Archive for May, 2010

Could my step-mom pull this off?

May 30, 2010

If you asked me a year ago about the art of BJJ, I might have said something along the lines of Roger Gracie passing everyone’s guard, mounting, and finishing everyone with a cross-collar choke.

While Roger’s accolades still represent an unprecedented degree of technique and skill, my current definition of  the art of BJJ is how well a given technique could help one survive an altercation using minimal attributes.  Say a ucoordinated, slender, weak-boned woman in her early 60’s.  Some one like my step-mom!

Sportive versions of BJJ like ADCC and CBJJ events have become immensely popular and continue to evolve, but you don’t win trophies for ‘best survivor.’ 

Time limits, rules, and weight divisions create cool and interesting outlets for challenge, creativity, and entertainment, fostering artistic merits of their own.  Still, they have little to do in terms of measuring artistry as defined above.  And in some cases such settings may influence offensive minded strategies that my step-mom would likely injure herself implementing.


Gauging progress in BJJ

May 29, 2010

Email reply I just typed to a friend:

Do you have a coach that you work with on scheduled basis?  I think this is huge.
I also tell people to make sure and pay their coach.  What I’ve had happen quite often when people don’t pay me is they don’t listen as well because there is no investment on their part.  It took me a long time to realize that people don’t value ‘free’ advice nearly as much as paid information.
Getting and paying a coach is something I started doing as a brown belt, and it made me a much better student.  My coach is actually a close, long-time friend and I pay him more than his going rate, even though he would teach me for free.
I think gauging progress through your peers is actually one of the worst ways of measuring skill because you are most likely reinforcing each other’s bad habits to some degree, which isnormal part of the learning process.  Again, this is why having a skilled coach is huge because they see your game objectively, and help curb mistakes one can make over periods of years!
Time on the mat is also key, but again without consistent, objective input you can still have major holes your clueless about, and time on the mat might actually those habits worse.  It’s like the guy who has bad form on his squat who thinks he’s making gains because he’s lifting more.  Things are going to cave at some point, possibly suddenly, and one might not even know why. 

Investing in your art

May 17, 2010

One of the my favorite all-time purchases were folder sheets for holding  baseball cards when I was about 8 or so.  The money was earned through the high profile job of raking pine needles.  

Because I was working a job where an hour seemed like a day, I took the buying process in for all it was worth.  Even the drive to the baseball card shop with Dad was filled with anticipation.


Coveted '84 donruss card of favorite player at the time, who would have thunk it!


An interesting trend I’ve observed is that BJJ practitioners often don’t seem to see the value in paying top dollar, or anything at all for an art they supposedly love.  I remember once even reading a forum post once where a number of gentlemen were up in arms over an instructor charging $50 for belt testing?? 

Equally popular, if not more prevelant is downloading and/or copying instructional and tournament DVDs.  

From an educational standpoint, I have to ask if one really values learning resources they didn’t put any thought and effort into acquiring? 

You get back what you invest.

Qualities of great study part #4: Patience

May 9, 2010

“Show up for the art.” ~Chris Haueter


I recently received a body-weight conditioning book (no, not Power Man & Iron Fist *L*) which showed 6 different exercises, broken down into 10 step progressions.  Hungry to get to the highest progression, I started at the most difficult step I could manage for each exercise.

What’s fantastic is at the end of the book the author strongly recommended every reader start at the first progression step regardless of experience.  The idea being, to milk each step for all it’s worth before moving on. That if one is going to be committed to a program over a substantial period of time, what’s the rush?

How many times have I give this same advice in BJJ?

I consider patience to be the great balancer.  Michael Neill, one of my favorite authors uses an analogy of holding a beautiful butterfly.  Desire is what keeps your fingers closed just enough to keep the butterfly from flying away.  Patience on the other hand keeps you relaxed and present,  preventing your winged friend from being squashed.


“Forget about the black belt, and that’s the fastest way to get there.” ~Ryron Gracie


Maybe a suprising thing to a student busy moving through the belt ranks of BJJ, is upon recieving one’s black belt, and thereafter, you find yourself missing belts!  White, blue, purple, and brown mark out cherised periods of history.  At black, you have just as many things on your plate as far as learning goes, without ‘coloring’ to mark the moments.


“Don’t be in such a rush to be a hot dog, that you forget the relish.” ~Jeff Wassom





Critically acclaimed article on wrestling

May 7, 2010

I don’t normally like to cross-post, but this article done by John Irving on Dan Gable is considered by many to be one of the best pieces of writing done on the sport of wrestling (takes some time to read):,93495.0.html

One of my favorite parts is Gable grappling alone in his basement against imaginary opponents.  This puts an interesting spin on the idea that isolated drilling is a waste of time. *L*  I would actually go so far to say that probably every elite athlete in a well-established sport (sport BJJ and MMA are still in their infancy) puts a great deal of time drilling isolated moves over and over against imaginary opponents.