Sunday, December 25, 2011

Favorite Videos for the Uninitiated

Looking back over the year(s), I  have a few videos I like to refer people to when I tell them I train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a little bit of MMA. Most of you have probably seen these but I thought I would put them all in one post. These are not my favorite technique, highlight, or competition videos - but rather for the folks who don't have any background in the martial arts and don't watch the UFC.

What are some of your favorite videos for the uninitiated, or just your favorites in general (technique, highlight, competition)?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Minister of Propaganda - Latest Wisdom/Sarcasm

Just kill me now....
Dignity? Yeah, I used to have some.

I'm too sexy for my hat, too sexy...

Totally Valid Reason to choke someone out #57: People who dress up their pets and carry them to the mall for a photo op with Santa Claus - AND then put it on their Christmas cards and all over their Facebook page.
~Minister of Propaganda

Santa's coming? Yes children, that is correct, and while most people get put on the NAUGHTY list for choking people out if you do Jiu Jitsu you actually get bonus points in the NICE column.

So what things will get a Jui Jitsu player on Santa's NAUGHTY LIST:
  • Not tapping
  • Spazzing out
  • Not washing your gi, smelling like cigarettes, or being smelly period
  • Not trimming your nails
  • Not wearing shoes to the restrooms
  • Showing up to class late so you miss the warmups
  • Talking or not paying attention when the Professor is detailing the technique
  • Doing 2 reps and then goofing off when it is time to drill
What else does Santa like to see for the NICE LIST:
  • Respect for your school, your Professor, and your training partners
  • Leaving your ego at the door
  • Helping your teammates
  • Getting to class whenever you can
  • Working hard
  • Working smart
  • Having fun
  • Christmas music for rolling ;-)
~Minister of Propaganda

What's next, a TapOut Snuggie?

What do you get for the man who has everything? I know it's hard to come up with something, BUT even if I DID get a little chilly rolling in this winter weather, a Snuggie-Gi would still be THE WORST IDEA I'VE EVER HEARD.
~Minister of Propaganda

Friday, November 25, 2011

Roger Speaks. Smart Jiu Jitsu Fighters Listen.

I don't post much about the awesomeness that is Roger Gracie, but the man is a ten-time world champion. When he talks, I like to listen. People often call his style super-simple but when you watch him in action you realize that his BASICS are just so solid he doesn't need to go flying through the air into some super-spinny technique to get the win. In this video Rodger talks about how the sport has changed professionally and how he is constantly learning and advancing his jiu jitsu.

And just in case you are not sure why you should listen to what Roger has to say -

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Universtiy of Jersey Shore?

Totally Valid Reason to Choke Someone Out #132: 
When people sign up for university courses on "Jersey Shore."  Seriously. #WayToSpendMomAndDad'sMoneyLoser

We laugh at you all the way to the bank  - SUCKERS

Monday, November 14, 2011

Impressing Women

...forget MACHINES try a personality
After training BJJ today I stopped by the local globo-gym to meet a friend. I was grabbing a couple of sets of squats while I waited when some noob walks over and asks me: "Which MACHINE should I use to impress the women?"

Without missing a rep I replied, "The ATM across the street." #YouJustCan'tFixStupid

~Minister of Propaganda

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Competitor Mindset

They say I say I make it look too easy, that I pass too fast, sweep too smooth, submit too much.
They say my game is disruptive.
I say you have to train harder than everyone else to make it look this easy. I'm just getting started.
You won't out work me, you can't stop me, you'll never beat me, and the only way to make it end is to take a nap.


~Minister of Propaganda (a little "poetry" for our Competition Team keepin' it real this weekend)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Playing Games

Playing Call of Duty MW3 or Batman Arkham Asylum will make you FEEL like a badass. Know what else does? Training Jiu Jitsu and ACTUALLY BEING ONE.
~Minister of Propaganda

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Update

Someone is going to feel the wrath of my traingle!
Good thing it's the weekend because admit it, you're just one really bad meeting and a break room out of coffee away from choking out a bunch of coworkers.
~Minister of Propaganda

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Training Partners Part 2 (Take Control of Your Training)

In Training Partners Part 1 I said I would share some examples of how I plan my rolling strategy. There is no one size fits all plan. It depends on what I want/need to work on in any given week (so of course your plan may look completely different). Here are some examples:

Heavier/Stronger Training Partners
When I'm rolling someone 10-30lbs heavier I might try and match their technique and power. I can try to challenge their weight/strength advantage by going head to head against their strength with my grips, frames, and pressure.  I might play a guard that invites them to crush me, hopefully improving that guard and my survival and comfort under that extra weight. Alternatively, I might specifically work a strategy that tries to neutralize their size/strength advantage as much as possible - even if it takes me away from my preferred game and technique set (which is where we have a tendency to go against someone who is bigger - it's a natural reaction/survival instinct).

If someone has 40lbs or more on me, I might work on a game that keeps me outside and on top so that they never get a chance to use that weight directly or I might decide to play inside and fast to work on speed and scrambling against their strength and weight. For example, I might play an open guard where I've got a foot on their hip keeping their weight off looking for an opportunity to arm drag or scramble to the back rather than chasing a sweep.

Lighter/Smaller Training Partners
With smaller guys I want to try and match their technique and speed. Can I out-scramble them, can I move as fast or faster, can I feel when they want to move and work on my timing, can I beat them to the shot or getting grips? Alternatively, I might concentrate on what I can do to slow the game down. Can I neutralize their speed using grips and position without having to use my size/strength advantage?

Equal Size Training Partners
If I am rolling with someone my size but at a lesser skill level, I like to work on new techniques until I have it down and learn to "trust" the technique (once I think I have it down I want a variety of body types short/tall, thick/thin, strong/fast to really get the feel of the technique). At my level and above, I often swap between running my "A Game" and experimenting with new techniques (tournament time is almost all "A  Game"). Sometimes I choose not to go for subs and just see how well I can change between positions and advance positions. Other times I might hunt for only one particular submission ("It's kimura night - GET EXCITED") or combination working on how effectively I set it up and lock it in.

Sometimes I  "just roll" and there is nothing wrong with that. BUT if I want to take charge of my training I want to spend some mental energy on rolling with a plan. Remember, gym taps don't count. These are learning/training opportunities to be exploited for that purpose, not fights to the death. Experiment, tap, try again.

On the flip side, remember your training partners need to work on their plan(s) too. Be an asset to your school. Roll with everybody. Help the new guys. Be cannon fodder for the really good guys. Have fun.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Twilight Saga, Oh Really?

