Archive for January, 2012

Robson Moura

Robson Moura is one of my favorite grapplers….. I’ll let Robson do the talking for this article…A lot of great reflection and insight while you watch him roll with one of his students..His transitions alone are worth watching this video


Some hardcore training…

Need to get in shape for any reason? Look no further than Ross Enamait……Check out his site  at

Congratulations to Chris Weidman for last nights win over Demian Maia…Heres a clip of Chris in action at Grapplers Quest in 2009.

When I first started training, Brazilian jiu jitsu was only known as Gracie jiu jitsu, and even then no one knew what Gracie jiu jitus was.  Then, in 1993 came a very small, unknown tournament held in Denver Colorado  called the Ultimate fighting championship that completely changed the martial arts world forever.

What solidified Brazilian jiu jitsu’s place in the sun was actually the second UFC, because it was there that it showed that Royce Gracies first win was not a fluke and that the techniques of Gracie Jiu jitsu were not only effective in an actual street fight but also against people from  different martial arts disciplines .

If your not as old as I am, then you couldn’t understand what it was like before the UFC days.  Most people chose a martial art because they “heard” it was effective.  No one had any real proof that their martial art was the ultimate one  other than their  instructor telling them it was.  Only the Gracies put their martial art to the test in a laboratory of real street  fights and refined it into the science we know today.

People like Fred Ettish ,who came from a background in tradition martial arts, believed that their training was effective enough to be used in a real life street fight, going as far as to believe themselves so deadly that they would most likely kill some one if they actually had to fight.

Unfortunately  for Fred Ettish he learned a very hard  lesson, one that would be tough enough to handle if it had just happened in a regular street fight, let alone a public arena like the UFC.  You also have to factor into his misfortune all the negativity  he received from other martial artist that came after his UFC debut.

Hopefully for all you who remember  Fred Ettish and were quick to make fun of him ( which I too was guilty of at one time) will have a change of heart after watching this Youtube video, I know I did. You can’t help but respect the man.

He’ll probably never read this blog, but if your out there Fred, I apologize.

This is an commercial for HBO boxing at night thats been getting alot of hits on Youtube.  Some of you might have seen this before but it truly is worth reposting. It has everything needed to inspire the human soul and the message applies to any endeavor  you seek to accomplish.

When I was coming up in training one of the first things I tried to develop was my guard.  While other people were more interested in trying to dominate from the top positions or work to develop killer submissions, I was more keen on trying to become better at sweeps, reversals, and defense  from the guard position.

You see my reasoning was this:  Before I started training in Bjj I was a horrible grappler, so I believed that since I was just starting to learn grappling from the ground up  I would most definitely be spending a lot of my time fighting off my back, particularly because where I was training there were a lot guys who had a wrestling background. So as time went on I really started to develope a decent guard, especially when it came to sweeps and guard recovery.  Most of the time it was pretty much the same type guard pass attempts from people. They would either try to run around my legs or bulldoze through my guard.   As time went on I got to the point where either attempt rarely worked against me, I would still get passed here and there , but by the time my opponent had finally passed me he had used most of his energy which made it easier to either recover my guard or get a reversal.

My confidence was starting to really sore, that is until I met Slow Death Kenny.  Kenny couldn’t be a nicer person if he tried.  Always friendly , eager to help, he laughed anytime you happened to catch him in any type of bad position (which was rare).    He was about 6’2 and about 170 lbs, so he was a very unassuming man.   At that time  I was about 23 to kennys 50, so when I got partnered up with him  for this first time  I assumed that I could easily handle him and it would be a good warm up for me before I went against the younger, stronger guys in the class.

When the bell rang to signal the usual  four minute match ups for the class, we slapped hands and began to train.  I did my standard butterfly guard pull, making sure that my hooks were in deep and I had gained the double unders gaining upper body control, assuring that this would be a quick and easy  reversal to side control, followed by a stunningly quick victory by such a fantastic jiu jitsu master as myself !

What transpired next was the slowest four minutes of my life as Kenny preceded to dismantle me and any type of belief that I was a master of anything other than eating the mat.  First sign of trouble came at the exact time I thought I had established my masterful butterfly guard position.  Everyone else I would achieved this position on would try to wildly get away or jump towards me, both of which were mistakes that I could easily capitalize on , but not Kenny, he did something I had ever felt any other opponent do, he completely relaxed his weight into me, getting heaviest at my feet. It literally felt like he had glued me to the mat, completely immobilizing my hips. Next step in my destruction was Kenny crushing down to one side , clamping his armpits down to my sides , in effect gluing himself to me and every bit of  his weight  too.  Then came the worst part, unlike everyone else who would go as fast as they could to go around me, Kenny started  this very slow and deliberate  inch by inch shuffle that left no space for me to move and placed every bit of his bodyweight on my hips and legs.  This 170 pound man felt like 2000 pounds of hell slowly marching around me to crush any hope I had of survival. By the time he had passed my guard I had almost wanted him to tap me just from the sheer exhaustion of trying to fight him off !  This scenario played itself out over and over again for the remainder of the four minute period, and when it was over , Kenny, being the nice guy he was, said “Thanks, you really have a good guard”.   I, being drained from the ordeal, managed to mumble something that sounded like “Thanks” back and stumble over to the next opponent who proceeded to destroy me because all my energy had went right out the window.

In two weeks time, Kenny had earned the nickname “Slow death Kenny” from everyone we trained with, because my demise while training with him was pretty much everyone else’s experience too.  I finally sat down with him one day and asked what was his secret?  Kenny said that he had been having a hard time training when he first started.  Everyone was usually younger and faster, and when he would try to keep up he would usually get too tired or be out paced.  It wasn’t until he attended a Jean Jacques Machado seminar that everything  changed for him.  After the initial seminar was over Kenny had gotten a chance to sit down with Machado and tell him his predicament. Machado went on to explain that what Kenny was doing was trying to rush jiu jitsu and as a result he was missing the opportunities to effectively pass the guard or use any other position. He told Kenny that jiu jitsu is a game of an inch at a time. After Machado helped Kenny tweak some moves and teach him proper weight distribution, Kenny;s game took off.

Kenny now lives in Florida and is a black belt who still trains to this day, probably destroying the hopes and dreams of many young guys joining up at his  jiu jitsu school.

Kennys advice never left me and really has helped me along the way from all positions in jiu jitsu.  So my advice  is that the next time your training, try slowing down and  using  jiu jitsu at an inch at a time.

I used to fall into the same mind trap a lot of guys who train in any sport do….The “I don’t have time to..” mentality.  I’d reason that I work too long, have too many responsibilities at home, I’m too tired , etc.. Then I read a small article online about the proper use of time management.

The most interesting aspect that stuck out in the article  was an exercise where the author asked you to think about the previous three days of your life and to come up with a rough estimate of the total hours of work , sleep , and necessary activities that you had conducted in that time period .  Things like watching tv, gaming, texting, idle chit chat on the phone and other useless activities were not to be added into the total hours estimated.

After I casually jotted down the prior three days of my life  without being overly accurate, I came to a  startling conclusion…I really had been wasting my time immensely .  Having already figured in the the hours that counted, work , sleep, and real activities, I was left with anywhere from 3 to 5 hrs of complete mind numbing activities that did absolutely nothing for me except distract me from improving my life …

Within that same week I had read the time management article I had also  read about a 45 year old brown belt who had won the California state championship.  When asked about how he managed his time for training  his response was “Everything I do is training for jiu jitsu”.

So what does this all mean to you?   Everything!  Especially if you’re looking for more time to train outside the mats..

Here are my five suggested exercises  for utilizing your wasted time .  I’ll  use your time watching tv as a barometer  mainly because , as Americans, this is what we mostly waste our grey matter on….

1) Hip escapes…..probably the one jiu jitsu drill you should do till you die..

2) Leg circles..not only massively important, but also a great abdominal  exercise…

3) Hip outs…basic wrestling move thats should be done to death.

4) Hip heist….for the uninitiated  this is the old school jiu jitsu drill of standing up if knocked down in an actual street fight…great drill for both street and sport jiu jitsu..

5) Butterfly guard arm drags…I like this drill for two reasons…one, it acts as a good side to to side mobility drill for the butterfly guard and two, it develops good reactionary skills for your arm drags…

Obviously these are just a few of the multitude of drills or exercises  you can utilize, these just happen to be my favorites and seem, for me at least, the ones that help my jiu jitsu game the most.

It all comes down to trying to utilize time in the most efficient manner you can to enhance your training.

When I look back at my days as a white belt  I remember how tough the training was.   My lungs would burn because I wasnt used to the endurance it required to train, my muscles would burn from not having learned yet when and where to use the proper amount of force , and my arms, legs and throat would be just beat up from getting tapped all the time by the higher ranked belts.
Back then I never worried about being tapped, it was just a fact of life that when I walked through those doors I was getting tapped , there realy was no stress, just alot of muscle aches.   As time went on though, as with every Bjj guy who trains long enough, the tide began to turn in my favor and I was slowly but surely tapping out people, and as more time went on I started to catch the guys that used to always tap me.
It was right about this time, when I got my blue belt, that I started noticing a peculiar thing.   Some of the guys who had been blue belts before me, and some of the higher ranked guys werent as eager to train with me as much as they used to be, not that they were afraid to roll with me, alot of them could still on average beat me, but it seemed like I was practically selling them on training with me.    I’d hear the usual excuses like “Im just training light today” or “I just tweeked my neck, ask scott if he wants to train”.   The sudden injury seemed to be the most popular reason why people couldnt train, but about 20 minutes later I’d see the same guy rolling with someone else at full speed.   His injury had seemed to miraculously heal.
What this all really boils down to is that almost everyone above white belt hates to tap, but whats an even more  dreaded scenario to these same people is to get tapped by a person of lower rank and this type of attitude can really hinder not only your preformance on the mat, but true advancement in Bjj.
I believe it was Rigan Machado who was once consuling one of his newly appointed black belts who was so stressed about be caught in a submission by anybody of lower rank than him to which Rigan laughed and said “everyone taps my friend!”
Tapping is part of everyday life on the mat in jiu jitsu, it is one of the greatest assets to training in Bjj there is.   Tapping tells you what you need to work on, shows you where your game is weak and also, when you make the person tap, where you are strong.   Believe me, when I started going up in rank I completely fell into the “I cant get tapped ” mentality, until a black belt said to me “How are you ever going to get better if you always play to win and not open up your game”, and by “opening up your game” he meant engaging in problem spots like passing the guard, cross sides, the back position, etc…
Its only when you start allowing your self to fail that you can realx and learn from these mistakes to improve and win.
My suggestion is to always seek out the person you least like to train with, the one that would make you scream inside if he or she tapped you, and after a litle ego bruising you will start to notice how much you not only improve your physical game but also your mental game as well.

Over the years I’ve been  training I’ve been asked a common question, “What do you like so much about Brazilian jiu jitsu?”  I think the majority of people expect me to say something moronic like “I like kicking ass!” or something more macho like “I don’t like taking crap off of people!”  but these attitudes couldn’t be further removed from my mindset if you tried.

When I began training when I was younger  I’ll admit that it was all about self defense and being ready for a street fight, but as time went on something deeper developed from training that made me love the art even more. I could list about a million things I love about Jiu Jitsu, but for this particular  article I want to cover one  aspect thats always kept me coming back to the art.

Its the inspiration from the people I train with to the motivating stories from around the Bjj world that  I love.  I’ve watched people join up who had no athletic background, much less athletic ability and rise to become some of the top players around. I’ve seen first hand the confidence and fortitude it can build in people who were so shy they had a hard time just signing up for a class.

I’ve watched people come in so out of shape to the point of being sickly turn around to become an energetic, heathly person, or people with disabilities that find themselves again through training in Bjj.

There is probably no greater example of what Im talking about  than the above photo….Story goes that the man on the left hand side of  the photo with the deformed leg had struggled and fought hard enough to qualify for the Brazilian Jiu jitsu state championship, which is where this picture was taken.  He ended up losing this match, but earning the respect of the crowd and his opponent who had wept after the match was over because he was so moved .

It is this human factor that keeps me coming back to train, and when Im in a rut, or going through a hard time, I always access these stories to keep me motivated.

It is what I call the heart of Jiu Jitsu.

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