Articulate BJJ Blog Logo

Learning to Self Separate

So this is the extension of a concept I have previously discussed, however I believe it’s well worth revisiting.

The idea of “Self Separation” is the idea of removing yourself from your internal narrative and self talk during your training. Developing the ability to stay objective about your performance in the training room is the single most important thing for improvement. If you allow your ideas about yourself- your ego- to muddle your thoughts or blur the reality of your performances, you will be stuck repeating the same mistakes.

This, in my opinion, is the ‘plateaus’ that people battle against. Learning only stalls when we fail to reflect objectively on our own performance; this applies in every learning scenario I encounter.  Continue reading “Learning to Self Separate”

articulate bjj logo

Keeping it Real

The origin of any martial art begins in necessity. A need to defend oneself in either times of conflict, or in preparation for them.

Realism is at the core of an effective martial art. When applied, the expectation should always be that the technique should be effective. When I use a tool, I expect –and trust- that it will solve my problem.

Keep it real with your training and sharpen your tools in preparation to best solve the issue in front of you.

Thanks for reading,

Oss.

First contact

The Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the elder once said “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy”  This is often no less true in martial arts than it is in war. We’ve heard Iron Mike Tyson explain how everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, and a grappler will tell you that strategy is something you have before somebody grabs your neck.

In any conflict, the major concern of any involved party is the development of a plan that is capable of surviving first contact. Robust strategies not only increase our chance of success, but also allow us to anticipate obstacles both seen and unseen.  Continue reading “First contact”

Be willing to kill your darlings

William Faulkner once said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” In writing, it’s often considered an important part of the writing method. The idea is that you need to be willing to cull all of the overly-dressed and precious things that you are attached to because it removes you from your sense of objectivity.

Essentially, this is just simple critical thinking and it applies far more broadly than just to writing, martial art practice or study.  Continue reading “Be willing to kill your darlings”

Stop sitting rounds out.

We should hardly have to make this argument, because we’re all on the mats to train. Sitting out rounds is not just a disservice for your training, but your training partners too. By allowing yourself to sit rounds out, you’re wasting your own training time.

You’re tired? So what? If your Jiu-jitsu doesn’t work when your tired, maybe you need to focus on your output or your technique. Hard rounds will only serve to make you better. You’re paired with someone bigger, stronger or better than you? So what? Jiu-jitsu was designed to overcome those opponents.

A lot of this comes down to ego. You are not the most important person on the mats. If you’re sitting out, that means one or more of your training partners is missing out. Your desire to get some rest and save yourself for the next round so you can ‘win’ is bullshit. 

There are a few legitimate reasons to sit out like injury, or if the mats are simply too packed (should you be in a smaller gym space). If you can’t roll, then drill, if you can’t drill, ask someone with that tricky guard or pass for some pointers. If you can’t even do any of those, maybe take some time off to rest. If you’re just propping the walls up, the chances are others are going to see it as okay to do the same. It’s an unnecessary distraction to others, especially when rest rounds turn into conversation and story time. It’s a bad example and a terrible image; what a new person would think coming into your gym only to see a line of people sitting against the wall?

If you’re sitting rounds out as a way to duck hard rounds & opponents, then you need to reassess your attitude to your training and your Jiu-jitsu. The training room is no place for that kind of precious ‘beat your team mates’ mentality. 

We’ve all been guilty of this when we didn’t know better. I know for certain that I only started to see genuine improvement when I stopped this bad habit. I see it with new practitioners too; the sooner they embrace those hard rounds and roll tired, the sooner they see true improvement in their physicality and mentality.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

Technique is not the most important thing in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

If I said that technique wasn’t the most important thing in BJJ, I imagine many would stretch their fingers before beginning to furiously type a scathing response to such a heretical statement. But bear with me for a second…

Technique is second only to self belief. You can be an encyclopedia of technical knowledge, but if you don’t have the confidence or belief in yourself to pull it off, that knowledge is useless.

I’ve seen technically knowledgeable team mates flounder against less technically sound opponents many times; logically this should not happen, yet it does…Why? Belief in our ability to apply technique is a major factor in this. Confidence in our abilities translates to success in execution. There is no substitute to that equation.

Having the confidence to pull off a technique is often more of an influence than our knowledge of the technique itself. I don’t always have to have a complete understanding of the nuances of a particular guard pass to get it to work, sometimes my trust in my ability to pull off the technique at the right time will lead to a successful execution rather than overthinking the entire thing and not acting at all.

All of the best coaches I’ve worked with over the years have always helped to foster self belief in their students. Despite often imparting great technical advice, the best coaches seem to have a knack for also building a student’s confidence and belief in themselves. The best athletes are always built upon a strong foundation of self belief. For many it’s a learned internal narrative and it takes constant self reflection and objective assessment of one’s own abilities to develop.

Henry Ford is credited with having said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” It’s true, all of our actions stem from our belief in ourselves and our ability to perform. If you don’t have the confidence to make yourself believe you can do something, then you are very unlikely to succeed.

You can explore this idea in anything that you do, it’s not unique to Jiu Jitsu. Vary rarely are any of the lessons we learn on the mat things that we cannot apply in other aspects of our lives.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

Nihilism and Jiu-jitsu.

Nihilism is the philosophical view point that life- our existence- has no inherent meaning. This throws a lot of people into despair upon their first encounter, I know it did for me. What a lot of people don’t go on to read about is that it is anything by fatalistic. The idea that there is no inherent meaning is supposed to motivate us to find meaning and create value within our lives by surpassing the constructs that humanity has created for itself.

Within each of us, we have the ability to change our mindset and view the world from a different perspective. This perspective can be one where everything that we’ve been told confirms our place in the world, or it can be one where we question these things and watch as the superficial and dissatisfying answers slip away to reveal truth and knowledge- knowledge about ourselves, the world and others.

In a large way, Jiu-jitsu has been a heuristic for me to change my view of the world. It’s been a tool by which I have learned more about myself, others and more about objective truths that I cannot doubt or question.
Continue reading “Nihilism and Jiu-jitsu.”

Chasing the Finish

In the same way that every logical argument has a conclusion, or scientific & mathematical equations have solutions, submission-based grappling styles have a singular favored outcome: The Finish. 

Submission is the ultimate goal in our martial arts. In realistic application the submission signifies the complete domination of your opponent. In short, submitting your opponent means that you have not only controlled them, but literally have the ability to either kill them or severely maim them should they not submit.  There is nothing more definitive than that. 

This was the original intent that these martial arts were developed with; the goal of controlling an opponent and putting yourself in the position to be able to fatally wound them should there be the need to do so.
At the core of grappling, this remains an imperative: complete control over an opponent Continue reading “Chasing the Finish”