Self Defense Knoxville TN, Developing Your “A” Game – Tips on Finding Your Strongest Positions

It doesn’t take long into your study of bjj before you start to experience success with some positions or submissions. It seems that whenever you roll, you find yourself in side control or spider guard and your kimura or triangle choke is right there for you.

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Especially for competitors, it’s important for them to develop and refine their strongest go-to moves for when the tension is high and the medal is at stake. Most likely your A Game will reveal itself to you early in your training. Quite simply, you will experience your earliest successes with certain moves and naturally gravitate towards them.

It is not unusual to see experienced blue belts with a purple or brown belt level of knowledge and sharpness in their best position!

Interestingly, world champions like Romulo Barral reported that the positions that they are best known for now at black belt were positions that were also their strengths at blue belt. Their preference and A Game revealed themselves very early on in their training.

Here are 3 tips on developing your own A Game

1) Anatomy is destiny
16293195873_2c4b35bd9d_kTo a large degree, your physical attributes will determine your strongest positions. Most triangle specialists have lanky builds with long legs. Same with Darce choke specialists. If you have the legs of a Hobbit, triangle greatness is probably not in your future.

But your butterfly guard and guillotines might be very dangerous!

Look at top competitors who share the same physical type as you and observe what positions they excel at.
Some practitioners actually select a role model whose game they wish to emulate and pattern their game after that black belt.

Read also: Top Game or Bottom Game?

2) Sets and Reps
In his excellent auto biography Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger writes about the key to success in all of his accomplishments whether it was building a Mr. Olympia physique, acting in movies or delivering a Governor’s speech in front of thousands, the key was repetition and practice.

16911956872_0fb11070d7_zThe same is true for developing your A Game positions. If you ask any of these World Champions about their deadly spider guard or half guard sweeps they will tell stories of countless hours in the academy, drilling and experimenting with the positions.

When it comes to acquiring a high degree of skill in any endeavor, there is no substitute for mat time. You have to accrue the reps. I recall at a seminar one black belt challenging two students to complete 500 repetitions of triangles in a month of training.

One of the students asked Is the triangle tighter if I put my leg this way or that way?

The instructor responded by saying Perform 500 triangles and YOU tell ME!
His point was clear: you will learn things by repping that you can not learn any other way.

Read also:Advanced Methods: Limit Your Training

3) Get Obsessed For a Time Period
I am a strong advocate of advanced students starting to direct their own training. Learn all of the techniques that your professor shows in regular classes. But you also must look to direct your own learning in the positions that fit your own game.

16912210521_1e00d9c03c_kConcentrate your training efforts (especially drilling and technical idea exchange with training partners) on a certain position for at least a month.

Study the DVDs, the YouTube videos, ask your professor and the advanced belts in your academy for their tips. Immerse yourself in that position for at least a month and you will dig deep into the secrets of any submission that you want in your A Game.

Read also: 6 Steps to Fix a Hole in Your Game

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Self Defense Knoxville TN, The Biggest Debates in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

The Biggest Debates in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Whether it takes place around the mat at the academy or on popular internet message boards devoted to all topics bjj, discussions on certain subjects invite some spirited debates. As with all subjects with no clear cut truth, the arguments on both sides of the question have their adherents, each side with valid points to support their arguments.

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These topics surface time and time again in bjj academies around the world in every language.

1) Gi vs. no-gi training

Traditional bjj is taught in the kimono the way the Gracie family has done it for decades. MMA fighters and those who prefer training without the gi think this is old fashioned thinking.
Both sides of this argument have solid points:

14495119379_19a3a0518f_zGi: The majority of the gold medals in top level grappling competitions are taken home by competitors who train primarily in the gi. They posit that training in the kimono makes you more technical than training without.

No-gi: Why waste so much training time working on grips that completely disappear once the kimono is removed? They say that it is only a matter of time until the no-gi specialists dominate the submission grappling competitions like ADCC.

2) Self defense training vs. sports bjj

Two schools of philosophy on the application of bjj:

self-defenseSelf defense: Most students begin their training in bjj for the purpose of personal self defense. To focus on techniques that ignore the threat of strikes is moving away from the purpose of jiu-jitsu as first and foremost a martial art for real fighting. Keep it real!

Sports bjj: Most people never have a street fight in their entire adult lives, so what is the point of years of training for something that might never happen? Bjj is about staying fit and having fun learning the art. A purple belt is more than capable of handing any potential street fracas.

3) Old school game vs. berimbolo, worm guard, 50/50 guard etc.

