A year in Review.

A year ago- almost to the day- I started Articulate BJJ as a project to help me better digest my own learning as I engaged with Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

A lot can happen in the space of a year. It certainly has in this case.

The goods have been many; travelling & training in Thailand, meeting new people, having great training partners and coaches, starting a new job in a new city, competing successfully over a dozen times, a national championship & seeing  positive progress in my training.

The bads have been fewer thankfully; car crash, injury, illness and hospitalization.

We need the bad to have the good, so I try to remember this and keep my complaints to myself. The highs come with the lows; you can’t be at the top if you’ve never been at the bottom. I try to practice gratitude, not just because I am aware of just how many are so less fortunate, but because I know how little it would have taken for me to be there too… Just one wrong decision here, or one decision there… I have a lot to be grateful for.

And that includes you. Once again, thank you for reading. The support I receive from everyone is more valuable than I am able to express in humble words.




Roll with a goal

How often do you find yourself being sucked into a training partner’s game or being controlled from the slap & bump to the buzzer? This could be because you are not setting specific, achievable goals for yourself in your training. Learning to roll with an objective is crucial to making continued progress in your training.

Continue reading “Roll with a goal”

The Orthodox & the Unorthodox: Thoughts on approaching unpredictable opponents.

In general terms, we can divide practitioners into two categories: Orthodox and Unorthodox. This is a categorization of types of Jiu jitsu practitioners and the way they express the art form.

Have you ever found yourself mid-contest with an opponent who, even though you know exactly what they’re going to do, still manages to finish you? What about the opponent that is about as predictable as a rabid vermin; throwing unpredictable techniques out at a rate that you are unable to contend with? This is a question of styles. Neither is wrong, but both present us with issues of predictability. 

Let’s explore this in more depth… Continue reading “The Orthodox & the Unorthodox: Thoughts on approaching unpredictable opponents.”

Recognizing Patterns

Every sequence of movements and techniques within Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu creates a pattern.  As practitioners, we spend much time on developing effective patterns that eventually lead us to our end goal- superior position or submission.

As important as developing these patterns is, we must also learn to recognize the patterns of other practitioners or opponents. If we are able to recognize their patterns, we will be able to disrupt them by changing our timing or by applying effective counters.

This is an effective concept to try and to apply in both free training and in competition.

In free training, it will help you to develop strong counter-timing, build strong fundamental skills and help you to start thinking not just about your own game, but how it interacts with different patterns (which are core to game plans and styles).

In competition, it is usually the competitor who imposes their game plan first who will succeed. We cannot always guarantee that we will be first, but being able to recognize patterns of movement will help to to recover if you find yourself being sucked into an imposing opponent’s game plan. It may even open up opportunities to snatch a quick submission once you start to disrupt an opponent & they begin making errors.

Pattern recognition will help you to become a better all round strategist and practitioner as you will look more to actively problem solve for the pattern currently being presented to you, rather than stubbornly (and often futilely) trying to apply your same pattern to every possible situation.

Thanks for reading.


Drill to Kill: The Value of Drilling

Drilling is an integral part of any sport and, in my opinion, its value within the context of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu cannot be understated. It’s hardly a debate that best practitioners are those who engage with a rigorous combination of both drilling and live training.

Sports scientists are discovering more and more about the connections between drilling and building neural pathways that help us to build better motor memory; making it very hard to dispute the irreplaceable value that repetition of technical movements hold.

I’d like to explore this theme in depth, discussing the importance of drilling, common misconceptions about drilling, current theories in sports science and some more nuanced reflections on its value.

Continue reading “Drill to Kill: The Value of Drilling”

Beginners: Want to improve quicker? Drill with higher belts.

If you’re just starting out in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it’s imperative that you find knowledgeable senior students who can show you the ropes. Not only will a higher belt be able to show and tell you how to execute techniques correctly, but by working on a technique with someone newer they are also building a sense of how to teach and focus on detail for themselves.  Continue reading “Beginners: Want to improve quicker? Drill with higher belts.”