How to do the Single Leg Take Down or Shot

You have watched others do the single leg takedown or shot. Here it is step by step. As you watch it you will catch things you didn’t know or need to improve on. It has been viewed over 159,000 times on YouTube.

The Fastest Way to BJJ Black Belt

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts
From white belt all the way up to black in order.

Every student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has the desire to get a black belt.  The truth is the highest drop out rate is from blue to purple.  I can attest to that.  I’m struggling right now toward my purple belt.  The longer you take the harder it is to achieve it.  So many things can get in the way.  Of the black belts I know 6 years was the fastest and 12 years the longest.  BJJ is truly a life long pursuit of skill, excellence, and enjoyment of the sport.  But why does it take so long?  Roger Gracie’s first black belt Nicolas Gregoriades claims his book The Black Belt Blue Print will help you maximize you BJJ training and get it in 4 years.  That sounded a bit fantastical to me but with Roger Gracie, Roy Dean, Braulio Estima, and Eddie Bravo endorsing the book its really hard to dismiss it as a day dream.  This last year saw my return to BJJ.  I am in a stall right now.  The book is less than a hours private lesson.  I have got to make it over the hump and to my next level of achievement.  I will get the book and give it a try.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Pedro Sauer Online Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training


I got an e-mail the other day inviting me to renew my membership with the Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association (PSBJJA).  They are touting a new online training regimen.  As an incentive to get me back they are offering “Advanced Membership” which includes the full online curriculum techniques .  The catch is I pay $50 for the first year and then it goes up to $150 the next for full access.  I had a very difficult time just getting my membership.  They were kind and gave me extra time for the long delay.  I blogged about it in my post My Membership in the Pedro Sauer Assoc.  So I have to wonder how buggy this online web application might be.  Is it worth my money?  I would suggest that they give away a limited access 10 day trial first.  I would be willing to try that and review it on my blog.  If I find it to be worth the price I will sign up but without some better taste of what they offer, $50 just is not worth it.  I will get a BJJ training DVD instead.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Lung Capacity and Breathing Training Mask for BJJ


In June 2012 I wrote a post entitled “Increasing Your Lung Capacity and Breathing for Better BJJ”  I talked about Freediving methods that are used to increase lung capacity and breathing patterns.  I showed a small training device I was using called a Ultrabreathe Compact Breathing Exerciser.  The other day at BJJ class I saw one of the guy wearing a High Altitude Training Mask (a.k.a. Elevation Training Mask) as shown in the picture.  I was fascinated when I realized the advantages of the design over what I was using.  Here is a comparison:

  1. The mask can be warn during a work out to increase effectiveness of its resistance.
  2. The mask stays on your face and you do not get a tired jaw like I did with the Ultrabreathe.
  3. The masks breathing settings do not change.  My Ultrabreathe has a dial and can easily be bumped or changed.  I am constantly have to adjust it to where I need it.
  4. One down side to the mask.  It is twice as expensive as the Ultrabreathe.
  5. The mask comes in different colors and has replaceable valves.
  6. It looks as easy to clean as the rest of my BJJ gear.

I think I am going to have to get one and then write a review on it.  If you have had any experience with them please let me know your findings.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Thank You Mark Johnson – BJJ Instructor and Mentor


I have been training at West Side for 2+ years now.  BJJ has always been there for me because Mark Johnson has kept it alive.  I left and came back.  I found the same great school and instructor I had left.  The welcoming environment and friendships have never failed.

I recognize the passion Mark has for his dojo, his students, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  He has said it before, its not about money.  If that were the case he would have dropped it years ago.  Mark makes BJJ possible for me and enjoyable.

I just want to reach out and say thank you, Mark.  Thank you for the fun, the technique, the friendship, and so much more.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Simple Body Mechanics – Hips 1

Cross Choke from Mount – Pedro Sauer

The other day in class we were working on a cross choke from mount.  The exact technique is shown in this video by Pedro Saurer.  We were working from a position in between what Roger Gracie is showing in the below video and what Pedro Saurer is showing.  It was almost more an S-Mount.

Cross Choke from Mount – Roger Gracie

Both videos give instruction on how to avoid the reversal.  Neither show the concept I want to point out for my Simple Body Mechanics on Hips.  I am a blue belt at present and would never presume to tell two world class black belts what is better technique.  I only want to illustrate at my level what feels best for me.  I will explain how the hips play into it at the end.  First of all I feel like doing the side mount Pedro uses would lose me my position.  It is more advance technique then I have mastered.  I like how Roger Gracie is in mount with his feet cupped on the hips.  You see him finish in competition with this technique.  It has what Pedro points out in his video a good opening for reversal.  I learned in class that if you are being reversed with your hands in the choke all you need do is cross you feet in guard style behind his hips and press them to you below yours.  The end result is the sweep or escape that was going to be a reversal stalls with you both on your side and the guy who was on bottom is now paralyzed and unable to move. You simply finish the choke.  How is he unable to sit up in guard you are wondering?  I was too.  As I went over it in my mind I realized you have to get your knees under you to sit up in guard.  To do that you must bend at a 90 degree angle at the hips.  We always hear about controlling the hips.  The Simple Body Mechanics of the hips is you have to bend to sit up.  If you cannot bend you cannot sit up.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

