Posts Tagged ‘Eli Knight’

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Firstly, this isn’t a religious post, except in the fact that jiu-jitsu is a deeply religious thing for me. Rather, I’m referring to having faith in the training, in the technique, in the realization that all will come when you are ready for it.

The first truly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique I ever learned was a half guard pass. I had virtually no context for it. It had never come up in a fight and I hadn’t realized what it was if it occurred in training prior to learning it. I repped it out and listened to the explanation for it but it wouldn’t be accessible to me for some time.

Finally, probably 2 or more years later I found the exact right scenario and that technique, which I thought I had forgotten by then, came to the surface. I was ready for it! Has this ever happened to you?

This is one of those beautiful jiu-jitsu epiphony, metaphorical moments of clarity, when it all makes sense again. When the roll speaks to you, you understand it to be the truth because it proves its inherent value in the moment perfectly. There are of course other moments in life when the pieces fall into place, but jiu-jitsu is so often times complex and chaotic yet formulaic and precise, that it seems to hold an equation up to the universe and say “See! This is how it works!”

Sorry for the philosophical rant, but that’s the nature of the thing. If you dismiss a move as not useful, either in itself or just for you, you miss out on the possibility that maybe you were simply not ready for it. It happens the other route as well. For example, the white belt who has “mastered” the upa escape and now only relies on the elbow escape because the upa is “too basic.” Or then there is the intermediate student who “needs another sweep” because everyone has caught on to his standard sweeps. It is simply a matter of readiness and appropriateness. So then the statement above could equally say, “If it isn’t happening for you, the situation isn’t appropriate for it.” Same meaning.

The answer, to me, is a matter of having faith that if the technique is trained enough, it will work for you when you are ready. Or that you will reach a moment when the situation is apporpriate and you were able to apply it to the situation. The only missing ingredients then, are a lens for determining if the technique is sound in itself (which comes with time), and the patience to stick it out and develop proficiency and ability with the technique (which takes faith.

Now go train!

If you haven’t checked out BJJHQ.com you’re missing out on one of the coolest bjj merchandise websites out there. I made a video wearing the 93Brand Anvil rash guard they sent me and I love it. Check it out:

The Anvil Rash Guard from 93Brand is pretty awesome. Fits with all the right contour and not a loose thread anywhere on this thing – even after I rolled in it for over 2 hours it felt like I just put it on. The design is fresh and it’s up there with my favorites now.

Everyone knows I am a diehard DaFirma Kimono company fan, and that hasn’t changed. But I really like BJJHQ.COM and their new take on the merchandise overload going on with too many of these warehouses online. They have 1 deal per day…that’s right, just one. But it’s always awesome and always a crazy good deal!

So check out my video technique showing an easy way to translate the typically gi-dependent berimbolo into your no gi game. Then get back on the mat and rep it out!

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When grinding it out on the mat sometimes we can mistake the work we are doing for working out or training. It is these things superficially, but I think it is a grave mistake and disservice to the longevity of our practice when we forget to keep the Art at the forefront of our Martial Arts practice. Jiu-Jitsu is the most powerful, multifaceted and beautiful art forms in the world. So toil, work, train, learn, but don’t forget to create and love and respect the nature of the art for what it fully is.

career-bjj

You sure you want to take that step? You love BJJ with all your heart. You have found your calling. This is what you were made to do. So how do you do it? How do you make Jiu-Jitsu your career? Should you?

I remember after 15 years of  working part then full-time jobs, going to college, having a family, trying to balance everything and still keep Jiu-Jitsu in my life, reaching that moment of having to take the leap. The leap was making a go at teaching Jiu-Jitsu full-time for a career. I was fortunate to have an understanding and supportive family, a place I was already teaching with an established student base, and a brown belt under Royce Gracie. But even with those accolades and advantages, it was a daunting and intimidating task. I did not own my own academy, I didn’t have a big name in the bjj community as a teacher or competitor, and I was not making nearly enough money through teaching.

I think everyone hits forks in the road in life where you have to take a chance on a path. Many times these paths are a balance of passion and safety. Take the path that seems a little more secure and maybe isn’t the one you desire the most, or follow that compulsion of what speaks to your heart, and risk failure and loss. I chose the latter and that has made all the difference. I could have done it earlier. I could have taken bigger risks. I could have waited and been more secure. But like all decisions, I did it when I was readiest.

