Check out this technique that has gotten me out of many a difficult knee-on-belly situation. I hope you like it.
Check out this technique that has gotten me out of many a difficult knee-on-belly situation. I hope you like it.
Sunday, June 1st, 2014 the workshop that I have been wanting to do for years is finally coming to fruition. I can’t guarantee that your jiu-jitsu will rise to another level, but what I am sharing is the collection of what I consider to be the drills, insights and advice that has had the most impact in my jiu-jitsu life. Whether you are just starting out in the art or are a seasoned practitioner, the information in this workshop will benefit you, help you thrive or just get that plateau you might be on.
Date: Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Time: 1:00 – 3:00pm
Instructor: Eli Knight
Register: Call: 270.519.3160 | Email: email@example.com | Come by Three Rivers Martial Arts Academy
It’s been 20 years since MMA has exploded and I personally feel like it is the best and worst thing to have possibly ever happened to martial arts. We now have a showcase for applying martial arts in a limited rules arena, creating an environment to pressure cook fighting techniques for applicability. We have one of the most exciting sports ever invented. We have martial arts being cool and not cheesy now…sort of.
What else did we get with it? Well, there are some serious drawbacks. In the beginning, the fights we real and raw and brutal. Too brutal to sustain it as a mainstay without some overhaul and additional rules. It had some significant growing pains. And with rules you lose some reality. And with repetition and mixing of the arts and studying of tape you lose some of the spontaneity that makes for real fights. The fighters no longer train to fight anyone as much as they train to fight a specific person whom they have ample footage on to inspect.
When the weight classes appeared, a degradation took place as well. No we have 200+ pounders fighting at 170 and nutritionists revolutionizing the weight cutting process. Which is fine. It’s a sport after all.
And that’s what we have now. A sport. And again, that’s all well and good, but now I find myself as one of those folks I argued with for years saying “it’s not real fighting.” It was tantamount to real fighting and it has elements of fighting and very few could argue that a UFC fighter would have a hard time in a street fight against 99% of the population. This isn’t my point. The people that I say this in opposition to now are the ones who scoff at self defense because they don’t see it in the UFC.
The ones I speak of are the ones who “wanna train MMA” without wanting to train martial arts.
MMA = striking, takedowns, grappling & submissions / rules & money
There is a necessity to train these in blended settings but there is also a more important need to focus on the individual arts as well as pay respect to the arts. Too often now guys wanting to earn themselves a belt or be looked at heroically by their peers want to go jump into a cage and play fighter for a night. Insufficient training, lack of respect and humility, and just plain trashy behavior are rampant in the small amateur cage fights put on by shady promoters looking to make a payday.
And then we have the fighters who are essentially the Frankenstein monster of a team of analysts and trainers and doctors and the like who have culminated their efforts and produced a human machine for battle within the cage. Which is an interesting experiment and amazing to see what can be created, but not exactly conducive to a fighter vs fighter atmosphere.
Ultimately, these criticisms or critiques of mine are not to put down MMA. I think it is entertaining and informative and important. I’m simply pointing out the pros and cons and if anything warning about the potential degradation to martial arts as the proliferation of MMA only grows.
The largest, one of the most destructive storms to hit land ever. That’s what they’re calling Typhoon Haiyan that decimated the Philippines. The images and video are horrific. But it’s so far away, so far from home here in the US. Why help? How?
It’s overwhelming when you see the scope of the destruction. After the Tsunami in Japan and before that Hurricane Katrina, I began to realize that I could do more to help instead of sending whatever I could manage to afford by itself. I began to consider how I could use my immediate sphere of influence to increase the amount of help to the cause.
I believe, regardless of what it is, you can use your vocation, avocation, hobby, passion or influence to bring attention to causes when they arise. As a martial artist my charge was to find out how to use Jiu-Jitsu, and how to relate it, to the cause at hand. So far I have done charity martial arts workshops for breast cancer awareness and research, autism awareness and research, food and clothing donations, anti-bullying campaigns, and domestic violence awareness and resource funding. Sometimes I managed to raise thousands of dollars or hundreds of items while other times I’d only have a few people show and barely raise more than I could have donated alone. But the point was that I got others to pay attention and increased help to the cause.
