I Quit BJJ….For 1 Day

This isn't easy for me to write.

Everyone says that on your journey to black belt you will probably experience at least one major injury. This is the injury that will not only test your body, but will test your spirit. I know that sounds a bit grandiose but I'm realizing how true it is.

Two months ago I had my knee go out during a pretty routine exchange. I had just stood up to avoid my instructor's dangerous butterfly guard when my knee popped 3 times during a knee reap. That's when the opponent, in this case from the ground, whips their leg over yours in order to collapses you back to the ground. This is countered either by removing their reaping leg, spinning out in the direction of their reap, or pointing your knee out and standing strong to avoid the inevitable heel hook opportunity. Well I opted for the 3rd option. Feeling good about the strength of my body, I had been doing P90X and have never felt stronger, I stood my ground and drove my knee outward while driving my foot to the ground insuring he couldn't get a hold of my heel to get the tap, the submission. There was so much force just from the reap that when he was able to rock my foot off the ground my knee (the weakest part of the structure) twisted and I felt 3 pops as I fell to the ground. He immediately released the hold and came to my aid while the sound of my knee made those around us stop their own grappling to see what happened. I felt a cold shiver fill me and strangely a hot flash too as I knew something major had just happened. I leapt up to me feet pretending to be okay, actually I didn't feel much pain since my adrenaline was pumping so much, but I could feel the frightening sensation of instability in my right knee as I struggled to stay upright. I walked it off and my instructor laid on the mat trying to shake off the unsettling feeling of actually feeling the full effectiveness of BJJ. I tried to ease his mind by making light of the situation but inside I was trembling thinking of all the rehab and time off I was now facing.

I spent the next 2 months in a sort of depressed haze filling my time and energy drawing and watching Gilmore girls. Don't laugh, it's surprisingly comforting in times of distress. ūüėČ Well after such a long time off I was out of shape but my knee seemed about ready for at least a little bit of testing. So I went to class only to have to pop again during a routine back step during open gym. My knee swelled up and I had to sit out the rest of class. I was devastated and imagined all the time off was for nothing. I had messed my knee up and now I was back to square one. How long would it really take to be back to 100%? Six months said another instructor who had the same injury. I went home crushed realizing that it's probably better if I just quit BJJ for now. Who's was I kidding, I had felt my passion for the art dwindling and now more than ever was the best time for me to hang up the gi. So with a heavy heart, thinking of the 11 years I put into it, I emailed my instructors to tell them the news.

I spent the next day in a strange place. For the first time in 11 years I didn't have the pressure of BJJ on my mind. It's like this constant pull making you want to eat healthy, stay fit and flexible, and thinking of new ways to improve your game. All that was left was this palpable void. Yes for the first time in over a decade I was faced with the same void that haunts us all. I'm going to write a whole piece on 'the void' but for now I'll just say I realized this void is responsible for either destroying or inspiring each and every person. I could see why some people, in order to deal with this void, turn to alcohol, drugs, consumption, Crossfit. ūüėČ Just kidding my Crossfit friends..kind of. In my case it was Jiu Jitsu. Without it I lacked a major driving force in my life. Besides family, friends, students, guitar, yoga, art, and Buffy, Jiu Jitsu/martial arts has been one of my main pillars, one of my main reasons for being alive. Call it cowardice, but I found myself running back to the 'gentle art.' I decided to fight through this damn knee injury and continue my journey to black belt.

To my surprise, after making this decision I woke to find that my knee was already feeling much better. I didn't take three steps back but perhaps only one or two. With a good knee brace and this new determination I believe I can get back to the mats sooner than later. Thanks for reading everyone and thanks to my instructors and girlfriend for putting up with my drama. ūüėČ -Mike


After The Injury

It’s one thing when you’re doing something stupid and you get hurt, but when your knee pops during a usually routine position it can give you pause. My partner had me in butterfly guard and yanked me up causing me to post both arms out. He did the right thing by switching to a leg attack, a heel hook to be specific. Usually from standing I can place my weight on the threatened foot and angle my knee out in a way that makes it impossible for my heel to be reached. For some reason the pressure of the knee reap alone resulted in three quite audible pops as my partner released the hold and I went down in disbelief. The first few moments after an injury is always unsettling. The guys around you stop what they’re doing and pop their concerned heads up gauging by the expression on your face how badly you were hurt. Your blood runs cold and hot somehow at the same time as you wait for the pain response to hit your brain. 

