Expedition series #2 took me to 2nd Gear Jiu-Jitsu in Laurel Maryland for Ken Brown’s Sunday open mat. Some people may look at the schedule and notice that it states “advanced practice” and not open mat BUT the very thing that makes it look weird on the schedule is exactly what makes this open mat so special. I know, I know, this really isn’t an “expedition” for me because I go here kind of often but seeing as its not my everyday academy and it is a weekend “open mat”, I wanted to show the love during the expedition series.

So back to the open mat thing, so while it’s not an “open mat” in name it is an “open mat” in the sense that its free and that there are people from multiple academies. What makes it different is that the practice is directed / guided to include drills and scenarios that honestly, most people don’t spend enough time doing. The actual techniques applied are left up to the individual but the drills are provided, maybe something like take down for take down or sweep for sweep, for example. So its kind of a directed open mat for people who need a little direction or who don’t want to feel awkward asking a stranger to drill for 5 minutes when most people at an open mat just want to conduct sparring rounds. Of course there is rolling at the end as well but thats really the sort of cherry of top.

I love this setup, in fact its one of my favorite practices to attend. This practice provides a great opportunity to rep out the new techniques you may have learned that week or to really get quality reps on things you like. I’ve been to open mats where maybe you only know one or two folks, you roll once or twice then get stuck sitting on the wall trying to get someone to roll with you.I have witnessed this being the case with the white belt nobody wants to risk being by or the advance purple / brown belt that people are afraid to roll with. Its strange that everyone wants to roll with blue belts and of course black belts??????

So yeah, week #2 down,  2nd Gear Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Laurel Md, Sundays 10:00-12:00. Its two hours of legit work with good people.

Next stop is Grapple in the Park #2 Frederick, Maryland. Heard they have free wings, so I’m there! Hope you see you there too. If not, more wings for me suckas.

Side note- If you know of any academies in the Virginia area close to Fort Belvoir please hit me up. I’m trying to scout some locales for the military men and women who train at the Fight House during the week. I’m open to travel Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I’d love to swing through, train, and spread the word about your academy. No matter what it’s free advertising for your academy. How could you lose there?

Those of you familiar with my background know that I travel quite frequently. Oftentimes I can link travel to opportunities to train at new locations and these are the trips I look forward to taking. Then there are the other trips…… Overworked and no time to train or just being stuck out in the middle of nowhere and there just isn’t any place to train.

Side note -when I say no time to train I’m not referring to an inability to manage my time wisely but I’m referring to an inability to break free during gym hours.

When Jiu Jitsu is such a big part of ones routine, failing to train can have a significant negative impact on your overall demeanor and this can become problem. We’re not even talking about skill degradation or not getting credit for training (for those who focus on class requirements for promotion) but missing out on the general sense of camaraderie and the “leave your cares behind” feeling that we all get from our academies, friendships, and time on the mats. I feel that you have to find a way to fill this void not only for your own sanity but for the safety of your coworkers as well (or family if the lay-off is due to a vacation or something).

My initial thought is to just say “f*ck it” and rest up and feed my depression. The rest and recovery are always good for my body but the guilt that comes with it is bad for the mind. I also have that thought in the back of my mind that 1. I’m going to get crushed when I get back to the mats and 2. All of those injuries will come back the first day of training anyway. On the plus side, there’s no better feeling than surprising all of the people who thought they were going to crush you because you weren’t training. Little did they know that you found other ways to stay on top of your game.

I’ve found that lifting and METCONS are pretty much the perfect way to go and it’s usually pretty easy to get access to 24 hour globogym. METCONS assist with maintaining cardio levels and you can never go wrong working the beach muscles. One added bonus with METCONS is that if you hit them hard enough you don’t truly need to workout everyday and you can skip a day and have dinner with your coworkers / teammates. It’s never a good look to be that antisocial guy.

Yoga and recovery stretching days are a good plan as well. All you need is a computer or laptop and you’re all set. Your cardio might take a hit but flexibility and core strength are critical to longevity and safety for a Jiu Jitsu practitioners.

I’m sure the options are endless and everyone has a preference or a routine they use to overcome training interruptions. Keep in mind I’m talking about 1-2 weeks max of not training NOT an injury lay-off or 3 month trip. If that’s the scenario you have to at least find some way to train (solo drilling maybe) even if that means beating up your friends that don’t train.

I would love to hear what you think or how you deal with road trips interrupting your training. I might incorporate some of your techniques into my routine. I invite you to comment below or to visit the Work Play Obsession Facebook page.

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.

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

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.

 

The most common excuse that people use when questioned on their lack of Defensive Tactics / Combatives training is “lack of time”. Well, when shit hits the fan and push comes to shove you will literally have the rest of your life to figure it out. I bet you’ll wish you made time.

From a grappling perspective I truly believe that all of the skills required to safely and effectively dominate a hostile encounter can be learned in one year of training. The key then becomes consistent training to retain the skills, grease the groove, and make the movement patterns more proficient. This training can be accomplished with concise, focused training sessions conducted at regular intervals with minimal supervisory instruction. Whether it is at the department, on base, or at a civilian academy all that is required is a partner to train and minimal kit (training weapon, holster, whatever). As my friend John V. pointed out on the Work Play Obsession podcast, episode 21  available on SoundCloud, Blubrry, iTunes, Podbean, Google Play (plug) “It’s not complicated” and he is absolutely correct. People get lost in the structure of Jiu Jitsu and the length of time it takes become competition proficient and move through the ranks however this is not the focus and intent of training for real world operations. I remember seeing a t-shirt that said “You train for the cage, for us the cage is just training” and we must not lose focus on that.

Below are some some of photos of sparring with a sidearm. This is a great training method because it forces both people to not only focus on attacking, it creates the need to also focus on weapons retention. Keep in mind you do not need another military or law enforcement trained person to do this type of training. In fact it is preferable to have an opponent who is going to think and behave more like a criminal in order to give you the most likely reactions. Grab a teammate who is just sitting around shooting the shit and ask them to be a training buddy, chances are they will ask you to learn the stuff you are drilling because its effective and “its not complicated.”

Clinch work in my opinion is the most overlooked portion of grappling training especially in the gi where the stand up is dominated by collar and sleeve grips. The ability to effortlessly flow through post, frame, hook, pummel on and off the wall, and drill clearing the head from an opponents control. All of these elements will not only keep you off the ground but are also crucial to controlling the distance and when done properly will keep you prepared to transition to your side arm if required. Practice this.

All of this training below was conducted in about 15 minutes after a “modern” Jiu Jitsu no-gi class. Food for thought. It’s not that complicated. BRIDGE THE GAP