jiu jitsu mindset

21 04 2011

“You can never stop thinking deeply about jiu jitsu, and you can never stop practicing the basics of you movements because thats what’s going to allow you continue to improve and never stagnate. There is never a reason for you to stop improving. So, as long as you take responsibility for your own training, and you are constantly thinking about it and constantly paying attention to the details, you’re always going to be able to continue moving forward and continue your progression. -Ryan Hall (attacking the back dvd series)

this is a pretty important statement in my opinion. i have a lot of friends and training partners who could really use this type of mindset in jiu jitsu. a bunch of people i have met through my training dont quite understand the importance of taking responsibility for their training. they believe that going to a class or two a week is somehow going to magically make them a lot better than it will. when they leave the gym, they disconnect from jiu jitsu altogether, and dont really think about it until its time to train again. its like they are plugging into the matrix, and when they leave, they unplug and go on about their lives. i can understand this type of thinking to a point, if you are just into jiu jitsu for exercise, and not really into it to become good at it. i cant understand, though, how anyone can expect to be technical and progress through the ranks and become proficient at jiu jitsu. its not possible. jiu jitsu is a lifestyle, your training must follow you through your daily life and be a part of your psyche. you absolutely have to break down techniques in your head, add supplemental training (whether it be visual or physical), and learn to understand the basic fundamentals of techniques, not just the sequence of motions.

your instructor can not do this for you.

this is a task that you must learn to do for yourself. do mental reps and visualize yourself going through the motions keeping close sight of all of the details. you learn the moves in class, you drill the moves in class to get a physical connect to the actions, but it is your job to think about what you have learned outside of class when you have introspective time to concentrate.

there really is no limit to how good you can get at jiu jitsu. the game is constantly progressing, and we are all just beginners. unless you are not training at all, the only thing holding you back from your goals is probably yourself.





Visitors

17 01 2015

This discussion keeps coming up when visitors come around about different schools and systems and who’s is better, and I try to stay out of it. It almost always leads to someone getting their feelings hurt or getting really defensive, and it rarely ends well. While things seemed relatively okay today, I think it is wise to always keep in mind who you are talking to, and remember that we don’t all have the same goals in our training.
When people commit to training at a gym, they commit (at least on some level) a loyalty to that particular system or style. The people who don’t, are the people who jump from gym to gym, and never really grow roots and build a foundation for their technique to grow from. Unfortunately, the type of people who do this, seem to end up being the ones who become instructors who can promote the students too rapidly, and the system eventually crumbles when it’s needed the most, on the mat. Then the students find another gym who will cater to their need to keep building upon a flimsy foundation. These students don’t sign up at our gym. These are the guys who are all talk about what they are going to do, their future in the sport, and how their current gym is the best, but then they can’t even follow a technique that builds off of one of the most basic passes in all of bjj. They rarely come back after they get exposed. They go elsewhere where it’s “easier”.
With that being said, it’s pretty important to also keep in perspective what their goals may be. Today, we had a guy in to visit from a local mma oriented school, and it led to the usual conversation. I don’t think that anybody really questions the validity of the instruction at our school, and the quality of our students’ abilities, especially not after they take a class with us, but it really isn’t a fair comparison. We take a different approach than some other schools. We are a technical, gi oriented school, who believes in a strong foundation of fundamentals. As you guys know, it isn’t easy to get promoted here. Dave has no interest in promoting someone who does not have and apply the fundamental knowledge at every level. The last thing he wants is for what I saw today. There wasn’t a problem today. Nobody got hurt or anything. Most of you guys didn’t see anything wrong. I did and Ricardo did, as he was drilling with him. His sparring was okay on the surface. He moved well when things are dynamic and there isn’t any emphasis on technique. He “grappled” well. If we had a sparring only day today, he may not have been exposed, as it’s easy to hide lack of fundamentals with athleticism. But it was very apparent that his current system is flimsy at best, from a pure sport bjj perspective. There was much difficulty following the techniques we worked today, as i required you all to try to focus on perfecting the technique instead of doing it fast. He probably won’t come back and take class, and make more excuses about his system relies on strikes to make openings..
Then again, you need to consider the goals of our competitors. Had our situations been reversed, and one of you had gone to his school and trained in mma style no-gi, would you look like a fish out of water? Maybe a little at first, since we don’t usually consider being hit in the face while we are playing guard, but I’m pretty confident that the majority of our students could translate their game, because of the foundation we have built. You wouldn’t be put in a situation where our system is in question, because you have earned your rank. You didn’t just meet the requirements on the surface, by the way you roll, or coming to X amount of classes, but you have put in the time in class to learn the fundamentals that can answer most situations you will be put in. Even if you have a hard time under pressure sometimes, and make simple mistakes, the knowledge is in there ready to be accessed. The ability to relax, stop thinking about what you need to do, and get out of your head will come with time (and lots of drilling).
I guess what the point of this all is, it’s good to have confidence in our system, and maybe even brag a little bit, but there is no point in arguing with guys like that. Their current system will always be the best, even if that system changes every 6 months. They always put on this show of being so humble, and admirable of our school, but they always go back to the “easier” route of progression, and usually have a warped view of what really happened today. That’s why I try to stay away from those discussions as much as possible, even though some guys keep trying to start it. I’d recommend in the future to do the same.





