“A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is someone who can do all the FRESH MEAT moves with precision and tightness.” Renzo Gracie quote.
Never Give Up
Never Ever Give Up
“A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is someone who can do all the FRESH MEAT moves with precision and tightness.” Renzo Gracie quote.
10 years of training 4-5 days a week to make black belt. At the time of this photo, (age 63) I have been training for 12 years at Clockwork BJJ in NYC. Clockwork BJJ has promoted 10 “home grown” black belts since inception by Sensei Josh Griffiths.
NEVER GIVE UP…
“In 10 years, you will be somewhere, so why not be a black belt in BJJ.” Chris Hauter quote.
The age ranges for Hope for Warriors and 1 coach were 25-35. The age ranges for Clockwork and 2 coaches were 32-63. Clockwork participants were Angel, the 53 year old blind white belt, Pete, 30′s blue belt, the old man, Spin, age 63 year old black belt and Alex C, 30′s, Israeli military, black belt in BJJ and black belt in Judo who also competed in MMA.
My personal take away is first and foremost, we all thank Hope for Warriors for their service. After training, we spoke at length with their Gunny. Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) is the seventh enlisted rank in the United States Marine Corps, just above Staff Sergeant and below Master Sergeant and First Sergeant, and is a staff non-commissioned officer (SNCO). It has a pay grade of E-7. His name was Ed and he was a purple belt awarded by the Gracie team, as they do combative activities in addition. The Gunnery Sergeant insignia consists of two M1 Garands centered vertically between three chevrons and two rockers.
Ed was explaining in great detail that vets who were conditioned to react in certain ways for a long time during their military career, are now having a hard time dealing with the opposite way of interacting. They basically went from high intensity to low intensity and its causing challenges. BJJ is proving to be a valid solution to address the needs of these vets.
Ed’s BJJ team has competed in tournaments before and won. They were wrestlers for many years as evident by their ears and are pretty well schooled by Ed in BJJ techniques.
When we began the seminar, we were under the impression that the Hope for Warriors participants might be physically challenged and we designed our lesson plan accordingly. Once the Warriors got dressed and came out of the locker room onto the mats, it was apparent they were not first day participants. Ed jumped in and got a roll or 2 during Clockworks regularly scheduled class and I was very impressed as he was training with a blue belt.
Once the seminar began, we all sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and then Alex C. began a series of no-gi lessons that included 3 techniques all linked to each other and the Warriors began eagerly to drill. As the drilling went on, Angel had to leave as he was their for the prior 2 classes. I took his drilling partner and we drilled for some time. Towards the end of the drilling session, the Warriors asked me to offer a little resistance to see the effectiveness of the move. Usually during drilling, no resistance is offered and the next step of drilling is a little resistance.
As they did the move on me, I offered about 20% resistance and as a result, they countered my 20% resistance so I had a choice to offer more resistance to their resistance or “flow” around their resistance. Which do you think I did? Offer more resistance by a 63 year old against a Marine who trains in BJJ and combative arts? Hell NO!!!! I flowed around and prevented the pass. Then another Warrior did the same thing to me and I flowed around and trapped his leg and prevented his pass. His comment was very encouraging and the basis for this blog post. He said we need more guys at his gym like me that move and do BJJ, rather than coming in and using brute strength without technique and risk injury. I totally understand that. It was a compliment to me and to Clockwork that we do BJJ using technique.
Now we begin to do live training and we set the clock for 5-minute rounds. One of the Marines that I drilled with called me out right away saying he wants to train with me. We began and as usual, I move at 50% with 100% defense. Thank goodness I have 100% defense because for the first 4 minutes of the first round, I spent defending multiple attacks, back attack, side control attack, arm bar attack, rear choke attack and guillotine attack. Get the point? Remember, I train at 50% so not to injury myself and defend at 100%. I basically survived and defended attacks for 4 minutes before jumping over to the safe side of a guillotine and getting top side control. I have developed thanks to Tom, a very high percentage escape from a guillotine and often drill and go live with Tom. Tom has “lead pipes” as forearms and the Marine for some reason, thankfully for me, did not. Once I got top side control, normally we look for an Americana, a safe and high percentage submission from side control. However, as Tom and I have discussed many times, if you go through all that trouble to get your opponent down and submit him, once you reset and start over, its going to be the same energy if not more to get him down if you can and submit him again if you can. Rather than looking for the submission, I held my top position and rested until the buzzer went off. We shook hands and went on to the next partner. My second and last roll was exactly the same. Intense movement by the Warrior for 4 minutes until I was able to pass and maintained top side control. Even though there were 2 more Warriors to train with, I was tired from participating in the noon-1:00 regular class and it was now 2:30 and was burned out. Alex C. trained with all 4 Warriors and you know the outcome. Although, his first Warrior partner double legged Alex from the open guard and at that point, Alex knew it was on. Alex finished with a picture perfect head and arm choke from top mount to side control.
Pete had several rolls and was going at it the way we were. It was a great learning experience for everyone. First off, never underestimate a situation. Always be ready for extremes on both ends of the spectrum. Next, the Marines have a mojo/mind set that I identified and made simple and its called ABA for “always be attacking” or “always be advancing” meaning, use my 100% defense to set something up. I can’t just defend the pass, I have to defend first and then look for an efficient and effortless way to begin my attack (ABA) from my defense so I don’t burn out. Not launching an attack, because that’s fooling against a trained Marine, but use his attack to set up my attack while I am defending.
I understand this and hope you all do too. I am beginning this new BJJ philosophy January 17, 2017, which happens to be my favorite older daughters birthday.
Yesterday at Clockwork BJJ in NYC, I had the most incredible flow roll with Dr. Paul, that unfolded into the “Spirit World.”
For those that don’t now what a flow roll in BJJ is, here are the categories of BJJ training.
1. Drilling- can improve many aspects of your BJJ game, including technical skill, timing and conditioning.
2. Flow Rolling- is a method of sparring that occurs at a lighter, less competitive/more cooperative pace than regular rolling, involving a give and take in the roll where your partner is allowed to use techniques without your full defense and the main goal is on movement and the ability to exchange many positions during a 6-minute round.
3. Training- the next phase of rolling where the main objective is to get a position, work for the set up and the submission will easily follow. You maybe be working anywhere from 50% of your maximum output, up to 100%. It’s a mutually agreed upon relationship with each of your training partners.
4. Competition Training- Similar to training, with the exception of focusing on the point system in preparation of a national competition.
A new category for me is when Dr. Paul and I hit a level of consciousness that took us into the “spirit world.” It’s not a religion, it’s not a cult, it’s a level of awareness and endorphin release that puts you in a happy place that is said to heal the body. I am not that familiar with the “medical stuff” that is occurring, however I must tell you that in 10 years of flow rolling, that was a new experience for me.
If I could summarize the feeling we both had, as we shared that moment together for a while after our round ended, I would say the following in bullet form that can be expanded in a conversation and even a video.
* had an outer body experience.
* able to see myself training.
* felt like I was floating off the mats weightless and dynamically moving at a speed not normally achieved by me.
* a sense of caring and respect for my parter, while wanting him to move faster and execute more techniques, so I can match his speed and work up to his level.
* felt like I was 25 years old with no pain or restriction of movement.
All I can say is we need many different types of training partners and Dr. Paul is my spirit world flow roll training partner, Roger is my Iron Dumpling training partner because he has become a force of nature and never lets up. When someone asks me if I lift weights to stay fit, I tell them “I lift Roger” and that is all I need. My longest and most consistent training partner who is responsible for me not quitting BJJ and has changed my game to enable me to train for the next several decades, is the Italian Stallion Tom. If you never met or trained with Tom, you are missing something special. After class most days we stay and figure the moves out to accommodate our body types and life challenges. Those after class tweaks has now become part of the class for us.
Now some of you are thinking not to get pinched and how right you are.
This move came about from Tom having a knee injury and having to play bottom game and be on his back. One setback is really an opportunity waiting.
From open guard, you are on bottom and your opponent begins one leg advancement and sets up his pass. Key is to get a De La Riva hook on one side and foot on this hip on the other side with at least one sleeve grip.
