It seems like every time I listen to some Jiu-Jitsu interview, the person says they were in a martial art and then got drawn into BJJ when they saw the power of it. I was that way. I did Kendo, Kempo, Wada-Ru, Kishin Kan Karate, . . . and the list goes one. My time in each of these led me to have a love for most if not all things Japanese. BJJ was just a extension of that. I am sure others feel the same way. I’m going to be remodeling my office soon. I wasn’t looking forward to it until my wife pointed out I could do it in a Japanese martial art motif. I lit up like a kid on Christmas morning! Can you guess what my favorite dish is? Sushi! I can pack away a few rolls and some nigiri anytime, as long as it is a good sushi bar. I will even pick it over a big juicy steak. I took Japanese in college. I did better in it then any language I’ve ever tried. Its so much easier to use then English. That Japanese just seem to have all the cool stuff, martial arts, food, language, culture. Maybe that is why we find them so attractive. One day I hope to visit if not live in Japan for a while. I love America and Japan would be my second home.
I like to say often that Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu. Its true. It is integrated into my life. I find applications for it in many aspects of my life other then self defense and sport. That is just one of the reasons I love it so much. Last nights class went well. I set a few goals for my self to focus on and I met about half of them. I even got my new favorite sweep, the Balloon sweep. It was on a white belt but none the less enjoyable. I tapped out a fellow blue belt, that had surprised me last class with a guard pass, with a Triangle Choke as repayment. I felt good after class and came away with points to improve on. After I got home I was getting cleaned up and putting my gi in the wash when I stopped to see the TV program my wife was watching. It was the last few minutes of The Biggest Loser. They were going to show the interview of the last person kicked off. I always like to see the success they have and stopped to watch. To my surprise the guy hadn’t been able to do the gym. He said it wasn’t "clicking" for him. He had come to a realization he needed a life style change. He opted to start martial arts. They showed him walking into a school with a large billboard that read "Gracie Jiu Jitsu". I was excited to see BJJ on TV. I couldn’t think of a better life style change. I was sure they would show him grappling. In stead they only showed him doing Muay Thai. I was stunned. At the very end under his picture it said he was training in Jiu-Jitsu for his first belt. Why then didn’t they show him doing Jiu-Jitsu instead of Muay Thai? What ever the case I was glad to see that BJJ was changing another life for good. I hope he continues and experiences the catharsis I have from BJJ.
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.
- Friendly. You want someone that wants to teach not be idolized. Remember you are paying them for a service not becoming their peon.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
As in any sport or rigorous activity injuries happen. With BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) it seems that they are the strangest, freakish, or weird. For example, while rolling I attempted to do a escape and some how caught my upper lip with my thumb. I scrapped my gum with my finger nail and had to struggle to untangle my hand from my mouth. My instructor told me of a time where he got his eye lid turned inside out and got a rug burn on it while grappling. Until it healed it hurt every time he blinked. You don’t know how often you blink until have a rug burn on you inner eye lid. The latest one I heard was from a friend. While rolling he arched or upa’d. Some how his pinky toe slipped into a mat seam and got caught. As he finished the move it broke his toe! Maybe it is just the nature of martial art made famous by the Gracie’s. I don’t know. In all the sports I’ve ever done I’ve never heard so many funny injuries. Regardless of the injuries I am addicted to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Viva la Jiu-Jitsu!
Please share with me your stories!
I’m covered in bruises from Jiu-Jitsu. They go from my ankles to my shoulders. I have bruises on my bruises. At first I thought it was just my poor BJJ technique. But over time I notices bruises on my wrists. How could that be poor technique? I found out aspirin was the culprit. I am talking aspirin for my niacin therapy. It helps stop the flushing. I was taking 325mg (one regular pill) each night. Aspirin helps stop clotting. That is why I was getting such huge and nasty bruises. I’ve stopped taking it this week. Tonight is the first night without it. It should be interesting if I bruise. A friend has told me it might be a blood disorder and I should get tested if I keep bruising after dropping the aspirin. He had a similar case in his school or dojo.
Do you want to accelerate your learning when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu? Do you want to become more proficient in your technique? Then start mentoring a white belt or belt below you. Why?
- When you teach someone else it helps you retain what you have learned.
- As you think through how to teach the technique or concept you find new points that you hadn’t noticed before.
- It gives you a chance to increase your own muscle memory by repetition.
There are other pluses too. There is nothing like helping someone through something that was very difficult that you wish you had help on. It create camaraderie in your school, dojo, or academy.
Mentor a white belt today. Its a win-win situation.
Please tell me about some one who mentored you in BJJ.
Keeping a journal for you BJJ, Judo, MMA, or any martial art is a great way to improve your technique, document your progress, and understand your art. I’ll talk a little about each of the 3 and give some hopefully helpful ideas to help you start or improve on your own journal. But first some basics on journal writing.
Your journal can be a note book, a digital text file, a blog, or anything you feel the most comfortable with. Just make sure it is something that you can keep a copy of or that is durable in some fashion. Why? Lets say you just received your black belt. For years you have compiled your knowledge and history of your labors. It would be a crying shame to lose it all to a hard drive failure or because you left somewhere and it disappeared.
Figure out a recording style you like. This for you only, after all, so experiment until you are satisfied. Don’t get discourage when you don’t feel its not formatted correctly. Try different formats. In time you will work out a style or system that is pleasing to your thoughts and eyes.
Now what should I write in my journal? As you start working on it your journal will be come rich with information. You will start to have ideas and see how you could record information you would like to keep. Read over your journal often to help you get the big picture. Don’t be to critical of previous entries, use them in a constructive manner to create a better style in future entries. Your skills will not only increase in your martial art but in your journaling.
According to a poll conducted on, The Fight Works Podcast, 52% of the 273 people who responded to the poll said they keep a notebook, diary, or journal for Jiu-Jitsu.
Improving Your Technique
The old saying “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” still rings true. The mistakes you made at your last tournament or in your last class need to be recorded so you can set goal to correct them. You don’t want to keep repeating them.
We can also alter the saying to be “Those who forget the technique may never repeat it”. In other words, if you went to that great seminar by Andre Galvao but didn’t journal about the new things you learned you might as well have never gone. You won’t remember that sweet submission, escape, or sweep unless you record it in your journal and ponder on it.
Knowing your history helps you direct the future.
Document Your Progress
My Jiu-Jitsu instructor wrote a excellent post that applies to documenting your progress. I will summarize it for you and you can read the full post later called “The Dip and Jiu-Jitsu”. What it boils down to is you have to go through a learning curve on anything. While you are in the “dip” or learning you become depressed or unhappy about your progress. When you reach the top you have learned and now you feel like you are on top of the world. By documenting your progress you understand when you’re in the dip, you can also look back on other times when you were in the dip and remember what it was like to get out of it. This will help give you strength to go on and succeed.
Seeing your success over time drives you onward to new heights.
Understanding Your Art
Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, MMA, or what ever it may be isn’t just a series of moves to be memorized. I’ve often heard people say “Jiu-Jitsu is life. Life is Jiu-Jitsu”. The philosophy of your chosen art can change your outlook on life as it did for a friend of mine. He explains it in his post “My name is Miles and I am a meat head”. Write in your journal what impresses you and how you feel it changes you as you assimilate it into your life. When you go back and read your journal you might be surprised how over time you have evolved.
Internalizing correct concepts creates a greater whole.
When all is said and done the point of a journal or diary is to help you as a person and practitioner of your chosen martial art to grow, progress, and enjoy it along the way. I know it does. That is why I created my blog JiuJitsuMap.com and why I keep a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) journal.
Please share with me your success stories.