Monday, March 20, 2017

A Trivial but Useful hack for Belt Stripes

You are sensible, and want to wash your Jiu Jitsu belt after every session.

Jiu Jitsu knowledge and your Qi do not accumulate in your unwashed belt. Accumulating ringworm, staph and hep B might, no matter how good the mat hygiene at your gym.

Your problem? The stripes on your belt are duct tape. Not real good in the washing machine, right?

You and your significant other do not have the sewing skills or inclination to sew on something more elegant or permanent.

Your solution: strapping tape, like you use for taping up your fingers. Stays on after multiple washes, no problem. If you have the red bar on your black belt, or the black bar on your different coloured belt per the IBJJF official requirements, you can use the easy-to-get white tape. I use the 1.25 cm width.

Should you have no black bar, or want specific other colours, try kinesiology tape, which comes in many colours, though blue, purple, black and brown (well, beige) are easily obtainable, which should satisfy most adults. You should be able to get all the kids' colours except possibly grey. You may have to trim it to a narrower width than that in which it is sold, but it still beats fiddling around with needle and thread or a sewing machine.

The picture above shows my belt after about ten jiu jitsu sessions and washes - an intense, one wash, two rinse, spin cycle - with a stripe of white strapping tape on one end and one of black kinesiology tape on the other. Some fraying, no loosening. If, and when, it does start to lift off ... I'll replace it with a new piece of tape.

Try it. It works!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

John Will Seminar 5 Mar 2017 - Ashi Garami 2.0

Seminar was held at Rick Spain's gym, Red Boat Wing Chun Academy, in Redfern.


Today's seminar concentrated on what John calls "Inside" leg control.

If you sit facing each other, and you have his L leg trapped in your R armpit, this is "Outside" leg control.

If, in the same position, you have his L leg trapped under your L armpit, John calls this "Inside" leg control.

This is complicated by the references to inside and outside ashi we made in the previous seminar, which are pretty standard.

There is a need for standardization on the terminology here. As I discuss further down, I see problems with inside and outside as discussed above, as they do not match the usual terminology used for upper body controls (and Wing Chun, for that matter). But ... later.

Entries to the Position

From a "Lazy" Toreandor Pass

Preparation Drill

His feet are on your hips. Grab his pants about halfway up the shin in each hand. Bunch up the fabric so there is no slack. Step back to disengage, then move laterally to the L - laterally, directly to the side, not in a circle. Drop into a horse stance, dragging his R leg to the outside of your R hip with your L hand. Grab his R knee with your R hand and pinch his ankle to your R hip with your R elbow and the top of your R thigh.

Return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side. Repeat, continue.

To Inside Ashi

Start your "lazy" toreandor pass and grab the R knee with the R hand and pinch the R ankle into the R hip with the R elbow as before.

Put your L hand on the mat. Do not sit down yet!

Take your weight on your hand and put your L foot on his ribs. Make sure you keep hold of his R knee.

Now you can sit down, moving your butt  in close to him. Use both knees to keep his R leg controlled.

Hand - foot on ribs - butt  - the order is important. A smart guy will try to back out fast and get his leg out. If you put your butt down before you put your foot on his ribs, you can't chase him. If your butt is still up in the air and weight on your hand, you can keep moving in further as he tries to scoot away.

You should still have control of his R knee with your R hand and his R ankle trapped with your R elbow.

Use your R hook to elevate his L leg, opening the "honey hole" so you can get your L hook under his L leg as well to an inside ashi position.

Turn onto your L side, pinch your knees together tightly above his knee, try to get the outside of your L knee on the floor. Keep a tight hold on his leg with your R arm as you adjust your position. His R leg should be bent.

Not easy to find a really good picture of this. No reflection on the skill of the athletes in the pic

Some people like to triangle their legs here, John recommends just pinching with the knees and thighs as he feels this gives a tighter control.

This position is variously named the Saddle, Honey Hole, 411 and Inside Sankaku. (The last isn't really appropriate for us, as "Sankaku" is Japanese for triangle, per Sankaku-jime for the triangle choke, and we do not do that with our legs.)

John wants to call it Inside Inside Ashi. Uh-oh.

Entry via the Knee Slide Pass

He is on his back with his feet on the floor and knees up.

Step into the hole with your R foot.

Slide your R knee across the inside of his R thigh. Move it out to the L a bit further than you normally would for a proper knee slide pass. You want to encourage him to turn to his R (which is NOT what you want for the pass proper.

Post out wide with both hands above his head. Forget trying to control his arms or get an underhook. Let him think he has won the underhook war.

Backstep out to the R, over his L leg, with your L leg.
Land on the toes on the mat with the L foot, keep both hand posts on the ground. Now drive your L knee in behind and under his L knee. Pinch your knees together around his L thigh.

Fall off and back onto your R side onto your R hip, grabbing his L knee with your L hand, controlling his L ankle with your L elbow, moving your head away toward his feet. Pull everything in tight.

You should now be in the Honey Hole position on your R side.

Entry Variations

From Half Guard, your R leg inside - Stand up, your R foot now in quarter guard. Back step to the R with your L leg and continue as for the Knee Slide into the Honey Hole position.

From Mount - Bring your feet up on his thighs. Get your R foot between his legs. Backstep ...

From Kneeride, your R knee on his stomach - flip your R foot over his R leg and stand on your R foot between his legs. Backstep ...

From Butterfly Guard - sweep him to your L with your R hook to mount, but leave your R hook between his legs and stand on it. Backstep ...

Any time you can get that foot between his legs by any means and from anywhere, Backstep ...

Heel Hook

You have achieved the Honey Hole position on your R side with his L leg trapped, his L ankle under your L armpit. You can be on your R shoulder or up on the R elbow.

Do NOT try to "scoop" up the heel withe your L forearm. Do NOT turn to the R to apply the heel hook. Instead:

Pull your L elbow and tricep back, pressing his R toes onto your back and shoulder blade. The arm never moves forward, you keep pulling back.

Bring your L hand up palm facing forward in what John call a "Colonel Klink" small Nazi salute (political correctness be damned). Your thumb should be beside your nipple and the ulnar bone inside your wrist right against his heel or achilles tendon. Do not allow the elbow or the hand to move forward at any time.

Now join your hands in a Gable Grip. If everything is tight, you may well get a tap from here without doing anything else.


Three Pressures for the Heel Hook

  1. Try to drive your L elbow up his butt (John's words, not mine).
  2. Lift and turn your knees up and to the R.
  3. Drive and extend your hips forward.

Try each pressure, one at a time. BE CAREFUL. The leverage is immense, and you can easily cause your partner significant damage. Then try all 3 pressures at once, but only move a millimetre.

As a practice to roll safely using heel hooks, John advocated getting to the position, and trying to hold it for ten seconds without cranking on the submission. That way you get feedback on how good your control is, he gets the opportunity to attempt to escape without getting his leg ripped off.

The "American Knot"

You may want to deal with the top (L) leg from here, to stop him rolling, kicking you in the face, etc.

Before you go for the heel hook; you have the Honey Hole with your L hand grabbing his R knee.

Reach and overhook his L leg with your L arm and pull it into your L armpit, as if you were going for a straight footlock. you have to let his L leg come past your L knee to secure the position.

Now weave your L hand under his R leg, catch the R ankle in the crook of your L elbow. Joing your hands in a Gable grip and squeeze tight.

Get on your R side. Put your L foot on top of your R and squeeze your knees together and down. Putting your L foot on top of your R gives you a fulcrum to drive your hips forward to straight footlock his R foot. Other parts of both legs might hurt as well.

Also called the Texas Cloverleaf. John likes American knot because of the symmetry with the Russian Knot we learned at the previous seminar.

A common defence to the backstep and ashi is for the opponent to hide his L ankle by triangling his R leg over it. If this happens, do everything else the same, but just grab the R leg instead of the L and apply the American Knot instead of the heel hook. As John said, "whatever they do, just grab and attack that top leg".

A slightly different entry to the American Knot / Texas Cloverleaf. The finishing position with the feet is slightly inferior to the one we learned in the seminar IMO

A training sequence working towards Eddie Cummings' Heel Hook from butterfly guard

Scissor Takedown (Kani Basami)

Get a collar tie with your R and wrist control on his R with your L hand. to his L side.

Put your R hook behind his R knee.

Hop around counter clockwise and behind him so your L foot is to the L of and slightly behind his L foot. your R hook is still behind his R knee.

Put your L hand on the ground next to your L foot.

Take the weight on your L hand and kick your L leg behind his so your L knee ends up behind and between both of his knees. Take him down to the rear by scissoring your legs.

