Friday, December 21, 2012

“I’d like to punch you in the Face”! Why strikes are important in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu!

For this article I’m narrowing my focus to ground punching for a "grappling/BJJ" school, nothing stand-up oriented.  So, don’t go emailing me about how I should be standing or this is how MMA does it. I got it.

There is a funny saying about BJJ Black Belts that goes, “If you want to turn a bjj black belt into a brown belt, punch him in the face.  If you want to turn him into a purple belt, punch him again.” I don’t believe this is quite true but there can be a shred of truth none the less.  I, personally, have a couple stand up martial arts black belts along with my BJJ black belt and I have been punched in the face quite a few times over the years. I have also done a lot of grappling and punching in my time as well. So punching is nothing new to me.  But it has traditionally not been explored by many of my students and many in the Gracie community. 

I was recently training with one of my students Tren Long getting him ready for an MMA fight he wanted to do.  Tren is a brown belt and one of my best students.  I was helping him with some of his grappling and striking.  We trained for a while, both of us taking care not to hurt each other’s feelings or faces.  We both know each other’s games pretty well so it made for a very interesting time. I have never had such a great sparring session in all my life and to be honest I got the worst end of the deal that day.

It made me make a decision on something I had been thinking about for a long time.  What good is saying you teach “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” if you never throw punches?  How realistic is that?  It’s one thing to train in the gi which I find to be a very realistic self-defense training tool.  People wear coats and pants on the street all the time. I also teach the Gracie Stand-up Self Defense.  But you need to take it a step further and don the gloves while you spar!

Here are some problems with never punching during your rolls.  One thing about doing straight gi Jiu-Jitsu is that you tend to not worry about your head and face.  If a guy can look at your head then he can probably tag it.  Checking his arms is vital.  In this kind of scenario you will need to modify your game to take this into account.   

The second concern is that you have no time to be hanging out when you are on the bottom especially if you get mounted.  Mount escaping while you are being punched is paramount. Get out of there!   

Third, disrupting your opponent’s base from the bottom is amazingly important so he can’t get off clean shots at you!  Finally, punching while grappling shows you to get your ass on top during a real fight!  

I’m sure your sitting there saying, “What’s the big deal, we have been doing this all along?”  I commend you for it.  The only problem is that I have been to a lot of BJJ schools that don’t but they should.  They will get a real eye-opening experience If they did.

Let me end by saying that punch throwing should be a once in a while kind of thing...using MMA Gloves of course.   Solid fundamentals are developed by practicing non- punching  free rolling.  Those fundamentals are tested and enhanced by the anvil of the fist though.  Remember that punching doesn’t have to be hard with your partner.  A simple tap lets him know that “I just punched you in the face.” So don’t go knocking teeth out. 

 I’m incorporating more punching with my students from now on so they can become better Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.  I think this will be the deciding factor when people ask, “What’s the difference between Sport and Self-Defense BJJ.” 

Good luck with that X-Guard.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jason Scully and the Invisible Art

Let’s get one thing straight about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Making a decent living is all about teaching in your school and NOT about producing DVDs.  

Many people don’t realize that the average DVD set brings in between 5 to 15 thousand dollars in profit over its life!  That might sound like a lot but try living a year on just 15 thousand dollars (over three or four years really).  That just doesn’t go far. With all the DVD and Online competition out there it’s amazing that black belts make much money at all.  I’ve told my students on numerous occasions that I would have made millions by now if it weren’t for BJJ and the Martial arts and I’m serious about it....but it's ok I like it. =)

So let’s put to rest the idea that Black Belts who make DVDs are making a killing. This includes all the world champions.  They aren’t.   We black belts mostly do it because of the uncontrollable insane passion for the art that we have. We just want to SHARE with others so they can grow and make BJJ flourish. 

Jason Scully is one such individual in particular.

Jason’s passion for BJJ is crazy!   This guy spends hours videoing his work and then typically gives his moves out for FREE on YouTube!   Take for instance his 57 Guard Passing Techniques in 8 Minutes, what’s this guy making by giving ALL these awesome moves to you, for nothing?  You got it.... nothing.  He just wants to share it as a reference so YOU"LL get better.  He simply loves the art!

Jason recently sent me a copy of his Invisible Grappling DVD Set for review.   This is a 7 DVD set with hours of video!!   It took me days to watch it all!!   The only thing I can say about it is that it’s absolutely outstanding!   One of the best videos I have seen in a long time.   It is every blue and purple belts dream set.    This is material too detailed and foundational to find on YouTube but you must have, hence the name “Invisible.”  

The sad part is this DVD set is SOLD OUT.  Jason isn’t making anymore, most likely because it’s very expensive to produce.  So I’m the first person in BJJ history to review a DVD set that you probably can’t get anymore.  It got scooped up like money falling from a building.

My point is…when Jason does a video you might want to be the first in line to buy a copy.  I have also learned that when he tells you there will be no more made,  HE ACTUALLY MEANS IT.   
 “Invisible Grappling” represents the incredible base technique that most practitioners don’t see or get…but I also think it means that if you haven’t bought Jason Scully’s DVD set…It’s now invisible to you. =).  

You can find out more about Jason Scully at  or see if you can actually sign up for a change at his grappling resource forum . Most of the time joining is only opened on a limited time basis.  I've been a proud member for over 5 years!

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brazilian Time is NOT a Good Time!

Here is a huge enemy of your school,  Brazilian Time.  “Brazilian Time” is a humorous term used to denote  starting the martial arts class up to 15 minutes late in many cases. 

This is made famous by Brazilian BJJ Instructors (and many American Instructors) who are notoriously late in beginning their class; whether they arrive late, leaving their students sitting out on the front steps with a locked door or simply having a small talk conversation on the mats with a few students and letting time slip by.

Besides setting a bad example it also minimizes the actual technique learning process because many schools will actually do “extensive” warm-ups and drills leaving minimal time for the actual teaching of methodical technique. 

Let’s do a time breakdown to see what “Brazilian Time” is cheating us out of.

Let’s pretend that your instructor has six class times a week.  I’m sure they have more but let’s “pretend”.  Let’s also pretend that he/she starts class 15 minutes late for only 4 of those 6 classes a week.  4 classes X 15 minutes=60.  That’s 60 minutes of productive class time per week that is being wasted.   60 X 50 Weeks in a year =3000 minutes of training time not applied for the entire year.  3000 minutes divided by 60 minutes in an hour =50 hours of down time.  Lets say that each class is two hours long, that equals out to 25- 2 hour classes (50 divided by 2) that is kaput.  That is like you paying for close to a month of class and getting nothing out of it!!  How is that math working out for you?

This waste of time could be the difference between you winning a medal at a tournament and going home empty handed if not just getting better at Jiu-Jitsu.

Because this is a math/ bjj class,  let’s go a little further and cut it in half again just to be conservative and say your instructor isn’t “that bad”.  Let’s say 25- 2 hour wasted classes divided by 2=12.5 two hour non -productive classes per year vaporized….wow I feel better now, don’t you (Sarcasm)?

I’m not putting myself up as the perfect example and saying that I “Always” start my class on time. I don’t. But I try.   I’m just saying that I’m very very, very  aware of the benefits of proper time management.  I will also go on to say that I never let my students show up late without giving me a call or text.  My time is valuable as well and I won’t let them insult me by continuously showing up late like it’s no big deal.  It is a big deal.  Respect goes both ways. 

I want to close by adding that ending your class late (in kids and adult class) is NOT ok both because many students and parents have families to get home to and they often have to walk up embarrassed and say, “I have to leave before class bows out.”  As an instructor I have been guilty of this felonious act many times and it’s not right and I’m pledging to do better. 

Let’s keep the Brazilians, because they rock….Let’s just get rid of Brazilian Time!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Metamoris Metamorphosis

The Gracies have once again rudely inserted themselves back into the Jiu-Jitsu conversation.  A conversation that has long been dominated by the sport aspect of Bjj that focuses on points, advantages, weight classes and time limits.   What do the Gracies go off and do to get attention? Have an invitational tournament for the cream of the Jiu-Jitsu crop in which the only way they can win is through submission to prove that you can either finish a guy or you can’t.  Right up the Gracie's Alley!
It’s no secret that I am a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practioner.   Pedro Sauer , my instructor received his black belt directly from Rickson and Helio Gracie.  I am therefore a bit biased.  But I have always respected BJJ no matter what tribe a person came from.  I don’t care whether you are a Competition, Submission, Gi or No-Gi  practioner.  As long as you do Jiu-jitsu then that is ok with me. I just want to see your awesome moves.

The only problem is that those feelings of respect haven’t always been reciprocated back to my art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu both nationally and unfortunately, locally in my area.  In fact, I would say that many “Sport” BJJ Clubs and organizations have such disdain for GJJ that they would prefer that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu go F off and die in a corner so that they, “the anointed ones” can take their “rightful” place in the bjj forefront and not have to be reminded about what foundation this whole sport was started from.

Well, not so fast there sparky.  This past week-end Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was back, in your face and as irritating as ever.  This time for all the haters it was downright  painful.  In the Metamoris tournament the only thing a competitor had to do was shut their mouth and go tap the other guy out.  That’s it..No counting points,  No accruing advantages…Just go get it done with a submission.   Some won, Some lost, Some made excuses…but  the coolest part was that just because one lost or had a draw the respect for participating in this groundbreaking event was overwhelmingly appreciated by all.  It also showed that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu can hang with ANY other BJJ organization regardless of what some sport BJJ experts “predicted” would be the outcome. 

 Metamoris  Metamorphosis is a term that I coined because I couldn’t pronounce Metamoris for one but to also mean that this event has made an almost paradigm shift in how BJJ is viewed.  This event will be a NEW outlet to truly prove who the best elite BJJ players in the world are.  No longer can a person necessarily be a “Champion” by an advantage point.  This will be the place to prove your championship.  You either  Tap, Get Tapped or Draw. Very simple concept. Just like when the UFC was first started.  I do think the time limit should be 30 minutes though, Just because I enjoyed it so much. =).

