Epi 167 Review of 2016 and Looking Forward to 2017

The last episode of 2016 for The BjjBrick Podcast. We take this time to reflect on the news and developments of the last year, and look forward to the next year. We recommend that you do the same.


We talk about:

  • Successful changes in our diets
  • Gary quitting drinking Mt. Dew
  • Playing a game that requires a heavy gripping
  • Leg locks and Heel hooks
  • Submission only tournaments and matches in 2016
  • Ryan Hall in the UFC
  • Mathematical breakdown of the matches at worlds in 2016
  • Highlighting chokes from the back, armbars, closed guard sweeps
  • Taking the back from passing the guard
  • Evaluations of our BJJ games over the year
  • Why Byron quit doing triangle chokes in February
  • Why Gary has backed off of his wrestling this year
  • Leg drags and leg locks
  • The future of The BjjBrick Podcast
  • Why Byron would want a BJJ match with Timothy Ferriss


Quote of the week: “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” Cavett Robert

Article of the week: BJJ Grips: Reevaluating Your Goals


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

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Epi 163 Get Better Faster With Two Moves From Each Position

We are excited to talk about this great training method for everyone from white belt to black. This can be a way to quickly help you develop and find the best techniques for your game.twomoves

W e talk about:

  • The advantages of working on two techniques at the same time for each position
  • The mount from top and bottom
  • Side control both top and bottom
  • A tip for escaping side control
  • Attacks and escapes from the back
  • Why rescricting your options can make you better
  • How long you should work on the same techniques
  • Developing your game over the long term
  • Tips on developing a guard
  • Tips on learning guard passes

Quote of the week: “No pain no gain” presented by Rodrigo Pinheiro

Article of the week: How to Train When You Have No Time


If you are interested in supporting The BjjBrick Podcast find out how here (Now with a $.50 option) 

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

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Mat Tales Episode 10 “K-Fed of MMA”

Gary is also able to demostrate his rap skills at the end of the show.

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How I progressed at BJJ going to class 6 or 7 times a month

joe-thomas-2I was listening to my favorite podcast (The BjjBrick Podcast) the other day and realized that the host Byron Jabara frequently asks the guests he’s interviewing “what advice would you have for a BJJ practitioner who can only train once or twice a week?” For most of my BJJ career I have had very unorthodox training schedules that severally limited my training opportunities so I thought I would share a few things that have worked for me.
For our purposes here I will focus on a two year period when I worked a 14/14 schedule on a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico offshore oilfield. For 14 days I lived on the ship with no option to get to town and train and for 14 days I would be home. Of course when I was home I had to catch up on yard work, home maintenance, spending time with the beautiful wife, spending time with the kids, etc. so it’s not like I could train every day. My goal was to train 8 times every time but life gets in the way and a rarely met that goal. Yet still I progressed. Here’s what I did and what I would suggest for others.

1. Find a way to continue learning even when you’re off the mats. I used a couple books, a couple DVD sets, and youtube. Youtube is great because it’s free. I tried to spend at least 15 minutes each day “studying” jiu jitsu. A couple of suggestions on this point:
• Ask your coaches and training partners who they would suggest you learn from. You want to make sure you’re using quality sources.
• Study techniques that are right for you based on your experience level, age, and body type. If you’re just starting at 40 years old I would not suggest spending a lot of time studying inverted acrobatic jiu jitsu.
• Be systematic. If you’re off the mats 4 days and watch 2-3 youtube videos a day, don’t study 10 different things. If your school follows a program and you know ½ guard is the topic of the week, maybe stick to that at home. My school didn’t follow a program but I would study one move or position for 3-4 days before moving on.joe-thomas-1