So if you are a martial artist (and I suspect you are to some capacity if you read my blog), I want to share a couple of ideas about how to help. Maybe you’ve already done something like these or have already considered it. But if you haven’t thought of these or haven’t acted yet, now is the time.
• Find an organization with better resources than you have.
The Red Cross is one of my favorites but there are countless others that specialize in disaster relief efforts. But do your homework because you will find unfortunately that there are many organizations that claim to put much more toward help than they actually do and some turn a bit too healthy of a profit while providing too marginal a portion of the money they collect to the effort.
• Hold your own event.
Host a seminar, donate a portion or all of proceeds from classes for a month, talk up the cause during classes and lessons. It is not unscrupulous to do something you were already going to,like teaching or running your business, and raise money or help for a cause at the same time. Now, if you use an event to drum up business for yourself while offering no recompense toward the event, that is unscrupulous and you are a D-bag. So don’t do that. Be good. Don’t suck.
• Get out your own wallet.
Don’t ask someone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself. The best way to influence people is to be a good example. There have been events I’ve put on where generous others with deeper pockets than my own have out-donated me, but I always pitch in what I can in addition to my time and organization and instruction.
If you are a serious martial artist you begin to realize that it’s more about helping people than hurting people. You recognize the interconnectedness of all of humanity and that what benefits some of us generally benefits us all. I teach because I care. I want to share with others this wonderful art that has changed my life in hopes that someone will be affected as I have been. And no one needs more help than those hit with such unforeseen, horrific tragedy like the Typhoon in the Philippines. These people, old and young, infants and elderly, pregnant women, handicapped and mentally challenged, those who are lost and have lost, all need help. Please do what you can.
There’s always that question, particularly in Jiu-Jitsu, of whether the belt someone is awarded is legitimate. This question isn’t asked the same way in other arts because the criteria are different and in Jiu-Jitsu there is more of a hang up on who can tap who. Is it all about that? If you get that purple belt, should you be able to tap any blue belt? If you are a brown belt and can tap a black belt, do you automatically deserve your black? Does it depend on size or strength combined with technique? Is there a simpler answer?
Technique conquers all. I believe that. But the technique doesn’t guarantee victory. All things being equal, equal technique and experience, the bigger or stronger or faster opponent will typically come out on top. You shouldn’t be expected to best a 250 pound athlete of a purple belt if you are a 150 pound purple belt. So the performance basis of any martial art, Jiu-Jitsu included has a cap on it.
Furthermore, shouldn’t the “art” aspect be considered? The philosophy. The principles behind the technique and the knowledge you gain are benefits of the study and practice that potentially carry on further than even the techniques themselves. Just as in yoga, self-study or self-reflection is a premise of the journey, Jiu-Jitsu likewise should be approached with concern toward the character development of the practitioner. This hits closer to the heart of the questions posed in the beginning.
Here is what I have surmised as one of the most important considerations in progression in Jiu-Jitsu: it’s not a matter of are you better than anyone else, it is whether you are better than the you the you were. Can you tap the yesterday you? The last week or last month you? Do you have a more refined lens or approach to training than the previous you?
Can Buchecha tap Relson Gracie? I’m gonna say most likely. Maybe not, but I’d put my money on Buchecha. So why not give Buchecha the red belt? Let’s pose a different question. Who can teach the most people a deeper understanding and appreciation of Jiu-jitsu? Who can show someone the most versatile of movements for a multitude of situations to the most diverse individuals with varied levels of physical ability? Now my money goes on Relson.
So again, Jiu-Jitsu wins, because it’s not about just a few criteria. A true professor in my estimation, watches students closely and insightfully, considering many aspects of their ability and character. I understand that there are schools and teachers who only award rank based on performance in fights or tournaments. “You got a gold medal? Here’s your next stripe.” “You got a rear naked in your mma fight? Here’s your brown belt.” Sad to see.
I’d rather put a stripe on the belt of the kid who looked the bully in the eye for the first time in his academic life than on the belt of the kid who was already an athlete in five other sports and is now tearing up all the grappling tournaments. That guy who could barely tie his shoes because he was so overweight and now can roll for half an hour – that’s the guy I admire. Again, I admit, I love watching uber talented athletes do miraculous things on the mat or in the ring, but they are not half of the hero as the woman who stopped the sexual assault that was about to happen to her.
So while you have to be able to perform the techniques with understanding and appropriate proficiency, and you should be able to defend yourself easily with these techniques against your physical equal of an opponent, these are but partial criteria in considering ranking qualifications in Jiu-Jitsu. Personal growth and development, and as Grandmaster Helio said, the triumph of human intelligence over brute strength, these all should be considerations in determining rank.
This isn’t always the case. And these are my opinions. And these are my convictions.
Many refer to Jiu-Jitsu training as therapeutic. The therapy comes from enjoying the moment by being completely involved on the mat. We live in a culture that conditions us to multitasking, pulling our minds in a million directions at once. It is wonderful then to have a place and time that forces you to be completely present in the moment as Jiu-Jitsu does.
Once you get into the roll, you exist outside of your hectic life, focused and immersed into the task at hand. You realize, in that special moment, that nothing exists before or after, and therefore worries and regrets do you no good whatsoever. This is Zen. This is living Jiu-Jitsu.
And as much as it is wonderful to share epiphanies and explain metaphors for life from Jiu-Jitsu, there is no substitute for sweat. The purest benefit comes from the rolling. Drilling, repetition, detail work, instruction are all necessary to training and improving, but the true philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu comes from the mat time, the rolling. That’s where the therapy and wisdom come from.
For those of you who recognize the quote that gives this post its title, good job. If you really get the significance of the quote, better job.
For those of us who train, and truly get to the essence of martial arts, we understand the idea of fighting to be a vehicle for self exploration and understanding. There is undoubtedly something revealed to you about yourself in a physical confrontation that cannot be revealed anywhere else. I don’t mean to say that there aren’t other significant modes of self exploration, but a violent situation brings out things in you that you didn’t know were there before.
Most can’t understand true calm without ultimate chaos, just as you can’t understand light fully without total darkness. And until that deeply pervasive and complete calm washes over you, there remain some deep recesses within you that you only can estimate about what impact they may have.
If and when the day comes that you experience a fight, when those unexplored aspects of your primitive self surface, your perspective cannot help but to shift. I think that this is something we come closer to experiencing when training Jiu-Jitsu than much of anything else you can do recreationally. People are always chasing a rush, creating a biochemical drug-like reaction in their bodies and brains through extreme sports or other thrillseeking endeavors. It’s as if those dark recesses of the ancient human condition are longing to come out. Perhaps this is what drives violent behavior in others. So many confusing elements of our nature as humans make sense when viewed in this light.
As with any dark condition; addiction, violent tendencies, compulsive behavior, etc., the need for an outlet, a manner of exercising the demons if you will, becomes of paramount importance. It’s not something we will probably be putting into an advertisement inside parenting magazines or talking about in our kids classes, but there is something within us all that is a complete mystery unless and until the catalyst of violence unearths it. But once exhumed, there is a Jungian transformation like the contact of two chemical substances, a transformation takes place, and we are never the same again. Some try to run from what they see. Some are maddened by it and overtaken, looking to reproduce the effect through redistributed violence.
Jiu-jitsu shows the practitioner the truth: that the discovery made during violence has less to do with violence itself and more to do with humanity and uncertainty. Jiu-Jitsu gives you a wonderful tool for managing of insecurity, uncertainty, anger, and all other faces of fear. It is a venue that allows you to explore and accept, discovering your potential by vanquishing those unexposed areas where doubt reside.
You may know yourself pretty well without ever having known a violent situation at all. But the day you encounter a fight, that all changes and you realize how little you actually knew all along.