Monthly Archives: May 2014

May 23

Why No-Gi

By bestfree | Uncategorized

I hesitated before writing this blog entry… in the grappling world,
the topic of gi versus no-gi can incite as much emotion
as arguments about religion, politics, or how to raise kids,
especially in my MMA gym in Miami!
That being said, I keep getting questions about this topic.
People are curious as to why I train exclusively no-gi…
so here it goes!
The pro gi argument is that the gi is more technical because
there are more techniques needed because the gi itself is
a weapon. The grips, grip breaks, sweeps, and submission
holds that can be executed because of the gi mean there is
going to be a lot more technique involved than no gi.
However… my rebuttal is this… who cares! 🙂 If your goal is to
be ready to fight without the gi, then the extra gi techniques
are irrelevant to me.
For instance, sword fighting is more technical than gun
fighting.  Does that mean that our soldiers should be studying
sword play instead of shooting targets?
It is an extreme example but it is to illustrate a point.
In competition, there isn’t a single extra technique that
the gi offers when there are no gis being worn. The extra
techniques being learned with the gi are as relevant to
no-gi competition as sword techniques are to gun fighting.
The next valid argument, the argument I respect most, is that
since there are more grips with the gi, if you are able to
maintain your base and counter submissions with the gi –
then without the gi, it would be even harder for an opponent
to sweep or submit you. I agree with this view 100%!
The problem is now the application though. If you were to
train with a gi on but with only “no gi” techniques, then
I think the gi would indeed be a very valuable training tool.
However, if you train with the gi to rely on grips, sweeps, and
submissions that require the uniform – then I think you are
preparing yourself for “no gi” shock! When you land on the
ground and can’t reach for anything to grab, that initial
shock is taking away a split second of reaction time.
We all have a “Plan A” strategy when we roll… and if your
gi game has a “Plan A” that only works with gi… then when
you are exhausted in real combat without the gi and have to
pull from your training “Plan A” and come up short, that is
a problem.
To summarize my theory… if you train “no gi style” with the
gi – then I think the gi can be a very valuable training
tool. Just like how no-gi grappling can be a very valuable
tool for developing your ground work for MMA and self
defense… however, even with no-gi, if you get too much into
the sport grappling aspect, like using some of these fancy
new guards that leave your face exposed to punches, then
you are going to be training irrelevant techniques.
For instance, at our Mixed Martial Arts
academy, we do not allow students to
lock their hands from bottom mount to prevent being
submitted.  You can temporarily lock your hands to pull your
arm free from an Americana or armbar attempt – but you
cannot get mounted and simply lock your hands together in
an effort to buy time and not get submitted! Why we don’t allow
it?  Because in a real fight your opponent would be pounding
your face in while you have your hands locked.
Remember, both gi and no-gi grappling were developed as
training tools for self defense – period! For that reason, I
personally believe that one should grapple in a way that
is most conducive to fighting.
So now you all understand the reason I train no-gi!
May 22

Guard Pulling

By bestfree | Uncategorized


Pulling guard does have its application in actual fighting and
self defense. Although, in a street fight or competition,
personally, I would only use guard pulling as a last resort – I
am not about to debate this. There is an argument to be made
for pulling guard – I respect that.

What I do not respect is pulling guard in training. It does not
take skill to pull guard. In other words, you are not going to
become a better “guard puller” by pulling guard in training.
Yes, it does take a certain awareness to pull guard best – but
pulling guard everyday for years isn’t going to create any gains.
Whatever awareness needed for pulling guard can be developed
in a month of situational live drilling.

This is the same argument I make with boxing. When drilling
striking drills back and forth, I tell my guys in my MMA gym in Miami, FL
to never “shell up”
or “turtle up” with their forearms. That takes no skill and comes
instinctual. Get a guy in the supermarket and start swinging
wildly at him – he will cover up with his forearms and hope for
the best… this is instinct… doing this during drilling
sessions makes no gains. Instead, use parries, blocks, slips, etc.
In a real fight, when you get overwhelmed, you’ll shell up – you
don’t need extra training for that.

With regards to grappling, never pull guard in training… that is
ALWAYS there for you in a real fight… WORK YOUR TAKEDOWN


There are three reasons why grapplers pull guard… one, because
they lack takedown skills… two, they are

tired… and three, they are injured and want to avoid the
wrestling game. The third reason is a legit reason and I not only
respect that – I would recommend it. If you are injured, there is
no need to further your injuries.

However, reasons one and two SUCK SUCK SUCK!!!! 🙂 If you lack
takedown skills – pulling guard will only further weaken your
ability to pick up takedowns. When you pull guard in training, it
now trains your mind to have that potential exit… so when the
going gets tough during a takedown scramble, you will pull guard.
However, if you NEVER train guard pulling, then that is one exit
strategy less that your subconscious will have during a big

It is like when Cortez invaded the ancient Aztecs… when he
arrived on the shores, he knew he was heavily outnumbered, so he
ordered his men to burn the boats… now the only way out was
through victory – and they won! His men fought harder because they
knew there was no retreat… they had to fight or die.

Same goes with pulling guard in training… if you pull guard in
training, then in a real fight when you “want” to defend the
takedown, when the going gets tough, you will retreat to your
boats… which is pulling guard. However, if you eliminate guard
pulling from your list of responses, then your takedown defense
will be better because you will fight to the bitter end.

The second reason people pull guard is because they are tired…
WRONG! That is not the REAL reason. Yes, they are tired… so why
don’t they let their training opponent shoot in on them and get
taken down? Because their ego… they don’t want to “give up” a
takedown… so instead they opt to pull guard… thinking that
somehow this is more honorable. It is quite the opposite! It is
the cowards way out!

Don’t feel bad if you do such things, it is a temptation that I
feel at times as well! The other day I was working five rounds of
five minutes with my top guys in the gym. They train twice a day –
I hadn’t trained regularly in months. I was dead exhausted after
the first five minute match – it was almost all wrestling
scrambles. Going into my second match, I felt a temptation to just
pull guard… and at that moment, I caught myself being a coward,
and told myself, “No, I will fight to the bitter end – there is no
honor in pulling guard!” The only reason I wanted to pull guard
was really to avoid “giving up” a takedown… and I realized it is
more manly to get taken down by an inferior wrestler than to pull

As a result, I made it all five rounds without getting taken down.
I “burned my boats” and it made a real difference. You got to do
the same thing. As legendary NFL Super Bowl Champion Coach

Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of men…”

Now if I was in a REAL fight and I was up against a three time NCAA
Champion Wrestler – I might pull guard. There is no need to waste
my energy if it is truly inevitable that I will be taken down anyways…
besides, if the wrestler’s ground game is weak, I’ll want to be fresher
and dryer when we hit the mat for my submissions. However, I
wouldn’t be training pulling guard for that match!
May 21

Armbar Setup #1

By bestfree | Uncategorized

I’ve been using this setup for years
– and just like the previous move, it is easy to do, not used
often, and has a decoy distraction (the paintbrush). This is a
much easier move and gives your opponent the choice of getting
their arm broken by the paintbrush or by the armbar – both choices
equal victory for you! We developed this in our MMA gym in Miami, FL.
Perfect for you Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fans. Check out the video below:

May 20

David Home Workout #2

By bestfree | Uncategorized

This is David Avellan. I know that sometimes

you want to train, but you do not have a buddy to train with. Other
times, you just want a good solo workout that will test your
technique and your conditioning. So today, I will outline one of
my favorite ground and pound routines to train with. You will
need the following equipment:

Hand Wraps
Boxing Gloves (MMA gloves can be substituted)
Ground Dummy
Boxing Heavy Bag
Interval Timer

While working the ground dummy, you want to be able to move into
different positions such as: guard, half guard, mount, side mount,
back mount, standing open guard, and north/south. Use your
creativity to simulate these positions, so that you give yourself
different angles of attack.

The workout consists of 12 rounds of 3 minutes each with a 30
second rest:

1. Shadow Boxing
Use all of your strikes, move freely and mix in sprawls at your

2. Freestyle bag work on Heavy Bag
Strike the Heavy Bag using any strikes and mix in sprawls at
your discretion.

3. Freestyle bag work on Ground Dummy
Move freely from different positions, using any strikes
(punches, elbows and knees).

4. Focused power shots on Ground Dummy
The focus on this round is quality power shots. Throw only one
strike at a time. Give yourself 3-5 seconds between each strike.
Focus everything you have on each shot.

5. Repeated combinations on Ground Dummy

Pick one striking combination and focus your power on throwing
the combination. Give yourself 3 seconds between each combination.
Repeat the same combination at least 5 times.

6. 20s freestyle / 10s explosive power on Ground Dummy

Freestyle on the bag for 20 seconds, then use full power and
speed for 10 seconds. Then repeat this continuously.

7. Lifting Ground Dummy and slamming it every 15 seconds
Strike the bag as in the freestyle round. Every 15 seconds,
lift the bag over your head and slam it. Repeat.

8. Standing up and sprawling while working the Ground Dummy every 15 secs
Strike the bag as in the freestyle round. Every 15 seconds,
stand up and sprawl on the bag. Repeat.

9. Alternating between the Ground Dummy and the Heavy bag every 15 secs
Go freestyle between the ground dummy and the heavy bag.

10. Continuous striking on the ground dummy, then every 15 seconds
lift up the bag and sprint 20 ft then slam

Punch the ground dummy with no breaks. Just punch non stop.
After 15 seconds, lift the bag over your head and sprint 20 ft and
slam the bag. Repeat.

11. Power shots on the Ground Dummy, then every 15 seconds lift up
the bag and throw it as far as you can and run to it

Power shot on the ground dummy as in round 4, then lift the bag
and throw it as far as you can overhead. Then sprint to the bag.

12. Sprawl on the ground dummy, circle step all the way around the
dummy then sprawl again

From standing, sprawl on the bag and stand up. Then circle step
all the way around the bag full circle. Repeat.

This routine is challenging for even a seasoned pro. It also will
allow you to develop a lot of power on the ground, where most
people do not take the time to work. Having great technique and
power on the ground will make you an intimidating adversary to any
opponent. Sometimes I’m not able to make it to our MMA gym in Miami, FL
and I use this routine.
So use this routine the next time you train on your own
and enjoy the ground and pound!

May 19

Prayer Heel Hook

By bestfree | Uncategorized

I got a LOT of positive feedback about the knee
cut across pass – a.k.a. the Avellan Trademark Pass 🙂 Check
out the positive feedback on the comments section on the
bottom of this page here:

By the way, if you liked the video yourself, please go ahead
and drop a comment yourself! The comments help me out and
also motivate me to put out more and more videos!

I got so many requests about seeing variations to this pass
and learning more about the different techniques to use in
conjunction with it, that I decided to share one of my best
secondary attacks to use with the knee cut across pass…
which is the Prayer Heel Hook!  Check it out below:

If you like it, all I ask for these free techniques is that
you drop a comment on the bottom of the page and share this
on facebook or twitter by clicking on the icon below the
video.  Thanks a lot.

As you know, we train and test these moves out of my MMA gym in Miami, FL.

May 15

You’re a Black Belt

By bestfree | Uncategorized

You have to have this mentality, even if you are not a black
belt YET… but you ARE a black belt in the making. Having
been an instructor since 1999, I can tell you that the common
trait that separates the high belts from the white belts and
blue belts is that the high belts believe themselves to be future
black belts.

Just saying you want to be a black belt is NOT enough… you
have to VISUALIZE wearing your black belt, hitting your techniques
like a black belt, being lined up in class with the black belts…


Dr. Maxwell Maltz, in his book “Psycho Cybernetics”, said
that “…one cannot consistently outperform his own self image…”

Think about what that really means… you can’t stumble on
to a tournament and become world champion… you had to
WANT the world title and BELIEVE it is yours to claim because
you are a CHAMPION…

If you go into the world championships thinking you are
going to be lucky if you win ONE match… there is no way you
are going to win four matches versus four world class competitors
who ALL have their eye on the prize.

Same thing with your training. You aren’t going to become a
a black belt if you have the self image of a career blue or
purple belt. You are a future black belt in the making!

Believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter your natural ability,
your age, your injuries, your physical handicaps and limitations,
your work schedule, etc. You will be a black belt – no matter
how long it takes.

My only purpose in teaching is produce BLACK BELTS. Right
now, I am taking the task of teaching you over the internet –
and my goal is no different, which is to help you get better
and ultimately assist you in getting your BLACK BELT.

I hope to maintain our relationship on here for years and
to have you eventually email me back a picture of you getting
your black belt. My hope is that when you get that black belt,
that I had helped at least a tiny bit in making that journey
We are a success minded group – and I’m glad to have you on

May 13

One Leg Champion

By bestfree | Uncategorized

When I took my student, Jason Soares, to the 2011 FILA Submission Wrestling Team USA Trials in Las Vegas, I got to see something very special… I got to see Matt Betzold win the trials in dominant fashion… with ONE leg!

I was so impressed with his performance that I took out my flip camera and asked him for an interview. I recommend that you check it out:

Please feel free to forward this email to your friends and share his story on your facebook and twitter.

By the way, he ended up finishing 3rd in the World at the FILA World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. Out of 32 different countries being represented, he brought home Team USA the Bronze… congratulations Matt!

That is some serious discipline and dedication to mixed martial arts and grappling. As always, feel free to check out our mma gym in south florida.

May 12

Gun Follow-Up

By bestfree | Uncategorized

Wow, I got a lot of positive feedback about my “Who is
carrying a gun” blog entry, I’m glad most of you liked it. I got
a couple of responses though inquiring about what is the
purpose of learning martial arts out of Miami, FL at all for self defense
with the existence of handguns?

In today’s gun-happy world, bare-handed self defense still
has a very powerful role. First of all, even with a concealed
weapons permit, most people are simply not going to be
walking around with a gun 24/7. But let’s assume that you
are one of the few always strapped with a gun. How can
bare-handed martial arts training help you?

First of all, training martial arts teaches CONTROL. The
ability to control your emotions and your adrenaline. For
those that train, the first time you grappled live or sparred,
it was probably a wild, out of control, spaz-fest… and you
probably tired extremely fast, and probably didn’t execute
a single technique you learned… and that is NORMAL.

For those of you that have never trained, you will see that
the first time you wrestle or do sparring live, that you will
go through an experience like I just described. I can
spend hours teaching you techniques that you will hit
flawlessly in a calm, classroom scenario – but the second
someone tries to hit you for real, depending on your
experience, you may blank out completely. For this, the
practice of bare-handed combat is priceless.

To an experienced martial artist with plenty of sparring
experience, adrenaline does not overtake the mind – you
can have an aggressive body but a passive mind in the
middle of a flight or fight situation. This can only be
developed by harnessing the emotions that come with
“flight or fight” and the mental conditioning of controlling
adrenaline. Once you learn this, not only is your mind more
clear and aware of what is going on – but you can also
execute any trained techniques with deadly precision.

There are MANY cases of people with guns unloading entire
magazines from almost point blank range and completely
missing their attackers… because of the adrenaline
over-taking their system. At the concealed weapons course I
took, the instructor specified to NOT aim for the legs or
arms of an attacker… that although it is a noble gesture
to try to injure your attacker without killing them, that
you should aim for CENTER OF MASS and although the odds
of killing them are much higher, the simple fact is that even
the best marksman will completely miss if aiming for the
legs and arms during a REAL situation… in other words,
when the adrenaline takes control, most people will spaz
out, firing wildly and without steady aim.

Another important aspect to realize is that even if you are
strapped with a gun, you may not always have access to your
gun… I have one student, who is a police officer, who was
attacked by surprise by a man with a hunting knife. When he
turned, the man was upon him with the knife in the air,
ready to stab him! There was no time to pull for his gun –
he unloaded with a ferocious two punches, jab and cross,
which dropped the attacker… his life was saved by his
martial arts training. This gentlemen is a 135 pound brown
belt under me, I leave his name out because he is shy and
I’m not sure if he wants me to reveal his story to the ten
thousand people on my email list, but his quick reactions
were developed via years of training. He told me himself,
if it wasn’t for his training, he would have froze and
probably just lifted his hands up in front of his face in a
flinching manner, like most people would have reacted, and
would have died. I have sent people to the Ultimate
Fighting Championship (UFC), BodogFight, WEC, EliteXC,
ADCC, and other promotions… and yet my biggest
accomplishment to date was knowing that my brown belt
and close friend was able to come home to his wife and kids
ALIVE while serving us on the streets.

Still not convinced? How about another TRUE story that
happened to one of my best friends, Master Lloyd Irvin.
Master Lloyd is one of the top black belts in the world.
Along with having an impressive resume, he has also
coached world class fighters. He coached one of his athletes
to the Olympics (Rhadi Ferguson) has coached a bunch of
UFC fighters such as Brandon Vera, Phil Davis, and UFC
world champion Dominic Cruz. Lloyd has been training
martial arts for years. As an MMA coach, a lot of fight gyms
poked a lot of fun at him for incorporating gun disarms in his
school curriculum… a lot of his rival instructors were
saying it was a waste of time, it wouldn’t work in a real
situation, you would just freeze up, etc. Well… a few years ago
Master Lloyd was sleeping on his couch in his home. He got
home late and forgot to turn on the alarm. Master Lloyd
owns a gun in his home. While sleeping on his couch, a man
woke him up with a gun in his face and told him to go to the
master bedroom. There, he found his wife, child, Brandon
Vera on the floor with another gunman pointinga gun at them.

Long story made short, these gunmen were pros… and the
situation did not look good for Master Lloyd and his family.
One gunman left the room to investigate the rest of the house,
this was the opportunity Master Lloyd was hoping for. He felt
an opening and reacted… he jumped on the now lone gunman
and utilized one of the gun disarms he has been practicing for
years, and successfully disarmed the man! He then grabbed
the gun, and the gunman, now without a gun, fled. Master Lloyd
didn’t catch them – but he successfully protected his family. I
spoke to him the following day, he told me how he had never
been that terrified in his life, that he truly believed his wife and
child were going to die, and that the fear was overwhelming…
however, he told me he focused on remembering his training
and when the opportunity came, he reacted. He said that when
he utilized the disarm, he remembered thinking, despite all the
craziness, “wow, it worked!” He used a technique that ejected
the magazine from the gun, giving the attacker possibly only
one shot (if there was a bullet in the chamber) and he
proceeded to disarm the weapon with textbook technique. See,
while the gunman was feeling the adrenaline and freezing up,
Master Lloyd was calm and acting out the technique he has
practiced over the years. He had an aggressive body but a
passive mind.

The disarm was so controversial that rival gyms and web
blogs were posting that it was fake – claiming that Master
Lloyd fabricated the story as a publicity stunt. Disgusted
by this, Master Lloyd responded publicly and even posted the
audio 911 call from his wife – you should check this out here:

Now think about this… how much value would you put on all
those years Master Lloyd spent training in the martial arts?
Definitely priceless.

Why else learn bare-handed martial arts? You also have the
scenario of someone literally jumping on you and attacking
you without you seeing them coming – this happens as well.
I can go on and on with examples of the importance of
knowing bare-handed self defense.

Now obviously, if you are very serious about self-defense,
it is my humble opinion that you should own a firearm (that
is why I did get my concealed weapons permit). However, all
that being said, I think that every man, woman, and child
should know how to defend themselves with bare-handed
martial arts. Besides the fitness and mental benefits – I
think I have demonstrated in this email that the
self-defense applications are still priceless in this day
and age. The martial arts gives you a calmness under
pressure that you simply can’t get from shooting a target
over and over with a gun. And if you hate guns – then even
more reason for you to train… so if you aren’t a member of
a martial arts school, get your butt over to a good school
right now 🙂

May 09

Kimura Revenge

By bestfree | Uncategorized

I have posted this videoon youtube and the forums,
so if you’ve seen it already, my

apologies… but I could NOT take any chances… I had to make sure
that EVERYONE is familiar with this counter and TKO
finish… the Kimura Revenge!

Here is the video:

I taught the move for fighting – but if you are a grappling
competitor, you can use this move to counter and pass to side
control. Furthermore, if you keep the wrist as you pass, there are
a few nice submission setups you can get into. However, as I
mention in the video, don’t pass the guard if you are going to use
this for MMA or street fighting.

Ok Marcos, post a comment on the bottom of the page and
let me know what you think of the technique. Thank you and enjoy!