4 Years at Black Belt: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop


Time flies. It is hard for me to believe I received my black belt four years ago. My game has changed tremendously in that time, and I have been writing a yearly blog about these evolutions since I first received my black belt. You can read about the first, second, and third editions here.

This year was no different. I made changes to the way I approach my stand-up game and passing. Again, just like previous years, a weekend camp with Reilly Bodycomb completely changed the way I look at the underhook and overhook in a takedown context. Reilly has been teaching a lot of underhook and overhook concepts at his camps. I was able to train with Reilly at camp in Houston, a week in the Bay Jiu-Jitsu family of schools, and a camp in Connecticut.

Even though I have been working on my wrestling since 2003, just like he did with my approach to ankle locks, he changed my view on the underhook and overhook. The way I control distance with my underhook and the height I fight with when I have an overhook has changed my approach to takedowns both in the gi and no-gi. I have been hitting more footsweeps and throws because of it.

My passing has changed. I still work on having a passing game that is not grip dependent, so folding passes remain big part of it, but the classic underhook pass and the nearside underhook pass have become a bigger part of the equation. Most of the work I have been putting into my passing over the last year has dealt with those two positions and setting up my folding pass in a way that if it fails I can go into another pass immediately.

Another reason I have made changes to my passing game is the advent of the modern leg lock game. With more and more people becoming proficient at entering into inside leg control from half butterfly I have to change how I approach the position.

For sweeps, I continue to work on my half butterfly, and Leo Leite style half guard. I have become more aggressive hunting for a bodylock from the bottom and using it to either sweep or come up into a takedown. This has helped me deal with people trying to retreat out of my guard once I get an underhook.

I have also spent a lot of time working with Matt Kirtley (also known as Aesopian) on the crucifix. He has been fine-tuning my crucifix game, and I have made a ton of progress. Some of the small details in leg positioning he has had me work on have made a huge a difference. This no-roll entry into the crucifix is one of the staples of my game now, and I get a ton of finished from it.

Between traveling and baby preparations my time on the mat has been cut short. I am glad I can look back and see that I did make progress in my game. I have been putting a lot of focus on my training outside of BJJ with mobility, cardio, and strength training. I feel this will help me with my longevity and will keep me on the mat for longer.

How has your game evolved since you last read one of my annual blog posts?