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Sweep Counter to Guard Pass

This year at the Damage Control MMA World Conference we brought in 4 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belts. Even going outside our foundations in Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and taking a look at BJJ through the Rolls Gracie Lineage with an instructor we’ve never worked with before, Gustavo Rodrigues.

Kiser and I have crossed paths with Gustavo many times while cornering fighters, in the back rooms, waiting, wrapping hands, warming up, etc. And what immediately stuck out about Gustavo was that he was the only man who would smile back at us and say hello, rather than mad dogging which is so commonplace in situations like that.

It made a huge impression on me. It was an indicator of his confidence, of his professionalism and his mutual respect which is exactly how Kiser and I felt towards him and everyone else back there. When we got an opportunity to work with him first hand, I was very excited.

Gustavo has a very soft, and technical style. One I can very much relate to as we are similar in size and stature. Which is to say, nothing he teaches is forced or relies on strength. Everything works, but works with subtle set ups and cunning use of leverage and redirection of force.

This technique stuck out in my mind because it looked so similar to one I learned from Ajarn Greg Nelson as a counter to a Triangle Choke Counter/Guard Pass. This is an excellent way to defend a non-technical Guard Pass. One, commonly encountered by ballistic and powerful opponents. It has basic elements that players such as myself can grasp and use, but contains follow ups for more advanced fighters.

Check back often as I will be updating this page with additional videos from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Black Belt, Gustavo Rodrigues.

MMA Footwork For Beginners

This week’s blog post is a Damage Control MMA exclusive. That’s right faithful Damage Controllers, no youtube updates this week. Just a sneak peek into what we’ve been working on in the Members Area of our little project as of late. Basic Punch Defenses.

Who knew such a simple, and easy to learn technique could be such an effective and powerful tool. Stepping and Sliding Back, Stepping and Sliding Forward. That’s it! That’s all there is to it. The hard part is actually using it. People will move back but won’t spring into their former position. Or they’ll panic and simply cover up, neglecting to utilize their footwork all together.

One of the most valuable aspects of using footwork as the foundation for all of your defensive skills is that it is very general purpose. The same Step and Slide Back can be used to evade the Jab, the Cross, the Hook, Overhand, Uppercut, Straight Right, Jab Cross Combination, Spinning Backfist, the list goes on. One size pretty much fits all when it comes to using footwork as your first line of defense as can be seen in the last portion of the video.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post and we hope you’ll join us for more DamageControlMMA.com in the future.

An Arm Bar for Every Occasion

Typically, the arm bar from the guard requires that you first break your opponent’s posture. A feat that is sometimes, much easier said than done. It’s no surprise that this arm bar, one that flies in the face of convention comes from the man who in 2005 (I believe), released a 6 DVD Set focused solely on this one submission.

I’ve heard Sensei Paulson recount that in Judo, they often say, all roads lead to Arm Bar, and after seeing Ronda Rousey exemplify this maxim repeatedly in the octagon, and then seeing this gem of a technique, I have to admit, I’m becoming a believer.

Filmed at the 2013 CSW Instructor/Fighter Camp, this is really a great move to add to anyone’s arsenal. Be sure to drop Sensei Paulson a note on his Facebook Page and thank him for taking the time to share this with all of us.

Now… LOCK ON!

MMA for Beginners: Don’t be “That Guy”

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

So who exactly is “That Guy?” Can any of us ever recover from being him/her and what can we do, if anything, to avoid becoming “That Guy” in the first place? Luckily, if you are reading this post, chances are, you’re not “That Guy”. The fact of the matter is, “That Guy” has never spent an introspective moment or a single minute of self examination in his life, and that is a big part of the problem.

But, I digress, we still haven’t gotten into the nuts and bolts of what makes someone “That Guy”. I’m going to post a list of things below, but these are in no way a definitive guide. In fact, I am sure I’m going to miss a number of identifiers of “That Guy”, and I full heartedly encourage you to add your own characteristics to the comments below.

  1. If you walk into your prospective gym and ask for some sort of special deal, or deviate from the payment plans given to you by the staff or instructor, website, etc. Congratulations! You my friend, ARE “That Guy”.

    I’m sorry, but if you’ve chosen a particular gym, you’ve done so for a reason. You’ve done the research, you obviously value the services they provide, don’t haggle on price or payment scheme. Yeah, you’ve got this special circumstance, or you think that you’ve got it harder than the next guy. I’ve got news for you bro. That instructor has bills to pay just like you. They live in the same world that you do, they have the same number of hours in their day, they have kids to feed and spouses to appease just like you do. Asking to deviate from what all the other students of that school are asked to do is disrespectful. It makes you look bad, it makes the instructor feel slighted, it makes you look like someone who thinks that they are more important than all the other students that pay their due respects and do so without making a big deal about it.

    If you can’t pony up and do so in good spirits, then don’t ask for admittance to the show. Get a job, save some dough and do it the right way. I remember asking my instructor how much he charged for privates. He told me that a block of 10 privates would cost $750.00. I was fresh out of college. I picked up job as an adjunct faculty member at the Salt Lake City Community College teaching a course of Small Business Web Design. My first paycheck was for $750.00. I cashed it immediately and went back to set up my lessons. My wife and I ate Ramen for months because of it, and my worst case of cauliflower ear didn’t come close to the pain I felt after the tongue lashing she gave me. But the fact remains. To this day, I have never haggled over the price for a seminar, a camp, a lesson, or school tuition. You gotta pay to play if you don’t want to be “That Guy”.

  2. If you only train when you’ve got a competition coming up, chances are, you’re “That Guy”.

    Don’t force your instructors into a corner, making them work on bandaid fixes instead of developing sound fundamentals. If you’re training with professionals, they have a curriculum and it’s there for a reason. Kiser and I like to say, if you’re at our gym and it’s because you’ve watched the success of our team, it’s because they followed our pathway to success. It’s like going to KFC and asking to be taught how to rock a piece of fried chicken. But once the instruction begins, you start adding your own quantities, and messing with the cook times, ingredients etc. You’re free to do so, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re learning Colonel Sander’s Secret Recipe. What you’ve done is concoct a perfect recipe for becoming “That Guy.”

    Competition training, is not learning time. It’s time to refine and hone the skills you have to a mirror finish. But what skills do you have, when all you do is train when a match is coming up? What can you refine if you haven’t been to class on a regular basis to develop a foundation in the first place? Consistency is key. Show up and train regularly and you will be on your way towards not being “That Guy”.

  3. If you consider yourself a Fighter rather than a Student. You are “That Guy”

    You should strive to be a Student first, then a Fighter. Otherwise, you’re just a street thug. Your fighting should grow out of your learned skills and abilities as a consistent student of the Arts. Any fool can fight. It doesn’t take anything special. Some might argue that it takes balls. Maybe, but I’d argue right back that it takes balls only after you’ve learned the trade and understand what’s really at stake. Otherwise I’d say it just takes someone ignorant enough to not realize the difference between getting into a ring/cage and just seeing what will happen, and pitting your earned skill against a competent and well matched opponent.

    Kiser and I tried to touch on these things in our “Shit Fighters Say” video. It was our light hearted attempt and educating more people on how annoying it can be to be around “That Guy”. Our hope was that it would educate just a few aspiring fighters out there of what they might look like and sound like if they became the person with that label.

  4. If you hop from gym to gym, you guessed it. You are “That Guy”.

    This is again, a manifestation of the “ME” mentality. How do you expect to get the support of your instructor and your team mates when you show such a complete lack of respect, loyalty and honor. You wouldn’t join the Navy Seals and then say “Hey man, yeah, I can’t hang out this weekend. I’m doing some run and gun with the Taliban. You know how it is. You guys got your night vision thing going on, but man, they really know how to set those IED’s yo!”. You wouldn’t earn a spot as a walk on at the Red Sox and then go to batting practice with the Yankees. I’m telling you. The world of MMA is no different.

  5. If you try to short cut your way to respect with gifts and or tokens, by trying to rep your gym with competing or trying to be a super star you’re probably going to end up being “That Guy”.

