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Net Neutrality and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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If you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you should care about net neutrality.

Net neutrality, which is the current norm (for the most part) for the internet, is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally. In a net neutral world, the delivery of information from a content giant like Netflix would be given the same priority as content delivered from your little brother’s first website.

Currently, major internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast are lobbying the FCC for the legal right to charge for premium priority bandwidth. For a service like Netflix, this means paying Verizon and Comcast for a “fast lane” to ensure that content from Netflix is delivered to users without lag or interruption. In this scenario, if Netflix would opt to not pay this premium, users would be likely to experience choppy playback, long load times, and perhaps even a total loss of access to the Netflix service.

Netflix might be able to afford this charge, but the majority of small business owners will likely find themselves at a huge disadvantage in this pay-to-play environment. Where the internet once created a level playing field where a singular entrepreneur could have his or her voice heard and gather a huge amount of momentum based on the merit of their work and ideas alone—think the early start of Facebook or MineCraft—the loss of net neutrality will build a wall between the people that have the money to be heard and the people that don’t.

And this matters for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The internet has given our community a way to unite our conversation, a conduit for exchanging techniques and ideas, and a platform to share our passion with others. Veterans of the sport will recall clipping techniques out of grappling magazines or tracking down old VHS mix-tapes of competitions and MMA matches. When Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu hit YouTube, we suddenly had a quick way to pool our collective knowledge and exchange ideas. Because of the internet, Worm Guard has already spread around the world where before you would burn out a VHS player rewinding and rewinding a grainy portion of a match to analyze the technique.

For us, that’s at stake.

So now imagine a world where content providers have to pay to play. How would that affect a service like MGInAction? What about the Grappler’s Guide? What about any of the other online technique databases? Worse yet, what if YouTube follows Facebook’s lead and starts to charge content providers a premium for access to their audience (business pages now have to pay to “boost” Facebook posts so that their entire audience sees the update)? Imagine what our culture would lose if suddenly creatives like BJJ Hacks or Stuart Cooper had to pay extra for their videos to stream smoothly and in high quality?

It would be a tragic loss for the collective voice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Net neutrality is a complex issue, and I urge you to learn more. Save the Internet is a good place to start. John Oliver of Daily Show fame also gives a good (and entertaining) summary of the issue on his new show Last Week Tonight. If you’d like to skip right to making a difference, this page summarizes everything that you can do to make your voice heard.

Speak up on behalf of your art.

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Beating the Near Arm in Side Control

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Maintaining top position in jiu-jitsu is very much a dynamic process. You constantly have to adjust and maneuver to account for your opponent’s attempts to escape. Your movements may not be big ones. They may even be invisible to the naked eye. But movement matters. If you get stiff and static, your opponent will find an opening and escape.

In this class, we focused on dealing with a near-arm frame. If you have achieved side control, this arm will typically frame against your hip to create space for a re-guard or to reduce your pressure to the point that they can turn and escape to their knees. If you aren’t aggressive and diligent about neutralizing this threat, your opponent will use it against you to weaken your position. Technically, there are four ways to beat this arm.

  1. Turn your hips toward the head to drop under your opponent’s elbow, assuming a kesa gatame position.
  2. Turn your hips toward the legs, dropping your hips in the groove between their shoulder and chin, assuming a north-south position.
  3. Turn your hips toward the legs, dropping in front of the hips, assuming a reverse kesa gatame position.
  4. Elevate your hips and assume a knee on belly position.

In this class, for the sake of simplicity, we look at the first two options and tie them to two basic submissions, the Americana and the Kimura. The idea here is to keep your hips active, to never let your opponent establish and exert control over your hips with his arm. Basically, you rock your hips side to side until you find a weakness in your opponent’s frame. Given his position on the bottom, it’s difficult for him to cover all fronts at once, so you have to learn to feel the openings with your weight.

When you transition into a kesa gatame position, the Americana is one of the basic submissions that will pop up. There are other options, of course, but I wanted to get my students to couple maintaining control with hunting for a submission in their minds, specifically with a simple submission that would not compromise their position if they missed it.

In the second technique, we drop into a north-south position. As you watch this, note the positioning of my hips, how I keep myself low and spread my weight out. I use my ribs to create pressure on my opponent’s chin and commit my control to one shoulder rather than both. Once I am in this position, I immediately look for a Kimura.

Admittedly, this transition to the Kimura is a bit tricky, and it took me a while to get it down. Once you are confident with it, it becomes a high-percentage, reliable attack. If you can get your hand under their elbow to wrap their arm, you should feel like you are about to finish the match because you are that close to a submission.

Next week, we are going to look at the other two options and work to develop a fluid top game, where you swivel and dig your hips until you find a dominate top position where your opponent’s framing arm is out of the game.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

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Opening Up Your Top Game

Last week, we started a new module that is a bit less specific than usual: top control. Over the next few weeks, we will cover side control, north/south, mount, and knee on belly. This will not be an entirely comprehensive analysis of every position by any means but rather an exploration of how they connect and how to transition between them as you hunt for submission. Learning the individual techniques will be important, but my overarching goal is to help my students develop a willingness to transition in and out of positions as their opponent attempts to escape.

Newer jiu-jiteiros have a habit of clinging to a top position. They get to scarf hold or mount and then hang on for dear life. They don’t react and adjust to their opponent’s movement. They just hold their position and hope for the best. In guard, we learn very quickly that movement is essential. Standing still for any length of time when your opponent is working to pass is almost guaranteed to end in disaster. You adjust your hips. You reset a grip. You build a frame. You continually maneuver to keep the fight where you want it.

When it comes to top control, many people equate control with a wrestling or judo style “pin.” You hold the person in place and prevent them from moving completely. In reality, a pin is much closer in concept to a submission. A pin is the result of a very calculated accumulation of efforts and advantages that render your opponent helpless. While stifling movement is certainly a key to a dominating top control, having the ability and awareness necessary to flow and adapt and adjust is perhaps most important.

A powerful top game is built on movement. Some movements are subtle while others are more dynamic, but movement is still essential.

To kick-off this module, we started to work on movement drills to help my students get more comfortable with some key top transitions. First, we looked at walking your hips backward after a cross knee pass, using your hips to turn your opponent’s hips away, helping you to prevent the re-guard.

Next, we looked at two knee on belly transitions. In the first, we switch sides by traveling across the belt line. In the second, we transition by circling around our opponent’s head. Being comfortable with knee on belly and these transitions in particular will help you to regain control when your opponent resorts to explosive movements to create space. It takes some awareness and some confidence to do effectively, and these drills are a great place to start building those skills.

The last movement we covered is still new to me. I picked it up from this Aesopian video (and he does it better than me), and it’s already started to have a positive impact on my jiu-jitsu. So even though it’s a work-in-progress for me, I wanted to get my students working on it so that they could skip the hurdles that hung me up.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

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Polar Vortex Omoplata Wrap-Up

Unfortunately, the infamous polar vortex interrupted the omoplata module and impeded some filming and updating. So this post will be a bit longer than usual for the sake of delivering on the promises that I made to my students and to the readers of this blog.

Early on in the module, I said that I wanted to explore the full potential omoplata rather than simply looking at it as an attack from guard. We managed to do that to some degree, but not completely, especially not by Clark Gracie standards. Two key positions that we did not have time to address: the omoplata from side control and the omoplata from mount.

What we were able to do was build part of the instinctual foundation that is necessary for starting to attack with the omoplata quickly from a variety of positions, especially in scrambles. In it’s simplest form, the omoplata requires one thing: a bent arm wrapped around your same-side hip. It doesn’t matter if you are on top, on bottom, upside-down or right-side-up. If you have that, chances are good that you can get the omoplata.

In this first drill, we look at isolating this feeling by exploring an omoplata counter to a (really really) bad double leg. I actually land this fairly often when I roll with wrestlers, but it takes a bit more work than this drill let’s on. What I am most concerned about though is helping my students develop the confidence and the feel to isolate the shoulder even if they are falling. It’s a bit of functional, controlled chaos.

In this next video, we look at attacking the omoplata while defending a single leg. This is not a ground-breaking entry by any means, but it’s one that pops up more than many people realize. Having the awareness and commitment to attack it in the midst of a scramble takes some drilling and practicing. Once you get used to rolling after an omoplata, your submission world starts to get a lot more creative.

