The foundation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is learning how to survive.  Key components to this are learning highly useful and highly simplistic techniques. These ‘beginner’ techniques are only simple in the big picture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  The new student will still find these fundamentals challenging, but compared to the BJJ technical repertoire it is but a super-small fraction.  The new student will be so engrossed in learning the mechanics of a technique that the two other critical components to a technique will be ignored.  The brain can only process so much information at one time.  After the student gets a decent handle on the mechanics of a move they will have to pair it up with the proper cue (an indicator to do the move – a “green light” if you will).  Proper cue recognition is then linked to the proper mechanics of a move.  This ‘linking’ of proper mechanics and proper cue recognition is HUGE!  This usually marks the beginning of Blue Belt. However, learning new more complex mechanics and more subtle cues is a continual process throughout everyone’s BJJ journey.   Basic techniques will eventually lead to advanced techniques. Remember, all an advanced technique is, is a stacking or blending of fundamental techniques.  Like all complex recipes, they all have basic ingredients that are put together in sophisticated ways. Fundamental or basic techniques should NEVER be neglected.


After the student understands the mechanics and cue (or cues) of a technique, they will whittle down the technique or cut corners.  This isn’t to say that there is anything Continue reading →

GI vs. NO GI

Is it better to Gi or not to Gi?

Many in the Jiu Jitsu community have debated on the topic of Gi vs. No Gi.  There are strong proponents on both sides.  This is one viewpoint of many on that topic:

The gi (kimono or uniform) is the traditional garb of the martial artist.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in its infancy (circa 1925) was no exception. The tradition, obviously brought in by the Japanese customs, continues to this day.  But why?  Some say the gi is outdated.  Is it?   I feel training in the gi offers the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner a goldmine of lessons.  Ultimately, the gi is a weapon of control and attack.  But this goes both ways.  Both you and your opponent (training partner) have access to this weapon. The gi allows opportunities on both sides to control and attack each other.  The anti-gi people can argue that the ease of offense is unrealistic.  But, allowing your training partner easy access to control and attack you is extremely important in your development. It forces a more aware state because a grip on the sleeve or deep in the collar can be the end.  Gi training helps us develop an acute sensitivity to our opponent’s intentions through their grip placement.  At the same time we can develop defensive instincts because we are one or two steps from danger most of the Continue reading →


Jiu Jitsu Don’t Care

Ideally, when you step onto the Jiu Jitsu mats the outside world will melt away. For that moment in time, your Jiu Jitsu time, it is forgotten.  The stresses of adult life with all the frustrations and responsibilities don’t exist.  It is only Jiu Jitsu.

This total immersion into any activity is hugely beneficial for psychological wellbeing.  It decompresses us. It unties our inner knots. We just feel better afterwards.  Virtually any activity that we can put 100% focus on, and be 100% in the moment for a set amount of time, will be beneficial.

However, with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, being 100% in the moment is thrust upon us!  If our mind wanders on the mats we get choked.  If we think of all the things that need to be done at our job or home, we get arm-barred.  The price for NOT being in the moment is immediately payed, forcing us back to the reality of the NOW.

Jiu Jitsu don’t care what else is going on in your life.  Jiu Jitsu don’t care if you’re Continue reading →


It is natural and understandable that people feel they need certain physical attributes to be successful at Jiu Jitsu.  Many times I have heard comments like, “I need to be faster,”  “I wish I was more flexible,”  “I need to start lifting weights.”   Heck, once upon a time I thought this way.  And these wishes are good and it is okay to seek this. But lets get real…a 6′ 3″, 240 lbs. man is not going to move as quickly as 5′ 6″, 140 lbs. one!  Right?  Now there are things the larger man can do to be quicker…but there are limits.  There is no escaping physics.  Similarly, some people are just made with inherently flexible joints, and some are stiff as a board.  Genetics plays a role.  Simply put, there are various body-types and they all have pros and cons.  Stereotyping for simplicity here, but little guys are weak and big guys are slow…right?  Some people are flexible and some are not.  Rarely is there a Superman who possesses speed, power and flexibility.


Increasing your physical attributes can be a good thing, as long as it is secondary!  The danger is when students put it first.  Thinking success in Jiu Jitsu depends on how fast they are or how much weight they can lift.  Don’t get me wrong, there can be short term success by being steroided out…but only at the entry levels of Jiu Jitsu.  Against novices who don’t have much a technical repertoire.  Even if a power-lifter learns enough technique to reach purple belt, he will have a far less sophisticated game than he would have had otherwise.  Students who focus on the need to increase strength, speed or flexibility instead of increasing technique short change themselves and their Jiu Jitsu! Continue reading →


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners are constantly forced to deal with reality.  This is what gives the martial art its power and beauty.  Fakery can’t exist in BJJ.  The truth always comes out on the mats.  It is one of the main reasons that I love this art more than any other martial art that I have trained in.  No fluff, just facts.  Reality.

At first this can be a bitter pill to swallow for most people.  The “ego check.”  It is one of reasons that a majority of the people who step onto the mats quit.  Their pride can’t take it.  So they deny reality and continue to live in fantasy.

I came into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with a great deal of previous martial arts experience.  My first day on the BJJ mats was eye opening.  I was completely humbled.  I was tossed around, choked and arm-barred with relative ease.  At that moment I had two obvious choices: 1) Quit and make an excuse as to why the art was not for me, make a statement such as “I’d never let anybody take me to the ground,”  or 2) Accept the fact that I was almost useless on the ground despite my size, strength or previous experience.  I chose to accept reality and stayed.  Moreover, I embraced my ignorance Continue reading →


1,000 Reps

– An essential part in learning any skill is repetition. The more reps we do, the more our skill develops. The same concept goes for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We repeat a technique over and over getting used to the movements. Teaching our bodies. Muscle memory. Conscious brain into subconscious mind/body. Repetition is essential.

As we do our reps we must also hone the technique to its ultimate efficiency. Absorbing feedback from our coach, our partners, and ourselves. Making adjustments to the mechanics (moving parts) so it works better. With each rep there is an opportunity to improve the technique. Be mindful of what you are doing. A simple technique that we already know should be drilled with the same attention as a newer flashy technique or submission.

Continue reading →