Should you? How would you? From what I can see, it boils down to firstly a financial decision; because face it, who doesn’t want to get paid for doing bjj?! That is something I will ask again in a little while. But you have to make a living. The main ways people make money in bjj is through competition and/or teaching. Both are difficult and require equal measures of business acumen and talent for the art.

The Competitor Route

If this is the route you’re taking, be prepared to train hard, train smart, and compete often. Winning is good, but not enough. You have to be recognizable in the competition arena and you have to be in the right tournaments. Nothing wrong with entering small upstart organization tournaments (ethically a great thing to do to support the community), but you need that IBJJF card and to look into getting into the big sanctioned events. Being recognized means a higher potential for acquiring sponsors and established notoriety. This is really just a parlay into the teaching realm eventually anyway, so concentrate on your teaching ability as well and have a good place to work with prospective students.

The Teaching Route

Teaching classes, seminars, and especially private lessons are the key to a sustainable career in bjj. If you think that Marcelo Garcia, Braulio Estima, Buchecha or even Royce Gracie make enough off of sponsorship and fame alone, you are mistaken. Do you have to have your own academy? Not necessarily, but it helps. I am fortunate that, while I am not the owner of my home academy, Three Rivers Martial Arts, I have been there long enough to help it grow from humble beginnings to a large enough school to support multiple instructors. Could I make more money if I started my own school? Absolutely! But I have found ways to do all right where I am, and I love my academy too much to leave.

I have been teaching for a long time and I have found certain elements necessary: knowledge, personality and accreditation. Knowledge is obvious, because bjj isn’t something you can fake. I have seen people strap on a karate black belt with all kinds of degrees on it and lie about their accomplishments in order to dupe students into believing they are something they aren’t. That doesn’t work with bjj. Not to say Karate is bad or that there are not legitimate sources out there, but it can be a little more academicized than can a more performance-based art like bjj. No, you must have the technical know-how and some ability to back it up. I have seen blue belts run successful academies with only a few years training.

If your personality and enthusiasm, ultimately how passionate you are for the art and helping others on their journey, is lacking then forget it. You have no business teaching and need to wait or stick to competing. Don’t do the Jiu-Jitsu community the disservice of trying to support your bjj addiction by making a few bucks teaching. It is empty and shallow, and a waste of everyone’s time. If you truly love the art and want to help others better their lives as you have your with Jiu-Jitsu, then you are on the right path.

 

You need a reputable affiliation. The last name of Gracie is helpful, but there are so many big names and great sources out there that it isn’t necessary. I like to be close to the source, and I am proud to be in the Royce Gracie Network as one of his black belts. But you don’t have to be a black belt to make it work. People can smell your authenticity, knowledge and confidence in what you are teaching easier than you might think, and you better be prepared.

Offering private lessons is a valuable way to go. Figure out what you have to offer, what your time is worth, and what audience you have where you are located and customize your lessons accordingly. People like the ease of scheduling, attention to detail, customized learning pace and undivided attention they receive from private instruction. I personally have paid up to $400 for a single hour of private instruction and can walk away feeling like it was totally worth every penny. I don’t charge quite that much personally, but I still want my students being able to walk away with confidence and certainty in what I have shown them in each and every lesson. Remember, what you acquire too cheaply, you esteem too lightly!

Group classes are a different animal than private. The energy is different. In each there needs to be a palpable sense of enthusiasm, but you are more of a presenter in the group situation. You also have more to pay attention to in a group, because you are responsible not just for the transfer of the information, but also for monitoring the students’ interactions with each other and the pros and cons that come along with this. The environment is everything in the group, even more than the private. If the energy is wrong then all the awesome techniques in the world will not keep your students coming back.

sell-out

When Do I Become A Sellout?

This has to be a concern at some point. Even writing this blog I question what I am doing talking about money issues. But at the end of the day I want to help. I believe in Jiu-Jitsu and want to better my sphere of influence by spreading all I can. And if potential readers want to teach and spread the art as well, if their intentions are good, I want to help them also. The hipsters and the uppity groups will always criticize the making of money from things they care about, as if it cheapens the art somehow. It doesn’t degrade the art to make it more accessible, nor does it make you a sellout if someone wants to pay you for your time. This only allows you to focus on Jiu-Jitsu more without having to balance a second or third job.

