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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Escape Systems: Part 2

Some time ago, we posted the first half of this series in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Escape Systems: Part 1. Here we present the second half of the series which provides a solid foundation upon which to base your Side Cross Escape Game.

Not All Side Cross Hold Downs Are Created Equal

One thing I’ve learned while studying submission grappling is that terms like Mount, Side Cross, Guard, Etc. are used in a very general sense. Within each position lies a number of sub-positions which can be recognized or classified (if you want to get really technical) by relative arm placement, weight distribution and attack orientation.

Each sub-position is like a prison cell to which only a few specific methods will create opportunities for escape. There is no skeleton key which magically unlocks all prison cell doors. Paying heed to which escapes and methods work for each sub-position will give you a better insight into how to become a better escape artist in general.

If The Boat Is A Rockin, Don’t Come A Knockin


Another key to an over all better escape game is a continued stream of escape attempts. That is, everyone is better at handling a singular disruption of balance than they are at handling a boat that continues to rock. And a boat that continues to rock is not unlike a swing that with each successive pump, generates more swing, more momentum, and in this case, more potential for escape.

I know I’ve beaten this dead horse to the grave, then stomped on it, kicked more dirt on top, and hammered that gravesite with a shovel, but I simply can’t say it enough times. Chain your escapes, and tie all of these escapes together and you will increase your chances of getting out in one piece.

It’s quite simple really, if your opponent takes pressure off of you to prevent your sweep, he’s generally going to give you enough space to recapture guard, or some semblance of it. If he pressures you to prevent your re-guard attempt, he gives you the energy necessary to effect your sweep.

Timing Is Critical!

Give anyone enough time, and they will dig in, fortify their position and give you headaches for days. Never let your opponent gain a foothold, and again, you increase your ability to effect an exit strategy and leverage your knowledge of escape routes and techniques.

Above is an excellent drill for developing this mentality. Shown here, it demonstrates the second sweep shown to me by my friend and one of my coaches, Pedro Sauer Black Belt, Mike Diaz. However, any of the escapes or sweeps can be substituted for the one shown here and trained in the transition drill to sharpen your timing.

Let us know how these escapes are working out for you in the comments and post your favorite videos of Side Cross Escapes so we can all learn from this discussion.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Escape Systems: Part 1

Being A Master Escape Artist

I once read Kid Peligro explain how his game revolved around being a master escape artist. That sentiment really hit home with me as I’m generally the smaller, weaker, less experienced guy when it comes to the training partners I get to work with, and as such, am most often, on the run, working one type of escape or another.

As mentioned in the 4 Principles That Changed My Grappling Game post, the idea of a chained, or progressive escape strategy rather than a simple, single and isolated escape technique has done much to get me out of the endless escape cycle and into some positions where I can get off some offense.

Working with Pedro Sauer Black Belts Khuen Khru Will Bernales and Mike Diaz has done much to shape my way of thinking on that subject.

My Eureka Moment

In fact, the series of techniques I’m going to share with you is as a direct road map to my own eureka moment as I can portray through video and description.

It was while working on this series that I saw the first glimmer of what my instructors were talking about. Escape game (or system) vs. escape technique.

I’ve already posted the first piece of this game. And I’ll share it below. Like many of our youtube releases, it was shown, out of context, which although still useful, loses some of it’s meaning and utility when seen on it’s own as opposed to seeing it as part of something bigger.

It’s like looking at a sprocket on a table top as opposed to seeing it beside the 10 speed bike it goes into. This is what we try to bring you here at DamageControlMMA.com vs. our casual viewers on the youtube channel.

Over there you get the sprocket, over here you get the bike and in the Members Area we show you how the bike fits into our entire household as a mode of transport.  But to take the analogy further, there are other important parts of a household, e.g. security, shelter, etc.

Historically, our long series presented in a single post have tanked. Just look at our Leg Kick Defense post. We put weeks of work into that one and it hardly got any play. So again, at the behest of my much wiser and internet savvy advisors, I am going to break this series up into multiple small segments.

We’ll return to the subject later on to show the various other pieces that complete the Side Cross Escape Game, a fundamental component of a sound Jiu-jitsu base.

Until then, work these two and remember that they work together, as pieces of a larger system.

If you have any questions or comments on chaining these 2 escape techniques, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Extreme MMA Techniques – The Taint Lock

And then you put his toes where?!? That’s right, that taint your @$$ and that taint your scrode. Yes folks, it’s come to this, the infamous Erik Paulson, “Taint Lock”.

I doubt that I will ever tire of studying this art. There are so many techniques, so many variations and so many minute details, and I enjoy learning them all.

Few techniques can be said to be as creative, nor as humiliating as the “Taint Lock”. I mean, just imagine, there you are, rolling with your closest training partner when, tap, tap, he catches you. “What the Hell was that?” you ask. To which he meekly replies “Yeah, that was a Taint Lock.”
Time to hit the showers… and immediately wash off that foot.

To be honest, I’ve seen the lock before, a long while ago, in one of Sensei Paulson’s old internet videos (before the advent of youtube). I’ve asked him about it and even worked on it with him on more than one occasion (can I say that without it sounding hmmmmmmmm… wrong?). At any rate, like with any technique, I never tire of seeing it taught. There’s always something new that catches your eye, or some aspect that a different presenter may highlight that you may not have payed as close attention to as you could have.

This was definitely the case with Khuen Khru Alvin Chan’s rendition.

In the past I’ve relied on butt scooting in an using my arms to generate the majority of the leverage on the lock. But watching how Khru Alvin executes the technique, I really liked how he placed his foot on his opponent and used it to push off and generate a considerable amount of additional tap out potential.

A special thanks go out to Khru Alvin this year for sharing his great teaching abilies with us once more and for being such a great friend and mentor. It was an especially busy camp this year and we had to really work hard to squeeze in a few short filming sessions. Be sure to send him your respects and my regards at www.MD-CSW.com

My advisors here at DamageControlMMA.com have suggested that I shorten my posts, and make my updates more frequent. And as I am admittedly no web, computer, or blog/vlog guru, I’ve chosen to heed their advise and see how it goes. Next week, you can look forward to the return of the Legendary Coach Billy Robinson.

We’ll see if our subscriptions, forum activity and following increase as a result of this new format. If not, I’m going to advise my advisors of the efficacy of their advise. Until next time, happy hunting… and give em taint!

MMA Training Camp CSW Style

(At about 5:19 in the video above you can see the fundamentals of the movement that we use to accomplish the Leg Lock Counter to the Arm Bar Flower Sweep Technique)

After the Paypal debacle (suckers screwed me over, refused to allow me to close my accounts and then had the nerve to send me a “customer service survey”), it was a welcomed and refreshing change of pace to head out to sunny California for my annual pilgrimage to Erik Paulson’s Fighter/Instructor CSW Camp.

As can be expected, the learning was non-stop. Everywhere you turned there was an opportunity for growth and the soaking up of Martial wisdom.

One of the aspects of camp I enjoy is being surrounded by people who are just about as crazy and fanatical about the Martial Arts as I am.

Sensei Paulson and Ajarn Greg Nelson converse with Khuen Khru Vic Spatola the guy responsible for testing me for my Thai Boxing Instructorship under Ajarn Chai.

When your life and mind are occupied by Martial Arts the same way that Rainman thinks about Kmart tighty whitites and Judge Wapner, you start to wonder about your own sanity. But having an opportunity to be in the environment that Sensei Paulson provides, gives lunatics like me a chance to kick back and simply feel like part of the gang.

For me there are really 3 seminars taking place simultaneously at a camp like this.

First is the main seminar. You learn from the likes of Erik Paulson, Greg Nelson, Rigan Machado, Marvin Cook, and Nick Saignac, and you drill the many techniques that they share during their segments. Second is what you pick up from the other high level instructors and fighters that you drill with, spar with, and interact with. You get to see how they’ve tweaked the material you both learned the year before, you get to see tricks that get developed in their relatively isolated neck of the woods and you get to see how the system you’ve developed in your locale fares versus those from around the world.

Lastly, there are the life lessons shared and discussed off camera, during a lunch break, in the hotel lobby. You realize that you’re not alone in your pursuit of Martial excellence, in your attempts to build up a school, and in the stresses and occasional heart breaks that accompany such a journey. You learn tactics for survival, and gain strength from the fact that others have endured and overcome. You see who your instructors look up to and who they glean wisdom from.

As Khuen Khru Nino Pilla said to me this year “It’s so tempting to be seduced into fixing your attentions to the young fighters, winning belts and making the highlight reel, but really your attention should be focused on the old masters (like Billy Robinson, Cacoy Cañete, Dan Inosanto, Buddy Tompson). They have had so much more time to perfect and understand the craft. And more importantly, they hold the wisdom for what is to come for all of us, as we will all get older (if we are lucky), but none of us will ever get younger like those fighters that everyone sees and idolizes on T.V.”

Now that right there was worth the price of admission for me.

But there’s much more that I take away from the CSW Camp experience. It’s a chance for me to see old friends.

The true measure of a great instructor is his students. Eddie Abney, really pushed me and made me think during our sparring rounds. I would expect no less from a student of Khuen Khru Alvin Chan.

Seniors and mentors like Khuen Khru Alvin Chan, who never ceases to amaze me with his kindness and increasing enthusiasm for our chosen profession.

Or Khuen Khru Joe Cargado, who puts up with my joking around and humors my strange quirks.

As I was lining up my sparring partners (to ensure that I wasn’t going to get maimed or destroyed by the likes of the Ben Jones that were amongst the ranks), I was hollering out to my friends “James, you’re 1, Joe, you’re 2, Brandon, you’re 3,” etc. etc. Joe hollers out to each of them, “Yeah, take a number!”

It’s a wonderful place to be, and a real privilege to be able to go, and to be a young kid again, if only for a few days. I returned home, tired, sore, and bursting at the seams with new moves, new ideas and a deeper understanding of the Martial Life Style. And for those of you loyal followers who are wondering, I tapped out that evil wolf this time around. I hope I can do it again the next time I’m on the mats at the World CSW Headquarters, living my life to the fullest.