    Respect is earned, usually over time. There’s no way to cram 10 years of loyalty, of hard work, of dedication, and service into some item you’ve purchased, or a match or two. Just train. Do your best. Find ways to help out your fellow team mates, or around the gym. Be there for the long haul. I can’t think of many ways that garner more respect than that. The world is full of guys looking for a quick fix. People who want something for nothing. Be the guy/gal who’s prepared to be part of the lifestyle, the long haul, a lifer.

So why are we telling you all of this? Is it because we are Holier than Thou? Is it because we know all there is to know about MMA and MMA Culture? I’m going to part with a dirty little secret. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I was “That Guy”. Perhaps not as bad as some of the examples I’ve listed above, but who knows? You’d have to ask my instructor for the real skinny. Maybe I was worse. Maybe I still am “That Guy”. I’d like to hope not, and I do, earnestly try to be a better person, and a better Martial Artist every day.

We’ve posted this for you guys out there looking to make a splash, excited and eager to get started in MMA and wanting to make a good impression on your Instructor and gym mates. I am reminded of something I was taught by Ajarn Surachai Sirisute.

Ajarn Surachai Sirisute stands before his Pacific Northwest Muay Thai Camp. A hand selected group of his most dedicated students representing countries from around the world. Once a year, they vie for a coveted spot at this special camp, to learn from him and the instructors under him. Many of the lessons transcend technique and fight strategy and permeate ones life.

Once, at a seminar, a newer student forgot to present the Wai and pay respects before he began shadow boxing. Ajarn stopped the class and made the student do 50 push ups in front of everyone. Then after, he asked the student “Sir, why do you pay respects sir?” “I tell you something Sir.” Ajarn Chai continued. “I don’t have you pay respects for me sir. I’ve been around the world. I put Thai Boxing into the United States. I have plenty of students from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Mexico. I don’t have you pay respects for me sir. Who should you do it for sir?” The student stood there, silent. Ajarn answered for him. “You pay respects for you sir.”

That idea has stuck in me ever since. As bass ackwards as it may sound to make people pay for their lessons, to have my students train, not just when they are preparing for a competition but consistently over the long haul. To ask them to be respectful, loyal, honest, disciplined and helpful to each other. It is really for them.

I have seen too many students who’ve been given a deal, who got to train for free or at a great discount. Who we let do their own payment schedule. Guys who were given the keys to the gym. Guys we stayed late for and come early to hold pads and help prepare for a fight. Guys we’d spend whole weekends with traveling and cornering. And they never respected it. They never appreciated it. It was never enough.

Remember. You learn discipline and respect just as much for yourself as you do for your instructors.

Despite all of this, classes weren’t intense enough for them. There weren’t enough other guys who wanted to go hard with them. These people are the same grown adults who have never attempted to move out of their parents home, who’ve never made a house payment, put food on the table or held down a long term job. They’ve been given things all their life and thus have developed an entitlement mindset. They are too busy looking at what they don’t have to see the abundance in front of their faces. Breaking them out of this mindset is the goal of brining these things to their attention.

I know this post is long. And if you’ve taken the time to read this far, it says a lot about you. I want to close by relating a conversation that Coach Kiser and I recently had that really struck a chord with me. I asked him, how we were different than so many of the fighters of today and how we managed to dodge that self centered, self important, “ME” mindset that is so easy to fall into as an aspiring fighter.

His answer was “Gratitude”. He said “When you and I were coming up, there were no MMA gyms. There was a Jiu-jitsu school. Or a Thai Gym. But nothing that had it all. We didn’t have Tap Out, or board shorts or Ultimate Fighter. Heck, I had my mom’s garage on Saturday mornings with two or three of those folding mats and you had your little studio with 8 zebra mats to your name. There were no fight teams. You ran on your own, kicked the heavy bag and shadow boxed until you passed out. And once in a while we could get together and train and we were so grateful for it.”

Notice Kiser’s Thai Shorts with bicycle pants underneath. His opponent dawns basketball shorts while Kiser kicks him in the face with a pair of wrestling shoes in a time where they were still legal to wear in an MMA bout. No Tap Out here.

He continued “When you come from a place of gratitude, how can you do anything but succeed? I mean if you are always grateful for everything you have, then you already have everything.”

We want you to have a meaningful and lasting relationship with your instructors and your team mates. We want you to succeed. We want you to be well liked and respected in your place of study.

Work hard. Have integrity, be loyal, humble and respectful. Be grateful, and you will become one of your gym’s favorites, the gold that does not glitter, the deep rooted strong individual, unadorned by belts, or trophies, accolades or crowns, and yet a king in the eyes of your instructors. There’s no shame at all in being that guy.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a longer, more thoughtful piece like this. To be frank, they are much more time consuming and take a lot more work than the brief posts with a video and a few short paragraphs and I didn’t know if anyone was actually reading them. So I kind of just gave up on it for a while.

Special thanks goes out to Damage Control MMA Member Lisa from New Zealand who commented on my piece “Muay Thai Technique: An Expression of Self” and my student Chris Huntsaker who commented on our “4 Principles That Changed My Grappling Game“. These guys got me back on track and inspired me to try my hand at it again.

Now that you’ve learned how not to be, “That Guy”, you may want to check out our article, “How to Join An MMA Gym” for tips and pointers on equipment and training smart.

MMA Concepts: The Arm Triangle Ambush

One potential pitfall to an eclectic approach to Mixed Martial Arts is to ignore the culture, rule structure and native homes of the techniques we import into our systems.

For years we’ve attempted not only to bring you unique techniques but also perspectives that are respectful of the arts from which these techniques have come.

We’ve tried to share our insights into how understanding the parent arts can give you more clarity on the uses and dangers of using techniques such as Amateur Wrestling’s Shot or Leg Tackle style takedowns. The popularity and prevalence of such techniques could only have evolved in a world where Chokes, Neck Cranks and Neck Locks are prohibited.

And to be sure, Amateur Wrestling is not the only parent art that evolved techniques with inherent, potential dangers when applied in a Mixed Martial Arts setting.

Take for instance, Catch Wrestling’s Gotch Toe Hold. In it’s native home, the Gotch Toe Hold makes total sense, because the man on the bottom is fighting to stay on his knees, or even to stand up. Rolling over onto his back and effectively pinning himself (which would be a match ender in Catch) would be unthinkable. But import this technique into a new environment where a Brazilian, Jiu-jitsu influence is prevalent, and where pinning is removed as a legitimate way to win a contest, and at least 50 percent of the time the Gotch Toe Hold is going to be a non factor. The guy on bottom simply rolls to a guard and the technique is rendered nearly useless.

Does this mean that the Gotch Toe Hold won’t work in MMA? Absolutely not. It means that it won’t work when your opponent doesn’t give you the energy requisite for it. It only works when your opponent is trying to stay off of his back.

And how about our striking influences. Boxing has it’s own set of considerations. The basic stance with it’s bladed approach (protecting the liver by brining it rearward) exposes the lead leg for a Sweep Single or a Leg Kick. And the long combinations, offer ample opportunity for an opponent to change levels for a Shot. And again, this isn’t to say that these types of techniques or combinations are ineffective in the world of MMA but rather that you have to have an opponent in front of you that gives you the proper energy for these types of techniques.

For illustrative purposes I’ve included an excellent focus mitt demonstration below.

I think these gentlemen have done a fantastic job. But imagine trying this full combination (starting at the 4:18 mark) on an opponent with a Amateur Wrestling base.

So what does any of this have to do with the video at the beginning of this post?

Well, it has to do with understanding a technique or a method, as it is applied in it’s parent art with the cultural norms and rule structures relevant to it. Here Kiser is demonstrating a very interesting concept. The idea of a ride, or of patience, which comes from the original Gracie System of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, with no time limits and no weight classes.

I used to get caught under Coach Kiser and simply could not escape, no matter how hard I tried. Eventually I would exhaust myself and then find him tightening his coils on a submission. To tired to fight it off, I would eventually succumb and tap. But when the roles were reversed it would seem that I were trying to catch water with a sieve. The instant I would get a dominant position, I would lose it.

I asked Coach Kiser what his secret was, and without hesitation he related it me as follows:

“Well sir, when I catch you in a position, I concentrate 100% of my effort towards keeping you in position. At no time am I attempting to submit you. Eventually I feel you soften and relax. I hear you take a deep breath, and then I start my submission attack. But it feels like when you get a position, the second you get there, you are on the attack and that gives me openings to escape from. I think it’s just a matter of patience.”

I incorporated Coach Kiser’s advice and immediately I found myself maintaining position a lot longer and increasing my submission percentages.

So is this the end all and be all of improving your submission game? No, not necessarily. It all has to do with situations and rule structures. In MMA fight, you’ve got anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes to secure a takedown and then finish with a submission. In a Self Defense Scenario you might have to finish off your assailant as quickly as possible in order to avoid his group of friends running at you, or in order to get to the next room where your child is screaming for help. In these situations, you don’t have the luxury of being patient and allowing your opponent to tire himself out.

Nevertheless, understanding different strategies and approaches to fighting and finishing fights can greatly increase your overall game and allow you to do things, and think in ways that others who neglect this type of research are simply unequipped to do. Stay open minded, look beyond technique, learn to research and appreciate the mother arts and stay tuned for more Damage Control MMA!

Lock Flow Set Up For Arm Triangle

As a continuation of the Arm Triangle Series available in our members section, Coach Kiser shares another great set up for his favorite submission.

This time we Coach demonstrates how the Arm Triangle can be used to put a different twist on the end of a very familiar submission combination. The Hip Pop/Sit Up Sweep to Kimura to Guillotine series is a staple of standard Guard playing tactics. But in this series, we share how to use the sweep and Kimura to misdirect your opponent and finish with a secondary sweep or directly with an Arm Triangle.

This is just one of many set ups available in our members area. If you missed it the first time around, you may want to review the various finishes that are available once you employ the set up of your choice and find your self in a position to finalize. We’ve included our overview on this subject in the video below.

Arm Lock from 50/50 Guard – A Leg Lock Counter

Have you ever been caught in the 50/50 Guard or a Leg Locking War and either lost the battle or been locked into an indefinite stalemate? Maybe this might give you a few new ideas and strategies to turn the tide in your favor.

The key points to being successful when using these strategies are as follows:

1. Your primary focus should be on Defense! Dedicate your hands to defending your legs.
2. Extend your caught leg and rotate it so that your heel is hidden behind your opponent’s lat.
3. After dominating the hand fighting, use your legs to then obtain control over your opponent’s dominant attacking arm.

Stay safe, have fun and let us know how this little tick is working for you in the comments below.

Billy Robinson – Catch Wrestling Standing Posture Break

Is there a better way to ring in the new year than another quality video by the Legendary King of Catch, Coach Billy Robinson? And with it, what would the first post of 2013 be without my new years resolution.

Last year I stated I wanted to do a video on the F=MA equation and how it pertained to the striking arts. Well, that kind of fell by the way side (I’m still interested but there just didn’t seem like there was a lot of viewer demand). But I also wanted to bring more Brazilian Jiu-jitsu into the project and I feel like I made good on that commitment.

This year I’m committed to keeping our balanced approach to the arts coming to our viewers. But more so my resolution is to continue to educate people in the similarities and mutual beauty that can be found in the arts rather than fixating on the minor differences.

This video is a great example of this. If you look carefully, you can just see the Jiu-jitsu in this Catch move, or perhaps you could say you can see the Catch in the Jiu-jitsu mentality. The two are so fundamentally similar at times who’s to say which is which. But in essence, the question is, what happens if your opponent resists having his head pulled down and responds by pulling back?

Coach Robinson’s answer is to go with their effort and push their head back, creating an off balance in the rear quadrant and setting up the dreaded Double Wrist Lock.

What similarities have you found between the various arts? Leave your insights in the comments below.

The Single Leg and Double Leg change of angle Takedown Chain

What an absolute treat to have my friend and takedown mentor Chris Wells come and share his continuation of a whole series he began teaching over five years ago. As was the case with our previous article, this one is concept driven, as if it wasn’t already cool enough.

For those of you unfamiliar with the backbone of our takedown series from the over under 50/50 clinch, a great deal of it is based on attacks to the leg nearest us which usually occurs on our overhook side.

Below is the Spiral Takedown, note Coach Well’s left hand and how it taps at the inner thigh of the leg nearest him on his overhook side:

Next up is the Knee Tap Takedown, notice again, the tap occurs with Coach Well’s left hand on the leg closest to him on his overhook side:

The third piece of the first section of the basic over/under takedown series is the Body Lock Takedown. After this we either transition into the Whizzar series, or can attack the far side (underhook side) leg which we will address in this post. But still, it is important to notice that again, the attack occurs on Coach Well’s overhook side, moving toward the leg and hip that are nearest to him.

The premise of this new series, offered in the featured video at the top of this page is to address how one might attack the leg on our underhook side. It is important to develop attacks on both sides of the body. This is so because as your opponent defends one side, he begins to offer the other. This is the case in striking as well as submissions or in this case takedowns.

The concept driving this whole series, is a constant change of direction and angles of attack. This allows you to take the initiative and keep it, while your opponent attempts to stay on his feet, always 1 step behind what you have in store for him until eventually, the onslaught is simply too much and he eventually is taken to the ground.

If you enjoyed this series and would like a to lear a little more about what our guests have shown us in terms of takedowns, you might enjoy one of our previous articles it is a collection of closely related takedowns from the likes of Coach Robinson, Ajarn Greg Nelson and UFC fighter Nick Diaz. I’ve put them together in one spot because they all seem to play off of each other. You can find them at http://damagecontrolmma.com/2009/06/a-solid-clinch-game-for-takedowns-and-submissions/

Weigh in and let us know if you liked this article and would like to see more from Coach Chris Wells.

Half Guard: The Erik Paulson Template

I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box. As a result, I need simple toggle switches, on – off decision making inputs to make my grappling computations easier. For my computer science friends, and deductive logic cronies, you will understand what I mean when I say, I try to build my grappling life around the conditional “If this, then that… If that, then this.”

Have I lost you yet? Probably, but I will continue anyway. You see, for me, I use simple conditionals to determine where I will move next while in the grappling world. For instance, on a Double Leg Takedown, “If I am able to lock my hands just beneath my opponent’s butt cheeks, I continue on to finish the Double.” “If I am unable to secure a locked hand grip, I switch to a single or simply abort, and reset.”

Others will argue that there are a myriad of placements for your hands during a double. But I like the locked grip version because it presents me with the simple decision making input I spoke of earlier. If grip is locked up, then proceed with takedown, if not, then don’t. Simple decision making for a slow, dumb oaf like myself.

What does this have to do with Erik Paulson’s Half Guard Template? Good question. For my game, I had a series of options for when on bottom, with the half guard and an underhook on the side where I had captured my opponent’s leg. For example if I had half guard on my opponent’s right leg, I had and underhook beneath my opponent’s right arm.

BUT, I didn’t have such a clear cut set of options for when my opponent had an underhook on his trapped leg side, forcing me to take an overhook. That is, if I had my opponent’s right leg trapped, but was forced to take an overhook on my opponent’s right arm I wasn’t sure what the best course of action was, so I asked Sensei Paulson what he liked to do in this case and he offered the above Template.

What I gleaned from the series was quite simple and effective and I have since implemented it into my game and my series of simple on – off, toggle switches. In my sling bladed internal dialog it sounds something like this. “If you have an overhook on the trapped leg side, bridge and turn, transition to a half butterfly guard, then transition to a full butterfly guard or switch to a half guard on the opposite leg where you should end up with an underhook on the trapped leg side.”

Do you have any simple guidelines and reference points which allow for quick, easy decision making while rolling? If so, we’d love to hear them in the comments area.

Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for more DamageControlMMA.com!