The Empty Drum Makes The Most Noise

conga_thumb“The empty drum makes the most noise”

– Pak Herman Suwanda –

I want this piece to be an educational one. One with a positive message, an object lesson in humility, integrity and respect. I want the readers of this post to learn from the mistakes of another in hopes that we can avoid similar pitfalls.

The details of this piece will be fairly rich and in depth. Don’t get so mired in the details that you miss the moral of the story.

Intelligent Discussion vs Talking Smack

It’s o.k. to have a unique perspective or opinion. It’s alright to debate the pros and cons of a technique or tactic. But when you do so with a condescending tone of voice, you’re going to straight piss people off.

My first exposure to a guy named Brandon Quick was this video:


BarnettI couldn’t help but be stunned by the way this man was presenting his material. His tone of voice, his confrontational attitude. His comment at 1:23. I don’t think he realizes that this move became popularized by none other than Heavy Weight MMA Champion Josh Barnett in his “Attacking The Guard” DVD.

A Personal Lashing

Later I would suffer a personal lashing at the fingertips of Mr. Quick when I posted a few suggestions to a friend who was trying to adjust his BJJ for MMA in the Cage.

His fight is below (he’s the short haired guy with the white shorts):


You can find the full thread here

My MMA Fight Advice

But essentially my comments were the following: (yeah, I’m about to quote myself)

“A couple other suggestions… If I may.

First try working with a variety of partners. Particularly ones who pay good attention to keeping posture and blitzing you with punches while you’re against the cage.

Second, you may want to be little more patient with your submission attacks. A lot of guys I work with go for a sub from bottom, right away. Their opponents are fresh, they have a lot of strength in them and they just muscle their way out and in doing so, pass the guard. If something is staring you in the face, you’ve got to take it but, other times you can wear them down first… old school Gracie style.

Lastly, and I know this is blasphemy for you jiu-jitsu folks. When my business partner and I first suggested this to our training partners, they almost kicked us out of the gym, but having your guard passed inside the cage isn’t always a bad thing. When you missed the arm bar and your opponent went to side cross, you can make a bee-line to the fence, putting your back up against it as tight as possible, this prevents your opponent from mounting, taking your back or even keeping a tight or secure side cross position (the fence blocks his face, shoulders and arm and thus he can’t get on top of you). From here you can make it to your knees and start standing up. Yes, you’re going to take a couple punches… that’s what happens when you’re on bottom, but if he tries to keep you down, he can’t submit you and he can’t punch you. He’s got to make a choice. Punch you, try to submit you, or keep you down, but you can’t do all three…

…Finally, I think I may have a better answer for you altogether. When I first flew out to LA to train under Ajarn Surachai Sirisute in Muay Thai, I asked him to take a look at me and tell me if I should give it up or if I had a chance at becoming a decent Thaiboxer. After watching me for a moment, he said “sir, you punch pretty good, but you lead with your face sir.” To this I replied, “You mean I drop my hands Ajarn?” “Yes sir.” he said. Looking for some gimick or trick or even a good drill to correct this, I asked him “Ajarn, what is a good way to train keeping my hands up sir?” He looked at me with a blank stare and said “Keep your hand up sir.” and he walked off.

It was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. Last weekend, I had a first time fighter go into the cage and the week before he kept turning away when he’d get punched. I chastised him for it and he asked me what he could do to correct the situation. I told him to make up his mind that it wouldn’t happen again. During his fight, he got slobberknockered a couple of times. Once getting dropped to his knees. Not once did he turn his back. And shortly after getting knocked down, he returned the favor.

How do you resist the temptation to “just pull guard’. You make up your mind to do so and make that the end of it.

And now you can imagine me walking away.”

Top MMA Fighters Pass Their Own Guard

Here is a clip I found that somewhat demonstrates what I tried to describe in “passing one’s own guard”:


You can also find examples of it on page 216 of BJ Penn’s “Mixed Martial Arts – The book of knowledge”. However, we learned this move from Dennis Davis of the original Team Quest long before the publication of BJ’s book.

At any rate here is Brandon Quick’s response:

“okay man, I must comment…
Pulling guard is an total last resort AND your jits better be that of Aoki or Damien or at a minimum, far superior to your opponent!! Being that I have never seen you at ADCC or something close, I dont believe you are there

Letting your guard get passed is absolutely stupid! All the respect to the people on this forum but that is completely wrong. The best MMA fighters in any organization are the GUARD PASSERS!! when I am in someones guard my subs are almost 0% and his are very high, sweeps,armbars, chokes, omoplatas. GnP is not as good in the guard, things can be stalled and boring. if I pass the guard now all my subs from side, judo side, twister side and mount are available and the leather I can throw is maximized, the bottom guy has almost no subs. How many fights have you seen stopped from side, mount or beatdown in or against the cage?
As CUO says, its always better on top

As a guy who has trained with top tier fighters from around the world…believe me when I say that letting someone pass your guard is not good, especially against the cage.

