High on BJJ

With every low must come a high.  The surprising things is I’ve missed a lot of class due to everything from family to sickness.  I’ve spent time doing solo drills with my Submission Master Grappling Dummy, which has helped, but nothing can be a complete substitute for live submission grappling.  Despite it all I’ve done great when I have made it to class.  I’m feeling high on BJJ.

Last night I sat out with something pulled in my back.  I thought about staying home but I really wanted to be there.  I missed the comradery.  I missed my Jiu-Jitsu family and the fun I have with them each week.  I sat and watched.  I found myself tensing up during different parts of the training.  During the rolling I wanted to be in the action.  I wanted to call out submissions, sweeps, and escapes I saw that others didn’t.  It was about as good as a suspenseful movie!

Today I was asked to substitute for Miles and teach the free High School class.  We are going over sweeps.  I want to do some simple but effective sweeps.  I have a few in mind but any suggestions from my readers would be appreciated.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Submission Master Grappling Dummy – My Life-Line to Jiu-Jitsu

I’ve reviewed and written a number of posts on the Submission Master Grappling Dummy.  I get a lot of questions along the lines of "its it really worth the money"?  I have always answered "yes"!  This week only served to strengthen that.  I’m a dedicated father and family man.  Its not uncommon to have conflicts with my training schedule.  This week was back-to-school week for my kids.  I had open houses to attend and last minute school shopping.  Needless to say I missed class this week but I had my Submission Master to save the day.  My grappling dummy has more then once become my life-line to Jiu-Jitsu.  After the kids were in bed, I broke out my new favorite training DVD Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt Requirements: Gateway to the Advanced Game by Roy Dean and started working over Zed (my grappling dummy).  In no time I had worked up a good sweat.  I went over techniques at my own pace.  I formulated some new solo drills based off what I was learning from Roy Dean.  I got in some really good reps on some of the techniques I’d learned last week in class.

The Submission Master helps me keep my skills sharp when I can’t go to class.  It helps me work out new ideas I have.  It never complains or gets hurt.  One negative side affect though is its rough.  When working with the Submission Master for a extended amount of time remember to wear a rash guard.  If you don’t then try my solution to gi burn from my post "Gi Burn Be Gone".  It works great for me.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

What Do I Want From Jiu-Jitsu, Sport vs Street?

I read John Will’s Tactical  BJJ Grappling For Life eBook this week and I’ve been thinking a lot about sport BJJ vs street BJJ.  I started training in BJJ because I wanted exercise (I sit at a office all day) and because I wanted to be able to defend myself and family in this increasingly violent world.  After reading John’s eBook I began to think to much of my training is sport.  This fulfills my exercise requirement but falls short on my defense.  If I were in a street fight I think I would still win because I am considering before hand what my game plan would be.  For instance,  I will only want to go for submissions that choke out or destroy limbs and joints.  What good is a bicep cutter in a street fight?  I also should take into consideration that just because I destroy his arm in a arm bar doesn’t mean the fight is over.  What about fighting more then one person at a time?  John gives some ideas.  I think I would consider a tactical retreat if I was by myself.  I am beginning to think that a little Muay Thai would help with what I know about striking martial arts.  Jim from Jim’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Journal said that one of the factors that made him quit Jiu-Jitsu was "what I was learning was more how to counter my classmates than how to fight".  I think that I get out of Jiu-Jitsu what I want from it.  If I want more street practical training then that should be my focus.  I’ll never give up BJJ.  I’m too addicted.  I just think its time for some tuning of my focus.

5 Tips to Overcoming Claustrophobia In BJJ

There is nothing like being in North South with someone’s chest on your face to give claustrophobia or the fear of being suffocated.  You feel enclosed.  You are breathing hot moist air.  You desperately want to get out.  The next thing you know is your heart starts racing and your breathing with it.  What do you do to overcome this?  Here are the 5 tips I’ve gleamed and have started working on:

  1. Relax.  Easier said then done!  But I’ve found that I can reduce my anxiety by first reminding myself this isn’t life or death.  If it was he wouldn’t be staying on me in this position long before I took a huge bit out of his chest.  Think about something that will help you relax.  I try to think of something warm I like wrapped around me like a blanket.
  2. Control your breathing.  Once again, easier said then done!  If your opponent isn’t going to move then take that time to slow your breathing.  Chances are that is what he is doing too, resting.
  3. Find something to help you practice over coming it.  I have found that the hot moist air bothers me the most.  I can simulate that under a thick quilt.  I try to stay under longer each time.  I’m starting to develop more tolerance for the feeling.
  4. Improve your escapes.  If you have one that you get in all the time that causes you to feel claustrophobic then what better motivation to become a expert at getting out of it.
  5. Create Space.  When you are on the bottom that’s your job anyway.  It doesn’t have to be enough to escape at first.  You may do it just to get situated to wait for your opponents next move.  It may be just to make your opponent uncomfortable.  When you are moving around even a little you start to find pockets of comfort I’ve discovered.  If you stay still your situation is one dimensional.  Open up some other options for yourself by “wiggling” around.

Now not all cases of claustrophobia I understand are physical like mine.  Some require expert help.  I don’t presume to solve all cases in this post.  I’m just trying to as they say, cherry pick,  the easiest.  This is what is working for me.  I hope it helps you too.

    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.

    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.