After the Twilight marathon on cable this weekend one of my team mates thought it'd be funny to write TEAM JACOB on my Gi in puff paint. So I thought it'd be funny to rearrange his insides from knee-on-belly. #HappyHalloweenSparkleBoy

And just so you know those fantasy Vampires are totally fake - Have you ever tried to dress that sharp and get your hair just right without being able to see yourself in a mirror? #KeepinItReal

~Minister of Propaganda

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tied Up

When you train like a superhero at Brentwood BJJ we ask you to check your ego and your superpowers at the door. This policy works pretty well most of the time, but sometimes the rules get bent a little. Like the other night when Wonder Woman kept tying everybody up and choking them out using her gi belt like a magic lasso. I'm not sure all her moves were IBJJF legal, but they sure were effective. #FindYourInnerHeroAtBrentwoodBJJ
~Minister of Propaganda

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Costume Fail

It took me years to discipline my body to the peak of physical perfection, so sure, I could pull it off but, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MMA NERDS, YOU ARE TOO FAT TO WEAR YOUR UNDERWEAR AND PRETEND TO BE GSP FOR HALLOWEEN. 

~Minister of Propaganda

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes You're the Hammer, Sometimes...

Hey man, get out of my head!
Sometimes You're the Hammer, Sometimes YOU'RE THE RANDOM PIECE OF FRUIT. Last night I was the random piece of fruit, but it was good (I learned some things).

As we started the evening's rolling, I was picking my partners to work specific things (primarily open guard against bigger guys) and things were going along pretty good - a decent amount of success and some "negative reinforcement" when I messed up (side control under someone who has almost 100 lbs on you is not fun :-o)

Needless to say I was already feeling pretty "hammered upon" as we wound down when Professor called out "...alright, against the wall. It's time for a Match of the Night!" The Match of the Night is something we do getting ready for tournaments - A full on, knock down, drag out, don't be "nice" tournament match with a referee scoring and the rest of the class split up to coach one contestant or the other (with tournament crowd noise blasting on the speakers). I was called out to match up against one of our guys who is fighting this weekend. I was tired after pretending to be a big guy in my earlier rolls but I thought I was up for it. How wrong I was!

In the moments before we got ready to square off, I realized I didn't really have an "A Game" to bring. The past few months I've been working on my C, D, and E Games trying to bring them up to a B level and I'm not sure what my "A Game" is morphing into at this particular moment in time. My opponent was someone that I have problems with most of the time unless I just really dominate on aggression and hustle. In other words, to win, I needed a full on aggressive A Game from the get go. So, I started trying to build a game plan on the fly.

When we shook hands and he started dancing around me with way more enthusiasm than my already squashed body was mustering, smashing him into submission was looking like wishful thinking. So, I decided to play defensively and pull guard. By strange coincidence, pulling guard happens to be my opponents A Game. Guess who pulled guard successfully? Yep, he did. I spent the next few minutes getting swept and defending submissions one after the other. I never mustered a sliver of offense the entire match.

And lest I sound like I'm making excuses, "I was tired, blah, etc., blah" - my opponent has been preparing well for his tournament this weekend and probably would have won handily anyway.  What I wanted to convey was my mindset and how it affected my attitude and choices:
  1. I didn't have an A Game and so tried to create one on the fly
  2. Because I wasn't committed to my game plan I abandoned it at the first whiff of difficulty
  3. Once I adopted a defensive mindset, I was locked into defense - I might survive, but I would not win a tournament match
  4. Even though I knew my opponent, he was one step ahead of me the whole time (because he was working his game plan from start to finish)
I haven't had a mental fail on this level in some time. It was good to have it exposed so I can make sure I can find my happy place and have confidence in it when it counts in the future.


Totally Valid Reason to choke somebody out #112: People who wear Snuggies outside. Actually, just people who wear Snuggies. #It'sJustABlanketWithHoles
~Minister of Propaganda

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nothing but Love

I have nothing but LOVE for people. Some people I love to choke. Some people I love to armbar. Some people I love to Tomoe Nage.  #SpreadTheLove
~Minister of Propaganda

Friday, October 7, 2011

Training Partners Part 1 (Take Control of Your Training)

Your instructor/coach may pair you up for some or most of your drilling and rolling. This post is for those other times when you have a "choice." Many BJJers seem to have this idealized picture of the "perfect training partner" - they would literally spend one of their three genie wishes to aquire this mythical beastie.

I have a slightly different take. I'm not looking for a perfect training partner. One perfect training partner isn't going to cut it. Here's why. Until a fairly advanced level almost everyone really only has one "style" (aggressive/grinder/tactican/loose/tight) or "game" (wrestiling/judo/guard puller/closed guard/half guard/knee passer/standup passer). This means the available training partners at your weight may only be presenting you a small subset of the things you need to work against.

It is vitally important that you have a good partner "mix." It is crazy to train with the same guy/girl every practice. When you hit the mat you want to line up your training partners for maximum effect. You don't need to roll with a dozen different people every practice. You might work it so that you "target" rolls with two or three different guys on Monday, "target" two different guys on Tuesday and Wednesday, and "target" a different group the end of the week. (and of course it depends on when you train and they train. If you typically train on M/W/F and only see the same guys each session try and throw in a T/Th or Sat. session when you can to expand your opportunities)

If you are like me, your favorite person to roll is usually the guy who gives you a good fight but that you can still beat fairly handily. It is only natural, but that is likely NOT the guy you are going to face in competition. Work with guys that stop your favorite takedown/throw so that you have to work alternatives or the guys that usually take you down so that you work your defense. If you are a guard puller, work with guys who really give you trouble and pass effectively. Be proactive to make sure you get a good training partner mix every session and across sessions. I'm not saying you need to get your backside handed to you every roll but make sure you are not coasting and ducking the guys that give you a hard time.

I want to get rolls in with guys who are heavier/stonger, lighter/faster, more advanced, less advanced (do you see a trend). Even on nights that I roll everybody, I try to have a strategy/plan of what I want to work on with each opponent. I will try and share some examples in future posts.

Until then, take control of your training by getting a good mix of partners (make sure you include a healthy dose of guys that frustrate you or take you out of your comfort zone) and try to have an idea of what you want to work on with each one.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Only Thing You Have to Fear...

The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. And clowns. And my spider guard. And my De la Riva guard. And my Tomoe Nage. And my triangle choke. Okay, so lots of stuff actually.
~Minister of Propaganda

Monday, October 3, 2011

Like a Monkey

Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks. ALMOST enough to make you forget that I will be on your back like a monkey all week hunting for the choke.
~Minister of Propaganda

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gee, You're Strong (or using your attributes - is it really evil?)

