T Nation

Return to the Mat


Took first place in the 210-225 white belt gi division yesterday. It was double elimination, luckily, because I lost my first match on points. Won the second with an Americana, won the third on points, and won the final with a bread cutter choke.

Obviously my elbow was feeling fine. I actually didn’t miss any days of training with that injury. I put my TENS unit on it for about 72 hours straight the night I hurt it. That thing is like a miracle. I was basically 100% by the following Monday.


Second comp was last weekend (NAGA Pittsburgh). There were 10 guys in my bracket (white belt HW), and I was one of the unlucky ones that had a 4 fight path to the gold. Won my first 7-0; won my second with a n/s choke. Lost third fight (semi-final) by lapel choke, and lost the 3rd place fight by kimura (from guard). So I ended up in 4th. Disappointing finish, especially since both losses were by submission, but good experience nonetheless.

Conditioning was an issue, as I was definitely not recovered for the 3rd place match. I didn’t think this would be the case with 4 min rounds, but by that 4th match of the day (in probably 45 minutes) I was pretty well cooked. I definitely didn’t lose because of it, but it could have been better.

Other things to work on: controlling scrambles, finishing from n/s kimura, and knee mount (just in general, I’ve never been in this position in 9 months)

My coaches were yelling for me to go knee-on-belly a few times, and I didn’t do it because I’ve never used the position in sparring. Other than the Toreando guard pass drill, I’ve never drilled it either. So I need to do some work there, because it hurts my scoring if I can’t advance any further than side mount in a tournament. There are also a few people in my division that are too big for me to hold a stable mount; I have short legs so stocky guys present a challenge with that position.

Lots to work on. Next tournament will most likely be 10/22, so I have time. I also joined a second school so I have a lot more opportunities to train.


Congrats on the wins. Are you still lifting much or has bjj taken over most of your time and how’s your hip going has bjj helped


I went from 8 hours of lifting per week to 1 or 2. So yes, bjj has taken all my lifting time.

My mobility is my limiting factor, but it has improved remarkably since I started rolling. I can now put my shoes on like a normal person (IE crossing your foot over your knee when sitting); I haven’t been able to do that since my injury in '08. I can sit also sit Indian style with relative comfort.

I still can’t run more than once a week, and I have to be really careful if I get my right leg dragged, because the ROM gets really limited in that position.

So there are still limitations, but it’s improved a lot too.


If anyone is looking for good grappling/bjj instructional content, Stephen Kesting and Rob Biernacki have recently put out 4 great (Core Concepts, Top Game, Bottom Game, & Back Attacks) that are available on iTunes or Google Play.

I’m still pretty new to BJJ (4 stripe white), but the concepts are fairly universal, and integrating them into my rolling has been pretty seamless.

Anybody else have any recommendations for BJJ instruction?


Eddie Bravos books are good, just weird. Rubber guard work doesn’t sound like an option for u, but the lockdown changed my life


I’m totally the reverse as far as rolling/sparring goes. But that’s mostly because of my point sparring background with kung fu way back in high school.

What I’ve found in my class is that I am stronger, faster, more powerful, and have better balance than most in my class so in an all out to win roll I can match people with a lot more experience, but other than a fantastic workout I don’t become a better grappler afterwords. I’m starting to realize I learn a lot more when I don’t use athleticism and focus more on skill.

It can be hard to do in the moment b/c of that excitement, but I’m learning to do it.


Yeah I’m not built for Rubber Guard at all (short, thick, stiff legs/hips). I’ve been using the truck and lockdown here and there in my game, but they’re not really staples. I’ve also been trying to work on Twister Side Control a little, but I fail pretty hard at it most of the time. I tend to get framed out and then have trouble re-establishing upper body control. It’s not so bad in the gi since I can just grab cloth and hang on until they wear themselves out, but in no gi it’s a different story.


I think I’ve been doing a pretty decent job of slowing down and not trying to blast through everything all the time, especially in the past few months. That approach doesn’t work against upper belts anyhow, and I’m deathly afraid of injuring a training partner so I try to be as controlled as possible.

In other news, I got my blue belt a few months ago, so that’s something.


Now that I’m proficient with lockdown most of my training partners avoid getting into the position all together, and so I use it only situationally now.

But it was my first half guard sweep that I became actually skilled at, and was the first move that started keeping me out of the ‘side control hell’ that comes with beginning jiu jitsu


Also used the Lockdown a bunch when I was a Blue Belt and still teach it, but like many things in Jiu-Jitsu, my “game” has changed as I’ve gotten better and shifted some of my focus, and so my “go to” techniques and flows have also changed. It’s also fairly easy to counter/escape if you know how and with both feet in the air you have no base or ability to drive to off balance your opponent, meaning you are flat on your back and will get smashed. Personally I’d much rather be on my side and play the underhook/dogfight game/hook Sweep game if on bottom half Guard. Just my preference though.


So I moved to Houston about 8 months ago and have been training at Ground Dwellers in NW Houston. It’s a pretty good school. Lots of upper belts. I get tooled on most of the time.

I’ve been training pretty consistently since I moved, and I feel like my game has progressed a lot. Two of the black belts I roll with regularly have been the best coaches I’ve ever had. Instead of just smashing me, like they could easily and repeatedly, they’ll coach me through things. Working with them has been invaluable.

I have not competed in over a year (did an in-gym white belt tournament right before a I got my blue belt last year) and am looking forward to getting a few in this summer. There are a lot to choose from in the Houston area.

Very much agree with this. I basically only use the lockdown after I’ve already been crossfaced and underhooked. It can be helpful for getting out of there, especially since it’s harder to break the lockdown when you’re controlling the upper body.


Yes, that’s the one situation where I might teach it from too. But honestly, there are other IMO more efficient options from there that don’t rely on pain compliance or even as much effort/athleticism. So even from there I don’t use the Lockdown anymore (though again I still teach it because my instructor wants me to).


Competed in a NAGA tournament this past weekend. Won both divisions (Men’s No Gi Intermediate Heavyweight, Master’s Blue Belt Heavyweight). Videos below (I’m in the black and red rashguard and the black gi):

This was my toughest opponent of the day. He also fights MMA, and he had really strong frames, which I did not deal with very well. I thought the N/S choke was on pretty tight but he was able to fight out of it somehow. Final score was 7-3.

What bothers me most about this match is the beginning. My shot was god-awful. Even with the embarrassing shot, I think I still could have recovered and finished the takedown, but I stayed on my knees instead of getting to my feet and running him over. My high school wrestling coach would puke if he saw that. I was able to pull half guard and get the sweep eventually, but I really need to work on my wrestling.

2 obvious things here: There’s no way I should be giving up that sucker sweep from top half guard. Also, I need to work on my kimura control. I had the wrong pressure (and/or angle) and allowed him to escape the elbow.

I think the final score of this was 12-1.

Not really much to say about the gi matches. I could be better at getting hooks in, but my legs are not exactly what you’d call “flexible,” so it kinda is what it is. I was happy to get finishes after winning both no-gi matches on points.

I know I could have been a little more efficient on the second finish. Needed to get my left leg across his hips and push his body down lower before I threw the leg over his shoulder. Thankfully my squeeze is pretty good so it didn’t end up mattering, but it might in the future.

I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. I won and found several areas in my game that need work, which is really the main point of competing in the first place.

Back to work…


Congratulations, well done, all your hard work is paying off. Respect.


Nice North/South attempt on that “tough” opponent! You needed to sit out towards his hips and use your ribs to turn his chin towards the ceiling and then to go back to belly down but to drop yourself further off his chest to finish it (I usually only use one arm to put on the Choke and the other one to hand fight or to control their hips).

Also, try to stay off your knees while passing or holding Side Control. You did this well a couple times, but you would go back to your knees after a little while and as soon as you did your opponent was able to move again and start to try to escape.

