I've been getting considerably better with my grappling lately. I can actually enjoy the game and tap people more often than not.

Today I rolled with a guy from Systema (Russian system). Friendly, skinny Russian Jewish grad student. As you probably know, those Russians have pretty unreal breathing and conditioning, and their pain management follows suit. Well, I got a mount, and tried for a paintbrush. The guy's arm just bent backward. Nothing. He bridged me. A bit later, I was playing in the open guard and tried a kimura. I swear I had it perfect. He laughed and rolled out. Finally, I got a rear naked choke with both hooks in, and arched back...

A minute later, he got out by leisurely squeezing my testicles like overripe grapes.

I have to say the experience was a little frustrating. Any thoughts?

From what I've read...I would say that the two of you were fighting in different arenas at the same time.

Your emphasis appears to be sport based...looking for the submission, while your adversary appeared to have been street fighting...targets of opportunity as well as mindset.

You need to research and understand Mr. Blauer's principles on grappling and groundfighting so that you don't use less-desireable tactics in your opponents arena...remember, to quote Tony, theoretically "The 'badguy' controls the fight!"

Hope that this helps.


Thanks for your input... but that wasn't my concern. We were kind of walking the line between rolling and fighting. What bothered me was the subs not working when I "had him".

The guy sat in my fully-locked choke for at least 30 sec. No tap.

Sean made an important point that I try and be sure to refer to when I start my training sessions. What am I training for and what are the intentions of the session. You had mentioned "We were kind of walking the line between rolling and fighting" ..... Well, he submitted you out by grabbing your balls, I am assuming that "submission hold" was acceptable in your rules of engagement. You were either "rolling" or "fighting" cannot do both simultaneously in truth.

Its been my experience with some guys that their tolerance for pain is very high and unless they are "structurally" damaged (broken bone, dislocation, etc), they just wont submit. This is assuming that the technique was done properly which refers to the old mantra....."Position before submission".

Perhaps something to consider from the session is not get de-moralized, instead, learn from it. Ask your training partner why he didnt tap or submit and what could you have done to make the technique more effective. This is one of the profound things that the PDR curriculum clarifies as a trainer and student. It does not have "succeed or fail" relative to a technique. Instead, it has "more desireable" or "Less desireable" outcomes and then gives you a formula to work thru and learn.

Joe Mullings

"I have to say the experience was a little frustrating. Any thoughts?"

Yes, if your choke is on correctly, no pinch available...if its not, deal with the pinch as you assist him in taking a nap. Then pinch away.

When he awakens he will have much desire to sit around or curl up for a while and have less desire to walk around and discuss pinching and pain tolerance.

Joe and Sean are 100% correct in what looks to have occured and how to move on from it but...

Work with it. Pain tolerance, breathing, chemical enhancement etc carry little weight if they are not applicable to the situation and your familiarity with it.


Great comments guys!!..Ironmongoose, Please let me ask you one question..Did you discuss the ineffectiveness of your subs.with your training partner to get his feed back as to why they didn't work?????

Peace, Tom

"Did you discuss the ineffectiveness of your subs.with your training partner to get his feed back as to why they didn't work?????" That's a great question, Mr. Campbell. Yes, I did. But talking with these Russians, they just say, "Eef you breething right, you chus let ze pain go avay". I couldn't get any sense out of him, he didn't have an extensive subwrestling background (this makes the whole situation even more ridiculous) and to him, there's no "good reason" why he SHOULD have tapped at those points.

The choke, might not have been a WHOLE minute, but it seemed like a ridiculously long time to be in a choke and not respond. My gonads were right IN his back, I shit you not. We were supine, he slipped a flat palm along my hip and went in.

He is an extraordinarily THIN guy. It occured to me that if the triangle of the choke wasn't small enough, it might have worked if I put my left hand on the back of MY neck instead of his, to use my head in the lever and cinch it up more. But I was arching my back and everything. It ticks me off that he didn't tap on it.

On the kimura, do you guys try to keep the opponent's elbow open at around 135 degrees, or closed like around 90? I had thought open was better (big rainbow), Calen was teaching me to do it more bent. I did it bent this time and it degraded into a "hammerlock", IIRC he got on his knees and that's when he rolled out. Any tips?

Another thing that I'm realizing upon reflection is that I have the tendency to apply subs very slowly for fear of hurting my partner. Most folks appreciate it, but this is definitely to the advantage of those sneaky Russians. If I really yanked some of those, who knows, it might have ended differently.

I think I'll debrief and troubleshoot with Calen Monday night.

pain has nothing to do with most subs(there are a few exceptions), as they are designed to break or severly disable something, not just hurt. "The choke, might not
* Well, that's the thing, in play we count on the pain to get the tap and signal the "win" because we don't want to damage our partners. If they don't respond to pain, that doesn't mean I couldn't have broken his shoulder if I really gunned it.

have been a WHOLE minute, but it seemed like a ridiculously long time to be in a choke and not respond." a minute is a very very very long time in a fight, id guess that most likely it was around 15-25 seconds and it just seemed really long. are you sure
* Well, you're right. It was a LONG time though, as far as fights go. Not literally a minute.

you had the choke fully sunk and you were applying pressure to the sides of his neck(not pushing his head
* Yup, I was arching my back and bridging with my hooks as leverage.

forward)?? try doing the rear naked this way, i find it much much better than putting your hand on the back of their head : michael jen's rear naked choke technique.
* I'm going to try that out. I don't have a spare body right now and am trying to picture it... when you make the fists, are you grabbing your own shirt with one or both hands?

never let their arm get a greater than 90 degree angle, it should be 90 or slightly less. and just out of curiosity how long have you been grappling?
* I've been attending one or two nights a week for about 4.5 years, it's mostly been Calen Paine's studio in Edmonton, he's a PDR coach, Estokada kalista, and we do subwrestling about 1/3 of the time. So it's about equal to a year's experience. Just in the past few months, though, I've been doing privates and started beating people. :)

Thanks for the input, everyone!

A lot of good points, but for me, too much empahsis on the this moment...

Technique or 'skill' only applies when there's 'will', in other
words, skill without will can fail and will without skill can fail...

Jesse, your most important focus should be your perception,
mind-set, perspective, resiliencing as it relates to mind-set &

thats how this thread started and then it turned into a
blueprint finesse module of specificty, yipes!

Thats not to diminish anyone's knowledge or contribution, but
as this is the PDR forum and the mind navigates the body,
and we all know that fear and or our mental state heavily
influences our physical ability, that is the place you need to
be focused right now.

You want the PDR research reply, short & sweet?

You got position and ASSUMED submission. Never assume
anything in a fight.

When the move didnt work (based on an intuitive timeline)
you needed to abort it ASAP.

A maxim of the TCMS System since 1989 has been "A good
grppler knows a bunch of moves, a great grappler knows
when to abort them, strike when you can grapple when you

In the immortal words of frined, PDR coach and founder of
the LINE system, Ron Donvito, "Grappling may be your thing,
but blunt trauma is king."

Jesse you had all your eggs in one basket while he was
grabbing your eggs :-)


Thanks, Coach Blauer. Your "deconstruction" of my mental problem is dead on. Wait, I don't mean "mental problem" as such...

I'd like to add a couple of points here, mixing my experience as a grappling instructor and PDR coach:First, I'll address the "technique" of the question. There are seven reasons why joint locks fail, as taught to me by Roy Harris:
1. You are employing "bad" mechanics
2. Your opponent has an abnormal range of motion in the affected joint
3. Your opponent has a high tolerance for pain
4. Your opponent is under the influence of a drug
5. Your opponent is mentally deranged
6. Your opponent has had a previous injury or surgery to the affected joint
7. Any combination of the above
In my own experience, it's most commonly the "bad mechanics" why someone doesn't tap, if the person applying the technique is "relatively" new (such as you are with "about equal to a year's experience") to applying submissions. It doesn't help that even bonifide BJJ schools often teach different mechanics for the same submissions. A slight change in your position can have adverse effects on your mechanics, requireing a subtle change to the technique to still get the desired results. From the descriptions you gave, you have a mechanics problem. If you apply the paintbrush with proper mechanics, he should not be able to bridge out, and his arm should not "bend backwards." If you apply a kimura with proper mechanics, he should not be able to roll out, unless you have sacrificed positional control, which will sabotage the mechanics of the technique. As to the choke, it is more important to eliminate space around the neck (Mike Jen's method is from his former instructor, Roy Harris, and works well), squeeze the elbows together and pull them into the chest, PULL THE SHOULDERS BACK AS YOU PUSH YOUR CHEST INTO HIS BACK, and only then, if he still doesn't tap, should you need to arch. I've rendered people unconscious during drills without even applying all the steps I've mentioned. If you are just arching your back, your can actually CREATE space for your opponent if you skip some of the other mechanics of the technique, making your choke a futile effort.NOW, from a PDR perspective,#5 probably applies here strongly - mental derangement can be a state of consciously "fighting" and not just "rolling." This reminds me of the first Tony Blauer seminar I ever attended. At one point, a question was raised of "HOW LONG does it take for someone to lose consciousness from a choke?" Several answers were given from the seminar participants, ranging from 2 to 15 seconds or so. Mr. Blauer's response was "A few seconds AFTER YOUR OPPONENT HAS GIVEN UP!" If your opponent is still actively "fighting" then it is quite possible to achieve "mind over matter" and resist the choke. I've witnessed this firsthand several times, as both the "choker" and the "chokee" Mindset is a powerful thing. That's one of the distinctions we have to make between "grappling" and "groundfighting." Your natural instinct to survive is a hard thing to beat if you are in "fight" mode, especially if your opponent is just in "sport" mode. It always comes back to that 3rd dimension that Tony teaches - EMOTIONAL. On top of that, it is also VERY difficult sometimes to maintain proper mechanics on someone who is quite actively resisting - one of the reasons why BJJ makes such a good delivery system for the ground is they address this, but it still takes time, practice, and experience to get a high level of proficiency at it.BOTTOM LINE: There is a big difference between a "submission technique" and a mental SUBMISSION. I think Tony's comments "You got position and ASSUMED submission. Never assume anything in a fight" is totally accurate. Remember to DEFINE what your training objective is, and ANALYZE it with your training partner when the drill/exercise is over.Happy training!!

Good posts by all and a nice reframe by Tony.

What happens when you are training and your technique is not working? Are you doing something wrong or is your opponent endowed with abnormal flexibility, pain tolerance, etc. Maybe it's a combination of things. Well, it is training so figure it out in the lab. Go back and work out the bugs and figure how to get it right.

If it's not working when you have something valuable at stake, then that's something else completely. Kind of interesting training guidelines with the ball grabbing thing, I'll admit.

Adam, you've got some good stuff there. I'll work them. I just so happened to see the Roy Harris article yesterday. :)

Now were back on track :-)

"The theory determines the experience" - TCMS Maxim

Train safe,


WOW! great thread!!