DVD review: Rafael Lovato's Pressure Passing System

I have not wanted to watch a lot of instructionals for a long time as I feel that watching information that sometimes contradicts between different sets is often counterproductive. I currently watch a little Ryan Hall's set on back attacks and Mendes online for some of my guard attacks (arm bar and reverse DLR mostly).

Otherwise I only use what I've collected so far to my own word document throughout the years and dig deeper to those techniques and concepts. Of course some of these techniques were learnt in classes and seminars (my DLR game and fireman's carry takedown for example) and some were learnt from dvds (nearly all my side control techniques: general position from Osiander, NS choke from Marcelo and the triangle from side control from Jeff Glover) and the word document puts it all together so I don't forget anything important.

Despite being reluctant to look into any dvds, I had to look into Lovato's pressure passing because it is basically exactly the game I play now. It took me a few years to gather the bits and pieces for this and suddenly someone has done exactly the same, only at a higher level. Even the way he opens closed guard is exactly the same as the way I do it.
All the passes in the set (disc 1) are set up from the "Headquarters position" which I basically call the "Combat position". The main idea with this position is to put your opponent in a sort of a "killed" de la riva guard, meaning his DLR hook is loose and the pushing leg is trapped between your legs while you are squatting on it. There are slight differences between what I have been doing and the "headquarter" such as I am used to being more upright and have the grip on the collar a bit lower, but they are basically the same position

This position is fairly safe and allows you set up at least an x-pass (if you're opponent is not crossing the ankles) or go for a cross pass (knee-cutter) or do a folding pass (Lovato calls it side smash) depending on which side your opponent is letting you pressure him to. Lovato also uses the long step pass (he calls it butt flop) from this position, which I don't. So, in my opinion there are 4 core passes from the "Combat" or "Headquarters" position. The DVD covers more, but I think they require for you to either create distance or release the trapped leg on which you are squatting on.

The "headquarters" position

The 4 basic passes from the position in my opinion are

Cross pass

Folding pass (side smash), I stay lower on the legs than Lovato though

Long step pass (butt flop)

Despite these being the core concepts and passes behind the pressure passing system, the set provides a lot of related material such as opening a closed guard, forcing half guard, troubleshooting the leg lasso in different positions etc. I've found the majority of the material to be very applicable.

The set revolves mostly around the headquarters and troubleshooting it and the passes themselves, but some of the techniques are combinations of the passes that flow together nicely. On the other hand, there is not a lot of material on what to do when an opponent tries to recompose guard etc. shrimps and turns into or away from right after a certain pass attempt such as an x-pass attempt. Don't get me wrong, there is some counters to counters but from my experience, this is often the difference between success and failure with some of these passes. Especially latching on to your opponent's back if he tries to turn away and turtle roll to guard or spinning behind him when he turns into you for a single. Good sources for this info are perhaps Ryan Hall's back attacks and Pablo Popovitch's no gi guard passing set.

The headquarters position, in my opinion, can not directly be applied to nogi grappling because there is no collar to grab or a pant leg to hold. Apparently there will be a similar nogi set by Lovato published soon, which should be interesting. I have done my share of research on this and use a position where the blade of my arm controlling the pushing leg is on the back of my opponent's knee with the leg still between my legs (sometimes due to lack of control, I have to put one or two knees on the ground also) and the hand that is usually holding the collar is on my opponent's hip.

All and all, the set would be ideal for a fresh blue belt because it gives a game which consists mostly of solid basic passes wound together. It also gives you one specific position "the headquarters" where you can go back to all the time and hone your posture in it. Even Rafa Mendes says he prefers positions where he has multiple attacks without moving his grips around too much, and "headquarters" fits that description nicely.


Gear review: Adidas Combat Speed 3 wrestling shoes

As I've been on a hunt for decent wrestling shoes for my freestyle wrestling classes for a while, I can finally say I've found a nice pair. The problem was that in Finland, there aren't many sports stores that carry wrestling shoes (and if they do, they are for kids) but I was lucky to find a decent pair with out ordering them from abroad.

My Adidas Combat Speed 3s are US size 9,5 which should translate to FR size 43,3. I normally wear a size 43, which is a bit loose for me. These however, fit pretty snug. This means I would advise getting about one size larger than your regular shoe for the Combat Speed 3.

The shoe is really light and the sole is bendy. While searching for a good shoe, I tried on a few different shoes that had stiff soles that felt like they make springing with your feet uncomfortable. The soles are dark but the parts that touch the ground so you won't probably leave any marks on the surface if you decide to play other sports with these.

