Perfect Fundamentals

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Gracie Adventure Camp in Miami Florida. Me and my wife both train and we like doing events like these for vacations. It was a fun trip, took us out of the cold Pittsburgh November, and our coach Warren Stout was attending as well.


During the camp I had the pleasure of rolling and training with Roger Gracie. While it’s well known Roger’s style is perfect fundamentals, and I’ve studied his videos and read his words countless times there is a gulf between knowing what he does and experiencing it. Have you ever seen those videos of two perfectly machined pieces of a figure that slide together seamlessly? The fit so perfect that you can’t tell its separate pieces anymore? Yeah, that. That’s what it felt like. Like I’m over here trying to force two rough cut boards together and everything he’s doing is just smoothly dropping in place.

So, I’ve got this new thing I’m working on. It’s crazy. Just so crazy it just might work! I hear they call it …… Posture…. and……. Details.

Seriously, I love me some overly complex guards, leg entanglements, trickery and traps and all that stuff is just plain fun for me. But, and hear me out here, there’s something exquisite about something perfectly executed and straightforward. He got me with a arm bar from closed guard, that’s not shocking, I asked to start in his closed guard knowing this would happen cause I needed to feel it. I know this series, I TEACH this series! But the details where perfect, and I mean perfect. The timing was perfect. It was a matter of small movements, grips made just right, off centered by inches and just enough force to lower my head imperceptible visually but felt like the gravity just changed on me. I 100% knew what was coming before and during and had no ability to even forestall the inevitable.

Coming back and working on being cognizant of the small details in my angle, of the precise grade of my posture. Feeling the little details and revisiting the techniques that where all I knew as a white belt with a new eye has been deeply fulfilling. It’s great to come back again years later to things you thought you knew but now with enough experience to see them with fresh eyes.

I am reminded that Fundamental does not mean Basic. They are not simply simple items you pass over on your way to the good stuff. They are the stuff that is most central, most core, they are what we build the facade on.  An inch wide, but a mile deep.

After our round as we discussed posture and standing up in guard Roger asked me about my hand positions. I had tried armpit grips, I tried lapel grips, belt grips, sleeve and hip, everything I could think of but every time my muscles started to respond to the command to stand I found my posture suddenly broken and me falling forward into the next sweep or submission. I told him I was just trying everything I knew, I wanted to see what he would do (the same stuff over and over) but i was also searching for something that would work to get me to my feet. Roger said to me “Instead of trying all these different things, why don’t you just do one thing. But do it right.”

Shawn Lupka


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