One of the main reasons that some grapplers are able to improve so quickly is because they develop systematic approaches to grappling.

The difference between a systematic understanding of something and a broad understanding is that those with a systematic understanding have a methodical, logical and step- by- step approach to their learning. A systematic learner is able to implement their system effectively, rather than knowing a wide range of techniques that do not necessarily connect to one another in a sequence.

In Jiu-Jitsu, we see systematic learners start slowly as they piece together principals rather than broad ranges of technique. However, once their foundation of knowledge is developed, their learning trajectory spikes dramatically; often leading to large overall strides in their learning as they apply their systematic understanding to more and more principals and positions.

We can see examples of this concept in the likes of the Ryan Brothers, students of John Danaher, Ryan Hall and the Martinez brothers to name a few. Systems based approaches have made these grapplers some of the most skilled and knowledgeable practitioners in the modern BJJ scene.

Developing a systematic understanding within you training will have far more benefits than just simply trying to link together random techniques you’ve learned. These can be very individual, and you have to factor in things such as your physique, levels of agility and dexterity and more. Once you have an understanding of what your body is capable of, you can begin to develop a system that best fits your preferences and needs.

Thanks for reading.


Offense is the best defense. A note on competing.

“I always try to attack. While I’m on the offensive, my opponent can think of nothing but defending.” Marcelo Garcia

This has to be one of my favorite quotes when it comes to developing strategy in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but I suppose it also applies to martial arts in general, as well as life.

Nic Gregoriades once described Jiu-jitsu to me as a game of awareness: The more aware I am and the more of my opponent’s awareness I am able to control, the more I will be able to achieve. I can control my opponent’s awareness by removing his options. By attacking and forcing him to defend, I remove his options to attack and force him to become solely concerned with defending. I reduce their awareness and increase their margin for error. 

There is no doubt that sound defense is crucial in developing good Jiu-jitsu, but a strong offense is paramount, especially in a competition context. In competition, points are exclusively awarded for offensive action; be it a sweep to a dominant position, a submission attempt or a guard pass. To develop successful competition Jiu-jitsu, a practitioner will have to concern themselves with developing an attacking mentality and offensive strategy.

This is in no way a criticism of defensive strategy or sound guard work. A sound defense and an understanding of sound counter-attacking opportunities can take a practitioner very far; capitalizing on the mistakes or the openings of an overzealous or aggressive opponent strikes to the core ethos of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu after all. 

Recently I’ve heard criticisms of point based Jiu-jitsu and the rule sets of certain competition. Although justified, we have to understand that the aim of any rule set is to define the parameters under which a sport is contested. As competitors, by entering a competition we are agreeing to compete under these parameters. Don’t like guard pulling? Don’t like the amount of points awarded for specific actions? Then don’t enter a Jiu-jitsu competition.

If executing an successful offense means you pulling guard on your opponent, then be prepared to do so. If it means taking an opponent down, then be prepared to do so. There is no singlular path required to mount an effective offense, that’s the beauty of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. If you don’t like guard pulling, then either get better at passing or enter a wrestling tournament. If you don’t like like a specific aspect of the sporting parameters, get better at playing to the rules or simply don’t compete.

A sound offense means being able to utilize strategy and technique to overcome the problems laid out in front of you. This doesn’t just mean fighting your opponent, but it also means fighting within the parameters of a rule set.

Thanks for reading


Reverse X Guard Ride to Knee bar

I love X guard, Reverse X too. Not only are there endless opportunities for sweeps, but heaps of rides and reversals depending on the opponent’s response or escape.

Here, I ride Matt’s hip twist as he avoids the sweep into a reverse mount and finish the lay back knee bar.



Creating opportunities

Something I’ve come to understand about Jiu Jitsu is that the player who maximizes their opportunities is (more often than not) the one who emerges successful in any exchange.

For example: the guard player who has an in depth understanding of their options and creates more opportunities than their opponent is able to prevent finds success through their efforts. The passer who opens a number of avenues to pass will always be more successful than the passer who tries to insist on a single pass.

The name of the game is opportunities. The more angles of approach we create; the greater our chances of success in any given endeavor.

This applies to Jiu Jitsu, but equally to work, study and other aspects of our lives. The more we are able to position ourselves to maximize success, the more often we will find it.

Thanks for reading.


Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection

Two of the most important things I have learnt in the fields of education and Philosophy are Objectivity and Relativity.

Recently I’ve come to see just how broadly these two ways of thinking apply beyond just these two fields; particularly in my BJJ practice.

*For the sake of this exploration, I would like to work with the following definitions of Objectivity & Relativity.

1. Objectivity refers to concrete or set axioms (statements) of truth that do not shift regardless of which perspective they are examined from.

2. Relativity refers to statements which, depending on the perspective they are approached from, will have a subjective value; being either true or false depending on the conditions of the situation or person.

Let’s continue…

Continue reading “Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection”

Butterfly Guard transition: Ashi Garami to Heel hook

This is one of my favorite transitions to mess around with.

Butterfly and seated guard offer a lot of options against an opponent trying to crowd your hips. I can elevate and preserve my hip movement with relative ease.

When I cut the angle through to get a bit on the ashi or single leg X, I focus on clamping my legs as high as possible to control my opponent’s hips and dominate the knee line.

The heel hook finish is one of many options from the single leg X position, but an effective one nonetheless.

Thanks for watching.


Video courtesy of Ben Mackenzie