Frank Chen

Frank Chen

thoughts about adcc 2022

This year's ADCC was hands down the greatest jiujitsu production event that I have witnessed. Mo Jassim, ADCC's head organizer, paired up with Seth Daniels of F2W Pro and hosted an event to remember.

Despite being a top-notch production, I still hold the opinion that I don't see jiujitsu becoming a well-known spectator sport, simply because it requires too much technical understanding to identify with what is happening on the mats. I hope I get proven wrong.

If we make the comparison to something like mixed martial arts, a basic MMA spectator can be fulfilled by the "primal aspect" of a fight, namely, watching someone get absolutely fucked up. From this, you can surmise that there are varying levels of "spectator", from striking technicians, to seasoned grapplers, or even fight analysts.

With jiujitsu, the most "primal" thing you'll probably see is some version of a suplex, judo throw, or a nasty full nelson. Everything else is quite tame in comparison to MMA - after all, they do call jiujitsu the "gentle art". The most beautiful of back takes and rear-naked chokes are still just mild in a "combat" sense in comparison to a hammer-fist beat down.

That's all to say, "here's to hoping it'll change." It didn't take away from any of my own enjoyment. 🍻

The event itself was quite long. It did take some stamina as a spectator to make it through the entire event, since the entire time you're interpreting what's happening, and at times, trying to follow three simultaneous matches. For the most part though, 80%+ of the match ups were absolutely captivating, which helped.

I'll talk a little bit about some of the trends I witnessed in this year's ADCC. These are just my thoughts and opinions.


In regards to wrestling, shooting singles and doubles has become increasingly dangerous. I saw a fair number of guillotine attempts and finishes off of wrestling shots. In a competition like ADCC, I wouldn't want to risk being submitted just for a takedown. There are less risky ways to achieve a takedown without exposing yourself.

An example of a safer bet is a simple arm drag to a rear body lock. There's no risk of a guillotine, and you increase your chances of obtaining an advantageous angle. Even better would be to combine arm drags, hand-fighting, and foot sweeps (ashi waza) to obtain angles on your opponent, kick their legs out, and make it substantially less likely for them to mount a successful counter offense.

I also observed a few counter overhook uchimata sequences in response to an opponent getting a deep underhook. The idea is to pressure into your opponent using an overhook and then back kick your opponents knee to twist their torso, cause a misbalance, and use that opportunity to continually pressure your attacker to the ground.

As with any high level competition, 4-5 move sequences seem to be the most successful. Collar tie, feint snapdown, shoulder push, feint single leg, arm drag to rear body lock. Sure, the sequences don't have to be that complex if your timing is good, but generally 1-2 sequence moves are well defended against.

guard play

Half guard with a knee shield is still very hard to pass. I still see the majority of competitors go directly into the knee shield instead of moving around it. Even when moving around it, most excellent guard retainers are adept at the high pummel, which still makes guard passing one of the hardest things to do well.

I noticed good passing initiation off of the "slap underhook", where the offensive passer slaps away the top arm frame in half guard, getting the underhook and wrist control all at once, and placing their chest over the defensive man's top frame arm. This gets the passer a bit closer and shuts down the possibility of an underhook, but it still doesn't address the knee shield. It does however, address the stiff arm, which can be quite frustrating.

leg entanglements

The false reap, backside 50/50, and reaps from single leg x to the outside heel hook are still hot and in vogue.

Performing leg entanglements well, capturing the knee line, and heel exposure against a resisting opponent is still hard, especially since everyone's leg lock defense is quite good. These concepts have always been the hard part about executing leg entanglements against resisting opponents.


Submissions from the back and obtaining points from the back are still king.

With the rear naked choke, I've observed more and more double overhook neck exposure tactics from the offensive man, as finishing the back is a challenge in itself. At the very least, a high degree of control buys you time to finish some form of the rear naked choke.


Intentionality is extremely important, especially if we're thinking about avoiding penalties. There were several matches where unsuccessful passing from the top man resulted in stalling calls. Not once did I see the bottom man in guard get called for stalling, when it could have very well happened.

To this, I'd say it might be because it feels like there's more intentionality on the bottom man's part - their default state is seen as retaining guard because the top man MUST engage.

Guard retention is not stalling per se, but it can arguably be passive and non-offensive. However, it's the top man in this case that gets penalized for not appearing to pass. The prime example is Kaynan, who was penalized multiple times for stalling against Craig Jones. Did he deserve all those penalties? Note sure 🤷‍♂️. I'd love to hear the explanation for each one though. My suspicion is that the scoreboard was unconsciously biased towards keeping the match on a more "even" keel. 2 points is easier to recover from than 10.

If we look at other cases, such as Yuri Simoes' absolute run to gold, there were multiple times where he had top position but was not penalized for stalling. That means to the judges, he exhibited the intent and good faith effort to pass, where Kaynan apparently did not. I'm not sure I'm in agreement there.

What I'm trying to determine is what this "intentionality" really looks like. Is it moving forward? Is it intelligent passing technique? Or is it unintended, unconscious scoring bias? I'd be curious to find out.

I'll post more thoughts as I have time to study some of the footage.

For myself, some of the matches that I'd like re-review:

  • diego pato oliveira, leg entanglements
  • nicholas merigali vs.
  • mica galvao vs. kade ruotolo, leg entanglements
  • gordon ryan vs andre galvao, passing and outside heel hooks
  • giancarlo bodoni vs lucas barbosa, turtle to back exposure
  • lachlan giles vs. tye ruotolo and yuri simoes, north south guard
  • mason fowler vs. robinho guillotine counter
  • craig jones vs. kyle boehm guillotine counter
  • eoghan o'flanagan, leg entanglements