Last Wednesday, our good friend Pedro came to visit us in our studio. He’s a great guy and his stopping by couldn’t have come at a better time. I was still reeling from the night Jeff got his brown belt. The fellas from Bushido came to join in on the festivities and rolling with them was just the beginning.
Let me give you some of my personal thoughts on Pedro’s Jiu-Jitsu. He’s awesome. If he’s not as awesome as someone you’ve already crossed paths with, he will be one day. Beside Jeff, Pedro is one of the most careful players I’ve ever sparred with. He’s that good and I know this because I’m aware of what good is.
Pedro and I sparred on Wednesday night and while I feel I did well, this little session of ours woke me up a bit. I’m not going to say there was a sort of epiphany or anything, perhaps there was, but the fact that I’m still thinking about it gives me pause. I keep returning to the notion that I fudged my doing well. Pedro seemed so relaxed and I had to use muscle.
Is muscle what Jiu-jitsu is about?
After Pedro and I were finished with a few rounds, he began going over one of my weird habits – and trying to correct it. He said something to the effect of, “Jay, I see that you are trying to halt my progression by using distance. By doing this, you leave a large gap in the area I’m heading towards.” Listening to this, I’m thinking, “Yeah, I do that on purpose.” But I couldn’t say that. If I had defended my style, Pedro may have stopped talking and by him doing that, I would’ve lost out. He’s got a lot of knowledge – much more than I have.
A while ago, I read a quote somewhere that said something about trying to put yourself in so many horrible places during Jiu-Jitsu practice that eventually, there’ll be no more horrible places to put yourself – you’ll have learned to defend them all. I smiled when I saw that because it aligned perfectly with what I had already been doing. I constantly find myself in compromising positions and I think it may have led to routine instead of practice. I’ve actually done it so much that I prefer an opponent to pass my guard so I can simply try to escape him. But there’s a problem with where I’ve led myself. I think I may have forgotten about Jiu-Jitsu.
One of the areas Pedro reviewed with me was that when sparring, an opponent needs to climb you like a ladder. They’ll begin at your feet, then move to your hips and finally your arms and head. If they can make it up there, they’ll submit you. When fighting with your feet, you can use distance. Use your open guard to get creative and keep them at bay. Once they pass your guard though, you can not let them sink in on your hips. Once they have hip control, they almost have total control.
We went over a few techniques to keep someone from gaining hip control. One of them was to keep your elbows in tight to your hips and keep shrimping away from them. It’s kind of the same thing that Jeff’s been telling people for years. He’s actually really good at this and since I’ve recently requested more mat time with him, I think I’ll start paying attention.
My playing coy all these years has kind of gotten in the way of training the way I’m supposed to train. I gave Pedro’s method a try on Saturday and I’d say it worked well. Our friends from Bushido stopped by again and while especially worthy opponents, they had difficulty pinning me down. It felt good to get back to those basics I’d moved away from.
Another area Pedro focused on with me was something Saulo Ribeiro talks about a lot. Quintessential Jiu-Jitsu, if you will. Instead of pushing an opponent away to gain advantage, move your own body. The way this fits in with Jiu-Jitsu is this: a smaller person is traditionally inclined to do well in this sport – good technique creates a situation where weight is less of an obstacle. The smaller person simply has to get creative. If a larger opponent is in the way of a smaller one, the smaller one can’t be expected to push the larger one around. He has to move himself around to do what he wants to do.
Pedro gave me an example. He lay flat on the floor along the wall. He then rolled on to his side so the front of his body was directly facing the wall. He asked me – if his goal was to lay face down on the floor, would he try to move the wall? Of course not. He would have to pull the bottom of his body away from the wall. So simple, yet so difficult. He called it conceptual.
The same is true for rolling into and out of turtle position. He called it similar to standing to base, or a technical stand up. It would be challenging to explain here, but I’ll try to do it this way; if you were laying flat on the floor and your opponent was sprawled on top of you, you wouldn’t want to bring your legs forward into turtle position. You’d want to bring your body back to your legs. This way, you’re dragging your opponent to you and altering their base. Saulo Ribeiro talks about this as well.
I tried this concept on Saturday and it worked well. Dave from Bushido kept saying, “Nice roll. Oh, nice roll.” Made me feel good and that made my Jiu-Jitsu even better.
If you’re into learning Jiu-Jitsu and want to pick up some pointers from one of the masters, you won’t go wrong with Saulo Ribeiro. He talks the way people want to listen. He picks up on the details and he’s very smart. He’s the force behind the book, Jiu-Jitsu University and now has multiple DVD sets out.
I’m going to post a short video below, just to give you a taste of how this man thinks and teaches. I like how he tells you “why” you should do things like he does. Enjoy.
Saulo Ribeiro – Jiu-Jitsu Revolution 1, Passing the Guard