2. Find some time to work on your cardio and fitness. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions and theories on this topic and am not enough of expert to say I have the answer, but here’s what worked for me. I put a timer app on my computer set for 5 minutes of work and 1 minute of rest and would do 3-5 rounds every day. Here’s an example of a circuit I would do with about 4X6 feet of mat space available to me: Shrimping in place, technical stand ups, sit ups (simulating sitting up to kimura or hip bump sweep), push up to knee on belly drill, umpa bridges, and wrestlers sit outs. I would do 10 reps each and continue the cycle until the 5 minute bell rang, rest and repeat. I felt this helped my cardio and conditioning while at the same time keeping my body accustomed to doing jiu jitsu movements for 5 minutes at a time.
 Pro tip: consider combing points 1 and 2 just like you would in class. Watch 15 minutes of instruction, spend 10 minutes stretching and visualizing the techniques you just studied, and then proceed with the circuit training.

3. Minimize the amount of time off the mats. On my 14/14 rotation I always tried to train right before I went to work and as soon as I got home, keeping my time off the mats to about 15 days. When this wasn’t possible and I ended up with 18-20 days off I could tell it took more training sessions to get my timing back – to see opportunities and to capitalize on them. If you train 6 times a month, once every 5 days is probably better than lumping several training sessions in short period of time and then being off the mats for 10 days.
 Pro tip: take advantage of every opportunity you have to train. If you’ve got an extra hour during the week at some point and can catch even just part of an extra class….go train. 20 minutes of drilling or ½ hour of open mat is not as good as a full class, but its way better than nothing.

4. Stay connected socially with your school and training partners. One of the hardest things about being that guy who only trains a few times a month is when you show up for class, see a few guys you don’t know but they seem to know everyone else, and one of them walks up and welcomes you to the class as if you’re the visitor even though you’ve been training at the school for years. Social media makes it easy to connect with your school and training partners. Connect with the school and training partners on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and stay engaged. When you see a fellow student got a stripe, congratulate them and tell them you can’t wait to get to class and have a roll.
I’ll end with a word of encouragement: Whatever the reason is that you can only train once or twice a week (kids in extracurricular activities, working overtime, a toddler at home and a pregnant wife, etc.) it will pass. Maybe you feel like you’re making glacial progress for three years – you’ve worked your tail off and you’re a 4 stripe white belt — then life changes and now you can train a little more. You may at this point set a school record for progressing from 4 stripe white belt to purple and you will be glad that you stuck to your training routine.

Contributed by our friend Joe Thomasjoe-thomas-3

Sharpening the Ax

I’ve always loved this wives tale. I especially like it in its relationship to jiu jitsu. I was reminded of this when The BjjBrick Podcast interviewed Tim Sledd (of Small Ax BJJ Oceanside).lumberjacks

Sharpening the ax

In 1885 there was a champion woodsman in a logging camp in the US Midwest named Olaf. He could fall more trees in any given day than any other tree faller for 500 miles. One day a new woodsman, Sven, showed up and after two weeks it was obvious he was in the running for the title of “best faller” in the camp. So Olaf challenged Sven to a contest: the two men would fall trees on Sunday when the rest of the camp was idle and whoever fell the most trees in 12 hours would be the champion.

The two woodsmen began chopping at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The men in camp could hear the axes striking the trees and the trees falling. After an hour and a half one ax fell silent—15 minutes later both axes were again heard at work. An hour and a half later, again, one ax fell silent. This continued all day.

At the end of the day Sven had felled 20% more trees than Olaf. Olaf was beside himself: “I heard your ax fall silent for at least 15 minutes almost every hour, how could you have fallen more trees when you stopped to rest so frequently?” Sven responded, “when you heard silence, I was not resting…. I was sharpening my ax”.

Grapplers that come to class and only want to roll and put all their effort into open mat are like Olaf who chopped wood for 12 hours and never sharpened his ax. Practitioners that put an appropriate amount of effort into drilling, positional sparring, and learning new techniques are like Sven, who saw the value in taking time to sharpen his ax.

Thank you to Joe Thomas for sharing this story.

Epi 126 Black Belt Shawn Williams Interview

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Shawn Willimas is the 5th American to reach the rank of black belt in BJJ. He has been training jiu-jitsu for 20 years. We cover a huge range of interesting topics in this episode.shawn Williams

We talk about:

  • His start with BJJ
  • Being a commentator for live BJJ events
  • The importance of enjoying BJJ
  • Wrestling in BJJ
  • Tips for learning wrestling
  • Why some high level competitors do not tap
  • Rousimar Palhares injuring people
  • His thoughts of Garry Tonon (a friend of Shawn’s) vs Rousimar Palhares
  • Injuries that he has experienced
  • How to coach a match, and why to give technical instruction
  • Coaching during Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm fight
  • Staying consistent with your BJJ


Quote of the week: “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” Miles Kington

Article of the week: What Motivates Me For 6am BJJ Class by Erik BeyerYour-First-Year-Of-BJJ-artwork-1199

Gary also talks about the book he is working on called “Cafeteria Food Fights- Picking The Right Kind of Fruit For The Fruit Salad” If you don’t know who Gallagher is you are missing out my friend, check him in action here.

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

Our APP That Will Help You Get Better At BJJ

BJJ APPSo you want to get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? We have an APP for that! Well, not really an APP for your phone or tablet. APP stands for Attitude, Plan, Practice- three of the biggest factors that will effect the quality of your Jiu-Jitsu development.

Attitude– Your attitude is a huge factor in your success. A positive attitude will help you get past the many hurdles you will have in learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  A positive attitude will help you get back on the mat after a tough day of training.  Your teammates are more likely to help and coach you if you have a great attitude.  A humble attitude will keep you focused and motivated even after an accomplishment or milestone.

I recommend that you smile more, enjoy the training and make friends with your teammates.

Plan– Invest the time and energy to make a plan. Organized training is more effective than training moves and techniques randomly. Determine what areas of your game need to be worked on, and what areas of your game are already good but could be even better. Are the techniques you are good at complimentary of each other? Take time off of the mat to study the techniques you have selected in your plan. Your best techniques should work together, that way you can funnel your opponent to an area that you are very strong.

I recommend you get even better at your best technique, and it never hurts to add a few more ways to get to that technique.

Practice– Having a great attitude and a well thought out plan are excellent, but they will not get you very far if you don’t practice. Time on the mat cannot be substituted. If you are able to drill the techniques that you have in your plan you should do this. During the rolling phase of class it’s important to work your plan and not just go through random techniques on your training partner.

Make the most out of each time you step on the mat. Time with quality training partners on the mat is valuable.


How to Stay Consistent in Your Jiu Jitsu Journey

Jiu Jitsu is one of those rare sports, which is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. It is a sport which works on the concept that a weaker, smaller person can defend himself from the attacker using proper techniques, grip and applying joint-locks and choke-holds in self–defense. Jiu Jitsu is not only a martial art, but a sport, a road to maintain physical fitness and a strong character which ultimately leads to a good way of living. In any sport, there are a few things you have to focus on in order to stay polished throughout the whole journey. Here are some tips:Stay Consistent bjj

1. Health is Wealth

The number one priority is health when we discuss about Brazilian sport Jiu Jitsu. Proper nutrition is one of the most important things you need to maintain, as under – nourished person is not able to perform anywhere. Eating too much and eating less, both can lead you into some trouble. Balance of diet has to be maintained. Special emphasis is made on the intake of sugar, carbohydrates as excluding them completely from your diet will be troublesome, and excess of them will end up as an obese form of you.

2. Sound Sleep

Sleep is one of those factors, which is always ignored, but proper rest of 9-10 hours is very important to keep yourself on track of this sport. Sleep plays a key role in maintaining good health. It is an inexpensive way of proper nutrition and thus, needs to be prioritized. Sound sleep helps in relaxing your mind, muscles and body.

3. Distraction – A Major Obstacle

Manage your distractions in order to maintain a balance in life. It is a major hindrance, which keeps us away from achieving your goals. Positive mental attitude will keep you motivated and always push you in making more efforts to improve yourself in the sport. Healthy aura helps you indirectly by cutting down the negative energies within you and boost up your abilities and as a result, you grow faster.

