HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE SQUAD!! Hope we can put some uplifting moments into your jiu jitsu in 2018! Thank you all so much much for your interest and support for our approach to jiu jitsu! Wishing you all the best for tonight and next year!

In a sport where everyone is doing their best to keep moving forward and improve - just maintaining what you have been doing and remaining stationary is effectively moving backwards. Being content with your past successes is a guaranteed way to ensure future failures. Keep working hard as 2018 approaches. The techniques and tactics of our sport are limitless- it’s up to you to take advantage of that. Photo @banejitsu

Creating good habits

Creating good habits: Training is designed to INSTILL GOOD/SOUND HABITS IN ATHLETES THAT BECOME SO INGRAINED IN THEIR THOUGHTS AND MOVEMENTS THAT THEY WILL MANIFEST THEMSELVES EVEN UNDER THE GREATEST PRESSURE. The path to building those habits is DAILY DRILLING. Drills are often rushed through, ignored, performed half heartedly or otherwise downplayed by students. Let me tell you this - WHEN YOU ARE TRUELY UNDER PRESSURE IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP COMPETITION, YOU ARE EXHAUSTED, OUT OF IDEAS, CAN’T HEAR YOUR COACH ABOVE THE CROWD, YOUR OWN MIND SUGGESTING WAYS OUT TO QUIT WITH DIGNITY - THE ONLY FRIEND YOU WILL HAVE ON YOUR SIDE IS THE UNBREAKABLE HABITS BUILT OVER COUNTLESS HOURS OF DRILLING TO ACT CORRECTLY AND IN WAYS THAT TAKE YOU BACK TO THE PATH OF VICTORY. Don’t devalue them. Here, Nicky Ryan and Nick Ronan work on their daily ashi garami drills at Musclepharm HQ in LA in preparation for competition that saw both win in fine style by submission.

Double danger

Double danger: All of us try constantly to improve our skills in the combat sports. Persistent, intelligently directed training will eventually create results and you will develop some weapons that will earn the respect of your training partners and opponents. However, if you want to further your success - ALWAYS LOOK TO DEVELOP WEAPONS THAT WORK AS COMPLIMENTARY PAIRS. The fundamental feature of real combat is RESISTANCE from your opponent as you fight for advantage and victory. It is critical that you have at least one strong complimentary pair of attacks so that as one attack runs into resistance it opens the door for the second attack. The way in which pairs of attacks can compliment each other is varied. Sometimes they compliment each other in terms of DIRECTION (forward and backwards or left/right for example). Sometimes they do it from one side of opponent’s body to another, or from lower body to upper body, so that as an opponent defends one he offers the other. One of the strongest complimentary pairs of attacks among my students was the jab/takedown pairing of Georges St-Pierre. He would use his jab to harass, frustrate, hurt and move opponents. If they did not fight back against it he would easily win the round, so opponents HAD to fire back in order not to fall behind on the scoreboard. The jab is a long range weapon, so that meant opponents typically had to CLOSE DISTANCE to fire back. However, their attempt to step forward and fire back put them in danger of the second complimentary weapon - the double leg takedown - a weapon that he had developed to an extraordinary degree. Mr St-Pierre also had well developed guard passing and ground striking skills that made time on the floor very hazardous for opponents. So they would have to struggle back up to their feet where the same cycle could be repeated until victory was attained. FINDING AND DEVELOPING A POWERFUL COMPLIMENTARY PAIR OF ATTACKS IS A BIG PART OF YOUR EARLY DEVELOPMENT IN THE SPORT. Only when your attacks come in complimentary pairs that take advantage of defensive reactions will you be able to break through the strong resistance you will encounter as you rise in level.

The first battle in any grappling match is the battle for grips

The first battle in any grappling match is the battle for grips: In any grappling bout, whether it be a friendly match in the gym among white belts or a titanic struggle in black belt world championships competition, is the battle to attain functional grips upon your opponent. The number one theme I also coach in this regard can be stated very simply - ALWAYS FIGHT FOR GRIPS WITH A PURPOSE AND A PLAN. So often I see people nonchalantly working for grips first and then try to figure out on the fly what they will do with those grips once they get them. THE IDEA IS TO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO FIRST SO THAT YOU KNOW WHAT GRIPS YOU WILL NEED TO BRING ABOUT THAT END. This will immediately give your grip fighting a purposeful and energetic feel that will make you stand out in a training room. Here, Gordon Ryan and Dillon Danis settle into position to begin fighting for grips in a hard fought, tactical match that prominently featured grip fighting and grip denial. Both athletes knew what they needed to win and what the other fellow needed to win and had a plan as to what grips they had to get and which they had to deny in order to get what they wanted. Much of high level competition is determined by the outcome of these grip battles. Photo @banejitsu

Back in NYC! Just touched down at JFK and get to renew my love/hate affair with New York - sub zero temperatures and a giant line for a cab filled with obnoxious New Yorkers (I fit right in) Hey gang - training begins tomorrow 12pm gi and no gi down in the basement of despair, hope and learning! No rest for the wicked! Lots of material to work on - lots of goals and dreams to fight towards. See you all tomorrow

Hard working problem solvers

Hard working problem solvers: People come to me all the time asking what kind of attributes they need to need to develop in order to excel in jiu jitsu. Conversely, they will also claim that they can never beat a certain opponent because they are possessed of a certain attribute that they cannot overcome. Thus do I get endless numbers of inquiries asking how to build certain attributes such as strength, speed, flexibility, mental toughness etc. etc. These attributes are all good and desirable and will definitely help your progress - BUT THEY ARE NOT THE ESSENTIAL ATTRIBUTES I LOOK FOR WHEN APPRAISING THE POTENTIAL OF A STUDENT. What I look for can be said in a single short sentence. I look for HARD WORKING PROBLEM SOLVERS. Nothing more, nothing less. When you look at a list of great world champions you will see tremendous variation in physical and mental attributes. BUT YOU WILL SEE TWO THINGS THEY ALL HAD IN COMMON - they worked harder and proved more adept at solving the problems in front of them in the time available than their opponents. How hard working you are is not some innate quality. I ACTUALLY DON’T BELIEVE ANYONE IS LAZY - JUST UNMOTIVATED. WHAT WE CALL LAZINESS IS SIMPLY A LACK OF PASSION IN THAT DOMAIN. (I shall write more about passion and laziness in future posts as I believe they are very important notions in our quest for improvement). As for problem solving, I think this is something we all find happiness in and we all have different ways of finding solutions. Look at the squad as an example. Eddie Cummings and myself come from a formal academic background and our problem solving methods reflect that, with a wordy, fine grained distinctions look to them. The Ryan brothers do not, and their methods of solving problems have a more practical/workshop look to them. Garry Tonon and Georges St-Pierre are somewhere in between - BUT ALL GOT OUTSTANDING RESULTS AND SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF JIU JITSU WITH EQUAL EFFICACY- just in somewhat different ways. Work on your attributes- but don’t think they are the key to your success - realize that the keys are your capacity to work over time and solve the problems that arise as you work. Photo @banejitsu

Begin with denial

Begin with denial: Most jiu jitsu athletes begin their matches with a clear sense of what their favorite moves are and how they want to employ them against their opponent. This is good, but I recommend you begin with something else first. BEGIN EVERY ENGAGEMENT WITH DENYING YOUR OPPONENT THE TOOLS HE NEEDS TO IMPOSE HIS GAME UPON YOU - ONLY THEN DO YOU WORK TO IMPOSE YOUR GAME UPON HIM. Any time both athletes are simultaneously working to implement their own moves, it immediately becomes a dog fight. Top tier athletes typically focus first on shutting down their opponents avenues of attack and only then switch to the positive act of launching their own attacks. Here, Gordon Ryan shuts down the dangerous open guard game of World champion Romulo Barral with his signature body lock. Once Mr Barral’s guard was sufficiently nullified, he switched to a positive passing game leading to a decisive strangle attack - a near perfect demonstration of the denial/impose sequence that is such a key feature of our approach to the passing positional game. Photo @banejitsu

SHOW ME A MAN OUT OF BALANCE AND I WILL SHOW YOU A MAN WHO IS OPEN TO ANY ATTACK YOU CHOOSE. Make your opponent’s BALANCE your primary focus - then you will have the luxury of CHOOSING which attack to follow with, rather than having to smash through your opponent’s full resistance when his balance is undisturbed.

The bicycle wheel

The bicycle wheel: Students often come to me concerned that due to some circumstances in their life, be it injury, career, family/personal, they have to reduce training. Their concern is that with reductions in training time they will lose the skills they had worked so hard to develop. Don’t be concerned. Skills take tremendous work in order to be CREATED OR IMPROVED, but very little work in order to be MAINTAINED AT (OR CLOSE TO) THEIR CURRENT LEVEL. My friend, Jean Charles Skarbowsky, used a fine metaphor to express this idea. Remember when you were a child playing with a bicycle? You could prop the bicycle upside down and spin the front wheel with your hand. When you first began to spin the wheel, it took a fair amount of effort to get it spinning quickly - you had to overcome the inertia of the stationary wheel through effort. BUT ONCE THE WHEEL WAS SPINNING QUICKLY - YOU COULD EASILY KEEP IT MOVING AT SPEED BY PERIODICALLY BRUSHING THE WHEEL WITH A LIGHT TOUCH OF YOUR HAND. Realize this - YOUR PHYSICAL SKILLS WORK THE SAME WAY. Once they are well developed, even minimal efforts will maintain them close to their current level. Have faith that should life and circumstances take you in directions that mean you have to reduce training time - don’t despair. Just stay in the game to the degree that you keep most of what you worked so hard to gain. THE ONLY TIME I SEE PEOPLE DRASTICALLY LOSE SKILLS IS WHEN THEY COMPLETELY ABANDON THE GAME BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY. All the time I see athletes keep ninety percent of their skills with just minimal upkeep for extended periods of time. As soon as circumstances change favorably you can get back in the saddle very quickly and then devote the extra time and effort to making improvements and innovations- which require considerably more time and effort. Whenever training time gets compromised let the metaphor of the bicycle wheel be your guide.