BJJ Gi Review: Alavanca Combat Gi

The AV COMBAT GI is the flagship product from Alavanca (transl. Leverage), a recent addition to the ever-growing jiujitsu scene. is the 2017 brainchild of the two head instructors at the world famous Gracie University HQ, Rener and Ryron Gracie out of Torrance, California where I recently spent a week training.

BJJ / Grappling Tips from Robson Moura, Gustavo Dantas and Vítor Shaolin Ribeiro.

In 2016 I had the amazing chance to learn from the legend professor Robson Moura when he held a seminar down at NSBJJ in Battersea, London. More importantly, I had a chance to chat to him after the seminar but also to professors Gustavo Dantas and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro who were both at NSBJJ preparing for Shaolin’s upcoming fight on Polaris Pro. I asked them all different questions: 

“Robinho, if you had to design the perfect 60 minute class, what would it look like?”

So, Jack Taufer visited London!

My mission in life is to create fun and cool experiences, both for myself and for others. Learning is a huge motivator for me and I learn best from experiences, but also I like to meet cool cats and have fun. Jack is one such character.

I'd been a fan of Jack's work for a while. He featured on a BudoVideos segment a while back where he appeared on a panel of jiujitsu black belt and since his background is, much like mine, strongly linked to the self defence aspects of Gracie Jiujitsu, gravitated towards what he was explaining and showing. Here's part one of the episode itself:

This got me curious so when I looked up other material Jack'd put out, I saw some fantastic clips where he shows very strong fundamental concepts, and his explanation was always super clear. Here is one such clip:

Fast forward to me looking into going on a training trip to San Diego (2017) and LA (2018). I contacted a few of the names whom I knew live in that area and asked for advice and Jack was very generous with his time. Do remember that at this moment we'd never met so he was being kind to a complete stranger.

Fast forward again to 2018. It's Sunday, so the Gracie Academy is shut. Ryron and Rener actually were kind enough to invite me to the beach where a bunch of them were playing volleyball but I had heard that Chris & Melissa Haueter ran early morning sessions in their famous garage on Sundays. I decided to find the garage and go hang out with the boys later and boy am I happy that I did. Not only did Melissa teach a great session on the closed guard, and not only did Chris share a thousand and one cool stories, anecdotes and technique tips (check his video below on how to tape your fingers for jiujitsu), but as we were finishing the warm-up, in walks Jack Taufer!

BJJ / Grappling Tips: Cross Side Top Theme Part 3 - Submitting from the side mount

It's all about setting the right traps and removing obstacles (Image source: WatchBJJ)

In a previous post I explained the main concepts a jiujitsu practitioner needs to keep in mind to control their opponent from cross side top (ak. side mount or side control) and how to transition from the side to the full mount. I also promised I'd discuss what I have found to be the highest percentage ways to submit the opponent from side to mount so here we go:

The thing is, as you may have noticed from the previous two articles, my high-pressure control itself and constant threat of mounting usually opens doors to submission that wouldn't normally be there. Just take the Kimura Roger talks about in the previous post for instance: That's probably my favourite go to straight from side mount.

Check Article 2 in this series for details of this position

I am very grateful that almost every teacher I have ever had in jiujitsu and judo has emphasized the importance of crushing pressure without over-engagement from the arms. This has meant that the system I currently follow when attacking from the side goes like this:

  1. Kill the nearside arm: To do this from my version of the side mount, I use my shins to pin their forearm to the mat (preferably my south leg so I can ...)
  2. Post the north leg while isolating their farside arm further (putting my north arm deep in between their arm and their torso)
  3. Secure the kimura grip and attack with:
    • Kimura
    • lapel-trap paper-cutter choke
    • Leg scissor choke

I recently found a good video that demonstrates one variation of the lapel trap choke I mention above, although I would try to keep more pressure on the opponent:

Let's be crystal clear: My goal from the side mount is very simple: I want you to tap from my pressure alone. I will do everything I can to tip the scales in my direction when it comes to me having a stronger mechanical advantage, leverage and "comfort" and I will angle my body and contour around your frames and add more and more pressure until you tap from pressure alone. Going to mount and / or submitting you with a choke or armlock will always be my secondary option but because I am so pressure-focused, when I do actually go for the attacks, my opponent has had to endure some serious claustrophobia and their frames and spine are all out of proper posture. 

I hope you enjoyed this extended and detailed style of blog and that you spend the upcoming 5-6 weeks putting one or two tips out of it into your own practice. I welcome all feedback, just drop me a line through the link at the top of the blog.

Next topic: My favourite - the  mount.


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BJJ / Grappling Tips: Cross Side Top Theme Part 2 - transitioning to mount

In a previous post I explained the main concepts a jiujitsu practitioner needs to keep in mind to control their opponent from cross side top (ak. side mount or side control). I explained that I've found that the key to maintaining that control is through a combination of the right positioning / postures, weight distribution and pressures on the opponent body and limbs and I promised I'd discuss what I have found to be the most dominant ways to transition from side to mount so here we go:

From a private lesson I took from my teacher, professor Eddie Kone, many
years ago. Notice how free his hands are to attack and submit, as opposed to
being preoccupied with holding or squeezing the opponent.

I mentioned last post that there are many different ways of laying cross side on top of your opponent and that in this particular 6-week study, I'm focusing on the version closest resembling judo's kuzure yoko shiho gatame as opposed to the more often seen underhook-and-cross-face style of hold down. This is not to say that this is the only way I hold someone in side control. It's just my current favourite and the one I'm exploring. Naturally, my transitions to mount will flow directly (and sometimes indirectly) from that particular style of side control.


Since my top arm is wrapped around the outside of the opponent's far arm, the body's naturally more incline to turn to face the legs than to face the opponent's head. What this means is that it would be more natural for me to transition to the mount using the high step method than through the knee slide method:

Screenshots are courtesy of Evolve University & Chew Jitsu
After flattening the opponent, I use my back to push and open up (separate from the torso) the opponent's nearside elbow. The flattening action actually makes opening the elbow easier.

Once the elbow is open and my back has shrimped away from their legs, I prop their nearside knee with my knee / upper shin (I don't feel it makes a difference which leg!) then drag both their legs down to collapse them before high stepping to the mount. Here's a nice clip of Mr Roger Gracie showing what I mean:

I have to admit, however, I do two things differently to Roger. I'm not Roger's size so I need to put in a couple of safety measures when I high step to mount:

  1. I use my nearside leg (the one I am not stepping over with) to hook under their nearside leg. This gives me my first leg hook before I've even mounted and prevents them sliding under me for a sneaky backdoor escape from the mount - aka elbow escape from the side control.
  2. I don't step onto the mat with my foot. Rather, I hook my heel on their far hamstring-area then use that connection to pull myself up onto them, sliding that heel deeper into what becomes my second leg hook. This slide is lead by the hips

Rather than stepping, hook the heel and pull yourself on top

In the next and final post on the topic of the Side Mount - Top, I will discuss submission opportunities that arise naturally when your control is tight and your mount transitions are always a threat! Stay tuned.



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BJJ / Grappling Tips: Cross Side Top Theme Part 1 - maintaining the side control

What is the easiest position to control someone in grappling?

Most people I know love the side mount and will put it ahead of the mount. Especially beginners as they still haven't developed their mount maintenance techniques and attributes and always feel in danger of getting flipped. With your body off your opponent in the side mount (aka cross side or side control), the risk of the position getting reversed is reduced.

Personally, I see the side mount as a portal to the mount. Yes I use it to exhaust my opponents and yes I have a number of submission attacks from there, but my goal is to mount my opponent.

While I am laying cross side on my opponent, I'd like to use the following postures and pressures to open them up for the aforementioned attacks, including the transition to mount. The position itself is most reminiscent of the kuzure yoko shiho gatame in judo, or "broken side 4-way hold-down", with an adjustment or two.


Position, relative to the opponent:

Alignment: My spine is at 90-95 degrees to their spine, angling north. My chest / breastbone practically right on top of theirs and my chin near the outside of their far deltoid which my own north side armpit is close to their chin. I like to keep my head super low both to deny space but also to prevent damage from effective strikes (accidental or otherwise). The hips, controversially, are higher than my shoulders, but I stay behind an invisible wall defined by their centre line to prevent getting flipped.

Arms: my north arm wraps around their far arm / shoulder. I also like grabbing the belt with that hand and making sure the far shoulder is isolated from the ground by that arm. I also pull that arm to my hip so it restricts the movement of his head. The south arm is guarding against their attempts to replace me into their guard by hovering between the level of their knee and mid-thigh. I sometimes go lower, but I'm always aware of the risk of them bringing their shin through the space potentially created by my elbow. I'm always alert to hug, especially with the south arm, if they bridge explosively.

Legs: my north leg is straight. My south leg is bent with the knee close to my south elbow / their nearside hip

Picture courtesy of JiuJitsu Mag's Youtube channel


This positional alignment creates a ton of pressure against the opponent's far shoulder, but also their chest. As you become comfortable on top, listen to their breathing and deepen your position and hold over them at the end of their exhale.

Weight distribution: Play around with this until you find the sweet spot. For me, it's usually sternum-to-sternum. If they start to turn towards you, distribute your weight to turn them flat again. If they try to frame against your north-side hip, drop your other hip to contour around their pressure.

Comfort: Get your knees and elbows off the ground to direct all the weight into the opponent at all times, hence tipping the comfort scales in your favour.

It goes without saying that this is only a narrow, specialised 6-week deep-dive into one variation of how to hold your opponent from the side mount. You can orientate your arms, legs and torso in a variety of other ways and I will investigate these in the future, but for now: This is my go-to strategy.

In the next article, I will talk about the pathways I've been investigating to go from the side to the full mount.



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