Drop-in at Trumpet Dan's new jiu jitsu school

Ever since I've started teaching class I've become more interested in seeing how to teach better. The first guy who came into my mind to show my how basics can be taught was "Trumpet" Dan Lukehart. Dan is a brown belt from Ralph Gracie team and has recently opened his own academy in the small city of Brea in Southern California.

How I learnt about Dan was though his youtube channel, where he used to do a lot of high quality breakdowns of Roger Gracie's game. As he was and is really into basics, he also opened a website www.grapplingbasics.com which has free quality instructional material on basic jiu jitsu. His teaching ability is really good and partly comes from the fact that he used to be a music teacher before he got into jiu jitsu. That is where the nickname also comes from..

I arrived 30 min early for and got to chat with Dan for a little while. The academy was really nice and new with a large mat area and chairs on the sides. What is also good (Europeans, don't take this for granted) was that they actually had showers as many academies in the US don't.

The class that I attended wasn't about basics, but on spider guard to De La Riva to berimbolo position with a deep De la Riva hook. This was something they had been practicing for a while at the academy (a good way to teach imo) but I tried to catch up. Luckily, I use the DLR a lot, so I managed to do ok.

The berimbolo position was done with a deep hook on which Dan commented that this is not the Mendes brothers way to do this technique (the use the shallow hook) but the Samuel Braga version. This is something that they did a lot, naming technique variations after certain competitors. If you look at some online material from the academy, you can see that they sometimes refer to things like Leandro Lo grips (against DLR) etc. This is just goes to show that Dan watches a lot of competition material and keeps himself updated on everything going on at the highest levels of competition.

Watching competitions and having idols that you root for (and want your technique to look like) has been really important for me in boosting my development and keeping my spark for jiu jitsu alive. I guess this is important in every sport. For example, when the Jamaicans have become very succesfull in sprinting there are a lot of kids on the island suddendly trying to become the next Usain Bolt.

When I look at a list of who I'd consider my idols, I notice that the things I try to do in sparring somewhat resembles what these guys actually do in competition. My all time idols are probably the following

1. Cobrinha
2. Galvao
3. Terere

We had a good amount of rolls after the techniques and the California (inland) heat was getting into me. What was different from what I am used to, is that a lot of the guys training there used both knees on the mat to initiate passing. What this does is that it doesn't allow me to play De La Riva against them. I went to spider instead and felt a bit lost.

I got to roll with Dan also. What was surprising, he was able to pressure pass into mount (one inch at a time) and finally cross choke me despite being lighter than me. This just goes to show that pressure is not about size.

What stood out at Brea Jiu Jitsu was how welcoming everybody was. Everybody was really talkative and wanted to roll with the Scandinavian stranger.

If you want to see more about the teaching methods at Brea Jiu Jitsu, check out the post below

Old post on Brea Jiu Jitsu


Visited Cobrinha's and learnt about passing the reverse de la Riva

I think what made me first get a little more serious about jiu jitsu was watching Cobrinha compete around 2009. Not only was he really dominant during that time but also had a really active style with constant attacks from every angle. His style was significantly influenced with his background in capoeira allowing him find balance and attacks from difficult positions.

Good balance, athletisism or superior flexibility are traits that I don't share with Cobrinha but seeing him doing his thing also made me include a lot of spinning attacks, speed based passing and oma platas into my game. I've actually done so much of them that they are now my go-to techniques. Come to think about it, I actually could have progressed quicker if I had only focused on techniques that suited my limited abilities and heavier body a little better. On the other hand, you could argue that trying to perform these more challenging techniques have most helped me development at least some new athletic ability on the way. I also think I had more fun this way.

So, when I went to Southern California a few weeks ago, I knew I had to train at his academy. The academy is situated in West Hollywood but a bit off the busiest part of it. There is a lot of traffic in these parts of LA but I did not have to go to evening class, so it was ok.

The rumours about Cobrinha were true in the sense that he was very welcoming. We also did a lot of basic capoeira as a warm up, which was expected. The choreography was easy enough for a first-timer to follow but it really still pushed my endurance. I would think that even the more experienced practitioners got something out of it as the routine included things like spinning head stands.

The biggest technical revelation was that I realised that a lot of good guys at Cobrinha's (I've seen it elsewhere too) use "reverse grips" to pass the reverse de la Riva guard. The reverse grips allowing for a better chance to get a succesfull cross knee pass, smash pass or long step/hip break pass.

When I am talking about reverse grips, I better start by explaining what I mean by traditional or "non-reverse grips". Here is a picture of Rafael Lovato demonstrating. The grip on the side of the trapped leg is holding the collar and the other grip is holding the pants on the other side.

These traditional grips might not be optimal because it often too easy for the guarder to get his outside foot on the hip and get control of the distance. This can either happen by circling the foot in from the top in a manner similar to setting up the leg lasso or by simply putting it on the hip below the elbow if there is space. I think this is the main reason why many prefer to switch to reverse grips here.

The reverse grips help to control the pushing leg but also keep opponent from inverting easily according to the Mendes brothers. Below you can see what I mean by reverse grips.

Something that helps passing from this position is what I call the "knee pinch". It simply means that unlike in the foto, you can sometimes control the reverse de la Riva leg by standing with your feet together and pinching. This helps with all the passes from reverse grips but especially with the cross pass if you are able to pinch from above his knees. If this happens, he can not use the knee shield to prevent passes.

Towards the end of my fruitful trip I managed to catch a flu, probably an influenza according to the doctor I visited. As I was flying the same day, she game me a very strong medication. I guess people are used to that in the US. She even suggested I'd take a steroid shot which I respectfully declined