Here is SBG Portland’s first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Travis Davison demonstrating one of his rockstar moved, the flying bow and arrow choke:
As you may know, one of the things that truly sets SBG apart when it comes to instruction in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and functional Martial Arts in general, is our world class coaching staff. People come from all over the world to attend classes with coaches like SBG black belt Cane Prevost. If you are interested in training ideas that come from someone who truly understands the art, then Cane’s blog, ‘The Gentle Art’ is a must read:
In his most recent essay he lists some tips for being a good ‘hobbyist’ grappler. The truth is, this is a great list for world champions as well:
- Be consistent.Training 2 times a week every week is going to pay off more than training very intensely for short periods followed by stretches of time off. Of course I have no scientific data to back this up but I’ve seen it play out over and over again at the gym. Enough to confidently make this claim.
- Focus on fundamentals. At it’s core fundamentals can be broken down into Posture, Pressure, and Possibilities.Building a library of techniques is not a great or efficient way to get good. You only have so much room on your bookshelf. At a certain point the shelf will be filled and you’ll have to throw some out to make room for new ones. In my personal experience I’ve rarely seen anyone who is good at more than about 5 submissions at one time. They may know way more than that but their A game is mostly limited to the top 5. Adding 50 more moves won’t help your game much.
- Focus on Posture most of all.I tell students that the posture should do about 80% of the work for you. You should always be asking yourself “Am I in posture?” If the answer is no then you know what you have to do. If posture does 80% of the work then you should be spending most of your time either working to get posture, improving the posture you have, or fighting to keep it. If you are doing this then BJJ will be way easier.Focusing on posture means getting the best possible posture you can get WHILE putting the other person in the worst possible posture you can. If you create this posture imbalance then you don’t have to be good at BJJ in order to beat the other guy. Remember, the posture does 80% of the work.
- Don’t roll above 70%.(Link to post on 70%) I you go all out all the time then you will be building a game that requires that you go all out all the time. That’s hard to do if you aren’t young and in super shape. Instead try building a posture based game that REQUIRES that you move slower and concentrate on simply building good posture along the way. A good goal is to build efficient postures that use leverage and structure instead of muscle strength. To use efficient motion that requires less intensity of movement. And to use fewer movements in your overall game. My goal is to win by moving less and less until eventually you won’t even notice that I’m moving at all.
- Focus on breathing.If you can’t devote lots of extra time to conditioning exercises you need to be very mindful of your breathing. Stop and check during a roll. Are you breathing heavier than the other guy? If the answer is yes then you need to slow down and focus on posture. Catch your breath before you exert too much energy. Breathing heavy is a sure sign that you are not attending to posture effectively.
- Simplify the game.Can I use the same posture in mount bottom that I use in cross sides bottom? How many ways can I use this triangle submission? Finding multiple uses for things that you already do well is a great way to improve your game without having to put a tremendous amount of extra time in. As you learn new things try to relate them to things you already know and look for commonalities wherever you can.
- Don’t keep score. The worst thing you can do for your game is to keep track of who you tapped and who tapped you. It’s counter productive and probably the worst way to measure progress. If you focus on the tap you miss most of the joy of BJJ. You won’t notice the beautiful guard pass, the gorgeous butterfly sweep, the perfectly timed escape… All the things that happen in a roll that show mastery of the game. A gym where nobody keeps score is a healthy gym. If you are in a gym where there are a lot of side conversations about who tapped who you’ll find the atmosphere unhealthy. A tap should only be treated as an event that happens in grappling that tells you when to stop. Nothing more. There are many better ways to measure progress.
- Enjoy the journey. In only every case those who enjoy it more are better at it. Train in a way that is healthy, smart, and most of all fun. Will power will get you a year of training at best. If you aren’t having a blast on the mat you won’t stick around or train in a way that will allow you to make much progress. This is perhaps the most important rule. It’s certainly not about “dedication” or “work ethic” as some will describe. Look around you. What looks like dedication is actually someone following their bliss. They are doing it because it’s the most enjoyable and rewarding thing they can think of to do. This is only always the case.
If you are looking for functional, practical and healthy training in Martial arts, in a friendly, helpful environment, then check out what Masha has to say about BJJ for women at Portland’s #1 choice for ‘real’ Martial Arts training.
