Thursday, February 16, 2012

Little Mnemonic Devices For Grappling

I am going to be reprinting some old classic entries from my previous blog called The Angry Grappler. It will chronicle the evolution in my understanding of martial arts.
15 January 2007 @ 01:31 pm

What helped me out when I was learning were some helpful mnemonic device. What that means is, its a little way to help your mind remember something.

Elbows in, you will win. Elbows out, you will tap out: So this saved me a lot over the years from getting subbed and looking for subs. Karo Parysian used to always tell me, rolling should be like two snakes fighting. They are so tight and eliminate all space. So when I saw someone with a flared elbow, or an extended one, i would go for Kimuras and armlocks. This is also just a basic rule, its not always true, you learn that as you progress, like you need flared elbows to maintain mount sometimes.

Position before submission aka first you get the posish, then you get the submish: This I took for granted for so many years, and used to do the opposite. Submission before position. I trained basically in MMA and used a lot of catch wrestling mindset before I started jiu jitsu. Just go for the submission from anywhere, and I knew how to do a ton of moves, but none of them exceptionally well. I didn't understand the game. I still don't. But looking for kneebars and kimuras while being sidemounted or getting your back taken isn't always the safest game to play. And you play like this and your sweep game, your pass game, and your point game will suffer greatly.

Just breath: Whatever situation you are in, always remember to breath. Sometimes you forget to when you are confused, straining, or on the bottom. You can't move without breathing, Frank Shamrock said you should breath into every move. That's a yoga thing also.

To be the best, you have to beat the best: There's some people who think their jiu jitsu can get good in a vacuum, never rolling with the best, never competing, not even watching competition. That's like thinking you can be the best basketball player by shooting free throws all day by yourself. I know some people who get stage fright, as do I. I get nervous before competitions. All kinds of crazy thoughts run through my mind and I almost want to back out. But I know I can't get good without competing, without challenging myself. Even rolling with the best guys in class, I know some people avoid it and I avoid sometimes if I don't feel confident that day. Its not always good to get pwned, or you will just get used to that. But every once in a while you have to do it, see if your gun is lethal or just shooting blanks. You have to know for yourself, for the time and money you put in, was it for nothing?

Never let them pass, always be passing: This is something I learned from BJ Penn. It was posted on a site, as BJ's gameplan. And its so simple and brilliant. Its about pressure, never give up on the pressure and always be moving forward. You watch BJ in the Mundials and you will see this game in action. Never give an inch. Its interesting that the pass becomes the focus of the game instead of submissions or even positions necessarily, but this game at the same time will strengthen your subs and your positions. SIMPLE!

Listen to your body: This is something I learned only last year. Would have prevented so many injuries. Sometimes my body tells me I am sick, hurt, or gonna get hurt and I don't listen and I've been out of training because of this almost as long as I've been training. Sometimes its better to walk away and fight another day then ruined the long term career of your game. But then again, theres some people who take more time off then they train because they are tired or say they are hurt. These people don't listen to their body either, their body may be tired but its not saying its too tired to train, your mind is telling you that. Your body can be pushed, push your body, just listen to him when he says its at the breaking point of serious injury. Your mind will always give you reasons not to train, no time, no money, you are tired. Just remember why you got involved in it in the first place, it might just be the only fun or worthwhile thing in your life so why avoid it?
About the Author:

Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist, Coach, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Yoga and Pilates instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook at his personal fitness page.


  1. Your post is excellent. I’m running a blog about mnemonic devices and you know how to teach this topic. Mnemonic devices are my passion so I’ve decided to start a blog about this. I think I will come back very soon to share more ideas. Of course, if you want.

    Thank you,



Affiliate links are used and I may receive a commission if you click.

Inner BJJ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to