Marcelo Garcia Seminar Notes

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I attended the Marcelo Garcia seminar at St. Augustine Combat Club this weekend of August 26-27, 2006. It was 3 hours per day, with gi on Saturday and no-gi on Sunday.

I had the flu and a fever for the entire week leading up to the seminar, but I started anti-biotics on Friday and felt well enough to attempt the seminar, since I'd already paid $140 for it. But I was really, really exhausted the entire time and didn't spar with anyone (including Marcelo) since I didn't want to shock my system.

Marcelo opened the seminar by telling how he thinks Americans may worry that they aren't getting the best training if they can't train with a black belt, but he said that they shouldn't worry. When he started BJJ, he used to have to drive hours to train with a blue belt, and he still valued the training he got.

He started us with some light warm ups and stretches. Twisting at the hips and swinging your arms; hands on hips, gyrate like your doing an invisible hula hoop; feet shoulder-width apart, touch the ground; sit with knees up, twist legs so knees touch the floor; sit and hug your knees and rock front to back; rock back and touch a knee on the mat over your head, alternate side; belly down, push straight off the ground, lift hips, stretch stomach; lay flat, arm out, opposite foot crosses back and touches hand; lay on your back, flip and lower head; turn head left and right; circle head left and right.

On to the techniques.

1) Pulling guard

From standing, grab their right wrist with your left hand and pass it to your right hand. Twist their sleeve with your fingers as you grab it. This gives you a joystick grip on the gi and a cupping grip under their wrist.

Step on their right hip with your left foot and sit down, keeping space by pushing their hip. Turn your hips and "hang" your right leg in the air away from them.

Don't let them grab your lapels or your belt by keeping their grips away from it. You can brace your elbows on your hips to create a frame that doesn't let them come nearer.

If they grab your pants with their free hand, bring your right foot to their left biceps and shove it back as your turn your hips to the left and kick your leg to break the grip. Your right foot now goes to their left hip and your left leg hands out away from them.

Now, if they grab your right leg with their free hand, you bring your left foot back and step on their chest, then stretch them away as you turn your hips to the right and kick your right leg out to break the grip.

2) Tripod sweep

Starting with the same guard pull, you will land on your back within reach of their right ankle. Your left hand releases it cupping grip on the arm (but your right hand keeps the pistol grip) and you grab behind their ankle.

Pull their heel to you as you scoot your hips under them and turn your hips to the right slightly, then bring your left knee behind their knee. This was a unique knee placement since it felt less like spider guard and more like De la Riva or x-guard, since you are coming under them and lifting their leg with your knee and by their heel, but you were still pushing on their hip with your foot and pulling their sleeve.

With your hips somewhat suspended by the foot on the hip, the knee under their knee and their heel lifted, bring your right leg behind their free leg and chop it out as your shove their hips back and pull their heel to you.

When they fall backwards, pull your hook off them before you try to get up. If you try to magically float over them during the sweep you'll end up in a scramble. Come up into combat base and begin passing.

3) Hilarious sweep

You're setting up the last sweep and get to the point of being under their knee with your knee and lifting their ankle. They counter by grabbing your right leg by the pants so you can't bring it down and chop out their base. But you've still got enough slack with their grip to put your right hook under their left thigh.

Your left hand, which is cupping their heel, lifts their foot as passes it over your body, so it is now standing outside your right arm. You open your right elbow, blocking the back of their calf so they can't bring their foot back. And you are still holding their sleeve, so their arm is now being hilariously pulled between their legs.

Your left foot comes off their hip and hook their far leg, a la x-guard.

This position probably makes no sense in text. So here's a picture:


Rock up and reach into their armpit with your left hand and grab their biceps. Or if you can't reach that high, just grab the top of their thigh.

Now rock back, pulling them down, as your lift them with both leg and try to roll backwards over your shoulder. Don't just roll to the side. As they come down, get to your knees and immediately take side control before they can recover.

4) Hilarious sweep to single leg

You are going through the steps of the last sweep, but as you pass their leg over, they turn to their right and escape your hooks, freeing them to try to turn into you and take side control.

As they step around and turn into you, twist your hips to roll belly down. Hug their right leg with your left arm as you stand, lifting their leg. Both of your arms are lifting under their leg, and your right hand is still holding their sleeve. Take your left hand and reach through their armpit to grab their biceps. Circle and pull back to take them down and come into side control.

5) Pulling guard to armdrag

Standing again. Pull guard like in the first move. Only this time, once you go down, they start trying to back up and pull their arm out.

When they pull back the first time, sit up and put your left foot way to the outside and your right foot kinda close to your butt.

When they pull again, go up a little, then escape your hips far to the left, then fall back and pull them down into the mat by their arm.

As they come to hands and knees, post your right hand on the mat to lift yourself up, and reach over their back and under their armpit with your left hand. Then release your grip on their sleeve and bring your hands together, grabbing your right hand with your left (the one under the armpit always grabs).

Marcelo made a big point about posting with the hand and never the elbow when getting up to take the back. He said that you're cutting out parts of the best technique, since you can't keep your full weight on the grip if you're only getting to your elbow. He also said you need to lift your hips off the ground so that weight is also in the posting arm, not just laying on the ground.

Once you've got the harness, fall to the right and put your hooks in. If it all worked out well during the move, your right hook may already be in. If they fall past it and it's not, that's fine, since you'll be able to put it in when you roll to the right.

6) Hook sweep

You pull guard again, only this time they go to their knees and are able to grab your lapel. Sit up and put both feet on their hips (this means taking out your butterfly hooks if you put them in instinctually). Straight your leg to push them back and break their grip off your lapel.

Now pull their arm across your body as you put your hooks in and reach of their back with your left hand. Grab their belt as far to the opposite side as possible. Do not reach over their shoulder, but around their waist. Your elbow should be low on their side even though your reach around behind them.

When they try to pull their right arm out to uncross it, bring your head in and put it under theirs, coming to the inside. Rock back, lifting them with your left hook and pushing off the mat with your right foot.

As they flip over you, keep ahold of their belt and sleeve so they can't easily run away. While you're still laying on your back, turn your head and press it against their shoulder/chest to prevent them from turning away. Roll to your knees and come into side control.

7) Stuffed hook sweep to taking the back

While setting up the previous sweep, they drive their weight into you and start trying to pass to your right side. They're weight is now to the opposite side of the sweep. But try to do it anyway, just enough to lift their one side, then take your butterfly hook out and put your other leg in its place.

Post your right hand on the mat as you rock up and take the harness. Take the back like in the earlier move.

8) Straight elbow lock from crucifix on knees

Starting from sideride with the harness, try to rock them to the right to take their back. But they post with their right hand to base out. Drive your left knee up under their armpit and elbow, then step over their forearm with your right foot and hook their arm with your heel. Drag their arm back and take the crucifix from knees.

Triangle your legs so your right ankle is behind your left knee. You want to put the triangle on the same side as their legs.

To do the elbow lock, open your knees wide and drop your hips. You need to make sure you don't move your hips away while you're doing this or their arm with slip out. You also need to get a feel for where and how to keep their wrist trapped against your shin.

9) Straight elbow lock from crucifix on back

You've got sideride on their right side, but they trap your left arm and roll over their left shoulder to take your over.

As you come over, trap their arm with your legs for the crucifix, digging your heel into their elbow/forearm if needed.

Triangle your legs around the arm, with the triangle on the same side as the legs. Arch your hips and stretch your legs back for the elbow lock.

10) Mean RNC

You have sideride again, and they do you a favor by grab your right leg, putting themselves in the crucifix. But then they join their hands and actually get a strong enough grip that you're not going to be able to do any of the other armlocks. So just triangle their arm anyway and do this instead:

They are turtled tightly with their chin tucked to defend the choke. Your left hand comes out from under their armpit and grabs their forehead, pulling their head back. Your right hand chops up into their neck, if just enough to get the "blade of your thumb" under their jaw. Your right hand grabs their far shoulder, and you walk it up with this grip to get it deeper and deeper.

Once you've got it high and deep enough on their neck, grab your left biceps with your right hand, then put your left hand behind their head if possible. Then the key to finishing here is to drive your weight into them like you want to put your head on the mat.


Oh, the gym was hot as balls. Like tortuously hot. I thought I must still just have a fever, and was worried I was going to pass out, but everyone I asked also thought they were going to die too.

No-gi notes coming up next.

Here is the first batch of no-gi notes.

As you'll find repeated by anyone who has trained with Marcelo, he stresses very heavily the importance of imposing your game, fighting on your terms and always initiating the action. The lessons from the seminar where to built around aggressively and purposefully engaging the opponent, starting with pulling guard (day 1) or going for the takedown (day 2).

1) Single leg from clinch

You and your opponent are standing mostly upright. He may have a neck grip but don't worry about it much. Focus on keeping elbow control, pummeling to grip his elbows if he tries to dominately grip yours.

One time when you feel him pull back to try to free his elbow, drop down and hug his leg. So if he pulled back to his left, take his right leg. Go to your left knee and keep your right leg up. Hug his leg extremely tightly, grabbing your opposite elbows/triceps if possible.

There should be absolutely no space around the leg like there would be if you just used a gable grip. Make sure your head is inside (so you don't get crucifix or guillotined), with your forehead pressed firmly into his side. Keep a strong neck and good posture so they can't bend you over by pushing on the back of your head. Marcelo said that hugging the leg extremely tightly like this is important when submission are in the game, which is why he does it differently than in wrestling.

With the leg trapped, stand up. Your leg that is to their rear, the left, swings back and you turn to the left. Then you sprawl, dropping your chest and hips all at once, bringing them to the ground. You only need to go to your knees, not completely straighten your legs.

From here, start passing however you want, probably hopping over the leg to side control.

2) Shaking the single leg to rear bodylock

Marcelo admitted that he's no stellar wrestler and that as a jiu-jitsu guy he's going to have trouble taking down experienced wrestlers. He'll get the single leg and they'll be able to hop around on one foot and keep their balance. This is what he does in those cases.

Hugging the leg and standing with good base, he'll turn hard to one side and make them hop backwards. Then he'll turn hard to the other side and make them hop forwards. He is standing in relatively the same spot and turning at the waist to swing them around; he's not trying to run around them. If he was, they'd just stand in one place and not have to hop around on one foot.

While he's shaking them back and forth, he'll feel for when they go off balance. This can be when they're moving in either direction. When they do, he'll release the leg and quickly grab around the waist and spin to their back. He gets directly behind them, so his head is not still on their side where it can be grabbed. His arms hug tighly by the hips, and he puts his head to one side of their back.

He stands on his toes so he can stay light on his feet. He doesn't bring his hips too close or put his leg where they can grab and kneebar it. He also doesn't put his hips too far away where he'll lose balance. Find a nice spot in between.

I was making the mistake of putting one of my arms deeper than the other, and he told me not to do this since guys can trap it and toss you over his hips.

3) Jumping to the back from rear bodylock

When the opponent is about the same size as you, you can release the bodylock and throw on a harness as you jump and put both hooks in. This is as simple as it sounds. Basically just jump up on his back. Make sure you grab your hand with the arm that's under the armpit and that you get your chest in the middle of his shoulders, not too high or too low.

4) Forcing the fall from standing rear mount

So you're now hanging from rear mount with them standing. Let's say they are grabbing your wrists to defend the choke and have straightened their back so they are upright. When they stand like this, you have to expend a lot of energy to keep your harness tight enough to not fall off, so you don't want to hang out here long.

To take them down, simply stretch your hooks and arch your back, pulling their chest, forcing them off balance. This is basically the same as you'd do to break someone down when you've got rear mount on the ground. As they start falling backwards, twist to the right so they fall to their side, and so you are able to roll out of the fall more (not landing flat on your back).

People were worried about "But what if he leans forward so you can't force him back?" Marcelo said that it doesn't matter at that point since then he's carrying your weight and you're not wasting energy. This came with a great demo of Marcelo doing a bellyspin on someone's back to show that he doesn't need any grips at that point to stay on.

5) Rear bodylock to the Ricco Toppler

You'll recognize this from Marcelo's match with Ricco. He said he does this when the person is too tall for him to just jump up on their back. He said he might do that if they are tired and he thinks he can be fast enough, but this is the standard move.

From the rear bearhug, keep your grip tight and scoot your hip back then jump up and plant both of your feet in the back of their knees. Straighten your legs and pull back to make them fall backwards.

Make sure you get your foot in the middle of the bend of the knee, not to the side, or it will slide off or you'll kick and hurt their knee.

As they fall, keep tension in your stomach so you don't fall to your back. You want to end sitting up. Keep your feet on the back of their knees, stretching their legs away. If you let your legs go wide and lose contact, or if you fall backwards, they'll have a better chance of scrambling or rolling out.

Release the bodylock and take the harness. Now put your hooks in. Marcelo made a point of following that order, since he said that putting the hooks in without the upper body control still gave them a chance to escape.

Thanks for that

Awesome notes, thank you

TTT You rock Aesopian!!!!

Great notes Aedopian,

I hate to say this but it seems if you have been to one Marcelo Seminar you have been to almost all of them. He seems to teach the same moves at every seminar.

AWESOME.. thanks man

At the break half way through the no-gi day, I came up to Marcelo in person and asked him why he grips the way he does on the back, since I'd seen a lot of speculation on it and why he doesn't gable grip. I had heard some answers (which turned out to be accurate) but I thought I'd get it straight from the source. Turns out that I didn't need to ask since he told me he'd already be teaching that later, which he did. It was the last thing he taught, but I'll skip to writing my notes on that now since it's an interesting topic.

He said that he grips with the arm that is under the armpit. For example, if his left hand is under their arm and his right is over the shoulder, his left hand will be grabbing the back of his right. He says that he does this because if someone is going to try to defend by grabbing his hands, they can only grab his left hand, which leaves his right hand free to attack the neck still.

He said he grabs his own hand, not his wrist or forearm, since that would expose more of the choking hand to getting grabbed. He also keeps his fingers closed because he doesn't want people to try to bend them. Yes, it's illegal for them to do that, but people will try it anyway and even if the ref stops it, they defended the choke and can reset to a safer grip.

He said that they can still try to grab the forearm of the choking arm, but that this matters less since what is important is how your hand can still grab their opposite shoulder. Once he's got the hand on the far shoulder, he can climb higher and higher until he gets the neck.

Once he's climbing the hand up the shoulder like this, he'll take his other hand out of the armpit and do a couple things with it. He might pull back on their forehead to open their chin for the choke. But mostly he was palm "striking" their hands off his forearm, pushing their grip down towards his elbow to strip it.

He keeps knocking their grip off and climbing his arm until he's got the neck and his hand is high enough to grab his biceps. Then he'll grab his biceps and try to put his other hand behind their head to hide it so they can't pull it.

Aesopian, please say anything positive about the Marcelo seminar in the Canadian forum as I am planning a seminar for Marcelo and Im sure people who are still undecided would like to hear what you have to say.

Let them know, if you found the seminar and his teaching easy and things like that

Aesopian, excellent notes, man! Thanks for sharing that with us.

BALEIA, I posted my recommendations in the Canada forum.

More notes coming later. There is still a series on armdrags and taking the back to cover.



ttt thanks for sharing those notes!

The rest of the no-gi notes.

6) Armdrag to the back

You're standing but this time your efforts to control the elbows are met with them hunching over and keeping their hips back.

Your left hand grabs the wrist and pull it to your right, passing it to your right han which cups the back of the triceps. This crosses their arm in front of their body. He locks down this grip so his shoulder is against theirs, but he keeps his hips out from them.

As you do this, your left foot steps outside of their right foot, and your right foot steps so the ball of your foot lines up with theirs.

Then you fall back, pulling them down with all of your body weight, landing on your back. As they come down to all fours, you need to come up and grab their back. To do this, you can't let go of anything or post on the mat. Just lift your left leg, then swing it down, give you the momentum to come up.

Get to your right knee (which is hopefully hooking inside) and get the harness as fast as you can, left arm under the armpit, right arm over, left hand grabs right.

Glue your chest to their back then fall to the right, pulling them in rear mount proper.

7) Armdrag to leaping on to the back

This one requires incredible timing and the ability to generate of momentum through movement. I had trouble with it, but I have seen Marcelo get it in competition so I don't doubt its effectiveness.

You try the armdrag as before, but they don't come down to their hands and knees. They don't even take a forward step, which would mean they lost their balance, if just slightly. They just stand their like a rock.

So once you drop down and see this happen, immediately bring your feet to your butt, give their arm another big tug and leap up to your feet, landing on their back with the harness.

Marcelo made it a big point that you not do this if they take even one step forward to catch their balance. If they did that, he would just keep trying to armdrag down to their knees. This move is for when they just base perfectly and you can use this rigidness to launch yourself on to their back.

8) Countering them running away on all fours

So you armdrag and they fall to all to hands and knees, but to escape, they try to quickly crawl forward across the mat. If you tried to come up and grab their back they would escape since their upper body is out of reach.

So as they start scrambling away, twist at the hips and go to your belly down. Grab and hug their near thigh as soon as you can. Come to your knees and try to stand as fast as you can.

If they stand too, take them down with the single leg.

If you get up before they can stand, you can let go of the leg and grab the bodylock around their waist too, then jump to the harness.

If you're really fast and catch them real early before they can get up, you can release the single leg and jump straight to the harness.


ttt for my threads


I didn't read the whole thing but what did you think of the seminar as a whole and the teaching.

I was able to attend a class with Marcelo in NYC last this past Tuesday and it was very good and a lot of fun.