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


A less risky version of the arm bar break

Related to arm bar breaks, here is a not as strong but less risky break that utilises the some mechanics as my favourite break. It forces your opponent to fight with weaker muscles than normal.


Using video to improve your weak side and my favourite arm bar break

One common thing while training jiu jitsu is that often your attacks (and defences) might be significantly worse to your weak side compared with your better side. This is probably a natural thing as many people are right or left handed. The most common combination being a right hander vs a right hander.

Many instructors suggest you should develop both sides to a somewhat equal level but Marcelo Garcia for example consciously applies different techniques altogether depending on the side and does not want to develop his left side based on his right side. My quirk is that since I've been 5 years old, I've always liked symmetry and therefore like to develop same techniques on both sides.

However, I've started developing my weak side only for techniques where your opponent "chooses" the side:

  • A good example of a technique where the opponent usually doesn't choose the side is a cross choke from mount. You can usually slip your stronger hand to the collar without your opponent having much say in the matter. 
  • For an arm bar from top it is much more common that the opponent exposes only one of his arm and you have no chose to attack the side of that arm. Therefore your arm bar from top must be good both on your strong and weak side.
How I used video to develop my weak side:

  • I'll drill the strong side and film me performing the technique
  • Then I'll film it on the weak side and look for differences
  • Then I simply drill it on the weak side
This wanted to highlight this using my favourite arm bar break. I was taught this break my one of our brown belts and I quickly started finishing a bigger share of my arm bar attempts against big opponents. The problem was that I was getting this "wrench break" working when I was attacking their right arm but had trouble duplicating the success when attacking the left. 

The wrench break is performed as follows (see quick video below):
  1. Switch the controlling arm to the one on the side of my opponent's head. Touch your own knee with the palm
  2. Put your other (right) elbow between your elbow and your opponent's elbow. Usually you need to twist your upper body towards your opponent's head
  3. Connect your hands using a cable grip. This can be tricky but it resembles the initial grip when you attack a D'arce choke.
  4. Pull the arm to you in a circular motion. Your opponent can't keep his hand together because he has to fight back using only his forearm

After filming the technique numerous times I noticed that on my left side, phase 2 was difficult. The reason for this was that most of the time, on my better side, I was using the corner of my chest behind his elbow to create some additional space for my elbow to come in. Small thing, but made a world of difference. Unfortunately this detail is not very visible on the video above as my drilling partner is not keeping his elbows very close to his head. 


Academy visit in Spain, Gaijin BJJ Fuengirola

As my girlfriend's family has an appartment in Costa Del Sol, we decided to head there for a week just in case it would be raining in Finland  again this summer. The whole trip started wiith a bit of a hassle as I lost my passport the day before departure which. Luckily my lawyer girlfriend helped me and forced the police to give me a temporary passport in time. They use shame as a punishment here in Finland if you lose your passport and give you a temporary pink version :)

We've been to Costa Del Sol almost every year but this time something was different, because 2 Finns Jasse and Marek had decided to open a jiu jitsu academy named Gaijin in Fuengirola. This meant there was no escaping training this time. I had trained with Jasse before and I knew he had experience in catch wrestling from Wigan so my expectations were high. Also, other bloggers such as Kristian had made it there before me and had nothing but good things to say (Link to Kristian's article)

What was particularily great was that they had training available at 2 o'clock which is very optimal for people on holiday. I found the place quite easily and arrived some fifteen minutes before the class. Shortly after Jasse showed up and opened the doors for us. There was a group of Swedes also hanging about the academy from which a female brown belt decided to take a class with us, as other headed to the beach.

We did our warm up almost completely with balance balls. It included throwing the ball the wall and sprawling, mounting the ball and punching it, doing headstand backward and forward rolls over the ball and side control drills where you lie on the ball and replace your chest with your back. I really enjoyed this.

They always have themed weeks at Gaijin academy and this week's theme was guard. We started out with Marek's favourite sweep which was the push sweep or tripod sweep when you are holding the cross sleeve in open guard (foot on the hip, other foot on the back of the opponent's knee, cross sleeve and ankle). Marek emphasized pulling the ankle close to you which makes to opponent fall down much easier than simply pushing the hip with the foot. As you come up, you want to hold on to the ankle to prevent the opponent from coming up, but release the grip on the sleeve fairly quickly so he can't sweep you back with the same grip.

The push/tripod is countered by changing the angle (facing your opponent less), which opens an opportunity for a back take by switching to DLR hook and putting both hooks behind his knees from behind him. Then you just grab the belt and launch him on his butt to take the seat belt.   This was our second technique which works as a combo with the first one.

Great looking murals in the academy and bamboo walls

I heard that they do vale tudo style warmups and self defense techniques in the beginning of the class so that the self defense aspect is trained as well. This is something I usually enjoy these days as my focus is shifting slightly away from the sport aspect on competing. They have selected techniques from Helio Gracie's self defence curriculum and Relson Gracie's book as a reference.

Did two 2 o-clock sessions during my stay, one nogi and one gi. Really recommend the place for anyone visiting the area (or living there)

Visit Gaijin's website here


Tips on how to maintain knee bars

As one of my goals this year is to start using knee bars, I've noticed some problems maintaining control. I also think many instructionals or youtube videos do not address this aspect sufficiently.

Just recently however, Keenan put this out which has surely helped me


Kron Gracie's cross collar guard study

What techniques does Kron Gracie use?

I guess like many, I have been intrigued by Kron Gracie’s jiu jitsu for a long time. He is a true submission hunter that chooses to use the basics instead of the modern competition jiu jitsu. But what are these basics has somewhat puzzled me in his case. Anybody watching a few of his fights notices what he likes to do as isolated techniques:
  • Closed guard to arm locks/oma plata
  • Single legs as takedowns and sweeps
  • Crucifix
  • Loop choke
  • Mount to arm bar/cross choke
But what about his open guard? Everyone has to have an open guard when their guard is forced open. There doesn’t seem to be a structure to it at first glance but instead it looks like Kron is just flailing his limbs. He doesn’t use any standard structure in modern jiu jitsu such as De La Riva, Reverse De La Rive, Half guard (tries to escape it), X guard, leg lasso or 50/50. You could perhaps argue that he plays spider with a collar grip but that would be an over simplification.

A look at Kron Gracie’s main open guard, the cross collar guard...

Kron’s approach to when grips are not established is uncommon in today’s competitive jiu jitsu. Instead of sitting up to butterfly guard position he keeps his feet dangling high or on the hip. While he does this he is looking to establish a cross collar grip or sometimes, on a rare occasion, a sleeve. While this approach might seem silly for jiu jitsu, it might actually work in his favour as he is now transitioning to MMA where the feet protect you from punches this way.

When opponent comes closer and engages, Kron likes to use tbe collar grip and scissor sweep type control with his foot on the outside of his opponents hip. I will call this “scissor legs” from now on. This is a common thing for Roberto Satoshi as well. Satoshi even reinforced the control with the lapel as in his recent match with Celso Vinicius in Worlds 2014.

The pulling of the cross collar and scissor legs often make knee slides difficult as you are not able to kill the leg and step over most of the time. Kron basically never gets his guard passed with a knee slide which is one of the best passes in high level jiu jitsu.

Sometimes Kron is forced into half guard or knee shield half guard position. He doesn’t want to play there at all but instead tries to escape to scissor guard or full guard immediately. The way he does this is by basing on his non-collar hand pulling his bottom leg out. Once the bottom leg is out he can immediately attack.

