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 185 An Amazing Story and Advice From Sarah Draht

This week we have an interview with BJJ brown belt Sarah Draht. She has been training since 2005. She shares her wealth of experience in Muay Thai, BJJ and MMA.

We talk about:

  • Her start in martial arts
  • Some of the things that make her passionate about BJJ
  • Running a women’s Muay Thai program
  • How a bad car accident almost killed her and kept her off the mat for four years
  • Recovering from her car accident
  • Mind Gym : An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence
  • How to avoid getting injured before a tournament
  • Advice for women transitioning from BJJ to MMA

Links:

Quote of the week: “‘Find a job you like, and you add five days to every week.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Article of the week: Live Sparring/Free Rolling: Get more out of it than just a good fight

Safe word of the week: Peanut butter

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Epi 184 The speed of your Jiu-Jitsu

This week we talk about an important and sometimes overlooked attribute to BJJ. The speed of the game may be something you use to your advantage or something that you are find yourself working to mitigate.

Gary has no idea that I put him in the movie poster from the movie speed. -Byron

We talk about:

  • Tips for the slower grappler
  • Some techniques that are better done slowly
  • Why your speed may leave you some day
  • When you should slow down or speed up
  • How to speed things up
  • How to slow things down
  • The speed of particular positions

Quote of the week: “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”
not by Anita Goodman but the quote was said by Og Mandino

Article of the week: Positional Sparring: Getting the most out of it

Korbett’s Kids Epi 3-  Korbett Miller answers a question about kids and drilling. Check out Korbett’s website here for more info on developing a strong kids program at your academy.

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Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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Epi 183 Gina Franssen From X2 Fitness

This week we have an interview with Gina Franssen. Gina is Minnesota’s first female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. You can find her at her female focused gym X2 Fitness. We cover a wide range of topics in this interview.

Gina Franssen (far right)

We talk about:

  • What BJJ was like for women fourteen years ago
  • How she was involved in a women’s only BJJ school
  • Adding men to what was once a women’s only BJJ school
  • What she looks for in quality male training partners
  • How she got started in martial arts
  • A tip to find a gym while traveling
  • Advice for women starting BJJ
  • Why it is important to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable

Links:

Quote of the week: People seldom refuse help, if one offers it in the right way. A. C. Benson

Article of the week: Drilling: How To Get the Most Out Of It

The Referee Corner Epi 4: Why does the referee alter the gi?

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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

Epi 182 Chokes and Jokes With Submission Ace Dominique Bell

Dominique Bell is a brown belt training and teaching at Atos Jiujitsu HQ – San Diego. Dominique has been on fire on the mats and is definitely a person you should be watching. In his spare time he is the person behind BjjComics.

We talk about:

  • Training BJJ full time
  • Training in the army combative program
  • Moving across the country to train at Atos
  • BjjComics.com
  • Similarities of BJJ and rock climbing
  • The differences in his gi and nogi game
  • His bottom game strategy for nogi
  • His first experiences doing jiu-jitsu
  • How he prepares mentally and physically 30 min before a mach
  • Why it is so important to have a game plan

Links:

Article of the week: Competing in mid-adulthood: How to train to win after age 35

Quote of the week:  “It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.” Voltaire

Korbett’s Kids Epi 2-  Korbett Miller answers a question about kids training to compete. Check out Korbett’s website here for more info on developing a strong kids program at your academy.

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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

Live Sparring/Free Rolling: Get more out of it than just a good fight

Live sparring, for most of us, is why we do jiu jitsu. Live sparring is where things get fun, where we pressure test our techniques, and where we find out which moves work for us and which might not. Live sparring, however, is not the easiest environment for newer students to make technical improvements in their jiu jitsu. Here are a few suggestions that might help.

Check your ego. This advice is repeated so often that it has become a bit cliché, but at no time on the mats is it more applicable than during live sparring. Not having your ego in check can cause a you to make choices on the mat that can be detrimental to your progress. Some examples would be: Not rolling with teammates (especially those of lesser rank) who frustrate you and/or tap you often. Not rolling when you’re tired so as not to get beat by a lesser skilled, but fresher or more athletic teammate. Not taking chances or trying new techniques that might leave you vulnerable.

Breath and relax. Only when you’re calm can you see what’s happening. And when you can see what’s happening you can start to learn. You will learn more “losing” calmly than “winning” by spazzing and scrambling like a wounded cougar.

Have specific and achievable goals. This seems to be especially applicable if you find yourself (like I often do) rolling almost exclusively against grapplers with more skill and ability. If you’re working on your kimura and there’s no one in class that you can actually submit, try to just dominate the arm and catch the kimura grip. Maybe you’re training partners are too good for even that—what position do you want to set the kimura up from? Set a goal to at least get there.

Roll with everyone. It’s easy to fall into the habit of rolling almost exclusively with a few training partners that give us fun and reasonably competitive rolls. There’s nothing wrong with rolling with our favorite training partners, but we also benefit from those training partners who are behind us a bit in athletic and technical ability as well as those who can crush us. When rolling with a training partner you can easily beat, don’t take the easy way out and just throw on your best submission every time—use this roll to try new techniques or roll from a position you are week from. When rolling against someone who can easily beat you, don’t put all your focus on not getting tapped at all costs—concentrate on things like good postures, good movements, good fundamentals, etc.