You have to evaluate your own ethical code and stick to it. If you are only looking to make money and will compromise your integrity then you are a sellout and will ultimately fail…or at least whatever you accomplish will be meaningless and empty. That is the difference between a sellout and someone making a living doing what they love. If you still have concerns then read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”

Always remember, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Keeping to those words of Zig Ziglar, you will succeed if your intentions are true.

Dark Side

Welcome to the Dark Side

So, now that I have possibly motivated you, let me knock you down a few notches. I have struggled, faltered, lost, and hurt on my path to being a Jiu-Jitsu professional. Relationships and friendships have been tested. People will doubt you and misunderstand you. You won’t make everyone happy, and in fact, if you don’t acquire a hater or two along the way you are probably not doing something right. You won’t make real money right away. Be prepared to struggle. And then, when things start going good, be prepared for burnout. I have figured out how to overcome it (a later blog), but I have been hit with it in the past. Training burnout is one thing, but teaching burnout is a wholly different one. At least with training burnout you feel it a little more immediately. With teaching burnout, often you won’t realize it until you see a look of lackluster or disappointment on the face of your student. You have given sub-par enthusiasm or insufficiently conveyed the lesson material and the student is left a little flat feeling. I have no suggestion of how to prevent this other than time and renewed enthusiasm daily.

Ultimately, all anyone can do is offer their experiences and lessons they had to learn, which is what I am doing here. If I came across as telling you what you should do or have to do for success, it was not my intention. I am no celebrity or millionaire, but I have found a way to make my passion into my career, and I think it is a wonderful thing. If there is anything in this that helps you, then that only makes me feel even more successful. That’s how I judge my success, not the money I make but the people I help.

Now GO TRAIN! The most fundamental part of being successful with Jiu-Jitsu is training it!

A little while back, Dan Faggella, talented BJJ competitor and instructor, writer and all around nice guy, interviewed me for his site, ScienceofSkill.com. The interview was well delivered and well written. I’m reposting it here for anyone interested. If you want to read some great interviews and hear brilliant insight into the game, check out Dan online!

The interview:
Interview with Royce Gracie Blackbelt, Eli Knight

Eli Knight, Black Belt and 17 Year Veteran under legendary Royce Gracie

Eli Knight is a Black Belt under Royce Gracie and a 17 year veteran in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Eli also runs the popular BJJ blog “Knight Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”

I managed to snag Eli for an Interview. Eli has an incredible passion for BJJ and a deep, spiritual connection as probably anyone who has been around Royce Gracie for 17 years would. I was very happy to get an interview with him, he’s a great guy and an awesome voice for the BJJ world.

Interview

Me- “Why did you choose to start a BJJ Blog?”

Eli- “My primary reason for blogging is to give my students and other readers insight into more than can be discussed in a class or lesson about jiu-jitsu or martial arts in general.”

Me- “What is your blog about?”

Eli- “My blog is a place I can share personal experience or accumulated knowledge about techniques, history and philosophy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

Eli-”It is also a place where I can write things I try to find resources for online or elsewhere and I have a hard time, such as accredited and respectable sources of information regarding politics and controversy in the community and hopefully voice how silly some of these things are.”

Me- “What do you hope your readers get out of your blog?”

Eli- “I hope that people who read what I post see that jiu-jitsu is more than a martial art, more than a sport, more than a philosophy; although it is all of these, too. Jiu-Jitsu is a lifestyle as well as a vehicle for self-development. Training has expanded my awareness and understanding of the workings of life.”

Eli has a deep place in his heart and soul for jiu jitsu. For him, it is more than a sport. He aims to open and inspire his readers and potentially fill any voids that they are facing in their lives.

Check Out Eli Teaching Omo Plata Sweep to Mono Plata on his Youtube Channel:

Eli- “[Brazilian Jiu Jitsu] is therapy, religion, balance, humility, and sustenance for my spirit. When we train, when we roll, we are communicating on a higher frequency than most ever get to, and at the highest level I believe this becomes communion. So what higher calling is there than to share that with others?”

So happy to have had the chance to catch up with someone who truly loves and promotes the sport of BJJ at such a deep level. Looking forward to catching back with with Eli.

