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.

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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”

Guest Post: Crossfit for Jiu-jitsu Practitioners by Christiaan Mattheus

I’d like to thank Christiaan Mattheus for this in depth look at the role of Strength training, and Crossfit in particular, in Jiu-jitsu. Christiaan is the owner of CrossFit Amandla in Christchurch and a Blue Belt at Axis Brazilan Jiu-jitsu Christchurch (coming off recent weight division and absolute National Title wins and Silver at the Japanese Abu Dhabi Grand Slam).

Enjoy.

“Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.”

Mark Rippetoe

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THE “GENTLE ART”

UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE STRENGTH

PLAYS

If you’re reading this chances are you already practice Jiu-Jitsu, jūjutsu, bjj, self-defense, submission grappling or whatever else you want to call the act of tactfully disabling or disarming an opponent. For that very reason I will not spend too much of your time looming over the wonderful world of Jiu-Jitsu but instead I will attempt to showcase the importance of regular and effective strength & conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Crossfit for Jiu-jitsu Practitioners by Christiaan Mattheus”

The virtue of Curiosity

“Curious is a good thing to be, it seems to pay some unexpected dividends.”

Iggy Pop

In my current line of work, I’ve noticed that the most curious kids tend to be the ones who find the most satisfaction- and success- in learning. They ask hard questions about things others take for granted, never satisfied with a simple “Just because” answer. Curiosity leads to a desire to know more; to learn more, see more and do more. 

My philosophy teachers always expounded the principal of honesty in ignorance: Accept that there are things you don’t know. The more that I realized I was uncertain about, the more curious I became to find out what the truth was, if indeed there was any to be found at all.

Curiosity leads us down the paths often left untraveled by the timid or tame. It leads us away from the deceit offered up by matronly comfort and shows us the way to independence and resilience. Curiosity is a teacher that never questions your ability to experience and learn something new.

I think back to some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far, and they all come from a place of curiosity. I’m no more or less curious than anyone else as a person, if anything I used to be far from it. But upon reflection, it’s the “What ifs” and “Why is” that have lead me to places,  people and experiences that I would never have imagined as a twenty year old. Curiosity also lead me to Jiu-jitsu, which without I would undoubtedly not be here to write this. 

Einstein said “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”, but I would adjust it so:

Once you stop learning, you are dead. 

Being curious means leading a life full of learning; accepting that we can always find out more about ourselves and the world we live in. If you’re not doing that, or at least trying to in some small way every day, then you’re not really alive.

Foster your sense of curiosity. You will thank yourself for it later.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

 

Systems

One of the main reasons that some grapplers are able to improve so quickly is because they develop systematic approaches to grappling.

The difference between a systematic understanding of something and a broad understanding is that those with a systematic understanding have a methodical, logical and step- by- step approach to their learning. A systematic learner is able to implement their system effectively, rather than knowing a wide range of techniques that do not necessarily connect to one another in a sequence.

In Jiu-Jitsu, we see systematic learners start slowly as they piece together principals rather than broad ranges of technique. However, once their foundation of knowledge is developed, their learning trajectory spikes dramatically; often leading to large overall strides in their learning as they apply their systematic understanding to more and more principals and positions.

We can see examples of this concept in the likes of the Ryan Brothers, students of John Danaher, Ryan Hall and the Martinez brothers to name a few. Systems based approaches have made these grapplers some of the most skilled and knowledgeable practitioners in the modern BJJ scene.

Developing a systematic understanding within you training will have far more benefits than just simply trying to link together random techniques you’ve learned. These can be very individual, and you have to factor in things such as your physique, levels of agility and dexterity and more. Once you have an understanding of what your body is capable of, you can begin to develop a system that best fits your preferences and needs.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

Offense is the best defense. A note on competing.

“I always try to attack. While I’m on the offensive, my opponent can think of nothing but defending.” Marcelo Garcia

This has to be one of my favorite quotes when it comes to developing strategy in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but I suppose it also applies to martial arts in general, as well as life.

Nic Gregoriades once described Jiu-jitsu to me as a game of awareness: The more aware I am and the more of my opponent’s awareness I am able to control, the more I will be able to achieve. I can control my opponent’s awareness by removing his options. By attacking and forcing him to defend, I remove his options to attack and force him to become solely concerned with defending. I reduce their awareness and increase their margin for error. 

There is no doubt that sound defense is crucial in developing good Jiu-jitsu, but a strong offense is paramount, especially in a competition context. In competition, points are exclusively awarded for offensive action; be it a sweep to a dominant position, a submission attempt or a guard pass. To develop successful competition Jiu-jitsu, a practitioner will have to concern themselves with developing an attacking mentality and offensive strategy.

This is in no way a criticism of defensive strategy or sound guard work. A sound defense and an understanding of sound counter-attacking opportunities can take a practitioner very far; capitalizing on the mistakes or the openings of an overzealous or aggressive opponent strikes to the core ethos of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu after all. 

Recently I’ve heard criticisms of point based Jiu-jitsu and the rule sets of certain competition. Although justified, we have to understand that the aim of any rule set is to define the parameters under which a sport is contested. As competitors, by entering a competition we are agreeing to compete under these parameters. Don’t like guard pulling? Don’t like the amount of points awarded for specific actions? Then don’t enter a Jiu-jitsu competition.

If executing an successful offense means you pulling guard on your opponent, then be prepared to do so. If it means taking an opponent down, then be prepared to do so. There is no singlular path required to mount an effective offense, that’s the beauty of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. If you don’t like guard pulling, then either get better at passing or enter a wrestling tournament. If you don’t like like a specific aspect of the sporting parameters, get better at playing to the rules or simply don’t compete.

A sound offense means being able to utilize strategy and technique to overcome the problems laid out in front of you. This doesn’t just mean fighting your opponent, but it also means fighting within the parameters of a rule set.

Thanks for reading

Oss.