BJJ Philosophy

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The Pinch Knee Sweep

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.

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Judo Side Control Wire Choke

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.

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You Don’t Need To Train Like a Beast to Beat a Beast

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.


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Pappy Tap Inc Loop Choke

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.

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BJJ Injury? No Problem- Come Train With Us

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.

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Open Guard Basic Leg Sweep

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62 Year Old “Aces” Stress Test

Today I took a stress test as part of my age appropriate battery of exams and “aced” the test, reaching 9 minutes to hit 85% of my maximal heart rate.

The doctor asked me what type of exercises I do and I told him I cycle several days a week and train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu several days a week.

Statistically he mentioned 20-30 year olds run for 7-8 minutes, so he was impressed at 9 minutes for a 62 year old. Guess I am too.

The treadmill is stopped when the patient achieves a target heart rate (this is 85% of the maximal heart rate predicted for the patient’s age). However, if the patient is doing extremely well at peak exercise, the treadmill test may be continued further.

The standard protocol for the test is as follows:

3 Minutes at 1.7 mph with 10% elevation
3 Minutes at 2.5 mph with 12% elevation
3 Minutes at 3.4 mph with 14% elevation

These rates are altered to match the age and fitness level of each patient. The average time of this exercise is about 9 minutes, though a better conditioned patient might take up to 15 minutes to reach his/her target heart rate.

The heart rate is monitored until it reaches between 85-100% of the maximum heart rate, (220 minus the patient’s age), and the results are evaluated by a Cardiologist.
220 – age 62 = 158.
158 X .85% = 135.

The doctor administrating the stress test was looking for my heart rate to hit 140 and that took 9 minutes of increased speed and increased incline to achieve.

The only thing I have to work on is lowering my cholesterol, which is 223. I am beginning the Medeteranian diet of fish, fiber, fruit and veggies with the best pure olive oil.

In addition, I need to drop 10 pounds and stay at 170. It will be a life style change as opposed to a short term weight cut. I cut to 171.5 for a competition when I was 54 and it was over 4 months and was easy.

I am making a private documentary on my YouTube Chanel what I do each day and then see about sponsors. Makes me want to start a club for 45 year olds and over to train in the movements of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as it seems to be working for me.

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Shoulder Injury…No Problem

Play bottom game.

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Conditioning Proof of Concept

I have concepts that I would like to document on this blog.

Ever since I received my black belt last month, a lot of thoughts have been going through my mind. At my current age of 62 years old, I wonder how long I will be able to continue and maintain my current level of fitness and my current level of the BJJ practice. Therefore, it appears I am very aware and vigilant in maintaining that current level of fitness and even want to go beyond where I am today and breakthrough new levels of conditioning. I reached out on my Facebook account to many other trainers and asked them for conditioning advice for somebody my age. These trainers know me, have trained with me and I trust and respect their replies. The best advice I heard so far was to pick 2 to 3 days of cycling on the stationary bike anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half at a moderate to aggressive speed and resistance.

Currently, I am training in BJJ 4 to 5 days a week and cycling always on Saturdays and Sundays for 45 minutes. During those 45 minute cycling days on the stationary bike, I’ll do the first 35 minutes at an average speed with average resistance. During the last 10 minutes of my ride, I do interval training. Interval training can mean a lot different things to a lot of different people. Having a Masters degree in physical education teaching in the New York City public high school for the past 15 years, I’ve experimented with interval training on all the students that have come through the gym doors. I say this because I might not be technically correct according to the textbooks or other coaches, but it has worked for my students and certainly is working for me.

Having said that, my interval training consists of 30 seconds of strong resistance followed by 30 seconds of light resistance. If on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, during the resistance portion I would estimate I had a level 8. During the light resistance, I would estimate at level 3. I’m trying to quantify this so that if I want to increase my resistance and intensity, I have room to do so. At the end of that 45 minutes of cycling workout, I feel pretty good and I’ve got a good sweat going. I jump off the cycle I’ll do a few minutes of what I call joint mobility, which is moving arms and upper body and torso in circles at a very moderate pace and very moderate intensity to act as a stretching cool down. That is immediately followed by 49 deep abdominal breaths. If time permits and I’m still feeling good at the end of those 49 breaths, I do 3 sets of 10 push-ups and 30 situps. That’s a total of 40 push-ups and 120 situps that are specifically designed for my sport and activity. As an example, all my situps and done with my knees up and my arms held into my chest so that during training, I have less chance of getting caught in an armbar, which seems to be one of my weaknesses. I got caught with an armbar by a very good blue belt who actually is way overdue and should be a purple belt, in addition to being a very high level judo practitioner and is only 23 years old and super fast and super strong. To me, he is a black belt, because every 10 years younger your opponent is to you, its like adding a belt upward on him. So his main technique is armbars and he catches almost everybody at least once during the class in an arm bar. Therefore, I love training with him because he forces me to keep my arms in with my elbows close to my ribs. We have been training together for years and when he caught me, we both laughed and he said “finally Spin, finally I got you.” We hugged and continued and then I got him in my strongest, most basic submission called my high percentage Americana, which is a shoulder lock, to show him that I am the old lion. Haha, that was a great day of training for both of us.

So lately, I have begun to wake up again at 6 am and ride the stationary cycle in my apartment gym upstairs for 30 minutes. I do this Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I can recover on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If I were to chart out a program, it looks like I do BJJ 5 days a week and 30-minutes of cycling 3 days a week and 45-minutes of cycling 2 days a week with interval training on those 45-minute days. Thats 5 days of BJJ and 5 days of cycling. I am maintaining my weight at 179-182, depending on the day and what I eat. I am very happy with this routine and it is yielding me greast results, which I am going to talk about right now.

First result is training with a 215 pound tournament experienced 30 something purple belt. Having just described what we call “all man,” he is a great training partner because he works his game on me and I work my defense and offense on him and if not careful, will get swept and submitted. While I have threatened with submissions, I have yet to submit him during our training together. The better condition I am in, the more active I can be and play the game of BJJ better. My chances of a full defense that leads to passing his guard, is greater when I am in top conditioning. The times I have been in top condition was this past period when I am making this blog.

Its been 2 weeks since I began cycling for conditioning. I lost 3 pounds and felt very strong. My mind was sharp. We trained like usual, except I realized that I was not tired or exhausted trying to pass his guard. I kept on pushing and pushing and finally, passed into a tight side control. That is not the norm.

The next concept I want to additionally explore myself is the concept of scrambling. In BJJ terms, scrambling is a short-term burst of extremely high energy output that leads to a dominant position. I was training with another 30 something purple belt, who was known for his cardio from being a fitness instructor and very good purple belt at that. We started off and immediately he went into high gear which post both they physical and mental challenge to me for the first 30 seconds. I had to get my mind reacting to his speed in addition to my body begin to fire up those muscles too fast. So for the first 30 seconds of what I call a defensive scramble, I was strictly defending and maintaining damage control. I had to make sure that he didn’t mount me from the top, side mount, rear mount, or attacking my legs, arms, or head. In other words, every part of my body is a target. Now I’m not sure how other guys in my situation would analyze this, but once I made sure all my body parts were protected by my defense systems, I turned it around and began to launch an offensive assault.

Now since I am writing this blog, I could virtually say anything I want that might be in my favor to make me look better than I performed. I’m writing this blog mainly for selfish reasons, in which I learned from it and as a result, others may. Once I began to launch my offense, I had no fear in my mind. I knew that my defensive strategies to replace and I would not be subject to my opponents attacking me anymore. I began to impose my will on my techniques and did what a great Sensei does to students to build their confidence. Josh would always say that you have to believe in the technique while believing you can perform that. I believe 1000% in the technique I was doing during my scrambling. Many not familiar with this sport would look at his two guy’s scrambling on the mats trying to choke each other out. That could be more from the truth than you might think. I was scrambling around with one purpose in mind, a single minded technique that would get me from point a to point B. I am not going to offer you with what those points are as it’s not important. What’s important is to understand that for approximately 30 seconds of high-intensity scrambling, I had one goal in mind and that was moving from point a to point B. I did it with about 85% proper technique and 15% desperation. So I’m happy with the fact that I is proper technique of 85% of my ability, and now need to work on that 15% desperation. That word desperation can be and be interchangeable with pride, competitiveness, will to win, or who you really are. Now that’s really deep when I say who you really are. I think that deep down inside, I’m either brainwashed or somehow convinced that it age 62, I can actually compete with 30 year olds one of two belts below me. We did talk about each 10 years younger, is equivalent to one belt higher. So from a textbook and medical point of view, all these purple belts age 30 something are black belts to me.

After my 30 second scramble and I went from point a to point B, I will tell you that I was in a very tight site control. I spent the next 30 seconds avoiding obvious stalling to catch my breath, by actively tightening the side control by further isolating his inside arm and positioning my shoulder straight down on his jaw bone. Once I held him there for about 20 seconds, we both realized that unless I advanced my position nothing would happen. Instead of advancing my position and working towards my next step which would be colled the set up step, I said let’s restart again. We restarted from open guard and we repeated the same scrambling scenario. This time, when I got in side control, I began isolating his far side arm and setting up my very high percentage submission called a shoulder lock, or Americana. That day, during that roll, I trained like a black belt. I felt like a black belt. After class when I was leaving and getting to ready to go down in the elevator, one of the coaches asked me how my day was. I commented today was one of the first days I felt like a black belt.

Next, I was training with an under 30-year-old black belt who is really one of the top guys at our school. He asked me to train as we were picking our partner and we agreed that I be his third partner. This was a complement to me because even though he submits me multiple times during each seven minute round, I’m honored because he still feels it’s worth his time to train with me. His second partner was Josh and needless to say they had no war. I’ve seen them go to war before and Josh submitted him and they were both so exhausted. So I’m sure that was the case just now. So when we was our turn to go, I noticed he wasn’t as aggressive with me as he had been before in fact he got me into his closed card which means he was still exhausted from training Josh and need a little more recuperation time. I took full advantage of the situation as anybody would do, and began to systematically and carefully passes guard. I’m not sure if I successfully did passes guard, but I can tell you that I didn’t get submitted was able to do a little more jujitsu and I normally do with him. So in conclusion, the fact that I was in better shape than I had been before and he was still recuperating, allowed me to do a little BJJ which I normally don’t get to do with this guy.

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