Four Steps to Obtainable Goals For BJJ

Did you set yourself resolutions at the beginning of the New Year?  Have you already fallen off the wagon?  Martin Rooney, a combat athlete trainer and author of Training for Warriors: The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout was interview on  He gave four steps for creating obtainable goals.

  1. Write them down.
  2. Set a time period.
  3. Be realistic. (You won’t make black belt in one year)
  4. Publish your goals.

I blogged about mine (written and published).  I think they are realistic.    But I forgot something very important.  I didn’t set dates to accomplish them.  I guess I’m going to have to reassess them.  I like Mr. Rooney’s analogy about driving.  You don’t go for a dive without a destination.  Why set a goal without a direction.  He gave another about three frogs on a log.  Two of the frog decide to jump off.  How many frogs are on the long?  It stumped Caleb, who was doing the interview.  Did it you?  The answer is 3.  Deciding isn’t the same as doing.  Mr. Rooney’s point was too many of us decide on a good course of action but never do it.  I think I’m guilty of that.  With a open ended time period I’ve got a the rest of my life time to meet my goals.  I’ll post the revised list with the time schedules.  Then I won’t end up being a frog on a log come January 2011.

Gracie’s and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Coming To America

No matter how many times you hear a story, if the teller is different each time you find out details that you have never hear before.  In the interview just recently done by entitled #195 Jiu-Jitsu Takes Roots in the USA they talked with Richard Bresler, one of the first students of Rorion Gracie, about when Rorion came to the United States.  Mr. Bresler was witness to the start of BJJ in the USA and even a roommate with Rorion until he got married.  Some of the highlights for me where when Mr. Bresler talked about training with Heilo, Rorion, Rickson, and Royler.  Can you imagine getting personal instruction from so many of the Gracie Family.  I’ll be luck if I get to meet a few of them let alone get personal training.  We know that at the beginning they were training out of a garage but did you know they had 5 garages going before Rorion got help from Mr. Bresler to buy his first school?  But I think the best part is how Mr. Bresler would go find fights for Rorion.  Rorion didn’t want to cause hatred.  He just wanted to show what BJJ could do.  So he sent out Richard to find and arrange fights.  If you want to hear some good BJJ history don’t miss this podcast.

How To Get Underhooks from Guard

The same night I hurt my thigh I learned a sweet technique from one of our purple belts named Chris.  Now I’m not the best at describing techniques but here it goes.

You have your opponent in Guard.  You opponent is laying on you with underhooks.  You want to get underhooks on him. I place my palms in his eye sockets.  I push him back and quickly with my right arm loop or swim around his arm and place a fist between our chests.  I draw back in my left arm.  The fist gives some space to turn my left elbow into the space created by the fist and place it between us.  Then I can swivel my left arm and get the first underhook.  Now I release my hold with my right arm and swim in for the second underhook.   I have reversed the underhook.  Its all about createing and maintaining space so that you can maneuver your arms.

I’m going to get a tripod so I can mount my iPhone or Flip UltraHD Camcorder and start creating videos of these with my Submission Master Grappling Dummy.  I’m a visual person and don’t do as well with text descriptions.

The Pain and Agony of Jiu-Jitsu

Last night I had a great time at class.  I lost a lot of rolls but got in some good sweeps.  It was the first time I did a Balloon Sweep.  I ended up stopping about 15 minutes shy of the full hour and a half because of a injury.  I don’t even know how I did it.  All of the sudden I couldn’t raise my left leg into a 90 degree position without a huge amount of pain at the top of my thigh.  I felt that I may have pulled it at the beginning of class but hadn’t noticed any pain until the end.

I love Jiu-Jitsu and I’ve decided I must love pain.  I keep getting hurt and I keep going back for more.  I try to heal fast enough to be ready for the next injury, be it a bruise, muscle pull, or sprain.  But in most cases they stack up until I have to stop and rest.

I tried some Badger Balm last night to help my sore muscle and some ibuprofen.  It didn’t do anything of significance.  I avoid aspirin knowing it only makes bruises worse.  What does the rest of the BJJ community use to help speed healing of muscle injuries?  Please share with me.  Any tips or tricks to help speed healing would be greatly appreciated.

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Using Mental Rehearsal or Visualization To Improve your Jiu-Jitus

I’ve been blogging a lot about throws and takedowns for use in BJJ.  I’ve ordered a few books and done some training in class.  But I don’t get enough physical practice.  I just don’t have the time or partner to do it as often as I would like.  In fact I’m still sore from the last class.  I was thinking about one of the winter Olympics where I saw a downhill skier practicing for the race with his eyes closed standing in place.  He was mentally going down the slope in his mind.  He would weave and bob as if going around turns.  I begin to wonder if I could do the same with techniques in BJJ.  I Googled to find out if there was a technique to it.  I found Improve Your Sport Performance with Visualization Techniques.  It was a quick read and reinforced what I was already thinking.  In fact I realized that each night after class when I am having trouble falling to sleeps its because I am doing just that, visualizing what I did in class, both the good and bad.  I find myself tense and twitching as I go over it.  With that in mind I have begun to consciously think through the throws I want to master.  I try to see it in my minds eye and feel it in my body as I go through the technique.  Will it improve my BJJ?  I think it already has.  Yes, its lead to some insomnia and hasn’t been well ordered but now that I recognize what I’m doing subconsciously I’ll stream line it.  If it works for Olympic champions it can work for me.

Marcelo Garcia Bares It All

No Marcelo is not becoming a centerfold.  But he is exposing his game.  Marcelo was interviewed on a while back.  He and a friend talked about his new website  I was interested when I learned that they had taken the approach of teaching as a chess master would in studying other masters games.  I was also very surprised that Marcelo would just allow every aspect of his game and technique to be public.  As I was thinking about it, I remembered a old boss of mine.  He would do classes for people on how to hang wallpaper.  I asked him one day, "Why? Don’t you lose business if they do it themselves?"  His reply was "No!  I get more business!  They go and try to do it feeling confident.  Only when they try they realize it takes more skill that is developed over time.  They then remember how well I did and call me."  Maybe it is the same way with Marcelo Garcia’s website.  If you stick with it long enough you should get skilled but if not . . . you might join his dojo or school.  I think I’m going to have to fork out the $25 for a month just to see what it is like.  I’ll be sure to share what I think of it.

Throw, Throw, Throw Again

Hip Throw, Double Leg takedown ("Baiana"),  Single Leg takedown, Seoi-Nage, and Osoto-Gari to name a few of the throws or takedowns employed in BJJ.  What do they have in common other then taking your opponent to the mat?  They take a lot of practice.  Last night we worked on take downs.  We started off by practicing how to land correctly.  It hurts when you slap that hand to the mat but its a lot less painful then landing incorrectly.  We then went into the 3 basic throws or takedowns used in BJJ.  First was the hip throw from a "T" position.  Next was a leg hook and driving back to take your opponent down.  Last but not least the foot behind the far foot of your opponent and sitting down.  They all look so simple, so why is it someone always gets hurt? We had a few minor injuries at class.  I think it is because we don’t practice them as much.  All the more reason to throw, throw, throw again.  After I tore my MCL I had a fear of throws and takedowns.  I decided I couldn’t let that ruin my love for Jiu-Jitsu.  Last night in class I got the chance to do the very takedown with my instructor that tore my MCL.  This time I was a experienced blue belt.  I didn’t make the mistakes I did before.  My fear is gone and I have a new love for throws in particular.  What changed my fear to enjoyment was my desire to over come adversity.  As with anything in BJJ you need to try, try, try again.  John B. Will said it best ". . . It is difficult to extend ourselves to the point of being uncomfortable, but the rewards can be more than worth the risks." (Rogue Black Belt – Book One, pg. 77)

Jiu-Jitsu and Changing Diapers

This is more of a funny post with a observation on how Jiu-Jitsu can be of daily us.  You see I’m a father of 3 and the youngest is just about to turn 2.  He is still in diapers.  On a holiday like today there will be no BJJ class and because I’m home I will get extra diaper duty.  As I am always trying to look on the bright side of life, I found that trying to change my wiggling son offered a chance to practice Jiu-Jitsu.  How you wonder?  As I tried to contain him I notice that I began by instinctively trying to control his hips.  All of the sudden I realized I could use his long sleeve shirt like a gi.  I quickly realized too that I should deprive him of his base.  In no time we were both laughing as he continued to struggle to get away with a stinky diaper and I used the Jiu-Jitsu principles I had learned to control him.  I substituted arm bars and chokes for tickling of course.  When all was said and done it was still a stinky job but both of us had a good laugh and a miniature roll.  I hope in the future my son enjoys BJJ with me, for now he may just be learning escapes.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

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Book Review of “Rogue Black Belt – Book One” by John B. Will

Most of the books I read are technical in nature.  After reading excerpts from John B. Will’s "Rogue Black Belt – Book One" I decided to order "Book One" and see what came of it.  I like to read.  Every now and then I come across a book I just can’t put down until I finish it.  "Rogue Black Belt – Book One" is one of those books.  I just ordered "Book Two" and I will pick up "Book Three" as soon as it is ready.

What did I like about John’s book?  First of all he speaks from first hand experience.  This isn’t fiction he is writing, it is the unadulterated truth from his experiences.  John shares tales of his life, martial arts quest across Australia and Indonesia, street fights, and life lessons he learned along the way.  He uses Aussie vernacular to describe things that give his book a unique literary flavor.  By the time I had finished reading it (midnight of the night it arrived).  I admired his adventurous spirit, adaptability, and dedication.  I got a taste of what it would be like to be the one warrior in one hundred that he talks about in his book.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to take their martial art skill above a sport level.  Street fighting as John points out is a different beast.  It isn’t the controlled sparring in the dojo.  I practice BJJ and love it.  I plan on re-reading John’s book and incorporating it into my mental training.  Thank you John for your candor and truth even when you were ashamed.

Does Your Brain Change with BJJ?

I had a boss once who had taught college level math classes.  She told me a story one day about a student who had really struggled until one day, snap! It all clicked.  My boss was convinced that a physical change had taken place in her brain.  Studies of London cabbies show that the mental maps they have to create to get them around London change their brains physically.  There are studies on Grandmaster chess players too.  This leads me to wonder what changes take place from BJJ to our brain.  We map out moves and build strategies much like a cabbie or a chess master.  Over time as our brain changes and develops do we reach that "snap" point when things come much easier?  I seem to have more questions then answers.  I think that maybe learning is hard because we are reconfiguring or optimizing our brain for a desired out come.  We are building muscle memory and other systems to accomplish what we want in the most efficient manner.  This all takes time and effort.  In the end with have something that only those who are will to undergo the transformation have.

I think Jiu-Jitsu does make a positive change to your brain both physically and mentally.  I only wish I had a study to back it up.

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