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.





Past e-newsletters and testimonials are available here…

Ask The Wise Grappler: Can “Mind Trickery” Work During a BJJ Match?

April 11, 2011

“Paul, as I was running yesterday, coming up on a really steep hill, I realized that I have a habit of looking down at my feet while battling an uphill. The reason for this is that if I look at my feet instead of what lies ahead, I’m less aware of how steep the incline is, and I’m less likely to give up….all part of the mental game.

Then I started to wonder if this is wise, to use my mind-trickery (it works most of the time and I get up the hill) or if it’s just me not facing my challenges head on. Of course, I then equated that to grappling. When faced with a challenging match up, is it better to say to myself “this is just like class…no big deal, just roll” or to acknowledge the challenge in front of me and try to get myself into the mindset of “I can do this”?

Perhaps it’s an individualized thing…whatever works for you, but I thought I’d throw it out there.”


TWG: That’s a good question to ask because I think every OG can and should use this “mind trickery” as you call it.

Experience has shown me that the mind and body work hand-in-hand to complete everything we do. With simple challenges, it’s easy for that interaction to be overlooked. But for bigger challenges, not recognizing how they work together can result in failure. Simply put, the body will do exactly what the mind tells it to do.

For example, when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton during the 1980s, we used to run up a LOT of hills for PT. Those hill runs used to be a struggle for me at times because I would spend most of the run focus on how steep the hill would be.

Then one day, we got a new First Sergeant in our company and when he took us on our first hill run, he made us chant the word “hill” all the way to the top.

It may not seem like much, but with 40-50 guys just repeating the word “hill” up this steep incline for at least half a mile, it made a big difference. For the first time, running to the top of that hill didn’t seem so hard because my mindset was MORE determined to beat the hill instead of being focused on how steep it was.

Now, can the same “mind trickery” be applied to grappling?
Absolutely! In fact, it occurs EVERY training session whether
we’re aware of it or not.

For example, we’ve all had sparring sessions where we “mind
tricked” ourselves out of a good performance because our partner was bigger, stronger or just better than us. And once our mind sends out that “I’m gonna get my butt kicked” message, the body responds to it by ensuring a bad match and eventually quits on you.

However, if we felt that we had the advantage against our partner, our mind would send out the “this guy is toast” message and the body would respond to that as well.

Unfortunately, this kind of “mind trickery” (along with mental
mindset training) is grossly neglected in grappling. Too many
grapplers think the key to mat success is learning a technique that the next guy doesn’t have, but that isn’t the case at all.

Once you start building your mental mindset (like I teach in my “5 Mental Roadblocks System” at http://www.OGMentalMindset.com), you’ll learn that having a tough OG mindset is the missing link that’s been hindering your mat progression and allow you to excel on the mat.

So, keep on “mind tricking” yourself and enjoy smashing through those obstacles placed in front of you, whether it’s running or an opponent’s tough mount defense. 🙂

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)

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! 🙂

10 Common BJJ Mat Training Lows and How to Avoid Them (Part 1)

October 10, 2010

A few weeks ago, a grappler sent me an email where he talked about his frustration on the mat.

The grappler (who I’ll call Grappler X) has been training for about a year, experienced what I call “mat lows” and wanted to know if anyone else had these problems.

I assured him that he wasn’t the only BJJer experiencing these
issues and figured I’d write a list of “10 Common Mat Lows” that
every grappler experiences at some point during their grappling

I’m going to break these 10 Mat Lows down into parts so I can discuss each one in detail:

1. Progressing fast in beginning, then slowing down – when you first start training, EVERY grappler experiences that feeling of picking up things quickly because everything’s new.  And when everything’s new, you’re going from someone who knows nothing to being proficient.  Once you start becoming familiar with the techniques, the proficiency is still happening, it’s just not as noticeable like when you were new to the mat.

2.  Unable to submit anyone during sparring – once grapplers start sparring, it’s usually difficult to submit or apply clean technique against an opponent because you’re spending too much time “thinking” about what to do instead of “reacting” to the situation at hand. The ability to “move without thinking” will only come with time, hard work and patience, NOT any sooner than that.

3. Watching classmates improve faster than you – this is something that grapplers deal with at every level, whether it’s based on friendly competition between teammates or just hating on someone that’s better than you.  And since everyone learns and progresses at different paces, it’s only natural to look at the guy/gal next to you and wonder why it seems easy for them and hard for you.

In Part Two, I’ll talk about “Mat Lows” 4-7 dealing with overtraining, mat burnout, and injury.

The Wise Grappler QoTD

September 16, 2010

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.

W.M. Lewis

MMA vs Boxing – A Valid Comparison or Apples and Oranges

September 2, 2010

The Wise Grappler QoTD:

August 27, 2010

“The man who has done nothing but wait for his ship to come in has already missed the boat.”