3 02 2010

I believe there are three general mindsets when training jiu jitsu, win/win, win/lose, and lose/win. Which mindset is the best? Ultimately that depends on you because everybody’s path in jiu jitsu unique. The following is my explanations of different mindsets and my opinions on what I see to be the best way to progress your game in jiu jitsu.

Rolling with a win/lose mindset is what I see the most of in jiu jitsu enthusiasts that I have come across. Win/lose is apart of our society.  It is a paradigm that has been ingrained in all of us since we were little. The win/lose concept is simply put; I win you lose. This type of mindset is one that is great for competition because that’s what happens; someone wins and someone loses. This is a natural part of life, just like living and dying. In terms of jiu jitsu though I think this mindset is the one that is used too often. For example jiu jitsu enthusiasts roll and train together and try to beat each other to gain recognition from their professor or instructor. (A very basic and primitive example I know but still you can’t deny it exists) No one wants to let their professor down so they try their best to beat their training partner. In this case winning or progressing is done at the expense of your training partner. If you are a guy that keeps a tally of who you have tapped or have tapped to then you my friend are definitely rolling with a win/lose mindset. (When training does it matter really who taps who?) I don’t have a problem with this type of training I just believe that there is a time and place. (Meaning when preparing for a competition) Everyone’s Jiu Jitsu path is an interdependent reality. Meaning the results you want (black belt, world champion) depend on the cooperation between you and your training partners. How much knowledge can truly be gained by trying to defeat your training partners all the time?  Also training with a win/lose mindset often times are where most of your injuries occur. Now before I move on I want to make it clear that I believe that this type of training is a must. Not just in order to be prepared to compete but also to learn. I know for fact that it is important to lose. You have to know what it felt like to be submitted or dominated. Hence also teaching you how to not let that happen again. It is much harder though to remember to learn while losing. It takes maturation within oneself in order for to gain the most out of your training with a  win/lose mentality.

Rolling with win/win is a frame of mind that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all rolling scenarios. Win/win means that tapping or submitting, dominating or being submissive are mutually beneficial and satisfying. Now I’m not saying let someone dominate you or let someone tap you, no. I am saying flow with your partner. Begin to develop sensitivity that otherwise would not develop. Don’t fight things to the death. For example if you catch your partner in an armbar and he defends; instead of trying with all your might to finish him transition to the next option. Rolling like this requires a certain amount of fluidity. Try to be like water. In a win/win roll there should be an ebb and flow to your roll having many different positions and transitions. If a submission occurs it should be one in which you fall into or pull off with ease. With a win/win roll both training partners feel good about their training/ progression and look forward to future rolls. This type of training I would call cooperative training.  It is leaving behind the concepts of strong or weak, greater than or lesser than, win or lose. Cooperative rolling is based on a principle that there is plenty for everybody. Success or progression in jiu jitsu is not achieved at someone else’s expense. Cooperative training like this is a very difficult thing to achieve because of the win/lose paradigm that is in all of us. Maybe you could call it pride or whatever but it is there. For everyone’s ultimate progression in jiu jitsu I believe the win/win mindset to be the most efficient way for developing your game as a jiu jitsu player. This statement is supported by the belief that everyone’s jiu jitsu path is an interdependent reality depending on the ability of you and your training partners to have cooperative rolls. If yours and my development in jiu jitsu depend on each other; than to me two winning partners is better than one winner and one loser.

Rolling with a lose/win frame of mind is usually how I try to roll 50% of the time with most of my students. (STUDENTS) I try to lose a little so that my students can win in: positions, transitions or even submissions. This way they can experience some sort of success in their technique. Hence hopefully begin to progress and gain confidence in their jiu jitsu game. I think that good instructors all do this to a certain extent. Now the amount that I do this is different with each student because they are individuals with individual strength and weakness.  Sometimes the student really needs me to put it on them. Other times I need not to be so overbearing and let some techniques such as sweeps or passes just happen instead of controlling every aspect of the roll. There are two major benefits to rolling with a lose/win frame of mind. One, that my students feel confidence and begin to become efficient in their jiu jitsu movements. Second, is that I begin to slowly understand better the intricacies of jiu jitsu because I am being dominated. It helps me look at things from a totally different angle. This way when I compete, I am ready because I have been in positions like this before. Lose/win is not just for instructors though. I feel that rolling like this is also the responsibility of every upper level belt when rolling with a lower belt or a newbie. Try to explore!! Don’t just dominate because you can, lose a little. In the midst of being dominated or the many different positions that occur begin to become aware of how it feels. Probe for weakness that maybe you wouldn’t have seen or felt before. Start to prepare yourself for those types of situations in the future.

