On the evening before he would appear at UFC 143 as a cornerman for Josh Koscheck, Dave Camarillo appeared on the radio show I host alongside MMA Mania's Brian Hemminger and Gerry Rodriguez. We were expecting a quick promo appearance for his new Victory Belt book, Submit Everyone: The Classified Field Manual For Becoming A Submission-focused Fighter, but Dave spent a full hour with us answering questions with aplomb about his approach to grappling and teaching.
Ben Thapa: Have you ever heard of the OODA loop?
Dave Camarillo : I have not.
BT: It's a concept developed by John Boyd, who is perhaps the father of modern jet airplane dogfighting in the American military. It's Observe, Orient, Decide, Act - that's the loop - and it helps pilots do better in dogfights. He said that there are two ways you can get a better OODA loop than your opponent - to go faster and faster or to do something unexpected. Do you have a preference between the two for getting wins and better control over your opponent?
DC: I like them equally. I taught myself that speed, fast twitch muscles and so on, is important, but that high rate of speed is partially genetic and it has to be developed. I call it "genetic potential". I have the genetic potential that gives me a high rate of speed. In my career - I hope this doesn't sound cocky, but here goes - I've never trained with someone faster than me. I'm sure there's lightweights faster than me, but people my size, I've always been faster. I've always had the ability to maneuver quicker than my opponents, which can be a surprise but it doesn't always work, especially if they slow you down.
Which brings the other concept, which is actually in my book and I call Creating Chaos. It's doing something that is so crazy that it's unexpected. I think this is the key to Anderson Silva. Nobody can judge what he's going to do and nobody is comfortable with he's going to do next because he creates so much chaos. If you can do that, good things happen. I was training with a student and nothing was happening, so I did a flying armlock. The guy just couldn't understand that he was on top and then I was standing on him and he was on the defensive. I am fast and I can get into a position before you are ready for it and the speed can be bit much for people to handle, but the unexpectedness is also really important. My high degree of fast twitch muscles allowed me to do something and I have the genetic potential to do that. However, creating chaos can be universal and everyone can do that. That uncertainty becomes a weapon that people can use. I use both in my career and I believe both are important.
Hit the jump for the rest of Part Three
If you want to check out the book Dave is talking about, it's the newest Victory Belt publication, Submit Everyone: Classified Field Manual for Becoming a Submissions Focused Fighter.
BT: How do you train a fighter to get faster by the way? Is that something you have to develop and fail again and again to do or is it something that's always present from the beginning?
DC: First off, you need to do the opposite. I teach every concept slow. If you don't go slow at first, you're doing it wrong. I think you can see personalities emerge from people grappling as they enter the academy or if they're doing this for the first time, and if you see someone do it quick, they're tightening up because they're afraid of being attacked and that's a natural fear thing. If I want to train someone to be fast, I start them slow. I start them in one position and then they memorize 1, 2, 3 and then move on to another and memorize that. They have to get 1, 2, 3 right. That creates a thread.
If you see wrestlers that flow really good, or jiu jitsu guys that flow really good or Muay Thai guys that flow really good, it's because they have good threads. You have the concept of a thread and you develop that slow. If you memorize something, you can do it faster and add speed. Then you add a little bit more and a little bit more. Once you have that thread concept down, you can do it, you can mix it up, share it, you can train it more and so on. The thread gets them to shorten the distance between A and B if that makes sense. It's the most efficient route and that most efficient route comes from flowing. Flowing properly, freely. My understanding is that my opponent is a statue and I'm going to move around them, not through them. You're not driving into their power, you're not overpowering them because that might not be natural for you; you're moving around them from one position to the next to the next until you submit them. That's the best way to create speed - or a better way to say it - better efficiency.
BT: Last question - was Jon Fitch that good at resisting the guillotine in the beginning when he showed up at your academy or did he develop that over time? It's been driving me nuts.
DC: [laughs] Of course, he developed over time. I remember the first day I rolled with him at AKA, he had just gotten there and he was there a couple months before I was. And I was like "Oooh, big strong wrestler, here we go." And we put on the gi to roll. I remember submitting him a bunch of times. I mean obviously, he didn't really understand jiu jitsu at the time so it was easy for me.
But what happened was that the first year, I submitted him X number of times - a high number. The second year, it was half of that. The third year, it was 5 to 10% of the first year if that makes sense and so you know, back then, I had more time, I was younger, I was training hard, I was in shape and I was high level. He got a lot better in comparison to me, he would take one on one lessons and we spent hours and hours grappling. When you're exposed to so many submissions, you build a tolerance for it. If you work with your hands, you build a tolerance for that hard work. It's the same thing with grappling.
