The Book of Five Rings and Jiu-Jitsu

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

I’ve started reading "The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi.  Its subtitle is "A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword" but just like "The Art of War", which has become so popular in business circles, it teaches concepts that can be used for more then just the Sword.  I think it is even more applicable in the case of BJJ.  I was reading "Hearing the Sound of Wind and Water" (pg. 115) and it reminded me a lot of the post "The Mental Game Ch 2" done by Mark some months ago.  Musashi says "when outwardly intensely aggressive, if you are calm within while aggressive without, so that your inner mind is not captured by the outside, then you will not be outwardly wild."  Have you ever seen a white belt freak out because he is in a very bad spot?  I think what Musashi is saying, is his inner mind is in aggressive mode and so is his body.  He acts "outwardly wild" and thrashes about wasting energy with brute force.  If you can keep a collected inner calm you can direct the force into effective technique.  So how do you do that with some one sitting on your stomach or while you are being smothered?  With what Musashi has told me I know what to do and now I have to experiment until I can do it.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Donate A Gi and Change a Life

We all love Jiu-Jitsu.  We all know how it has changed our lives for the better.  Of course we want others to have that same chance.  That is why Mark, my instructor at West Side, has started a after school, free-of-charge, Jiu-Jitsu class for high school students.  Most of these students don’t have the cash to pay for classes.  They don’t have the cash to buy a gi.  But they do have time on their hands.  Time that can be used constructively in learning Jiu-Jitsu or wasted and potential lost.  Mark posted his plea for help in getting gi’s for the kids in Donate A Gi.  It gives instructions on how to send your old or new gi to the program he has started.

I will start by donating three new gis to his effort.  I’d much rather see a young life become a student of Jiu-Jitsu then a student of the streets.  I’m thinking I will added my patch to the gis too (if I can get one in time).  What a good way to introduce them to the online Jiu-Jitsu community.  This might also be a good opportunity for a vendor of gis.  Something like for every so many bought to help the program they will donate one.  Just an idea.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

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North West Submission Challenge – West Side Rocks!

WestSide-2010-NorthWesternI’ve been on a BJJ sabbatical the past week or so.  But now it is time to get with it.  Winter is over and its time to burn off some of that winter fat and get back into the swing of things.  I’ve started jump roping again.  I’m going back to my daily drill routine.  I’m feeling rested or healed up (they are one and the same to me).  I missed out on our school going to the North West Submission Challenge tournament in Boise, ID this week.  West Side did great from the results I read on (Click Here For Results)!  Without me,  imagine that!  LoL.  I even noticed a nice complement from Keith Owen on Mark’s Face book page.  Keith said "All these guys are bad ass!"  Thanks Keith.  We had a larger team then last year.  The school is growing.  I’m wondering if we are going to out grow our present studio.  Mark has put his heart and soul into the school and I think he can’t be anything put proud to see the fruits of his labors.  It is the West Side Family.  Alright it looks like its all brothers but there are sisters too.  Come join the family and Jiu-Jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

The use of Steroids in BJJ Competitions

Olympic athletes are tempted by steroids.  They have been caught taking them (Steroids in the Olympic Games).  I think that is the reason they have testing.  What about BJJ athletes?  I’m sure they aren’t any less susceptible.  So when I heard accusations that a lot of guys at the Pan Am looked like they used them, I begin to wonder.  How prevalent is steroid usage in BJJ?  Is it affecting the out come of tournaments in favor of the users?  I started my search for information posted by other web sites.  I found a quote by Relson Gracie on in the interview done by Caleb Nov. 2009.  Relson said concerning Rolls Gracie "He was strict about his diet. He never took any kind of steroids."  Why would he say "he never took any kind of steroids" unless it was even prevalent during the infancy of  BJJ?  Its like you or I saying "oh, and I’ve never got a speeding ticket".  We know that most everyone have been ticketed for speeding and to say you haven’t ever makes a big statement.  The Home Improvement Ninja is another blog I read.  He posted a blog entitled "Thoughts on Steroids".  Although he doesn’t give a source for his data he states "The surprising thing is that most of the people who use steroids are not professional athletes. They are weekend warriors in the 30s looking for an edge. For them, it’s not about money, it’s about winning."  His statement points to a perception if anything.  What if we had data to back his statement up?  Here to cap off my thoughts is a poll done by  Do You Think Performance Enhancing Substances Are a Problem in Jiu-Jitsu Competitions?

I’ve decided that the landscape of competitors would drastically change if BJJ tournaments started testing for steroids.  I think we would be sadly surprised at who would fail the tests.  Eventually BJJ will have drug testing just like all the other sports if it is to grow.  For now, a blind eye is turned to it.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

The 2010 Pan Am Sweep

One of the techniques that was brought back from the 2010 Pan Am was a sweep.  I don’t have a name for it so I’m calling it the 2010 Pan Am Sweep.

2010 Pan Am Sweep Part 1
2010 Pan Am Sweep Part 2

Here it is demonstrated by Miles (who competed in the Pan Am) and Chris.  Like I always say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I’m not sure what is ever "new" in BJJ.  I think a lot is rediscovered.  What ever the case it is new to me.  Techniques continues to evolve and revolve in BJJ.  Going to a big tournament like the Pan Am gives you exposure to it all.

One of the things I like about this sweep is soliciting the reaction you want.  When the arm is pushed down and the leg pushes you toward your trapped arm you feel like your base is gone.  You push back against the leg and add force to the sweep.  This is another fine example of  BJJ’s principal of using technique not muscle and of using your opponents force against him.

I also might point out this is a Half Guard Sweep.  I think it might come in handy if I fail a Spider Guard Sweep.  I’ll have to experiment with it.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

2010 Pan Am Second Hand

We had a student from West Side go to the 2010 Pan Am in the blue belt division.  I buy the "Best Fight" videos from each year.  They are always educational.  But they aren’t the same as being there in person.  So it was nice to get to talk to someone who had gone for the first time face to face.  He brought back techniques that none of us had seen before.  At a tournament like the Pan Am you get to see the cutting edge of BJJ evolution.  He also had a very different experience compared to a local tournament.  It sounded to me like no mercy was shown.  Gabrielle Garcia was filling up the seats at the aid station as fast as they opened them up.  I understand she broke Penny Thomas’s arm.  I also understand the black belt competition is electrified.  The black belts don’t hold back.  Its one thing to see them on the videos but in person it is a whole different story.  For instance, they don’t tighten up a submission until you tap, they slam it on hard.  Then to top it all off the huge mass of practitioners cheering on their teams.  Its like the Super Bowl of BJJ.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be up to that caliber to compete in the Pan Am but I plan on attending a few times.  I hope next year to have the time to sit down and watch them streamed live on  I’m marking my calendar for next year right after this post.

I have had the worst writer’s block the last week.  I failed my New Years goal of writing 5 posts a week.  But I will still consider it a win if I improve from last year.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Half Guard and Cross Body Escapes

Escape from Half Guard
Escape from Side Control or Cross Body – Inner Arm
Escape from Side Control or Cross Body – Outer Arm

I got video of the beginner class last night.  Please excuse the shaky picture.  Its hard to hold my iPhone still after working out.  But at least this time I kept my thumb off the mic.  Mark, my instructor, went over a Half Guard escape and some Cross Body or Side Control escapes.  As you usual its easier for me to show then tell.  Also thanks to Miles for demonstrating with Mark.  Miles is going to the 2010 Pan Am this week.  We wish him good luck in the tournament and are glad to know West Side Jiu-Jitsu will be represented on the world stage.

Notes from the class:

  1. When trying to escape the Half Guard you may get a submission before escaping if you aren’t extra careful with your knee.  Mark, got a picture of me and placed it on Facebook just as Mile pulled his knee out and smashed me.  Its funny now but not so then. 🙂
  2. The trick to the Side Control or Cross Body escapes is getting your opponent up closer to your face and clearing your shoulder on the bump and twist.  "Once the shoulder is out so are you", like Mark says.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu.

Patience Is a Jiu-Jitsu Virtue

Fast food, same day deliver, view on demand, easy access, they are all part of our modern rushed society.  We don’t want to wait for anything.  We get angry if we have to wait in a line to long or if something holds us up.  I’m guilty of it.  I want it when I want it and not a second after.  What’s wrong with that?  If you give a child everything they want right when they want it they become a spoiled brat.  It isn’t limited to kids.  Learning to have patience is essential in BJJ.  For starters, as Jeff said in his post Jiu-Jitsu Drop Out you won’t be in BJJ very long if you don’t have some to start with.  Patience is part of your game too.  Its a white belt that goes nuts trying to get a submission before obtaining the position.  If they have the patience to continue training they begin to learn that they must have patience when they roll and look for the right opportunity to present it self.  It is good that the average black belt take 10 years to achieve, in my opinion.  It weeds out the impatient .  Those who have one value it.  They earned it through long years of study, practice, and dedication that only comes with patience.  I’m trying to develop my patience.  Patience isn’t about sitting and waiting.  patience is about actively striving to increase your abilities, it is about not getting discouraged, it is about steady work towards a goal.  The rewards are sweeter when you feel that patience has paid off.  I think my patience has paid off.  I feel my game just went up a notch as I said in my post, Developing Technique Combinations in Jiu-Jitsu.  Only time will tell, I’ll be patience and find out if I’m right.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu.