Somewhere in that tangled knot there is both victory and defeat

Somewhere in that tangled knot there is both victory and defeat: perhaps more than any other grappling sport Jiu Jitsu often requires its athletes to get into complex limb entanglements for protracted lengths of time with opponents. Sometimes it is not obvious to an experienced eye who has an advantage. One thing however is sure - whenever this happens it is the athlete who can calmly and accurately ASSESS THE SCENARIO AND COME UP WITH A RATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION FASTER THAN THE OTHER FELLOW WHO WILL GENERALLY PREVAIL. There is a lot to be said for the ability to STAY CALM AND SOLVE PROBLEMS QUICKLY in this sport. Think about any kind of problem solving activity you have to engage in in your daily life. Has it ever been helped by getting emotional? By just doing the first action that occurred to you? By just being inactive? Nope. Me neither. A calm mind is the beginning of all problem solving. However difficult it may seem, try to THINK your way out of problems and towards solutions rather than just move for the sake of moving. This is a habit that must be formed - it is not natural - panic is natural - calm rational thought in a frightening or frustrating situation is not. Next time you are in a limb entanglement deadlock - stop, breath, take in the situation and work as a problem solver rather than just aimlessly thrash about and become a problem exacerbator. Just this simple change is a big first step towards maturity in your Jiu Jitsu.

Active observation

Active observation: When most people observe Jiu Jitsu they do so as a spectator enjoying an event - as entertainment. That’s certainly an enjoyable way to spend your time - but you, as a student of the game seeking to rise in skill level, must go beyond this. You must always seek to ACTIVELY observe Jiu Jitsu, that is, to see yourself as one of the combatants and actively anticipating in the action - asking yourself what you would be doing in those situations second by second. In this way you begin to train your MIND in Jiu Jitsu in the same way you train your body every day. You will soon note that as the speed of your thought processes increase - SO TO THE MOVEMENTS OF YOUR BODY WILL INCREASE. Don’t be satisfied with just watching Jiu Jitsu. Go the extra distance and actively observe it every time you get the chance. Make it your goal to understand WHY people are doing what they do and what you would do in the same situation. You train your body every day - why not your mind also?

What are the most readily available moves and most commonly occurring scenarios in Jiu Jitsu? Whenever people ask me how to make make faster progress in Jiu Jitsu i always answer their question with a question of my own. WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ARE THE MOST READILY AVAILABLE MOVES AND THE MOST COMMONLY OCCURRING SCENARIOS IN THE SPORT? I listen to it whatever answers they give - almost always there is pretty widespread agreement about this as the facts are rather plain and open to be seen by all - and then I tell them - DEVOTE THE GREAT MAJORITY OF YOUR TRAINING TIME TO THOSE MOVES AND SCENARIOS AND WATCH YOUR PROGRESS ACCELERATE. A classic example is the front head lock. You show me any Jiu Jitsu match (especially a no gi match) that goes longer than two minutes and i will show you multiple opportunities for both athletes to get to a front headlock. It is almost impossible to engage in a sport where the primary goal is to get a hold of people and control them without both people putting themselves in position to take or be taken in a front headlock. Time invested in this or any other readily available move or scenario in the sport is this time well spent - you will be making use of the skills you develop every single time you train and compete. Here, @heysonnyy applies a superb high elbow guillotine out of a front headLock to win her recent match at @kasaigrappling Despite a very short time in the sport she has deep knowledge of the position due to our heavy emphasis on building systems around the most commonly occurring systems and most effective moves so that valuable training time is not frittered away on skills that will rarely be used or which have only a low percentage chance of success if they are. Make your training time count the most by focusing upon the situations you are most likely to encounter and the moves most likely to succeed.

If unity is strength - isolation is weakness

If unity is strength - isolation is weakness: Perhaps one of the biggest themes of my Jiu Jitsu coaching is LIMB ISOLATION. As long as one of your opponents limbs is locked close to another limb or to the torso, it will be very strong and difficult to attack. One of your primary goals in submission attacks, particularly joint locks, is to ISOLATE ONE LIMB FROM THE OTHER OR GET IT EXTENDED AWAY FROM THE TORSO. If you can do this consistently, you will submit many people. Whenever an attack on your opponent’s limbs is your goal - think about the two critical aspects of isolation - separate one limb from the other and separate it from the torso. Both are required. Doing so will make strong opponents feel weak. Every scenario will require a different method of limb isolation so I cannot give even general guidelines as to how you will do this every time you grapple, but the goal is easy to comprehend even if the means to it can be complicated. Still, this is a sport where KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO is half the battle - and that’s always a solid start in the right direction

Demian Maia and Michelle Nicolini

Demian Maia and Michelle Nicolini: The greatest representative of Jiu Jitsu in modern MMA, Demian Maia @demianmaia came by the blue basement to train with the squad today. This incredible athlete has flown the Jiu jitsu flag with tremendous distinction for so long - it was an absolute pleasure to watch him drill and spar with the juniors and even get some light MMA work with Garry Tonon. He is a true role model for the sport - a gentleman fighter who represents our art with style and grace. There is something deeply impressive about an athlete who can really hold up the ideal of Jiu Jitsu as a gentle art amongst all the violence of the octagon and weave a tale of bloodless victories in a bloody sport. Also in town was the the great Michelle Nicolini @miznicolini who is also doing a very fine job of taking Jiu Jitsu into MMA. It is fascinating watching a great gi competitor make adjustments to the no gi game and from there into the fight game. I’m always proud to be involved in Jiu Jitsu and having two such great athletes representing our sport in the worlds toughest game always makes me even more proud. Wishing these two all time greats all the best from the basement in NYC!

Remove the impediments first to get to what you really want

Remove the impediments first to get to what you really want: Everything we do in the sport of Jiu jitsu is done AGAINST KNOWLEDGEABLE RESISTANCE. This has a simple yet crucial ramification. We cannot in the vast majority of cases, simply go straight to our goals. In almost every case we have to take an INDIRECT route that entails first REMOVING THE BLOCKS AND IMPEDIMENTS OUR OPPONENT PUTS IN FRONT OF THE THING WE WANT TO GET AND ONLY WHEN THOSE HAVE BEEN REMOVED THEN GO TO TAKE WHAT YOU WANT. We all have to develop a sophisticated arsenal of techniques and tactics to remove those defensive barriers long enough to get to what we want. Here, Nicky Ryan wants to get to a leg to begin a takedown sequence. That cannot be done until he removes the barrier of his opponent’s hands, arms and head. SO THAT IS WHERE HE BEGINS THE BATTLE - not at the legs- even though that is his primary goal. He initiates with wrist ties that can clear away defensive hands and arms. If he can then get past his opponents head, there will be little between himself and the leg he wants - only then will he go in. ALL OF JIU JITSU IS LIKE THIS - from takedowns to positional moves to submissions. Become a master of INDIRECT THINKING and enjoy watching your game go to a new level.

Ask yourself two questions today

Ask yourself two questions today: First - If you could have only one submission to use for the rest of your life, what would it be? Second, what is currently your most successful submission hold? Then go further...Are they the same? If not, what does that say about your training? If they are the same, how does your choice stand in relation to the observed success percentages of most athletes in international competition? Know yourself - Know the game - Know more - Win more

Rise among your peers

Rise among your peers: 90% of your training and development is done among your peers within your own dojo. As a result, your whole image of yourself is built upon your relative successes and failures among your peers. Your attempts to gauge your progress is largely done by assessing how much better or worse you are doing with them. They are your best friends and fiercest rivals, your measuring stick for who you were, who you are now and who you want to be in the future. Dream big - far beyond the walls of your dojo - but understand that it is your peers and your drive to rise among them that will be the vast majority of your Jiu Jitsu life. So dream big and international but realize that your daily life will always be familial and local - train accordingly.

The squad had a blast today training with the great Keenan Cornelius. Mr Cornelius has always been one of our strongest rivals - a true innovator and pioneer in the sport and someone we have always admired. He had some great rounds with the juniors as we all went through standing and ground grappling. He is an athlete whose game changes very dramatically from gi to no gi so it was fascinating to watch his no gi game and how it contrasts with our own. Looking forward to more sessions over the week from this outstanding American grappler.

Breaking your opponents structure and alignment - the power of unnatural positions

Breaking your opponents structure and alignment - the power of unnatural positions: The human body is a fascinating subject of study - and at the deepest level, ALL OF JIU JITSU IS SIMPLY A DEEP STUDY OF THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE HUMAN BODY IN UNARMED COMBAT. There are radical differences in the performance levels of our body depending upon the stance or structure in which it is held. Certain structures/stances make us very strong and powerful, others leave us shocking weak and vulnerable. In Jiu Jitsu our job is keep ourselves in stances/structures that make us strong whilst putting our opponents in stances/structures that make them weak. As much as possible, seek always to PUT YOUR OPPONENT INTO AWKWARD AND UNNATURAL POSITIONS FROM WHICH THEY CANNOT MOVE OR EXERT STRENGTH. Probably the single best way to do this is through your opponent’s HEAD. THE HEAD IS THE FOREMOST MEANS OF MISALIGNING AN OPPONENTS STRUCTURE IN WAYS THAT ROB HIM OF ATHLETICISM. Whenever possible, seek to put your opponent’s head into misaligned positions that make it very difficult him to use the rest of his body effectively. Here, I am putting my training partners head into a misaligned position that makes defense to the arm lock that I am applying significantly more difficult than usual. Actively applying the cross face leg in juji gatame arm locks like this undermines most of the standard defenses to the lock and will greatly boost your finishing percentages in sparring and competition. Look to apply the principle of posture/structure breaking wherever you can - once you can break an opponent’s structure and posture - his limbs will soon follow.