Dennis Hallman Series 1 - Interview with Saulo

Dennis Hallman Series 1 - Interview with Saulo

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Saulo sits down with an old school MMA legend, Dennis Hallman to talk about his transition from a lifetime of training no gi and MMA to training with the gi. Dennis has 75 MMA fights in his career, with over 40 wins by submission, and was also a state champion wrestler.


Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 11 - 4th Degree Black Belt Promotion

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 11 - 4th Degree Black Belt Promotion

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Concluding Rafael's seminar, Saulo and Xande each have some kind words to say about Rafael and the evolution and growth they've seen of him over the length of their friendship. And after 14 years at Black Belt, Rafael is promoted to 4th degree.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 10 - Side Smash Body Lock

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 10 - Side Smash Body Lock

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Continuing his lesson on the differences of Jiu Jitsu and MMA grappling styles, Rafael shows a body lock he has been using to pin his opponent's down and smother them. When he gets to the side smash position, his opponent bases on his elbow and tries to back away. Instead of switching sides or going to the back as is normal in Jiu Jitsu, Rafael wraps his arms around the body, locks his hands and drives his shoulder into the chest to keep his opponent down. With this body lock, he can keep his opponent immobilized and work to pass or keep grinding.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 9 - Adapting Jiu Jitsu to MMA

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 9 - Adapting Jiu Jitsu to MMA

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Now Rafael discusses some ways his Jiu Jitsu has changed since he began fighting MMA, most notably becoming more aggressive or violent, as he puts it. The concepts he shows are the same as when he has his cross collar grip and uses his forearm to pressure the face, but with nothing to grab onto, he either keeps his hand on the mat next the face or just pushes the chin. The principles are the same, and he can adapt his Jiu Jitsu to a real fight scenario.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 8 - Passing to Mount with Cross Collar Grip

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 8 - Passing to Mount with Cross Collar Grip

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Rafael works for the same pass shown in the previous technique, but this time his opponent brings his inverted De La Riva hook to the the other side. Now when Rafael frees his trapped leg, he puts his knee forward to pin his opponent's thigh, most likely ending up in 3/4 mount position. Since he already has his cross collar grip, he can attack the neck and most likely his opponent will try to bridge to escape. This allows Rafael to settle in to full mount and work to submit.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 7 - Passing with the Thumb In Cross Collar Grip

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 7 - Passing with the Thumb In Cross Collar Grip

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While working from his headquarters position, Rafael's opponent turns and switches to an inverted De La Riva guard. With one hand already gripping the pants, Rafael turns his shoulder and toes to the knee and reaches across with his other hand to make the thumb in cross collar grip. He drops his outside knee to the mat for a solid base and pins the head using his forearm. Now he just stretches his leg until he breaks his opponent's grip and can pass to the side.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 6 - Transitioning Between Knee Cut and Side Smash

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 6 - Transitioning Between Knee Cut and Side Smash

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Rafael touches on a few points of his passing game, including how he can transition between the knee cut and side smash passes. While working the knee cut, if his opponent tries to turn into the knee the opposite direction Rafael is facing, this is the time to go with his momentum and settle in on the side smash. From here he can go back the knee cut if necessary, and keep going back and forth until something opens up for him.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 5 - Modified Guillotine Choke with Cross Collar Grip

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 5 - Modified Guillotine Choke with Cross Collar Grip

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Rafael uses his knee cut to pass the guard with his four fingers in cross collar grip, and his opponent begins to turn in to him and try to turtle. Rafael lets him turn a little and then stops him using shoulder pressure on the arm, and with his free arm, he reaches over the shoulder and grabs the belt. Now he flexes his wrist on the neck and clears his opponent's bottom arm with his knee, before switching his hips and dropping them to the mat. From here he keeps his ribs heavy on his opponent's face, squeezes with his elbow and wrist, and steps his leg over the body to finish the choke.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 4 - When to Use the Thumb In Collar Grip

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 4 - When to Use the Thumb In Collar Grip

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When using the cross knee or knee cut pass, the most important thing for Rafael is that he can use his elbow to put pressure on his opponent’s neck and face. With the thumb in collar grip, he has a hard time utilizing his elbow pressure, so he prefers to go four fingers in. However, in almost every other situation, Rafael will use the thumb in grip. This does not necessarily mean either is right or wrong, but this is what works for him.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 3 - Knee Cut Pass with Cross Collar Grip

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 3 - Knee Cut Pass with Cross Collar Grip

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With his knee in the middle, Rafael pushes his opponent's outside leg down and away, keeps a same side collar grip with his other hand and turns his knee to the inside with his weight on his opponent's core. Next he switches to a cross collar grip and pins his opponent's arm to the mat. He opens his elbow to put heavy pressure on the face and he cuts his knee through, keeping it facing away from his opponent with his hip heavy on his opponent's hips. He pulls the sleeve high as he completes his pass, and from here he can keep the pressure or easily transition to knee on belly.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 2 - Advanced Warm Ups

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 2 - Advanced Warm Ups

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Continuing his evolution of movement, Rafael shows a few more warm up drills he's been using since starting his MMA career. These are a little more advanced, but should be accessible for all levels. The drills are great to perform on their own, but can also be combined and interlaced with many other drills to keep a good fluid series of movement going.

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 1 - Introduction and Warm Up

Rafael Lovato Jr.'s Evolution of Jiu Jitsu 1 - Introduction and Warm Up

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In this series, Rafael Lovato Jr., the most decorated American Jiu Jitsu competitor to date, teaches some of the techniques he's been refining over the last several years. As of late, his focus has been on his MMA career, forcing him to adapt his Jiu Jitsu game to a style he can use in the cage as well. One of the main things he's been working on is his mobility, so he kicks off his seminar with a few warm up exercises to improve agility and flexibility.