BJJ DVD Review: Leg Drag Seminar with Andre Galvao black belt Mr Tim Sledd

"The sooner you learn that jiujitsu is mechanics, not magic, the better your study of it will be" Tim Sledd, Head instructor at Andre Galvao's first American Affiliate: Small Axe Jiujitsu.

The first thing that strikes me about this BJJ DVD is how professional this whole package is. The Fight Hub really did a great job on this one. I first heard of Mr Tim Sledd thru an BJJ interview about changing affiliation with the Fightworks podcast (listen to it here) and I contacted him on Facebook and we've been in touch since. He's a very approachable and knowledgeable jiujitsu practitioner with a lot passion for the sport and the community.

You can buy the DVD here.

The DVD starts with a short 2 minute introduction by Tim himself and then we are treated to 3 sections: Seminar I at IU, Seminar II at GZ and Bonus Material.

IU Workshop:

The University of Indiana has a very nice dojo! This BJJ workshop is broken down into 9 smaller chapters ranging from "Intro to positions" to adapting the leg drag to "Butterfly guard pass" or even "Passing spider guard".

The picture and sound quality is very crisp. I can tell that Tim has many years of teaching experience as he orientates himself and his demo partner and turns him around to expose the details of each grappling position and body alignment. One thing I wish he had done was chosen a different gi colour. Both Tim and his training partner were dressed in bright and shiny white gis so it was sometimes hard to distinguish who's knee was where. I do admit that it didn't take long for me to get over that though, but if I had to chose something then gi colour was it.

Such is the level of detail, that Tim spends over 7 minutes just explaining the postures, pressures and possibilities of the standard variation of the Leg Drag position. I found this very detailed and helpful as I'm quite a newbie to the Leg Drag position.

Add to that the "Concept" chapter where Tim explains why he holds the above postures and why he uses the particular pressures he does and you have a very thorough introduction to the Leg Drag position. A simple example of the level of detail Tim provides is that he instructs you on where, how and why you should use your head in the position.

What's the right hand doing? The left? Your feet?
Your knees? Your head? Where's your weight?
Tim leaves no details unmentioned.

Have I said "Leg Drag Position" enough times? Good. The reason I do that is because before reviewing this DVD, I thought the Leg Drag was a guard pass, rather than a position, or a number of positions, that lead to a pass or more. In fact, the first actual technique Tim shows is an entry to the Leg Drag from Side Control! One would imagine that once you have reached side control it would be redundant to move to a guard passing position but Tim makes a great point:

"As you get better, your opponent's defence from side control get better, IT becomes harder to catch them. This is where the confusion caused by the leg drag position can come in"

Closed guard passing - The Galvao pass: After the traditional guard opening from the knees, Tim proceeds to show what he calls the Galvao Pass which is a very solid looking toreada (bull fighter) pass off of a head tripod on their hip. As you circle your opponent, Tim shows you how to get into the Leg Drag.

Dorinho Half guard passing and the home-base position: This low variation of the knee cut pass is a very neat way to pin the opponent's hips while you weaken the grip of his half guard, ultimately passing to the Leg Drag Position.

Butterfly guard pass: This pass leads to the third variation of the Leg Drag position - The knee skip position. After getting the grips, postures and pressures Tim advances his position.

Knee skip to mount: using your own elbow to elbow scoop them and your forehead to neck scoop them to separate their elbow from their knee before mounting.

Spider guard pass: the idea is to move their legs to one side and settle in a Knee Skip Leg Drag position. "Andre always says when they go spider guard you should never go to your knees to pass".

Closing thoughts: The Leg Drag position satisfies both traditional and modern jiujitsu needs. Tim clarified that in addition to the well known actions of grabbing the opponent's ankle from a stand up pass and shoving it to your hip to drag the leg, the options he shared in the seminar will give you tighter avenues to secure the side control during, before and after passing the guard. To drive these two points home, he showed how securing the Leg Drag position can help you stabilise your grounds i, straight after and standard bridge and roll escape from the headlock and ii,  after a failed back take off the berimbolo sweep. 

Ground Zero Workshop:

The GZ Workshop starts with a breakdown of what most of us associate with the words Leg Drag: the action of grabbing and dragging the leg. Tim shows this and most other techniques on a fellow black belt and that made me happy. When a black belt is openminded enough to invite another black belt from a different organisation to do a seminar, that shows respect, confidence and a genuine thirst to learn, not to mention caring for your students and wanting them to have a well rounded game.

Tim follows this with a re-hash of the Leg Drag position ala 

Andre Galvao: Spine Aligned, Leg Staple, Kick Stand, Low Lapel Control and Shoulder Point.

Mendes Bros: Straight leg with pointed toes and Knee Squeeze and tightness to avoid them getting a Butterfly hook.

Reverse Position (AKA Skip Knee position): Back Staple, grips…etc.

Other than the recap, Tim opens for questions and he gets one about fixing the position against an opponent who keeps their hips raised which Tim shows a nice counter to.

From Side Control: against an opponent who's doing everything right from side bottom to prevent attacks, mounting and back takes, retreating to the Leg Drag Position allows you to weaken their position and open them up for attacks.

Back take: Tim goes to thru a lot of effort to explain how to grip, pressure and move from the Glavao Leg Drag to the back or "half back". He really breaks down a lot of details such as wrist orientation, tightening the seatbelt, attaining the second hook…etc. 

Closed guard: Tim covers that same details as the UI workshop. The biggest difference is that the GZ crowd have questions which Tim answers swiftly:

How do you prevent them from preventing your toreada with their foot / hook?
When do you let go of the bottom leg?
What's the order of operations when establishing the Leg Drag position? Low lapel first or knee staple first?

Dorinho half guard pass: Tim rehashes his "Homebase" concept, describing a stable position within the half guard that he uses to initiate any pass. from their, he goes thru the Dorinho half guard pass we saw in UI but with an interesting pointer:

"sometimes when I mount on people, their defences are so tight I can't get to their back so I let them put me in half guard, perform this pass and transition to their back from the Leg Drag position"

Boom. What a concept! We've all been with that one person who's mount defence is so tight we end up just sitting there and while we can indeed dismount and create pressure from side control or knee on belly, that doesn't get you any points in a competition. Passing their half guard and taking their back will do that, with the added bonus of creating more attack opportunities.

Once again, the questions of the participants added dimensions to this segment:

"after releasing your leg from their half guard grip, how do you get them to turn away from you to enter the Leg Drag position?"

The answer was very simple:  a combination of 2 pressures and a result of Tim's weight distribution over his opponent.

Butterfly guard pass: Tim spends a good portion of time reviewing all the details of collapsing someone's butterfly guard transitioning to a heavy Skip Knee Leg Drag position. He also revisits the details of using it to transition straight to the mount and then explains how to adjust the technique to NoGi training.

Spider guard pass: The additional details from this look at the pass is Tim's knee pressure before the pass which allows him to first delay the opponent's reaction and, later in the pass, free his right sleeve from their grip. 

Next Tim takes the time to do a Questions & Answers segment at the seminar, very helpful, and leaves the participants with a number of jiujitsu drills to help them retain and develop the grappling techniques he taught:

Galvao Toreada: From Open guard to Leg Drag
Dorinho pass: From homebase with active toes
One of the two above passes against an opponent who is moving around in a seated guard
Butterfly guard pass
Spider guard pass

You can buy the DVD here.

Bonus Material:

The first thing I notice is that Tim is dressed in his white gi while his partner James is in a blue one. The setting has a black back ground and green mat. Perfect! I can see every single detail very clearly. Whether accidental or premeditated, this really worked for me.

Takedown to Leg-Drag
Tim combines the Rear Trip Takedown (Tani Otoshi) with the Leg Drag Position. He not only shows the two separate techniques from multiple angles, he also helps the viewer remove all dead-space between them to cease a smooth transition.

Mount to Skip Knee Leg Drag:
This is a counter to your opponent's super sharp elbow knee escape. As Tim explains, losing mount is frustrating but so is almost escaping the frying pan to land in the fire. 

Back Mount to Leg Drag:
While Tim is showing how to recover positional dominance as your opponent is escaping the back mount, the segment starts with some invaluable advice on how to have a tight Back Mount in the first place! The transition from the Back Mount to the Leg Drag is explained in exhaustive detail. Another thing I really like about Tim's instruction is that he talks about where his weight is and not just the visible elements of where his arms, legs and head are. 

One quick note: While the technical breakdown of this position / transition is very thorough and easy to follow through, the segment does cut with Tim mid-sentence. No biggie from a jiu jitsu point of view as the details are clear, but it did catch me by surprise. 

De La Riva Sweep 1
Here Tim shows you how to transition from the bottom of the De La Riva guard with a simple Front sweep. This is gold if you are trying to learn the fundamental skill of making your De La Riva guard deep and your front sweep harder to defend and defeat. Tim follows his opponent after the sweep and swiftly transition to the Skip Knee Leg Drag Position.

De La Riva Sweep 2:
Berimbolo! Berimbolo! Well, not quite. This, as Tim explains, is a simpler version of the modern Berimbolo sweep that doesn't require as much flexibility as the full one. The way Tim explains this Back sweep is very, very good and allows for step by step follow through. The end position is the Skip Knee Leg Drag position. Once again, as soon as Tim finishes the third repetition of the technique (after 4min 9sec of explaining and showing) the segment cuts. As I said above, the talking and showing is done by then, it just feels a little odd.

De La Riva Sweep 3:
Berimbolo! Berimbolo! Here we go. Tim explains that the ultimate goal of the Berimbolo is to get to the back but when opponent's are hip to it, aiming for the Leg Drag position will happen more often. Tim starts from Butterfly guard against an opponent in seated Combat Base. Once his base is compromised, Tim shows how to enter the Berimbolo sweep and all the details to take you to the Galvao Leg Drag position.

The Leg Drag is a very powerful position
Tim Sledd is a very clear and competent teacher
Buy this DVD here.

The Leg Drag Position is a very relevant position as it helps you secure your pass and opens up a number of options. Check this out: This is a different instructor (Dan “TrumpetDan” Lukehartshowing a different technique (Buchecha's Berimbolo back take attempt against Rodolfo Vieira's single leg X-guard), but listen to what he says at 3.04 - 3.15

I'd like to thank Tim for sending me this awesome DVD to review. You can buy the DVD here.



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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A.D. McClish said...

That first quote about mechanics is something I was thinking about after a tournament I went to this weekend. Everyone was talking about the berimbolo (not shocking) and it got me to thinking how too many people focus on the latest and greatest fad technique while ignoring the concepts behind them that make them great. Learn the concepts, then the magic cool terchniques will appear on their own!

Liam H Wandi said...

I totally agree Allie. I get many questions from people who ask why I focus on the self defence aspects, even though I can't see myself ending up in many fights. The answer is simple: The SD is the purest and most direct expression of the PRINCIPLES of healthy human movement. Something as simple as the tech. stand up is, according to our resident S&C coach, the most efficient way to transition from point a (the floor) to point b (standing) and once you master these, the rest (aka the magic) is easy :)