How’s Your Poker Face?

We’ve all heard that “jiu jitsu is like chess”, but have you ever considered that it’s a lot like poker as well? I spent some time thinking about these two activities today and I see at least five lessons one can learn from playing poker that can be easily applied to jiu jitsu.

  1. You gotta play the hand you’re dealt. Yes, you can discard and draw cards, but you can’t make requests…you have to make the best of the cards in your hand. In jiu jitsu this is true on the macro and micro levels. On the macro level i.e. looking at the journey as a whole – we don’t all have the same physical attributes, we don’t all have the same amount of time to invest, we don’t all have the same training opportunities etc. So, your journey may be a little more difficult and take a little longer, you just have to press forward and play the hand your dealt. On the micro level – every time you go into a competitive roll whether it’s with one of your favorite training partners or whether it’s in a tournament, you each bring different skills to the mats. At that point it’s probably too late to try and revamp your game, you have to use the tools you currently have in your toolbox (or the cards in your hand) in such a manner that will produce the best outcome.
  2. You have to know the rules and understand the objectives. I have a vague memory of a scene on tv of a guy laying down his cards saying “read ‘em and weep” thinking he had a flush, but his cards were a mix of spades and clubs…. yes, they’re all the same color, but that’s not really the goal. While this point has application for those who are training jiu jitsu as a hobby but don’t compete the real value of this point is for the competitor. Don’t lose matches because you didn’t know the rules or intricacies of how points are scored.
  3. Bluffing is a necessary skill to win. When you are bluffing at the poker table you are simply trying to create the illusion that something is true (like you have a great hand) when it may or may not be. Likewise, from guard you may mess with your opponent’s lapel to get him worried about a technique he may not have seen when you have no intention of playing any form of lapel guard. It doesn’t matter so much if you have a decent lapel guard, but it does matter that your opponent believes you do.  
  4. You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, and know when to run. In poker there are times when you say “I’m good with these cards, I’m going to play them” there are other times you just lay em down and fold. There other times when you have to say, “this table is too rich for me” and just walk away. Then there are other times you realize you’re playing with sharks and you better run. The lesson here is you have to learn to read situations on the mat quickly. If you have been doing jiu jitsu for any length of time you should be able to visit a new school for an open mat and almost immediately be able to read each training partner, you roll with. No matter what position you are in – their stance, posture, grips, frames, etc. are all clues that should help you understand what they are bringing to the mat. 
  5. You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table. In the old west, gambling was a cutthroat business and sometimes men bet all they had on a game. Making a show of counting your money was a sure way to get shot in the alley behind the tavern. You won’t get your ass shot but making a show of every victory you have in jiu jitsu is not the best approach to making friends and earning respect in the community. Having friends and respect in the community go a long way towards helping you get better at jiu jitsu. The goal is to have a healthy ego and be humble at all times.

      In conclusion: If you’re going to play the game, you gotta learn to play it right. There may not necessarily be a “right” and “wrong” way to do jiu jitsu, but there are definitely some ways that are better than others to get good at jiu jitsu and win matches. The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.


Epi 321 Grappling Legend Gokor Chivichyan

This week we have grappling legend Gokor Chivichyan. Gokor has achieved gold at the international level at BJJ, Judo, MMA, and Sambo. He has coached Ronda Rousey, Karo Parisyan, Neil Melanson, and many more

We talk about:

  • Growing up as a tough kid in Armenia
  • Starting Wrestling in 1968
  • Starting Sambo in 1971
  • Eventually adding Judo to his grappling mix
  • He also did boxing for four years
  • Bringing leg locks to the United States 35 years ago
  • Teaching martial arts


Quote of the week: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” -Mary Kay Ash

Article of the week: Learn to Skateboard – Top 5 Tips & Tricks


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for AndriodThis entry was posted in Uncategorized by byronjabara. Bookmark the permalink.

Epi 320 BJJ Travel Guide

This week we offer many tips and advice about training BJJ while you travel. We share many stories and experiences from our time on the road.

Byron got a chance to train BJJ in Iceland this summer at Mjölnir MMA. Pictures are with Omar and Axel.

We talk about:

– Our experiences when training when traveling

– When do you not train when traveling

– Positives and negative

– Tips for walking into a new gym, Find a gym, contact the gym, follow basic bjj social norms, know your why

-Rolling as a guest


Quote of the week: “Do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed. There is so little competition.” Elbert Hubbard

Article of the week:


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for AndriodThis entry was posted in Uncategorized by byronjabara. Bookmark th

Day Two ADCC 2019 (our thoughts)

This is our second part of ADCC 2019 coverage. And you guessed it part two covers day two.

Meeting Marcelo Garcia at ADCC 2019

We talk about:

  • The women’s division
  • Who won gold in each weight class
  • The absolute division
  • The need to change the tables to something that helps with fighter safety
  • Some of our favorite parts of ADCC
  • Some grapplers that made standout performances
  • Interviews that will air in the future

Be A Better Coach by Not Instructing Your Students

I’d like to take a minute to share with you an awesome training experience I recently had in the gym. The experience was very enlightening. I saw a fellow student, an accomplished brown belt, spend the entire time during the learning new technique portion of class assisting a brand-new student without ever once telling him he had done something wrong. Here’s the story….

            I showed up a little late which is common when I’m at work and the students were already drilling the first set of instructions the coach had given. I stood with the coach observing and with him until it came time for him to show the next set of details in the technique. After that I needed to pick a pair of students to work in with – I had noticed my friend Josh working with this brand new guy (a guy about 15 whose parents were on the sidelines) so I joined them thinking Josh could do the technique on me and that would give him a chance to explain all the details as he executed the move. Here’s how that went….

            It started with me on my back with my feet on Josh’s hips. Of course, in a real fight there would be grips to break and other things to deal with but for now we were just working the mechanics of the pass. The new guy had already repped this on Josh….so Josh stuffed one of my feet and then crouched over it effectively eliminating that foot from the equation. Josh said “just like you stuffed my foot and took a low stance, I’m going to do the same thing. I like to really crowd my opponent because it takes away any power or leverage he can generate” ….”then just like you put your right hand on my left hip…I’m going to do the same thing, I like to connect my knee and elbow because it prevents Joe from getting a knee shield and starting to develop a half guard”…..”then I grab his sleeve, the same way you did and pull up so he can’t get on a shoulder or worse for me on his elbow”…. “I sidestep a little and then with my right leg I pin his right leg to the deck just like you did, I like to be closer to his knee because….” The whole night was like this. At every step Josh was providing the new guy with some direction and guidance while at the same time telling how many things he was actually doing right.

            I’m not saying this is the only (or even the best) but in this instance I think there were two main positive outcomes. The first is that people are more likely to listen to your instruction when it is delivered with compliments in a positive manner. The second, and I think this is huge, is that I believe the kid left class very optimistic about his chances at succeeding in jiu jitsu. I can imagine him getting in his car and telling his parents “I think I could be pretty good at this”. Isn’t that the way we would like all new students to leave class?

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.


Epi 303 Why Are You Not Getting Submissions?

This episode we give you advice about what you can do to get more submission.

We talk about:

  • Lacking focus in your training and during rolling
  • Positional sparring
  • Going deep in particular systems and moves
  • Fundamentals
  • Finding answers to common problems
  • Giving up too soon on a submission
  • Giving up too late on a submission
  • Getting control of your opponent
  • Putting your system in a funnel
  • Having confidence in your technique

Quote of the week: “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. involve me, I understand.” Chinese Proverb

Article of the week: I Watched 100 White Belt Matches. Here’s What’s Actually High Percentage.

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 299 Your BJJ Coach

This week we talk about your BJJ coach. This is probably the most important relationship in most of our jiu-jitsu journeys.

We talk about:

  • The business relationship with your coach
  • The personal relationship with your coach
  • What we look for in a coach
  • Joe wins the internet again
  • Telling your coach your goals
  • How to help your coach

Quote of the week: “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” Dave Willis

Article of the week:

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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

Jiu-Jitsu Summer Camp In Wichita Kansas

We had a great time meeting and training with many listeners last year we are looking forward to doing it again. Special guests include Samir Chantre and Gina Franssen.

Check out our interview with Samir here

Check out Gina’s interview here

The Bjj Brick Camp is fast approaching. Sign up before it sells out

Our goal is for all the attendants to have a fun weekend of BJJ and experience growth in their game of jiu-jitsu.