Damage Control MMA: Cutting Room Floor Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the Damage Control Blog, so I’ll dispense with all the worthless excuses. I mean, the Southpaw series with it’s 16 videos wasn’t that time consuming to produce. Tax season has been a cinch this year as we’ve got double the paperwork do to a recent gym move, company restructuring and building purchase. Erik Paulson didn’t roll through town, oh wait a second, he did, and I had a wonderful time training, hanging out and messing around that whole weekend.

Jeff Monson is on the docket for next weekend, but really that was supposed to happen this past weekend. Plans were made, schedules were cleared, but we had to reschedule due to a marathon 5 rounder he went through the Friday night prior to the preposed Seminar date.

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to organize a relief effort called M.M.Aid Fund for people of the world who may find themselves in hard times. Saying this about the situation in Japan is perhaps the understatement of the year, nevertheless, you’d never know how difficult it is to set up a charitable effort until you’ve tried. There’s more red tape in relief efforts than in trying to open up a fast food road kill restaurant at the cafeteria in USDA’s headquarters.

So what did I scrounge up for this Blog Post? Well, it’s a couple of videos we filmed about two years ago that never made it onto our T.V. show, never got published on Youtube, and have been sitting on the cutting room floor until now. I’ve been saving them because I really like the material but we never released them because there was a problem with the audio that could not be resolved. But I liked them so much I kept them around, perhaps for a rainy day like today.

First up is a series of Ankle Pick Takedowns by one of my all time favorite instructors, Coach (Collegiate Wrestler and Pedro Sauer BJJ Black Belt) Chris Wells.

Next is a Swing Kick I filmed with my good friend Khuen Khru Johnny Miller. Johnny has been a training partner and friend of mine for years. I watched him come up through the ranks at my Instructor’s Gym and eventually earn his Apprentice Instructorship under Ajarn Chai. He’s recently relocated to Hawaii and I posted this to reminisce a little about the good old days.

Finally, is a perfectly good clip we filmed at the 2011 CACC Certification with Coach Billy Robinson and Jake Shannon. I didn’t want to put up a post with only damaged goods, so I included this sneak peak at a video that eventually make it onto our Youtube profile. Assistant Coach Sam Kressin, one of the highest ranking students of the Scientific Wrestling (Billy Robinson’s) Program, was kind enough to share these gems and Coach Robinson sneaks in for a cameo.

Stay tuned, we’re still alive and kicking. We’ll be clearing off our plates in the next few weeks and be back to regular blog updates in no time.

Until then, keep your hands up, your chin down, your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open.

2011 New Years Resolutions

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to renew our ambitions and our commitments to ourselves.

I enjoy the challenge of setting goals for myself and seeing if I have the fortitude to follow through.

I have succumbed to the gluttony that accompanies celebrating the holidays. And, as a result I am suffering from the maladies that so often result from such self indulgence, such as a complete lack of physical shape and an extra 10 pounds to go along with it. In fact, I am polishing off the last slice of Razzleberry Pie with my morning cup of coffee as we speak. Not because I want to mind you, but because I don’t believe it’s good to let anything go to waste.

And If you buy that one well, I have a very profitable website that I’d like to sell you for the bargain basement price of $3,000,000.

So, at the risk of being cliche, my first new years resolution is to loose that extra 10 pounds and pay interest on my lack of fitness by not only reclaiming the aerobic base of an average American male (yeah I know, aim low, why don’t I),

but actually getting physically fit enough to possibly drag my arthritic bones back onto the mat for one more hurrah at a competitive level.

Second I have been working diligently to produce a Southpaw series for DamageControlMMA.com along with accompanying article. I’ve drawn up the plans and storyboarded all the shots. I’ve even casted all the characters. In fact, that’s what’s been holding this resolution up. I’ve casted UFC and TUF veteran Brandon Melendez in the role of our token Southpaw. He’s a true to life left hander and I feel will make the series a lot more compelling than having Coach Kiser act like a southpaw.

Unfortunately, Melendez has been under the weather for the last few weeks and hasn’t been able to make it into the studio. Rest assured, I’m on this like a tick on a hound. Look for the Southpaw series sometime in early 2011!

Next is a project I’ve been dreaming up for some time now.

“Does Size Matter?” Is a smaller object, moving at a greater speed equivalent to a more massive object at a slower speed? In terms of combatives, does F actually equal M x A?

Jake Paul and Coach Kiser demonstrating the basic CACC Ready Stance.

Jake Paul and Coach Kiser demonstrating the basic CACC Ready Stance.

I want to employ some of our local college physics departments and see if they can come up with a way to measure foot pounds of force in a way that I and Coach Kiser can experience them.

For instance, the average difference between a 9mm Luger and a .45 acp is roughly 100 foot pounds of force.

What do 10 foot pounds of force feel like? I’d like to know so I can make an estimated guess at what that difference really means. I also want to have these brainiacs come up with a way to exert various iterations of this 10 foot pounds of force on Coach Kiser and I. For instance, I want to feel the difference (if there is one) between 10 foot pounds of force created with a mass of 10 grams moving at say 1 foot per second, a 5 gram mass at 2 feet per second, and a 1 gram mass at 10 feet per second with their mass distributed across the same surface area.

Now I know that my increments of measurement are all off, and that’s why I want to hire the smart kids for all the math, measurement and scientific stuff, but you get the picture right?

At any rate, if I can accomplish this goal, you can expect to see the results, video and article here as “The Anatomy of Force.”

In addition, I’d like to feature more BJJ this year in our coverage of the various Martial Arts. BJJ continues to have a huge impact on my game and my life, and I don’t feel we’ve given it justice with our level of exposure.

Pedro Sauer BJJ has been the backbone of my grappling style. We haven't covered it as much here at DCMMA but that's about to change.

Part of that has to do with it’s practitioners. They aren’t exactly ringing my phone off the hook with offers to shoot video, but I have spoken with Coach Wells and he’s already agreed to another shoot sometime in the future.

I think those are fair and noble resolutions for this up coming year. To accomplish all of them, will take some doing. It will be a challenge, but if it wasn’t I don’t think it would be worth writing about. Happy new year!

Please share your resolutions so we can help keep each other honest. Together we stand, divided we fall. All for one, and one for all!

Oh, and one last thing, I resolve to return this pie tin to it’s rightful place of origin, and not partake of the .50 cent discount on a new pie while I’m there… but a slice… well, that’s an entirely different matter.

Couture vs Toney – Why It Matters

In the early days of the UFC, every fight was filled with meaning and importance.

I watched in anticipation and eagerly awaited the outcomes of Karate men vs. Wrestlers to see which art held more combative truth.

Later, I bit my nails and chewed my lips as the embodiment of Evil, Tank Abbot threatened to take the throne and lay waste to the the “Myth” of Martial Arts and prove to the world, the supremacy of Street Thugs.

My palms would sweat as I wondered if champions of the Martial Path such as a young Vitor Belfort would rise to protect its Honor despite a visible weight disadvantage, as the fate of the Universe hung in the balance.

And then… Fights became mere contests between two mortal men. Talented as they may be at times and as entertaining as some fights were, the meaning was gone.

That is until recently where fights such as Lesnar vs Carwin would once again, bring me up off of my bar stool and into a screaming frenzy like a teenage schoolgirl at a Beatles concert.

UFC 118 promises yet another fight, fraught with meaning and importance.

You see, Randy Couture vs. James Toney is more than just another MMA fight. It’s a fight in which James Toney has set out to prove that Boxing is superior to MMA.

Or to put it in his words “…I represent Boxing… I’m going to destroy your so called legend.”

Am I excited for this fight?

You’re damn right I’m excited!!! There’s something so audacious about Toney, a complete greenhorn in the sport, accepting a match with one of it’s legends. And although I don’t believe for a second that the fight has any relevance for the Boxing vs. MMA debate (if there even is one), there are those for whom this fight might actually sway their opinion of the two sports. An opinion, ultimately of me, my chosen profession and my circle of friends and colleagues for whom MMA has become a way of life.

I am titillated by the idea of Couture stomping on a fighter who would show so little respect (whether intentionally or out of pure ignorance) for an art that we’ve made our home.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love and respect the art of Boxing and would feel the same way about an MMA fighter entering the world of the Sweet Science and accepting a fight with one of it’s premiere representatives on his maiden voyage. My hope is that our champion will teach his opponent just a little more respect for this new kid on the block (MMA).

Couture with Coach Billy Robinson.

But enough of my ramblings. Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this conflict.

Does James Toney stand a ghost of a chance against one of MMA’s greatest Heros?

I would argue that he definitely standsa a punchers chance, and that is exactly why this match up is so compelling.

In fact, a long time ago, my cousin and I came up with the “Golden bb Theory”. The proverbial little stone that could fell even the mightiest of MMA Giants. And anyone who can ball up a fist and throw, always has a chance of finding that golden bb.

But James Toney is no ordinary man, and the bombs he drops, in no way shape or form resemble a bb. A Titanium 12 gauge slug is more like it. There is a very real possibility, however remote, that Toney will find his mark with those man stoppers of his and turn the MMA world upside down.

You don’t believe me. Does Serra vs. GSP or Douglas vs. Tyson ring a bell?

There are so many external factors that make this fight intriguing.

Toney is just now beginning to delve into the main 5 areas of MMA, while the pioneers and leaders of the sport are already branching out beyond the foundational elements of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/Submission Grappling, Folk/Freestyle Wrestling, Muay Thai, Grecco Roman Wrestling and Boxing.

Few have begun to unravel the riddle of Lyoto Machida who, in the terms of the MMA Cavemen, whom I despise, has a style that is “Karate”. Anderson Silva has recently been seen experimenting with Aikido.

All the while, Randy Couture, has sought out the help of Coach Billy Robinson to learn Catch As Catch Can wrestling techniques for his MMA game.

(You can learn more about Catch Wrestling or register for the next CACC Certification Course at www.certifiedcatchwrestler.com)

Has Toney ever experienced being pressed up against a chain link fence?
Has Couture ever experienced the sting of a Champion Boxer’s hands?
Will Toney, who seems strongest at finishing in bent arm punching range (uppercuts, hooks and overhands) be able to stop the body lock?
Will Couture be able to corner and takedown a man who’s art is known for it’s excellent footwork?

