Tough day at the office

Tough day at the office: With EBI 11 coming up this Sunday, training has been going at a high gear these last few weeks. Today Gordon Ryan and Oliver Taza locked horns with the outstanding Jake Shields and Mathew Tesla among others to test in live sparring the techniques and strategies the squad develops for the big shows. The competitors list for EBI 11 welterweight event is very impressive indeed - getting ready for the intensity of top level grappling whilst maintaining athlete safety in the final days is always a delicate balancing act. Professionalism and prioritizing the show over the gym is the key to getting it right.

Recently I was asked to appear in a scene in the TV show Billions." The scene required us to show a beginner in jiu jitsu in a first introductory lesson. The writers asked me if there was a move that represented well the general nature of the sport to a wide audience

Teammates and Countrymen

Teammates and Countrymen: It was a fine weekend for the Canadian section of the squad! Kohai teammates Oliver Taza and Ethan Crelinsten have been doing what all kohai (junior students) must seek to do - build up their skills to a point where they become Senpai (seniors). Mr Crelinsten has been training and competing brilliantly at local level as part of his climb to the top. He is developing well along the lines we exhibit - to demonstrate control leading to submission across the entire body, with equal facility from top or bottom position. Today he was able to win every match in regulation time by submission at the Radius Invitational in Connecticut. Normally Mr Crelinsten competes at 135 pounds - but today he entered at 155 to test his mettle against bigger and stronger opponents. He took on and defeated local standouts Ian Murray, Zach Masslany and Jon Battle to win the eight man tournament and take home one thousand shekels! He did it by working utilizing advanced elements of our back attack system that he has been working very hard upon and developing impressive prowess. It is always great to see the marriage of ambition and work ethic and tinder it rewarded with success. Well done to our Canadian athletes who travel so far to work on the skills that take them ever closer to their goals.

Building to a peak

Building to a peak: A critical part of contest success is the notion of progression to a peak performance on given date of competition. This of course, is the basis behind the idea of a camp in preparation for a bout. Often a very valuable part of this notion of peaking is the use of preparatory bouts before the main event to help prepare you for what you consider may be problematic elements in the main upcoming event. Outstanding kohai student Oliver Taza is making his EBI debut on March 5th. As one of the smaller welterweights he wanted to prepare himself for the physical intensity of top level grappling - a part of the game that often surprises debutants. Accordingly he entered a superfight this weekend against bigger and stronger UFC Middle weight Caio Magalhaes (if Mr Taza did MMA it would be at lightweight). Mr Magalhaes is a blackbelt in jiu jitsu from the great Nova Uniao team and grappling was his MMA foundation. In a very tough physical match, fought inside a cage, Mr Taza worked his way to an excellent submission win via heel hook variation after twelve minutes of hard fought action. An excellent result in itself - but all the more so as preparation for the main event and the physicality to be expected there.

EBI 11 camp runs into an unexpected problem...

One selfie - four UFC fighters

One selfie - four UFC fighters: UFC standout Rafael Sapo" Natal takes the selfie of the year at the afternoon class as the squad prepares for upcoming events. Mr Natal is joined by UFC brothers past and present

Drilling for perfection

Drilling for perfection: An interesting feature of our sport is that when moves are performed well, there is a feeling of fitting in correctly" that is unmistakable. Even relatively inexperienced students can feel a well performed move locking into place. So too

Loneliness in a crowded room

Loneliness in a crowded room: Gordon Ryan and Oliver Taza take some time out to reflect on what they must get done in an early morning training session for EBI 11 - The first EBI of 2017, the first EBI for Mr Taza, the first welterweight EBI for Mr Ryan and the first time two squad members have allowed to compete in the same EBI event since EBI 6. The juxtaposition between jiu jitsu as a sport trained as a team, but fought as individuals, is a strong one. These two battle every day, as do all members of the squad - keeping a spirit of camaraderie and mutual benefit is the key to preventing it becoming a free for all with team cohesion falling to a degree where the entire training program degenerates. Each athlete has different skills and attributes - I coach a very recognizable general approach to the game, but I also recognize the importance of self expression and individuality if an athlete is to maximize his potential. In a room where everyone follows and believes the same general philosophy, it is crucial to keep that sense of how you are going to do things your way and find a balance between shared beliefs and individuality. Hence I like to see my athletes in those lonely moments of self reflection before and after training. Those quiet moments have a way of leading to the buzz and roar of the crowd at showtime

You think he's gonna get that ashi garami?"

Another day of skill development

Another day of skill development, joined by one of the most skillful of them all - creating some memorable coaching moments. My favorite? Mr St-Pierre watching Garry Tonon miss an inverted heel hook from cross ashi garami and telling him, I am not impressed by your performance. "