Monday, December 23, 2013

How I Treat My PURPLE Belts

Being a Purple Belt is one of the coolest things ever.  The reason is that it's the most difficult belt to get.  Most people quit before receiving it and most purple belts COULD defend themselves out on the street if need be and they have shown themselves to be tough individuals. 

In an age where purple belt seems to be just another belt in BJJ I have GREAT respect for a person holding this rank.  Not many people who start BJJ will ever receive one.  Purple belt is like a black belt in another discipline. They have typically studied with me for around 5 years.  They are truly someone special.  They are now in the club and have shown me they are a serious student.

It is for this reason that I think purple belts need one-on-one attention from the instructor.  This is the time where purple belts are dying for the "cool stuff."  When I teach class I will teach a move and then individually show the purple belts add-ons to that move that no one else gets in class so they feel special. This is where they typically see me most, is at this level.  Because they are special.  They deserve it.

This is also the belt where quitting is so tragic. This was the toughest belt to get.  It's all downhill from here (theoretically) toward black belt.  It would be terrible for an instructor to let that student quit or for the student to let himself quit.

Now it's time for the basic student to become advanced.  Don't give up.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

How I Treat My BROWN Belts.

I am going to share an idea that Black Belt Phil Migliarese shared with me one time. I am paraphrasing here and he probably doesn't remember. He advised that you should leave your brown belts alone and not try to control them. They are trying to arrange all of their knowledge so don't try to teach them if they don't want it or overload them with more knowledge.  It's a time for Jiu-Jitsu self exploration and development. (last sentence was mine).  

I took his advice and now once you are my brown belt I let you do whatever you like (within reason of course).  You want to train with other people. Go do it.  You don't want to come to class. Don't.  You want to go off and train with someone else during class. Great. You want to work on the berimbolo, X guard,10th Planet,  MMA, you rock that.   I don't take it personally.  I think it works well.  My brown belts are always coming to me with great and  very technical ideas that they are developing.  I also go out of my way to help my brown belts whenever they ask for it. 

Here is what I've found.  I find that my brown belts are EXTREMELY loyal, not afraid to ask my advice and extremely respectful to me.  Could it be because I'm extremely respectful to them? hmmmmmm?

I think Brown Belts across the board aren’t given the respect that they deserve.  They aren’t quite black belts and therefore don’t know EVERYTHING yet…lol. Like we black belts do. =)  They are great men and women who have spent years and countless hours on the mat. They deserve the respect.   I always listen when a brown belt shows me a move because there is usually gold there. 

Lastly, If you are a brown belt it might cross your mind to quit.  I don’t know why..but it happens. It’s weird.   I SERIOUSLY thought about quitting when I was brown belt for about a half hour. Seriously I was done!  Then I slapped myself and came out of it.  I told myself that I didn’t care.  I wasn’t going to give up.   You do the same.  Don’t give up. You are almost there.

It’s good to be a black belt. 

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Does Your Back or Neck Hurt?

I remember the day back in 1997 when I was at my business and I picked up a pen and my back went out.  I remember saying to myself like a dork.  “That was odd.”  I had been training in Jiu-Jitsu for about 4 years and my back hurt ALL the time! Especially from all the neck injuries I acquired.  This was the day my back rebelled against me.  

I walked out of my business and decided to go home.  By the time I got to my car I couldn’t get into it!  I went home and laid down and then found I couldn’t get up!  The sad part is I had to return to my business and it took all the strength I had just to get there.  I was literally dragging my foot on the ground like an idiot. 

I had a chiropractor student who took one look at me and asked if he could help.  I said “Sure if you think you can.”  He suggested I come down to his business right away and let him work on me. I went right then.  It was a slow process but over a couple weeks my back got amazingly better.  I decided to keep going and I haven’t stopped going to a chiropractor since (Well almost). I have had a few problems but nothing that kept me off the mats.

Some of you are reading this calling B.S. on Chiropractors.  I understand.  Let me just say that without Chiropractic I would NEVER have gotten my black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The interesting thing about your spine is that all the nerves run through it.  Your vertebrae will start pinching on those nerves like pinching a hose.  They call this a Subluxation.  Those nerves control all your pain, your movement, your internal organs, your immune system, your reflexes, your flexibility and even control your mood (happiness, depression).  In my specific case it controlled how I walked and how I could no longer pick up much with my arms. If you do nothing the vertebrae WILL right itself (maybe) but eventually you will be out of alignment again and the subluxation will happen continuously, along with the pain.  

