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Artechoke in a Can: Dynamic Kimuras

To round out our kimura module, and this is becoming something of a tradition, I exposed my students to some of the “newer” applications of the kimura.

We focused on fundamental kimura attacks and transitions for most of the module because not only are they accessible and reliable, they are a good way to expand the way a person thinks about a technique in jiu-jitsu. For six weeks, I’ve emphasized the idea that the kimura is a position, not just a submission. Making that distinction helps you to explore the potential of a technique rather than thinking of it in terms of “success or failure.”

In today’s lesson, we looked at some more dynamic kimura transitions, which I first picked up from a Mendes brothers video. For the sake of being thorough, that video is below.

Admittedly, this particular kimura application is still relatively new to me, so teaching it is a way for me to refine my thoughts on it, and it also provides me with a stable of beta testers. With 16 other people playing with the Mendes kimura, the chances of someone showing me a new discovery or insight related to this particular technique is high. In that way, we can all grow together.

To start that ball rolling, we looked at the kimura that the Mendes brothers showed, which I have been using to set the armbar or take the back.

Next, we looked at countering the single leg with a kimura grip. This is not a new technique by any means, but being comfortable with the Mendes transition has made me much more confident in attacking with this technique because I feel prepared to deal with the inevitable scramble that follows.

To end the class, we looked at a recovery drill, the purpose of which is to help make the Mendes transition feel more natural.

And to prove that more people are using the kimura grip than just the Mendes brothers, here is a short clip of Andre Galvao using the kimura grip as a control tool, just like we’ve talked about for the last 6 weeks:

Next week, we start my favorite module: arm drags and back-takes.

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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Artechoke in a Can: Kimura Flow Drill

Last week, we introduced Artechoke in a Can, which jumped into the middle of a kimura module that I’ve been teaching in my no-gi class at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh. I teach in “modules” because exploring advanced concepts and applications of techniques is difficult without first establishing an understanding of the fundamentals, so when I pick a theme we build a foundation first and then add on to it, which allows my students to learn more than how to do a technique; they get the why as well. With each week building on the last, my students can also accumulate a significant amount of repetitions, which makes them more likely to retain and use what they learned than if it had a been a one-shot class.

In this particular lesson, we focused entirely on kimura drills, an active review of the high-points of what we had already covered. Rather than do more static drills, we did flow drills. To give you some context here, most of this thinking comes from Matt Kirtley of The idea is that jumping from static drilling to live application is difficult. To incorporate a new technique efficiently and effectively, you need to bridge that gap. Flow drilling is one level about static drilling. It forces students to chain techniques together into a sequence, making them more familiar with transitioning from one technique to another while easing them into trigger training.

Trigger training is stimulus-based drilling. When your partner does A, you react with B, but instead of the path always being the same, your partner chooses the trigger, forcing you to react appropriately. The flow drills incorporate triggers to a degree, which helps to start making a mental association between a specific scenario and a specific reaction. Again, this is nothing revolutionary, and I certainly did not invent it myself, but many jiu-jiteiros forget to use this type of drilling in their own training. The videos below will give you an idea of how to create a flow drill out of your current technical project, and they also provide a glimpse into some of the techniques that we worked on before Artechoke in a Can launched.

In the first drill, we emphasized positional transitions, coming out of the guard to take the top position. Most of these are basic transitions, yes, but the opportunities are too often missed in live rolling.

Next, we focused on our top transitions, specifically recognizing when to attack with a north south kimura (shoulder up, elbow exposed) and when to attack with a north south guillotine (shoulder down, elbow hidden, chin turned away). We also used this as an opportunity to refresh some of our back-take transitions.

Finally, we did a quick kimura to armbar drill from guard. This move is pretty simply, but it requires fairly advanced hip movement. I noticed that some of my students struggled with this transition when they first learn it, mostly because of the hip movement involved, so we came back to it to hone that coordination. The move itself is pretty useful as well.

Next week, we will do a final lesson on the kimura, consisting some of the more dynamic kimura transitions, and then we will move into an arm drag and back take module.

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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Sneak Peek of Don’t Your Wear Gi to the Bar

We’ve been hinting for the last few months that our first book is close to completion. Last Sunday, we had our last major photo shoot. We are almost there.

While you wait, check out some rough, context-free photos. They are raw and untouched, by the way, not final products by any means, but we wanted to share them with you anyway. As you can tell, this book focuses intensely on the seriousness of technique. We reveal some of the most deadly and effective jiu-jitsu techniques known to the modern world.

Special thanks to Pete Roberts from Origin for sponsoring the book.


Darryl works to set up an arm drag to counter Marshal’s cross collar grip.


Darryl demonstrates a stable standing base against a seated opponent.


Marshal demonstrates a street lethal technique for defending against a crossbow attack.


Rec Spec Guy attacks Marshal in the shower at the YMCA, and Marshal uses a street lethal no-gi technique to end the fight with minimal man touching.

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Introducing Artechoke in a Can

Artechoke in a Can started as a class blog. When I taught a class at Steel City Martial Arts, my home gym in Pittsburgh, I filmed it, wrote a brief description of the class, and uploaded the content to a blog. My goal was to help my students retain what they learned in class by making it easy for them to review while also giving them a way to catch-up if they were unable to attend a particular class, which made it easier for me to teach classes in modules.

As the blog grew, more people (like members of our affiliate schools) began using it as a training supplement. That inspired me to make the entire blog public, which is why it now lives under the Artechoke roof. I hope that you enjoy my class and that it benefits your jiu-jitsu in some way. Full disclosure: I am a purple belt and do not profess to be an end-all expert on jiu-jitsu. I simply enjoy sharing jiu-jitsu.

North South Kimuras

This class picks up half-way through a module on the kimura. For the last three weeks, we’ve been exploring the kimura as a position. When we think of the kimura as a submission, we limit our thinking because we tend to view submissions as techniques that succeed or fail. When we think of positions, we think of possibilities, in terms of “I got here, now I can do this, this, or this.” Seeing the possibilities that the kimura creates ultimately makes our kimura more effective because we are able to threaten multiple attacks on-top of the ever-present threat of the kimura.

No matter what position you’re establishing the kimura from, you are never far from an armbar, a guillotine, or a back-take. Some kimura entries will favor certain possibilities more heavily than others, but in general, if you have a figure four looked on your opponent’s wrist, you can bet that those three options are nearby.

Last week, we looked at attacking the kimura from side control, which lead to finishing the kimura from a vertical north south position (sitting on top of your opponent, pinching their torso between your knees). From this vertical north south position, you can transition to an armbar or a back-take if you can’t finish the kimura. In today’s lesson, we looked at setting the kimura from the north-south position, which gives you another way to enter the vertical north south position.

Next, we looked at using the north south position to start attacking the north south guillotine. When you threaten the kimura, your opponent will sometimes focus so much on hiding his elbow that he exposes his neck, giving his an avenue to continue attacking, forcing him to defend defend defend.

To cap off the class, we touched on the rewind principle, which emphasises the two-way connection between many techniques. Too often we get stuck in a linear progression and forget that we can from A to B but also B to A, which keeps us on the offensive, threatening two attacks at once. In this final video, we also touch briefly on using the vertical north south position to attack with the armbar or to take the back.

Next week, we will continue exploring the kimura, but we will pause on learning material. Instead, we are going to work on drills to tighten our technique and to increase our reaction time so that we can quickly connect the dots between techniques, positions, and transitions with minimal thinking.