Archive for February, 2013

How to fold a BJJ Gi

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
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Hey guys here is a quick tutorial on how to fold your gi for storage or to pack in your suitcase. My instructor always says no matter where he goes, the gi goes in the bag first. Believe me this has come in handy. I am starting to accumulate a few gi’s (five actually) so they are starting to take up some space. (Not my video)

Competition is one of those things that comes up in class almost every time we get a new guy in the door. They say competing is not a requirement.  That you compete everyday you are in class. I agree with that to a point. You definitely compete with yourself and with your teammates, but this is not the same as actually getting out on the mats and letting loose your jiu jitsu knowledge.  When in class there is an etiquette that is followed. You cannot unleash jiu jitsu fury while training. First it is not good for learning and second you won’t have training partners for very long. You will become that guy in class. After years of being in MMA and jiu jitsu you definitely don’t want to be that guy. When it is time to roll in class it becomes the equivalent of musical chairs. When you compete in a real match, it is one of the only times to test the theory of technique vs. implementation of technique.  You will never truly know what it is like to apply jiu jitsu with a partner that is not a teammate unless you compete. The only other scenario would be a self defense situation and we don’t want to think about that. It is much better to be able to test yourself in an environment with some structure and rules.  Competition can also bring your jiu jitsu game to a whole new level by throwing off some of the bonds of your class structure, and letting you open the throttle on your game. I’m not saying that it is absolutely necessary to compete, but I’m saying if you ever want your jiu jitsu to be complete you have to compete.  So new guys hit the mats, prepare and do at least one tournament at each belt level you acquire. Now I didn’t say it had to be the World Championships, just a tournament will do.

Comrade in arms

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
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We few , we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
                                                   Henry V   william Shakespeare

This quote has always meant so much to me over the years.   I have been competing in combat sports most of my life, from wrestling to MMA, and now jiu jitsu. They are all individual sports that require you to have training partners. These training partners become so much more than partners. In a good enviroment they become family. When ego gets checked and you have a group of individuals who want to make everyone better the level of the group rises almost exponentially. You will sweat and bleed with these guys. Sometimes you will spend more time with them, than you do with your family. They become your extended family. They will also know you in a way sometimes even your immediate family won’t know you.  So next time you step on the mats think about what you mean to the people in your gym or school. Think about the brotherhood of the mat, the ring, or the cage.  Brothers in arms.

Jiu jitsu is one of the only sports I have ever competed in or trained in besides wrestling to a point where getting your butt kicked on the mats can make you a better person. When you roll with someone above your level and get manhandled but not destroyed, you are given the chance to learn.  The sayng goes there is only winning and learning.  It has taken me years to start to process the learning components of getting my butt kicked. I think this process really became evident when I stopped being a full time instructor and finally decided to retire from MMA competition. I put my focus on learning jiu jitsu. I have been very lucky to find my BJJ Professor and my instructor. He is one degree of seperation from Royler Gracie and my instructor  trained with him full time for years. Which puts me in touch with the pure source of the orginal Gracie Jiu Jitsu.  I got the pleasure and the pain to roll with my Professor yesterday. Needless to say my learning oppurtunities could fill a room.  I have also learned I can never take away all the lessons I learn from a good training session. I try to at least take away one good lesson.  I store this lesson and use it everytime I roll. So here is to taking a good butt kicking today to be able to hand one to someone else tomorrow.

Consistency. When I was running my schools, this was one thing that bothered me almost more than anything. I would have students come to class, maybe one time one week, a couple of times the next. As an instructor you give a lot of yourself. You give your knowledge, your guidance, and most importantly your time. It was a hard lesson to learn as an instructor that not everyone is as dedicated as I was. I don’t think it was just the inconsistent training that bothered me, i believe it was the lack of communication. I know students are not always going to be at every class, but a little message letting me know would have went along way. Now if you are a fighter or want to be a fighter as an instructor I would definitely expect you to be at most classes.
Things have came full circle for me. I have ran my own MMA/BJJ school for over 13 years up until this past January. I closed my last school to spend more time with my family and to have a flexible schedule. Then something happens that I wish would have happened years ago. My bjj instructor was going to have a school within driving distance. So for the first time in years, I was going to be a student again. I was and still am super excited to be a student again, and be able to add to my toolbox. Being a student means I am not required to be at class as if I was the instructor, but I do have the responsibility as a student to show up to class or at the very least let my instructor know that I wont be there. Be responsible, be consistant.

