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Stall-Jitsu: A high level problem

Stall-Jitsu. It’s a commonly seen, yet rarely criticized, issue within high level competition. Far too many matches consist of both competitors sitting in idle positions, choosing not to progress or actually do any jiu-jitsu, only to attempt to win on a single scoring technique or even a refs decision. I’d go as far as to say that I wouldn’t ever show 90% of jiu-jitsu matches to anyone who didn’t know the ins and outs of the sport. Even for those who know the sport find it boring… And we’re trying to make BJJ spectator friendly?

I think there are a number of reasons for the stalling phenomenon and it’s prevalence, but Rule Sets and Mentality have the largest impact. Continue reading “Stall-Jitsu: A high level problem”

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Artistic Expression

There is a certain joy to being able to express oneself through an art form. Through any medium, there is an extent to which the practitioner can create something unique, develop their own style or approach. The martial arts allow for this too.

Because of the highly personal nature of something like grappling, it only seems to make sense that the practitioners personality would influence the way they express the art. We see everything from intense, aggressive styles to those who are steady, methodical and measured. All practitioners will express the art differently as we all have different ideas and understandings of what it means to us. Continue reading “Artistic Expression”

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Skepticism & The principle of Charity

There are two important principles within Epistemology (The nature of Knowledge) that apply to all aspects of knowing things, be that in Philosophy or Martial Arts.

The first: First you must assume that you do not know anything. This is the major tenet that underpins Skepticism and indeed knowing anything at all. If we are to learn at all, we first have to adopt a mindset of ignorance so that we can begin to build on things that we can know for certain.

The second: Assume that any argument is the strongest possible interpretation. This is the Principle of Charity. The idea behind this is that we should look upon any argument or information on its merits first before attempting to critique it.

From what I’ve come to understand about these two principles, I’ve been able to accelerate my own teaching & learning by changing the way I look at knowledge and the entire learning process. Continue reading “Skepticism & The principle of Charity”

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Let’s talk leg locks: The problem with 50/50

The 50/50 position has become well known as a common stalling position in no gi and gi competition. Whether a single leg X sweep was only half successful, neither opponent wishing to engage in passing, or where leg locks come into play the 50/50 position is actually more of a problem than a valid (or effective) position.

There are 3 main issues to explore surrounding the position: Symmetry, The Arms Race and The Passing Problem. Continue reading “Let’s talk leg locks: The problem with 50/50”

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Skill Floors and Ceilings

Grappling, when taught effectively, has a high skill floor. This means that once the basics principles are understood, they can be implemented with relative ease and still be useful to even the inexperienced practitioner.
The contrast is that grappling has an extremely high skill ceiling. This means that mastery and the requirements of the highest levels of competition are extremely challenging to reach.
These two factors are what make grappling so addictive and rewarding to many.

Continue reading “Skill Floors and Ceilings”

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You can’t duck The Suck

As I scan the mats on yet another Monday, I see a random accumulation of people who have all come together to sweat on each other, attempt to strangle one another and in general try to wrap their heads around the ever-continuing enigma that is Grappling.

Fresh faced beginners trying to coerce their bodies into executing correct details, seasoned vets maintaining and extending their understanding, even the ghostly apparitions of long since retired blue belts on occasion (no one is certain whether their ghosts haunt the mats or if they are actually there). We come in with the hopes of sweating out the weekend’s booze, nursing that kiwi summer sun burn back from the brink of melanoma, or for the one training of the month to punch down on the newbies to get your rocks off, before escaping without any tough rolls (you know who you are). Whoever it may be, there is no way to duck the suck. Another day on the mats, another day embracing the suck.

‘The Suck’ is not a term used by the jaded or PTSD-ridden grappler, but one I was introduced to by Raf Esparza. ‘The Suck’ is about eating that shit sandwich, day in and out, gritting your teeth & bearing the grind despite the filth you find yourself wading through to get to anywhere remotely worthwhile.

You can’t duck it, you can’t hide from it. If you want to be successful then welcome to The Suck.  Continue reading “You can’t duck The Suck”

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Tread softly, carry a big stick

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a violent person or not, we cannot avoid the fact that the world is populated by those who would wish to do harm to others.

The concept of violence and how we react to it is inherently woven into our martial arts practice. When presented with no other option but to react, what do we do when violence is presented to us?

One thing I have learnt from my own practice is to tread softly, but carry a big stick.

Continue reading “Tread softly, carry a big stick”