Being Small

To paraphrase Miyamoto Musashi, it’s important that every man to know what it feels like to be big and it’s important for every man to know what it feels like to be small. The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is one of those books that’s considered quintessential for studying a Japanese martial art. Personally, I’m not really into the eastern mysticism. It’s a good book anyway. I think the discussion of focus and perception are the bigger takeaways for people who don’t really care about mysticism, but are looking for tips from one of the greatest fighters of Japanese history.

At 82 kg, I’m not exactly tiny. I’m also by no means huge. There are people I can dominate by sheer size alone, and there are those who dominate me simply by being bigger. That always feels like a cop-out. “Of course he threw me. He fights at 100kg. I fight at 80. 20 kg is a reasonable difference.” It’s not a cop-out. It’s the truth. I’ve seen 60 kg men throw guys who were easily 100 kg. I’ve also seen those same 60 kg guys dominate on the ground. What I have never seen is either of those things happen without the 60 kg guy being significantly more experience or possessing a much higher natural aptitude.

I think there’s a lot to the discussion of size. I’ve covered before why I think it matters and that hiding behind Helio Gracie, Caio Terra, or Kyuzo Mifune are straw man arguments for the common practitioner. What the previous argument left out is how size changes the game. I think Dan over at Science Of Skill had a great post about being the little guy and what that means:

The thing is, being a medium guy I haven’t really had a need to develop the kind of game that a small guy does. The way I go with guys who are 20 kg lighter than me is the same way I go with guys who are 20 kg heaver than me. The positions I end up with change – a big guy can force me to use the guard, while a small guy is far less likely to be able to escape a position like kesa. The core game though, and my personal preferences for submissions and positions don’t. If anything, my game is more like the big guys because they’re the ones I work out with more often. Get to the top, hold it there, harvest an arm. Never let someone who’s bigger than you get a pinning position. Never give anyone who’s smaller than you an inch to escape when you’re pinning them.

So, to summarize, size matters, but I want to start looking at the facets of where it matters beyond just “I can beat you because I’m 40 kg heavier.” I want to look at the big guys and see if their high percentage moves are significantly different from the high percentage moves of the little guys. I have a sneaking suspicion that each weight class will have it’s own set of techniques that work super well.

Today’s Technique: Keylock from Turtle Bottom

Kimura, keylock, double wrist lock, ude garami. Pick your terminology.

  1. You’re in turtle (referee’s position) with your partner attacking you from the side. He’s keeping good weight on the near-side so you can’t roll him over your back. Then, he makes a huge mistake, he reaches to grab your far collar to open it up for a choke.
  2. All you really need is the wrist trapped, so  raise your elbow up and back to pinch on the arm. We’ll say it’s your right arm trapping his right arm (he’s on your left side). Ideal position is to have your elbow trapping the upper forearm or higher so that your hand can cup the lower forearm by the wrist.
  3. Step up with your right leg like you’re going to roll him over you. You’re just making space here.
  4. Qucikly spin underneath him so that you end up doing a sit-out. You should end up with your right elbow on his shoulder, holding his right arm at the lower forearm still (you should have an undergrip on the arm). If you’re having trouble finishing the keylock here, just bail and take his back, but if you feel the position is right, gently lean back. It’s important to use your body weight because you’re applying the lock with only one arm.

It’s important that your elbow ends up grinding into their shoulder. The weight on their shoulder is the only thing keeping them from coming back up until you start in on the submission. You can also switch to a two-armed variation once you’ve done the sit-out. To do this, feed your left hand under his elbow and figure-four on your right arm, block his arm with your hip so he can’t pull it out, then switch your right hand to an over grip instead of an undergrip – now you’re in the traditional kimura grip.

Today’s Technique: Toe Hold from Side Mount

This is more to remind me of how to do this technique, but if you can pick it up from the description or have pointers, mad props. While I’m out of practice I’m going to try to make a point to go over how to do at least one technique each day.

  1. You’re on top in side control. For simplicity sake you’re on their right side (your right arm is closes to their feet, your left arm is up by their head). Your left arm is on the far side (think kimura set-ups). Your right arm can either be on the far side (judo style pin) or blocking the hip (in a semi-North-South style side control).
  2. Put your right hand between their legs and grab their left foot at the toe. You don’t need to worry about the inverted triangle from here because you’re holding their foot. Having said that, their defense at this point is simply to straighten their left leg so be quick with step 3. If they do straighten their leg, bail and switch to mount. Most of the time that I’m setting up leg locks I’m looking for them to do the easy defense because it opens a direct path to a better position.
  3. Lace your left hand under their leg and figure-four so that you have the basic toe hold position. From here you’re pretty much golden. There still are escapes, but in a worst-case scenario you still shouldn’t be in a terrible position.
  4. Rise up and use the figure-four lock to turn them towards you. This is made that much easier if they’re trying to shrimp to get out of side control. The goal is to use the ankle to lock the knee and hip. Some play is warranted here to find the best position for you personally to finish this.
  5. Remember – your hands are just locked, it’s your body that applies to force. Even if you’re using your hips to pin their hips or keep your base, you can twist your shoulders to get most of your weight fighting their ankle. That’s not a fight their ankle is going to win.

Real Life Getting In The Way

I try to not talk about where I work. If you’re from the area you probably know why and where just from that. Lately I’ve been doing 60+ hour weeks to try to finish a project I’m working on. As such I haven’t seen the mat in a bit over a week. Without training I don’t really have the urge to write up a lot of stuff. I worked through the weekend and missed Metamoris also. Going off the stuff posted on LapelChoke it sounds like it was awesome. Maybe next time they can do a few fewer fights and have no time limits so that there are no draws. Thoughts?

Search Terms

Yesterday Chelsea talked about how she’s been getting more traffic. I thought it was pretty cool. To be honest, the only significant traffic I get comes from the posts that her and Can link up on their blogs or reddit. Most of the stuff I write gets 1-2 views, but then you have the post about the Olympics (which I should probably clean up at some point) which has 945 as of today. The fact that a single post of mine has almost 1,000 hits is still unfathomable to me. It’s like how the videos of me doing judo tournaments as a white belt a few years back have hundreds of YouTube hits – who the hell is watching these?

Lately I’ve been getting hits from search engines though. It’s pretty mundane stuff – I have three different Fushida gi reviews (which I should probably add pictures to), an instructional for building a floor at home for judo/BJJ, and the links on the side reference all the gyms in Madison that I know of for jujitsu/judo/BJJ. Sometimes though, sometimes you get a really great search term, and I thought I’d share some that have come in with you:

  • whats the lowest ceiling clearance for judo mat
  • wisconsin pulling guards
  • gracie t shirt ground is my ocean
  • “folk wrestling” “grab the legs”
  • bjj grip fighting

So, I was able to tell instantly what posts they got to without doing the Google search for each one, but it’s pretty entertaining to do the search and see the results. The fact that I’m the #1 or #2 result on some of these or that I show up multiple times on the first page for one just makes me laugh. So, to address all of these search terms:

  • The lowest ceiling depends on your level of control and the size of you and uke, but consider 10′ an absolute minimum, and 12′ a good recommended minimum.
  • This blog has nothing to do with the National Guard.
  • Folk wrestling refers to each culture’s unique style of wrestling (folk style wrestling). In America that refers to what is practiced in high schools. It’s the continuation of the chain from Collar-and-elbow to Catch to Collegiate. You can grab the legs in American folk style wrestling. It’s called a shot. Look up “single leg takedown” and you’ll have what you’re looking for. To learn about the rules for other countries’ styles of folk wrestling check out FILA (look under the “Traditional” header in the bar).
  • The secret to good grip fighting in BJJ is to know how to grip fight from a sport like Sambo or Judo. Search “Judo grip fighting” or look into Stephen Koepfer’s “Grip to Sub” series. Reilly Bodycomb also has some top-notch videos showing different grips. I’ve heard Sambo be referred to as “Judo’s best kept secret” more than once – this is the kind of material that leads to statements like that.