Under The Table Belt Promotions in BJJ

For two years I studied and practiced Kendo when I was in my teens.  I was diligent and worked hard at it.  I really enjoyed Kendo.  Every once and a while the president of the Rocky Mountain Kendo Federation would come out and we would test.  Each time it would take months to get test results.  We never received a certificate or any thing other then word of mouth about the results and our new rank except from our, aged and well loved sensei.  RMKF happily accepted our testing fees and the money we paid for them to visit and do the testing each time.  So if I were to start Kendo again would I be accepted at the rank I was told I had?  I doubt it.  I doubt there is any record of it.  I don’t have any documentation.  My sensei has since died.  It has left a bad taste in my mouth.  I spend time and money to earn that rank.  It would be the equivalent of a associates degree with no proof.

So when I tested for my blue belt in BJJ I thought things would be different.  I went to a local affiliate school.  I didn’t have a intermediary.  I would be talking directly to the person testing me.  The test result I knew would be delivered at the end of the test.  I paid my testing fee.

I passed the test.  I was given the blue belt on the spot.  Things were looking good.  I left the test elated that after 2 1/2 hours of testing I had passed.  That was the end of the warm fuzzes.  I neglected to ask about documentation.  Later when I realized that, I started by sending e-mails asking about a certificate.  My e-mails to the testing school had been answered before but this time there was no reply.  I asked my instructor if I should have received a certificate. He said they were usually mailed to the school.  I waited and nothing came.  I asked my instructor again about it.  He made a call to the testing school and left a voice mail.  I waited and time passed.  I forgot about my quest for legitimate rank. 

A new set of white belts in my school had matured and were sent for testing.  They returned and my thoughts turned back to finding documentation.  I asked one of them if they had received a certificate.  Maybe I was just the odd man out.  He said no.  Something seemed fishy now to me and I began to get that old feeling from the Kendo days.  I went to the affiliate website and found that I had to pay $50 a year for official membership that would allow me to obtain rank under this organization.  If I paid the membership and tested at an affiliate school I would be listed on the website with my rank.  I couldn’t find anywhere on the site that had any listing of anyone’s ranking but the "Professor’s" or the head of the school.  I decided to pay the $50 membership anyway.  Now there would be no excuse for not giving me some documentation.  When my membership kit comes I’ll start my inquires again.  I’ll start with a direct call to the person that tested me.

At this moment I feel like there are "under the table" belt promotions happening throughout the BJJ world.  Fees and belts are exchanged but without documentation it is all dust in the wind as my Kendo story points out.

Have you had a similar experience?

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life and Jiu-Jitsu

“Mountain and Sea” Changing in BJJ

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

As I continue to explore The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi I find things I want to share related to BJJ. 

"’Mountain and sea’ means that is is bad to do the same thing over and over again.  You may have to repeat something once, but it should not be done a third time.

When you try something on an opponent, if it does not work the first time, you will not get any benefit out of rushing to do it again.  Change your tactics abruptly, doing something completely different.  If that still does not work, then try something else.

Thus the science of martial arts involves the presence of mind to act as the sea when the enemy is like a mountain, and act as a mountain when the enemy is like a sea.  This requires careful reflection." – The Book of Five Rings, Fire Scroll.

In BJJ if you stubbornly continue to try to get a submission that isn’t there you end up wasting energy and most likely losing any advantage you have.  I have been guilty of hanging on to a choke that I know isn’t going to work in hopes that some how I would pull it off.  Musashi’s advice is very poignant.  It kind of reminds me of a long hall way of doors.  If the first one is locked you move on to the next.  The faster you are and more you try the sooner you will find one that is open.  As I internalize more techniques I have more doors.  As my skills increase I can move between them faster.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Review of “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Purple Belt Requirements” by Roy Dean

I purchased Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt Requirements: Gateway to the Advanced Game by Roy Dean a few weeks ago.  It came with ultra thin DVD’s of the type I had never seen before.  I thought they might not work correctly  as they had come lose in the shipping and looked like they could easily warp with the heat.  I was very glad to see they didn’t.

REVIEW: I have to say I’m very impressed with the quality and type of instruction in the DVD’s.  Roy Dean is easy to understand (no pidgin English).  The video is shown from different angles so you can see the technique done from all sides.  It has a easy to use interface that shows submissions based on positions.  The video looks professional not like it was done in a garage with a mat and curtains hung up for back drop.  If you are a beginner I wouldn’t start here.  I’d start with Saulo Ribeiro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Revolution Series One.  I did a post a while back called "Review of Saulo Ribeiro’s Jiu-Jitsu Revolution, Series One".  Why I say that is, Roy Dean shows techniques that build upon foundation learning.  If I had looked at this in the first few months I was training I would have been over whelmed and would be missed the finer points that make it advanced.

The video goes into submission combinations and talks about having what I call "fall back positions".  If you miss the submission you "fall back" to another submission.  I took what I learned to class, after watching the Back and Mount segments of the video, it made a huge positive difference in my game.  Mr. Dean really helped me capitalize when I got a superior position.  In layman’s terms, once I got the back or mount I submitted them with little effort.

I’m going to buy Roy Dean’s other videos and he has a permanent place in my BJJ video collect.  Great video!

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Review of the Vulkan Pro Light Gi

IMG_0284

Its summer and its hotter then Hades here in Utah.  I don’t train in an optimally controlled environment.  I needed something lighter then my heavy Atama Mundial.  My Koral MKM was more a medium weight but not light enough.  I decided to try a Vulkan Pro Light.  I had heard good things about Vulkan from a couple of the other guys who wear them.  I ordered my black, A3, Vulkan Pro Light gi from MMAOutLet.com.  It came promptly and without hitches.

Here are some of my thoughts about it:

PROS: The first thing I noticed about it was the fit.  My other gis are reasonably good fits but the Vulkan Pro Light A3 was a superb fit.  I am 6’2" and a average weight of 214lb.

It didn’t have a seam across my back.  I do a lot of pivoting on my back and I don’t like a seam in the middle of it.

The waist cord didn’t bind up when tightened.  With my other gis I tend to have one short and one long after a while.  I then have to work it around until they are equal length again.  Its a real pain.  It seems a small thing but they can build up over time.

The patches have stayed on.  With my Koral MKM I had to re-sew a patch after only a month.

It line dries quicker then my heavier gis.  It will dry in half the time as my other gis when I hang it out.  It is pre-shrunk but I still don’t throw it in the drier for fear it might still shrink some and I like the fit just how it is.

CONS: Black is a horrible color for rolling in.  Every spec of dirt, hair, dust, etc. shows up on me.  I look like and feel like a giant lint brush after rolling.

Despite it being pre-shrunk it was still dripping gray water while being hung out to dry.  The dye was not totally set I guess or maybe this is to be expected.  What ever the case if you set it to drip dry make sure what it drips on doesn’t matter.

I noticed signs of color fading already.  It is to be expected with the wear and tear it gets but I’m very careful to wash it according to the instructions.  I haven’t had it for more then a month yet.  I would expect it to hold its color a little better then that.

Summary: I love it.  It has become my favorite gi.  I haven’t used my Atama Mundial since getting it and won’t until winter.  I highly recommend the Vulkan Pro Light to anyone suffering in the heat or who just wants to try a good quality gi.

For a more in depth review of the Vulkan Pro Light you might try Meerkatsu’s Review.  Seymour always goes all out and does stunning reviews on gis.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

The Compact Arm Bar on Magic Monday

Small Space Arm Bar

For the "Magic Moment" this week Chris shared with us a sweet Arm Bar that works well in confined, compact, or smaller spaces.  I especially like how it gives you control of your opponent even before you put the arm bar on.  I tried to use it on Blake when we rolled after.  He of course knew what I was attempting and blocked me.  Even though I was unable to finish the submission I could easily keep the collar and arm to try something else.  Yes, that is me in the black Vulkan (which I will be doing a review on this week).  Chris also demonstrates how after a failed Arm Bar you can then go for a Omoplata.  I’ve been learning that it is always good to have a back up plan.  For those of you more experienced BJJ practitioners this is old news and for the newer like myself its the frontier.  I’m learning to string together multiple submissions in order to guarantee success.

Here is a takedown-to-leg-lock we also went over:

Takedown To Leg Lock Part 1

 

Takedown To Leg Lock Part 2

I didn’t have as much success on this but I did learn something.  You need to choose your takedown in accordance with the size of your opponent.  I’m 6’2", and this isn’t very practical on someone a foot shorter then me.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

No Joy Without Pain in BJJ

Its a concept we are all familiar with.  How can you understand happiness or joy if you don’t know pain or misery? I was inspired by Georgette’s post "I Cried This Morning" and Ben’s post "A Ass Kicking in the Right Direction" today.  I’ve blogged about "Finding Your Happy Place in Jiu-Jitsu" and my thoughts.  Mark also helped me form my thoughts in his post "The Dip and Jiu-Jitsu".

What does it all boil down to?  Its a constant struggle of ups and downs.  We take the good with the bad and keep going.  Its time to think large (The Small and Large of it in Jiu-Jitsu) and not dwell on the moment that is discouraging us.

This is another reason to keep a Journal.  The old adage "If you forget history your are doomed to repeat it" applies.  If you chronicle your training you can look back and say "hey, I remember what it was like when I couldn’t even do a scissor sweep".  You can see the larger picture and the moment in time that is causing you pain is swallowed up in the greater success you have had over time.

After all anything worth having requires blood, sweat, and tears or else it wouldn’t be worth having because you wouldn’t appreciate it.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Tomoe-Nage Tops Takedown Tuesday

I recently blogged about the Tomoe-Nage in my post "De La Riva to Tomoe Nage Sweep".  I’ve been reading about it in Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu: Revolutionizing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and watching video of it on YouTube.com.  It has some similarities to what we call the Balloon Sweep in BJJ.  On Takedown Tuesday I finally got to use it.  It was a blast.  Having never practiced it once, before having to use it during a match, it went off rather well.  I felt I got a good solid 3 out of 4 successful throws.

The Tomoe-Nage I feel really embodies Jiu-Jitsu.  BJJ should be nearly effortless, I think.  A well executed technique uses physics in your favor with little expenditure of energy on your part. The dropping of your weight is one of the main forces at work in the Tomoe-Nage.  It is combined with the twisting motion as you go down to position your opponent onto your leg.  As the momentum continues with your guidance the throw feels very natural and powerful.  I also felt a lot of control with it.  I could throw into mount or into a arm bar.  The Tomoe-Nage has become my favorite throw.  As shown in the video above there are variations to it.  Its versatile and I plan on adding it to my throw/takedown arsenal in all its many forms.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu