Got back late last night from a wonderful weekend of training in beautiful British Columbia, and had to get on today and report back.
Eddie Bravo is one of my favorite teachers because he is very detailed (a Machado trait I am starting to see in all who are some how associated with the brothers!), has a great sense of humor, and tells it how it is without giving a fuck what anyone thinks! I respect that! I do not always agree with his opinion, but I respect a man who stands strong yet flexible in his convictions.
Once again Ari (big thanks brother!) at Victoria JJ hosted his teacher for a great seminar on the 10th Planet JJ ever evolving curriculum. My teacher Brian, his student Perry from Maple Ridge, and the notorious “Shadow” (Mike) joined me on my second trip up to Victoria. This seminar Eddie focused on breaking the lock down, passing the 1/2 guard, and getting to the dogfight position. Eddie is very methodical in his teaching style showing details and explaining why he does it that way and not the other way. He is genuinely concerned about each and every attendee making sure everyone is understanding what he is covering and is not getting left behind. Eddie is a very patient teacher and it is a treat to get to work with him.
My only criticism is that he does not roll with attendees at the end of the seminars he does. I can understand why he doesn’t, but none the less I would love to roll with him. Overall a great time, and you will learn a TON! Check him out next time one of his affiliates hosts him!
On Sunday we headed over to Maple Ridge for a seminar my teacher, Brian Johnson, was putting on at his student Perry’s academy. Once again the Machado style shines through with another one of their black belts, as Brian is not much different than Eddie in that he breaks things down in great detail, has a wonderful sense of humor all the while keeping things light and fun, and is genuinely interested in the development and betterment of his students and BJJ as a whole! Brian also surprised the seminar crowd with a very special guest, a Machado blue belt (one stripe) all the way up from Seattle joined the party in Maple Ridge!
Brian covered a number of side mount, and high (‘S’) mount attacks and strategies. Arm bars, triangles, and omo plata’s were covered in great detail for three hours and then we rolled for another 1/2 hour. This is a great experience as attendee’s are able to experience rolling with Brian (a first degree black belt), as well as rolling with other attendees. Afterwards Perry and his family hosted us at their house for a down home Canadian BBQ! Great food and great people! I love Canada and its residents as they are some of the nicest people with the greatest senses of humor! It amazes me that Seattle is a stones throw away from Canada, yet the Seattle-ites are completely different with their attitude and manners. Listen up Seattle, you could learn a lot from our neighbors to the north!
I am beat but it was worth every moment! We had a blast and hopefully will be back up sometime this summer. Eddie is booked solid for 6 months, so this may be the only time we see him in Victoria for 09, but his Vancouver affiliate should be bringing him in sometime later this year. Stay tuned as I will announce it as soon as I hear about it.
I chose to make my first leg lock book review the latest production of Scott Sonnon’s, “Mastering Sambo for Mixed Martial Arts,” because of a lot of hype that I had read over the ensuing months until its release. I later discovered a lot of the hype was written under pseudonyms by Sonnon and his students, but none the less this topic intrigued me because of a severe lack of leg attack books on the market. Sonnon had been all over the Internet talking about how he has “revolutionized” grappling and Sambo, yet he was rather quiet about the “revolution” until the release of this book with the DVD set of the same title. I have yet to see the DVDs. He is also a Bellingham, WA. native, so here is a little for the home crowd.
I am not going to lie; Mr. Sonnon and I have had our fair share of exchanges on the internet mostly because I simply inquired about his self purported championship career in MMA and San Shou competition. So I am going to try to be as objective as possible in my review of this text, and not allow any bias to interfere.
Right off the bat we need to discuss the misrepresentation of the title of this book, as there is little to do with Sambo other than Sonnon’s background is based in its teachings, and their is nothing, NOTHING, about MMA across its 160 pages! In fact many of the positions Sonnon advocates leave you very vulnerable to strikes and kicks to the head (a major concern with attacking legs in MMA competition). Yet throughout these pages there is no mention of anything MMA. To the best of my knowledge Sonnon has never fought an MMA fight. He claims to have coached several “champions” but “champions” of “what” was never very clear.
Sonnon covers some Sambo leg positions that he calls the “saddle,” speaks of his contributions and accomplishments in Sambo, and gives a general history (some of which I have heard is quite inaccurate) of Sambo. Other than that there is nothing that makes this book uniquely “Sambo-ish.” It is a book on leg locks that could be from any style or system, and there is nothing in my opinion that makes it a Sambo specific text. Sonnon has tried to create a brand that is style specific, but I have seen the majority of what he has “created” in BJJ and submission wrestling. That being said I am no Sambo expert, so perhaps I speak ignorantly.
In all honesty this book could have been a very detailed lengthy article. I find Sonnon very redundant and wordy. Anyone who has seen any of his prior productions knows that he really, really likes to talk! And that is coming from me, someone who has been accused once or twice of over explaining a technique. Sonnon incessantly praises himself to the point that one really has to wonder what kind of megalomaniacal issues he is dealing with.
He is very critical of fast wrestling and fast wrestlers in that they are often sloppy with their control, and this point I think is quite valid and astute of Sonnon. Leg locks are notorious for being low percentage submissions in both MMA and grappling competition. Their are many factors we can argue with this issue, but many fighters lack a fundamental control of their opponents legs, WHILE protecting their own legs! Majority of leg attacks require your legs towards you opponents head and vice versa, hence the risk of a counter leg attack is higher! “Sonnon’s saddle” is not the only way to accomplish control, but it certainly is one way.
Which leads us to the technical aspects of the book. Overall the control positions, attacks, and submissions are very good in this book. In fact many of the aspects of Sonnon’s submissions are solid! I have been trying to employ some of his techniques and strategy into my rolling, and while I have not nailed anything solid the book has made me think about control and the possibilities of attacks via control, and those aspects certainly have provided me an edge in my grappling. I have been getting a lot of leg taps lately!
