Training Muay Thai for Better BJJ

After a few years of training, gaining a better understanding of jiujitsu has become a main priority in my life. And if you’re like me, you probably incorporate other physical activities or movements in the context of jiujitsu. We run, bike, practice wrestling & judo, or take a yoga class not necessarily to get good at that activity but to improve our jiujitsu: better cardio, improved takedowns, more flexibility. Well heck, some of us even shrimp out of bed or perform a technical stand-up to get up from the ground. The benefits of running, yoga, judo, or wrestling to improve our jiujitsu are obvious. However, it has taken me a few years and a few conversations to realize that Muay Thai is one of the better, if not the best physical activity to compliment jiujitsu.

Joseph Marquez

The most obvious benefits that Muay Thai provides are the physical ones. The strength, conditioning, and flexibility benefits are great, but more importantly is the loose and ballistic movements that balance out grappling’s emphasis on having a tight squeeze. Focusing on the upper body: when we have somebody’s back (literally) we are tightening up and squeezing to prevent escapes in the hopes of eventually submitting the other person. When focusing on the lower body: a good closed guard, triangle, or tight armbar. However, in Muay Thai (or any striking discipline) we want the opposite of tight and constricted muscles. Loose and relaxed muscles allow for quicker, more ballistic and less telegraphed strikes. Focusing on the upper body, the effectiveness of being loose is most evident during a set of burners in which you throw straight jabs and crosses as fast as possible for a minute or so. You have to “let your hands go” because if you tighten up you will struggle to throw quick punches. The same principle applies when focusing on the lower body. Hitting the Thai pads with fluid and powerful kicks require one to loosen hips and legs. After an hour of Muay Thai, I definitely feel the burn, but I also feel great. My muscles and joints from my ankles all the way to my wrists feel loose and relaxed afterwards. The warmups and drills in Muay Thai have effectively “shaken it out” the tightness from grappling. (In a Tim Ferris podcast with Pavel Tsatsouline, Pavel goes into better detail on “shaking it out” as an effective way to help muscles recover.)

There are other benefits that may be subtle at first, but comparing the similarities between grappling and striking in terms of range will help clarify these concepts. Three fundamental concepts learned in the first lessons of striking are range management, footwork, and creating angles of attack. If they are not in range to kick or punch you, they are not in range to trip, grab, take you down, or pull guard. Knowing what will not work in a certain range is just as important as knowing what will work. The distance from your opponent will help determine whether shooting double, single, low single, or not shooting at all is the best option. The footwork fundamentals (proper weight distribution, pivoting, or not crossing your feet)  used to enter and exit striking range are similar and can be applied to enter and exit shooting range. The same can be said about creating and attacking not straight on, but from an angle. A wrestler confirmed this to me by showing me how takedowns from the side are harder and more awkward to defend than takedowns you see coming head on. The concepts  of range, footwork, and angles are heavily emphasized in striking but they are also applicable to BJJ, especially since these fundamentals fluidly combine.

As we move closer into striking range, we also move into hand-fighting/grip-fighting range. As stated above, and because I think it is worth repeating: if you are in range to punch, you are in range to grab. A training partner demonstrated how he was able to repeatedly and easily grab my lapels in order to take me down or trip me from a standing position. He used the concept of boxing combos as way to get grips. In this specific case it was simple two-punch combo a straight jab to rear uppercut combo. He simply replaced the strikes in the combo with a collar grab. The main purpose of initial “jab” (high collar-grab) was to find range and distract. If it was not defended, the grip is taken. Most of the time this was defended and the “uppercut” was thrown to get my collar on the other side. Drilling combos and shadow boxing can be incorporated into BJJ simply by replacing punches with grabs and leg kicks & knees with trips.

There are many other ways that Muay Thai, and other striking arts or activities for that matter, can help improve our jiujitsu. I hope this helps us in our journey and that even more connections between BJJ and other activities will be investigated and shared.

Namaste

Joe Marquez

Too Much Knowledge Can Slow the Learning Process in BJJ

This may seem counterintuitive but stick with me for a bit.

Let’s step off the mats for just a second and look at learning a golf swing. The golf swing can be broken down into many parts. Let’s just look at the setup as outlined here 50 Best Swing Keys. You need to have your legs properly positioned with your feet outside your hips, and your toes pointed outward at a 25 degree angle. Now you need to have your upper left arm on the top of your chest, and your right arm needs to be slightly bent at the elbow. Then you need to have your right shoulder slightly lower than your left, and you need to be holding the shaft perpendicular to the ground.

