One point of wisdom often doled out to those new to Jiu Jitsu is “Don’t worry about stripes, don’t focus on promotion. Just show up and train.” While I wholeheartedly agree with the intent behind this comment, it’s just not true. Admit it or not, everyone has thought about promotion at some point, stripe or belt, and when or why the have /have not been promoted. Just look around during you next round of “impromptu” promotions (or look in the mirror) you’ll notice some pretty salty looks.

In my opinion, promotions are a sign that you have been consistently training and that you are absorbing and learning techniques. Promotions show dedication and commitment and hopefully require a little character building as well.

Today I had the pleasure of training with a few guys who were up for stripe promotions and I’ll admit, we put them through the wringer. The guys were put in the pressure cooker and forced to demonstrate their proficiency under pressure against all belt levels. I personally like this approach because the people being “tested” recognize everyone is coming at them hard and they have the opportunity to mentally validate their skills. At the end of the day they feel like they earned their stripes or they know they need to step their game up. It’s not only about time and showing up it’s also about demonstrating skill “at combat speed”. Additionally, it quickly becomes apparent when a competition “one trick pony” or “сant take the pressure guy” can’t make it through the session.

Congratulations to all who earned their promotion today. You earned it. Don’t quit now, keep grinding.

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Recently I had the privilege of being the guest instructor at Kogen Dojo in Severna Park, Maryland. I made some new friends, caught up with some guys I hadn’t seen in a while, and of course got to train and have fun on the mats. The visit coincides with the start of my “expedition series” so it was perfect timing. I highly recommend you the visit the academy and check it out or at least drop by the website and see what they have to offer.

Kogen Dojo: Gracie Jiu Jitsu, May Thai, & Taikyoku Budo

Below is a little interview that I did with Rob prior to class. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos so I do not have any to post. All that means is that the next time you see an advertisement for a me guest instructing at Kogen Dojo you just have come out and see for yourself. But if you have the opportunity don’t wait for me, visit the school any day of the week they are open and take a class with their staff. The gym is very easy to locate and has everything you look for in an academy; clean, bright, and friendly people.

If you don’t already, follow Kogen Dojo on Facebook so you can keep up with the schedule of guest instructors. They do a really great job of advertising and you’ll have plenty of time to clear your schedule. You not regret that you made the trip.

The only question that remains is “Where to next?”

Kogen Dojo Interview on YouTube

Use the link, do not click on the photo

Our mission statement clearly focuses on bridging the gap between competitive, sport jiu jitsu and Combatives / Defensive Tactics for Military and Law Enforcement professionals.  The focus of training for these groups are not mutually exclusive and should be synchronized to create a well rounded training program. The fault lies in academies that focus solely on one focus area at the expense of the other, most often in the name of advertising. School X wants to be the best at “Street self defense” and minimizes competition techniques while, school Y wants to have the most medals (for advertising) training mostly for competition rulesets. Either way both academies limit their students abilities while restricted their mental perspective to their ruleset.

This is where combative programs must different if they wish to be successful. Successful here does not mean monetarily rather, building confident, effective officers and soldiers. Think about that brand new first week student that begins to spar with experienced grapplers. I’ve seen people get frustrated and sometimes lose their cool because the new guy is labeled as bat shit crazy.  No, the guy is untrained and guess what? That guy on the street is more than likely untrained as well and definitely will be bat shit crazy. When shit hits the fan there won’t be any time to “keeping it playful.” Front time to time you should make an effort to grab the newer, inexperienced guy and try playing only from closed guard or focus on techniques that are more applicable to the streets.

Combatives programs must train for the unexpected; guns, knives, multiple attackers, confined spaces (elevator, car), limited mobility, and the list goes on and on. However, just because combatives and defensive tactics programs are designed for military and law enforcement personnel the mindset and training scenarios are extremely beneficial for the civilian as well. Everyone who trains is not only training for the confidence to protect themselves but also to protect their family, their neighbors, and even strangers under certain conditions. Mass shootings and random acts of violence are increasingly on the rise and possessing the skills to be an asset during one of these scenarios is invaluable.

Attempt to identify gaps in your training and address them in order to become more well rounded. Reach out to your instructors and question your teammates. You are the customer and your voice should be heard. Fact – people who train in martial arts are not shy about letting people know. Fact – people are inherently like sheep. This means that because you train Jiu Jitsu you are the sheepdog, like it or not. When something goes bad you will be the one people will turn to for safety and they don’t want to hear that you have only trained for IBJJF or submission only tournaments or are a guard puller. Ask for your training partners to assist you and walk through different what if scenarios. Sure we can’t be prepared for everything or the unknown but by expanding your mind the area of the unknown become smaller.

Keep Grinding