Early days in NYC - Mom and Dad visit

Early days in NYC - Mom and Dad visit: When I first came to NYC from New Zealand in 1991 (I had visited in 1988 but less than a month) it was to study Philosophy at Columbia University. New York is of course, an expensive town and the small financial stipend I got from Columbia as part of my scholarship needed supplementation, so I began working in bars and nightclubs as a bouncer. A few years later my dear Mom and Dad came all the way from New Zealand to see me - I had told them I did some extra work around town but did not tell them what it entailed I had arranged to see them and visit the Statue of Liberty and the old World Trade Center - I lived in Harlem at the time and arranged to come downtown and meet them to be the guide. I canceled work the night before because I was worried there would be a night of fighting and I would have to show up to see them with black eyes, cuts or broken nose! All went to plan until at 11pm I got a phone call from a bouncer friend imploring me to replace him for a family emergency at the last minute and take his spot - he had helped me in the past so I had to do it - but the promotion he was working for was legendarily violent even by early 90’s NYC standards! I showed up in the middle of a giant brawl and we fought continuously until beyond closing time at 4am! The whole time all I thought about was not getting hit in The face Finally the night came to closing time and I started to relax and say “I made it!” When a last scuffle broke out trying to get people to leave - I got hit in the back of the head with a thrown bottle and cut Luckily in those days I had hair!! When I woke up the next day I had a big lump, bruise and cut - but hidden underneath my hair so all was well!! Here I am with Mom (Mum for my NZ and Aussie readers) and Dad admiring old New York with a clean face and telling them about how safe i was in NYC studying at University


How you end today’s training session will determine tomorrow’s

How you end today’s training session will determine tomorrow’s: When most people end a Jiu jitsu training session they are typically rather exhausted. Understandably they usually either show and go home to rest or hang out on the mats and take a mental break with small talk and banter with their buddies. In most cases this is fine, but very often I find that this time immediately after class is one of the most productive to teach a quick lesson in response to a problem i saw students experience in that session. Problems irk us. When we experience a problem on the mat that irritates us, a good solution will be much more memorable and likely to “stick” in our minds precisely because the initial irritation creates a demand for knowledge, and that demand will make the lesson memorable. Here we all get together for a post class discussion of a problem students ran into - typically I will state the problem and offer initial solutions and bounce ideas around as we experiment with solutions. Some work well for some students, others for other students. These last thoughts often provide a good lead in to tomorrow’s class - and this is the important thing - for ONLY WHEN CLASSES BUILD UPON THE LESSONS OF PREVIOUS CLASSES IN A CONTINUOUS LINE OF PROGRESS CAN YOU BUILD TOWARDS YOUR LONG TERM GOALS IN THE SPORT


Let the position do the work for you

Let the position do the work for you: It’s natural in combat sports to feel like you have to work and hustle the whole time to beat tough opponents. There certainly will be many times in a tough match where you indeed need to work very hard and hustle to stay ahead - but there will be just as many times where you ought to slow down your work rate and relax a little. This will enable you to recharge after a physically demanding period of action and add greatly to your endurance. One of the best time to do this is after you have scored in a dominant position - the two best are mount and rear mount with side pins also very good (I would not recommend this from knee on belly pins however). In these cases - let the pin do the work for you for a while. The onus is on the OTHER guy to work hard to escape - not you. As you relax and recharge, he is under great stress - if you can Maintain this state of affairs for a minute or two you will have a big energy advantage over the opponent. Watch how Nicky Ryan rewards himself first the hard work of taking an opponent down and passing his guard to mount with a little siesta time that will soon create a situation where is recharged and the opponent exhausted - and then the job of finishing will be so much easier.


Regulating tension

Regulating tension: When you first began Jiu jitsu you probably had the same problem everyone else does - you got very tense and tight and as a result quickly exhausted yourself. As you improved, you learned to relax and then you could spar fore much longer periods without fatigue being such an issue. Then a new problem emerged. In this relaxed state, sometimes the submissions you attempted were not tight enough and opponents escaped. Learning to regulate the muscular tension in your body during sparring is a huge part of your development from beginner to expert. In general the body moves fastest and longest in a state of athletic relaxation, so this is the state you want to be in for most of the match when MOVEMENT into winning positions is your primary focus. The body best exhibits control over another body in a state of ISOMETRIC TENSION. This will you need to find a balance between the athletic relaxation that allows you to move fluidly and efficiently into good positions and the isometric tension that enables you to lock on tight to a submission hold, stay locked on despite the strongest resistance and exhibit sufficient strength to force a submission. You can see the kind of tension required for a breaking submission against a tough opponent as Garry Tonon shows his isometric strength with a punishing heel hook on his way to another EBI title.


The power of learning

The power of learning: It is always impressive to watch a student take on new ideas and information and then apply it to get to their goals. So often I get messages of students from around the world who watch the instructional videos of myself and my students at @bjj.fanatics and get results in the gym and in competition. One of the most impressive examples of this is the student who actually made many of the videos with me as the demonstration partner (Uke) - @placisantos Placido Santos. Placido got to feel and perform the moves and concepts first hand. It’s amazing to see how well he has adopted them into his game. This weekend the 150 pound blue belt entered the advanced open weight division of grappling industries and won first place! Using many of the lessons we worked and showed in the videos he was able to take every match by submission! Never underestimate the power of knowledge made into skill through hard training! Hope you enjoy this highlight reel of Placido tearing it up this weekend as I did!


Don’t just attack the joint - attack his balance at the same time

Don’t just attack the joint - attack his balance at the same time: I’m sure that many times you have had the frustrating experience of locking on a nice submission hold and having your opponent hold a strong defensive posture and then work his way free of the hold. Most submission defense against submission holds applied from bottom position begin with POSTURE and BASE. It is for that reason that whenever possible, go beyond just attacking with the submission hold - ATTACK YOUR OPPONENTS BALANCE/POSTURE/BASE AT THE SAME TIME. This will greatly hamper his defense. Here, Garry Tonon has locked on a very tight cross ashi garami hold and is clamping it in place with a well applied inside sankaku (triangle) leg entanglement. Note how he goes the extra distance against tough opposition and breaks his opponents balance as well - immediately making escape more difficult and with the additional benefit of heel exposure as a bonus. Next time you are locked into an arm bar, triangle, leg lock or whatever from bottom position, make a simultaneous attack on your opponents balance and you will soon find that the balance attack makes the submission attacks much more successful


Reflections on a truly great athlete and career

Reflections on a truly great athlete and career: The great Khabib Nurmagomedov fought another brilliant fight last night to take another dominant victory over the very dangerous Justin Gaethje. As he has so many many times, Mr Nurmagomedov was able to neutralize his opponent with superb takedowns and ground control. As with all great athletes, opponents know what to expect but are simply unable to stop it. Many people describe Mr Nurmagomedov as just a wrestler but he showed last night that he has a truly superb MMA skill set. Mr Gaethje is himself a fine wrestler, but as Georges St Pierre showed so many times, wrestling/takedowns in an MMA fight is a very different skill than wrestling/takedowns in a pure wrestling match. He integrated his striking into takedowns superbly and was able to make the takedowns look easy against an excellent wrestler. Not only that, he showed he has excellent submissions skills and the control skills to set them up with beautiful mount control leading into a superb mounted triangle (when was the last time you saw a mounted triangle used to finish an MMA fight? Forget about a UFC title fight!) The application was flawless and resulted in a quick strangle to unconsciousness (I have no idea what the referee was doing as Mr Gaethje clearly tapped twice and Mr Nurmagomedov did what he is supposed to do - hold on until the referee stops the action). Even more impressive is the fact that Mr Nurmagomedov essentially won the fight twice that night - he had total control from the mount at the end of round one and only the bell saved his opponent. Then he went out in round two and repeated the action and got back into mount and finished in spectacular style. To do this twice - once per round against such a dangerous opponent is truly admirable. Through his career this remarkable man has always conducted himself with honor and a straight forward no-nonsense attitude . He stood up for his team mates and what he believed was right and never let himself be swayed by what others wanted or demanded. What a privilege to watch such an athlete in action and see him finish an unbeaten career and forge the path he wanted on his terms.


Scare the hell out of your opponents with terrifying submission technique

Scare the hell out of your opponents with terrifying submission technique - all my instructional videos on Halloween sale at @bjj.fanatics Now until November! ☠️☠️


There are an infinite number of possibilities in a scramble - but there should be only one goal - the opponents back

There are an infinite number of possibilities in a scramble - but there should be only one goal - the opponents back: It can be hard to know what to do in the fleeting time and motion of a scrambles. The single most useful thing you can have under these circumstances is A SENSE OF DIRECTION. You can actually go in several good directions in a scramble, but in my opinion the best direction will always be towards your opponents back. The back is a big target, a huge percentage of our body’s surface area, so it will always be available at some point as you move through a prolonged scramble. Once you get there it enables you to control and finish the toughest opponents. When your world is a confusing tangle of limbs flying around the mat - keep your thought process simple and clear - AIM FOR THE BACK. Here, Gordon Ryan does exactly that at the ADCC world championships. He is a fine example showing you don’t need to the fastest athlete to be a superb scrambler - just an athlete with a good sense of direction. Remember, in a race between a speedster with no sense of direction versus a plodder who knows exactly where he wants to go - the plodder will beat the speedster every time


Two ways of studying Jiu jitsu

Two ways of studying Jiu jitsu: One of the beauties of Jiu jitsu is that you can approach it in two very different ways - both of which are very profitable to your development. The first is to study Jiu jitsu as a martial art/combat sport in itself. If you study Jiu jitsu as a stand alone art by itself you can make fast progress and really focus on pure grappling. I still believe after all these years that just Jiu jitsu by itself makes for an extremely effective fighting style. Even a very highly ranked fighter would have to be very wary of a very good Jiu jitsu player who had no MMA training and stay away from certain positions and play a smart tactical game to win. The other approach is to see Jiu Jitsu as a component of a complete fighting style that borrowed from various combat sports to produce a well rounded MMA style that covered everything. This is generally the best approach for fighting but is often not suitable to part timers or older athletes or professionals who simply can’t risk daily injuries while working a full time job. Here is a nice photo of two great athletes training with the squad who represent well this split. Keenan Cornelius is of course, the specialist who dedicates his time to single discipline Jiu jitsu grappling. Georges St Pierre is the all rounder who uses Jiu jitsu training as a vital component of an overall program as a professional MMA athlete. Both are wonderful ways to approach the art. I’ve always loved the fact that Jiu Jitsu can adapt to the needs of its followers like this and it has created some amazing memories for me as a coach to see different athletes with different goals working together in their own directions.