Waiting someone out like old school Gracie is completely wrong!!! Oh my goodness where do people come up with this??

You are dry, subs are harder for your opponent to slip out of. Wearing your opponent out? The longer the fight goes the longer you get worn out!! Let alone punched, cut and losing on points!!!!

Lastly, you NEVER WANT TO GET PUNCHED!!!!! Any one can knock you out, daze you or cut you!!! Never give anyone a puncher’s chance!!!

p.s. good knock out but i would also advise working on the striking and wrestling”

And it would seem that I am not the only one with whom Brandon’s taken an attitude. By kicking up dust he’s made a lot of enemies. In fact recently, he was exposed by his own peers, for fabricating his ranking.

"I did not give Brandon his brown belt." - Eddie Bravo -

"I did not give Brandon his brown belt." - Eddie Bravo -

Once word was out, the BJJ Police were on the hunt in full force. And they managed to dig up this interesting tidbit from the Gracie University Forum:

Found on the Gracie University Forums

Found on the Gracie University Forums

And it turns out that I was being lectured in the ways of MMA by a guy who at the time had yet to compete in any form, let alone MMA. Only recently did Brandon compete at NAGA and he lost 2 out of 3 matches. In one match, the same guy telling people that “pulling guard is a total last resort” tried to jump guard 3 times and missed each time, falling to the ground and attempting to work from bottom.


Now again, I’m not trying to run a smear campaign. All I’m trying to say is that when you express yourself in a disrespectful way towards others, the noise you make get’s exponentially louder. And when people hear all the commotion, they’re going to take notice and eventually call you on it.

Constructive Debate And Discourse

It’s totally alright to have a difference of opinion.  In fact constructive debate and discourse is really at the heart of progress in any art form.  But when you express your opinions don’t be a punk about it.  I can see where Brandon’s logic is in keeping the guard.  I came up through the same school of thought.  But in my humble opinion, it was a school of thought developed on an open mat, and was not created to deal with being pressed up against some object that would hinder your ability to move your hips and create angles, an object that would allow your opponent to keep your head within striking distance of his elbows and fists.  But that’s just my opinion.  I can see the other side of the coin and either way, I do my best to be respectful when I express my perspectives.

So when you’re out there battling it out on those forums, the digital mats of the internet, be cool. Don’t claim to be something your not. Don’t disrespect others just because you have a different point of view. And when in doubt, keep the volume down.

If you have any thoughts on this post or any experiences with internet bullies you’d like to share, please comment below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

13 replies
  1. Sterling
    Sterling says:

    Definitely have to agree that passing your own guard and climbing up cage is much better than being squished against it and getting pummeled.

    Good lesson here about treating others with respect and courtesy, even over the internet.

  2. Pat
    Pat says:

    yeah Quick’s dvd series has alot of new and interesting ways to setup chokes and some chokes I ve never seen before. I wrote up a little blog of my own on this issue I’m glad that people are trying to be so creative with jiu-jitsu but some stuff being put out even by house hold names, is just plain fiction

  3. Dr Sick
    Dr Sick says:

    No Gi Grappling (JMall I assume), thanks for stopping by. I think it’s cool that you trained at 10th Planet HQ. The whole thrust of this post was to use this as a lesson of how the arts can be used as a divisive force or as one that unites us as fellow warriors. Your being here speaks towards the latter.

    If any of you reading this get a chance, be sure to check out JMall, aka No Gi Grappling’s website:

    He’s got some great material over there!

  4. Naturalbornfighter1
    Naturalbornfighter1 says:

    Great article Dr Sick!

    Reminds me of a comment I remember Ricky Hatton’s former trainer Billy Graham stating -“Pitbulls don’t Bark”.

    If you’re confident in your abilities there is no need to bring down others in order to make yourself feel better. I find the people responsible for calling out others usually cant back it up so well themselves.

  5. Stack
    Stack says:

    First thanks for inviting me Dr.Sick.

    Second remind me to never ever piss you off.

    Just kidding but truth has a way of liberating things don’t they?

  6. cuzz63
    cuzz63 says:

    I read your original post and the subsequent reply. I thought Brandon was correct in a street context but not in an MMA context. MMA is a sport and rules/cages and time limits change the game and to be successful you have to be willing to think out of the box and you are doing just that. I always figure that the longer my opponent is in guard the more likely he is going to get a shot or pass so if I set up so that I know when and what side he is going to pass to I can gain back control.

  7. Ian Clark
    Ian Clark says:

    This is great. Arguementation like this really isn’t arguing at all. You expressed an opinion, the guy attacked, and you pointed to everywhere that made you right. Meanwhile, attention goes to the original horn-blower, and he’s exposed! Loved it. Thanks for looking out, Dr. Sick.

  8. mechanic
    mechanic says:

    Wow! great article. you really made a great point about treating people with respect and the dangerous consequences of not doing so. I think that is one the most important aspects of the martial arts and is often overlooked. thanks Dr Sick.


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