Monday, December 28, 2015

How to Retain Your Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

My guest blogger is my friend and Pedro Sauer Black Belt Bill Jones. Bill is a military combat veteran and has been training martial arts for over 30 years. He knows what he speaks of....

-Keith Owen

Jiu-Jitsu is the most technical martial art I’ve ever experienced. There is literally an option (usually multiple options) for every way the body moves. Learning, understanding, and retaining those options is important to getting good and an absolute necessity if you want to earn Black Belt. This leads to one of the most commonly asked questions I receive.

“What should I be doing to retain all this information?”
Often, the answer is something along the lines of, “Get to class.” That, however, isn’t a very fair answer. Certainly, the more often you’re exposed to techniques, the more likely you are to retain them. There are other options! Here’s a list 5 great ways to retain the information you’re learning in classes!

1. Take 5: After classes, my members are always geared up and ready to start rolling during open mat. That’s awesome. However, if you just spent ½ hour to an hour learning new moves, it’s unlikely that you got many repetitions in. Take an extra 5 minutes AFTER each and every class to go through every technique you’ve learned that week. Be sure you’re still remembering every step and every detail. Do this before you roll, while it’s still fresh on your mind. Trust me, you won’t miss that 5 minutes of rolling and the benefits are immeasurable in terms of retention.

2. Take Notes: I’ve never been a good note taker. It’s just not my jam. But I’ve seen and worked with those who are. Right after you read this go create 5 Files; standing, guard, side control, mount, back mount. Feel free to create sub-folders for things like half guard and technical mount ect. Take meticulous notes in class. Highlight details you feel you may forget. When you get home, type out those notes and maybe even draw pictures if you’re a good artist. Slide them into your folders for quick reference later.

3. Be Present: Ok, this may sound like “come to class” but it’s not quite the same. What I’m saying is when you are in class, be focused only on what’s going on in class. Let go of your work stress, don’t get drawn into side conversations, and listen to understand, not to respond. Just allow the class to completely consume you for an hour and you’ll be absolutely amazed at how well you remember it.

4. Video is your friend: Even if your instructor doesn’t let you video them doing the move, learn it and video it after every class. Similar to taking notes, you can store them on a hard drive that’s well organized. Reference it later as needed. 

5. Be there even when you’re not there: This is my biggest secret. Even when I’m not in class, I’m thinking about what we did in class. That evening as I lay down, I try to remember every detail; my body even moves a little as I do. When I wake up, I do the same. Now those techniques get locked in. This is the method I use to remember the stuff that’s most important to me. I drill it in my mind over and over. Because I’ve trained for so long now, my body just follows. 

BONUS: Don’t try to figure out how to beat the move right away. Pedro Sauer refers to that as “Anti Jiu-Jitsu.” It’s one of the worst things you can do and it’s 100% the most common mistake people make. I show them a move and they immediately ask, “How do I defeat that?” If you take the time to understand the move, the answer on how to defeat it efficiently will appear as your understanding increases. NO ANTI JIU JITSU!

Now, I’m sure a pedagogy expert can rattle off 20 or 30 more methods. But this last little piece of advice might be the most important yet. Allow yourself to forget things from time to time. Quite often, your instructor will be showing you stuff that your body is just not ready to accept. When that happens, let it wash away like a leaf being washed from the shore. 

The crazy thing is, more often than not, those tid-bits we allow to drift away will find their way back to us as soon as our minds and bodies are ready for them.

Bill  Jones is the owner and Head Instructor of Top Level Martial Arts in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Find him on the web at 
You can find videos of Bill Jones teaching at 

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Why We Should Compete!

I want to introduce my friend and continuous writer for the Jiu-Jitsu Times Emil Fischer as a guest contributor on my, "From The Ground Up" blog.  Emil is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro. Emil was gracious enough to share his thoughts on why YOU should compete! Enjoy!

-Keith  Owen

When we first get started with jiu jitsu, we begin to hear about all of these different competitions that take place all the time.  There are many different organizations out there, many different rule sets, and it can all be extremely daunting.  Any seasoned competitor will tell you: compete as often as you can.

One common excuse I hear from people for why they don’t compete is that they are not interested in competition.  My response to that kind of person is: why are you doing jiu jitsu? 

Chances are at least part of why you do jiu jitsu is to be able to know how to fight/defend yourself.  It’s too taxing an art to learn for giggles, so chances are there are motives in there that can be benefitted by competition. 

Competition exposes us to people who are not concerned about our well-being but are rather interested in winning that gold medal.  If you are training jiu jitsu to be able to learn how to fight or defend yourself, this gives you the very best possible exposure short of going ahead and doing MMA.  If you actively compete in jiu jitsu, you will have a level of experience that a casual non-competing practitioner cannot have.

It also offers us stress inoculation.  The first time you compete, you’ll be a nervous wreck, but the more you compete, the better you’ll be at handling that stress.  For this reason, I try to compete as often as I can, which to me translates to once a month because I live in a region that doesn’t have as many competitions as many others do. 

This stress inoculation compounds upon itself, each time you compete you get a little bit calmer.  There are some competitors who show up to competitions and are completely calm, chances are these people have competed a lot either in jiu jitsu or in some other sport.  Competition numbs stress.

Another aspect of competition that makes it a powerful tool is that of loss.  If you compete often there’s a high probability that you WILL lose and each loss if analyzed from an unemotional perspective can show you parts of your game that you need to improve upon.  This is important as, on the long run, we need to expand our view of our own game.

Every time you compete, you will learn something new about yourself, and you will expose yourself to stressors that we just don’t experience in the quiet comfort of our academies and gyms.  The reasons to compete are endless, and the reasons not to compete are often superficial.  Make experiencing competition a priority and your jiu jitsu game will prosper from it.  

Emil Fischer is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear, The Original Amy Joy Donuts, Gladiator Soap and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and

If you're interested in joining a winning Jiu-Jitsu Team with no monthly affiliation fees and over 20 affiliates check out