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1/29/2016 - Wrestling blunders, Single underhook stack pass, and the single leg from sitting guard

Friday January 29th, 2016 - Nogi


I tried forcing myself to wrestle today, but I made a pretty big error

In Nogi training today, I did a little Jiu Jitsu with the one and only Jacob Volkmann. Volky always crushes me the same way, and I can't figure it out. He has such great pressure. He easily passes my guard, takes side control, transfers to north south, and kimuras or armbars me. Lately, I have developed the habit of turtling when Volky has me in the North south position, but he is normally able to snatch a triangle type of control from top turtle. Anyway, since this always happens, I decided to go out on a limb and try something different today... and it didn't go all that well...

Having faught my way to turtle position yet again, instead of trying to sit through or roll to guard like I always do (being the ever comfortable Jiu Jitsu guy willing to play off of my back) I decided to take a different approach. I tried my hand at wrestling. I was still dominated, but maybe I'll be onto something. I tried something new and outside of my comfort zone which is what training is for.

I reached for one of Volkmann's legs in an attempt to suck it in and hopefully finish to the top position using either a single leg or a double leg from my knees. But Volkmann keeps his feet out wide, so I really had to reach. DUMB! I know better, but when you are trying something new in training, you often make dumb mistakes. Having my arm so far out, he isolated it with his leg and continued to dominate me positionally. But now I know that when I try to wrestle, outside of my comfort zone as it may be, I still need to make a point to be cognoscente of where my arms and elbow are at all time and, more importantly, don't let them stray too far from my body. I know, this is Jiu Jitsu 101, but a refresher to keep it instilled in your mind is never a bad thing.

Lesson: Keep trying to wrestle. Keep trying new things. But don't forget the basics in the meantime. Grab that leg and wrestle, but keep those elbows in!


Single Underhook Stack Pass

While training Nogi today, i was rolling with one of my training partners who I can be super competative with (in the most friendly way of course). Matt Determan and I really push each other and never give the other an inch. We're neck-a-neck most days. One of his strongest techniques for passing the guard is the single underhook and double underhook stack passes. I made an effort to try them today for myself just to see and I was met with failure. I was rolling with someone much smaller than myself so I was making sure not to muscle and use my weight. When I went to reach my arm underneath her leg for the stack, she was easily able to pull her knee to her chest, place her foot on my shoulder, and push me away. As a result of my very light and fluffy attempt at this pass, I had no control over her leg. I felt silly. So I made it a point to Ask Matt what he does.

Matt's tips were very simple. First, when fishing for the single underhook, Matt uses his knee / shin to pin the opposite knee to the ground in order to make the other leg lighter. And most of us who have been training for a while know this. But the next thing was stupid simple, but something I never try: He just forces it. When i try to get the leg onto my shoulder, I'm always working the angle, trying to find just the right way to prop it up there, but Matt just uses muscle. I've been so against using muscle for the last couple years of my training, that this seems wrong to me. But can it really be wrong if it's so effective? I always lift the leg with about 50% of my strength, but I never get it. I'm sure if I start applying Matt's method and lift the leg with everything I got, I can get the leg up to my shoulder too. I just need to try harder. It's the simple! Of course as I start having more success with the technique, maybe I can use 95% and make adjustments, then 90, then 85, etc until I figure out the tiny details that I'm sure exist that would allow me to do this without as much strength as Matt uses. I'm not sure what will end up happening for sure with this, but I know that for the next few training sessions, each time I'm in the guard, I'm going to focus on getting these stack passes to work. Matt has such a high success rate with them, and I'm sure if I can get them to work for me, I'll have similar success.

Lesson: It's good to try to find the best and most energy-efficient way to do the technique. But maybe... just maybe, the technique will require just a little elbow grease.


Single leg from sitting guard: force myself to be uncomfortable

Another good thing I took away from today's training session was that I went back to a technique that I've had a lot of success with in the past, but I abandoned it because executing the technique puts me into a position where I feel uncomfortable and out of my element. The technique is to stand up with a single leg from sitting / butterfly guard when your opponent is standing. There was a few weeks where I was hitting this move on everybody, but no matter how much success I had with it, it felt uncomfortable to scoot in and grab a single leg from sitting on my butt. I never got over this uneasy feeling, so one day, I just stopped doing the technique.

Today I was rolling with one of my training partners and I just couldn't sweep him. He was standing and I couldn't get a hold of anything since it was nogi. After trying to sweep him for what felt like almost 5 minutes, I decided "what the hell" and I scooted in, grabbed a leg, and stood up. Just like before... Success! This technique works super well for me, but I'm not sure if I'll ever shake the uneasiness when I execute it. And today, I'm telling myself "that's ok." Maybe just because a technique makes you feel uncomfortable, it doesn't mean I should forsake it. Especially when I have such success with it. That's silly. After all, we're forced into uncomfortable positions all the time in BJJ. So I've decided that I'm going to make it a point to revisit that technique more regularly, and for the next several weeks, I want to use it as much as I possibly can in an attempt to shake the timidness and develop a level of comfort with executing that technique. And if I never find that comfort, then I just have to put my big boy pants on and deal with the discomfort because this is a technique I need to have in my arsenal because it really works for me.

Lesson: Embrace discomfort when training regardless of the position or technique. And for me personally, I need to keep the single leg from sitting guard in my tool bag.