The Biggest Loser and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

I like to say often that Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu.  Its true.  It is integrated into my life.  I find applications for it in many aspects of my life other then self defense and sport.  That is just one of the reasons I love it so much.  Last nights class went well.  I set a few goals for my self to focus on and I met about half of them.  I even got my new favorite sweep, the Balloon sweep.  It was on a white belt but none the less enjoyable.  I tapped out a fellow blue belt, that had surprised me last class with a guard pass, with a Triangle Choke as repayment.  I felt good after class and came away with points to improve on.  After I got home I was getting cleaned up and putting my gi in the wash when I stopped to see the TV program my wife was watching.  It was the last few minutes of The Biggest Loser.  They were going to show the interview of the last person kicked off.  I always like to see the success they have and stopped to watch.  To my surprise the guy hadn’t been able to do the gym.  He said it wasn’t "clicking" for him.  He had come to a realization he needed a life style change. He opted to start martial arts.  They showed him walking into a school with a large billboard that read "Gracie Jiu Jitsu".  I was excited to see BJJ on TV.  I couldn’t think of a better life style change.  I was sure they would show him grappling.  In stead they only showed him doing Muay Thai.  I was stunned.  At the very end under his picture it said he was training in Jiu-Jitsu for his first belt.  Why then didn’t they show him doing Jiu-Jitsu instead of Muay Thai?  What ever the case I was glad to see that BJJ was changing another life for good.  I hope he continues and experiences the catharsis I have from BJJ.

Relson, Renzo, and Rener Gracie TheFightWorksPodCast.com Interviews

I like listening to BJJ podcasts when I’m traveling or waiting around.  I have a ample supply ready to go at all times on my iPhone.  TheFightWorksPodCast.com is my favorite place for BJJ podcast radio.  I just finished #189 (Relson Starts the Controversy), #190 (Renzo’s rebuttal), and #191 (Rener’s follow up to the Renzo’s rebuttal).  I have to say that when all was said I think they each had some valid points and flaws.  Some of the things that bothered me where Relson’s insistence on not having butterfly and spider guard.  He wanted to stick with what he was taught and it was pure in his opinion.  I think BJJ evolves.  Isn’t that what made it great?  Helio and Rolls, from my understanding in the 3 interviews, took traditional Jiu-Jitsu and made it into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  There is a distinction for a reason.  If Relson doesn’t want change that is a warning signal to me.  Another interesting note was that stalling in tournaments is because Relson feels the rules are wrong.  They allow for it.  But Rener seemed to be saying that Helio survived because he waited out his opponent and conserved his energy for the key time to attack.  Relson created tournament rules that don’t allow for stalling.  Renzo accused him of doing it so his "kids" could win.  Renzo also was more then willing to fight it out and put his money where his mouth is.  Val Tudo!  Hahaha, those were the days.  But no one wants to see infighting between the Gracies.  I don’t think it will ever come to that.  Just some family squabbles as it gets bigger with each generation.  In time I wonder if they will be to large for it to be a "family business".  This is my opinion from what I listened to.  Please share yours with me.

Gracie Family Tension Shows BJJ History

I just finished listening to the Renzo Gracie interview done by Caleb of FightWorksPodcast.com (#190) on November 29th, 2009.  For a white or blue belt it gave some very important history right from the horses mouth.  For example, I never knew about Rolls.  I didn’t know really about anyone but Heilo. 

Renzo talks about proving the superiority of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu by fighting it out.  Its dojo wars!  He talks about street fighting with another school that was talking trash about the Gracies.  The Gracies of course "beat the crap out of everybody there" as Renzo put it.  This took place in Brazil.  I think it very unlikely that he would follow through with going after Relson when he says "So don’t force me one day to do a visit, because I will do it."  But he seems angry enough to do it.  Maybe it would end up in the ring but not a street fight.  Val Tudo was part of the rise of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the spirit of it seems very much alive in Renzo.  But I’m getting the cart before the horse.  What started all this was the interview with Relson Gracie (#189).  Relson made some claims about his school that inflamed Renzo.  I won’t ruin it for you and let you listen to them.  As I think on them I’ll have more to post.

Submission Master Grappling Dummy Taps Out For Me

submission-master-in-triangle

I recently purchased a Submission Master Grappling Dummy to help improve my BJJ technique.  I have done a couple review posts: Review of The Submission Master Grappling Dummy Part 1, Submission Master Grappling Dummy Review – Assembling of the Dummy, Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling along with a contest to name my dummy in which I will be giving away a free Sprawl rash guard to the winner: Name My Submission Master Grappling Dummy Contest.

