Consistency: Embracing the grind

These days everyone appears to be looking for the quickest way to get results. They want to lose 20 pounds in ten days, they want to be a black belt in 3 years or have their first fight in 6 months. The vast majority of us know that training and sensible nutrition will lead to long term sustainable results yet we would much rather do 6 weeks of the Angry Viking diet and a strength program designed for Bulgaria’s National Olympic lifting team.

There is always a time and place to “Train Insane” but the vast majority of your training should be at a level that is sustainable. This ensures that your training remains consistent and consistency is the key to learning.

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Embrace the grind.

Im not suggesting that your training should not be difficult far from it, but if someone were to say that your current schedule was one that you would adhere to for 5-10 years you should not be overly traumatised. Now try suggesting the same thing to a fighter who is training for a bout. Most guys train 6-8 weeks specifically for a fight, at an incredibly intense level. If you suggested to a fighter that they would benefit from being in camp for a few years you may have a discussion on your hands.

Going all out and pushing yourself to the limit everyday sounds cool and makes you feel like Conan but it is ultimately unsustainable. You may find professional fighters back in the gym a day after they have competed (particularly at the Griphouse) but they are almost certainly training at a lower level and enjoying themselves more. Seven weeks into an eight week fight camp very few athletes are truly enjoying their training. The level of intensity combined with pre fight pressure and other stressors takes its toll on the athletes. Many mention looking forward to getting back to regular daily training where they can focus on getting better as opposed to winning a fight. It is not uncommon for some fighters to only train when competing.

The expression “Embrace the Grind” seems to have come from the wrestling community and is the counterbalance to the Train Insane ethos. Its the long slow “grind” to improvement and mastery. Its turning up every day, doing what you are supposed to do and slowly dragging yourself towards your potential.

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You are training hard but in a way that does not leave you ruined for your next session. You are putting in the time and enjoying the process, the small victories that lead to the big improvements.

Enjoying your training and being consistent are the keys to mastery. If you do not enjoy what you are dedicating yourself to you are unlikely to be consistent. It is no coincidence that the guys who train the most tend to be the better guys. Books like the Talent Code, Bounce and Mastery have all suggested that the concept of innate ability or talent is overrated. Particularly in sports where technical ability is so prevalent. It comes down to a simple equation

  • Hours of deliberate practice + skill and ability of coaches and training partners + physical attributes = level of badassery

Jiu Jitsu guys will roll light , in Thailand fighters will rarely spar at a competition level instead they play around, wrestlers will flow wrestle. All of these interventions allow the athelete to get more mat/ring/cage time in and anything that increase the amount of deliberate practice is highly beneficial to those commited to getting better. Sparring at 100% could maybe be done for 3 rounds twice a week, maybe? But drop that intensity down to 60-80% and you can be doing 30+ rounds. The further we get away from 100% the less “real” it becomes but with 10 times the mat time, who is learning more?

Getting better at any activity is actually quite simple. Do you want to be a great guitarist? Well you should probably get a good teacher and practice as much as you can. The same goes for any activity. Want to get good at it? Do it a lot.

Embracing the grind means turining up and paying your dues. It is the tougher path as it is sustainable. You wont have the luxury of burning out, giving up or picking up an injury as the intensity is optimised. Everyday you will have the battle with yourself to train or not to train. This will happen forever as you have commited yourself to life long improvement. Missing a session here and there has no effect in the short term but in the long term this adds up.

Eventually you will be where you want to be you just have to keep going.

 

 

Mega Smasher: Murilo Santana’s guard passing breakdown

Murilo Santana is one of those guys who has a lot of success in tournament jiu jitsu but is relatively unheard off. He does not have a DVD instructional series, a subscription website or a host of moves named after him. What he does have is a highly effective and brutal passing style that has served him well competing against the some of the best guys in the world.

Posture in the over under position

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Murilo’s passing game is based around working from the over under. He will often pressure from this position for up to 6-7mins in the round and not really commit to a pass. In the last 3mins the exhausted opponent is passed and often submitted in rapid succession.