That is a lot of stuff to do and you have not even started to move yet. The article goes into much more detail about how to properly smack the life out of the ball.

Even if I did have some knowledge of golf (I don’t) taking in a long list of different aspects all at once is a lot to ask of someone wanting a better swing.

The same thing can happen in BJJ if you are coaching to correct every little detail, the learning process can actually slow down. Instead fix one or two main things, and acknowledge one or two things that are done well. When the corrections have been made, build on that by fixing one or two more things.

Teaching too much can make students overwhelmed. Frustrated students are not in the state of mind to learn.

You might think that this coaching advice is mostly geared toward helping new students. I would argue that novice or expert will struggle to make more than one or two corrections at a time.

We can all improve, gaining knowledge needs to be at a rate that is conducive to learning.

Ideas for this article were inspired from the books Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better and Peak secrets for the new science of expertise 

Byron

Back to the Basics

My youngest kids are girls that are less than two years apart in age. The
older one was not too interested in driving so delayed taking drivers education
and getting her permit. By the time she did start the process her younger sister
was almost ready as well. This resulted in me doing a lot of driving and teaching
for almost a year straight. Whether they were driving, or I was behind the wheel,
every time we were on the road it was a lesson. I would say “we’re a few blocks
from the Jr. High and it’s 3:00 we should be keeping an eye out for kids, right?” or
“this is the first rain in a few weeks, be aware the roads could be slick” or “can
you see the mirrors on that 18-wheeler in front of us? If not, we’re following too
close” etc. etc. etc. These are all just basic safe driving practices that experienced
drivers follow without thinking about. But after a years’ worth of conscienceless
thinking about and actively discussing these issues I felt like a safer driver.

I’ve been driving for over 30 years with 2 tickets and zero accidents in the
last 20. After all that time of safe driving, if spending some time consciously
focusing on the basic principles of safe driving can make me a better driver, I’m
willing to bet the same logic applies to jiu jitsu? If you spend some time focusing
on the basic principles of good jiu jitsu your techniques will get tighter, you will
become more efficient, your defense will improve….in short, your grappling will
get better.

It’s tempting to make a list of “5 basic principles and concepts…..”, but the
reality is every person will be different. If your top game is weak or not
progressing the fundamentals you choose to focus on will be different than they
would be if your go-to guard game needed some improvement.
Focusing on the basics in general will help your jiu jitsu. Focusing on specific
basics that are directly relevant to your game will help you even more. In my
mind, this is an example of a time that paying your instructor for a private lesson,
will be worth every penny you spend. Tell your instructor you would like to
improve upon the foundation of your game – that you would like to make sure
your jiu jitsu is fundamentally sound and ask him for a private lesson, so you can
roll, and he can assess your game and make suggestions.

In conclusion, no matter how long you have been training jiu jitsu, there is
always value in getting back to the basics. No amount of slick moves and fancy
techniques will ever make up for a game that is not fundamentally sound. It’s
never too late to get back to the basics.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe

Properly Responding to Feedback to Get Better At BJJ

It happens all the time on the mats. One person gives the other person a bit of feedback, some information that they can use to help develop their game. If the person receiving the feedback is you I have a couple of things you should consider.

In my example the feedback is coming from a person who is qualified to give you help.

Let’s step on the mat for some nogi. I am working to pass your guard and you have one hand on my neck to help control posture. I tell you this bit of feedback “try moving your hand up a little bit closer to my head”. This grip sounds odd to you. When playing gi you control the posture with a collar grip. Your hand naturally slides a bit further back and to control the neck. In addition you are satisfied with your collar grip conversion to nogi and you do a pretty good job of controlling the posture. This feedback is probably ignored, and you keep on doing what you are doing.

When you get feedback apply it first, then consider if it is good advice. If it was intuitive for you to play your grip on the lower part of the head you would have already been doing it. Often times good feedback will seem counterintuitive. You might find that gripping on the back of the head gives you much more leverage. You are not just pulling the person down from their neck. Your energy is first pulling the head down, then the neck therefore the posture is broken much easier.

The point of this article is not to help you break your opponent’s posture more effectively. I want you to try the feedback you get and then judge its effectiveness.

Thank the person that took the time to give you the feedback. Your development on the mat will be more efficient if you continue to get more feedback and you should do all you can to encourage more. Using the feedback and thanking the person go a long way to helping you be a joy to coach.

Ideas for this article were inspired from the book Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

Coaching Tip- Critique vs Correct In BJJ

These two things may seem to be the same, but they are actually significantly different. In this short article you will find out the difference and learn why I am such a fan of one over the other.

Let’s say we are rolling, and I have side control. You are doing a pretty good job to build a frame and you try to escape. Then your arm relaxes a bit and I isolate it and take the armbar. My critique would be that your should keep your arms in a safe position. That is good advice, and I hope you can put it to use next time someone has you in side control and tries to put your arm in danger.

Let’s look at the same scenario and use correction instead of critique. Now where were we? Oh yeah. Your arm relaxes a bit and I isolate it and start to take the armbar. I know you feel something bad is headed your way. Then I say “pause for a second, can you feel your arm is out of position?” You agree. “Let’s rewind and see what happened, to get you to this spot.” It turns out that as you attempting to get your legs in to recover guard your arm became a bit too loose “Let’s do it again but this time as you are working your legs in also pay attention to your arm, especially your left one.”

With the correction you get to try to fix the problem in the moment. You get to feel it working and make adjustments to your game in a more live setting.

If you tell me what mistakes I made after I tap, thanks for the critique. If you have me pause and rewind a few steps to show me my mistakes, thanks for the correction. They are both good learning tools but the correction allows me to practice what you are telling me. The correction allows both my body and mind to experience the practice together, and this greatly helps with long term retention.

Think of giving someone a critique as giving them a tip, and giving someone a correction as giving them a short pertinent lesson.

The words “pause” and “rewind” are becoming some the my best coaching words while I roll.

Ideas for this article were inspired from the book Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

Byron

Creating an Environment for Success

I’ve heard it said before that “environment trumps will”. For those of us who like to credit our success to our own grit, determination and hard work this is not an easy truth to accept. Sure, some of the greatest people have emerged from some pretty bad environments, but those are the exceptions – not the rule.

How can we, as adult jiu jitsu practitioners, use this information to help us get better at jiu jitsu? Well, the good news is that we do have some control over our environment. It’s something that we can improve. Let’s look at a couple of ways our environment off the mat may be hindering our progress and maybe one or two ways our environment at the gym may not be helping us. Then let’s look at how we can turn that around.

If you have a spouse and kids and you cannot get them on board, your home environment will not be ideal for progress and success. It’s a lot to juggle, but somehow you must get them behind you. Getting them involved is a great way to do this. Keeping things “fair” is important—if you’re spending 4-6 hours a week doing something you’re passionate about try to help your family members find things they are passionate about and make sure they have the time to pursue those passions the same as you are pursuing jiu jitsu. Another way to get them behind you is to ensure that they are also reaping the benefits of your journey—jiu jitsu should be helping you become healthier, happier, more confident, and more relaxed. In other words, it should be helping you become a better spouse and parent.

If you leave home early for work, stop for a fast-food mc-something and coffee for breakfast, sit at your desk all day studying spreadsheets only stopping once to have lunch at the food truck on the corner, then rush home for a heavy carb loaded dinner—this will not help you accomplish your jiu jitsu goals. A busy life and stressful work environment is not always easy to overcome. Somethings that might help are: meal prep on the weekends for breakfasts during the week, pack lunches on work days, taking the stairs at work, standing at your desk,

If your friends that you hangout with on the weekends think that belly flop competitions and beer chugging are athletic events, you might be spending time in an environment that is not conducive for success. You probably don’t need to completely abandon recreational activities that include bratwurst, beer, and belly flops…but you probably need to minimize them. The key here is, like they say, balance and moderation.

What’s the environment like at the gym? How can you affect that?

Is there an “I have to win at all costs” environment at your school? Here’s the problem with that: When you adopt that mentality, you find a way to win i.e. get really good at a few moves that seem to be really well suited to you and then only do those moves. Or you may only train with training partners with less skill or lesser attributes which obviously won’t challenge you to the same degree as training with partners who are better than you. If this attitude is prevalent at your school, here’s how you can make a difference. First of all, roll with everyone and tap when you’re caught without trying to spaz out of the submission and don’t make excuses. Secondly, when rolling with training partners you can easily beat, roll in such a way that puts you in bad positions or get’s you caught once in a while, i.e. start from bad positions, work from your week side, try new techniques, etc. For more ideas along these lines check out Six BJJ Training Games, by Byron Jabara. By approaching jiu jitsu this way you will be setting an example that others will eventually follow.

Is there a “me first” mentality where students seem to only be concerned about their own progression? While this seems to be a mindset that would indeed help you get better faster it is, in the jiu jitsu world, actually counterproductive.  There should be a culture of comradery with the mind-set that a rising tide raises all boats. If you are training at a gym where other students, as well as the instructor, are concerned about your progress and are willing to invest in your success then you are training in an environment where you are likely to succeed. The solution here is simple, but not necessarily easy: Model the behavior you hope to see in the rest of your team. Take a round or two every class for a while and make it about your teammate. I’ll often time ask my teammates what they’re working on and then steer the match in that direction.

In conclusion: I’m not a life coach, marriage counselor, nutritionist, or even a jiu jitsu expert so I can’t necessarily tell you the best way to improve your environment. But I can tell you that there’s enough evidence out there to indicate that it would greatly improve your chances of success if this was something you paid some attention to. Maybe pick one area of your life and work each week to make that area just a little better.

 

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

 

Joe

When your teammates are in Competition Training Mode and you’re in I Can Barely Drag My Ass to Class Mode

When your school is gearing up for a competition and everyone is training at the highest level of intensity prepping for the tournament and you are not, what are you supposed to do? Maybe you think you are not experienced enough to help or get much out of the class, maybe you are rehabbing an injury, or maybe you (like me) are older and not too interested in competition. Is this just a good opportunity to take some time off? Maybe, but probably not, there are many ways you can help your teammates out and still benefit from going to class.

Let’s look first at some things you can do to help your teammates out:

  1. Positional sparring. If your training partner is a much better grappler than you and they are in competition mode you may not be able to offer them “a good match”. Pushing them physically is probably not in the cards, but you can ask them what they’re working on for the tournament and then volunteer to start from that position.
  2. Pace yourself. If you can’t keep up at their pace, set a pace you can keep. Most competitors, I think, would rather a good steady round for the regulation time than to have you gassed half way through.
  3. Don’t spend time in stagnant positions. If you’re stuck, move. If you’re in top position and unable to finish the match, transition to something else and look for the finish from there.
  4. Offer encouragement and (when appropriate) feedback. If you are newer to the game it may not be the time to be offering advice or coaching, but you can still be there for support and encouragement. If you have been training for some time, but are not in comp mode, you may have valuable insights to offer your teammates.

This is great and will be helpful to your teammates, but we know that you are on the mats so you can get better at jiu jitsu. How will going to class for competition training benefit you when you are not in competition training?

  1. You WILL get better. You may feel like you’re just getting your ass kicked, but trust me; you are absorbing information and learning more about yourself and your limits. You’ll get a chance to see how your technique works when your training partners are trying a little harder to win.
  2. You will benefit from the strengthening of the team and the development of a deeper team comradery. These are some of the things that will keep you on the mats and get you through the times you wonder if it’s all worthwhile. These are also some of the things that are, for many of us, at the core of why we do jiu jitsu.
  3. If you are there for your teammates, they will be there for you. One day you will be prepping for a tournament, or trying to polish up some techniques as a promotion approaches, or maybe even having personal issues off the mats and your teammates will remember that you were there for them. They will be there for you.

In conclusion: It’s easy to think if the class or curriculum is not suited to us, that that is a problem….in the words of one of the greatest mariners of all times, Capt. Jack Sparrow, “the problem is not the problem, your attitude about the problem is the problem”.  Go, learn something, have a good time – you’ll be glad you did.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe

Applying a Growth Mindset to Jiu-Jitsu

By: Ron Drumm- Breaking Grips

Intro

What is your attitude to failure? How do you react when you lose a Jiu-Jitsu match or have a particularly bad day at training?

The answer to these questions may indicate whether you have a fixed or a growth mindset. It is not always obvious but generally people tend to have one or the other.  

Applying a growth mindset to your Jiu-Jitsu may help you to improve your game and can be beneficial in many other areas of your life.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck is a psychology professor at Stanford University and is famous for her work on the mindset psychological trait.

Dweck’s research challenges the common belief that intelligent people are born smart. Based on this research she has written extensively on the benefits of having a growth mindset.

