Thursday, June 28, 2007

How I did it! Now it can be told! How to get your Black Belt in 4.5 years!!!!

Well, I actually HAVE been telling you. I have no secret. I have no special pill. Many of the things I have written in this blog are things that I realized I did or observations I have made up to this point in my jiu jitsu journey. It's not an easy or short journey and it hasn't ended. Each entry in this blog is another piece of my puzzle...something that I'm reflecting on, adjusting, or commenting on when I see others get stuck or caught up with. I write my ideas, opinions and thoughts that make sense to me at the well as reserving the right to change my mind...because the truth I tell you today may not be true for me tomorrow. Such is life... So, off the top of my head...these are (some of) the main things that I now realized I did or now understand to have helped me in my progressing in jiu-jitsu thus far...sort of like a David Letterman's Top 10 list. And while 4.5 years may seem fast, it's still never fast enough. I, too, wonder if there's a secret pill to help me learn faster. If I find one, I'll let you know.

And now for (notice the very abbreviated title, heh heh heh)...
Felicia Oh's Top 10 List of Things That Helped Her To Progress Quickly in Jiu Jitsu or
About 10 Things I Think Are Important...there are more and when I think of them, I'll let you know.

Now, in no particular order...

10. Go to class on a regular basis. Set your schedule and don't make excuses. Don't got because you do or don't feel like going. Just go. Pretend it is your job. Of course, things happen and you can't always make it, but don't NOT go because you don't feel like it and you'd rather watch tv and eat ice cream on the couch.

9. Pay attention when the instructor is teaching.

8. Take responsibility for your own learning. If you can't see what the teacher is showing, get up and move to a place so you can.

7. Ask questions. Don't be inappropriate and ask things at the wrong time or be an attention hog. If you don't understand what the teacher explained to the class, ask for help or clarification. Either ask the teacher or a (most likely) more advanced student for help. Don't just do the move incorrectly.

6. Be balanced. Don't do only technique and not roll or come late to class so you miss the technique and just go to roll. You need both sides of the training. You need to learn and refine new moves and you need to practice moves in a live situation. Make sure you do both.

5. Be a good partner. Don't be a jerk. Be sensitive to your partners needs ;) When doing technique, if your partner is having trouble understanding a move, help him. As your partner starts to execute the move properly, apply progressive resistance. Each time he does it easily, increase the resistance. Don't start by resisting 100% to show how good your defense to the move is. It's drilling....not a street fight. When rolling, gauge how hard to go based on who your partner is and the situation. For example, if your partner is preparing for a tournament, he might want you to roll harder. If you're going to go hard, make sure you both know. What goes around comes around and if you break the toys, you won't have anything to play with.

4. Focus on using technique rather than forcing things with strength. Once you have the technique, you can add strength on top of it if you're in a competition or training hard with someone of equal size/ability or larger/stronger than you.

3. Don't focus on winning or losing in competition or in class. Just try to improve and get better.

2. Don't wait until you fell ready to compete. You will rarely ever feel ready.

1. Don't be afraid to lose. Put yourself in bad positions and see what they feel like. Make your worst position your best position.

Monday, June 25, 2007

PSA,Ad, etc.

I've added some more classes at Big John McCarthy's Ultimate Training Academy.

No-gi grappling for women:
Mondays 11AM - 12PM
Tuesday eves 8:30PM - 9:30PM
Thursday eves 8:30 - 9:30PM

The Saturday 8:30 Women's Gi class has been replaced by a 10:30AM competition class. Men, Women, gi and no-gi are all welcome. I'll be teaching the class with Brian Peterson (competitor and head referee for Grappling Games, GQ referee and USA Wrestling referee) and focus on preparing students to compete in tournaments. Even if you're not sure that you want to compete, come check it out and explore another aspect of the game!

There's will also be a new 30 minute Kettlebell class on Mondays from 12:00 - 12:30.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Starting Over

There is a process that will continually bring us to the point of starting over...again and again. When you get a belt promotion, it's an acknowledgment of the many, many, many small steps that you have taken. It's a chance to look back to see where you came from and how far you have gone. In taking so many small steps, sometimes you lose site of your progress but now the belt shows the culmination of all your hard work. The belt also brings you back to the beginning...the beginning of the next level. I never felt more like a whilte belt than after I got my black belt! This process can also happen within your personal game and understanding of jiu-jitsu. You learn a move and start to get it in training. After a while, people start to catch on and start to counter your move. Now you have to go back and work on a new move or a counter to the counter. It's going back and regrouping, re-evaluating...but now you have more information, more knowledge and experience plus the ability to execute more moves. There is a continual process of growing and expanding your game...and part of that process includes starting over.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Imagine teaching a first grader calculus. A first grader isn't ready to learn calculus until he learns all the other basic foundations of mathamatics. You can tell him every detail about calculus, but there isn't going to be any learning or understanding.
I remember learning basic techniques as a white and blue belt. Then as I progressed, I would watch as it was taught again. Each time I learned more and I noticed that the teacher had included some new details to the technique. Details that he hadn't mentioned before and only now, after having needed that information so many times in rolling, was he sharing that new information. After I noticed this happening several times, I finally realized that it wasn't him neglecting details, but me not hearing or understanding the details. I was not ready for it. He may or may not have mentioned them, but what it was is that I wasn't ready to understand and utilize the information. When you start out, you learn a large movement, the basic mechanics, the big concept...i.e. what an armbar is - where to hold, where to put your foot, how to push and turn, swing the leg over, etc. As you progress, you add more and more details to make it better, tighter, more successful. You learn how to deal with more and different responses/defenses. And while I have heard that there are some instructors that leave out stuff on purpose, my experience has been that either I wasn't ready and didn't hear it or the instructor, only being human, may have forgotten something. At the higher levels, it's about details and there are a lot them. Which detail is important to you is an individual thing. For one person, a specific detail may be the difference between a submission and a escape while for another person, they may automatically do it without even thinking.