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”


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”

Accepting change

Change is constant. Every waking moment presents you with a new opportunity for both positive and negative change.

If you begin to look at personal growth in this way, you can create a lot of opportunities for growth and change your life for the better.

Don’t fall behind in your pursuit for personal growth because of a failure to accept change.

To benefit from change, we must accept two things: That change is a signal for growth and that no one is too perfect to grow.

We can all learn something new about ourselves as long as we embrace change and new opportunities.

What isn’t going to help is when we cut ourselves off from these chances to grow because of the potential discomfort or fear.

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


Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection

Two of the most important things I have learnt in the fields of education and Philosophy are Objectivity and Relativity.

Recently I’ve come to see just how broadly these two ways of thinking apply beyond just these two fields; particularly in my BJJ practice.

*For the sake of this exploration, I would like to work with the following definitions of Objectivity & Relativity.

1. Objectivity refers to concrete or set axioms (statements) of truth that do not shift regardless of which perspective they are examined from.

2. Relativity refers to statements which, depending on the perspective they are approached from, will have a subjective value; being either true or false depending on the conditions of the situation or person.

Let’s continue…

Continue reading “Objectivity versus Relativity: An exploration of perspective and reflection”

Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.

If you have a look at the top level competitors and practitioners in any sport, you begin to notice that they have a style that is distinctly their own.

It is extremely uncommon for us to be able to draw analogies between the greats of any sporting field, especially martial arts. We see this distinctly within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu too; any of the highest level competitors are very distinct in their strategies, style and technique.

Originality (and your ability to be original) plays a major factor in your improvement. Here are two ways originality can impact on your Jiu Jitsu. Continue reading “Be Original: Two ways originality can change your Jiu Jitsu.”

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.”