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.

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 High Percentage Submission BJJ and MMA Techniques

Everyone loves to see the Flying Triangle or the Flying Arm Bar.  They are spectacular.  But how often are they used and what percent of submission come from them?  Lets face it, not many.  The guy who wins the most matches in BJJ or MMA has good solid skills in the basics.  The secret to high percentage submissions is simplicity.  The more steps there are to a submission the longer it takes to set up and the more likely it will fail.  If a submission takes 4 steps to work, it only needs one to go wrong and fail.  A example of a high percentage sweep that comes to mind is the Hip Bump Sweep described in Jiu Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro.  It is simple to master and very efficient in execution.  If I were to give it a percentage I’d say 85% of the time I get it.  In the submission category the first one that I think of is what I call The Giant Johnson.  It is done from cross body.  You are on top and you arms are over you opponent and below his arms.  You simple reach under his arm and around his head and lock your hands together.  You now have a blood choke on him with his own arm and yours on the other side.  Simple and quick!  That is where the high percentage techniques come from.

You know the old saying “Keep is simple stupid”.  I can’t think of a better application for it then in Jiu Jitsu and MMA.

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.

BJJ A “Gentle Art”! Don’t You Watch UFC!

I’ve taken some flak about a few of my posts where I call BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) a “Gentle Art”.  It seems to insult some people to think of BJJ as “Gentle” in any way shape or form.  Don’t get me wrong, BJJ is deadly and it is all in how you use it.  Arm bars can be used to tear a arm from the join or to cause significant pain and threat  for a submission.   You see BJJ used in UFC fights all the time.  It is part of a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters standard skill set and for good reason.

A punch or kick is only a split second in time and the damage is done.  With BJJ and grappling its different.  You have time once the technique is in place.  Do I choke them to death or just out?  Do I dislocate their elbow or do I just bend it enough to hear them yell “UNCLE”.  I say BJJ has a gentle side only because you can decide to be gentle.  Its like Spock’s famous Vulcan Nerve Pinch.  What is to stop Spock from killing you or letting you come out of it once you have been pinched?  In my post “How To Use The Rear Naked Choke” I think my point is made in graphic detail.  Watch the video and you tell me if the security guard wasn’t using BJJ to be gentle.  Then check out this video with Grayson Greener.  Grayson doesn’t immediately destroy the guys shoulder.  He gives him time to tap out before he does the damage.  BJJ is about choice that is my argument related to being gentle.

 

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Jiu Jitsu

My daughter was 5 when I tried to get her started in BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu).  We would sit on the side line and watch.  Well, I would watch.  She wasn’t to interested.  I thought that after a while she might warm up to the other kids and join in.  After paying for 2 months of class and sitting on the side lines I decided this wasn’t working.  I gave up for a while.  Time passed and my daughter was ready to start kindergarten.  She loves school but has run into one of the usual troubles all little girls have to face, pesky boys.  I tried to explain to her that the boys rough behavior is their attempts to let her know they like her.  Of course my daughter was not convinced of that and wanted them to leave her along.  She complained that they could grab her arm or wrist and try to drag her away from her friends.  Suddenly the light came on and I saw my chance to introduce her to Jiu Jitsu.  We sat down together and I demonstrated the Single-Handed Wrist Grab and Two-Handed Wrist Grab.  They were easy to practice with her.  She was over come with delight when I explained to her how she should use them the next time one of the boys grabbed her to break their grip.  I also explained that she would not get in any trouble for using this to defend herself from their unwanted affections (which she still doesn’t believe is the case.  Icky-poo boys, who would like them.  Lets keep it that ways for a while anyway).

I applied Jiu Jitsu to a specific need she had.  Now she sees Jiu Jitsu in a whole new light.  I will continue to look for ways to sneak in techniques and training.  Given some more time we will try the kids class again.  If it takes this time, not only will she like it, she should have a head start on it.

I recommend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Theory and Technique by Renzo and Royler Gracie.  It has the wrist grabs and other basic techniques you can show your your future little champ.

Top Five Things To Look For In a Martial Arts Instructor

  1. Friendly.  You want someone that wants to teach not be idolized.  Remember you are paying them for a service not becoming their peon.
  2. Knowledgeable.  Check the instructors credentials.  Just because they say they are a black belt doesn’t mean they are.  Call the school that they claim awarded them their belt.
  3. Dedicated.  Does the instructor teach on a regular basis or are you paying for a lay person to teach you.  If that is the case maybe the instructors priorities are in line with yours.
  4. Organized.  Your instruction shouldn’t be haphazard or random in his instruction.  Your instructor should have a development plan that takes you from white up to his belt level.
  5. Mentoring.  You want a instructor that takes person interest in you and your development.  You have individual needs to improve and succeed.  Your instructor should be sensitive to this and help you grow.

It is very important that if you are starting out you start out on the right foot.  There plenty of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and Martial Art schools out there that will take your money.  The trick is finding the cream of the crop.  You want the most bang for your buck.  Martial Arts should be fun and rewarding.  Don’t settle for less.

Why Am I Writing About Gi vs. No-Gi?

If you have been in BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) for anytime you will have heard the gi vs. no-gi debate.  So why am I writing about it?  Because I want to hear some real arguments for no-gi as your foundation technique. I see no-gi technique as a subset of gi (kimono) technique.  If you use a gi to train, you learn a larger set of techniques that can be applied on the street.  Its true people don’t go around in gis.  It is also true they don’t always wear shorts, short sleeve shirts, and are all sweaty.  Winter is coming on and your typical person will be wearing what?  A heavy coat and long pants.  These are a perfect substitution for a gi.

It is my opinion that first you should train in the gi and only after achieving a belt or two worry about doing no-gi.  You want to improve your arsenal with no-gi.  You want a solid base to start with.  That is why you start in gi and later add no-gi classes.

Not convinced?  You don’t fall into the pride category then like this blog entitled Be Proud, but Humble on Tap or Die suggests, I hope?  I am going to put my money where my mouth is and go to a no-gi tournament having never done no-gi.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  In the mean while, let me hear your side of the debate.