Archive for September, 2013

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.

 

If you want to understand something completely, study its inverse. This is the idea behind reverse engineering and can be seen in so many things we become proficient with, if even subconsciously. More simply put: if you want to be a good writer, read a lot. If you want to be good at winning, you have to be prepared to lose a lot.

Jiu-Jitsu is a beautiful illustration of this principle because the more you get caught in chokes and locks, the better you become at them. When you get caught in a certain choke 5, 10, 200 times, you tend to notice the patterns of what lead to it and what your opponent did to secure it. Next, you notice that you get caught less and less by that choke. Finally, you begin to notice where you have opportunities to set up the choke yourself. Eventually, you become proficient in the execution of that choke. Beautiful!

Many things work like this. I imagine that if I (with admittedly no mechanical inclination or aptitude) were to dissemble and reassemble a car enough times, I would be able to troubleshoot it issues with that car and take measures to improve its performance. So I could become a mechanic in that way. Or exchange “car” for “human” and I could in that way, given enough time and resources become a medical professional. With instruments, a musician; with paints, an artist, etc.

Why jiu-jitsu works as such a brilliant elucidation of this, however, is that there is a sense of urgency that makes your mind and body fire rapidly, enhancing this experience and fast-tracking the analysis process. The techniques and positions with which I am most proficient were all born out of necessity and repetition, whether voluntary or involuntary.

So what to do with this information? What I have learned to do is tap. If I want to get better at a move, I find someone who can do it and let them catch me, with me offering different levels of resistance or defense to the move. If I want to be adept at a move that no one around me is versed in then I have to go old school and rep it out, initially feeling my way in the dark with it. But then, I plant seeds. I show everyone I can my new pet move, let them play with it and return later to that person in hopes they will try to catch me with it. And when they try…I let them.

This is reason number 1 million, why ego is the biggest obstacle to progress in jiu-jitsu. But if you have learned to relinquish your ego, train selfishly and selflessly, and have a true desire to get deeper into the essence of the technique and not just ride the superficial wave of victory vs defeat, then maybe try this method if you haven’t already.

 

 

And now a poll…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of “Never Leave The Mat.” I say concept because even though my mind has been on this, the phrase didn’t come to fruition until I saw this video recently (come back and read after watching or watch it after reading)

And then it clicked. This is what I’ve been trying to put into words. I’ve touched on it and caught many multifaceted glimpses into the nature of this statement, but that phrase sums it up nicely. Just as Mr. Jepsen embodies this ideal of “never leaving the playground” so have I been proselytizing the notion of never leaving the mat, just without the expression of it in so many words. Simply put, wherever it is that you go to find yourself, never leave that place…at least not principally. Couple this idea with that of self-exploration within your immediate sphere of influence.

This is maybe the inverse of that idea of “Leave It All On The Mat” which is a concept I’m sure you’re familiar with if you have been training jiu-jitsu for any length of time. Typically that idea refers to the notion of putting everything you’ve got into the effort you expend during training, exhausting yourself as if your jiu-jitsu game grows like a fatigued muscle after a hard weightlifting session. Rather, the idea of “Never Leave The Mat” refers to taking the benefit and revelation and the epiphanous moments you experience in that sacred space, performing that sacred activity, with you along the journeys of everyday life.

This is also different than just saying “find your happy place.” My happiest place is with my daughter. However, I have a certain particular role or set of roles that I have to play when I’m with my daughter that may or may not be the best for the rest of my life. But jiu-jitsu to me brings about a clarity and focus and pervasive calmness that translates into other areas of my life including the type of father that I am. My daughter should benefit from my training jiu-jitsu because training makes me patient, compassionate, energized and happy.

I see so many people who train various styles (and depending on where I could even include jiu-jitsu when trained poorly) who walk around with hostility and anger, because they only want to fight or win. Why train if you’re not better for doing so? Or if you’re only finding that sensation of clarity and purpose and beauty when you are on the mat and you’re not able to recreate that off the mat then keep at it. Remember it. Recollect it. Train until you can reach that satori moment, and then train until you can’t forget it.

The idea of Living Jiu-Jitsu pertains mostly to the idea of an organic, ever-evolving, always applicable concept by which we as individuals can grow and benefit.

Helio Gracie modified traditional jiu-jitsu, but more importantly he made it modifiable. Recognizing his physical shortcomings, he changed athletic aspects of the movements, making it something he could do regardless of his limitations. This drawing back to the core essence of the movements and technical properties of jiu-jitsu unearthed defunct brilliance that launched a revolution of martial arts and human movement.

This is what I mean by Living Jiu-Jitsu: this magical, alchemical process of human refinement that people of all backgrounds and abilities can apply to their lives. A true martial artist strives for perfection of the technique, not simply for desire for improved fighting ability, but because of his or her recognition that these techniques translate into all aspects of life. Jiu-Jitsu focuses on efficiency, and the true jiu-jitsu practitioner aims to apply means of technical efficiency to all of life, not so that life will be easier, but that the artist’s life might achieve more discovery and mastery over the beauty and virtue at the heart of a life well-lived.

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