I've always hated the backhanded compliment in BJJ after a roll - "Gee, you're really strong."  The phrase can usually be translated - "you just positionally dominated me, submitted me multiple times, and generally kicked my butt for the allotted time, BUT you didn't beat me with jiu jitsu."

I would like to stand up and formally call BULL. You don't ask a big guy to not be big, you don't ask a fast guy to not be fast, you don't ask the cardio machine to not grind you into dust. WHY do we insist on trying to "guilt" the strong guy into not using his strength?

Now for all you purists out there, I understand that Helio Gracie (RESPECT) always maintained that his jiu jitsu was designed for smaller and weaker practitioners to be able to defend themselves and even defeat much larger or stronger opponents. It works. However, if that bigger stronger guy knows jiu jitsu just like you do, the game changes.

For example, I don't know many upper belts who are afraid to roll with some big/strong newbie thinking their jiu jitsu won't work (although they may worry about catching spazzy knees and elbows). They usually just kind of play with the guy and sweep and submit at will. On the other hand, the more equal the technical skill level gets, the more attributes decide who wins.

If you don't believe me, just take a look at all the recent ADCC competitors- not a muscle to be found right? Riiiiiight. These guys have technique and more. You don't want the economy box, you want the deluxe package - technique, cardio, speed, strength, and power. They are all aspects that can be trained. So by all means put in the mat time and work your technique first, but don't forget the rest of the package. And don't hate me because I'm beautiful stronger than you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

ADCC on the Big Screen

Saw the projector tonight for our ADCC Viewing Party/Open Mat = AWESOME. However, some of the guys were getting a little too excited. Call me a philistine, but I don't care if the 15 ft. picture "makes you feel like you're there."   YOU'RE NOT WATCHING GLEE ON THE SAME SCREEN I WATCH THE ADCC CHAMPIONSHIPS!
~Minister of Propaganda

What are you doing! You should be watching the ADCC!! Don't make me jump off this screen and heel hook you!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Hell hath no fury like a grappler scorned. FYI, the correct answer to “does this skin tight spandex make me look fat” is always “no.” (Grapplers have such fragile egos and it is always sad to see them run from the mats in tears)

There are only a few places on earth where spandex is Board Approved: the beach, the gym, and at ADCC.

Brentwood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is hosting our ADCC viewing party this weekend (Sat. and Sun.) starting about 7 am until early evening (it is on London, UK time). There is Team Training scheduled with our brethren from Jiu Jitsu Nation and Cannon County Martial Arts on Sat. 1-3 and the mats are open - you are encouraged to try that latest technique you just saw.

Back From the Abyss

Yeah, he was smilin' right up until I took his back and choked him out!

Jiu Jitsu never takes a vacation. Neither do I. Except right after Shark Week - when I head to the beach to swim in THEIR ocean just to see what it feels like. ~Zen Mojo

"When we go to the ground, you are in my world. The ground is the ocean, I am the shark, and most people don't even know how to swim." ~ RCJ Machado

I've been gone for awhile from the blog world and some of you even noticed (thanks Georgette). It was a combination of work stuff, vacation stuff, and training stuff.  Anyway, I will try and start posting from a lot of my notes from the end of the Summer as well as more short snippets of snarky humor (after all what good is an on-line alter ego if you don't occasionally let some "inner thought" slip out).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time is Not On Your Side

Georgette recently posted some interesting thoughts on belts, promotions, and some potential differences in learning styles/capabilities between genders, sizes, and ages HERE (There's Always Time to Fill in the Holes).

I'll take a different spin on the title and say - There may be TIME to fill in the holes but do you have a PLAN to fill in the holes? Without a plan, time is not on your side.

If you don't feel like you "own" your belt or that you are progressing like your peers, it is time for some serious evaluation. Note I said evaluation not whining. What have they got that you do not - where are the holes. Make a list - is it size, strength, aggressiveness, a technique that always works, a lot of techniques that always work (what are they - is it their execution that is superior or your defense that is lacking). Helpful hint: do your evaluation only against your peers or those a little ahead of you - evaluation against those way ahead of you creates a list way too big to manage.

This will give you a list of some of the holes in your game - THEN you have to do some more work to come up with a PLAN to start filling those holes in. You can't just go to class and expect it to magically happen - most instructors structure their classes for "everybody" not you specifically. You need to be responsible for structuring things for YOU.

You need to look at your list and set some priorities. What do you think will give you the biggest bang for your buck - there is only so much time in the day and stress that can be put on the body. You also have to recognize and assess some realities.  For example, if you are small/lightweight/female you have to recognize and accept that there are some inherent disadvantages and then work like hell to mitigate them (you can't just say I'm smaller and therefore weaker than everyone else and never hit the weights).

A common problem is not feeling like you know "enough" jiu jitsu so you attend every class and collect technique after technique, but all those techniques are not working for you. You might need to set some priorities on selecting a few techniques to spend time on - getting to know them more deeply. You don't have to know every sweep but you need a couple of strong sweeps from each position. You don't have to know every submission but you need a couple of strong options from multiple positions. You don't have to know every pass but you need a couple of strong options. Until you have those strong sweep/submit/pass options collecting more techniques isn't moving you forward. Your job is to prioritize and pick the one or two sweeps, submissions, passes you are going to concentrate on.

Then you need to get to work. Decide how are you going to attack your priorities and get started.

It might be scheduling some privates with a very specific agenda of techniques/problem areas to cover. It might be only working certain techniques when rolling (passing up an easy armbar to get to the back). It might be only playing guard if your guard is weak (maybe for a couple of weeks, maybe for months - whatever it takes). It might be passing on rolling during open mat to just drill-drill-drill something you need to work on. It might be working on your strength and conditioning. I don't know - but you should.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Accepting" the Pass

I have been working on improving one of my basic mistakes lately - I call this one Accepting the Pass.  What I mean by this is the situation where your opponent is working on passing and you are defending, he gets past your knees then your hips and any other "frames" you may have and you finally just "give up" and accept the pass letting him flatten you out. The same thing can be said for "accepting" knee on belly or mount, or other positional advancement. You never, ever, ever want to just "accept" a pass.

As soon as you feel your opponent gaining the advantage and passing it is imperative to get your grips/frames and start moving. For example, make sure you get a grip or frame in on the arm that wants to crossface you or on the hip or shoulder that wants to flatten you out and start your bridge or shrimp before he has a chance to settle into position - always test his base before he can settle in. Those first precious seconds are your best chance to recompose your guard. Create a scramble if you can't get back to guard.

From most positions I am too slow to shrimp and get my knees back into the fight. When I turtle I am to slow to roll. From bottom half-guard I am lazy getting to my side and getting a knee shield or underhook or going into deep half. If I moved in that "first second" my success rate would be much higher.

There is also a downside to holding frames too long. You become glued to your opponent and lose the opportunity to move effectively. It becomes a stalling game - it might be fine in the last moments of a tournament if you are up on points but it is not good jiu jitsu.

For the next couple of months I am really going to focus on my guard game. That means a lot of positional sparring and a lot of (for me) pulling guard. I certainly won't make it unpassable in that short amount of time but I should be able to make it much better.

I'll try and let you know how it is working out and any epiphanies along the way.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cobrinha rocks at Abu Dhabi

Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles was in Abu Dhabi to just relax and watch the Abu Dhabi World Pro competition. When the sheik asked if he wanted to jump into the competition Cobrinha said yes, and jump in he did.

Cobrinha made it to the finals in the absolute division facing off against heavyweight Rodolfo Vieira.  Vieira recently won both his weight-class and the open class at this year's Pan Ams. Watch the match here before it gets pulled.
- final black absoluto:

Cobrinha is a legend - I don't think he has had his guard passed in competition since he was a purple belt. Rodolfo is a much larger opponent and used that additional weight to good advantage in controlling the match. Of course, I would have liked for Cobrinha to pull a "David vs Goliath" and show the beauty of technique over size but Rodolfo is no slouch and had plenty of technique of his own.

So why is the title of this post "Cobrinha rocks at Abu Dhabi?" Because here was a guy who was essentially retired from competition just hanging around and when someone asks if he would just like to casually jump into arguably the toughest competition on the planet with no preparation or training camp he says "yes" and rocks his way into the finals of the absolute division! Win or lose that took some major lower abdominal fortitude.

The other cool thing is that Cobrinha says he has a renewed interest in competing so we will hopefully see him again.

I don't know much about Rodolfo Vieira, but he is now on the world's radar as the man to beat. I know I will be watching him much more closely. Props to Rodolfo on an epic win.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Origins of the Americana

Rolls Gracie became friends and trained with American wrestling coach Bob Anderson while in the US. Anderson later went to Brazil to train with Rolls and some of his students. Here is his recollection of how the technique we call the American was named...

He’d go, “oh, I like that!” Then he’d say, “what if they did this,” and then I’d show them this – it ended up that I showed them a lot of different techniques. But I didn’t come down there and go ‘ok, I’m going to show you the Americana armbar and I’m the guy that invented it’, it just grew out of what I knew and what he liked, and then he later – I didn’t even know – he called it the Americana because I was the American wrestler that came down and showed him the move and that’s how the Americana armbar got started. ~ Bob Anderson (remembering training with Rolls Gracie in Brazil)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Steroids in BJJ

"I came here today to prove technique can beat steroids. They should start tests now." ~ Caio Terra over the P.A. during his interview after winning his Black Belt Division at the 2011 Pan-Ams

Caio Terra is awesome. You've seen some of his technique videos on here before. Getting on the mic and calling out the IBJJF and competitors on steroid use at this years Pan-Ams took some “man parts” you just can't get pharmacologically.

It has set off an interesting debate that has revealed a huge lack of basic knowledge (on both the pro and con side) about steroids and other PEDs. This post is an attempt at some basic education on the science of steroids and a brief discussion of the ethical issue.

The Science and the Upside

A steroid is a type of organic compound with a specific molecular arrangement. Hundreds of distinct steroids are found in plants, animals, and fungi. Naturally occurring steroids include estrogen, cortisol, progesterone, and testosterone.

When we are talking about steroids in sports we are really talking about anabolic steroids - drugs which mimic the effects of the male sex hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Anabolic steroids are by far the most "detected" banned Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in sports that conduct testing.

With proper training and nutrition they increase muscle mass via increased protein synthesis from amino acids, increased appetite, increased bone growth, and stimulation of bone marrow (increasing blood cell production). All these mechanisms stimulate the formation of muscle leading to increased size and strength.

They also significantly aid in exercise recovery by blocking the effects of the stress hormone cortisol on muscle tissue, so that catabolism (break-down) of muscle is greatly reduced. This allows an athlete to train longer and harder (and reap the benefits of that additional training) regardless of muscle gain.

The Science and the Downside

Most athletes are aware that steroids can have some negative side effects such as acne and unwanted hair growth. Many think the worst that can happen is male gynecomastia ("bitch tits"). However there are more severe health risks that can be produced by long-term use or excessive doses of anabolic steroids. These effects include harmful changes in cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, liver damage (mainly with oral steroids), increased risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease, and dangerous changes in the structure of the left ventricle of the heart (leading to hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death). Paradoxically, steroids can increase libido (sex drive) while at the same time reducing sexual function, suppressing natural sex hormones and sperm production.

Women and children are highly sensitive to testosterone and can suffer unintended masculinization and health effects, even from small doses. Adolescents can have their natural maturation process stunted or overly accelerated and otherwise disrupted.

Psychological side-effects can include agitation/anxiety and mood disorders, increased aggression and violence, mania, and (far) less frequently psychosis and suicide. Long-term steroid use can cause deep psychological dependence and withdrawal issues (while physical withdrawal is similar to substances such as caffeine).

It should be noted that many of the physical side-effects and downsides are drug and dose/duration dependent. This leads us to the final scientific downside in that recreational/sportive use of steroids is rarely under medical supervision. Most users do not know the proper drug/dose/duration cycles for safe use (more is better is not the way to go), they are not being monitored by a physician (and often hide their use from their doctors), and since most steroids (being illegal) are acquired on the black market there are no safeguards that the drug is even what the seller purports it to be.

The Ethics

There are many BJJ athletes who argue that since everybody does it (or can do it if they want) then it should be OK. To these athletes I would like to point out that anabolic steroids are illegal in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Brazil (just off the top of my head) and many more have specific legislation banning “doping” in sports. If it is illegal “under law” to use these substances in the country in which you compete it should be a de facto understanding that they're use in a sports setting is also proscribed. Let me put it another way, they shouldn't have to make a rule that I can't assault you with a knife during our match at a tournament – it is illegal (even though we could all do it). Where do we draw the line? Do we want Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to be a sport that laughs in the face of the rest of the sports world?

There are BJJ athletes who say it is a personal choice and therefore doesn't concern anyone but the individual. That might be fine if that individual never competes, but if he does – it no longer just affects him it affects everyone he has a match against. What a “personal choice” means to our sport when our champions use illegal substances by choice remains to be seen.

