The ideal Game For The “Old Grappler”: Last year (2015), in one of my seminars, a student attending the seminar came to me and said: “Hey Bernardo, I love your game, because it is really good for guys getting old like me…” he was in his 40’s. He went on to explain that because he could slow the movements of the younger guys down using Z-Guard, Half-Guard, Deep Half Guard, etc…. he could sweep and then use pressure passing to again slow down the younger guys while on top. Thus, countering the younger opponents greatest advantages. I had never thought about it but, after this conversation I started to think. Was it just simply slowing down the younger guys, that made my game good for the older grappler? I looked at my whole BJJ style and started to see if what this man told me made sense as well as if there was more to it then slowing movements of the opponent.
After breaking down and analyzing how I like to set up my game . I started to understand where this man was coming from. When I’m on top, my style is all about pressure passing, using over-under, over-under brother and more to pass the guard, this is probably the best game for the aging grappler because when a grappler is in their 30’s and 40’s they will lose a lot of speed and cardio but, do gain some “old man”strength. Which fits right into the over-under pass and pressure passing style. These type of passes don’t require one to be fast, and do not have good cardio as an element to be successful. All we need is good control, be slow, be patient and work little by little. Exactly the way the old grapplers like to play. Not too much standing to pass the guard, no jumping side to side rather, staying on the knees, finding good ways to hold and control the opponent.
Next, I started thinking about how I play when I am on bottom and if my style on bottom would work well for the older grappler. Once again, my conclusion was that it matches really well. When we are older, it becomes hard for us to play Spider Guard, because we are not that flexible anymore. Also it may become harder to play Butterfly Guard, because we would need a lot of speed to deal with the fast grip fighting and non-grip situations. Im not even going to talk about the De-la-riva and Berimbolos, the old guys might not even dream about playing, it requires a lot of upside down moves which make it out of the question for many older grapplers who have back,shoulder and neck injuries. Half-Guard might be the way to go for the Older Grappler. Half-Guard can be a very slow game, where all you need to do is lock one of your opponent’s legs, slow him down, and start developing the techniques from there (Checkout this video on a Trap Triangle from Half-Guard).
Half-Guard is great for those who have to deal with injuries. Actually, that is how the half-guard was invented by Roberto Correa or “Gordo”.He hurt his knee, he couldn’t play any type of guard, and half-guard was the only one he could. Most of the time the older grappler, is beat up due to the long time he has spent on the mat during his career or injuries from other sports/work so, once again the Half-Guard becomes an ideal position for the older grappler.
Another fact that makes my game special for the older grappler, is the fact that most of my submissions, are not risky submissions. I don’t attack to much the submissions that I have a big risk to lose the good position I am. For example, If I am on the side control, I don’t like to try an Armbar from there and have the risk to end up on bottom. Losing position then having to restart everything, I like the submissions that even if I miss it, I still am on the side-control position, that’s why I like a lot the kneebar from the over-under pass and also the scarf choke from the side control. The Kneebar if I miss it, I am still in the over under pass. The scarf choke if I miss it I end up in the north-south (on top). This is pretty much my style when I’m working the submissions, I go more for the slow and well control submissions, then the explosive and fast submissions, what I believe is not the style for the older grapplers either.
Coincidence or not, most of the guys who write to me, saying that they love my game, and they have had success winning tournaments using my style (Pressure Passing and Half-Guard), most of the time are in the master’s divisions.
In the video below you guys can see my favorite passing; the over-under pass, and also a highlight of my sweeps from half-guard.
I hope you guys enjoy it, and if you are an older grappler, I invite you to try to play this game and see how you feel. If you are the younger grappler, I still tell you to try to, because this is the game I have been playing since I was 16 years old, and the fact that it matches with the older grappler is just a lucky coincidence that now I’m proud to feel that I can help them a lot. One day you to will be called “the old grappler”.
In this Video below, I teach the technique I call “Over-Under Brother”. It’s a variation of the Over-Under Pass. As I said before, it’s a great technique for the older grappler that likes to pass the guard slow.
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