Match Breakdown: Jeff Glover and Budo Jake

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Jeff Glover is the master of transitions. Glover also has a reputation for being the master of the deep half guard, the darce and the triangle. But what really sets his Jiu Jitsu apart is his ability to instantly and smoothly transition between techniques and positions, often those that mere mortals would have never thought to link together.

Jeff Glover has always been one of the best lightweight grapplers in the U.S., but it seems that he’s re-committed himself of late to becoming one of the best in the world. We caught a glimpse of this in the 2011 ADCC San Diego trials, where his leg-lock and passing game was on full display. In short Glover dominated the trials to secure his place this year in Nottingham, England.

At ADCC 2011 Jeff demonstrated clearly why he is considered to be one of the best American grapplers today. 2011 was the first time Glover had really trained like a professional athlete and it showed in his performance. While still playful in the early rounds (which some took as disrespectful) Glover turned it up as the two-day tournament progressed, beating Tom Barlow, Marko Ramos and the legend, Robson Moura for bronze. His only loss came to silver medalist Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles in a tentative match decided by a guard pass. It was nonetheless a standout performance for Glover, who showed that he is still evolving as a Jiu Jitsu competitor.

Jeff Glover has a good relationship with BudoVideos when it comes to instructional materials. Budo co-produced Jeff’s first DVD, Deep Half Guard and his upcoming set focused on the darce choke. The company also produced a series of free online shows staring Glover traveling to various academies around the United States. If you haven’t seen Glover’s Travels, it’s a unique look into the culture of some of the best academies around. I particularly like his trip to his coach’s academy – Paragon Ventura, where I had the pleasure of training during a road trip through coastal California.

Recently Jeff appeared on the BudoVideos online show Rolled Up, starring BudoVideos CEO and BJJ brown belt “Budo” Jake. Rolled Up takes us to Jiu Jitsu academies all over the world where Jake gets to train with the best Jiu Jitsu competitors in the world. It’s basically Glover’s Travels with Jake instead of Jeff. It works well because Jake comes off as a decent guy and his Jiu Jitsu is good (he’s a brown belt under Marcio Feitosa), allowing for some great rolls. The featured competitors and coaches on the show really get to show off their Jiu Jitsu. It’s currently my favourite show on any medium, next to HBO’s Game of Thrones, of course.

When Jeff’s episode of Rolled Up hit the net it was obvious that we were witness to something special. I’ve tried to break down some of the key techniques and transitions featured in Jake and Jeff’s roll, although there is just too much Jiu Jitsu goodness to touch on every aspect of the training session.

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Jeff Glover & Budo Jake – Rolled Up

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Right off the bat, Jeff dives upside down to his inverted guard. Jake does a good job controlling Jeff’s ankles and keeping his distance. With his inverted guard stalemated Jeff quickly secures an armdrag into the de la Riva guard and spins into a berimbolo sweep without stopping.

Think about that for a second. How can we learn to do this? We need to realize that Jiu Jitsu does not occur in discrete segments or isolated techniques, and practice to avoid unnecessary pauses when we roll. We need to feel every opening, not attempt to perform a checklist of, “right hand goes here, left foot does this.”

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Jeff Glover - Arm drag de la Riva sweep

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As Jeff comes up for the sweep Jake attempts to pull them into the 50/50 guard, but Jeff steps out instantly into the knee-slide pass. Jake attempts to counter the pass with his underhook. Jeff slides forward with a wrestling-style underhook, using it to shuck Jake past to an overhook. Jeff then slides his overhook deep to set up a darce choke with the ¾ nelson.

Meeting resistance, Jeff dives fully to the other side of Jake’s body to hit a darce choke on the opposite side. He rolls Jake onto his back for the choke but Jake defends well by keeping on his back and using his free arm to push Jeff’s hips away as he attempts to step over for the mounted darce. The mounted darce is a great option when your opponent attempts to roll onto their back when you have the darce locked in.

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Darce to Darce

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Undaunted, Jeff walks his hips in to elevate Jake and jumps into a triangle. Jeff keeps his grip on the shin and eventually angles out to finish the triangle. “It’s called the tri-angle, not the tri-in-front-of-the-guy” – Jeff Glover.

Okay, so that was one series of non-stop transitions and we’re only a minute in. Let’s review: Inverted guard to armdrag to de la Riva guard to berimbolo to 50/50 to knee slide to front headlock to ¾ nelson to opposite-side darce to triangle. Hopefully by now you’re realizing that this is no ordinary roll.

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Darce to Triangle

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I’m particularly interested in a few key transitions, starting with the arm-drag berimbolo. I like how the arm-drag provides momentum to begin the inverted de la Riva sweep. As he begins to spin upside down, Jeff shoots his DLR hook to the far hip, breaking Jake’s base and putting him on his back. The Mendes brothers continue to go inverted here, and usually try to roll through to the back. Here Jeff slides his knee through to get to the top position instead. To avoid getting stuck in the 50/50 guard, Jeff turns and slides his leg out and begins his pass.

The ¾ nelson to darce on the far side is another interesting transition. As in, “Holy s***, what was that?” The ¾ nelson is a nice way to keep your opponent’s posture broken from the front headlock. Jeff uses the deep overhook to cup Jakes head, keeping his posture broken as he uses his free arm to dive for the overhook on the far side. As he’s diving he throws himself on his hip and brings his other arm over Jake’s head to lock in the darce choke. Jeff turns Jake on his back to take away his base. Will that be on the DVD? I sure hope so!

There’s nothing worse than getting a darce only to have your opponent put you on your back and turn out of it because you failed to take away their base. Glover is the master of hitting this baseball slide style of darce. This type of darce will allow you to finish on your back by pressuring the head to turn, pulling your opponent out of base. I’m sure there’s a catchy name for this variation, but again we’ll have to wait for the DVD to find out. The mount attempt was noncommittal, but it seems likely that Jeff was using this as an opportunity to show off his transitions, not finish Jake with the first thing he tried.

Jeff has a couple interesting attacks from inverted guard, but nothing too crazy; a nice knee-bar and a triangle that he didn’t get. From the failed triangle Jeff returned to full guard and set up a very fast push-through triangle, which he flipped to mount for the submission. It was hard to tell what got the tap – the triangle or the steering wheel Kimura attempt. My coach Adam really likes that style of shoulder lock so I know firsthand that when your opponent goes for it in this position you’d better tap quickly.

That’s two triangles already and we pick up the action at 2:44, where Jeff secures yet another from the knee on belly. If you didn’t watch the full episode at BudoVideos you’re missing out, because Glover teaches it to Jake right before the roll.

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Knee on belly triangle

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Jake describes the back take at 3:55 as, “one of the coolest moments of our roll.” What’s particularly interesting is how smooth Jeff passes Jakes half guard right before this occurs. Jeff’s transitions are on another level, as the pass and back attack attest. The back take is a pretty standard rolling back take from side control, but the speed and precision with which Jeff Glover hits it is amazing. Blocking the knee from reverse Kesa Gatame side control Jeff catches the leg with his and rolls to the back. Here’s a video of Ryan Hall describing the technique. Hall and the Mendes brothers (among others) do this frequently, but since we usually see them against world-class black belts instead of a very good brown belt it looks nowhere as smooth and fast.

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Rolling back take

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The unique aspect of Glover’s version is that instead of locking up the far leg before transitioning he did it after. From reverse Kesa Gatame, Glover hooks Jake’s far leg. Instead of pushing it down to telegraph his intent, Jeff simply dives onto his upper back pulling jakes leg with him. As his back hits the mat Glover swims his leg inside Jake’s and hips out to take the back. Simple but beautiful.

With Jeff on his back, Jake defends the rear naked choke well, and ends up escaping to half guard. From here Glover pulls of a step over kneebar that is simultaneously lazy and precise. To get his leg over Glover swings his leg over Jake’s body instead of sliding the knee across for the slower entry. Instead of triangling his legs, Jeff simply crosses his ankles for the finish. I usually try to cross triangle so my feet are towards the ground. Jeff’s arm swimming for the finish is fantastic as Jake is attempting to defend by using his free leg to break Jeff’s grip. By continually switching arms Jeff prevents Jake’s ability to defend.

I really like Jake’s Vieira bros. style of guard passing starting at 2:48. Jake stacks Jeff and pins his feet to the mat as he creates an angle for the pass. As Glover begins to turtle away, it almost looks like Jake has an arm-triangle/darce of his own. I’ve seen a similar set up off of the guard pass from Jacare Souza, but I’ve never seen this particular setup before. I was actually a bit disappointed that Jake didn’t trap the arm with his legs for the crucifix when Jeff’s arm was clearly open for the taking. This let Jeff get out and bully him over into another smooth knee slide guard pass.

Immediately off of the guard pass Jeff hits a mounted triangle. Instead of rolling for the finish like the first triangle he did, or staying mounted like in the second, Jeff falls onto his side. Because Jake’s arm is isolated in the triangle it’s relatively easy for Jeff to over hook the arm. Since it is Glover I knew what was going to happen next, although I kind of didn’t believe it. Of course he gets the darce, forcing me to re-examine everything I know about how the triangle and darce can be used together.

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Knee bar

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The roll winds down with some more transitions including another nice omoplata set up by Jake. Jake actually has a pretty sick omoplata, which he hits on some very good Jiu Jitsu players throughout the show. These rolls wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if Jake didn’t bring some high-level Jiu Jitsu of his own to the table, giving those that he rolls with solid technique to play off of and showcase their style. Speaking of style, Glover has style for miles, as does his team-mate Bill “the grill” Cooper. Jeff and Bill have vastly different styles, but are above all, entertaining. In Jeff’s interview prior to the roll we learn that this is no accident. He strives to be interesting and spectator-friendly, which is a sentiment mostly lacking in Jiu Jitsu. I come from many years of skateboarding as a kid, where it wasn’t so much what you did but how you did it. Aggression, smoothness and/or technicality were all prized. I like seeing that ethos being exemplified in Jiu Jitsu as well. 

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Match Breakdown: Jeff Glover and Budo Jake

  1. This was awesome. Hope you don’t mind, but I have cross posted this on my own blog. Will definitely be watching the full video tonight. Thanks for posting!

  2. Andrew Foster

    You get my PM on Sherdog?

  3. Andrew Foster

    I love the analysis. Honestly, this article could be pages and pages. I went minute by minute, and 3 minutes in, I already knew there was almost too much material for any sensible article if you went over every key transition and position.

    What really appeals to me about this roll is that I have a background in acting and music, and knowing that Jeff Glover and Bill Cooper put some value into showmanship is really cool. I’ve used to train a lot of unarmed and armed self-defense and security stuff. I do BJJ to have fun. It’s cool to see people that can be very successful at the high-level while still maintaining a high degree of creativity and improvisation.

    With that out of the way, I think after the ADCC Trails and the ADCC 2011, that jeff Glover is better than he has ever been. He definitely moves differently than is pre-2009 highlight reels all over youtube.

    I really think it’d be cool to see/do an analysis of Jeff’s ADCC or ADCC Trials matches, as to me, they seem like a strong demonstration of all the things in this roll with Budo Jake done at a high-level. Jeff doesn’t roll exciting in training and then change his game when the stakes are high. That’s respectable enough…but medaling in the sports most prestigious tournament with multiple submissions, and being the only qualifier to medal (I think), is just awesome.

  4. It’s a shame Jeff doesn’t get as much love due to the fact that he is not primarily a Gi competitor.

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