Posts Tagged ‘mma’

Too many times I hear and read, when showing a self-defense technique, “You shouldn’t have let the attacker get that close,” or “you should have gone on the offense.” Here’s the thing: self-defense techniques are about dealing with a situation gone bad already. If you could preemptively end the situation or avoid, then awesome, do that. But when you are caught off guard and placed into a negative situation is when you need the techniques the most.

Having said that, I at least wanted to put out a video showing a jiu-jitsu option for going on the offense when you can. In this video the fight has ensued and you are squared up with the opponent. Here’s what happens:

1. You manage the distance until you decide to engage.

2. You close the distance with a jab to cross or overhand right, which if it lands, great, but at least opens the opponent’s hands to get you into position for a single leg takedown.

3. If the opponent is unaffected by the strikes to the extent he stops your single leg setup, you can transition to a dirty boxing clinch. The dirty boxing clinch allows for strikes and throwing potential as demonstrated in the video.

I’ll let the video show the rest. Please like, share and comment on the YouTube video! Thank you all!

I’ve been switching things around and showing more standing BJJ concepts and techniques in videos lately. Here is a nice chain of sweeps and submissions starting from standing position. I hope you like it. If you do, then please share and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Check out this technique that has gotten me out of many a difficult knee-on-belly situation. I hope you like it.

GSP vs Hendricks

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.

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Remember when MMA was called NHB? Vale Tudo? Fighting?

MMA is its own sport now complete with rules, restrictions, minutiae that makes sure the matches are more even and close and entertaining. Gone are the days of style versus style. And that is how it all started. Now, I don’t mean to say that I don’t enjoy watching and following MMA. I think it serves a valuable purpose and has done much to advance the study of martial arts in general. It’s just different now.

I’m a firm believer that in a one on one fight, Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a superior method. I feel that it is also one of or the most valuable arts in self-defense, weapons attacks, multiple attacker situations, and more. But there is less of an arena to test out and prove the efficacy of Jiu-Jitsu against other arts in those situations. But with person versus person, one on one, we now have a venue and it is called mixed martial arts.

What MMA has done most proficiently in its history is twofold. Firstly, it has shown that you absolutely must know the ground aspect of fighting. If you don’t and your opponent does, you will lose 95% of the time. Secondly, in my estimation of things, it has shown the value of knowing multiple arts for various ranges of combat. I only say that this is second because many martial arts have evolved in their particular areas based on the forefathers’ predilection and proficiency at those areas.

Likewise, much of martial arts history has been spread through charisma just as much as performance. The ability of an impressive instructor to convince the masses that he can transfer his abilities (historically based on athleticism) to anyone. Inflating of egos, misdirection of importance of techniques, and watered down instruction became tools of the trade in the martial arts industry. This allowed many arts to thrive because they were easily taught and the practitioners felt impressed.

Then 1993 (much earlier outside the US) changed so much. A skinny Brazilian choked and locked his way to becoming the face of what martial arts was sorely missing. The alarm sounded that the necessity of knowing how to grapple, particularly on the ground, was crucial to surviving a fight efficiently. You could always be big and strong and fast and beat people up, but the maxim of technique over strength finally and truthfully resounded in the form of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Then we stood on the precipice of a new generation forming. We, the experienced martial artists, thought of as experts in our fields, had to look in the mirror and to choose a path. At that moment, you could either move dramatically forward and pretend that you were the exception and you could create other exceptions to the Jiu-Jitsu zeitgeist. Or you could swallow some pride and incorporate this amazing art into your repertoire.

I was one that swallowed my pride, already a black belt in traditional jujitsu, I chose to don a white belt and study the Gracie way. 16 years later I would receive my black belt under Royce Gracie. In that time I’ve found my true niche and developed an understanding of martial arts and fighting. Moreover I’ve found out about myself and life in general, with Jiu-Jitsu being the vehicle of my education.

Of the various routes I take to proselytize about Jiu-Jitsu, speaking of the importance of it in MMA is included. People are losing sight of how necessary understanding about Jiu-Jitsu is in MMA because they see people trying for the knockout and to make the fights more flamboyant in order to get themselves noticed and make big bonuses. Fans or prospective fighters interested in learning more are losing the awareness that, even though there are more standup battles, Jiu-Jitsu is just as important, or even more so, than ever.

So rules, no rules; sport or street; fighting is fighting and Jiu-Jitsu is about the techniques underlying the fight. It is as scientific an approach to something as chaotic as fighting gets and should be appreciated by anyone interested in understanding about fighting, combat, self-defense and physical competition.

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Sometimes I want to shout at people, “Do you know how lucky you are?!” This is for several reasons, but as it applies here, about having a place and ability to train.

Not to sound like the curmudgeon old man saying “back in my day…” but really, that’s how I feel sometimes. Having traveled all over the country to train with anyone and everyone I could when first starting BJJ, I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have a huge academy with multiple black belts where Royce Gracie comes to visit! Yet, that is what our students have now at the academy where I and other Jiu-Jitsu brethren teach. Crazy.

But, other days I get it. If you don’t know anything about martial arts, and you hear that there is a black belt on every corner (in Karate or TKD or whathaveyou), you may not see the value. Or you may hear the price tag and think, “but I can join the health club down the road for like $40 a month! Why pay $100 or more for BJJ?” If you teach or even train at an academy that is worth anything at all, you feel my frustration with people for not understanding or appreciating what they have near them. So I will offer some ideas I have heard and come up with on my own over the years to combat ignorance.

First, let me address the price tag. For those who argue that lessons cost too much…compared to what? Seriously? If you haven’t trained, don’t know the benefits, you have no basis of comparison and therefore no grounds on which to argue. Second, look at what you currently spend your money on. If you skip a few fast food trips, cut out the overpriced coffee, get rid of an indulgent unhealthy habit or two, then you will easily come up with the $4 a day it takes to pay for BJJ training. I said $4 a day! Additionally, by cutting out those costly bad habits you doubly improve your health consciousness when you consider that you’ve replaced an unhealthy habit for a healthy lifestyle choice.

Next, the difference between training Jiu-Jitsu and training at McDojo’s Martial Arts Emporium down the road with their 50 black belts. Black belts are not easily acquired in BJJ. You can go into most Karate and Tae Kwon Do schools and sign a contract virtually guaranteeing you a black belt at the end of a length of time. Show up, memorize some forms and terminology, never having to test out your skills in any realistic capacity, you can still get a black belt…when you’re about 12 years old or younger.

I have never taken a test for a single belt or even stripe under Royce Gracie. If he felt like I had improved since last he saw me, he would tell me to put a stripe on my belt. Sometimes this would be a while. I never know when the rank is coming, so I am concerned only with training and improving for the sake of the art and my own benefit. I don’t disagree with those instructors who conduct tests for their students. I even see some value in it. Regardless or testing or not, you are guaranteed that you will have to improve, stay fit and able, and be sure you can make the techniques actually work. This makes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (particularly Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) one of the most realistic martial arts out there. I would say the most realistic, but I will concede that there are others possibly. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

What’s more, you may find those saying they are not very concerned with self-defense, that they stay fit and healthy on their own, and that they have other hobbies. That is all well and good. But, my friend, have you even tried Jiu-Jitsu? For so many, it is a lifestyle that makes you want to move and learn and eat well and live better in every conceivable way! Why not try something that has those potential effects? And you may need to remind these people of the idea that, while there may be no good reason in the world to fight, there is every reason in the world to know how to fight! Oh, you have a gun for self-defense you say? You got it on you right now? At every second of every day? Because that is how often I have my Jiu-Jitsu with me.

BJJ may not be for everyone (I believe everyone can benefit from it however), so I don’t go out proselytizing all over the place. But I do speak my mind and share my knowledge and passion where those seeking more information may find me. I hope the aforementioned ideas might help you convince someone to give training a chance too.

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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!

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Whenever I teach something in classes or lessons I always try to make clear what the context is. Is this a self defense move? Is this more MMA? Is this sport?

I overheard a conversation about a particular sweep (I believe this person was referring to a single leg x-guard sweep but he didn’t know), and the complaint the person had was about the validity or applicability of it on the street. Um, there’s not much if any. But that’s not really the point.

As martial artists are we only to ever practice lethal, 100% street ready moves? Does any art truly do that? I know lots of arts like to criticize other arts for various reasons. How about these:

“Yeah, but bjj doesn’t work against multiple opponents!”

“Oh yeah, let’s see how well boxing does you on the ground!”

“Tae Kwon Do sucks!”

Some common examples. Can’t we all just get along. Belittling styles and systems doesn’t make yours better. And it’s none of your business what others think of your style. And there’s no superior art for every situation.

But I digress and return to my original point: is the boxer who practices hitting the speed bag criticized because that’s not how he will really punch someone? Do you criticize the Kali practitioner for drilling fluid repetitive hand exchanges because he won’t do that against a real opponent? Do you think that wing chun guy really believes someone will hold as still as that wooden dummy? It’s about drills, skills, and exercise.

I always say I like jiu-jitsu because you can pew circle it as real as it gets. You can’t train any other art as love or as full contact as jiu-jitsu. But having said that, I don’t break arms and pass folks out every practice. I wouldn’t be nearly as popular. I don’t know anyone who trains like that and if you do then tell me so I can stay the hell away from them!

And don’t tell anyone, but I love the sport stuff! I just posted a No Gi Berimbolo video the other day, and it’s not because I think people need to see it in order to defend against a mugger. But that move is awesome and has a very important function and place. I don’t think it represents jiu-jitsu as a whole, but it’s cool and worth doing on its own.

Let me make this simpler maybe. Is every single ounce of food you put in your body 100% nutritious and necessary? Do you even know what is best and most healthy for you? Even if you did, and you wanted to do only what was most right, do you think you could? Don’t lie. Variety is the spice of life and the key to longevity in your training is finding aspects of training to love.

On the flip side, I don’t recommend anyone ever divorce himself or herself from the foundational elements of the art. Whatever the art. Helio Gracie had a rubric of what made a true Gracie Jiu-Jitsu technique:

1. Street Applicability
2. Energy Efficiency
3. Naturalness of Movement

A Gracie technique had to fit these above all else. Having said that, even Helio didn’t train only techniques and positions that would keep him punch proof. He contextualized the moment and used the best tool for the job, because that is at the heart of his art as much as any other principle. But he and his lineage, one of which I am proud to be a member within, must needs keep the street/sport concept close to the chest. If you don’t understand that spider guard will not in and of itself help you in a street fight then you need to build your self defense knowledge bank and foundation a lot stronger…and don’t go getting into any bar brawls in the meantime, ok?

However, if you can react appropriately when swung on in the street; if you can get surprised and find equanimity enough to defend intelligently; and for the love of god, if you can get out of a headlock, then you have reached a level of competency in your training. Now kick it up a notch and learn how to deconstruct those moves, maybe compete in a tournament to test yourself out, or maybe begin experimenting with some trends. No harm done in that type of training. But keep the foundation alive always!

I guess what I want to say is let others live and work and play how they will. Don’t look down your nose at a karate tournament point fighter and say that won’t work in a street fight – he should know and probably deep down does. Don’t watch guys pulling guard in the Pan Ams and call them cowards – their are playing to the points of the game and increasing their chances of winning by playing to their strengths along the way. Maybe each of these people train different things and understand the difference between street and sport. Maybe they don’t. It’s not your concern either way.

I write this for you. I write this for me. I’m guilty of judging and belittling. I’m trying to do better. Thanks for reading my words.

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!

“Check your ego at the door.”

Is there a more ubiquitous cliché in the martial arts community than this? This is particularly prominent in BJJ, where getting smashed on and tapped out is a guarantee in the early (and sometimes not so early) stages of training. You are told to leave your ego behind when you you step inside to train, and the advice is smart and sound and hard to follow.

Addendum: leave the following at the door, because these are relatives of the ego:
• Your Politics
• Your Religious Views
• Your Bad Day

Why are we told to leave our ego at the door and why do I suggest leaving these other items at the door too? Because there may be no bigger impediment to your training than your comparison to your training partners, and the aforementioned subjects are the most divisive of those we typically color our personalities with.

I will defend against you, attack you, sweep you and pressure you the as you were anyone else and I will grow by my experience rolling with you. But what if I heard you put down my political candidate’s policy beforehand? What if you made a derogatory slur against the race of my dear friend you didn’t know I had? What if you blamed people of my religion for all the problems in the world today in that conversation you shouldn’t have been having? I may roll with you differently.

You see, I am human, and I have my opinions and views and beliefs. I know you do too. If I come to your church or lodge or job I expect to hear them. But the mat is different. The mat is that all-excusing place that absolves us of our differences to allow true communion and learning, transcending the restrictions of egoic perceived superiority and inferiority.

I don’t mean to say “all-inclusive” because it isn’t a matter of allowing everyone to bring all their baggage with them. Rather, the mat is all-excusing in the sense that while I understand you may be different from me in otherwise fundamental areas, on the mat we are on a similar journey and you are a sentient vehicle for my advancement of understanding.

So when you bring in your rough day, the one you had because you were passed over for a promotion or broken up with by your significant other, you damage the energy of the environment and poison the experience for all those you train with.

So why would anyone bring in their ego? Their irritation? Their frustration? Their overbearing personal baggage that no one really cares about being part of? It’s simple: you had a bad day. Or week. Or you think your whole life is hard. Maybe it is. Everyone has issues and problems. Everyone has bad days. Jiu-jitsu schools would shut down tomorrow if every day was a great day for everyone!

We go to train because we are having a bad day, and if we bring it on to the mat then we accomplish exactly the opposite of what came for which was to seek relief in our passion from the crap day or week or life we are having. So, instead, let it be. Quit sulking and pouting or complaining audibly or silently. Fake it ’til you make it has had to be my mantra on many occasions.

I have come in not only to train, but to teach, after horrible experiences in my life – some of the worst. But I know it was no one’s fault on the mat so I did my training or shared my knowledge and even managed a smile or two. I did it this way because I love my art, my school and the fact that I get to share it with people and they come to share it with me.

Life is rough sometimes. Suck it up. Sorry about your bad day, but it’s time to put on your big boy gi and get to training.

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