Monday, August 28, 2006

Lesson 2 - Mount Choke w/ Palms Down

Choke With Both Palms Down

You are comfortable on mount position. You are in balance. So it’s time to attack! Reach on diagonal the opponent’s collar and with your palm down make a grip.

With your other hand, going to over your forearm, and reach (with palm down) the other side of the opponent’s collar.

You don’t need squeeze the opponent’s collar, keep your grips and use your hands’ power just enough to avoid that they slide when you will start press the choke.

Set your forehead on the ground on the same side of your top forearm. At this moment you need keep your self on top using only your forehead and knees because your hands are busy. Imagine a triangle base using your knees and forehead. Let some space in-between your belly and his face. Use your abs power and pull the opponent’s head from the ground to your belly. Try increase the distance in-between your elbows, but don’t use 100% of your power. Use only 40% and keep it, if it wasn’t enough to submit him increase 20% more and keep it. Different than joints locks, all chokes you need keep the pressure until the opponent tap. Some times few seconds will be enough, some times minutes.

Lesson 1 - Grappling Situations

Close Guard

This situation happens when you are lined down controlling your opponent using your legs. Setting them around opponent’s waist with your feet locked, your legs bended and your tailbone close the opponent’s button belly. On this situation your opponent need escape from your legs’ control, we can say, he need pass your guard. He is on top and you are on bottom but nobody have advantage, close guard is neutral situation. You are on the bottom but you have a lot of options to submit and sweep him. We will see SUBMISSIONS, SWEEPS and GUARD PASSES soon on this blog.

Open Guard

It is when you are controlling the opponent using your legs with your feet unlocked. On open guard you are able to set your feet and shins on many places like on opponent’s hip, knees, arm, shoulder, etc… To don’t let your opponent run away and disconnect you can hold him grabbing on opponent’s collar, sleeve, paints, heels and legs. Have many ways to do open guard and we will see them here on close future. Open guard still a neutral situation because he is on the top but you have many ways to sweep and submit him on there.

Half Guard

It seems like close guard but instead of set your legs around opponent’s waist you will set around opponent’s thigh controlling one opponent’s leg and letting the other free. In this case the top fighter has a little advantage over the bottom fighter. If you are on the bottom doing half guard you have some options to sweep or complete a full guard (open or closed), and your opponent have options to submit you, mount you, take your back or to pass your guard going to side control.

Other view of the same position

Side Control

When you are on top inside the opponent’s close guard, open guard or half guard, your goal will be go to side control or north south. Side control is when you are lined down over your opponent controlling his head and his hip with your arms and weighting your chest on his chest. Don’t touch your knees, thighs and hip on the ground, touch only your toes on the ground driving your weight to your chest.

Other variation of side control is when you are facing your opponent’s upper body, weighting your ribs over his chest, setting your hip tide in his hip, under hooking his armpit with your arm and controlling his elbow using your other arm. Don’t touch your hip, but, legs and thighs on the ground. Touch on the ground only your front ankle and rear heel or sole of foot, making your whole body hard to do that.

North South

Lined down over your opponent you weight your chest on his chest, set your button belly over his face, Under hook his arm with your arms, grab his belt or paint close his waist and open your legs to keep your balance over him. To maximize your weight pay attention to don’t touch on the ground with your knees, hip and elbows. The only part of your body can touch on the ground is your toes.

Knee on Stomach

With the opponent lined down with his back on the ground, set one of your shins across the opponent’s upper body over his stomach, using your other leg setting your foot on the ground with your knee a little bit bended. Reach the opponent collar setting your grip behind his neck. With your other hand make a grip in his paint close to his knee. Drive your weight to the shin that is in his stomach, pushing his collar and his paint increasing the pressure over him. The only part of your body that touch on the ground is the sole of your foot that is out of his stomach, if the opponent to move trying to escape follow his movements hopping with this foot.


With the opponent lined down with his back on the ground, sit down over your opponent’s upper body setting your knee, shins and top of your feet on the ground, touching his ribs with your legs and hid hip with your ankles.

Back Mount

Like mount but the opponent facing the ground.


This situation happen when you to avoid your opponent to trap you on side control, you turn your body facing the ground and setting your knees close your elbows blocking his legs, don’t letting him to take you on back control. When you are in this situation your opponent can be in front of you, behind you or on your side.

Back Control

It is when you hug the opponent upper body or neck, setting your chest in his shoulders plates, your belly in his back, your hip in his lower back and your heels inside his legs. Your heels inside his legs are the more important things to keep you on his back. Doesn’t matter if you are on top, on bottom, if either of you are sitting up, or the opponent is standing up. As soon as you hug his upper body with your chest on his shoulders plates and your heels inside his legs will be back control. Stay on the opponent back is the better grappling situation, you can control and submit your opponent spending few energy and your opponent need spend a lot of energy to escape.

Special thanks to Fernando Supp and Kico Barreto, my students on these photos.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Some Key Points About BJJ Training Sessions

BJJ classes follow a formula: a warm-up that includes some aerobics and specific drills; then mastering one or two movements; next, a positional sparring session; followed by a free sparring session; finally, a cool-down.

The warm-up, drills and cool-down you can do by yourself, but to master a movement and spar you need a partner. Practicing BJJ is a social activity!

Mastering a particular movement is really important in increasing your skill level. During this phase, you and your partner need to forget about competing with each other and create a cooperative atmosphere. I like to say to my students, “Help each other to build confidence in mastering this movement.” If you stay tense like a rock and don’t let your partner master the movement, you will break his confidence and leave him frustrated. On the other hand, if you stay too relaxed (like a spoiled banana) you will mislead him and he won’t master the real movement. The best way to describe the right balance is ‘passive resistance’.

When a baby is learning to walk, nobody pushes and pulls the baby to test his balance. Everybody gives a hand to the baby to help him gain confidence and increase his balance with time. When your partner is mastering a new technique
he is like a baby learning walk; he needs a hand. Everybody needs cooperation, not competition, when mastering a movement.

I am a BJJ addict. I cannot live without it. But some training environments are better than others. Whenever you are sparring you must aim to stay tranquil and think about what you will do in each situation. The most common mistake for a newbie is to become mad or over-aggressive during sparring. If this happens it will not help you and will infect the atmosphere around you. A place where a guy after tapping to a good attack laughs, and says: “Hey that was sweet!” Making his opponent laugh too, is 1000 times better than a place where mad aggressive people are training.

As soon as possible start to spar without worrying about the time limit. Don’t become a chronometer slave. Spar with a relaxed body for as long as you can. Enjoy it. If you feel tired just say to your partner, “That is enough for me for now.” Spar in comfortable situations where you can be safe. If your opponent is in a superior position like on your back or mounted almost submitting you, and you don’t have any energy to escape, don’t ask about remaining time! Just tap! Being a clock slave is bad behavior. It is against the essence of BJJ. SURPASS ADVERSITIES!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When I Was a Blue Belt (end of 80's)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How use this blog to learn BJJ?

BJJ is ostensibly a simple fight, but it has many subtleties. The best way to
learn BJJ is step by step. First you need to learn the basic skills really well
and only then add complications. I will start by writing about the common basic
situations in a BJJ match. These are: STANDING UP, THE GUARD, CROSSBODY,

The biggest and most frequent mistake when reading an instructional BJJ book,
web site or magazine is to focus solely on the pictures, as invariably the more
important points are only captured in the writing. Of course the photos help a
lot in the learning process, but pay most attention to the words.

The BJJ learning process is like building a chain; you make progress link by
link. It doesn’t help you if someone shows you a high-level movement if you
don’t have the basic building blocks to provide the link into that particular

I will provide information step by step like building a chain. It may be basic
for someone that has intermediate or advanced level. But after 18 years of
studying BJJ when I read the BASICS section in a BJJ book or magazine, I am
often able to learn a new subtlety. Use the photos and focus on my text.

Old Photos

Standing up left to right: "Big Head, "Roleta", Carlos Gracie Jr., Duda, Romero"Jacaré"Cavalcante, Sérgio"Bolão"Souza, Pedro"Bebe"Schmall, Toninho, Saulo Ribeiro, Paulo Guilhobel, ? . On the ground: ?, Marcio Feitosa, Leonardo Vieira, ?, Bruno Batela, Felipe "Zicró", ?, Carlão Barreto.


Long time ago in Gracie Humaitá Academy

Who I am




My parents called me Pedro Schmall, but in the world of BJJ everybody calls me "Bebe Johnson". In English that means Johnson's baby - some people think that I have a baby face. I started studying BJJ in 1989 and I have had 3 instructors since then. In chronological order they were Fernando "Pinduka" Guimarães, Carlson Gracie and Royler Gracie. When I received my black belt from Royler's hands this was a source of great pride for me. I will use this blog to share my knowledge with buddies around the world. Use the things I write here to improve your grappling skills. And if your skills get better as a result, let me know by giving me feedback.