Monday, February 26, 2007

Lessons from the Feitosa versus Cobrinha match...

Now, this may seem odd to post a video of your instructor losing during the finals of the Mundials, but I really felt like there was a lot to be learned from this match.

First of all, having trained with Marcio Feitosa for over 2 years I feel that I have gained some insight into his game. Like many before me, I would characterize Marcio as a strong passer with a great base and posture (it is a misery when Feitosa gets upright), forward pressure, and stifling control. However, in the academy I have also been privy to his guard game which is based off of spider type controls like foot on the hip mixed with a variation of De la Riva and cross grip style controls (he often likes to play with a collar sleeve grip or sleeve pant leg grip). The theme of Marcio's open guard game is contact and pulling the opponent out of comfort. As this pertains to the 2007 Mundials it is noteworthy that Marcio took his first couple of matches through a less than typical avenue for himself - by pulling guard and sweeping. Marcio's reasoning behind this? Simple - he felt the lighter guys would have harder more mobile guards to deal with and he wanted to impose his game on them.

Now on to the Cobrinha match. Without muddling this down into an overly technical look at every second of the match, I would like to address how Cobrinha diffused Marcio's guard strengths and was able to impose his strategy on Feitosa as well as how Marcio was able to stay alive through proper defense.

Breaking Feitosa's guard- In the opening minutes, Feitosa is playing with a collar and pants grip that is neutralizing Cobrinha's ability to pass to either side. Marcio shows good leg movement, knee blocking, and adaptation. Around the 1:00 mark Cobrinha does the important and breaks the collar grip (Feitosa transitions to a sleeve control) and rolls Marcio to an upside down guard and transitions to a near harness control as he almost gets the pass. The lesson: Passing an active and good guard player has to include grip control and FORCING your opponent out of his control area.

Feitosa's defense and Cobrinha's patience - Marcio exhibits exemplary defensive skills that should be added to everyone's game. Whenever Cobrinha gets a strong position after obtaining the side control, Marcio is quick to use a "running escape" style strategy (as seen on the new Saulo set). Marcio only gives a small portion of his back for attack and he blocks the hooks with his posture and free arm. What Marcio is doing is actually very intelligent - he is not allowing for the near hook to be placed and when it is (see 06:54 of the match), he transitions to put that hook on top and defend the bottom hook. This bottom hook (when your opponent faces away and the bottom foot comes in first) appears to be the stronger hook to achieve. Marcio also shows some mat savy by avoiding the points for the pass by immediately going to a 1/2 turtle/running escape position. The lesson: Face away from your opponent when you are sure you can block the majority of their attacks, defend the bottom hook, and use this in conjunction with escapes towards the opponent.

Cobrinha's patience- As for patience, Cobrinha does not over commit and lose position. This is indicative to whenever Cobrinha has a harness or back control and is attempting to attack Marcio's 1/2 turtle/ side control to get the back. Cobrinha does not overcommit and lose the position by overzealously trying to get both hooks. He sees Marcio's defense and plays a transitioning game on top to keep up the pressure and favorable position. The lesson: Don't go for a second hook and lose all that you have worked for, go for the second hook when you have/have forced the opening. Control the match.

Cobrinha's transitions- While on top, Cobrinha defeats Marcio's turn inside by quickly transitioning to Marcio's other side and exposing his 1/2 turtle (for lack of a better term). This transition as well as the transition in Cobrinha's early pass attempt illustrates the importance of drilling transitions, body movements, and hip control. I sincerely doubt that Cobrinha is actively thinking of moving - it is my opinion that he feels Marcio's pressure and he is transitioning to the other side out of muscle memory. Quick actions like this lend me to this observation. The lesson: TRAIN turtle and side control movement drills to develop a quick and controlled transition. Do not be sloppy and give too much space or put your hands in compromising areas; I feel that this is more about hip movement and using your hip as a pivot with quick leg movement. In class we should all be moving on top instead of just holding on for dear life.

Pass to the Left- Both Feitosa and Cobrinha attempt to pass to the opponent's left side and this is something that I have seen Galvao (he likes knee up the middle on the left side), Garcia, and Glover all due recently. The lesson: Open up your opponents defense by becoming an ambidexterous passer.

Feitosa and Cobrinha's submission attempts- Both have awesome submission attempts. Marcio has a deep kneebar that Cobrinha was able to get out of through patience and good movement. He also attempted a footlock at the end of regulation as a hail mary type move. Cobrinha has an incredibly tight armbar that is actually one of my favorites. When Marcio goes to defend the arm, Cobrinha attacks over the defense and pulls straight down. Marcio said that it was very deep but that he had just enough arm to keep it from popping. Crazy. The lesson: Attack! Both had opportunities to end the match, in the case of Feitosa it may have led to him losing as he lost position after the kneebar, for Cobrinha he ended up in the guard and that is not always where you want to be with Feitosa. At least they both went for it.

Strategy: I think Marcio used the wrong strategy and that he could have actually done a lot better if he stuck to his strengths of takedowns, pressure, and the pass. If they rematch this year I expect a different outcome and I doubt Marcio will play to the bottom. For Cobrinha, I think he was studying Marcio's earlier matches and carried out the better strategy. Marcio is strong and skilled and Cobrinha used transition, high skill, side control pressure, and attack attempts (whether it be armbar or attempting the hooks) to slow Marcio down and stay in control.

I want to encourage everyone to look at their favorite fighters and really analyze what they are watching and see how BOTH fighters are reacting. Even when Marcelo Garcia does amazing things, often times his opponents are exhibiting very good BJJ. By paying attention to both sides, we get a very complete picture of both the defensive and offensive aspects of high level BJJ.

Next up for me? A pictorial or video of what I learned at Shawn's and an analysis of some of Marcelo Garcia's biggest losses in his matches with Terere, Jacare, and Roger Gracie (what went right and wrong).

Here is a link to the Feitosa/Cobrinha match - I hope this is helpful.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Amazing in-depth analysis. I learned a ton. Please keep up the great work!

Kevin said...

Thanks, will do.