell, charges. There are quite a few Youtube videos of Ido's stuff which give a reasonable idea of what he does, and there's no doubt that if you could do all the stuff he can, you'd be a specimen. Though how sustainable it would be into your sixties and beyond is another question.

Good for Jiu Jitsu? Or MMA? Opinions vary. A podcast I listened to with Steve Maxwell had it that motor learning is highly specific ... getting good at a wide range of "generic" movements doesn't necessarily translate into getting good at any of the particular movement patterns you use in Jiu Jitsu. We already have a huge and wide variety of movements to train in any martial art as it is, and adding extra ones doesn't necessarily make us better at the ones we already have to learn.

Opinions on the squat challenge Facebook group vary from the "life changing and affirming", with little info on exactly how, to the "Meh."

I am somewhere in the middle, though probably closer to the latter camp. I have always been pretty active and have done a fair amount of flexibility work. I have a lower back issue for which I received some very good treatment (physiotherapy) in my late thirties which for me really was "life changing". I've always been conscious of the need for constant maintenance regarding my posture and flexibility for that reason.


I could get pretty low in a flat footed squat straight away. I may have got slightly lower, shoulders between my knees, over the thirty days, but it's difficult to quantify.

It's supposed to help your digestion and elimination. I think it did, though squatting low on a full stomach is not a good idea. Hard to quantify.

My knees felt a bit creaky at the start but I quickly adjusted. It's debatable whether this was mental or physical. After 30 days I definitely feel more confident that my patellas (patella? Plural?) aren't suddenly going to be fired off into space when my knee ligaments reach breaking point. I feel I could go back to doing one legged squats with a bit more preparation and persistence. And, yes, patience.

I can stay in the position for maybe three minutes without everything starting to ache or feel like it's falling asleep. People claim they got to the point where squatting deep is more comfortable than standing, but not me. I watched a show about Chinese migrant workers' kids who got left for years with grandparents or in institutions with no contact from their parents. Quite sad. One of the grannies there was always hanging around in a deep squat. Maybe you have to to start as a kid.

You can either turn your feet out wide, which allows your hips to sink deep but puts rotational pressure on your ankles, or have then turned in a bit more in which case flexibility in the ankles, calves and achilles tendons become the limiting factor. Some people can just about put their butts on the ground (I can't, but from the photos it doesn't look like Ido can either, ha ha).

It's supposed to loosen up your hips. Truth be told, for the first couple of weeks my hips had never felt tighter! Worked through it with hip flexor stretches. The muscles around my hips did start to relax towards the end, though it was hardly any sort of quantum leap.

My hips would ache in bed at night, more if I lay on my sides than flat on my back. This was slightly disruptive to my sleep. Truth be told, intensive leg stretching has similar results. Probably related to my lower back issues. Still, I'll be glad to see the back (no pun intended) of that.

This isn't an ability I want to lose as I get older, so I'll keep up the practice. It certainly didn't hurt; But more than a few minutes a day seems like overkill.

I might try this as well:

Ido Portal 2.0 squat challenge

The man bun is a definite no.

On balance, I think this is something to work towards if you can't squat properly, not something you need to do if you already have reasonable movement capability.

Glad I tried it, even more glad to see the back of it