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.

 

Standing atop the winners podium, technical sweeps, spectacular throws, and cringe worthy submissions. We see them on social media everywhere. But what about the moments that are not often seen; exhaustion, frustration,  and deep contemplation all in preparation and in the pursuit of  better Jiu Jitsu.

Despite what anyone would like you to believe, Jiu Jitsu is not all fun and games. Most people on the outside looking in perceive medals, promotions, and apparel sponsorship deals. Unfortunately, this is just one small part of the game that most people will never experience nor receive the joy of monetary benefit. For the common practitioner the Jiu Jitsu journey is typically riddled with injury, surgery, setbacks, and defeat.

Jiu Jitsu is hard. Period. The training is grueling, there always seems to be a counter to the counter, and no matter how good you become, you will always meet someone better. Setbacks are to be expected and should be embraced as part of the process. To make matters worse, every day that you are not training you are actually regressing, even if it’s just your conditioning or your timing.

It can be frustrating, but in the end that’s part of the beauty of Jiu Jitsu. The sense of accomplishment and the feeling of being just a little bit better you than you were the day before can not be explained. Throw in the sense of community and building new friendships / bonds and you may begin to understand why we do what we do.

Oh, did I forget to mention the self-defense aspect and the self-confidence in knowing that you can defend yourself and your loved ones. Yeah, there’s that too ; )

Keep Grinding

This episode is a special collaboration with TRAPP BJJ, full training library of world class black belt video instruction. We catch up with Ground Control and Shogun Fights owner John Rallo in between recording clips for the video library. We discuss the growth of Jiu Jitsu over the years and the increase in accessibility of Jiu Jitsu instruction both in person and online and whether or not this is a good thing. The actual recording is the audio captured from the live streaming video interview which can be found on Facebook at TRAPP BJJ. If you have time I recommend you check out the video. We are pretty entertaining guys.

This week new co-host Alex Coleman heads out to New York City to participate in the inaugural  Rag Dolls Camps. While she was there Alex grabbed the opportunity to conduct a round “mat” discussion with Rag Doll Camps coaches / instructors / mentors: Dominyka Obelenyte, Vedha Toscano, and Callie Brennan as well as Mackenzie Fingerhut, camp photographer and training partner extraordinaire. Alex proposes a series of questions to these well established coaches / competitors specifically, the difference in coaching men and women, issues facing women’s Jiu Jitsu, why men should cry, and also the recent accomplishments in women’s BJJ. The episode closes with a short discussion about the mission of Rag Doll Camps as well as the future goals for this wonderful endeavor.

Fun and Games for everyone! Last night I made the trek to Dominion BJJ in Manasses Virginia to participate in a night of Cosmic Rolling. Most people, like me,  have never heard of cosmic rolling and could not understand who would come up with such a thing or why. Well I have news for you, it is a real thing and it is as fun as it sounds. Recall back to your days of youth and going out with your friends to cosmic bowling. Blacklights, music, fun times, and making new friends. This is exactly the same just replace bowling with Jiu Jitsu and beer with fancy waters.

The pictures do not do this event justice. In my defense I have never tried to capture an event like this and I am a self taught amatuer photographer soooo good enough.  I think somewhere between 30-40 people stepped on the mat to roll at some point and people were continuously coming and going throughout the event. Multiple academies from Maryland and Virginia as well as every size, skill level, and gender were represented. I think I maybe witnessed 2 or 3 rolls that I would have considered a little much for an open mat but thats just me and thats just my opinion. I didn’t have the opportunity to roll with everyone but as usual I was impressed by the level of skill present in the DMV.

A big thank you to Dominion BJJ – Black Belt Bill Nagle and Purple Belt Michelle Welti – for opening up the academy and welcoming everyone to a night of fun and camaraderie. Jiu Jitsu is often seen as academy vs academy, style vs style and people often do not take advantage of the opportunity to meet fellow practitioners and to contribute to its growth. Personally I think this is one of the negative aspects of what we do.

Don’t limit yourself.

Train as many places as possible (meaning open mats) and meet as many people as possible. You will be happy that you did.

 

 


“Leave your ego at the door.” Great in theory but not exactly realistic in practice. It would be nice if you strolled into the Jiu Jitsu academy every day, hit every technique, and easily submitted all of your opponents. Your ego would be satisfied by the belief that you were the greatest Jiu Jitsu player ever and all would be right with the world. Unfortunately, that’s just not reality.

So, today, no shit there I was, advanced Gi class training for an upcoming tournament and my guard was getting passed like a hot knife through butter. Was I frustrated, absolutely, did I go Super Saiyan and crush the nearest white belt I could find? No. Besides, what would that prove? Everyone has experienced this level of frustration whether drilling something new or falling for the same old technique your opponent uses day in and day out. The difference for me is how I use that frustration in order to make improvement.

This frustration, like it or not, is the ego disguised by a different name in order to conceal ones weakness. I would however, like to argue that the ego or belief in your identity should not be shunned or demonized. Don’t leave ego at the door, rather welcome it into the gym with open arms and use it as a springboard to improvement. Ego’s bad reputation is built upon the old wives tale that ego = hurting training partners or being overzealous and muscling out of every precarious situation. Unfortunately, this view is misguided and narrow. Wile I agree and have seen some upper belts take out their frustration from a “bad roll” on a lower belt (to prove their self-worth) we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Encourage your teammates to create focus areas for improvement when their performance does not meet their level of expectation. Review the small details that may be missing or begin to develop / refine new parts to your game, adding tools to your toolbox. Sites like TrappBJJ and Digitsu are perfect resources for Jiu Jitsu instruction / guided techniques.

I like to believe that if you are not getting frustrated in training you are either not training with the right people (cherry picking your opponents) or maybe you are a big fish in a small pond. Challenge yourself through open mats or seek out rolls with the higher belts or the guys you refuse to make eye contact with. No luck there, try signing up for a big competition and testing yourself on a big stage. Ego is good. Ego leads to improvement. Let ego drive you to better yourself not only on the mats but in life and in your career.

 

 

Oh, the old Scissor Sweep….. Basic yet effective at all levels of competition from white belt to black belt. Because the Scissor Sweep is such a common Jiu Jitsu technique it also serves as a great example for highlighting the gap between training for competition & “commercial” martial arts scenarios vice training for real world operations.

Consider the common setup for the scissor sweep – collar and sleeve in the gi, wrist and head control no-gi (see photos above). There are examples of no-gi set ups with two on one grips on the controlled arm however this is less common in most Jiu Jitsu programs and  regardless still serves our point.Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 7.10.00 PM

From a Defensive Tactics / Combatives standpoint I have two major problems in both of these set ups which I must address.

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Despite the highly effective control set up of both positions described above the hostile / attacker / top guy still has one free arm available to either A) rain down strikes on the bottom guy or B) attempt to take control of the sidearm or taser.

The second problem is more of an issue of weapon awareness, mental preparation or a combat mindset that training for real world operations would emphasize. Follow me here….Most grapplers training for sport or unarmed grappling will consistently set up their attacks / sweeps to their dominate side. Under this set up the dominant leg would be on the top / shin to midline. This particular body position and grip set up exposes your weapon side to your opponents arm that is not being controlled. It’s a tactical mindset and awareness that is simply not considered outside of military / LEO channels.

How do we BRIDGE THE GAP? In a real world situation you must control both arms at the wrist / forearm vice collar and sleeve or wrist and head. The remainder of the details remain the same! Its not a major detail but it IS a significant detail. Control of both arms prevents the bad guy from throwing strikes or attempting to gain control of your side arm. Train to keep your sidearm protected and unexposed to the bad guys at all cost.

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Try this simple adjustment the next time that your drill. Your mindset for the streets must not be the same mindset as for the gym.

Train hard, bridge the gap, and get home safe.