Be sure to check out Eli on the Interweb.
Footlocks for days,
-Coach Daniel Faggella

Thanks again to Dan for the awesome interview. Make sure you check him out online – we need more voice of positive influence and perspective in the BJJ community!

DaFirma Kimono Company

I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu for a couple decades, and in that time I have had many gis. I remember when bjj specific gis started really hitting the market and Krugan and Kikskin were all the rage. Howard Combat Kimonos were big for a long time. Atama was king and is still one of the big dogs. Storm, Hyabusa, Origin…there are so many incredible gis on the market that I can’t include in here. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m pretty much done with any brand other than DaFirma Kimonos.

I don’t fully believe that DaFirma is the best quality kimono on the market – just being honest. But they rival the top quality gis on the market for certain. And the difference is in the care, consideration and professionalism of the company.

Ricardo Tubbs, the president of the company, makes sure each and every order is handled with the utmost attention to quality and oversees every step along the way. Whether it’s a custom job, which DaFirma exceeds once again in doing, or a standard order of the company’s pre-designed awesome merchandise, every order is treated like it is the most special order. This is something rare to see these days – a company more concerned with customer satisfaction than turning a huge profit!

So how does the quality stack up? I know I keep harping on the customer service and friendliness factor, but make no mistake, these gis are comfortable, durable, and gorgeous. They are so competition-oriented in design that they are perfect for professional performance. I am happy to see more and more big and respectable names in the jiu-jitsu community catching on the the fact that this is the kind of product and service that should be the standard in jiu-jitsu kimonos. I recommend these gis to my friends and students, and my home base academy of Three Rivers Martial Arts uses DaFirma for our custom academy uniforms. Additionally DaFirma handled my custom KnightBJJ kimono designs too.

So if you’re looking to have your academy custom gis made up, looking for a premade and super sweet gi yourself, or in the market for shorts or rash guards, then I highly recommend DaFirmaBJJ.com for your next purchase. Here are some videos where I sport my custom Knight BJJ gi made by DaFirma while showing a cool technique, and I along with Amy Kilpatrick of Atmosphere Martial Arts show a slick sweep while wearing our DaFirma kimonos.

Very.

That’s my opinion, that solo drilling for bjj is crucial for building fluidity, continuity if movement and creative visualization. I have always put a lot of thought into my solo drills, partly because I, like so many, didn’t always have constant partner access. So I would find core segments and movements within techniques, oftentimes the most difficult moves, and dissect these alone.

I remember Ido Portal saying, to paraphrase, “if you can’t move your own body, what business do you have lifting weights?” This phrase resonated with me, because I encounter so many people that try to impose their will while rolling yet they themselves lack the prerequisite coordination it takes to maintain their own balance during simple movements. Learn about your own body first and how to move it efficiently and this will let you know what you can make happen against an opponent.

Solo drilling works the precision of technical movement even better at times than partner work, because you have no partner to overly depend on. Therefore, you will see all your limitations and inadequacies under the microscope when you solo drill, making it impossible to cheat the movement.

You should be able to tell by this point that I consider solo drilling not simply rote repetition for the sake of exercise, but deliberate, careful, thoughtful movement with purpose. And whether it is standing, shooting or sprawling, turns, rolls, sweep movements, bridging, or some obscure contortion you find yourself constantly encountering, it is all good.

A good friend told me, “your body will do most anything you ask it to…if you ask it nicely.” So get on the mat, visualize the situation, and move continuously, constantly and consciously. Your body, your mind and your jiu-jitsu will thank you for it.

Here are some helpful drills I like for top game and bottom game using a grappling dummy:

That’s what we want, right? I know that when I started taking Tae Kwon Do when I was a teenager, I wanted to be able to do flying, twisting, tornado dragon kicks like I saw in the movies. No one wants to wait and spend the required necessary time establishing a base and developing coordination and the bodily awareness it takes to pull off amazing athletic endeavors. We have to be patient. And maybe sometime amid that trial of patience, we lose interest before we achieve our goals and we quit. Most people quit. More quit than stick with it.

