Archive for BJJ Technique

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MMA Technique – Closed Guard – Stopping punches and standing up safely

Being on the bottom sucks in MMA. It’s very important that you adjust your jiu-jitsu techniques so that they work when an opponent is trying to take your head off with ground and pound strikes. Here’s a video where I share a bunch of details that will help keep you safe in the guard position and allow you to work your way back onto your feet.




I’m sitting in my hotel room in Calgary, Alberta after getting back from having some breakfast at Cora’s.

The Eggs Benedict was pretty friggin good.

Tonight our teams fighter Ryan Dickson will be defending his belt at Hard Knocks Fighting.

He’s excited to fight and ready to rock!

I just posted a video breaking down some details from one of my favourite positions in BJJ…the 1 leg x-guard.

In the vid I show:

  • 1 way to pull guard to that position
  • 1 technique to sweep from there
  • and most importantly 1 easy way to pass the tricky position

We recorded it on the wrong camera setting so the video quality isn’t the greatest but the details are all there :)

Hope all is well with you!


I love techniques that work well in all aspects of training: Gi rolling, No-Gi and MMA. The technique I breakdown in the video below definitely fits that description.

It’s a great way to setup an omoplata position when an opponent tries to escape side control by under hooking and turning to attack your legs. You’ll find it very useful against opponent’s with a wrestling or MMA focused background. I’ve also added a sneaky and easy to use detail from the omoplata position that’ll help skilled strikers work back to their feet.

Check it out!


I love using the butterfly guard in training in competition.

I think it’s a great guard for sweeping,staying safe and standing up in MMA (I used it a lot in my fight with Koscheck). I also like to use it when up against guys who like to attack the knees/feet often.

Here’s one sweep that I find very effective when training with the Gi.

Hope you it helps you on the mats!

themmatrainingshowI got a call a while ago from my friend Eric Wong.

He asked me if I’d be interested in starting a podcast..

We got right to it and now  “The MMA Training Show” is live!

Today, it was accepted to iTunes! 6 of our episodes are up and ready to help you in your training.

It’s been a ton of fun doing them and I’m looking forward to talking about all of the MMA topics that you’re interested in hearing about.


Here’s what to do to get ’em:

a) Click here to visit our page on iTunes

b) Subscribe and download all of our episodes (there are 6!)

c) After listening to one, return to our iTunes page and leave a review

I’ve learned a lot more about strength & conditioning for MMA already,
just from chatting with Eric during the first few podcasts. I look forward to
connecting with you and helping you kick even more ass in the cage,
ring or on the mats.

So if you want to hear us talk MMA Training with some personal and
semi-embarassing stories mixed in from time to time, click this link or
search for “MMA Training Show” on iTunes, Subscribe and leave us
a Review.


Hope you enjoy it!

“What should I eat on competition day?” is a question that many martial artists –and athletes in general– often have.

That’s a great question because it’s a terrible feeling to feel weak or hungry during the hours or minutes leading up to competition time. It’s ultra important to be fully fueled with the right foods so that your confidence will be at it’s highest and you’ll be fully prepped to fight at your best.

Throughout my MMA career I followed a simply nutrition plan for competition day (Thanks Dennis Beitler!) and have always felt mentally clear and incredibly strong come fight time. I want to share it with you to help you bring the best version of yourself to the mats, cage or whatever surface your play you game on. Here ya go!

Competition Day Nutrition Plan

Eat half an avocado in morning and the other half  3 hours out from competition time.

Fluids: Drink only water (3-4 litres maximum) on competition day.

Throughout the day (usually every 2-3 hours) eat anything from the list below:

  • Oatmeal
  • Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts,
  • chicken breast
  • sweet potatoes (no skin)
  • Rice cakes with peanut / almond butter + unsweetened jam

If you’ve cut weight by depleting your carbohydrates for several days, include the following tips to help restore you weight:

  • Put salt on all your meals.
  • For breakfast eat steak and potatoes (filet if possible) with some tomato paste on it. 
  • Eat 1 plain 7” cheesecake (1/4 at a time) , with the last ¼ of it being eaten about four hours out from fight time (practice this one first after a test weight cut/test fight (sparring) to see how you feel). I did it for my fights with Jon Fitch, Koscheck and Nuri Shakir and felt amazing during each bout but the other fighters did laugh at the sight of me chomping on cheesecake that’s for sure :). 

Eat your last meal roughly 3 hours before competition time and then eat rice cakes (with peanut / almond butter + unsweetened jam) when you feel you need to. Start picking at green grapes about an hour before your competition.

It’s fine to eat rice cakes until about 30 minutes out from competition time and you can eat the grapes until 5 minutes before you compete.

I’ve used this system for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions as well. Keep in mind that for BJJ tourneys you’ll usually be weighed-in minutes before you compete so you need to keep track of your weight throughout the day and adjust your eating accordingly to make sure that you don’t weigh-in too heavy.

Well that’s about it. If you try it out be sure to comment here or email me and let me know how it worked for ya!

Train hard, have fun and most importantly have fun!