So now that I have kind of laid out what I think are the three main mindsets in a dojo or training center let me share my hypothesis for how to create a win/win environment between you and your training partners. We have already established that creating a win/win mindset is very very difficult. I believe that if you are rolling with someone that has your same level of experience or is someone who is very competitive when rolling with you, then start to implement the lose/win mindset. Don’t just give him a submission. Heck No!  By all means defend the submission but maybe you shouldn’t try to fight the pass with all your might, or let a sweep happen; see where their techniques take you. If you lose a little you and your partner can both win and progress. Ultimately in the end the competitiveness in your rolls will decrease. Then a learning environment that was not previously there between the two of you would be present, because you both will gradually have migrated to a win/win frame of mind. Now this is a very hard thing to do because the win/lose paradigm is very deeply ingrained in our society. So letting it go sometimes can be a very difficult thing.

In conclusion I want to make sure that I state that the win/lose mindset or competition training has to be there. This is a reality that if you want to train in jiu jitsu or mma you cannot get away from. But I think that you must also find a way to implement a win/win mindset in your dojo or training because competing isn’t everything. Growing, learning, and progressing in your jiu jitsu game should be your ultimate goal. Winning competitions will just be a product from having a good balance between win/win and win/lose.


Power in the Mundane

24 01 2010

Think back with me to your first day of Jiu Jitsu class. For me I walked into the gym/ dojo and there were a couple of guys stretching and talking while they waited for class to start. In came the instructor and he said alright guys get to shrimping. I remember being like what the heck is shrimping. The instructor proceeded to explain to me that it was a basic and fundamental movement in Jiu Jitsu. I tried it… Let me tell you I felt so stupid and awkward, I mean how was this ever going to help me fight someone?

After shrimping we did some other movements on the floor; sidewinder, inchworms, shoulder walks just to name a few. To be honest I was pretty tired after going through all these floor movements but I still didn’t see how what we just spent 30 minutes doing was supposed to help me fight someone. I mean I could barely do them when it was just myself. I did not put much faith in being able to perform these movements with someone’s weight on me.

Next the instructor began to show a technique. He used the movements that we had spent 30 minutes doing prior to technique to help explain and link the movements of the technique together. I have to say that doing the movements not only deepened my understanding of the technique but I felt more confident than I expected trying to learn the technique.

Overall when I left I feel that I remembered more the movements that we did on the mat rather than the technique. I think this is because of the amount of muscle memory that I built during the class in reference to those floor movements. Now of course there were small precious details that made the technique a technique but the bulk of everything was the movement!

I believe that in training everyone should strive to make their movements as effective as possible. Each day basic fundamental movements should be perfected. This is the foundation that techniques will be built upon. You might not catch all the techniques that the instructor is trying to teach but if you keep working on building a solid foundation (meaning your movements) techniques will begin to come naturally. The more solid your jiu jitsu foundation the easier it will be to insert the teachings and techniques that your instructor is showing you on a day to day basis. Below are some sample movements that we practice at ohana jiu jitsu.

Being good at jiu jitsu is not about knowing 100’s of techniques but rather on building a solid fundamental foundation based on movement. So even though I know it can be boring and mundane, working your jiu jitsu movement drills is the way to go…

GrandMaster Carlos Gracie

12 01 2010

Pretty much every person that i know of that is into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has heard of Helio Gracie. I mean he is the father of us all. He is the man that creatively took an already existing style and expanded on it. Helio took Jiu Jitsu and formed the basis for what jiu jitsu is today. Helio gets a lot of well deserved credit for the progress that jiu jitsu has made over the last 100 years but i think that we overlook someone extremely important in the development of jiu jitsu… Helio’s Professor: Carlos Gracie!

I just finished reading this month’s Graciemag and it highlighted grandmaster Carlos Gracie. Carlos Gracie was born september 14th, 1902. He was the first Gracie to be taught judo/ jiu jitsu from Otavio Mitsuyo Maeda a japanese emigrant to brazil who was then a 4th dan kodokan judoka. Carlos then passed the teachings on to his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao jr., Jorge and Helio. In 1925, carlos opened their first academy in brazil, marking the beginning of the art of brazilian jiu jitsu. When thinking of the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the majority of everyone points to Helio and i think this is  deservedly  so but i believe that in studying the principles of Carlos we can gain insight into creating a training environment conducive for generating the creative ingenuity responsible for the jiu jitsu revolution over the last 100 years. Lets take a look at my interpretation of ten principles relating to jiu jitsu that carlos lived by…

1) Thinking Big: “Think big and your achievements will grow. Think small and you’ll fall straight to the ground.” When new students arrive at my school i always try to encourage them to compete in a major tournament like the Pan Ams or the World Championships. Now i am a big believer that there are competitors and then there are leisure jiu jitsu players, but in the beginning i want my beginner students to set a goal, a big goal. In training for a major competition not only do you learn to establish a good fundamental base but you get to see the big time black belts compete like roger gracie and xande riberio, braulio estima, andre galvao, and etc. This gives them something to shoot for. Now when they come back (win or lose) there is a major improvement in their game just because the bar for their achievements has been lifted. They saw what was out there and were excited to get there!

2.) Investing Long Term: This is an important principle to get across to the american jiu jitsu community. We live in a society to where we put to great a value on how fast something can be performed or created. We live in a time scarce society. When you embark on your jiu jitsu journey (a journey of self discovery) to not put an expectation on how long it will take you to accomplish belts or championships. This type of thinking i believe is directly opposed to grandmaster carlos’s principle. Jiu Jitsu is for life and everyone’s journey is different. So with that in mind, invest in the long term. I promise you your investment will not return void. It will pay you back in ways you could have never imagined.

3.) Think Outside the Box: When rolling always explore new possibilities. Don’t get lockdown into just one type of game. Try to look at jiu jitsu from different angles, open yourself to unseen options. It is very common for a jiu jitsu player to build a game and then only operate within that game. You want to be a well rounded jiu jitsu player. Having good skills from your back and your top game, but thinking outside the box i believe is more relevant in the  transitions rather than the  positions.  Always explore new and exciting ways to get into positions whether they be on the top or the bottom. Dont be afraid to allow this type of thinking to bleed over into your everyday life. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with your outlook on life.

4.) The Family as a Reference: Carlos believed that everyone that came and continued their jiu jitsu journey with them became family. i really like this idea because then your training partners become your brothers. Training becomes a way to build relationships that will last forever. it also builds an envirionment where learning can be cultivated and healthy competition or cooperative training brings out the best in all of us.

5.) Their is NO Success Without Health: One of the fundamentals in Stephen Covey’s “the seven habits of highly effective people” is no matter how busy you are, set aside time for exercise and taking care of your health, otherwise you won’t have vigor to fulfill your other priorities in earnest. Jiu Jitsu is a great form of exercise but it is also a great form of emotional release.

6.) Family Run Business: Carlos believed in the traditional way of the samurai which is to pass down the art of jiu jitsu from generation to generation. I think that because of this principle you have a family tree represented in every gym. Everyone that has ever been to a legit jiu jitsu gym can trace the lineage of their jiu jitsu to someone.

7.) University of the MAT: i believe that carlos wanted to set up his jiu jitsu academies like a place for scholars of jiu jitsu to come and discuss or debate techniques and such. i also believe that at the university of the MAT every single person from white belt all the way to black belt is a teacher and a student at the same time. i truly believe that you can learn something from every single person that is in the gym at any given moment. Always stay humble and open to what people have to say. Who knows maybe your next jiu jitsu breakthrough could be in an off handed comment by a white belt. You never know

8.) Speaking in Second Person: This part to me is a little weird but apparently grandmaster Carlos wanted to escape the standard discourse. He always challenged his students to find their own voice and continue to be creative. Now im not saying go and start speaking in second person but i do agree don’t just be like everyone else. Look for ways to be creative and if you want to challenge your mind then do it even in your daily conversations. Totally up to you

9.) Leading Without Oppressing: The capacity to attract dedicated, talented and intelligent people, as well as to make way for them to develop their full potential and gain credit for it. I think as instructors this is one of the hardest things to do. think of Carlos here is younger brother Helio who is smaller and not very strong bending and changing the jiu jitsu that carlos was teaching to better suit his body and needs. Now he could have shot down every idea that his brother ever came up with but instead he nurtured his creativity and imagination hence evolving jiu jitsu into the basis for what it is now. This i believe, is what a true jiu jitsu instructor’s main goal should be. Teach the fundamentals and then allow for self exploration and adaptation of the old, leading to new concepts and new fundamentals.

10.) Consistency: Maybe the most important principle in life. i believe that consistency parallels success. Becoming the best jiu jitsu player that you can does not require genius intellegince (although it might help), Super athleticism, insane strength, or crazy flexibility. No it only requires that you show up and prepare yourself everyday to strive to learn more about yourself everytime your on the mat. do this and you will accomplish your goals i promise.

