Posts Tagged ‘Gracie’

It started like so many classes before it. Warm ups, good technique and finishing with drilling. In our fundamentals class we were covering guard pulls. We practiced the standard foot in the hip guard pull and then drilled it. We then drilled jumping guard, where the bad guy bases down and the good guy drilled jumping to guard, reversing sides each time.

Class was over. I had been busy at work and had been off the mats for a while and wanted to get some rolls in. We had a new student who had just started the day before. I was told that he was a natural. He was physically fit and moved well. My coach told me to roll with him a little bit before he took off. I didn’t have too much trouble with him and I had easily managed to arm bar and triangle him in the first few minutes. I was getting cocky. I was doing what I wanted with him and I wanted to practice some side-control and half-guard escapes so I let him pass to side-control. He tied me up in a half-nelson and held me there. He was strong and I couldn’t get away. Well shit. Now what? I figured I’d tap because he was stalling and I wasn’t escaping. Of course, as is the nature of things, that’s what my coach managed to see and called me out for tapping to the new guy who was on day 2 of his training. Dammit. Now I have to prove something. I’m a blue belt and I’ll be damned if thats what my coach sees before I leave for the night. I knew I could smash this kid and I was going to prove it.

We started again. He started standing, his feet squared to me, slightly squatting with his hands looking to control my legs so he could maybe shoot to side-control or mount. Typical wrestler. I stayed in a combat base. I leaned forward slightly reaching with my right hand for his left leg. I wanted him to step back and he did. As his weight was shifting back and away I stepped in for a single leg pick and got it! I had him right where I wanted! Stepping up and looking to drive my weight to the right for the take down he jumped to pull guard. Smart man. He didn’t know much but he was smart enough to recognize an opportunity to execute what he just learned in class. Like I had been told, he was a natural.

Unfortunately for me, I had leaned too far forward looking for the leg pick. I also kept my head down, instead of looking up, which is a problem I consistently have. It keeps my neck safe but it makes my single leg take downs sloppy. Since I was top and forward heavy I wasn’t able to adjust my footing when he jumped to guard and my heel wedged between his butt and the mat, forcing my knee to carry his weight when he jumped. It didn’t. My knee buckled popping out of place. My patella dislocated, allowing my knee to bend in all kinds of wrong directions. My LCL tore and my hamstring was hyperextended. As we continued to collapse and roll my patella relocated itself and my knee painfully returned to its original position.

As I laid on the mat, writhing in pain, my knee swollen, and a new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student watching in deep concern I learned many, many lessons. First, I’m getting a little old. 30 may be the new 20 but I ain’t the 20 year old I used to be. I have to learn to roll smarter, use my brain and good technique. i also need to work to correct my sloppy skill set.

Second, leave your ego at the door (sound familiar?). Just because I think I may be better than the new student, doesn’t mean I have to prove it. Proving I can tap a white belt with 2 days of training doesn’t actually prove anything, either. I didn’t respect my opponents ability. I figured he was new and I was in complete control of the situation. I figured the guy wearing the loaner gi was not a threat to me. I was wrong.

Third, my team was there for me. They took care of me. They elevated my leg and iced it. They carried me to one of their cars and drove me to the ER. They checked on me in the hospital. They came back and picked me up and took me back to the gym to get my car. They called and texted the next day wishing me well and checking up on me.

I managed to dislocate my knee, tear my Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), strain my Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and strained my hamstring. I think it was probably the most painful experience my body has had to physically endure.

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As a dad, I think like most dads, I want to pass something onto my kids. Being uniquely unqualified at everything I’ve ever done in my life, I’ve figured out that I can kind of, sort of, teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to my kids. It started with a couple of at-home roll-out mats and the Gracie Bullyproof discs.

1-Year(ish) Later

I helped restart the kids BJJ program for my MMA Team, Chimera Mixed Martial Arts. After a few months, Gracie Barra Seattle held an in-house kids tournament. This looked like a good opportunity to allow our kids to participate and ease into the BJJ tournament scene. I learned a lot from these kids and I hope they learned something, too.

It’s Not All About Me

It’s not about me, what I’ve taught these kids, or how well I’ve taught them. They’re on the mats, not me. Anything I’m trying to teach them ends when they shake hands and the ref says it’s time to compete.

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That being said, being the coach of multiple competitors is extremely stressful. You want the other coach’s and Professor’s to notice your hard work. I wanted my coach to notice mine, anyway. Sometimes that’s made palpable by a gold medal. Sometimes it’s not.

If I lose as a competitor, it’s okay. I learned something. I physically learned what did and did not work. I can say, “I have work to do.” I can pretend I don’t care, lick my wounds, eat some ice cream, and attack it on Monday. I know what my coach is teaching me works. I’ve seen it work.

If my team loses, it’s tough. It’s not okay. I am emotionally and physically invested in multiple fighters who trust me and that what I’m trying to teach will work for them. If it doesn’t work out, then it becomes, “What did I do wrong? Is my system broken? Do I need to scrap it? Should I even be teaching these kids?”

The stress of a coach far outweighs the stress of a competitor.

It’s Okay To Lose

Not wanting to lose as a coach is understandable. Just as if I was competing, I have to try my hardest and hope for the best. I’m not a professional athlete, and I don’t train as if I was. I’m also not training professional athletes. I’m trying to teach kids to roll.

It’s not the end of the world if my kids lose. Children want reassurance. They want attention. They want love. I think I’ve learned that it’s very important to let them know that no matter what happens, win or lose, that they did an incredible job.

It’s Okay To Cry

Kids are little people. Just like people, kids have emotions and feelings. Crazy, huh? Who would’ve thought it? The problem is kids aren’t hardened by life. They haven’t figured out how to deal with their feelings. Extreme joy, disappointment, lost, bewilderment, confidence, embarrassed, frightened, angry, confused, ecstatic, hysterical, sad, or frustrated – these are just a few of the emotions you can expect to deal with. YOU will be dealing with them because these children don’t know how to. They’re going to cry. Odds are, it won’t be because they lost. It will be because they don’t understand how to cage their emotions. Be their outlet. Give them a hug. Tell them its okay to let it out and when they’re finished crying, talk to them about it.

My wife said something incredibly smart to me. She told me that when someone is crying it’s our natural tendency to inject ourselves into it. We want to help. What can I do to make you feel better? Instead of interjecting ourselves into it, let them have their moment and cry it out. Let them breathe. When they want to talk about it, they will. Be ready for it when they do.

Teach Them At Home

I have a rhythm when I teach. I’ll usually pair the kids up after class and have them drill or do some positional sparring. After about 3 minutes or so, I’ll stop them and give them each a critique and a compliment. “Hey, you could do a little bit better at hitting that sweep by under hooking the arm. You did that Americana really well. I liked the way you kept your head down, keep it up!” That seems to work great. The kids like that they got a little positive reinforcement and then, for the most part, try a little harder at whatever they needed to work on. The emotions on the mat at a tournament are way too high for that kind of teaching. It needs to be all positive reinforcement. If you want them to work on something, make a note and talk about it in class, on your home turf, after the emotions have settled.

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Drill To Win, Flow To Drill

There’s no doubt about it. You have to develop muscle memory to consistently hit that technique you’re looking for. That goes for kids, too. They have to drill, drill, drill! However, there’s more to it than that. You have to flow.

Your drills have to incorporate a repeatable pattern. For example, starting from the guard, they have to pass the guard, get side control, slide to mount, establish control, and finish with an arm bar. You have to help them put the pieces of the puzzle together, just like you would at home.

They may recognize the different techniques, or even know them perfectly, but because you teach them doesn’t mean they will know when to use them. You may teach them how to pass the guard, and you may teach them side control. However, if you don’t teach them how to pass the guard and flow into side control, they won’t. Kids will do exactly what you teach. If you teach them individual techniques, they will be do individual techniques with very little flow.

Teach a flow and when they get stuck in someone’s guard, you’ll see them pass it, establish side control, slide to mount, establish control and then finish with an arm bar.

You Want Them All To Win

I was chatting with one of the other team’s coaches and he said something to me, almost in passing, “Man, you want them all to win.” I looked around and I saw these kids. All of them, not just mine. Not just my team but all the kids in the room. He was right. These are the kids of our future. They will be taking care of us the rest of our lives. I saw my own futures past in their faces and he was right. I wanted them ALL TO WIN.

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Medals Aren’t The Real Trophy

I took 7 kids from our team to compete. 3 finished first in their division. 1 finished second. The others were in last. Statistically, that looks pretty good, I think. I don’t really have a baseline to compare it to, since it was my first kids tournament coaching. One of my daughters took 2nd, and the other last. I am equally proud of them. Not because of how well they did on the mat. Not because I could see that what I had taught them was sticking. I was proud because they had the courage to go out there, do something new, and face a challenge that most people will never understand. They both got a piece of shiny medal to hang on their walls, but the real trophy was watching them learn to be fearless.

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Gi Soap

Intro

When I reached out to my fellow BJJ players at Gi Soap, looking to write a review on some of their products, I was more interested in just getting some free stuff and maybe a cool patch.  To be honest, my plan succeeded.  I got them to send me some free product to review and a cool patch.  I didn’t necessarily expect to be impressed.  I figured, “soap is soap”.  You don’t really think that any one soap or body wash will be different from any other.  Sure, some smell nicer than others.  Maybe you notice one lathers a little bit more, or maybe, one rinses a little easier.  But rarely, do you say, “Wow!  That’s some GOOD soap!”

Well, today was that day, my friend.  I got me some DAMN GOOD SOAP!   Gi Soap has recently released a new body wash line to complement their bar soap production.  It’s all quality stuff.

Oddly enough, I suddenly found myself reliving scene from Fight Club.  Instead of selling soap to glamorized, size 0, twenty-something’s who just had liposuction I was trying to pawn off this great product on meat-heads with cauliflower ear.  Hollywood ALMOST got it right…

The Science:

There’s a little bit of education involved here.  You have to have some personal revelations about yourself and your body before you become willing to drop $9.00 on a bottle of soap.  If you think about it you’ll probably come to the same realizations that I had.

First, traditional body wash that is chemically made is not good for you.  It “cleans” you by stripping away the natural oils of your body.  Sure, it also strips away all that nasty dirt, sweat and grime but you’re not cleaning your body the way nature intended.  We, as animals, produce and secrete our own natural oil as natural barrier and protection for our skin.  We are programed to defend ourselves against bacteria, dirt, sweat, grime and anything else we can try to find to roll around in.

By stripping our own natural oils we’re no longer protecting ourselves.  Conversely, we’re making ourselves more susceptible and vulnerable to infection and disease.  In fact, we’re more likely increasing our chances of catching ring worm, athlete’s foot, or some other god forsaken bacteria that will keep us off the mats and away from the gym.  This is also why you should never shower BEFORE going to the dojo.

That’s where Gi Soap steps in.  The oil’s they use in their body wash and soap bars protects us, naturally, in conjunction with our body’s own oil secretion.  Tea Tree Oil, for example, has been shown to treat and cure athlete’s foot, has the ability to cure fungus infections of the nails, and helps clear up mild and moderate acne.  Regular body wash doesn’t do that.  And that’s only one of their ingredients!’

"Real products tested on real fighters!!! Ringworm gone in a few days with our bars of soap just by washing the area few times a day and then letting it air dry!!"

“Real products tested on real fighters!!! Ringworm gone in a few days with our bars of soap just by washing the area few times a day and then letting it air dry!!”

 

Packaging:

It’s not the prettiest bottle of body wash but who cares?  It has the Gi Soap logo, the list of ingredients and a cap.  What else do you really need?

Smell / Feel:

It doesn’t smell musky, or male, or like a man without his shirt on riding backwards on a horse on the beach.  It smells natural.  It smells like a peppermint plant.  Not the peppermint candy that you get from grandma’s candy bowl in the secretary’s office, but the real plant.

Its texture is an oil base.  I feel very Roman when I shower with it.  Like I’m pouring perfumed oil over my head.  It’s a little different from what you might be used to because it doesn’t lather excessively.  Rather, it coats the skin.  You may have to use a little bit more than your normal body wash to coat your entire body.

Post Wash:

After washing with Gi Soap you’ll feel a little bit oilier than what you may be used to.  I know I did.  However, it’s not a greasy feeling.  It’s a smoothing feel.  Almost like you’ve treated your body to a massage and it has that post-oil feel.  It’s nice.  After using it for a week I can definitely tell my skin is healthier and happier.

Pros:

At the end of the day my skin doesn’t feel dry.  I don’t feel the need to put lotion on because of cheap soap.  I’ve noticed my skin has a healthier appearance and feel.  It kills bacteria.  It works WITH your body, naturally.  You’re supporting a small business, for a community you love.

Cons:

It’s a little bit expensive.  You have to use more than expected so it doesn’t last as long as your normal bottle of soap.  Your wife or girlfriend will steal it because IT’S THAT GOOD!

Conclusion:

Gi soap works with your body, not against it.  You’ll feel healthier.  Your skin will look better after a week.  It’s a great preventative measure to make sure you don’t get any kind of skin infection to begin with.

Is Gi Soap worth the cost?  Yes!  Absolutely.  After doing a little bit of research and finding out more about the soaps that I’ve been using and what they’re doing to my body, I almost have no choice.  Once you see the sin you’re committing, you have to confess and you have to mitigate it.  I’m no longer using lotion, either, which helps to offset the cost of Gi Soap as well.

After learning what Gi Soap is doing for my body and the positive results that I’ve personally seen, I don’t think I can ever stop using it.

4/5 stars.  Go pick up a bottle (or bar) and try it out.  It’s worth it and you won’t regret it.

See you on the mats!

GB Pro Light

Intro

The first Gracie Barra academy was established in 1986 by Master Carlos Gracie, Jr.  Starting in the 2000’s, they’ve had a requirement for schools to have “Official” gi’s.  Part of this, I believe, was their push to be uniform, and in a sense, one team under one banner.  While other schools have team gi’s, Gracie Barra is the only one I know of that you are required to wear their specific gi at all times while on the mats.  Read more here.

STORM Kimono’s was founded in 1995 and have steadily grown.  They are a leading sponsor of athletes in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu field.  You’ll find competitors at the highest level wearing their equipment, you’ll see them worn by specialists in books and magazines and you’ll even find them on the beach with their new casual wear line.  Read more here.

Info

The Gracie Barra “Pro Light” is one kimono in a line of new gi’s designed by STORM Kimonos for Gracie Barra affiliate school members.  It can be purchased online at Gracie Barra Wear or in any Gracie Barra academy for $179.99.

Earning the first stripe on my white belt back in 2009 at Gracie Barra U-H.

Earning the first stripe on my white belt back in 2009 at Gracie Barra U-H.

Disclosure

I have a special place for Gracie Barra in my heart.  I earned the first stripe on my white belt at Gracie Barra University of Hawaii.  I currently train at Chimera Mixed Martial Arts, whose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program is taught by Gracie Barra Seattle’s brown belt Ben Pyne.  I also drop in occasionally at Gracie Barra Seattle.  However, my love for Gracie Barra will in no way influence my opinion of the Storm / Gracie Barra collaboration or the product they have provided.

Intro

Gracie Barra and STORM Kimonos have teamed up to bring you a pretty slick new gi for Gracie Barra academy’s around the world.  Their design cues are well done but they stay in line with the traditional gi’s of Gracie Barra.

When you first receive the gi, the packaging is unimpressive.  You do see hints that excite you, though.  Like the massive "EQUIPE" logo.

When you first receive the gi, the packaging is unimpressive. You do see hints that excite you, though. Like the massive “EQUIPE” logo.

Inside tag of the collar.  It's a big patch but the way it's sewn in doesn't rub or scratch the back.

Inside tag of the collar. It’s a big patch but the way it’s sewn in doesn’t rub or scratch the back.

 

After opening the gi and inspecting it, the patch work is really well done.  The subdued "G"s in the red really make the "BARRA" pop.  Pretty standard logo patching from STORM throughout.

After opening the gi and inspecting it, the patch work is really well done. The subdued “G”s in the red really make the “BARRA” pop. Pretty standard logo patching from STORM throughout.

Reinforced armpit patching, which makes for some extra sturdiness in the gi.  Not all gi's have this so this is definitely a feature that I like!

Reinforced armpit patching, which makes for some extra sturdiness in the gi. Not all gi’s have this so this is definitely a feature that I like!

Extra material and reinforced stitching make the vulnerable parts of this gi extra strong.  I also really like the contrasting "G" on the tape that is found in on the edge and inside of the sleeve and pant cuffs.

Extra material and reinforced stitching make the vulnerable parts of this gi extra strong. I also really like the contrasting “G” on the tape that is found in on the edge and inside of the sleeve and pant cuffs.

More reinforcement stitching on the pants.  The red drawstring is an excellent touch.  I also like how GB/STORM have capped the drawstring with some extra blue material, as opposed to searing it or using a knot.

More reinforcement stitching on the pants. The red drawstring is an excellent touch. I also like how GB/STORM have capped the drawstring with some extra blue material, as opposed to searing it or using a knot.

Side view of the gi.  The larger patches, compared to previous ones, go a long way to making this a gi you can really appreciate.

Side view of the gi. The larger patches, compared to previous Gracie Barra gi’s, go a long way to making this a gi you can really appreciate.

Back view.  I like the small leg patch on the back.  You don't really notice it at first but then it becomes one of those little touches that you really like.

Back view. I like the small leg patch on the back. You don’t really notice it at first but then it becomes one of those little touches that you really like.  I also really liked the subdued silver “G” in the white “EQUIPE” patch.  Interesting fact, I always thought that “equipe” meant “equipment”.  Like Gracie Barra Equipment.  Turns out it’s Portuguese for “Team”.  You learn something new everyday!

Stats

I ordered a size A3 “Pro Light”.  Its weight, out of the package and prior to washing was 3.8 lbs.  The size chart does not provide a weight for the “Pro Light” gi.  I measured the “Pro Light” prior to washing it.  Its measurements were as follows:

Jacket

Arm length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the cuff, following along the top of the sleeve:  30.5” (-.6” difference from the advertised size chart)

Left cuff, flattened:  6.5” (-.3” difference from the advertised size chart)

Vertical torso length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the back:  31.5” (no difference from the advertised size chart)

Trousers

Exterior length of the leg, along the side, from the top of the waist to the edge of the cuff:  39” (-.2” difference from the advertised size chart)

Interior seam, from the crotch down to the edge of the cuff:  29” (-.1” difference from the advertised size chart)

Leg cuff, flattened:  10.25” (measurement not provided on company size chart)

Waist, from edge to edge:  23.5” (+1.3” difference from the advertised size chart)

Inseam, from the top of the waist to the joint in the crotch:  12” (measurement not provided on company size chart)

Following the care instructions on the tag, I machine washed the jacket and trousers in cold water and allowed them to hang dry.  The post wash measurements are as follows:

Jacket

Arm length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the cuff, following along the top of the sleeve:  30.0” (-0.5”)

Left cuff, flattened:  6.5” (no change)

Vertical torso length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the back:  30.75” (-.75”)

Trousers

Exterior length of the leg, along the side, from the top of the waist to the edge of the cuff:  38” (-1”)

Interior seam, from the crotch down to the edge of the cuff:  29” (no change)

Leg cuff, flattened:  10” (-.25”)

Waist, from edge to edge:  23.5” (no change)

Inseam, from the top of the waist to the joint in the crotch:  11” (-1”)

The “fit percentage”, based on the above measurements, from the advertised size chart to the actual received product was 19.84%.  That’s almost 20% of difference between what’s advertised and what’s received.  The disclaimer to this is that I did not follow all of the measurements given on the size chart.  I also am not a seamstress and may not have made the measurements in the exact place as the manufacturer.  These measurements should in no way discourage you from purchasing the gi and are provided for informational purposes.

The percentage of shrinkage, based on the above measurements, from pre-wash to post-wash, following the given care instructions was -1.92%.  Less than 2%!!  That’s great!

Overall, I was pleased with the ratio to pre- and post-wash, the weight, and the ratio to advertised size and actual size.

Fit and feel

I’m 6′ and 185-190lbs and I sometimes get stuck in these in-between sizes.  An A3 isn’t quite big enough (after the wash) and an A4 is way to big (even after I try to shrink the snot out of it).  The GB/STORM gi doesn’t have that problem.  It’s slightly bigger than most other gi’s so it fits me perfectly.  The sleeves don’t shrink up and make me look like an old school judo player and there is plenty of room on the inside of the jacket to move around in.  Some gi’s can bind and tie you down because they lack the space inside the material to move.  Not this one.  If you’re a bigger Jits player that’s on the cusp of two sizes, this may be a perfect option for you.

The jacket and pants fit great.  It’s a little big compared to the other gi’s I own so you may want to size down.  Check out my stats above, this kimono has less than 2% shrinkage so don’t expect to buy an A3 and shrink it in the wash to make it fit.  It’s going to be the size you purchase.  Check their size chart prior to purchasing.

Style and Design

The Gracie Barra “Pro Light” incorporates design inputs from STORM Kimonos and Gracie Barra.  It does an excellent job mixing the old school layout of the GB brand with new modern touches from STORM.  Subdued “G”s accent the logo and patch work.  Larger patches give it a cleaner “read” when you look at it.  The updated tags even standout.

STORM’s touches take it from a gi that you need to a gi that you want!

Fin

Yoga: The Best BJJ Suplement You’re Not Using

Coach Jonny recently had an article released on BJJ Performance.  Head over there and check it out when you get a chance!

I traveled not too long ago to Coronado, CA for some business.  I did some sight-seeing and touring of the area and a few drop in’s.  One stop was Gracie Jiu-Jitsu of La Jolla.  I really enjoyed my experience there.  Here’s a quick review.  If you ever get the chance, go check them out!  Congratulations to Matthew Becker on his recent promotion to Purple Belt!

gjjlj front

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu La Jolla, a small dojo in the heart of La Jolla about 30 minutes from Coronado, California, where I was staying. It was very clean and organized. The mats were not dirty and no one stunk. The dojo didn’t smell like a gym, which is definitely a plus.  Although it was one of the smaller professional training locations I’d been to it still easily fit 10 people on the mat.

I was met by Dione Becker, a Blue Belt herself and the wife of GJJ-LJ’s head Instructor and (then) Blue Belt, Matt Becker.  She greeted me at the door, had me sign the standard liability paperwork and gave me a quick tour of the dojo.  She showed me where the dressing room was.  After introducing myself to a few of the guys, changing, stretching and warming up, I met Matt.  We talked briefly and he then started class.  I caught them in their review week of leg locks for the Gracie Master Cycle.  Matt briefly reviewed the attacks they had covered over the past few weeks, the associated defenses and then paired us up to work through them for the first half of class.  After that we started a round-robin format, where Matt set the timer and we lightly sparred for a few minutes before rotating to the next individual.

I wouldn’t really say I learned a great deal from a technique aspect point of view (although I did get a few good pointers).  He wasn’t teaching, they were reviewing.  What I did get was a unique opportunity to gauge and compare GJJ-LJ’s Blue Belts against other Gracie Academy Blue Belts I’ve sparred with.  Granted, there are many factors here, such as no one was going full out, it’s not a tournament, we’re specifically reviewing and stopping and talking – but the overall impression of the individual was given and learned within that hour.  It would be unfair for me to judge Matt’s teaching style as a whole since it was a review day and he didn’t necessarily get into teaching any specific technique.  He knew what he was talking about and felt very comfortable leading his students throughout the class.

As a whole, I’d say the Blue Belts were all well versed in their techniques.  They were competent, able to flow from technique to technique and defend themselves with ease.  Which is the primary definition of any Gracie Academy Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt.  They weren’t “grippy”, either.  They didn’t grab hold of my lapel and try and smash and pin me relying on physical effort alone.  They weren’t looking to hold a position.  They were quick to release when it became advantageous for them to do so.  Overall, I was impressed with their transitions and movement.

I can honestly recommend Gracie Jiu-Jitsu La Jolla for anyone interested in training.  I can, and will say, with confidence, that they meet the Gracie Academy standard.  Matt’s review of the techniques were the exact same ones featured in the Master Cycle online videos.

purple

Roll.Adapt.Win  recently put out a picture that spoke to the heart of the White Belt.  But, it also spoke to the heart of all Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players.  Several folks did their own take on it.  So in honor of Roll.Adapt.Win’s great influence (and in homage to the point they made), I’m offering up 10 Things Every White Belt Should Know!

We all start training for different reasons, but many of us show up to class because in the back of our minds we all want to be able to take down the UFC superstars.  Yeah, sure, you say you just want to learn to be able to defend yourself in a street fight.  I say BULL$%!*!  You want to try and tap out Dos Santos!  This leads us to:

# 10:  The highest percentage of submission finishes in the UFC are fundamental, white-to-blue curriculum, techniques.  In 2009, the most successful submission in the UFC was the Guillotine, followed by the Rear Naked Choke.  My point?  Don’t worry about trying to learn that cool thing you saw one of Eddie Bravo’s Black Belt’s doing on YouTube.  LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS!

Okay, so let’s say you didn’t join the dojo to beat up on UFC fighters.  Maybe you don’t care that you can tap out Chael Sonnen.  Maybe you just want to get fit?  Maybe build a little muscle and cut a little fat?  Well, that’s great, but don’t stop hitting the gym because you found this great, new anaerobic exercise!

#9.  When all things are equal, strength and agility will be the deciding factor.  Look, there’s a reason fighters cut 20 lbs before a match.  It’s so they can be bigger, stronger, and faster than their opponent.  If you take two BJJ practitioners, both of whom have been training for 2 days a week, for 2 years, under the same instructor with the same sparring partners, the stronger, faster one is going to get the tap 8 times out of 10.

But you can’t just work out and do BJJ and expect to be the best.  You have to eat right, too.

#8.  You are a machine.  You need fuel and lube to function properly.  EAT RIGHT AND TAKE SUPPLEMENTS!  Don’t wait till you’re 50 to start popping fish oil pills.  Do it now.  Food is your fuel.  Don’t eat for now, eat for tomorrow.  What’s going to supply the power and energy your body needs for later?  I know that greasy cheeseburger looks great, but the grilled chicken salad is going to help build muscle and promote good digestion.

I had a football coach who told me I talked too much in the locker room.  I didn’t know what that meant until 10 years later and I was in a dojo listening to white belts talk too much in the locker room.  If you wear a white belt, you talk too much.  You’re talking too much online.  You’re talking too much in the locker room.  If you’re reading this quietly to yourself, not even out load but in your brain, you’re talking too much.  I still talk too much.

#7.  Shut up.  Listen.  Observe.  Use your eyeballs and mimic that awesome purple belt you admire.  Watch the black belts.  You’ll see even the friendly, outgoing ones don’t talk that much about BJJ off the mats.  You’re not an expert.  Be a student.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is great.  It’s a complete, all around martial art.  I’ll be the first to admit that there’s not a single martial art that’s better than BJJ.  However, like supplementing your BJJ with strength and conditioning workouts, you should consider supplementing your training with another martial art as well.  Many BJJ black belts are also black belts in Judo, Aikido, or some other form of martial art.

#6.  If your BJJ dojo offers more than one martial art, sign up for it!  Expand your horizon and become a multi-martial arts practitioner.  Taking Judo 1 day a week will significantly increase your BJJ in the long run.  This includes arts like Yoga and Tae Chi.  I practice yoga every now and again with my wife and just the small increases in flexibility and balance have done wonders for my game.

So let’s say you took up yoga.  Great!  But being on the mats isn’t the time to work on your Zen either.  Be aggressive in what you want to do.

#5.  ATTACK!  Now, I’m not saying flail around like a suffocating fish on the sea pier.  Don’t be wild.  But, force your game onto your opponent.  Don’t sit in someone’s guard and let them dictate where the match is headed.  And don’t lay on your back and watch them pass your guard, either.

Have a game plan.  If you’re still new, and haven’t even started developing a game plan, have a move.  Have 1 move for each position (that’s 8 moves, give or take) and repeat each move.  He’s in your guard?  Keep trying that same sweep until you learn another.  If it fails and he passes?  Oh well!  Try that side mount escape.  Did it fail?  Good.

#4.  Fail often.  Fail again.  Ask any world champion what they learned after they won a fight and they won’t have a good answer.  Sure, they had some questions answered.  But what did they learn?  Ask any world champion what they learned after they lost a fight, and they’ll tell you a lot.  What they learned about themselves, about what did or didn’t really work, how to revamp their training, etc., etc.  The list is endless.  We learn more in failure than success.

You know what the other great thing about failing at a technique is?  You learn what works best for you.  Repetition and drills are great, they build mechanics, but failure builds technique.

#3.  Learn the variation that works for you.  Eddie Bravo’s rubber guard isn’t for everybody, but it’s for somebody.  And the person that can execute it successfully can give people a good run for their money.  So maybe the standard straight arm-lock isn’t hitting for you, but maybe the reversal is.  Learn to set up the reverse from failing the standard variation.

You have to know the moves, though.  You can’t do anything if you don’t have the knowledge.  Spend 20 minutes a day, even day’s you’re not training, studying.

#2.  Hit the books.  Watch YouTube.  Subscribe to Gracie University.  Buy Gracie Barra fundamentals on DVD.  Get your subscription to Jiu-Jitsu Magazine.  Buy one of Kid Peligro’s books.  Look, keeping it fresh in your mind and studying the material will make you a better grappler by 5%.  It’s a fact, trust me.  Especially if you grab another white belt and say, “Hey, I just saw this cool technique, can we walk through it a few times?”

All of this being said, you’re still going to lose.  However, there’s good news!

#1.  …Drum roll…  There is no losing.  Ah, see how I got all Buddhist monk right there!  You’re going to lose but there is no losing!  Okay, seriously though, you’re sparring.  You’re rolling around on the ground with your friends, trying to perform a specific technique.  This isn’t a MMA fight.  This isn’t a street match.  There’s the old adage, tap early and tap often.  That comes into play here.  Knowing when you’re in a bad spot is important, and attempting to get out of it is important, but not at the cost of your ACL or tearing a shoulder.

Hopefully, I helped out at least one white belt.  Now shut up and roll!