Happy New Year from the squad! Thank you all so much for your support and interest in our approach to jiu jitsu Its been a great year of achievement and learning for the team. Looking forward to new projects and challenges in the new year We hope you work hard towards your jiu jitsu goals and through your patience, discipline, planning, work, creativity and self belief; get to those goals and most importantly, grow along the way - don't forget to have fun! Tonight and all the other days Wishing you all the best from NYC! ☃ ⌛️⏰

Speed vs relative speed

Speed vs relative speed: Are you faster than Usain Bolt? This is a question that every single human on earth would currently have to give a negative answer to - provided we qualified the question with the usual unspoken assumptions - the race will be a fair one, on a standard athletic track, over 100-200 meters etc etc. what if we started adding some seemingly strange conditions to the race? Perhaps Mr Bolt has to run with a fifty pound weight vest strapped to his torso - that would definitely allow many good athletes to defeat him. What if he had a two foot rope tying his legs together? Then many people could defeat him. What if the rope were shortened so that his ankles were locked together? Then almost any healthy young person could probably defeat him. What if his left foot was handcuffed to his right hand? In that case I believe even I, with a crippled leg and a hip replacement, could probably defeat him (on a good day at least ). The point is that EVEN THE BEST ATHLETICISM IN THE WORLD CAN BE OVERCOME IF WE SUFFICIENTLY HANDICAP OUR OPPONENT. Jiu jitsu is essentially a means of doing exactly that. JIU JITSU IS AN ELABORATE MEANS OF HANDICAPPING AN OPPONENT IN WAYS THAT STRONGLY UNDERMINE AND DEGRADE THEIR ATHLETIC POTENTIAL RESULTING IN AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE IN OUR FAVOR WHICH CAN BE EXPLOITED TO GAIN VICTORY. In this way, bigger, stronger, faster people can, if the discrepancy in grappling technique is sufficiently In our favor, be controlled and defeated. Skills that don't seem overly impressive to beginners- subtle skills of control and positioning that prevent your opponent from freely utilizing his or her strength, Speed etc are in fact, the very heart of the sport. The detailed study of WHAT CAN A MAKE STRONG MAN WEAK, A FAST MAN SLOW AND A HEAVY MAN LIGHT, is the basis of our sport and can make for a lifetime of study.


Foundationalism: When I taught philosophy courses at Columbia university, we often talked about the doctrine of Foundationalism as it applies to human knowledge. When it comes to a sophisticated theory of human knowledge, I am not a foundationalist; but when it comes to jiu jitsu, I am. Just as no builder would ever think of beginning the construction of a new house by working on the roof and attic, but instead digs deep in the earth to lay down secure and strong foundations upon which he sequentially builds the house from the bottom up, with each layer providing a strong support for the layer above it - so too, we must build our jiu jitsu in a similar vein. Just as any failure in the foundations of a house will immediately imply weakness in every other part of the house, so too, weakness in the foundational aspects of our jiu jitsu can never be covered up by fancy flourishes in the other areas of our game. Often students come to me asking to learn aspects of our style that they see in competition. I always tell them the same thing. It is far easier for me to teach my leg lock system (or any other part of our approach to the game) to a person well versed in the traditional foundations of the sport than it is to someone who wants to skip steps and jump straight into it. There is a lot to be said for a sequential approach to learning jiu jitsu where the foundational skills of CONTROLLING MOVEMENT - both my own and my opponent's -comes first and the more esoteric elements come second. Here, the squads youngest member, ten year old Mikey Wilson, learns the foundational elements of control to Kuzushi through the x guard/ashi garami complex as a precursor to the submissions game from the same positions.

Big plans for new year at Renzo Gracie Academy

Big plans for new year at Renzo Gracie Academy: Sensei Renzo Gracie has done an incredible job of bringing in the expertise of Judo superstar Jimmy Pedro and Fuji mat company to install new mats at RGA NYC!! Over the Christmas break our staff and team Fuji have been hard at work installing the mats and painting to give the academy what must be the best footing for grappling I have ever seen! The new mats look and feel incredible! I had the honor of teaching the first class on the new surface in our small room - it felt like I was teaching in a new gym! The squad came in full force and were joined by child prodigy Mikey Wilson and MMA superstar Jake Shields - who fights this Saturday in WSOF. He looked great on the mats today doing his submission work with squad members. The professionalism and production of team Fuji is impressive to behold. The blue basement has been transformed to a very eye pleasing blue and grey Sensei once told me that the best investment a man can make is in himself. That is exactly what he is doing now - he is investing in his dojo in a way that is transforming it daily Looking forward to a new year of training, goal setting and achievements at our new" headquarters Huge thanks to Sensei

The story of the sniper

The story of the sniper: Part of the pleasure of teaching at a major academy in NYC is the breadth of people who pass through for instruction in the kingly art of jiu jitsu They come from all walks of life and every corner of the globe. One who left an impression upon me that struck me as useful to students of jiu jitsu was an American sniper who had returned home from active duty. After training we talked about his work. I have always had an interest in weaponry and we talked about his craft and compared it with his interest in jiu jitsu. At one point he turned to me and said, John

Knowledge and wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom: From an early age I have always been impressed by the classics of Asian literature. None impresses me more than the work of Lao Tsu, in particular To attain knowledge

Merry Christmas from the squad and NYC!!☃ Today was a relaxed day of training for the squad - focus was more on technical development and sparring in a relaxed manner. This idea of variable intensity is critical to long term training. Not every session can be a war. Big holidays give a great opportunity to reinforce this idea to the athletes. I love to see athletes train every day, but not to see them train as hard as possible every day - that quickly leads to breakdowns. Improvement is measured in months and years, not days and weeks, so it is critical to be able train effectively over long periods. A huge part of this involves variation in intensity levels of daily training so that every day can represent a step forward and as few days as possible are lost to attrition and injury. Now that work is done - it's time to eat - something the squad does very well Merry Christmas to you all from NYC!!

The greatest skill of them all - learning

The greatest skill of them all - learning: Every jiu jitsu athlete is in a constant quest to improve current skills and learn new ones as a means to performance improvement. However, there is one skill that stands above all other skills that one might acquire on the long road towards mastery - the skill of learning. Every day we have people telling us how to learn a given skill, a new move, a new concept. Yet it is rare to have someone tell us how to learn. Learning how to learn is absolutely one of the keys to success in life in general and jiu jitsu in particular. Most people take a very passive approach to learning. They learn from their teacher and practice when told to practice what they are told to practice. This is fine at recreational level, but if you wish to go further you must take a proactive approach to learning. This is a huge topic, but let us talk today about three key methods of learning that we can use to improve our understanding of the learning process so that we can make better progress. The foundation of my coaching program is always THE TRIAL AND ERROR METHOD. This simple method of taking ideas and subjecting them to rigorous tests to determine their value. We spend countless hours on the mat testing our theories and ideas through sparring and competition until we put provisional faith in them. The second is the GREAT PERSON METHOD. I am a big believer in the idea of using great athletes in the sport to inspire and enlighten. If a given athlete is having tremendous success with a given move, that's a very clear sign that he is doing something right and important. By studying this, you are very likely to improve some aspect of your own game - even if your own method ends up being significantly different from the athlete you studied. The third is THE ORGANIC NATURE OF SKILL DEVELOPMENT. Skills are like life forms - they are born weak, naive and vulnerable; but if nurtured and cared for, can grow eventually into something strong and confident and capable. When you learn a skill, give it a chance to grow. Don't start using it on world champions. Start small and work your way up with it. In time these three principles can transform your game

Forcing progress

Forcing progress: We all want to maximize our rates of progress in the sport . Most people work on the assumption that if they just show up for class, progress rates will be satisfactory. In the early stages, this is usually correct, since the learning curve at introductory levels is very steep. At some point however, you are going to run into your first experience with growth plateaus. This can be very frustrating for a student who has grown used to easy progress. As a coach, a big part of my job is to make plateaus less likely to occur and also to get students over them when they do occur. I have fond memories of my own first experience with growth plateaus and my sensei, Renzo Gracie's method of dealing with it. When I first began jiu jitsu as a white belt I was physically bigger and stronger than most of my class mates. In addition, this was at a time when jiu jitsu was very young in the United States and the skill level among the average student was much lower than it is today. As a result, when grappling the other white belts I usually had an easy time of it and only got into trouble with the few blue and purple belts we had in class in those days. In my mind I thought I was doing extremely well with my peers. You can imagine my surprise when sensei pulled me aside one day and told me how poor my overall game was and how my training needed to change! Mr Gracie told me that henceforth I was only allowed to start matches in inferior bottom positions and was not allowed any top position at all until told otherwise. This change had an immediate effect - those same smaller white belts who I had been dominating were now crushing me. Every match became an exhausting, frustrating battle for survival. It was immediately apparent that what I had thought was good training previously was anything but. I was forced to learn a whole new range of skills, tactics - even mindset - and grew greatly as a result. This example shows two important elements of good coaching. The first is obvious - by forcing a student into new areas you can create progress. The second is not obvious. Athletes often are not aware that they are in a plateau and sometimes need outside intervention

Positive and negative - the two faces of jiu jitsu

Positive and negative - the two faces of jiu jitsu: it is of the first importance to understand that in every aspect of jiu jitsu, there are two directions my game must push. One the one hand, I must do everything in my power to facilitate my ability to move freely in the directions I desire (presumably in the direction of control and submission). On the other hand, I must do everything in my power TO UNDERMINE MY OPPONENTS ABILITY TO DO THE SAME. Let us illustrate this point through the example of speed. Obviously physical speed is a desirable trait in almost all sports, especially combat sports. When we first think of speed, typically we think of our ability to move at speed, and compare this to the speed of others. In jiu jitsu however, our speed potential is not nearly as important as OUR ABILITY TO UNDERMINE OUR OPPONENTS ABILITY TO MOVE QUICKLY. To put it simply - I don't HAVE to move quickly if I have first immobilized you. My need for speed is proportional to my ability to tie up and immobilize my opponent. The better my skill at undermining my opponents ability to move, the less I will require physical attributes to succeed in sparring. THIS ABILITY TO INTERFERE WITH MY OPPONENTS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES (the negative" side of the game) IS IN MY OPINION