Chiropractic will absolutely help in correcting this problem freeing up the impingement on your back and helping your movement AND your health.  I am convinced.

The only problem is that is not an immediate cure.  We Americans want a cure RIGHT NOW.  People go to the chiropractor and after one or two treatments they say. “This sucks.  It’s not working.” Chiropractic is a PREVENTIVE procedure not an instant cure after the fact.  You need to make it a part of your Jiu-Jitsu life style and training to see the best results.  But that cost money!  Yep…Sorry.  The alternative is to live with it and I want to say right now.  I don’t want to live with back pain!

Not all Chiropractors are good chiropractors.  My suggestion to you is to contact a sports chiropractor and see if they have a plan where you can pay a small amount every month for “preventive” “ongoing” treatment.  Give it six months and then look at the results instead of just 2 visits. 

You might say “I tried it and it didn’t work.”…..  Sorry, I am merely giving you MY results.  You might have a SEVERE  injury that really only surgery can help.  This costs way more money and the problem with back surgery is that it works but typically only for a number of years and the problem comes back.  This means you’re out of training and could end up right back where you started.   It should be a last resort.

Remember when I said I never quit seeing a chiropractor since (almost)? Well I quit teaching martial arts for a couple years and moved to Las Vegas where I trained Jiu-Jitsu and taught firearms.  I didn’t have a lot of money at that time and Chiropractic got put on the back burner.  I trained hard and my back and neck hurt ALL the time.  I remember laying on the floor and wanting to cry because I was in so much pain.  I haven’t quit since then and I have never had that serious of a problem (knock on wood). 

The last thing I want to mention is that many major sports figures boxers, football players, baseball players, MMA stars have chiropractors ON STAFF.  They see the benefits of chiropractic and that is what gives them the edge.   
I’m giving you some good advice.  Many of you won’t take it.  Living with back pain will take the joy out of life.  Many of you already know this.  I know I am glad to be a black belt.

This is my friend, my chiropractor and one of my students.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Lucky Guy is On The Bottom in Jiu-Jitsu. Advice for Big Guys.

This Blog is dedicated to all you big guys out there.  How lucky are you to be big?  Very lucky!  

This means in Jiu-Jitsu you can typically have whatever position you wish starting out.  What position do you usually choose?  You choose to be on top ALL THE FREAKIN TIME. 

You are probably thinking “Well, How is this bad?  This is bad because you are focused on short term winning at the cost of LONG TERM winning.  “What do you mean?”

Don’t be like I was UP TO Purple Belt.  I’m a pretty big guy.  I was ALWAYS starting a roll by attacking so I could ALWAYS gain the top position.  I was so focused on staying off the bottom, because it sucked.   I would never take too many chances on top for fear of getting the position reversed and ending up on the bottom.  This means that I would use my size and stick to my sure and easy moves like the side control Americana so that I wouldn’t give my opponent any escape opportunities.  In two words I was “One Dimensional.”

If I got reversed, which was what was happening over time, it would be a living hell to get back to the top.  I one day realized that if I were really going to get good at Jiu-Jitsu I would have to make my bottom game just as good as my top game.  From that day on I ALWAYS made my way to the bottom.  What did I discover?  That it was hell being on the bottom! 

Over time though my bottom game (guard, sidecontrol bottom, North/South Bottom and bottom mount) improved and I survived just fine (Like a small guy) my sweeping ability allowed me to gain the top allowing me to take more chances on top without fear of ending up back on the dreaded bottom.  The claustrophobia dissipated and I became at home on the bottom….AS WELL as the top.  I became well rounded. I now LOVE being a big guy on the bottom.

They say that Jiu-Jitsu is a small man’s sport. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's specialty is the bottom game. The reason is that small guys are FORCED to start out on the bottom and get good at it.  Big Guys get to CHOOSE. Let me repeat again BIG GUYS GET TO CHOOSE.  How cool is that?

