6 Results for "leo kirby"

Leo’s Sitting Guard and Omoplatas

Got to train with Leo Kirby this Thanksgiving weekend. Took the camera along and filmed 25 minutes of techniques between the two of us.

Here’s the first of them. It showcases Leo’s unhealthy obsession with the omoplata.

I’m sure Leo will be around to talk about it in more detail, but one thing he kept telling me was how much fun (and success he’s been having) treating the omoplata like it’s own position. You can see this in how he approaches the techniques he teaches.


What’s Pareto know about BJJ?

This is my reply to The Pareto principle and progress: playing the percentages in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory. Read that first to get what I’m talking about here.

If I understood it correctly, the Pareto principle states that 80% of the jiu-jitsu techniques are owned by the wealthiest 20% of Italians…

I liked Jiu Jitsu Laboratory’s article overall, because it raises good points about how to make the most of your training. It is easy to go flying off in every direction, and sometimes you need to be brought back down to the ground.

Jiu Jitsu Lab shares my skepticism of the 80/20 “rule” truly being a rule. Like he pointed out, it’s overreaching to apply an economic ratio for Italian wealth to every other aspect of life, BJJ included. It may have been an accurate description of the situation at the time, but it’s not a scientific principle that can be applied to everything. Hey, maybe we can make up a 99/1 ratio thanks to the current Occupy movement! Someone get Malcolm Gladwell’s agent on the phone!

What is more valuable is the idea that a small percentage often has a greater effect than the majority. Applying this to BJJ, it encourages you to find those moves that give you most of your success and investing time and attention in them. No one is going to be able to make full use 100% of the techniques they learn. They are better off finding what works for them most of the time, and then finding what details in those moves they can further improve.

Jiu Jitsu Lab’s point about the definition of “the basics” being nebulous is a good one. Everyone “knows” what the basics are, but no one can completely agree on them. We all get that some moves are more important than others, and some are better to teach to beginners than others. Maybe they are what Helio laid out as his curriculum, or maybe they aren’t.

Let’s look a move that is taken for granted as a basic in all grappling arts: the bridge. As universal as it’s assumed to be, you can find different opinions on it.

At the Carlos Machado seminar I attended, he confessed he never used the upa escape from mount. He just didn’t like it and felt it was too much work. He did a mount escape that rolled the guy over, but it was based more on sideways hip movement (circling under them) and a little bump, but not truly bridging.

Rickson, per what I’ve been shown by a few of his students, does the complete opposite. He wants them bridging all the way off the top of their head like a wrestler. This is in line with his “connect your entire body to the movement” philosophy. (Personally, my back and neck aren’t strong enough to do this.)

Like Carlos, Michael Jen made similar statements about his personal grappling system not really using a true bridge. To quote him:

You can definitely become proficient without a strong bridge. You need to be able to do a general bridging motion as far as just lifting your hips. However, you do not need to have the power bridge to bail your opponent over in order to have an effective game.

In fact, my BJJ game does not rely on strong bridging ability. It hate bridging and avoid doing it if possible. I had a bulging disc in my low back and I really lack flexibility in my back as far as bridging. When I try to arch back, my wife teases me and calls it a “broken coffee table” rather than a bridge.

When it comes to my side mount escaping system, I never bridge my opponent over. I only use small bridging motions to create space or momentum.

Yeah, I do wish that I made a better bridge. That is just like how I wish I could put both of my feet behind my head. Though developing flexibility like that would be very beneficial, I prefer to spend my time developing technique that is less attribute oriented.

Roy Harris (another Joe Moreira black belt like Jen) is the complete opposite, claiming the upa is the most important fundamental move that he built his grappling around.

Roy Harris once wrote an interesting article about how he doesn’t believe it’s possible to train without attributes, though he includes sensitivity and timing as attributes (which some debate.) Michael Jen, a peer of Harris’, makes similar points about how no one truly trains with zero strength and flexibility unless they are a corpse. The goal is, of course, to limit and reduce the amount of strength, flexibility and other physical factors as much as possible.

One definition for “the basics” that people aren’t always aware they are using is “those moves I learned first.” I actually have no problem with this approach as long it’s successful. It works if they were good moves and your instructor knew what he was doing. But it doesn’t answer why you learned them first. Did your instructor have a thoughtful reason, or was it just what he learned first too?

