Developing Technique Combinations in Jiu-Jitsu

Omoplata Combinations

John B. Will blogged "Mission Control", a post about building technique combinations.  He made mention of Eddie Bravo’s system and how it has a starting point to move into different techniques and submissions.  In Eddie’s book Mastering The Rubber Guard he has a excellent flow chart that shows how it all works together.  SlideyFoot talks about Roy Dean – Purple Belt Requirements and how he teaches a combination mindset.  Rigan Machado has turned me on to some combo’s in his "RCJ Machado Jiu-Jitsu Camp 2008" DVD’s.  I must have reached a new level in my game.  All of the sudden these not only made sense but I can flow from one to the other.  Lets just say I’ve really turned on to combos.  I picked a set out and drilled it on my Submission Master Grappling Dummy.  Once I felt confident enough to teach it, I found someone at the academy to train it with.  Blake and I put in some reps together.  This helped build my confidence in using it against someone other then my grappling dummy.  I got to try it out the next class.  It went splendid.  I even got one of the submissions in the combo against Blake who knew it was coming.  I can see how memorizing single submissions, then combinations of submission can build you a network of movement.  Over time it will build in my mind like Eddie’s flow chart.

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

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.

Steps to Memorizing a BJJ Technique For Mastery

I see new techniques every time I go to class.  Some really impress me and I remember them.  Some impress me and I forget them.  I’ve been looking for a way to commit them to memory so that I can work to master them.  But how should I go about it?  In John B. Will’s book "Rogue Black Belt – Book Two" he gives his method in 4 steps.  He says:

  1. "I pay very close attention"
  2. "I begin to develop understanding"
  3. "I practice it"
  4. "I’ve always taken notes"

Part of my problem is that I roll at the end of class and then drive home.  Some thing always distracts me and I don’t get that nights class into my BJJ Journal.  A day or so later I remember and try to write down what happened.  I forget or lose a lot of the details.  I am also a visual learner and my text descriptions don’t do the techniques justice.  I have thought about getting a video of each method after class and creating a video journal.  I noticed that my instructors BJJ Journal has excellent drawing of "crash dummy" type figures doing the moves.  That would require me to get some art skills.  What do you do to help memorize or internalize BJJ techniques you want to learn?

Book Review of Rogue Black Belt – Book Two By John B. Will

A little while back I did a review on John B. Will’s Book "Rogue Black Belt – Book One".  I have since got "Rogue Black Belt – Book Two" and read it.  Mr. Will picks up were he left off in book one and keeps moving on at a amazing pace.  I know that this books spans years but it feels like it happens in a few months.  Any one who goes to  Mr. Will’s website knows he teaches Machado BJJ.  In book two we learn all about how he got started.  If you are a Aussie and want to know how BJJ came to Australia you need to read this book.  It is a important history also of the rise of BJJ in America.  Mr. Will has a first hand account concerning important events in the lives of Rorion Gracie and Rigan Machado.  He meet Renzo Gracie when he was a brown belt and talks about time spent with the Gracies and their cousins the Machados, in Brazil.  I was very interested in their training practices and philosophies at the time Mr. Will was introduced to BJJ.  As before the book is packed with practical advice and life lessons Mr. Will learned along the way.  It made me long to back my bags move to Brazil and train.  Its a great book.  You will enjoy reading it if you are a fan of any martial art.

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)

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.

What Do I Want From Jiu-Jitsu, Sport vs Street?

I read John Will’s Tactical  BJJ Grappling For Life eBook this week and I’ve been thinking a lot about sport BJJ vs street BJJ.  I started training in BJJ because I wanted exercise (I sit at a office all day) and because I wanted to be able to defend myself and family in this increasingly violent world.  After reading John’s eBook I began to think to much of my training is sport.  This fulfills my exercise requirement but falls short on my defense.  If I were in a street fight I think I would still win because I am considering before hand what my game plan would be.  For instance,  I will only want to go for submissions that choke out or destroy limbs and joints.  What good is a bicep cutter in a street fight?  I also should take into consideration that just because I destroy his arm in a arm bar doesn’t mean the fight is over.  What about fighting more then one person at a time?  John gives some ideas.  I think I would consider a tactical retreat if I was by myself.  I am beginning to think that a little Muay Thai would help with what I know about striking martial arts.  Jim from Jim’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Journal said that one of the factors that made him quit Jiu-Jitsu was "what I was learning was more how to counter my classmates than how to fight".  I think that I get out of Jiu-Jitsu what I want from it.  If I want more street practical training then that should be my focus.  I’ll never give up BJJ.  I’m too addicted.  I just think its time for some tuning of my focus.

The Greatest is the Least in Jiu Jitsu

We live in a society of multi-million dollar sport super stars.  Their spoiled arrogant behavior is shown often on the nightly news.  They are highlighted in newspapers and magazines as they face criminal and civil charges.  The sad thing is they are idolized by millions.  They have skill and technique that have brought them fame but they lack the other half that truly makes them great.  As I read John Will’s post about Chuck Norris and Rigan Machado I read about that other half.  I’m talking about humility, kindness, generosity, . . . the list goes on.  John Will may have trained many time with Chuck Norris and Rigan Machado.  What does he remember?  Oh, I’m sure he has improved his martial arts from working with them.  What he really got was a lesson in being truly great.  I am sure he would say it was a privilege to be in their company.  To be in the company of someone that is great but is the least is what will make them legends never to be forgotten.  Sports super starts come and go.  They are forgotten as others with great sports prowess rise into the lime light.  Those that are never forgotten are the ones like John Will says "with a heart of gold". Rigan Machado is coming to Utah in January .  After reading John’s post I can’t wait to be there.