Marc Walder and Charlotte
The Walder suffers a Charlie-RNC

We enjoyed our first Marc Walder seminar of 2011 at Dartford BJJ on Wednesday night; we are lucky enough to enjoy quarterly seminars with Professor Walder. Over forty of us packed into the Academy to enjoy an evening of jits and philosophy with Marc. We were honoured to have the event photographed by Fighters in Focus and, as was the case with our last seminar, it was a fun, educational and emotionally charged evening for all concerned.

Technical breakdown

Wayne and Charlotte
Armbared by his own flesh and blood before purple-belt time!

The evening developed into a master-class of attacks from the back. We started with taking the back from a north-south position. I was intrigued at Marc’s suggestion to hold this position at an angle favouring one side rather than square to the opponent; I’d never absorbed this detail before. From this position we gripped the lapels, looping under the opponent’s armpits while keeping our head tight to the opponent’s chest as if ‘listening for a heartbeat’. While maintaining pressure with the head on chest, come to standing and roll the opponent to a sitting position, applying pressure on the opponent’s back with chest. Roll the opponent to one side, insert a hook on the opposite side, fall towards the hooked side while inserting the opposite hook. Consolidate the position while maintaining a grip on the lapels.

Meg and Katja
Collar chokes make for untidy gi

We then examined three submissions from the back: the ‘clock choke’, the ‘Ezekiel’ and a transition to an armbar. For the clock choke, from the grips on the lapels, one hand is drawn out from under the opponent’s armpit while the opposite hand opens the collar and passes it to the free hand which then passes in front of the opponent’s neck. The free hand grips the collar with the thumb up and the wrist and arm straight. The had under the opponent’s armpit grips the opposite lapel. For the submission, rock to drop to the elbow of the arm passing across the opponent’s neck, straighten the back to straighten the arms for the ‘tap tap’. A new detail for me, as I had the pleasure of acting as Marc’s uke for a clock choke, was the use of the ‘top’ elbow to exert pressure when falling to the side prior to straightening for the submission. This isn’t an aggressive, strength-based pressure (Marc only has a few kilos on me, so strong-arming is not how he has developed his game) but rather a firm, tilting pressure in the desired direction of movement, what I like to think of as ‘being active in the position’. For the Ezekiel, where the opponent has defended the clock choke by gripping at the cuff and back of the elbow, remove the hand from beneath the opponent’s armpit, release the collar and grab the inside of the newly freed cuff with 4 fingers. Bring blade of forearm around to rest against the opponent’s neck and straighten for the submission. For the armbar, where the opponent has defended the Ezekiel attempt by trapping the hand passed under the armpit with their own elbow, release the lapel gripped by the trapped hand and transition to cup over the trapping arm. Bring the opposite foot to the opponent’s hip and use this as base to push body towards the side of trapped arm while bringing the other shin across the opponent’s lap to rest the hook against the opposite hip. This movement is intend to alter your positioning for the armbar as well as break the grip on the cuff passed across the opponent’s throat. Once the grip is broken, transition the newly freed forearm against the side of the opponent’s neck and push away while falling towards to the opponent’s knee to make additional space for the leg to pass behind the opponent’s back to come in front of their face. Roll to a seated position while retaining the cupped grip on the opponent’s arm. Consolidate the position by ensuring hips are ‘glued’ to the opponent’s shoulders and transition grips/angle for armbar.

Richard and Hasan
Sleepy time for Hasan

Naturally, once we’d examined offence from the back, we examined defence versus the chokes. To counter the clock choke, grip at the opponent’s cuff and elbow to prevent the attacking arm from wrapping the throat. Drop to the side away from the attacking arm; Marc noted that if you imagine the index finger of the attacking hand pointing, it will show you the direction to fall. Transition hand from behind the elbow to block the opponent’s far knee to prevent being mounted. ‘Shrimp’ hips away to escape from between opponent’s legs and turn towards opponent to establish side control. To counter the Ezekiel, grip at the cuff or elbow and drop to the side as before. Walk feet towards opponent’s head so that your back does a ‘flat spin’ against your opponent’s chest. When the angle for the choke has been neutralised, use head to push up unto the opponent’s chest, turn to face the opponent and establish side control.

Leveling up

Ryan purple belt promotion
Ryan in the height of Phoenician fashion

Our Marc Walder seminar in October 2010 was a big night for promotions and Wednesday’s gathering was similarly exciting for two gentlemen in particular. Ryan Debenham and Wayne Rowlands both made the jump to purple! This was a joy to see. Ryan is a very accomplished martial artist with both significant traditional martial arts and professional MMA experience. He matches his technical and athletic abilities with a great attitude and, on a personal note, I always learn a tremendous amount from him when lucky enough to pair with him. Wayne, a former Para and Kimura-savant, also has a wealth of martial arts experience both as a student and teacher. His grappling journey began in a simpler time with wrestling and CSW and while he’s been a consistent jits player for many years, in recent months he’s really stepped up his training regime and taken it to the next level. Well done, brothers, much deserved!

One for the road

Origin BJJ Team
Origin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team

Marc’s seminars are always about more than *just* techniques, they are also concerned with a philosophical approach to training. In his closing words, Marc dropped some nuggets that really clicked for many at the seminar. He prefaced his statement with the solid advice:

How do you know if you’re a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’? Winners judge themselves against their own goals and losers judge themselves against others.

The idea is that you judge your achievements against your own goals and aspirations, rather than in comparison to your perception of the abilities of others. In this way, your journey of personal development isn’t about the domination of others or fueled by a malicious intent. It is this sort of ethos that underpins the newly launched Origin BJJ Team. Clubs affiliated with Professor Walder operate up and down the country and have united under the Origin BJJ Team banner. We are a community of clubs with our own identities, but we are all part of a single team whose purpose is to ‘evolve with tradition and benevolence’. I am very excited that our collective approach to jits has been united in this way while allowing space for the the distinct characters of our individual clubs; it feels good to be part of a larger whole in a somewhat more tangible and, for me, I’ve already started to get to know more of my teammates further afield. What more is jits about than human relationships and cooperation? Go team!