Has the modern evolution of sports bjj specialty techniques gone too far and become no longer effective for real fighting?

oldschoolOld school: No less an authority than Master Carlos Gracie Jr, expressed his preference for a jiu-jitsu based on the fundamental positions that all practitioners can use effectively regardless of age. The fundamental positions of mount, guard and back mount will never cease to be effective.

New school: No art or sport can remain static and resist innovation. The evolution of the techniques and positions is continuous so that the art doesn’t deteriorate into losing its effectiveness. Bjj practitioners must strive to keep up with the latest advances being introduced by the sports elite or risk being left behind.

4) Bjj as business vs Traditional Martial Arts

Bjj as introduced outside of the original academies (in North America especially) has evolved to more of a fitness business model compared to the old model of the Japanese dojo.

Gracie Barra and Championsway Joining Forces for Jiou-Jitsu for EveryoneBjj as business: As the students are often paying top dollar for quality black belt instruction, many new students view the academy as more of a service they are paying for. The older concepts of sweeping the dojo / helping clean the mats as part of your duties is eroding and students expect to show up for class and have a professionally run experience.

Traditional Martial Arts: Some feel that something is lost with the diminishing of the dojo as a center where it was seen as more than a fitness gym by the students and instructors. Not only physical training, but philosophical and ethical teaching was part of the student’s instruction. Formalities such as bowing and calling the instructor Sensei are seen to be important matters of respect and continuance of these traditions.

5) Creonte / loyalty to one school vs. Train everywhere

This controversy is alive and well in the bjj subculture

INSPO_IG_9-01Old school: Creonte was a negative term coined by Carlson Gracie Sr. (loosely translated to mean traitor;) to describe students who left their home academy to train with another team. In an era before YouTube, a school’s signature techniques were considered closely guarded secrets and meant to be kept within the walls of the academy. You picked your team and you stayed loyal to that team over the years of your bjj career. The relationship between professor and student is seen as greater than simply a student purchasing classes at a fitness gym. Loyalty is highly prized as a value between the teacher and students.

Train everywhere: Some top instructors famously have said that their philosophy is Train with everyone. At this point in bjj history, we are experiencing an unprecedented explosion of knowledge and ability to share bjj techniques with each other all over the world. There are fewer true secret techniques anymore. There is a movement towards more open philosophy of sharing techniques but also visiting friends at other academies and training at other schools. The exchange of knowledge can only be seen as a positive for the development and spread of jiu-jitsu.

Where do you stand on these controversies in jiu-jitsu?

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Self Defense Knoxville TN, The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

The 12 Most Important Techniques For You To Learn When Your Start BJJ

Out of thousands of bjj techniques on YouTube, which select few should a student beginning their study of bjj focus on?It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed  not only with the technical details of each move, but how to select which ones are best to start with?!?

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Here are the fundamental techniques that are most important for the beginning student.
* You will note that they are slanted heavily in the area of defense, as most student starting bjj need this the most.

Read also:3 Pieces of Advice for White Belts

1) Bottom side control: Guard replacement with hip escape, knee inside
Why?: You find yourself using this escape from your first roll all the way to when you are a black belt. You have to learn to move your hips on the bottom for all escapes.

triangle2) Guard: Scissors sweep
Why?: A classic technique that teaches you all of the elements to be used for all sweeps: break the balance, move your hips, create an angle, control grips. The scissors sweep combines very well with many other guard techniques in combination attacks.

3) Guard: Triangle choke
Why?: One of the signature submissions in bjj works from white belt all the way to the highest levels of MMA and international competition, both gi and no-gi.
Learn how to use your legs to attack and choke your opponent.

4) Guard: Cross collar choke
Why?: The starting point for your sweeps and other attacks from the guard is the deep collar grip. This was Helio Gracie’s favorite move from the guard.
Teaches you how to use your grip to control your opponent and break their posture. It’s the starting point for your other guard attack combinations.

5) Bottom mount: Upa / Bridge and roll escape
Why?: Powerful hip bridges are the beginning to nearly all escapes on the ground. You learn to use the power of your hips and leverage to escape the mount as opposed to pushing with straight arms (and getting armbarred) or worse giving up your back!

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.14.07 AM6) Bottom mount: Elbow to knee escape
Why?: Along with #1 Guard replacement with hip escape, knee inside, the elbow to knee escape is critical to learn to combine bridging and shrimping movements to escape bottom positions.
The first 2 years of training bjj you are going to need your escapes!

7) Top mount: Straight armlock
Why?: A classic submission from the dominant mount position. Teaches you how to isolate your opponent’s limb and apply the force of your entire body against their joint to get the tap.
This could be your first submission in live rolling!

8) Side control: Americana / Kimura locks
Why?: Side control teaches you to employ your weight to control an uncooperative opponent, and is a stable base from which to attack the shoulders with Americana and Kimura locks.
Learn the anatomy of the joints and how you can use leverage to force the opponent to tap.

9) Rear mount: Rear naked choke
Why?: The quintessential submission of bjj. The most dominant position in the jiu-jitsu positional hierarchy.
Especially against larger, stronger opponents and in a self defense situation. The most successful submission in the UFC.

16297798016_7ff645c095_z10) Pass the Guard: Over / under pass
Why?: You need to have a plan when your opponent captures you in their closed guard. They will attack you and threaten with chokes, armlocks and triangles.
You need to get a safe posture and start to pass! This is the place for you to start learning to pass the guard.

11) Pass the Guard: Bull fighter pass
Why?: Your opponents will use many different styles of guard against you: not only closed guard.
The bullfighter pass teaches you to use your grips, side to side movement to avoid your opponents guard hooks and pass to side control.
Blackbelt world champions specialize in this style of pass and so should you!

12) Flying double reverse spinning berimbolo into gogoplata!
Why: Because it’s straight up Ninja!
Just kidding! The former 11 techniques will far better serve you in this early part of your training in bjj.

What are your most important fundamental techniques?

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Self Defense Knoxville Tn, The Almost-Blue Belt Mistake Don’t Be in a Hurry!

The Almost-Blue Belt Mistake Don’t Be in a Hurry!

Take your time. Get your control first. Then go for submission.

I teach bjj classes in two different academies and have a large number of students of different belt ranks and levels of experience. An instructor who sees the students everyday can start to identify patterns that are common among students of similar levels.

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I want to share something I have observed among some students who were getting close to their blue belts. read also: Are You Ready For Your Blue belt?

Problem:
They were in a rush in the top position and would far too often lose the top when they hurried their submission attack.

14931512136_9da4934b02_kDescription:
After passing the guard the students would find themselves in either side mount or top mount position. Immediately, they would attack a submission. Sometimes getting the tap, but more often, sacrificing their balance and control and getting reversed to the bottom or the opponent recovering guard.

How discouraging to waste all of that effort to pass the opponents guard and find yourself in a submission position only to lose it all and start all over again on the bottom! I call this lunging for the submission. You have not established control over your opponent and try desperately to grab the submission before your opponent escapes.

read also: Position Before Submission

14954161162_89c0d8bf2f_kSolution:
My advice is simple and easy to follow: Take your time. Get your control first. Then go for submission.” When I am watching the rolling and spot the student achieve mount, I coach them to Be patient. Stabilize the position. Flatten them out.

I have witnessed students effectiveness and submissions dramatically improve after implementing this advice. Why is this seeming simple advice so effective?

Because when you first arrive in the top position, the opponent will immediately explode with their best escape technique. They don’t want to be there!

leozaoThe best time for them to escape is BEFORE you have secured your hold. If you skip securing your best grips and weight placement, and try to lunge for a submission, they will likely succeed in escaping.

Instead, take your time. Be patient. Establish your position and base on top. Counter their escape attempts and then attack with your armlock or choke when your timing is right!

Watch your submission success go way up and keep your hard fought top positions.

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ

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Self Defense Knoxville Tn, The Almost-Blue Belt Mistake Don’t Be in a Hurry!

The Almost-Blue Belt Mistake Don’t Be in a Hurry!

Take your time. Get your control first. Then go for submission.

I teach bjj classes in two different academies and have a large number of students of different belt ranks and levels of experience. An instructor who sees the students everyday can start to identify patterns that are common among students of similar levels.

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I want to share something I have observed among some students who were getting close to their blue belts. read also: Are You Ready For Your Blue belt?

Problem:
They were in a rush in the top position and would far too often lose the top when they hurried their submission attack.

14931512136_9da4934b02_kDescription:
After passing the guard the students would find themselves in either side mount or top mount position. Immediately, they would attack a submission. Sometimes getting the tap, but more often, sacrificing their balance and control and getting reversed to the bottom or the opponent recovering guard.

How discouraging to waste all of that effort to pass the opponents guard and find yourself in a submission position only to lose it all and start all over again on the bottom! I call this lunging for the submission. You have not established control over your opponent and try desperately to grab the submission before your opponent escapes.

read also: Position Before Submission

14954161162_89c0d8bf2f_kSolution:
My advice is simple and easy to follow: Take your time. Get your control first. Then go for submission.” When I am watching the rolling and spot the student achieve mount, I coach them to Be patient. Stabilize the position. Flatten them out.

I have witnessed students effectiveness and submissions dramatically improve after implementing this advice. Why is this seeming simple advice so effective?

Because when you first arrive in the top position, the opponent will immediately explode with their best escape technique. They don’t want to be there!

leozaoThe best time for them to escape is BEFORE you have secured your hold. If you skip securing your best grips and weight placement, and try to lunge for a submission, they will likely succeed in escaping.

Instead, take your time. Be patient. Establish your position and base on top. Counter their escape attempts and then attack with your armlock or choke when your timing is right!

Watch your submission success go way up and keep your hard fought top positions.

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan
Twitter: @MarkMullenBJJ

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Self Defense Knoxville Tn, Taking Care of your Mind is Jiu-Jitsu: The importance of training instructors

Taking Care of your Mind is Jiu-Jitsu: The importance of training instructors

With jiu-jitsu being spread around the world, the mats have gained ground and the gentle art, even more fans. Thousands of students, championships and new graduations are held constantly. How gratifying is to see all this happening! But have you ever asked yourself: is the path being correctly drawn?

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The uncontrolled expansion of bjj (in general) raised many questions about the technical quality of instructors and teachers around the world. After all, the belt itself does not represent the quality of what is being transmitted. Often, the individual may know a lot about the technique, but when it comes to teaching, he/she is a total disaster. The details are not well shown, the gentleness of the gentle art is forgotten and then we see the improper use of strength.

DSC_5882Fact is that regardless of being a simple student or an athlete (they are all equal, but with different goals), having good results in championships or not, they are reflections of what is being taught. This does not refer only to subjective terms, but mainly to the technique. Regardless of aggressive or calm style or the way the movements are executed, you can always notice if strength is being used or not. Error or hit? Is the student the guilty one? In fact, what a teacher often lacks is the preparation and knowledge about jiu-jitsu for beginners.

At Gracie Barra, we have a preparatory course for instructors of our units, the ICP. Apart from our standard, we are not aware of other course with this same purpose in other teams. The difference is in the willingness to learn and, in particular, in the way we teach what was learned.

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Self Defense Knoxville TN, Off the Gym: Competition Blues

Off the Gym: Competition Blues

How much pride do you have in your game? How much trust have you put into your training for you to make it to the big leagues? Are you ready to compete?

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These are all valid questions. Believe you me. It’s normal to be feeling butterflies running amuck in your stomach. You are going against a fellow human being while clueless of his capabilities in the art of Jiu-Jitsu. And in foresight, there is this thing called fear of losing.

This article is not to scare you at all. But to actually encourage you to get out of the gym and compete like crazy.

Here are some of the best reasons why competing in BJJ is a good idea.

8635228155_63ba6036d0_zBJJ is relatively a safe environment

We all have the founders of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to thank for making BJJ what is today: a wholesome sport for everyone to enjoy. The good thing about BJJ as an art per se is that there are already standards for each tournament, sanctioned by IBJJF or otherwise. There are smaller leagues that also adapt the international rules of refereeing, point system, and what-have-you.

Test your mettle

The logical step to every practice is application. Culmination events are as important as the training itself. Professional athletes see tournaments as a way to calibrate themselves. While training environments can give you the feedback you need, in a tournament where everyone’s desire is to be on top, you might be able to learn a thing or two about your game, or what you lack from it.

It can be a full time career

8636333714_60b0af7f1a_bLiving off of sponsorship can be a double-edged sword. But going out there and doing the stuff you love the most can be one of the most rewarding things you can ever do in your career. Due to the fact that the world of social media has made it a lot easier to get sponsors, competing and being known can be as lucrative and also rewarding as the amount of skills and training you put in to the sport!

BJJ teaches perseverance

Perseverance is always one of the traits that is strongly attributed to successful individuals. In hindsight, learning perseverance is more than just knowing to persevere. Jiu-Jitsu teaches you exactly that.

You need to lose

8636334512_590158b99e_zCounter intuitive? Not really. Losing has its benefits. Although, in Gracie Barra we are taught that there is no such thing as losing, but the reality is more athletes have bounced back even stronger after losing a match. Losing athletes are known to be more reflective and pursue a higher level of skill whenever they lose. Winning is good. Losing can be even better.

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Self Defense Knoxville TN, Healthier Eating Special Diet Required

Healthier Eating Special Diet Required

One of the most popular questions that budding bjj artists ask is if there is a special diet that will work best for athletes. And if there are, then what are they?

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There is a common misconception about diets. Others see diets as a way to lose weight. While the rest of the world sees the practice as a way to shed pounds, top athletes know that keeping a healthy, balanced diet works for their bodies like a charm. And that makes a world of difference in the world of active, competitive sports.

