Last week I was in Oklahoma City with BJJ world champions Xande Ribeiro, Rafael Lovato Jr and Victor Hugo as they did their last hard week before ADCC which happens this Saturday, 9/17/22 and 9/18/22 in Las Vegas. Xande is a multiple time ADCC champion and Rafael Lovato Jr is a silver medalist. This will be Victor Hugo’s second tournament after having a terrific first showing a few years ago. I have been helping Xande and Lovato prepare for every ADCC since 2005 so this was a nostalgic camp for me as it marks the last year Xande and Lovato will be competing.
The importance of wrestling
The rules of ADCC is a bit different and while the there are no points for the first five minutes of the match, after five minutes pulling guard is a -1 point. In the finals, the points start right away and giving up a point to start is rarely a good strategy in the finals. So it becomes a bit of a wrestling match. With the lack of wrestling shoes, limping a leg out of takedowns becomes much easier so stances are a bit more upright than a traditional wrestling stance. High level shots become more common and it is also more common to finish shots by transitioning to a body lock where it is harder to escape and a bodylock from passing is very advantageous.
Lovato is lucky to have great wrestling coaches and Nick Hefflin was a big part of the ADCC camp. Nick is an assistant at OU a Big 12 school and we were able to train with a few of the wrestlers even though it is off season. It definitely takes a second to get used to the speed of the young kids. But ADCC is a lot about hand fighting, wearing your opponent down and getting to dominant ties. Using your collar tie to get into underhook, russian ties and upper body situations.
I feel good about the wrestling techniques we have been showing lately. Especially our transitions from the collar tie into underhooks and russian ties. Nick was able to add on a few options from the underhook and russian tie that we will be able to implement.
The importance of leglocks
Leglocks and leglock defense is a big part of ADCC training and a lot of time is spent in situational leg entanglements such as 50/50, outside ashi, single leg x and cross ashi. With guard passers like Lovato, Xande and Victor Hugo, there is always the threat of them coming up on top so you want to win the scramble situations as well. While I like single leg x for entering the legs, my preferred position for exposing the heel is 50/50, it is harder than cross ashi to escape from and while there is the chance for catch you as well, generally I am better at exposing the heels from there and then using some of Lachlan’s foot positions for finishing. It definitely isn’t 2015 where leglocks dominate, but it is something to make a threat with and to use in conjunction with wrestling up from bottom.
Of the people there, Victor Hugo is probably most known for his leglock game have many kneebar, aoki locks and toe hold submissions to his name. When you are 250lbs and can invert like he does, the threat of the leglocks are a big thing to watch out for.
Passing the Guard
You must be a well rounded guard passer. Xande has one of the highly touted closed guards in gi and no-gi competition. He had 3 submissions from closed guard one tournament alone. So you have to be comfortable escaping the closed guard and doing so in a way that doesn’t allow someone like Victor Hugo to get to your legs as well.
Once you are out of the closed guard you can opt for more mobility passing to get an angle on people with little bullfighters with hands on the shin or stomach to get an angle, often focusing on getting to north south rather than straight side control.
The mats quickly get slippery and standing vs Victor Hugo exposes the legs a lot, so often times you will engage in the low and medium range. It is a lot of work handfighting, sprawling and working inside of various high and low knee shields and against butterfly guard as well. Generally you are trying to force half guards and body locks. Victor lamented on the lack of pants to force use against the knee shield.
I always feel trying to pass Xande’s guard is always something that polishes my own game and I have to be careful not to get too observant. You can have him in almost the most dead to rights position before he makes just a little adjustment to re adjust his position and escape. Just feels like a constant chess match with one of the best of all time.