This basing on the non-collar hand seems to be the key set up for Kron’s techniques of the cross collar guard. He is constantly coming up using the hand on the ground and pulling on the collar set up his attacks. Opponent has poor posture because Kron’s bodyweight is pulling his head down and is forced to react. Opponents are pretty much left with 3 options:

a) Keep head low and try to pass bullfighter style
b) Push with your arms to force head back up
c)  Retreat altogether

Kron’s attacks from cross collar guard

1. Loop choke against keeping head low/bullfight

When opponents choose to keep head low and accept the poor posture, it is a good moment to attack one of Kron’s favourite submissions – the loop choke. Most of the time, the opponent tries to toreanda with the low head as well, which is ideal for loop chokes.

In nogi, Kron uses his guillotine instead of the loop choke and you see him coming up for the guillotine all the time (see Aoki match for example). He even sometimes seems to accept a takedown to get a guillotine attempt.

Kron Gracie style loop choke demonstrated:

2. Armbar or oma plata vs pushing

Sometimes opponent’s only push with their hands to counter Kron coming up. This is a viable option but leaves the opponent arms exposed to oma platas and arm bars. Sometimes the set up for the attack on the arm is the loop choke itself instead of Kron coming up

3. Ankle pick or scramble sweep to top vs retreat

When the opponent doesn’t give push Kron down when he is coming up or attacking the loop, but instead retreats, it often leads to single legs and scramble sweeps. Kron has even managed to catch Buchecha like this once he retreats.

Link to closed guard

As a final note, Kron loves his closed guard. As you can imagine, the cross collar grip guard and the scissor position with the legs often leads to Kron being able to close his guard. From the closed guard he has a variety of attacks including arm bars, oma platas, hip bump sweeps etc. But that is an another study in itself

Here is a compilation video:


Takedown combinations and worlds 2015

I was taking a judo class yesterday and I realised what has often been missing in my bjj takedown training and a good focus on combinations. We drill individual takedowns, grip fight and even spar standing a lot but who can name 5 throw combinations? I guess the same goes for wrestling techniques as not many bjjers figure out to switch from double to knee tap for example or fireman's carry to kouchi gake.

I will be posting some basic combos here which I am taught in class. I guess on of the most basic is ko uchi to seio nage

First just the ko uchi

The combo

I also agreed to go and compete in the worlds next year with Sebi. Before this I will have to get my weight down to 82,3 kg and continue to improve my takedowns and passing. This is all in the plan of not pulling guard anymore and specialising in top game in a world full of guard pullers.


Becaming a takedown machine: 3 hours of judo yesterday

If you have been following my blog, one thing you might notice that during the past 1,5 years or so I've really started to focus on my stand-up as I want it to be on par with the rest of my abilities before I reach brown belt. A long while ago I was told that I have blue belt level takedowns, purple belt level guard, an brown belt level passing. So I started thinking...what if I improve my takedowns and get on top to use my best assets which  is passing so I wouldn't have to improve my guard so drastically?

To be honest, despite being a guard puller myself, I am also somewhat worried about the dominance of the current guard pulling/double guards in competitions because of reduced realism etc.

Yesterday I had a great chance to work my gi takedowns and more specifially judo with some up and coming judoka from Finland and their trainer. The agenda was to go through a vast array of throws and then dig deeper into certain ones in seminars to be organised later.

What I like about training with top judoka is the focus on grip fighting, footwork and off-balancing which I feel most BJJ teachers do not understand/are not able to teach. BJJers teaching judo too often resembles teaching boxing but only focusing on throwing punches (without faints, parries, blocks and foot work).

Some things I took with me:
- Grip fighting games and how to use your knucles in a four-finger grip
- Hopping Osoto gari against a stiff arming opponent who keeps his hips away. There is a video on this in an earlier article but it is basically putting the sole of your foot on the back of your opponent's (cross) knee and then jumping closer as you push with the collar hand
- Emilia throw (I can't  remember the name of the throw). This was a personal favourite of one of Finland's judo prospects Emilia Kanerva. It resembles a "reverse" Ippon Seio or Ippon Seio to the collar grip side but the grips give a huge pulling ability.

After focusing on stand up for a while now, I can finally say I have a stand up game instead of isolated wrestling takedowns, throws and trips. I have my preferred grips and reactions to my opponent's different stances. This makes stand up randori much more enjoyable.

Of course, what helped me create a game is refusing to try and learn everything. Learning new stuff all the time might be fun but it will not make you win. This seemed to be the approach that the young judo competitors had taken as well as they didn't know how to perform all the moves their comrades did. Specializing is key I guess..


Tournament report: IBJJF Zurich Open

As I missed Rome Open this year due to work issues, I talked with my friend Sebi that I would join him for the Zurich Open instead. It wasn't the biggest event so I decided to do the adult division despite the uncomfortable 7 minute match length.

I stayed at Sebi's house in the quiet neighbourhood of Meilen with nice views to lake Zurich. Sebi had decorated the flat completely in "Bachelor's pad" style, with only the bare necessities. Despite being low in furniture, it had a room completely covered with grappling mats with a grappling dummy lying on the floor.

There were 8 guys in my division an the first guy was from Icon which is the team I trained with while living in Portugal. I had planned to go for wrist locks from guard but since the Icon guys are usually wrist lock specialists, I ditched that plan. Instead I wanted to get a take down.

Unfortunately, after a few faints he quickly pulled half guard on me and went for a lapel baseball choke which allowed me to pass and get 3 points. As he went belly down, I released some pressure by going to mount/back mount on him. I was thinking of wiggling my hand in between or stepping all the way over as he suddenly let go. I though the ref had stopped the match but apparently my opponent thought I was out. We reset in half guard for some reason and I got a few more passes for the win. He was going for the choke and underhook all the time so I controlled the sleeve and hid my head from the choke.


The semifinals was against a strong looking guy from Ruckus Bjj who I figured I wouldn't be able to take down. So instead I pulled closed guard. I wanted to go for the wrist lock but he stayed upright and I couldn't break him down. After a few moments in open guard, I went for the Leandro Lo control and as I was just about to go for a sweep he pulled his leg and I went for 50/50 guard.

From 50/50 I managed to get a back take position which my opponent felt and sat down for the sweep and 2 points. I untangled the 50/50 and tried to pass off an oma plata attempt. Didn't quite get it but managed to get a pressure position. After a half guard battle, I passed with a knee slide for an additional 3 points and the win.

In the final, I was against a guy from Caio Terra jiu jitsu. He looked lanky so I wanted to pull guard. He did it first and after some exchanges, he went for oma plata and I wanted to jump over for the pass as in the semifinal. I kinda slipped and ended up in reverse mount type position. I did a mistake and did not lock my ankles and he got out the back door for top position.

What was worse I ended up in a really bad guard and had to recover half guard by almost giving my back to him. After I got to half he was giving good pressure and I was off my game. He went for ezekiel a couple of times but I blocked them with me hand on his bicep.

I got him in Y-guard for my best sweep but slipped again from this as in the semi as well. He got a passing position and I started to turn out to regard. Unfortunately he got 3 points of this despite not really having stabilised side mount in my opinion. Now I was down 5 and had to do something…I tried to take a risk and grab his pants from guard and hunt for a leg lock. It didn't pay of and he finally got the ezekiel.

Semifinal and final:

So, I got silver which was great. I wasn't too happy with the final and first match. In the second, I felt really relaxed and I played my game, more so than ever at purple belt tournaments. Have to still drop a weight class...

After the matches we went to a local burger place which lived up to Sebi's hype with some solid burgers. They also had a nice exclusive beer. After that it was time to hit the bierhalle for some old fashioned leather pant music. Have to say, it was quite ridiculous and fortunately I managed to take a photo from their official poster.

On Sunday, I was naturally feeling exhausted but we did some technique drilling on the mats at Sebi's place. We focused on reverse de la riva guard. Sebi had lost his first match in the tournament due to losing control in the de la riva and I think reverse DLR is a great way to re-establish it.


Luiz Panza gets his guard passed in World Pro

Rodolfo uses standing passing to half guard in order to frustrate Panza's pressure proof guard


Training update, more stand up and thoughts on judo

Training stats:

I just had a look on how training went during the first quarter of 2014 and I have to say I am quite happy. On March 30th I am at 58 training sessions so far compared with 52 last year. This translates to around 4,5 training sessions per week and 235 per year. I know it might not sound as much, but people who don't track their training often think they are training more than they are in reality.

It has not been easy staying as active with a full time job and a dog I have to look after. What makes me even more satisfied, is the split per training type:

- I did more nogi Q1 of 2014 than Q1 of 2013. % of nogi training up to 21% from 17%
- I have also forced myself again to do more stand up than last year. % of stand up training went up to 21% from 17% as well.

Looking at the training type break down, I still feel that the share of takedown training is too low for my liking. I find it very valuable for self defense, cardio training, scrambling ability and even competition as I compete in middle/medium heavy. I would like to see the rate go up to 25% or so.

Starting judo:

What I have done to achieve the increase in takedown training is start judo (or actually go back after a break of 15-20 years). So far, training judo has been a pleasant surprise as we have focused a lot on foot work and foot sweeps like the kouchi gari and ouchi gari. These techniques are very good for jiu jitsu as you don't risk giving up your back from the turtle if it fails. What has been very eye-opening for me has been the focus on the tackle or off-balancing with these techniques. I think that in general bjj practitioners do not sufficiently focus on what is going before the actual trip with the kouchis and ouchis.

Jiu jitsu practitioners also tend to stay really stationary and in poor posture to avoid letting the guy shoot for the legs etc. Poor posture meaning bending over at the waist (see picture). If the grips are in place, it can be very frustrating to find a window for a trip, throw or single leg. However, what I have realised that once you start taking quick steps to one direction instead of being stationary, your opponent has to become more upright. this is because he can not move as fast as you if he is trying to imitate a hunchback at the same time. Result of moving around should be a more active takedown battle instead of a stalling fiesta.

Common Bjj stalling posture for stand up

Besides learning how to walk around and training trips I've actually started thinking more about what is important in adapting judo for bjj. I think one of most important things for adaptation is to make attempting throws less risky. Foot sweeps and single legs/ double legs are much more common, partly because you're not screwed if you miss it.

What I am trying to do in my training now is if a try to learn a major throw, I choose one where I don't have to let go of my opponent's collar. This is because, if the throw fails completely, I still might be able to square back up with my opponent by pushing with the collar grip. It my sound like a slim chance but actually the opponent often puts his weight so back to avoid the throw that you can square back up with him from a failed throw as long as you have the collar grip.

Throws that fall into this category are the morote seio nage, the "reverse" ippon seio and I guess the uchi mata at least. I don't know if it is a coincidence, but Rodolfo Vieira's main throw is a (cross collar) morote.

Rodolfo prefers the morote and doesn't let go of the collar

Going to Zurich open:

Another thing I have to mention is that I will be going to Zurich Open to compete on May 10th. Unfortunately it is only a gi competition as I am trying to do one nogi competition this year as well. Anyways, really looking forward to it and the cost was reasonable as I am staying in my friend Sebi's house who was also with me in Rio de Janeiro a while ago. Should be fun.

I am currently also trying to put together more material on Luiz Panza's fascinating hip float attacks but it seems to take longer than expected


Luiz Panza leg locks and entries

Luiz Panza is a heavyweight from Barbosa jiu jitsu I have been studying for a while. I think I first noticed him sparring against Rafael Mendes on mendesbros.com. Then I read somewhere that Panza's specialty was leg attacks and got interested. As I am trying to get better at leg locks, watching Panza became a top priority.

His most noticable achievement is winning the nogi pans in 2013 at the heavyweight category (when I started writing this). Overall his style which includes a lot of closed guard, inversions, 5050 guard and foot locks seems to translate very easily to nogi competition. As I was writing this I noticed that he also won the gi pan ams this weekend, beating Bernardo Faria in the final with an arm lock after an oma plata escape. For me this was still one of the big upsets of the tournament.

Entering foot locks and 5050 by inverting

There isn't a whole lot of material on Panza but looking at what we have, two things stand out. Firstly, the floating guard attacks such as triangles and armbars and secondly his foot locks. I will cover the floating guard later.

The foot lock set ups mostly seem to consist of Panza inverting from open guard, de la riva or half guard to a knee bar attempt position and potentially all the way through to 5050 guard if the opponent maintains his base. Panza mentions closed guard as his favourite so I imagine he inverts from there as well despite the lack of material.

From 5050 he will mostly attempt an ankle lock on the leg trapped inside the 5050. The attack was popularised by Rodrigo Cavaca who used it successfully in many competitions. One key difference between Cavaca and Panza seems to be that Panza looks to create more distance and leverage by placing one of both his feet on his opponent's hips. This means he has to open the 5050 guard to achieve this and sacrifice some control for the additional leverage.

Check this compilation of Panza's inversion entries to 5050 and foot locks I made:

Especially in the heavier weight classes it is not always possible to roll to foot locks and 5050 like this because opponents tend to pass low using pressure. A good solution for this problem is to make the opponent posture up as a response to a arm bar, triangle or oma plata attempt and force him to expose his legs this way. I think it is no coincidence that Panza has excellent triangles and arm barm from his "floating guard" which I will cover later. Although a foot lock after inversion wasn't the move that ended the match, this set up was what we saw against Bernardo Faria in the pan ams finals.

Sequence against Bernardo Faria in the Pan Ams


Training frequency up from last year

I just wanted to check my log how my training has started for 2014 and it seems I am doing ok. Until March 8th this year I've had 43 training sessions when last year I had 38. Nice! It's almost exactly 4,5 times a week and I am not counting the beginner's class I am teaching every Wednesday.

What is also working out is that I am training a lot of nogi and nogi takedowns. This is definitely the area that has been improving the most for me. I am still going to do at least one nogi competition this year but don't know when.

What is not so nice, is that I am doing almost zero leg locks apart from a few knee bar entries from half guard top. I just feel really cheap going after them in training. I tend to feel that they are not "honest" submissions whale rolling but when it comes to competition, I definitely wish I had better leg locks. At least I should train them if I am going to compete at brown belt one day. I guess this issue is fairly common but I don't feel the same about wrist locks for example which is weird.

Though about getting this app to get me to focus more on attacking the legs:

Legal leg locks app for Android

I am considering starting using some pre-workout stimulant for my training sessions. It has been tough at work and sometimes I feel really drained when I go train. This might hinder me getting all I could out of it. My roommate in Brazil had some crazy night protein from Musclepharm (lame UFC brand) and apparently they carry this pre-work supplement called Assault which I might try. The Assault comes in pretty ridiculous flavours such as "Blue Arctic Blueberry", "Raspberry lemonade" and "Fruit punch" which suits me just fine.

What I have to share is also that I picked up a new defensive technique to my arsenal. I rarely pick up any new stuff anymore so it is always noteworthy. It is a not so simple North South kimura escape that takes care of the arm bar option as well. I'll film it for the blog when I get better at it


Finishing up training and leaving Rio

Don't like leaving like I don't like orange gatorade

Some techniques I've just learnt (done poorly) when your opponent breaks the far sleeve grip in single leg guard. Notice that I am gripping thumb down which makes the grip on the lapel harder to break. Also the leg that is pushing the guy should be straight at all times until rolling under

Technique 1:

Technique 2:

Overall, it was a really nice stay. In addition to a few techniques, one thing I will sometimes try to incorporate into my training is doing longer rounds every once in a while. I feel that in Finland, rounds tend to be 5 or 6 minutes while in Rio the majority we did were 8 minutes. Sometimes I get too used in doing 6 minutes so I never push myself over that limit.

High level rolling and body breaking down

Intensive training is continuing here in Rio. We just had the best class in a while when Victor Genovesi (Mundial brown belt champion, now a black belt) run a midday class for a small number of people including Sebi and I. Usually there can be close to 30 students on midday alone so this was nice.

The class started with De La Riva to single leg guard sweep drills. Each of us drilled the technique on our partner for 5 minutes and then switched. There were 3 variations around using the far sleeve to sweep or the lapel in case you lost the sleeve. I have poor videos of these for myself which I will post here as well.

After this it was rolling for 5 times 8 minutes. I went 3 rounds with Victor which was really tough as my body has felt better. Sebi managed to film to roll where I suck the most

Here are some other "rolls" of Victor

Him beating Gianni Grippo:


It is really demanding on the body to suddendly increase the training load so much. Luckily my roommate has stacks of glucosamine, protein and fish oil. I also like to add some protein to the local juices or "sucos" here.


First days training at Alliance Rio

Along with all the other activities we trained twice a day for the first couple of days here in Rio. We did the competition classes at one and the night intermediate classes at 7.30. The new Alliance academy has just opened and it is probably the best facility in Rio or at least that is what all the locals say here. The most significant thing is that it has proper air conditioining

The professors here oftentimes pair you up. Which in my case meant that I do not get get any easy rolls. There are some athletes here sponsored by Alliance that really train hard so you need to prepare yourself for a beating. Here is my friend Sebi taking a friendly beating from a world class purple

Supplements to help with the recovery are expensive so I have mostly opted for eating acai and things that just generally taste good here. I highly recommend Bibi Sucos for snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My favourite breakfast (protein added to acai)

My lunch (same place)

Brazil has some healthy options as well (in Leblon)

 Waiting for my addition to the black belt world champ wall

Chilling at the beach between training sessions:

Although I have mostly out here for some good sparring I have to say we did a sweet concept drill that stuck with me. It was all about maintaining sitting guard against pant grip toreanda and sweeping from it whether the guy is standing or down on his knees. The movement was to simply stiff arm him on the side he was trying to pass to and opening up his elbow from the other side allowing for a hook sweep either on the ankle or higher if he is sitting down. I will go through this next time I will be teaching.


Arriving in Rio and the first day here

Got lucky and was upgraded to business class for my flight from London to Rio. This means I got a decent rest on the plane. Also had a taxi booked and waiting for me so everything went smooth on arrival.

Sunday was spent mostly  recovering from the trip at the Connection Rio house and the beach at Barra Da Tijuca. There are almost 20 guys staying at the house all looking to train. It can be chaotic and messy at times but it does not bother me much. In fact, I slept like a baby.

We did no training on Sunday. Some guys wanted to go and see Cristo Rei (the big Jesus) but we stayed cool and said no. I am here to chill, not to walk to sights.

Our clothes mostly consist of gis

There were monkeys on the yard but I could not get them to pose

Barra Beach near Posto 2.

A nice Sunday on the beach

Apparently the Formula1 driver is still alive and teaching jiu jitsu


 My Austrian roommate is trying to be cool but he can not help himself being almost German and preparing for everything. This means he has brought everything including his favourite candy from his childhood.


Going to Rio de Janeiro

It is finally here. I will be flying to Rio for a week of training. I am going to be staying at Connection Rio in Barra da Tijuca because my friend Sebi had booked a room there and asked my to join.

It is going to be a huge change in temperature as we have had it below zero here in Helsinki and Rio. It seems to be mostly sunny and in the thirties next week in Rio. I really have to learn to hydrate myself properly in these conditions as this is a weak point of mine.

The flight from London to Rio is over 11 hours, but after weeks of stress from work it feels like a nice idea to just sit still and do nothing for a long period of time.

I am going to be training mostly at Alliance Rio with Alexande Paiva and his students. They actually just recently opened a new gym in Rio which is nice. They offer 5 classes per day during the week (7am, 1pm, 4.30 pm, 7pm and 8.30 pm), so I am really pumped. The target is 2 daily sessions for 6 days and just rolling at the Connection Rio house on Sunday. I don't know how my body can handle this so I would probably need to buy some supplements while down there. Especially since I would like to surf there at least once. Man, I will be sore.

It's also funny to notice how I mostly wait for the opportunity to roll with high level guys and see how classes are structured instead of picking up new techniques. This is a very different to what it was a few years ago, and probably because I teach more nowadays. Usually I integrate maybe 2 new moves to be game each year :) EDIT: Ok, maybe a little more as last year it was 4 (armbar wrench break, long step pass, kouchi gake and the russian 2-on-1 in nogi)

Packing is really a burden as I have to take as many gis as I can. 5 gi tops and 3 pants are in the luggage along with some rash guards and shorts for nogi training. Taking less pants than jackets is a good way to save space in yout luggage if you are squeezed. Training more nogi would help but there aren't many nogi classes available as academies in Rio tend to gravite heavily towards the gi in their training. If I have understood correctly this is mostly because the majority of competitions there are gi competitions.

I just charged my camera so I am looking to get as much material from there for this blog.


Starting BJJ and the cost of training in the Helsinki area

As the year 2014 is starting, and many people are looking to start a new hobby, I decided to take a quick look on where you can train jiu jitsu in the capital area in Helsinki and what the cost of doing so might be.

Locations to train:

I wanted to put up some information on where you can train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the Helsiki area as this is the time when many are looking for new hobbies after New Year's.

Location is often the most important reason to train at a certain place. Currently there are a lot of locations to train jiu jitsu in Helsinki and the market seems quite "mature". There are options all over the place..

Cost of training:

It seems that the average annual cost of training is sligthly above 500 eur in a year in the capital area, 522 to be exact when you take the option which requires the longest commitment. The variation between different gyms is quite substantial and you can expect to pay anything between 350 and 800 EUR per year. You of course have to add the cost of equipment including gis, grappling shorts, rash guards, mouthguards etc when you compare brazilian jiu jitsu with other hobbies.

It is pretty pointless to compare pricing directly as many gyms offer fitness classes that are included in the annual (or monthly) fee or simply have more classes available. There are also gyms that have multiple locations to train at.

What is really positive is that all gyms have pricing information available on their websites. This is not common at all in the US for example where gyms lure you in for a sales pitch before they reveal their prices. When making an international comparison, you also notice that training in Finland is pretty cheap as training in California for example can be 2000 USD a year.

Here is a quick table on cost per year vs training sessions per week (2.1.2014, gym website info only)

Observations on cost of training
- Overall, gyms located further from the city center are slightly cheaper.
- Gyms with a lot of training times (=flexibility) tend to be a bit more expensive. I am happy to notice that Takado where I train has probably the best ratio of training cost to training sessions available
- Basic courses cost more per month than advanced training. This is pretty natural as many beginner's stop training after a few months. The average beginner's course costs 57 Eur per month when normal training is around 44 Eur per month

It is also a fact that the price and location are not the only criteria for where you want to train:
- Some schools are more competition oriented, some more MMA-oriented so you should know what you are looking
- Some gyms are very well equipped and comfortable compared to others.
- Some gyms have more experienced instructors and competitors than others that are just starting out.

Before decining where you want to train, you should definately visit different gyms for a class or two to try them out. This helps you to figure out what the school is like. A comprehensive list can be found at:
List of Finnish BJJ teams


Trumpet Dan takes a look at Keenan's guard

Had to share this here because I think this shows a lot of details about Keenan's guard that don't show up even in his instructional dvd.