Here are some top athletic nutrition facts:

Carbs aren’t as bad as they seem to be. It’s an athlete’s main source of energy. Sugar that becomes glucose that becomes glycogen for the muscles. How do you balance this out? Bread, cereals, pasta, and fruits will do wonders for muscle storage. Less carbs would provide a lower amount of potential for muscle work.

apple-16890_1280The caveat: heavy training requires carbohydrates.

If you are not a fan of the word diet, may we suggest you shift your entire meal planning to the Gracie Diet. The world famous Gracie Diet consists of having the right combination of foods. Master Carlos Gracie believes that certain food contents counter other foods, making the body less effective in digesting them and under-utilizing food and nutritional benefits. You may read about it here at www.graciediet.com. You may also check our archives for recipes true to the Gracie diet.

Eating Tips

Eating breakfast works best. Think about this, while you sleep, your body uses up energy (keeping the body warm, maintaining blood flow, heart rate, recuperation of muscles etc.). For budding bjj athletes, skipping breakfast should be a big no! It’s your body’s time to replenish nutrients lost while you sleep!

eat-547511_640Combining fruits during meals makes your diet balanced. Remember that big old chart back in grade school with food groups in it? Yes. The food pyramid. Try to recall where fruits lie in the list.

Whole foods are unprocessed! These fruits have yet to undergo chemical preserving. If you can get anything fresh in your diet, you are on your way to good health!

Eating healthy and staying healthy is a choice! If you are serious about making it big in the world of BJJ, I’d suggest you keep it balanced and healthy! Best of luck, young grasshopper.

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Self Defense Knoxville Tn, Taking Care of your Mind is Jiu-Jitsu: What are the biggest incentives for a warrior?

Taking Care of your Mind is Jiu-Jitsu: What are the biggest incentives for a warrior?

There is no secret; the path to the victory consists of lots of training, focus and dedication. This all would not exist without motivation, and this is the driving force of an athlete. Although it’s a door that opens from the inside out, the external stimuli are critical to keep the warrior’s spirit alive. But what are those incentives? Where do they originate from?

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Those who fight, know that there’s nothing better than feeling the heart beating stronger during a training session. The body seems stronger and although tired, you can go on and complete your goal. We breathe and live the gentle art. Thus, we from GB Brazil listed three types of incentives that make a difference for our warriors.

1- Listen to the instructor’s voice: There may be the whole world screaming in the stands, but that voice coming from your corner, low or loud, will stand out, echoing through your ears. Knowing that the guy who accompanied you your whole life is there, just next to you, will motivate you even more to achieve a positive result.

Ana Laura, after some years out of the mats returned and became the 2014 world champion.2- Having people cheering for you: When the gym guys get together and scream your name, jump up in their chairs, hit the walls That typical euphoria scene in championships. Sometimes it may seem that they extrapolate a bit, but let’s speak the truth it is way good to have these guys on your side, isn’t it?

3- Family Support: Parents serve as true superheroes in each of our lives. Some energetic reprimands, demands, but there nothing that makes you happier than seeing them excited for your victory.

Either one of these incentives or all of them, having an extra hand coming from outside the mat is very good, right? OSS!

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Self Defense Knoxville Tn, Sport Jiu-Jitsu X Self-Defense Two jiu-jitsu styles?

Sport Jiu-Jitsu X Self-Defense Two jiu-jitsu styles?

Over the past 10 years, the world of jiu-jitsu has undergone numerous changes. The first one refers to the way this art was labeled by society. The fight before seen as war weapon used by the samurai, today has become a sport with no restrictions. Women, elderly and children are part of that reality.

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With the universalization of the gentle art, the championships have grown and continue to grow at the highest organizational level and, of course, the technical level among the athletes has risen very fast. Championships all through the year and crowded mats in the gyms. Students learn the basic principles and, of course, self-defense is an important part of this learning. But what about when students begin to actually fight, i.e., to roll? From there on, is the jiu-jitsu that originated from self-defense forgotten and the student dives into the sporting world?

This is a discussion of years. Different opinions, many debates and the old story continues. Is Jiu-jitsu divided into two styles: self-defense and the sports modality? Does the self-defense side of the gentle art lose ground to the sporting one? In the following video, Master Carlos Gracie Jr. talks about his views on this debate. Watch and listen carefully to the Master’s words. Understand the GB founder’s vision better.

Please note the video is in Portuguese and you must click the CC button at the bottom of the video to show the English subtitles:

Check the video:

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