Putting techniques together (The Lo guard)

What has been taking the most thought for me throughout the years has always been connecting techniques and creating "games". Even as little as five years ago many instructionals or classes were quite unstructured so you had to figure out how to combine things for yourself. One day you were taught a sweep that worked in combination with some other technique shown 6 months later. This meant you either had to have good notes or an elephant's memory. Today the situation is better, especially with sites like MGinaction.com offering you a complete game to imitate.

However, one of the more interesting new guards has never been presented as a system. I am of course talking about Leandro Lo's De La Spider guard that BJJ Scout introduced us to. It is probably due to Leandro usually getting by with one or two sweeps in competition. This means a lot of guys at our academy use the De La Spider basic sweep only as an isolated technique which is never quite optimal. I recently started looking at different options and came up with my approach for a more complete Spider DLR game that I present on the video below.

Putting pieces together for De La Spider -video

Connecting techniques is something the Mendes brothers also emphasize in their teaching as you can hear from Gui Mendes himself:


# 5 Testing fitness levels

The project is slowly but surely moving ahead. I've cut roughly 80% of everything sweet from my diet. Next in line might be reducing my beer intake. The weight is still hovering around 85kg but training seems to be going good.

Anyways, I spent this weekend with my wife at wellness resort Långvik just relaxing. Besides jacuzzis, they had a really cool spa section where I could do hot-cold treatment on my twisted right foot.

I also did a check on how many chin ups I can do if I need to do at least 10 to be in acceptable shape. Chin ups have always been difficult for me which was part of the reason I chose them as a development area. Anyways, I found a chin up bar on a forest trail and decided to give it a go. I managed to do seven, which was alright I guess. 3 more to go at least.

The unforgiving and slippery chin up bar in the woods:


#4 Ups and downs

I've been able to maintain a fairly high motivation on my mini project but there's been some setbacks as well. What I am most proud of is my diet as I have only had one sweet snack a week during the past two weeks. It is affecting my energy levels somewhat but I guess that is normal. My weight hasn't decreased that much though and it is hovering around 85kg.

One of the set back was not being able to train judo on Saturday last week due to a Aikido seminar at the judo club I didn't know of. Had to go to the gym instead and running felt like shit which is not good news regarding my 3000meter target in Cooper's test. I was also planning to go test my current running shape at Esport Arena where they have a good in-door 400 meter track on Sunday but my legs were killing me so I couldn't go.

Today was a day of rest but tomorrow it is back to the grinder.

Today's night snack

As a sidenote, I'm trying to put together a quick look to one specific grip that Roger Gracie uses to excerpt pressure against open guard on top. Hopefully I get it ready in a week or two.


#3 First week of better diet behind me

First week for competition project has been all about breaking my cycle of sugar cravings. For 6 days, I didn't eat anything sweet but on Saturday I had a Snickers bar. I have been also reducing the amount of fast food somewhat. I would love to go crazy in the beginning but my wife who is a nutritionist insists that I keep a steady pace for the next 6 months and look to change things permanently as well.

Today, I finally got batteries for my scale to keep up with possible progress. I also got some good breakfast ingredients (fruit, berries, sugar-free yoghurt) that I will definitely need during the week.

Today's lunch was no treat however…

Things I've noticed so far about eating healthy:

  • Getting some numbers on the table (body composition) definitely helps
  • I need to have good foods always around in the fridge to avoid bad stuff. As my wife puts it, it is more about what you add instead of what you leave out in the beginning
  • Sometimes I need to put diet before training if I feel I can't do both. For my success in Worlds 2015, the diet is more important at this stage. I can't prioritise everything
  • I shouldn't stress too much at work
  • I should sleep at least seven and a half hours a night to avoid my cravings

Also, I have to keep in mind that watching jiu jitsu events like Metamoris (Sakuraba vs Gracie last night) is not going to make me a better competitor and I should just sleep instead. Anyways, I'm off to training...


#2 More targets defined for Mundials 2015

Figured I should make a list of goals. These might not seem like much but I want to keep it realistic

1. Weight at 80kg in May
2. 10 clean chin ups
3. 3000m Cooper's test result (no idea where I am at now)
4. Train takedowns at least once a week leading up to the competition
5. Drill once a week

Today I did drilling for 1.5 hours to start the project on the right foot. I also haven't had anything sweet in the past 3 days, and it has been surprisingly easy so far.


#1 Project Mundials 2015 started

Two days ago I started my project for the 2015 Mundials or Jiu Jitsu World Championships with my Swiss friend Sebi. I booked my flights and decided to try my best to be competitive. It has been two and a half years since I last competed there in the medium heavy purple belt category and back then I was a fresh purple belt who just wanted to attend a big competition.

Today, I am still a purple belt who tends to compete in the medium heavy division. What I have going for me this time around is:
  1. My technique is considerably better than last time around, especially in the takedown department
  2. I also have more competition experience and wins at purple belt including a silver at an IBJJF competition
This is where the positives end unfortunately. The biggest negative by far is the current physical shape I am in. It is in no way worse than the shape I was in the last time I did the Mundials but to be competitive, I need to do something about it.

The first step was to figure out in how much I need to improve this aspect, so I took an InBody body composition test. I've been told that this tends to be one of the more accurate test and it didn't cost much.

