Disorder and Chaos

Byron asked me to do the impossible and write a Jiu Jitsu article on this picture. He thought it would be funny to watch me struggle. I will not struggle because I will use the skills that I have acquired from Jiu Jitsu to write this article. Skills such as patience, problem solving, and perseverance are learned in Jiu Jitsu. These skills will not only help you on the mat but off the mat as well.


Confusion can be defined as disorder, upheaval, chaos or lack of clearness or distinctness. In BJJ, we are trying to control and submit an unwilling or resisting opponent. This is not an easy task unless you outweigh your opponent by a 150 lbs. and have the strength of a wounded cougar. In order to submit your skilled and resisting opponent, you need to lead this person down a path that is undesirable for them. You want to lead them into disorder and chaos. You want to put your opponent in position where you can take advantage of them. Think of a takedown, you may post or push your opponent’s head to get him to move his hand up. As you opponent moves his hand up, this leaves a space for you to attack his legs. You change levels and shoot in for the takedown. You get the takedown. Whoever wrote that sign is trying to confuse the customer seeking service. We will combat this confusion with good old common sense.

Common sense is defined as sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training or the like. You can clearly look at the scenario and realize that there is not a bell where the arrow is pointing. Using a little common sense, you can see there is no bell anywhere. There is a button that probably will send a signal to the person working the front desk that a customer needs service. We also need to use common sense in Jiu Jitsu. Remember we talked about how our opponent is trying to take us down a dark path where he will seek to gain an advantage. Use your common sense to combat it. An example is your opponent has side control and is putting tremendous pressure into you and turning your head away. He also has an under hook. Suddenly, he releases the pressure. He is trying to make you react to his advantage. He wants you to turn into him quickly to relieve the pressure. When you turn into him, he will scoop you up with the underhook, move north south and apply a Kimura. Remember, if it is too easy for you to escape, it is probably for a reason and that reason is a submission or better position by your opponent.

I also think about the basics when I see this sign. In Jiu Jitsu I hear all the time that the basics are the building blocks of Jiu Jitsu. You need that strong foundation to really excel and grown in this sport. People will try to cheat the basics and while it may lead to more submissions in the short run, it will hinder your BJJ development in the long run. Leglocks can be a good example of forgetting the basics. I see many people wanting to learn leg locks from day one without even knowing how to pass a guard. This will hinder your development in the long run. This sign shows me this business forgot about the basics. Instead of having a smiling human greet you, you get an incorrect sign that is very impersonal. I would not want to do business with a company whose basics are lacking. I tried to buy a new cell phone 2 days ago. I could not complete the purchase on that day due to time constraints. The salesman asked me to make an appointment to meet with him the next day. We agreed to meet at 11am the next day. I show up at 11 and he was nowhere to be found. Two other employees were helping other customers and 2 other people besides me were waiting for service. I waited until 11:30 before I left. I was never greeted and the sales person who I made an 11am appointment with never showed up. I will take my business elsewhere.

Life is going to throw confusion, chaos and disorder at us. Life will take us down some crazy paths that may not be ideal. We can use our skills that we have learned in Jiu Jitsu to combat these situations. Commons sense, problem solving, patience and perseverance are just a few things that we will learn on the mat that will help us combat this disorder. As Joe Thomas would say(he is a real friend not like Byron), Train Hard, Train Smart, Get Better my friend.

Epi 287 Jake Mackenzie

This week we have an interview with black belt Jake Mackenzie. Jake is a under Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. Jake shares lots of stories about his early travels to Brazil, and developing his favorite guards.

We talk about:

  • His start to BJJ
  • Traveling to Brazil
  • Early competitions
  • Dealing with nervousness
  • Tips for half guard and deep half
  • The difference between half and deep half guard
  • Reverse half guard
  • How his competition experience helps him as a coach

Quote of the week: “I was told that I couldn’t do it, I was stupid, I was crazy. But because I believed in my dreams, I accomplished them.” D. Gary Young


Article of the week: Optimizing Body Composition for Jiu-Jitsu Performance


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 268 BjjBrick Extra Jeff Westfall

This episode we have an interview with Jeff Westfall.

We talk about:

  • His start in martial arts
  • Early Jiu-Jitsu in the USA
  • The Martial Brain Podcast
  • The concept of thinking outside of the box
  • The power of continuing education
  • Survivorship bias
  • Closed guard tips
  • Getting out of side control tips and ideas


Tip: Pulling workouts help develop muscles to add pressure to your game.

Question: The question involves taking private lessons from different instructors













Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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

BjjBrick Q&A 19 Am I Too Passive?

Question: I’m 3 months in and I have a question for you. I’m 38 years old and most of the guys at the school are in their 20’s. they have high energy, they’re fit, they move quickly. I just don’t seem to have an intense killer instinct to win a roll, I’m a very passive personality, very submissive, I was never into sports. I recognize Jiu Jitsu as an effective FOR of self defense that I may need one day and I’m sure if needed I could operate at 110% in an emergency, but in a roll I just don’t seem to have an intensity that I see others have. Do you think that’s something I could develop over time or something that can be taught?

Epi 172 Six Amazing Black Belts Answer Questions About Blue Belts

This week we have a HUGE episode. We take six well known and respected black belts and ask them all the same five questions about blue belts. There are some similarities and differences within these interviews but the amount of jiu-jitsu wisdom about blue belts in this episode is amazing.

The five questions we asked to the six black belt guests

  1. Do you have requirements for a blue belt? What are they?
  2. How important is it for students to be able to “defend” their belt?
  3. How many intangibles (good teammate, good effort, helps others) come into play when promoting someone to blue belt?
  4. Do you ever regret giving someone a blue belt?
  5. What advice to you have for the new blue belt?


Tim Sledd 24m 25s

  1. Tim explains some of the techniques he requires for a student to know before receiving a blue belt.
  2. Tim talks about why some students get tapped by lower belts and if it is a big deal.
  3. Why he looks at character of a student not just technique, and how this can hold someone back.
  4. Why he has no regrets of any belts he has given out.
  5. Advice for the new blue belt.

Matt Thornton 58m 30s

  1. How he evaluates blue belts based on performance, and not looking at particular techniques.
  2. Why it is important for your first blue belts to be very good at a school.
  3. The importance of having good people on the mat.
  4. Why he is confident in all his blue belt students.
  5. Why it is important to relax and work on open guard as a blue belt.

Bernardo Faria 1h 17m 30s

  1. Bernardo talks about Fabio Gurgel’s system to get a blue belt a student must attend 120 classes.
  2. The idea of not tapping to a lower belt is an old mentality.
  3. Having a bad attitude will hold students back.
  4. Not having an actual belt test, and not regretting giving someone a blue belt.
  5. Keep your ego low, and work on learning jiu-jitsu.

Daniel Covel 1h 25m 05s

  1. His minimum requirements of techniques for a blue belt. The responsibilities of the instructor to the students.
  2. The importance of learning from your mistakes, and making adjustments.
  3. Why it is important to have good people and teammates on the mat.
  4. He has no regrets about any of his past blue belts.
  5. It is important to recognise the hard work on the mats.

Henry Akins 1h 42m 50s

  1. Understanding the basic positions and a handful of basic submissions.
  2. Why some upper belts get caught by lower belts.
  3. Why it is important for a blue belt to be a good training partner.
  4. Why getting tapped out is part of the learning process
  5. Why blue belts should work hard to develop a strong base.

John Will 1h 59m 30s

  1. Why he likes having requirements for blue belts but not so many for other belts.
  2. It is rare for a colored belt to get tapped by a lower belt, but it is no big deal.
  3. Why the culture of the gym is so important. The concept of a ox neck and rat’s head.
  4. It is often normal to feel like you don’t deserve a new belt
  5. Ask five simple questions for every technique you learn to learn more details.

Mat Tales 14 Mouse in the House

Quote of the week: “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu

Article of the week: Production Now and Production Long Term















Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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

Print off this 2014 motivational calendar

This calendar was left blank to help you reach any goal that you have.  I hope some of you will use it to achieve your goals in BJJ!

Fill out the legend with activities that you can do to help you reach your goals.  Everyday cross off the date with any of the marks that you did that day.  After a few days or weeks it will be painful to skip a day or two.  After a month or two these activates will become a habits and you will be doing the things you need to accomplish your goals.

Share success stories or pictures of your calendar at Bjjbrick@gmail.com

I have made two different quotes for the calendar.  The calendar will print perfectly on a normal size sheet of paper.  Print it off and get to crossing off days and making a chain.

“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit, You are what you repeatedly do.” Shaquille Oneal

“You can’t change what did yesterday, and tomorrow is uncertain, all you can do is make today count.” BjjBrick


calendar bjjbrick quotecalendar shaq quote

Stuck in a choke

Some chokes in BJJ will happen so fast you will find yourself tapping without even thinking. Then there are chokes that you get stuck in and you have some time to work. Here are three simple things to remember when you find yourself stuck in a choke.

Nobody likes being stuck in a choke

1) Stay calm– If you are new to BJJ and being choked this probably sounds crazy. I am not suggesting that you relax your body, I am suggesting that you mentally stay calm. Realize that you can tap anytime to stop the choke. Know that win or lose you will be okay; this should help prevent you from freaking out. You don’t want to tap too soon on a choke that you could have fought out of.

2) Think– You are going to need to find a way out of this choke. Hopefully you know at least two escapes from the choke that you are stuck in. If you know some escapes, get to work disassembling the choke. If you find yourself confused about what to do, work to create space. Any space you make increases the time you have and the chance that his choke will fall apart. If you are confused and have time, try to picture what the two of you look like from the view of someone standing next to you. This may help you to find space, a direction to move, or roll.

3) Wait– Waiting does not get you out of a choke, but sometimes your opponent will be spending massive amounts of energy trying to finish the choke. If you can outlast them they will often just let go trying to transition to the next attack, or take a break. Although waiting is not a good strategy if you can push yourself a few more seconds there will be some chokes that you defeat that would have otherwise had you tapping.

Being stuck in a choke that is not quite good enough to finish the job is a horrible place to be. You will be in a lot of discomfort, and there is a good chance that you will be losing the match in a few moments. Chokes are different than other submissions because you are less likely to get injured. Go ahead and work on your escapes without the fear of a broken arm or leg. Hopefully this advice will come to mind and serve you well when you are in this tough spot.

Other articles you might like:

3 Simple tips for white belts to get a better guard

Slow down while you are rolling to improve your BJJ

For more good times like Facebook.com/BjjBrick

3 Simple tips for white belts to get a better guard

The guard skills that you develop as a white belt will benefit you for the rest of your BJJ career.  Here are three simple things that you could do today to help you get a better guard.  After all, you don’t want to be a blue belt still trying to learn the basics of the guard.

1. Pull guard– It may seem like a simple idea, but if you are playing a top game all the time your guard will suffer.  You need to spend time using your guard while rolling.  Don’t wait for the chance that you randomly get to use your guard, put yourself there and get to work.

2. Try things– Everyone has their own style of guard.  You are going to need to experiment with a variety of techniques to find a few that work well for you.  After you find a couple of sweeps and submissions that you think work great for you – do them!  Don’t just hold your partner in closed guard and react to what they do.  It is better to attack and put them on the defense.

3. Work your escapes– Lets face it, there are some growing pains that come with guard development.  Your guard is going to get passed, and you are going to get submitted.  It will be helpful if you are planning to work on side control and mount escapes before you even step on the mat.  Have a couple of escapes for each in mind (preferably escapes that get you your guard back).  That way when your guard gets passed you know what you are going to try next.

It takes time to develop a deadly guard but these tips should help you get there.  Remember while you are rolling you are learning.

Other articles you might like:

Drill one handed

Slow down while you are rolling to improve your Jiu-Jitsu

Thanks for reading, like me on Facebook.com/BjjBrick