4. Practice Equals Consistency

The famous saying, “Practice makes a man perfect” never goes wrong. Practice ultimately leads to consistency. The more you practice, the more you will master it. Drill more, exercise more, it is a secret ingredient, which takes your Jiu Jitsu to the next level.Consistency bjj

5. Hygiene – Above all

Hygiene plays a key role in keeping you healthy. Special attention must be paid to hygiene as it will help you in keeping yourself away from various skin infections such as ringworm, staph, scabies etc. Skin-to-skin contact and dust are the major opportunities for bacteria and fungus to jump into your skin and make good friends with it. Keeping the body clean can help you in staying away from the various skin infections. Clipping nails regularly and taking shower after the training session proves to be very helpful in maintaining proper hygiene. A soap bar having essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil must be preferred as natural soap bar treat skin infection effectively and helps in maintaining the pH balance of the skin. Wash your genital tract regularly and wear some good deodorant, as it will leave a good impression on your partner.

6. Over Training is Harmful

All of us are very careless about our nutrition and sleep. We work vigorously and exploit our body to its limits. You have to keep your eyes open while keeping a track of your training volume. If you exercise excessively, then you are more prone to falling sick. Excessive training results into stressing up your body and hence a decline in performance. Regular exercise is the key rule, but overdoing it will drag you into an ocean full of anxiety, dizziness, and muscle loss.

7. Be Passionate and Stay Focused

Fighting is not easy. It is very important to stay focused and attentive during all of your training sessions. Follow your instructor’s instructions religiously. Injuries are very common and the level of discomfort is very high. Take them as a stepping stone in the way of learning. Your passion about the sport will lead to a road map of your success.

8. Being Flexible Helps you Stay Consistent in the Sport

Being flexible is very crucial for the sport. Consistency implies doing exercise and taking rest at right intervals of time. Being flexible means knowing the ways and motions which suit you the most. Flexibility and mobility helps you in improving your performance.

9. Exercise but in the Right Direction

Regular exercise in the right direction is very important for being consistent in the sport. Posture plays a vital role while doing exercise. Any wrong position can result into pain in the neck and shoulders. However, performing exercise under proper supervision and right position helps you in improving your body’s flexibility and mobility. If you sweat more, then hydrate your body along with the exercise otherwise it will prove as bothersome for the health and may lead to severe headache, nausea and wooziness.

10. Listen and Learnlisten

This is the foremost step you have to follow. First, listen to your instructor and then learn. Take your criticisms in a positive direction and practice the exercise patiently. The more you will fall, the more you will learn to do it in the right way. Take a deep breath and start slowly. All these easy tips help you stay consistent in learning this art of life, your journey in Jiu Jitsu.

Author Bio:

Evie Dawson is a fitness coach and health writer based in Boston, MA. Her passion is to encourage others to rediscover their lifestyle and get inspired for organic living.

19 general rules to go by for training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

19 general rules to go by for training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

1)      Be clean– Your gi and anything else you wear should be clean and dry.  You need to have showered recently, and maintain clean hair.  You don’t need to smell great but make sure you don’t stink.  Keep in mind that you will be in close personal contact with other people.

2)      No shoes on the mat– Your school puts a lot of effort in keeping the mats clean.  The bottoms of your shoes are not clean, and any little rocks stuck in your shoes can easily poke holes in the mat.  If you can wear wrestling shoes at your school, only wear them on the mat.  Wrestling shoes worn on the street are no longer wrestling shoes.

3)      Have the right equipment– If you are the only student without a gi you should get one.  It makes a difference to the people you roll with, and it will help you learn moves that you could not learn otherwise.  At most schools it is ok to be gi shopping for a few weeks, but after that you should have one.  If you do not have a gi be courteous and don’t try to do a bunch of gi chokes to your training partner.  Don’t be surprised if they use their gi to choke or control you, after all, you are the one missing the equipment.  If you don’t have a gi, see the 1st time gi buying guide to help you.

4)      Be careful with your training partners– BJJ can be very dangerous.  You need to show your training partners respect and lookout for their safety.  If you are close to tapping someone out slow down, give them time to tap.  Focus on controlling them as the submission is happening and slowly applying pressure, it is their responsibility to tap but you need to give them time.  Be aware of your surroundings, don’t roll into other grapplers, and don’t roll off the mat.  In the event you accidently knee or elbow your training partner quickly apologize and slow down a little bit.

5)      Keep nails short– You don’t want to accidently scratch someone.  If you have a hard time remembering to cut your nails keep a pair of clippers in your gym bag.

6)      Keep your feet clean– Most people bring sandals or flip-flops to the gym.  Don’t walk barefoot anywhere that would get your feet dirty (restroom, outside).  This is just common sense when it comes to keeping the mat clean.

7)      Watch your language– It may be a fight gym with a bunch of tuff guys, but if there are kids around show them and the parents respect and keep the language clean.  

8)      Don’t change in mixed company– Don’t forget you are in public, keep your clothes on unless in a designated area.

9)      Pay attention during the techniques– It is rude to ignore or talk as your instructor is teaching and hope that they will teach the move again.  This is not grade school; if you annoy these people they will be choking you in a little while.  Do not ask the instructor a bunch of “what if” questions, or talk about how the technique is easily defeated. 

10)   Do the technique– After the technique has been shown, DO IT! And don’t stop until the instructor says you are done.  Don’t do the move 3 times and think you have it down, or start looking for flaws in the move.  Moves take a long time to understand, if you only do one move a night you will still learn lots of BJJ. 

11)   Be a positive representative– Don’t put on your school’s shirt and go around being a jerk.  If someone asks you about it, invite them in to see what it is about.  Don’t tell them how much of a stud you are; don’t tell them you will choke them easily.   If they do come to your school, thank them for coming and treat them as if they are your guest.  If they decide to roll, make sure they roll with people who are not going to give them a bad experience.  Be nice to new students, greet them and make an effort to help them feel comfortable.

12)   Don’t leave a mess– Pick up after yourself.  If this is too difficult for you, give the school your mom’s phone number so they can have her come in for you.

13)   Stay home if you are sick– Having someone that is sick on the mats is a great way for a lot of people to get sick.  Your friends will be missing school, work and time on the mat.  Taking a little time off will not hurt you, and your teammates will appreciate you keeping your germs to yourself.

14)   Help your training partners (if you are qualified)- If someone keeps making a mistake tell them.  Don’t keep taking advantage of it and tap them out with the same move over and over.  If you don’t know a good counter, find someone that does, maybe you both will learn something.  The better your training partners get at defending the better you will get at attacking.

15)   Cell phones– If you have a major event that is going to happen tell your instructor you might be getting a call.  Most things can wait; if you really need to be connected then sneak a peek during a water break.

16)   Work hard– You don’t need to be the greatest athlete on the mat, your team will respect you for working hard.  Don’t complain, if you are too tired that’s ok but push yourself. You know your limits.

17)   Be on time– Get to class on time, if it is unavoidable ask your instructor if you can come in a little late.  Do not continually show up just in time to roll, that is like telling your instructor that the techniques they are showing are not worth your time.  Don’t make your instructor stay late, be ready to leave before your instructor is ready to lock up.

18)   Don’t brag about tapping people out– Class is not a competition, and often not even a fair fight. Picture you have been rolling 30 minutes, and a fresh guy comes in and taps you out. He jumps up and celebrates, “yes!” People often roll hard against the advanced students, and take it easy on the newer ones. Don’t make a big deal of tapping someone out who once appeared to be invincible. If you really brag, you will probably pay for it next time you roll with that person.

19)   Be positive– A trick to doing BJJ for a long time is having fun, so enjoy your time on the mat.  Don’t get mad when you get tapped out or seek revenge, just smile and keep on training.  Speak highly of those who deserve it and encourage those who need a little support.