Family snapseeds

10 03 2012

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stribling

16 10 2011

photos from our recent trip to stribling orchard





Technical Pressure

4 04 2011

I was chatting with Michelle Welti tonight for a minute while we were drilling stack passes, and I thought it might make an interesting blog entry. The conversation was about heavy pressure. It’s amazing how it’s so incredibly hard to put into words exactly how to be heavy. The biggest thing I took away from my time spent with Big Jay Corbett while he was instructing at Rage was his explanation: “try to envision a six inch diameter circle on your opponent, and then try to fit every ounce of your weight into that circle.” It made sense in my head, but I still had such a tough time making it happen for such a long time. How can I fit all of my weight into one spot? Magically, it seemed, about a year later, I could do it. How did I figure it out? I hadn’t been doing anything different? I thought. But, unknowingly I had!
There comes many points in your BJJ journey where things just… Click. Going from playing a guessing game to learning to play a reactionary game. Waiting until your opponent makes a move, then attempting to counter it. Then, going from a reactionary game to making actions to force the reaction from your opponent. When you realize that playing a reactionary game just doesn’t work against higher level opponents. “If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. If you tire, you die.” -Saulo Ribeiro. Words to live by.
Among these enlightening moments is the one where pressure starts to make sense. All of a sudden, it seems like that impossible 6″ circle is anywhere you want it. The cross face, knee on belly, stack passing… It’s like you have found a way to harness gravity and focus it! A small 150lb man now feels like he weighs 300lbs on top. We have all felt it from the bottom, it’s awesome! And it’s really not all that difficult to do. But what is difficult, is to explain it. It’s something that, unfortunately, has to be learnt through action, not explanation. Sometimes heavy pressure can be achieved through counter pressure, such as with a modified scarf hold. Just a small amount of pull on the opposite arm from your legs while you pick your weight off the floor and drive your ribs into theirs can make a ton of difference. But the biggest part isn’t so much the counter pressure, it’s the simple thing that beginners seem to miss.
It’s the drive.
Not just focusing your weight into that small area, but constantly driving off of your feet to create more force. It doesn’t have to be a lot of pushing, a small amount applied constantly at the right angle is very effective. The closest explanation I can offer is to keep your knees and butt off the ground just an inch, no more, and drive off of your feet and then try to imagine your circle. Technical pressure, as many call it, took me well into blue belt to figure out, and it’s still getting better. It’s something that I have asked about a lot as a white belt, and even though I actually got pretty much the exact explanation I just gave, it still took me a long time to understand. You can see it in videos. You know it’s there, but it takes the smallest little details to make it a reality. Details so tiny that you can’t even see them well enough to make use of them. In fact, this blog was pretty much a waste of time, considering anyone looking for an answer, even if you found it, you wont know it until one day when you didn’t even know you are doing anything different, someone will say to you “Wow! Thats some good pressure!” I’m sure you will get a little smirk on your face as the light bulb turns on.
Until then, keep rolling and one day you will find that little 6″ circle really is possible to achieve.





lazy sundays and teaching…

3 04 2011

the last 2 months or so have been pretty awesome. my workload has been very light and i have been able to get some great supplemental training in. this couldn’t have come at a better time for me, considering my wife is going to go into labor literally any minute now. as awesome as it is going to be to have a new baby boy in the house, its definitely going to grind my BJJ to a halt for at least a few weeks. i have been getting in between 6-7 classes or sparring sessions per week and i feel like my game has improved so much just in recent months. its quite amazing how important mat time and experience really is in BJJ. my “normal” schedule since my wife got pregnant again has been 3 classes per week. taking 2 and teaching 1. i was starting to feel almost like a plateau in my progress until i stepped it up. this week felt like a pinnacle so far for me. friday i had two classes and a crazy intense hour of rolling with a very determined miss michelle welti, followed by a rough saturday morning class. i’m so incredibly sore and tired today, and still i cant stop thinking about BJJ.

unfortunately for my progress, not only is the baby coming, but my current jobsite is going to be finished this week, forcing me to go back to a more structured schedule at work, and no more definite day classes. there will be some here and there, but i wont know it until the day of. now, with that being said, once things smooth out on the homefront, i should at least be able to go back to 3 night classes and saturday class. that will be nice. i really feel like 4 is the magic number, anything less doesn’t cut it. whether it be teaching or taking, that amount of focused mat time seems to work for me. hopefully ill be able to get back into a good schedule quickly, considering a newborn baby requires very little attention. but its not the boy im worried about at this point, its the little girl who is jumping headfirst into her terrible twos!

__________________________

people come up to me all the time and talk to me about teaching, offering condolences for not being able to take enough classes sometimes when our instructor is out. but there is definitely something to be said for teaching a technique. i have had this discussion with my instructor a few times. teaching a move makes you take a look at yourself and ask “how well do i really know this technique?” you have to be able to be comfortable enough with your own knowledge to answer specific questions about different aspects of the technique, like “what if your opponent does ___?” “why isn’t this working for me?” having the understanding to break down a movement and confidence that you know what you are talking about is paramount. whats also important is enthusiasm. when you have a lot of success with something, you really want to pass on that success to your peers as well. you end up learning more about the specific details in a single technique by teaching it to others sometimes than when you learn it yourself. now, im not saying i would just watch something on youtube and show it in class. i will only show things that i have learned and drilled many times myself, and used, with success in live sparring. i also greatly respect my instructors approach and style, and try to keep in time with his teachings. i wouldn’t show something that i know he wouldn’t, it has to be consistent in order to be effective.

Then there is always the debate on when to teach… When I started, I would not have felt comfortable learning from a blue belt. I know many people on forums still feel the same way. I don’t see a problem with it anymore since I have a much better understanding of the belt structure at my school. Other schools seem to reward people with belts due to time spent and how well they do against other white belts, not so much based on how the person has grasped not only the basic fundamentals, but how well they can implement them as they are needed. I think at blue belt you should not only have a firm knowledge of fundamentals, but should also be starting to build a more advanced game. Advanced guard work, guard retention, positions, etc, and also be incorporating them into their game regularly and starting to develop their own “style”. Are you going to play the quick explosive style, the smooth technical style, the aggressive heavy style, etc? I feel that once you have begun this part of the journey, you should have a strong enough basics game that teaching should be easy. For a white belt looking to get some color, I think some of these points should be food for thought. Ask yourself this as well, “if I got my ____belt today, and had to compete at that belt tomorrow, would I be ready?” If you are unsure, consider yourself not ready. Think about the positions that other ____ belts are playing. If you understand them, and know how to deal with them offensively and defensively, and not panic when somebody gets you in x, de la riva, deep half, spider, quarter, or any of the many other guards out there, it might be time. But remember, if your instructor doesn’t believe it, then there’s a good chance it’s not time yet. Keep working, have fun, and don’t stress about some silly belt color.

Remember, jiu jitsu is not a race, it’s a marathon.

i love my lazy sundays off, as exhausted and sore as i am, it gives me lots of time to think about the many things i have learned through the week.

to be continued, im sure…





Inspired

31 03 2011

semi-response to http://michellewelti.blogspot.com/2011/03/hitting-plateau.html

Just watch how Jeff moves in this. This is what inspires me. I found myself somewhere similar, and the videos i will insert here helped me remember my goals. I think once you start to feel this comfortable in your guard, you tend to not have to think twice about advancing in any direction knowing that no matter what, you will never be in danger. Because, if you miss something, you will always have guard. Even if you lose it for a sec, It comes right back… Show me one second in this video where Jeff was in trouble. Try to have fun, be relaxed, flow, and try to let go of the fear of losing. Once you convince yourself you can’t lose, you wont.

This is what I aspire to. This level of technical faith that these guys have. All of Jeff’s rolls in this adcc trials go where he wants them.

break this down from the beginning to the end. it’s all one transition.  I know it’s a lot different in the gi, with the added grips… but I don’t think it really has to be. He comes in there with that silly little mustache and just has fun. Sure, it helps that he is a very formidable black belt, but who are we kidding here. What are we? I know I can only dream of being able to do this against a black belt, why expect to? But to see exactly how I want to be able to think and move some day in action, I get truly inspired.

Marcelo Garcia showing why he is perceived as being on “another level” even by his fellow competitors. His instincts, quickness, and complete connection with Jiu Jitsu is nothing short of amazing. Even as relatively outdated this video is, it still holds true.








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