Epi 290 Top Game

We talk about:

  • Why play top game?
  • Advantages of top game
  • The types of top games we like to play
  • Passing guard
  • Passing half guard
  • Keeping top position
  • Getting more pressure

Quote of the week: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” Dale Carnegie

Article of the week: Ring Bell For Service

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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

Ring Bell For Service

In my line of work, I am in and out of businesses configured in the following way: A long and narrow building with offices and reception area taking up a small portion of the square footage at one end of the building with the rest of the building being shop/warehouse space. When you walk into the reception area you can see that there is at least one door that leads to the shop with a sign that says, “employees only”.

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Imagine, if you will, that you walk in and find no one up front as often the front desk employees are also responsible for shipping and receiving, inventory, or some other function in back. How do you create an opportunity for you to conclude your business? Maybe you try to call the business on your cell phone hopping it rings in the back, but you just hear a phone start ringing behind the desk. Maybe you poke your head through the door that says employees only, but you can’t see anybody. Maybe you look for a security camera to wave at…. maybe jump around and holler a bit. Then you see it…. A big sign with a big arrow pointing to button on the wall and the sign says, “ring bell for service”. So, you push the button and you can hear a load bell ringing back in the shop. In seconds multiple people show up to see what the can do for you. You could have pulled any number of shenanigans that would have gotten nowhere, but pushing that button and ringing that bell? That made things happen.

There are many positions in jiu jitsu where a fundamentally sound opponent will give you little to no opportunity to mount offense or to improve your position. What do you do when that happens? You gotta ring that bell. You can spaz out all you want under someone’s mount and make no progress, but once you learn how to do a proper bridge and start to develop a sense of timing you are able to make your opponent do things that will create opportunities for you…just like ringing a bell.

Once you learn how to make your opponent post (either with a hand or foot) or make them reach or expose a limb you can launch an attack or execute an escape. So next time you find yourself “stuck”, take a minute to analyze the situation and find the right button to ring the bell.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better

Joe

Epi 284 Eliot Kelly Coaching and Competing

This week we have an interview with Eliot Kelly. Eliot is a top ranked grappler and excellent coach. This interview covers a wide range of topics from his accelerated development on the mat to helping students at El Dorado Hills Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Self Defense.

We talk about:

  • His start in BJJ
  • How taking a train to BJJ helped him get better
  • Coaching BJJ and preparing himself to compete
  • How to learn from a loss
  • How coaching makes him be a better competitor
  • How competing makes him a better coach
  • Dealing with injuries
  • Getting hurt and coming back to the competition world
  • Balancing BJJ and a home life with family
  • Dealing with trends
  • Matching your BJJ to your personality
  • Focusing your training
  • Evaluating your performance

Links:

Quote of the week: “Without hustle, your talent will only get dyou so far” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Article of the week:

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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 282 BJJ Big and Small

This week we talk about the size differences in grapplers. Are you a large person training with smaller grapplers? we have some advice for you to get the most of your mat time. Are you on the smaller end of most grapplers and need a little advice for training and competing with the larger athletes. If so this episode is for you.

We talk about:

  • Training with bigger teammates
  • Training with smaller teammates
  • Keeping things safe
  • Dealing with frustrations
  • Techniques good for small or large people
  • Competing against people of a different size
  • When the instructor shows a “big person” or “small person” move

Quote of the week:  “Do not be misled. You will suffer along the way. You will have failures and set-backs. You will have to learn to overcome these failures. However, it is this process of personal improvement that will transform you as an individual.” Book Master Jiu-Jitsu master life by Paul Kindzia

Article of the week: BJJ White Belt Survival Kit: 5 Essential Tips For Beginners

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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

Value this time on the mats kids

The following is a monologue by Billy Crystal from the movie City Slickers and was sent to me from my friend and 60+ year old grappler Andy Dicky. In the movie Mitch (played by Billy Crystal), Phil, and Ed are all experiencing their own mid-life crises and take a two-week vacation at a dude ranch to figure things out. The scene that this monologue is from features Mitch speaking to his son’s middle school class on career day prior to leaving for the dude ranch.

Value this time in your life kids… Because this is the time in your life when you still have choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “what happened to my twenties?”. Your forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin… the music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery…you’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still too loud, but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, and breakfast the night before. You spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering “how come the kids don’t call?”. By your eighties, you’ve had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand, but you call mamma. Any questions?

What’s the point of sharing this with you? Is it to make sure we understand that this is as good as it’s going to get? To warn you that from here on your life will get progressively worse with the passage of time? Not at all. But things will definitely be different, and not all those differences will be “good”. Our knees, our backs, our shoulders, our central nervous systems and reflexes, etc. are examples of things that deteriorate with age. This means our experiences on the mats at 45 will not be the same as they were in our 30’s…in our 50’s our experiences on the mats won’t be the same as they were at 45. Our experiences won’t be the same over the years, but they can still be great.

Don’t waste time looking back with regret because you did not start sooner or did not pursue jiu jitsu with the passion that you now wish you would have. Don’t waste time looking down the road and worrying about your physical attributes fading and your body breaking down and the things that you may no longer be able to do. Instead, live in the moment. Enjoy your time on the mats today. Make the most out of each class, each round that you roll, each tournament you enter, each seminar you attend, etc. This moment is the only one that is guaranteed. Value this time on the mats.

Train hard. Train smart. Get better.

Joe

Here is the clip!

Never Miss an Opportunity to Learn

You can learn something from everyone. That’s a common sentiment on the mats. In theory, it’s great. In practice….sometimes not so much. Even the mellowest colored belt can sometimes struggle when the 4-stripe white belt starts handing out advice or the more advanced student takes them to school on the mats. Let’s look at two distinctly different ways we can learn from our training partners — tactile feedback and verbal feedback or advice.

If you want to be able to learn from anyone via tactile feedback i.e. through rolling, you need to roll with everyone and you will want to experience all aspects of their jiu jitsu including their A-game. If every time you roll with better students you do everything you can to avoid being drawn into their best positions you will miss the opportunity to study up close and personal what it is that makes that particular position part of their A-game. If every time you roll with less experienced training partners you simply crush them you will also miss what they have to offer. In an ideal world you will spend some time being the hammer and some time being the nail. When you are the hammer, you are letting your training partner feel and learn from your A game. When you are the nail, you are learning from theirs.

If you want to learn something from everyone via verbal feedback or advice you must be humble and approachable. If every time someone gives you feedback you allow your ego to interfere and become dismissive or confrontational people will not be likely to continue to try and help you. Sometimes it is helpful to encourage others to give you feedback. This can be asking directly or you can be a little more subtle like just comment on something you were trying to do during the roll i.e. “I was having a heck of a time passing your guard” or “that was a great triangle”. Feedback is often revealed in casual conversations if you’re looking for it.

There are many ways of learning jiu jitsu: In class instruction, seminars, video study, drilling with your favorite training partners, as well as tactile and verbal feedback from your classmates and training partners. Take advantage of them all.

Train hard, train smart, get better.

Joe Thomas

Epi 256 Mistakes we have made in BJJ

We have all made mistakes on and off the mat. We share some of ours so you can possibly learn from our mistakes.

We talk about:

  • Training but doing activities but not actually accomplishing anything
  • What mistakes most people make
  • The mistake of not knowing your “why”
  • Training for the wrong reasons
  • Lacking focus in BJJ
  • Not learning from seminars
  • Training while injured
  • Getting your spouse to train
  • Not recognizing progress
  • Not being welcoming to new people
  • Mistakes we are currently making

Quote of the week: Do not mistake activity as accomplishment” John Wooden

Article of the week: Competing in mid-adulthood: How to train to win after age 35

 

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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

Training Muay Thai for Better BJJ

After a few years of training, gaining a better understanding of jiujitsu has become a main priority in my life. And if you’re like me, you probably incorporate other physical activities or movements in the context of jiujitsu. We run, bike, practice wrestling & judo, or take a yoga class not necessarily to get good at that activity but to improve our jiujitsu: better cardio, improved takedowns, more flexibility. Well heck, some of us even shrimp out of bed or perform a technical stand-up to get up from the ground. The benefits of running, yoga, judo, or wrestling to improve our jiujitsu are obvious. However, it has taken me a few years and a few conversations to realize that Muay Thai is one of the better, if not the best physical activity to compliment jiujitsu.

