Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Third Rule

I did some guest blogging for who wanted to see my perspective on the rules to BJJ training.

Here is the actual entry.:

The Third Rule

Rollo has asked me to write the third rule for his list of BJJ rules. This is interesting because BJJ has always been a game threes. Three points of contact to the ground, three points of a choke, three dominant positions, the triangle which is the symbol of BJJ and The Gracie family. My name Sam even means three in Korean, I was named this because I was the third son. So I take it as a great honor that I get to pen the magical third rule for RR AKA Rollo's Rules.

So the rule is simple. I think about this every time I step on the mat and feel like a winner when I have applied this rule.

The rule is: Do your body no harm.

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an expert, this rule applies to everyone. From your first day to last. Every time you step off the mat and have lived this rule and leave the mat unscathed, you are a victor!

This will affect the pace you train in. It will also make you sensitive to your body, how well you feel that day and what is the level of output you can put forth safely. It also affects how you play and ultimately design your game. If I play a certain way, like constantly grab my own foot and pull it towards my face in the guard, what will happen to my knee and hip? Is this game sustainable? Or intertwining your leg in an odd angle in someones sleeves or with their legs. Or rolling and playing off of your neck constantly. Will I be doing myself harm over time? Maybe not an instant injury but there is something worse than an injury that is even more common, chronic conditions and chronic pain. Injuries heal, chronic problems do not.

Ask yourself, do you have a self destructive game or training style?

This can also determine the people you train with most often, the ones who show your body the most respect. Where you put your limbs. Like if I am being throw and I put my arm out, will it get broken? Or even other things like, from this position, can this person harm me (submit, punch, gouge, elbow, etc.) If I grip here, can he possibly wrist lock me? At any point in this roll, can he touch my face? If he can touch my face he can touch my collar or control my head (in a self defense scenario he can also gouge your eyes or punch you). Can he hurt me? Can I hurt me? Whether accidental or through submission, BJJ is supposed to create awareness of your body and your opponent's body (where are all my limbs and their limbs and what are they doing?) and also spatial awareness. What's going on around me? If you haven't developed that you haven't really developed anything useful outside of the training mat yet, like even for the street. A martial artists with no awareness is no martial artist. He's good in a controlled environment against people who don't want to hurt him, what about outside in a chaotic world? I'm not even talking about a mugger, what about not tripping over a curb or bumping into people because you didn't know they were behind you.

I know so many BJJ players who have torn their own knees out or hurt their own necks because of either the way they rolled, or refusal to tap. Who cares if you lose, it's just a roll. Don't make it more than it is. You guys were friends before you rolled, don't make it personal. Be friends on and off the mat. Be happy if for them if they beat you, they are your friend not your enemy. They should be happy for you too if you catch them. Tap early to show your approval.

I apply this rule to everything I do. Not just for my body, but my stress levels and mind as well. Like with diet, I try to eat things that do no harm. When I work out, I only do the exercises that will not hurt me or exercises that make me more impervious to injury. I only put myself in situations that will not make me unhappy. I don't like to read books or listen to people who complain too much. I do myself no harm. It's a lesson I've learned from BJJ that I now apply to life.

Think long term. If you apply this rule to BJJ and everything else, you probably will live longer but guaranteed you will be on the mat for a longer period of your life, if not to the very end.

If you can never remember this rule remember this: the third man in every professional fight is the referee. His job is fighter safety.

Sam Y.


  1. Will Solaman be able to take anything from this???

  2. Damn!! Hell of a post!!

    After healing up from so many crap injuries -- this is now my #1 concern. I hate being off the mats, and I'm not putting myself in unsafe situations any more.

    That includes not rolling with spazzes full of ego. I'm done with that sh#t.

    I plan to be involved with BJJ for the rest of my life, and I figure, the only way to do that, is to be as safe as possible!

    Again, killer post, Sam!

  3. thanks daniel. this is our hobby not our life, to maintain it, we have to preserve our life.

  4. I have a feeling Daniel and Sam are one in the same????

  5. Although I train at the same academy as Sam, I can say with total certainty that I am not him. But, now that I think about it, there is no way for you to confirm this, so why do I even bother writing this.

    Although, as a up and coming white belt, I sometimes wish I had the skill that he does.

    I'll get there, though. I'm not going anywhere.

    Sometimes people see eye to eye on certain topics. Politics, religion, BJJ, chicken wings. Go figure. Not that unheard of.

  6. LOL Daniel I have a feeling Anonymous is also from our academy, one of our resident bullies who likes to hurt people!

  7. Thanks again for the post Sam, I really appreciate it.



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