Anyone 6 months into jiu jitsu is probably familiar with using the Turtle position actively. And yet some don’t realize it’s nascence began with Eduardo Telles, who was a successful BJJ and MMA fighter in the early 2000s and coach at Blackhouse MMA, where Silva and Machida trained.
We’ve had Telles for seminars and not only is his jiu jitsu unique, but his attitude is as well. Unlike much of our compartmentalized community, Telles is inviting and radiates a lover-of-life attitude. I’m obsessed with what we’ll call minimal exertion jiu jitsu so I’ve obviously been a huge fan of his style for years.
This year, many people who weren’t familiar with a particular protégé of his became so as he conquered a ton of gi and nogi tournaments. This students name is Sergio Rios and often flies under the radar, though most high level BJJ guys I know know who he is. He’s definitely one of the best pound for pound Masters competitors (if not the best) on the planet. And he wins a ton of stuff at Adult still as well. What’s crazy about Sergio is that is just as good with and without the gi.
Anyway, this year at Nogi Worlds I watched the craziest match I’ve ever seen in my life between him and Xande Ribiero. Sergio essentially ended up winning because of his masterful use and evolved form of the Turtle Guard. It’s such an awesome demonstration of how the pupil becomes the master. Watch this:
From Sun Tzu to George Washington, quotes on military and fighting tactics often exemplify the old adage that “the best defense is a good offense.” The meaning behind this quote has been used to justify the premise that overly aggressive tactics and constant attack is the most effective form of engaging in all forms of battle. This can be applied to war strategy such as in preemptive attack or at the individual level to justify a primarily offensive strategy.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. – Sun Tzu
In man-to-man combat though (outside of lethal close proximity scenarios), and especially in loosely relevant modern day sport (like our own), this adage is often misconstrued and in fact, not the most effective way of winning. You’re familiar with examples of this.
We see this in Mexican boxers. These guys are known sluggers who are going to chase you down even if they take a bit of extra damage. Chavez (mexican) got beat by De la Hoya (mexican but raised stateside) who got beat by Pacquiao. All fights lost by those who were initiating and not the better counter attackers. And we all know know who beat De la Hoya and Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr, a master of fight avoidance.
George Washington wrote in 1799: “…make them believe, that offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defence”
We see this in American wrestlers. American wrestlers are taught to move forward unrelenting in their attack. This builds a crazy level of baseline cardio and an extremely hardened mentality that launches beginner grapplers into at least the intermediate division of most submission grappling tournaments. And it should. But where do we see this strategy falter? Historically, it’s been at the Olympic level. The Soviet Union was the most dominant, so what were they doing? Why did and do American’s lose to modern day Russians? Ding ding, you guessed it. Defense. Kenny Monday beat Dave Schultz but Satiev made him look like he was in middle school. Most recentlyrecently, Sadulaev beat Snyder by tech fall.
WARNING: This is exhaustive. This discussion contains no walkthroughs or tutorials on leg locks. It serves as a contextual reference for the orientations and nuances used by the best grapplers to secure leg locks. It may be best studied in sections so as not to seem overbearing.
Here at wrestlejitsu we’ve seen that individuals with prior wrestling experience often incorporate leg locks into their game. This is due to a number of reasons. First, many leg lock positions allow equal opportunity for both individuals in the position and thus the individual who is more aggressive in attacking them often secures one first. Second, although many of the positions seem neutral, positional dominance can be achieved. Those who wrestled are often more aggressive and prioritize positional dominance.
Now that we’ve grossly overgeneralized the reasons why the wrestlers we’ve studied use leg locks we’re going to delve more deeply. Having spent an inordinate amount of time researching jiu jitsu one niche remains largely unfilled: the theory of leg locks. Although most leg locking positions have a designated nomenclature (many of which in fact have multiple names), to my knowledge no one has assessed positional dominance coupled with entries in to those positions and options from them using the games of the most predominant current leg lockers. This includes Masakazu Imanari, Rousimar Palhares in MMA, Davi Ramos, Joao Assis, Dean Lister, Eddie Cummings, and Gary Tonon in nogi, and Luiz Panza, Renato Cardoso, Edwin Najmi, and Hunter Ewald in gi.
A myriad of leg locking walk-throughs and tutorials can be found in instructionals and online, but finding realistically effective patterns requires the analysis of footage coupled with basic principles in physics and knowledge of the human skeleton.
Using leg locks effectively requires two things: control and risk reduction. The geometry of the human body allows for both players to attack each other’s lower limbs with their upper ones when the lower face each other. Controlling the position allows you to attack your opponent’s legs and prevent their escape while staving their ability to attack your legs and reducing your risk of being leg locked.
Images from Choke, The Incredible Hulk, GracieMag, and fightland.vice.com
One of the most iconic images of the Choke documentary is Rickson Gracie’s breathing techniques. This documentary is a staple among grapplers. I personally remember the feeling of having seen it in Choke and then in The Incredible Hulk with Rickson teaching Edward Norton how to control his anger with his techniques. I was ecstatic.
Breathing is probably one of the most underestimated skillsets in wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, MMA, or any sport for that matter. Being from Bermuda and having a father that dabbled in amatuer freediving my interest in breath holding far outdates my athletic ventures.
Only recently has breathing practice and holding capacity been investigated for its effects on aerobic ability. Continue reading →
I’m no black belt world champion, and I’m guessing you aren’t either. I can’t devote my entire life to BJJ so statistically the chances of me becoming one are quite low. I do however train 3-4 times a week as well as do jiu jitsu based workouts with similar frequency. If you have a job, a relationship, or a family, many of you know this is pushing the envelope. How then, with so many other obligations for us “normal” people do we maximize our training efficiency? Continue reading →