The over under position provides a number of advantages for the athlete:

1. Being latched onto the hips negates the advantages many flexible guard players have.

2. Inversion is incredibly difficult with this degree of hip control.

3. Adopting this passing strategy completely avoids all the cool guard positions. There is no spider, de La Riva or inverted DLR options.

4. The opponent is carrying your weight the entire time. This is exhausting for the bottom player. Their options are limited to destroying the head position and framing against the top man in an effort to recompose some sort of barrier. This is tiring work, doing dumb bell presses for 7mins will knacker anyone.

5. The top mans has minimised a lot of the bottom guys offense and only really has two main concerns. Which are, the leg escaping into a triangle on the overhook side (this can be minimised by constantly contouring the hips to the overhook side) and being tilted or swept to the underhook side (this can be minimised by posting with the underhooking arm and keeping hips contoured to the overhook side). Keeping your opponent off the leg on the overhook side eliminates a lot of tilt sweep options.

Murilo Santana’s passing breakdown.

There are two really interesting things about Murilo’s personal passing game. First of all he is highly proficient in the passes outlined below on both sides. This is pretty unusual and is probably due to the fact that his passes are determined by his opponents responses.

Secondly he rarely does the traditional shin circle pass to side control. Perhaps he feels this methods offers up too much space when compared to the options outlined below or more likely he prefers passing directly to mount.

The side smash position

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After pressuring his opponents long enough to make them start hating life he begins moving towards the opponents mid line I.e. the underhook side. This makes tilt sweeps more difficult as the leg grab is tougher. It also opens up the elbow and knee space for the shin circle pass, but as we know Murilo has no intention of going that way.

Instead he is moving all the way round to the side smash position. Lateral movement is the key here. He is actively raising and lowering his elevation, contouring his hips and moving to the underhook side. You an see this in action whenever anyone tries to elevate him with butterfly hooks. At times he appears to be floating on the end of these hooks before gracefully landing in the side smash as the opponents legs fatigue.

From the side smash he covers the top leg with the shin and moves to the side. The bottom mans hip positioning makes it really difficult to re guard, they are left with a crappy choice, accept side control or expose the back.

The flattened half guard

flattened half

Often in the face of this pressure the opponent will shoot for half guard to increase the degree of control they feel they have in this situation. This rarely helps them. Instead of fishing for the underhook; very difficult to do on elite player, Murilo stays low and pins his head to the ground removing the threat of his opponents underhook while freeing up his own hand to actively post or assist in freeing the trapped knee on the way to mount.

With only the foot now trapped in guard the underhook is taken and solid forward pressure completes the guard pass. The opponent is mounted and in a seriously vulnerable position. The frequency with which Murilo taps an opponent after the pass may be due to the way in which he passes to this incredibly dominant mount.

Jiu Jitsu from a Newbies Perspective part 2 4 Sparring Tips (2014 edition)

So carrying on from the previous blog post we have established the importance of identifying the positions we are in and adopting the appropriate postures. You can tell when you have started becoming accomplished with this stage when more experienced training partners, with similar physical attributes struggle to sweep, submit or advance up the positional heirarchy (guard <side control < mount < back control).

The next stage will be to add techniques to these positions. At the Griphouse we have a 12 week rotating syllabus that addresses the fundamental positions and the most common techniques that arise from them. There are many options for those looking to learn new techniques. There are many YouTube videos, DVD’s and subscription sites out there. What these options do not have is interaction with an experienced and knowledgeable coach. Ask questions and take the answers on board. Your coaches are your best resources, you are paying for their knowledge so you might as well use them.

If your coach suggest that learning to pass guard is preferable to falling onto footlocks at every available opportunity, it might be because they have a point. They might also have spent way too long trying to tear peoples feet off to the detriment of their own passing game……. not mentioning anyone in particular though……yeah ok It was me.

Drilling side control escapes might not be as sexy as drilling a De la Riva tomoenage sweep, but in the initial stages its almost certainly more beneficial. All those guys pulling of amazing, ninja highlight reel sweeps and submissions are all truly amazing at the basic stuff that makes Jiu Jitsu such an effective combat sport.

4 Sparring Tips for the Newbie

At the Griphouse we want to get our athletes sparring as quickly as possible. Usually this is in the form of a drill with a specific goal in mind. Everything in jiu jitsu must work against a resisting opponent. Below are some tips to get the most out of the experience.

1. Win the Small battles.

If you have no previous combat sports experience and can walk into a jiu jitsu school and dominate everyone, you have probably not walked into a very good school. Jiu Jitsu is devestatingly effective. If you do not know the principles behind the art and you are on the ground with someone who does, you are in trouble. Watching a big guy getting dominated by a much smaller, more experienced athlete is so common it does not even bear considering as something unusual.

With that said when you start expect to be submitted a lot. Expecting to chain techniques together like a mundials champion is unrealistic. Instead focus on winning the small battles.

  • Try  to avoid being submitted, mounted, sweeped etc within a round.
  • If your guard has been passed focus on maintaining solid side control posture and escaping back to guard.
  • When in guard work on preventing your posture being broken by your partner.
  • Concentrate on breaking all of your opponents grips.
  • If your stuck, cant move and are being thoroughly crushed try to work on controling your breathing and finding your happy place (super important, the jiu jitsu athlete must develop being comfortable being uncomfirtable.

By assaigning goals to sparring you will find your round more productive and enjoyable. Winning the small battles will prevent the ego crushing that can sometimes put off those new to the sport.

2. Relax and get more mat time.

With  matches lasting up to 10mins and sparring classes often lasting over an hour jiu jitsu is an endurance sport. Then why do we see new guys latching onto a training partners gi and turning purple like a powerlifter trying to deadlift a gigantic personal best. Trying to do any activity above 80% effort or so usually results in a decrease of technical proficiency and a subsequent decrease in performance.

Its the common problem with new guys they try too hard. Very little can hold back technical development like trying way too hard. It will also negatvely effect the amount of training you can do. Holding your breath and squeezing someones head for a 6minute round really limits the amount of mat time you can get in.

Every situation is an opportunity to improve. If your guard is passed its a great time to work your escapes, if you pass it is an opportunity to work on maintaining side control.

3. Think about whats happening

I like to think that jiu jitsu is a perfect art. It’s our application that is sometimes lacking. If a training partner is preventing you from applying the armlock your coach just showed you, try figuring out what the problem is before abandoning the technique.

If you spend enough time on any technique you can make it work for you. Take for example the flying armbar this requires a lot of technical skill, athleticism and an almost suicidal disregard for your own safety. But because it’s cool spending tonnes of time on it isn’t too hard and it seems to land with a lot of regularity.

Try to address why a certain technique isn’t working. Slow your game down and analyse it. Is it a grip that’s stopping you? Is it counter movement? Maybe you are in the wrong position to implement the technique (this falls under identifying the position mentioned previously).

I have had so many ah ha moments that have stemmed from a desire to make a certain technique work. This is after many years of giving up on a technique as soon as my training partners were able to defend it.

4. TRAIN PURE HUNNERS

The simple fact is that the guys who are really good train a lot.

The athletes that are consistent and work hard always seem to surpass the guys who seemed to have all the advantages early on.

In our next part I will address some points on effective drilling and technique development.

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How you think is affecting how good you can be.

A change in perception.

The primal nature of combat sports has a tendency to bring out our competitiveness. Forget about football, if you really want someone to bring serious effort and intensity to the table punch them in the head or try to bend their arm the way it doesn’t go.

It’s important to understand where that competitiveness is aimed. For the vast majority it’s aimed at the external; we are comparing ourselves to our team mates and opponents. In the gym this tends to create an environment where we have a food chain. There are guys who you can handle and other guys who can ruin you with ease.

This can be disheartening in the beginning as you will inevitably struggle with those who have more experience than you. A more useful mindset is to focus internally and concentrate on winning the small battles that occur in training everyday. Escaping that big blue belt’s side control or checking all leg kicks for example. When you focus on your own development training is more enjoyable and productive.

If you concern yourself too much with the “result” in sparring you may find that you are distancing yourself from the guys who cause you problems to preserve your ego. To the detriment of your own development.