If an opponant were to grapple with me on our knees- Much of the time I will just fall on my back and LET my opponent have the top side control or sometimes I’ll use my guard.  This pisses a few guys off because it makes it seem like I’m insulting them.   But why?  They most likely want to fight to the death for that top position anyway.  Here take it.  If I’m grappling with a small guy then I’m letting him work his top game instead of his awesome guard that HE ALWAYS goes to.  

Don't do this ALL THE TIME big guys so you lose your aggression but I would be on the bottom and "earn" your way to the top a considerable amount.  You will be a nightmare.

Remember Big Guys…You GET to choose.  For long term improvement “The Lucky Guy is on the Bottom.”

P.S. Out on the Street, in MMA or at a Tournament the Lucky Guy is on top beating the crap out of the opponent. Being on the bottom during practice will help you achieve this.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Jiu-Jitsu Iron Man!!

I have witnessed the most incredible thing this past week-end!

It was called the "Jiu-Jitsu Iron Man".  One of my brown belts named Tren Long put on the Iron Man and invited two other people to partake as Iron Men.   The tournament is an honor to Grandmaster Helio Gracie who fought for 3 hours and 45 minutes.  It was also a fund raiser for the Kids Budo Cup that is held here in Boise every year. 

The point of the tournament is to grapple as many people as you can and get tapped out once in each belt level before finally being tapped out by a white belt due to exhaustion.  There were a number of people in all belt levels from different schools who came out to compete against and for the Iron Men.  The Iron men would have to go against gi and NO-Gi competitors.  It was epic!

The Iron men started with the brown belts and kept grappling them over and over until one of them submitted the Iron Man.  Then the Iron Man would have to face the group of purple belts etc..etc… So the Iron Man had to be submitted 6 times with the last one being a white belt.  Every time an Iron man submitted his opponent he was “awarded” a one minute rest before he went against his next opponent.  

Craig Kukuk Black Belt Jacen Flynn went just a speck under 4 Hours with Over 40 Matches to become the “Iron Man.” An amazing feat! My brown belt Tren grappled for 3 Hours and 10 Minutes with 37 Matches and kept going even after his body was seizing up with cramps. One that I thought was an Alien's head coming out of his right calf. 

The last Iron Man, Brown Belt Scott Thometz had to leave a couple times to throw up but like a TRUE Iron Man came back to finish strong finalizing over 45 Matches!

The only problem was that they ran out of white belts due to fatigue so MMA fighter, College wrestling champion and BJJ Purple Belt Jessie Brock came in "fresh" to finish off all three with Jacen being the last. All three of them could have continued but ran out of tap outs.

I just want to say I became a better instructor on this day because I absolutely verified the true effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu; in Helio Gracie’s theory of the importance of survival and how technique must be there to continue on after strength is gone. 

The Iron Men HAD to conserve energy, use amazing technique and make sure that no submission attempt was wasted.  Even if they did win there was always a new opponent! It was also a story in courage and It was one of the coolest damn events I have been too in Jiu-Jitsu!

Tren will be doing it again in May 2014 to raise money for the Budo Kids Cup.  If you would like to take part as an Iron Man or a participant or to donate/sponsor the Budo Kids Cup here in Boise Idaho contact Tren! 

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Returning to the Mat.

If you spend any time in BJJ you know that for one reason or another you will most likely take an extended break from training.  It might be because of a family or job issue but most of the time it’s due to injury.  This can be difficult especially when you are a purple belt or above.  Most higher belts perceive a target painted on their backs so getting back on the mats can be psychologically tough especially when they are out of shape.

This is something that every student must learn to live with.  Sure you will come back and possibly be ashamed at your cardiovascular condition.  You might get tapped out or get run into the ground by your peers even though you were handling them well before your hiatus.  

I often tell students who are returning that they have my express permission to get tapped as often as they like and that I’m very proud of them for having the intestinal fortitude for not giving up.

Remember, this break in period is only temporary and after a few short training sessions you will get back in the swing of things.  You should do Jiu-Jitsu for the love of it and win or lose it is one of the most amazing endeavors one can do, but you must expect challenges AT ALL TIMES. 

In the end when you are a black belt no one will remember how many times you got tapped.  Some of your insensitive peers might rejoice at how easy they handled you NOW but I promise when you get that black wrap they won’t be piping off.  Jiu-Jitsu is a marathon and not a sprint.

Keep your Commitment.

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