Roger Gracie Camp Part 2 of 2

October 24, 2016

A couple weeks ago I shared Part 1 of the Roger Gracie Camp Experience.  If you missed it, make sure to check it out.  This week is full of even more technique from both Mauricio and Roger.  I especially enjoyed the series of escapes and defenses they both showed.  This post is a long one but there were so many amazing details that I didn’t want to cut it short.  At least there were lots of great pictures!  One of the things that I think allows Roger to be so dominant is his absolute confidence in his defense.  When you are confident in your defense you can attack with impunity.



As I mentioned before, this is by far the best camp I’ve ever attended.  People traveled from around the world and all belts were represented.  I especially appreciated that it was well balanced with a strong representation of female practitioners.


The Technique

Little details make all the difference.  Early in your BJJ journey a new move or technique can plug a hole in your game or take you to the next level.  At some point, however, you will outgrow specific moves.  Roger and Mauricio do an amazing job of explaining the concepts and details that can take a technique from effective to nearly unstoppable.  As the saying goes, you need not fear the person you has trained 1000 techniques once but you should fear the person who has trained 1 technique 1000 times.


Back Choke Defense

Mauricio started with a classic self defense technique.  The second your neck is attacked it becomes the first priority to defend.  Notice how he uses both hands to stop the immediate threat as he gains his balance and base by bending his knees.  This drops his hips below his opponent and sets up the throw.  As soon as he finishes the throw he sets up the armbar.


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If you are on the street in an actual altercation it is ill advised to jump to an armbar as your attacker may not be alone.  An alternate option is to wrap the arm placing the blade of the forearm just below the elbow of the opponent and reinforcing the hand on your own wrist.

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Mount Choke Defense

The story behind this defense was quite amusing.  Mauricio picked up the hand and collar position from Helio Gracie who he said used to take the grips and then dare people to attack him while he took a nap.  His hands cover his carotid arteries gripping his own collars and he uses those grips to support pinning his elbows to his sides.  When the opportunity presents itself he works his knee in and replaces guard.  It is a very difficult position for the attacker to break through.

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In the event that you are late and the first hand is in the upa is the next option.  When the first hand goes in it must be controlled.  The 2nd hand, however, is the lethal one.  It is the one that will finish the choke.  Notice how Mauricio completely traps the first hand.  The moment the 2nd hand comes and the attacker’s base shifts, you must bridge to escape.  Don’t forget to continue defending the neck until you regain your posture in the top position.

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Mauricio’s Side Control Escape

Roger and Mauricio both showed the traditional hip escape.  At high levels, however, it is difficult to execute the basic escape.  As an alternative, Mauricio feeds his far hand under the armpit.  With a couple of hip escapes, he is able to switch his hips and turn.  In this case he drives his opponent over and takes top position.  This is an especially good escape for those who play half guard as it leads into a strong underhook position.

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Roger’s Side Control Escape

The escape Roger showed was far from conventional.  When your opponent has both hands on the same side stopping you from turning in, a good option is to roll away.  You must walk your legs away from your opponent to create the angel to turn without them being on your back.  The moment you feel a small lapse in pressure is when it’s time to move.


It is absolutely critical not to extend the arm closest to your opponent.  This is a very common mistake and will result in them armbarring you at worst and keeping your from turning at best.  Don’t fall into this trap.


Your opponent’s only option is to try to take your back so as you come to your knees keep your arms out to stop their movement and prepare to recover guard.


Roger De La Riva Sweep

Roger’s open guard is actually quite good.  He prefers controlling the far sleeve and setting up De La Riva while controlling the ankle.  Sometimes your opponent stays on their knees.  Roger loops the de la riva hook all the way across the body then turns his knees up to face the ceiling and pulls on the ankle.  Without the use of their far hand the opponent loses their position.

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Roger De La Riva Options


If the opponent stands, the classic sit up sweep is a good option.  Make sure to keep your foot active on the far leg so your opponenet doesn’t start to pass.  I also liked the detail of how high Roger’s collar grip was.  It breaks posture well and makes dragging your opponent down much easier.


Sometimes your opponent will immediately posture up as you sit up from de la riva.  If timed correctly you can hitch a ride on their momentum, switch your base forward and trip them back or at least transition to a single leg.


Roger De La Riva Back Take

The last option is to take the back.  A key element of this position is to get the de la riva hook all the way across the far side hip.  With a standing opponent this can be difficult for people with short legs.  To make it easier, adjust your hip to the outside of the opponent’s foot to give you the angle to extend your leg.  Note the importance of the hooks to keep the opponent from turning away as Roger transitions his hand to grab the belt in order to finish the position.


Back Attack

Roger is the master of the fundamentals of jiu jitsu.  What might surprise the casual onlooker is that a lot of what he does is actually very unconventional, which is why it is so effective.  Conventional wisdom is to attach the back with your opponent lying on the side of the choking hand.  Roger does the opposite.

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Falling to the non-choking side gives the option to transition to an armbar.  It also allows you to cut through your opponent’s defending hands by pinning the far one down.


The 2 details that will help you control the position is the outside leg putting pressure on the hip rather than just hooking.  It’s also critical to keep your head between your opponent and the ground.  Once the grips are set you can extend for maximum leverage.  While it looks like there may be space to escape, notice how Pablo’s head and shoulder cannot come down to the ground because they are resting on Roger’s thigh.


Knee Slide Pass

The knee slide pass is a powerful way to cut through the guard and avoid leg attacks.  Roger’s initial angle is actual quite aggressive.  He places his knee straight up the middle of the guard onto his opponents diaphragm.

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Before he passes he sets up the collar and sleeve grips.  The sleeve keeps the opponent from coming up on their elbow and the collar keeps them from turning into you.


The mistake most people make when cutting through is to lead with their knee and leave their hips behind resulting in their foot getting caught.  Roger leads with his hips and switches his base as he comes through to maintain pressure.


Round 2 of Rolling

Again, I was the first to bug Roger to roll.  He laughed and said of course.  The banter started immediately.  He got me into de la riva and I grabbed his outside foot threatening a toe hold.  He already had control of my other sleeve stopping the attack so I chided him not to let go of my left hand.  “Don’t let go of that hand, Roger.”  “Don’t you dare let go!”  His response, “That would be impossible.”  He smiled and started sucking me into closed guard.  As he set up his armbar back-take attacks and I had to concede top position to avoid being submitted.

Once again I found myself mounted.  He closed the distance.  Each time I tried to hip escape he got tighter like a boa constrictor sucking the life from its prey.  He laughed and said, “It’s not that easy.”  It’s actually not.  In fact, it’s the most dominant mount I’ve ever experienced.  The pressure is on point, but it’s the tightness and control that makes it truly oppressive.

I used all of my strength and exploded with a powerful bridge.  He started to lose position and I reinforced the bump with my elbow against his hips.  I was able to reverse the position.  That’s right!  I escaped Roger Gracie’s mount!!!  I told him we could go ahead and stop now and that I was ready to retire from jiu jitsu.  We both laughed and then he took my back and choked me out.  Roger 12 or so(I lost count), me… still 0.


Closing Thoughts

The level of detail and precision of the technique were fantastic.  I hope you picked up something that helps your game.  If you enjoyed the post, please like and share.  I’d also appreciate a comment about what detail you would ask Roger to show you if you got the chance to train with him.

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  • Reply Tom Edmonds October 25, 2016 at 4:54 AM

    Great write up Tom! Enjoyed reading those, it was cool to train with you, I’ve been working on my wrist locks since we got back 🙂

    • Reply tommcmahon October 28, 2016 at 2:45 AM

      Hey Tom! Really appreciate you checking out the article. Glad to hear you liked it and especially glad that you’re working those wrist locks! Hope to get to train with you again sooner than later!

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