Flow With The Go

19 05 2009

It is certainly common knowledge that the main objective of every fight (whether it be rolling, sparring or competing in a tournament) is to bring your opponent to submission in one form or another. I agree completely with the idea of submission being a goal but disagree that it should be the focus of the fighter.

To elaborate I will use the analogy of a road trip. Compare the road trip to a fight with things like take downs, escapes, transitions, etc all being a part of the journey and the finishes or submissions being the final destination. Naturally everyone plans out the road trip using the shortest possible route to get to the final destination. However, as we can all agree to (from our own personal experiences), things come up during the course of the trip that forces us to deviate from the plan. Things like construction, traffic, road blocks, detours, etc are all things that can keep you from accomplishing your original goal following a certain route and in some cases, cause you to have to completely alter your original route in order to still make it to your destination.

I call this the difference between ‘going with the flow’ and ‘flowing with the go.’ “Going with the flow” is the more passive approach, for example sitting in the back seat of the car in the previous illustration and just not caring when you get to your destination. “Flowing with the go” on the other hand is the more aggressive approach that diligently seeks other alternatives and never stops working until the desired destination is reached. In fighting, a ‘flowing with the go’ mentality (which by the way should always be the focus of the fighter) works to dictate the pace of the fight, constantly staying one step ahead of the opponent, with the goal of submission more of a distant goal and the drive to stay aggressive the primary focus. Fighters that possess the ‘going with the flow’ mentality find themselves always reacting to other fighters that have the ‘flowing with the go’ mentality. The primary focus of a ‘go with the flow’ fighter is the submission, not giving any focus whatsoever to staying diligent and always being one step ahead, the primary focus of the ‘flow with the go’ fighter is ensuring that through diligence and resounding perseverance he is never just reacting but always working around obstacles and problems with the understanding that he will still get to that final destination.

A message to my fighters here in Texas: I urge you to work to sharpen your focus with the ‘flowing with the go’ mentality. Try not to approach the fight with one path to the final destination and all your energy focused on that single path. Try not to be passive and allow your opponent to control the fight. If you find yourself being positionally dominated over and over again, then there is good reason to believe you are stuck on a ‘going with the flow’ mentality, sitting in the back seat of the car and constantly asking “are we there yet” rather than working to find alternative routes to get to that destination. Make it a point to ‘flow with the go’ and try to be more ‘aggressive’ (not in terms of strength but rather in terms of mentality) in your fights and rolls.


Big Guy’s and Jiu Jitsu

13 05 2009

ohana bjj 031

I want to begin this post with a quote from the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Helio Gracie that goes, “Jiu Jitus is not for the strong, it is for the weak.” Considering that this is in fact a form of martial arts, this quote almost seems contradictory. It was especially hard for me to wrap my head around it during my earlier days as I am a fairly big guy (standing at 6’3”, 216lbs). Earlier in my training, I struggled with the idea my trainer worked tirelessly to engrain in my brain as he always urged me to roll (spar) with as little strength as possible. He often cautioned me to work on resisting the urge to overpower my training partners with strength. As the years have gone by and I have grown in Jiu Jitsu, I have come to a better understanding of grand master Helio’s comment.

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Understandably the concept was especially difficult to master. Looking back I remember being caught in a compromising positions when rolling with a much smaller guy (some guys as light as 155lbs). I remember instinctively using my strength to get out of their submissions, like ripping my arm out of their submission hold in the case of an arm bar. The problem was that in doing that, I was not allowing myself to remain calm and effectively use my training to think of the correct escape, execute the escape and continue to the next transition.

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Such it is for most big athletic strong guys that try to learn Jiu Jitsu. When you feel like you’re dominating someone you should ask yourself if you’re doing it technically or just plainly physically.  The smaller guys in the gym don’t ever have this choice.  They don’t have the option of surviving on strength when rolling with guys that are 50-60lbs heavier.  They have to solely rely on the technique.  This is why I believe that Master Helio made the comment of Jiu Jitsu being made for the weak and not the strong.  Now I’m not saying that strong guys can’t learn to be effective Jiu Jitsu players or fighters.  Im just saying that I think they have it harder in the long run to become truly effective at Jiu Jitsu or fighting. 

 It is imperative to work on being calm and applying your training rather than overpower your way out of it. As can be expected, it will only be a matter of time until you meet someone stronger or technically better and overpowering your way out of a move will no longer be an option, and because you have not trained yourself properly in the art, you will be found wanting.  When the steps are followed correctly it creates a flow, a rhythm which can indeed be very therapeutic once the level has been reached where you are calm enough to be in synch with the art of Jiu Jitsu. The grand master was definitely unto something because in truth strength is not necessary  in Jiu Jitsu, knowledge will always prevail. (but strength is helpful when used in combination with knowledge)

jason yerrington

Eye of the Storm

8 05 2009

When it comes to fighting, the prevailing thought of the majority is that they are experts. Every guy out there at some point or the other has uttered the words “I can beat that guy up!” I am aware of this truth because I too was once in the majority, watching UFC on TV and thinking to myself “It’s just a fight, I can get in there and never loose or get knocked out, I would fight until the very end and would rather die than loose.” I personally believe that locked in this testosterone fantasy island is the secret behind why the UFC is such a hit. I was slapped by the harsh hand of reality when I had my first fight….

After months of deliberating I finally decided to enroll in an MMA school with the primary goal of getting my first fight as soon as possible. I was under the erroneous impression that it would neither take too long or be too hard. Being an athlete who played college basketball, I knew I was already in great shape and believed I was fairly strong (mostly judging from the amount of weight I could put up on a bench press). I got into a great school that worked with me to accomplish my goal and my first fight was scheduled three months from the day I signed up in Waco, Texas. What was even more exciting for me was the fact that my fight was the main event!! For the sake of brevity let me get to the point: I was so hyped up for my cage fight (which is 5x more intense than training in a gym amongst familiar faces) that after the first minute and a half of my fight I was literally exhausted. My tiredness and the overall lack of experience had me breathing through my mouth, making me much more prone to getting knocked out… and I did in fact get knocked out! 😦  It was an experience I would rather not re-live. When I finally recovered from the entire experience I took time out to analyze my fight. My first realization was that my biggest mistake was that I wasn’t relaxed at all. With that knowledge in tow I approached my next fight a month later with a completely different mentality – I decided to relax. I showed up for my fight and went to the back and got some rest. The result? The opposite – I won the fight.

When it comes to fighting it is important to position yourself in the eye of the storm – where it is always calm. When you roll, if you don’t stay calm or just rely on strength and explosion the results will be either total exhaustion or finding yourself in a joint ripping submission … or even worse knocked out!

This topic is bringing to mind two students of mine Will and Chuck who rolled yesterday night.  Will is fairly new and Chuck has been at the school for at least 5 months.  The roll began with Will attacking very explosively and succeeding in gaining some ground against chuck…  He had chuck in a pretty bad spot and without solidifying his position he went immediately for the finish. (see picture) 

ohana bjj 006will trying to choke chuck out

Because Will exhausted so much energy trying to finish Chuck without ever establishing solid position, he got tired and really never reached his goal of submission. Chuck on the other hand remained calm the entire time, sticking to defensive principles while working his escape calmly. Eventually Chuck got out and reversed Will and then, displaying his experience, solidified his position and moved in for the finish. The obvious key here is that through it all, Chuck remained in the eye of the storm, calmly working his way to the finish and coming out with the win. (see picture)

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Fighting can very easily be likened to physical chess. It is imperative to stay calm and maintain a clear mind to process the situation properly otherwise it can end in the twinkle of an eye. So always work on finding the eye of your storm, keep your thoughts clear and find strength in being calm.

jason yerrington


5 05 2009

The last two weeks at Ohanabjj we have been focusing on working from the half guard.  This position is one where you are lying on your back or side with one of your opponent’s legs between your own. In the last 10 years an increasing number of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling matches feature one fighter aggressively trying to sweep or submit their opponent from the half guard position, which was basically unheard of previously.
                                                                                                            chuck playing half guard on mark                            
The half guard may be hot now, but it had a humble beginning. Initially the half guard was just one step short of having your guard fully passed: your only real options were thought to be regaining full guard or to hanging on and stalling. In fact this position was often referred to as being caught in the “half mount”, a term which is much less common today.

A major player in reconfiguring the half guard into an offensive position was Roberto “Gordo” Correa, a jiu-jitsu black belt from Brazil. After a knee injury he found that regular guard work was too difficult and painful, and he started experimenting with the half guard instead. He discovered that by getting on his side, fighting for grips, and connecting a series of sweeps he could keep his opponents on the run. Significant competition victories soon followed for him.
                                                                                                    Gabe taking arts back from half guard                        
It wasn’t very long until other grapplers realized that “Gordo” might be onto something, and a whole new game was born. Many other sweeps, submission setups and positional variations were developed, both in Brazil and elsewhere. Some specialists are so confident in their game that in competition they will jump into half guard rather than full guard. Modern half guard techniques are even occasionally seen in MMA competition, but this is still relatively rare.

This new role for an old position, and the development of counters to this new role, is fascinating. It’s all part of the evolution occurring on the mats of the world every day. 

(much of this post about half guard came from stephan kesling)
jason yerrington