podcast with Luka Dias


This is a podcast interview with my coach’s wife Luka. She is also one of my coaches, a valued training partner, was THE coach to both of my kids, and is one of the greatest competitors in BJJ. She, along with Megaton, are truly part of my family. Her perspective as one of the first major female competitors is worth listening to. Up until very recently, she had more Gold Medals in the Pan-Ams than anyone else, including male competitors.

An interesting side note for you martial artists out there: while Luka was living in L.A. in the 90’s, she was training with Rigan Machado, and was the regular training partner for Dan Inosanto when he would take his weekly private lessons from Rigan.

The Hip Lift/Upa – the technical aspect

We talked about how many grapplers, even experienced ones, can sometimes have a poor Upa (Hip Lift) or use it incorrectly. In this article, I will go over the points that I think are critical to success in this move. This article will not cover how/when/why to use the move, but rather the technical execution only.

The first thing we need to do is make sure our arms are compressed inwards. The elbows should be connected to the ribcage, and the hands should be somewhere close to the face. There is no valid need to use the arms in the hip lift. It is a waste of time since we can use the power of the hips to do the work, and the arms are useless, so let’s keep them where they are useful and not vulnerable themselves.

Secondly, we need to bring the heels of both feet in as close to our butt cheeks as possible. If we are not spazzing out and keeping ourselves secure in Survival Position, we have time to make this crucial adjustment.

Third, we have to lift our head up from the ground. If we leave it on the ground, it actually acts as a brake and stopping point for our movement.

Finally, we lift upwards using our core and hips as the driver. The same part of our body that allows us to dead lift 500 pounds is what we rely on now. Continue the drive as high as you can until the only points touching the ground are the tips of our toes and our shoulder blades. Drive straight upwards. You are not trying to move the opponent to one side or another. Rather you are getting his weight as high up vertically as possible so you can use that room to move. Let him fall to a side if he has to, but it is not your immediate concern or intent.

May of the failures with the hip lift come about from where someone fails in any of the above points. Another failure is when someone does not practice the move enough and is not able to get much of an arch as they drive upwards with their hips so you do not end up creating much vertical space. However, there is an easy and cheap solution to that issue – practice the move properly! It sounds stupid, but doing 10-20 perfect hip lifts everyday will teach your body how to do it, and will groove in that neural pathway so you won’t have to think about it under stress.

Here is a video clip that covers all the above points in detail: