Archive for the ‘Mindsets’ Category

Internal motivation and excellence

September 29, 2011

Maybe it’s a  lack of maturity, maybe it’s a human thing, but I rather get 100 hits a day on this blog than 0 or 1. =)

Still, internal motivation, drive, or whatever you want to call it, is writing regardless. 

Thinking about it now, that is how I would define excellence:

Doing something for the sake of doing it without really caring too much about immediate outcomes, approval, or reward.

This doesn’t mean flying blind, ignoring how effective activities are in relationship to objectives, but it’s a long-term, if not endless approach centered not on results, but the space you come from.


Jiu-Jitsu, Music, and Movies

August 31, 2011

I was asked a question yesterday along the lines of comparing my BJJ to a style of music.

My first response is that to this day I’m style trying to master the fundamentals.  I’m starting to get a grasp on a few things, but haven’t for example even begun to explore the idea of drilling.  What’s being done in BJJ is light years behind the type of drilling they do for Oregon football, where things are timed and getting down to a science. 

Back the music thing, BJJ to me is about getting the most music out of the fewest notes.  While there might be some bursts here and there, great BJJ is short, precise, and compact.  You shouldn’t be flailing all over that mat like Carlton Banks.  This shows me you have no idea what you’re trying to achieve.  2 people shouldn’t need more than a 10X10 foot space.  This translates best to a great blues guitarist whose time between notes is as crucial to music as the sound. 

Another good example are the Clint Eastwood movies where he takes 110 minutes of a 2 hour film to develop a relationship.  It’s a slow and masterful work, no wasted film. 

It’s something I strive for, but will never achieve, mastery being endless.


“Never mistake activity for acheivement.”  ~John Wooden


Another way of looking at basic vs. advanced

August 29, 2011

All ‘advanced’ technique is built on fundamental mechanics. 

So, quality-wise, it’s not a question of ‘basic versus advanced.’

If you want to do an exotic or advanced position well, the best way to learn it is investing 40 hours on the intricacies of elbow/shrimp escaping from mount.

If this seems like too simple of a technique to spend that much time on, how come Roger Gracie cross-chokes everyone from there? 

An interesting phenomenon is the more time you spend studying something, the more detail you find.  Things become much more complex, which is to say simple in a way you didn’t previously comprehend.

A field of study

August 17, 2011

My coach and I were talking today about a very good brown belt he’s currently given privates to.

Having known this brown belt many years prior I was curious as to what his strengths and weaknesses were.  Eric replied that he knew a lot already, so the main focus has been shifting his approach to thinking about BJJ as a whole.

In other words, what’s the big picture?  What’s the essence of a position?  What are the core principles, and mechanics that make things work?

What really got me thinking further, was Eric mentioning how much time a student can waste by not training intentionally…

The realization that mugged is that essentially BJJ is a field of study just like Language, Math, and Science…

This may seem like common sense, but the truth is a lot of time we focus on getting the one-up on our peers, promotions, who tapped who, tournament outcomes, who has the best academy, best coach, and other prom dress related subject matter.

All those things are fine up to a point, but none of them have to do with effective, thoughtful, and progressive study.

I told my buddy Garrett today that I expect 20 hours of research to find that one tiny, basic detail that makes a world of difference, often sifting through the same footage over and over.  This is the caddyshack par for the course.


Positions, pictures, and videos forthcoming

August 5, 2011

Writing blog posts the past couple years without personally posting one positional video or picture possibly means I had a lot of non-mechanical related ideas?  You think? =)

Probably the biggest thing I’ve come to realize is how important enjoying yourself is.  There is a little lip service to this effect, but with the insecure, my way or the highway approaches that often rear their ugly head in martial arts, it’s easy to get lost.

So, take whatever ideas resonate in this blog or elsewhere, and play with them.  To the degree you try to get something right, your no longer having fun. 

Lighten up and love it.

While I do think there are levels of quality of BJJ ideas, my truth, especially in the context of something as personal as inspiration, isn’t going to be your truth.

There, close to 2 years of postings summed up in one post.  Apparently I have a way to go authorship wise. =)

Positions and project announcement forthcoming….

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: