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вторник, 3 июня 2014 г.

Competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

While it may have been the original intention of Helio Gracie's to develop a martial art for real life combat, sport jiu jitsu is flourishing around the world and growing at an impressive pace. The United Kingdom is just one example of this. While 10-15 years ago there was almost no opportunity to train the art form/sport, now there is a good selection of clubs to choose from with many of the established teams operating in the country including Gracie Barra, Checkmat and many others. There are dozens of competitions around and there are rising stars that have trained in the UK that are slowly gaining prominenance. Perhaps it will not be long until we see the first UK born black belt world champion.

Whether you like competition or not, there is no denying that the sport aspect of BJJ sharpens skills and the fighter's abilities. To see this, you only have to go to a full-time BJJ academy and spar with a competition-focus player or a blue/purple full time athlete. These guys are often miles ahead of their peers both technically as well as in terms of athleticism. Just remember how Draculino said it about the blue belt - the blue belt is not a joke. Some blue belts submit brown belts!

After all just look at the top players in the game and the ease with which they can man handle even good level black belts. There is a huge difference between a casual jiu jitsu player that trains 2-3 times a week and often teaches instead of training, and a serious player, that is completely focus on his goals, training every day, improving his conditioning and doing all the extras: eating right, getting enough sleep, taking care of the body.

Self defense is part of the curriculum but I think you should have a choice. If I'm 20 or 30 years old, I would rather achieve something on the competition circuit and make my mark. After all I can focus on self-defense aspects later if that is what I'm interested in.

I think there is nothing more fun is to go as a team to a major competition and represent. Your instructor at your side its a great opportunity to learn and understand where you have to improve. At white belt, I learnt that I need to develop my guard. At purple I am now getting more focused on my guard passing game.

The competition environment is very different to a sparring session. After a while you get used to it, but it is important to learn how to perform under pressure and focus on technique.

понедельник, 3 февраля 2014 г.

Classic Quote from ArtChoke Media Book!

"In a comparison of coolness, the berimbolo will always trounce the scissor sweep. The scissor sweep is 
your 1995 Ford Escort. Yeah, it starts, and it’s mostly reliable. It will get you from point A to point B and back again. But the radio only picks up AM stations. The windows are manual. And you are pretty sure your back seat doubles as a stray cat brothel when the sun goes down.

The berimbolo is the Fisker Karma. Haven’t heard of it? That’s the same way most jiu-jiteiros reacted when the word “berimbolo” started loating around jiu-jitsu forums, and no one could decide how to pronounce it. The Fisker Karma earned Esquire Magazine’s award for 2012 Most Gorgeous Debut Car of the Year. Henrik Fisker is a former Aston Martin designer who launched his own car design firm in America. The Fisker Karma is his baby, and Esquire described it as “polarizing, gutsy, and a little unbelievable.” It is the sexiest hybrid in the world. Sleek. Shapely. The body seems to ripple like the muscles of a wild animal and the curves beckon like a siren. "

If you would like to read the book by Artechoke media, here is the link, enjoy!


четверг, 30 января 2014 г.

How Often Do You Train BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a sport where hard work and dedication matters a lot more than talent. While from time to time you will see guys that have a background in grappling and will come in doing well as white belts, as time goes by if they are not putting in the mat time hours, you will see their abilities relative to you reduce somewhat.

This is what happened from my experience. When I was starting out as a fresh white belt, I trained at most 3-4 times per week, often missing sessions due to work obligations and I think in reality achieving perhaps 3 sessions on average per week.

I would slowly progress, starting out right at the bottom of the food chain. Bigger white belts would have trouble with me and blue belts would really have me for breakfast most of the time, either submitting me or at the very least passing my guard and dominating me.

I really looked up to some of the purples though. We had some very good ones (or it seemed to me so) that had some other grappling style background and who seemed to me invincible at the time.

A few years went by. Got my blue belt but really did not make much of it at the time. Yes I could do ok against most beginners but when you had someone who knew what to do, I continued to have a lot of trouble.

Nowadays as I continue to mature as a blue belt the situation is starting to change and it amazes me how vastly different the improvement is for each bjj student. Some guys who I started out training with and who were a lot more experienced than me at the time seem considerably weaker, with their game no longer as solid as I remember it.

I remember I trained with two blue belts in the beginning that from time to time submitted me even though I would give it my all just to make life hard for them. Nowadays however these same guys, because they did not train regularly would be happy if they can score anything on me at all.

The purples however is a different story. Some of the guys that progressed to purple long ago or were purples when I started now seem tough but in a different way. For me they have lost their invicibility aura somehow. For sure they are still very good, but now as I continue to train I feel they are beatable.

Jiu Jitsu is all about investing mat time to improve. You have to spend the time and you have to train with the best at what they do. You will improve and when you do it will be the best feeling. Training is what gets you from struggling against your sparring partners to anhilitating them and tearing through the comps. It also makes jiu jitsu more fun for sure especially if you are a lighter guy :) there is just that element of enjoy when you can dominate a bigger or stronger dude especially if he has been training longer than you have.

четверг, 16 января 2014 г.

Casual to Serious Training

Most of us are training and enjoying the jiu jitsu lifestyle every day. You come to practice and normally you do ok against guys of the same grade. Some lower grades you can demolish while higher grades tend to beat you in sparring. One day however you meet the bjj competitor breed though....

This is a special breed of sparring partner. From my experience there is always one or two guys at an average decent academy that is just way above the rest for their grade. It might be a guy that trained in wrestling or judo since early child hood but not necessarily. Sometimes its a guy that just trains a lot and by a lot I mean A LOT more than everybody else. 

The thing is no matter how talented you are, or athletic or what you did before bjj, if you train a lot you catch up.. you close gaps in your game and evolve into a fighter that can hold his own against guys that have been doing bjj much longer timewise.

There is just a different approach when it comes to serious players. If casual bjj players would normally train 2-3-4 sessions per week, most serious players would train at least 6 classes a week which is when your improvement speed starts to kick in and you begin to feel that you are developing faster your partners. 

Most serious players would train twice a day every day or more and this makes all the difference. Guys at the top of the major IBJJF stands train often and once you start taking the sport seriously it starts to bring in good results. 

Once you start feeling progress I think its really time to get even more motivated by competing. Competition is an excellent driver. A good start is to take part in the local bjj circuit. Smaller comps is a great start and an excellent incentive for your training. You now have a goal to work towards and something you can work together with your partners helping each other in training and then going out and competing together against guys from other schools. Over time you move forward and progress to bigger competitions and tougher guys and I think this is where it gets really interesting to see for many, how far they can go and improve.

среда, 21 августа 2013 г.

Passing the Guard

Passing the guard in my opinion is one of the most important components of the BJJ game and the reason for the success of such all time greats as Roger Gracie and Rodolfo Viera.

My thinking is that first you need to develop a strong bottom game, a good guard. Which one you prefer is upto you, whether closed guard, open guard, half guard. I prefer the half guard because I have a lot of moves from this position and I give a hard time for my opponents trying to pass me.

The second most important component is passing. 50% of the time you spend on top and here you have to first work your passing before trying to go for any submissions and controlling your opponent.

There are basically two types of passes available - 1) standing speed passes (e.g. Torreando pass) trying to pass the legs from standing and 2) passess from the knees mainly through applying pressure to the opponent

There is a multitude of different passes and I think the trick is to find the ones that work for you and perfect them. Here is a video of Rodolfo Viera passing technique that I found useful and fits well with my passing game:

среда, 14 августа 2013 г.

How Long to BJJ Purple Belt?

I think most academies you will go to, people will tell you that it does not matter what belt you are and that what is more important is technique. While I cannot agree more to this statement, belts count a lot in BJJ. 

While at white belt you spend most of your time especially six months into training thinking about when will be the magic day when you get your blue belt, when you actually get to blue belt things change a lot. You are on the other side of the fence I would say. Those hungry and athletic white belts will want to hunt you down and get that sacred submission on you.

A couple of weeks ago I experienced such a moment. I was rolling with a white belt, may 6 or a year into training BJJ. I was quite tired and I think it was my fifth sparring roll and there he was going as hard as he could to try to catch me on something. He was at least 20 kg or 45 lbs heavier but having managed to attempt to take my back he latched on to try to get the choke on me. How upset was he that despite his best efforts (I mean with all his strength he tried to force everything he knew) he could not do anything and he was really upset. 

I think the blue belt is when white belts really start hunting you. I thinking many of us were that guy. Four striped white belt looking to catch a fresh blue belt on some submission hold. 

What is for sure important is belt colour whether we want to admit it or not. It is an enormous boost when you come to training and beat a guy of a higher grade and it is also an enormous set back when you come to training and you lose to a lower belt. Happens to me I think every day. Some time I go hard and try to win while at other times I like to roll light or for position, to maintain position but not use strength and of course sometimes the guy is good or you just werent focusing. The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes  as at the end of the day what is important is how you fight in competition. You can lose to everybody in training but if you come back home with a bundle of IBJJF medals and they don't, this is the real test. 

Gradually we become used to the blue belt. After a year or more you become more mature and technical. Suddenly white belts pose no real threat to you. It is no longer about you defending but it is now about attacking and holding the position you attain. As I became a mature blue belt with nearly two years at blue belt, I realized that it is nothing special for me to be able to successfully defend against other blue belts and hold my ground. Now it is time to develop my attack: actively initiating sweeps and guard passes. I don't want to recover guard from half guard. I want to transition and obtain the dominant position and then retain it at will. The more I practice the better I become at passing the guard but when I get there in side control, I want to retain this position at will. This is the next level I think and even if some submission does not work out, I want to get side control and then work to transition to mount or back or submission depending on the situation giving no room for my opponent to escape. I think this is where purple belts try to gain this additional level of expertise and whats sets them apart from the blue belts. Unlike blue belts, they already have a strategy, what passesses they like, which sweeps from the bottom work for them and they not only can defend but can also start to attack when they see the opportunity.

I have read that the IBJJF minimum number of classes for Blue Belt is somewhere around 120-130 and for Purple Belt at a minimum 360 classes. I think at Alliance it is also minimum 360 classes.

Thats a minimum of 140 classes at blue belt. Today I have had 228 classes as a blue belt so I don't think the minimum counts for much and the level at each belt can vary drastically. 

I've seen some guys here in Russia that are very good at blue belt while in the USA I have encountered some purple belts that did not appear to have that much grappling skill as I would have expected. I think really the difference is in the style of training. There are family BJJ guys that train two times per week. These guys are like 35-40 years old and it is just not fair to try to compare a 20 year old guy who trains 5-6 times a week and does conditioning. Both can be of the same belt colour.

In my fair assessment, I think I would like to hit pruple at around 350 classes at blue. I thinks thats a fair number. at three times per week thats only two years and a half which is fine in my opinion. You need to earn it and I think you want to feel purple belt and not just get it. 

Purple belt is an elite grappler in BJJ. Its a Judo black belt and a really skilled guy that should be able to easily overcome any white belt in class and also teach blue belts a thing or two about BJJ. I also think the purple belt should be well rounded, knowing at the minimum two or three good guard passing techniques, two good submissions and know one type of guard as the "go to place". Plus I think a good purple should have competed at least a couple of times. Its important to be a complete fighter that has the experience to share with the younger grades. It would be a shame for me at white belt to get advice from a purple belt about competitions if he has not entered. Of course everyone has there one situation but for purples that teach I think they should have some competition experience so they know what works and what does not in a comp.

понедельник, 29 июля 2013 г.

BJJ and Your Girlfriend: Five Tips How to Get More Training In

1. Try to avoid talking BJJ/UFC/Grappling related to her and NEVER do grappling moves on her. That will make her either MAD or BORED!!

2. If you want to get some training in, you've got to make sure that your girlfriend is busy with something that she enjoys - and the important thing is that you are not needed for this. It can be anything, whether horse back riding with girlfriends, taking her parents out or travelling with them, or just very simple things like financing some girl time for her, like manicures, etc

3. If she has something special planned or is going away, that day, DONT schedule a bjj session the day before or on that morning. It will make her MAD. Instead take her out for nice dinner, buy her some Flowers!! and train when she is gone.

4. You need to make sure you work around her schedule. That means if she is working late that day - BAM!! BJJ Training Session that evening or if she is going out with some girl friends BAM!! BJJ that evening. You need to get the timing right and perfect this.

5. Training In the Morning. Yes! this works very well if you have a day job and can't be just away at the gym every evening. Do Mon-Wed-Friday training early in the morning when she is asleep (say 7am) and then Tues-Thursday you can do in the evening. Some of us have to work for a living!! but in order to get to do what we love, we have to plan our lives the smart way.

Any Comments Very Welcome and if you still get into a fight over BJJ just make up and do something nice. There is no point in fighting. All you really have to do is find some time and clean the house and cook a little. When she comes back from work tired - you surprise her!