Thursday, July 10, 2014

Deconstructing The Idea Of "Flowing"

Water flows not because anything allows it to. That's just what water does.

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

No matter what kind of BJJ you train, whether it's self defense, MMA, competition, or hobby, there are unifying concepts to all BJJ. Even without them being spoken, after a while you get the sense of them.

Unifying Concepts

One of these concepts is of personal responsibility. Meaning as far as Jiu Jitsu is concerned, a small man cannot control all the actions of the bigger stronger man, they can however control their own actions in nearly every situation. You don't expect your opponent to let you do anything, that's their job. Your job is to do it. It's a fight after all. Our training partners however should be respectful of our bodies and be careful not to harm us. Even still, our own personal safety is also in our own hands. Martial art is the art of defending yourself. There is this sense in Jiu Jitsu, especially during the formative white belt years, that you should know when to tap, and also be aware not to put yourself in positions that may endanger yourself. Don't have complete trust in your opponent, if you don't understand your safety is also in your control, you'll never develop the skills needed to keep yourself from harming yourself. It's not innate, like anything else in martial arts, it must be learned and practiced. Sometimes we get hurt by our training partners, but there's still a high incidence of injuries where we hurt ourselves, whether we like to admit it or not. You can develop that spider sense of realizing you're getting close to a wall, to other people, that you're foot is caught in their gi, and so on. From purple belt and above, when you roll with a white belt or a beginner, half the time you're focusing on them not hurting themselves and telling them to calm down.

Another concept is of flowing. Always be flowing. It means to always try to better your position, it means transitions, it means chaining together submissions. Your job is to flow and block your opponents attempt at flowing. That's Jiu Jitsu and is one of the ways it is different from arts with katas. It has to always remain true to the fight. I don't mean self defense or MMA fight, I mean the struggle to attain your goals.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Conditioning For BJJ

Technique matters, but so does strength and conditioning.

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

I was recently asked on Quora:

What's the best resources and information for strength training and conditioning for BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)?

Here is my expanded response:

I don't know if there is any one resource. Breaking Muscle writes a lot about it, as a few of their contributors train BJJ. Steve Maxwell also speaks in-depth about BJJ strength (he's a black belt and a world class strength coach). I find most strength articles relating to BJJ to be lacking (I've been training BJJ and MMA since 2002).

Read the rest: Strength Tactics For BJJ And MMA

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Every Life Lesson I've Learned From Martial Arts

My Jiu Jitsu master Rubens Charles "Cobrinha" explained to me, to be a good martial artist, figure out what's bothering you, then figure out a good way to prevent it or stop it. 
Me: I can't submit this guy because he's grabbing my pants professor.
Cobrinha: What's bothering you?
Me: The grip he has on my pants.
Cobrinha: Break the grip off. Then you can submit him. 
I was looking for some trick, a way to bypass the problem. He said take the time to address the leakage, plug it up, then go back to your original course of action. If it's not bothering you, then ignore it and go for it. 
What can I control? What's actionable? If it's not actionable, don't waste your time worrying about it. You need to conserve mental stamina. Decision fatigue is real (it's why it's easy to eat a healthy breakfast but hard to eat a healthy dinner), and if you waste all your decision powers over things you can't control, or things that won't matter or generally waste your time, then you won't have anything left by the time you get to the real decisions. 
There is no procrastination, you're deciding not to decide and that still drains you and drains time. 
They will resist, your mind will resist. When I was new to Jiu Jitsu, I told a higher belt I was having a hard time with a move. He asked why, I said my opponent wouldn't let me do it. 
He said, "of course he wouldn't let you. It's a fucking fight. You have to fight for it."

Read the rest: Jedi Mind Body Control

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Hacking Jiu Jitsu: 10 Questions To Improve Learning Curve

Get good at Jiu Jitsu quickly. No secret techniques, just lots of shortcuts and hacks.

With learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are so many variables to consider, but they aren't all evenly scaled and they aren't all of equal importance. When trying to improve and shorten your learning curve, you may need to take into account recovery and supplementation, of if you're getting quality sleep. But beyond that, you have to ask yourself the important questions to make your time effective and to organize your training to increase learning speed.

The important things to ask are, what attributes do you have and are you doing the right things for your attributes. Or do you override your attributes for preference? Do you insist on doing things that have a low success ratio?

Ask yourself these 10 key questions and design your game and drilling schedule accordingly and save yourself years of frustration:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sleep: The Undervalued Tool

How To Sleep As Well As Kron Gracie

20 Different hacks, strategies, and methods you can use to improve recovery or get the rest you need before competing.

And sometimes even be able to sleep at the venue. 

In no particular order:

1. Get F.Lux for your computer. 

A location based program that'll dim your computer based on the time of day. You'll still be able to see everything clearly, just the color waves will change. Meaning in the mornings the color will look more like outdoor light, at night, it will look like indoor light. More blue waves in the morning (because they wake you up), more red waves (much less stimulating than blue waves and shouldn't interrupt sleep hormone production as much) at night.

It's already shown positive results in helping people fall asleep naturally. There's an app version (Twilight for Droid) for your phone and tablets. You can of course control the settings or turn it off at any time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Attacks Of Kron Gracie: The Three Prong Approach

Win Or Lose, Kron Gracie Will Try To Finish You

Kron Gracie is the most famous and most popular black belt competitor to have never won a World Title at black belt.

It has been said that he has no style and no discernible guard. That he relies only on basics.

Though his style is not the most common of styles, it is as rich and complex as any of the other black belt competitor's out there. And being the son of Rickson Gracie, of course this adds to his mystique, that he must know secrets the rest of us do not. He's basically the son of a Jiu Jitsu god.

In studying film on Kron Gracie, there are patterns, and guards he plays, and favorite attacks. In the end he has used many different submissions to finish his opponents, usually they come in the form of armbar or choke. Often times he leads with the same few moves, and based on the reactions of his opponents, he will respond accordingly, to whatever is the quickest path to the finish. As opposed to the quickest path to points, to top position, to the back, to mount, to sweep, to your favorite guard, etc.

Why? Because he's probably also one of the most confident grapplers, whatever position he's in, he believes he'll be alright. The rest of us, outside of our comfort zones, panic sets in. So we scramble or play to bring the fight back to our key positions.

Instead of chaining typical moves, he likes to chain submission attempts and chains sweeps or takedowns based on the opponent's reactions to his submission flurries.

It would be impossible to explain his whole game, especially when it's always evolving but he does rely heavily on his 3 prong attack (similar to the triangle offense used by Phil Jackson and executed to perfection by Michael Jordan). It's like in chess, the masters use the same opening moves, after that is when chaos ensues.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Crucial Moments: UFC 168 Breaking Down Ronda Rousey Vs Miesha Tate

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Is Magic!

When Royce Gracie submitted Dan Severn with the triangle choke (choking an opponent with your legs), that's what everyone said. That it was magic. Weird mystical chi attacks do exist and only the Gracies knew how!

It was the first time American audiences along with most of the world had ever seen a triangle choke. Not only that, but we saw a fighter seemingly turn around a losing fight with something we couldn't figure out. One second "The Beast" is winning, next second he's tapping out to the guy on bottom. Knockouts we understood, but this? This was just strange. If this weak skinny guy could do this to this giant man, we all stood a chance in a fight.

Crucial Moments

There's a business book I read (and highly recommend) called Crucial Conversations. The premise is, in every talk and conversation there is a crucial moment that will dictate how it will turn out. If stakes are high, those moments matter. Malcolm Gladwell called it "The Tipping Point," where maybe an idea or a business tips from something good to great. In the documentary Choke, Rickson talked about how he believed in every fight, your opponent will eventually make a mistake, and it is your job to capitalize on it.

That was the magic of Jiu Jitsu. Up until Dan Severn, Royce Gracie had steamrolled through every opponent. He had difficulty with Kimo Leopoldo and it looked scary initially, but in reality he was never in big danger. It lasted a little over 4 minutes and Leopoldo was really just trying to keep Gracie off of him and not get submitted.

With Severn, it was over 15 minutes of Gracie getting his ass kicked. Then a crucial moment presented itself in the fight, and all the years of Jiu Jitsu training culminated to Royce seizing this one opportunity. Jiu Jitsu wasn't necessarily to dominate every opponent, Jiu Jitsu was to keep you safe and in the fight long enough to seize any mistakes your opponent might give you. That was and still is the beauty of Jiu Jitsu, and is the reason we all train. You wait and survive and take what your opponent gives you. The guard is literally "a guard," a shield. It's the most unique thing about Brazilian (Gracie) Jiu Jitsu.

Enter Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Breaking Down Roger Gracie's Guard

Thinking About Roger's Guard

There's actually nothing magical about it. Roger does several things really well, one of his biggest strengths and sometimes weakness is his patience.

There's a movie called Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. In one classic scene, Gene Hackman is explaining to a writer, what makes a good gunslinger. It's not the fastest shooter, it's the guy who takes his gun out, takes his time to aim, and commits to shooting. Many fast shooters would pull their guns out and miss. That's when guys like Clint and Gene's character would shoot them dead. They won't miss. (If you haven't seen this movie, you are missing out and I urge you to own this movie! It's that good with lots of life lessons us BJJ'ers need.)

He's Not Slow!

Often times Roger gets mislabeled as slow, or that he has this slow game. He's not slow, he's making sure he has what he needs before he moves on. He's doing it as quickly as possible but he makes sure he takes the time to do it right. Roger will scramble, explode, and frantically escape submissions. Same can be said with other guys. I've never seen a slow Rickson match, same with Kron. There are moments in between where they take the time to see what's going on and what they have, and once they secure a position, they do things step by step, making sure not to skip over anything.

So let's break it down...