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Functional Exercises for BJJ

kklogo-smallMany people spend hours on the mat, hours watching instructionals, hours in the gym and often they are left looking for an edge. Nothing replaces mat time, but proper conditioning and strength building are components of any athlete’s over all game and often the difference between winning and losing.

Of course running and weight lifting can help you develop sufficient cardio and strength to excel in grappling. What do you do when you are bored with those options, don’t have a gym near by, or believe (as I do) that running is harder on the body than an armlock and weight lifting is inefficient? You turn to non-traditional yet functional alternative training methods.

Below are several cheap, simple, and FUNCTIONAL exercises that will leave you exhausted while building relevant strength. There is AMPLE example and explanation on how to do the exercises that I demonstrate, so I (after demonstrating the exercise) take you through it’s BJJ/Grappling counterpart. Enjoy the exercises, and Happy Grappling! Click “read more” to see the vids. Continue reading

BJJ Sweeps Tutorial: Using a Judo Principle to Increase Effectiveness

In my quest to be the best grappler I can be, I began studying Judo to supplement my BJJ. Insodoing, I bought and read Jigoro Kano’s “Kodokan Judo,” and Neil Ohlenkamp’s “Judo Unleashed.” I also enlisted a new BJJ student, Neil Coker (a Judo Black Belt, and national level judoka) to begin coaching me.

What has occured is a continual analysis of how the principles of one art can benefit the other. Nowhere has a principle of Judo benefitted an aspect of BJJ more, for me, than in the realm of SWEEPS!
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Michigan Open 2009, 3 Champs, 3 Runner Ups, 2 Thirds (Pics and Vids)


On September 26th, 2009, members of Small Axe Jiu Jitsu converged on Northern Detroit to compete in the Michigan Open. We had a competitor that weighed in less than 70 lbs and a couple who cleared the 200 lbs mark with ease. The end result of the day was Small Axe taking home 3 first place medals, 3 second place medals, 2 third place medals and the other two competitors getting some great mat time.

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Controlling the Hips! Essay and Vids


                It is inevitable that in BJJ you will be told, “Control the hips,” or “It’s all about the hips,” or something along those lines. The advice is sound! What do they mean? This essay is going to try to demonstrate a way to direct your attention to controlling your opponent’s hips. We will first look at what I call the “Hip Control Zone (HCZ).” Then we will dissect several different positions both offensively and defensively with respect and attention paid to the HCZ.

Hip Control Zone (HCZ):

                Imagine you are on your back, under side control. Every time you try to elbow escape, you run into his arm or his knee and you are never able to get your knee to your elbow. Or, you are attacking someone from your guard; each time you move to sweep or swing on an armbar your legs seem too short or your butt feels like it is stuck to the mat. What you’re imagining is probably a past reality and likely will happen again; someone has managed to control your hip mobility and they did so by controlling your HCZ.

                The HCZ is a moving target. Depending on the position, it can be a small target or a very large target. If a person is flat on his back the HCZ is small, but if the person bumps up onto his side turning into you, the HCZ grows larger and harder to manage.  However, the core of the HCZ is the area on a person’s side where their hip bone begins.

Side Control Variations: Continue reading

The "Chong Pass"

When the Cheech doesn’t work, think Chong! This guard pass from the Chill Dawg works very well.

I have caught quite a bit of flack for calling the ‘New York’ the ‘London’! My bad. The position is the same. Many of the 10th Planet Fans who had viewed this have commented that there are a number of counters and potential traps when one does this technique. That may be true, but there are also a lot of traps and counters if you just sit there. My approach is to actively and aggressively work to improve your position!