I don’t know but I am certainly excited to see and who knows, with any luck, Couture will finish Toney with a Shin Lock and Toney will proclaim his respect for the art of MMA.

CSW, CACC, BJJ, MMA Training, Oh my!

To say it’s been a busy couple of months would be an understatement.

Coach Kiser and I have been racing from one place to the next to train with some of the World’s Greatest Instructors so that we can bring you the absolute best in MMA technique, tactics and training.

Below is a brief overview of our adventures over the last few months.

Kiser and Yamasaki batte on the mat yet again.

Two friends battling it out and pushing each other yet again, at the 2010 Utah Erik Paulson Seminar.

Kiser: Erik Paulson 2010 CSW Seminar (Salt Lake City, Utah) – A huge success. The biggest seminar we’ve ever hosted. The highlight of the seminar for me was that Yamasaki and I got to see our student Shane promote to coach level 1 in CSW. Shane has been training with us for about 6 years. During that time he has attended all of the Erik Paulson seminars and traveled to 3 CSW camps. He is the first student of the Kiser Yamasaki Duo to get a coaching certification straight from Erik Paulson.

The seminar was a total blast.

Erik Paulson knows how to make training fun and productive at the same time.

I picked up some new tricks, got in a lot of rolling and shot a new segment for Damage Control MMA.

Yamasaki: I have to agree with Kiser 100% on this one. We’ve worked so hard to build a CSW coach with the skills, and personal qualities that Shane displays. Many others have come and gone, during the time that Shane has been with us, but he has stayed the course and worked equally as hard to be a qualified and respectable representative of CSW and of the Mushin Self Defense gym.

I have to admit however, that another one of the highlights was to be able to work with my best friend, Coach Kiser and enjoy the Seminar as a couple of students, just like everybody else.

Kiser: Billy Robinson Catch As Catch Can Seminar (Salt Lake City, Utah) –

This was one of the most significant “game changers” that I have ever experienced.


So much time and attention was spent on the basics of Catch Wrestling which didn’t feel basic to me because the art is so different from BJJ.
Kiser and Yamasaki working referee position at the CACC Book Photo Shoot.

Kiser and Yamasaki working referee position at the CACC Certification Course with Jake Shannon and Coach Billy Robinson.

I felt my game getting better by the minute in Billy’s
presence. Not only is he one of the most effective instructors I have worked with, he is also one of the greatest characters.

Yamasaki: Coach Robinson continues to impress me with his wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Every time I see him it’s like getting an energy recharge in terms of my passion for the Martial Arts. If he can be so enthusiastic and excited about the Martial Arts after as many years of teaching and fighting, there must be many, many more great times in store on my journey!

We worked on those little things, so easily incorporated, so subtle, but have immediate and profound positive effects on your grappling game.

Kiser: Erik Paulson CSW Camp 2010 (Fullerton, California) – This camp continued to re-enforce the same mantra that came from Billy. Basics basics basics.

Kiser with Cub Swanson after a hard roll at the 2010 CSW Camp

Kiser with Cub Swanson after a hard roll at the 2010 CSW Camp

Good positioning, posture, stance, footwork etc. I have been to every single CSW camp since the birth of the organization and this was
my favorite! The pace was perfect and the coaches were top notch.

Yamasaki:

Camp was no joke this year. Plenty of hard training and intensive instruction. Again I will echo Kiser’s synopsis of the stress on the Basics. And I loved it.

Boiled down, easy to digest and implement BASICS! Basics and fundamentals that make your game so strong and so internally sound that it makes it difficult for any opponent to find a point of entry. Wonderful, wonderful experience, technique and advise from some of my favorite Instructors in the game.
Chris shows off his souvenir from CSW Fighter Camp. A proper black eye.

Chris shows off his souvenir from CSW Fighter Camp. A proper black eye.

Especially rewarding to me was finally starting to get a handle on the Boxing Method presented by Coach Marvin Cook. I’ve been studying his approach to Boxing for the last 3 years and found it very difficult to understand as it seemed to be completely opposed to the method I had adopted and come to love from Professor Leonard Trigg. But after being open minded and truly giving it a fair shake I finally felt like I understood what Coach Cook was presenting. Rather than being opposed to Professor Trigg’s Method, it was actually and completely complementary. It was the second half to the same coin.

What I discovered was that when your opponent counters the style the Professor Trigg has taught me, openings for Coach Cook’s style began to open up, and vice versa.

It was such a great feeling to consolidate the genius of these two Pugilistic Masters.

On top of all that, I was able to vanquish the Evil Wolf Within me and send him home, tapped out and demolished.

Round two with my baser self goes to the better side of me. And I am very proud of that accomplishment.

Kiser: Catch photo shoot (Salt Lake City, Utah) –

Our friend Jake Shannon is putting together a Catch Wrestling History and Technique Book

and picked Jake Paul, Brian Yamasaki and myself to be the models for the instructional portion of the book.
Jake Paul and Coach Kiser demonstrating the basic CACC Ready Stance.

Jake Paul and Coach Kiser demonstrating the basic CACC Ready Stance.

I love doing this kind of work so needless to say I had a great time hanging with my friends and doing the photos for Jake.

Yamasaki: What an experience.

Kiser got hypnotized by Jake Shannon, got regressed between lighting adjustments for the photos and discovered some deep and hidden self revelations. No Joke!

Jake Paul learned things he shouldn’t have by hanging out in a CACC gym, that’s all we need is a professional fighter with super human strength walking around with nasty new Catch tricks. I’m going to be steering clear of him on the mats for sure lol.

Kiser: Ricardo “ICA” Medina Half Guard seminar (West Valley, Utah) – My first time training with Ica and it was anything but basic. Half guard and X-guard for an entire day. I partnered up with my friend Mike Stidham and did everything I could to improve these two unique positions.

Kiser with Ica Medina and Mike Stidham

Kiser with Ica Medina and Mike Stidham

The moves were unorthodox for my game. Despite the complexity of the techniques I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it thanks to the detailed instruction that Ica was giving us. I couldn’t wait to get to the gym and try some of this stuff out.

The techniques actually worked better than I expected. I was sweeping guys left and right!

How to Join An MMA Gym: A Beginners Guide

5 Tips To Help You Get Started In MMA Training

Joining an MMA gym can be an intimidating experience for beginners.  But it can also be an exhilarating rush to finally start training and learning.  Here are five tips to help you make the most of the experience and not look like a total noob.

Old Jock Strap

Tip 1: Your Gear.

You don’t have to go out and buy all this stuff right away, but the Basic Start Up Kit is a must.

Basic Start Up Kit:

  • Jock Strap And Cup, don’t leave home without it.
  • Mouth Piece

  • Mouth Piece. You don’t need a fancy one, just some rubber between your teeth so that you don’t loose them or get them chipped by an errant shoulder bump or spinning elbow to the forehead when your fellow white belt spazzes out of a position and accidentally clips you.
I took a spinning elbow just yesterday from a white belt.  If you look closely, you can see the imprint of his double weave gi in my forehead.  I wasn't wearing my mouth piece... I should have.  It felt like my teeth were about to crack.

I took a spinning elbow just yesterday from a white belt during Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class (he was trying to escape the back). If you look closely, you can see the imprint of his double weave gi in my forehead. I wasn't wearing my mouth piece... I should have. It felt like my teeth were about to crack.

Intermediate Kit:

    MMA Gloves 

  • 16 oz. Boxing Gloves for training is what I’d recommend.
  • Shin Guards. My favorite are the cloth shin and instep protectors that cost all of $15.00 and you can throw them in the wash when they get stinky. Some people argue that they don’t offer enough protection. I say, if you need that much protection, you and your partners are going way too hard.
  • MMA Gloves. Nowadays they offer both the training variety and fighting gloves. The trainers are a nice way to show your training partners you care.
Advanced Kit:

Rash Guard

  • Rash Guard and Leggings. These are to protect against microbes. They put an extra barrier between you and whatever worm, rash or creepy crawlie that might be wiggling it’s way into your training partner’s skin. They also help protect your knees and elbows from mat burns which create openings in your skin for said creepies to get a foothold and start setting up shop on your body.
  • Knee Pad

  • Kneepads. My favorites are the bubble knee pads for volleyball. They take off that extra wear and tear from working from your knees all the time or from dropping hard, repeatedly on a knee for your shots. I’ve experimented with applying Shoe Gu to the Asics Brand of bubble knee pads that I like best. They increase the life span and aren’t too abraisive to your partners if you take the time to make sure you smooth the surface before the Gu dries.

Some MMA gyms have equipment for sale. The basic equipment can be found at most sports stores.

You can find all kinds MMA equipment online at MMA Warehouse.

Recon

Tip 2: Research Your Potential Instructor(s).

Look them up on the internet. Take the time to learn about their background and what organization, if any they are a part of.

While organizational affiliation doesn’t always mean that you’re dealing with an upright, credible and helpful instructor, the lack of affiliation can sometimes be an indicator that something is amiss.

Often times it is not, but it’s something to take note of and place in the databank for future reference should other indicators arise down the line.

How do you know if an instructor is a good one?

Take a lesson or two and ask questions. There are about as many different ways to do a said technique as there are instructors. The how to isn’t as important, in my opinion, as the why.

If the instructor on test drive is able to explain to you, in a way that makes sense, why you should do what he’s instructing you to do, that’s a pretty good indicator that he/she knows what they are talking about.

If they start looking around, or give you the, “because I told you to”. That’s another one of those, things to put into your databank and tally up with the organizational affiliation thing at the end of the day.

Most importantly, did the potential instructor provide you with a safe and enjoyable learning environment?

If not, then despite what the findings were in the first set of suggestions, I’d be in a mad dash to get out of that gym. It doesn’t matter if the instructor in question is God’s gift to MMA, if you didn’t have a good time, or if you got the feeling that you might not last more than a week before suffering some catastrophic injury in the environment you were in, you should get out of there.

Don’t be a sissy and drop out just because you don’t like doing a push up or two, but if you fear for your life because you’re seeing other newbies getting tossed like cookies at cruise ship case of food poisoning, having their heads snapped back like crash test dummies from the punches being thrown, I’d suggest a different gym.