I have to say I am really enjoying my Submission Master.  I keep it in my office with me and when I need a break from my work I practice a few chokes or combinations on it.  I now have a lunch time drill routine that I do with it too.  If you haven’t seen a Submission Master before then go to GrapplingDummy.com and check it out.  They have some good demonstration videos on the side.

Yes, the price might make you see cross-eyed for a bit.  It took me a good while to save up for mine.  But BJJ is what I do.  I want to do it even when I’m not at class.  I used to Fly Fish until I had kids.  Its not practical to go off Fly Fishing all the time any more and BJJ costs less.  Some people put there cash into computers, and others into cars.  I put mine in BJJ.

Never Under Estimating Your Opponent

Last night during BJJ practice I got to roll with one of our younger members, Robert.  He looks to be 13 and has a wiry frame.  Now I weigh about 210 lbs and stand at 6’ 2”.  Robert on the other hand might blow away if he didn’t turn sideways into the wind.  I of course wanted to be nice and give him a chance to learn.  What I didn’t think about was why Mark, our instructor, had asked him to start attending the adult class.  I under estimated my opponent.  Our match started out typical.  Robert couldn’t move me and after some friendly exchanges I decided to put him in spider guard.  Its all a blur from there.  The next thing I knew Robert had me in a excellent ankle lock and was applying the pressure.  As he put it on I wasn’t to worried.  I figured he couldn’t apply the needed pressure to make me tap.  After all my ankle alone is thicker then his arm.  I was wrong again.  Robert tapped me out and without me handing it to him on a silver platter.  We both knew he had the submission fair and square.  The smile on his face showed he would reliving this one in his mind for some time.  Robert showed me what Helio Gracie has said all along.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was designed so the little guy could submit much larger opponents.  Kept at it Robert you may be the next Helio Gracie some day.

Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling

Its assembled and I’ve started drilling with it.  The first thing I noticed was how hard the floor is.  I don’t have a mat.  I have been thinking about if I should even get one.  I like some real world or practical application of BJJ.  If I got in a street fight I will use my Jiu Jitsu training but I doubt there will be a mat.  The next thing I noticed is that when I tried a Kimura it doesn’t feel right.  The structure of the Submission Master’s arm is a arch with no true joints.  At first I didn’t like this but then I realized it felt more like a arm that is trying to do a escape.  It gave me a different perspective on my Kimura technique and how to apply it.  The next thing I tried was the Triangle Choke.  This hurt at first because the dummy is so hard.  I didn’t realize how soft real humans are.  I worked my Triangle and figured out something new I hadn’t noticed before.  I posted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Submission Techniques – The Triangle and gave tips and tricks on improving your Triangle.  I now can add to that getting the knee of the leg around the neck above the neck.  I have also found that just moving it around, it is 70 lbs, breaks me into a sweat.  It doesn’t do infinity drills so you have to reset some drills to do it over.  But for the most part you can do Arm Bars, Triangles, Kimuras, and other submissions over and over on each side.  For Cross Body and Mount work you sit or lay very high.  You don’t have a soft gut to lay into.  I also can’t hook the legs (grapevines) in mount.  What it comes down to is its no full substitute for a person but it does very well for what it is intended.  So far I really like it and feel it is money well spent.  It is true the $560 price tag is high but it sure beats the home made version I’ve seen on YouTube.com.  I think the only true competitor in its class is the Bubba.  I didn’t choose the Bubba because it didn’t sit up in guard, it looks light weight, and flimsy.  I’m going to start trying some escapes and sweeps on it tomorrow and see how they go.

No-Gi vs. Gi – Part 3

In my two previous blogs, Why Am I Writing about Gi vs. No-Gi and No-Gi vs. Gi – Part 2 I blogged about my theory and experience with the gi and no-gi.  Today I came across a quote from Royler Gracie that supports my thoughts.  He said in his book Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Submission Grappling this: “I strongly recommend that everyone who is going to learn submission grappling train with a gi before taking the gi off.  There are many reasons for this.  The gi makes you more technical because it forces you to concentrate on the details and posture. . . Then once you attain a certain level of proficiency, take off the gi, and start to train submission grappling, you find it easy to adapt your techniques to the lack of a gi.  However, if  the opposite occurs – you learn to train without the gi and then someday need to fight with a gi – you will have great difficulty dealing with your opponent’s level of control over you.” (pg. 6)  He later even adds “I train with a gi most of the time. . . . I trained jiu-jitsu for thirty-four years and only took off the gi in 1996 when I fought in the Vale-Tudo Open in Japan . . .” (pg. 6-7).  So my observations and theory are verified by Royler Gracie.  You should start in the gi and only go to no-gi after you have reached a level of proficiency.

Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Part 1

So you have figured out that the wife or girlfriend isn’t you best choice for practicing your grappling with when you are away from class.  The next thing you think of is a grapping dummy.  That is just what I did.  I began looking at everything they had out there.  The first thing was to distinguish between a throwing dummy and a grappling dummy.  Once I had that sorted out there were a few contenders, Make-My-Own, Bubba, Grapple Man, and the Submission Master. I decided that making my own was a waste.  Even though there were instructions on making one out there, I just didn’t think it would come out right for me.  Of the pre-manufactured dummies  Bubba was the cheapest, then Submission Master, and last Grapple Man.  I decided on the Submission Master.  It will sit up in guard and the arms will hold position.  The Grapple man, although the most life like, was far to expensive and limp as a wet noodle.  The Bubba although cheaper just didn’t have the stance that the Submission Master did.  I could only find the Bubba on eBay and not for a real discount.  So I ordered the Submission Master and it is due to arrive tomorrow.  The process of ordering it was very haphazard.  The site is poor and when they sent me the UPS tracking number it was incorrect.  So far I don’t have to much faith in the company that is selling them.  Lets hope the product is as good as I think it is.

Once I follow the break in instructions and start to really use the Submission Master I will do a review on it and let you know if it is really worth the money. 

Here are the Reviews I have done so far:

  1. Submission Master Grappling Dummy Review – Assembly of the Dummy
  2. Name My Submission Master Grappling Dummy Contest
  3. Review of The Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling
  4. Submission Master Grappling Dummy Taps Out For Me
  5. How To Use The Submission Master Grappling Dummy To Increase Muscle Memory

Recovering From Injury In BJJ or MMA

Royler Gracie said in his book Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Submission Grappling Techniques, “Over the years, I have learned that one of the most important things you  can do is to allow your body and mind to rest.  The natural tendency is to simply ignore the body’s messages.” (pg. 23)

I have seen a guy dislocate a elbow and be back in class the next week.  The addiction to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that strong.  I have seem people training with a broken toe and sprained ankle.  I myself tore my MCL.  I sat out for about a month and a half.  My instructor told me to come during my injury and take notes.  I just could not.  I can not stand to just watch.  I tense up.  I want to be in the action. 

We have to fight another battle when we are injured in BJJ, MMA, or another martial art.  The battle to allow ourselves to recover physically.  Winning one battle doesn’t usually win the war either.  There is the mental rest we need too.  As much as we would like to spend all our time on grappling, take downs, arm bars, and chokes we need to give ourselves some mental rest too.

Royler also says farther down the page “Grappling is not a sport that you need to train for every day all day.  In fact, some of my top students prefer to train only a few days a week – except of course when competition nears.”  I find that two days a week is enough for me.  I put in only two and a half hours of physical training and the same for mental training.  It takes me the rest of the week to heal from bruises, pulled muscles, and other injuries throughout the week.  If I let myself think about Jiu Jitsu I’d do it all the time too.  I find that when I reset my mind it helps me to better absorb what I learn.  It all comes down to all things in moderation, even BJJ or MMA.

Top 5 Secrets to Holding the Mount Position

So you are getting better at your sweeps and escapes and you are finding yourself gaining the mount position more and more often.  But you can’t seem to stay on.  Your opponent bumps you right off.  Here are some secrets to keeping that position long enough to make the submission.

  1. Get up under the arm pits.  Don’t sit up back on the guys hips.  You are sitting on his most powerful lever.  Move up by lifting his elbows and sliding your legs under.
  2. Lower your point of gravity. Don’t sit straight up like you are a cowboy in the saddle.  You want your weight to help hold the person in place. Use your free arms for base.
  3. Lock your legs.  Some people call this “grapevines”.  It involves getting hooks around your opponents legs.  Usually this also has you with your arms out forming the base.  If you can’t hook the legs, another option is crossing your legs under the buttock.  This gives you more stability.
  4. Let the storm pass.  When you first get someone in mount they are going to upa and try to escape.  No one wants to be in mount.   It makes them panic. They will throw everything they have at you to get out.  But in time they will tire and the storm will pass.  If you ride it out before attempting a submission you will have had some time to rest.  Now that they are wore down it is time to look for a submission.
  5. Keep your dominance while looking for the submission.  You opponent my be tired now, frustrated, or even ready to give up but don’t sacrifice your base for the submission.  You can still keep yourself forward under the arm pits and your legs locked.  You could even switch to a forward side mount that gives you more room to look for that coke or arm bar.  Just don’t fool yourself thinking that you can easily cherry pick a submission now.  Maintain your base while looking for the submission.