Nicky Ryan and the power of sankaku (triangle)

Photo Jeff Chu

Photo Jeff Chu

Many of you will remember that a BIG part of my teaching is concerned with the use of WEDGES as one of the key elements in my approach to jiu jitsu. Wedges are useful for many things, but primarily to RESTRICT MOVEMENT. As much as I like wedges, I have a strong preference for a certain type of wedge. Most wedges used in jiu jitsu are OPEN WEDGES - but whenever possible, I prefer CLOSED (reinforced) WEDGES. This is when your limbs are locked together around an opponent so THAT ONE LIMB REINFORCES THE POSITION OF THE OTHER FOR ADDED TIGHTNESS AND CONTROL. You will notice that most of my favorite finishing positions involve the use of closed (reinforced) wedges. So in my leg lock system the preferred breaking positions involve locking our legs together around an opponent’s leg - inside sankaku and outside ashi garami are two well known examples that you will often see my students using. In the case of upper body submissions, I greatly favor the use of triangle locks as they are fine examples of closed wedges around the head and one arm that present a dual threat of strangle and arm lock. Moreover, it features the strength of both my legs against an opponent’s neck and one arm - an obvious imbalance. In this way you can see it is a particularly good way for smaller and weaker athletes to handle stronger athletes. The primary problem presented by the Geo Martinez match for Nicky Ryan was the obvious strength disparity between a mature athlete with great gymnastics background versus a sixteen year old boy. As such, sankaku training was a huge part of his training. Tactically, strong threats to the legs that created reactions that would lead to sankaku and vice versa were the theme of the camp. All my students excel at sankaku, but the Ryan brothers are particularly adept. Indeed, they have their own sequence from the position we call “the Ryan roll.” What an experience it was to watch this wunderkind hit exactly the tactics and techniques he worked so hard on in camp and show everyone again the remarkable property of sankaku as a means of victory over a stronger opponent - a lesson to us all!