You’re looking to learn, have fun and increase your level of physical fitness and overall health. No jah rah budkus about training like “Real Fighters” is going to justify the potential for injury that you will find at a place like this.

Skill will come from hours trained, and this means injury management. The fewer the injuries, and the lower the severity of those injuries, the more mat time you’re going to get. The more mat time you get, the better you’re going to get period.

Blessed is he who in the name of good will and charity, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness.

Tip 3: Know you’re potential training partners.

During your test drive of the MMA Gym you are looking into, try to get a read on the current members. There is always going to be some level of snootieness going on. It’s the pecking order and birth right of any gym.

You have to EARN the attention and respect of the seniors there… to a degree. Not being coddled by the upper level students isn’t anything that should be raising alarms but it’s nice to find a place where you at least get friendly vibes from these guys.

And perhaps more importantly, if the seniors are simply using you as a piece of fresh meat to be beat on (and you wouldn’t believe how many people have come into my gym with horror stories about this actually happening at a few different gyms in my area), that should be sending up red flags.

Don’t try to lose 10 pounds before you go on a Diet

Tip 4: Get started now!

Don’t wait. So many people feel the need to get in shape before they get into an MMA gym. That’s total nonsense. The MMA Gym should be the means by which you get into shape. Just be smart about it and do it the right way. Communicate your fitness level and your limitations and don’t be ashamed to say, “I’m reaching my breaking point.” Training, fitness and Martial Skill are an exercise in long term dedication.

If you are so sore after your first day of training that you can’t get off the toilet, you’re probably not going to want to subject yourself to that torment again.

Kudos to you if you are that kind of person. But otherwise, take your time and ease into your training sessions and gradually increase the intensity level of your workouts until you get up to speed. It’s usually only a matter of a few weeks.

It's alright to be a white belt if that's what you are.  It's alright to be a white belt even when you may be something more.

It's alright to be a white belt if that's what you are. It's alright to be a white belt even when you may be something more.

If you knew it all, you’d be teaching the class not the other way around.

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to be a beginner.

No one likes to be a noob. But the reality of it is, you are. And that’s totally o.k.

Don’t try to impress your partners or instructors by trying to tap or knock out anything that has arms and legs in the gym.

If you want to impress your partners and coaches, impress them by your egolessness, your humility, your respect and your willingness to be tapped, to learn and to listen.

Even if you’re transplanting from a previous gym and have some prior experience, don’t go in and try head hunting. Taking scalps and going after the seniors is only going to hurt you in the long run.

Here you see our student Dane H. using the Anaconda Gator Roll Takedown (Bonus Video 1 found on our member sign-up page) on his senior, professional fighter Johnny Miller and then against me during a training session a week ago. Yeah, that'll teach us.

These guys are your biggest assets. They are going to show you the ropes, give you the inside scoop, take you under their wings so to speak. Even if you can tap them out, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to teach you or can’t give you something that you may have never seen before. And how likely do you think it will be for them to go out of their way to help you after you’ve destroyed them on their own home turf.

Relax and learn. Once you’ve proven to your fellow training partners that you’re a friend, not a foe, that you’re there to learn and grow vs. to satisfy your ego, they’re going to help you out big time. But if you force them into a Kill or Be Killed type of situation, they’re going to do what they need to do to survive. And that might mean anything from simply shutting you down during your roll, to with holding some critical piece of information that might really take your game to the next level, because let’s face it, does anybody really want to go out of their way to make their own life more miserable?

MMA can be a great way to get in shape, meet wonderful, driven and goal oriented people with a common passion for the arts. It can be a great basis for self defense, and for learning life skills. There are so many stress relieving and rejuvenating qualities that can be had by training in MMA. If you are interested, don’t wait to start up. Find a good gym, or check out our members online mma training area and get started today!

4 Principles That Changed My Grappling Game

RicksonValeTudoHeadShot

Lately, I’ve been working hard on understanding how the great fighters think.

In the past, I’d watch them spar or fight and inevitably they’d catch their opponents in some nifty little hold and that’s what would grab my attention.

For the next few weeks, that’s what I’d be working on. That reverse Omo-Plata or that new half guard trick, you know the drill. And of course, brick by brick, move by move, I felt like my game would improve.

Later on, at the behest of my Instructor (Khuen Khru Will Bernales), I took a step back and began to look at things from a little bit wider perspective.

I started trying to look at “games” rather than just a single technique. He was always telling me to work on my side cross escape “game” or my guard passing “game”.

Using this mindset improved my grappling at a much faster pace. I was seeing more pieces of the puzzle at a time and as a result could begin working on entire chunks as opposed to hunting for a single piece at a time.

Instead of studying a technique, I began to study how a technique related to it’s brother and sister moves within a series designed to handle a particular position or situation.

And this lead to the next step. Another step backwards. I started looking at concepts and principles. I started looking at how the great fighters were thinking.

I tried to understang their minds which was a giant leap from looking at their finishing moves which were really only the result of an number of maneuvers which, I realized were all governed by a set of simple rules and bylaws.

The following are by no means a complete set of these rules, but they are the ones I have been able to extrapolate and have begun to digest and understand. They have had the greatest impact on my game in recent times.

