6 BJJ Mat Tips to Improve Your Closed Guard Attacks (Part 1)

May 6, 2011

If I told you I knew 6 simple training tips that would make your closed guard more threatening to your opponents, would you be interested?

If you’re a serious grappler, the answer is obviously yes!

And though these tips probably aren’t new or exciting, they could mean the difference in you having better control of your opponent and improving your submission attempts, while keeping your opponent from cutting through your closed guard like a hot knife through butter.

Here are Tips 1-3 for improving your closed guard attacks:

Tip #1: Don’t allow your opponent to get their grips – When grapplers start out sparring in the guard position, the grappler on the bottom usually allows the grappler inside their guard to get their grips so they can start to escape. Every time you allow your opponent to get their grips while inside your guard first, you give them an advantage that makes it easier for them to pass your guard.

Tip #2: Keep your opponents head in front of their hips – I know, how do I keep my opponent’s head in front of their hips during a match. You do that by forcing your opponent to use bad posture and not allowing them to get correct posture. The easiest way to do that is by pulling your opponent off his base by pulling them forward towards you. If your opponent can’t maintain good posture, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to pass your guard.

Tip #3: Get into your opponent’s “blind spot” by using angled attacks – Whenever you start with your opponent in your guard and you’re parallel with them, your opponent can see you using their full mat vision. But once you start breaking down their posture (while scooting out your hips off their center line), you’ve moved into their “blind spot”, making the task of keeping their natural body posture more important than trying to pass your guard. Your opponent can’t stop you from sweeping or submitting them if they can’t see or face you head-on.

In the next article (Part 2), I will reveal Tips 4-6 for improving your closed guard attacks.

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Ask The Wise Grappler: OG With Multiple Sclerosis Wants to Fight But Coach Won’t Train Him?

February 28, 2011

“I am an older grappler (42 in Feb) and have been training in Jiu-Jitsu for a little more than a year. I live in Virginia near the border of Kentucky. There are no local MMA fights, so I have to travel to Kentucky.

Because of my age, I have to have a physical. That’s not a problem. My problem is that I have Multiple Sclerosis.

My doctor/neurologist cleared me to cage fight, but I have to be cleared by a ringside cage doctor (slight inconvenience). My biggest hurdle is my trainer (who is worried I will get hurt) won’t support me fighting and calls my MS a “crippling disease.” Yes, MS can be a “crippling disease” – but any physical problems I might have would happen before I got in a cage to fight – not while fighting in a cage. My Neuro says I have no greater chance for injury than any other “healthy” fighter.

So, I have three things against me:
1. My age
2. I need a ringside doctor to clear me
3. I have a (great) trainer who is afraid I’ll get hurt and does little to support me.

I need advice. I can’t do anything about my age, I can get medical clearance for a license as a cage fighter, but what can I do to convince my trainer to support me and allow me to be a cage fighter? This is something I want/need to do. This is my journey. I am aware of risks cage fighters take, but I’m willing to risk injury. It’s my choice. Other than leaving my trainer and seeking a new one, do you have any advice you can give me to help me change my trainer’s thinking?

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TWG: First, let me give you props for wanting to pursue your goal, especially when others are telling you to give up on what you feel is part of your grappling journey because of your condition.

Now, let me say upfront that I think you’ve got a pretty good trainer that cares about you and is looking out for your best interest by not allowing you to just jump into the ring with more heart than preparation. The fact that he’s worried about you is something you should take into consideration (just like you want him to take how you feel into consideration to train you) and work on a solution to make him feel more comfortable with you fighting.

For starters, you should get him some medical info on MS to read so that he can become familiar with the facts, which would keep him from speculating on your medical condition. Also, check to see if there are other competitive athletes (in similar contact sports) that have overcome the same obstacles and are following their journey. A little education can go a long way to making him feel comfortable to train you.

Next, you should really sit down with him and really express your desire to be a grappling competitor as well as a MMA fighter. I gotta think that your lack of experience (less than a year) isn’t giving him a warm fuzzy feeling and you’re gonna have to convince him that you’re prepared to make the commitment it’s gonna take to be successful in the ring.

After expressing how much you want to do this and you want him to be the one to help you, you may have to create some kind of an agreement with him that you’ll train for a certain time period before fighting that’s to his liking. That way, he can coach you so that he’ll know you’re ready for your fight and more preparation will calm any concerns he may have about you in the cage.

