I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in late 2003 the same way most folks I know did: Getting my grubby hands on a dusty VHS tape of UFC 1 and 2. At the time, I was amazed by the usual things everyone finds so interesting about jiu-jitsu–How efficient it seemed, the ability to really be able to control another resisting human being, and how it delivered on the age-old promise that all martial arts make (to be able to defeat a bigger and stronger opponent).
At first, I experienced the same growing pains in rolling that most students do. You slap hands, and then some tangled web of limb spaghetti somehow becomes something kind of resembling a move we might have seen in class and then all of a sudden someone’s elbow hurts and there is a tap. It was interesting to me that there was this wild storm of confusing movement which somehow organized itself in the end.
Through the help of my teachers, Phil and Ricardo Migliarese, and experimentation on my own, some patterns of behavior started to emerge, and I found myself successful in some actions which led to other actions which eventually led to something else. Organically, I started to gravitate to what I was good at and build off of that while trimming useless and unproductive branches from the tree. Constrained by trial and error as well as being directed in certain directions by injury, the scaffolding of a game developed for me.
Influenced by the work of people like Rhadi Ferguson, Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti, and other organized thinkers, I started to try to find ways to structure my training to streamline the process of learning. This led me to a strong interest in reading about systems, processes, how professionals in other fields, arts, and sports organize their training. Bear in mind, I’m not saying I fully understand these subjects, but I’ve gleaned a lot of useful ideas which have helped make my training and teaching much more effective than it would have been without this study.
As I began teaching BJJ sometime around 2007, I quickly realized that I would have to do a lot of research outside of my own specific BJJ game. Variations in my students’ body types, age, mentality, and other factors made this a necessity. The problem was that the more I taught, and the more games and styles I researched, the more information I had. Without a clear way of structuring that information for my students, I feared I would be unable to help my students learn as well as I wanted them to. Eventually, I put enough pieces of the learning puzzle together to form a method which has produced good results for me and for my students. By providing a structured learning process with a strong emphasis on critical thinking, progression, troubleshooting, and constant testing and refinement I found a good recipe for them while still leaving room for improvement.
My hope with this instructional is to give you a glimpse into part of the way I do things. The focus is on an underhook-based half guard, but the underlying themes can be applied in any area, whether it be takedowns, striking, ground-based technique, or many other subjects. In fact, I’m trying to apply this thinking to re-teaching myself how to skateboard right now. I’ll let you know how that goes.
The Sloth Report
People ask me all the time “what is the Sloth Report” and I’m not really sure what to say. It’s a magazine, it’s instructional, I post technical videos and also jiu-jitsu philosophy and concepts. That’s kind of what it is. But none of that is unique. What is unique is my method.
I present my techniques, concepts, and philosophy in the same way I teach my students, both public and private, in an organized curriculum which progresses from basic to intermediate/advanced material. I also teach as honestly as possible. That means I don’t teach the techniques the way they are supposed to work. I teach them the way things really happen when I and my students use them in sparring or competing. I also teach from a unique perspective of movement. What does that mean? This means I teach Brazilian Jiujitsu from a larger point of view of human movement which means I look at body mechanics, how the body works and moves, concepts from other disciplines which shed light on how Jiujitsu works. Learn more about the Sloth Report here.