In a 2012 interview Dweck provided this definition of the fixed vs growth mindset: “In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.“

Ability to change mindsets

The good news is that you can change from a fixed to a growth mindset. Learning about the growth mindset is sometimes enough to put people on the path to changing previous held beliefs.

Here are the 4 steps that Dweck recommends in order to change your mindset

Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”

Step 2: Recognize that you have a choice.

Step 3: Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.

Step 4: Take the growth mindset action.

Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu is a perfect opportunity to test out the growth mindset. Development and progress can be clearly measured though your ability to perform certain techniques, your grade, and your ability to compete with other students.

It is hard not to look around the academy and be envious of others who are perceived as talented. However by adopting a growth mindset in Jiu-Jitsu

Take the example of a white belt that rolls with a purple belt and gets tapped out 4 times in 5 minutes and is stuck in side control all the time. The fixed mindset student might think, “I will never be that good. I suck at Jiu Jitsu“, whereas the growth mindset student might think something like, “I will be that good someday, but need to try and not get stuck like that in my next roll.“

In the case the fixed attitude student is less likely to figure out how to get more and is more likely to quit. On the other hand the growth mindset student will soon figure out how to counter the opponent and may even develop a sequence to get the dominant position.

Getting tapped out regularly and finding weaknesses is your game should be viewed positively. They should be seen as opportunities to learn and develop. 

Examples in other sports

Take the example of the greatest tennis player of all time Roger Federer. Many people credit his success to natural talent. However it is the thousands of hours that he has spent perfecting his technique and refining his game that has made him so talented.

Even as he reaches the twilight of his career he famously continues to put in the hours of training and researching opponents in an effort to win as many major championships as possible. In 2017 he won his first major championship in 5 years at the age of 35 despite most pundits stating that he had come to the end of his reign.

If you are a regular reader of sports biographies you will notice that this is a common trait among the greatest athletes of all time. Many of them give examples of athletes with similar abilities at young age, but what elevated them above their peers was the skills that they cultivated through deliberate practice.

Summary

The phrase “Win or Learn“ has become somewhat of a cliché in Jiu-Jitsu and MMA but if you actually take a bit of time to think about it and apply it to your own martial arts journey you will likely see some benefits.

So when you get your next set back in Jiu-Jitsu try to view it as a challenge and be grateful for the failure. Failure should always be viewed as a springboard for growth. Get addicted to failure! It will make you a better Jiu-Jitsu player.

Five things that can kill your guard

Are you trying a new guard and it’s not working? Are your opponents and training partners having little trouble breaking and passing? There are many reasons this could be happening. If you have found yourself in this position, take a look at the five things below and see if they help.

Five things that can kill your guard:

  1. Poor posture. From every position, top or bottom, there are things you can do to have a strong posture and structure and things you can do that make it weak. With a weak posture and structure, you will not be able to absorb or exert force. In other words, you won’t be able to keep your opponent from putting you on your back and you won’t be able to create space and set up attacks. To learn more about strong and weak structures and posture go here Nic Gregoriades-Strong Structure This is a key element to playing any guard and something we can all improve on.
  2. Not recognizing when your opponent is no longer actually in your guard. When your opponent is in your guard their objective is, obviously, to pass/improve their position. You could say there are three steps in this process: They are in your guard, they are passing your guard, and they have passed your guard. Another way to look at this is that there is a zone that your opponents are in for playing guard, and when they are no longer in that zone, you are no longer playing guard. For more on this idea go here: Jason Scully-Guard Retention Recognizing early when your opponent is out of your guard zone will not only give you the opportunity to prevent the pass and regain your guard — you will also see opportunities to catch submissions in transition as well as sweeps or reversals.
  3. Not knowing the other side of the equation well enough. If you have learned to defend and pass a particular guard well, then when you are playing that guard you will have a pretty good idea what your opponent is trying to do based on the grips they choose, their posture, base, pressure etc. This allows you to anticipate and counter a move almost before they try and make it. If you are not familiar with the other side of the equation, then your opponent will have this same advantage.
  4. Not staying busy enough. ABA…always be attacking. As a general rule, if you’re positionally sparring with an equally skilled opponent and your only objective is to hold them in your guard, it might take some time, but they will eventually pass. On the other hand, if you are looking for sweeps and submissions and are attacking relentlessly, your opponent is likely to either tire or make a mistake. When this happens the sweep or finish will present itself.
  5. Missing some key details of the specific guard you are playing. The first four points are general ideas/concepts that apply to every guard. If you play multiple guards well, it’s likely you already understand these concepts. If that’s you, and you’re struggling with a new or different guard you’re trying, it’s possible you are simply missing some key details regarding grips, points of control, or the specific techniques from that guard. Ask your instructors and senior teammates for advice.

The great thing about jiu-jitsu is that often times what will fix one problem will fix many others as well. Look at the first four points of this article. If you apply these concepts to your spider guard for improvement there, you will likely see improvement in all other aspects of your game as well. So, if your guard game is a struggle, try looking at these concepts and then see how the rest of your game improves as well.

Thanks to Nic Gregoriades and Jason Scully for providing quality content to help illustrate the points made in this article.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe Thomas

Self Defense Seminars: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Self-defense seminars, and specifically women’s self-defense seminars,
have enjoyed some popularity through the years. Within the martial arts
community opinions vary: Some say they are of very little benefit, some say they
have no value, and some even say they are counterproductive as they can give
people a false and unwarranted sense of confidence. I would say all three of these
views have some merit and represent what is good, bad, and ugly about self
defense seminars.


First let’s talk about the good. You can’t teach someone to fight over the
course of a 4-hour seminar, but there are some things you can do to help prevent
them from becoming a victim in the future. Let’s look at a few:
Promote safe behavior: If at least some of the seminar is devoted to helping
attendees adopt behaviors that will make them less likely to be a victim – that is a
good thing. Things like, parking your car under a street lamp, walking in groups at
night, always be scanning your environment, keeping your cell phone at the
ready, etc. are all behaviors that can help people avoid becoming the victim of a
violent encounter.
Serve as a starting point: When someone attends a self-defense seminar,
joins a gym, and starts training on a regular basis the seminar has been a
success.
Supplement existing training programs: Maybe you are training 1-2 times a
week at a school that is extremely focused on IBJJF style tournament jiu jitsu and
you would like some more self defense specific training. Catching a decent self
defense seminar once or twice a year may be just what you need.

Now let’s talk about the bad. Most people attending a self defense seminar
where they are shown a handful of techniques are under the impression that they
can then go use these techniques on the street to defend themselves. This is not
possible. There are skills and attributes necessary to prevail in an altercation that
cannot be obtained at a 1-day seminar. These skills and attributes can only be acquired through consistent training that includes “aliveness” and regular
sparring sessions. Let’s look at some of those skills and attributes.
Muscle Memory: Any technique you would use in an altercation to defend
yourself needs to be completely automatic and responses will only become
automatic when they have been repeated 1,000’s of times. Furthermore, muscle
memory is somewhat situational. If you only drill the move in a static
environment, you are likely only going to be able to repeat it in the same
controlled setting.
Fight Stamina: Whether it is because of a person’s inability to deal with the
adrenaline dump or a lack of activity specific conditioning, most people are
completely gassed and unable to continue in a fight within two minutes. Live
sparring will give you the activity specific conditioning you need. If you train and
choose to compete, that will help you get accustomed to the adrenaline dump.
The Ability to Comprehend the Violence: Assaults don’t start with a “slap,
bump, and roll”. Often the victim is caught off guard, starts the fight a step
behind, and never catches up. While we (hopefully) will never feel like we’re
facing sudden, overwhelming, and unprovoked violence, in the gym we’re often
caught with a quick hard takedown, or an inadvertent elbow/knee. This s not the
same as getting blindsided on the streets, but enough of these incidents will help
us be prepared for a more extreme situation.
Spatial Awareness: To defend yourself in a violent confrontation you need
to develop an innate understanding of distance and angles. Ideally, we keep the
attacker in front of us outside of striking range. If we can make that happen, no
fight happens. If we can’t make this happen, we at least want to keep the fight at
whatever range we are most comfortable at and definitely not let an attacker get
behind us.

And lastly, let’s look at the ugly. I don’t want to spend a lot of time here.
The fact is some of these seminars are simple scams – they do little other than
separating the attendee from their money. And worse yet, some students leave
with a false sense of security, and may end up catching the wrong end of a
beating because they now think they can “handle themselves”.

Long story short: Buyer beware. If you (or someone you know) is thinking of
taking a self defense seminar it can be a positive and productive experience if you
shop wisely, find a reputable instructor, and have realistic goals.
Train hard. Train smart. Get better.
Joe

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