Leo Kirby, a brown belt under Marcelo, has a funny story about that. He had a white belt end up training with him at his “work on DVD moves” open mats because that the only time they could make it. He warned them that the techniques wouldn’t be “basic”, but they didn’t care. So they learned x-guard, armdrags, etc. from Marcelo DVDs. (Helio turns in his grave.) But later when Leo saw them in a normal class, they were doing x-guard fine against other beginners. That’s when he decided that “the basics” were just whatever you learned first.

A BJJ teacher once posted online about how he teaches the butterfly guard to beginners for their first trial class. This was controversial, but his argument was that it was less awkward than making them close guard on strangers, and it taught them to make space and safely stand up, which he felt was an important lesson especially if they never came to another class.

My perspective is that as long as a technique is built on the “true” basics of leverage, positioning, momentum, timing, balance (or off-balancing), etc. and it deals with situations that would realistically come up, then it is as basic as you want it to be. I’ve had white belts doing the reverse omoplata with no problems. They just need to understand how and when it works (and when it doesn’t work). Of course, just because they can do it, it doesn’t mean it’s the most important skill for them to be learning at the time.

Now to turn my logic on itself, I can’t teach “basic” concepts like momentum and leverage by standing in front of a class and saying “F = ma! M = Fd!” We’re not doing a physics class, we’re doing jiu-jitsu. Students need something to do, and that’s going to be practicing a technique (or at least a “movement” of some kind.) As an instructor, I can teach those techniques I feel best impart an understanding (or at least a practical application) of these concepts.

We can apply different reasoning to what makes certain moves “advanced” or “basic”. Let’s take Danaher’s rules for what he calls a basic technique:

  1. the technique must work for anyone at any proficiency level
  2. the technique must work for anyone who is competing at any weight class
  3. the technique must work for any body type

Per those three points, the heelhook is a basic move, at least in an abstract sense. But at the same time, few instructors would recommend teaching heelhooks to beginners because “it’s a basic”. We understand it takes a sensitivity that beginners don’t have (unless we don’t care about injuries.) To qualify as basic or not, do we need to consider more attributes like balance, coordination and timing?

I consider standing up to break closed guard a “basic” technique because I learned it my first day (as many white belts at my gym have), but it took me almost two years to be able to perform it without getting swept for trying. This breaks Danaher’s first rule, but I bet he teaches a similar move anyway (or has a way of arguing that it doesn’t break his rule.)

We could also say that a basic move should be one that is going to be needed in more fights than a nonbasic move. But then we need to look at context. Are we talking about a street fight? White belts in sparring? Purple belts in a tournament? Black belts? MMA fight?

Headlock escapes are basic moves that are needed in street fights and white belt matches that are never needed in any of those other situations.

Can an advanced move still have “basics” to it? People will call x-guard advanced, but it’s really just about using butterfly hooks and shifting your hips under their base. Does that justify teaching it to beginners or not?

The traditional standard of teaching moves that work for a weaker, smaller person against a bigger, stronger opponent is one I agree is valuable. But what are its limits? How much smaller and weaker or bigger and stronger are we talking about? Everything breaks down at some point.

But maybe we just worry about this stuff too much as nerdy white guys. Most black belts don’t care about this. Maybe they can explain underlying theories, or maybe they can’t. They just teach what they know works, and no one can argue with results.



Review: Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques

Marcelo Garcia’s holds two honorary titles.

First, he’s arguably the best pound-for-pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter alive.

Second, he’s the nicest guy ever. That’s less debatable.

Marcelo’s newest book, Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques, opens with an introduction by Josh Waitzkin that tells wonderful stories that illustrate both of these points. Here’s a personal story to attest to Marcelo’s niceness.

In 2006, I attended a two day seminar by Marcelo in St. Augustine, FL. If I remember correctly, I was one of about 30 people there. I may not be remembering correctly, because the gym was over 100 degrees and didn’t have any A/C or ventilation, and I was on antibiotics after having the flu, so I almost passed out from heat stroke. Marcelo was an attentive instructor and went around the room to check on everyone’s drilling, but other than that, I didn’t have any special interactions with him.

A while later in 2007, I had a chance to go to a second seminar in Hollywood, FL that was hosted by my friend Leo Kirby. Right when I walked in the door, Marcelo beamed a big smile at me and said he remembered me from St. Augustine. He even remembered who I had come with to the seminar, and how hellishly hot that place was. He told me that the purple belt who had hosted that seminar was also an Olympic long distance runner, and he’d told Marcelo that getting a purple belt was as much work as getting into the Olympics.

It surprised me that Marcelo remembered me at all. After all, he’s one of the greatest submission grapplers of all time, and I was just another random blue belt that happened to go to one of his countless seminars. But that’s just how friendly Marcelo is, and he was happy to see me again like no time had passed.

To give you insight into how Marcelo approaches BJJ, Waitzkin writes about how Marcelo is driven to learn and perfect every physical activity he tries. I have a dumb story about that too.

During a break in the seminar, I twisted up a water bottle and shot the cap at a friend. Marcelo’s eye lit up when he heard the bang and came running over to see what I’d done. He wanted to learn how, so we scrounged around for empty bottles, and I showed him how to twist it up and pop it. When I left him, he was still gathering bottles out of the trash to try popping them.

The next morning when I came into the gym, Marcelo ran up to me with an empty bottle already in hand. He wanted me to show him more details because he couldn’t get it to shoot as cleanly as I had. What followed was a surreal exchange where I’m giving a black belt world champion a serious lesson on how to get the most power and range out of his water bottle caps.

While I went to get changed, my teammate stayed with Marcelo and his wife Tatiana, and later he told me how Marcelo kept grabbing up bottles and carefully twisting and shooting them while his wife shook her head and said “Why did you show him this? He’s like a big child!”

That pointless story out of the way, let’s get to reviewing the book. Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques is split into six chapters, as follows:

  • Armdrags
  • Establishing Back Control
  • Submissions from Back Control
  • Takedowns
  • Attacking the Guard
  • Submissions

(Note that x-guard isn’t listed because his aptly titled book The X-Guard already covered it.)

Each chapter is organized by related techniques (such as counters to counters) or attacks from the same position, and each technique follows a logical progression. You can see the efficiency in Marcelo’s style even in how well each move he shows fits together.

Chapters start with an explanation of Marcelo’s philosophy towards what he’ll be showing, and this offers great insight into how he thinks about his jiu-jitsu and picks or rejects techniques. For example, at the bottom of “5 Lessons Learned from Writing Marcelo Garcia’s Next Book” by Marshal Carper (one of the book’s coauthors), you can see a video from the book’s photo shoot where Marcelo takes the controversial stance of not doing any arm-in chokes (like the d’arce) because he feels they use too much strength.

Throughout the book, Marcelo’s technique is, of course, flawless. Marcelo teaches his best techniques and zero fluff or filler. If you own his DVD sets or subscribe to MGInAction.com, you’ll have seen most of the material before, but despite that, I found it pleasurable to see Marcelo’s extremely refined game clearly explained in one place.

Speaking of MGInAction.com, they promote Marcelo’s subscription-based instructional site at the start of the book and have little “helpful hints” on using MGInAction.com throughout. Those of you with memberships can tell me how helpful they really are.

The book’s photographs and writing are excellent, as we’ve come to expect from the publisher, Victory Belt. Marcelo wears a white gi, and his partner wears blue, and the photos are big and clear, so it’s easy to see what’s going on. They got everything right putting this book together.

All in all, Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques is fantastic. It’s easily one of my favorite BJJ books, and at about $20, it’s very affordable. Make sure you buy a copy or put it at the top of your holiday wishlist.


Long Distance and Deep Half Guard

A friend of mine asked me to film something on the half guard I’ve been working on. This turned into 30 minutes of footage that I’ve broken it down into 6 videos. I’ll be putting these up throughout the week. To start, here is the first one on the basics of the position and my main sweep.

In the past I’ve been criticized for not showing anything original and just copying techniques from famous people. I thought about it and maybe they’re right; I learn from all over and often end up teaching it later. I’ve always given credit to whoever I learned from and I try to offer something more, if just a clearer explanation. I didn’t think much of this until people started nagging me about it.

When I was talking with Leo Kirby about learning from people by copying then teaching others, he just said “Yeah, but isn’t that what everyone does?”

So I’ll be the first to say that I owe a great many people for what I show in these videos. This includes:

  • Eduardo de Lima, my instructor, who teaches a great half guard that he attributes to his friends Gordo (yes, that Gordo) and Jean-Jacques Machado.
  • Trog, my training partner (and contributor to one of the videos) for trouble shooting with me.
  • Crazy James, a black belt who’s been teaching me his half guard since I was a white belt.
  • Jay Valko for his amazing open guard transitions.
  • Leo Kirby for his z-guard instructional and advice.
  • Jeff Rockwell for his deep half guard tutorials, which he’ll say he got from Minotauro (more of that nasty copying then teaching).
  • Andreh Anderson for his half guard tutorials.
  • Marcelo Garcia for his approach to half guard, x-guard and the “leglock” guard.
  • Stephan Kesting for his half guard, butterfly guard and even kneebar DVDs.
  • Indrek Reiland for his free half guard instructional with good ideas like the double paw grip.
  • Gordo for his DVDs and for having done this since the dawn of time.
  • Eddie Bravo for bits and pieces of his half guard system.
  • Saulo Ribeiro for his half guard DVD and how he and his brother do reverse De la Riva and open guard.
  • Jean-Jacques Machado for his half and open guard in his books and ADCC matches.
  • Kenny Florian for his half guard sweeps in his no-gi seminar DVD.
  • Jeff Glover for the half guard I’ve picked up from watching him compete.
  • Franjinha for teaching half guard on the Paragon DVD.
  • Wilson Reis for his butterfly/half guard sweep underhooking the leg like in his EGO matches.
  • Gustavo Machado for his instructional DVD on half and quarter (arm wrapping) guard.
  • Baret Yoshida for his half guard sweeps in his Japanese book/DVD combo.

I’ve also got a lot of very helpful advice from posters on several BJJ forums.

I’m sure I’m forgetting people, but that’s a good chunk.

So what do I have to offer if I’m just “stealing” from all of these sources? In sampling from each of these people, I put together an approach and techniques that I liked better and I think I can explain how and why well enough to add a little more.

“Yeah, but isn’t that what everyone does?”



Marcelo Garcia Seminar Notes – Day Two

As I said in my first batch of notes, what made this Marcelo seminar special was that he was given a chance to teach aspects of his game that aren’t already covered on his instructionals or previous seminars.

I’ve seen Marcelo criticized for teaching the same seminars wherever he goes, so that if you’ve been to one, you’ve seen them all. I don’t think this is his fault. Most people want to learn his signature moves and that’s what they pay him to teach, so he’s stuck showing nothing but armdrags, taking the back, RNC and x-guard. They’re all excellent techniques, but it can get tiring to teach the same stuff over and over again.

For example, at the first seminar, I had a chance to watch part of his private lesson with the hosts. They were asking him about techniques straight off his DVD. They also got to choose the topic of the seminar, so he mostly taught material I’d seen in his instructionals before. It was all great material, and it was nice to have him personal teaching it and correcting you, but it seemed somewhat redundant.

Having trained with him so many times now, Leo Kirby knew how much more Marcelo has to offer. He knew first-hand how he has an incredible omoplata game, a fact that’s only now getting noticed in recent footage of him rolling at a seminar, his training footage in Arte Suave and his match with Lovato Jr. It was this omoplata game that Leo asked Marcelo to show.

At the start of the second day, Marcelo said he was happy to get to teach us what he does in his everyday training. He said that it’d get boring to just do armdrags, x-guard and taking the back in sparring. He said he’s also always working on expanding his game into new areas, so he can improve and evolve to have other skills fall back on if his main ones fail.

Here are my notes.

Counter double leg takedown with omoplata

You’re both standing and they shoot for a double leg takedown. Ideally, you sprawl and break their grips and defend it, since you don’t want to give up the 2 points. But here’s what you can do if you can’t stop them.

As you’re resisting the takedown but feel yourself about to go down, note which side their head is on. Let’s say to your left.

Shove their head to the side with your left hand. Squat and sit to the right (so you turn to face to the left), opening your legs wide. Swing your right leg over their back, bringing your heel towards the back of their head for the omoplata. Make sure their arm is wrapping your thigh with their wrist by your right hip.

Continuing the same motion, drive your right knee to the ground, putting as much weight in your leg (and their shoulder) as you can. Escape your hips slightly to the left. Force their shoulder to the floor.

I watched Marcelo going over this with the guys next to me. He made a point of throwing his hips forward on to their shoulder like he wanted to sit on it, so as much body weight as he possible drove it down.

Sit up and grab over their back before they can roll to escape. Reach under their far armpit with your right hand. Reach behind their neck and over their shoulder with your left hand. Join your hands however you can or just grab their far shoulder. This grip prevents them from rolling out or posturing up.

Fold your legs to the left so your feet are on the floor near each other. Lean forward and try to stand to get the submission.

Marcelo showed how you can do this to any double leg, regardless of if it’s from standing or them escaping side control or coming up into it from guard.

Omoplata from butterfly guard

You are sitting with butterfly guard and they are kneeling. You are playing the normal game of hand fighting and getting underhooks for sweeps.

You get an underhook with your right arm and grab their elbow with your left hand so you can sweep them.

They counter by pummeling their left arm in and getting double underhooks and driving in, starting to put you on your back.

You need to get a foot on their hip and push them away before they’ve flattened you out entirely. You want to create enough space to work your game but not so much that they are too far away.

Let’s say you step on their hip with your right foot. Push them back enough that your right knee can come up behind their armpit.

Keep their arm trapped in your armpit by grabbing their triceps just above their elbow and pinching your elbow to your ribs to trap their wrist.

Push their head to the left with your left hand. Swing your right leg over their back and into the omoplata. Drive the weight of your leg and hips into his shoulder and touch it to the ground. Finish as described before.

Armlock from butterfly guard

When you go for the last move and they feel you’re about to go for the omoplata, they’ll straighten their arm and try to posture up to pull their arm out.

As they start to posture, bring your other foot to their hip too. Pinch your knees, squeezing their shoulder between them. Keep a good grip on their elbow/triceps and pinch your elbow to trap their wrist and prevent them from turning it. Bridge really, really high to elbow lock them.

If they are able to turn their wrist and bend their arm to defend, just switch back to the omoplata.

This is a speed move that takes very good timing, so you need to drill it a lot to get it. You have to hit it as they try to pull their arm out, so you’ve got to be fast and throw your hips really high.

Marceloplata from butterfly guard

You’re going for the omoplata from butterfly guard. They try to stop your omoplata by grabbing your bottom leg so you can’t turn out all the way.

Stretch your right leg so your foot and ankle are across their face. It’s important that you keep this pressure and contact throughout the move.

Turn your body to the left and try to come to your knees. By turning to your knees, you create tremendous pressure on their shoulder and force them to roll. Be careful with this so you don’t hurt your training partner.

Hold their elbow with your left hand and post with your right to maintain control of their arm and stay tighter as you turn over.

You need to make sure you keep your leg stretched with your ankle across their face throughout all of this turning and rolling. It tends to get loose if you don’t pay attention to it and you’ll lose the submission.

Keep rotating as they roll over so you come to an “armbar” position as they land on their back. What makes this different than an armbar is that their arm is still bent around your hip, which changes the mechanics of finishing it.

Make sure your right ankle is still on their face. Your left leg is across their torso. Hold their elbow with your left hand to control it. Post on the mat with your right arm (the arm that’s on the same side as their head).

To finish, grab your right knee with your left hand and pull your knee to the left. Switch your hips so you’re sitting towards their head. The strength of this submission comes from sitting towards their head so your hips and torso are cranking the arm. Stay tight to their shoulder and don’t try to lay back like in an armbar. They’ll submit to a strong shoulder lock.

If you did slip down their arm some, it may be an elbow lock instead. If their arm comes out from being wrapped around your hip, you’ve still got a plain armbar sitting there.

Marceloplata from half guard pass

These next three build on the way Marcelo teaches passing half guard in all his instructionals. Being familiar with those passes will make these much easier to learn, since they assume you’re already somewhat comfortable with them.

You’re on the top of half guard. Let’s say your right leg is trapped. They have double underhooks, so you’re in danger of them taking your back.

Hug their head with your left arm and crossface them with your shoulder. Turn towards their legs. Switch your base so your left knee is bent under their butt and your left toes are on the mat (to keep them from bridging you over). Your right foot is on the ground near their butt with your knee pointing up.

A good tip on maintaining this position is to grab their ankle with your right hand so they can’t open the triangle and bridge.

When you feel they’re not going to bridge you over, let go of their ankle and push their thigh down until your right knee slips out. Once it does, turn towards them again and drive your knee over like you want to come into mount.

You now almost have mount, except your right ankle is still trapped between their legs. They also still have double underhooks.

Take a big, strong step forward with your left leg. Your foot should end on the ground behind their head. Your shin comes up behind their neck and shoulder. Press your knee to the right, towards their head.

This is an unorthodox position, so I got a picture:

Marceloplata from mount

Pinch your left elbow to keep their arm trapped. Push their face to the floor with your right hand and pass your foot over their face. Sit to the ground but stay tight to their shoulder and don’t fall away. Finish as described above.

Marceloplata from reverse half guard pass

You’re on top of half guard and they have double underhooks. This time they reach down with their right arm and try to underhook your leg, like this want to come underneath your hips.

Crossface them and sprawl your leg back before they grab it too deeply. Post on the mat with both hands to support yourself. Switch your hips and swing your left leg around so you end up sitting on their other side.

This takes your left leg away from them so they’ll switch to double underhooks on your upper body again.

Your right leg is still trapped. Your left leg is posting out to prevent them from bridging you over. Your hands are still on the mat with your chest facing their chest.

You need to get your knee out of their half guard. This will happen two ways.

First, for them to come to their knees, they need to open their legs. When they start to, slide your knee out and bring it to the mat. It doesn’t matter if your ankle is trapped still.

The second way is just that some people will slide down to your ankle on purpose since that’s how they play half guard.

As soon as your knee is out, swing your left leg back over and come into “mount” as shown in the picture above. Finish the submission as usual.

Marceloplata from spinning half guard pass

Marcelo wasn’t sure he should teach this, since he thought it would confuse too many people, but he did anyway since he felt it was important to really understand what he’s doing with this half guard and Marceloplata game.

As in the previous move, they have half guard and are underhooking your leg. This time they are able to get deep under you like they want to go out the backdoor before you can crossface or sprawl out.

Post with your right hand on the mat for balance. Push their shoulder down with your left hand. Step over their head with your left leg and swing it forward. Spin to your right, going almost 180 degrees as you turn to face them. Unless they want their arms to be trapped (in which case you just pass like normal), they get underhooks again. So you end in the same position used in the last move.

This time your knee will usually come out as you spin, since they have to open their legs to get the momentum to rock under you.

Once your knee is out, step over into “mount” and finish like usual.

Omoplata as they escape side control

You have side control on their right side but they get the underhook. As they bridge into you and turn on their side, quickly throw your right leg over into mount. Step with your foot behind their neck, similar to the picture above (only this time you’re not in half guard).

Reach back with your right hand and grab their wrist to push their arm down so it’s wrapping your hip.

Fall to your right, throwing your right leg over their head as you go. Put a ton of pressure into their shoulder with your leg to first force them up to their knees and immediately down so their shoulder touches the mat. Sit up and finish like a normal omoplata as per above.

Marceloplata as they escape side control

The same side control situation as above. This time when you step over into mount, they push your left foot into half guard. Just make sure to keep weight on your left knee so they don’t put it in too, then proceed to do the Marceloplata like usual.

Omoplata as they force the side control escape

This time, you’ve got a big guy who is going to force his way up even if you get mount. As you step over, he just keeps getting to his knees anyway and bowls you over. Simply fall backwards and omoplata him like usual.


Marcelo Garcia Seminar Notes – Day One

I got back yesterday from a two day Marcelo Garcia seminar down at American Top Team in Hollywood, FL. It was a great experience, learned a ton of great techniques and had a lot of fun.

