Roberto Satoshi Souza succesful at the European

While travelling in Japan a few years ago, I picked up a few copies of BJJ spirits magazines and they had articles on Bonsai-Jiu Jitsu and Roberto Satoshi Souza (a purple belt at the time) and his black belt brother + a few fights of them on DVD here and there. Souza had a very fast paced style and utilised the reverse de la riva guard a lot which caught my eye. Later I saw a lot of sparring sessions with Mendes brothers' and other grappling stars at Bonsai academy on DVDs produced by Bull Terrier.

Roberto got his black belt a while ago, and surprised more or less everybody by getting the gold medal in this year's Europeans. He also did it by beating both Michael Langhi and JT Torres, 2 of the best lightweights in the world.


My first and last tournament as a heavyweight :)

Went to Manse open to get some competition mat time as it has been a year at least since I last competed. There was another thing..I usually fight at middleweight (under 82kg) but now after Christmas I weighed 84 and did not want to cut weight for a smaller tournament..As the organisers combined 88kg with 94kg, I ended up competing higher up than ever.

Here is my match with Alari at 94,3kg coloured belts. The funny thing is that we actually have trained together before so there were no great surprises for neither of us. We decided to take a mental approach that we should really go after sweeps and submissions and it ended up being a nice looking match. Alari won the match with 2 sweeps (same sweep 2 times, d'oh!) and got a minus point for a double guard pull I guess. I swept him once (it was my first takedownish thing I ever hit in competition).

The match along with other fights can be seen at:


The match started with both of us looking to pull guard. I went on top (probably shouldn't have) and looked to pass but Alari put me in closed guard. We were fighting for sleeve control and when I got it Alari moved to leg lasso guard. I was able to put in a decent pass attempt quickly but could not circle my sleeve out on top of his leg. Then Alari tried a collar grip scissor sweep but I was able to maintain balance.

The match was put to centre. While I opened his guard, he clasped my legs together to look to sweep but I was able to get my right leg out. Then he caught me with the leg lasso sweep...This is weird because I remember thinking that if he does I'll just kneebar him (KNEEBARs are not allowed stupid!). You can see me trying to go for kneebar at 2:08 but realising I can't do it.

Ended up in a weird guard on bottom and I was sure he was going to pass. However, I managed to wiggle out of it by hooking his leg in a weird way and going to deep half guard. I felt comfortable there but tried to come up towards the inside and got stuffed and got a good butterfly guard. I was struggling in butterfly and went to Z-guard and looked for a loop choke. What you can't see in the video is Alari blocking my hand so I can not do it.

He then tried to cross pass but I got back to butterfly and closed guard. Tried to look for sweeps in closed but it is very difficult against a stronger guy with good base. Figured open guard was better..in a while I secured the de la riva and went for single leg guard. I managed to disrupt his balance by pulling the collar and executed a single leg takedown.

He played closed and open guard for a while and hit a rolling leg lasso sweep while I committed my base. Pretty sweet looking sweep. Then I went to guard, tried to triangle, loop choke, tilt etc. but nothing worked.

+ Use mobile open guard stuff, seemed to work ok (played probable every guard in the book in the match)
- Know when your winning
- Don't get greedy with the pass against leg lasso

Alari ended up doing open weight and submitted all his four opponents! Nice!


Should teaching focus on one position/concept for a long period of time?

Recently my friend visited Ricardo Vieira's school in Rio de Janeiro and all they did was spider guard those couple of weeks. Even all the sparring was positional sparring starting with spider guard grips.

There must be some positive sides to this type of training
  1. Firstly, you most likely get somewhat comfortable with the position even though it would have never been your go to position
  2. If lucky, you also might learn to know the common reactions of the opponent which could make the position competition proof for you
One defininite downside is that you have to have the fundamentals of BJJ down before you would start applying this type of approach. Therefore, it does not suit a school with a lot of beginners. If you don't know any half guard techniques properly, it is not wise to dedicate a whole month to butterfly guard..

Also, if a competition is just around the corner, you should probably focus on "your" game instead of learning one position thoroughly


Anybody can be beaten

Sometimes while training I can start believing that certain people are impossible for me to beat. It might be that I've trained with someone for years and never seem to get anything to work against him.

That is when I like to watch Terere against Marcelo Garcia in 2003. It is a reminder that we are all mortal. Even back then passing Marcelo's x-guard, controlling the side mount, taking his back and submitting him must have been a daunting task.

Even while they where rivals on the mat, Marcelo helped raise money for Terere when he was struggling. Nice!


Caio Terra seminars in Europe

Being an avid fan of Caio's 111 half guard techniques instructional, I saw that he is apparently coming to Europe for at least a few seminar in February to March 2012.
My friend is hosting him in Zurich on March 13th

I also found out that he will have a camp in Portugal in February. Looks pretty sweet..

His seminars seem to get great reviews:


DVD Review: Ryan Hall Back Attacks

Ryan Hall (as any top lightweight bjj fighter) is incredibly good in taking the back and finishing from there. He released a back attack dvd a while back which I will now review. 

Ryan actually states in the DVD that a lighter fighter must have a good back attack game in order to compete at a high level. I believe this is mostly because lighter guys cannot control their opponents in side control using their weight so easily. Of course, a good back attack helps in every weight division

The DVD consists of 3 discs:
-          Principles of back control
-          Finishing
-          Rolling back attack

Overall, Ryan takes his time with each position often explaining the philosophy behind each technique whether it is staying tight to your opponent, occupying a certain space that opponent has revealed or using a certain lever. This style makes sure that you understand every part of the technique but can sometimes lead to long explanation for each technique, which might make the dvd heavy to watch at times. Fortunately Ryan makes sure he shows every technique as a complete sequence from a few angles. This avoids the problem I’ve had with Saulo’s Jiu Jitsu revolution where the technique becomes so dissected into tiny bits and philosophies that you might only get no or one quick showing of the technique sequence without explanation (when you’ve watched a dvd 10 times, you don’t always want to hear the whole story but just see the technique)

Principles of back control offers a detailed view on the back position. It explains ways to take the back (such as the chair sit), control the back (harness grip, kimura grip etc.) and regain the back. Ryan goes through even very basic so you could almost pick the dvd without significant experience of attacking the back in bjj.

The principles section offers very good basic movements to obtain the back from side control, the most important of which is most likely the chair sit (grab over/under while the back is exposed, step the upper leg over, pull the guy on his other side in insert other hook). In “spin behind” Ryan also goes through how to quickly switch sides while the opponent starts facing you in side control and establish the back with the chair sit. These 2 techniques are incredibly useful!  The “harness attack” offers a slightly maybe riskier substitute for the chair sit. In the harness Ryan throws his upper body on his shoulder and between his opponent’s back and the mat, when he has the over/under control and aggressively looks for the back.

A good part of the first disc goes through all basic ways to control the back position including the most common over/under (or the harness), the double under, the kimura grip etc. On the second disc he links these controls to submissions.

The second disc labeled finishing  is mostly about going through every common back attack in gi jiu jitsu and the ideas behind them. However, I almost enjoy it more when he deviates from the plot a bit. Ryan goes through things like straight armlock breaks etc. There are a lot of valuable things on this disc not even so much related to finishing from the back. The disc is definetly not a boring straightforward list of finishes. 

More importantly this disc includes ways to flow with your opponent’s reactions en route to submission. What I mean is that Ryan explains the whole process of technique combinations to arrive from side control to a back submission. For example, Opponent turns into you -  spin behind –Ezekiel choke with chair sit. Brilliant stuff!

The third section is more specific and focuses on the rolling back attack.The first half consists of principles and details about the technique while the second half is about setting the rolling back attack from different positions such as the side mount, mount and half guard. 

Overall, I’ve tried ”grapevining” the leg with the lock down as Eddie Bravo suggests for the rolling back attack but Ryan’s approach of hooking the leg works better for me.  I don’t mean I would just hook the leg and roll but instead use the other foot to trap the knee. The way Ryan shows this is that you put your free leg as basically as a butterfly hook once you’ve trapped your opponent’s leg with your near leg. This gives me good hip mobility but limits his movement quite substantially.

What I like about Ryan Hall DVDs is that he explains methods of gracefully abandoning the technique if it doesn’t seem to work on the opponent in question. In chapter 9 “the bail out” Ryan explains how to abandon the rolling back attack and get back to side control (As in the deep half DVD he explains how to get back to butterfly guard) In my opinion this makes learning the position in live sparring much more comfortable. When you practice it and it doesn’t work perhaps due to too little experience with it, you can revert back to you’re A game (in this case your side control) by knowing these moves

Overall grade 9+/10 (great especially for lighter guys)


Protecting your arm while in deep half: Bernardo Faria fight

A key problem in the deep half is you can get caught in a kimura or armbar on your other arm when your opponent is able to underhook you. There are a lot of counters to getting underhooked such as the "reptilian sweep" on Jeff Glover's DVD. In addition there are a few ways to not let the opponent to get the underhook so easily:

- Place your "free" arm under your opponent's trapped leg which makes it harder to underhook
- Grab the "free" arm by the elbow with your other hand and pull the elbow in so it is above the opponent's trapped leg and the arms are wrapped really tight around the opponent's leg. This technique for protecting the arm is examined on the Caio Terra 111 Half Guard Techniques DVD

Yesterday, I was watching a lot of Bernardo Faria clips on youtube and saw a fight where he grabs the lapel and the opponent seems to have some sort of an underhook. Then I realised that the lapel can be used as a defense against kimuras and armbars because the opponent is not able to isolate the arm sufficiently when you have a good hold of his lapel

The clip in question

Good stretch for BJJ

I try to do more and more stretching after training and at home. Not necessarily streching to become more flexible but to avoid aches, pains and injuries. There are a number of good classic movements such as:

- back roll stretch for the lower back
- nodding your head up and down and from side to side to open your neck
- butterfly strech
- stretching the back of your thighs by grabbing your toes while your legs are extended..

I usually end up getting by upper back and rhomboids really sore. I guess this is due to pulling the lapel and sleeves all the time..This is a stretch I like to do to ease that pain.

Basically you just clasp your hands together or if you can, grab your elbows with your hands in the same position. Then you just pull back while keeping your feet on the ground.


Gear review: Clinch Gear Marcelo grappling shorts

Overall impression
Clinch Gear is a grappling brand owned and endorsed by UFC fighter Dan Henderson (Link to website). After Lucky gi produced the Marcelo Garcia gi, Clinch Gear has started producing MG no gi shorts.

The shorts are yellow and black and have nice looking Marcelo Garcia logos all over. There is also a black and blue version available. The MG logos on the shorts look like they are going to hold up very well. It seems they are sublimated into the fabric itself.

The shorts are made of 100% polyester apart from the contrasting parts that have 20% nylon. The material is slightly thinner and finer than I expected.


The shorts under review are size 36 and fit me okay (I am 80+ kg). Could be a size smaller… The shorts are baggier than say Koral grappling shorts but not as baggy as the Nogi Kingpins are (you can watch Bill Cooper wear them in his “rolled up” –episode Link to episode) . I like the bagginess because it ensure nothing besides your opponent limits your movement.


The Marcelo shorts have the standard Clinch Gear “Double grip” waistband. This means that there is an extra flap that that comes from the top and secures the waist. There is no string on the shorts but it is virtually impossible that these shorts would ever become undone.

The gusset has stretchy fabric as many grappling shorts do these days

There is a gumshield pocket inside the shorts

Overall grade: 9/10 (Nogi Pingpin is 10/10 in my book)