Mental Revelations of the Progressing Grappler Continue



    This essay is a follow up on “Mental Revelations of The Progressing Grappler.” I am pleased to announce that the initial list was not exhaustive (though I never purported it to be), and even as I have continued to progress, my eyes are continually being opened to new features and aspects of grappling. My prayer is that you are exposed to this revelation at an earlier stage in your training than I was and therefore are able to tailor your training to make your grappling as sharp as it can be.

Nature and Existence of “Scrambles”:

A scramble is a period of time within a match/roll where movement is opened up, neither participant has full control, and the apparent pace of the match quickens noticeably.   Continue reading





“Meeting and dismissing that inner-voice, the one that calls for retreat, calls for rest, calls for acquiescence to physical exhaustion, then proceeding forward, pushing on and achieving more than what you thought you could endure, hardens your ability to survive.” –Tim Sledd

    Warriors, athletes, and competitors are looking for an edge. Some stay tuned to the latest diets, exercise routines, and literature. Some choose to buy the latest equipment, gear, or instructionals on their relevant field. But throughout history, a key characteristic of successful warriors, athletes, and competitors has been the desire to survive.

    By “survival,” I mean the ability to meet great obstacles head on, overcome them, and continue forward with the mission. Perhaps the obstacle is pain, limited finances, or fewer troops, but to a real warrior, there is nothing that will get in the way of the mission. A small percentage of people exemplify this character trait, but all of us are born with this trait and can condition ourselves to endure obstacles so as to meet our goals. 

“Fighting is actually the best thing a man can have in his soul.”

                        – Renzo Gracie 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

Holy Trinity of BJJ (Strategy, Tightness, Timing)


The Big Tree will not fear the dull axe, nor will it fear the axe that has been tucked away in cabinet. Rather, the axe must be sharp and ready. To be such in jiu-jitsu, one must have four things. First, one must have a mastery of the fundamental positions. Next, one must be able to organize those moves into an actionable strategy. Then, one’s timing must be right. Finally, the tightness of the technique must be right.


In Small Axe BJJ, I came up with Minimal Objective Requirements for Blue Belt. These are what I feel are the core building blocks of BJJ. They are focused on the fundamental positions in BJJ (i.e. the guard, mount, back mount, cross-side, knee on belly, and the reverse of each position). The techniques listed are those that I feel once mastered, provide the framework for adding the Continue reading

Mental Revelations Of the Progressing Grappler



                One of the most exciting parts of teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the experience of witnessing students progress in skill and develop in mental acuity. Part of the progression entails improved physical abilities, but the beauty of BJJ is that, because of its intellectual components, one’s physical limitations can be overcome. This essay will explore the various mental revelations that occur with developing and progressing grapplers.

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MMA and BJJ… Symbiotic??

Ari Bolden, of www.submissions101.comrecently asked me to comment on my perspective of the relationship between MMA and BJJ. He asked me if MMA will make BJJ obsolete? He also wanted me to address differences between MMA grappling and BJJ. This post will try to address these issues as well as set an argument for the vitality of BJJ, if not the need for serious Mixed Martial Artists to train both gi and no-gi. Continue reading

A Perspective on BJJ Belts

I have thought alot about the belts and what they mean when it comes to BJJ. There are many different metaphors and analogies that can be utilized to help one understand that progressing through the ranks is difficult and takes significant time, but to keep perspective on why, I like to use the analogy of the modern American educational process. I thought through this in 2004, but never put it in writing. Continue reading