Justin Rader is one of the top light-weight BJJ/no-gi grapplers in the United States. He has won multiple world championships, and beaten some of the top athletes on the mat today. I remember seeing Rader competing as a blue belt at a tournament in Oklahoma City. He fought in Gi, No-gi and Absolute in both, it seemed like he was on the mat all day. He never seemed to tire as the much larger opponents were taken apart by this fierce light weight competitor. I was excited to get to attend this no-gi seminar at the Wichita Jiu-Jitsu Club and Professor Rader did not disappoint.
Professor Rader started by introducing himself and his teammate Chris Watson. He then gave a short history about his life and his fighting career. Then he moved to talking about his style of no-gi grappling. “I am going to change the way you fundamentally think about no-gi grappling” the excitement level shot up and you could see his passion for the sport. Justin Rader could travel the country as a motivational speaker, or teaching grappling seminars. Even if I did not learn any thing, the motivational energy alone would have been worth the seminar.
We started with a short jog, and then continued the warm up with some drills. Each drill was demonstrated and then broken down to further explain the smaller details. After the warm up Professor Rader gave a short explanation about why his style of grappling has worked so well, and how he was able to take advantage of the mistakes most people make.
The technique portion of the seminar was amazing. He held nothing back showing his style of no-gi; this was great because his passion continued into this portion of the seminar. He truly opened up and shared his favorite battle tested techniques. Each of the techniques was scientifically broken down, and explained with great incite and strategy. Some of the techniques shown were: no-gi stance, double leg, single leg, sprawl, front headlock, guillotine, guard passes, darce, and the calf slicer. All of the techniques tied together and you could really get a good look at why his game is so successful.
This was an amazing seminar, and I am looking forward to his next one. Professor Rader also spent time talking about training philosophies, tournament tips, the mental aspects, the differences between gi and no-gi, strong fundamentals, defense, and offense. Everyone at the seminar seemed to have a great time and learn a lot. If you get the chance, I highly recommend having Professor Rader come out to your school to hold a seminar.
Special thanks to Master Rafael Lovato Jr. and Lovato’s School of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
This is a picture of The Rook Gi. The quote is from Chess Grandmaster Samuel Reskevsky. Keep working hard on the mat, it will payoff!
One of the things I enjoy about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is being able to fight as hard as I can, with a competitive opponent and have no injuries or ill will after the roll. With most martial arts if people are going full speed the participants will be much more likely to get injured. That being said, slowing down is one great way to become better at BJJ.
It is common for new BJJ students to rely on speed and strength to make up for their poor technique. The student will have an idea of how the technique works and they will force it on their rolling partner. This is a recipe for learning Jiu-Jitsu the hard way. You will have many hard fought battles without learning much.
Rolling slower is less tiring and you get to roll longer. Many people get tired after just 5 to 15 minutes, this makes it hard to get a lot of “mat time”. Just by slowing down and controlling your breathing you will be able to roll much longer. The longer you roll the more your body can learn the subtle movements of BJJ.
It is common for new students to say “if I slow down I will get my butt kicked”. That is a good concern, you will likely be playing more defense that you typically do with people of similar skill. That’s great, defense is very important. The more advanced students are likely to notice you slowing down. Because you are not going so hard the more advanced students will probably slow down.
If you can do a technique slowly and without much power you can do it with speed and power. Being able to do submissions slow on a resistive opponent is a good sign that you are doing the move correctly. Your speed and power will be there for you should you really need it.
Another way people roll slowly is to suggest to the other person that you both roll at an easy pace. When you are rolling at an agreed slow speed don’t get competitive and speed up over the course of the round. Sometimes people will take turns doing submissions and escapes. For example the first student does one or two moves and the other student escapes and then does a couple of moves. This is also great if you are nursing an injury and not ready for a full speed opponent.
It may be hard at first to slow down but in the long run it will help you get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
What to expect your first day of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
Watch a class– This is a good way to get a feeling of what the class will be like. If this is your first time doing any martial art it might make you feel more comfortable if you watch a class from the sidelines. People wanting to watch is common and most schools will be happy to have you observe a class. Find a convent time to introduce yourself to the instructor or gym owner; don’t interrupt them in the middle of the class.
Before your first class– The main thing is to just go and try the class. Many people put it off with excuses about being in better shape, or watching more videos online. Review the rules guide, this will help you avoid common mistakes. Contact the instructor and ask what you should wear, it should be ok if you don’t have a Gi yet (here is a guide for getting your first gi). They will probably tell you to wear a t-shirt (it might get ripped), and board shorts, or maybe sweatpants. Do not wear clothing that could damage the mats or other people (zippers, snaps, belt loops). You need to be clean and have short nails, this is in the rules guide but it is worth saying again. No one wants to roll with the stinky guy. Don’t over eat before class, defiantly come to class hydrated. If your gym does not have a drinking fountain, bring something to drink. You most likely will not need to signup for your first class but you may need to sign a waver.
What to expect during the class– Try to get to class a little early that way you can meet a few of the students. Every class is ran a little different, most classes will have some or all of these stages (warm up, techniques, rolling, openmat).
Warm up- this can be just a few minutes or an exhausting workout. The goal of a warm up can be just to loosen you up to improve flexibility, or increase your strength and cardio. Many parts of the warm up may involve odd rolls or movements designed to help you move better on the mat.
Techniques- Some instructors hit you with a flood of techniques and some will just show one or two but in more detail. The techniques might be hard to do at first but they will get easier with practice. Don’t expect the instructor to change the entire class to keep it simple enough for you, just do what you can. Focus a lot on learning about the basic positions, and learning how to escape.
Rolling- This is the part of class that most students look forward to. You will be paired up with another student and will learn about the heart of BJJ. Try your best to go slow and learn, you do not need to worry about winning or loosing. Be ready to tap, even if you are rolling with a skinny whitebelt. It is common to have two students start grappling while on their knees, this will cut down on injuries from takedowns. You might be paired up with the more advanced students. Don’t take this as the instructor trying to test you, they are more likely trying to protect you from over excited whitebelts. Whitebelts seem to be a little more accident prone, so rolling with the colored belts may be safer. Don’t push yourself too hard but try to go at least two rounds, you should be tired when you are done.
Openmat- After rolling sometimes there is an openmat time. This is an unstructured time you can be at the gym and work on your BJJ. You can get more time in rolling, ask questions or just watch. Openmat typically has no obligation for you to stay, you will be free to go home any time. This is a good time to ask other students for advice.
After Class– Congratulations you just completed your first Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class. Your first class is probably one of the toughest. In time you will get better, and you will go home less sore. Your first priority should be to take a shower, then throw your cloths in the washing machine. After you have cleaned up make sure you are hydrated, and get something to eat. If you are sore an ice pack or heat pad can help a lot. If you think that the class was not for you I urge you to take a few days off and consider going back. To give BJJ a fair chance you should train for at least three months, your skill will improve greatly in that short amount of time. You will be able to see your progress when you roll with a new student, but remember to be courteous you where once recently in his place at the new guy.
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