He who controls the arms, controls the means by which his opponent will try to control him.

He who controls the arms, controls the means by which his opponent will try to control him.

control their hips
control their head
control their posture
maintain your posture

CONTROL THEIR ARMS

Over time, I had heard these objectives from many qualified and accomplished instructors. All made perfect sense but for whatever reason found a way to escape my abilities… Until one night when I was swept repeatedly by one of my BJJ instructors Mike Diaz, a Pedro Sauer Black Belt and masterful butterfly guard practitioner.

I asked him what I was doing wrong, why I couldn’t stop his sweep, and what technique I could use to defend his attack. He smiled and said, “I could sit here all night and try to teach you a counter to all the different sweeps that I use. Or, I could give you the simple answer.” Eager to understand my situation better, and being lazy and somewhat dim whitted (I knew there was no way I was going to remember all the techniques he could teach me), I opted for the simpler answer, to which he replied.

“You’re doing pretty good with most of the other stuff, but what’s making the difference between you defending and me finishing the sweep is arm control. You let me control your arms and that is why I succeed and you fail.”

I took this lesson to heart and worked diligently for the next few weeks at that seemingly simple suggestion. Don’t let your arms be controlled and control your opponent’s arms as much as possible. And sure enough, the sweeps diminished noticibly. And even more noticibly, my game improved from the standing clinch, in the takedown department, pretty much everywhere you go hands on in MMA. And then it hit me. The arms are the means by which we control the head, the hips, the posture, or the means by which we defend these things.

Control the arms, and the rest begins to fall into place.

When you're out of position, under fire and on defense, use your tools and faculties to fortify those defenses rather than digging yourself deeper into the hole.

When you're out of position, under fire and on defense, use your tools and faculties to fortify those defenses rather than digging yourself deeper into the hole.

Another night after numerous weeks of being dominated on the mats by my BJJ Black Belt Instructors, I expressed my frustration. “Man, I don’t expect to tap any of you guys out, but for crying out loud, I’m always on the run from you guys. I’m always fighting just to keep my head above water and survive.” I said. This time, both Coach Diaz and my primary instructor Khru Will were present and sitting before me. Almost in concert, they explained

“Sometimes all you can do is play defense… And sometimes all you SHOULD do is play defense. Jiu-jitsu is a Self Defense Art.”

I sat and thought about this for a moment. Reading the confused look on my face, they both began to point out that even though I had exhausted myself, escaping this submission and fending off that sweep and then scrambling to get out of beneath this or that position, that in the end I had made it pretty difficult to submit me. They went on to explain that if you could defend yourself against bigger, stronger, more experienced fighters, that was a pretty nice accomplishment. This made me smile. They were right. Over the years of working with Khuen Khru Will I had pushed my defensive capabilities from a few seconds of survival, to minutes and sometimes even tens of minutes. And beyond this they explained that sometimes it’s just a matter of surviving until an opportunity appeared or the guy on top made a mistake.

I then realized that most of the time, when I got submitted, it was because I was frustrated about being on the run for so long and decided to push my luck by attempting a low percentage submission or sweep from out of position. These were the times they were talking about. The times when all I should have done was play defense.

Ever since then I have paid a lot more attention to when it is best to fortify my defenses and when an opportunity arises to make a calculated move and this has helped my game immensely.

Use chained attacks and escapes whenever possible.

Use chained attacks and escapes whenever possible.

Beginners think one move ahead, more advanced practitioners think two and three moves ahead.

Since the beginning of my training, this idea has made sense to me from the offensive perspective. The Triangle sets up the Arm Bar which flows to a sweep, etc. etc. etc. These submission chains are nearly everywhere. But much more difficult for me to grasp was the idea of a progressive, chained escape path.

So many times, I’d be underneath someone, trying to escape, using an appropriate escape technique just to have the guy on top of me transition into a different control position… ON TOP.

Finally it occured to me, that knowing the escape was not enough. Knowing the escape and where the guy on top would most likely transition, and having my second escape ready to go, half way through the first escape was the key to getting out of under their tyranical reigns.

Never stop fighting for top position. Never conceed the guard or bottom.

Never stop fighting for top position. Never conceed the guard or bottom.

Fight to be on top and when you can’t get on top, fight for top some more!

This was an epiphany I had after watching the Black Belts roll with each other over the course of many many months I realized that they would always fight like dogs for top position. Even when out of position on bottom they would fight to get to their knees and reset vs. working for guard. And when they did try to get guard the guy on top was practically passing it before it even fully materialized.

After watching this, scene unfold, time and time again I asked my instructor Khru Will when it was that he determined when to fight for top and when to start working the bottom game techniques. His answer was simple.

“If you have gas in the tank, it should be used to get to the top.”

This has been one of the most difficult concepts to make part of my game, especially since it is so physically demanding. But what I have discovered is that while employing this mentality, I can prolong the amount of time it takes for my seniors to trap me on bottom and finish me off with a submission. And sooner or later, that extra time is going to equal an opportunity. And when it does… I’ll be ready.

These four principals have done more to improve my game recently than anything else.

What principals have uped your game and made your life easier on the mat?