Marcelo Garcia Seminar Notes

I just got back from an awesome seminar by Marcelo Garcia- which was held at a local high school gymnasium in Orlando, hosted by Ricardo Liborio (founder and coach of American Top Team).
Marcelo doesn't do many seminars anymore, but him and Liborio have a very great friendship (going back to when Liborio invited Marcelo to train MMA at ATT in Coconut Creek- around 2008-2009), and Marcelo was happy to do one for Liborio.
I think there were about 170+ attendees, with 40+ black belts- including world champs like Bruno Malfacine and Gezary Matudo, all from different schools.
Liborio just recently moved to Orlando, and he said he was planning on having more of these special seminars, where he hoped everyone from different schools could come together and train together.  He kept emphasizing how he wanted to get rid of school politics, and just get people together.
Here's a pic of my with Liborio and Marcelo- we took this on Saturday, right before they headed out to NAGA in Orlando- where Marcelo did a special appearance.
(More seminar notes to follow)

The seminar started with Ricardo introducing Marcelo to the audience. He stated that he has been around many BJJ competitors since he started training at 13 years old (he will be 50 this year), and never in his life has he met someone that was a combination of great competitor, great coach, and great human being like Marcelo.

Marcelo then welcomed everyone, and mentioned that he hoped that everyone in their lives could have someone as amazing and special as Liborio. It was evident that both of these guys loved each other a lot!

Now to the Jiu Jitsu part!

Marcelo started by saying how important it was to handfight while standing. Even though we don't specialize in standup, we need to know how to start a match.

He has seen many black belts, start faltering during their matches, because they do not get to start off the way they are prepared to.

It is especially important to start handfighting right away, because during the first few minutes of a no gi match, you and your opponent are dry- so he will try to establish grips and go for a takedown or sweep immediately- so when everyone is sweaty, you are hopefully already in a dominant position or up on points.

When he handfights he likes to go 2 on 1 because he feels that it is a dominant grip, and for the opponent to break it, they will have to make bigger movements- and he will have moves based on their big reactions.

For example, if he starts with 2-1 and sits to sitting guard, if the opponent pulls hard on their controlled arm to break the grip, Marcelo can use their pulling momentum to come up on a single leg, or an ankle pick.

He stressed that your first move might not work- but it is ok. The beautiful thing about BJJ is that you can connect moves together so you can keep attacking- making exciting BJJ- don't be too stubborn to stay in one position.

For example- if you try to come up for the single leg, and you feel your opponent's leg start slipping out, so you are only grabbing their ankle (you are still in seated position), or if you feel they are a better wrestler than you- you can pull them into 1 Leg X or X-Guard.

The key is to keep connecting moves together and eventually one of your moves will work.

He then talked about the seated guard. He mentioned that some opponents will attack your seated guard by staying on their knees and bum rushing you for the double unders and to put your back flat on the mat.

When you feel this is coming, you need to bend lower in your seated guard, and meet them with your shoulders to stop their momentum.

If they are still able to get double unders (while you are still in seated guard), overhook their arms with a Gable grip and sweep them to one side or another (with standard butterfly sweep, or add a push kick to one of their knees)- sweep in the direction your head is on, or whichever side you feel they are putting more weight.

He mentioned that with No Gi, especially due to the sweat and lack of gi handles, any grip you get is super important. When he gets this Gable grip in this position, he is gripping as hard as he can, so he doesnt lose the position.

He then showever this same position and sweep but starting from closed guard- where your opponent is stalling with double unders and their head buried into your chest.

If this is the case, move your hips rapidly- one side then another (explained like a bicycle motion), to create some more space and see if you can put your foot on their hips and/or slide them to butterfly hooks, push away to seated guard, and then sweep (as above). Or, if your legs are too long, try to grapevine their legs and extend (while you are still in closed guard), which should give you space to put both butterfly hooks in- extend and go to seated guard for the same sweep.

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Next position:

You are now attacking the seated guard from standing.

Yes, this will put you at risk of certain sweeps and attacks, but you will also be able to move faster to pass and escape from danger.

Super important to hand fight (as mentioned in the stand up portion)- in this case hand fight to try to push your opponents chest so they go flatter on their back. As you push, take a step in between their legs.

Since we are training to beat high level black belts (and not lower belts), when you push someone like this, they will not fall completely on their back. Rather then will move backwards briefly, and rebound back quickly to seated guard again.

Anticipate this rebound affect, and their neck will most likely be open- catch them with a high elbow guillotine (you are still standing over them, and they are in seated guard). You can finish the squeeze while standing on top of them, but a good person will most likely fall on their back- you have to be ready for this and base out so you end up in semi-mount- with your head basing out on the mat (like a head of a tripod)- maintain the high elbow over their shoulder.

He said many people feel this is a weird position (the high elbow), but if you can do a push up- then your wrist can bend enough to move into that position.

Liborio asked a great question at this point- asking if Marcelo ever cups the chin prior to hunting for the guillotine. He answered that anytime he has done something like that, before the opponent taps, their hands are already defending like crazy.

Marcelo feels that if he cups the chin, he is signalling to the opponent to tuck their chin in- so he likes to attack right away- since he knows the opportunity to attack is so small.

(ironically- who remembers years back when Mario Sperry- Liborio's teammate for many years came out with a Video/DVD that showed this super awesome, innovative position called THE GRIP? Which was just cupping the chin from all different positions...)

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Next position: Passing the butterfly guard/seated guard while you are on your knees

Begin the move by clubbing your opponent's neck with your arm (for example using your right arm), at the same time use your left arm to push against their leg, so they spin underneath and you pass to side control (be careful they do not put you in half guard during this transition).

Try to get underhook and crossface in side control. However with no gi, even if you don't get a great underhook, as long as you connect your hands together (using a Gable grip, etc), you will be able to hold the in side control.

Next Position:

If you try this pass- which is simple in movement, but you need to get the timing down correctly, a good opponent may use their hands/arm to base out (to the side you are clubbing them to).

Once they base out, you can no longer do this pass, but now they have opened up their underhook on that side- get the underhook, and immediately torque your body so you land on the other side of their body now.

Most likely they will put you in half guard- so he went over his Over/Under pass from halfguard that he likes to use.

Crap, I realized I forgot a move- to make up for it, here's a pic of Carina Damm, Liborio, Gezary, and Marcelo.


Back to the move I forgot- you are still trying to pass the seated guard while you are standing.

You push your opponents chest as you step in between to cause a reaction- they rebound and you go for the guillotine.

For whatever reason- they either tuck their chin too fast, or handfight too fast- you can't get the guillotine- go to another position.

Because you stepped in between their legs, you are in a precarious position where they can stand and single leg you, or attack your leg.

Pushing off their head (similar to clubbing motion stated above), make them react by posting an hand/arm on the ground. Once they do that, you know you aren't in as much danger as one of their arms will be busy posting.

Additionally, pick up one of their ankles- so now they really can post to come up for a single. As you are in this position- still standing in between their legs (they are in seated guard- but now posted to one side) do a back step land with your hip to the mat- and look for the underhook to pass.

Last move!

Now that you have passed and are in side control, go for underhook and cross face control.

If the opponent has their hands near their neck, you need to clean up their hands (basically push them down a couple of inches so their neck is open)- to go for the North South Choke.

If both their hands are near their neck/throat, use your chest to clear (push down an inch or two) their near hand closer to you.

Then undo your hands and put the cross faced hand on the other side and use both hands to push his remaining hand a bit lower from this throat. Once this space is open go to North South choke- and try to go parallel to them asap- if you stay on the side, or diagonal, you risk being swept.

To complete the choke, go palm to palm, push down on your shoulder- and try to squeeze about 70% and be persistent with it- don't let up on the pressure.

If you try to squeeze 100% then your arms will give up way faster.

Marcelo said this was the largest seminar he ever gave!


One note about the guillotine- he likes to use essentially the same grip as his back pack position (his hand is a bit lower for guillotine - ie he's not gripping past the wrist)

He had an interesting anecdote- he said sometimes against super strong (necked) people- even his wrist feels like it will dislocate before he taps- thats how hard he is pushing up to finish the move.

Thus, if you have a bad grip- it will break way before the person will tap.

20% of my students made the 2+ hour drive to attend the seminar and meet Marcelo!


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Last pic!

My students and I with the Great Liborio - A big thank you to him as he made this seminar possible!

- Would it be shameless of me if I mentioned that right after this picture, Liborio was nice enough to invite me and my students over to his house for a BBQ party?

Alas, I didn't get to go- I was busy driving Marcelo to meet up with his family at Disney :P

Awesome! Thanks!

Now I want to see pictures of Marcelo at Disney. :)

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