May 182012

Rank was one of the best and worst inventions of martial arts. As a teacher I’ve seen people reach whole new levels of martial proficiency because of the encouragement the pursuit of rank gives them. But everyone knows a few people who either bought their rank online, or simply ordered themselves a black belt and started referring to themselves as “master”. This has been rampant in traditional martial arts for years, but it has even started to bleed over into the combat sport side of martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I personally like to make fun of the Gracie Academy and their online belt testings as well as their Pink Belt they offer women, but I saw this ad in a magazine lately.

I have no doubts that Marcel would twist me into a knot if he wanted to, but I laugh so hard at the fact that if you fly out and train with him they guarantee you will get a promotion. Not that you will increase your skills, not that you will see results in your training, no, you are guaranteed a belt promotion. I have no idea how much training for two days with Marcel Louzado would cost (his site says he charges $135 an hour), but I am grateful for the honesty in advertising. So please send in your donations, this blog writer has belt to buy

Jan 042012

Do you remember the article on Grand Master Frank Dux that I did a while ago? Well I ran across one of one of his comrades from the Black Dragon society…thingy, Soke Grand Master Irving Soto.

What I love is how his Uke (the guy he is doing moves to) keeps screaming and flailing after each move, yet on command, rises and seems fine and ready for the next beating from his instructor. Either he is hamming things up, or the master needs to take it easy on him. Apparently, I need to stop being so gentle with my students. So ah…study this and make sure you try it on someone this week. When you do, email me and let me know how that works out for you.

Continue reading »

Dec 292011

The Internet has done great things for the country. We can send messages anywhere in the world quickly and for free. Pictures of cats doing funny things can now be shared with dizzying speed, and best of all, trash talk among martial arts can reach epic levels.

To illustrate, I have assembled a pie chart for your examination.

Martial arts online

This is based on information I made up on the spot which I have acquired from years of making things up. However, since this was plugged into a pie chart, I insist is stands as undeniable proof misuse of Internet resources by the martial arts. Naturally, this blog belongs in that 4% you see there in red.

Why do I say that martial arts are misusing their bandwidth? It comes down to a joke I heard the other day.

Dude 1: How many martial artists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Dude 2: I don’t know, how many?

Dude 1: One hundred. One to screw in the light bulb and ninety nine to watch and complain about how under qualified he is.

Dude 2: I don’t get it.

But I did. 86% of the Internet martial arts resources are devoted to talking about how much the martial artists love their own martial art and how bad they think all other martial arts are, and how stupid their followers are. Now I see nothing wrong with this. It is a time honored tradition of martial arts to talk trash about each other, but it used to be confined to the dojo and it used to be couched in flowery respectful language.

Instructor: I visited (fill in the blank martial arts school) today.

Student: How was it.

Instructor: Their teacher was very respectful.

Student: Thats good. How was the class.

Instructor: You know that I have always said to be respectful of other styles, so I don’t want to be disrespectful to theirs, but I could have totally killed everyone there with my eight fingered wing chop of death.

Now you don’t have to go to class. In fact, you don’t even have to attend class. I get the feeling that most of these young trash talkers have never been to a class! Listen young whippersnappers, the forms must be observed! Talk trash the way its supposed to be done, with back biting and double talk, none of this flaming and TYPING IN CAPS! And no, I don’t care how long you have “Trained UFC on youtube” and “Wrestling my little brother” doesn’t count either, you

Dec 212011

As martial artists, it is normal and natural to compare styles. The stand up crowd thinks one way, the ground fighting crowd thinks another, and Chuck Norris just defeats us all. From this video I can tell the the Chuck Norris of our generation is already among us. In Art Marshall’s own words “The Gracies told me while I was training with them that 90% of all fights do end on the ground. My response to that was “90% of people have never fought Art Marshall.”

Its a little long, but totally worth the watch as every moment of this video is worth watching. I really loved how he promoted his student and gave him a double white belt. Thanks to Fitz for the tip.

Continue reading »

Sep 082011

Classic, but still worth a watch. There are martial artists who claim to be able to control their body’s energy to a Jedi level. I’ve personally met some of these people, but never one that was so confident that they would extend a challenge like this. If you haven’t watched the video, this “master” offers $5000 to anyone who can beat him.


Although this ends really badly, you have to admire him putting his money where his mouth is. I think this man goes down as a nut, not a fraud, I really think he believed he would win.

Jul 182011

Helio Gracie with a blue beltMy brother and I had our picture taken with several other bjj guys, and when we were looking at the picture my brother said, “Why are we the only ones in the picture with our bars on the left side?” This of course sparked an extremely dull debate with other online BJJ folks as to the correct side to wear your rank bar.

I’ll digress for just a second for those uninitiated among us. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the ranking structure is a little different from the normal Japanese rank structure that most martial arts loosely follow. Depending on your martial art, you might have ten or more ranks (kyu ranks, which mean steps, or student rankings) before reaching your black belt ranks, (dan ranks which are advanced or instructor ranks). In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are only three ranks before black belt rank, blue, purple, and brown. BJJ also takes much longer to progress than most (and I am stressing MOST) other martial arts. This is off set by sub-belt promotions indicated by white stripes on a black (or in the case of black belt holders, red) sleeve attached to one of the ends of the practitioner’s belt. As far as I know, they are the only martial that does rank like this.

Wow, that was longer than needed. Anyway we know what the rank bar is, now where do you wear it. A quick google search reminds me why I hate reading online forums. You know the drill,
Person one: Which side should I wear my strips in BJJ class.
Person two: Only an idiot would ask a question like that!
Person three: You are both idiots. You care too much about rank! You need to find a real teacher!
Person four: BJJ is stupid, you train in gi’s, that’s sooo not realistic…
And at some point someone calls someone else a nazi. But from what I can glean, different BJJ schools do it differently. BJ Penn wears his strips on the right side, Royce Gracie wears his on the left. The picture above is of Helio Gracie with some blue belt and they both have their’s on the left, but Carlson Gracie says the right. So ask your instructor and ignore online advice, including this one.