Which Martial Art you should learn first and why.

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Which Martial Art you should learn first and why.

When i tell people that i teach Jiu-Jitsu they often have some common questions about training Martial Arts. One of those questions would be. “What Martial Art is the most important to learn?” or “Which Martial Art should i learn first?” My initial answer is all of them. But, that’s not practical for everyone and i understand that. So, i usually ask them various questions on why they want to learn and what types of Martial Arts gyms they are close too. These are both important factors on choosing the right Martial Art for you. Some people only have a Krav Maga or Taekwondo studio around them. Not my first choices but better than nothing. Each Martial Art has its pros and cons and i’ll dive into them.

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“I want to train Martial Arts but the closest thing i have is Wrestling around me.”

This was my story. I grew up in a very small town where Martial Arts wasn't anywhere near and anyone teaching it was probably a fraud. So, wrestling was the closest thing i had. Which, wrestling is probably the most important Martial Art when it comes to professional fighting. So I’m glad i grew up in that environment. Wrestling teaches you some important aspects of fighting. Coordination, body feel, positioning, balance, timing and even attitude are all the positive qualities that wrestling taught me.  If all you have is Wrestling than you actually have more than you know. The only problem is that Wrestling does not take in account for punches and kicks. But, many people who train Jiu-Jitsu or fight MMA often wish they had a wrestling background. They realize the importance of being able to control where the fight goes and all the other benefits that wrestling gives you. If you can practice wrestling than you're off to a good start. Also, you can use your wrestling friends to try and practice Jiu-Jitsu techniques on.

Kickboxing or Boxing?

I actually really enjoy both kickboxing and boxing. I find it super important to learn some basic striking skills and knowledge. Most people in a self defense situation are going to try and strike you in some sort of way. If you understand how to defend strikes and counter with your own strikes, you are much more likely to walk away unharmed from a self-defense situation. But just like any Martial Art kickboxing has its drawbacks. If you just do Kickboxing you will never understand basic rules of grappling. Which might not matter to you. Boxing or kickboxing is probably more fun than learning a grappling art for most people. If you decide to pick up a striking art do your research and make sure it’s legit. There are lots of places that teach kickboxing but most of those places are more cardio kickboxing and less practical striking. You might as well learn the correct way to strike even if you are just doing it just for fun.

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Is Jiu-Jitsu the best option for you?

This may surprise some but i don't believe Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone. Not everyone is going to enjoy training Jiu-jitsu. It can be very demoralizing for people in the early learning stages. But, I do believe it’s the best option if you are learning for self-defense reasons. If Jiu-jitsu is being taught in the correct self-defense manner you will learn more than just grappling. You will learn how to defend strikes and counter with grappling. You will also learn about the importance of distance control. Closing the distance or keeping the distance is the number one fundamental principle of Self-Defense. Jiu jitsu will teach you how to close distance into a safer range and use grappling to neutralize an opponent.  BJJ will also teach you how to keep your distance or create distance to avoid strikes. Jiu-jitsu is also the best option for females in my opinion. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was founded on principles that didn’t rely on size or strength but rather depended on technique and the use of leverage. Most self-defense situations for females unfortunately end up more in a grappling scenario than a boxing match. If a smaller person or female knows Jiu-Jitsu they are much more likely to defend themselves and get out of the situation. I’ve seen plenty of girls who train BJJ beat up on grown men. It’s great to watch honestly. It shows the power of Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also allows you to train full tilt without the risk of serious injuries typically. Injuries do occur but in other arts you can’t spar full tilt all the time. It’s not practical and you’re going to get hurt.

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Traditional Martial Arts

Traditional Martial Arts such as Judo, Taekwondo, and Karate used to be the first choice in Martial Arts for many years. Unfortunately the quality of traditional Martial Arts has been significantly watered down. Most schools completely ignore the ground game. Even most Judo schools don’t spend much time on the ground and are limited to the takedown techniques they can use. Taekwondo and Karate also tend to promote people much faster than an in Jiu-Jitsu. Which i feel gives people a false sense of security in the skills they’ve been taught. Don’t get me wrong, traditional Martial Arts have some solid techniques that are great for striking and even takedowns. Taekwondo and Karate have some very legitimate strikes and kicks that help keep distance and are dangerous to opponents. Judo has some very effective takedowns and some good basic ground work. There is definitely benefit in learning a traditional Martial Art. In my opinion they aren’t the best to learn for Self-Defense though.

Learn them all of course

“Don’t use one strict form or art. Never place limits on anything you do, whether it be martial arts techniques, training methods or something in your everyday life.” Bruce Lee

The simple answer and my personal answer is to learn from them all. Learning from all Martial Arts of course makes you a well rounded Martial Artist. If you only focus on Jiu-Jitsu your striking game will lack. If you only focus on striking your ground game will suffer. If you only focus on wrestling your submissions and striking will be deficient. Every Martial Art has its pro’s and con’s. Decide why you are training and what type of Martial Art interest you the most.

 

Supplements, Ice baths, Saunas and other recovery tools for Jiu-Jitsu and Training

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Supplements, Ice baths, Saunas and other recovery tools for Jiu-Jitsu and Training

Learning how to recover and discovering tools on faster recovery is something I’ve been obsessed with for a very long time. I really enjoy Jiu-Jitsu and exercise in general. The more often i can train the better my life is. I have also had several injuries from Wrestling, Jiu-jitsu, and other Martial Arts. So, i always wanted to stay as injury free as possible and recover as quickly as possible. It’s not just one tool or supplement that is the answer behind recovery. It’s a combination of everything. If you want to train for a long time and train often. You must constantly be on top of recovering.

Supplements for Recovery

There are several supplements you can take for recovery. I have tried a number of those supplements. Some good and some i did not see any difference.

Turmeric - A common spice that comes from the Turmeric Plant. Turmeric's benefits come from Curcuminoids. These Curcuminoids become more bio-available with black pepper and fat. The benefits of Turmeric include.

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  • A powerful Anti-inflammatory. A study was done in the journal Oncogene that showed that not only was Turmeric a powerful Anti-Inflammatory it actually was a better Anti-Inflammatory than Aspirin and Ibuprofen.

  • Safer option for Arthritis. Again Curcumin outperformed modern medicine in a study that put it up against Diclofenac Sodium. Turmeric showed a higher percentage of improvement in the study.

  • There are many more benefits to Turmeric and Curcumin that aren't related to to the subject but they include. Helps regulate cholesterol, diabetes management, cancer treatment, may be useful in preventing and treating Alzheimer's and improves brain function.

Fish Oil - Fish oil is a source of Omega 3 fatty acids. One of the top 10 causes of death in America is related to a deficiency in Omega 3 fatty acids. So, they are super important to your health. Here are the benefits.

  • Immune System. Fish oil helps increase the power of Antioxidants.

  • Arthritis treatment. Omega 3’s are shown to be just as effective as NSAIDs when treating Arthritis and much more safer

  • Other benefits of Fish Oil include treatment in ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, and Cancer.

MCT Oil - MCT is Medium-Chain Triglycerides. Found in Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel oil, Cheese, Milk, Butter, and Yogurt. The benefits of MCT oil are.

  • Helps improve energy levels and mood. MCT oil helps absorb vitamins and minerals.

  • Supports Immune Health. MCT oil is antiviral and antibacterial.

  • Some more benefits of MCT oil are supports hormones, gut health, weight loss, and heart health.

There are several more supplements you can take to aid in recovery but i find these the most important for Inflammation. If you wanna take protein powder, creatine, beta alanine, and other various nutrients and supplements they can help as well. It is important to take these supplements at the right time as well. Some of these supplements need to be taken immediately after post Jiu-Jitsu training or strength training.

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The Ice Bath or Cold shower for post Martial Arts training.

An Ice Bath is one of my favorite recovery tools for after Jiu-Jitsu or training. You should wait one hour before going into an ice bath or cold shower after exercise. Cryotherapy is another way to get similar benefits from cold temperatures. I've done both and i honestly feel like the Ice Bath is way more effective. It is pretty intense though to fill a bathtub with ice and water. Here are the benefits on why you would do such an extreme thing.

  • Reduces inflammation and other damage. When training often for Jiu-Jitsu or other activities getting rid of inflammation is super important to continue training.   

  • Helps prevent muscle soreness. Along the same lines as reducing inflammation and other damage. Ice baths help your muscles recover and prevents soreness.

  • As with anything there are lots of benefits ice baths can give you that don't necessarily relate to recovery. From mental cognition benefits to weight loss.

Epsom or Magnesium salt bath for post Martial Arts training

A good alternative to the Ice Bath if your not so brave to jump into some freezing water is an Magnesium salt bath. Magnesium is an essential mineral to our body.  Here is why you should use a Magnesium bath for Jiu-jitsu recovery.

  • Detoxification. Magnesium or Epsom bath can eliminate toxins from the body. They flush toxins and heavy metals from the body.

  • Aid in muscle soreness and cramps. A post training Magnesium bath can really help aid in recovery of muscle soreness and cramps.

  • Other various benefits come from Epsom or Magnesium baths. These benefits include better nutrient absorption, stress relief, better sleep quality, and faster wound healing.

Hitting the Sauna after training BJJ

Immediately after training Jiu-Jitsu or Martial Arts you should try and hit the sauna. A wet, dry, or infrared sauna is very beneficial for post BJJ training. You can stretch out more safely in a sauna after training. Some benefits of a sauna are.

  • Increase circulation. A sauna can increase circulation which in return helps increase joint mobility and help reduce soreness post Martial arts training. The increase in circulation also helps decrease inflammation.

  • Produces heat-shock proteins. Heat shock proteins can increase muscle growth and recovery.

  • There are various types of saunas all with their own set of benefits. Wet sauna, dry sauna, and also Infrared Saunas.

Find what works best for your recovery post training

These are some of my personal favorite ways to recover quickly. So many more ways to increase recovery time are out there and not mentioned. Meditation, dynamic stretching, other supplements, various machines such as a oxygen tents and even Flotation tanks. The best way is to test each of these tools yourself. Try forcing yourself into a cold shower or ice bath. Try different natural supplements that aid in recovery. Or even try to add yoga or dynamic stretching post workout. For me its a combination of many things that make a huge difference in my recovery. Unfortunately, your answer to recovery is not going to be a simple pill or one form of recovery. Its going to be your own unique combination of supplements, dynamic stretching, hot/cold therapy, and maybe even newer technology only found at Spas and special locations. 

 

The importance of Learning Jiu-Jitsu for Self-Defense

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The Importance of Learning Jiu-Jitsu for Self-Defense

Jiu-Jitsu was created as a self-defense system. But just like many Martial Arts there eventually becomes a time when they can turn more into a sport than a Self-Defense system. This seems to be a natural progression with many Martial Arts. Judo, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, and even Karate. Most of these changed to become an Olympic sport. But, in doing so some have lost their true purpose and have become more sport and less Martial Art.

 

Sport Jiu-Jitsu

Sport Jiu-jitsu has become very popular since i started training BJJ. I remember when there was maybe four local Jiu-jitsu tournaments a year. Now there is Jiu-jitsu tournament every month. These tournaments bring in thousands of competitors. There are also professional BJJ matches where you get paid to compete. Absolutely unheard of when i began. I love how popular Jiu-jitsu has become. It’s progression of turning into a sport has created a lack of self-defense knowledge.

 

Training BJJ with strikes

Most people that practice Jiu-jitsu rarely practice with strikes. So, of course most of those people are unsure on how to defend strikes. Self-Defense situations are typically going to have strikes involved. If you have never trained with punches and kicks it’s going to be an eye opening experience. Not only realizing how much you lack in knowledge of defending strikes while grappling but also how uncomfortable and panicked you can get. Training Jiu-jitsu with strikes is the best thing you can do for yourself. You’ll be able to train the feeling of being in a real fight while seeing what Jiu-Jitsu you can actually pull off in a fight.

 

Learning to find the comfort in uncomfortable situations

The other important reason for training Jiu-jitsu for Self-Defense is to practice in bad positions and situations. Practicing in these scenarios will increase your comfort level when actually faced with a real life situation. Sometimes when training for fun or sport you don’t get in compromising situations. If you do, you always know you can tap to get out of those situations. In real life tapping out doesn’t exist. Practice Jiu-Jitsu as if its a life or death situation. Put yourself in bad positions or uncomfortable situations and find your calm within those scenarios.  If you don’t train in high pressure situations with real life consequences than you are only learning Jiu-Jitsu for sport.   

 

How to plan out your Jiu-Jitsu training

I don’t believe all of your Jiu-Jitsu training has to be Self-Defense. I think you can train Jiu-Jitsu for fun, sport, and Self-defense. But, i think some of your training should always consist of some self-defense and mental practice. Train Jiu-jitsu for whatever reasons you want. For fun. For sport. To meet people. But, always dedicate some of your training to self-defense. Otherwise you are giving yourself the false sense of security that you can defend yourself properly. I understand that self-defense training isn't maybe as exciting as training for sport reasons. Nevertheless it is absolutely necessary to understand and be proficient in your self-defense. Practice with punches and practice in bad situations. Find the comfort in being uncomfortable. These training habits will ensure if a real life self-defense situation comes up you are well trained mentally and physically to handle it.   


 

What is the Flow state and how does it relate to Jiu-Jitsu and Martial Arts?

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What is the Flow state and how does it relate to Jiu-Jitsu and Martial Arts?

Flow is a term that people who train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Martial Arts use quite often. To most people it probably doesn’t mean anything. To those who have achieved flow it’s pretty life changing. Jiu-Jitsu and Martial arts is not the only place you’ll find this term used. Surfing, snowboarding, DJ’ing, rapping, and various other activities create the flow state. Whatever activity or hobby you have I’m positive you can reach a flow state in doing so. You will also find that the activity becomes easier and more enriching.

History of the Flow State.

The state of flow has been around forever. But, it wasn't until the 1970’s when the term was coined by Hungarian Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He wrote several books on the state. Which, gives advice on how to achieve it and a long explanation on what Flow is. His books are really good but definitely more advanced reading. I recommend Steven Kotler’s book  The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. This book is much more understandable and entertaining to read. Kotler also gives his first hand experience finding the flow state and how it helped cure his long battle with Lymes disease.

Defining Flow

Flow is somewhat hard to describe. The flow state aka “the zone” is “an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” Most of us have been in this state at one time or another. We may not have even recognized the state at the time but looking back you can probably think of a time where you were in Flow. My personal definition of flow is a little more simple. Flow is when you are so engaged in an activity you are free from thought. That’s the advantage of being in flow. Your activity is not interrupted by thoughts. Thoughts often slow us down and impede our movement.

How does flow relate to Jiu-Jitsu and Martial Arts?

One of Bruce lee’s most famous quotes is “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water.” That quote is explaining a flow state. When you are engaged in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu there should be little to no thought. Only fluid unhinged movement. If you are pondering the next step, your opponent has probably already beaten you to that step. In Kickboxing, Boxing, MMA, and Jiu-Jitsu you can not afford to spend time thinking. There are dire consequences in being frozen by thought. A sparring session, match, or fight becomes much easier when you get into a flow state. You will be much more effective and expend less energy.

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Getting into a flow state

So how does one achieve a flow state? This is even more difficult than defining a flow state. Activities such as Yoga, Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, surfing, and snowboarding will help guide you to that state. To access a flow state quickly is difficult. There are lots of resources online to give you steps to a flow state. Unfortunately, some of the information is contradicting and confusing. My basic steps that help me attain the state of flow are the following

  • Challenging - Make sure the activity is challenging.

  • Concentration - You need to be fully engaged and concentrated on your activity.

  • Movement - I find activities with movement really help me get into a flow state.

  • Clear goals - Set clear goals for your activity.

  • Immediate feedback - The activity should give you immediate feedback on whether you are succeeding or not.

  • Element of danger - if the activity is somewhat dangerous it will help push you into flow.

So, the great thing about Jiu-Jitsu and Martial Arts is that they include all of these things. There are very few more challenging things in life than sparring with another human being. You must be fully concentrated when practicing or competing in Jiu-Jitsu. Otherwise you risk being choked or submitted with other techniques. Movement is obviously very key to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It doesn’t even have to be large movements. Small movements also are important to Flow. If you are aimlessly training you will have no direction and are wasting your time. Set goals no matter how large or small each time you compete, roll, or practice. Martial Arts gives you immediate feedback. If you are doing a technique wrong it wont work. If you make a mistake you will pay for it. Which brings along the last bullet point. The element of danger. For some an element of danger helps you get into flow. Everything seems to fade away as soon as you are being threatened with punches, kicks, and submissions. The element of danger can also be in activities such as surfing, snowboarding, and skating. Danger comes in different forms with different activities.