Finally, I know a lot of people teach to hold Half Guard Top the way you were, but to be honest that is a very inefficient way of holding it (Head and Arm Control and on your knees) and leaves you way too open to getting put back in their Guard (which happens to you here). The “Reverse Half Guard” position with your “upper arm” over their head, hips switched towards their feet, foot that is caught flat on the floor (shin vertical) and as close to their butt as possible, and leg that is free sprawled back and towards their head as far as possible (so you have a very wide base and are not susceptible to getting bridged or pulled into Deep Half) is a far superior holding position. It basically completely eliminates the ability to put you back into full Guard, kills the power of their Underhook (if they get one), kills Deep Half, kills Lockdown, kills their ability to take your back, in fact, pretty much the only option they have left is to try to Hook Sweep you which you can either counter by underhooking their leg with your “low” arm, changing the angle of your hips and “smashing their hook, or framing with your forearm and knee and passing to Mount before they get the Hook in.

Hope this helps.

Congratulations on the wins!


You’re saying I needed to reset back to 100 kilo side control (with the head wrapped) and get in deeper? I’ll have to try that. My main issue with this choke is that training it can be very difficult because some people (read: almost every white and blue belt I train with) will tap without it being applied correctly (IE just from the pressure and slight smothering effect). I have hit it in training on good, tough guys before though (and once in a tournament), so I know it’s “there.” But, I also know it needs work. Thanks for the tips.

I’ve found it difficult to find a training partner that will let me try to choke them for 10 min while I try to perfect a technique, especially the N/S.

Definitely true. Honestly this is just laziness and lack of focus/bad habit. I didn’t do this as a white belt. I just went and rewatched my first tournament video from 2 years ago and I was on my toes the whole time I was in top side. It might be because I’ve been rolling with a lot of people smaller than me, so there’s a concerted effort to not smash the hell out of them (especially girls). That’s just an excuse though. I’ll definitely focus on this. Thanks.

That’s actually my favorite way to attack the half guard. Not really sure why I didn’t go to it. I can almost always secure a kimura grip and attack the straight armlock from there. My second no gi match is particularly frustrating to watch because I was in such terrible position (weight way too far over his chest). I basically gifted him that near-sweep. Fortunately my meager athletic ability allowed a quick recovery.

Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it!


It’s not necessarily about resetting to Side Control, but moreso about turning their chin to the sky using your ribs. You do this by sitting out towards their feet (basically into a Reverse Kesa Gatame position). I am usually actually walking my hips up towards their head (basically already going North/South) as I do this.

Once you have their head trapped between your ribs and your arm, then you go back belly down (already being North/South) and just continue to slide yourself off of them until your choking arm shoulder is on their neck. Then you just hug your arm to your side (you can crawl/walk with your fingers on the floor as well to add more stability if desired) and press your ribs into them slightly. Once you get it down it’s a very powerful, but also very “gentle” Choke. If people are feeling a neck crank or like you are crushing their trachea, then you don’t have it down yet and need to work on it more.

Hope this helps.


Yeah, you can’t be “half way” between the Head And Arm Half Guard and “Reverse Half Guard” style’s of holding. But it was moreso your attempts to lift your hips to free your leg that threw off your balance and left you susceptible to getting swept than it was about how high you were on his chest.

I never do that anymore to try to free my leg and love it when people try that because they are gifting me a Guard recovery (or a Hook Sweep) by doing that. Most people just don’t realize it or aren’t active with their legs/hips while on the bottom of Half Guard so it can sometimes work on them.

With the Reverse Half Guard you actually want to be way up on their chest as this allows you to bring your trapped foot as close to their butt as possible making it much easier to free the leg and transition to Mount of Side Control.


Got my purple belt Tuesday night. I feel completely inadequate to the rank. I think that’s the point of a belt promotion though. I was comfortable as a blue belt. I’ll be very uncomfortable tying my purple belt for quite a while though. That will motivate me to work harder, no doubt.