There are BJJ athletes who say it is safe and doesn't hurt anybody. If everyone was to be medically supervised the risks are greatly reduced. Unfortunately, the majority of recreational steroid users are getting their information from questionable sources (I doubt “Mr. Biceps” at the gym has an M.D. - in fairness to “Mr. Biceps” he may actually know more than the average M.D. about steroids but do you seriously want to bet your health on it?). The fact that adolescents who want to be like their heroes are in a risk group that can suffer irreversible harm from the misuse of steroids is a serious concern. Another interesting point is that very few people have any understanding of the psychological dependence steroids and other PEDs can cause. You go from being “jacked” and able to train for days – thinking you are "like unto a god" to watching all those gains slowly slip away during your off cycle and only being able to train like a mere mortal. Psychology is a huge factor in long-term abuse and over dosage with steroids.

There are BJJ athletes who say that it is too expensive to test and we can't stop it therefore we should just allow it. It may be too expensive to test every individual in every tournament, but there are plenty of testing protocols that could be put in place that would greatly reduce steroid use in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu without significantly increasing a promoter's overhead or a competitor's entry fee.


There is a lot at stake both in image and money with the title of Pan-Am or Mundial/Worlds champion (not in championship purses but in drawing students to academies and seminars). As long as that is true there will be issues about “what it takes to win.” At some point someone has to draw a line in the sand and say enough - Caio Terra just drew a line. Which side are you going to stand on? Where do steroids fit into a healthy BJJ lifestyle?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Does Jiu Jitsu Happen TO You or WITH You?

(Waxing philosophical in this post - 
Some days I feel like jiu jitsu is happening to me. Other days I feel like I am happening to jiu jitsu. I want to get to the point where I feel like jiu jitsu is happening with me. Let me explain...)

When you first start out and step on the mats jiu jitsu is happening all around you. You grasp at it, try and get your body and mind to understand it, and watch it slip through your fingers time after time. When you roll you spend the majority of your time fighting against it trying to survive, like trying to tread water in a stormy sea. You feel like jiu jitsu is something that happens to you rather than something that happens with you.

Slowly you learn how to survive without fighting so much. Jiu jitsu is still happening all around you. Only now you know enough to want to bend it to your will. You examine and experiment with everything (techniques) and begin to recognize the flow of jiu jitsu. You can select the appropriate technique for many situations as they arise. You discover that pressure can force a change in the flow (effective but not efficient). Making YOUR jiu jitsu happen the way you want it to is still elusive. It seems so hard - you spend a lot of time and expend a lot of energy fighting to make it conform to where you want it to go (passes, sweeps and submissions). Jiu jitsu is no longer happening to you - YOU are now something that happens to Jiu jitsu.

At some point you start to realize that pressure is part of the flow and all this fighting to make YOUR jiu jitsu happen is wasteful. You become aware that jiu jitsu is happening all around you regardless of you making it happen. You start to see the ebb and flow of it and recognize where YOUR jiu jitsu is within it. In any given moment you can recognize where it is going and seize the advantage (timing and sensitivity) - you apply pressure economically to stay close to YOUR jiu jitsu, set up the pass and you are ready to attack sweeps and submissions as soon as they appear. Jiu jitsu happens and you are there with it.

As your sensitivity grows you begin to see how you can surf the flow of jiu jitsu. You are able to see four or five techniques into the future and can move through a series of techniques that takes you where you want to go. YOUR jiu jitsu is now very broad - there are very few places where you feel uncomfortable with the flow. With seemingly minimal effort you pass and can make sweep and submission opportunities appear when you want them to. Jiu jitsu is now something that happens with you.

(...When I am rolling lower belts, I generally feel like jiu jitsu is happening with me. When I am rolling at my level, I feel like I am always forcing it and I am happening to jiu jitsu. When I roll with upper belts, I feel like jiu jitsu is happening to me and there is not much I can do about it. How about you?)

Friday, March 4, 2011

What Do I Really Know?

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."  ~Bruce Lee

We had a really good training session last night at Brentwood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We started working from side control and went over the basic Americana/Straight Armbar/Kimura submission series. This is not the first time I've been through these submissions but each time we work them I definitely pick up new details as well as really internalize the "pieces" I already know. Every class I appreciate more and more the technical depth that Professor Jeremy brings to the mats.

This made me start thinking about what do I really know, and how well do I know it. Even though I enjoy learning a wide variety of techniques I am always struck by the fact that the more I roll and watch others roll (including tournament footage) I see the same things winning consistently. I firmly believe that mastery of a few techniques is much more valuable than a passing acquaintance with a large repertoire of techniques (even though they are nice to know).

I was recently watching some tournament footage and one match in particular sticks in my mind. In this match I caught myself cringing as one purple belt lost several good positions early in the match looking for some sort of complicated "gi wrap" kind of submissions even though he physically dominated his opponent. Even when he finally came back to "simpler" techniques like a triangle or bow and arrow choke he had holes in his technique that allowed his opponent to escape.

On the other hand, his opponent never panicked, kept working, and used solid fundamentals - good frames and hip movement along with solid positioning before advancing the one time he got on top - and then secured the win with a solid collar choke from the back.

There is an old adage in the military that states "in a stressful situation (i.e. coming under fire) a soldier will revert to his training." Carlson Gracie used to say something along the lines of - "Punch a jiu jitsu black belt in the face and he becomes a brown belt. Punch him again and he becomes a purple belt." Being able to maintain grace under fire is firmly rooted in being able to revert to knowing a few things really really well.

I want to expand on the things "I need to know" and understand them deeply. I want to truly master a few techniques and make them so intuitive that my mind can be removed from the "moment" and allowed to focus several moves ahead. I want them to become so solid that they are almost irresistible - like Roger Gracie's cross collar choke from mount.

Daniel Coyle, in his book The Talent Code, puts forward the assertion that it takes 10,000 hours of fully engaged deep practice to master a complicated skill (like jiu jitsu) so it might take me a little while :-)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wrestling in BJJ - Takedown Defense (Part 2)

When your opponent shoots in for your legs in a wrestling style takedown attempt and you were not able to neutralize the attack with either grips or changing the angle, your last line of defense is the sprawl.

Often the sprawl doesn't get the respect it deserves. Some competitors prefer jumping and spinning at high speed and with great athleticism to get past their opponents attacking arms and try to go straight to the back or at least avoid the takedown by causing a scramble. I can't say that jumping all over an opponent and trying to grab lapels, belts, or ankles in order to score in some super-athletic unpredictable fashion or cause a scramble is bad, but you have to be a significantly better wrestler than your opponent to pull it off consistently.   If you go this route a few key points to creating and winning scrambles would be to keep your hips up/underneath you, capture and keep some control over the far side of your opponent, and attack, attack, attack.

I prefer a more fundamental defense - the sprawl.  I want to be able to win scrambles but I want a good sprawl first. Against a weak sprawl, a good wrestler is going to keep his head up, keep his hips underneath him, and drive, drive, drive into finishing the takedown.

Shooting your legs back and dropping your hips to the mat might seem as easy as falling down, but there is quite a bit of skill involved in a good sprawl. There are quite a few details for baseline D - legs back, hips low, hips in, stuff the head down or away, fight hands, work for grips, crossface, etc.. A good sprawl will keep your opponent off your legs/hips and a great sprawl will allow you to control your opponent and go on the offensive yourself.

This video shows a great sprawl drill. Things to watch for - how he continues to push back after the initial sprawl before popping back up to his feet. On the single leg version he gets the "attacked" leg down and back, then that hip, then both hips, and again continues to push back before returning to stance.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wrestling in BJJ - Takedown Defense (Part 1)

This post is an effort to clarify and organize my thoughts on basic takedown defense (especially things I need to work on). It is not meant to be a definitive guide but hopefully some of you might find it useful. (And as always if you disagree or have additional detail please leave a comment.)

Takedown defense starts well before the shot. It starts with posture, positioning, and grip fighting.

Let me say that again - Takedown defense starts well before the shot. It starts with posture, positioning, and grip fighting.


A little extreme on the posture guys.
Head up. If your head is down and your shoulders get in front of your knees you are vulnerable to a snapdown, other leverage/control of your head, or an armdrag/collardrag. You want to stay low by bending your legs - if you bend your back to get low your entire torso is weak (think low=your hips below his hips not bending your back to get your shoulders below his shoulders).

You might notice Judo guys taking a fairly high stance compared to the description above. This is because the current competition Judo rule set encourages "throws" and essentially gives no points to "wrestling" single and double leg takedowns (although they are traditional techniques - Kata Garuma anyone?). So, they don't need to defend the legs the same way. As a BJJ competitor you still need to know how to defend throws (also mainly with your hips) but you will see a lot more attacks on your legs.


I like the stance on the right.
I prefer a slightly staggered stance, one foot a few inches ahead of the other, it provides better offensive mobility than completely square (it makes the double-leg more difficult and you know which single leg he is going to go after). Elbows in - if your elbows flare out it gives your opponent access to your body. Lead hand low to protect the lead leg - the back hand is the one that initiates grips - reaching with your lead hand leaves your lead leg vulnerable to an ankle pick, low single, or snatch single-leg (among others). Don't stay directly in front of your opponent, use footwork to create angles. Let me repeat that - don't stay directly in front of your opponent. You can neutralize a lot of his attacks if you can change the angle. You have to be light on your feet, weight on your toes not your heels (not on your tiptoes, think being able to slide a piece of paper under your heels). The way to have freedom of movement with a strong stance is to use short choppy steps, never cross your feet.

Grip Fighting:

Your hands, elbows, and head are your primary lines of defense. You can't let your opponent control any of them. Nuetral grips (simultaneous collar and sleeve grips) get you nowhere. You want to have "two hands on" your opponent to his zero or one (you want to be at least one grip ahead of your opponent). You want to always think "two hands on" if you want to attack or actively defend.

Everybody focuses on the collar grip but the collar is more defensive (it allows you to keep your opponent away from you). You want the sleeve. Most throws use the sleeve grip to initiate execution of the throw, but even more important I want control of his power hand. You can grab his same side sleeve directly, cross grip it and deliver it to your same side hand, or wait for him to reach and intercept it. (and there are a ton of setups that are too detailed to include here)

If your opponent gets a grip first, don't panic, work on breaking the grip. Once you break his grip make sure you keep control of that hand/sleeve and secure your own grip on that arm.

To break a collar grip, grab his gripping sleeve with your same side hand at the wrist rotate your palm down and pull down to take out the slack - your other hand comes across and aggressively pops/pushes his hand off the collar at the base of his palm/wrist while your same side hand pops/pulls his sleeve at about a 45 degree angle from your body. You don't have to yank your body and shoulder way back - this takes you out of stance and leaves you vulnerable.

To break a sleeve grip, point your thumb toward your chest/head and raise your elbow toward your opponents face (this takes the slack out) and then explosively pull your elbow back down and past your hip. Again, you don't have to pull that side of your body way back - keep your stance and a balanced posture.

(Next up in this series - The Sprawl)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quote of the Moment - Make the Most of Your Training

"Sometimes I let my opponent move to maximize my time in transitions. Other times I go straight for the finish when I feel a big challenge. Sometimes if I feel someone doesn't want to give the back, I'll fight very hard to make him make a mistake and give the back. Sometimes I might just train my squeeze for a session. Other times I'll work on my grips. My whole life I have learned how to make my own training by creating little challenges no matter who I am rolling with. This is very important."  

~ Marcelo Garcia

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pan Am Training (humor)

We had another great night of Pan-Am training at Brentwood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Rounds and rounds of grip fighting, takedowns, sweeps, and submissions.

However the real party didn't start until we began to roll. Jeremy, who normally hides his sadistic streak, let it run wild by having us roll with RANDOM time limits - so you had no idea how to pace your game. And since this is Pan-Am training it was "all A Game all the time." I think he was envious of me rockin' my new Shoyoroll 7th Son Gi and looking so fly - because when I partnered up with the biggest meanest dude in the class he let the clock run....and run....and run....and run. And then we rolled some more. I survived (somewhat) and I'm not bitter or plotting my revenge or anything like that (honest).

It was a night of really special fun. But I do not know how much longer I can keep this up. I could not bend my body to fit into my car so I had to hang my upper half out the window in the sub-zero temperature. The drive home was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop.  When I absolutely had to stop, my body flopped forward into the steering wheel and subsequently the horn. That was probably a good thing as the people on the sidewalk then knew to get out of my way.( It is amazing how surprised people seem to be when somebody drives on the sidewalk - it happens all the time in the movies). When I finally got home I parked on top of something but I was too tired to see what it was. I hope it isn't a body.

The shower felt like I was being beaten with little demon ice picks. I could not hold onto the soap, but that was OK since I was already curled up in the fetal position on the floor - as my body spasmed and twitched I worked up a rather nice lather. I couldn't make my toothbrush reach my mouth but I managed to squirt some toothpaste onto the counter and since my tongue  thankfully still worked simply licked it up and chewed - mmmm, minty fresh now.

After my evening ablutions, I suddenly had the urge to inspect the cleanliness of my carpet up close and personal. I do not think my internal organs are where they should be and my bones have also been rearranged. This makes rising more than three inches off the floor now that I am done with my inspection an impossibility. The bed is way too far from the floor to ever make it but I managed to crawl over to the desk and pull my laptop down and start typing this post with my middle right toe - it is taking a while, but I'm not going anywhere tonight.

If I start at sunrise, I may be able to crawl to the gym before training starts tomorrow night!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for Jiu Jitsu - Friday's Midnight Workout

...boy you don't post for a week and people start thinking you're lazy.  Just so you know I'm still training hard even when not posting - sometimes non-online life takes priority - here is Friday night's midnight workout.

Friday night real life kept me off the mats, but when all was settled down in the late evening I finally had a chance to get downstairs for a little Strength and Conditioning work.

After doing some shoulder pre-hab and joint mobility  work for about 15 minutes we started with a light "jump" plyometric warmup:
   3 rounds of 5 reps of straight jumps, skaters jumps, tuck jumps, and forward/back jumps.

   1 x 3 135 lbs
   1 x 3 185 lbs
   1 x 3 205 lbs
   1 x 3 225 lbs
   1 x 3 245 lbs
   1 x 3 255 lbs

The first 4 sets of deadlifts were alternated with sets of 5 bodyweight  plyo pushups off a bench.

Acceleration Squats
   1 x 5 135 lbs
   2 x 5 185 lbs

   1 x 3 bodyweight
   1 x 1 bodyweight + 50 lbs vest
   1 x 3 bodyweight
   1 x 1 bodyweight + 50 lbs vest
   1 x 3 bodyweight
   1 x 1 bodyweight + 50 lbs vest
   1 x 3 bodyweight

Kettlbell Swings
   2 x 10 (each arm) 40lbs

Single Arm/Single Leg Deadlift
   3 x 5 (each leg) 45 lbs bar
For this exercise you bend at the waist lifting one leg behind you, reach down with the opposite hand to the middle of the bar and pull - returning to the upright position and back down on one leg. This is a balance/core/stretch movement - you don't have to think about loading much (if any) weight on the bar.

Finished with 20 minutes of Yoga at the stroke of midnight.

Yes that's right, while most people are out having a good time on Friday night I'm either on the mats or in the gym. I'm sick like that. Most of my friends no longer bother to ask me, "so what did you do this weekend?" (sigh).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Knee on Belly Choke and Yet Another Awesome Back Take

Caio Terra is crazy good. I tried this choke a couple of times tonight but got "bumped" before I could sink my first grip. Next time I try it I will set the first grip up a little better from side-control before I come up to Knee on Belly.

The back take that Samir shows is equally awesome - you can be a much smaller guy and take the back of a much bigger opponent with this one. Don't let go of the grips or a quick opponent will turn into you and force a scramble, but if you keep the grips you have really strong control.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for Jiu Jitsu - Your Jiu Jitsu is Weak!

I've had a few people who read my strength and conditioning posts complain that they don't have kettlebells, a suspension trainer, or access to a decent set of free weights because they can't pay for jiu jitsu and a gym membership too.  Well my answer to that is quit whining! There is plenty you can do with a little imagination like the guys in the video below who say your jiu jitsu is weak! (and mine too)

If that is not enough you can add some sledgehammers (into the ground if you don't have a tire to beat on), push a car instead of a sled/prowler, pick up big rocks, throw a concrete block, fill up a wheelbarrow and run it up and down the street, jump up 3 stairs at a time, run hill sprints - or like many folks like me across the US this last week, shovel massive quantities of snow.

My point is that there is so much to do out there you can still target aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning, basic strength, or power with a little extra motivation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - What's on Your Plate

Because of the winter storms I was shuttling people around in the snow and didn't get home in time to make it back out to BJJ class this evening. I thought about kicking back and having a beer, but then Spike TV had to show a replay of the Randy Couture-Gabrielle Gonzaga fight.

Having had two different people recently (one a training partner, one an MMA fan) both essentially tell me I was the result of a twisted genetic experiment using DNA from Georges Saint-Pierre and Randy Couture I had to do something in honor of watching Couture's ring domination. (I am sure the comparison was made because we all buzz /shave our heads and that I am slightly under GSP's size and slightly over Couture's age - and not referring to my fighting abilities :-( )

With everyone else in the house asleep, I couldn't bang and clank the heavy weights so I decided to just grab a 45 lbs plate and a 16 kg kettlebell and go to work.

Round 1 looked a lot like the video below (but at a faster pace) - keeping the 45 lbs plate moving for a full 5 minutes without setting it down (other than what is in the video I did tricep extensions, bent over rows, stiff legged deadlifts, goblet squats - all with the plate, and probably several other movements that I can't recall now)

Round 2 consisted of 5 minutes of keeping the kettlebell moving in a similar manner - swings, snatches, russian twists, squats, lunges, suitcase lifts, etc.

Round 3 consisted of 5 minutes of shadow boxing - punches, kicks, shots - and working combinations thereof.

Round 4 consisted of me drinking that beer that I mentioned earlier ;-).

I'm not so sure I see the resemblance ;-),  but if somebody wants to compare me in some way to these two guys - hella yeah I'm going to put it on my blog :-).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Newbies Rules for Rolling

I have learned that with proper care and feeding "newbies" can become productive jiu jitsuka and a credit to your academy. I've been trying to write down in one place all the things I wish all newbies had to hear/understand before they were allowed to roll.  Here is my list so far (please comment with any of your own - or if you think I'm way off)

Respect your Partner
Always respect your partner. Seriously - RESPECT your partner. You are responsible for his safety as well as your own (and vice versa).   Don't jump all over them with flailing knees and elbows. If you think you have an arm or a leg don't just twist/spin/yank at high speed - if you "have it" you should be able to manipulate it smoothly and under control. No striking, slamming, biting, poking, or grabbing/twisting small body parts (fingers, toes, ears, nose)

Know How to Tap
You need to "tap" multiple times and firmly enough so that it is clearly felt by your partner.  If you can't tap on their body, tap loudly on the mat, if your hands aren't free use your leg, and finally don't forget verbally - just yell "tap, tap, tap!"

Know When to Tap
There are consequences for not tapping - a choke will put you to sleep, an armbar will put you out for a few weeks, a kimura will send you to surgery and a long recovery, and we won't even go into leglocks - so just tap already. When you first start rolling you may not know the difference between something that is just "highly uncomfortable" and something that is going to mess you up - if you are not sure TAP - you can ask the instructor or an upper belt about where you are in real danger. It won't take long for you to know the difference yourself - but until you do be safe. Special Note: In class we are training. We are all working together to get better. Gym taps do not count - no extra brownie points for getting one, no frownie face on your permanent record for giving one up.