If I submit you a hundred times, your situational awareness is going to improve, your experience will get better, you'll feel it coming quicker and you're going to develop tolerance. The time we spent together working let him spend so much time living inside the submissions that he could spend his time working his way out of it instead of powering out of it. That's why I like the gi, it forces you to be technical with your escapes as you can't power out of it with the slickness and strength of no gi. Fitch spent a lot of time in the gi with me and he got comfortable with working within the submissions. It was a ton of one on one and watching the process while I worked with others for him. That's what built that resistance.
Brian Hemminger: I have a couple last questions for UFC 143. I know you said you would corner Koscheck for the rest of his career. Are you still on for UFC 143 and Koscheck's fight against Mike Pierce?
DC: Yeah, I'm waking up tomorrow morning and getting over there to Las Vegas to corner him.
BH: I had a question about corner strategy, as I spent a lot of time listening to people like Frankie Edgar's corners and Greg Jackson giving advice and ideas and things to work on and change to their fighters. What type of cornerman are you when you are in there giving advice to your fighter when in between rounds?
DC: Ok, well, I'll give you an example from Cain Velasquez versus Ben Rothwell. I said something like "I want his shoulders flat." To me, it's a simple command coming from what I saw in the first round. Of course, I'm saying this before the fight during the camp. I had told him before that I wanted aggressive footwork, I wanted him in and out, don't hang out in the pocket and little things like that are very important, especially in the first round, because that's when you have the most power.
We were analyzing the fight the whole time in camp and the next camp had a similar pattern as we took the fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Rothwell and Nogueira are not very athletic. No disrespect to them, but they are just not very athletic. I was jumping up and down because we were like "We got this fight." because Cain is super-athletic. He is super-quick, he can change direction, he can get up and down and so on faster than anyone else in the heavyweight division. When I look at Nogueira and Rothwell, I'm like "We got this." Both guys are slower, they have power in their hands and they're heavy guys, so that can be problematic, but if you put them down, they have to get all that weight up. And as they're not athletic, it's difficult for them. I told him get those shoulders flat like it's a wrestling game. Simple, clear cut, get their shoulders flat.
And what happened? Cain kept coming and that guy exhausted himself throwing punches. I look for athleticism, I look for people's strengths and I try to avoid them. The first round tells me a lot, because you don't really know what's going on until your fighter had five minutes in there.
BH: A question from the chat room that's kind of related, but really not even close to what we're talking about now: Have you perfected your banner rolling technique and what happens to those things after the hanging?
DC: [laughs] Well, that's good. Banner rolling technique. [laughs] When we get up there, not having it upside down is our main thing. And we gotta roll it up a certain way too. It's actually a really good question. It looks embarrassing if we drop it or if it's upside down and we have to fumble around to fix it to get the fighter right. What happens to them? I've kept a few. I don't know. Maybe I'll put them on ebay or something. But uh, yeah we kinda just discard it, as most of the time, we're excited and we're like "Ok, fight's over. Let's get outta here!" That was a great question, because when you're fighting, that banner stuff kind of makes it real. I appreciate that.
BH: Yeah, that was Ben. He's got a wealth of crazy questions like that. Again, we're super-appreciative of you spending the last fifty minutes plus with us here and you've been amazing. Alright, thanks Dave. This has been an incredible interview and Ben is basically crying tears of joy right now. Best of luck to you cornering Josh Koscheck tomorrow. Before I let you go, do you have any last words for people interested in your book Submit Everyone?
DC: The book Submit Everyone is on Amazon or you can come to my academy and pick up a copy. I think martial arts gives you a key to everything. If you're out in my area, I'll show you everything I'm talking about in it. If you don't live where I live, get the book and get to some martial arts academy and train. I appreciate this. Oh right, if you want to follow me on Twitter, it's @DaveCamarillo.
End of Part Three
As an extra bonus, here is Dave's brother, Dan Camarillo, grappling with Genki Sudo in the finals of a BJJ tournament way back in 1998.
For those interested in finding out more about Colonel John Boyd, who created an organized theory of agile warfare that led to the creation of better fighter planes and military doctrine, I strongly recommend Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram. It is one of the finest biographies I have ever read and the concepts within are of immense value to those who participate in combat sports, as well as the military or business.