As you push his knee back or he begins to get an angle on you to start his pass, square up. That’s 90% of the pinch knee sweep. Square up.
Once you are squared up, keep one foot De La Riva hook and the other foot goes behind his knees and cross your feet at his knees and your ankles are crossed.
Now just squeeze your knees together, punch in the hand with sleeve grip, pull on collar and gently off balance your opponent as he falls to the side. Be careful because he has no base with legs and no base with hands, which means its a long way down for him.
Once you have him down on his side and you are on your side facing him, hold the sleeve grip, hold the collar grip and come up on you knees sandwiching his knees and knee cut. Pull up on sleeve, drive hip to mat and pass. Or, Roger takes top mount right away and that’s also a great pass with points.
Key is to slide your chest down towards his legs slightly, which allows the gi collar to act as a wire and choke you rather than staying high up and the submission is more of a neck crank.
When you think of a wire, (some people know various applications of the wire choke), think of the gi collar being thin and strong like a wire placed across the middle of your neck on the far side. This action prevents blood flow and therefore you get light headed and if you don’t tap, you will pass out. You will feel a tingling sensation in your head just before you pass out and it feels like you were at the dentist office and he gave you laughing gas before a procedure to relax you.
Everything else is the same set up from judo side control. Tom did identify another major tweak that we were overlooking.
When you place your far side arm under his far side arm and 4 fingers grab his collar with elbow tight to his hip for control, this allows you to do a crunch on the near side of his head. This near side crunch allows you to put the top of your head under his chin and gently push his head away from you. This is key to setting up the wire choke. By his head being pushed away from you because of head force you are applying, you can very slowly and technically pull your gi out and begin the wire choke.
To finish, simply slide your chest that is now on his chest, down 4-6 inches towards his feet and keep your choking arm bent so he can’t arm bar it or stop you. This sliding down allows the wire part of the gi to align perfectly and lay on his neck, thereby cutting off blood supply to his head. Its a fast tap so be careful and be aware of the tap is coming once you slide down. We don’t want our training partners to pass out.
Last week, the founding members of the Pappy Tap Inc had their midterm exam at Clockwork BJJ in NYC under Sensei Josh Griffiths. Black belts Tom and Allen and purple belt Roger, went to battle and successfully validated that You Don’t Need To Train Like a Beast to Beat a Beast. They all received an A+ on their midterm exam. (a figure of speech)
We all got there late and everyone had most of their rolls already. A few others got their late. I did a warm up with a purple belt who is the greatest flow roll ever. It was a cool down for him and a warm up for me since I got there late and its my first roll and that was his final roll. It was perfect. I was going to take a rest after the flow roll because we don’t stop moving. There is no focus on submission, rather the focus is on making as many technical transitions as possible, making your BJJ look good and trying new moves in a safe and ego free environment. When it comes to a submission because it was right there, its tap and go, meaning, don’t reset. Just continue from there so you are constantly moving. Its exhausting and beneficial if done properly. Tom and Roger just arrived and were changing and I did a drill with a purple belt who hurt his shoulder and we both benefited. Now Tom and Roger are on the mats ready to train and all 3 of us were warming up when another guy who came late approached us.
This other guy was a purple belt who won a few tournaments and was over 6′ tall and weighed over 220. He was 25 years younger than Tom and myself and very athletic. He was a good purple belt and to us, he is a black belt. Every 10 pounds heavier your opponent is than you, add one belt. Every 10 years younger your opponent is than you. add one belt. Get the point? Lets call him good purple belt.
Now the purpose of this blog post is to validate that You Don’t Need To Train Like a Beast to Beat a Beast.
The very good purple belt asked Roger to train and Roger replied he was training with Tom, which meant I was available to train. I don’t like to turn many guys/gals that ask me to train if they are on my approved list and good purple belt is on the list when I am 100%, and right now I am not 100%. So its questionable. It happens that good purple belt is a really cool guy that simply brings his A game when he trains. Nothing personal, he is all business, which is how it should be. Good purple belt poses a threat to us and if not careful, he will gracefully submit us. Even though I wear a black belt, it won’t protect me from tapping or getting injured.
So we shake hands and I sit in the bottom open guard position and he takes top combat stance. I am not looking to engage full speed right away. I need to diffuse and asses the situation. What the Pappy Tap members are perfecting, is, train smart – not hard so you can see moves in advance to defend and execute your moves to near perfection without worrying about keeping pace with your opponent. We set the pace. Good purple belt drives forward and works on passing my guard with force and power. I am not worried and rather than expend a tremendous amount of energy and gas out early, he passes and I position myself in a very strong and defensive side control. Thats my offense… having a stellar defense. As he begins his move to get me flat on my back, I do what I do best and escape and reverse the position. His technique is similar to how Tom controls his opponents and I am very familiar since Tom most often has me in the same side control position and we talk about how to work from there. In other words, I am very confident that if I get into someones side control, they really need to be black belt level to hold me down. I have several ways to escape and actually launch my offense. Look, there are times that a blue belt can tap a black belt or control the roll. Its how you do over a long period of training that matters and we have been training a long time and we train often. We have experience and understand what to expect. When we train, we are able to see moves, forecast outcomes and its like a chess match. Tom, Roger and myself stay after class and train this way. Others must wonder what the heck we are doing because it doesn’t look like we are doing much.
Now I am on top and he was in my traditional side control. I have about 3-seconds in the traditional side control before this very strong and athletic good purple belt attempts to off balance me and sweep me. He has before and he is really good at it. Because I train with Tom and we train like we do, it was easy for me to switch from traditional side control to a more secure side control for me that feeds into a high percentage submission. Its the Judo Side Control Wire Choke.
Getting right to the point…I was able to defend his initial attack, reverse the position, get my position secured, go for the set up and get halfway through the submission attempt before the bell rang to end the round. When the bell rang, it was a relief for both of us, we hugged and then he trained with Roger, as Tom and I trained. Tom and I watched very carefully when we were training and while Roger and good purple belt began to train and noticed that Roger was able to also control the pace, control the positions and did an amazing job, as Roger is a new purple and this guy was a good purple. Good means really good and new means you just got your purple belt and not long ago was a blue belt. There is for sure a difference between a new purple belt and good purple belt.
That seemed to be it. Tom, Roger and I spend 10-15 minutes each training session “micro drilling” moves and perfect the one thing that will make the difference between submitting and not submitting using pure technique. So, really good purple belt asked Tom him to show the move we were working on this week. Tom began to demonstrate on me and choke the shit out of me. He then did it to Roger and also choked the shit out of Roger. Then purple belt asked to feel the choke, which is a great way to see the set up and feel the submission and as Tom applied the choke, the purple belt began to resist and it turned into a very interesting roll. I could not believe it. I was peeing in my pants watching the good purple purple belt engage with Tom, initiate an attack where we were all not expecting that and how Tom began to defend and then launch his attack, staying within the principles of the Pappy Tap Inc motto. It was amazing how Tom, who is 61 years old and weighs 160 with a bad knee and bad shoulder, basically dominated good purple belt. Tom was not expecting to roll and was honored that good purple belt decided to go live. Its an honor when someone asks you to roll, because they feel you are a worthy opponent. Yes Tom is also a black belt, but again, the color of your belt won’t stop speeding bullets or a 220 pound good purple belt trying to smash the shit out of you. Remember, Tom is way older and lighter in body weight than good purple belt and good purple belt is a champion in his age, weight and skill division.
You Don’t Need To Train Like a Beast to Beat a Beast.
By training the way we do, by doing the micro drilling after class and taking care to train 5 days a week regularly with anywhere from 4-6 rolls a day with approved training partners, we just proved that there is a way You Don’t Need To Train Like a Beast to Beat a Beast and we found that way. We can train like this for the next 20 years for sure and that will take us to 81 and 82 years old respectively.
Once again Tom, Roger and Allen stayed after class tweaking traditional moves to make it easier for them. These secret training sessions are becoming the talk of Clockwork BJJ in NYC under Sensei Josh Griffiths. As others are getting tapped out by these moves or observing others getting tapped out, they are reaching out to Tom and asking him how does he do that move and can he show them. Its inspirational.
Here is the Pappy Tap Inc loop choke where there is very little movement, minimal adjustment and very small room for error, which makes it a high percentage move for us. Again, we break down the move in a very specific order.
1. Sprawl as your opponent shoots in, snap head down or how ever you get into an “arm in guillotine.” Once you have that set with your chest resting on the back of his shoulders with your toes only on the mat sprawled so he can’t grab your lower body, the move starts.
2. In our demonstration, our right hand is under and against his neck and our left hand is behind his same side tricep. Our left hand grabs our right hand in the monkey grip. Arm in guillotine.
3. With your left hand behind his tricep, pull your left elbow to your hips (important audio command used in many positions so please understand what that means) and watch how that creates an opening that you will so elegantly use.
4. Simply remove your left hand from gripping your right hand and grab his near collar and feed it to your right hand. This should take all of 1/2 of one second with zero plus zero movement under him. THIS IS THE SECRET!!! As you feed it, you can snap it down to tighten the choke, you can turn the gi collar outward to get a real deep cloth grip, etc. Many ways.
5. Now that your left hand if free and your right hand has cross collar control, slide your left hand under and cross grab his arm pit, taking a nice pinch of cloth. Tom has executed this move on me by grabbing anywhere near the cross arm pit. What is does is tighten both sides under his neck.
6. Now simply pull your elbows back towards your hips, head on the side of his back and roll him over. As you roll him over, continue to pull your elbows back to your hips, especially your right hand that holds the cross collar choke. If done correctly, your opponent will be tapping before the roll is finished.
In conclusion, what we found is that once your opponent comes to you during a takedown attempt, get the arm in guillotine and from that position, you really don’t move your arms under his chin much and really don’t move your body much, except for a roll over which can be an old man flop over. There is almost zero movement, zero athleticism, zero speed, zero strength required and its a high percentage move. What else can we ask for.
Stay tuned for the “Crushing Arm Bar”, “Knee Bar” from open guard, a really smooth “Darce” choke and of course Tom’s “Foot Lock” where as a brown belt, he tapped out 5 black belts during a one week training period.
Tom and I are both victims of BJJ injuries. Many of the tears and degeneration took place years before even beginning the BJJ Journey.
Having said that, Toms knee discomfort challenges him to train a certain way. We are taking a break from the conditioning routine that was performed at the end of each class. Our goal was 20 reps of 6 exercises taking 5 minutes. (Squats, sprawls, mountain climbers, bear crawls, get ups, push ups.) We started at 10 reps and in 4 weeks went to 14 reps, or increase one rep per week. Oh well, at ages 61 and 62, we learned the meaning of “that’s life.”
Instead, a new path opened up and it’s disecting moves that are used at Clockwork BJJ in NYC, to accommodate our age and host of challenges not known to many at Clockwork.
Tom began to work on the deep half guard sweep because his injured leg can be isolated and okay not to use. It was brilliant.
The main purpose of this blog post is to share what might help you and for us to have a learning center to refer back to at a later date with blog posts and companion videos.
This may appear confusing and not clear so I apologize upfront.
There are 4 key points in the deep half guard sweep we identified and must be done in this exact order.
1. Trap top arm to off balance top torso. Click point is directly under elbow to create space and therefore traditional martial arts twist. This comes about as opponent attempting top underhook.
2. After you scoot under opponent with bottom hand under his hamstring, we identified a fitness and BJJ “move” that can be trained solo, that is the distinguishing micro move I learned today. As you are on your side with hand under his hamstring, press your hips forward-pelvic tilt- not to be gross but hump motion to get your hips more under his to set up the first of 2 movements to off balance and place his weight in the air tbereby making him weightless. I known Josh Griffiths teaches that, but today working with Tom and Roger embedded it in my mind.
3. Once your hips are thrust in and under his, simply place your top far side hip on the mat. That actually completes the rotation and “lifts by leverage” your opponent under you and makes it very easy to sweep.
4. Raise your arm to complete the sweep.
As you can tell, by Tom having an injury and not conditioning after class, maybe it’s not wise to spend our limited time on conditioning and really learn the inner secrets of moves that we use. I think it is.