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Phases: “Oh you fancy, huh?”

fresh from f00k


There are a lot of different submissions in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They all pretty much stem from these body parts: the wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, hip, knees, and ankles. Hundreds of moves and variations of moves have been created to attack these parts. This is not even counting cranks and slicers. This is why Jiu-Jitsu is still an evolving sport.

With all these moves, it is natural for us to try out different ones to see which ones best fit our body type. I myself have gone through a lot of phases. To my knowledge, my submission learning process went something like this: kimura -> guillotine -> omaplata -> triangle -> armbar -> bow n arrow -> triangle armbar -> cross choke -> crucifix. Upside-down guard to triangle was somewhere in there. Each one of these phases represents at least two months of me trying to finish with one of the moves.

Learning these moves, for me, was always about trying to get fancier and fancier. It wasn’t until I discovered some small details in the basic cross choke from mount and heard some helpful pointers from high level instructors that made me remodel my Jiu-Jitsu game. In an interview on thefightworkspodcast a while back, I heard Lloyd Irvin talking about high percentage moves. He was talking about his way of teaching and how he had studied black belts in big tournaments (like the Pans and Worlds) and developed a list of the highest percentage finishes. He stated, “If you want to be successful, you got to model success.” Along with Lloyd Irvin, Dave Camarillo stated in an interview shortly after that John Danaher (A very, very, very intelligent grappler) does the same thing.

If you think about it, how often do you see omaplatas or gogoplatas being finished in black belt matches? Not much or any at all these days. Now how about armbars, triangles, and chokes from the back? A lot. Same goes for MMA. These are high percentage moves and they are what most high level players use for their A game.

In the same interview with Lloyd Irvin, he talked about how top judo players only have 2-4 moves max that they use in tournaments, but that doesn’t mean they can’t show you every single throw there is in the book. I mean just because you never see Roger Gracie do leg locks, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to do it. Lloyd also stated his students use smaller tournaments to practice their B and C game with stuff they wouldn’t normally do in a big tournament. In the big tournaments, they bring their A game and until their A games gets shut down, will you see their B game.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s good to be exposed to and experiment with a variety of moves, but as you get better and face harder opponents, you will tend to fall back to the basics (at least for submissions), which are normally the high percentage moves. Although moves like omaplatas don’t work as good against the higher belts, they are still useful for sweeps, transitions, and against lower belts. Some moves are not for everyone due to size and flexibility, but experiencing with new moves will also help you defend against that same move. Can you imagine Roger getting cross choked from mount or Marcelo getting RNC’d? I can’t.

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Poker Face

Poker Face

fresh from f00k


It‘s important to have a “poker face” when rolling. That being, not showing the emotional stress on your face when you are tired or struggling in bad positions. Conveying stress is like telegraphing your exhaustion. Your opponent will sense your fatigue like a shark smelling blood.

You have all seen it in boxing and UFC fights. It happened this past Saturday when Pacquiao destroyed Margartio. After a fury of punches in the 3rd round, Pacquiao forced a smile out of Margarito acknowledging that he got caught.

Everyone here has gone against Kyle. You rarely see him with a stressed look on his face. Most times he’s even smiling, which means he is laughing at you because he’s only 19yrs old (almost 20) and still smashing you. On the other hand you got the folks that when you roll with them, they either look like they are trying to dead lift 500lbs or like they just ran a marathon.


(sry jake it was the only one I could find right now)

There has been many times where this has either saved me or made me give up on a position. Someone can be 95% close to finishing a submission, but when they see how calm (non-threatened) you seem, they may just give up on move and go onto something else.

Most of this depends on how your breathing pattern is. If you’re good at staying calm and breathing thru your nose in long, deep breathes, you will do fine. Being calm will help you with stay focused on your technique! You’ll notice if you roll with the Deadliest Catch, you know he’s worried when he starts breathing in fast, rapid, short breathes. Waka waka!

“Anger just makes people inefficient. Their breathing get shallow, they’re too muscularly tense—they gas faster. Part of what I admire in a fighter like Marcelo Garcia is his ability to control his anger and stay focused. He often gets abused physically. He’s a smaller guy in the open weight competitions, but you never see him distracted. He’s like a laser, focusing on finishing. He has one physical, cold game in mind and nothing distracts him. The abuse is irrelevant.” – John Danaher

Here’s one of my favorite parts off the documentary Tyson where Mike Tyson explains his mindset coming into the ring and how he beats his opponents before the match even starts (first minute of the video). Good stuff!

