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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU


HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121

Questions and Answers

pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Part One

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Since the fall of 1994, I have answered thousands of martial


arts questions online: Questions about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Jeet
Kune Do Concepts, Filipino Martial Art, Self-defense,
Streetfighting, physical fitness, law enforcement defensive
tactics and more. To date, I have written over 800 pages of
answers. I would like to begin sharing some of them with you
in this new format (which is a mixture of text, pictures and
video).
I pray you enjoy and benefit from them!
Good training to you,
Roy Harris

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

Question #1: Mr. Harris, when an opponent hooks his leg to defend against
the knee bar, is there another attack I can perform?
Answer: When someone hooks their foot under the bend of the knee of their
other leg, do the following:

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

1) Pry the second leg off of the first leg


and then attack the first leg again. In
other words, if you are attacking your
opponents left knee and he places his
left foot in the crook of his right knee or
crosses his ankles so that his left ankle is
underneath his right ankle, grab a hold
of his right foot and pull it to the left side
of your body (underneath your left
armpit). This will expose his left leg and
allow you to finish the knee bar on his left
leg.

2) A second way to attack your


opponents left knee is to pry the right leg
off of the left leg. However, when the opponent resists by keeping his left leg bent,
keep your left forearm underneath his left
thigh, between his thigh and his calf. Take
your right leg and put it over top of the
opponents left ankle. Triangle your legs
by placing your right foot in the bend of
your left knee. Pull your heels to your buttocks and squeeze your knees together.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

Additionally, you will want to turn your left wrist so that it is perpendicular to
your opponents left leg. This will cause the radial and ulna bone to cut into
the top of his left calf. This is not a lock. Rather, it is a compression of the knee.
Pain can be felt in the upper calf and the middle of the knee.
Question #2: Mr. Harris, how do you promote your students in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Do you give a belt test and give stripes? Or, how do you determine when a
student is ready for the next belt level and if you can give examples of the
type of knowledge to go from the bottom at white to top at black?
Answer: I promote my students by giving them an examination. I do not use
the stripe system just yet. However, I will begin to use it in 2003.

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

When a student shares with me their desire to move on to the next belt level,
I sit down with them and discuss their current level. Sometimes, we roll first and
then I give them an evaluation. I explain to them where their game needs
improvement, where it should progress and how I can best help them.
For example, the blue belt examination is a technical examination. I require
my students to know a certain set of techniques, as well as require them to
have a basic level of skill in certain areas of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I also interview
them and give them a practical, hands-on evaluation.

Click here to see the blue belt examination

The purple belt examination requires the student to possess a specific set of
skills. They must also be able to perform the blue belt curriculum.
When a blue belt student asks me what they need to do to obtain the purple
belt, I tell them what I am looking for in a purple belt and how they can best
train for the examination. This same process goes for the brown and black
belt examinations. (I require specific skills for the higher belt levels.)

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

Each promotion requires a lot of my personal attention. I do not promote


students based upon their knowledge of technique. Rather, I look for a combination of technical proficiency, skill on the mat, time in service and attitude
(I am a firm believer that the darker a persons belt color is, the more a giver
he or she should be! For example, purple and brown belts at my academy
are the favorite training partners amongst students. Everyone loves to train
with these guys because of their skill level, but more importantly, because
they give back to the students. These purple belts dont kick everyones butt,
every class. Rather, they allow the junior students into the game. They teach
them by example! This is a very important quality for a purple belt to possess.)
When I promote a student to one of the higher belt levels (purple, brown or
black), I consider the following:

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

1. Technical proficiency.
2. Performance (skill) on the mat.
3. Time in service.
4. Attitude towards other students.
I require my higher belts to have ALL of the above, not just one. I do not
believe that just because a student knows a certain amount of techniques,
or because he can hang with a purple belt at the academy that he deserves the purple belt. In order for him to qualify for this belt, he must demonstrate the following:
1. A high level of technical proficiency with the basics. In other words,
most of the techniques he uses should be good, solid basics. There should
be a minimal amount of force being used to accomplish his objectives.
2. Skill on the mat. The purple belt is the belt of combinations and momentum. What that means is this: When I see an individual who powers his way
through every escape and explodes into every submission, he is not ready
for the purple belt. What I need to see is this: I need to see him use his
basics together in combinations that set up sweeps, submissions and other

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

positional exchanges. I also need to see him use and create momentum.
With the use of combinations and momentum, the amount of energy a
purple belt uses in comparison with a white belt or beginning blue belt
should be much less.

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL

3. With respect to time in service, I require my blue belts to spend at least


18 to 24 months of time working on their basics and combinations before I
will even consider them for purple. Yes, I have made some exceptions to
this rule. However, the students who were the exceptions to the rule were
athletes when they came to the academy. They were also visual learners
who attended every class. Because of their athletic background, their visual learning skills, and, because the frequency of their attendance, they
progressed faster than everyone else. Keep in mind, these kind of students
are not the norm. They are the anomalies!

8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121


pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

I have found that it takes the average student 21 months to make the
leap from blue to purple.
4. Finally, theres the students attitude. I require my purple belts and higher
to have a higher standard of moral. I require them to be kind, gentle, respectful and considerate. Obviously, they also have to have the ability to
kick butt. However, anyone can be taught to kick butt, and, anyone with
skill can kick butt......but, it takes more strength of character to withhold
that power.
I also require my higher belts to give more, especially with beginning students.
Too often, Ive seen higher belts from other schools stop by to train and all
they do is try to kick everyones butt, including the beginning white belts. I
watch them tap out the beginning white belts repeatedly, without giving them
any kind of advice or recommendations. While that may be acceptable at
other schools, it is not at my academy.
The bad boy, look at me kick butt attitude is not welcome at my academy.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

I want my students to learn how to give AND take, how to win AND lose graciously. Students need to understand that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a sport and a
hobby. It is supposed to be fun! With that fun attitude comes respect and
consideration for others. Now, am I saying that my higher belts are never
given the opportunity to kick butt? No. However, before they do, they must
tell their training partner the following, If you dont mind, Im going to train a
bit hard tonight. Ive been going easy all week and I need a good work out.
So, since I am going hard and fast, please know that I am not upset with you
or purposely trying to hurt you. I just need to train hard.

Question #3: Hey Roy, do you have any ideas on solo drills I can do to
develop a good guard in terms of movement for attacking or maintaining an
open guard?

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Answer: Unfortunately, there are no solo drills that one can do to improve
ones guard. The reason is simple: Theres no pressure or movement to respond to!
To be effective with any type of guard,
you need to learn how to deal with pressure and movement. You must learn how
to follow it, move with it, lead it and control it. Unfortunately, you cannot do this
by yourself. Someone needs to give you
that type of energy so you can first learn
to follow.

Now, there are exercises you can do to strengthen and lengthen the muscles
in your legs so you can use them more effectively. However, they do not help
you with attacking or maintaining an open guard. Only another person can
help you accomplish that.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

Here are some stretches and exercises that will help your use of the guard
more effectively. Keep in mind these strengthening exercises are designed to
help you push and pull stronger:

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121

1. Adductors.
2. Abductors.
3. Leg press.
4. Squats (without weights)
5. Leg curls.
6. Inward/outward circles with leg weight, on your back.
7. Inward/outward circles with leg weight on, standing.
8. Seated rows.
9. Bicep curls.
10. Crunches.

pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Here are the areas to stretch:


1. Hamstrings.
2. Quadriceps.
3. Inner thighs.
4. Outer thighs.
5. Hip flexors.
6. Gluteals.
7. Lower back.
8. Middle back.
9. Upper back.
10. Back of your neck.
Developing a good guard is something that will take time, effort and patience!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

Question #4: Do you have any solo drills to help overall body movement or for
side mount escapes?
Answer: What I wrote earlier holds true for
side mount escapes as well. To effectively
deal with pressure (and movement) a
person will need to have another person
to move and apply pressure at random
intervals.

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL

You can train the muscles in your arms,


shoulders, chest, back and hips to make
certain movements stronger. However,
you will need another person to help you
respond to pressure and movement.

8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121


pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

The reason for this is simple: When someone is side mounted on top of you,
and you attempt a specific escape, they provide a specific type of resistance (movement and pressure) to counter your escape. When you respond
to their counter with a counter of your own, they may or may not respond
with another counter. Or, you may pretend to attempt a specific escape,
and when your opponent moves just like you thought he would, you immediately follow up with a specific technique you intended to bait him with.
For example, placing an opponent back into your guard by using the basic
elbow/knee escape is a great way to bait your opponent into moving to
either the scarf hold, north and south position or knee on the stomach. When
he does, you can follow-up with a pre-planned technique.
However, to do this will require you to have a training partner. Unfortunately,
you can not accomplish this by yourself.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

Question #5: Mr. Harris, what are some good ways to practice keeping things
tight while going for your submissions? Slow motion drills are fine, but everything changes at 80-100%.

Answer: It is true that a lot changes at 100%. However, the purpose for training at slower speeds is to be precise with your movements. When you are
precise, speed rarely changes anything.

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If you are able to obtain a minor position


of control and keep it for any length of
period, you should be able to finish.
Contained within the mechanics of each
submission are the minor control positions
used just before you finish your opponent.

8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121


pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

When I use the terms, minor control position I am not referring to the major ones
such as the mount, guard or side mount
positions. Rather, I am referring to a minor
position that gives you the same amount
of control as a major one. The only difference is the minor one is related to a
specific submission, such as an arm lock or choke. Many are unfamiliar with
these control positions. However, they do exist. And, they are the reason why
I stress mechanics!
To finish a submission, you must be able to do the following:
1. Control the limb which you are about to manipulate.
2. Control the movement of the head.
3. Control or at least monitor the movement of the hips.
4. Monitor the movement of the knees.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

If you cannot accomplish the above, you will have to use speed to finish the
submission. My suggestion to you is this:
When you practice your submissions, practice enveloping your entire body
around theirs. Dont focus on the submission. Rather, focus on enveloping
their body. This will keep you close to them at all times.
Yes, it will make it more difficult for you to move. Yes, it will mean that your
body will be closer to theirs, which will make it easier for them to bridge and
roll out of the submission. However, practice doing this and your submissions
will become tighter over time.
Also, it would be a good idea to do some isometric training in the gym.

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Question #6: Can you give me any advice on how to structure a Brazilian Jiu
Jitsu class to fit in all aspects of training? I think Im doing pretty well as it goes
but how much time would you give to syllabus training, grappling groundwork stamina etc. Im always glad of advice from other instructors.
Answer: Structuring a class to address all aspects of training can only take
place over a long period of time. You can not fully address all areas of training in one month or even one year.
For example, here is a brief list of areas to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:
1) Escaping the mount.
2) Escaping (passing) the closed guard.
3) Escaping (passing) the open guard.
4) Escaping the side mount.
5) Escaping kesa gatame.
6) Escaping kuzure kesa gatame.
7) Escaping head locks.
8) Escaping the front mount.
9) Escaping the knee on stomach.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

10) Escaping the half guard.


11) Escaping the back mount.
12) Escaping the sprawl.
13) One counter to each technique.
14) Dominating from the mount.
15) Dominating from the closed guard.
16) Dominating from the open guard.
17) Dominating from the side mount.
18) Dominating from kesa gatame.
19) Dominating from kuzure kesa gatame.
20) Dominating from head locks.
21) Dominating from the front mount.
22) Dominating from the knee on stomach.
23) Dominating from the half guard.
24) Dominating from the back mount.
25) Arm locks from the closed guard.
26) Arm locks from the open guard.
27) Arm locks from the mount.
28) Arm locks from the side mount.
29) Arm locks from kesa gatame.
30) Arm locks from kuzure kesa gatame.
31) Arm locks from the front mount.
32) Arm locks from knee on stomach.
33) Arm locks from the half guard.
34) Arm locks from the back mount.
35) One counter to each technique.
36) Chokes from the closed guard.
37) Chokes from the open guard.
38) Chokes from the mount.
39) Chokes from the side mount.
40) Chokes from kesa gatame.
If you trained each area consistently for a period of two weeks, it would take
you more than a year and a half to complete the training. Plus, training these

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

aspects for two weeks does not give your students a skill in each area. Rather,
it only familiarizes them with the different positions and submissions.
Additionally, these 40 areas of training make up less than 10% of all of Jiu Jitsu.
So, as you can see, theres a lot to train. So, theres no way youre going to
cover all aspects of training in one class setting.
During one class, I would limit the amount of technical training to three or four
techniques in one hour. If you do more than that, the students will not retain
the information for very long. They may think its cool to have seen 20 techniques, but their ability to remember them all will not be so good.

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL

You can have the students warm up with exercises if thats what they want.
However, it would be better to have them warm up with specific drills that are
related to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, such as open guard work or side mount escapes.

8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121


pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

And as always, try to end each session with sparring!

Question #7: What do you think about twisting foot locks, leg locks and heel
hooks in both competition, Mixed Martial Arts and training? It seems to me
they are becoming the cobra kai evil techniques, especially in sparring and
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. I know many schools do not allow them until
one is a purple or brown, but with all the instructional tapes and schools that
use them, do you think they should be taught in order for one to AT LEAST
know the defense for them?
Answer: In one sense, twisting foot locks and leg locks are no different than
any other technique. All techniques must be performed with great care. All
techniques can injure.
However, in another sense, I believe they are very different and should be
treated as such. Since the twisting locks have come on the scene here in the
US, there have been a lot of injuries related. I believe a part of that has to do

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

with peoples lack of knowledge and responsibility.


I remember when I began learning them back in the early 1991. I got called a
bunch of names because I was doing that leg crap. Well, now that people
are more aware of the leg crap, they are generally accepted, except for
those pesky twisting ankle and foot locks.
Teaching and training in martial arts bears a responsibility. An instructor must
be cautious when teaching certain techniques because of their injurious nature (I believe the twisting leg locks falls into this category). Additionally,
students must be cautious when using these techniques, as well as when they
are being applied to their body.

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121
pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Twisting leg locks can and do cause injury, but so do other techniques. However, because of the implied pecking order of certain schools, and because
of the male ego, some students tend to get more bent out of shape over a
heel hook than they do an arm lock!
So, to sum it all up, I think these locks should be used with care and caution. I
also believe that those instructors who allow these locks in their schools and
tournaments should bear the responsibility for the safety and training of all
students!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Questions and Answers - part one

I hope you enjoyed this first segment. There are more to come!

HARRIS INTERNATIONAL
8250 Camino Santa Fe, Suite J, San Diego, CA 92121

Good training to you,

pfs@sprintmail.com 858. 550. 2021 www.royharris.com

Roy Harris