Coaching Tip- Critique vs Correct In BJJ

These two things may seem to be the same, but they are actually significantly different. In this short article you will find out the difference and learn why I am such a fan of one over the other.

Let’s say we are rolling, and I have side control. You are doing a pretty good job to build a frame and you try to escape. Then your arm relaxes a bit and I isolate it and take the armbar. My critique would be that your should keep your arms in a safe position. That is good advice, and I hope you can put it to use next time someone has you in side control and tries to put your arm in danger.

Let’s look at the same scenario and use correction instead of critique. Now where were we? Oh yeah. Your arm relaxes a bit and I isolate it and start to take the armbar. I know you feel something bad is headed your way. Then I say “pause for a second, can you feel your arm is out of position?” You agree. “Let’s rewind and see what happened, to get you to this spot.” It turns out that as you attempting to get your legs in to recover guard your arm became a bit too loose “Let’s do it again but this time as you are working your legs in also pay attention to your arm, especially your left one.”

With the correction you get to try to fix the problem in the moment. You get to feel it working and make adjustments to your game in a more live setting.

If you tell me what mistakes I made after I tap, thanks for the critique. If you have me pause and rewind a few steps to show me my mistakes, thanks for the correction. They are both good learning tools but the correction allows me to practice what you are telling me. The correction allows both my body and mind to experience the practice together, and this greatly helps with long term retention.

Think of giving someone a critique as giving them a tip, and giving someone a correction as giving them a short pertinent lesson.

The words “pause” and “rewind” are becoming some the my best coaching words while I roll.

Ideas for this article were inspired from the book Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better


Can a Coach roll too much with the Students??

It is great to have a coach that will get on the mat with the students and train. It is often a badge of honor, a way to lead by example, and proof that the coach is a legitimate source of instruction.

This article is not an aid to help determine if your instructor is a sham. I simply want to invite coaches to consider an important tool for teaching jiu-jitsu.

If you are a coach and you roll every round, you might consider a different option. Try rolling most of the rounds with the students. Use the rounds that you sit out, to watch the students roll. This is a great opportunity to look for areas of improvement and discover strengths of your students. I know that you can do this when you roll with your students, but students roll differently with their coach.  By watching your students roll, your lesson plans can be adjusted to the needs of the room. Simply guessing what technique to work next is unlikely the most beneficial way to plan future lessons.

Observing students roll is also a good way to correct poor mat behavior. Someone may not be a mat bully to you or even able to put you in unsafe positions. But when you take a step back you can better identify a mat bully, and request that a change in behavior is made (something the rolling partner may not be willing to do for themselves).

Look across the spectrum of sports- coaches don’t typically take the role of participating to the degree of a BJJ coach. Why is that? I have two main reasons. The first, is most coaches in BJJ are actively trying to get better at the sport so their participation is benefiting themselves. The other reason speaks volumes about jiu-jitsu. In many cases coaches can outperform the students (even if they are significantly older or not as athletic). Therefore by being an “on the mat rolling coach” is providing the students with competitive and technical training sessions.

I am not advocating that coaches stop rolling with students. I am saying that it may be beneficial to take a step back and make observations and corrections from the sidelines. After all how many football coaches do you see putting pads on? How many basketball coaches are blocking shots? How many baseball coaches do you see hitting home runs? How many boxing coaches do you see land a knockdown punch?

Watch the video below to learn more about rolling too much with your students.

Great coaches may not always be doing the sport, but they are great at transferring knowledge and changing habits.

A wise coach will spend some time observing students and making changes.


22 Off The Mat Habits That Will Improve Your On The Mat Performance

There have been dozens, maybe hundreds of these lists made. Some are short and concise (the top 5 things you need to know…) and some are longer, attempting to encompass more of the jiu jitsu journey. This is one of the latter. I have compiled this list based on my own experiences and feedback from my friends and training partners. When contemplating how long to make this list I settled on 22 in a nod to Mission 22 which is an organization that works to raise awareness concerning U.S. Military Veteran suicides. On average 22 veterans take their own lives every day. For more information about Mission 22 check them out here: Mission 22
1) Track your class attendance. There’s a particular number of classes per week that’s ideal for each student. Tracking your attendance will help you find this number and be consistent in hitting it.
2) Journal your class performance. This can be a simple as a note pad app on your phone where you just jot a line or two about the highlights or a more complex approach like using an Evernote template commenting on every technique, drill, and roll.
3) Create a word document that you review periodically. Some things that could be included in this document: Three “go to” moves/techniques from every position. In order, your three best positions to work from. A week area or two you’re working on.
4) Hydrate. All your bodies functions and processes are more efficient when you are properly hydrated. You will process nutrients more efficiently, clear toxins more efficiently, dissipate heat more efficiently, etc. etc. all these things will improve your performance on the mats. Proper hydration will also aid with appetite control.
5) Sleep. Most adults can function at a high level on 6-7 hours of sleep a day. For an athlete that should be considered the bare minimum. During periods of high intensity training 8 hours or more a day may be required. Most people not getting enough sleep only have themselves to blame….you do not need to watch one more episode of the Walking Dead. Turn off the TV and go to bed.
6) Cook your own meals. Cooking your own meals at home is a great way to make sure you’re eating the right portions, eating the right things, consuming the right amount of calories, etc. It will also save you money…..that you can then spend on more jiu jitsu.
7) Eat clean. No big secret here. Foods that are over cooked, highly processed, loaded with preservatives, or containing a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce are not the ideal base for a healthy diet.
8) Eat the right foods at the right time. What you eat before training, after training, on your days off, etc. matters. Do some research and come up with a plan that fits your training schedule.
9) Supplement. As this is a very personal choice I won’t elaborate much except to say I’ve benefited from smart supplementation as have many of my training partners. If you chose to supplement: do smart research and don’t pay for hype.
10) Yoga. When polling my friends about off the mat activities they do that they feel improve their jiu jitsu performance, yoga was the number one option. Several of my friends advocated for “hot” yoga and some follow a more traditional yoga routine.
11) Stretching. If yoga is not your thing try a 10-minute dynamic stretching routine a few days a week
12) Lift weights. After yoga, this was the number 2 response I got from my friends. Most people I know chose a simple routine based on the fundamental lifts i.e. bench press, dead lift, squats, military press, pull ups, etc. These are compound movements that will build muscle mass and improve core strength.
13) Sprint/HIT training. Short bursts of intense/explosive movements are an excellent way to condition your body for the rigors of high intensity grappling. Most people I know who compete incorporate at least some HIT training in their routines.
14) Distance running. This seems to be the least popular option for off the mat physical activity. There are however some benefits worth considering. If you’re one of the many people who have never run more than a mile or two. Working your way up to a longer distance, maybe 5 miles, will burn fat and improve your cardio conditioning. More importantly it will test your will and prove to yourself that you can do more than you thought you could. It can also help with developing an overall healthy lifestyle.
15) Listen to a podcast. There are literally dozens of podcasts on jiu jitsu or more generally health and fitness. While this may be an off the mat habit that has minimal returns…. It also takes almost no effort. Find a few podcasts you like, subscribe, listen on your way to and from work
16) Watch tutorials/instructional DVD’s. While DVD sets can be quite expensive I know people, who have bought sets and have had their game transformed in as little as 2-3 weeks. If you don’t have the money or time to invest in purchasing and watching full length DVD sets there are many high quality 5-10 minute tutorials on youtube.
17) Watch competition footage. There’s nothing like watching the top athletes at your age/belt level in live action. In this day and age, it is as easy as going to youtube and searching “BJJ blue belt masters” or whatever age/belt/weight you are at.
18) Watch footage of your own training. My wife helps me with this, but if that doesn’t work for you there is almost always someone available that you could hand your phone to and say “can you film my next couple of rolls?”. This is most helpful if you save and date the video files for later review. If you review footage of yourself rolling in Jan, May, and Oct of the same year you should be able to identify some mistakes you’re continuing to make that need to be addressed as well as some areas of improvement.
19) Read something. Reading a little bit everyday will improve the quality of your life no matter what you read. I would suggest biographies of people who have accomplished great things, books on excellence, and motivation.
20) Create a morning routine. Studying the habits of highly successful high functioning individuals I’ve come to find that most of them get up early and follow a routine to get their day started. Here’s what has been working for me: Get my body moving, read something, and clean something. Time depending, I dedicate 15-45 minutes to this. Right after getting out of bed I do some stretches, yoga poses, and maybe some jiu jitsu movements. Next I read a chapter of a book. Then I do 5-10 minutes of house work. That last one really makes the wife happy. It’s amazing how much more productive the rest of my day is when I start with this routine.
21) Have another hobby …. surfing, hackie sack, parkour, etc. Having healthy hobbies is a part of living an overall healthy lifestyle. It will also give you something to do to stay in shape when you are injured or otherwise cannot do jiu jitsu.
22) Mentor another student. It’s common for students who have been doing jiu jitsu for a while to take someone under their wing in the gym—take the next step and take it out of the gym. Get their phone number and/or hook up with them on social media. Text them or message them when you see they’re making progress in the gym and hitting jiu jitsu milestones. Text them or call them if you haven’t seen them in the gym for a few days. Offer them some encouragement now and then and hold them accountable when needed. I saved this for last because not only can it help your jiu jitsu and the jiu jitsu of the student you are mentoring….it could possibly have a much larger impact on the life of the student you are mentoring. You never know when someone may be desperate for a friend or for someone to take a personal interest in their life.
No one is going to take a list like this and incorporate every suggestion into their daily lives. Many people reading this will, in fact already be doing some of these. I’m confident though, especially if you’re new to jiu jitsu, that you can find something on this list that if added to your daily routine will help to improve your jiu jitsu. Good luck and keep on rolling.

By Joe Thomas Find more articles by Joe Thomas here

Epi 173 BjjBrick Coach of the Year Larry Keith

We are proud to have Larry Keith as the BjjBrick coach of the year. Larry has been training martial arts for around 35 years. Larry is a third degree black belt in Kodokan Judo and a brown belt in BJJ. He enjoys mixing throws with ending up in a dominant position. This is a great interivew with a outstanding person that we

We talk about:

  • Starting his martial arts program
  • having a large kids group
  • He is a big guy and he talks about not using it too much
  • How to turn a student into someone who can be more aggressive
  • Starting his own dojo
  • Working with the local boys and girls club helping to prevent bullying
  • Zero tolerance policy in public schools
  • Using a buddy system to prevent bullying
  • The goals he has when teaching kids judo and jiu-jitsu
  • Getting kids to do martial arts for their lifetime
  • Kids and competing in tournaments
  • Giving kids a leadership role on the mat
  • The importance of a family atmosphere in BJJ
  • Learning by teaching
  • His plans for competing more


Quote of the week: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

Lesson of the week: Dealing with traffic and taking a detour to still reach your goal.

The Referee Corner “Epi 2 Sandbagging” starting at 1h33m

Gary’s audio book is called “rolling with ghost- breaking spirits instead of elbows”


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 131 Olympic Medalists and BJJ Black Belt Adam Wheeler

Adam Wheeler is a BJJ black belt that also has a bronze medal from wrestling in the 2008 Olympics. We are thrilled to cover a huge range of topics with such a motivating person.

Adam Wheeler being awarded the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics

Adam Wheeler being awarded the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics

We talk about:

  • Wrestling as a kid
  • Having the lable of a chubby kid
  • Wrestling both Greco-Roman and Freestyle
  • How important his wrestling coach was to him as a kid
  • Transitioning from wrestling to BJJ
  • Winning gold in no-gi black belt open division masters 1 in 2014
  • Learning from competing
  • Competing as an underdog
  • Getting coaching advice from Rulon Gardner
  • He shares some stories from the Olympics
  • What he does off of the mat
  • What he wants his kids to get out of sports
  • What he tells his kids after a competition
  • Getting his black belt quickly


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

Article of the week:  50 Killer Tips For BJJ White Belts


Fuji Sekai Gi- Byron has this gi and he is loving it, check it out. 

Here is a link to Byron’s full review of this gi, and here is a link to our gi guide.

This week Claudio teaches us how to say “You’re Welcome” in Portuguese Click this link to find the entire set of words from Claudio

If you are interested in supporting The BjjBrick Podcast find out how here

Gary’s audio book this week is called “The Tortoise and the Hare the Untold BJJ story”

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and RSS link for Andriod

Epi 130 Marshal Carper From Artechoke Media

Marshal Carper bjjThis week we have an interview with Marshal Carper. Marshal is a busy guy writing the books “The Cauliflower Chronicles”, “Marcelo Garcia Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques”, and the game “Dojo Storm”.  These things are just a short sample of the work that he has done and will continue to do.

We talk about:

  • Training with injuries
  • His books
  • The app Dojo Storm
  • Preventing injuries
  • Training with BJ Penn
  • Training with big name people in BJJ
  • Making adjustments to your game
  • Dealing with fake black belts
  • 3D Jiu-Jitsu
  • Teaching classes
  • Getting tapped by lower belts
  • The 10,000 hour rule
  • Advice for new students that want to compete


Fuji Sekai Gi- Byron has this gi and he is loving it, check it out.

Quote of the week: Presented by Dan Covel “Success isn’t owned it’s leased. And rent is due every day.” J.J. Watt

Article of the week: Medals piling up for US bound ‘Killer B’ Cuskelly.


This week Claudio teaches us how to say “Please” and “Thank You” in Portuguese Click this link to find the entire set of words from Claudio

If you are interested in supporting The BjjBrick Podcast find out how here

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and RSS link for Andriod

Epi 124 Black Belt Jen Hall Interview

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and RSS link for Andriod

Jen and Ryan Hall

Jen and Ryan Hall

This week we have an interview with Jen Hall. Jen is a BJJ black belt under her husband Ryan Hall.  She also teaches and runs the school 50/50 BJJ.  Jen has competed a lot and also done a lot of coaching.  We are thrilled to have her share her knowledge with us.

We talk about:

  • What got her started in BJJ
  • Running the 50/50 school
  • The good and bad of running a gym
  • Different teaching styles
  • Teaching ideas she got from being a swim coach
  • Not hitting a plateau
  • The differences between their fundamentals 1 and fundamentals 2 classes
  • Why she likes to have a class for beginners
  • The current point system in BJJ
  • Reaping the knee
  • The differences between a teacher and a coach
  • How she gets ready for a competition
  • Dealing with her 8 surgeries
  • The paper “Read this today win tomorrow”
  • Women’s classes
  • What is up with Ryan Hall since the UFC
  • They have one person come in to their gym because of TUF

Jen Hall


Quote of the week: “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” Sun TzuYour-First-Year-Of-BJJ-artwork-1199

Article of the week: Am I Doing Enough?


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

Gary is working on his audio book called “I am so confused, I guess I will go choke somebody”

Epi 93 Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunes, Stitcher radio, and RSS link for Andriod

Franjinha bjjThis week we have an interview with one of the top BJJ coaches Ricardo Miller.  Ricardo is also known as Franjinha.  You can find a full bio on Franjinha here.  Check out his school Paragon website here.

We talk about:

  • A brief history of Franjinha
  • His coaching style
  • His 32 Black belts under him
  • Jeff Glover and Bill “The Grill” Cooper
  • How BJJ is always changing
  • He has 10,000 people that have came to his gym, and out of that he has made 32 Black belts that is one person per every 312
  • His goal of when he has a new student
  • Helping his students
  • What Paragon means
  • The small percent of people that actually compete
  • Advice for the first time competitor
  • Advice for the person who can only train once a week
  • Comparing BJJ to a puzzle


Quote of the week: “respect all, fear none” Danny Alvarez

Article of the week: “Does Technique Really Conquer All? 3 BJJ Masters Give their Opinion”

First year of BJJ

Epi 60 The Bjj Mental Coach Gustavo Dantas

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radio

The Bjj Mental Coach Gustavo Dantas

The Bjj Mental Coach Gustavo Dantas

Have you ever failed to deliver your best when it counts?  This week our friend and BJJ black belt Gustavo Dantas will help you do your best on and off the mat.  Gustavo has been training BJJ for 25 years, he is a 4th degree black belt.  He has a passion for teaching BJJ and helping coach people to reach their goals.  His coaching website is

In this interview we talk about:

  • Doing BJJ as a kid in Rio
  • Listening to audio books
  • Why he recommends the book Psycho-Cybernetics
  • The BJJ Mental Coach blog
  • How he was able to overcome a bad start to competing
  • Overcoming mental blocks in competing
  • Moving to the United States from Brazil
  • Dealing with competition anxiety
  • A recent interview he did with Budo Videos
  • Dealing with a high pressure situation
  • How he runs competition students different from the students that don’t compete
  • Learning from failure
  • The three types of training partners that you need to be training with
  • How BJJ can benefit someone off the mat
  • Fixing mistakes after a tournament
  • Living up to your full potential
  • Dealing with fear
  • Focusing on only the things that you can control
  • His four Dvd set Inner Discovery for outer success

Contact Info for Gustavo Dantas- Email:, His Facebook Page, The Bjj Mental Coach website

Gustavo’s Sponsors Shoyoroll, Aggro Brand

Quote of the week:  “Everybody want to be a champion but not many are willing to do what it takes to become one” Presented by Joe Solecki

Article of the week:”5 Tips for BJJ Over 35

Want a better Guillotine Choke? Check out this seminar by our friend Roy Marsh!

This episode also has the first of our series of “The Most Interesting Grappler”