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Our MMA Students in Action – Nasty Knockouts and Omoplata Arm Break

This was a project we’ve been working on for a long time. Time to develop the fighters, time to collect the footage and get permission for use, and then the biggest delay was in finding a rockin sound track and then getting permission to use it. Which never happened… 3 or 4 years went by and then we finally decided to just publish it without the sound track.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s as good as it would have been with the music in the background, but what is one to do? At any rate we thought it would be fun to publish it anyway, to give at least some credence to what we’ve been showing you guys in the Damage Control Vids throughout the years. There have been a fair number of detractors and critics out there, and I don’t blame them. Many have pulled the “In a real MMA fight” card, having never given any proof of their own experience in such a field.

We didn’t want you guys to have any doubts of your own so here you go. More examples of our own students using what they’ve learned from us in the ring, on the mat and in the cage. And if you would like more, be sure to check out.

Let us know what you think in the comments? Still think we’re a bunch of frauds?

Judo Throws with Adam Blackburn

What’s not to like about Judo. Originally the synthesis of many forms of Jujitsu, Judo has had a lasting impact on the world of Martial Arts. All modern belt ranking systems owe their existence to Judo’s founding father Jigaro Kano.

“The Kimura” as it is widely known now, was named as such, as a result of Judo Master Masahiko Kimura traveling to Brazil to face off with Helio Gracie who named the technique in honor of Master Kimura who dislocated Master Helio’s shoulder with the technique during their challenge match.

In modern times Judo has made a reputation for itself as a leading proponent in the art, and science of throwing. In the video above Sensei Adam Blackburn shares a few variations with us.

Throws a very versatile in that they can be used in Jiu-jitsu Matches, Submission Grappling Matches, MMA competitions and Self Defense. Many think of throws as simple means of getting their opponent to the mat, but to the un-prepared or un-educated in the throw can be the end in and of itself.

Take a look at a few of the case examples below. Then imagine if these techniques had taken place on hard concrete and then ask yourself how effective a Judo throw could be in terms of ending a fight.

So what do you think? Do Judo throws have a place in your MMA, Submission Grappling or Jiu-jitsu game? Leave a comment and let us know whether or not they are a useful tool in your arsenal.

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.

The Sit Out Drill

Here we present an in depth look at a simple building block of any serious MMA practitioner’s ground game. The humble, yet indispensable Short Sit Out.

Learning how to Sit Out is only half of the battle though, and in the video above we present a drill designed to teach you WHEN to sit out. Like many escapes, if you wait to long and allow your opponent to sink in and fortify their position, it makes your escape exponentially more difficult. The secret is to begin your escape as your opponent is only beginning to gain an advantageous position rather than after he/she secures it.

For those of you who are having difficulty learning the progression, we have supplied it below. It is a repeating and redundant sequence patterned after the training methods of Kali and Escrima known as Sumbrada, only here utilizing the movements and techniques of Wrestling and MMA.

Partner A: Obtains double overhooks from top North South Position
Partner B: Utilizes a 180 Sit Out (S Turn) and obtains Quarter Postion on Partner A
Partner A: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains Quarter Position on Partner B
Partner B: Immediately utilizes a 180 Sit Out and obtains an overhook and underhook position from top
North South on Partner A
Partner A: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains an overhook and underhook position from top
North South on Partner B
Partner B: Immediately utilizes a 360 Sit Out and obtains a double overhook position from top North
South Position on Partner A, completing the first half of the overall drill

Now you will continue the drill with the roles simply reversed so that both partners get a chance to develop the timing and techniques from all the possible positions in the drill.

Be sure to leave a comment below and let us know how you like this drill and if it has been helpful for your game.

And for our members, check out the Side Cross Escape Series to see yet another example of how to apply your new found Sit Out skills!

Cradle Counter to the Single Leg Takedown

Here we are again with a DamageControlMMA.com exclusive with the legendary Coach Billy Robinson. A special thanks to the folks at CertifiedCatchWrestler.com for being so inviting and welcoming to the Damage Control MMA project. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of work to bring these videos to you and not everyone is friendly to the idea of us bringing in our filming crew to grab an interview or a technique. Coach Billy Robinson, Jake Shannon and the Catch Wrestling Community at large has been so accomodating and for being so open to our questions and interest in Catch As Catch Can.

Last week I bored you with a long post. This week I spare you the long lecture and simply offer you this spectacular counter to the Single Leg Takedown which puts you squarely in control with a far side Cradle. Whether you’re a wrestler looking for a pin, a submission grappler looking to reverse a takedown and end up on top or a MMA practitioner, this move will have a useful place in your bag of tricks.

Check it out, the Catch as Catch Can Cradle Counter to the Single Leg.

[box size=”large”]Join our online MMA academy for access to our huge video library including takedowns, setups and takedown defense techniques.[/box]

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.

The Gi Choke Defense They’ll Never See Coming!

Tired of getting garroted every time you put on a Gi? I know the feeling. For me the Gi is like wrestling with a Tar Baby (does anybody but me even remember that story?) Yeah that’s me, Brer Rabbit hopping down the grappling trail when Wham! All of a sudden you can’t get away from your opponent’s clutches and the next thing you know, you’re being put to sleep with a piece of your own clothing.

I had heard about an interesting and unconventional way to give yourself an extra life if caught in the dreaded collar choke. Kiser had mentioned some strange defense he had encountered while trying to choke our mutual friend, Dan Berry. Being the technique collector that I am, I had to see this unusual move and learn more about it.

I figured I might as well bring you along and let you see it with me for the first time. Have I put it to the test? No, but Kiser said it stopped him from completing his choke and Dan says it’s saved his neck on more than one occasion. So I figure it’s worth a look.

I encourage you, my friends to join me in R&Ding this thing to see if it’s a worth while endeavor. Let us know how it works for you in the comments below.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu: Overhook Arm Bar and Sweep

If one video clip with Butterfly Guard Expert Mike Diaz is cool, two has got to be twice as nice! Here, coach demonstrates a Sweep as well as an Arm Bar from the same set up and position as the V-Lock he demonstrated last week.

If you can, please visit his facebook page and send him a shout out to let him know how much we appreciate him taking the time out of his busy schedule to share these incredibly useful tools.

Tune in next week for some awesome takedown action with Sensei Erik Paulson!

NAGA 2012 + Arm Triangle Finishing Details

North American Grappling Association – First Impressions

[box]Do you think it is OK to call a grappling match a “fight”?

Let us know in the poll at the end of this article.[/box]

Passing the plentiful horse stables, and breathing in the fresh country air we approached the venue for the first Utah NAGA Grappling Tournament. My muscles began to tense as I thought to myself, “Oh yes, a communal case of Staph… just what the doctor ordered.”

But those fears were soon quelled as we entered the main, dirt filled arena and were promptly re-directed to the two adjacent buildings, with concrete flooring and several Dollamur mats, guarded fiercely by the tournament officials against shoe wearing infants and ignorant parents, like sentries at a US embassy.

The rules meeting was long and hard to hear. In fact, the subtleties of the various rules (gi and no gi, kids and adult divisions), by the tournament organizer’s own admission would have taken about 2 or 3 hours to go over. As with any tournament, prior research and clarification is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Overall Experience

What I saw was a lot of on the fly, adjustments. In the kids division, competitors were evaluated within their divisions, during their matches and then brackets were re-shuffled, kids were placed up or down in advanced, intermediate, or beginner divisions based on their performances. This was all done in the spirit of giving the kids the best possible experience in the most level playing fields as possible.

For instance, you might have a kid that officially fits the description for an intermediate competitor. She’s been training at a gym for 2+ years. But once on the mat, in competition, she’s just getting dominated. What I saw was tournament organizers, immediately shifting her down into a beginner division and giving her a second chance to do a little better.

This made things somewhat confusing at times, as there were two different buildings for competitors to switch back and forth to, but in my opinion it was well worth the hassle to see these kids get a second and sometimes a third chance to shine.

I believe there was only one injury (a torn rotator cuff via Kimura), and this was due primarily to the injured competitor’s refusal to tap out in time. The NAGA Officials, with their very liberal rule sets (twisting leg locks, spine locks and neck cranks) did a phenomenal job of keeping the matches safe and respectful. I was very impressed with their knowledge of the rules and discretion in stopping matches for the safety of the competitors.

A Coaches Perspective

Brian and Brandon's student Heinrich Mokofisi takes home the gold after his 6th consecutive grappling match victory.


It was a challenging day on the mats as a coach. Particularly as I did what I could to help a young 10 year old student of mine. Again, thanks to the referees and officials, he was given 6 matches that day. And for a registration price of $80.00 for one division and $100.00 for two, you want your guys to get as much experience as possible.

But when, your student looses his first 4 matches and says he “thinks he’s just going to loose again.” Your abilities as a coach are truly tested. What do you do? Give the kid a hug, tell him what a good job he did, and let him call it a day? Or do you launch into your Vince Lombari motivational speech, tell the kid to wipe his tears, shake off the past, and get in there for one more go!

I chose the latter, and gave the kid a hug, told him how proud of him I was, how proud his father, who had his arm around him was, how, the worst was behind us, that there was only one possible direction to go from here and that was forward… and hopefully upward.

And so it went, as he marched into two more matches, losing one by points and the next by a 270 choke from Kesa Gatame. So much for my Vince Lombardi trophy.

Did I make the right choice? Did I push him too far and too hard? Only time will tell, and I will second guess myself until I know for sure, if I helped to make that kid stronger, or if I contributed to the ultimate demise of his self confidence.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, Even For A Coach

Thankfully, that was not how the day came to an end, we had 5 more adult competitors and they all did very well in their divisions. Both Kiser and I had opportunities to make, good calls, heads up tough calls, and thankfully, the right calls.

Kiser was able to impart his thorough knowledge of the Arm Triangle to assist our student Chris Huntsaker in achieving a submission victory as he walked him from the lock up to the final shift of the hips that sealed the deal.

You can learn a little bit more about Kiser’s Arm Triangle game from the video below. He shares his whole Arm Triangle Set Up Game in the Members Only Area.

My comeback moment came while I watched a tough match between our student, Jared Fahrner and his opponent. The match was dead even at 0 – 0 until his opponent threw on a triangle attempt with 1 minute left in the match. Both Jared’s arms were in, but one was pushed, precariously out of between his opponent’s legs except for his fist and wrist. This gave his opponent an advantage point and I watched as the time continued to tick away.

With about 30 seconds left, I decided that we had nothing left to loose. We were going to lose the match on 1 point anyway if things continued to progress as they were. It was time for some drastic measures. I told Jared to yank his trapped hand the rest of the way out, effectively giving his opponent the full triangle. What was the difference of losing the match by a point or being tapped out? A loss is a loss in my book. Then I told Jared to punch over with his outside arm and hip down. And with about 15 seconds left he did just that, scrambling to break the triangle and complete a guard pass which would have won him the match on points. He succeeded in breaking the triangle but unfortunately was unable to complete the pass before time ran out and he lost by that 1 point advantage.

But this is the type of thing we live for as coaches. Giving our students, a second chance, a way to win, when they see none. I was thankful to have wrapped up the day with something I knew I did right.

Parting Thoughts – Are Grappling Matches Considered “Fights”?

I have often questioned the legitimacy of people who called grappling matches “fights” or people who only participate in Grappling Style tournaments as “fighters”. To me, something about using the term “fighter” to describe a grappling competitor, just didn’t sit right.

That is, until this tournament. Watching a young boy, face defeat, time and time again, watching him walk out onto the mat alone, to face yet another tough competitor, despite his lingering self doubt and trepidation, showed me what strength of character was possible in such a young soul. If that is not fighting spirit is, than I am incapable of recognizing it when I see it.

The jury is still out for me on whether or not the terms “grappler” and “fighter” are interchangeable, but one thing is for certain. I have left the first Utah NAGA Competition, very willing to consider the possibility.

What are your thoughts on whether or not Grappling Competitors, and Grappling Matches should be considered “Fighters” and “Fights”?

Should grappling matches be called "fights"?

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MMA Techniques: The Mat Wars Saga Episode 1

The Back Story

There is an arms race taking place, an on going struggle that began in the not so distant but aging past, in a garage, in a galaxy… well, it was in our galaxy but those times and places now feel, far, far away.

Two forces, Kiser and Yamasaki met on the mats of one of Professor Pedro Sauer’s old academies as Kiser’s private lesson with Khuen Khru Bernales ened and mine began. From that point on, we would be competing for the attention of our instructor, and trying to best each other whenever and wherever our paths crossed.

Since that time, the struggles continue, with one having the upper hand for months and even years at a time before the tide of battle would change and the playing field would again be leveled. Something we’ve alluded to before in posts such as our “Arm Triangle and Kimura Counter” which is a small glimpse into the arms race and ever evolving counter measures that Kiser and I will forever be interlocked.

Every week, new lines are drawn, scores are settled and new feuds born. Over time, even new Factions have arisen. Some have fallen and been lost to time, but others have taken root and begun to grow strong. I could go on forever about the counters and re-counters employed, sought out and developed between Kiser’s evil empire and Yamasaki’s solo Resistance, but that will have to wait until another time. For this hour, belongs to the new clan, the rising power, the Wiggins Faction.

He and his followers have begun a full scale assault on the happy and peace loving members of the Mushin Self Defense gym. Their calling card… The Arm Bar. I invite you to come along as I fumble my way through the mine field of Wiggarian Arm Bars, and attempt to mount a counter offensive through preventative measures, escape systems and counterfuge.

The purpose of this on going series of articles (The Mat Wars Saga) is two fold. One, to share a little more of our own personal world with our DCMMA friends and family, and two to share and further develop my own MMA problem solving methodology (and not necessarily in that order).

The problem solving methodology is a work in progress. I by no means claim any expertise in that department and am myself still trying to improve and simplify the process. I hope by sharing it, I will both clarify my own thought process as well as learn from your comments and experiences.

I often say, “THAT your technique failed is of little to no importance. HOW it failed, the specifics of where arms were placed, hands were positioned, hips were angled, feet were moving, etc. is of ultimate importance. Therein lies the body of evidence that will lead us to finding what killed our technique.” It’s a game of MMA CSI.

This is one piece of the problem solving methodology. Taking many snap shots at the scene of the crime. And make no bones about it, for a move to not work the way you would have liked, is indeed a crime.

We will use the Mat Wars Saga as a case study in these methods. Starting with the on going Crime Scene Investigation, the Wiggarian Arm Bar. This Serial criminal comes in many shapes and sizes, and attacks from many different angles. But as a starting point we will be investigating perhaps the most sinister variation of them all. The Kimura Set Up From Guard.

I have collected the necessary evidence in a series of snap shots. And it’s funny to mention and include these as I recall years ago, hearing one of my instructors defending a move that was being questioned with the following statement. “No move is 100% all the time. Anytime you take a snap shot of a technique, you can point out a number of ways to pick it apart.” We’ll that just what I intend to do.

Below is a re-enactment of Joe’s Crime. Prosecuting him for count two “Trying to tap out his own instructor” will be something we address at another time.

Joe Wiggins starts his evil and malicious crime (the Arm Bar) from Closed Guard

He then opens his guard and violently turns to his left side, which allows him to place his opponent's right hand on the mat and obtain wrist control

Here Joe locks up the Kimura but in the process, allows his left leg to slide downward until it hits the mat and invites you to step over and begin to pass his guard in a counter clockwise direction.

Kensei obliges Joe's invitation and begins to pass Joe's left shin across his midsection. Keep in mind that the threat of being finished by the Kimura itself is ever present.

As Kensei moves to finalize the pass (his motion and direction of force is shown here in green), Mr. Wiggins simultaneously moves his hips in the opposite direction (shown here in red, a clockwise direction of force), which gives him space and the potential for a parallel body alignment with Kensei. This is an important detail as at this juncture, Mr. Wiggins has 4 simultaneous options. 1. Finish The Kimura 2. Utilize Parallel Body alignment to execute the Kimura Sweep and finish with the Kimura 3. Execute the redundant Kimura Sweep and finish with the stereotypical Arm Bar or 4. Move directly to a Quarter Back Mounted Arm Bar

I generally fight to maintain my base and top position which usually persuades Joe to take option 4. To do this he immediately inserts his left shin in front of Kensei's left arm.

He then places his right leg over Kensei's head and inserts his right foot into Kensei's right hip. The whole while Joe maintains a T Wrap/Figure 4 Grip on Kensei's right forearm.

Joe finalizes the Arm Bar by using his hips to break Kensei's grip and extend Kensei's arm. In this case the direction of force on Kensei's arm is along the mat and towards Joe's head.

If Kensei is able to power his arm back in to defend the Arm Bar, Joe simply transitions to a Kimura. Kensei can look to his left and defend the Kimura by summersaulting over his right shoulder but then he runs straight into the stereotypical Arm Bar and is finished from there.

You’ve seen the evidence, you’ve had a chance to study the crime scene. Now let’s take a moment and discuss the problem solving methodology.

The Problem Solving Methodology

The problem solving methodology is two fold. I try to address said problems from both a technical and a tactical vantage point. The CSI approach is more on the technical level. It involves looking at the mechanics of the technique in question and then, countering the technique with other techniques or simply dismantling the technique by means of negating one or more of the necessary mechanics.

On a Tactical level we look at paradigm shifts. Sometimes, you get so stumped trying to untangle the limbs and levers, the weights and pulleys of a technique that you basically hit a dead end. A mental block if you will. When I experience these I usually try and attack the problem at the tactical level. That is, to look at the problem itself from a completely different vantage point.

Take for example this Wiggarian Arm Bar from a Kimura Set Up. I have attempted to break it down and disassemble it from a technical level, with limited success for months now. Frustrated at this progress or lack thereof, I’ve now begun to approach the problem at a tactical level. I try not to put myself in positions where Joe can set up his heinous technique in the first place, but as with many things, it’s a lot easier said than done. As a result, I’ve recently begun to postulate a new idea.

By understanding how Joe sets up his damned Arm Bar at a technical level, and by looking at the problem from a tactical vantage point, I’ve been able to decipher that his set up is based on a brilliant strategy. He sets his technique up and finishes it based on movements from his opponents that follow fundamental, but predictable predispositions. You see, if you’ve had any instruction in guard work at all, you are going to be predisposed to eventually attempting to pass guard whenever you’re caught in it. This is how Joe finishes. He will set up the arm bar from within the guard, but it’s the act of you passing that enables him to finalize it. As a result, he will actively create opportunities for you to pass and in doing so tighten the noose around your own neck. Tricky bastard!

Thus, I am led to believe, that if I do the opposite of what is expected, that is, once the arm bar is set via the Kimura Set Up, I move into his guard, I can stall and perhaps even completely demise his ability to finalize the arm bar or at least this iteration of his arm bar. I will call this the “Chinese Finger Trap Defense”.

Tune in to the next episode of the Mat Wars Saga to find out how it goes.

I also invite you to turn in your own solutions to this problem, and eventually your own Technique Failures for us to CSI and problem solve. Together, we can catch the bad guys and rescue your technique.

Now the challenge, for both you and me is to apply these same problem solving methodologies to the challenges that face us in our daily lives, at work, at play, in the home as well as on the mats. It’s the Jiu-jitsu of Life as my cousin would so aptly put it. The most important Jiu-jitsu of all.