Once you have the presence of mind to roll into an omoplata, you have the ability to chase the submission even as your opponent attempts to escape, countering their roll with a roll of your own. Two caveats: You don’t have to re-roll, especially if you feel like you are losing control of the arm and shoulder. Taking side control is perfectly acceptable. Also, you may end up in a weird position where you have the shoulder isolated but your opponent is sitting on his butt, rather than on his knees or on his stomach.

In the next video, we look at the re-roll and this odd sit-up position. Technically, you can finish the omoplata from here, but developing the feel for the angle will take some time. Your goal is ultimately the same from a submission perspective, bend your opponent’s arm behind his head like a Kimura, but the dynamics are odd at first. As you’ll see, controlling the opposite shoulder is still critical (just like if your opponent was turtled), but you may need to hip out slightly to get the submission.

Another scramble where you can start to attack for the omoplata is when you are attacking the armbar. You can transition to the armbar from guard as well, but in this case we look at the armbar from mount. As my partner slips one arm out of danger, the other arm comes into range. The trick to this is catching it early (and you’ll see me miss my opportunity in the video because I wasn’t paying attention). If the arm closest to your opponent’s head is occupied, use your free hand to pull your opponent’s arm to your hip. If the arm closest to your opponent’s legs is occupied, you will punch forward with that same arm to achieve the omoplata position. This motion will look similar to the “zombie” for any 10th Planet goofballs that might be reading this.

And finally, in 3-D Jiu-Jitsu fashion, we look at the reverse, going from the armbar to the omoplata. This particular entry came from a YouTube video I saw some time ago. Unfortunately, I forget who was teaching it, but I vaguely recall it being a Gracie Barra black belt. At any rate, I watched the video and thought it was utterly stupid. Not a move that would be practical. One day when I was goofing around, I went for it on a whim, and I now look for it all the time. I love it, especially in the gi.

Thank you for your patience with the omoplata module. I promise that we will get back on track next week with a new course.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

Bonus omoplata sweep!

 

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Welcoming Scramble and Gawakoto to the Artechoke Family

When Artechoke was founded, we committed ourselves to serving the roots of jiu-jitsu. With so many fight companies focusing on the latest and greatest competitors, we wanted to do our part to support the other facets of the sport that are equally as important: the people that are working to grow the sport by teaching or by facilitating the evolution of jiu-jitsu culture.

A few days ago, two unique jiu-jitsu brands threw their support behind our Indiegogo fundraiser for Matt “Aesopian” Kirtley, and we couldn’t be happier about their fit with the Artechoke mission. We are excited to announce that Scramble and Gawakoto are official Artechoke Media sponsors.

About Scramble

Matt Benyon and Ben Tong have developed a brand that blends the grace and elegance of Japanese design with the freshness of the rapid evolving art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Their brand has an earned a reputation for quality and innovation in the sport, raising the bar for jiu-jitsu gear companies everywhere. For us at Artechoke, we love the Scramble voice and the way everything Scramble produces stands out from the sea of companies slinging gis and t-shirts.

About Gawakoto

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Bong Abad describes himself as a self-confessed comic book geek, and his geekdom resonates throughout his designs. With the sport of BJJ built on the backs of many closet geeks—who have shoeboxes full of Magic the Gathering cards and more experience with Pokemon training than they might care to admit—Bong’s crisp and clever style is a natural fit. His work is inspired, balancing the serious passion that practitioners have for jiu-jitsu with the light-hearted playfulness that keeps us coming back to the mat year after year.

And if you need any more evidence of just how awesome Scramble and Gawakoto are, they quickly coordinated a collaboration with Meerkatsu to release a fundraising t-shirt for the victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The t-shirt was a powerful force good, getting featured by publications like Gracie Magazine and touted by grapplers like Mike Fowler.

Working with Artechoke

We have room for more business sponsors and would welcome the opportunity to partner with more companies like Scramble and Artechoke. Unfortunately, our space for gear sponsors has run out, but you can still take advantage of our Open Mat Radio Sponsor perk to expose your brand to a passionate, engaged audience. For other jiu-jitsu-related businesses—like nutrition companies, bloggers, tournament promoters, school owners, magazine publishers, acai dealers, etc—we would still love to collaborate with you. Click here to learn more about the Business Sponsor perk in our Indiegogo campaign, and please don’t hesitate to email Marshal Carper at mcarper@gmail.com with any questions.