Training Notes 

Today in class we had a white belt and blue belt visiting from out of town so I decided to go over some self defense techniques against the more common forms of aggression. This always gives me a chance to get a feel for the goals/interests of new students and also gives a context to our training so in the event we actually need to use these techniques in a real confrontation we’ll be more prepared.

We began class with a 10 minute warm up including squats, break falls, bridging, “shrimping” and leg circles. In the first technique we went over the “sucker punch” defense and discussed the physical dynamics of someone approaching you and getting in your personal space with negative intentions. We did a review of a basic defensive stance once a fight has been initiated, keeping in mind to maintain a safe distance, and avoiding punches while closing the distance to “clinch” or wrap our arms around the opponent to set up a throw or takedown.

On the ground we worked on escaping the mounted position-arguably the worst place to be stuck in a real fight when punches are being thrown. I like to start first time students and visiting students from this position because it covers the worst-case scenario first. Even those who have trained, can appreciate the value of revisiting the mount and fundamental positions.  Both in the context of the game and self-defense.  That way if the student never comes back at least they will have learned something that could potentially save them from what otherwise would be “checkmate” in a real fight.

After drilling the techniques one of the students mentioned that he had a hurt from previous training.  So I decided to have us do “positional training.” This is essentially timed rounds of grappling, starting from a specific position and working to either escape or submit our partner. This is a somewhat more intermediate form of sparring as it assumes both players know how to accomplish their objective from a given position. It can also be very useful when there is a part of the body you’re trying to avoid overusing which is more difficult in free sparring or “rolling.”

Christine paired up with Megan while I worked with Jason first round in the Mount position. I was really impressed by his movement on bottom. He told me he’s been training for a  few years and it showed in his timing and combinations of escape attempts. This made for a really good challenge for me. In another round I trained with Megan and was equally impressed by her defense from the back position as most of my “go-to” attacks were fairly neutralized by great weight distribution on her part and smart hand positioning.

We did another 3 or 4 rounds alternating partners each time which gave us all a chance to train together and experience a variety of different body types and behaviors while cycling through most of the major ground positions. Finally we wrapped up by cooling down and stretching/chatting a bit while Jason and I trained for one more round. All in all it was a very productive session and it was great having new students to work with, which for me translates to new friends!

I am writing some blog posts on here from time to time as a way to document my classes and training sessions here in Seattle. Hopefully they are somewhat enjoyable to read and give you something to think about as you navigate your own training, wherever it takes place. If you’re ever looking for other Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Judo-related blogs to read I highly recommend checking out those of Josh Vogel, Ray Huxen and Lex Friedman.

Categories: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Drew Vogel, Seattle


I'm a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt who relocated to Seattle from Philadelphia. I've been training in martial arts actively for 20 years and in Jiu Jitsu since 2003. I'm a certified instructor under Rick and Phil Migliarese, owners of Balance Studios and 4th and 5th degree Black Belts under Grand Master Relson Gracie.

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