Archive for January, 2012

Student first

January 31, 2012

In the context of getting better, ‘having answers,’ and ‘being right,’ are  kryptonite strands.

Opportunities abound to see something today I missed yesterday.


Eric (long hair) schooling me on the 'did or did not' nature of execution on the beautiful Oregon coastline.





The fundamental mindset

January 29, 2012

While the ‘what?’ question concerning fundamentals is decent, it’s still along the lines an instructor catching fish.

What’s preferable, is helping to aid in an understanding of ‘why?’ fundamentals are relevant.

For me, ‘fundamentals’ are the smallest number of core positions, principles, and ideas that garner the most Jiu-Jitsu (see the G$ John Danaher article concering the 80/20 rule).



So, it’s not really a question of whether you teach ‘fundamentals,’ but how well you understand BJJ as a whole.

Joe Blow can say he teaches fundamentals, and even ‘coach’ from a formatted curriculum that’s  intellectually sound.  

The problem is, he’s still throwing a salad if he doesn’t understand ‘why?’ he’s teaching what he’s teaching. 

Also, with the unprecedented amount of access we have to information nowadays, it’s the most natural thing in the world to stray from fundamental BJJ. 

If we see Marcelo Garcia sweeping Renzo Gracie in the ADCC with something he calls X-guard, who doesn’t want to learn that? 

And, if we don’t have the experience yet to understand how situational X-guard is, we are probably going to gravitate to it even more.

Straying from, and eventually coming back to the things that sustain us most in BJJ, is a cycle we probably all continually go through to some degree.

Lastly, going back to the coach perspective, this is why it’s important to be conscious of what you praise, as you may be reinforcing something that’s going to stagnate a person’s growth later down the road.


Coach Hemp game face during teen years (Hill High yearbook pic).

Principles versus Models

January 27, 2012

A 6-pack of private lessons with Eric Hemphill, and you'll be slangin' armlocks like a boss. ~Isaac


“People come up and ask me about this position, and that position, and dude I have no idea what they’re talking about.  I don’t know names.  I’m mean what the hell is a z-guard?  What is that?” ~Eric Hemphill


Throwing the idea out that if you understand things at the level of principles, you don’t need a teaching model.

In addition,  I would go so far to say that a model in fact does more harm than good, in that I’m looking through a filter of ideas, rather than responding to individuals in real-time.

On the other hand, if I really understand the subject, I should be able to create with and around a person, instead of parroting some one else’s metaphors, analogies, and methods.


Rickson breaking down the hip throw for self-defense via principles:



Selling yourself…

January 26, 2012

Probably really naive here, but think there is something to be said for staying off the grid (facebook, twitter, etcetera) and making your Jiu-Jitsu the best it can be:


Does BJJ change lives?

January 26, 2012

‘Plus (when you buy one of my t-shirts) you get high.’ ~Chris Haueter


The ‘BJJ changes lives’ idea may be good marketing, but the fact is, martial arts aren’t going to give you something you don’t already have psychologically.

It goes without saying that evolution within BJJ is an inside-out process as well.

I’ve learned some of Eric’s game for example, through diligent study, as him handing it down to me from the mountain top would have bored both of us.

As previously noted by Josh in the comment section of preceding post (individuality), and G$ has observed after working with both Eric and I privately, we are now pretty consistent theory-wise, but usually have different ways of expressing the same point.

Such understanding represents principle-based teaching and comprehension.

I point this out because often what people call Jiu-Jitsu and/or pyschological change translates to people parroting an individual just as likely lost as they are:



Training for better Jiu-Jitsu

January 24, 2012
“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness.  Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.  Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” ~Sun Tzu

I consider myself somewhat of a Jiu-Jitsu beginner because I trained for better positions and submissions well into brown belt.

I didn’t start the journey for better Jiu-Jitsu until recently.

While there is obviously some overlap here, there are also night and day differences.

Even after black I was still conditioning my arms to hold harness from turtle top for long periods, without thinking if this was an energy-efficient strategy. =)

The thing with basing your BJJ on survival and sensibility is it isn’t going improve your sweeps, submissions, or positioning overnight.

Therefore, training for better Jiu-Jitsu is easily missed in the reach for ideas geared toward short term results (i.e. learning a new guard pass for use against your gym nemesis).

Jiu-Jitsu: Art or Science?

January 20, 2012

My take on this is BJJ is 90% science, 10% art.

Eric and I have come to the conclusion that there is a most efficient way to shoot a free-throw, tackle, field ground balls, and hold cross-sides top.

The reasoning?

We are dealing with the human body, where structure is pretty much universal (range of motion, number of appendages, carotid blood flow, skeletal alignment, etcetera).



Yes, there is an individual aspect, but I find people who talk about ‘games’ and ‘styles’ often have little understanding of how and why fundamental BJJ mechanics work.

It’s science, but as my coach likes to say, it ain’t rocket science. ;o)


Training for validation

January 19, 2012

The opposite of training with intentions of getting better, is training for validation.

That is, weighing how you stack up against everyone in the academy, school rival, and/or out-of-towner in competitive rolls.

Focusing on externals in this way, grants you zero information about what specifically you can improve.

Ultimately, this is a misinterpretation ‘validation.’ 

Validation as I see it is simple appreciation of the ability to show up, participate, and train:



Internal motivation & perfection (Friday Night Lights audio)

January 18, 2012

Love this clip I know Portland is way too smart and cool for =):


The BJJ Master

January 18, 2012


As talked about earlier a BJJ Black Belt is the equivalent of an advanced college degree.  The ‘real world,’ is performance within this standard.  

A ‘Master’ or ‘mastery’ happens in the years that follow.  Black belt as it were, is your first day on the job, with trainee expectations.  Provided it’s skilled labor, mastering this job will take years of dedication and diligence.

The reason behind the above video, is such a  level of competence speaks for itself.  And, when such a title is given, it’s bestowed by peers with deep experience (seasoned black belts). 

I’ve been seeing this title being thrown around casually lately for marketing purposes, and feel it’s really denigrating to some one of Rickson’s caliber. 

Educationally, I believe the inexperienced, sincere student is being misled as well. 

Yes, sending prospective students a misleading message might make you more money in the short run, but what about the craft as a whole in the long run? 

Don’t provoke ‘the wrath:’