How Do You Toughen Skin to Stop Getting Skinned Toes


I skinned by toes at Jiu-Jitsu last night.  The picture says it all.  How do I toughen up the skin to stop it from happening?  I got a smaller one on my other foot a month ago.  I did not do anything with it and when the scab fell off the skin around it was leathery and has not sustained any damage since.  But I do not want to be reactive.  I want to be proactive and toughen the skin up especially on my toes before it happens.  As you know feet are sensitive and I would rather not have to deal with sores on them all the time.  I guess I could just tape them but I would rather build up a callus or get the skin tough.  I do not want to have to remember to put the tape on before rolling.  I have noticed with other cuts that when I used hydrogen peroxide a tough pseudo type of callus is formed by the skin it kills around the cut.  I am going to try that this time.

I have looked at other posts.  Here are some of the ideas they give:

  1. Rubbing Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Liquid Bandage like New-Skin.
  3. Vinegar.
  4. Going bare foot or wearing flip flops all the time to dry out and expose your feet to ware.
  5. Wear socks

Please share with me anything you do that helps build up the skin on you feet.  I would like to hear that there is a better solution then just suffering the pain of slowly building calluses by skinning every inch of my feet.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

The West Side Band of Brothers in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

West Side Tue Class 14-MAY-2013 (1)West Side Tue Class 14-MAY-2013 (2)

I was going to title this post, “What do you do when someone intentionally tries to hurt you in class”.  But that just did not seem very catchy.  I have been hurt and seen others hurt.  Through all of it, I know of only one time someone intentionally did something to cause injury.  A visitor to class decided that thumbing the eyes was a valid technique.  The guy he did it too finished him with a triangle choke.  I have seen multiple times and been a recipient of  techniques gone wrong.  The first instinct is rage followed by retaliation.  Which leads to why I titled this blog “The West Side Band of Brothers in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”.  Do you see the picture at the top of this post?  It was from Tuesday’s night class.  We trained for the majority of the class.  We laughed, tapped, and submitted.  I keep nights like last night in mind,when I think I have been wronged.  I do not want that brotherhood to be broken.  So I check my anger, seek out the real reason for the pain and move on.  I am quick to make sure I do not cause offense and repair any that may be perceived.  As a general rule of thumb, everyone in BJJ that I have associated with has been the most genuine, friendly, caring, and amiable in character.  So let me end with this.  If you do not feel that way about the school you attend, like I do, find one you do.  You can always come join us.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

The Triangle Choke and Agile Development

I am a software developer.  We use SCRUM as our agile development methodology.  I hope I have not lost your interest already.  A Retrospective meeting is used to look back on our last period of work and think over what went well and what we could improve on.  I realized the agile development process can be applied to more then software development last week after Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class.  I was thinking about how I done in class trying to get the Triangle choke.  I realized I was starting to hold my own Retrospective.  Here are the results of it:

Triangle Choke

What did I do well?

  • I remembered to shoulder walk
  • I pulled him down with my legs and broke his posture
  • I remembered to hold the back of his head
  • I remembered the steps. I threatened the triangle and then tried to lock.
  • I grabbed my shin and not my ankle.

What could I have done better?

  • I forgot to frame when he stacked me.
  • While holding his head I should have tried to lock faster or used both hands to control the head.
  • I could not get the lock quite on and tried prematurely to get the angle.

We each I think do some kind of evaluation of your efforts in training.  Some of us have our own tried and tested methods that have paid off.  Some of are learning to organize and work out systems for improvement.  I thought I would share this simple example of a Retrospective to help those who are looking for a methodology.

After you roll or whatever you are doing that you want to improve on follow these steps: 

  1. Find a place you can think without interruption.
  2. With your pad and pencil write at the top “What did I do well?” and about half way down “What could I have done better?”.
  3. Start filling them out as you replay in your mind what you have done keeping these questions in mind.

When you are done you will have or should have clear goals or concepts to act on.  After your next roll, lesson, or whatever it may be that you used your action plan in, hold another Retrospective with yourself.  It is part of continual improvement.  Do not be to hard on yourself.  Look for improvement not perfection instantly.  Your continued steady improvement will lead to mastery of the submission, sweep, or escape you are working on.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Back On The Mat and Removing The Cobwebs

Last night was the first night back to BJJ after a 2 year sabbatical.  It was great.  I felt like turning in my blue belt for a white again though.  My technique was rusty but in some ways it was like ridding a bike.  The old moves and feelings came flooding back.  I am hoping to be in the swing of things again in a few months time.  I remember Blake saying after returning from an extended absence due to an injury that it all comes back quickly after a short while.

What changed and what stayed the same about West Side?  There was a lot of new faces and they were all as friendly as can be.  All the old faces had new colored belts and they were just as fun to roll with as I remembered.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu