Archive for July, 2011

Never giving up, and the nature of mind

July 29, 2011

In athletics, I think people often associate a ‘never give up’ mindset with continued struggle. 

While this is all well and good, what if you were already ‘home free’ without realizing it?  What if you have, by the fact of mere existence, more than you could ever dream of?  How might you approach things then?

To me, this is the point were struggle ceases, and inspiration starts.

Allowing predicates flow.

 This is also how I think about mind.  Mind is the most brilliant, awe-inspiring night sky imaginable.  Actually, it’s beyond imagination, always there, regardless of how cloudy things get.


The most important aspect of drilling

July 28, 2011

The key factor in drilling is being successful. 

My two favorite quotes here are:


“Practice does not make perfect.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.” ~Vince Lombardi


“Go so slow you can’t screw up.” ~Ryron Gracie


Where people stumble is rushing through technique so fast they miss 50-75% of the details, and/or adding resistance A.S.A.P.

How can you implement something you never took the time to learn in the first place?  From a technical perspective, your doubling and tripling the practice time it takes to master a give position.

Part of this behavior probably comes from the ‘if you’re not struggling, you’re not getting anywhere,’ mindset.

Thank goodness drama flavored smoothies are optional. =)

Train technical, be successful.

Question #5: Detecting holes

July 25, 2011

How do you detect a hole in your game and what do you do about it if you find one?

I think this Roger passage is pretty instructive here (

 ‘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.’

I assume not only having holes, but fundamental holes.  Regardless of whether is true, it attunes the mind in a helpful way.  Exotic positions are fun to explore, but continual research, and mastery of the basics are top priority.

Once a ‘hole’ is found, I drill and isolate the correct position or posture until it’s a part of my soul.

I also think it’s very helpful to have a primary coach.  If you have say, 4-5 coaches, you’re not really being coached.  You’re stringing together a game based on what’s comfortable.

Lastly, pay your coach well.  It provides incentive to listen and learn.  It’s been my experience that people are much more likely to take notes and film information when paying good money. 

Invest in yourself.

Rickson interview link

July 22, 2011

The wisdom in the following interview is worth hundreds of hours of privates.  Why?  Because these approaches are hardly taught anymore.  Yes, some people, some of the time, talk about fundamentals, but how many people talk about dealing with some one with 50 lbs. + on you when tired?  How well does your technique work then?

Rickson is a dying breed.

Watch it, learn it, live it:

Question #4: Transitioning, and game plans versus reacting

July 21, 2011

Can you write a little on how you are able to tell how much to invest in holding a position before you decide to switch, i.e. how much of your game is based on controlling your opponent and implementing YOUR game plan vs complete reaction to their movements; and how has that changed as you progressed?

Great question!

Saulo has a great quote: 

“If you have to think, your late.  If your late, you  muscle. If you muscle, you get tired. If you get tired, you die.” 

The way I interpret thinking here, is he’s talking about extremely high level BJJ where people’s attacks are reflexive.  If your posture and defense aren’t just as ingrained, guess who’s going to lose?

In terms of holding positions, for the sake of pure BJJ I don’t think it is wise to invest anything.  Why?  Because once you start investing, you tense.  To steal Saulo’s theme, the more tense you are, the less relaxed.  The less relaxed you are, the less aware. 

Awareness predicates intelligent response.

What you can do study-wise, is research when positioning is solid and why?  This is the mechanical aspect of BJJ.

For example, when you have harness/head-and-arm control from cross-side top, with head buried to prevent framing, you have excellent positioning.  Why?  Because you’ve taken away the far-side frame, and essentially made yourself a part of the person on bottom. 

If you start investing though, rather than relaxing and molding to your opponent,  you increase the odds of being rolled, especially with a grappler who has 50 lbs. + on you.  The bigger the weight, size, and strength difference, the more you’ll have to rely on sensitivity, and movement stay out of guard and on top.

That’s it really.  From the outside looking in, it may look like I have a game plan, but what I’m looking to do has more to do with physics, mechanics, and awareness than trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

In terms of my evolution, up until brown I tried to force things, and still catch myself doing it now, so it’s a matter of taking my own advice.  When you have a knowledge advantage you can force things, but this approach is a death-wish among savvy brown and black belts. 

Over-committing will eventually lead to this:

Winners and Losers

July 17, 2011

I read an interview about a week ago with a well known BJJ coach who said he felt 97% of people out in the world are ‘losers,’ and 3% or ‘winners.’

To give this statement some context I believe he is talking about finishing what you set out to do, and following through with your goals. 

My spin on this is people aren’t losers so much as lost in the lights of Vegas.  I think it’s hard to go anywhere over a length of time, if what you set out to achieve doesn’t resonate on a personal level.  Which is to say, inspiring.

Do we really need motivation do things we feel like we were born to do?  Heck, if I had to motivate myself in order to write this blog post I’d likely be tuckered out before I started writing.  And while it might feel good in the moment to finish a post, I don’t believe doing so makes me a better or worse person. 

The question is, am I doing something that resonates? 

There is one person who can answer that. 

Maybe the biggest cosmic joke in the world is people seeking Gurus to find the person reflected back at them in the mirror everyday.

Awareness, focus, mindfulness

July 14, 2011

I deleted about 25-30 posts on this topic.

I was operating under the assumption you can be more aware, mindful, present, and focused through effort when mindfulness is our default state.  Effort moves us further away, not closer to attentiveness. 

Focus is what’s left when we don’t have anything in mind.

The same concept applies when one relies too heavily on teaching methods, certian metaphors, and langauge, overshadowing what you’re attempting to impart.  It goes back to the idea of looking at the finger pointing to all the heavenly glory at the behest of heavenly glory.

House Cleaning: Revisions and omissions

July 12, 2011

I’m going through all past posts within the next few months.  Mostly likely I will find things that no longer gel with my current thoughts, resulting in either deletion or revision.

So…if you have any favorite posts…or just want to scribble ‘muggle thinking’ followed by arrow for fridge or bulletin board, slap ‘print’ while public embarrassment opportunity abounds.

As for the things that stay, I’m going to attempt organizing by theme, and related posts per easier navigation.

Roger Gracie quote on patience

July 9, 2011

Roger Gracie question and answer on posture and patience from

Question: “Your elegant posture makes it look almost like an English sport, although it’s called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  It reveals a lot of coolness and patience during fights, a lot different from the more agitated Jiu-Jitsu that we see a lot of these days.  Does that posture help you defend?

Answer:  “Patience is the key to Jiu-Jitsu.  I like the metaphor about the guy that is drowning.  If he starts to flap his arms and legs, he is going to lose oxygen quicker and won’t think straight.  To swim like that will make him sink to the bottom, but if he is calm he can come to surface easily.  The same applies to Jiu-Jitsu.  If the guy that is being attacked starts to move randomly trying to escape, he may simply be moving to adjust the position for his opponent, to tighten the move.” (falling deeper into the position)

Question #3: Organizing time

July 6, 2011

If you had 10hrs to train a week, what do you think would be the best way to organize it for learning speed of the average person (obviously all are different)?

Numero uno is figuring out the general direction you want to head in.  In other words, what specifically inspires you?

The flock thing to do is being pulled in the random direction your thoughts, other people, and all other outside influences in the moment.

Once you have this figured out, or rather allowed space for it, 90% of your work is done.  Congratulations Francis, your officially living on purpose!

The trinity of training is class/research, drilling/refining,  and sparring/testing.  Again here, half the battle is being aware of these things fit, influence, and blend with one another.

I’d slap a twenty on 85% of BJJers neglecting one, and often two of these areas in favor of another.

As far as how much time should be spent doing what, I think that is always in a state of flux based on your needs, current lifestyle, and grappling evolution.

Beginners for example should demonstrate enough discipline to drill cooperatively and technically before they have any business sparring.  So, for them it’s going to be heavy helpings of class and drilling.  Mastery doesn’t happen overnight, so why the rush to test techniques and positions they’re barely familiar with?

For pure, optimal, performance I’d take a look at how professional athletes spend their time.

I’d be super curious to hear the ratio of sparring/drilling/research Freddy Roach and Manny Pacquiao do, and how that has evolved over time.   There is a ton of money resting on the effectiveness of this training, so if there is a magic pill that would help joe grappler learn quicker, I’m sure they’re taking it.  Yes, Pacman and Roach are doing more training, but the average athlete can still use this information in terms of percentage breakdowns.

My final thought is, getting the most out of practice is a never-ending learning process.  Be wary of a coach that has all the answers.  Closed practices exist for a reason. =)