On quirky detail about the shoes are that the ankle fabric actually has holes in it for better "air conditioning"

Despite not having a lot of experience with wrestling shoes, I can attest that I am really happy with the Adidas Combat Speeds. However, not even good shoes have prevented me from twisting my ankle numerous times while sprawling or scrambling. Don't know if I'm tying them too loose or what


Don't forget to watch Gunnar Nelson fight this weekend

When I was watching the 2009 ADCC in Barcelona, I remember the first day being all about watching Marcelo Garcia's, Andre Galvao's and Braulio Estima's great matches. Had some acai and there were bikers as security guards. Everything went as expected.

Then, on the second day there was more of the unexpected. For example, Marcelo Garcia lost the final of his weight class to Pablo Popovitch on a last minute guard pass. What was even more surprising, there was an Icelandic fighter called Gunnar Nelson who refused to lose in the absolute division despite losing early in his weight class. First he wrestled his way through veteran MMA fighter Jeff Monson (3-0) and then submitted David Avellan on the second round. Finally, he had to surrender to Xande Ribeiro by a kneebar in the semifinals but his 2 wins were pretty impressive because virtually nobody had heard of the guy. At least I've been a fan ever since..

Gunnar's highlight

Gunnar earned his black belt in 4 years and has a back ground in karate. This week end he is fighting for the second time in the UFC against Jorge Santiago. He's 10-0-1 so far with no decision wins. What makes me believe in this guy is that he has decent striking to compliment his ADCC level grappling skills (there are also comments by Kenny Florian that he can "hang" with GSP's wrestling in training). On top of all this, he is only 24.

A nice interview with Gunnar

Gunnar's interview in MMAFighting


Testing the new protein toffee pudding

This week, just out of curiosity I bought a new type of protein supplement I've never tried, a protein pudding. It is designed for those people including me who always need to have a dessert. The supplement itself is in powder form and you mix it with fat free milk to make the pudding.

The powder has a fairly high energy content (350kcal in 100 grams) but the thing is that you really don't use a lot of it per serving. It also has loads of protein in it, 80% to be exact. What was also positive is that it contains 10,6% of dietary fibers because at least for me it is sometimes hard to get enough of them in my normal (poor) diet. The sweetness comes from sucralose.

What the powder consists of?

The way I prepared this was first mixing the milk and powder in a regular shaker and quickly pouring it to a cup to set in a fridge. After it is done, the pudding has a foam-like texture to it, which is like very much. The taste is not too artificial either although with my ratio of powder to milk to toffee flavour is pretty mild. I don't know whether anyone can actually replace desserts or protein shakes permanently with this but I'm gonna try to replace maybe half of my desserts until the powder runs out.


What to drink for recovery?

Since I'm recovering from only having slept 8-9 hours combined on two past knights I can't go and train tonight. I don't feel bad about it because I saw this coming. I woke up between Saturday and Sunday to watch the UFC and yesterday I watched superbowl at my friend's house (also in the middle of the night) who made American style coach potato food for us. This guy is also a serious kitchen hobbyist who currently competes in the Finnish Masterchef so I had all the pulled pork, chicked wings and key lime pie I could handle.

While resting at my house tonight I noticed I am running out of supplements and since I am a bit low and funds, I really started researching what I should get. I ran across this very simple but nice write up on recovery drinks from a guy who is definetly more informed on the subject than I am

What to put in a post work out shake?

I'll probably get some basic whey protein and some malto + some berry powder I've grown to like.

Come to think of it, I should also probably start listing all the blogs I visit regularily to a sidebar on my blog so people can find them more easily


January training summary

I am recording my training for the first time in January and checked what it really looked like. I felt I was getting an ok amount of training done and the stats were almost what I thought they would be. Fell a little short of my 4 times a week long term target though. My new German Boxer dog has definately snatched some of my time this month.

Here is a quick summary:

Altogether I recorded 16 session for January which is a little over 3,5 per week. What I was pleased with is that after a long layoff I also did 5 sessions without the gi. I have to say it felt much harder to go back to nogi than I thought.  

As I also recorded the themes of each training session, I was happy to notice that takedowns were the thing I trained the most in January with a total of 6 sessions. One of my aims this year is stop pulling guard in training and competition. I've been told recently that my top game is stronger than my bottom game, so training takedowns (my past weakness) suits my agenda really well