The theme for the whole seminar was giving Marcelo a chance to teach the material he uses in his everyday training but rarely gets to teach since most people only want him to do seminars on his signature moves. Marcelo said he was grateful to get to take a break from teaching the standard armdrags, RNC and x-guard. He said he never holds anything back, but there are aspects to his game that he doesn’t get to teach much since he’s still developing new material that people don’t know to ask to learn. This was especially true of the second day, which revolved entirely around omoplatas, which is a game few people realize he plays.

The first day focused on taking the back and finishing the RNC, which you’d expect from a Marcelo seminar. But what made this different than usual was that Leo Kirby, the host, asked Marcelo to go into aspects of his game that aren’t given as much fanfare, like the crucifix and the finer points of using his hooks and maintaining back control. Leo has been to four previous seminars and as many private lessons with Marcelo, and yet almost everything in this one was brand new to him.

Here are my notes so far. I know at least one person at the seminar was glad I was there so they wouldn’t have to take their own. “I’ll just read yours online.”

Pulling guard from clinch to butterfly guard sweep

You’re in the clinch with your right hand underhooking (palm on the back) and your left hand cupping the elbow. Your knees are slightly bent and your hips are a little bit back.

Pull them down and sit into butterfly guard and immediately try to sweep them to your left. Sit to the right and rock back on your left side. Lift your right hook as high as you can.

Ideally, they can’t post with their right arm since you’re holding the elbow and have their hand trapped in your armpit and they go right over.

But let’s learn how to do it when it’s not that easy. Instead of being swept, they’re able to post with their right arm and leg.

Keep your right hook up, lifting their left leg so it never touches the ground. Scoot your shoulders back and to the right to create space. Step on their right thigh with your left foot.

Lift their thigh with your left foot, taking their foot off the ground. Make sure your foot doesn’t slip off their thigh. Keep your left elbow pinched to your ribs to trap their hand.

With both their feet in the air and their arm trapped, they’ll fall over and you’ll come up into side control with an underhook on the far arm.

Taking the crucifix as they escape side control to RNC

When you have side control, you want to underhook their far arm. If they have the underhook, it’s easier for them to turn into you and come to their knees. But let’s say that happens…

You have side control on their right side (so their head is to your left). They underhook your right arm and bridge and come to their knees to try to get a single leg takedown.

Keep pressure on them with your chest as they turtle. As soon as you feel them grabbing your right leg, and before they can get a deep grip on it, kick it up and away. Your knee comes completely off the ground and your foot points to the ceiling.

When you feel their hands slip off your right leg and touch the floor, circle your knee over and drop it behind their arm (between their elbow and knee). Turn the corner and come to sideride and get the harness grip.

As always with the harness, the hand that goes under their far armpit covers the hand that goes across their chest/neck. This is because the hand of the arm that does the choking is the most important one, and they’ll be trying to grab it to defend.

Keep your chest pulled tightly to their back. Keep your knee deep behind their elbow so they can’t hide it.

Step over their left forearm with your left foot and drag your heel in to pull their arm into the crucifix. Triangle your legs on the side nearest to their legs (so your left ankle behind your right knee).

Grab their right wrist with your right hand. They now have no arms to defend their neck. Crawl your left hand up their shoulder and shake your forearm to dig under their neck. Keep getting deeper and deeper until you can’t go any further. The crook of your elbow shoulder be right below their chin and your hand on the back of their shoulder. Now take out your right hand and slide it behind their head for a RNC.

Lean forward and touch your head on the ground to the left, putting the weight of your chest on the back of their head. Finish the (very mean) RNC.

Sit into crucifix and armlocks

You have sideride but they are trying to bring their elbow around your knee and tuck it in. Sit though, sliding your knee deeper. Pull them back as you lean back and sit. This exposes their arm, so you can throw your left leg over it and get the crucifix. Triangle your legs per above.

Keep pulling them and sitting until your back touches the ground. Don’t do this until you’ve got their arm trapped. They’ll fall back so they’re laying on your chest. Keep your harness grip tight so they don’t slide their back to the ground and start escaping.

Touch the toes of your right foot to the ground and open your left knee (the one closest to their head) as much as you can. Their wrist should be trapped under your calf or heel. Bridge, keeping your left knee pointing out, to elbow lock them.