    No-gi vs. Gi – Part 2

    In my post “Why Am I Writing About Gi vs. No-gi”  I talked about the differences between the two in my opinion and how I was going to but my thoughts to the test.  I did compete in a No-gi tournament.  I did lose and it was not for the reason I would have expected.  I couldn’t get the guy to let go of my wrists and I showed forth some really poor escape technique.  I was also very unprepared for the intensity with which I was meet.  I was too relaxed about it.  The match went like this: After some grappling back and forth he got both his hands around my neck and we just sunk into guard position.  I quickly passed his guard and got him in cross body.  This is when I couldn’t get him to let go of my wrists.  I transitioned in a upper cross body and worked his legs.  I made a nice smooth transition to mount and began looking for a arm bar.  I was in complete control at this time.  I was up 7 zip, then things went bad.  He managed to get a hold of my wrist on one side and with a nice upa rolled me over.  I escaped being mounted by pushing him right over me.  Before I could completely turn around he hit me broad side and fell into mount on me.  It was tied up at that point.  I could have still won but I made a sad attempt at escape from mount and then I make the critical mistake of turning on my side giving him a easy arm bar.  I was especially upset with myself after seeing the video when I realized I didn’t try a hitch-hiker escape.  I didn’t try any escape.  It was a sloppy arm bar too.  I was stunned by the speed of everything and the intensity.  Do I feel No-gi is a subset of Gi still?  Yes.  Do I feel you should train Gi first and then No-gi still? Yes.  Will I do another No-gi tournament?  Yes!  But not before I have a few classes to get the feel for the speed and bump up my intensity.  All BJJ rocks!  I learned a lot from that 3.5 minutes on the mat.  Just like when Helio Gracie came away from losing to Kimura.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    The Secret to Winning Jiu Jitsu

    What is the secret to winning Jiu Jitsu? I am amazed at what I discover every time I go to train with a open mind.  Let me share with you one of the latest things I’ve learned.  As a white belt I was a white belt.  I couldn’t over come someone higher then me unless I got lucky or so I thought.  When I got my blue belt all the sudden it was as if I came alive.  My instructor commented on how impressed he was with how I was doing after my promotion.  I was very happy and excited.  Then something happened.  I blogged about it in Jiu Jitsu Mind Block – In The Slump and Jiu Jitsu Learning Curve – What To Expect.  I hit a wall.  I just couldn’t do anything.  I was reduced to holding guard for dear life.  I got a lot of good advice and it helped me pull out of it.  In the process of pulling out I learned a secret to winning at Jiu Jitsu.  Its all in your head.  I was my own worst enemy.  I was limiting myself by my belief in myself.  I was to worried about my ego.  I didn’t want to lose so I couldn’t take a chance to win.  Once I took all the good advice I was given things started to change.  I relaxed and enjoyed myself, win or lose.  The next thing I knew I was back on my game.  As I rolled techniques flowed and I found myself in mount more often then being mounted.  It all came together last night at class.  I went up against another blue belt I had never meet before.  Instead of trying to size him up or let thoughts enter my mind of what my chances would be of winning I just rolled.  I dominated.  I was not able to submit him but he spent 80% of his time with me mounted on him.  He finally tapped as I was setting up a arm bar that felt like it would have brought his tap anyway.

    Jiu Jitsu is about battling on two fronts, the physical and mental.  Using them together in proper form and balance is the secret to BJJ.

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Submission Techniques – The Triangle Choke

    I’ve been studying the Triangle Choke in order to improve my success ratio with it.  By teaching you retain and learn better yourself.  I hope by sharing with you what I found out we both benefit.

    To start with I reviewed the Triangle Choke in four different books and two different videos along with instruction I received in class.  The books I used were:

    The videos I looked at where:

    Here are the keys to locking down a successful Triangle from my study.

    1. You don’t want the leg over the neck to be on the shoulders at all.  The leg on the neck must be only on the neck and tight against it with the leg perpendicular to the line of the neck.  You are making a cross.  As you position your leg across the neck you don’t have to worry about them slipping out because you have control of the arm.   Here is a video that illustrates my point: Flying Triangle Choke.  He does get the Triangle but its a sloppy one and had the guy not panicked I think he could have worked his way out.
    2. Your hips should align with his neck.  You are creating a collar.  If your hips are to far past his neck or below you are creating space that keeps you from locking.  Walk your shoulders out or in to get your hips under his neck.
    3. Get the arm across.  Eddie Bravo is the odd man our that doesn’t move the arm across the body.  Control of the arm and its position are critical to the success of the Triangle.
    4. Grab your shin not your foot when pulling the leg across the neck forward to get it perpendicular .  The instinct is to grab the foot.  This puts pressure on your own ankle.  It is better to grab the shin which is solid and not give yourself a sprain or ankle lock.  If you can’t sit up enough to get the shin your hips may be not be aligned correctly.
    5. Angle your hips to get the strangle.  You do this by pulling your upper body to one side or at the same time you hook the leg over the neck.
    6. Lock the leg over where your knee bends while pointing up the toes.  If your Triangle technique is correct you should be able to drop your other leg over the leg across the neck.  This completes the Triangle.  I’ve found that sometimes you don’t even need to get the lock in place if it is correct.  Your arm pulling on your shin with the leg correctly over and tight against the neck can have the same effect as the lock.
    7. Squeeze the legs together, lift the hips,  and pull the head down to get the submission.  Once the lock is in place if that isn’t enough to make them tap then add the fine tuning to put the hurt on fast.
    8. Sweep a stack!  If he starts stacking forward reach over and hook his leg opposite the arm that is in the Triangle.  You have control of his head and arm making his base only one leg.  You have now locked his leg and what can he do as you push with your hips against his upper body?  He will fall over and maybe you will end up in a mounted triangle.  Talk about going from the frying pay into the fire for him.