Studying Philosophy

Studying Philosophy: I have made many foolish decisions in my life, but one decision I made that I never regretted and am eternally grateful for was my decision to study Philosophy when I went to College and Graduate school. This might seem strange as Philosophy is not what I ended doing as a career, nor will it lead to what most people associate with success - money, fame or status. Yet I honestly believe that outside of sport specific physical training and study, the study of philosophy was the single most helpful activity I bought with me when I began Jiu Jitsu. My reasoning is that the study of philosophy teaches you the crucial skill of clearly identifying a problem and assessing the merit of proposed solutions. Interestingly Philosophy itself struggles to make progress on the many questions it seeks to answer. It is probably fair to say that Western Philosophy is no closer to answering its central problems than the Ancient Greeks who first voiced them at its outset. The real value of Philosophy is in its ability to get people asking deep questions and applying reason to battle towards a solution. This creates a mindset that can be applied profitably in any field - including Jiu Jitsu. Here I am outside my office at the University of Auckland in New Zealand the day I left for America to begin study at Graduate School at Columbia University in New York. I had no idea what direction my life would go, but I knew that the ability to identify and clearly differentiate a problem and apply a set of rational criteria for grading prospective solutions would be a useful thing - that much I got correct (although my sense of fashion got even worse ) When studying Jiu Jitsu, always try hard to clear state and understand the problems you are confronted with - this will give you a strong sense of direction that can greatly reduce the time taken to make improvements to your game.


Indirect attack

Indirect attack: When you are engaged in combat with a neophyte, simple and direct attacks work best. Just use the simplest moves and set ups to get the job done. Overly complex moves don’t work well on neophytes as they lack the appropriate defensive reactions and simply don’t react to feints and subterfuge. However, as the skill level of your opponents rise, you must more and more come to rely up the constant use of INDIRECT ATTACKS to get the breakthroughs you desire. A good rule of combat is this - WHEN BOTH COMBATANTS KNOW EACH OTHERS MOVES AND THE COUNTERS TO THEM, IT WILL COME DOWN TO WHO DOES A BETTER JOB OF DISGUISING THEIR REAL INTENTIONS PRIOR TO THEIR ATTACKS WHO WILL PREVAIL. If you wish to attack in the left, feint to the right, if you wish to draw an opponent forward, start by pressuring him backwards, if you wish to attack high on the body, feign a low attack first. Only by confusing an opponent as to your real intentions will you be able to consistently break through the defenses of a skilled adversary. Make a mental habit of always having a real intention when you go to attack, and an apparent intention you sell to your opponent and onlookers. GOOD JIU JITSU DOES NOT RELY ON TRICKS FOR VICTORY - BUT IT DOES RELY UPON TRICKERY.


The greatest submission in all of Jiu Jitsu

The greatest submission in all of Jiu Jitsu: I teach six complete submission systems covering the whole body to my students. In addition I teach many other submission holds that we use somewhat less often but are still very important nonetheless. However, there is one root basis of all submission that stands far above even the most high percentage submission holds when it comes to accounting for the success or failure of submissions - this is the notion of PRESSURE. Pressure, the act of putting an opponent under physical and mental duress through tactics, weight of attack, intensity of attack, off balancing, combined attacks and a host of other elements, has finished more opponents than any one submission hold ever did. Indeed, without antecedent pressure the vast majority of submissions never would have succeeded. IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL THAT YOU DEVELOP THE SKILL OF PUTTING AN OPPONENT UNDER CONSTANT PRESSURE OVER TIME - When you can do this the submissions come easy. In many cases you must break an opponent mentally before you can break him physically. This is done through pressure that makes him feel defeat is inevitable - as such they learn to ACCEPT a submission hold - but the real submission was a mental act before it became manifest in a physical move. When you first begin Jiu Jitsu the two most important ways to develop a pressure game is through POSITIONAL pressure when on top - constant advance toward superior position and not relinquishing it once gained - and through KUZUSHI (off balancing) when on bottom. If you can develop strong Kuzushi from underneath and consistently get past legs and into dominant pins on top, you will finish many opponents. Make every facet of PRESSURE an object of study and watch your submission game go to a new level.


Preparation must mirror the event

Preparation must mirror the event: In all your training you must ask yourself one simple question that is of supreme importance - DOES THIS WORK I AM DOING ENHANCE THE SKILLS I WILL NEED TO PERFORM BETTER? So often I see athletes working hard, but on tasks that have a very tenuous relationship with the actual event they are preparing for. Sometimes we feel that as long as we are working hard we are getting better. This is often not the case. Only if the work you are doing is relevant to the task you are about to undertake will the effort be worthwhile. Always ask yourself if your training really does help your perform the tasks of your sport better. It is quite surprising how often i see even top level athletes engaging in training behavior that even a moments thought would reveal has little relevance to the sport they are preparing for. It’s not the amount of sweat you produce that indicates how well prepared you are, but rather how much sweat you have produced working in ways that directly increase the necessary skills required for victory. Here, Garry Tonon is seen just two hours before his most recent MMA victory, practicing the very move that won him the fight in less than a minute. Striking into a single leg and falling back for ashi garami into a heel hook. A short time later he would use that same movement in front of an enthralled crowd to take his fifth win. Never stop asking “will this work make me better at what I do?” The speed of your progress is dependent upon your answer...


Juniors pushing forward! The squad juniors had a great weekend with @nickyryanbjj and @nickyrod247 winning big matches in England and today @katerinaleontyeva won the female tournament at 115 pounds at Finishers Sub Only event in Rockaway NY Ms Leontyeva was able to get fishes via heel hook, knee bar and kimura along with a dramatic overtime win against team mate @daniellekellybjj to take gold and win $2500 shekels Its always a pleasure to see motivated people working hard towards their goals and dreams and the juniors just keep doing exactly that! Thanks to @frankrosenthal11 for coaching and to the all the training partners in the basement who help get everyone ready for the stage.


Victory for Nicky Ryan!! Nicky Ryan @nickyryanbjj won his title match against the great Urijah Faber tonight in England. It was a very tough and physical battle that went the distance. Mr Ryan got one very tight entry into one of his favorite leg lock positions but went out of bounds before it could be completed and the adjustments made to restart the position appeared to loosen it so there was not a decisive finish. It was Mr Ryan who did all the engaging and attacking while Mr Faber played a very defensive game based on physical roughhousing and defensive positioning so the decision was an easy one for the judges. At the same event standout junior heavyweight squad member @nickyrod247 won via strangle from the back to show his impressive development in a very short time frame. Big thanks to @garrytonon for going out to England with the juniors to coach after his recent tremendous win in @onechampionship It’s wonderful to see the development of these outstanding young athletes as they battle towards their goals and dreams. Now everyone comes back to the basement and gets ready for the next big challenge!


Escapes - psychology and physicality

Escapes - psychology and physicality: I have said this before and will say it again - your psychological confidence overall in any given match/fight is directly proportional to your confidence in your ability to physically handle the worst case scenarios of your sport. If you have no fear of the worst case scenarios, nothing else can faze you. This confidence doesn’t come out of thin air. It does not come from positive affirmations, self help gurus, meditation, visualization, breathing exercises or any other hocus pocus fluff like this. It comes from knowing exactly what you are supposed to do in these situations and drilling them every day until you find them easy to deal with. So the psychological attribute of confidence has physical roots. I make My students spend a LOT of time on Escapes - everyone has to work it every day - no exceptions, no matter what their level - and in competition it shows. That’s why they attack so fearlessly, because they know they can take risks without fear of bad consequences. In a crises situation nothing will help except KNOWING THE CORRECT THING TO DO AND HAVING SPENT THE TIME DEVELOPING THE PHYSICAL SKILLS TO ENACT THAT KNOWLEDGE SO THAT THE ESCAPES COME FLUIDLY AND NATURALLY.


Nicky Ryan back onstage in England this weekend

Nicky Ryan back onstage in England this weekend: Nicky Ryan will take on MMA superstar, the great Urijah Faber, this weekend at @polaris_professional grappling event. The event features squad juniors, @ethancrelinsten and @nickyrod247 along with our friend @craigjonesbjj I always love the interface between grappling and MMA and Mr Faber was a fine example of this. He was a very fine wrestler and long time student of Jiu Jitsu throughout his long and distinguished MMA career. I often find that many people badly underestimate the pure grappling skill of many top MMA athletes and when they see them in grappling they are shocked at how good many of them are. I have witnessed many occasions where top grapplers were brought into MMA fight camps and had a very hard time going against MMA stars even in pure grappling. Mr Faber has a great mix of wrestling and Jiu Jitsu and uses them very well together and has a fine guillotine attack on top of that. Mr Ryan has very refined technique but will have to overcome a significant strength advantage of he is to prevail in this fascinating match up. @garrytonon is just off his latest MMA victory and is in England for coaching and cornering the youngsters (in between eating hamburgers and English pudding - I think he may be over three hundred pounds at this point). Keep your eyes on this event!!


Start your training sessions with a sense of purpose

Start your training sessions with a sense of purpose: probably the single most common error i see in most athletes training routines is a failure to have a clearly outlined sense of purpose in their sessions. Too often I see athletes arrive on the mat with no sense of what they will try to accomplish in next few hours. As a result, the session meanders into sparring where at the completion there is no obvious sense in which you can say that you are now better than when you started the session. It is permissible to have occasional playful, relaxed sessions like this, but the majority of your sessions must have a strong sense of direction if you are to improve over time rather than just remain at whatever level you currently are. At the start of most classes I always begin with a short statement of what is the skill we are working on, why it’s important and what we want to do to get the job done. This immediately creates a sense of direction in the class towards which we can move. Then it’s into the main part of the class - technical details and the sparring. Just as a man walking in a forest without a compass will inevitably end up walking in a useless circle, so too, a years worth of training sessions without direction will end up with you at the same point you started. Whenever we train without a goal we inevitably go back to the same old moves we always use and progress eventually halts. EFFORT EXPENDED IS NOT A MEASURE OF PROGRESS - only effort expended in a positive direction gets you to where you wish to be.


Seen in this way we can create a fundamentals program that clearly identifies three broad areas for skill development and five skill sets within each as the fifteen essential positional skills that we will need to cover if we are to be considered as having completed the fundamental requirements of skill development in Jiu Jitsu. There are many ways to interpret and express a fundamentals program - this is the outline of the one that I use. Obviously within each of these positional skill sets there are many moves, movements, concepts, tactics etc to learn. It is important to have a road map of our journey into Jiu Jitsu and this fifteen positional skill sets map gives students a clear understanding of what they need to cover to have a complete fundamentals game. Obviously there are many other skills besides positional skills, but Jiu Jitsu is founded upon position so that’s a sound place to start a fundamentals program. I always recommend starting with bottom ground position pin escapes and guard retention first, as this is where most beginners naturally end up in most training sessions.