Ask the Nail
“The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”
This addition of “Ask The Nail” is brought to you by special guest columnist, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles. Inside BJJ would like to extend a special thanks to Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles for taking the time to answer your BJJ questions.
Rubens Charles, also known as “Cobrinha” – Little Snake – is a 5 time World Jiu Jitsu Champion with the longuest reign in the featherweigh division’s history. This Brazilian competitor from the town of Londrina, is famed for his agressive game inside the matted arena, but he is also an acomplished instructor as he has shown teaching at Team Alliance’s HQ in Atlanta.
Ask the Nail,
I rolled with Cobrinha at a seminar a year or two ago. When I was defending his backmount attacks, it felt like his hands were teleporting through my hands to get at my neck and finish me…over, and over again. What grip fighting strategies do you use to defend the backmount?
I will address both situations. Most Jiu-Jitsu players don’t have great back attacks or back takes. I drill that position so that I can take the back even if they only turn away from me a little bit. When someone thinks they can get away, I am already on their back. Some people can take the back but they don’t know how to maintain so that for me is the key. To take the back, people can get there but to maintain is different. It is harder to do but there are a lot of drills we can do to help. One thing I will tell you is that I make the opponent send negative information to their mind. I do this by having such a good seat belt hold that they feel they are in danger. When my seatbelt is on, it’s tight. Then they panic. They try to escape but they cannot and they panic and that’s when I go to their collar.
In regards to defending, you need to trap their arm that goes under your armpit with your elbow and then the one over your shoulder, you need to grab the sleeve while you look towards that side. Then you can escape to the same side as the under arm.
What is a good strategy against bigger/stronger opponents? Can you provide some examples of sequences of techniques you use to carry out the strategies?
One thing about training with bigger opponents is you have to be flexible. With larger, stronger guys I play open guard. Spider guard is a great option to maintain the space so you don’t get smashed. Place your feet on the biceps and hold the collar. Try to get omaplatas or sweep. If I can submit, then great. If I can’t, I just sweep and try to maintain the top position. You just have to play smart. The big guys don’t usually choose to put their back on the floor with smaller guys. But if you are smaller, taking them down could be hard or dangerous so play smart and play guard. Just make sure you have a good guard.
When is it a good time to use the 50/50 guard? What are some good strategies to use it effectively?
I used to use the 50/50 a long time ago to sweep and get in a better position but some people now are taking advantage of this position to stall the game. 50/50 for me now is like a virus. What do we do with a virus? We kill it. That’s what we should do with the 50/50. If we love jiu jitsu, that would be the best plan. If it was taught with a purpose other than to manipulate the competition game, it would be good to use. But because competitors today are using it the wrong way, it is no longer a part of my game.
What was his [Cobrinha's] gameplan going into the Jeff Glover fight this year in ADCC? He shut him down and I want to know what he was thinking?
My goal when I step on the mat is to finish. It doesnt matter who I’m going to face. With Jeff Glover it was no different. When i was fighting him, I was just trying to get into a better position to finish the fight. I dont like to have a gameplan with anyone because if I plan something and the gameplan doesnt work, I’ll be in trouble, causing me to send the negative information to my mind. I try to have a complete game and take what my opponent gives to me instead.
Learn more about Cobrinha!
Rubens Charles Website