Thank you

Thank you: Over twenty five years I have taught out of the dojo of my teacher Renzo Gracie. I have been blessed to have so many extraordinary students. I began teaching introduction classes as a blue belt, never dreaming that it would one day be my livelihood. In time I began teaching full time and was fascinated by the overlap of Jiu jitsu with MMA. As fate would have it, a young Georges St Pierre became my student and this began a decade of study in that area culminating in Mr St Pierre as one of the most dominant champions in history and Chris Weidman defeating the other great champion of that era, Anderson Silva. When Georges retired I shifted focus to no gi Jiu jitsu. Once again fate blessed me with outstanding students as Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings and the Ryan brothers, Gordon and Nicky formed a core of grapplers that changed the game. Through all of that development were my daily students - the core of my classes - far too many to name but you all know who you are. You were my rock and my foundation. Without you all neither myself nor my more well known students could have done what they did. Thank you all so much for your dedication and sacrifices over a quarter of a century. Thank you for tolerating my shortcomings as a person and a teacher. Thank you for making a room in which ideas could be tested, theories spawned and champions made. We all remember training days before Georges fights or ADCC camps averaging over a hundred people on the mats in morning and afternoon class - today it’s an empty room that i look but my memories will last as long as I do. Thank you for those memories - without you they never would have happened.


What the next move will be?

Hmmm...I wonder what the next move will be? When you slap hands with your training partner at the onset of a match in Jiu jitsu you both have an almost limitless number of possible options as far as technique and tactics are concerned. The goal is to take your opponent down a path where his options are rapid taken from unlimited to two or three easily identifiable options. WHEN YOU CAN STRONGLY LIMIT YOUR OPPONENTS AVAILABLE OPTIONS HE BECOMES PREDICTABLE - AND A PREDICTABLE OPPONENT IS MUCH EASIER TO DEFEAT. This is done by locking your opponent into a grip and position from there are only a couple of ways to extricate himself. Experience will tell you what these options are. When you can quickly impose a grip or hold upon an opponent that leaves him with a decision tree with only two three branches - you are on the short cut to victory.


Expressing who you are through Jiu jitsu

Expressing who you are through Jiu jitsu: Jiu Jitsu offers a veritable ocean of moves to its practitioners. You could live ten lifetimes and not master them all. It’s important then, that you focus on those which best suit your body type and personality. When you first begin study you need to simply learn the basic moves as best you can, but in time you will begin to notice that certain moves come more natural you than others. By the time you are a black belt your distinctive game will reflect who you are as clearly as your finger prints. Don’t try to force this process. Don’t start off with a statement that this or that move will be your favorite - it will happen organically over time as naturally as your features change with age. Though I teach a program that has a distinctive look among all my students - beginning with cast iron defense and submission offense around the whole body with a heavy emphasis on legs and back - I make sure I teach a large number of moves and tactics and leave lots of room for individual experimentation so that within the commonalities of my students there are many different interpretations to suit their individual body types and personalities. In the early stages the moves of Jiu jitsu must be given out under the control of the teacher, but as you develop over time they must be offered as a smorgasbord that allows the students to pick and choose those which best suit what they want and need. I always tell my students - i am a dictator on the fundamentals of Jiu jitsu - there is no choice on those, they have to be learned - but I am a libertarian on the rest of the game. As you practice keep a note of those moves that seem to come more naturally to you than others. Research how successful/high percentage they are in top level competition. Perhaps one day they will become the defining feature of your game


Garry Tonon getting ready

Garry Tonon getting ready: Garry Tonon is counting down the days to his next MMA fight in Singapore for @onechampionship where he takes on the very talented Japanese title contender Koyomi Matsushima, who brings a very dangerous mix of Karate and Wrestling into the fight mixed with great experience in high level organizations at championship level. Mr Tonon has trained very thoroughly despite all the inherent problems due to covid restrictions and is ready for action. Sadly i will not be able to go with him this time due to covid restrictions in Singapore that only allow one person to accompany him so we agreed to send a sparring partner for preparation as he has to arrive very early for quarantine purposes and will need to train over there. Mr Tonon continues to expand his MMA repertoire but still we out a heavy emphasis on our style of Jiu jitsu as the core of his preparation. He goes onstage December 4th - hope you all enjoy the show!


Obstacles

Obstacles: Sometimes when you run into a skilled guard player and it seems nothing will get you around their legs it gets frustrating. How you react to that frustration will determine your success or failure as a guard passer. We all have a natural tendency when frustrated to get the mentality of a ram and just go on butting heads until one drops. Don’t get into this mindset. Remember always that it’s always better to go AROUND obstacles rather than THROUGH them - guard passing is no different. No matter how tired and frustrated you get, focus on moving from one side to another - as feel strong resistance on the left, move to the right and renew the attack and keep working aide to side until you get the breakthrough you seek. Don’t just kept hammering away on one side against a good guard player - that’s a ticket to frustration and eventual failure. If you feel yourself getting frustrated it’s ok to back off a little and start again. The main thing is to stay on top and work side to side - that alone will usually result in the bottom player working harder than you over time and thus become less effective as fatigue becomes a factor.


It’s that time! Black Friday sale at BJJ Fanatics - the biggest sale of the year!! 50% off all my instructional videos! Get ready to show off that new knowledge after Thanksgiving


Should I take notes after class?

Should I take notes after class? A question I am often asked is whether it is beneficial to take notes after Jiu jitsu training sessions. My experience is that there is one common goal for all students - the ability to retain and access learned information under the stress of sparring/competition - however different people have different ways of accomplishing that common goal and no one method appears to outperform the others. For example, Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon and Nicky Ryan have never taken a note in their lives. Myself and Eddie Cummings were prolific note takers. All of us were able to retain information successfully despite the polar opposite approach with regards notes. What I generally find is that people from an academic background are used to the idea of note taking already and adapt it well to Jiu Jitsu study. Those who are not don’t. Just do what you’re comfortable with. Experiment with both and see if there is a difference in your retention performance, but don’t feel you HAVE to take notes. If you do choose to take notes, focus on writing down what was new and interesting in that session rather than every detail. Remember that our memory has very finite limits so don’t overstock on non essentials. So if you’ve never taken notes, give it a try, but if you don’t feel any retention benefits don’t feel you have to do it or that you are at a disadvantage - you are in good company because most champions don’t take notes either. But if you feel like it does help (as it probably did when you were in college) - then stick with it with a focus on what was new and important for that day rather than a record of everything that happened.


New York

New York: My life is probably a lot like yours. It’s been filled with moments of success followed by failure, of joy following sadness. Cycles of up and down, good and bad. Through all of that there was one constant in my life - New York City. Whenever I traveled around the country and the globe there was always a special feeling of happiness when I returned and saw that unmistakable skyline. Washington may be America’s capital, but New York is the WORLD’S capital. It attracts the best and most driven people from around the globe into a concentrated mess of industry, innovation, eclecticism and evolution. It either builds you up or smashes you down. This was reflected in the many incredible teachers and students I had here in New York over quarter of a century. I had many great teachers and many great friends, but in the end, New York was the greatest teacher and friend of them all. It taught me the power of motivation allied with diversity of inputs funneled into a common purpose toughened and refined by open competition. The city has changed a lot in my time here - I’ve changed a lot too - but my changes aren’t complete yet - there are some projects ahead - and they won’t be done in New York City. No change is permanent, the future is always uncertain, plans can change in the face of changing circumstances and you can always come back from where you’re going, but for now it’s time to move on in order to move forward. I will soon be moving with some of my students to Puerto Rico to try a new philosophy of teaching and refining our beloved art that I hope can widen our reach and contribute something significant to the continued growth of Jiu jitsu.


Every attack from bottom is first an attack on your opponents stance and balance

Every attack from bottom is first an attack on your opponents stance and balance: There are a thousand ways to attack from bottom position in Jiu Jitsu, but they are have a common start. Your opponent can only withstand your attacks and go on to pass your guard when he establishes good posture and balance. It’s stands to reason then, that every time you go to attack from bottom position your first target should be his posture and balance - regardless of what attack you’ve chosen. When you can snap an opponents hand down to the floor, knock his butt back to the mat, get his head lower than his hips and all those other signs of successful breaking of balance and posture, then you will suddenly find whatever attacks you favor are suddenly working much better. In a world of huge numbers of possible alternatives - LOOK FOR THE SMALL NUMBER OF COMMONALITIES THAT THEY ALL SHARE - focus your attention on those essential commonalities and watch as all those myriad possibilities become realistic probabilities.


Articulate a broad vision first and then a sound means of getting there

Articulate a broad vision first and then a sound means of getting there: When I teach my first job is to give people a sense of direction - what are we trying to accomplish? What is it’s purpose? Why is this important? Then I try to fill in the myriad details of tactics and technique along with a training method that can actually allow a student to actually perform that vision in a competitive situation. In this sense I preach a teaching method based around PURPOSE and PATHWAY. Give students a sense a purpose and a pathway to get there. When you have a general sense of purpose it is so much easier to remember all the many techniques and tactics because you know what direction they are supposed to take you. Techniques that are not used regularly are soon forgotten. Details taught in isolation often seem frivolous and unnecessary. But when they are out in in the context of purpose they make a lot more sense and are retained a lot longer