Want to lose weight and have fun? Richard lost over 35lbs since he started at SBG Portland, and so can you! See the video below:
Over the years I have always advocated a balanced approach when it comes to training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. By balanced I mean one that incorporates training with the gi, without the gi, with strikes (MMA), and with self-defense in mind. Those of you who’ve trained with SBG or followed our work know that our thesis is that once you’ve grasped the core fundamentals of the delivery system, traveling between those four areas of the Art should be more than feasible. In other words, if your game falls apart the moment you put on a gi or the moment you take one off, then you have a problem with your foundation. Likewise, if after some adjustment you find yourself unable to cope on the ground when strikes are allowed, then you are missing something large as it relates to the core delivery system.
In a recent talk with one of our top coaches, he offered up the interesting idea that the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu simply hasn’t evolved that deeply yet, that when it does, things will become so nuanced that gi players will find themselves unable to adapt to no-gi, and vice-versa. You wouldn’t see the same names competing in the Mundials as you do in Abu Dhabi, like we do now. Instead it would be more bifurcated. By way of example he mentioned track and field, to paraphrase: “You don’t see the same medalists winning the 50 meters that you do the 100 meters, and BJJ given time, would be much the same.”
I have to admit feeling some sense of irony in hearing this. My experience has been that the more a coach and athlete truly understands BJJ, the deeper their knowledge of it, the simpler their movements and mechanics become. Though it’s a bit cliché, it truly is akin to the process a sculptor goes through, chipping away at the extraneous motions until one is left with the core the principles that make the whole thing work the way it does; the things that make BJJ both functional and efficient. The irony came in having this coach, who is excellent, display that exact process earlier in the day when he showed me some great fundamental principles, all of which translate across the different arenas and environments that BJJ is played in, gi, no-gi, or MMA.
After thinking about this more, and discussing it with another Instructor, I think the analogy to track and field is flawed. In the case of track and field, the core mechanics of the delivery system, in this case running, have not changed. What has changed is the nature of the conditioning, strategy, tactics, and therefore training an athlete will go through.
A good way to translate that to BJJ would be to think about time limits. Let’s say that all of the sudden the sport went to three minute matches. A certain type of athlete and a certain type of very aggressive game would evolve. Change that to 30 minutes, and again a whole different style of play would develop. The type of conditioning engaged in, and the strategy the players adopted would adapt to the time change. If both types of competitions became popular I could easily see, given enough time, two different ‘types’ of athletes evolving for those two different sports. However, the core delivery system of BJJ would in my opinion remain the same. In this case the fundamentals of escaping, holding and submitting wouldn’t really change, given that these are based on physics, only the strategy used by the players would.
As I wrote in: http://sbgi-pdx.com/news/2011/12/29/the-art-of-brazilian-jiu-jitsu/ If we think in terms of evolution, the delivery system is the gene, the organism which carries that gene is the player, and the adaptation within the sport occurs according to the selection process those players are put through.
If we allowed all forms of leg locks back into the IBJJF, you can bet that would change the way the game is played (I think that is a bad idea, I am using it solely as a thought experiement). Likewise, if the main Mixed Martial Arts events switched to one 30 minute round with no stand ups, you can also bet that would have a dramatic effect on the strategies fighters used in the cage. However, and this is the main point, the core delivery systems of stand up, clinch and ground would remain essentially the same.
Given that, if you train solely for the purpose of winning an IBJJF tournament, then ‘your’ Jiu-Jitsu, given enough time, will surely change. The mechanics, the physics of ‘why’ Jiu-Jitsu works effectively would remain the same, but your selective application of those mechanics will have adapted to the environment you’re concerned with, in this case an IBJJF tournament. The same could be said for any particular ‘environment’.
However, if you focus on the core movements which make Jiu-Jitsu the efficient Art it is, you too should be able to transcend the various environments, take the gi off, put it on, work in a little MMA, and never really skip a beat. The game will become simpler, not more complex. And as such, questions like whether you should train with a gi, or without a gi, don’t really hold much weight.
And that is exactly what SBG style BJJ is all about.
Portland Coach Chris Stearns recently won three matches in a row and took bronze in a very tough division at that the Pan Am games. Here is a note from Coach Chris: