My two guillotine mentors
One of the reasons why I put such a heavy emphasis on guillotine training for no gi jiu jitsu is because I saw with my own eyes so many times in my early years of development the incredible effectiveness of a well applied guillotine by two of my most important influences - my sensei, Renzo Gracie, and my senpai, Matt Serra. Both men had outstanding success with guillotines, but in very different ways. Mr Gracie developed the arm in guillotine as his favorite move (tokui waza). He did so at a time when many people thought the move could not possibly work. Experimentation and ultimately success in competition proved them wrong. Though he had a vast array of moves, whenever he was in a highly competitive sparring session that was his go to move. Mr Serra, was an early user of the high elbow guillotine (we actually used to call it a Serra guillotine in those days!). On so many occasions I saw him submit famous visiting blackbelts (when he was just a purple and brown belt!). Mr Serra was extremely agile and from bottom position, jump up and snap his opponent’s head down and lock this devastating hold and either fall back or stand up to finish - even when it did not get a finish it was so threatening that opponents were very reluctant to pressure forward and pass against him. It was a fascinating thing for me to observe as a student - that two people could employ two very different guillotines and get so much success either as a submission or as a severe threat that set up other attacks. There are many great guillotine specialists out there - I was very fortunate to have two right in front of me from the start! They taught me the essential lesson that once you master a version of the guillotine you will be dangerous at any moment in a match and can turn the direction of a match in the blink of an eye from almost any situation.