If they turn their arm (like doing a thumbs down) to avoid the pressure, turn towards them, getting on your right side to find the proper angle again. Make sure their wrist didn’t slip out from behind your left heel. Bridge to armlock them again.

Crucifix to guillotine

They are turtled and you have the crucifix. They are defending their neck with their free hand so you can’t get the RNC.

Release the harness and turn towards them. Wrap their neck with your left arm, getting your wrist/forearm under their throat. Lean so your weight is on their head. Slide your right hand between their shoulder and your chest/stomach and grab your left wrist. Pull your left arm and punch it deeper, getting the crook of your elbow below their chin. Pull your elbows to your body.

Sit and throw your right leg as high over their back as possible (over their shoulder if you can). Torque your body towards their head and finish the guillotine choke.

Reverse omoplata

They are turtled and you have the crucifix. They cross their trapped arm back so it’s around your right leg, pointing towards their own knees.

Switch your triangle so it on the side closest to their head (right ankle behind left knee).

Release the harness and bring your right arm to the near side of their head and do a forward roll. Give your training partner a chance to roll too or you’ll hurt his shoulder.

As he lands on his back, sit up and reach across his body with your right arm.

Hold his chest down as you bring your right leg back and lift your hips for a shoulder lock.

Sideride to rear mount with arm trapped

You have sideride but are unable to get the crucifix since he’s grabbing your choking side arm with both hands and tucking his elbow.

Use your harness grip to pull him back at a diagonal. Don’t try to take him straight backwards, but back and towards you.

As he raises up, bring your left foot up and step on his left forearm with your heel. Kick it down to break his grip and trap it under your leg.

Keep pulling him back so he falls into rear mount. With your left leg pinning his arm, put your foot in his groin like a normal hook. Your top hook can go in like normal or do whatever else you feel like.

Grab his right wrist with your right hand to trap the other arm too. Walk your hand up his shoulder and dig and shake under his neck. Get your arm as deep as you possibly can before taking out your other arm and finishing the RNC.

Sideride to rear mount, cobra stretch to two hooks

You attempt the previous move but are unable to trap his arm. You are able to get the bottom hook in, but he touches his right knee to his elbow to block the top hook.

Get your bottom hook (left leg) really deep and cross your ankles behind him. Like this.

Stretch him out by bringing your legs back, bridging your hips in, arching your back and upper body. Keep your harness grip tight with your chest on his back.

With him stretched out, throw your right hook in.

Keeping him on the choking side

You have rear mount with the harness and both hooks. You want to keep them turned to the same side as the arm that will choke them, but they’ll usually try to prevent this.

Let’s say your right arm in the choking one. They bridge and get to the left side and drive their shoulders to the mat to try to escape. This stretches out your arms and breaks the harness grip.

Take your right hand and reach behind their head, grabbing your wrist with your left hand (which is still underhooking their armpit). This creates a frame behind their neck and locks their shoulder so they can’t continue the escape.

Take out your left hook and throw your right leg all the way over their stomach. Keeping your upper body grip, twist your body like you want to come up into mount. This creates a ton of pressure behind their neck and shoulders. Swing yourself behind them again and turn them to the right with the frame. This puts them back on to their right side, where you want them.

Release your special grip and go back to the harness.

Roll them belly down and mean RNC

You have rear mount. They are grabbing your arm with both hands and bridging on you, but not really trying to escape. They just want to stall out.

Bring your right hook out enough to put the sole of your foot on their thigh. Take out your left hook and post on the ground. Push on their leg with one foot and bridge with the other to roll them.

Follow them over and quickly throw your hooks in before they go totally belly down.

They’re now face down, but they still have your arms trapped.

Put your toes on the ground so your heels lift their thighs and legs entirely off the ground. Explosively drive your hips into them and arch your back up as you rip your arms out. Maintain this pressure on their back. Don’t lessen it by posting on the ground with your hands.

Grab their forehead with one arm and pull it up to expose their neck. The pressure of your hips in his spine makes it easy to lift their head. Drive your other arm across their neck. Get a gable grip and bring your elbow behind their back. Get the crook of your elbow in the middle of their throat and finish with a harsh Dan Severn RNC.