The last thing I want to say is that I would like to apologize to Gracie Barra for a blog I posted some months back on how I thought they were a particularly “Sport Oriented” organization.  By taking part in the Metamoris tournament I see that they are willing to go for the submission and not just the points and for that I must pay my respect.  It was much appreciated by me, the fan of BJJ. 

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Conspiracy Theorist’s Look at Jon Jones and the Canceling of UFC 151

Many of you know me as a right winger and we righties always read in-between the lines on everything, even when things might not be there.  I have decided to approach the canceling of UFC 151 in this same way.  =)
Are there some grains of truth here or am I a wacko? You be the judge.

The canceling of UFC 151 seems a bit too simplistic to me. I can think of several different scenarios that could have played out and saved this show.  I know the cliché, “the show must go on” is being hurled around mightily but the undercurrents sound more like,  “The show will go on as long as we make a crap load of money and everyone does what the hell I tell them to.”

Here are some questions and scenarios that I have in my jaded little mind (Cause I wasn’t there.)

Why didn’t the UFC offer to pay Jon Jones and Greg Jackson more money to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice?  Why can’t Dana White and Billionaires, as a last resort, pay the Jones camp an “over the top”, “offensive” amount of money to fight? Everyone has a price, right?   Let’s cut the crap Greg Jackson, What’s Jones’s price?  The show is saved.  Dana White is a Hero!

Why not be fair to Jones.  If he is concerned about Sonnen as a worthy opponent then why not make it a NON -TITLE 3 round fight? If Jones loses he gets a Mulligan and Sonnen has proven he is a contender and the re-match would draw an astronomical crowd to see part Deux.   I think a lot of people would tune in to see Sonnen fight with Jones though (I know we can argue that).  The show is saved. Both Guys are a Hero!

I believe Sonnen even offered to forgo a purse for this fight to save UFC 151 and other fighters chances for an appearance as well.  Keep the purse, fall on your sword Chael and do the non-title fight if you really care about 151. The Show is Saved.  Sonnen is the hero!

The heck with Jones, put UFC 151 on anyway with a couple short notice contenders (Sonnen and someone else) on the Main Event card. Hell, Call up Chuck and Tito or something.   The UFC might lose money but can’t it afford to take a loss on one event while keeping a number of people, fighters, venues and companies employed?   The show is saved.  The UFC is the Hero!

Why don't they bill it as “The Ultimate Charity Event” and give all the remaining proceeds to the Marine’s (a UFC sponsor) Toys for Tots Charity.  It would be great advertising and help the Marines justify to their critics about their sponsorship. The show is saved WE ARE ALL HEROS!

How Come the other fighters who were on the card can't get paid anyway as a way to take care of them?  Some of them need the money!  How long do they have to wait to get their chance at the spotlight.  It would show that business has a heart. The UFC is a Kind Hero!

The Cigar Filled Back Room Part:

What if.. maybe,. just maybe …Dana White didn’t want to pay any more money or make any concessions to Jones?  What if he didn’t like Jones’s (or Jackson’s) tone of voice and said, “You do what I tell you to do or I will cancel UFC 151 and the chips will fall where they may?”  How does that bus feel Greg Jackson?  

Dana White is a brilliant marketer and business man and after being the boss for so many years, has enough lip marks on his butt that he probably needs lotion to keep his ass from getting chapped.  He doesn’t take kindly to not getting his way and seems to not only get even with people, but he ALWAYS  gets ahead!

In the end Dana White looks like a classic victim in all this (don't cry though) and the letters U.F.C  are on every fan’s Facebook Page and Twitter account from here to Uzbekistan giving the UFC a nice bit of advertising push?  Nothing sells future fights like drama!

Let’s just say things DIDN'T happen like I played it out for you.  I’m a Wacko, remember?  Let’s pretend that Jones said, “Dana, No amount of money will get me to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice even if it’s a non- title three rounder for charity AND I look like a hero for saving UFC 151.”  

Then I am forced to ask, "What kind of political mess have you let yourself get into Jon Jones?"WTF?

You better hope you never lose that title and a fight or two after that because you, my friend, probably will not be coming back.  Letting down the UFC and it's fans is no easy thing.  Where does one go after the UFC?  The UFC has no competitors of substance.  You can’t treat “the family” like that when they ask for a favor!  Fighters fight Jon (even on this short notice) and you were preparing for A fight….so fight.   Greg Jackson, brother, you are on some thin ice too with the UFC!  Where is the freakin loyalty to the UFC?

To sum up this convoluted mess, you are still my favorite fighter Bones Jones. Because …you can bang… AND THAT will probably get you through this PR nightmare if you keep winning.   Right now though, you are the most hated man in MMA. There is a lot of blame to go around, rest assured but… The show is cancelled and I get the feeling it wasn't as difficult from a business perspective. (Let's not fool ourselves, it was a light card).  The Winner and Still Champion, Dana White!!

If I suddenly disappear, it was the UFC black helicopters that did it.  =)

P.S. Now I see Vitor Belfort is stepping into "the Mess"

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