Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Why do you train? I don't know. I just do.

Just train. Treat it like a job or an appointment. Whatever your schedule is, the secret to improvement is to just be consistent. Of course, life happens and things happen out of your control and sometimes you won't be able to make it to class because there are some things in life that are more important than your jiu-jitsu training...but don't skip class just because you don't feel like going. Don't skip class because you're lazy and feel down. Go train. Usually you'll feel better after you train. Training can be wonderfully escapist. When you're fighting for your life or just to survive or trying to learn something new, you tend to forget about all the other things that happened during your crappy day. You tend to have a very specific focus when you are being "threatened" or "attacked" (i.e. training). When you are defending against someone trying to choke you or hyperextend your arm, your tend to get very focused and the rest of the world falls away.

Monday, February 12, 2007

If I had 30 days...

There are different roads available to take in life. Each has a different amount of risk. You have to find out what is important to you and how much risk you can afford given your personality, financial situation, familial responsiblities etc. In life as an adult, you have responsiblities to yourself and those around you...so how do you find a way to be happy in your life and fulfill your duties and responsibilies as an adult, husband/wife, parent, (insert other descriptive words that define your identity here). Even with all the "identities" and responsiblities that you accumulate, it is still YOUR life and you are responsible for it.
Ask yourself "If I had 30 days to live, what would I be doing? Would it be different than what I am doing now? Am I happy with my life? Or am I somewhat or completely unhappy?

If you are unhappy and find you need to make a change, how do you do it? You have to be realistic. You have to tend to your responsibilities...family, children, future...you can't just be stupid about it.
A relative of mine was about to get married and had many responsibilities running his family business. His life and future was thrust upon him when his father died and he had to step up to the plate, learn as much as he could as quickly as possible and take the reigns...whether he wanted to or not, it didn't matter. What he wanted to do in his life didn't matter...he was now the head of the family and had business to tend to.
Now he was getting married and adding even more responsibilities to what he already had. He seemed to be drowning, getting lost under all the expectations that were being put upon him. So I asked him what he would do if he had 30 days to live. He rattled off a list of all the different places in the world that he wanted to visit. One of the great things about living in the time that we do is that it's possible to go anywhere in the world quite easily. Of course he can't just shirk all his responsiblities and become a vagabond and start travelling the world. Of course not! But what he could do is write down his list of places. Then each year, he can plan a one or two week vacation and visit one of the places on his list. This makes it possible for him to do something that is important for him to do during his lifetime and yet maintain all of his responsiblities and obligations during the rest of the year. He found a way to make his life one he could be happy living.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


#1: You never really know how hard they are going with you or what they are up to. Maybe sometimes they will let you tap them. Maybe they are helping you and letting you practice positions, submissions, etc. by feeding you things. Maybe they are working on getting out of their bad positions. Maybe they just want to work on one specific thing and will keep going back to that position even if that means giving a sweep, a pass, etc.
I heard a story about one very high level guy that for a week, let a lower level guy (well, lower level than the high level guy, but compared to most everyone else, still a high level guy) tap him everytime they rolled. Then on the last day that the high level guy was in town, he D-E-S-T-R-O-Y-E-D the lower level guy!!! During the week, he was just playing around and letting the lower level guy do his thing…play his game…but all the while paying attention and making notes on his game. Then at the end, he put the universe back in order…sort of re-set the system.
Remember to keep your ego in check.
Everyone has good days. Everyone has bad days. BJJ is like the SAT's (or what the SAT's are in theory). It's the accumulation of knowledge over time...training is not just what you do in one day during one roll against one person. Training is not about one tap. It's about reactions to different situations...it's about your progress....which, of course, brings us back to mat time and practice, practice, practice.

Monday, February 5, 2007

To Gi or Not To Gi....

