Apr 122013

I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I had studied other martial arts before learning BJJ, but there is something different about it that changed how I look at, train, and teach martial arts now. Below are some pointers for anyone starting Jiu Jitsu.

1. Don’t tell everyone how much you already know.

One of the great things about BJJ is that you will get the chance to roll with, and tap out most everyone in class, every class you attend. If you are already a grappling wonder, they will figure it out in short order. When you over sell your abilities you either offend the members of your class by appearing arrogant, or at least you will convince them not to offer pointers since they figure you already know, and you’ll spend more time trying to figure things out on your own.


2. Don’t try so hard to win, try hard to play.

They say that Jiu Jitsu is like chess. Remember what it was like when you learned to play chess (I don’t know, are kids still playing chess?)? The first few games where more about remembering how the pieces moved then really trying to win. If you are in your first few classes of Jiu Jitsu, you still don’t know the moves of the game. Give it time. Watch how the people are playing against you and learn from that. When you get submitted, ask what just happened. If you spend the entire match hugging your opponent to death, you won’t be learning anything.


3. Don’t try to teach other people during the teaching time.

You just started Jiu Jitsu, the other students know this, your instructor knows it too. No one cares what you saw on Youtube and no one wants corrected by someone that isn’t the teacher. Its off-putting and opens you up to being corrected by everyone else. You might even be right, but no one cares.


4.  Don’t talk during grappling.

You’re new and nervous, but avoid talking when you grapple. Its confusing to your opponent and breaks up the round. An occasional “Sorry I stepped on your eye.” is fine, but this is not the time to talk about the most recent Ultimate Fighter episode, or even how much you hate getting caught in someone’s guard. If you are the quiet guy (or girl) who just steadily fights every class, everyone will want to roll with you.


5. Don’t brag about tapping someone out.

I get it, this might be the first time you’ve ever beaten this person, but jumping up and proclaiming it or bragging to people after class is a good way to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This one sounds like simple good sportsmanship, but it happens. Don’t say ” I took Brian out with that Kimora.” Say something like “I finally caught someone with that Kimora” Just leave Brian out of it. No one minds it when new guys are happy to be doing well, we’re all trying to get you up to speed, but without the good will of your training partners, its going to be hard to progress.

Jul 192012

We all know them. It doesn’t matter if you train for MMA competitions, or if you are even in a combat sport. They are everywhere. I like to call them Tapout Kids, and they are spreading. They are a cunning hunter that wants to corner you and waste your time with trivia and options that the Internet would blush to be associated with, but like all true wannabes they have never worked in or trained for the sport which spawned them. They are at your gym, lurking at the mall, employed at your job and they can only be avoided if you know what to look for. Below is a list of signs that the person in front of you is a Tap Out Kid.




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Jan 232012

As a martial artist, you have to be careful what you use your fame to endorse. Well, you might have to worry about this. I’m pretty sure I could endorse kool aid as a weight loss wonder drug and no one would take offense…or be aware of it. Never the less, even local martial arts instructors have to be careful of the what they promote to their students for two reasons, 1, they some times don’t realize you are joking. and 2, sometimes martial arts instructors give awful advice.

When will people learn that being a great martial artist doesn’t imbue a man (or woman) with expertise in any other area? Just like we have all had to realize that being a great martial artist doesn’t make you an actor…well I’ve realized it anyway, the rest of you are just slow.

Anyway today is a list of martial arts stars endorsements that amuse and confuse us. After the break

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Nov 032011

There are two kinds of fight names. Ones that your training partners call you, and names that only the ring announcer calls you. …oh, and two more kinds, good ones and awful ones. So I guess there are four kinds of fight names. Anyway, regardless of how many types of fight names there are, they always carry with them something about the fighter. Some are easily understand able, for example Roy “Big Country” Nelson, and others are a little more cryptic. Fighters having fight names has long been a staple of boxing, but unless you practice it, you may not know that fight names are really traditional in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It kind of makes sense. After all, Carlos and Helio Gracie were taught Judo by famous Judoka Mitsuyo “Conde Koma” (which means Count of Combat) Maeda, who was the star puiple of Tsunejiro “Guardian” Tomita (In Japanese it was Shiten’nō). Which is a really long way of saying fighters have had nick names in martial arts for along time.

Some fight names sound awesome when you are alone talking to yourself in the shower, or after your friend has kicked you in the head, but when you hear it announced, we all feel differently. Continue reading »

Oct 202011

When we were young alot of us were drawn to the martial arts because of the cool weapons we saw in movies and comic books. I was always trying to figure out how I could carry a sword for self defense, never mind the stupidity of that thought. Almost all of us have played around with throwing knives and blow guns, some of us even played with three sectional staves and chain whips. Ironicly the more normal a weapon is, the less chance there is that it ended up in your training. So I present Five fairly normal weapons that I and most likely you, never trained with

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Oct 062011

Due to my brain not working, the best I can offer you is a list of disjointed facts. These could come in handy. Lets say you need to impress your boss.
Boss: Did you ever finish that job I asked you to do”
You: Did you know who the shortest pro fighter is?
Boss: …er no, sorry to bother you…it won’t happen again.
At this point I would like to hope you will take this chance to plug the blog to all your co-workers.

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Sep 202011

 Every martial art tends to venerate its founder. Those of us who grew up on a diet of martial arts movies and shows attribute almost supernatural powers to the old school masters. For example Chuck Norris can solve a rubix cube in one turn. Its true, I read it on the Internet. Bruce Lee can apparently defeat anybody at anything. His surviving students claim that if he had wanted to, he would have been one of the top three boxers in the world, and that he was really a great grappler, he just never taught it to anyone. No matter how you look at it, we had a time where there were some really great martial artist wondering the world. The question is always asked, how good a fighter were these men really. We hear about how awesome they were, how fast, how deadly, but who did they ever fight? So I’ve compiled a list of famous martial artists and their respective fighting records.

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Jul 242011

Yeah I know, this kind of thing has been done to death, but every time I turn a round I have someone repeating one of these jewels of martial wisdom. Oddly enough, these myths (normally spawned from an ’80’s martial arts flick) are normally repeated by high ranking black belts!

6. The Gi (Martial arts training uniform) was based on traditional japanese samurai clothing.
Yeah, I wish. At some point all of us non-Japanese Americans need to realize YOU ARE NOT AND CAN NOT BE A SAMURAI. Sorry, I don’t care if Tom Cruse did it in a move. Kano (founder of judo) decided that tearing each other’s clothing apart wasn’t a good idea, so adoped the jackets worn by japanese firefighters called hanten. These tended to be heavy cotton and could be soaked to help deal with heat. Yeah I know, wearing cotton to deal with fires, well, you use what you have. You’ve got an oven mitt don’t you? Naturally they adapted the hanten to fit their needs better, but as you can tell from the picture (view from the back) it looks like a martial arts uniform to me! Now unless the samurai spent a lot of their time being firefighters, and I’m not saying no one did, it’s really not samurai garb.

5. You can kill a man by hitting him in the nose and jambing it up into his brain.
Don’t get me wrong, you very well might die if you managed to shove someone’s nose, or any other body part into their brain. However, there is no angle you can hit to make this happen. You would have to cave their skull in before you had a chance to shift their nose towards the brain, and your opponent is likely already dead, or on his way there.

4. You can stick your fingers into your opponent’s eye and into his brain.
Sorry to be stuck on ugly things like this, but really, has anyone ever seen a human skull? The sockets that the eyes sit in do not connect to the inside of the skull except for a really tiny hole that the optic nerve runs through to the brain.

3. The black belt in martial arts came from ancient times when the blood and dirt of training staining a fighter’s belt until it turned black.
No, Kano (founder of judo again. Thank you sir!) decided if the teacher wore a different color belt then the rest of the class it would be easier to identify him, oh yeah, and this started in 1886, which was six years after the light bulb was invented and the first pay phone was installed (very ancient) . The other colors of rank came from one of his students, Mikonosuke Kawaishi, in 1935. Yes, we had aircraft carriers, submarines and cars were common. Heh
2. Neck breaks are the ultimate killing techniques. If you know a neck break you can easily kill a man.
Well maybe you know one, but as a general rule of thumb, the majority of these methods require a surprise attack from behind Neck breaking techniques are best implemented by a very strong man versus a much weaker adversary who is struggling helplessly, otherwise they are extremely difficult to perform. Neck snaps are typically a “finishing move” used on a fallen opponent who is either unconscious or too exhausted to defend himself, hence, they have no reasonable application to the study of self-defense. In our country, performing a finishing move on a helpless individual is known as “murder,” and carries stiff penalties. And chunking a passed out man with a rock is still easier to do.

1 .The Shaolin Temple is the source of all martial arts.
China had been doing martial arts for some time. It was a cultural thing, but until 1517 A.D., there is no record of martial arts being practiced there, despite there are plenty of people who mentioned the temple in their writings before that point. Now there are plenty of records from the Ming dynasty that tell of Shaolin’s monks doing cool stuff, but Jiu Jitsu and Ken Jitsu among others were already being practiced in Japan at this time. Now all you Kung fu people out there, I am not saying China wasn’t the cultural seat of the area, and most likely most martial arts were flavored by Chinese influence, I am just saying there is no proof that it started everything!