T Nation

Do Meatheads Dream of Iron Sheep?


Yes that makes sense. Framing is technically-sound mount defense, irrespective of your strength relative to the person mounting you. I’m not doing an elbow extension to try to bench someone off of me, but rather using my frames to keep them from gaining high mount, trapping an individual arm and to keep them from settling in and getting comfortable.

Regaining frames is sometimes a brute-force affair when I’m rolling with my instructor, but that’s also under the mantle of hipping-out big and yanking my arms back if he’s got one of them pinned with his shin. Technically-sound (or at least more technical than before) that also takes advantage of my tremendous hip strength.

Oh yeah. Plenty. Especially since I’ve been working from home without a great deal to keep me busy at the moment!

I’ve been working really hard to use my hips more to escape mount and side control. Hips that can deadlift 600 ish are very difficult to keep on the ground and I’m learning that all kinds of space is there for the taking. There’s no point in training a “weak” or “strength-less” hip-out, so my opponents will have to deal with that. My brown-belt instructor (who is actually much more skilled than my black belt instructor. Different schools, different systems, different promotion criteria) is very good at taking my hips out of the equation.

He does this by rarely settling into any mount position where I can use my hips. Instead he does a loto of knee-on-belly and uses his agility to dance around me as I try to frame him off, hip away and go for a single-leg. He’s just too fast and he knows what I’m doing right away. He attacks high mount relentlessly on me, and once he’s got both of my arms controlled my hips are nearly neutralized.

It is very difficult to deal with. Last night is one of the few times I’ve escaped his mount, but then I’m in his guard, which I’ve never been able to pass. But I climbed up one rung on the ladder, and that’s progress against a guy that good.

I’ve also gained control over my body and the degree of pressure I use. If I’m rolling with a female or an older guy or even a much smaller blue or purple belt I will change my game in several ways. No cross-face side control pressure, which is almost a cheat code for me. Instead I’ll play it with my elbow on the far-side of their head and my other arm trying to wrap up between their legs or just blocking their hip on the near-side, all without putting any real weight on them. I don’t brute-force americanas from side control or mount either. If they give it to me I’ll take it, but only if they give it to me.

From mount I won’t superman anyone, put my weight on their jaw structure or use pressure of any significant level. I’ll try to just hold mount, get a hand in the collar or maybe go for an ezekiel, again without digging in my hooks and putting all of my hip pressure on them, which again is almost like a cheat code for me (against white belts at least). I often find myself riding up into technical mount on these guys when they try to hip out, and from there I like to go for the bow-and-arrow (aka lap-drop) choke or climb up to high mount and go for a simple armbar.

I’m also trying to hunt high mount and get arms trapped. Getting better at that.

I’m also trying to play more knee-on-belly, which is going to suck for the person underneath. Sorry guys.

This, of course, presents problems of training movement patterns that are more gentle than they should be. Fortunately there are a small handful of purple and higher belts who I do not go easy on and everything is kept on the table. I’m not tapping these guys out yet but I’m at the point where they aren’t getting me consistently either (in 5 min rounds at least). It has been about two months since I’ve been over in that pond and almost 3 since I’ve been training regularly there. I’ve had probably at least a dozen privates (which are given pro-bono, luckily!) with my brown belt friend since then and I’ve definitely got some new tools in the toolbox that will give people fits.

Maybe next week I’ll head over. We’ll see how the foot goes. I’m a guy lots of people want to tap out right now and I don’t want to get my ankle kicked out by someone trying a sweep or getting aggro on a takedown. This is not something I worry about training with my brown belt instructor.


Great answer! I hope your foot is normal again soon. I’m hype to hear about your return to school.


So I didn’t train today but I did have a few beverages with my brown belt friend. Unfortunately, nobody started a fight with us so we did not get to have a Double Dragon moment. We did, however, talk about jiu jitsu and lifting quite a bit.

I’m not here to recap that conversation, but I am here to reflect further upon the whole notion of “using your strength”, a mental trajectory which YOU, @FlatsFarmer, set me upon earlier today.

Powering out of submissions.

This is something that came up a lot in the “BJJ-Using Your Strength” thread I started. Some were of the opinion that you should just tap if you’re caught. I see the wisdom in that, but I’ve also firmed up my opinion that powering out of submissions is a good thing, provided the following conditions are met.

  1. You know what you’re powering out of, and the planes which you can move safely within.
  2. You trust your partner with your body and your partner does the same.
  3. You trust that you aren’t going to get an unnecessary emotional reaction from your partner, and your partner reciprocates.
  4. Your training goal is self-defense, not sport. Maybe muscling out of submissions is useful in a sport context too, but I’ve never competed and I don’t know anything about the best ways to train for sport. I’ll never be more than a casual sport competitor, but I will always be a serious student of jiu jitsu with Vale Tudo roots. This is what I want to focus on. This is the lineage of my brown belt friend, and it is a different animal altogether from what is taught at the school that’s given me the stripes on my belt. Nothing I’ve learned there is throw-away at all, btw. It’s just that the foundations and principles are very, very different. I could write thousands of words about how they are different.

Back on topic…

I’m powering out of all kinds of chokes and arm attacks now, and have been for some time. This is usually within the context of a technical defense/counter, but sometimes I hip out and sometimes people move further than either of us expected. Sometimes I can win the race to get my elbow to the mat when someone catches me in an armbar, and yes I use strength to do that in the moments before I start stacking them up.

I’m sure this may not sit well with everyone I train with, but that’s tough shit. It’s a thing I can do and I want to be as good as I can be at doing it. I really don’t know much about training for sport competition, but that’s not really my jam. I’m building a skillset, and part of that skillset is navigating the safe spaces between the moments when a joint of mine is being held hostage and when it is in danger of orthopedic damage. I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for those spaces when it comes to everything from my shoulder down to my digits. Training with a really good brown belt over and over gave me that sense.

What I’m not powering out of is unfamiliar joint attacks. I have no leg, knee or foot attack game. I know how to heel-hook and I might catch someone in it someday if they serve it up to me on a silver platter, but I’m not playing ashi-garame or whatever Danaher’s got his guys doing to set any of that stuff up. That’s not even stuff I’m worried about learning at this stage. When someone attacks my legs and I feel locked up, I just tap. Maybe that’s what people were talking about when they advised not to power out of joint attacks. I can see the wisdom in that for sure. I’ve got no real feel for what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to anything below the hips. I tap very quickly there.

Chokes I have no fear of anymore. I’ll try all kinds of crazy shit to get out of them, but I try to be mindful of applying techniques I’ve learned. If nothing comes to mind, I use my hips and my strength to try to unwind them or clear the choking threat.

The worst that will happen is I go out. It’s happened before, no big deal.

This is a really fun game to play.


Were your shoulder issues limiting your movements in bjj? Are you better with better shoulders?


Nope my shoulders were never an issue. If anything having arm triangles drilled on me and getting gift wrapped in rolls helped stretch them out.

It was always pressing that hurt them and you really don’t press in jits.


Sunday 10/28/18

BJJ 90 min

Open mat at my brown belt friend’s house. A female olympic lifter was in attendance so he ran it like a class. Lots of stand-up work today.

First we looked at grip fighting basics to begin an encounter. Not much new here, remember to battle for the inside position. Covered some grip stripping ground here too.

We built on that with some takedown drilling. The focus here was on keeping a guard as you hit the floor for the person getting thrown, the focus was on smooth controlled execution for the person throwing. The focus for the person getting thrown was committing to the fall and being mindful in the moments between getting off-balanced and hitting the mat so you can establish a guard. Get your shin across their hips and pull them into you, then play from there.

Next we worked on passing the guard without using any hands (since I’ve got a pretty big skill advantage over the other student). The idea is to trick them with your hips until you get an inside line and then ride that line to knee-on-belly. The person on the bottom tries to keep a guard in. This also built on all of the framing concepts we’ve been working on, focusing on that moment when the leg is cleared but before knee-on-belly is established to get a frame in to slow them down so you have a moment and can create space to replace your guard.

After that we worked the whole sequence a bunch of times from the feet, then trying to pass the guard and control the person on the ground with just my shins and gentle pushes to keep them from getting back up in base, and walking around their head as I do it.

