You can't mention Gracie Jiu Jitsu and not mention the grandsons of the late Helio Gracie, Rener and Ryron. Rener and Ryron both help run the flagship Gracie Academy in Torrance, California and their father Rorion, created the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). So when I caught wind of a Ryron seminar coming to town, I knew I couldn't miss it.
This seminar was set to focus on escapes. Ryron is probably most known for his Metamoris match versus Andre Galvao, who Ryron claimed he won just by the fact of him surviving for 20 minutes without being submitted. An impressive feat in itself, since Andre Galvao is a multiple time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion. The first defense that Ryron went over was the cross choke defense.
The late Helio Gracie famously said, "When it comes to chokes, there are no tough guys, everyone goes to sleep." And because of this, Grandmaster Helio's favorite technique was the collar choke. Ryron explained a few different variations to defend the cross choke, slowing down the choking hand, trapping and rolling. As always, the fine details are what separates a world class martial artist from the average joe. Next, Ryron showed a series of triangle defenses, the main emphasis being: not being there. He demonstrated the classic, "stuff the wrist and control the collar" set up from guard along with a clever escape. In a classic Gracie-esque move, instead of fighting the opponents force, he simply dove the uncontrolled wrist through your opponent's legs, preventing the triangle strangulation. Instead of having a triangle choke, your opponent now in danger of having his guard passed.
That seemed to be a common theme, finding the most energy efficient move possible. Instead of fighting fire with fire, Ryron preached to redirect the opponents energy and use their strength against themselves. Finally, Ryron showcased a series of armbar defenses, ranging from an upa (portuguese for bridge) to a defense that split your opponents legs apart, negating the leverage and preventing your arm from being hyperextended.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu has that way about it, a smaller man can defeat a bigger foe by setting a trap and waiting for your opportune time. It's like Helio Gracie once said, "Jiu-Jitsu is a mousetrap. The trap does not chase the mouse. But when the mouse grabs the cheese, the trap plays its role." With thousands, if not millions of techniques, what I take away most from a seminar is the philosophy of jiu jitsu.
Ryron's philosophy of energy efficient jiu jitsu was easily relatable. "There are times," he said, "that you cannot move." If you move, you will be submitted. He used an example of passing the guard, "If you try so hard to pass the guard, your opponent will have the opportunity to strangle you. But if you force him to move, like a game of chess, he will make a mistake and give you the pass."