Also, you may also have to get him to agree to train you for just one fight at a local show (where the competition will be a newbie similar to you in skill) to evaluate your future in the ring. Based on your performance, you guys can determine how reasonable a second fight would be for you. If he sees that you’re more than capable of handling yourself well in the ring and the ring doc OKs you to fight, he might be more willing to train you for more fights.

Bottom line: you MUST make your coach feel like he’s not making a mistake by training and cornering you for a fight because he’s gotta live with the outcome of his decision as well. Make him feel assured that you’re serious about being a good fighter, work with him to create a plan to fight just one fight together, and then plan your fighting future based on your performance. And don’t be so quick to “jump ship” because another coach will let you fight when your current one won’t. The new coach may be trying to just throw a guy in the ring for exposure and not be the least bit
concerned about you.

I hope this helps, OG. Keep me posted on how your training is going along and good luck on your MMA journey.

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)
http://www.TheWiseGrappler.com


OG Earns His BJJ Black Belt at Age 52

February 7, 2011
Last week, I wrote about an OG (Harvey Hensley) that received his BJJ Black Belt at the young age of 52.

I did a quick interview with him after attending a BJJ Seminar that his instructor (and my “younger big bro”) Jared Weiner hosted at his school up in Philly (BJJ United) last December.

If you’ve been “training just to be training” and never thought about earning YOUR black belt, OG Harvey will make you reconsider it with his accomplishment.

Feel free to email, share or post the blog link wherever you think an OG can benefit from it and enjoy!

Dedicated to improving your mat experience!

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)


The Wise Grappler QoTD (1/31/11)

February 1, 2011

“Success comes from good judgment; good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.” (Unknown)


BJJ Training Lows (Low #1 – Training Progression: Seeing Immediate Gains, Then Slow Improvement)

January 21, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2010

January 1, 2011

Well, it’s the last day of 2010 and I’m sitting here thinking about the past year and all the “highs and lows” that I’ve encountered.

And as I reflect back on the year, I can’t help but to put things into three buckets:  the good, the bad and the ugly.

The “good” bucket consists of all my successes for the year. The things that I tried and everything turned out in my favor.  I guess it should go without saying this is my favorite bucket and the one that made me a happy wise grappler.

The “bad” bucket consisted of all the things I took a chance on and didn’t work out in my favor.  Although I would’ve wished for a happier ending for the items in this bucket, I gained a lot of wisdom and experience that I’ll carry over into 2011.

Finally, the “ugly” bucket consists of the missed opportunities that came my way because I either procrastinated or chose to do something that added little or no value to me  (e.g. making a decision to play “Madden 10” instead of writing an e-newsletter article).  I always knew those things probably took away more value than they added, in spite of the lame excuses I created to justify doing it.

However, with 2010 hours away from being a memory, I can say the benefits from the “good” and “bad” buckets made me a better person in the long run.

As for the “ugly” bucket, I’ll talk about how I’m going to deal with them in the next article.

So, have fun celebrating the New Year and best wishes for 2011! 🙂


Two Questions Every Grappler Must Answer Before 2010 is History

December 24, 2010

After a good workout in “The Lab” last week, a few OGs were looking
through their training notes and talking about all the things they
learned over the past year.

That’s a good thing.

But when I asked two simple questions, they had no clue about what
I’d just asked them.

And that was a bad thing.

I simply asked them if they…

1. Achieved the training goals they set out to accomplish for 2010?
2. If they hadn’t, what was their plan to achieve those goals
before the year was over?

And since they “just didn’t get it”, I had to explain the point I
was trying to make.

The first question focused on the fact that most people have a
basic understanding of setting goals. But since very few grapplers
talk about creating a plan to track goal progression, most goals
never make it beyond the sheet of paper they’re written on and go
unaccomplished. That’s the reason why they had goals at the end of
the year they didn’t get around to achieving,prepared to just
“roll them over” into 2011.

The second question focused on the idea of maximizing the last days
of the year to achieve outstanding goals instead of just “waiting
until next year” to achieve them. You can wait until next year to
do whatever you promised to do this year, but those last days you
let get away “this year” will be lost forever, regardless of that
foolish idea that you can just “work harder” to make it up later.

Once I explained it that way, they spent less time focusing on the
goals they achieved and more time on the work left to be done
before the year ended.

How about you? Have you reviewed your training goals and
discovered that you still have some work left to be done before
2010 is history?