Respect the Tap
When you have a submission applied it is your partner's job to tap, but it is your job to notice and immediately respect the tap. Release immediately and be careful in how you "unwind" from each other. Also be aware of your opponent's position, he may not be able to use his hands on you and could signal verbally or by tapping the mat with his hands or feet instead. If you think your partner is tapping but you are not sure, let go - it is better to be safe than sorry. When you have/are working for a sub you should be alert for your partner's tap.

Other Reasons to Tap in Class
If you wind up with body parts unintentionally tangled up in the gi it is okay to tap and reset (you will learn about gi manipulation and the correct way to grip) - that said, don't stick your fingers and toes into their gi unless you want to lose them. Also, you will need to learn how to breathe when in uncomfortable positions, such as someone laying on top of your face, that said I would rather you tap and reset rather than gag and throw up on the mats.

Tapping an Upper Belt
If you tap an upper belt he/she LET you do it (99% probability) so that you could learn - don't brag about it. It does not score you extra brownie points or get you promoted faster ("No, you don't get my belt if you tap me. Calm. Down." ~ Megan at Tangled Triangle). Most upper belts enjoy helping you learn and will often let you work things through on them, but that can end very quickly (and unpleasantly) if you let your ego get in the way of your common sense.

Don't Spazz
Don't spazz. Seriously - don't spazz - it makes you dangerous to yourself and to your partner. Don't explode randomly all over the mat for 30 seconds and then be ready to puke. Don't freak out in bad positions or when you're caught in a sub, it's just training.
Don't Grind
There is a fine line between good pressure and being a jerk - until you have been rolling for a while you don't know where that line is so you might want to ease up.
Don't Muscle It
Don't bully your partner. Try and relax and not be stiff all the time - there is a difference between a good anatomically strong "frame" and muscling a bad position. You will learn when you need to go fast, when you need to apply pressure, and when you need a little extra umph. You don't have to go soft and floppy but lighten up a little and you will roll better.

Control Your Submissions
Finish a sub under control (and slow enough for your partner to tap) - if you can't do this you didn't really have the sub. You can grab it/sink it in quickly but always apply the finish slowly and under control.

And Finally Some General  Housekeeping
Wash your gi , Wash your gi, Wash your gi (and your belt too) after every training session. Nobody wants to roll with a festering pile of stink and biohazard.
Trim AND file your nails. You will get enough scrapes and scratches that can't be avoided. If you don't want to do it for me, do it for you - long finger/toenails are just waiting to get ripped from your digits.
No jewelry (this includes all piercings/plugs) - unless you want whatever bodypart the jewelry is attached to to be separated from the rest of your body - leave the jewelry at home. This also goes for those "special" piercings that I really don't want to know about when they become embedded in ways they were never intended.

This may seem like a lot of stuff but I've found it can be covered in about 10 minutes - slightly longer if you want to have examples and demonstrations.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Power Hour

I couldn't get to jiu jitsu tonight due to some "real life" issues, but being inspired by GSP's quote I was determined to get some type of training in. So as soon as I had a moment this evening, I ran downstairs to the gym and got to it.

I call this one the Power Hour because it clocked in at just under an hour (warmup included) and had a definite power leaning.

Acceleration Squats - 2 minutes rest between sets
    2 x 5 135 lbs
    3 x 5 155 lbs
(getting just a little bit of air at the top of each rep - but you don't want to really "jump'' carrying significant weight on your back)

3 Rounds - 30 seconds rest between rounds
    1 x 10 (each arm) 16 kg Single Arm Kettlebell Swings
    1 x 8  Suspension Trainer Dips
    1 x 8 Box Jumps (24" box)
    1 x 8 (revolutions each direction) 45 lbs plate Around the World
(this wound up being a killer combination - the core stabilization of suspension dips right after one-armed kettlebell swings then keeping a 45 lbs plate moving around your head right after the box jumps was a stroke of evil genius ;-))

Then Finished up with a Pullup/Pushup Complex - no timed rest just took a few breaths and jumped in
    8 Pullups/8 Feet Elevated Pushups

How was your evening?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quote of the Moment - Every Day

Yeah, I train - always train everyday no matter what. I don’t have a day off.  I don’t train hard everyday, like I trained really relaxed today. 

My mentality is that when I go sleep at night, I’m a better martial artist than when I woke up in the morning.  So no matter what happens in my day, I know that at night, when I go to bed, I learned something new, and I’m a better guy than when I woke up in the morning” 

~ Georges St. Pierre

Monday, January 3, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - New Year's Day Workout

Now some of you may think I have been replaced with an alien pod person because there are no squats or deadlifts in my New Year's Day workout. I must admit I feel kind of dirty, and this is obviously not the way to propitiously start the new year. I can only hope that I haven't irreparably torn the space/time continuum.

And now for your reading pleasure, a Zen Mojo workout totally devoid of squats and deadlifts:

15 minutes of warmup and upper body activation

This workout started out with a Power phase as the first exercise. Sometimes I work power exercises directly in with the primary Strength exercises (such as a set of Bench immediately followed by Medicine Ball Slams or Plyo/Acceleration Presses of some type or Squats immediately followed by Box Jumps). However today, we start with a straight Power exercise before we do our primary Strength lift. I'm using Power Cleans to a Push Press (Olympic Lifts are great here - I could have done a straight Clean and Jerk or Snatch).

Power Clean/Push Press
   1 x 5 95 lbs
   1 x 3 115 lbs
   1 x 3 135 lbs
   1 x ? 155 lbs (pulled the Clean twice but failed on the press)
   1 x 3 145 lbs (since I missed at 155)

Next I went into 4 rounds of Bench Press - immediately followed by Inverted Rows - immediately followed by Russian Twists (2 minutes rest between rounds)

Bench Press
   Round 1 1 x 5 135 lbs
      Round 2 1 x 5 155 lbs
         Round 3 1 x 5 175 lbs
            Round 4 1 x 1 195 lbs (form was gone by this round so I only put up 1 rep and racked the bar)

Suspension Inverted Rows (feet elevated)
   Round 1 1 x 8 Bodyweight
      Round 2 1 x 6 Bodyweight + 50 lbs vest
         Round 3 1 x 4 Bodyweight + 50 lbs vest
            Round 4 1 x 4 Bodyweight + 50 lbs vest

Seated Russian Twists
   Round 1 1 x 20 25 lbs
      Round 2 1 x 20 25 lbs
         Round 3 1 x 20 25 lbs
             Round 4 1 x 20 25 lbs

Then I finished up with a complex where the bar is loaded (45 lbs plate) on one end and the other end of the bar is shoved into a corner or backstop consisting of 2 x 10 (on each side/arm) of :
   Single Arm Presses