Friday, July 24, 2020

Placido - The Unsung Hero of BJJ Fanatics.

I've bought and watched a ton of instructional videos from BJJ Fanatics.  I'm a big fan.  If you are too, chances are you're familiar with Placido Carl Santos.  If not, allow me to explain.

When one of these big names like John Danaher, Marcelo Garcia, Andre Galvao and the like come to BJJ Fanatics to film an instructional, they need someone to demonstrate their techniques on.  The Uke.  Sometimes they bring a friend from their home gym, but many times they don't.  When that happens, BJJ Fanatics finds someone to fill in.  Seems like that's Placido more often than not, as I now own a significant ammount of BJJ Fanatics footage with Placido in the scene.

Sometimes I feel sorry for Placido.  I mean every time I see him, he's getting smashed, choked, arm locked or leg locked!  The pain registers on his face quite often. 

Sometimes the instructor gets frustrated and/or annoyed with him.  And that frustration often manifests itself subtly, but visibly.  "If Placido posts up on his left leg... no, your other left... no, like, the other direction..."  Commence the the rolling of the eyes and the short, choppy sentences.  Poor Placido.  Didn't the instructor watch Karate Kid?  Don't they remember the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi when he said that there are no bad students, only bad instructors?

Poor Placido has taken a lot of punishment over the hours upon hours of instructional footage I've watched, but he hangs in there and keeps plugging away quietly. 

On the other hand I am quite jealous of Placido.  He basically gets extensive private lessons from the best of the best.  And when he's not getting smashed, choked or locked, he's listening intently to what the instructor is saying, hanging on every word, really doing his best to soak up all that knowledge being dropped. 

And you might say, of course he's listening!  Wouldn't everyone in his position listen?  But this isn't always the case.  Sometimes the Uke is someone else who has (or is working on) their own instructional.    Sometimes it's like they're afraid to appear as if the move being demonstrated is new to them.  They nod their head knowingly as if to say, "Yeah, I know this one."  Other times it looks like they're just off in la-la land.  But not Placido!  He's always paying attention, looking at the instructor as he's talking, respectful, and I totally dig that about him! 

I would love to hear Placido interviewed about his experiences filming all of these instructional videos.  There's got to be some real gold there.  The lessons he's learned, not only about jiu jitsu, but about dealing with big names (and sometimes big egos) must be fascinating!  And it seems like he brings the right attitude to learn those lessons.

All in all, whether you feel sorry for him, or jealous of him, I have to say that I'm a fan!  Here's to you Placido!  Thanks for doing what you do.  I wish you continued success in your jiu jitsu journey.  And if you ever find yourself in Montrose, I'd love to invite you to come in and train with us... and perhaps go out for a frosty beverage afterwards.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Grappling with Guillotines

So I hit a road block of sorts while studying John Danaher's Front Headlock System.  First off, my whole purpose in studying the system is to get better at guillotines, and I do feel smarter on them having watched through the system so far.

As he describes his overall strategy, his assertion is that you need to get good at both submissions from the front headlock position, and positional transitions (i.e. getting past your opponent's arms to the rear of the turtle position so that you can take his back).  He asserts that as you get better at the positional path, the submissions will open up, and vice versa.

I was really hoping for some hand fighting systems similar to what he has laid out in his Back Attacks series.  Ways to get to that uncontested strangle arm from that front headlock position.  But alas, the threat of transitioning past your opponent's arms, and subsequently taking the back is what's supposed to open up the path for your strangle arm. 

And there lies the crux of my issue.  I've never had a problem transitioning to the rear turtle position.  It's always come natural to me.  Simple.  Easy.  And this has never opened up the neck.  My training partners and opponents always seem to guard that neck for dear life from the turtle position.  On a good day, I might get a chin strap.  But the second I do, his hands are all over it like white on rice!  There is no way on God's green earth they're letting me punch that sucker through to a high wrist position!

Now I don't think I'm all that amazing at transitioning from the front to the rear of the turtle, but it's not like I've been training with slouches over the last 20+ years either.  I just don't see people I roll with offering up the resistance that Danaher talks about in his instructional. 

Now I've trained with plenty of strong wrestlers.  We have a few in the gym I train at now.  But none of them seem to use that double leg option for instance to catch someone attempting to transition from the front turtle to the rear turtle.  At least they don't seem to use it on me.  They all just seem to let it happen.  They seem to prioritize protecting their neck over position.  Hence, I don't see this really opening up the neck for me. And that makes me sad.

Now maybe it's silly of me to complain about this.  According to Danaher, I should be content to use his system to get around to the rear of the turtle and take the back.  And HE'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!  I SHOULD be content to take the back instead of sinking guillotines.  But I REALLY want to start sinking guillotines! 

I suppose there are worse problems to have.   Hopefully I'm missing something here, and all will become clear after I've had a chance to completely digest the entire system and experiment with it on the mats..

I wonder, has anyone else out there had a similar problem? 

Monday, July 20, 2020

The John Danaher / Priit Mihkelson Death Match

I would love to see a death match between John Danaher and Priit Mihkelson.  Okay, not a death match.  Just a friendly exhibition match would be fine.  You see, I've watched a good chunk of Danaher's instructionals now, including his Back Attacks and Front Headlock systems (which covers among other things attacking the Turtle position).  I've also been through all of Mihkelson's BJJ Fanatics Instructionals which focus on defense for the most part.  The Turtle position is a big part of his defensive game, and I've never seen the Turtle taught quite the way he presents it. 

Now Danaher's attack systems are second to none.  The way he's mapped out the attack game is absolutely masterful if you have the patience to wade through it all.  Pouring over his DVD's has improved my game significantly! 

With that said (and I can't believe I'm saying this) I don't think he addresses the problems that a Priit Mihkelson style defense presents.  Now I know that's a bold statement coming from a mere purple belt (even if I have been doing this for 20+ years).  And I'm not entirely sure that I'm right.  But I would love to see what Danaher would do to crack that defense.

Mihkelson is all about denying his opponent the underhook.  He protects his neck with what he terms, "the boxing shoulder," thereby freeing up his hands to help defend against those underhooks.  My 13 year old boy was watching his Turtle instructional with me.  After watching 10 minutes or so he got bored, and started poking me (his way of telling me he's ready to wrestle).  So I turn around and get ready to rough him up a little, and he goes straight to the turtle position.  Now I way at least twice as much as he does, and he only watched 10 minutes of the stinking video, but I'll darned if he didn't give me a whole lot more trouble than he used to.  I had to resort to tickling to get him to move his elbow away from his body so that I could get an underhook on him.  Only then was I finally able to crack open his Turtle and go to work.

Now I'm no John Danaher, but Zachary's no Priit Mihkelson either.  Which got me thinking... What would Danaher do?  I've been through Danaher's instructionals again paying particular attention to see if there are any techniques or strategies that seem applicable to such a defense, and I've got to say if it's there I haven't found it. 

I would love to see how John Danaher would go about solving the problems presented by a Priit Mihkelson style defense.  In one corner, we have John Danaher with some of the best attack systems on the planet. In the other corner we have Priit Mihkelson with possibly the best (and certainly the most unique) defense I've ever seen.  It would be the classic contest of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

Somebody please get these two together.   Let them train with each other for a few weeks.  Then come back, interview them about it (preferably on the mats so that they can demo a few things), and put it on YouTube.  A sort of John Danaher/Priit Mihkelson Jam Session if you will.  Heck if BJJ Fanatics would put it together as another one of their instructionals, I'd probably buy it!