First workout of the day - New York City

First workout of the day - New York City: Second workout of the day - Mexico City: At the airport now, waiting for flight to Mexico in prep for EBI 10, Just finishing working with Messrs Gordon and Nicky Ryan who are training brilliantly. Looking forward to seeing Mr Cummings and crew and getting in some more prep work for the big show. Mr Cummings always greatly impresses me in training, but never more than in his training for this show. Looking forward to the change in venue and hats off to Mr Bravo and his great crew for helping to grow this great sport in new directions with such an exciting line up of talent for this lightweight event. Looks like the thin air of Mexico City has had some strange effects on Ottavia Bourdain and Mr Garry Tonon...


Growing together

Growing together: As Kano so wisely insisted; the best form of benefit is mutual benefit. When two people work together and each brings something good to the table, great things can happen from their shared efforts. In my daily coaching, nowhere do I see this more clearly than in the development of the Ryan brothers - Gordon and Nicky. Their symbiotic relationship is an inspiration to the other athletes around them. As one rises, the other must rise to stay in the game - and the one who helps him rise the most is his own brother. Mutual growth is the healthiest state for the training room and there is no better example than these two. Both are deep in preparation for tough matches at studio 540 in San Diego on December 17 in a variation of EBI rules (much longer regulation time before over time begins). When the squad returns from Mexico City this weekend, camp begins in earnest for Both Ryan boys and Garry Tonon in what should be an incredible event.


Georges St-Pierre works out with the squad...meanwhile...in Mexico City...One of my principal aims as a coach is to develop a sense of independence in the senior students (Senpai). When we all talk technique and strategy, we talk as equals. Indeed, the senior students often shock me with the depth of their insight and originality. The greatest thing a teacher can give students is not technique or strategy or any of the usual things people judge the worth of teachers by, but rather THE ABILITY TO RESEARCH AND PROGRESS INDEPENDENTLY. instilling this sense of creative independence in the senior students has several great consequences. One of them is on display in this photo collage. Eddie Cummings is currently in Mexico City preparing for EBI 10 on Friday night. He is working with Local jiu jitsu players in the same system that the other squad members used today to train in NYC with Georges St-Pierre; who will himself go back to Montreal tonight to train independently what he learned today. If all these seniors could only blindly follow orders, this kind of activity would be impossible. It is their capacity to grow independently within themselves that ensures the growth of ideas that keeps our overall program growing and improving. Looking forward to the squad getting together with Mr Cummings Wednesday night in Mexico City for the big show


Founding member of the squad

Founding member of the squad: Mr Georges St-Pierre returned to the basement of wisdom through pain for some some fine training sessions with the youngsters. The majority of my time training with Mr St-Pierre was in developing grapple boxing skills for professional MMA fighting - very different from pure submission grappling. When he retired, he was able to have fun working on submission grappling skills and has made impressive progress Here the squad watches as he works his ashi garami drills with partner Garry Tonon. We use these drills to develop deeper mechanical knowledge of the position so that we increase the chances of success under the pressure of live combat, whether in the gym or in competition (shiai). Often I have the students teach the move back to the class to ensure they have a solid understanding of the core concepts and principles that underly its use. A huge part of Mr St-Pierre's success came from his willingness to always keep training and learning over his entire career and beyond with specialists in a given domain, so that he could add those skills and use them in the broader domain of MMA. Even in pure submission grappling he is one of the toughest training partners for the squad when they prepare for shiai - remarkable, given that this is not his primary focus.


From the basement to the bright lights

From the basement to the bright lights: Eddie Cummings completed the NYC section of his camp for EBI 10 in the basement of suffering today. As always the senior and junior members of the squad were on hand throughout to assist the preparation. Taking the skills created and refined in the gym and getting them to work under the bright lights of the big show is one of the toughest tests the athletes face. The squad is lucky to have a tight camaraderie that helps this. There is only so much replication of what is expected that is possible in the training room. At some point the athlete must find it within himself to make the shift to the big stage against people he has never faced before, under new circumstances and all under the critical eye of the fans. I have always been deeply impressed by the squads ability to do this. More than any other phase of match preparation, this is where the athlete must go beyond whatever assistance his team and coaches can offer and find within him or herself the will and the ability to reach their goals. Next time the squad meets as a whole will be in Mexico City, where once again the gulf between gym and stage must be bridged.


Happy Thanksgiving from the squad ! Nothing earns thanks from the squad like a mat crowded with dedicated and ambitious athletes working on their skills in the kingly art of jiu jitsu. Early tomorrow that's exactly what you will find in the basement of despair and hope at RGA as the squad helps Eddie Cummings in his preparation for a third EBI belt in the new 135 pound weight class in Mexico City next week. Skill development does not recognize holidays. Mr Cummings and his squad cronies are acutely aware of this and so we plan on a good session tomorrow. Afterwards however, our national holiday gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our dual nature as individuals with private ambitions and as citizens, with civic duties and awareness to our nation, without which, no individual ambition or achievement would even be possible. We hope you find happiness tomorrow both as individuals and, perhaps more importantly, as members of family and nation in ways that illuminate our nature as individuals housed the framework of a group, for it is only by understanding both aspects of our nature that greatness is possible.


Perspective

Perspective: In recent days and weeks the jiu jitsu scene has seen a marked increase in provocative talk between camps and much of it has been centered around my own students and those of Marcelo Garcia. This is odd, as Mr Garcia and I are good friends. As is so often the case, what begins as banter and play can lead to consequences one does not want. Both Mr Garcia and myself are committed to the idea of a strong distinction between the spirit of MMA, where a certain amount of talk and showmanship is good for business, and jiu jitsu, where a more elevated sense of behavior is appropriate. I am all for jiu jitsu athletes being paid more for their hard work, but I am concerned that this may be achieved at the expense of the soul of the sport. Moreover, our schools are real neighbors, just blocks apart, and neither of us wants an us vs them" attitude here in the NYC jiu jitsu scene. I met with Mr Garcia tonight at his school and we discussed the situation. He is so much more than just one of the sports greatest champions


Beastie Boy

Beastie Boy: Nicky Ryan, at just 15 years old, entered one of the toughest grappling tournaments in North America yesterday - the ADCC world championships trials. Mr Ryan won his first two matches by submission (heel hook variations) before losing via armbar to take 3rd place, an incredible achievement for such a young man. Mr Ryan has always greatly impressed me with his determination and maturity. Normally I have grave misgivings about very young competitors entering adult competitions as the risk of injury is definitely higher than usual and I've always felt there is something undesirable about pushing young people into tournaments, I prefer to let time pass and wait until they are a little older and enter themselves, rather than be entered by someone else. In Mr Ryan's case however, I made an exception. His older brother trains with him daily and would coach him, and Mr Ryan is extraordinarily mentally mature for his age ( far more mature than all other members of the squad I must say!). As always, Mr Ryan put on a great showing, working hard to get the submission, as is our style. This young man has so much potential and it is an honor to be a small part of his progress. There will be many more ADCC trials for him and as his body matures to match his mind, you will all see the same potential that I see in him now.


Mr Eddie Cummings

Mr Eddie Cummings: With EBI 10 fast approaching, Eddie Cummings will step up to a new challenge - his first EBI at 135 pounds. His record at previous EBI events has been nothing short of outstanding, with a 100% record of submission within regulation time, and the vast majority of those matches in far less than regulation time. This time however, he faces three new elements. The athletes in this event are among the best ever assembled in an EBI, with the man we consider the best of the 10th planet athletes, Geo Martinez, along with a very strong Brazilian contingent, including the outstanding Samir Chantre and Rafael Freitas. This may be the strongest overall EBI card since EBI 6. The second new element will be the weight cut. Even though Mr Cummings has a small frame, he has always operated above his weight category and has this never had to actually lose weight to compete before, so this should be interesting. A third factor will be of interest to all the athletes - altitude. Mexico City is a difficult venue for those unused to the thinner air. This will effect everyone except the locals equally and is definitely a source of concern as we have no experience with this whatsoever. Mr Cummings will, as always, have to rely on his great depth of knowledge around submissions to get around these three problems. Of my students, he has spent the most time with me in private classes and has a truly superb knowledge of the mechanical details of our favorite attacks. Here we work both offensive and defensive measures in irimi ashi garami, a position that Mr Cummings truly excels in and has developed a very fine reputation for very effective use in competition (shiai). A strange result of Mr Cummings excellence in ashi garami based attacks is that he has had few opportunities to show his other submission strengths - he has many - I suspect it is only a matter of time until the world sees what we see every day in the gym.