Joseph Marquez

The most obvious benefits that Muay Thai provides are the physical ones. The strength, conditioning, and flexibility benefits are great, but more importantly is the loose and ballistic movements that balance out grappling’s emphasis on having a tight squeeze. Focusing on the upper body: when we have somebody’s back (literally) we are tightening up and squeezing to prevent escapes in the hopes of eventually submitting the other person. When focusing on the lower body: a good closed guard, triangle, or tight armbar. However, in Muay Thai (or any striking discipline) we want the opposite of tight and constricted muscles. Loose and relaxed muscles allow for quicker, more ballistic and less telegraphed strikes. Focusing on the upper body, the effectiveness of being loose is most evident during a set of burners in which you throw straight jabs and crosses as fast as possible for a minute or so. You have to “let your hands go” because if you tighten up you will struggle to throw quick punches. The same principle applies when focusing on the lower body. Hitting the Thai pads with fluid and powerful kicks require one to loosen hips and legs. After an hour of Muay Thai, I definitely feel the burn, but I also feel great. My muscles and joints from my ankles all the way to my wrists feel loose and relaxed afterwards. The warmups and drills in Muay Thai have effectively “shaken it out” the tightness from grappling. (In a Tim Ferris podcast with Pavel Tsatsouline, Pavel goes into better detail on “shaking it out” as an effective way to help muscles recover.)

There are other benefits that may be subtle at first, but comparing the similarities between grappling and striking in terms of range will help clarify these concepts. Three fundamental concepts learned in the first lessons of striking are range management, footwork, and creating angles of attack. If they are not in range to kick or punch you, they are not in range to trip, grab, take you down, or pull guard. Knowing what will not work in a certain range is just as important as knowing what will work. The distance from your opponent will help determine whether shooting double, single, low single, or not shooting at all is the best option. The footwork fundamentals (proper weight distribution, pivoting, or not crossing your feet)  used to enter and exit striking range are similar and can be applied to enter and exit shooting range. The same can be said about creating and attacking not straight on, but from an angle. A wrestler confirmed this to me by showing me how takedowns from the side are harder and more awkward to defend than takedowns you see coming head on. The concepts  of range, footwork, and angles are heavily emphasized in striking but they are also applicable to BJJ, especially since these fundamentals fluidly combine.

As we move closer into striking range, we also move into hand-fighting/grip-fighting range. As stated above, and because I think it is worth repeating: if you are in range to punch, you are in range to grab. A training partner demonstrated how he was able to repeatedly and easily grab my lapels in order to take me down or trip me from a standing position. He used the concept of boxing combos as way to get grips. In this specific case it was simple two-punch combo a straight jab to rear uppercut combo. He simply replaced the strikes in the combo with a collar grab. The main purpose of initial “jab” (high collar-grab) was to find range and distract. If it was not defended, the grip is taken. Most of the time this was defended and the “uppercut” was thrown to get my collar on the other side. Drilling combos and shadow boxing can be incorporated into BJJ simply by replacing punches with grabs and leg kicks & knees with trips.

There are many other ways that Muay Thai, and other striking arts or activities for that matter, can help improve our jiujitsu. I hope this helps us in our journey and that even more connections between BJJ and other activities will be investigated and shared.

Namaste

Joe Marquez

Too Much Knowledge Can Slow the Learning Process in BJJ

This may seem counterintuitive but stick with me for a bit.

Let’s step off the mats for just a second and look at learning a golf swing. The golf swing can be broken down into many parts. Let’s just look at the setup as outlined here 50 Best Swing Keys. You need to have your legs properly positioned with your feet outside your hips, and your toes pointed outward at a 25 degree angle. Now you need to have your upper left arm on the top of your chest, and your right arm needs to be slightly bent at the elbow. Then you need to have your right shoulder slightly lower than your left, and you need to be holding the shaft perpendicular to the ground.

That is a lot of stuff to do and you have not even started to move yet. The article goes into much more detail about how to properly smack the life out of the ball.

Even if I did have some knowledge of golf (I don’t) taking in a long list of different aspects all at once is a lot to ask of someone wanting a better swing.

The same thing can happen in BJJ if you are coaching to correct every little detail, the learning process can actually slow down. Instead fix one or two main things, and acknowledge one or two things that are done well. When the corrections have been made, build on that by fixing one or two more things.

Teaching too much can make students overwhelmed. Frustrated students are not in the state of mind to learn.

You might think that this coaching advice is mostly geared toward helping new students. I would argue that novice or expert will struggle to make more than one or two corrections at a time.

We can all improve, gaining knowledge needs to be at a rate that is conducive to learning.

Ideas for this article were inspired from the books Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better and Peak secrets for the new science of expertise 

Byron