You will only ever really be as good as your training partners. Top class coaching aside, an abundance of technically excellent training partners is perhaps the Griphouse’s biggest resource. If you are not taking advantage of this you might not be as great as you could be.

I’ve seen the destructiveness of this mindset many times. A guy who has the food chain in his head takes some time off and the order has shifted. Guys whom he could dominate now start tapping him or using his head like a speed ball. These guys will sometimes quit as the effect on their self esteem is too great.

The guys who are focused on self improvement and posses a solid work ethic always outshine those who are trying to protect their position in the gym environment. The tough guys make you tough, iron sharpens iron. If you want to get better, grab your most feared sparring partners and work to get to their level.

Lets face it wanting to be better than others is a fundamentally bankrupt concept. There will always be someone better than you. If you derive your sense of purpose and happiness from being better than others then how can you possibly be truly content.

So what’s the alternative? It’s pretty simple, compare yourself to yourself. If you can consistently kick the arse of yourself from 3 months ago you are on the right track. Competition is great, but the best indicator of success is how much you have improved.

If you understand that your goals should not be dependent on how you compare to others, then you will find them much easier to achieve.

At the Griphouse this is a culture we encourage and it’s probably one of the reason we have the country’s top athletes in a whole host of combat sports.

Paulus Maximus

JT Torres De La X Guard

When it comes to watching Jiu Jitsu matches I always tend to pick a specific athlete and watch a crap tonne of their matches as opposed to simply watching  full events. When focusing on a certain athlete you start seeing the type of positions they favor and the go to techniques that they prefer.

I watched an interview with JT Torres a few weeks ago and he had a great attitude to competition and training. That is what encouraged me to have a look at some of his matches in depth. . Initially I was looking at doing a breakdown with his awesome leg drag passing, but then I noticed the De La X Guard appearing time and time again, seriously like every match and with a freaky high sweeping percentage as well.

The frequency with which JT goes for this position and the success he has with it says a great deal about its effectivness, and when guys like Michael Langhi are getting nailed with it you have to respect it.

At the lower levels of Jiu Jitsu mastery we have a tendency to abandon positions when we come across obstacles. At the higher levels the athletes know the positions they are great at and consistently find a way to get to those spots. From these strong positions they are ready to implement their attacks based on how the opponent responds. As with everything in jiu jitsu you earn what you have got. JT has certainly but the time in with his De La X Guard and has a tonne of faith in this position.

The De La X Guard

The deep DLR hook on the hip and the lower leg hook effectively ruins your opponents ability to  move laterally. Using upper body grips and the powerful leg pressure of this position the bottom guy can effectively tilt their opponent to either side depending on their objectives.

If the top man drives forward or is pulled forward in this position he can expect to be on the bad end of the dump sweep shown in the first section of the video. If the top man keeps his weight back he is susceptible to single leg attacks.

One of JTs most common ways to get onto the single leg occurs when his opponent hides the far arm. This effectively prevents the dump sweep as the top man has a hand to post with. By switching to a collar grip and attempting the dump sweep JT can collect the posting arm and complete the initial sweep or use the momentary lack of forward pressure to come up onto the single leg take down.

Finally if the top man avoids the dump sweep and drives back into the single leg JT will sit back into the single leg X, very much like Torquinho would, but instead of heel hooking somebody’s leg to pieces he quickly changes to the full x guard and completes the sweep from there.

All in all there are not a great deal of fun options for the top guy when the De La X Guard is latched on and its a great way to deal with the combat base position.

The Lapel grip.

JT will change the nature of his grips depending on what he is trying to do. He is always going after the far arm to complete the dump sweep. But if thats not available he may go to the collar to help load his opponent onto the hips as mentioned above or grip on the lead leg to secure it.

One of the really cool grips he utilises really well is a variation on the lapel wedgy grip. I am sure there is a better way to describe this but my inner child have prevailed, he passes the far lapel to his outside hand behind his opponents knee. This kills the top mans posture and forces him to the inside and towards the dump sweep which is the first link in a chain of great positions JT uses really effectively.

Let me know what you think of this breakdown and if you would like some more,

Thanks

Paulus Maximus