I did the dumbest thing possible and got right up to my feet. Honestly though I felt no pain but could tell something wasn’t quite right. So I tried to “walk it off” the whole time joking about how I used to crack my knees on purpose as a kid and this felt like a similar sensation. My partner laid on his back with his eyes closed obviously feeling both bad for me and probably disgusted at how it felt to actually snap a guy’s knee. He and I both agreed that something like this has never happened to either of us before. A simple knee reap is way more dangerous than I had thought. From now on whenever I’m in that position I’m going to either get their leg off immediately, spin out, or just tap. No more putting all my weight on such a susceptible limb. It’s comparable to holding a long stick on the ground while someone’s leaning on it with all their weight, because there’s no give at the bottom the weakest part of the stick will break first. Now I know.

Your psychology goes crazy the days following an injury. I guess you can say I’ve been pretty fortunate that in 10 years of training I’ve really only had 4 mid-level occurrences and a few low-level. Mid-level includes popping a rib, popping my ankle while my partner escaped from my mounted triangle, popping my other ankle from a foot lock, and now this. Lots of popping it seems. They all could have been avoided except for maybe the rib. I exhaled after a long rolling session just as my partner landed full force onto my side. Some thoughts that have passed my mind since the last episode: If that can happen so easily what if something major happens? Do I really want to risk more injuries over something I mostly do as a hobby? Do I still love Jiu Jitsu enough to keep powering through? Will this be ‘the one’ that ends my journey? 

Walking, well limping, around the bookstore the other day I spotted some guy wearing a Gracie Jiu Jitsu shirt. 9 times out of 10 if they’re wearing a Gracie shirt they train, if not they’re usually wearing a Tapout shirt. ūüėČ I casually approached him and noticed two things, he had mega calves for a smaller guy, and he exerted that ‘quiet confidecne’ you only see from someone who’s been through some shit. Turns out it was Greg Nelson from The Academy in MN. He’s a 4th degree BJJ black belt known for training UFC fighters and battling and beating cancer twice. After he introduced himself I took a step back in disbelief like I was meeting a superhero. We talked a bit about training and I mentioned my recent injury. He told me that he’s had his knee issued (as most of us do) and told me that even if I can only train here and there it’s a long journey and staying on the path is really the battle. 

It didn’t hit me until I was walking out to my car that it couldn’t have been just pure chance that I ran into Mr. Nelson. Suddenly my popped knee dwarfed in comparison to him beating cancer twice and going onto continue his martial arts journey. Such a sublime moment and realization. So my doubts about hanging up the purple belt dissolved and even though it may be a while before I’m back rolling on the mats, I’ll be doing all I can during my time away to stay in shape for my return. Thanks for reading and I hope it was somewhat inspiring to anyone going through the same ordeal. -Mike

6 Plateau-Busting Reasons To Roll With a Novice


You could say I’ve been at my current belt for an embarrassingly long amount of time. So much so my belt has become a pathetic frayed freak show that gets more and more frail with every washing. I’m hoping to have at least some shred of it left (along with my dignity) to hang on the wall when I get to the next level.¬†I’m pretty¬†sure it’s gonna look like dental floss by then.

An interesting thing happened tonight. A student (two belts lower than me) came up and asked me to teach him some triangle choke details. Afterwards I used the opportunity to ask¬†him to roll a bit.¬†¬†I figured I could use the roll as a¬†warm up before I went against the higher belts. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this ‘warm up roll’ was going to bring some of the most important realizations and breakthroughs into my awareness.

Suddenly everything was working for me. Techniques that I never pull off with the higher belts were finally landing. Submissions came out of nowhere and my timing began to improve. Even Youtube techniques were working! ūüôā I believe I was experiencing¬†what black belts must feel¬†when rolling, that they can experiment/learn during the rolls and not just struggle to survive the whole time.

(Since most people just scroll down till they see a list with bold letters, here ya go!)

Here’s why rolling with a novice practitioner¬†helped me and why I believe it’s going to be a big part of my open gym training from now on:

  1. You can finally relax while rolling. Of course you can do that even with black belts but you’ll probably get crushed and/tapped very quickly. With lower belts you don’t feel as much pressure so you can slow your breathing down and calmly make your moves. It might surprise you how slick your movement can be when you don’t have to constantly struggle.
  2. You can chain moves together. Tonight I went from side control to mount to high mount to cross choke to armbar to triangle and got the tap. It was amazing to feel such control and flow for once. You may ask, “But what good is a chain if higher belts can break them?” Well, how can you improve your chains if you¬†have no starting point of reference? Let’s say you can pull off a cross choke to armbar chain on a lower belt. Well next time you might have a little more trouble with a tougher opponent but because you know it works at one level you can make little adjustments from there. If not, you’re trying to already adapt something that’s doesn’t exist at a basic level. Imagine if you never threw a front kick because high-level kickboxers always block them. You’d have one less tool in the arsenal and you’d never have a base technique in which to tweak. Since I have a snappy¬†front kick, I use it on lower belts all the time. However, if I fail with a front kick I’ve learned how to turn it over for a question mark kick or even a switch kick. The basic techniques become the foundation for¬†your building blocks and though you can still use them you are also able to jump up levels when needed.
  3. You can sharpen your reaction times.¬†After a while I decided to let him go on the offensive¬†so I could work my defense.¬†Since I knew what he wanted to do, I was able to easily escape BEFORE anything became a real threat. The idea of ‘putting out little fires before they grew’ seemed to finally make sense. I¬†now had time, and space, to be one step ahead of my opponent¬†and I know¬†that’s an important concept that I can build on.
  4. You can experiment.¬†I felt a little mean going for Twisters and inverted guard tricks but hey I finally felt free while grappling. I wasn’t constantly fighting for my life worrying about getting passed or choked so why not try a few things? Isn’t this how you develop your own style after all? Chances are you’re not going to experiment with¬†new moves¬†against a 200 pound black belt. So how do you know if it will ever work for you at all? Use this time to take a few chances and you may discover which techniques really resonate with you.
  5. You can let submissions go and study how opponents escape. One time I had side control and reached back to grab his collar. He turned in so I flipped around getting his back while still having the collar grip. I knew I could just tighten the choke and he’d tap but I just held it, right on the edge. Eventually he began to wiggle and as he went for the escape I easily took mount. The segments became crystal clear and opened my eyes on why the high belts make this a big part of their¬†training. Marcelo Garcia explained this in one of his videos as well.
  6. You can finally use their movements against them. When a higher belt pushes you off you can bet they’re going to put a knee between you and escape. However a lower belt usually just pushes and pushes. God it felt so mean but I simply let this guy push me into better and better positions. The reason I felt bad is because I knew exactly how it feels to be in his place. From side control he pushed my chest so I rotated my body and scooped up his arm. Then he pushed me right back and I took mount. Out of frustration he pushed my knee and I took technical mount, and this went on and on. He was doing ALL the work!

Part of me wondered if all this rolling with a less-skilled opponent would affect my game against the higher belts. So at the end of class I went back to the deep end and rolled with two guys who were my rank. What I discovered was that I brought with me a sense of confidence and flow. Since I knew my techniques worked at one level, it gave me reassurance that I would eventually feel that sense of ease in more and more situations, maybe not today or next month but someday soon. I’ll keep you updated on my progress but for now thanks for visiting. -Mike

Need Motivation? Embarrass Yourself.


(Please excuse me while I throw a little pity party up in here.)

Up comes an ambitious-looking lad, one full belt rank below mine. “Hey guys!, anyone feel like rolling with me?” He was practically bursting at the seams of his double-weaved gi to get at the upper belts¬†and I knew he was looking to test his best skills against us.¬†“Go get him!” my friend said half-joking.¬†Right away I could feel that this guy¬†was thirsty for blood. He started on his feet attempting to pass my guard when¬†I mistakenly left my foot out too far. He grabbed it and fell back -I should have had at least one grip on him- and the footlock war was on. I brought my free¬†foot into the party hoping to pry the other out¬†but he grabbed both and somehow crossed them on me. Next thing I knew I felt tremendous pressure on one of my shins so I¬†sat up in a last ditch effort to escape. It was too late, he had it locked in tight. I swear I could sense my belt turning white as I tapped.

What went wrong? First off, I want to say that the kid did everything right and he deserves all the credit for this. His skill was impressive¬†and he moved aggressively yet skillfully,¬†but at the same time I was very upset with my¬†own performance. I know I’m going to tap (a million more times in life) but in my heart I knew that I didn’t do my best in that moment. I also realized that not being in top physical condition was keeping me from going all out when I had to. This became apparent during my next few rolls.

My new rolling partner¬†was the same rank as me but he was flowing and moving without breaking a sweat. He got me twice and I was able to catch him once, but from the physical side you’d think I had just run a marathon and he had just been on the beach sippin’ a mojito.¬†My body felt drained of all energy so it began rebelling. “MOVE LEG!” I would scream in my mind, but it disobeyed me. “GET ON TOP!” but I stayed on bottom. This results in getting dominated a lot¬†and when I do get submissions¬†they’re often what I refer to as “lazy subs” such as heel hooks and footlocks.

The¬†drive home was a mess of self-talk, near tears, and sore legs. Questions often haunt a BJJ practitioner: “Will I ever get great or will it always be a struggle?” “How can I look to get my next belt if I’m getting submitted by lower belts?” “Should I just take up Tai Chi?”¬†Giving¬†up always sounds appealing minutes after you’ve had a bad day at the gym but for us “BJJ lifers” it’s never an option.¬†I hate to admit it but getting embarrassed is quite the motivator for me. Does it work for you too? Let me know. As for now I’ll be ramping up my conditioning, eating better, and spending more time tweaking my technique so this happens less and less. Thanks for checking in. ūüôā -Mike

Wim Hof Update (BJJ/Life)

Just started week 5 of the Wim Hof journey. I had a little breakthrough last night during my meditation. After a rigorous breathing session- 5 rounds of 30 breaths- I attempted some of the newer exercises one of which was a headstand. These are not for me. I realized that it was a bit traumatic for my neck to hold up all 165 pounds of my half-Asian ass. I should have just started light by forward bending and keeping my weight on my hands and feet, but I went all in. This left me with a bit of soreness today.

Jumping in the tub made me a bit nervous because I knew my first 5 minute cold shower was imminent. I did a 2 mintue warm shower and then when my round timer rang I cranked the shower handle all the way to the right. (pure cold) Dancing helped, and so did saying, “Oh fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck!!!” After about a minute I went calm and the water seemed to warm up a bit even though I know it’s just the body adjusting. Five minutes went by without too much distress and I stepped out as soon as the end bell rang. My body felt alive and I felt totally conscious.

Decided to do my own version of a float tank, minus the floating and the tank. I bought some ear plugs and two eye patches and I layed in bed in the complete silence and darkness. After about twenty minutes your body goes to sleep and you are left with nothing but black. Something new happened, I started seeing little dots coming toward me almost as if I was laying on the ground and snowflakes were falling at my face. Not sure what that means but I see it as a breakthrough since I rarely see anything but blue blobs when I meditate. Maybe I went into warp speed? ūüėČ

Rolling today revealed to me the benefits of this method. I’ve also been doing some cardio circuit training ¬†alone in my room. It’s a sad sight but seems to be paying off. My friend Mike and I went for about the whole hour and never felt gassed and I always had an extra gear just waiting for my call. If I can keep this up I should perform better in pressure situations. I’ll be back in a few weeks for another update. “Breathe Motherfuckers!” ūüėČ

(below) This is not me. ūüėČ

Wim Hof Method and BJJ

Hey everyone. Just wanted to share an experiement I’m doing that has to do with breathing and Jiu Jitsu. I discovered a guy named Wim Hof on a few podcasts who is known for extraordinary human feats that range from mainaining normal body temperature while in extreme cold to scaling Mt. Everest shirtless. He has created a method that he claims can help you strengthen yourself from the inside by improving many of your internal systems including respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, etc. Because I have a mild case of asthma and have always suffered in BJJ with limited lung capacity, I have decided to give his method a try. My goal is to keep updating this post week-by-week and let you know how it has affected my game and my life.  (His online method is a 10-week course.)

Week 1: I think I’ve taken in more O2 in the last few days than I have in years. With my body fully oxygenated I took part in an hour long grappling rotation in open gym. Normally I would have taken at least 3 hits off my inhaler but I only had to use it once and I think that was partially out of habit. (Also, my need to use my inhaler outside of BJJ has disappeard since starting his exercises.) Instead of thinking about my next move I simply made sure I was taking consistent breaths breaking it down as: Breathing comes first, Jiu Jitsu follows. I felt strangely great after the session and felt almost giddy during my cold shower that followed, (cold showers are another requirement of the method). By giddy I mean there was a sensation in my body as though all my cells were alive and dancing, for the lack of a better term. I began to notice my breathing throughout the day taking special note of when I’d hold my breath or went a long period of time without inhaling. Seems like it happens when I’m thinking or straining physically. This made a lot of sense why I tend to gass out pretty quickly when in bad positions in BJJ. As an experiement I tried holding my breath while doing burpees and noticed that I could only do about 3 before panic set in. If that happens that quickly with burpees, imagine how fast you’ll tire out when some 200 pound guy is sitting on your chest choking you. Then I repeated the burpees while taking full breaths and I was able to go forever.

This all comes at a great time because my next review class is coming up this Sunday. It’s a way for you to advance belt rank at my school and requires you to roll 15 minutes with 3 or 4 opponents pretty much back-to-back. My biggest fear is exhaustion and/or giving up a tap just to take a break, so I’m changing my goal this time. My goal is to go there to practicing breathing. Everything else   is secondary. If a guy has my back it’s secondary to keeping my air flowing; If I have someone in a triangle choke it doesn’t matter as much as if I’m holding my breath or not. With this focus I know that whether I win or lose I’ll be in total control of my inner systems while doing one of the hardest martial arts in the world. Everything else will seem easy in comparison. ūüėČ Well I’m off to suck some air. See ya!

Week 2: (Update)

10/28/15 Had another open gym marathon roll today and did pretty well. Probably had about 5 five-minute matches, tapped once to an armbar and tapped my opponents four times mostly with heel hooks and one crazy collar choke. The big news is that I didn’t use my inhaler even once this time. I felt the urge at one point but pushed through. Seems the Wim Hof method is beginning to pay off at least with my lungs. Still trying to get used to these cold showers though. 

Cycling For Better Jits


Alright, what do you do when you have a month off of work and all the time in the world to do whatever? Besides more Jiu Jitsu (of course) I picked up on an old/new hobby, biking! Cycling? Not sure which is right but riding around on two wheels has taught me some amazing things that directly affected my grappling game. Of course you benefit from pedaling with stronger legs, that much I expected, but I also noticed two other unexpected benefits.

First off, I learned how my body manages breathing during active states. I used to think the key was controlling my¬†breath and making sure I¬†took measured ins and outs. I gave this¬†a try during one of my early rides and noticed how winded I became, almost gasping for air in a short time. It then occurred to me that my¬†body is intelligent enough to know how much¬†air it needs at any given moment¬†and that by trying to control it myself I was adding a “middle-man” to the equation. It’s not needed, at least in my case. Now if you have a habit of holding your breath during rolls I do suggest you take note and learn to let go, but don’t do any more than that. Try it and see, you’ll notice your breathing will take over for you and you can get back to worrying about everything else, like getting choked slammed by the white belt. ūüėČ

Take it from a guy who has had maybe three¬†cross collar choke submissions in 8 years, it is NOT one of my main weapons. However, in the last two open gyms I had a total that matched my 8-year-high. Yep, three cross collar chokes in two sessions. Could holding onto handlebar grips really increase hand and wrist strength that much? Apparently, and surprisingly so! My bike has the normal grips but also some vertical handles that I use half the time. I’m sure using both have been beneficial in some way. Again, I didn’t consciously try and exercise my grips while riding, I just rode the bike and it happened on its own.

And before I end this short¬†blog (I gotta get back to my X-Files marathon) I WILL¬†talk about leg strength, you just have to when it comes to biking. My legs are far from resembling the tree trunks possessed by Marcelo Garcia, but my leg endurance has gotten insane. I’m able to defend guard, threaten submissions, and squat during guard passing, with much less leg exhaustion. There’s nothing I dislike more than going for a triangle only to have the opponent escape, leaving me¬†with two lactic acid-filled dead weights dangling from my¬†torso. It’s an ongoing struggle but I can already tell, after only a month into this biking experiment, that my game has improved from it. Please leave a comment on how biking has helped, or hasn’t helped, your game. I’m interested in everyone’s results. See ya!

After The Injury (Returning to BJJ)

ÔĽŅI’m pretty fortunate. My injury wasn’t some crazy knee or shoulder catastrophe that required surgery and months of recovery and rehab. Instead, I felt a crunch in my right ribcage as my partner came crashing down on me at the end of a 30 minute roll. No one knows your body better than you and when you feel something like that, you instantly know that something very very bad just took place. I nervously checked my side and noticed an indention where there used to be ribs and also what felt like a bone trying to protrude outward like the scene from Alien. A hot panic set in as I wondered if something had pierced a major organ. I didn’t want to alarm anyone so I pretended everything was fine and made my way to my car wondering if I should go straight to the ER or take my chances and just go home. A quick Google searched made me aware of how common an injury this was in Brazilion Jiu Jitsu. Most people were saying that their doctor couldn’t do anything for them and just told them to take some Tylenol and rest.  I decided to just go home. (I’m not recommending this to anyone, I just have an issue with going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. I’m sure it’ll result in a ridiculous death one day.) 

The following weeks were rough as I had difficulty doing anything. Getting out of bed was the hardest part, well that and opening doors. And just when I thought I was starting to feel less pain I sneezed and ended back at square one. You wouldn’t believe what you’ll do to avoid sneezing in this condition. (The ‘punching myself in the face’ option was not off the table.) Anyhow most of my internet jiu jitsu brethren said 4-6 weeks off to heal and they were pretty much right on. I sped up the process though by wearing a back brace around my ribs (thanks Jody), and doing light yoga after 2 weeks.  

Going back to the gym has been cathartic. I have a renewed perspective on the blessing of being healthy because of how much time I had to spend off the mats. All my minor tweaks have healed as well in the time off.  I was afraid of being hesitant rolling, since the last incident is still seared into my memory, but I just have to remember the lessons I learned from all this. I’ll quickly sum them up below. 

Just because you’re doing a lot of Jiu Jitsu, don’t forget to tend to your overall fitness. I believe a big part of my injury was due to my core being ‘less than optimized’ because I was neglecting my yoga. Sure BJJ is great for the core but we all get into our training ruts and can get lazy and/or complacent in our routines.

Overtraining can sneak up on you. My partners will laugh at the idea that I was overtraining (3 days a week), but for me that’s a lot of mat time especially since I’m almost always training and rolling with heavier partners. A sign of overtraining (which I was ignoring) is mounting minor injuries. I had a weird knee issue followed by an ankle cut that wouldn’t heal followed by a stubbed toe etc. My new rule is to train 2 to 3 times a week but do more drilling, less all-out rolling (especially rolls lasting over 15 minutes) , and take a week off every other month. Combining this with my new fitness regimine will hopefully pay off in longevity in the art. I want to do this stuff for life!!!

Don’t neglect the ‘little things’ that help you. We all know that our Jiu Jitsu journey is made up of a million little things that we do right, or do wrong and eventually learn to correct the mistakes. I stopped drilling with my jiu jitsu dummy a few months ago. Not sure why, I just stopped. I didn’t realize that choking the poor inanimate fella was increasing my grip strength and body resistance to pressure (his chest feels like a tree trunk). I’m sure my rib area was weaker because I stopped conditioning with it. So keep up the little things, they add up.

Listen to your instructor. I had two different instructors tell me to allow my body to heal but nooooooooo…I wanted to be Roger Gracie tomorrow so I kept plowing ahead. This should be a no-brainer but listen to those who have thousands of hours over you. They’ve been through it all and thankfully because of what I’ve been through I can give my advice (to some punk who won’t heed it) someday too. ūüėČ Here’s to health, longevity, AND success. 