Categories : BJJ Technique, Reviews
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The Launch Sale for my Mind Training System Ebook for MMA Fighters, “Monster in the Cage”, ends in less than 24 hours!

If you’re looking to gain an edge mentally over your training partners and competition, “Monster in the Cage” contains the info that you need.

Everything that I know, and I mean everything, in terms of mental preparation for competition is in it.

Competing with even a small amount of fear or doubt inside is a recipe for disaster.

I’ve seen pro-fighters,with 40+ fights on their records, puking in the back of dressing room before their fights. Experience isn’t enough! It takes specific training on a regular basis to build your mind into a positively charged machine that will never break down under pressure.

For the discounted price of $27 you’ll receive:

  • The “Monster in the Cage” Ebook
  •  5 “Crazy Conditioning” Videos  (My toughest
    pre-competition solo and group drills)
  •  1 Video Training Workshop of your choice
    ($29 value on it’s own)

==> The Monster in the Cage Launch Sale (ends tonight at midnight EST)

After midnight tonight the price will be going up and I’ll no longer be including the Free Video Training Workshop
in the offer.


P.S I’m so certain you’ll find the “Monster in the Cage” System helpful in your training and competition that, like my MMA QuickStart Training program, I’m offering a 100% 60-day money back guarantee.

There is way too much to learn during martial arts training! Countless strikes and takedowns along with the defenses  to each of them; Thousands of submissions, sweeps, reversals, guard passes, drills along with an infinite amount of ways to blend all of the above together.  That’s not even counting the many different strategies a martial artist can put to use during competition. I’m going to share with you the most important training tip of all when it comes to progressing as a martial artist:

When you learn something that is useful, never forget it!

In fact you need to do more a lot more than that. You must become obsessed with blazing that information into your brain so that you’ll have it with you forever. Not some or most of the thing you want to remember; I’m talking ever single minute detail that makes a martial arts technique what it is. Always act as though you will never be taught that same thing again and that if you forget even the smallest technical detail, it will be rendered completely useless.  It’s going to take plenty of thought, lots of writing/reading, some listening and a crazy amount of repetitive practice to do so but like I tell my students:

“Champions put in overtime!”. 

Winners practice both when they feel like it and when they don’t feel like it. Nobody accomplishes great things in martial arts or life in general without doing way more than the people that come up short of reaching their goals. Fortunately, if you really love the sport then martial arts overtime is not as dreadful as the regular kind of workplace overtime. Well maybe it is, considering the bumps, bruises and lingering injuries you’ll sustain along the way. Regardless, it needs to be done if you want to become the best martial artist you can be.

Many martial artists today are spoiled and lazy!

They have access to so much technique but rarely take full advantage of it. They can learn skills at seminars, via online resources,  from their own instructors, by training with great training partners and a number of other places as well. But again, they often don’t take things seriously enough to improve their skills rapidly. They skip out on seminars, train occasionally, avoid training with people that challenge them and wonder why they aren’t progressing as fast as they would like.

When I first started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu back in 1994 there wasn’t one single BJJ instructor in the entire country! I learned the art –for the first 4 years– by studying the few BJJ Instructional VHS tapes that were available on the market at the time. After that, when instructors came up to Canada to teach seminars in the mid to late 90’s I attended them every chance I got. In fact I can still share with you the most useful techniques I learned at those events nearly two decades ago.

It’s pretty crazy that some students allow themselves to quickly forget what they practiced last week in class and are only able to flawlessly perform a small percentage of the techniques that they’ve learned since beginning their training.  Without a doubt a huge amount of valuable time and energy has been wasted especially by those looking to pursue professional MMA fighting as a career in the future; A job that essentially triples the amount of techniques one needs to learn in order to compete at the highest levels.

I’m going to share with you one of my secrets to learning things fast and remembering it very well. Putting this information to good will help you on your way to  becoming a master at whatever martial art you have a passion for. I’ve used it to develop striking, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skill as well as abilities outside of fighting such as acting, bo staff skills (watch video) and other fun things as well. I’m sure you can do the same!

Step 1 –>Pay Attention to Details!  

When you first learn something, make sure that you pay good attention and focus every single detail. Ask the instructor every question that comes to your mind. Never assume things, always ask and take advantage of your instructors experience. Remember any answer that you receive because many times the instructor will only give it to you once. Some of my most effective techniques are things that an instructor showed me off to the side, once, after I asked about a certain situation.

When watching a technique being physically taught, make mental notes as to where each of the instructors hands are, as well as what their feet are doing during the movement; notice the posture of their body and where they seem to be distributing their weight. Those are some of the very important details that make a technique work well. Never focus your gaze on the same place during each of their physical demonstrations. Every time they show the technique, look for details in various places and if you feel as though you missed something politely ask your instructor to show  it again either in front of the group or off to the side. When possible ask the instructor to execute the technique on you so that you can feel where they put specific pressure. After that, while practicing the technique on your training partner, move slowly while trying to mimic the instructor’s movement exactly from start to finish.

If you need to see the technique again, you can ask to see it again if you feel comfortable doing so. Another option is to watch the instructor as they move throughout the gym correcting others. Sometimes, by listening closely while other students have their questions answered you can pick up additional details that you’ve haven’t seen yet.

Note: If you are very new to the sport, I suggest simply practicing what the instructor shows the class. It’s not the right time to ask many questions about “WHAT IF” situations. Instructors can sometimes get annoyed by the new student that constantly questions everything they show with a “What if the guys does this…”.  Instead, ask questions that directly apply to the details of the technique you are practicing. Master the basics first and many useful questions, that you can ask in the future, will begin to form within your mind.

Step 2 –> Write Notes ASAP! 

On the same day that you learn a technique or multiple techniques, write down everything that you can remember about them.–Which will be everything because you did such a great job analyzing and drilling it in class, right? :). It will take some time because I want you to be ultra specific with your description. Specify what your LEFT and RIGHT hands and feet are supposed to do. Clarify the action order of each movement and note where you should place your body weight and/or pressures. Be sure to note which position you start in and finish in and why your applying this specific technique in the first place (ie. because he’s playing the spider guard). Add anything to your notes that you think will help you practice the techniques perfectly in the near future. As long as your notes make complete sense to you that is all that matters. You don’t need to write them so someone else will understand them. That’ll take way too much work. Know that your note taking ability will improve with practice so just keep at it.

Once you’ve created them, read through your notes often. I use a great application called “Evernote” so that I can read my notes on my phone, computer or tablet anytime I choose. Also, when I edit a note, it updates on all of those platforms instantly.

As you read through your detailed description of a specific technique, take your time and visualize yourself performing that specific technique with precise detail. For more effectiveness, Envision yourself performing each technique multiple times before moving onto the next one.

Skim through your notes before training as well and work hard to pull off those specific techniques during your rolling/sparring sessions. When you run into a problem while attempting a technique, go back to your notes after class and check to see if you were missing a detail or two during your execution.

Practicing on your own time, when the mats are free is essential; Get together with a training partner and after reviewing your notes, drill/practice your noted techniques with that person. Pay strong attention to every single technical detail. You must become your own instructor when one is not present so be tough on yourself and make sure you’re doing things right. Every time you drill, pick a few techniques to practice instead of way too many.  I usually drill 3-6 techniques in an hours time.

Away from the gym, always keep your notes close at hand and anytime you have some free time, slowly read though them while visualizing yourself performing the movements they describe. You’ll be surprised at how useful visualization can be. It’s nearly as effective as actually practicing something. In a short amount of time the techniques you’ve been practicing, visualizing and reading repeatedly will be yours to use forever with very little effort or thought.

Step 3 –>Record Yourself 

Lastly it’s time to create some audio files. I’ve been using this method for the last year and I feel that my skill set has improved drastically. Record yourself –I use apps on my tablet to record myself– breaking down each technique on your list. Share every detail that you have listed in your notes while speaking at a very slow place. Talking slowly will give you the time necessary to visualize yourself practicing each specific technique while you listen to your own instructions. You can also leave a second or two of silence after each description for extra visualization time.

I like to keep my audio files short –between 3 and 10 minutes– so that I can listen to the short ones when I have a limited amount of time and the longer ones –or multiple tracks– when I have plenty of free time. When I find that I’ve added a bunch of new techniques to my paper list, I create a new audio file with those techniques on it.

When should you listen to it?

I like to listen to it when I’m cleaning the house –wife gets a bit mad when I can’t hear her talking but sacrifices must be made to learn ;)–, cutting the lawn, before bed and most commonly when I drive. Placing your audio files on a mp3 player or phone will allow you to listen to your audio files –via headphones– anytime you have a free moment. That way nobody around you will realize that you are sharpening your ninja skills right in front of them.

Well, that’s it for now. Some details to help you learn faster and retain the important things that you learn.

I hope it helps you out in your training!

Train hard, train safe and most importantly have fun!

I arrived in St. John’s yesterday around noon. It was a quick and early flight from Toronto and I passed most of the time by watching half of the movie “Identity Thief”. For some reason I turned it off halway: I just wasn’t into it.

Anyways, it always great to come here and see my good friend, Mike Samson and the many great people at St. John’s BJJ. Mike began training with me way back in 2009 and at that point had great experience in both traditional Jiu-Jitsu and Judo: More than 10 years I believe. I’ve graded Mike to both his blue belt and most recently his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu during my visits here and his visits to my school in Hamilton.

Last night, I ran a no-gi class for a bunch of his students. We worked on several attacks from the guard and afterwards I put them to do some guard passing drills. I was very impressed by their skills on the mats and the great work Mike has been doing as their instructor. A few hours after class Mike and I headed back to the gym and put in around an hour and a half of technique drilling time finishing up around midnight.

The plan for today looks to be a fun one. I’ll be teaching a 3 hour Gi seminar starting in about a half an hour and then later tonight we’ll be watching UFC 161 at a local bar here in town. I’ve got some killer techniques planned for todays seminar including some pant hold De La Riva guard variations along with some ways to smash through the De La Riva guard. It should be fun!

I’ll post more later today…

Categories : BJJ Technique
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Here’s a great way to counter the bullfighter guard pass that I used all the time when training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Categories : BJJ Technique, Reviews
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