The pictures in the book, well…. suck. Both Sonnon and his partner are in basically the same clothes, their is no differentiation between one guy and the next. There are no captions which is popular now days, but the editor needs to ensure the accompanying text is very clear and easy to find and follow. Well, Paladin Press dropped the ball on that one! The pictures are VERY hard to follow with the text. Poorly photographed in B&W it is difficult at first to discern who’s leg is doing what.
Overall this book is not worth the money ($25) to neither beginners nor experienced grapplers. As I stated earlier it should have been a lengthy article in a magazine or journal. I do not believe it is worthy of print in book format, and frankly Paladin Press is not known for it’s “quality” martial arts books per se’. Personally I cannot stand Sonnon’s ego maniacal attitude and this book is dripping with it! Technical wise… there are better out there. It is good stuff, but nothing you could not pick up with your teacher I am sure. Certainly nothing “revolutionary.”
Heading out of town to train with Eddie Bravo in Victoria this weekend. Also will be going to Brian Johnson’s seminar in Vancouver.
I was hoping to get some reviews up today, but just did not get the time. Next week, I promise.
For anyone in the Pacific Northwest this seminar still has a space or two left. Ari and his crew are great guys, and Eddie is one of the best instructors I have ever had the privilege training under!
Mental Revelations of the Progressing Grappler
I borrowed this from Roy Dean’s excellent blog. Once again Roy seems to find some real gems! This is a great article!
Written by Tim Sledd, a brown belt under Caique, and originally posted on his website: Small Axe BJJ
One of the most exciting parts of teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the experience of witnessing students progress in skill and develop in mental acuity. Part of the progression entails improved physical abilities, but the beauty of BJJ is that, because of its intellectual components, one’s physical limitations can be overcome. This essay will explore the various mental revelations that occur with developing and progressing grapplers.
THE REVELATION OF RECOGNITION:
To the untrained eye, BJJ, submission grappling, and ground-fighting in general looks like two people pummeling around on the ground hugging, then suddenly it is over. I clearly remember in 1995 when I first saw Royce Gracie fighting in the UFC. I actually rooted against him because I did not understand what he was doing nor why it was ‘winning’ the fights. I wanted to see faces punched, heads kicked, and elbows dropped. I thought it seemed strange that none of the losers was able to shake Royce. I was not recognizing the leverage, the techniques, the skills, and the advantages of mastering grappling.
The beginning BJJ student is often overwhelmed by the lexicon of art. There are various names for the same positions, submission, and series. Some of the names make little sense (e.g. Americana bears no logical descriptive value to the actual submission) while others (e.g. cross-body) are clear. As the student is immersed in the language, observes matches, listens to his instructor and asks questions, he becomes familiar with the language of the art.
The “Revelation of Recognition” is different than just a familiarity with the names of the techniques, it is an ability to observe them and predict them or see their place in the match at hand. Frustratingly, it can often be a complete awareness of where a more advanced training partner is taking you and an understanding of the impending ending. I have had countless students say to me, “I knew what was coming and I just could not stop it!” I commend them when they say this because when they begin to “see” or recognize the attacks, they are on their way to being able to appropriately defend them. That is very significant and essential to progression.
THE REVELATION OF TECHNIQUE OVER STRENGTH AND SPEED:
Royce Gracie, Marcello Garcia, Eddie Bravo, Jeff Glover, and many other highly successful BJJ practioners would not catch many peoples’ eyes when they walk through an airport. They don’t fit the mold of professional athletes. Neither are they big, tall, stacked with muscles, nor are they billionaires who grace pop culture magazines. They are men who have twisted larger, more powerful, faster men into submission and barely broken a sweat. The interesting thing is these guys are the ‘rule’ not the ‘exception.’
Where I am from, the Mid-west, people are familiar with wrestling. They have probably been forced to participate in a match or two through phys-ed classes, or at least seen a match first hand as nearly every public school has a wrestling program. In wrestling, speed and strength are very important. Given the objective of pinning an opponent, one must be able to exert force over a short time. Again, to the untrained eye, BJJ is like wrestling, so an incorrect assumption is that the same strategies of wrestling are going to be “the best strategies” for jiu jitsu. Here is how one of my students, Josh Britt, puts it:
“We always hear in class to “use good technique” but in this situation (4 hour Blue Belt Pre-test) I was forced to do so, and it really opened my eyes at how much easier grappling becomes. Using good technique over and again will cause certain positions and moves to become almost second nature. The way I think of it is like a heartbeat. You don’t have to tell your heart to pump blood throughout your body, it just does it. It’s an involuntary action you can’t control. When someone is on top of me in cross side, I am immediately off my back and up on my side. I don’t even really have to think about it, it just happens, and since I don’t have to worry about trying to get up on my side, I can now focus more on other defenses and counters.
Because of the way I have changed mentally, I feel my game has improved a tremendous amount. I’m no longer tired after sparring for long periods of time. I’m no longer using strength or force, but technique and leverage. I think when you start out in jiu-jitsu or any form of grappling for that matter, you rely a lot on strength and that’s fine because you don’t know a lot about what you’re doing. But as you progress, the knowledge to strength ratio becomes more and more unbalanced, and my whole perspective on jiu-jitsu has changed because of it. I’m more relaxed and aware of what is going on, during a match, or in training. The techniques of this martial art were developed to be used by smaller individuals against a larger opponent. No matter what size or build you are, once you realize the meaning and purpose of good technique, can retain that knowledge, and can effectively execute against resistance, the game changes completely in your favor.”
While strength, power, speed, and fortitude to hold someone in a given position play a role in submission grappling, there is a revelation that occurs wherein the progressing grappler learns that techniques when applied with the appropriate strategy, tightness, and timing can easily force a stronger, faster, more powerful opponent to submit. This is the Revelation of Technique over Strength and Speed. A student who is truly realizing this will advance in perspective. A burden will lift from his/her shoulders. They no longer have to match their opponent’s physical abilities! The battle now is to utilize the best technique, at the right time, in the right manner.
THE REVELATION OF RELAXATION:
The Revelation of Relaxation usually comes rather contemporaneous to the Revelation of Technique over Speed and Strength. It is a change in mindset wherein the student’s approach is no longer to overwhelm the partner or opponent in the first minute of a match. Nor is the approach to resist every single movement of the partner with all one’s might. Instead, at appropriate points in the training, it is the clear and conscious decision to pause, think, and breathe.
Relaxing allows one to conserve energy, read attacks, evaluate balance, and analyze strategy. From a defensive standpoint, relaxing allows one to circle the wagons, bring the elbows in, protect the neck and move away from square with the offensive player. From an offensive standpoint, relaxation allows for the increased pressure, awareness of exposures that may not have been evident at the outset. Take for example the following:
You are underneath the mount. It is hot; he is heavy; and you are strong. Instinct tells you to push, bump, and attempt to roll. The guy on top is ready, he feels your bump and snags one of your extending arms and taps you quickly with a belly down arm-bar.
You have just passed the guard and find yourself in scarf-hold position. Your favorite attack is the Americana from there. You choose to relax and cover your bases. In doing so, you notice the partner is already on his side and ready to escape. So you adjust your hips settle your weight and flatten him out. Now the arm is better exposed and ready for the attack.
The realization that a training session, match, or free spar does not have to be a whirlwind of unbridled and negligent movements greatly increases the efficacy of the art being performed.
THE REVELATION OF LINKAGE:
The Revelation of Linkage is one clear common experience of people ready for their purple belt. This revelation is often not a conscious one but rather a ‘realization’ that linkage has occurred. “Linkage” is often referred to as ‘flow.’ It is the ability to move from one move to the next in a fluid fashion. To have this revelation take place, the grappler must have an understanding of the larger picture in each position and how it fits into the other positions. Additionally, the grappler will have repeated the technical attacks to a point where he transitions from one movement to the next with little thought.
Newer students often say that they feel as though their training partners are a few steps ahead of them. Once a student has the revelation of linkage and their game begins to flow, it will seem as though that student is ‘creating’ the mistakes that the newer student is making. That is the beauty of linkage; it does not relegate you to a specific ‘plan of attack’ but rather lets your game be open to options that present themselves during a roll.
Professor Caique has always encouraged me to make sure I train with white belts and newbies. He told me they will not react the same way as a seasoned student and they will do unpredictable things. Thus, training with the inexperienced really tests your linkage challenges your flow. However, there is a lot of gratification in seeing your game become fluid despite awkward resistance and unconventional onslaughts.
THE REVELATION OF PRESSURE:
I remember training with Greg Lucas and Adam BenShea when they both were brown belts and I was a new purple belt. With everyone else I trained with, even if they eventually submitted me, I could move. With Adam and Greg, there were times where I could not get to a defensive posture. Their pressure just crushed me.
I firmly believe that the Revelation of Pressure comes from the Revelation of Linkage. As you learn to link your techniques together, flow in and out of positions and transitions, you learn that certain positions afford you a higher percentage of taps. Therefore, you learn to maximize your time in those positions while minimizing the exertion of effort on your part. What you will ultimately realize is that pressure is the mechanism of maximizing suffering for your partner while minimizing your effort.
If your pressure is right, the other person will almost willingly put themselves into danger. Take for example Cent Kilos. I love to bait the head -arm triangle from this position. I have tapped several black belts with this technique and with good pressure as the secret. If you just smash someone’s chest in Cent Kilos, and they are properly defending their far arm, they have no incentive to move that arm in front of your face to provide the proper position for head-arm triangle. However, if you smash their face with ’shoulder of pain’ and drop your head-side hip low to the mat, you would be surprised how often the opponent will take his far arm out of proper defense to try to alleviate the pressure on his jaw. At that point, sliding knee across stomach to the opposite side is wide open and the attack is on.
Likewise from the guard position on the bottom, I love the arm-inside sweep/arm-inside armbar combination. I rarely get those moves if I go for it from the initial good guard position. What I like to do is break the top guy’s posture down and hug him around the neck with a Gable grip. (Once you have mastered controlling someone’s posture that way and have learned to keep your elbows tight, an amazing number of attacks and sweeps open up.) When I feel the top guy relent to trying to pull up and instead decide to drive forward into me, I then move into my arm-inside series. “I didn’t see that coming,” is a common response I get from the now mounted foe.
Pressure is wonderful because one second you can have it and then in another you can make it disappear and the whole complexion of game changes. Going from tortoise to hare then back to tortoise can stymie your opponent’s offense and cause extreme frustration.
THE REVELATION OF LESS IS MORE:
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is wonderfully organic. I think that is one of its characteristics that separates it from all the other martial arts. As of the date of this essay, no single entity has been able to mandate complete control over its techniques and restrict growth. Even today, a no-gi off-shoot of BJJ, is developing new techniques and strategies. Likewise, old standard techniques are reborn with vitality when experts submit other experts in major tournaments.
I am a consummate student of the art. I own dozens of books, tons of videos, and have watched more internet vids, read more blogs, and visited more websites than anyone I know. As such, I always hoped that I would find ‘my game’ among the next periodical, or in the next clip, or in the next tournament video.
Then came Adam BenShea. Adam is a beast of a human being. He is super intelligent, built like a brick house, and his jiu jitsu is out of this world. The first time I ever sparred with him, he pulled guard, scissor swept me, did knee slide pass to side control, dug my far arm out and Americana-ed it. You might ask how I remember this in such detail. Well, he did it at least ten times in a row! I tried everything I could defend each time. I was a purple belt! Not just a mediocre purple, but one that was winning tournaments!
Later, once I was able to frustrate the Americana, he would step over my head and reverse armlock the same arm. Once I frustrated that, it was kimura time! This was months and months of training and his attacks were the same. He could recognize all the flashy crap we wanted to learn, but they were not part of his game. He was content with using the few moves he was excellent at to reek havoc.
Finding what works for your body, your game, your attitude, your mental demands and honing those to perfection is very important. Being a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’ will only get you so far in BJJ. At some point you have to begin to develop go-to moves. It is when you make this decision that you are realizing that ‘less is more.’ There is no need for me to learn the inverted guard game. It does not fit my body, my attitude, my philosophy or my common strategy, so I will watch it and admire it, but need not spend precious repetition time on it.
