A break from the ordinary. Normally I go very light on technique – it’s just not my blog. I thought this was a useful exercise, and it’s connected to Megan’s and my yearlong project, Operation Tattered Belt. As I mentioned, a key component to this project is assessment – determining our strengths/weaknesses as well as assessing improvements. If you don’t like these posts – never fear – there won’t be more than 2 per month.

Oddly, I have no problem posting pics of myself in my skivvies as a method of weight loss assessment. When it comes to posting videos of my jiu jitsu, however, I immediately feel shame. I mean, it’s okay if I think I suck – perhaps I’m exaggerating. Posting it for the world to see – quite another thing. Yet, I’m committed to this, my friends. I’m biting the bullet and yes, I feel embarrassed, but I’m committed to improvement.

When assessing language levels, one thing we will recognize is successful use, but also attempts. Both are positives, and both translate well into jiu jitsu. So while I may not have the skill to execute it properly, if I’m attempting to do something right, it demonstrates some kind of good understanding.

Self-assessment is an important skill I cultivate with my students. If their lessons completely suck, I want them to at least understand why, what went wrong, and how to potentially overcome that. If a lesson sucked and a student has zero understanding of why or even that it sucked – that’s a bigger issue. I’ve never sat and analyzed a video of me doing jiu jitsu, so this was a new, but helpful task, and quite different than simply reflecting on class and how I felt -something more subjective.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgGtaRfmBDk]

Self assessment

Good points:
* I consistently attempt to make a frame.
* I attempt to bridge and hip out.
* I recognize that I need to recover guard, and I do this.

Bad points:
* I flail. I clearly struggle and it looks messy. I feel like I’m not always using jiu jitsu.
* I give up my arm – I’m making my arm available and stiff.
* I don’t FEEL confident with this, so I don’t commit to it and focus. Instead, I think of it as a somewhat fruitless effort, and that shows.
* I grab the back of his gi and try to pull him off me.

Outside Observation:

This is from Coach James Foster, 2nd degree black belt:

You are taking your outside foot off the floor and at times both feet are coming off the mat. This is allowing your partner to continually flatten you out and take up any of the space that you are making. Secondly, your frame is breaking down also allowing the space you are working hard for to be taken away. Checkout this video starting at the 1:30 mark (foot connection to ground) as well as the 2:55 mark (framing explained). Hope that helps!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_UsYsh4_fs]

Whoa – I didn’t even realize I was doing that. That was an awesome tidbit I had zero awareness of that’s totally different from most of the videos I’ve seen. Very helpful.

This is from Kintanon, purple belt:

At the beginning you are hugging the top arm which helps your opponent stay tight. I’m a huge proponent of making space so I always want to have my arms between me and my opponent.

In your first couple of shrimp attempts, your arm/leg coordination seems off so you aren’t generating full body power. You are shrimping with both feet, which makes it really difficult to get on your side because the force is evenly distributed across your hips. You have to drop the bottom hip into the void created by your upa and then drive the hip through with the top leg.

You do get a really good shrimp after that though. Kesa escape was excellent.

I hadn’t realized that about not shrimping on both legs. That makes sense to me. I was trying to go for more power, and using both legs obviously would generate more power, but not necessarily helpful power.

Dagney, a brown belt, mentioned these points (Her full comments are on the YouTube video. These are highlights):

Your opponent appeared to have decent control of you, but he was giving a pockets of space. You could exploit those spaces by using your arms to create a frame to push against his head. Also, when you moved your hips, it appeared you were flat on your back and moving them flat along the floor.

After creating a strong frame with your arms, plant your feet solid into the mat, lift your hips in the air, and shoot them to your right, away from your opponent. Next, you have two options: go to your knees in turtle, or replace guard.

From 0:25 to 0:35, So much better! You used your arms to create space, and used the power of your hips to get the heck outta there. I think you are selling yourself short though. The hips have a lot of efficient power. Use it! Shoot them out in one move. It’s not a strength move, rather a quick and fast explosive move.

0:45 to 0:55– This a good example of exploiting your opponent’s weak position. You took left arm, moved it out of your way, and hipped out. Also, you did a good job of using your hips to steer the direction of your body.

1:10 to 1:26– It looks like he had a decent amount of control on your left shoulder, and you did a good job of using small hip movements to create space, escape, and take the back.

I don’t think I have conscious awareness of when my opponent has a weak position. I might take advantage of it, but when I was watching the video I didn’t notice. I also had no awareness of how I was using my hips.


This was a really great exercise. Each person who reviewed noticed something a little bit different, even on a very short video. A huge thank you to those who took the time to view the video and give me feedback. At the end of the month I am going to record myself doing the same thing. I’ll review again, this time looking for improvements, then seek outside observation. I hope that these three can stay involved throughout the year.

If you found their comments helpful, please consider visiting their blogs. Coach James Foster has a blog that he recently started up, Dagney has been posting since 2010, and Kintanon has many helpful posts on his!

Have you ever analyzed a video of yourself doing techniques? Did you find it a useful tool? What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to side control escapes?