The idea here is to learn how to float around someone while still keeping them controlled in a knee-on-belly situation. You’re trying to keep their back on the mat, which stuffs the technical counter of getting base. This is valuable because it keeps you on your feet instead of committing to something like the mount or side control after passing the guard. That’s the value of knee-on-belly. Mobility, plus the ability to stay upright and scan your surroundings while keeping the person on bottom controlled. You can also beat them in the face from this position.

We rolled a bunch after that and I had a really good roll with our visiting gal. She’s a very strong weightlifter and a very good athlete so it was a lot of fun. Well, for me at least. She was working her ass off and exhausted by the end. I just went like 50 percent and let her climb the ladder to mount and even high mount, let her go to work and then bumped her back down to the bottom and took mount on her. It’s good for her because she can work all of the nasty stuff on me (like face pressure from mount!) without worrying about my reaction and it is good for me because I get a fully-resisting practice dummy with a decent strength and athleticism base.

I worked a lot of sweeps from guard and was trying to get a cross collar choke from mount on her, but she was putting up a good defense and I didn’t want to get nasty. Minimal pressure. I kept this up until I started getting tired and she was totally smoked. She laid her arm on the mat in the americana shape, so I went ahead and took it. Not the submission I was after but I was ready for a break!

Toying with people sure is fun. Great training today lots of good stuff. Frames are so key to making it all work.


Friday 11/2/18

BJJ 90 min

I had perhaps my greatest moment in jiu jitsu so far. I actually won a takedown and passed my brown-belt instructor’s guard. This sounds trivial, but it is not. Our rolls together are somewhere in the mid hundreds, maybe creeping up towards a thousand by early next year. I’ve put him on the mat plenty of times, but…

Not once. Never. Not even for a moment. Have I actually established a dominant position until tonight. I baited him with an ankle pick, hit him with an Osoto Gari and slid right into knee-on-belly with a grip on the collar. My moment in the sun was brief as he hipped-out to his side to go for a single, but I went to north/south. He beat me with frames here, and I don’t recall exactly what he did to make his escape and eventually tap me out. But the frames were what I was aware of, mostly because that’s been my training focus lately.

But man, did that feel good. Not only did I win the takedown and not get caught up in his guard, I had legit knee-on belly and a good technical response to his escape when I went to north/south. That’s progress.

I’m wiped out and sick of typing so I’m not going to log everything we went over, but the main thing I want to take away is the knee-on-belly escape to single-leg takedown we’ve been working on.

From the bottom of right-side knee-on-belly, extend your left arm down and grab your pants/post on your leg (if no gi). From here you can defend most strikes by keeping your elbow stationary and blocking with your hand, then replacing the frame. Grab their right leg with your right hand and hip out big, trying to bring your head as close as you can to their right leg. Wrap your left arm around their leg and hug your head on the inside of their leg. As you’re wrapping your left arm you’re swinging your left leg around big as well, then getting up to your knees and from there you can just bulldoze.

This is something I need to work on. More and more for sure. Sunday I should have a white belt or two to practice on.

Oh and my ankle is still a hurting unit. I pulled guard (not as a tactic, but because I had no other viable option) and managed to get my foot smashed. The good news is that it was just really painful and shouldn’t be any kind of healing setback. After a few minutes I was good to go for more, just a little sore.

This has me re-thinking my return to regular classes where most everyone in the room really wants to tap me out. No need to rush.


Sunday 11/4/18

BJJ 120 min

Open mat at my brown belt friend’s house. Another white belt from his school showed up and we did a lot of rolling. It’s been a while since I’ve rolled with anyone besides my brown belt friend, except for the female weightlifter that was there last week. I out-class the guy physically but I also out-class him technically. This more or less means he can try whatever he wants as hard as he wants to and I’m going to find something to exploit very easily. It’s a fun feeling.

My training goal today was to work sweeps and climb to technical mount, which I was able to no problem on this guy. From technical mount get the kimura grip and explore options from there. It is such a great control position and very much real-world practical. You can take the back, if they have a collar you can work a bow and arrow or lap drop choke. You can control both of their arms with one of yours if they set it up for you, and you can also just bash them in the head. My favorite just stand up and deadlift them by the arm. I can just drag people around and put them where I want. It is such a controlling position and not easy at all to escape, plus you keep a good degree of mobility. One fun trick is to stand up and put your shin across the face. This isn’t fun at all for the person on the bottom, but that’s why it is good jiu jitsu. We’re not at tickle practice.