The results were pretty much what I expected unfortunately:
  • Weight a little over 86kg
  • % of body fat over 20%
  • Muscle mass is also above standard deviation, especially in my arms
  • Right leg clearly has less muscle mass than my right leg
For my ideal weight of 80kg I need to drop my % of body fat slightly below 15%, which is a completely normal percentage for men, not too skinny in the least. This means that middle weight should be in my reach with some fairly basic diet adjustments. I just need to cut 1kg a month at a steady rate.

So the first target is as follows:
  1. Weight at 80kg in May 2015 without significant muscle mass reduction


Stand up training again, figuring out getting the angle for Uchi Mata

My interest in Judo is soaring again and one technique I've been looking at a lot is the Uchi Mata. This might partly be because Roger Gracie is using it frequently with the high grip. My legs also seem long enough for it and I seem to not suck at it as much as with many ofter takedowns.

What helped me tremendously to learn Ko Uchi Gari to Morote Seio was figuring out the angle trigger = when is opponent in the right angle for the throw.

For Uchi Mata, I was a bit lost with the set ups but our resident judoka showed me this very basic way to get the same angle that I get for Morote with the Ko Uchi. It is just a simple pull in a circular motion, which does the same trick.

Also I might have figured out that if we are moving to my left I should throw to my right and vice versa perhaps


Roger Gracie guard study

When I started looking at Kron a while back, I wanted to understand what was his classical open guard like. Kron however, did most of his black belt jiu jitsu at lightweight. Therefore I now decided to look at Roger Gracie to see what a tall person's classical approach to guard might be.

Roger's seems to prefer closed guard even more than Kron, even so much that he keeps it locked while opponent has his knee up and has established combat base. This of course probably wouldn't even be an option for Kron who has considerably shorter legs.

Roger also doesn't really attack much from a collar grip position when his guard is open. Instead, he doesn't shy away from half guard quite as much as Kron.

So if Kron's structure would be...
A) Closed guard
B) Collar grip guard

…I would says Roger's structure is
A) Closed guard
B) Closed guard with opponent's knee up in the middle
C) Half guard

1. Sleeve drag to back/arm bar/flower sweep from closed guard

Roger always attacks the left arm if he can. According to his interviews, it is simply because opponent's defences are often not as good on the weaker left side.

The sleeve drag is initiated with a simple cross grip on the sleeve. As the drag is performed, the wrist of the hand holding the sleeve goes over your opponents wrist. At the same time, you do a sit up and reach for your opponents far arm pit. Roger usually hold the arm pit using the kimono material instead of a clamp grip.

The most common defence for the sleeve drag is the heavy elbow. Roger uses arm bar style mechanics to counter this heavy elbow outside the hip tactic. When the elbow is flared out he simply uses the foot on the hip and turns close to 90 degrees just like performing a regular arm bar from the bottom forcing the elbow to the inside. Then he switches the angle back to the back take side.

Some opponents, most notably Jacare and Xande Ribeiro did not want to accept the back take in their matches with Roger and instead postured up. This creates room for the leg to come in front of the face and often results in an easy arm bar.

There is naturally the third option which is the flower sweep. I have seen Roger get it in only one of his matches due to the way opponent's tend to react but here he is teaching it in Brasil

Link to Roger teaching flower sweep from sleeve drag

2. Tilt sweep from when opponent has a knee up in combat base between Roger's legs

Roger is so fond of closed guard that when to opponent approaches in combat base (knee up) he still tries to catch it. The reason for this is that Roger has a very strong tilt sweep from this position where he has his legs around the opponent's torso but the knee is up and "outside" the closed guard. This position is not attainable without long limbs so if your 170 cm you probably shouldn't even consider it.

The knee in sweep is performed by gripping the sleeve on the side where you are trying to sweep the opponent. Then you tilt your body, pushing the sleeve to the side and suddenly pull back and start coming up basing on your free hand. The reason why this works is of course that the opponent can not post neither with his hand not with his foot to the side where you are sweeping him.

Some opponents try to counter this by going to a "knee slide" without the underhook despite the trapped knee. This defence often exposes the back to easily which Roger has exploited in his past matches already at brown belt.

3. Half guard back roll sweep

Unlike with Kron Gracie, Roger often chooses half guard when he can not get to his closed guard (or knee up closed guard). He doesn't often go for the classical undertook sweep series but instead opts to use what I simply call a back roll sweep.  Roger performs this by pushing opponent's head across his body with his forearm and grabs the belt while blocking the cross face with a sleeve control. Then he pulls your base on top of himself and somersaults backwards while extending his legs.

Many passers like to cross the guarder's body in half guard and try to pull their leg out but without the cross face it is difficult to not get rolled over by this sweep. You hardly ever see Roger cross faced in half guard but when it happens, he uses his tall frame and tries to land a classical upa sweep instead.

Here is the 10 minute video analysis:


Although Roger Gracie uses 50/50 guard and De La Riva from time to time, his guard game is very basic and focuses only on a handful of techniques.

One could say that Roger's overall game is all about picking the right basics for a tall person. Why do I think this is?
  1. The tilt sweep is not for everyone because most people can't cross their ankles if opponents have combat base
  2. The roll over is much more efficient if you're tall (more hip elevation)
  3. Roger's mount is much harder to escape because the upa doesn't work on him so well due to his frame