Wrestling An Empty Jacket

So here’s a concept that always sounded good but never quite took hold in my Jiu Jitsu game. It’s phrased in many ways but means essentially the same thing. You may have heard “flow with the go,” “be like water,” etc. and perhaps you even tried to incorporate that mindset into your game, I know I did with very little success. It seemed like the more I tried to “be like water” the more my opponent became the “overly large” kid doing the cannon ball. Yesterday something clicked and surprisingly it proved to be beneficial almost instantly. I remembered an old Judo saying where they elude to the concept of making your opponent feel as though they were wrestling an empty jacket when they faced you. How would that feel? Well first off the empty jacket wouldn’t resist all your power. It would bend, fold, and flow along with whatever your intentions happen to be. So I applied it against my first opponent in open gym who happened to be the instructor for the day. What better way to test something new than on someone way better than you right? Hehe. We started on knees and he pushed and pulled at me but I yielded to his every move. He came forward and I fell back but in a safe open guard position. He passed and tried securing a choke as I turtled up which almost caused me to snap out of my new state of mind but I stayed the course. I eventually rolled out and got him in my closed guard which lasted a good minute or so. It wasn’t until I attempted a sweep that he got out and eventually caught me in a footlock. I felt I could fight it since I had his collar but I conceded the tap, after all I wasn’t concerned about tapping, I just wanted to stay in my new zone.

After our roll he gave me a few tips and said there were many good things going on with my defense and even my submission attempts. The best compliment though was when he said he was trying hard to break my guard but noticed I stayed calm the entire time which was odd. I didn’t tell him about my experiment but thought to myself how things could have been much different had I fought and fought against his escape attempts instead of melting my moves around his actions. On a side note, I woke up the next day and felt about 1/4 of the soreness I usually feel. This alone was worth the change.

We have review class coming up next Sunday (four 20-minute matches to determine our rank) and though it may be bad timing, I’m going to apply this new mindset immediately and from here on out. I don’t care so much about tapping if the opponent manages to get something on me, but I’m done defeating MYSELF with the tension and the rigidity of my own movements. I’m going to be doing a lot more study with this and I’ll keep you updated on anymore breakthroughs I may have. Until then, stay calm and Do The Jiu!


Drilling Meditations


For the past month I’ve been focusing on strictly drilling guard passing and defense. ¬†Guard passing is that position that you know you need to work on but never really seem to. ¬†(kinda like takedowns) But I decided enough is enough and it’s time to bring my weaknesses into the light. ¬†So in open gym I find some willing chap who’s not opposed to a lot of repetition and we take turns passing each other’s guards. ¬†So far I’ve learned a few things that I should have already known. ¬†Things such as:

-Angle a bit when approaching from sitting to avoid the easy leg swing (drag) pass.  

-If you feel the opponent is passing, get out of that angle and square up to make both sides equally unpassable.  

-Tripod sweep is always there. ¬†If you go to DLR guard, don’t just stall but push and pull to unbalance your partner. ¬†

-Every time you sweep from the guard watch out that your feet/legs/heels aren’t in danger. (I got double ankle locked when I pulled off a double ankle grab sweep…it was kind of embarrassing.) ¬†

-Closed guard is great but don’t rest too long. ¬†Keep them guessing with different pressures and grips. ¬†I seem to get the hip bump sweep and its options quite a bit on good nights. ¬†

-You can always lift the opponent into the air if they get too close.  This will freak them out.  

-Don’t forget that there are some sweeps and submissions that can be performed as they try to pass.

-And finally remember to realize when you’ve failed and get into a good defensive posture asap. ¬†I’m slowly learning how to invert as an emergency resort. ¬†More on this in later posts. ¬†

When it comes to passing I’m getting my custom game happening. ¬†Really it’s just having 3 options from combat base and 2 from standing. ¬†I’m landing passes more and more mostly because I’m understanding what needs to be blocked and how to keep the pressure on. ¬†I was getting trapped in the knee shield guard but with some help from my instructor and some other sources I think I have that licked. ¬†I’ll let you know if I nail it next time. ¬†See ya. ¬†