Jiu-Jitsu “No Talk” Learning Experiment

John B. Will in his book "Rogue Black Belt – Book 2" talked about paying attention when being taught a technique.  He said "Sometimes I pay such close attention that I don’t listen to what the instructor is saying.  I very, very closely observe what he is doing, and do not become over-reliant on what he is saying" [Rogue Black Belt – Book 2, pg. 69].  I myself have noticed that while watching BJJ videos I watch with different learning goals in mind.  The first time I watch I listen to the instructor.  After that I find the instruction annoying and want to just see the technique over and over so i can understand it.  So when my instructor, Mark, blogged about trying a experiment of teaching that nights class with minimal talk, I was interested.  Here is his post on the experiment: The Mental Game Ch1.  That night it was very different.  He did a step by step instruction on each technique but didn’t say much else.  He answered questions that were raised but didn’t go into long explanations.  Being a visual learner I loved it.  I felt I could focus more fully on what was being done.  In my day job it is very important to listen so that you can answer questions after.  I felt that I was giving partial focus to what was being said and what was being done.  When I gave full focus to what was being demonstrated, I learned better.  Mark tried teaching a more difficult defense against a head lock.  The class was mostly white belts.  I was of course practicing with my training partner and didn’t pay as much attention to the whole group as Mark did, but in the end he said, and I felt that the class had done much better in learning without the added talk.

Try the experiment at your school and let me know what your results are.

The 4 Steps For A Successful Ashi-Barai Takedown

Here is the second takedown or throw we practiced the other night at BJJ class.  It took me a few days to find its name.  Once again I’m sorry I put my finger on the mic.  My hands were also shaking after the work out.


The Ashi-Barai is about shifting your opponents balance to meet your needs.  It starts out a lot like the Ochi-Gari.

  1. Grip.  Because you will manipulate your opponents balance with your grip it is important to have a good hook grip on the collar and firm grip on the gi at the tricep.
  2. Balance and Step.  As you step in you lift the tricep and move the opponents balance over to the opposite foot you are going to block or trip.  This can or should cause a opposite reaction from him in the direction you want to sweep him.
  3. Twist and Step.  Now you twist him back the other way.  This motion should be added by his resistance to step two.  As you stick your foot out for the block or trip it is only intended to stop him from using it to gain balance.  You don’t need to kick or sweep the foot.  Just stop it from moving.  His forward momentum with your twisting action will do the rest.
  4. Capitalize.  Be ready to take a position or submission.  The technique isn’t successful if you both just end up in a sprawl.

I hope this is helpful.  It helped me memorize this technique by posting it. Thank you to Chris and Miles again for being the movie stars of this post.

Hockey Mom vs Jiu-Jitsu Mom

The other night at class it was pointed out that the video I had taken in my post West Side Classic 2010 Kid’s Tournament has one of our West Side girls and that you can hear her Mom rooting for her.  That in and of itself is nothing interesting.  What caught everyone’s attention was the vigor with which the mother was cheering for her girl.  This kind, gentle, and mild mannered lady had transformed into a Jiu-Jitsu Mom!  We all have heard of Hockey or Soccer Moms.  They don’t hold a candle to a Jiu-Jitsu Mom.  In fact if a Hockey Mom did get a check on a Jiu-Jitsu Mom they would land with the Hockey Mom in a arm bar.  Are you getting the picture?!  Its true that hockey is a rough sport but its not about fighting or at least that’s why I think the puck and goals are used.  A Hockey Mom wants to see her child pull a hat trick while a Jiu-Jitsu Mom wants to see her child choke the other out.  Mothers who support their daughters in Jiu-Jitsu have a warrior mindset I’ve decided.  Lets hear it for Jiu-Jitsu Moms everywhere, hip, hip, hurray!

The 5 Steps For A Successful Ochi-Gari Takedown

The Ochi-Gari is a great takedown to practice that isn’t to hard on your training partner.  I had a great time doing it last night at class.  Here is a video demonstrating it (Sorry, I had my thumb over the mic).

Ochi-Gari Takedown

I’ve been doing some posts on throws and takedowns because I think it is a weak point in my own game and in most BJJ training.  Some of the posts were:  "Throw, Throw, Throw, again", "Review of Judo Throws and Takedown Books for Jiu-Jitsu", and "Should I Learn Judo To Excel In Jiu-Jitsu".  Here are the 5 steps as I see them in a successful Ochi-Gari.

  1. Grip.  You don’t want to burn your grip.  Even with good Judo hook grips I noticed that at the end of class my hands were shaking.  I hope it isn’t to noticeable in the video after I get it under control.  Think about control without muscle.
  2. Step In.  The first foot should step in but not between the opponents legs.  It should be centered on his body.  The behind step then should move you to flush with your opponent.
  3. Sweep.  The sweep is called a "reap".  It refers to reaping grain.  It is a smooth semi-circle.  It isn’t a chopping motion.  It isn’t placed inside the leg and then hooked.  It reaps in and takes the leg out.  Yes, you can then lift or hook the leg if needed to finish it.
  4. Twist.  The twist using the arms moves his balance.  You want to dictate where his balance is.  If you don’t twist as you sweep, the Ochi-Gari’s effectiveness is greatly reduced.
  5. Capitalize.  The takedown isn’t over until you have the dominate position.  Have a submission or position in mind you are prepared to take after the sweep.

I hope this is helpful.  It helped me memorize this technique by posting it. Thank you to Chris and Miles for being the movie stars of this post.

That Hurt! So Why Am I Laughing?!

Tonight we practiced some Judo throws.  I’ve got them on video and I’ll post them after I get the names documented correctly.  We practiced falling properly and went right into it.  After a while it goes without saying you hurt.  Throw to the left, throw to the right, stand up, throw down, until you get it right.  So why did I find myself laughing each time I hurt?  Its true I didn’t get injured.  I’m sure if I had cracked a rib or ripped some muscle I wouldn’t have laughed but minor pain had me giggling like a school girl.  I’m going to have some nice bruises on my shins from having my legs swept.  I still laughed when I got my shin kicked.  I was having fun.  I was enjoying BJJ.  But that doesn’t mean I like pain.  So tell me there is a psychological reason for it or at least tell me I’m not alone.  My practice partner come to think of it was laughing too but not as much as I was.  I’m not feeling like I’m a masochist but since when was laughing from pain natural?  I can’t saying any other sport has had such an affect on me.

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West Side Classic 2010 Kid’s Tournament

Today was the West Side Classic 2010 kid’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament.  Here are a few video clips I took of it.

Its amazing how many kids there were and how well behaved they were.  I didn’t see anyone acting out or causing trouble.  Maybe that was they because they were to busy dancing?  What!  Did you see the girl in the blue gi?  I think she was practicing a take down but it looked more like ballet.

The Gym is Full – JiuJitsuMap.com

These two did a great "Spin the Bottle" move or at least that is what I’m calling it.  Around and around we go where we stop no one knows.

Spin the Bottle – JiuJitsuMap.com

I couldn’t help but call this one the "Dance of Death".  They were really going at it.  While I watched I thought these two may go the the prom together some day.  They will dance different then but for right now the boy sure wants to seoi-naga her.

I couldn’t stay to watch it all but everyone seemed to be having fun.  I saw a few tears from losers but they were quickly consoled by their coaches.  Next year I think it may even be bigger then before.  This is the only kid’s tournament that I know of in Utah.

Where Do You Wear Your Gi?

When I first started BJJ I of course noticed some of the more flamboyant kimonos right off.  I noticed that some of those wearing them came walking into the school with them on.  I was surprised to find out that they wore them in public.  I thought for my personality that was way to flashy.  I wouldn’t want to call attention to myself in a white one let alone brightly colored gi.  But as time went on I got a Urban Camo Koral MKM and later a red Atama Mundial #5.  One night my wife called me and asked me to pick up something from the grocery store on the way home from class.  At first I thought "no way" but then I felt that Jiu-Jitsu confidence come over me and pride in what I practice.  So in I went in my Koral.  I got looks and stares.  Some people avoided eye contact with me.  I even got a complement from the check out girl.  She said she liked my jacket.  I said "thank you" and explained it wasn’t jacket but a gi.  Now if on my way to or from class I need to stop and get something in my gi I am not shy at all.  What next?  Family functions?  Who knows!  Some one needs to start selling clothing based off of the gi.  You could market it as fight wear for those who love the gi.

So where do you wear your gi or kimono?

Hit’em High and Hit’em Low, Leg Locks Are The Way to Go

During class last month my instructor, Mark, said you should be attacking high and low.  When your arms are bound up then you should be working with your legs to get sweeps, create space, or anything that will increase your position.  Like wise if you legs aren’t being effective then work with your arms.  I’ve taken this to heart and tried to remember to move my mental focus to the part of the battle where it can be most effective.  In doing so I realized I didn’t know any leg attacks.  This has led me find 5 leg locks that I think are a good starting point to build my arsenal.  All of them come from Encyclopedia of Leg Locks (Encyclopedia of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) by Rigan Machado.  Last night at class we went over some more purple belt test techniques.  After class I got two of the more experienced guys to go over one particular leg lock with me so I could get a good feel for it.  One disadvantage to my Submission Master Grappling Dummy is he feels no pain.  I get good reps on him but I first have to make sure I’m doing the technique right.  In keeping with my idea to give techniques more memorable names, I have dubbed this one "Cobra in the Grass".  It is found on page 60 of Encyclopedia of Leg Locks.  The below videos show the "snake" motion I use to get the first part of the leg lock.

"Cobra in The Grass" – Leg Lock, View 1
"Cobra in The Grass" – Leg Lock, View 2
"Cobra in The Grass" – Leg Lock, View 3

These give you the idea of how to get the legs.  After that you need to get your knee on the belly that is opposite the arm that is holding the legs.  You do this by controlling the hip on the same side as the arm that has the legs.  Once you have the knee in the belly you lay back and swing the opposite leg around the opponents hip.  If they don’t straighten their leg you will get a calve cutter right off and if they do then you roll into the straight leg to get the leg lock.  I know my description isn’t the best.  I’ll try to get video of it next class.

The Rear Naked Choke Works on a Pit Bull

I am always amazed at how useful BJJ is.  You can use it to change diapers or choke Pit Bulls.  It changes lives for the better all the time.  When a 9 year old boy can feel empowered enough to try a Rear Naked Choke on a attacking Pit Bull that says loads about BJJ.

Rear Naked Choke Used On Attacking Pit Bull

I think we should teach BJJ in public schools.  In fact, TheFightWorkPodCast has even done a few interviews on it.  They are #154 – Jiu-Jitsu in Public Schools and Gracie Barra Donates Gis to Public School.  It is my understanding that Kendo is taught in Japanese public schools.  I’m sure other countries have martial art classes the students can take.  I know I could have taken Judo at college.  West Side Jiu-Jitsu, where I practice, got its start by teaching High School students for free after school.  Mark talks about one of the success he had because of it in his post, The "Killer" Nerd.  There are so many things out there that teach kids to act without thought and so few that teach them to be in control.  I think BJJ could be great tool in our public schools for good.

How Do I Know When To Tap?

Isn’t that obvious you say?  When it hurts, tap!  Apparently it isn’t that clear to everyone.  This Russian model and bodyguard didn’t know when to tap, "Former Russian Model Killed in Carjacking", even though she had Jiu-Jitsu experience.  There are more factors that play into it.  In her case the Porsche was more important then her life.  What are the things that hold me back from tapping?  Pride has to be number one.  I don’t want to be beat.  I have to hold out at least long enough that my opponent doesn’t think I’m a push over.  Those are the kinds of things I tell myself.  I tore my MCL because of that kind of thinking.  I changed my philosophy after that to "In a war there are lost battles even on the victors side".  I live to fight another day now.  I try to make each battle an accumulative learning experience, win or lose.  I feel I’m winning the war on most fronts now.  But it is far from over.  I have often wondered why Helio Gracie refused to tap when he said a technique was not "good technique".  I understand that Helio passed out in his fight against Kimura because Kimura was squeezing his ribs and stopping his lungs from expanding.  What about when Kimura broke his arm?  So I will end this post with this thought, tap when a technique is effective or accept the consequences.