Archive for November, 2010

Training with a grappling dummy?

November 26, 2010

Read some forum posts on this topic recently, and this is a prime example of asking the wrong question.

Two questions are: 

What are your goals and objectives?  Is a grappling dummy a good tool for the job?

The beauty of BJJ and sport is you can test for practice effectiveness via live scrimmages and games.  In such performance oriented contexts, pratice strategies are tested and weeded out based on efficiency.

One of the more interesting things I’ve heard recently from some one who attends a lot of the Oregon Duck football practices is they don’t scrimmage much, doing skill oriented drilling with massive amounts of reps instead. These reps are geared at improving conditiong, team speed, as well as technique. 

In summation, be clear about what you’re practicing, and look for ways to improve and refine that practice.

Nice example of making practice a fine art:



Early resistance

November 17, 2010

I used to measure coaching performance based on how fast I could get students from 0-60 skill-wise, during the course of a class. 

John Wooden by contrast,  measured the effectiveness of teaching by how well athletes did in life, 20 years after the fact.

Talk about a perspective shift. ;o)

Another famous Wooden quote: 

“Good things take time.”

When I thought I was getting students from 0-60, the best I realistically did was get people a little more familiar with things.  The more you find out about Jiu-Jitsu, the more your realize you can only communicate so much during the course of a 60-90 minute class.

You don’t know anything in BJJ terms until you can pull it off on black belts who know it’s coming.  Up until then it’s degrees of familiarity.

As you can imagine executing technique against knowledgable black belts requires a number of details being commited to muscle memory to the point where the position is feel.  This is a process by nature you cannot force or speed up.  You have to be patient and put in the time.

This requires, going slow, and paying attention to details. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see is people adding resistance when learning and drilling as soon as possible.  While this is usually fine for pulling things off on peers of lesser or equal skill, the question is are your training for blue or black belt technique?

I have an article I’ve saved about the training of basketball phenom Kevin Durant.  His middle school and high school coach had him do fundamental drills over and over, and didn’t let him play pick-up ball.  Why?  Because he was training to be an NBA player, not a pick-up, middle school, high school, or college player.

Awesome Roger Gracie article

November 16, 2010

A great article full of tangible, useable information as the questions are posed by athletes instead of journalists ;o):


Bernando Faria (Alliance): I feel I evolve a lot after losing.  I see what I did wrong and work on correcting it.  You practically never lose; so how do you get your Jiu-Jitsu to evolve experiencing only victory?

Roger:  One should learn from both victory and defeat.  At a championship, one comes across a variety of different errors:  tactical errors, errors in preparing oneself…  Just by training you become aware of the flaws in your Jiu-Jitsu.

Tarsis Humphreys (Alliance): What tips do you have for me to make my Jiu-Jitsu as tight as yours?  What’s your training like in England, where oftentimes you don’t have the Estimas, Lagarto, and the other tough black belts around?

Roger: The way I see it, you shouldn’t train just for training’s sake.  It’s about the objective you create for yourself with every workout.  Of course there are days when your training doesn’t yield that much; all you did was go to the gym.  But you need to direct your training towards something specific, some improvement.  If all you do is roll, you don’t work specifically on what you do wrong.  One needs to train specifically for each position you might encounter.  That’s what I”ve been doing ever since I was young and continue to do in England, regardless of who I train with, as I don’t always have the Estimas or Lagarto with me in London.  One tip is to go down the line of your students, because when you’re tired you end up dropping to the same level as your lower-level students.  Another pointer is to always put yourself in danger situations, positions no one like being, out of pride.  Sometimes you get submitted, and it bugs you, bu the important thing is to forget your ego while training so you can put your head to work.  If you end up facing some tough guy at a championship you’ll know how to escape because you’ve practiced it in training.

Rafeal Mendes (Atos):  What do you feel can be improved in your Jiu-Jitsu?

Roger: Every aspect.  Defense, back mount, mount, half-guard, standing, attacking from side control.  I’m aware there will always be some so-far unnoticed detail that will make a giant difference in my game.  Just by knowing you need to improve, you are improving.  If you think you have nothing improve, you’re making everything worse.



Gracie academy video link (principles)

November 8, 2010

Rener and Ryron articulate what I talk about in this blog all the time, and my instructor frequently reminds me of (especially moves never happening the same way twice):

My big breakthrough here was beginning to think in terms of body mechanics.  My instructor was showing me things I didn’t have a reference for, so I had to start thinking in terms of:  Okay, what is he doing to my body, how is he doing it, how it is affecting my movement, and so on…

Before that point it was me doing my best to try fit what he showed me into moves, techniques, postures, and concepts I was familiar with.  The problem of course being was that I was viewing BJJ in a one-dimensional, surface oriented plane.

The Dark Ages

November 5, 2010

Magician Aaron Fisher describes the ‘information age as a dark age,’ meaning there is a ton of information out there right now without any real wisdom on how to use it.

Every great grappler I know links their techniques together with a guiding philosophy behind their game.  Therefore, learning one, or a series of their techniques is like trying to piece together a story from isolated sentences. 

I continually made this mistake until brown belt, trying piece a game together from various sources.  In other words, I wasn’t much of student.

Currently I have one coach who I get with in person (Eric Hemphill), and study some of Marcelo Garcia’s back attacks and guard game at his online site. 

That’s it.  

Yep, 12 years to learn how to keep things simple is just one of the benefits of being an intellectual. ;o) 

My massive collection of DVDs largely goes untouched these days.  I never really did too much youtubing, but it’s the same mentality, maybe worse, as it’s purely a one move format (you can sometimes get an idea of overall philosophy from DVD sets).

Speaking of youtube and my instructor, he just finished this promo video for his upcoming European BJJ tour ( if your computer blocks pop-ups):