I worked a few different sweeps on him too, again seeing the holes he’s leaving me and walking right through them. I’m trying not to force anything, just taking what’s given. This is how I roll with people who I have a significant edge on through skill/strength/size factors. I can tool on them without doing anything nasty.

Technique for the day was the hip-bump sweep. This is one I need to remember. Setting it up depends on their reaction. From closed guard, hip them towards you. A reaction to this is frequently posturing up, which allows you to sit up and keep that momentum going with the hip bump sweep. Sometimes you might have someone trying to punch you from inside your guard. This can be a way to close space and take away any chance of knockout, then sweep them over.

When you sit up big, reach your arm over the opposite side of their head and grab on to their back while posting up on your other hand. From here it his hip rotation that powers the sweep. You’ll need to open guard and post on the foot opposite the side that your hand is posted on. From here you’re swinging your leg and rotating your hips to sweep them onto their back and right into mount. Good stuff if you can time it right and good stuff if you’ve got a lot of hip strength.

We did a little no-gi flow rollling too. Lots of fun today and it was good to roll with someone I haven’t rolled with in four or five months. Progress!


Monday 11/5/18

Quick circuit in the basement gym

20 KB swings
10 DB press
10 KB squats
10 DB rows

3 rounds plus some shoulder work with bands


Tuesday 11/6/18

BJJ 100 min

Open mat at my brown belt instructor’s house. Two other white belts showed up, so he ran it like a class.

Technique for the day was all stand-up. Basic distance management concepts to begin and some easy grip-stripping, then on to control. Control the right wrist of your opponent and post your right hand on their left shoulder. Then monkey paw the back of their head, not their neck. Make them look down and make them touch their far-side toe with their hand. If they let you do this just put them on the ground. If they don’t, react.

One option is to get one of your feet behind their far-side foot. This will unbalance them and you can throw them in a diagonal trajectory without losing your balance.

They may pull their arm away, if they do, arm-drag them. They may give you their back, but if they don’t, put their arm on you like a seatbelt, which leads to the drop saeo nagi (sp?). We didn’t go down that rabbit hole tonight, but that’s an option as is a basic shoulder throw if they suck.

Ankle picks are everywhere too, but we didn’t go down that rabbit hole either.

If they posture up when you’re pulling their head down, let them snap themselves up, throw a quick jab (or light slap if you’re being polite) and then collapse on them and grab a leg. Work the single leg takedown from here. Work your way behind them if they’re bigger than you, power them right over if they are not.

Use your judo throws and when those don’t work use wrestling and when that doesn’t work take the back and when that doesn’t work go to judo throws and so on and so on.

Rolling was great tonight. My ankle hurts, my left big toe is slashed open and my right big toe is somehow really bruised, but it felt good to roll hard. My first roll was with a very aggressive female I’ve rolled with several times before and I just let her work on me with partial resistance working one of our core sequences. Execute takedown -> pass the guard -> side control -> take mount -> force them to turn over (simulated strikes or jaw pressure -> rear naked choke. She’s a bulldog and moves wonderfully.

Next roll was with a friend of mine who I’ve known from lifting for a few years. He’s 25, a very strong lifter and he’s been doing judo for the last year. He’s a handful. I didn’t contest his takedown too hard, he passed my guard and got side control. He did a good job holding it but it wasn’t long before I made the escape with a re-roll when he wrapped me up and abandoned the posting hand that can stop it.

That put me in side control and then right into mount. He’s got close to a 500 deadlift and tons of energy so holding mount was like riding a bucking bronco, but good practice for me. I was trying to climb up to technical mount but I was leaving him holes to roll his shoulders back down to the mat. I did manage to pin his arms several times with my knees but he’d get them back as I’d go for submissions. I eventually got him in a figure 4 armlock that he presented to me after he was gassed.

This is the kind of guy I need to be able to make my stuff work on reliably. He’s in my strength ballpark but younger and all-around more athletic. I have to beat him by positional dominance and executing the techniques when he gives me the hole to walk through. I’m not strong enough to out-muscle him but I have the skill advantage. Great roll for both of us. He did a lot of things really well.

Looks like we all want to make this a regular Tuesday thing, which would be fantastic. Nothing like a small class with a really good instructor who can light up everyone in the room.

That’s it and that’s all.


Friday 11/9/18

BJJ 90 min

Just me and my instructor tonight. Refining my technical mount game was the focus. We did maybe 30 min of flow rolling too.

Huge takeaways tonight. First off, I need to dispel some notions previously held.

  1. Pinning someone’s arms with your shins is not technical mount and not necessarily good jiu jitsu. I’ve been doing this to people and feeling like I’m winning. If they have a good bridge you are not safe. Hunt technical mount instead.

  2. What my other instructor (and his instructor, for that matter) taught me is not technical mount. They used the term interchangeably with Russian Mount, but the foot placement was completely different. Technical mount is much more dominating and you’re much higher up on their torso.

  3. I previously thought of technical mount as a reactive position to ride up into when they go to their side. It can absolutely be this, but it is also a position I can and SHOULD be actively moving to from low mount. It can also be taken on people when they are flat on their back, no need for them to turn to the side. It’s all about beating their frames, trapping the arms and being so high on them that they can’t do much at all with their hips besides swing back and forth in a pendulum motion.

  4. Technical mount is a stepping stone in between low mount and taking the back. I may be hunting technical mount on people right now, but I really want to be hunting the back. One thing at a time, though.

Key details today were taking technical mount from low mount, and attack sequences that can be used to defeat frames and climb up.

First, superman them with hip pressure. Hands should not be on the mat, but spread out in front ready to post. Hooks in and let them react. A lot of times they will push up, which can give you a gift-wrap right there or a window to climb up into technical mount.

They may ride this out. From here, smash their face with your hands, let them pick a side and try to make their nose touch the mat. They may give you their back, or they may react by trying to push your hand away. Let them push it to the side, and slide your hand right into their collar. Now this need to be addressed too. Often times they will abandon frames to do this, giving you the opportunity to climb up into technical mount. If they keep good frames you can slowly push one of them down, giving the wrist a little twist to make it more uncomfortable. All of these things can give you the window you need to beat the frames and take technical mount. Some will play a deeper game but that’s the basic idea.

I needed to adjust my foot placement too. In simple terms, I need to make my heel touch my knee. It won’t but that’s the angle I’m making, and I want to keep my weight on my left hip as I do. Be heavy. Crush them. Their arms should be useless and you should be so high up on them that their hips should be useless too.

From here the two options I need to explore are the kimura grip and the simple armbar. There’s more there, but those will give me sufficient pathways to explore for now.

Big aha moment tonight. It was one of those sessions where a lot of concepts clicked together. Great stuff I’m excited to put it into practice.

Happy weekend everyone!


Monday 11/12/18

Quick basement work

Did all of my band work for my shoulders, which I’ve been neglecting since the foot sprain. Not that a sprained foot stops all that, it just kept me from doing what I usually do so I let it stop me from doing all lifting and related work.

5 sets of 10 seated DB press
Some curls

That’s it for today. Looked at the kettlebell and said “nah”. I need to get out of this rut.

Maybe I’ll head back down later tonight…


Tuesday 11/13/18

BJJ 120 min

Class at my brown belt friend’s house. Tonight we looked at single legs. Lots of single legs and then transitions to double-legs. I’m smoked. First we drilled level changes by dropping into a judo squat and then moving on your toes and knees. This isn’t easy and I need to work on moving this way a little more, but my foot at least seemed to hold up fine, aside from being in a little bit of pain.

Key take-aways for the single leg.

  1. Keep your head inside for the single. Outside for the double.
  2. Use a little pressure into them to pop your head from one side to the other.
  3. Set up the double by reaching in front of them for their other knee, then pop your head to the outside.
  4. Keep their weight close to you, hence the judo squat. It’s kind alike trying to deadlift with the bar way out in front. Huge mechanical advantages to keeping the weight close.
  5. When defending, keep you knees apart so they can’t grab both.
  6. When defending, you can push them down and walk around to the outside, possibly even getting the back if they suck.
  7. Changing levels doesn’t need to be a full judo squat. It’s getting low enough to get the grips you want in a mechanically sound position. The lower the better, but that isn’t easy for me right now with my foot.

A few easy flow rolls, I was smoked so not at my sharpest. Just flowing stuff no testing today.

Great training session!


Friday 11/17/18

BJJ 70 min

Just me and my instructor at his place tonight. Rolled a few rounds and did a little technique for the day.

Main take-away was a new side control escape I’ve never even contemplated. I don’t have a lot of success with replacing my guard. I’m not that bendy and I need a lot of space to make it work. So tonight we went over a few details.

First get frames in place. One in the hip and one across the neck. Next make safe from elbow strikes by cupping their tricep and gluing your head to it. From here you can do a technical stand-up if they try to rise up out of frustration, but we didn’t go down that rabbit hole tonight.

Instead we looked at bumping them over your head, posting on a foot and bridging while you nudge them at an upward angle to shimmy yourself down and get them off of you. This will open up a single leg takedown. Grab the leg once it is clear, get on your belly, keep your head inside and wrap your other arm and drive them down.

This should be a much higher percentage for me, but I’ll need to start making it work like anything else.

We also did some grip-stripping exercises for wrist control with a nifty little wrist lock. Sort of the opposite movement of an arm drag. If they grab your wrist, you can always strip by levering your arm back as if you are trying to touch your thumb to your chest. If they hold on (assuming your right hand), cycle it around their wrist counter-clockwise, grip the wrist while also torquing it counter clockwise. Grab that hand, not their fingers with your left hand and then move it upward at the same time as if you’re trying to point a gun at their chest. They should let go.

Another little technique was a gi/clothing strip. If they grab your left lapel, grab just underneath it with your left hand, wrap it clockwise around their hand, pass it off to your right hand and keep torquing it. They should let go eventually.

That’s it and that’s all. Happy weekend.


Tuesday 11/20/17

BJJ 60 min

Tonight we just did a lot of rolling and I’m pooped. The main technique we went over for the day was holding mount and transitioning from low, to mid and then to high. My instructor showed me what happens when people are tough enough to ride out my pressure while keeping frames and working an escape. My hip pressure is usually enough to get people to do something with their arms which I can exploit, so the answer (when no strikes are in play) is to threaten an arm or a collar while also holding mount.

Basically hold mount, switching from hip pressure in low mount to mid mount, threaten the collar or a limb and use the threat of attack to open a hole in their frames and advance to technical mount. Alternatively, you can just push their arms up from mid mount and keep climbing up. Most lower belts freak out when I put hip pressure on them from low mount, which can and will open up all kinds of opportunities. A deeper game is needed against people who can ride the pressure out and work an escape at the same time. That’s the game I need to work on playing.

That’s it for today!


Friday 11/23/18

BJJ 90 min

Just me and my instructor again tonight. Almost all stand-up work and I’m smoked.

One key take-away on the ground was to keep my frame in when hipping out for a single-leg. Frame, hip-out, keep the frame, then wrap the leg and go belly down. Gotta remember that frame.

The main take-away for stand up tonight was to abandon my goon throw I’ve been having such success with. It is a not-too-great osoto-gari that I shouldn’t completely discard, but I need to start playing a deeper game if I ever want to put good people on the ground reliably.

Big daddy judo to start. Stay postured upright, keeping my hands in prayer position or standing turtle if getting struck. Let them make the first move. I already have a decent feel for what’s a credible threat and what’s bullshit, so let people do bullshit and exploit their mistakes. The position I’m going to start hunting is right arm control.

As they make space underneath their right arm, get your left arm underhooking it. Lace your hand around their shoulder, point your elbow down and bury your face in their shoulder. Start walking them around clockwise, following their feet with yours. You should be pointed toward them, they should be pointed ~90 degrees away from you. Take your left foot and put it behind their right foot and try to reverse them the other way. If they go down, great. If they step over, shuffle or step your left foot over to their left foot and keep trying to trip them.

Other options can open up from here, like ankle picks and single legs. For now I’m going to try to play the passive game standing up and follow their feet until I get a sweep. Be patient.

Sounds simple, and it is. It’s another example of how I need to abandon goon-ish techniques I’ve been having a lot of success with to train more technical moves that will ultimately give me a much higher percentage of success.

An out-of-town brown belt is visiting tomorrow morning. This should be fun. I’m excited to see what works and what doesn’t.


So my karate training was all about fighting in a phone booth. If you’re good, you want to fight in close.

I never got good enough to feel comfortable with that - still want to throw bombs from outside and head hunt. But, most of my Sensei’s wanted to get in tight, and could kick you in the head from a foot a way.

BJJ makes more sense - this

Of course, the old saying about a fight plan going out the window as soon as you get hit is true as well. But, I think turtling up and hunting the opening makes sense.

I’ve been in a lot of street fights, grew up in a rough hood. And, truth, the ability to wade in and take a poorly thrown punch to deliver damage was one of the things I learned as a five year old. I wish I knew what you are learning now - could have saved me a few concussions, lol.



One of the first things you learn in jiu jitsu are the two safe places in a fight. Too far and too close. That middle ground is where strikers want to stay and where I don’t want to be. Too far is self-explanatory, contact is not possible, so we definitely spend a lot of time getting used to close and getting used to working against someone trying to stop us. I’m a big believer in live training. The last bouncer encounter I had was almost like bullet time in The Matrix. He presented no credible threat and I did a jiu jitsu 101 turtle, dive and clinch to get too close. He was mine from there, and lucky for him I didn’t want to jiu jitsu him any further. The “discussion” was over at that point.

Everyone has a puncher’s chance (or a kicker, if that’s your game), but BJJ as I’m learning it is entirely predicated on eating contact if you choose to engage. That’s why we’ve been throwing in some open-hand strikes. More stress to train under, but not quite enough to ring your bell or cause lasting damage. But plenty enough for my face to hurt right now while I’m still up writing about training…

If there’s one thing I learned bouncing, it’s that most assholes who peacock and follow through with actual fighting don’t have the slightest idea how to fight. I didn’t have a lot of training when I hung up the security shirt, but I got by fine on being able to shrug off a little contact until I could rag-doll them.

Now I’m able to rag-doll people more elegantly, and with a better chance at a good outcome for me. Jiu jitsu as I’m learning it right now is mostly sticking to fundamentals that have a high-percentage chance of working on people who don’t know how to fight, making safe the entire time.

I’m starting to wade into the waters of learning how to fight against fighters, which is still built on top of the foundation that is the white belt curriculum.

You should really try a class. I think you’ll surprise yourself. I’m making a lot of effort towards taking my attributes out of the game and really focusing on technique, so hopefully it will serve me well in the coming decades.


this is way different than fighting drunk assholes, as you know. Something you most likely will never run into bouncing.

I learned early on that it was pretty easy to eat a punch or two to get close. Most guys can’t throw a good punch.

However, once you eat a well thrown punch, and spend a few minutes on queer street, you will avoid it in the future.

I’m almost sixty. Okay, just turned 55.

But still fascinated by this. Quit training karate at green (white, yellow, blue, blue stripe, green, green stripe, brown, brown stripe, black candidate, black) just because it seemed bogus to me. Bunch of rock heads pretending to be bad asses.

I think I mentioned a colleague teaches at Matt Serra BJJ. I have an open invite.

Think I need to go.


Matt Serra is legit and I would expect to find more combat-oriented jiu jitsu at one of his schools. He’s Renzo Gracies first American black belt, and Renzo is the wellspring of what I’m learning too. My instructors instructor is Jay Jack. His instructor is Amal Easton and Amal was one of Renzos first American black belts, maybe right behind Serra. I’m pretty sure they are buddies.

There’s nothing wrong with sport jits but it can be quite different in substance, curriculum and application. I think you’d prefer the real stuff and Serra definitely knows it.

55 is not too old at all btw. Be wary of white belts at first and it will probably be safer than riding a bike. Just not quite as comfortable. Roll with people you trust and don’t be afraid to say no.

Of course, once you know a thing or two the really aggressive and high energy white belts are the guys you want to know you can easily handle. But that takes some mat time and there is no great rush.

Take the plunge!