Grab his L knee with your L hand, turn onto your R side, and move to the Honey Hole.

A few variations of the Scissor Takedown

Butterfly Guard to Modified Kani Basami

Get Butterfly Guard with your R arm overhooking his L.

Post on your L hand, bring your L hook out and put your L knee on the mat outside and to the L of his L knee. your R hook stays in, so his L knee is now between both of yours. Keep the overhook.

Back up as far as you can and slide your L knee and shin over his L shin so both knees are inside his.

Roll to your L and pull him over you so you end up on your R side, hiding his L knee with your L hand, catching him in the Honey Hole.

No vid for this one. Might do a homegrown

Butterfly, Elevator, Transition to Honey hole

This is what Eddie Cummings does. It is not easy, therefore difficult to duplicate, therefore difficult ot find training partners skilled enough with it to work counters against. Which may be part of the reason for Eddie's continued success, and a dearth of other people duplicating it.

You need to be able to perform a proper butterfly sweep. If sweeping to your L, you MUST be able to come up on your L toes as you elevate with your R leg, and pull your L elbow behind you so you roll onto your L side and L ear rather than onto your back.

Preparatory drills:
  • Practice the sweep without a partner, to the point where you can balance on your L toes, L ear, and outside of your L elbow.
  • Your L foot is at 12:00. Do the sweep drill as above, but at the apex, hop your L foot to 1:00. Try again taking it to 2:00, then 3:00.

So now, with a partner, butterfly guard. Get a R underhook, grab his belt. Don't bother catching his R arm as you would for the normal sweep. Sweep him to the L come up on the toes. You want to elevate him with the top of your R shin, not the ankle. At the apex of the sweep, He should be posting out with both hands, avoiding the sweep. Hop your L foot far enough out toward 3:00 that it is outside his L leg. Drive your L knee in and behind his, rolling back to the R and onto your R side. Grab his L knee with your L hand and finish in the Honey Hole.

He may try to keep his legs together to avoid the butterfly sweep. This makes trapping the L leg much easier and is proably a good addition to the learning progression.

Below are two L-O-N-G but pretty good breakdowns of Eddie's strategy (11 and 20+ minutes respectively). He is performing these against skilled and successful leglock guys, so it is about as legit as it gets.


After the Backstep, it is possible to either overhook the L leg, turn onto the R hip and go to the Honey Hole, or underhook the L leg, turn onto the L hip, and secure a legbar. This applies to many Honey Hole setups. Certainly to Kani Basami.

Training Partners

You want to train successfully. So you want to be the person that everyone wants to roll with. Be engaged and respectful with your partner. No matter how good you are, there is never an excuse to be disrespectful or contemptuous. Thank your partner, tell them you enjoyed training with them, after the roll and then when leaving the gym. Lie if necessary.

Inside Trip

Somehow this came up. Train it by having your partner stand, elbows by his sides, forearms held horizontal, pointing forward. Hold onto his forearms near the elbows and practice dropping your R knee to where your R footprint was, internally rotating the hip so the shin points out to the R as the knee contacts the floor. Repeat.

The takedown itself comes from a clinch with a R overhook and L underhook. Step between his legs with your R footprint, drop your R knee to the R footprint,your R shin going out to the R behind his L leg. Grab his R leg with your L hand behind the knee. Drive forward and complete the takedown.

Terminology Redux

John calls the position with his R leg in your L armpit "ouside", the position with his L leg in your L armpit "inside". But ...

Inside control from the standing grapple has both my arms inside his. Hence, Inside.

When blocking a punch, I can stay inside and then have to deal with his other hand. Or move to the outside, the blindside. I am outside his arms, he is outside mine.

If I have closed guard, I am inside his legs, am I not? Were I to break his ankle grip from there and take a foot without pushing it across my body or anything else, I have outside leg control, according to John. But I am still inside his legs, aren't I? My body is next to the inside of his leg, is it not?

If I leg drag him from here and get out from between his legs, I am outside both his legs, am I not? But John calls that inside leg control.

This ain't over ...

John is right about terminology, in all seriousness. There's inside and outside ashi (and irimi ashi), inside and outside leg control, and also topside/upside and downside. Some standardisation would be helpful, though perhaps improbable in the Jiu Jitsu universe.

John even got the T shirt!