You start certain martial arts and you have to spend so much time learning the mechanics of standing, blocking, punching, kicking, etc. before you ever learn an application that can be considered even remotely practical or useful. Many martial arts, traditionally speaking, seem to me to have similar problems as the modern education system in that you learn for the test and not for real-world application. Jiu-Jitsu on the other hand, was such a refreshing change of pace for me when I came to it. I learned immediately the most efficient, practical means of common scenarios one might encounter in a real fight. Of course, even these techniques, simple as they are, still require repetition and training. However, the application was apparent and the gratification of feeling like I did something was much more immediate.

I don’t discount the virtue of learning proper alignment and misalignment, base, structural principles and body awareness training on their own. Actually, I think these are the most important benefits that the majority of us can attain from studying any martial art or physical work. I only write this to expound on how beautiful it is that Jiu-Jitsu practice builds these attributes in you as you practice the techniques, rather than having to establish them as a prerequisite to training. The principle work is built beneath the surface of the movements, and it reveals itself along the journey. It is like walking into an art class and either being told to master one paint stroke before you are allowed to paint a picture versus being given a canvas and being shown how to paint a complete composition, then discovering afterward how you learned to improve your strokes along the way.

It’s foolish to expect instant gratification from something as complex as martial arts, especially considering that much of martial arts training is learning how to move in ways that are oftentimes counterintuitive or counter instinctive. But from what I have experienced, Jiu-Jitsu offers a more easily digestible process of development. In our fast-food, I-want-it-yesterday, instant gratification culture, it is nice to come across something like Jiu-Jitsu. The most gratifying thing in the world is not just getting immediate results, but also learning that those results carried with them layers of further-reaching results that continue on for the rest of your life in every aspect.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submissions from kesa gatame, or “scarf hold” with Eli Knight, black belt under Royce Gracie.

http://www.youtube.com/eliknight173

1. Near side straight armbar
2. Near side bent armbar (Americana)
3. Far side straight armbar
4. Far side bent armbar (Americana)

Jiu-Jitsu in Fighting

Jiu-Jitsu has been proven to be one of the most, if not the most, effective martial arts in the world. What that means exactly varies depending on the source you’re consulting. Is it about self-defense? Is it about fighting? Is it only a portion or range of a fight or is it comprehensive and complete? To make it easier, first consider that there are essentially three types of fight situations:

1. Non-consensual attacks

2. Consensual street fights

3. Consensual sport fights

The first of these is typically what we think of when we think self-defense in the martial arts community. For example, if someone suddenly grabs you, sneaks up behind you or sucker punches you. These attacks have little or no prior indication that they will take place, and the victim typically wants to escape this situation as quickly as possible.

Second of these types, consensual street fights, are your typically agreed-upon bar fights, playground scuffles, or night at the club gone wrong. There are many similarities in this situation and the first category in regard to the lack of restrictions placed on the participants. The main difference here is that to some degree (typically more on one side than the other) the combatants have entered into the situation of their own volition. One or both persons in this type of fight could have avoided the situation easier than in a blind-sided attack, which is why I refer to this as a consensual street fight.

Thirdly, there exists the sportive element of fighting, which while it serves its place in the evolution and refinement of certain elements of martial arts, is a consensual combat relegated by agreed upon rules. Such rules as weight classes, time limits, point systems and prohibited techniques make this style of combat less realistic than unregulated combat, but it is fighting nonetheless and as such jiu-jitsu is applicable to it.

In each condition, jiu-jitsu has been proven effective through years of trial and implementation, repeatedly producing favorable results. As scientifically proven as possible with conditions as chaotic as a fight, jiu-jitsu has come out on top as a means of self-defense, complete and efficient across the most categories of fight situations. While the adage “there is no art superior all the time, but there is at a particular time,” may still hold true at its core, jiu-jitsu rivals any art in terms of applicability to the basic three common conditions of violence I am referring to in this post.

It can be argued that in MMA, one needs to know other elements of fighting in order to compete on the elite level today, but this wasn’t the case in 1993. Certain other styles are very effective in street fights as well, but typically require the defendant to be physically athletic enough to execute energetic movements. For me, ultimately what makes a martial art is its efficiency, practicality, versatility, and universal applicability. Based on these criteria, jiu-jitsu is king, offering the ability for everyone to defend themselves, improve their bodily awareness and athleticism, cultivate creativity and problem solving ability, and provide psychological and emotional well-being through equanimity.