Control is The Essence of Jiu-Jitsu

A while back I posted "What Do I Want from Jiu-Jitsu, Sport vs Street".  I was concerned that my Jiu-Jitsu was too focused on the sport part of BJJ.  I got into BJJ for the practical street application.  One of the comments to my post was that Jiu-Jitsu is about control.  Your ability to control your opponent applies to everything you do with BJJ.  I understood what was being said but I really internalized it at last Monday’s class.

I had a co-work and good friend join me Monday for a introduction to BJJ.  My friend had wrestled in high school.  Yes, he was out of shape from years of sitting at a computer but that was why he was interested in starting BJJ.  Just like me 2 years ago when I felt I had to make a change.

I teamed up with him for our drills.  One of the drills for that day was holding side control for 2 minutes, resting 1 minute, and then repeating after switching sides.  I realized during those drills how much I had changed in the last 2 years.  My friend put tremendous amounts of muscle into everything.  He strained and held his breath.  He felt rigid and stiff.  In two cycles of the first drill he was winded and tired.  He didn’t even start the next drill.  He thought he had pulled a muscle and was spent.

During that time with him I realized that control truly is the essence of Jiu-Jitsu.  As he fought with muscle I felt like water flowing around him.  I felt submissions from everywhere.  I held dominance.  If I had been in a street fight with him it would have been like child’s play to choke him out or hyper extend a arm.  I don’t say this to embarrass him, I say it to express my new understanding of what Jiu-Jitsu means to me.  I’m not longer worried so much about whither my BJJ is street or sport.  Its core is applicable everywhere.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Submission Master Grappling Dummy – My Life-Line to Jiu-Jitsu

I’ve reviewed and written a number of posts on the Submission Master Grappling Dummy.  I get a lot of questions along the lines of "its it really worth the money"?  I have always answered "yes"!  This week only served to strengthen that.  I’m a dedicated father and family man.  Its not uncommon to have conflicts with my training schedule.  This week was back-to-school week for my kids.  I had open houses to attend and last minute school shopping.  Needless to say I missed class this week but I had my Submission Master to save the day.  My grappling dummy has more then once become my life-line to Jiu-Jitsu.  After the kids were in bed, I broke out my new favorite training DVD Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt Requirements: Gateway to the Advanced Game by Roy Dean and started working over Zed (my grappling dummy).  In no time I had worked up a good sweat.  I went over techniques at my own pace.  I formulated some new solo drills based off what I was learning from Roy Dean.  I got in some really good reps on some of the techniques I’d learned last week in class.

The Submission Master helps me keep my skills sharp when I can’t go to class.  It helps me work out new ideas I have.  It never complains or gets hurt.  One negative side affect though is its rough.  When working with the Submission Master for a extended amount of time remember to wear a rash guard.  If you don’t then try my solution to gi burn from my post "Gi Burn Be Gone".  It works great for me.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Book Review: Drill to Win: 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Andre Galvao

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At long last it has arrived.  I’ve had Andre Galvao’s book Drill to Win: 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on pre-order for what seems like eternity.  Just when I thought it would ship the publisher would move the date.  Finally the day came and now I have it in my hot little hands!

The first thing I noticed as I opened the package is the size of the book and the color.  Its huge and bright.  I wasn’t surprised when I opened it to see that it was well illustrated. 

The table of contents groups the drills by month, week, and then day.  Each week has a subtitle that explains the goal of that weeks drills.  For example: Month 5, Week 4 is dedicated to Turtle Escape drills.  This is very handy if you just want to find some drills specific to something you are working on.

The book takes into account diet too.  Month 1 is devoted just to that.  It makes sense considering that a well oiled machine is going to perform its best.  So for all of us who are slacking on the diet or just not eating right Andre gives us a good solid base line to get our motors revving.  Month 12 is the "Final Exam".  It is really a create-your-own-drill-routine-from-what-you-have-learned month.  It spans one page and has some FAQ’s.  So really, there are 10 months with a new drill each day.  That is more then enough drills for me.

I noticed that there are a few things required to do all the drills.  They are, a swiss ball, balance board, and partner.  Don’t worry there are solo drills galore!  It looks like you are doing solo drills until about Month 4.  By then you should have improved agility and be ready for the throwing and pulling guard that make up Month 4.  I think the book is well organize by the fact you don’t start throwing and pulling guard until you have a little better skill.

The pictures of each drill are step by step and are sized well.  I am a visual learner and would prefer a video but Andre’s progression is good along with the text explanation.  I’m sure if the book is as great a success as I think it will be the video’s will follow.  All in all, I am very impressed and excited to start my year of drills.  I think Drill to Win is going to be a new standard that every BJJ practitioner will want.  Andre you rock!

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Review of the Submission Master Grappling Dummy – Drilling

Its assembled and I’ve started drilling with it.  The first thing I noticed was how hard the floor is.  I don’t have a mat.  I have been thinking about if I should even get one.  I like some real world or practical application of BJJ.  If I got in a street fight I will use my Jiu Jitsu training but I doubt there will be a mat.  The next thing I noticed is that when I tried a Kimura it doesn’t feel right.  The structure of the Submission Master’s arm is a arch with no true joints.  At first I didn’t like this but then I realized it felt more like a arm that is trying to do a escape.  It gave me a different perspective on my Kimura technique and how to apply it.  The next thing I tried was the Triangle Choke.  This hurt at first because the dummy is so hard.  I didn’t realize how soft real humans are.  I worked my Triangle and figured out something new I hadn’t noticed before.  I posted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Submission Techniques – The Triangle and gave tips and tricks on improving your Triangle.  I now can add to that getting the knee of the leg around the neck above the neck.  I have also found that just moving it around, it is 70 lbs, breaks me into a sweat.  It doesn’t do infinity drills so you have to reset some drills to do it over.  But for the most part you can do Arm Bars, Triangles, Kimuras, and other submissions over and over on each side.  For Cross Body and Mount work you sit or lay very high.  You don’t have a soft gut to lay into.  I also can’t hook the legs (grapevines) in mount.  What it comes down to is its no full substitute for a person but it does very well for what it is intended.  So far I really like it and feel it is money well spent.  It is true the $560 price tag is high but it sure beats the home made version I’ve seen on YouTube.com.  I think the only true competitor in its class is the Bubba.  I didn’t choose the Bubba because it didn’t sit up in guard, it looks light weight, and flimsy.  I’m going to start trying some escapes and sweeps on it tomorrow and see how they go.

Blue to Purple Belt – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

So you got your blue belt, Congratulations!  If you are feeling like me you are excited.  The thrill of achievement has you thinking, “what do I need to do now to get my purple belt”.  The simple answer is time and practice.  This isn’t exactly what you wanted to hear but what you expected, isn’t it?  After asking my instructor and other basic research the average blue belt takes 3 years to get a purple belt.  But you are pumped up right now.  You say to yourself, as I do, “but I’m not average”.  The fact that you are out looking for what the requirements are and trying to start working towards your purple belt helps reinforce that.  After all the average time for a white belt to blue belt is 1.5 years and you did it in less, didn’t you?  So you will achieve your purple belt sooner then 3 years.  This is how I plan to do it.  I hope my ideas inspire and help you to pass your purple belt test early.

  1. Keep a Jiu-Jitsu Journal.
  2. Learn the purple belt techniques. (Pedro Sauer Purple Belt Test)
  3. Create a daily drill routine.
  4. Research the greats. (My favorites Roger Gracie, Saulo Ribeiro, and Andre Galvao)
  5. Attend Another Dojo, School, or Academy
  6. Mentor a white belt.
  7. Set Goals.

By clicking on any one of these you will go to the article that gives specifics on what I’ve planned for myself.

Please feel free to add your comments or ask me questions.

Improve Muscle Memory with a Solo Daily Drill Routine – Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

A big part of Jiu-Jitsu is muscle memory.  If you play basketball you shoot hoops over and over to improve your shot.  Its no different with Jiu-Jitsu.  It is just a little harder given you don’t always have a partner.  So what can you do to improve muscle memory?  Most of the books in, My Bookshelf, have drills in them.  You can find drill routines on YouTube.com

Here are some I like on YouTube:

When it comes down to it you need a routine tailored for your own needs that you can do anytime. 

Here is a example:

  1. Basic Warm up.
  2. Basic Survival Techniques from Jiu-Jitsu University
    1. Solo Side Control Guard Recovery Drill x 20
    2. Solo Mount Survival Drill x 20
    3. Solo Mount Elbow Escape Drill x 20
    4. Solo Knee-On-Belly Prevention Drill x 20
    5. . . .
  3. Escapes
  4. Submissions

You get the idea?  I love Saulo Ribeiro’s book, Jiu-Jitsu University.  It has some really good solo drills.  I would recommend you get it and see what I mean.

Start to build your drill routine by identifying where you want to improve.  I personally know I want to be strongest in my survival and escapes.  After that comes sweeps and submissions.

Some considerations you might want to take into account as you build varied drill routines.

  1. How much space to I have to work with?
  2. How long can I take on a routine?
  3. How often should I do my drills?
  4. How will I know I am progressing and need to change my drills?
  5. Are my drills effective or am I just making a fool of myself?

These are the questions I am asking myself as I build my drills.  I have already begun to notice changes in my game.  The techniques I’ve been drilling at are becoming automatic.  I do them without thought.  This has forced my opponents to change tactics and now I have a whole new set of techniques I need to better understand so that I can survive or escape.  This means I need to create new drill centered around them or include the techniques I need to improve on in my present routine.

Please share with me your drills that have helped you improve your Jiu-Jitsu.