Getting used to it

Getting used to it: As a general rule in day to day training, I prefer to see athletes working with training partners a tier below them in skill level. This allows them to focus more on technical development rather than physical exertion and pressure. However, it is very important that occasionally athletes get to work with people their own level or better, particularly when competition is approaching, so that they learn to operate under harsh physical duress and not panic and break when they encounter genuine physical pressure. Young Nicky Ryan @nickyryanbjj , enjoying his sixteenth birthday in LA, gets some fine training in with the great Keenan Cornelius @keenancornelius . It was a fine experience for the rapidly developing youngster to feel world class pressure from a different style than he is used to and one that he must learn to deal with as he enters top level competition in the future. Developing athletes must go through the trials of being the nail - so that one day they can emerge as the hammer.

Friends and rivals

Friends and rivals: The very nature of jiu jitsu leads to intensity in personal relationships. On the one hand, it is deeply competitive- even a friendly roll at the gym has a winner and a loser. In competition it is even more pronounced. There are many people vying for one first place. On the other hand, we are all in love with the same sport and have a camaraderie of shared vision and experience. This means that often we can be involved in tough competition with someone, but at the end of the day, we are all doing the same thing and part of a brotherhood. Gordon and Nicky Ryan are currently on a tour of California- teaching private classes and seminars and also visiting our good friend Shawn Williams @shawnwilliamsbjj academy. As part of their training, Gordon Ryan trained with two of his toughest former rivals, the great Keenan Cornelius @keenancornelius and world champion Lucas Hulk" Barbosa @lucasbarbosajj. They all had a great time training -Gordon Ryan even trained in a Gi!! Its always great to see friendship replace rivalry in time - even though in truth the sport requires both in order to operate. Don't forget to get an opportunity to train with the Ryan brothers if you want to see our approach to the sport from two of its best representatives @gordonlovesjiujitsu @nickyryanbjj I don't know how these two are going to deal with a return to sweltering

Ne waza, tachi waza and the uniqueness of BJJ

Ne waza, tachi waza and the uniqueness of BJJ: Of all the grappling arts, BJJ probably puts the least emphasis on takedown skill. This is reflected in the points system, where takedowns score only half as much as the favored pins and there is no penalty for simply sitting straight down into ground grappling (ne waza). This under emphasis of standing techniques (tachi waza) has been a constant source of criticism over the years. As a general rule I believe that standing techniques have been underdeveloped in BJJ and that this must be addressed at some point, either as individuals (by independently studying other grappling arts such as judo or wrestling) or as a community (by changing the way the art as a whole is practiced and taught). This however, is not the topic I wish to discuss here tonight. There is another topic that few have discussed which gets little attention in the BJJ/takedowns argument, but which is of the first importance in this debate. BJJ is a ne waza-centric art. Its primary emphasis is on control on the ground. Judo and wrestling are tachi-waza-centric. Their primary concern is on the takedown itself, with a strong reward system for amplitude and power on the takedown. This creates two very different concerns on the part of the person performing the takedown in each sport. In jiu jitsu, the primary interest in the takedown is in WHAT HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TAKEDOWN. It is no good if you perform a fine takedown/throw but finish in a stranglehold or bad position in the aftermath - the value of a takedown/throw can be completely negated by a bad outcome on the ground AFTER the throw is completed. In a grappling style where the primary emphasis is on the throw/takedown, the amplitude of the throw becomes the only concern with no regard for the aftermath once the two combatants hit the mat. My point is this - the issue of BJJ and takedowns is not only the issue of how to get people more proficient at them, but the secondary issue that is largely ignored- HOW ARE WE TO MODIFY THEM TO MAKE THEM APPROPRIATE FOR A NE WAZA-CENTRIC ART? This to me is the more interesting project and the one which will lead to future innovations in the sport

Reflections on my students - Chris Weidman

Reflections on my students - Chris Weidman: I have been blessed throughout my coaching career to have many outstanding students infused with talent, drive and a tremendous work ethic. One of my favorite memories will always be the incredible series of wins that took Chris Weidman from a talented newcomer in the UFC to a run of victories that made him a contender and then ultimately, UFC middleweight champion - by defeating the greatest Middleweight of all time, Anderson Silva - twice. One of my favorite memories of Mr Weidman occurred when he went to San Jose California to fight Mark Munoz as part of his campaign for a title shot. The match with Mr Munoz was in a minor UFC show midweek - UFC on Fuel TV on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. We arrived on Saturday to prepare. That Saturday night in Las Vegas, Anderson Silva had his second fight with Chael Sonnen - one of the biggest fights in UFC history. We wanted to watch the fight so we went to a local sports bar, but it was completely crowded and we could not get a seat. Mr Weidman, his faithful friend, Gian Villante and myself had to stand outside and watch through the windows. It was so crowded that people spilled outside. No one knew who Mr Weidman was. Finally one young man walked up and asked if Mr Weidman was a fighter. He replied, yes - and I want to fight Anderson Silva and beat him

Neiman Gracie wins again! RGA instructor and grappling/MMA standout, Neiman Gracie had the honor of fighting in Bellator NYC - only the second time an MMA show has been put in in Madison Square Garden. He won brilliantly in the second round via classic stranglehold from the back against a very tough David Marfone in an action packed event. It was wonderful to see such a result - the move most associated with the tradition of his family in MMA, yet embedded in a very modern and well rounded game. Mr Gracie has been trained almost from birth under his father, Marcio Stambowsky, himself one of only four blackbelts under the legendary Rolls Gracie. On addition, my sensei Renzo Gracie, his cousins, Igor, Rolles and Gregor and the RGA Muay Thai program directors, Joseph Sampieri and Jamie Crowder. Sensei Renzo Gracie was there to corner him to victory last nightHe put all his skills together for a very fine victory indeed on an action packed event here in NYC. His unbeaten MMA record is testimony to his professionalism in preparation, hard work and ability to learn so well from his coaches

Nice match! In an unexpected turn of events at a local Grappling show in New Jersey, United Grapplers Association, in what was supposed to be an eight man tournament, most entrants pulled out, young Nicky Ryan, just fifteen years old, went in! He faced the great world champion, Paulo Miyao in a nice match, fought under ADCC rules. Mr Ryan was able to get to the legs for submission attempts, but could not establish the control necessary to make them effective. Mr Miyao did an excellent job of establishing positional control, using the threat of back attacks to pass Mr Ryan's legs and get to side and mount positions with a good controlling bodylock and score his points. The match ended in an uncontrolled ashi garami. A solid win for Mr Miyao and a great learning experience for the youngster. Mr Ryan did very well indeed, giving up a considerable amount of strength and size and a massive amount of experience - for a fifteen year to even survive against such a great champion is impressive, to get some attacks in and finish the match attacking to the last is deeply impressive. As this young man grows and matures it will be a privilege to watch he becomes capable of. Great to see famous champions such as Mr Miyao in local shows and showing their skills - a good day all round.

Talented individuals versus a squad

Talented individuals versus a squad: So often in jiu jitsu we see the emergence of extremely talented individuals who for a time dominate their division. It is natural to ask how they came to acquire their world conquering skills and try to learn from them. As impressive as the emergence of great individuals may be, much more impressive is the emergence of a talented GROUP of individuals. Some people have such special characteristics that their success may be due to them as individuals rather than the program in which they developed. When you see a gym put out a team of talent, clearly something special is happening. The Gracie Barra headquarters in Rio of the early 1990's is a great example. So many fine athletes and instructors came out of that environment that it is very clear that the program was of the very first quality. Thus when I asses the health of a given training program, I do not do so on the basis of its best individual, but on the average level of its people, particularly the emerging kohai (junior) students. This is particularly true when I look at the skills emphasized by a given team. Sometimes an athlete will emerge from a given school with an outstanding technique, say a juji gatame armbar. If no one else in the gym has an impressive juji, one could surmise that the athlete learned it in an idiosyncratic fashion as an individual, rather than in a SYSTEMATIC fashion as a SQUAD. THE CLEAREST EVIDENCE OF A SYSTEMS BASED APPROACH TO LEARNING AND TEACHING IS REPLICATION - can many athletes across skill level, weight division, age, sex etc utilize the skills to attain victory. The emergence of a talented individual exhibiting skills can be explained by idiosyncratic elements, but not a group of people all exhibiting similar skills - in that case there is most like an effective system at work imbedded in a sound training program. When I construct and implement a training program this is always the sign that I look for. Here, squad kohai Danny Hernandez, a very talented athlete training under my very good friend and team mate Doug Pelinkovic, gets success with our leg lock system in competition, showing its effectiveness for so many team members.

Rite of passage

Rite of passage: Nicky Ryan attained his first adult belt today. Though he is fifteen years old, his fast approaching birthday makes him eligible for an adult purple belt. Mr Ryan's ambitions include IBJJF sanctioned competition, both gi and no gi, so having a set belt rank will be important in the next few years to get him ready for ever greater challenges as he matures. His progress thus far has been extraordinary, but he has very high standards for himself and is looking to push much, much further. We are all very proud of his amazing work ethic and maturity. In attendance were his daily mentors, Garry Tonon and brother Gordon Ryan, along with our good friend and accomplice, Tom DeBlass, who has played such a fantastic role in Mr Tonon's and the Ryan Brothers development. Smiles all round as this wonderful young talent gets his well deserved reward

California dreaming

California dreaming: Gordon Ryan @gordonlovesjiujitsu is going to California next week for a teaching post. He will be teaching privates and seminars. This is a great chance for our Californian fans to catch up with one of the very best practitioners and teachers off our approach to the sport. Mr Ryan is known primarily as an athlete, but his teaching skills are every bit as good as his competition skills and he does an incredibly good job of showing the moves and tactics he uses with so much success on the big stage. Mr Ryan is a very innovative athlete who constantly looks for more efficient ways to get work done. If you have ever wondered how he gets his moves to work so fluidly against high level opponents, check out his teaching schedule and perhaps he can demystify some elements of his game and make them part of yours. Mr Ryan is a big fan of Southern California and is always trying to get out there as often as possible. The squad always prefers to train people over time rather than one off" sessions so that we can create progress over time. As often as Mr Ryan travels to California

Mr Crelinsten shows his mettle

Mr Crelinsten shows his mettle: The main event this weekend at Global Grappling League this past weekend was Nicky Ryan vs Marvin Castelle - a match Mr Ryan won rather quickly by submission. The co-main event was equally decisive- Ethan Crelinsten, one of our Canadian contingent, took on 10th planet standout JM Holland, and locked in a tight juji gatame arm lock for his second submission win over Mr Holland in the last month. Interestingly, this coming weekend, Mr Crelinsten will have a match with the very same Marvin Castelle who headlined against Mr Ryan, only this time it will be in Florida and under a very different rule set that allows points for pushing an opponent out bounds and other unusual elements. Both athletes have an approach which focuses upon submissions rather than wrestling skills, so I suspect the rule set will not play into the match too much. Mr Crelinsten is keeping up an extremely high work rate in local competition and getting great results