If you got into a fight tomorrow, what do you think would happen? What do you think the most likely attack would be? How would you defend against it?

Below is a video I shot with Funker Tactical for their new Martial Arts YouTube channel on how to defend against a sucker punch. Far and away, the most common attack on the street is someone trying to punch someone else in the face. Arguably, this is more difficult depending on the degree of indication someone gives you prior to the attack. A “sucker punch” is one that comes from someone who hasn’t given typical indication that his intention is to fight. It is exceedingly difficult to defend against something about which you have little to no forewarning.

In training martial arts, you will see a variety of techniques on how to deal with such an attack. The video illustrates my favorite, from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, using a non-threatening posture preceding the attack, moving into a clinch range to nullify his punches, then throwing him to the ground. I could have used more strikes during this, but when it comes to strikes I like to be selective, energy-efficient and not create unnecessary space. Also, after securing the clinch, a variety of takedowns could be used, depending on the posture of the attacker.

Why Grapple?

Grappling benefits the smaller, weaker person vs the larger and stronger attacker. The larger person can hit harder and reach farther. Preemptive striking as an alternative, would require the defender to be faster than the attacker. It is a mistake to ever assume you will be faster or stronger than the person attacking you…why would someone attack someone physically superior to them? Also, this situation, as I describe in the beginning, may not actually result in a fight. Just because someone is being aggressive and confrontational does not necessarily mean a physical fight has to follow. If you had a possibility to diffuse or avoid a fight, and you instead chose not to do so, then you have failed.

This Isn’t My Idea

I didn’t invent this technique. Let me make that clear. I was taught this technique by Royce Gracie, and I assume he was taught by another family member in turn. I think everyone has his own take or way of performing a technique once he learns it, based either on preference or ability. I mention this to pay respect to my teacher and to not misrepresent any concepts that are not totally my own. Having said that, there are millions of techniques out there, some better than others for certain people, and constant revisions and improvements. This technique isn’t perfect, but there is no such thing as a perfect technique. Martial Arts is a game of percentages focused on what can keep you safest in a fight. Training is the thing. So go do it.

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I have tried having the conversation/debate/argument about Sport and Self-Defense for BJJ, and I have arrived at this: It is all good. Train it all. The sport can enhance the self-defense and vice versa.

Oddly, this isn’t always a popular opinion, because the self-defense purists argue that the sport is a corruption of the original intention of the Gracie family martial art. I totally understand this viewpoint, because if I were to call boxing or wrestling or judo a complete martial art, I would be very sorely mistaken. Sport BJJ is just that though – it is a rule-based and structured sport in which many techniques are adapted and applied in a competitive environment in order to determine who can best apply their art in that setting. I don’t know any serious competitors that think what they are doing is a complete representation of the totality of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

However, there are many sport competitors who neither see the need or value of practicing the more martial aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They are content with training only for sport, and don’t care about the self-defense. This is perfectly OK! If I only want to box, and have no aptitude or interest in grappling or weapons training or whathaveyou, then fine! Let me box. However, if you are like me, you enjoy the entire art and see the value of sport jiu-jitsu in building attributes that enhance your ability to apply all techniques, such as timing, sensitivity, reflexes, athleticism, etc.

So what is the real problem here? It is when one side of the “argument” makes the assumption that the other views their version as the true and only way to train. Competitors thinking the self-defense is impractical or a waste of time are as bad as self-defense practitioners who train in a vacuum and never pressure test their abilities in a competitive environment. Personally, I believe these two myopic groups have the loudest voices (or keyboard strokes) in the debate, which is very unfortunate because it makes it seem as if they are representatives of BJJ…and they are not. These loud voices of opposition and critics of other practitioners should be marginalized and minimized. When we focus too much on the criticism of others, we take the attention off of our own progress.

I will leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Funker Tactical, famous for putting out amazing gun & gear tactical training videos and the like are expanding to include more martial arts! The Funker Martial Arts channel recently launched on YouTube, featuring some awesome technique videos with martial artists such as Doug Marcaida, Fred Mastro, Ryan Hoover and yours truly. It is awesome to get to work with these guys! We have filmed several videos that will be released periodically. I hope you all enjoy the techniques as they come, as well as the sample below. Check out the Funker Tactical and especially their new Funker Martial Arts Channel!

De La Riva Variation Sweep to Arm Lock

Posted: August 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Cool sweep to arm lock we discovered when Allen and I were drilling one day.

Upcoming BJJ Seminar in Crossville, TN

Posted: May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


I’ve been switching things around and showing more standing BJJ concepts and techniques in videos lately. Here is a nice chain of sweeps and submissions starting from standing position. I hope you like it. If you do, then please share and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.