That is the perpetual question that always rears it's ugly head. Should I do train gi or no-gi (submission grappling)? Which is better? Aren't they the same? The argument is long and extensive on the internet. Both exhausting and boring and generally leading to personal attacks and so on.....so...
It's two different sports!!! Related with many, many similarities, but different. Different rules, different uniform, different games. But still very similar. Whether one is better than the other is really a matter of personal choice and goals.
So...the question is not always so much which is better but how are they similar and different and then how do I translate from one to the other if I choose to do so. Here are some of the differences that immediately come to mind.
TECHNIQUES: There are many techniques that are based purely on you or your opponent wearing a gi. (i.e. collar chokes, sweeps utilizing the belt to hold on to, etc.) And there are many techniques that work only or better without the gi (i.e. the collar gets in the way and makes it difficult to sink a choke in). Some techniques have equivalents or need slight adjustments to make them work for both games. Others are gold in one game and completely useless in the other. Learning which techniques work for which game comes with time and practice.
HANDLES: The gi gives you handles. You can grab the pants, hold the lapels and sleeves, grab handfuls of gi to help gain control, initiate sweeps, etc. The handles can slow the game down. This can be beneficial for beginners who need to learn at a slower pace and learn the basics...positions, basic techniques...more handles = more controls. Without the gi, there are no handles to hold on to and you have to create other ways to hold on and control. You can use your hands like hooks on the elbows, shoulders, legs, ankles, etc.
ATHLETICISM: Obviously good for both since this IS a sport. But pure athleticism can compensate for lack of technique in no-gi moreso than in gi. Athleticism is also beneficial to the younger, stronger and quicker guys. Of course, the flip side to that is that more injuries can happen as a result. For example, sometimes just using strength to bust your leg out of a certain leg control can result in a knee strain or worse, a torn ACL. Of course, athleticism can be beneficial in both games and injuries are also going to happen in both games.
RULES: Generally in the higher levels of no-gi, heel hooks are allowed. Sometimes bicep locks/slicers are legal as well. No-gi usually doesn't have advantages in scoring or give points for knee on stomach. Of course, every tournament is different so read the rules carefully. Pay attention for different rules for different ability levels.
PROXIMITY/CONTACT: Sometimes you can keep a little more distance with the gi. With no gi, you have to use your body to control instead of relying on the handles to pull in or keep distance so your bodies will have (even) more contact.
TAKEDOWNS: Gi based jiu-jitsu takedowns are generally based more in judo since they share the similarities of the control handles. No-gi is generally more based in wrestling where there is pummeling and tieups and no gi to hold on to.
SWEAT (sometimes called "greasiness"): There's a lot more sweat and bodies get slippery or greasy after rolling for any length of time without the gi. The gi can help absorb a lot of the sweat and provide friction when contact is made. Without the gi, sweat is just slippery and uh...drips. Rashguards can only absorbs so much. Gi's are more like Bounty!

So, depending on what you want to do and what you enjoy, choose which game best suits your needs or just do both!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Information Overload!!!!!

There is SO much information available these days!!!! Books, DVDs, the internet, youtube, online training programs...an endless amount of information. Hilight videos, technique videos, some even promise to tell you the secrets of BJJ, the secrets of strength and conditioning, shortcuts to get better at grappling...some charge money, some are free. There is an awful lot of stuff out there. How do you separate the good information from the bad? What will help you? What won't? What is real stuff and what isn't? Where do you start? Where do you go?
One thing to remember in grappling and BJJ....it is a VERY VERY large buffet! There will be some dishes you like and want to eat all the time. There will be some dishes that you like to have once in a while. There will even be some that are literally crap. But how do you know where to start? How do you know who's advice and techniques to listen to?
I'm actually talking about this on two different levels.
One is a general overview of BJJ. There are tons of techniques. In this case, the only way you'll know what works for you and will become part of your game is to try everything out. Sample the whole buffet. Keep the ones you like, let go of the ones you don't (but only AFTER you really try to do them...just because you don't like them right away or they don't feel "right" the first time doesn't necessarily mean you won't eventually get them after a bit of practice. Or you may come back to them some time later on down the road). Of course, if they don't work or you can't make them work for your body type or style after serious attempts and some drilling, you can let them go...but you won't know any of this unless you try them.
The other level is considering the source of the information. There is a lot of information out there that is just not good. I remember hearing a saying many years ago (MANY years ago and not even related this sport): "consider the source". It's always interesting to read someone's very authoritative post or instruction on an internet forum and then later find out that it's a two month white belt that's posting. Not that there's anything wrong with being a two month white belt because everyone always has a different point of view or a different perspective on things...but it's not quite the same as someone who's grown up doing it their whole life or even someone who's put in their 10 years or whatever of cumulative mat time.

What I am trying to say is:
You have to sample a lot of things to find the things you like and work for you from which you will build your game AND
You also have to be a discriminating consumer and consider what is being given/sold to you.