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Crafty Guillotine Finish From The Incomparable Neil Melanson
Crazy arm in guillotine finish by the great Neil Melanson
Who is Neil Melanson? Neil could easily be considered one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Neil was the head coach of the infamous Blackzillians MMA Team and Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture gym. He has coached some of the best UFC fighters to ever compete to the pinnacle of the sport including Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Matt Mitrione and many more. His students have given high praise. Chael Sonnen said, “Neil would slap Rickson Gracie around like it was easy.” Jiu Jitsu black belt and former UFC Champion Vitor Belfort stated that “Neil could triangle anybody in any room.”
Neil boasts a unique education when it comes to grappling. He began his education at the Hayastan School where he learned techniques from Catch Wrestling, Judo and Sambo from world renowned coaches Gene Lebel and Gokor Chivichyan. His grappling style is a combination of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Catch Wresting and Sambo. He is the living embodiment of the Bruce Lee quote, "Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.”
Beyond his impressive education and grappling abilities, Neil is an extremely capable teacher. He takes a meticulous approach and breaks down the details so that it can be easily understood by even the grappling novice.
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Neil starts the sequence in a top half guard. His hard side knee has turned the corner and is against his opponent’s hip. Traditionally in Jiu Jitsu, we are taught to focus on the under hook battle in half guard. That is basic Jiu Jitsu 101. Instead of focusing on the far side under hook battle, Neil’s focus is the near side arm. He opts for wrist control. Instead of leaning in he switches grip on the near side arm so that his thump is on the top side of his opponent’s hand. His hand is still on his opponent’s wrist but the orientation of the hand has changed. He stretches out his opponent’s arm so that it is parallel with his opponent’s head. Because of body mechanics, his opponent is unable to sit up. The detail on how you grab the wrist is key. Melanson carefully elaborates that you must maintain hard pressure downward with the wizard. He drives his head into his opponent’s throat in the same fashion as you would see in a traditional weave pass. His far side leg is kicked out. He then drops his near side knee onto his opponent’s near side arm. Now that the arm is control by the knee, Melanson lets go of the wrist and wraps his arm around his opponents head. He keeps his elbow close to his body in the wizard to stretch out his opponent’s arm. Neil spends several minutes breaking down the mechanics of the choke to explain why this is necessary. He locks his grip between his two arms. For submission grappling, he likes the palm on top of hand grip. However for MMA the gloves can get in the way and Neil suggest an s grip. He places the bottom side leg on his opponent’s hip while having the top side leg on his opponents back. Neil clarifies that closed guard is not a good option to finish this position. He likes to have counters should a submission fail. He pulls his arm up and pinches both elbows. He suggests the thumb being aligned with the Adam’s apple is a good indicator of placement. Neil then elaborates on the correct posture. He likes the grandma posture that is characterized by hunched of shoulders and neck. Our chin should also be on the back. Certainly the structure of a submission is extremely important. Melanson says this is especially true for submissions where you fall back.
Many consider Neil Melanson to be a mad scientist of grappling. This sequence is a fine testament to that. His approach is not based on a singular style but a hybrid of many approaches. He is obsessed with independent and free thinkers like Nicola Tesla and his style of grappling is brilliant testament to that. If you have ever seen Neil’s instructional videos than you certainly understand what we mean. If you have not had the privilege, click on the link below below to learn the forgotten secrets of the Guillotine – from the most deadly Catch Wrestler on earth, Neil Melanson.