The Brotherhood Extends Beyond the Mats

Much is made of the comradery between teammates and the relationships developed on the mats. Have you ever wondered why relationships run deep and the level of trust between training partners is so high?

I would suggest that there are two main reasons:

1) As it relates to jiu jitsu, the truth is always revealed on the mats. If you talk a big game and exaggerate your skill level, you will be exposed as a fraud very quickly. Being completely honest and transparent in one aspect of your life leads to being honest and transparent in other areas so teammates get to know the real you fairly quickly.

2) You are literally putting your physical well-being in the hands of your teammates and they are doing the same with you. When you’ve trusted someone not to break your arm when they’ve had the chance it’s pretty easy to trust them with less crucial things.

I recently was able to benefit from this brotherhood when I needed the old siding on my house removed and replaced with new. One of my training partners Javier San Miguel runs a roofing/home repair company, San Miguel Roofing. San Miguel Roofing is located in Clute Texas which is due south of Houston. I just got done doing some interior work and had a horrible experience with the contractor so for the exterior work I was definitely looking for someone I could trust. My wife cautioned me about hiring a friend out of concern that if things went sideways the friendship would be ruined. I told her I felt I knew Javier pretty well and had good reason to trust him (see paragraph A)

We couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Either Javier, or his father Jose who helps manage the business, was at the job site every day to ensure the work was being done correctly and getting completed on time. I would summarize the outcome this way: Quality work done by professional craftsmen.

Not only has this relationship benefited me, but it has benefited Javier as well in that it was additional work for his business. If you have a teammate who owns, operates, or manages a local business consider giving them your business before you hire someone else. Jiu Jitsu is a community both on and off the mats, and as such, when we have the opportunity to support and/or help one another we should do so.

If you are a BJJ Brick listener and happen to be in the Houston or Brazoria County area and know someone who may be looking for home roofing or home remodel services Javier can be contacted here — San Miguel Roofing or Facebook – San Miguel Roofing

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe

Value this time on the mats kids

The following is a monologue by Billy Crystal from the movie City Slickers and was sent to me from my friend and 60+ year old grappler Andy Dicky. In the movie Mitch (played by Billy Crystal), Phil, and Ed are all experiencing their own mid-life crises and take a two-week vacation at a dude ranch to figure things out. The scene that this monologue is from features Mitch speaking to his son’s middle school class on career day prior to leaving for the dude ranch.

Value this time in your life kids… Because this is the time in your life when you still have choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “what happened to my twenties?”. Your forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin… the music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery…you’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still too loud, but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, and breakfast the night before. You spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering “how come the kids don’t call?”. By your eighties, you’ve had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand, but you call mamma. Any questions?

What’s the point of sharing this with you? Is it to make sure we understand that this is as good as it’s going to get? To warn you that from here on your life will get progressively worse with the passage of time? Not at all. But things will definitely be different, and not all those differences will be “good”. Our knees, our backs, our shoulders, our central nervous systems and reflexes, etc. are examples of things that deteriorate with age. This means our experiences on the mats at 45 will not be the same as they were in our 30’s…in our 50’s our experiences on the mats won’t be the same as they were at 45. Our experiences won’t be the same over the years, but they can still be great.

Don’t waste time looking back with regret because you did not start sooner or did not pursue jiu jitsu with the passion that you now wish you would have. Don’t waste time looking down the road and worrying about your physical attributes fading and your body breaking down and the things that you may no longer be able to do. Instead, live in the moment. Enjoy your time on the mats today. Make the most out of each class, each round that you roll, each tournament you enter, each seminar you attend, etc. This moment is the only one that is guaranteed. Value this time on the mats.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe

Here is the clip!

Epi 258 The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil With Robert Drysdale

This week we have an interview with Robert Drysdale. Not only is Robert one of the best grapplers in the world, he is also working on a documentary about the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This interview covers everything from the documentary to doing BJJ for the right reasons.

We talk about:

  • Training BJJ for 20 years
  • Running his own school
  • Training at Valor Martial Arts in Wichita
  • His documentary Closed Guard: The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil
  • The role of fake fight in the history of BJJ
  • How the rules in Brazil changed the game
  • How the infrastructure on Brazil changed Jiu-Jitsu
  • The goals of the Closed Guard documentary
  • The meaning of the name of “Closed Guard”
  • The funding for the movie
  • Training advice for competition
  • Why ACB is so exciting to watch
  • Do BJJ for the right reasons

Links:

Quote of the week: “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Babe Ruth

Article of the week: You Be The Hammer, I am the Nail

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Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for Andriod

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

Epi 201 Eddie Fyvie 1st Rickson Gracie Cup

This week we talk to Ricardo Almeida black belt Eddie Fyvie. Eddie is organizing an innovative tournament called the Rickson Gracie Cup. This tournament will feature both BJJ, self-defense, and a seminar by Rickson Gracie.

We talk about:

  • The Rickson Gracie Cup September 9 and 10
  • A Rickson Gracie seminar the evening of September 10
  • Promoting self defense with BJJ
  • The basic rules for the self defense contest
  • What is was like to host the biggest BJJ seminar in US history
  • Teaching BJJ to 320 people at the same time
  • What does self defense bring to jiu-jitsu
  • Not having advantages in this tournament
  • Using a stalling clock like a shot clock
  • Giving incentives for competitors to finish the match

Links:

Quote of the week: “You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.” Napoleon Bonaparte

Article of the week: Understand Where The Danger Is! And Don’t Be There!

A special thank you to Berry White for making a brief appearance!

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Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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Visiting another school…. Getting the most out of a drop in

Anyone who has trained jiu jitsu for any length of time has probably had the itch to drop in at another school for a visit. Maybe you just want to meet new people, maybe you want to be exposed to a different training environment, or maybe you are just going to be out of town for an extended period of time and visiting another school will be your only opportunity to train. Whatever the reason, visiting another school can be a great experience. It can also be a little intimidating or overwhelming for some people. Whether you are excited about the opportunity or are a little nervous about it – here are a few tips that may help you get the most out of it.
1. Identify as many schools in the area that may be worth visiting. This will give you the best odds of finding one that will be a good fit for you. It sometimes takes multiple web searches to find all the schools in a given area. Sometimes, some schools will show on a search for “BJJ near…” and other schools in the same area will show for “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu near….”. It is also worth just asking around. If you know other people that do jiu jitsu and live in the area you are looking to visit shoot them a text and ask. Jiu Jitsu forums and message boards can also be helpful.
2. Do some research. You can find out a lot about a school by visiting their website, social media sites, checking reviews, and just asking around. You can get a pretty good idea about a school’s jiu jitsu style and the training environment by checking their website and social media and by asking a few questions on the phone or via email/messaging. This will help you find a school to visit that’s right for you.
3. Call ahead. Some information I try to get on a phone call: A) Is the class I’m interested in appropriate for my skill level and open to drop ins? B) What’s the drop-in fee? C) Are there any uniform requirements? Some gyms prefer white gis. D) Make sure I have the correct address and directions.
4. Go with an open mind. No matter how much research you do and how many questions you ask sometimes you show up at a school and find the class is nothing like what you were expecting. You can still have a positive experience and get a lot out of the class…. but this is unlikely to happen if you are not open to trying something new and doing things a different way.
5. Be humble. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone and most people don’t like a visitor coming in and trying to be king of the mat. Start off slow and loose during sparring. With each round as you get to know the group and they get to know you, you can ratchet it up a notch. I’d rather leave the class feeling like I didn’t do my best jiu jitsu than leave the class feeling like I wouldn’t be welcomed back.
6. Make some connections. Jiu Jitsu is largely about the journey and the friends you make. At a minimum, make a social media connection so you can follow them and keep in touch. If things went well and you felt like things really clicked, exchange contact information. You never know when you’ll be back in the area or when someone from that school might be in your area and you can get together again for some training.
7. Leave the school a good review online. It’s not easy building a team and running a business. Good reviews help. If they treated you well and you were able to get some quality training in, the least you can do is take five minutes to leave them a good review.
One final thought: The visit will be what you make. Some things are out of your control—the size of the school, how accomplished the instructor is, the skill level of the other students on the mat, etc. However, you do have control over your attitude, your effort level, your preparation before the visit, etc. Put as much effort into finding the right school and properly preparing for the class as you do once you get there and you will have an awesome visit.
Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Epi 168 Keys To A Strong Kids Program With Korbett Miller

This week we are proud to bring you Korbett Miller. Today you will learn a lot about developing the next generation of BJJ practitioners. Miller is a first degree BJJ black belt under Saulo and Xande RIbeiro. This episode is a must listen for anyone involved with teaching BJJ to adults or kids.korbett-miller

We talk about:

  • Overcoming difficulties as a kid with martial arts
  • The current coaching environment for kids programs
  • How to teach kids differently than adults
  • Teaching on command
  • Drills that are played as games
  • Getting deliberate practice
  • The “Dead Bug” drill to help learn the hip bump sweep
  • Character development for kids in BJJ over other martial arts
  • Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
  • Why you should avoid “Person Praise” to students
  • The importance of a great introductory lesson for kids
  • Some of the details of the introductory lesson
  • Why he does not give kids a belt without earning it first
  • The importance of focus and respect
  • Having kids be a first time listener and doing things the right way right away
  • Not just letting the new kids just blend in with the rest of the class
  • Why almost no one regrets long term martial arts training
  • Developing a talent hot bed in your school
  • Why he encourages kids to compete
  • What to say to a kid after a loss
  • Lessons learned while competing
  • How to let kids start rolling
  • How to teach kids submissions
  • How he has attracted 250 kids to his BJJ school
  • Developing a kids program
  • Marketing a kids martial arts program

Links:

Quote of the week: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” Benjamin Franklin

We have the results of The BjjBrick Coach of the Year Contest. We are
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Gary’s audio book is called “How to sneak into the kids division and get gold or a cold”

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Epi 156 BJJ in China with Andy Pi

This week we are excited to bring you an interview with Andy Pi. Andy is a pioneer in bringing jiu-jitsu to China. He also won the first televised MMA fight in China. There is a lot of ground covered in this interview as we talk about jiu-jtisu in China.andy-pi

We talk about:

  • His start in Jiu-Jitsu in 1994
  • His MMA that was the first fight on broadcast TV in China
  • Early Jiu-Jitsu in USA and China
  • Jiu-jitsu in Beijing
  • A critical look at Jiu-Jitsu in China
  • MMA compared to self-defense
  • ADCC in China
  • People doing Jiu-Jitsu for fun
  • Kids doing Jiu-Jitsu
  • Why instructors are a big factor in determining if students stick with grappling
  • New students avoiding injuries
  • The idea of “go hard or go home”
  • A lesson on checking your ego

Links:

Quote of the week: “Friendship.. is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” Muhammad Ali

Article of the week: On the Meaning of a Belt

Gary tells us about his book he is working on called “The Jiu-Jitsu Guide to Halloween”

We are also looking for submissions for coach of the year. Send your essay about what makes your coach great to BjjBrick@gmail.com

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If you are interested in supporting The BjjBrick Podcast find out how here

The BjjBrick Wall of Support is being constructed and you can help

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Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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Something You Need to Know About the BJJ Gauntlet

In many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) schools, students occasionally get whipped by belts. This is typically done as a right of passage during a belt promotion, birthday, or some type of celebration. Students line up with their BJJ belts in hand and whip the person who must run the gauntlet. Today I want to bring this dark topic to light.

Belt whipping meme bjj

Hazing students has a negative effect on self-esteem

BJJ brings many positive-life changing benefits to the people that train, none of these benefits are a product of belt whipping. Belt whipping is a form of hazing (illegal in 44 US states). It is seen as a way to prove yourself to be part of a tough group. Many kids and adults are in BJJ programs to learn how to not be the victim of a bully, and build confidence. They may find themselves in a room full of bullies with belts peer pressuring them to do something that they would rather not do. One of two things usually happens in this situation. The student realizes that this is an unhealthy environment and they leave the school. Or the student fails to stand up for themselves and they give in to the peer pressure.

It takes a person of extraordinary confidence to look at the gauntlet and tell the group “No, I am not doing this. I am not going to be whipped, and I am not going to whip anyone else. I am here to learn BJJ; I am not here to take part in hazing.” It takes more courage to stand up to the group and say no to the gauntlet than it does to get whipped by belts.

Some proponents of belt whipping argue that this sport is for people that are tough and can take a beating. I argue that BJJ will make a person tough, after all it is a rough experience being on the mat. BJJ is designed for the smaller, weaker person, not the guy who walks in the door already a tough guy. Instead of building the weaker person up, the sight of this hazing is likely to chase them away. Another argument is that the gauntlet is a tradition in BJJ (dating back to the mid 90’s if that counts as tradition). Tradition is important in martial arts, many traditions have a rich history, the gauntlet does not have a rich history. Much like picking fights on the beach this tradition is best left in the past as BJJ is spread around the world.

Let’s address the legal issue with a little more depth. It does not matter to the law whether the student gives implied consent. Their consent to the hazing is not a defense that a social club can use, it is still illegal. If a student is not physically harmed it will typically be a misdemeanor, but if there is an injury the crime of hazing is a felony in many US states. Whipping marks left by a belt could be considered an injury. Gym owners and coaches should heed this warning. By writing this article I am not trying to get anyone in trouble with the law, I just want to see successful gyms with good business practices. Ask yourself what successful business would post illegal activities on social media?Hazing 6 states

It is time to leave this tradition of hazing in the past. The gauntlet is not helping to build stronger or better students, BJJ does that in spite of the gauntlet.

Things like rolling, or a throw are not hazing – they are part of doing BJJ. If your school is participating in hazing its students I recommend sharing this article with your instructor and respectfully sitting out of the process. I am confident that most instructors are simply unaware that they are breaking the law. Help them out by letting them know.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Links

Epi 115 Chris Martin and BJJ 4 Change

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Chris Martin

Chris Martin

Chris Martin is one of the founding members of BJJ4CHANGE. Chris has a long history of doing martial arts and a big passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This episode we will talk about BJJ 4 Change, an organization that is dictated to helping kids through BJJ.

We talk about:

  • What got Chris started in martial arts
  • Why he has such a passion for BJJ
  • Making a BJJ documentary
  • How doing BJJ can help kids on and off the mat
  • The goals of BJJ 4 Change
  • How the plan for BJJ 4 Change has adapted and grown
  • BJJ effecting social changes
  • The lifestyles of the kids that need some help
  • How Jiu-Jitsu helps with confidence
  • Where the money goes when you attend a camp
  • Some of the many benefits of BJJ

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Links:

Quote of the week: “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

Article of the week: “What I Wish You Knew Before You Started Teaching: A Student’s View

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Catch us next week my friends for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast!