Today I want to tell you a story about how I stumbled across a technique by fluke at a tournament, and how it became one of my bread and butter moves from Butterfly Guard, X Guard and Half Guard.
There’s a high-percentage position that I call the ‘Logsplitter’ and I use it all the time. I often end up there by transitioning from Butterfly Guard, X Guard and/or Half Guard. The Logsplitter offers you both sweeping options to get back to the top, and submission options to finish the match right there and then.
But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the first time I used this position it was a pretty slip-shod affair!
Read on for the full story…
1: I Stumble Upon the Position By Accident
This video is from back in 2002 when I was competing in the Submission Grappling Open Division of the Can-Am Police Fire Games. In this particular match I was battling against a tough and strong wrestler. Nobody had an advantage in points, but I wasn’t happy about having spent most of the match getting ground down with him in my guard.
At a certain point he stood up, and as I tried to get X guard he spun away to escape. I followed his movement, hoping to entangle his legs and work for a leglock, but then he suddenly spun into me and I found myself in unexplored territory.
You see, my right leg was now wedged in between his left calf and hamstring at an odd angle. At first I was worried, because I’d never been in this position before, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I had an advantage, and even an opportunity to finish the match with a calf compression lock. I started applying the lock, but I was too tentative and my opponent managed to scramble out.
The good news is that I ended up getting a couple of sweep points for this maneuver, and that won me the match and earned me a silver medal in the open division. Whoo-hooo!
2: A Strange Co-Incidence
It was a BIG mistake, but I didn’t give that position any more thought for almost a whole year.
Then, out of the blue, I received an email from someone I didn’t know and had never met. This person was Jeff Rockwell (who teaches at Raptor BJJ in Austin Texas).
Anyway, Jeff wanted to tell me about this strange new position that he’d stumbled across, except that – unlike me – he was setting it up from a failed butterfly sweep. He went into considerable detail and now, with his permission, I’m going to reprint his entire mini-article on what he called ‘the Logsplitter’ (isn’t that an excellent name).
As you can see, someone was ahead of me. I’d applied it in a tournament, sure, but I didn’t have any clue of what I was doing. Not only had Jeff given it a cool name, but he’d systematically examined it and figured out how to apply it consistently.
This incredible co-incidence was a good wakeup call that maybe, just maybe, there was something to this position after all! So several years ago I submitted it to a fairly rigorous R&D program, culminating in my catching
3: A Logsplitter By Any Other Name…
In the last year I’ve started seeing this same position being used by other people. I’m not claiming that they stole it from me (or from Jeff): there are only a finite number of ways to bend and twist the human body, and if enough people spend enough time on the mats then they’re going to discover the same techniques independently.
For example, one reader wrote in to tell me that Rafael Lovato Jr. pulled off a variation of this sweep in the elimination round of ADCC 2007!
And it’s funny to watch the names that people give this position. In the Youtube video below they call an essentially identical technique the ‘Ham Sandwich.’
Of course the name isn’t important – it’s the TECHNIQUE that’s the important thing, not the name. That being said, I’ve been using Jeff Rockwell’s patented term ‘Logsplitter’ for so long now that I’m unlikely to start calling it by any other name.
Anyway, here’s that Youtube Video of the ‘Ham Sandwich.’ By this point it should be looking somewhat familiar…
And for more proof that this move is really getting around, here’s a clip someone sent me of Nicolas Renier hitting a submission from the logsplitter position at the 2009 European Abu Dhabi Submission Grappling Trials.
4: More Entries, Finishes & Variations!
After much experimentation and on-the-mat research I’ve found additional and more efficient ways to get into the Logsplitter (as opposed to my original entry, which basically consisted of wild inverted flailing). It is now one of my bread and butter positions!
You need options from every position. That’s why I have entries to get into the Logsplitter position from Butterfly Guard, Half Guard and X Guard. And once I’ve got the Logsplitter locked in, finishes and followups include going to sweeps, submissions, or using submissions to set up sweeps. Please note that I explored these concepts in another article called “Three Steps to Mastering Any Technique” (if you sign up for my free newsletter then you won’t miss out on future articles!).
So there you have it. And it only took me six or seven years to evolve this position from a wild fluke to a trusted technique!