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Stretching and Flexibility

Stretching and Flexibility

by f00k

A lot of people ask me about my flexibility and how I am able to do moves that require a lot of flexibility with my legs. I myself, don’t believe I’m that flexible (BJ Penn and Eddie Bravo are flexible), but back when I first started JJ in Jan 08, I was pretty damn stiff! Standing up I couldn’t touch my toes or sit Indian style with both my feet off the ground.


Soon I learned that the more flexibility you have, the more diverse your game can be.  I noticed people like PJ, whose legs were impossible to pass, always doing stretches like the s-mount stretch. Mikee has crazy (linear?) flexibility with his legs from about 20 years of kickboxing. I decided to incorporate stretches from everyone’s routines that I believed were fairly flexible. I stretched before class, after class, at work, watching TV, etc… Month after month, I slowly started to see an improvement with my flexibility.

The key is simple. Stretch!! After our warm ups, when Mike stays “get water and stretch out,” a lot of people sit around talking, which I do too, but they aren’t taking advantage of the time to stretch. Even when you are at home reading a book or playing video games, stretch! You don’t need anything  to stretch, except the ground underneath you and gravity. What are you doing in your spare time?

BJ Penn: “Every day I stretch about half an hour before going to bed. I don’t stretch before practice; I just warm up to get the blood going. If I’m not too exhausted, I stretch after training. But often I’ll go home, eat, relax, take a shower and then stretch before going to sleep. A good routine is to start from your head and go down to your feet, stretching everything you want to stretch. Flexibility is essential. That’s why so many people have such a hard time taking me down, passing my guard and reversing me when I’m on top. It’s important to have strength with your flexibility. At the gym, you often see strong, stiff guys and weak, flexible guys. To become a force in fighting, you need to combine those.” (From:

Be the LOTUS!

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Stretching Yourself

Stretching Yourself

fresh from f00k

I was going to do this post the week of the US Open XV, but since we are on the subject, I guess I’ll throw in my “non” cents.

I believe everyone is capable of being successful. Though some may have to work harder than others, it is possible. Usually, when we think about succeeding at something, we are trying to reach a higher level than we are currently at and in order to get to that level, it requires progression.

My definition of progression is being able to push and stretch yourself past your limits, which is where I think a lot of people fall short. Instead of putting themselves in stressful situations, they stay in their down feathered comfort zone.


I know I’ve said this before, but be a YES MAN! It might seem corny and s#*t, but if you haven’t watched the movie before, watch it because it can be a real life changer… plus it’s got funnies. I remember after watching it I thought I’d mess around to see how many times I could say “Yes” to things I’d normally say “No” to and damn it was hard! I didn’t realize how close minded I was at the time. I was conditioned to saying no to some things before I’d even fully thought it out. It was like a default. Now I feel I got that “I’d try anything once” mindset and I understand how to put myself in stressful situations in order to progress.

The first step is the hardest, whether it be; walking into the gym, registering for a tournament for the first time, or rolling without your wrestling shoes or cup. Yes I shall get on Isaac B. again. Isaac first came to OW wearing his neon orange wrestling shoes. He didn’t like dragging his bare feet on the mat because “it hurts”. Please, there are kids in the jungle right now with no shoes running around like Mogli and we are complaining about rolling around on soft mats. After telling him he needed to take his boots off in order to use spider guard effectively, he started trying class with them off. Of course it hurt the first few weeks, but now he seems pretty comfortable with them off (Same with England and Zvi). Now he’s just gotta get used to being cupless.

Like the video in the previous post, if you truly want to succeed and get better at something, you have to almost be obsessed with it. It has to be on your mind all the time. If you have time to keep up with soap operas and TV shows, then you’re definitely not dedicated enough. If you want a soap opera, go on Facebook. At least they have some inspiring quotes. Spend your time wisely and be efficient at doing so.

The main thing I’m trying to say here is to make sure you’re always pushing yourself towards new challenges. If you are rolling and you get tired, don’t stop there; see if you can push yourself hard for another 15 seconds. Then the next time, maybe 30 seconds and so on. It will only make you grow.


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