(all the above principles came from grandmaster carlos gracie. i just gave you my interpretation of what he was trying to say)

Transitional or Positional Control

12 12 2009

Let’s start by talking about control in terms of Jiu Jitsu. There are many different ways to control someone in Jiu Jitsu depending on what position you are in. For the sake of this conversation let’s talk about control when you are on top either in side control, knee on the belly, north and south, mount, or the back. I have noticed that for the most part there are two general types of control when you are on top either positional control or transitional control.

Positional control is when you assert your control over your opponent by not letting them out of whatever dominant position you have them in. I have found that the majority of new whitebelts all the way to entry level blue belts roll mainly with just positional control on their minds. It is very evident by the way they hold their sidecontrol. Most of the time I see them with their body totally rigid with muscles flexed and pulling their opponent to their own body. (sidenote doing this type of sidecontrol connects you totally to the other person) The whole idea behind this type of control is to hold the position for as long as one can. This can be extremely exhausting. Doing positional control like this requires lots of muscle endurance and strength. Can a whitebelt form a decent top game by doing this over and over? Theoritically yes, but I will tell you this; it’s not easy and it takes a lot of strength… A lot of strength!! This however is just one part of positional control and I want to pause here now in my explaination of positional control because to explain further would be to involve transitional control.

Transitional control is where you control your opponent by not keeping him from escaping but by realizing that he is escaping and to transition ahead of him to another dominant position. For example say you are holding your opponent in sidecontrol and you recognize that they are begining to attempt an escape. Instead of fighting with your opponent you transition to knee on the belly before they have fully initiated their escape out of your sidecontrol. This type of control requires a keen mind, sensitivity, fluidity of movement, good angles, and little strength. The idea is to never really try to hold a position but instead to always transition ahead and allow your movement and your body do all the work; not your muscles.

My own personal game started out with the positional control. In the begining that seemed to me, to be the object of the roll. At this time in my Jiu Jitsu journey submissions weren’t really happening a whole lot so I focused more on trying to dominate my opponents positionally. My thinking was that I would have to first learn how to solidify a position before I could ever look for a submission. Hence the age old saying in Jiu Jitsu position before submission. Well eventually through lots of mat time and grueling rolls (because of my style, at the time my rolls were dominated more by my muscles than my movement!) I started to gain success in my positioning and eventually that led to submissions. But Here’s the thing… People stopped wanting to roll with me. My training partners began to avoid me when it was time for live rolling at the gym. This was disturbing and I didn’t understand it. I was told this is how you do it. I was shown techniques and ways to hold positions and then I was told to try my best to do those things in a roll. I finally asked someone in the gym that I trusted to give me a straight answer and I asked him if people at the gym were avoiding rolling with me and he said “yes sir, your a beast and honestly it sucks rolling with you.” I have to be honest with you, hearing this made me feel pretty good. I mean wasn’t this the whole reason I signed up to do this stuff? Become the best at the gym. Answer that natural competitive nature inside of me? The answer is yes but at what cost? I realized that because of the way I rolled people no longer wanted to train with me. This bothered me because if no one trained with me how was I going to continue to progress? At the time I was a proud blue belt. It was in this moment that I figured the way I thought was wrong and also the way I had been taught was wrong. I realized that I put to much importance on rolls that happened in traing. I competed everytime I rolled with someone! Which I now know is not the best way for me personally to develop as a Jiu Jitsu PLAYER! So I decided to try and relax more in my training rolls. I planned to do this by relaxing and relying more on sensitivity and transitions in my rolls rather than strength. Even going so far as allowing people to start their escapes and not try to fight them but instead try to outthink them and then beat them to the punch. For me this was the way my transitional control was born.

Since I chose to begin developing my transitional control I have noticed a couple key things that I would like to share. Transitional control is made up of a balance of two key elements… Stability and Mobility. To be continued…


7 11 2009

The second half of the tournament got started with obi.
This was Obi’s first time to compete since his knee surgery a year ago.

Obi’s match started with him getting a beautiful takedown and establishing his side control immediately. From here Obi was able to dominate. He soon established full mount and continued his domination. There was a scramble and Obi re-established his side control. The match ended with Obi totally dominating with a score of 9 to 0. Great match Obi! You showed great control and technique in your win!

Obi’s next match was against a very game opponent. His opponent was very calm and collected while obi was not yet fully recovered from his first bout. Obi’s opponent was able to secure the first takedown and score 2 points. From here obi did a great job of moving off his back and turning to his knees. Obi made it back to his feet and it was evident that obi was pretty tired. His opponent secured another takedown and eventually took obi’s back and locked in a choke.

