At this past Friday’s Onnit Invitational, Garry Tonon protege Gordon Ryan laid down flat on his back and dared his opponent Jams Partridge to attempt to mount and submit him. Ryan, a newly minted black belt, calmly laid on the mat and countered all of Partridge’s attempts to budge or submit him from this position before submitting Partridge with a leg lock. While some BJJ fans accused Ryan of showboating, this position has often been used by his training partner Greg Amici, who is a Shawn Williams black belt and trains at both Tonon’s Brunswick BJJ and Renzo Gracie Brooklyn.
Like John Danaher, Amici is a graduate of Columbia University and started his BJJ journey at the Renzo Gracie Academy during its early days in the 1990s after spending years training in boxing. According to Sherdog.com, Amici won his lone MMA match in 2001 by smothering his opponent into submission. He eventually moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA and pursue an acting career. While he was in Los Angeles, he earned his black belt from Shawn Williams. After relocating back to the New York area, Amici split his training time at Renzo Gracie Brooklyn and Brunswick BJJ while he worked on his Master’s degree in English at Brooklyn College. Amici and Ryan have trained together since Ryan was in high school. Amici saw Ryan grappling talents early on and often rolled with him and helped Ryan out with his boxing game.
While training at Brunswick BJJ, Amici would start off many rolls by laying flat on his back of side ways and encourage his training partners to aggressively attack him. Most of his blue and purple belt training partners would struggle to move Amici’s sturdy frame and limbs and would eventually off-balance themselves trying to move him. That is when Amici would counter their movements with a sweep and then dominate his training partners from the top position.
When asked about the strategy behind the move, Amici said, ” Uh, there is no strategy, I’m 55 years old, my body’s broken to pieces, and I need to lie down a lot, I’m thinking of moving from starting on my side to starting on my back, so I can get used to the coffin position. That way I can take my BJJ training into the afterlife with me, since in the not too distant future, I will need it. See, I’m always thinking a move ahead.”
After viewing Ryan’s match at The Onnit Invitational, Amici said “BAHHHHH! Now I know what everybody was talking about when they said that he’d been accused of being disrespectful! How dare they critique Amici guard!”
When done properly, Amici guard is a very effective defense for submissions under the submission-only rules format, but shouldn’t be relied upon in a street fighting or self-defense situation unless you are trying to play dead to stop a beating. I asked Amici if it is fair to say Gordon Ryan played Amici guard in his match and Amici replied “Absolutely, I take full credit for it!!!”