THE REVELATION THAT ALL THESE REVELATIONS REPEAT:
There are probably other, very obvious, revelations that I am missing. However, the last revelation, the Revelation that all these Revelations Repeat, is the Revelation that led me to realize that all the aforementioned Revelations are real. As you progress through each belt level, you will come to recognize moves, you will refine your technique to accommodate for deficiencies in strength/speed/power, you will continue to link moves in deeper more meaningful sentences, you will explore levels of pressure from different positions to maximize your opponent’s suffering while minimizing your effort, and you will pare away techniques you have learned that don’t meet your needs. I imagine the day these progressions quit happening for me will be the day I quit grappling!
Throughout history the poor, downtrodden, have not’s have dominated combat sports. This is a general statement but if we look at the patterns of wrestlers, boxers, and Vale Tudo fighters, those who came from poor neighborhoods, grew up without, are often the most victorious athletes. We can speculate as to ‘why’ but in the end it is usually because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
If this theory is true, then China is long overdue for their hero to shine through! MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, and China has jumped back onto the bad wagon with it’s Art of War promotion which showcases some of the up and comers in China. The following story is thank to Mark Richards.
China is the most populous country in the world, and the mystique surrounding it’s martial arts traditions have long made it a sleeping giant when it comes to MMA. Now there is word that Art of War FC is ready to run its 12th event this coming May 23rd.
After the 10 edition of Art of War was held in December of 2007, the event took nearly 15 months of to organize and regroup. That show featured 12 bouts with Chinese fighters facing international competition, with countries such as Canada, Sweden, Italy and South Africa among those sending competitors. Of the 12 bouts, 11 were won by Chinese fighters, which included Olympic judokas competitors Zhang Tie Quan and Li Zhi Feng.
On March 28th, 2009 Art of War returned with another action packed card of twelve bouts, and the announced a full schedule for 2009. A series of ‘Try Out’ events starts in April and will run in June, August and November as well. The Art of War schedule will follow with July 11th’s AOW 13 and has shows scheduled for September, October and December.
The upcoming AOW 12 event will feature Wu Hao Tian in the main event. Tian is considered one of China’s brightest prospects, and has. 2-0-1 record. The rest of the card is to be announced, however renewed sponsorship for 2009 will see a star studded guest list. Scheduled to referee the show are well known American ‘Big’ John Mccarthy and former Pride referee Yuji Shimada. Several other international MMA stars are expected as guests at the event, including former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Silvia, Fabrizio 1erdum, Jeremy Horn, Josh Barnett, Babalu Sobral and Ricardo Liborio. Also expected a 300 strong delegation of fans and trainers from the United Arab Emirates.
The event gets wide support in Beijing, which is the biggest city in China. The Olympic Sports Center in Beijing is one of the venues that hosted the 2007 Olympics, and it has been the home of the AOW shows for several years. For more details check the website at www.artofwarfc.cn. A complete listing at the card should be available in the coming weeks.
Anyone who has ever rolled with me knows I am a huge fan of the leg attacks, all forms of them; Achilles locks, knee bars, toe holds, heel hooks etc. etc. I love them! They are misunderstood, poorly defended, and highly effective in both sport and street self defense. Many people have no clue how to defend them which makes them all the more effective.
So I have decided to have a focus for a bit on the blog…. all things leg attacks! I will offer reviews, ideas, and will even start it all off with a bang!! My teacher Tim Cartmell will be in town Saturday May 16th to offer a whole day of leg attacks and submissions! His leg attack game is very tight and he is excited to come in an offer a full day of lessons focusing on these specific attacks. Below is the flier for this event. Hope you can make it!
Train hard, train smart,
Three Harmonies Martial Arts Center
NW Jiu Jitsu Academy
Present a Grappling Intensive on:
Leg Attacks & Submissions
w/ Tim Cartmell
May 16th, 2009
*location and other information provided with registration*
Single Session: $65
Both Sessions: $95
For more information, or to register contact Jake Burroughs at: [email protected] / 206-941-3232
All stylists and ranks are welcome to join us for an intensive workshop on leg attacks and submissions. Leg locks are often overlooked and misunderstood by many martial artist’s who feel they are low percentage techniques, but if done properly leg attacks can catch your opponent off guard, and in a self defense situation can end an altercation decisively!
Leg attacks can be categorized into two different foci: Straight (linear) attacks, or Twisting (circular) attacks.
Sat. May 16th 12:30-3:30pm
Linear Attacks (Straight Ankle Locks / Knee Bars): Learn proper set ups, intricate details on securing the lock, how to protect yourself from getting tapped while attempting leg attacks, and how to finish the locks effortlessly.
Sat. May 16th 4:30-7:30pm
Circular Attacks (Toe Holds / Heel Hooks): Tim will guide the students through every detail and aspect of these devastating fight-enders! Positional dominance will be key throughout the weekend’s seminars, as will proper mechanics to ensure these techniques can be employed from various positions.
About the Instructor:
Tim Cartmell is Cleber Luciano’s first black belt in BJJ and the head instructor at his Orange County Shen Wu Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. A winner of the Copa 7x at both the brown and black belt level, Tim has used his expertise in leg locks to finish many of his opponents in both the Copa and the 05 Mundials where he took silver! Co-author of “Passing the Guard” Tim is one of the most sought after grappling coaches in the US. Visit www.shenwu.com for more info on Tim and his teachings.
Three Harmonies Martial Arts Center
Intensive Study of the
Bagua Straight (Jian) Sword
w/ Tim Cartmell
Sunday May 17th 2009
12 – 4pm
* Location and further information is available upon registration*
For the first time ever, Tim has decided to teach the Sun Bagua Jian form and applications during this special one day intensive seminar! For students interested in Bagua, sword work, or just in weapons in general you do not want to miss this opportunity to train with one of the most sought out instructors of Bagua in North America, Tim Cartmell. This seminar will be capped, so pre-register ASAP to guarantee your spot!
- Learn the full Sun Bagua Sword Form
- Study the applications of key words and principles found within the form
- Train with Tim Cartmell for his first public weapon seminar!
*Absolutely NO live blades! You must provide your own wooden jian!*
To register, or for further questions contact Jake Burroughs 206-941-3232 / [email protected]
About Tim Cartmell:
Tim lived in China and Taiwan for over 10 years of his life studying the art of Bagua / Taiji / Xing Yi from teachers such as Sun Jian Yun / Liang Ke Quan / and Luo De Xiu. Tim’s grasp of the principles and mechanics of the martial arts is second to none, and these skills transfer over to his translating and writing as well with such landmark texts as “Xing Yi Nei Gong” (co-authored with Dan Miller) / “Effortless Combat Throws” / translations of “A Study of Sun Taiji” – “Practical Chin Na” – “Chin Na Fa.”
For more information on Tim and his teachings visit www.shenwu.com
I got this from Roy Dean’s great blog!
I worked as a bouncer for over 5 years, and I tried to emulate this style of conflict resolution. I must admit it worked 98% of the time. I rarely had any incidents at the bar or club I worked. I would try to see a problem before it became a problem, and then deflate it. I must admit though, I was never as smooth as this guy!
At university we had an epidemic of plagiarism and cheating that broke out and caused quite a stir one semester. My mentor, teacher, and friend Prof. Fred “Ted” Sturm (RIP) raised the argument one day that we should not punish those who copy an other’s work, as this is not only flattering to the original artist but it is also a learning model, or method. After all in the days of Picasso apprentices would copy their teachers works in an effort to learn their technique, while developing a unique flavor of their own.
So what is the difference between mimicking for sake of mimicry (to pass a test for example), and mimicking with the purpose of learning?
A lot can be said about intent in the martial arts, but my focus this day is on the disturbing trend of traditional martial artists (TMA), and Chinese martial artists (CMA), that are jumping on the current popularity of BJJ / MMA by ‘creating’ ground forms and work that has no sound structure, nor history, in their respective arts. I certainly can understand the desire to incorporate ground principles into ones traditional arts, since for the most part ground work is NOT an aspect in most all traditional arts and is a very real aspect of modern day combatives. Many Chinese consider rolling around on the ground fighting like, “Dogs rolling in the dirt.” – John Wang (Shuai Chiao instructor). It was looked down upon culturally, and included a bit of Chinese arrogance in that many instructors I have spoken to and trained with have the attitude that their throw would incapacitate the opponent so much so that the fight would be ended right there. Those of us a little more open minded and grounded in reality know that is not necessarily the truth!
Some teachers such as my good friend Tony Puyot in San Diego have taken a proactive approach and gone to train with ground fighting specialists such as BJJ players, or Sambo players, to further their knowledge base and include ground combat into their curriculum. Unfortunately many instructors are not as humble, and are insistent upon “creating” techniques, drills, and even whole systems where they try to use certain principles and applications from their stand up, on the ground. Many of these instructors argue incessantly that ground fighting has always been an aspect in CMA, or it was one of the infamous “lost” arts! This is silly for a couple of reasons:
First of all their are already proven systems (Sambo / BJJ / and to a lesser extent Judo) that have been established for decades that have a solid fundamental approach to ground combat. These systems have been proven and developed in uncooperative learning environments, and tested in venues where failure was extremely painful, if not deadly.
So to try and “reinvent” the wheel is ultimately a gigantic waste of time. Why do the work when someone else has already built a proven system that you can go study?
Though there are certainly many general principles that can be used both in ground fighting, as well as stand up (the importance of joining centers for example), ultimately those principles that are similar will be trained and drilled much differently depending on the scenario and situation. Sure a wrist lock standing is basically the same wrist lock I apply when on the ground rolling, but the set-up, execution, and availability of isolating and applying that lock will be very, very different depending on our positions on the ground or standing.
Ultimately what is the problem here with TMA-ists?
Fear. And as the great Sifu-Guru-Master-Maestro-Maharajah-Sensei Yoda taught us, fear breeds ignorance, and vice-versa. Fear of not knowing something, and having to admit it in front of others. Fear of not being able to handle oneself in a self defense situation. Fear of ones business being infringed upon (TMA schools are feeling the pressure of the immense popularity of MMA & BJJ). Fear of having to learn a very difficult art from the ground up. Some instructors are so afraid of admitting to there students, and themselves, that they are lacking in a certain aspect of combat, that they go so far as to create things that will ultimately get them and their students hurt due to false senses of security. This is the human ego at its finest! I have seen many examples of this over the years.
Personally I found it very liberating and exciting to enter into the grappling world as a newborn babe! To put on the white belt again and have to climb the ladder of success in a given art. It has reinvigorated my passion for the martial arts as a whole, and has given me the desire to compete again and challenge myself harder than I ever have. I originally went into BJJ with the intent to attain a blue belt level so that I could handle whatever situation may present itself on the street. I hated rolling around on the ground! Now I find myself immersed in the culture, training, and teachings of my instructors to the point of a love affair gone awry! If I do not roll every other day I start to get twitchy and Dana makes threats to send Brian over to choke my ass out!
So if you are an instructor who falls into the trap of a creator, I beg you to go and get some solid instruction from a qualified grappler. You will be surprised at the level of difficulty, but also by the feeling of elation when you overcome your fears and push yourself to new levels! Your students, your martial family, and most importantly; YOU will stand proud knowing that you are training the right way and providing the most honest training for you and your students!
Though it has little to do with martial arts, I have to give a huge shout out to my Chicago Blackhawks who made the playoffs with home ice advantage the first round versus the Calgary Flames! This is significant because the last time the Hawks made the playoffs was 2002!
The Hawks have a solid chance against the Flames as they won the regular season series. Win or lose this is a HUGE improvement in a team that has desperately needed it for quite some time.
My good friend Mike and I traveled south to Camas, WA. to train with visiting Professor Luis Heredia from Maui Jiu Jitsu this weekend. Luis is a 5th degree BB under Rickson Gracie, and is one of the nicest martial artist’s I have honestly met! The techniques and strategies he presented were great (more on those in a second), but it was Prof. Heredia’s attitude and training approach that really resonated with me.