Don’t be afraid to use positional sparring during open mat when it makes sense. Positional sparring during live sparring might make sense if you’re working on a specific move or specific piece of your game—this could be especially helpful if you roll with a more advanced training partner who is especially good at what you’re working on who can give you feedback after the roll.  It might also make sense if you’re nursing an injury and are concerned some positions may leave you vulnerable to aggravate the injury. Positional sparring may also make sense when rolling with a new student who is not comfortable engaging—you can save time and get to the actual sparring if you just let them start in side control.

To wrap things up: Live sparring is a great way to evaluate your jiu jitsu, make adjustments, and refine your technique. To get the most out of it you need to treat it as a learning and training exercise as opposed to a competition to be won or lost. Always remember—there is no honor in gym wins.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Epi 181 Interview with Kim Pruyssers

This week we bring you an interview with Kim Pruyssers. Kim is a purple belt in BJJ, she recently placed silver at Pan Am. You can find Kim training at Pacific Top Team in Corona California.

We talk about:

  • Juggling a busy life and training BJJ
  • Her competition history
  • Training full time and raising four boys
  • Transitioning from only training with the gi and now doing no-gi
  • Some of her favorite attacks
  • Her first experiences with Jiu-Jitsu
  • Her women’s only program and why it is successful
  • Lessons she has learned by coaching
  • Why some women’s classes fail
  • Her strategy for competing in open weight
  • Advice for women starting BJJ in a class with all men
  • Training on a busy schedule
  • Advice for dealing with frustrations on the mat

Links:

Quote of the week: “If your arm breaks do not stop, if your windpipe is crushed keep going, your knee gets destroyed, why stop. Always, always keep going forward. Your body will heal itself so no reason to slow down.”-Jeffery Gloover

Article of the week: 3 Tips To Improve Your Takedowns

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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

Positional Sparring: Getting the most out of it

Drilling is a great way to practice new moves and memorize the sequence of movements necessary to complete a technique. However, it can lack the element of “aliveness” necessary to prepare you for executing techniques in a real-life scenario. Whether it be a competition or an actual altercation you will need to be prepared for a much more chaotic environment. Free rolling, or live sparring, most closely resembles real-life scenarios, but the jump from drilling to free rolling can leave a gap—this is where positional sparring can be very helpful.

I’m sure most people reading this are familiar with positional sparring, but just in case there is someone new to jiu jitsu who is not: Positional sparring most commonly starts with two teammates in a static starting position like full guard. The student on top is challenged to pass the guard while the student on bottom is challenged to sweep or submit. Once one student accomplishes their goal they reset back to the starting position.

Here are a few suggestions, based on my own experience that may help you get more out of positional sparring. Keep in mind that these suggestions are in the context of learning and refining technique. There may be other reasons for positional sparring and other strategies may be more suited at those times.

Try the technique that was taught in class. Often positional sparring follows the technique portion of class and will be from the same position. It will be hard to hit the technique (after all your training partner just saw it as well) but the best time to work on a technique is when the instruction is fresh in your mind.

Focus on accomplishing your goal more than preventing the other student from accomplishing theirs. Sure, you’re more likely to be swept when attempting a pass, but that’s how flaws in your technique are revealed. If you’re training with a better grappler you will probably get passed when you open your guard—embrace it, that is the best way to see the flaws in your game.

Always be making progress towards your goals. If your training partner is passing your guard and you catch their foot in “1/4 guard” you may be able to hold them there preventing them from completing the pass—but is this the point of the exercise? Maybe it is if you’re preparing for a tournament—maybe you’ll find yourself there in a match and preventing the pass could mean the win, but you can literally spend most of a positional sparring round stuck in this position. For me, I’d rather concede the pass and re-set so I can work on my game.

Don’t automatically default to your comfort zone. If the positional sparring starting position is butterfly guard — transitioning to x-guard to a sweep, is probably a legitimate strategy. But if x-guard is part of your “A” game and you already have consistent method of getting there from butterfly guard then you are missing out on one of the main benefits of positional sparring which is to become proficient from all positions. Take advantage of this positional sparring session to work on traditional butterfly guard sweeps, arm drag to back take, or something else you can add to your game.

If your school does not include positional sparring as a regular part of class give it try on your own time. You may find it helpful. You may also find positional sparring to be a safe way to train if you are nursing a minor injury—pick a position you feel safe in and work from there.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Epi 180 The Aging Grappler

Are you a little (or a lot) older than most of your training partners? Today Gary and Byron speak from their experience and offer advice to the aging grapplers out their doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

We talk about:

  • Age on the mat is relative
  • How to roll the odometer back on your mat age
  • Changing the way you view yourself
  • Dealing with your own ego as you age
  • Making changes to your game to fit to your body
  • Getting better with age
  • Finding joy in watching your team get better
  • Benefits of being a little older
  • Tips for starting BJJ as an older student
  • Setting a schedule that is healthy for training

Links:

Quote of the week: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain

Article of the week: Training Partners Trump All

Byron pulls two pranks on Gary one that spans 5 episodes about Gary taking your back literally. The other is Byron saying song titles with the word time in them during the show.

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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