The Optimal State of Arousal

We all know about that one athlete who has the crazy superstition or pre-game ritual. You know, the one that won’t wash their game socks all season, or the one that has to have sauerkraut and hot dogs before every game, or the one who has to run to the center of the field and touch the team logo before every home game. Are these just crazy superstitions and rituals…. or are they something more?

Let’s consider the above paragraph while being reminded of who Ivan Pavlov was and what he contributed to science and psychology. Ivan Pavlov was a scientist who did the bulk of his work in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s winning the Nobel prize in 1904. Ivan Pavlov is probably best known for his work in classical conditioning and in particular a series of experiments he did with dogs. The dogs were conditioned to expect that food was imminently forthcoming with the ringing of the bell. Eventually the dogs would have the normal physical responses to eating (like producing extra saliva) as soon as the bell rang as opposed to shortly after beginning to eat.

As a way of dragging this onto the mats let’s look at one more idea: the optimal state of arousal. This theory as it relates to athletes says that different athletes engaging in different activities will benefit from specific levels of arousal. When speaking of arousal, we are speaking about adrenaline levels, heart rate, intensity of mental focus, etc. If we use American football as an example; a linebacker would most likely benefit more from a higher state of arousal than a quarterback. If a quarterback comes in and he’s too “pumped up” he’ll be jittery in the pocket and inaccurate with his throws. It’s extremely important that he comes into the game in the right state of mind. Every athlete is an individual and the optimal state for one will be different than for another. It’s up to the athlete to find the right state for him or her….and this is where we get back to rituals and superstitions, it’s up to the athlete to find a way to put themselves in the optimal  state of mind.

So, back to those crazy superstitions and rituals that some athletes have: they may not be simply eccentric quirks, maybe they’re part of the process an athlete uses to tell his mind and body that it’s time to perform. When a baseball player goes to bat you will notice his routine – tap the right toe, tap the left toe, adjust each batting glove, take a practice swing, step into the box, and tap on the plate twice….and every time it’s the same self-talk “relax, follow through, and put the ball in play”, or something like that. For each batter it will pretty much be the same every time.

For those of you reading this who compete regularly: How consistent is your “pre-fight” routine? Do you have a standard warm-up that you use? How’s your self-talk before the match? Do you have a ritual/routine for stepping on the mat and beginning the match? Incorporating this into your routine won’t make you a champion overnight, but we’ve all had matches where we just didn’t “have it” and our opponent scored the first points and we never caught up. We’ve also had matches where we were so hyped going into the match and the gas tank was empty 3 minutes in. Wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate these two possibilities? Try incorporating some of these ideas and see if it helps.

 

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

 

More on the optimal state of arousal; grapplearts….the optimal state of arousal

For more information about Classical Conditioning; simply psychology

Byrons ideas about the optimal state of arousal; meet-an-inmate

Epi 281 Eliot Marshall and The Gospel of Fire

This week we have an interview with former pro MMA fighter and black belt jiu-jitsu competitor Eliot Marshall. Eliot was the first american to win titles at IBJJF Pan American tournaments at the blue, purple, and brown belt ranks. He was also in TUF 8 and competed in the UFC’s light-featherweight division.

We talk about:

  • Training BJJ in school
  • Why his gym focuses on BJJ and not MMA
  • His podcast The Gospel of Fire
  • His book The Gospel of Fire
  • His goal of being the best parent to his boys
  • Changing his life focus
  • The rules he has as a father
  • Teaching leg locks safely
  • Success early in BJJ
  • Competing in submission only matches
  • Dealing with toxic people in the gym

Links:

Quote of the week: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Confucius

Article of the week: My best & worst mindset for BJJ competitions

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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

New Info on the Gi vs No-gi Training Debate

As a student you should be training both gi and no-gi, as a gym owner you should be encouraging students to train both. We can forget about the technical reason to train both. Although I do believe the technical arguments for training both gi and no-gi are strong. I have data from the BJJ training app Marune, and this data reveals some amazing information about students that train both gi and no-gi.

Students that train both gi and no-gi train longer per average session and roll longer per average session. The comparisons draw a stark difference in training time.

This pie graph above shows a break down of the people that are using the Marune app. Most people (using the app) train just with the gi 54.55%. Only 10.52% are exclusively training no-gi. 34.93% of people train both gi and no-gi. These are not people that claim to train one or the other they are actually logging their mat time and choosing gi or no-gi. Someone that has never logged a no-gi session simply gets put in the gi category. If someone has done both they are categorized as gi and no-gi.

Statistically people who only train “no-gi only” spend less time on the mat per training session. People who train both are training about 14 minutes longer than the people training only gi, and almost 27 minutes longer than the strictly no-gi crowd.

Training time discrepancies are shocking, but BIG difference is time rolling. People that train gi and no-gi roll much more time than the people that only train one sport. People training both roll almost 9 minutes more that people training only gi, and 15 minutes more than people training only no-gi.

Why?????

I don’t know but here are some ideas.

  1. It could be that people training both have found a greater passion for training and rolling and get more mat time every time they walk in the door of the gym.
  2. Perhaps the data is affected by shorter classes and gyms that only teach one type of training. It could be that on average a gym that has both gi and no-gi has longer classes.
  3. The times could be effected by the students ability to train and push themselves. If your gym has 2 gi classes a week and 2 no-gi classes a week and you only train on the no-gi days you are probably not in as good as shape as someone training all the classes. This would result in you rolling less at the end of class.
  4. Open mat sessions could be attended predominantly by people that roll both, and this would push the data in their favor.

What to do about this data?

  • If you are a student that only trains one, try training both. You may find yourself training more per training session. You are likely trying to balance a busy schedule with jiu-jitsu. Train when you can regardless of the grappling clothing materials (try not to skip training because it is no-gi night and you like gi).
  • If you are an instructor you should encourage students to train both. It is no secret that students that train more have an accelerated learning rate. Talk about the benefits of training in the other classes and continue to invite them to try the other side of grappling.

Here is a video talk about this data.

Check out the Marune app here

Epi 280 Finding Balance On and Off the Mat With Jared Dopp

This week we have an interview with Jared Dopp. Jared is a top american competitor and PhD student.  This interview covers a wide range of topics from performance tips to the e coli virus.

We talk about:

  • Doing BJJ as a full time student
  • Trying different sports
  • Doing football and track
  • Dealing with nerves
  • Why he does better in school if he is doing a sport
  • Fitting jiu-jitsu in a busy schedule
  • What is is studying as a chemical engineer
  • Using e coli virus in his studies
  • Training gi and nogi

Links:

Quote of the week: “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” -Stephen Covey

Article of the week: Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13

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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 279 Interview With Clark Gracie

This week we have an interview with black belt and competitor Clark Gracie. This interview covers everything from growing up a Gracie, to running a jiu-jitsu school. Clark is also generous with tips and advice.

We talk about:

  • Growing up a Gracie and doing jiu-jitsu
  • Kids doing BJJ
  • Running a jiu-jitsu school and traveling
  • Kicksite software used to keep organized and help run a martial arts business
  • Advice he has for competitors
  • His expectations for his students
  • What he looks for in a blue belt

Links:

Thanks to our friends at Kicksite for help with this interview

Quote of the week: “Jiu-Jitsu is a filter of life itself. Jiu-Jitsu does not weed out people who are weak or lack coordination, or natural talent. Jiu-jitsu weeds out those who lack core principles of success. In jiu-jitsu, those that practice become stronger. Paul Kindzia in the book Master Jiu-Jitsu Master Life

Article of the week: Strong As A Mother: Why It’s So Important For Mothers To Train In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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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 278 Master Jiu-Jitsu Master Life with Paul Kindzia

This week we have an interview with author Paul Kindzia. During the interview we cover many on and off the mat lessons Jiu-Jitsu brings to us. Paul also talks about his book Master Jiu-Jitsu Master Life.

We talk about:

  • What got him interested in martial arts as a kid
  • Finding BJJ as an adult
  • Situations in his life that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle
  • Becoming an endurance athlete
  • Dealing with medical issues (brain tumor)
  • How science will change Jiu-Jitsu
  • The growth of BJJ
  • Getting better at BJJ quicker
  • Knowing your “Why” for BJJ

Links:

Quote of the week: “The key is not the will to win….. everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important” Bobby Knight

Article of the week: The best defense is….

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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 277 Defense and Offense

This episode we answer listener questions about offense and defense.

We talk about:

  • Changing the way we roll based on the belt rank we are rolling with
  • Changing the way we roll based on the person we are rolling with
  • What makes a good defense
  • What makes a good offense
  • Building confidence
  • Using stratagem in your offense and defense
  • Defending positions vs submissions

Quote of the week: “Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” Tom Lehrer famous pianist

Article of the week: How to get better at BJJ: 12 Steps

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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 276 Jason Elliott and Tracking Your Training

This week we have an interview with Jason Elliott from the Marune app. Marune is a great way to track your training in BJJ. We cover many training topics including improving your top game and measuring your training.

We talk about:

  • Developing the app for BJJ players
  • His training and progress with five years of BJJ
  • Tips for a head and arm choke
  • Tips for keeping mount
  • Changing your goals
  • The future of the Marune app

Links:

  • Check out the Marune app to track your BJJ and no-gi training

Quote of the week: “Every action we take, everything we do, is either a victory or defeat in the struggle to become what we want to be.” Ninon de L’Enclos

Article of the week: Differences between Japanese (traditional) Jiu-Jitsu and BJJ

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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

The best defense is….

A GOOD OFFENSE…….

The best defense is a good offense. This is an old adage in sports and is true much of the time on the mats. Let’s look at a few examples of when this is definitely true and at least one time when this might not be the best philosophy.

This is true when you are in a dominant position. In fact you might say, launching a good offense in this scenario can keep you from having to play defense at all. Once you’ve secured a dominant position you need to be active, either looking to advance position or secure a submission. If you are idle it will give your opponent a chance to formulate a game plan, get their frames and grips set up, and execute an escape. On the other hand if you are relentlessly attacking they will be unable to do anything more than defend against your offense.

This is also a good plan in scrambles. While it’s true that coming out of a scramble in the most dominant position possible should be your first goal, an offensive grappler who is always looking to win by submission will find many opportunities in the chaos of scrambles. If you are looking, you can find an arm extended or a neck exposed. If you are always looking for the win by submission you will sometimes see an opportunity to start setting up a choke as you are passing guard or taking your opponents back. You will be finishing the submission before they have a chance to even start setting up their escape or defense.

The best defense is a good offense is often not true when you are in an inferior position. There are always exceptions and some people have a degree of success hitting submissions from unconventional positions. But generally speaking when you are in a position such as bottom mount, bottom side control, or your opponent has your back; your priorities should be defending and escaping. Trying anything other than fundamentally sound escapes from these positions often lead to easy counters from your opponent. Maybe the most classic example is trying to choke your opponent from within his closed guard which almost always leads to being armbarred.

In conclusion: it is almost always the best strategy on the mats to be active and relentlessly attacking. But be aware, sometimes you must defend and advance before launching your offense.

Joe

Epi 275 Black Belt Gina Franssen

This week we have an interview with BJJ Black Belt Gina Franssen. You can find Gina running her own BJJ school X2 Fitness in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

We talk about:

  • Her reason for starting BJJ after an assault
  • Running her own school
  • The original goal of a blue belt
  • Her thoughts on women’s self defense classes
  • Changing the reasons you train BJJ
  • You tap to the technique not the person
  • The culture of the gym
  • Dealing with frustrations on the mat

Links:

Quote of the week: “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash

Article of the week: 5 Ways Jiu Jitsu Will Help Your Child In School

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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