Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2012 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Goals and Quick Tips on How to Keep Them

With the New Year just around the corner, it is time to make those New Year resolutions. Most people are going to continue making the same resolutions about weight loss, financial stability, to quit smoking or drinking, to find love or maybe even learn a new language. These are some of the usual New Year resolutions, but I wanted to see if there have been many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu resolutions set and what some of the examples were. is a site where people can document things they would like to achieve as goals. I did a couple of quick searches for BJJ and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and this is the result of the inquiry: 

 64% of people want to start training or learn BJJ

25% of people want to earn the next belt ranking

6% want to Compete or win their division in tournament

"When setting a long-term goal, find the pace necessary to achieve it." Rickson Gracie

 Based on statistics and previous data I have found 78% of people never complete their resolution. That means, three out of those four people that wanted to learn/start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will never do it. That is an eye-opening statistic!

I think people make these goals just like any other goal, just with broad vision and specifics. Many people rather deal in generalities than in specifics. Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

It is okay if you want to earn your next belt, which is an admirable goal to have. How would you go about achieving getting your next belt level? What are some steps to take to start training and learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Here are some quick tips to achieving your goals:
1)      Make them SMART Goals (Specific, Manageable, Attainable, Realistic, Trackable)
2)      Write them down-
         Studies show that you are 80% more likely to achieve your goals if you write
         them down
3)      Tell a friend-
    Who else to hold you accountable and keep you on track other than a friend?
4)      Post them up somewhere-
           This is just a reminder to keep you focused
5)      Set small goals to achieve the big ones
            Once you achieve some small goals you start to feel a sense of completion and
            Getting some momentum going your way
6)      Reward yourself
     When you achieve success, reward yourself with a magazine, CD, or whatever      you want.

Some of my goals this year:
1) Post at least one article and try my best to keep the blog updated
   I am hoping to do some interviews and product reviews for 2012

2) Achieve 200 hours of mat time ( that is at two times per week)
This is something that I think is achievable with my current schedule. It will give me the mat time that I so need.

3) Drill techniques 50 times each side
I am hoping to accomplish this on Sundays to improve my fundamentals

4) Compete in at least two tournaments
Uncertain how unstable the beginning of the year will be with my family, but
 I will definitely do some towards the end of the year. I was only able to compete in one tournament this year.

5) Visit at least a couple of schools in some different areas either for Seminars or just to train
This is something I have wanted to do for a couple months now,
Now that the baby is getting old enough to travel, am hoping I can hit up some during vacation

            6) Improve my note taking
          Get in the habit of taking notes and jotting down techniques. I do it but not all the time. 

7)  Try to get my Crossfit back on track
           That is one area of training I think that has helped my cardio and Jiu jitsu skills

8)  CLEAN my diet up!
           When I eat like crap, I roll like crap and have no energy. Before I fell off the wagon and went into a diet coma, I had a ton of energy and could roll several rounds and not worry about a break

9)  Take some private lessons
I think this will point out some errors I have been making
What are some of your goals for 2012? How do you plan on achieving them?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North-South Side Effects

Last night Mike B and I were rolling, and he said he wanted to work on his top game.
We worked guard and he passed my half guard and got me into side control. He then transitioned into scarf hold and got some nice grips.  I thought well, this is one position I need to improve. As I tried to work my escape of bridging up, driving his head away with my forearm and hipping out to escape, Mike made his move to North-South.

Now, North-South. is not my favorite position, but last night was different. Mike’s pressure was excellent and I could not work my escape.

What I should have done...
I tried for several seconds to finesse my way out and then panic set in for some reason and I tried to muscle my way out. After several failed attempts to "Hulk” my way out, I started to get short of breath, freak out, and started to feel very claustrophobic. I quickly told him to get off me, and I was a little light headed, so I decided to sit out and watch.

                                                       What I actually did.....

After sitting out for 20 minutes or so, there was another white belt wandering around the mats looking for rolling partner. I was feeling better why not roll with him. I got on the mats and felt good rolling at a medium pace. We rolled for around 10 minutes and after I felt better.

Jiu-Jitsu is a sport for someone who is not afraid of tight spaces. In the pyramid of disadvantageous positions to be in while rolling, most people would say, turtle or mount. After my experience last night I choose North-South, apparently the side effect of being in the position may cause panic attacks.

Monday, December 19, 2011

To Compete Or Not To Compete, That Is The Question.

Yesterday, I decided to get some advice from one of my friends, Mike B, a blue belt from the school. I bounced the idea of competing in some upcoming tournaments in January and February.

The discussion about competing lead to a couple of topics:
1)      My home life is still unpredictable with the new born and parenting. This would impact my training and preparation for the tournament
2)      I am currently not in “Competing shape” I have managed to lose a step or two and gain a pound or 10 during my hiatus while doing my fatherly duties at home.

If I compete on January 28th, the tournament weight class is 200-215lbs, I am currently 228lbs. That means at least 13 lbs in 5 weeks, which is doable.

As far as the training aspect goes, I believe a good 3-4 rolling and drilling sessions per week would get make me for more comfortable for the tournament. The only issue with training is I will miss spending time with my daughter and would be putting extra burden on my already stressed out wife.

The upcoming NAGA in Atlanta is February 18th, and seems to be a little more feasible as far as me competing. The only issue with this is that there will be a lot more fairly skilled opponents than me, and right now, I just do not think my technique or cardio will be on point to handle the 5-minute rounds.

The academy is closed starting 12/22 and will re-open at the beginning of the New Year.
That is 10 days not rolling, but I can do some drills at the house or something.  I am having a conflict part of me want to compete, and the other half of there is a that little bit of doubt and fear in my current capabilities.

I have set a deadline to try to have answer for myself by January 18th   for  the tournament coming up on January 28th.  I think this will be enough time to try and evaluate my rolling and conditioning. And as for the NAGA in Atlanta, I am going to play that one by ear and try to train enough to make sure I can compete.

Any suggestions as to what to do?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

If you had 3 BJJ wishes....

If you found a magic lamp and a Genie popped out wearing a gi, and told you that you could have 3 wishes, but they would be BJJ specific. What would you wish for?

As for my wishes, they would go like this:

1)   I wish I could have started training at a younger age. The benefits of me training earlier would benefit me physically and mentally. I would be less sore, more flexible, and be able to compete earlier.
2)    I wish I could compete on a world’s level and be competitive. I would love to roll with the likes of Galvoa, Abreu, Papovitch, Garcia, and others and be able to hold my own.
3)   As for my final wish, I love to hear and read the stories from the greats about their up and comings in the sport and art. I would wish to be able to draw on their inspiration and stories at any time to be able to continue to make me better. 

So what would your wishes consist of?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

10 Tips To Survive Your First Year In BJJ

It has been a year since I started training, so I wanted to take a minute and highlight some areas that will help some beginners make it through their first couple of months or years in training. If you have never trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before, as I had, it can be a shock to your body and mind. You will be frustrated, wanting to quit, and sore and tired from training.

1) Check your ego at the door-
“Egotism is the glue with which you get stuck in yourself”-Dan Post

An ego can be one thing that make or breaks a person when they walk through those academy doors. If someone walks in with the expectations of tapping out everyone on the mat, you are going to be disappointed rather quickly. This is a new experience for you, go into with an open mind and be humble. You will learn more than you could ever imagine about yourself and the art.

2) Make some friends- 
When you get frustrated with BJJ and the thought of quitting and burning your gi runs through your mind every day after class. It is extremely useful to chill out after class and discuss your frustrations with a friend. Just wait and see how fast a complete stranger will help you through the issues and quickly become a close friend and training partner. Some of my best friends I have met on the mats.

3) Be a reliable training partner- 
If you have people that want to roll on different days, at odd times, or they are training for a competition and you can do it and help them prepare, step up and make it. Make sure, when you commit, you show up and train. If you keep being a reliable training partner, you will always have someone to help you in the end when you need a training partner or you are struggling with something.

4) Tapping is a technique- 
This is probably the biggest issue with just starting out and having an issue with ego getting in the way. Tapping is not a defeat; it is an opportunity to learn from your mistake. My rules when I started were, tap early and tap often. I did not know how to escape an arm bar, and I would quickly tap to avoid injury, and then I would ask, “How do I get out of that?” Then next time I would try to understand the escape. I found this to be the best learning experience.

5) Mat time- 
Outside of Jiu Jitsu everyone has a life and it is difficult to find time to get on the mats. Once you get through the initial shock of starting, then work out a schedule to insure that you get the most mat time possible. This helps you improve your muscle memory and will put you in situations where you realize you need help. When I started, I would feel frustrated when someone would play open guard, now I love the game of trying to work a pass and passing someone’s open guard.

6) Drill, baby, drill- 
Drilling is a key to succeeding in Jiu Jitsu. It helps you commit moves to muscle memory. Once someone starts to move towards mount position, your body will instinctively react to the movement. The next thing you know you are pulling off a beautiful knee to elbow escape. I will admit I do not drill as much as I should have, but there are times that I wish I would have drilled more when I started, but it is never to late to start drilling techniques.

  7) Warm-ups and stretching
I cannot stress this one enough! These are critical to remaining injury free and being able to train more often. Stretch before and after class, this will help reduce muscle soreness the next morning. I went through around 10 boxes of Epson salt, walked around smelling like icy hot, and slept with heat patches on my back and knees for weeks when I started. Warm-ups are fun! You can start by doing some basic shrimp drills, running or sprinting around the mats, jumping jacks, push ups, or burpees.

8) Write it down 
Buy you a one-subject notebook and head to class. Write down your first experience in Jiu Jitsu, jot down techniques, write down where you struggled at during open mat, and write down what you would like to improve on for next class. This is a magnificent way to reflect on your growth. Being able to put pen to paper will help you remember techniques. This is something I wish I had started when I first started training. This will benefit you tremendously and will give you a complete record of your progress.

9) Progress will come 
Slowly but surely over a course of weeks and months, you will begin to see progress. You will go from being in someone's guard, to being able to pass right into side control, flow into the mount and set up a submission attempt. One day you will have that “Ah, Ha” moment and you will begin to see some results. Do not worry how long it will take to get a stripe or blue belt. Most people get distracted on when they are going to get a promotion. It will come, but for now just enjoy learning and all the rest will fall into place.

10) Set small goals to succeed 
Everyone steps into Jiu Jitsu with the goal of becoming a black belt, getting in shape, or losing weight, but what about setting small, realistic goals. I went into each class for the first 6 months and got caught in triangles. I immediately set a goal to avoid getting caught in triangles while rolling. To do this, I stopped putting myself into dangerous positions, I watched my posture when in someone’s guard, I started to become aware of my hand and arm placement during rolling. Now after practicing and learning, triangles are something that I have become skilled at avoiding. If you are struggling with arm bars, go into each class and do nothing but arm bar set ups and attempts. The small successes will help give you the motivation to continue.

I am sure there are 100 other ways, but these 10 I think will help set the initial groundwork and give you some motivation to train hard and leave it all on the mats. When I started I was not doing any of these things, and as the year progressed I started doing them and I am still developing some of these tools as I am still new to Jiu Jitsu. But as they say, "Starting is always the hardest part of anything" or "tomorrow is always a good day to do any job."  Do not fall into that trap, find a routine and enjoy your first year.

What has helped you survive the first year, fifth year, or tenth year? Please feel free to leave comments or follow this blog on Facebook.

Monday, December 12, 2011

East Coast BJJ Seminars Fan Page Interview

A lot of BJJ practitioners use seminars to expand their game and take a little nugget of knowledge from an expert and add to their arsenal of techniques.

Have you ever wanted to take a seminar from UFC champion Royce Gracie? Have you ever wanted to know how Ciao Terra performs a Gi choke? Now you have a chance to access some of the best seminars on the East Coast by just liking a Facebook page.

East Coast BJJ Seminars page happened to be created by two guys that met at a seminar. They wanted a way to communicate seminars to the BJJ community and social media was the answer

After I had attended two seminars that I found listed on their page, I knew wanted to find out more about the page and tell others know about this awesome page. I conducted an email interview with, Saad, half of the dynamic duo that created this page.

Q:How long have you been training BJJ?

A:I have been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a little over 4 years. In addition, I have a 1st degree Black Belt in Hapkido and was heavily into boxing for many years.

Q:What was the motivation behind East Coast BJJ Seminars page?
A:I am in the military and transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina last year. I wanted to train with some top level guys and I was always hearing about seminars after the event had passed. I went to a Renzo Gracie seminar in Danville, VA and met a guy named Brandon who suggested the idea for Eastcoastbjjseminars and I just sort of took it and ran with it.
I chose to only focus on the seminars on the East Coast for two reasons: 

    1. I live on the East Coast and am only going to attend seminars on the East Coast, so I am tracking these seminars for myself and just publishing it for everyone else.
    2. If I tried to track all the seminars across the United States the page would consume a lot of time  and really would not be very user friendly. As it is I get feedback from people who view my page asking me to break the seminars into a smaller geographic areas. For instance, people in Florida are not going to seminars in New York.

Q:I personally have taken two seminars thanks to the page, have you heard any other really interesting stories by using your page?

A:The best feedback I have received is a white belt that went to a Royce Gracie seminar and Royce awarded him his blue belt after the seminar. The seminar lasted over 3 hours and approximately an hour of the seminar was dedicated to competitive rolling that Royce monitored. Royce was so impressed with the young man’s skills that he awarded him a blue belt afterwards. To receive a belt promotion from Royce Gracie is an incredible honor and for this young man an incredible surprise, because he was not expecting it at all.
I have had a few school owners tell me that the page has increased their attendance at some of their seminars, which I am really happy about. The better these seminars are attended the greater the chance for more seminars in the future.

Q:How many seminars do you average posting per month?

A:I would estimate that there are roughly 7-8 seminars a month that I find out about and post on the page. I think the most seminars I have advertised at one time were about 25. December is somewhat of a slow seminar month, because I think we only posted 3-4 seminars for December. I also advertise local jiu jitsu tournaments if the event organizer sends the info to me.

Q:How can a user submit a seminar to be displayed on your page?

A:You can either invite me to the seminar and I will post it on my page or you can post it directly to my page. I delete all events after they occur, so everything on the page is an upcoming event and nothing is expired.
If a person would like they can send me the info on a seminar they are sponsoring and I will create a Facebook Event for them and send it to all the people on my friends list as well as post it on my page.
I delete all MMA event postings and company advertisements, because I am just sticking with seminars and tournaments.

Q:There is obviously a huge following of your site with just under 1,700 followers. Are there any plans to expand this to a nationwide site or database for seminars?

A:Had a couple people ask me to start a page for West Coast BJJ seminars and I just said, “As soon as the military transfers me to the West Coast, then you will see me create the page.” I am not willing to dedicate anymore of my time running multiple geographic pages.
In the future, we may create a separate web page in addition to Facebook’s page, so the seminars can be tracked a little better. Facebook is an incredible tool with a lot of traffic, but it has serious limitations in regards to creating and organizing the seminars in a more user friendly format.

Q:Any other information you would like to share?

A:East Coast BJJ Seminars page is jointly run by Brandon and Saad (me) as a team, which is neat, because I have only actually met Brandon one time, which was at the Renzo Gracie seminar. We do all our communications via e-mail or text. Basically we are just two jiu jitsu geeks who decided to track seminars.
So whenever the military transfers me (Saad) to the West Coast or overseas then the page will become 100% Brandons and I will create something new wherever I go unless someone else has created something for that geographic area.
So all the questions you gave were just answered by half the team (Saad). LOL!

I do want to thank Saad, for answering my question and developing this awesome way to communicate seminars to the community!Share the link love and become a fan:
East Coast BJJ Seminars

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I don't have no alibi, my techniques are ugly. Yeh, yeh, they ugly!

Last night we did pass and defend for about 30-40 minutes straight. We rotated every 4 minutes from one partner to the next. I found myself struggling to break someone's guard and would get stuck in half guard when I passed.
I laid awake and thought about my mistakes, when I was going to pass I wasn't performing the techniques correctly. I wasn't controlling my opponent's hips, I wasn't pushing down on the knee when breaking guard, and I wasn't trapping the leg passing into side control.

The root cause of my problems last night was not that my opponent's guard couldn't be broken. It was just that I was not doing what I was taught to do. I am learning that little mistakes in a technique can be the difference in finishing or allowing your opponent to get the best of me. The only thing left to do is to .....Drill Techniques!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advice from Cobrinha

Here is some Q & A from Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles on the "Ask the Nail" advice column. If you caught his match against Jeff Glover, he explains some of his thought process about going into the match and his theory on game plans going into the tournament.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rolling with Spiderman!

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies
Look Out!
Here comes the Spiderman.

Is he strong?
Listen bud,
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread
Take a look overhead
Hey, there
There goes the Spiderman.

In the chill of night
At the scene of a crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Friendly neighborhood Spiderman
Wealth and fame
He's ingnored
Action is his reward.

To him, life is a great big bang up
Whenever there's a hang up
You'll find the Spider man.