Obi did an excellent job of controlling his positions and dominating the top positions with his first opponent. With his second i think obi did an excellent job of continuing to stay in contsant motion. never allowing his opponent to staple him down and control him. If only obi had a little more endurance in that second match maybe the outcome goes a different way. Keep up the good work obi. In time you will find yourself relaxing and your body moving more efficiently thus keeping you from ever reaching that exhausted state.

next we have me…

at this tournament there were a whole lot of white belts. Then you had a good showing of blue belts. After that the number of purple, brown, and black belts were a little scarce. in my bracket there was only one other guy. he was a purple belt from gracie barra in houston and he definetely wasn’t a little guy. His name was sergio and sergio probably weighed somewhere between 275 and 325. i will try to find the footage of the fight but to summarize real fast…

i took sergio down with a sacrifice throw. i quickly mounted him. then i went to side control and started working for gi chokes… long story short i finished sergio with a keylock while i was in his halfguard. i promise i will try to get the footage of that match up asap… shortly after my match with sergio and i thought i was done for the day, my name was called on the loudspeaker. evidently they had forgotten someone and asked if i would fight him. i of course said yes. the following footage is from that roll

obi and me atama open gold

Now Nick and Art both found redemption in the absolute white belt division.

Art won his first fight against a friend from marra senki named james. it was an excellent match with good jits played by both players. Art won by sinking his hooks in right before the match was over. In Arts next fight he fought his opponent to a stand still and they had to go to overtime to decide the winner. In the 2 min of overtime no player was able to establish any points but yet the ref decided to hand the victory to Art’s opponent. Great job Art!! i was so proud of you. i know you were fighting a hurt groin and an injured arm. way to persevere and get you a win.

da boys atama open

Nicks redemption came when after his first win in the absolute white belt division he earned the right to fight the same guy that he lost to by 3 points earlier that day. Nick took the guy down passed his guard, took his back and one body triangle and a choke later the match was over. Nick went on to make it all the way to the finals of the absolute white belt tournament! In the final nick was doing awesome and was winning the match 2-0 when with only 1min left, nick got caught with a scissor sweep from his opponents closed guard. After the fight nick was awarded the Silver Medal for the absolute white belt division!  Nick has only been training for 4 months and he went up against some really good white belts that day. great job nick!!

Halfway through and were 0-2

7 11 2009

So here we are, the day of the competition. Art and Nick have already competed. Both guys did well. Let’s start with art…

Art was the first guy of the competition to fight. Needless to say he was not as warm as he would have liked to be and he is fighting a pulled groin injury.

The fight started with art’s opponent shooting for a double and switching to a single. Art sprawled and attempted to crossface and take the back. Unfortunately his technique was just a little slow and peformed correctly so it didn’t work. His opponent took side control and eventually finished art with an armbar from kasa gatama. Great try art!

Next we have nick…

Nick started off by throwing his opponent all over the fighting area! After throwing him around nick pulled guard. From here nick and his opponenet were locked in a battle of grips and posture. Nick was unable to utilize his sitting guard effictively and his opponent was unable to open his guard. In an attempt to hunt for a submission nick threw up a triangle. His opponent defended well and passed nicks guard and established side control. You guessed it he scored three points. Nick escaped and put his opponent back in Closed guard and continued to fight. They scrambled to their knees and with only 1 min left in the match. Nick was hardpressed to score and get the win but was unable to do so with so little time left in the fight. I am proud of nick. With only 4 months of training he pulled guard even though he was obviously the stronger of the two. Nick might not agree with me but I think this fight will be an excellent learning experience for his Jiu Jitsu evolution.

Weigh Ins and Eat!!

6 11 2009

We made it to Houston in great time. We quickly checked in to our hotel and then made our way over to Legends Sports Park so that art could weigh in asap. Art is the only one of us that is trying to cut weight, so he hasn’t eaten at all today.

We all made weight. Yeah! Next it was find somewhere to eat quick. We asked a couple of people if they could point us in the direction of some good food. More than one person suggested this close place called Papa’s ice house so naturally we decided to go there. Let’s just say that the only good thing I have to say about this place is that it has pretty good sausage.

After eating we kind of felt like having some sweets so we cruised around woodland Houston looking for somewhere to chill and have some dessert. We settled on a resturant / wine bar called Americus. The place was awesome. After eating some dessert and relaxing like kings it was time to hit the sack and prepare for our perspective battles to come.

Good luck guys! Let’s play our Jits tomorrw…