Moving from Gi to No-Gi to MMA (diary entry)







Today’s second lesson saw the return of a long term client. With a strong background in Judo and Western Boxing, he adopts a more buffet-style approach to cross training with me, selecting certain specific areas he wishes to explore. After an initial discussion we decided to focus on gi ground work, no-gi ground work into no-gi clinch and then MMA clinch and MMA ground work.

We warmed up with some solo specific exercises followed by two-man conditioning drills, mainly focusing on fighting from underneath. One exercise in particular, the forward snake/shrimp, was particularly relevant to today’s chosen guard positions. It helps improve foot dexterity when trying to control an opponent at distance as well as work the correct force vectors and relevant muscle groups.

From here we began with some simple spider-guard concepts. My old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach Ron Stevens, who trained with me under Braulio and sometimes Victor Estima at Gracie Barra Birmingham, often used to emphasise the importance of maintaining a minimum of three points of control when fighting from a long-guard position. We covered a simple sweep into a bicep crush (forbidden in most submission competitions), which is the first move from this guard that Braulio taught me in a private lesson. We then looked at how to set up the triangle choke and the oma plata (a triangle shoulder-lock). This moved onto some specific sparring, focusing on regaining the spider-guard position and general movement. For this we went no more than 50 per cent pressure.

Next we moved onto the hook or De La Riva guard. Some similar principles carry over from the spider guard and we used it to set up a simple sweep. This nicely transferred over into the no-gi part of the lesson. Certain adjustments have to be made in this instance and we also continued the same sweep over into a knee bar. Whilst looking at the way the knee is executed using a spinning motion, we covered a very similar attack to the half-guard.

We then worked on defending a pass under the guard using a backward roll into a low-level single leg takedown. This brought us onto standing grappling work. Here we moved onto the MMA segment of the lesson. We trained striking within the clinch and also within the guard using punches. Areas included setting up by taking advantage of an opponent’s pushing and pulling action.


Image from Ze Grapplez

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