Saturday, January 2, 2010

Things I discovered by accident in Jiujitsu - to explore further

This is a list of things I discovered by accident in Jiujitsu - to explore further. I have been training Gracie Jiujitsu since June 2009. So I am still a beginner and am simply stating what I have observed or explored while learning.

  1. Alternative Hook removal in Elbow Escape from the Mount, without using force to stamp Bad Guy's (BG) heel.
(Nov 2009) 

The traditional method taught by Ryron and Rener Gracie involves freeing one leg, and then stamping down Bad Guy's heel.
background: In reflex class, I was BG and inserted the hooks. John, who is more skilled than I, but 75 lbs lighter, could not stamp down my heel. It had turned into a contest of strength - my hamstring vs his quadriceps. You need strength to stamp down BG's heel. When I reflected on this, it seemed wrong - jiu jitsu is not a contest of strength. (Gracie Guideline #2: Any technique that relies on speed and power rather than leverage and timing is not energy efficient... Do not trust techniques based on strength or speed as they are unlikely to work against a stronger, larger attacker).

proposed solution - tried a few times, need to explore further:
a) Remove the first hook (by kicking straight out) as before.

b) Move your freed leg to the side of the trapped thigh. Rotate your freed leg so your knee and thigh are flat on the ground. As usual, now slide the knee across to escape BG's mount and trap his leg. (if he lowers the leg flat on the ground, you will have to use the fish hook removal technique).

c) Now shrimp towards that freed leg, sliding trapped leg out. Since it travels diagonally, it will escape easily - without using any force - like a hot knife through butter! As usual, half free this leg, then shrimp out again to completely free it putting BG in guard.

    2. Be Side Neutral.
(June 2009)

Instead of waiting for mastery of one side (which can take a long time) before drilling the other side, consider a different approach. Drilling both sides at the same time so that at any moment, one is equally comfortable and instinctive in using either side.

I notice in the sample videos and also in class, that people tend to do the techniques according to the side that Rener and Ryron demo it. for example, Straight Armlock from the Guard - I see most people rotate to their right - just as in the videos. Would they be fluent with the other side? I wonder if this builds up artificial bias towards a side and if this could be a handicap in a real fight. Isnt this violating Grandmaster Helio's Keep it Real principle?

I could be mistaken, but I feel that so-called "strong side" and "weak side" is lopsidedness that came about artificially by focusing on one side at the expense of the other.
Yes, some people are right handed and others are left handed, but to carry it into jiujitsu techniques seems illogical and self-weakening.
Here's why:
for example; In the haymaker defense, bad guy is right handed and throws a punch. Even if you are right-handed, the jiujitsu defense requires using members of *both* sides of your body! So you rush forward with your *left* foot, covering with your left hand, clinch with both  arms, trip him with left leg, sit down on right heel, and side mount straddling with both legs. However, watching the video (of only this side) and drilling this left side over and over has made this your strong side and the other side becomes clumsy and not as instinctive if required.

The great thing about Grandmaster Helio was that he did not follow blindly and maintain the status quo - he was able to think with an open mind and pick apart, discard tradition, simplify and reconstruct to something better. I hope the same attitude will be fostered in our learning. I discussed this question in the forums several times and Rener finally agreed with me.

Re: Side Neutral. I attend a CTC that I really like. I heard Ryron issued clarifications to CTCs to work only one side, and only after one has mastered it then go to the other. So we have been encouraged to practise one side only, and only after we pass the blue belt test, should we do it from the other side. Respectfully, I feel it is unwise to work one side to the detriment of the other. I do not want to learn an avoidable 'bad habit' (losing instinctiveness and fluency on the other side) that will be hard to unlearn. What should I do? Here are my reasons (also from my earlier posts on this 12/30, 1/25, 1/16): 1) I believe this is violating Grandmaster Helio's Keep it Real principle. In an actual fight, you may not get the indicator on your favorite side. Your favorite side may be inconvenienced or difficult to use. So in fact, you will be fighting with only 50% of your potential. You may as well take a rope and handicap yourself. 2) This is not a left-handed/right-handed preference dictated by genetics, but an artificial bias built up simply by focusing on one side and neglecting the other. One should not confuse the two. for example, for the Haymaker defense, for right handed students, their *left* side defense is now the strong side because only that is demonstrated and practised. (see my post of 1/16/10) 3) Waiting until you have mastered one side can take years. This seems harmful - you are no longer instinctive on the other side and is self-weakening. Imagine working out only one side of your body in the gym - your body will become lopsided, unbalanced and unhealthy. Like picking up a bad habit and reinforcing it, why would you do it? 4) Gracie Combatives says we will be street ready after we get the blue belt. But if we are not fluent in both sides, then the belt is not a marker of real effectiveness. It is not as was advertised. During drills, I have seen blue belts having to 'think' and slowly figure out the move when they were fed an indicator on their weak side. 5) If sportive belts are flawed because they are not training for realistic situations then if we are taking shortcuts to simply try to stage and beat a video test, it seems that ours is not realistic either. 6) One feels complete and more skilled, and is fun and liberating to be fluent on both sides. I really wish I could mix in both sides in my test. - To conclude, I feel it is better to drill both sides at the same time so that at any moment, one is equally comfortable and instinctive in using either side. When you have it roughly on one side then immediately try the other side. Let both fluency levels increase together and in balance. Of course, you are the masters and I am the beginner, but sometimes a child can see things a man would miss. - Anil

Anil (3/10/2010 3:56 PM)

A. You're 100% right. Do both sides as soon as you can.

Rener Gracie

 3. Absorb Core Principles.
(Feb 2010)

Our instructor David Smarr mentioned that he no longer is interested in techniques, but in core principles.
I think that is wise.
While sparring, I realized that if one absorbs core principles, then no matter what one's orientation on the ground, you can improvise and survive. For example, "clinching to prevent blows landing" on the ground becomes the Guard position. From studying the Gracie Combatives, is my list of principles:

artery choke.
joint against immoveable fulcrum.
moving joint unnaturally
framing against sensitive body part to create distance.
using legs as hands.
using body parts as wedge to slide between floor and BG's body.
rolling to change orientation.
making BG lose balance by trapping one edge and moving his c.g. out
preventing legs from rebalancing by immobilising one or more.
clinching to prevent blows from landing.
using your own body weight as torque.

not fully tested, need to explore further...
4. Armbar escape
(August 2009, March 2010)
As BG rotates to attack the arm.
You should also rotate in the same direction (clockwise for right arm being attacked) and then insert the knee sideways under BGs leg and then post the bent knee on the ground. You can use your free hand to push against his stationary knee to prevent him from closing the gap between his knees.
In this position,
1) the angle between you and BG changes from 90 to 0.
2) your bent knee blocks him from breaking the arm on his south thigh.
3) your shin is between his legs and increases distance of his body from your arm. You are framing with your shin.
Now BG can only try to break on the north side and is different from the south side. This is hard for him to do because you can bend your elbow. More importantly, you can kick forward with your shin painfully pushing his groin and hips out so that he loses his grip on your arm.

4b) Scissors armlock escape

5. scissors escape from mount

when BG is mounted, use legs to wrap around and unbalance him.
use hands to twist his legs to get him off.

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