Submission Naming Contest!

We need your help! Arlo came up with this ankle lock and we have no idea what to call it! Post your ideas here or on our Facebook page and we will decide a winner next Thursday! Winner will receive a PDF version of Arlo’s book Warrior Core: Core Training Secrets for Modern Combat Athlete (, and a Jiu-Jitsu Advantage window sticker! Watch this video and submit your ideas!


Move When They Move – Lessons from Neslon Monteiro


Several years ago, I was at a seminar taught by Nelson Monteiro of Gracie Barra, Encinitis, CA.  While as usual, I learned a lot, one of the things he said stuck, and is always at the forefront of my mind. When in a bad position, regardless of how well you are being controlled, Nelson said, “To finish, your opponent has to move. That is your chance to escape.”

Regardless of the position you are in, regardless of how bad it is, there is always that split second where your opponent must move to finish the submission. That is your final shot. If your timing is perfect, and you know what to do, this movement can open up just enough space and can unbalance your opponent just long enough, for you to escape. I have applied this knowledge to my game and grown greatly because of it. Do I still get submitted? Of course! Frequently. Have I escaped at times when I may have otherwise given up hope? Absolutely! Many, many times. Thank you Nelson Monteiro!

Ninja Sweeps by Sophia Drysdale

Want to learn how to seamlessly transition from X-Guard sweep to Ankle Lock? Let Gi World Champion, 4x Pan Am Champion and 2x No Gi World Champion, Sophia Drysdale, show you how!!

Interested in more great techniques from Sophia? We will be adding 4 more of her techniques to our Ninja Secrets Vault this week!

Don’t Get Taken Down – Lessons Learned from Brandon Ruiz

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

Almost 6 years ago, the second time I ever competed in BJJ, grappling superstar Brandon Ruiz gave a pre-tournament seminar at the weigh-ins. If you aren’t familiar with Brandon, he is a 5-time member of the USA Grappling Team, winning team titles in 2008, 2009, and 2014, as well winning seven individual world championships and 15 world level medals through FILA/UWW, IBJJF, SJJIF, NAGA, Grapplers Quest, and Pancrase. Any heavyweight 2nd degree Machado Jiu-Jitsu black belt is intimidating. Throw in the fact that he is also a world-class wrestler with such an impressive resume and and Brandon is downright scary! Needless to say, while attending his seminar, I paid attention!


While this seminar was years ago, there are several things he taught that I still use today. One thing he covered really stood out to me. Brandon said studies had shown that in wrestling, 70% of the time, the person who gets the takedown wins the match. Now I’m not a mathematician, but those sounded like pretty good odds. I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to let anyone take me down the next day. No matter what else happened, I was going to get the takedown or stubbornly resist until my opponent pulled guard.

I knew next to nothing about takedowns. I had been attending BJJ classes inconsistently for about a year and a half, and prided myself from fighting on bottom. I headed back to the hotel with 3 friends I had convinced to compete with me, and we spent the next couple hours flipping through a Dave Camarillo book looking for easy-to-learn takedowns. I picked two I thought I could pull off and we practiced throwing each other on the beds for 15-20 minutes before turning on Jet Li’s movie Fearless and drifting off to sleep.

At the tournament the next day, I arrived to find a long road to medal contention. As a 195 lb. white belt there were 12 competitors in my gi bracket and 11 competitors in my no gi bracket. I had my two newly learned moves and I had set my mind to avoid being taken down at all costs. I knew nothing about takedown defense, but was confident enough in my strength, athleticism, balance, and determination that I felt I could avoid being taken down by any white belt at the tournament. Even if I had to just stay standing until my opponent gave up and pulled guard I was okay with that.

Amazingly, my game plan worked. Opponent after opponent eventually went to the ground out of frustration and I quickly submitted them. I even hit one of my new takedown techniques a couple of times! As I was awarded my gold medal in the gi, I began strategizing my no gi competition. Brandon Ruiz’s takedown tip had been a goldmine! My game plan was the same. Everything went fine until the semifinal.

I was up against a stocky wrestler who despite me efforts quickly took me down. I was successfully able to keep him in my guard, but because of the takedown I was down on points. Then, he stood up! I knew I was in trouble. He was up on points and avoiding me on the ground. I stood back up, and he immediately took me down again. After a brief scuffle on the ground, my opponent stood up for a third time. The person who gets the takedown usually wins. He was using my own strategy against me. I knew that the next time he took me down I had to submit him, and quick. As he took me down, I threw on a desperate triangle and tapped him out as the time expired. I was lucky enough to be part of the 30%! I won again in the final, walking away with two gold medals in the white belt division.

Arlo (the tall one) and Justin with the first grappling medals of their career.

Arlo (the tall one) and Justin in 2010 with the first medals of their grappling careers.

Winning my weight class qualified me to compete in the absolute competition against the winners of the other weight classes. Amusingly, the gi and no gi absolute tournaments ran simultaneously and I was supposed to fight in both at the same time. Flustered I ran back and forth explaining the situation and opting for my no gi match first. Once again I faced a stocky wrestler who easily took me down and choked me out in about 30 seconds. The 70% wins again. This time not in my favor.

In the absolute final for gi, I faced an experienced judo player. Assuming he would eventually throw me, I immediately tried one of my new Camarillo judo throws. I was instantly heels-over-head and slammed to the mat. Lesson learned. Never try to throw a judoka with a move you learned out of a book the night before. Once on the ground, my opponent controlled me very well, never overly threatening, but staying ahead on points and preventing me from any offensive efforts. Once I scrambled to my feet and was quickly thrown again. Time ran out and once again the 70% won. I lost on points largely because I allowed my opponent to take me down.

In all, I faced 10 opponents at the tournament, and in 9 out of 10 matches, the person who scored the first takedown won the match. Brandon Ruiz’s advice was spot on. It has remained in the forefront of my mind with every competition since. I’m still not great at takedowns. Sometimes I get the takedown; sometimes I get tossed or double-legged. Frequently when I do get taken down, I lose. Usually when I start on top I win. It was an important lesson, and one I will always remember. Thank you Brandon Ruiz.

The Rocking Boat

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

I recently attended a seminar with Sophia Drysdale, and as usual I walked away with multiple things I could immediately implement to improve my Jiu-Jitsu game. One thing that stood out was a simple analogy of a rocking boat.


When asked about facing a larger opponent, she made it a point to never end up on the bottom. If, depite your best efforts you do, Sophia likens the defense to a rocking boat. When you are on the bottom, it is essential to move constantly like a rocking boat. By constantly shifting position and adjusting your hips, you never allow your opponent to gain a good base or establish control on you. I know this, and have been taught my entire Jiu-Jitsu journey to never be static, always to move, but I still find myself pinned under the tight side control of larger stronger training partners much too often. I’m not a small man, but routinely train with partners 20-60 lbs. heavier than I am. Is it possible that if the opponent is big enough, strong enough, that regardless of my movement I would still eventually be rendered immobile?

A year ago, I had the pleasure of sparring with Sophia. At 200 lbs., I could not control a woman I outweighed by at least 70 lbs. The thing that stood out the most is that she never stopped moving. I could not keep her still. Whether on the offensive or the defensive, it was exhausting trying to keep up with her. Also, looking back at these photos, it seems like I, the much bigger opponent, spent a LOT more time on the defensive! And while I should be a rocking boat on the bottom, it looks like I’m a flat bottomed boat stuck in the sand on the beach!

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I frequently train with incredible athletes of all size and strength, yet none have kept me scrambling like Sophia Drysdale. It amazes and inspires me how she is constantly moving. She was relentlessly in motion, never allowing me to gain my base. The best I could do was hold on for dear life and hope for the best. She is truly a rocking boat.