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.

Traditionally the winter months present more of lull for non elite level grapplers in the DMV. There just doesn’t seem to be as many competitions available and money is tight for those saving for the XMas holiday. It makes it the perfect time to drill, develop new tricks and to hop around to open mats and visit new gyms.

I am starting my “expedition series” in search of the “best” open mat in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia). I’m also open to travel as far as Pennsylvania and New Jersey if I receive any invites or recommendations.

I’m open to Gi or No Gi sessions, Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday. Anywhere in the DMV is game and I’m willing to pay a mat fee is applicable.

I will take photos, do interviews, and post my experience to FB, Instagram, and the website. Think of Yelp or Zagat for Jiu Jitsu Open mats. Or you can consider this free advertising for your academy.

Just so it’s out there, “Best” does not mean the place with the most high ranking belts on the mat, the toughest competition or people rolling H-A-M. I’m looking at number of people in attendance, number of different academies represented, friendly atmosphere, people who are willing to share experiences / share advice, etc. Essentially, I’m looking to go out, learn, a little, and have fun in a friendly atmosphere.

So that’s the scoop. Hit me up, send me an invite, let’s do it!

Pretty excited that we remained focused enough on the podcast and website to hit 25 episodes. We recently pushed out episode 26, there is another episode in the hopper, and on top of that we have multiple interviews lined up for production. As most of you know, this endeavor has mostly been trial and error, or as they say “building and airplane while in flight”. From photography to recording, and the most humbling post production editing. Along the way we interviewed some interesting people who opened our eyes to other efforts that remain mostly unnoticed. This led me to shift my focus a bit in order to capture some of the impacts Jiu Jitsu practitioners have had on the greater community off the mats vice simply wins, losses, techniques, and training.

So a few items that our future efforts will be focused on:

The role Jiu Jitsu or Martial Arts in general play in maintaining work, life, family balance.

Small business owners growing their product lines and how those products or revenue from those products contribute to the growth of Jiu Jitsu or to the community and our youth.

Full time students or employed athletes looking for sponsors, how they get by and why they sustain the grind despite the difficulty.

So yeah, those are just a few of conversations that we will have on the podcast and on the blog going forward. Of course we will still cover local tournaments, seminars, and MMA events because that’s where the fun is, but highlighting the contributions off the mat and telling the story of how Jiu Jitsu positively changes lives is what the community needs. No infighting over gi / No-Gi, IBJJF / everybody else, real school / Mcdojo etc. more unity and focus on what makes Jiu Jitsu great and why Jiu Jitsu is for everyone.