Find your Flow state

Find your flow state in whatever activity or hobby you may choose. This will make your hobby or activity more fulfilling and increase your results. Try different hobbies and different approaches to old hobbies. Use your own set of steps to achieve flow. Everyone is different so use trial and error to find the best results. Also, thinking back to when you were in a flow state will help guide you in the right direction. There are very few things more fulfilling and enjoyable then when you reach a peak flow state.  

Does the type of BJJ and MMA  gear you get for training matter?

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Does the type of BJJ and MMA  gear you get for training matter?

The right gear is important to get for training in MMA and BJJ. Rash guards, Spats, Gi’s, and even shorts are important to choose correctly. The right gear can keep you away from nasty diseases such as staph and ringworm. Not only does the right gear keep you clean but also having cheap gear can get you Gi and Velcro burn. Both of which can scratch up your skin pretty bad.

 

Preventing disease

MMA and Jiu-jitsu are full contact sports. Unfortunately skin diseases happen and they can be very serious to your health. Cheap rash guards, spats, and Gi’s can actually increase your chances of getting a skin disease. When your gear is not breathable and not made with high quality material it makes you more susceptible to skin infections. Skin infections are the last thing you want to get. Staph is no joke and ringworm can spread fast and take a long time to cure. Choose a high quality and breathable material. The extra money is worth having a rash guard or spats that protects you from outside germs.

 

Gi burn and Velcro burn

Although, not as serious as disease, Gi burn and Velcro burn can be an issue. A cheaply made Gi when you don’t wear a rash guard underneath can give you serious Gi burn. Those burns aren’t a big deal but can be annoying and tear up your skin. Also, when you buy cheap shorts or gloves it can cause velcro burn on your practice partners. Which, also can be a nuisance and possibly can lead to a skin infection if not healed quickly.  

 

When buying Jiu-jitsu gear don’t go cheap

I know that rash guards, shorts, BJJ Gi’s, tights, knee pads, and gloves can be ridiculously expensive. When i started training i had a hard time justifying the cost of gear. But, as I’ve seen some terrible staph infections and other skin diseases throughout my career i find spending the extra money is no problem. Also, cheap gear doesn’t last near as long as high quality gear. There are tons of MMA and BJJ gear companies you can choose from. Spend the extra ten or fifteen dollars on higher quality gear thats going to last longer and keep you cleaner. Really in the end you are not saving anymore money by getting cheaper MMA gear. You’ll just end up buying cheaper BJJ gear more often.

Leveling up with Cross Training

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Leveling up with Cross training

Some of my best techniques and deepest lessons have been learned from seminars, training at other gyms, and even training in other sports. We often stay in our comfort zone for too long. Once you have a basic understanding of your Art, you need to start broadening your horizon and challenge yourself in different ways. The ways you challenge yourself can be competition, seminars, cross training at another school, starting a new endeavor or art, or immersing yourself in footage or books.

 

The importance of cross training

Often people want the “quick fix” on getting good fast. This is part of human nature. Unfortunately, there is no real secret to getting good fast. Its pure work ethic, repetition, and gathering knowledge. But, sometimes we hit a peak in our training or skills. You can't really work through these peaks. You have to change your routine up. This is where cross training comes into play. Cross training at other gyms or other arts will actually help you hit the next level in your skills and get you through times where you feel growth has stopped.

 

Cross training at other gyms

This is super beneficial for learning new techniques and to see where your game is at. When you have a certain game that is effective or maybe not effective at your home gym. You can see the truth at other gyms. Meaning. My game works really well at my gym but you go to another and they may have the answer to defeat your style. But, also sometimes your style starts to become ineffective at your home academy but is still very effective at other academies. Either way you get into new situations and obstacles when you train at different academies. Therefore, this will push you out of that part of your learning where your growth is halted.

 

Attending Seminars

Another good way to mix up your learning and training is Seminars. Seminars are a very powerful tool to take your game to the next level. I grew up going to multiple seminars every summer. I learned some of my best techniques and learned a lot at those seminars. Take the seminar seriously. Keeping notes after each part of the seminar is very important to retain as much information as you can.

 

Trying new Arts or Sports

Martial Arts and sports have a lot in common. You can learn principles and concepts from your Art or sport and translate it into another. Principles such as positioning, angles, movements, and control are in many Martial Arts and sports. When you learn the principles and fundamentals of one Art or sport you can translate that into BJJ, wrestling, boxing and really any other skill.

 

Conclusion

Whether its seminars, training at other gyms, or training in other arts or sports. Your skills in Jiu-Jitsu or Martial Arts can be progressed to the next level through different avenues of cross training. When you find yourself bored or uninterested try another art or skill. When you feel like you're not getting any better at Jiu-Jitsu, maybe try Wrestling or Judo. Mix up your training and try different things to get to the next level.

When should i start training Martial Arts?

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When should i start Jiu-jitsu?

I get this question pretty frequently. The simple answer is….the first time you step into an academy is the moment you should start training. People often worry about age, conditioning, money, and all sorts of reasons not to start training. Some of those reason are legitimate issues. Most of the time though there is no reason for you not to start training as soon as you step into an Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy. One of the most common things i hear after someone starts Jiu-jitsu is “I WISH I WOULD HAVE STARTED TRAINING BJJ MUCH EARLIER.”

 

Am i too old or young to start training?

Nope. There are all ages of people training Jiu-Jitsu. I teach people from 4 years old to 64 years old. That’s the good thing about BJJ. No matter your size or age there are usually people training that are comparable. Of course you can start someone out too young but around 5 years old is a good age to start a kid. Take them to just a couple classes a week to get them used to the movement and understanding of Martial Arts. If you do start BJJ at a later age there is a few things to take in consideration. Past injuries are definitely something you want to be aware of.  Finding ways to train at a sustainable pace so you don’t injure yourself is very important. No matter what age you start be sure to listen to your body. Take breaks when you need to, stretch properly, and warm up properly.

 

I’m not in good enough shape to start.

That’s the ego talking. Being worried about gassing out or getting tapped out is just you worried about looking bad. The truth is. Everyone gasses out and gets tapped out. Don’t expect to get on the mats and do good right away. If you go to a gym where you just started and are doing well. You are at the wrong gym. People who have been training for years should be tapping you out and getting you tired quickly. That’s why Jiu-Jitsu is so effective. BJJ will get you in the shape you need to be in due time. Running and lifting are helpful but they should be added to your training not the majority of your training. 

 

I can’t find training partners or an academy.

I grew up in a small area in Kansas where the nearest Jiu-Jitsu academy was 4 hours away. Nobody even really knew what BJJ was. So, it made it super difficult to find training partners and someone that would teach me technique. But, where there is a will, there is a way. I bought books, DVD’s, and watched Youtube videos to teach myself techniques. I also found friends that had wrestled or were interested in fighting to train with. In this day and age you can find thousands of jiu-jitsu videos online. When i started there was really only BJPenn.com and a few other sources.

 

I don’t have time to train Jiu-Jitsu.

This is a legitimate excuse sometimes. But, as usual you will find the time to train if you really want to. Forcing yourself to train even when you have limited time creates discipline. It also helps you have better time management. Almost everyone has enough time to watch a couple videos or practice movements at home. There is always something you could be doing.

Truth

The truth is there is thousands of reasons for you to not start training Jiu-Jitsu. It’s difficult, not enough time to train, and maybe some physical issues that could hold you back from doing BJJ. But, these are all just excuses that you make up not to train. I’ve seen people with from all ages, sizes, and physical handicaps find time to train because it’s what they love to do and it makes them better. If those people can find a way to train and learn than we all can. 

 

How To Learn Through Defeat and Success In Jiu-Jitsu

Scott Miller BJJ | Flow Club BJJ

Learning through defeat or success is important. There is always something we can learn from competition, training, or even spectating. Whether in defeat or success, it's important to take something away. It could be a new technique, mindset, or strategy. Whatever the case is, it's important to realize you can learn from various experiences and sometimes those experiences are not even yours. Not focusing too much on wins or losses is a good habit to practice. Focus on learning.

Learning through defeat

I feel learning through defeat is probably the most powerful ways to learn. Some of the most painful learning lessons after a loss, for me, have completely changed my game for the better. Often, it's the most painful way to learn, but the more painful the lesson; the more likely you are to integrate the lesson. When you lose because you had the wrong strategy, or a technical mistake, it's easy to find the solution. When you win, it's actually more difficult to point out the mistakes you made and fix it. It is key to stay positive when you lose. Remember: feedback not failure. Of course it's much easier said than done. It's ok to be upset or frustrated when you lose. As long as you take something away from the experience that's all that matters.

Learning through success

 

This is very difficult to do actually. Being critical of yourself after a victory is hard to do. Having your coach or professor breakdown footage and watching you is probably the best way to get feedback after a win. Remember what you did right and tweak the things you did wrong.

 

Learning through spectating or visualization

This is one of my strongest ways of learning. I have sat through countless hours spectating Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and MMA. Whether it was because I was hurt, watching my older brothers, or coaching I enjoy studying people's games and how they react in certain situations. I have learned some of my most impactful techniques and lessons from watching others compete or train. Taking notes mentally or on a notepad is important when watching. Using visualization is also a valuable way of learning. Visualizing yourself in certain situations can be practice for when you actually find yourself in that situation. It will at least give you a guide on how to deal with tough situations, and you'll find yourself more calm when put to the test. You can also use visualization to practice techniques you learned in class and fix the minutiae that make the technique more effective. Going over techniques and mindsets in your head can be a way you practice when you can't be at practice.

 

Always be learning

Whether you learn best from defeat, victory, spectating, or visualization. The key is to always be learning. Don't get too caught up on victories or defeats. That's the nature of competing in BJJ, MMA, or any other activity. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Stay focused on what you learned and not how you did. Enjoy the process of learning. The best thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that there is always something to be learned. You will never learn all there is to learn about Jiu-Jitsu. The journey never ends. Always learn.

 

 

Things I Learned As A BJJ Black Belt

BJJ Black Belt

It has been four years since I have received my black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. There are many things I have learned since then that has helped me develop my game to another level.  When you become a black belt, a big target gets painted on your back. Everyone wants to submit a black belt. It forces you to dig even deeper into learning and training Jiu-Jitsu to survive this storm.

Jiu Jitsu Evolution

Getting the black belt is not the end of the road. If anything, it commits you more to Jiu-Jitsu and its lifestyle.  Once you receive the belt, and have it for awhile, you realize it’s just an object that signifies the work that you have put in. You also realize that it is your duty to evolve with Martial Arts as they evolve with the times. New techniques, philosophies, and positions change in BJJ and Martial Arts all the time.  The basics will always be effective. But, at the highest level, you must evolve with the trend or be ahead of it.

Getting by on the same old tricks will leave you in the past. I changed schools after receiving my black belt; knowing that in order to grow, I would have to find new and different challenges. As soon as you start to get comfortable, you need to mix up your training. A seminar, a private lesson, an open mat at another school, or in my case changing schools completely, was the answer. The hardest thing to do is be the big fish in a small pond and go to a big pond to be the small fish. But, I felt if I wanted to be a legitimate black belt I needed to do just that. Watching competitions and fighting has also helped me keep evolving. Studying the top BJJ and MMA athletes is important to do. From past and present.

Going Back To The Basics

One thing you will hear upper belts and black belts talk about is the basics. When you get to higher levels, you start to understand why basics are so important. The competition gets so close at a high level that various advanced techniques get neutralized. The basics and fundamentals are more effective in such scenarios. In wrestling, the most successful take-down in the Olympics is the double leg. Which, of course is the most basic take-down in wrestling. Jiu-Jitsu is no different, if you watch Roger Gracie you will see him use very basic and effective BJJ at a very high level. As I’ve continued to train, I find myself start to focus on the basics and fundamentals even more.

Re-learning

I have also learned to re-learn. Re-learning techniques, submissions, and mindsets. Re-learning can mean several things:

  1. That I learned something, totally forgot about it, and remembered or relearned.

  2. I learned something but I revisit the technique, submission, and or mindset to discover new details.

  3. I learned something the wrong way or created bad habits and now I have to fix them.

We have to assess our game on a regular basis. I don't believe obsessing about re-learning is helpful, but periodically checking things is super important. It is better to have these problems solved before you compete or have to use it on the street. Learning a lesson on the mat is tough but usually the most beneficial. The more painful the lesson is the more likely you are to never let that mistake happen again.

Becoming a black belt was on the very top of my list of goals when I started BJJ. Since then, my goals have changed and evolved. I now challenge myself to become the best instructor, coach, and leader that I can be. Jiu-jitsu is a lifestyle for me now. Not just something to excel at. I feel once you commit to a Jiu-jitsu lifestyle or Martial Artist lifestyle; your skill, teaching, and learning skyrocket. Total immersion is the best option for you to get good at anything and that of course includes Martial Arts and BJJ.