Zero Mind

Posted: February 21, 2013 in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
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The concept of zero mind is a pretty familiar one in most sport circles. Most people are familiar with it called being in the zone. The zone is the place where there is action with no thought. I usually refer to it as thinking with no thought. It is not a place of pure reaction, but more of a place where conscious thought has a governor. It is a place where thoughts of everyday life cannot exist. To be in the zone or be in the moment you cannot be thinking of anything outside of what is directly in front of you.
Being in the zone or having a zero mind has been a place of meditation for me personally. It is a very spiritual place for me. Now don’t confuse spirituality with religion because that is not what I am referring to. Being spiritual for me is being closer to whatever the force that binds everything together is. Use whichever name you like for it chi, ki, force, or even the divine. I have experienced some of my most profound moments in my life being in this mindset. From the birth of my children, to marrying my wife, to grappling on the mats, life is truly lived in the zone, within the zero mind. These are the moments we really live our lives, not worrying about our mortgage or car payments. Only the now only the zero.

The darkside of the force is very strong. My eleven year old son was competing in a wrestling match for his wrestling club, and course, I believe my son will be the next Cael Sanderson. Well I can hope but, he does have an affinity for wrestling. He has amassed a very good record over the last six years. He did take off last year from wrestling and is just a little rusty starting off this first competition. He goes out and wins his first match. Im now thinking alright he got back on the horse and he will breeze thru the night. Then he runs into his first hiccup. The second match is going great, he takes the kid down and manhandles him the whole first period. Second period, he comes out tries a takedown gets stuck under his opponent, gets turned, and gets pinned. Im ready for what comes next. Ive coached a lot of young kids wrestling. A loss is usually taken in one of two ways. Either they come off the mat like, oh well, they smile and go on their way. Or they come off the mat just how I expected my son to, like they just lost the Olympic gold medal match. As a competitor and coach I understand this feeling. You only get this in combat sports. There is something that bares you soul to everyone when you lose in one of these sports. There is no team only you on the mat. I expected him to be upset. Here is were I knew the turn was coming. I knew he had to wrestle again tonight. Which means as a coach I knew I had to get him ready to go back on the mat with the possibility of this pain happening again. He came to me in almost tears. “Dad my stomach hurts. I told you it hurt before the match.” He did tell me his stomach was bothering him, but I cut him off. I told him son losses happen, but we have to keep moving on to the next match. No excuses. He did his best that was ok with me. I knew he was scared to get back on the mat again. I knew he was scared after his first match, when he told me his stomach hurt. Ive seen the same thing in full grown fighters Ive coached. He was planting the seed of an excuse. His first match he won, but not the convincing way he was used to. He took a year off but the other wrestlers did not. I saw the doubt creep up in him. Fear is a super powerful motivator and demotivator. He was sitting at edge of the mat getting ready for his last match. I asked did that loss make him angry. He said yes. I could still hear the doubt and fear hanging at the corners of his voice. I told him use that anger, use that fear. I told him go out there put this kid on his back and stick him. I could tell this fired him up. He walked back on to mat with a swagger. The whistle blew, he locked up, threw the kid and pinned him in less than fifteen seconds.
I didn’t even think about what I had done until later that night. I had just assumed the role of Emperor Palpatine talking to a young Anakin Skywalker. I just told my son to use the dark side. To embrace his anger, let it fill him, let it make him strong. Ok that might be a little over the top, but I did try to turn his fear and anger into a tool he could use. Does that mean he would be angry for every match. No probably not. Does this type of motivation help or hurt someone his age. I think motivation has to be unique to the situation and to the person. This might not work the next time, but I will definitely be putting this Jedi trick in my tool box and embrace the darkside again when needed.