Seminar Report: JT Torres, Basingstoke, UK
Date: 29th January 2014
Jonathan 'JT' Torres is one of the rising stars of the BJJ tournament scene. Although still young (25) he has actually been a black belt for over five years. JT has often reached the upper levels of the majors but last year he switched teams (currently at Atos) and took gold at the World NoGi Championships and Bronze at ADCC . Last weekend he reached the finals of the IBJJF Europeans where he met his team mate Claudio Calasans in the final. It was a close match that went to a referee's decision where JT was awarded silver. I was so super keen to meet and learn from him at today's seminar.
Taking the Back
JT is probably mostly known for his impressive guard work and in particular his use of the De la Riva guard. He admitted himself in the Q&A at the end of the seminar that he mostly pulls guard in a lot of his matches over his career. But it would be wrong to assume that's all he does. JT passes guard very well - observe this video about 1min in and again at 4:20 as a random Youtube video I picked.
Tonight, JT was keen to teach us several of his favourite guard passing techniques that resulted in taking the opponent's back. JT began the session by showing how he attacks a turtled opponent. The incorrect or rather, hasty, method would be to attempt to secure both hooks in while the opponent is still on all fours and in turtle. JT showed that it was better to secure the seatbelt grip first, then use your knee inserted under his body and roll him over. JT explained numerous small details that made this technique work far more efficiently than it would first appear.
With the fundamental back take position covered, JT next moved onto the main portion of the seminar - the X-Pass.
I must admit I'm not a huge technique nerd so I had never heard of the X-pass before. Once JT demonstrated of course, it seemed like something I had been taught in the past called the bullfighter pass, though I believe the two are actually different.
Here is a video showing the X-pass as taught by Saulo Ribeiro:
Version 1 of the X-pass is the classic variation where you kick your leg backwards and then forwards to bypass the opponent's leg. Prior to that however was a method to really secure the opponent's other leg.
JT's second X-pass version gave us an option to move our passing leg the other direction. I liked this one as it involved hugging the opponent's legs very tightly which was infuriating for the guard player. The third X-pass variation was a combination of versions 1 and 2 which was particularly sweet against a less static opponent.
After drilling the X-pass techniques, JT ran through the body triangle lock and then the bow and arrow choke. Unlike the more commonly attempted bow and arrow chokes, JT demonstrated how he prefered to hook underneath the opponent's nearside leg instead of the more common grabbing of the trousers around the knee area. He also showed the use of your feet to control the opponent's hips to prevent him escaping. The end result was a bow and arrow choke of immense tightness, with your outer leg lying over the top of the opponent's far shoulder and arm...rendering any defence of his useless. Even from this position, a transition to armbar is more than possible.
One of JT's nicknames is the Spiderman. Not,as you might imagine, because he plays spider guard, but because that was his favourite comic book character. JT explained each of the techniques with clarity and patience and observed each pair to correct them as they drilled. He was happy to answer any questions and probems we encountered. At the q&A session afterwards, he answered technique specific questions as well as his thoughts on the way Atos has helped him propel his career to new heights.
Overall, a terrific session where I learned details of a high percentage open guard pass plus lots of excellent little tips on other fundamental positions. My big thanks go to JT for his excellent teaching, to Kevin at Basingstoke School of Martial Arts for hosting the event and a big shout out to everyone who was there. I look forward to when JT swings by the UK again!