Luis started out the seminar with an overdue promotion of host Mel Locke to brown belt. Their personal history goes back well over 10 years, and it seems that relationship has been rekindled so to speak. A few other promotions were awarded for students within the school / Sauer organization.
Luis went on to explain some of his approach to the arts and what BJJ is to him, stating that he practices BJJ in every aspect of his life and he encouraged us (the majority of attendees were white belts, with about 8 blue belts, and perhaps 5 purples in attendance) to look for opportunities to apply what we learn on the mat to our personal lives in an effort to be not only better martial artists, but better human beings. Regaling us with stories of his students such as one gentlemen who was blind, yet persevered through his black belt. Luis still gets emotional talking about this student of his and left us with these popular, but very true, words: “A black belt is nothing more than a white belt who never gave up.”
I am a principle based teacher and learner. I gravitate towards like minded individuals in my martial studies (ie. Tim & Brian), and Luis was no different. He spoke of three basic principles which were to remain the theme throughout our training; head control / hip control / gravity. We were led through several take downs (I should say several variations of a single take down). Several open guard passes, followed by several open guard pass defense’s (defence’s for the Canucks reading;). Luis threw in a smattering of submissions, but really the focus was on control and position in all areas and transitions.
Luis kept a good pace not killing us, nor overwhelming us with tons and tons of techniques. He spent a good amount of time explaining why & how the techniques worked in lieu of giving us so many things that we could not remember. Regardless of the position Luis brought us back to the principles of using gravity to our advantage (especially for him as he is a small man at only 150#’s!), and controlling the hips or head in each movement.
A humble man, Luis offered tips on certain situations and scenarios that he learned the hard way via losing in competition. He mentioned that when one competes, that the lessons of that day are hard wired into our psyche and that is one reason why competition is so important in his opinion.
Overall it was a great seminar and experience to train with a man who has dedicated the last 32 years of his life to the art of BJJ. I cannot recommend training with Luis Heredia enough whether he is in your town (Luis mentioned he will be doing many, many seminars in the near future), or if you visit Maui.
My only two complaints were he allowed no video recording, and he did not roll with folks after the seminar. But those are personal preferences that I respect.
Nick Diaz fights Frank Shamrock this weekend on Strikeforce’s card and here is a short 5 minute bio about him and his training (thanks to Showtime). I really like Nick because he is tough, has amazing BJJ skills (the pic above is Diaz finishing Takanori Gomi last year with a GoGo Plata, in what many consider to be one of the best fights ever in MMA! Click here for the full video), and tells things how they are. Many consider him arrogant or an ass because of his outspoken attitude. But I feel a connection with him in that folks who tell things the way they are, are often outcast and shunned by the rest of society because the majority of people spend their lives like Ostriches…. with their heads in the sand! Most people do not want to hear anything that even closely resembles the truth and in the arena of MMA (or any combat sport really) that is all that is left at the end of the night; the truth.
That is the appeal of combat to the general public, unbridled, unsolicited, unwavering honesty! Two warriors fighting their hearts out in front of hundreds, thousands of people, putting it all on the line to see who is the better fighter that evening. Now sure their are many variables, and anyone is susceptible to a ‘lucky shot,’ but we tune in to watch two people try to impose their will, their intent, on someone to dominate them completely and come out on top saying “I was the better fighter today!”
Consider the level of heartbreak and subsequent downfall of boxing over the past decade! One of the largest sports in terms of viewers and participants worldwide, an Olympic sport! Yet when corruption hit (which it already is in MMA) people lost interest. Why? Because we no longer knew who REALLY was the better fighter at the end of the night! Joe Schmoe throws a fight to get the purse, yet we all walk away wondering if his opponent was really the more skilled combatant. This doubt creates boredom and eventually I lose interest in the sport and will not support it.
This Saturday Diaz will square off against Shamrock which will put an end to a long standing rivalry between the two camps of Shamrock and Cesar Gracie (Diaz’s coach and mentor)! Personally I hope Shamrock gets his ass kicked (and I think Diaz will do it), as Frank has turned (perhaps always was) into the most arrogant piece of shit MMA has seen. His antics against Renzo were shameful. He expects everyone to bow down to him like he is special asking to be humble, yet exhibits no signs of letting go of his own ego anytime soon. This will be the beginning of the end of Shamrocks career.
(above pic: Nick greets Shamrock at weigh ins)
Tune in Saturday night for a late start (10pm PST) on Showtime for the fight that has a solid under card as well with Benji Raddich fighting (got a chance to train with him last December, and he is a top notch coach as well as a gentleman!), as well as Chris “Cyborg” Santos who is one of the most scary fighters I have ever seen man or woman! She takes on Hitomi Akano from Japan which will be a great bout with Cyborg most likely desimating Akano. Cyborg wants Gina Carrano (no, not that way guys;) like no other and rumor has it that if Cyborg wins it will cement a fight with Carano in the near future. Cyborg is a beast, and is one of my favorite female fighters to watch.
FYI for those who do not have Showtime…… just call Saturday morning and order it up on Comcast, then Sunday morning cancel it. You will only get charged a $2 change fee, plus the monthly rate prorated for how many days you used it! In the end it will be under $5! I need to call tomorrow to confirm, but I saw on TV the other day that they may be running a special on Showtime as well.
Good friend and coach Alberto crane has signed for his next fight. It will be against Thomas “The Wildman” Denny on June 11th at San Manuel Casino. This fight is pivotal for both fighters, but especially Crane who is working on getting back into the octagon and accelerating his UFC career.
Denny who is 26-18-0 has lost three of his last four fights, granted those losses come at the hands of Pat Miletich, Nick Diaz, and Joe Camacho! Denny looks to regain the firm grasp on KOTC (King of the Cage) he once had by beating Crane, but it will be a tough fight. Denny is skilled in all areas of MMA, but surely would like to keep this one on the feet and pummel Crane, whereas Crane is a world class BJJ fighter and would most likely dominate Denny if its goes to the ground. Though Alberto has been training his stand up game hard as of late, Denny’s experience and power will be his his comfort blanket.
Denny will look to stop Alberto’s four fight win streak, where Crane is looking to add one more notch in the loss column for Denny. Either way it will be a great fight!
Here is the group pic from the March 27th belt promotion at NWJJA. Congrats once again guys!
New York State Assemblyman Bob Reilly has drafted a document outlining his arguments against the legalization of MMA in New York state.
This week, the paper was distributed to members of the Tourism, Arts, and Sports Development Committee, according to a source in Reilly’s Albany office. The committee, chaired by Assemblyman Steve Englebright, is expected to vote on bill that could regulate the sport by the year’s end.
A vote on the bill, titled A.2009-A, has been delayed due to legislature addressing the state’s budget shortfall.
The budget was passed last week, but the bill has yet to be put on the committee’s agenda, according to sources MMAInsider spoke to.
Last June, a similar bill titled A.11458-A did not pass the committee after it was unable to come to a formal vote.
Subsequently, Mr. Reilly emerged as a self-proclaimed “accidental opposition” to the legalization of the sport. In January, Mr. Reilly gave an interview to MMAWeekly.com where he outlined many of the arguments now formalized in the document.
In addition to the arguments outlined in the paper, Mr. Reilly claims he was verbally threatened by mixed martial arts proponents and reported the threats to New York State Police.
The formal 24 page paper can be found here
Once again we find ignorant politicians dipping their pens into realms they have no business in. If you read through the 24 pages of protest you will find many topics taken out of context, and overall a poorly organized argument against MMA. For instance the three tenants on which this proposal stands:
1. Violent sports such as MMA have a negative affect on society, children, and adults.
2. Ultimate fighting / MMA has a negative effect on the economy of NY state and its municipalities.
3. The majority of New Yorkers do not want the legalization of MMA in NY.
This is pure propaganda that has no solid basis to stand on.
First of all any sport has potential for injury and even death with children. I have yet to hear of anyone dieing from MMA practice nor competition. Whereas children die every year from heat exhaustion in football, getting struck by hard fast moving balls in baseball, and getting hit with sticks in hockey! Not to mention the injury and death rates involved in boxing both on the amateur and professional levels. In this paper it is stated that MMA is MORE dangerous than boxing because they wear 4oz gloves instead of 12-16 ounce gloves. What the article neglects to mention is that boxers have 2 targets; the head and the body. Guess which one takes more abuse in a 12 round fight?
As for the negative effects on the local and state economy…. what is the basis for this claim? MMA is the fastest growing spectator sport in the nation. Every week we see new clothing companies popping up, fight gyms are booming with attendance, and not to mention the live shows that generate revenue for local bars, retailers, shop owners, etc.
And their third basis for banning MMA is pure speculation in that New Yorkers do not want MMA legalized. Was it put on the ballot and voted upon?? Again, what is the basis for this statement?
Overall this seems like a very weak attempt to ban something that is not understood by right wing politicians, and/or something they cannot generate revenue from directly. From the looks of the paper this argument has no legs to stand on, but that does not mean we should not take the threat seriously. New York has always been at the forefront of some of the nations most stringent laws on all levels, and their is a lot of power and influence in the state. Fans, promoters, and practitioners alike should pay close attention to this issue as it unfolds.
Some of you may have seen this before, but I find it invaluable to re-read every week. For ego is our biggest enemy and can make or break the best of any man or woman! I see so much ego in the martial arts, and many people neglecting some of the most obviously sound principles that martial arts training supposedly conveys; humbleness – discipline – respect – camaraderie – and the elimination of the ego.
Give this a read and meditate upon it. I think you will find it to be valuable, and you will be a better student, partner, and martial artist. This was written by a grappler, so for those of you who do not grapple just substitute whatever art you practice in lieu of “grappling!”
Leave Your Ego at The Door
Author: Jason Scully
It’s very important that you make sure you check your ego at the door from your first day grappling. If you don’t control your ego, you may not realize it, but it’ll slow down your learning progress and improvement substantially.
Here are some things that you may experience if you don’t learn how to control your ego.
* You’ll get frustrated and angry. Many times this happens with people who feel they should “already” do well in grappling and not get submitted or controlled. If that were the case then you wouldn’t need to take any classes.
* You’ll think you’re not learning anything because every time your ego gets in the way you’ll get frustrated, lose focus, and not pick up what is being taught as well.
* You won’t enjoy your training. The more you get mad at yourself or your partners due to your ego, the less and less you’ll have fun training. This usually leads to individuals quitting something they may have really enjoyed and benefited from in the future.
* You’ll get injured. Having an ego is one of the most common ways to get injured. Why is that, you may ask? This is because you’re stubborn. You refuse to tap and you don’t want to accept a “loss” in training. This type of thinking is very chaotic and will lead to
injuries very fast.
* You’ll injure you’re training partners. The same goes for you injuring your training partners. The worst-case scenario you can have, is two people grappling together who don’t have their egos in check. This is a disaster waiting to happen. One person may refuse to tap,
while the other may refuse to release a submission that they know they have applied correctly. What’s the result? An injured training partner whether it’s you or the other person.
* You’re training partners may not want to train with you. People who have egos on the mat are usually the ones that most grappling members avoid. The reason for this is because they don’t want to get injured or deal with rolling in a competitive manner when they just want to
get some good relaxed training in for the day.
There are many ways that you can control your ego and enjoy your training from the beginning. The sooner you do, the better off you’ll be.
Ways you can control your ego are:
* Accept that you will get submitted. It’s going to happen. If you don’t ever get submitted then you probably don’t need to train in grappling. You’re already good. The chances of this really happening are slim to none, but that would be the case. Know that you will get
submitted eventually and do the best you can to learn from it and try to ensure that you will make it much harder for your training partner to get you again in the same thing. This way you’ll actually be learning.
* Make sure you tap to avoid injury. The other end of the spectrum is actually tapping when someone has a submission sunk in correctly. Not tapping only leads to you getting injured or you possibly looking silly because you are left unconscious in front of everyone. Just tap
if they have it, and improve from there.
* Accept that there are people who are better then you. Once again if there aren’t people who are better then you when you first start grappling, you either need to find another gym to train at or you’re a special type of person who already is good at grappling (probably not
going to happen though). The sooner you realize that many of your training partners have put the time in and have more technical knowledge then you, the quicker you’ll improve and will be able to feed off of the knowledge they can provide.
* Accept that if you are new you won’t know anything about grappling and the more you train, the more you’ll learn. Most new students start with a clean slate. The more you train and the less you have an ego the quicker you’ll fill up your database of techniques and your grappling will improve every training session.
* Don’t get mad or frustrated. This will only hold you back and decrease your learning rate. The more you get frustrated the less time you will actually spend on learning. You are focusing more on being upset that you “lost” then actually being excited that you have something to learn and improve upon. You have many more days to train in the future, so try not to spend any of those training session aggravated with yourself or your partner because it’ll only end up making that current training session a waste.
* Take every situation as a learning experience because that’s just what it is. When an instructor show’s you a move or concept, learn from it. When you get submitted learn from it. When you submit someone, learn from it. When you escape, learn from it. When you compete, learn from it.
* Don’t be vengeful. Just because someone got the best of you or tapped you doesn’t mean that you have to get revenge on them. Training isn’t a competition or a battle; it’s a learning tool.
* Don’t sulk. Don’t go home with your head down and upset that you didn’t do well or you got tapped out. Sulking isn’t a healthy attitude. It doesn’t lead to anything good or productive. There isn’t any need to feel down about your training and then bring it home with
you. Training is supposed to be fun and a stress reliever. You shouldn’t feel any pressure when you train. You shouldn’t feel nervous when you train. You should be excited about going to class because you know you’re going to get a great workout, learn some great things, and
have fun. Regardless of how you performed in class, know that you still did something and still got something out of it in some way.
* Don’t repeat your actions. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, chances are you’re going to experience the same result. If you keep experiencing the same result then it’s going to lead to the ego kicking in and then frustration and anger begins. Try your best to
change your actions. That way you can experience different things related to the same situation. By doing that, you’ll eventually figure out an answer to the problem and then you’re well on your way to improving your grappling.
The benefits of training in an ego-free manner are:
* It’ll keep you from getting injured.
* You’ll learn much faster.
* You’ll have training partners that will like training with you.
* You’ll ensure that you train in a safe and comfortable environment.
* People will be comfortable asking you questions and answering your questions.
* You’ll want to train more and you’re instructor will be even more willing to help you.
As you can see from reading this section, it doesn’t pay to have an ego in grappling. Having an ego will only lead to negative effects in the long run and will hinder both your learning and it will crush the positive experiences you can gain from participating in grappling. Remember to have fun, relax your shoulders, and be calm when training. Everyone including yourself will benefit from it.
Just as I was talking about the demise of quality martial arts publications, while perusing the local corporate, sterile B & N (I miss Albuquerque where the independent book dealers and magazine stands stood strong and were appreciated!), I stumble upon “BJJ Legends” which claims to be “training tomorrow’s legends today.”
Now I am usually quite leery of a magazine that is wrapped in plastic, that is not of the “gentleman’s” variety! Cellophane usually veils the stench of pure garbage, with a flashy cover! In this case a DVD is promised treasure inside containing over 3 hours of footage! It is the inaugural issue, and most importantly it is a magazine solely dedicated to BJJ and the grappling world.
Oh, and did I mention the price of this “collectors item”… $12.99!!!
Now before I start blowing up about the rip off price, I did buy it after all, I want to be fair and state the quality of the print paper is top notch! Really nice and thick, all color, very professionally done. Layout wise it is a great publication. Very clear, orderly, easy to read, with quality photography.
As for the writing and information contained within the little treasure… the whole magazine is nothing but one interview after another! That is it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good interview with people who are successful in various areas and are specialists in certain aspects of BJJ. But a whole magazine dedicated to interviews? So surely the substance of the interviews was solid right?
Did I mention it was $12.99!?!?!
Overall the questions were dull and self indulgent for the interviewee. A few observations if I may:
-Rigan Machado interview was one of the first things I looked for as I cracked the pages. Interviewed by his student Cindy Omatsu (first BJJ female black belt in America), the majority of the interview was nothing special, but Rigan discussed a desire to form a world wide league for professional grapplers (not MMA) where they could fight the best of the best world wide, and earn a respectable amount of money enough to be focused on their profession. This is very promising if he can get it off the ground.
Cost me $13 bucks after tax!
-Royce Gracie interview was very long, but had many good questions and insights into his training and opinions of the art of BJJ. Maybe it is me, but it really seems like some of the Gracies can do nothing but talk about themselves and their teaching method they term “Gracie Jiu Jitsu.” On one hand Royce talks about how he is not into hurting people, presenting a nice humble mans attitude, and then turns around and states “I might as well be the best.” in terms of MMA fighting.
It would just be nice to hear less self aggrandizing, and more about the principles of what they teach instead of why theirs is better, or the best.
-Marcio Feitosa offered some insightful tips on competing and training for points to win, not just submissions. He had some valuable points, and came across quite learned and talented in the BJJ realm.
Overall the magazine was a disappointment. At $12+ dollars I wanted more in my 80 pages of gloss. Oh, and I almost forgot… our little nugget gift DVD!! Yeah, well about that…. it is simply a video recording of all the same interviews. They do go through all of the moves the teachers show in the magazine. Some good sweeps and submissions from various teachers like Kyra Gracie, Marcelo Cavalcanti, and Mauricio ‘Tinguiha’ Mariano. Nothing too exciting. The DVD also offers a couple of Feitosa’s fight at World No Gi last year, and one of Kyra’s fights.
I hope this magazine grows more than just interviews, and I wish it success in a very tough and competitive market. It will need to improve many aspects of what it has to offer if it wishes to succeed. But we need it to succeed like no other, as their is no magazine other than Gladiator that is covering grappling at all! MMA is the fad now, and BJJ and grappling have fallen by the wayside.