Mindsets: Jiu-Jitsu For Wellness

“It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left.”  ~Chris Haueter

Based on Rickson’s experience with holistic conditioning approaches of Yoga and Ginastica Natural, was somewhat surprised to hear the extent of his back issues in the now famous Joe Rogan podcast. As the interview wore on it was evident that Rickson was basically a solider who had to be willing to fight at any given moment, and his body suffered as you’d expect.

This was the mentality imported from Brazil to United States, and was part of the Jiu-Jitsu culture up until the late 1990s, diminishing as sport Jiu-Jitsu and MMA events took hold.

With Jiu-Jitsu now proven as an essential part of a combative toolbox, the next step is Jiu-Jitsu in my opinion is wellness. Here, the hyper-competitive, dog eat dog Darwinian landscape is diminished in favor of doing to Jiu-Jitsu to help our bodies age with intelligence and grace. The goal being sustainable growth born from wonderful experiences over a lifetime of training:

red belts

Defense (Cross-Sides): Indentifying ‘Pushing Frame’ For Shrimping

Noticed a few things while studying two similar Half-Guard escapes today:

Most subtle, was the pushing frames were different.  What I mean by ‘pushing frame,’ is that generally one frame holds the body/trunk in place while the other pushes, with a ‘Jiu-Jitsu push’ being much different then a regular push in that we’re pushing ourselves away from big uglies instead of pushing them off.

Pablo Popovitch pushing deltoid with outside hand, while holding wrist control with near-side hand @ 4:25-4:55:

Fabio Gurgel pushing hip with inside hand, while far-side hand holds trunk in place across neck-line @ :38-1:33:

Suppose you could categorize this distinction as ‘Invisible Jiu-Jitsu,’ as it’s tough to see visually, but hopefully it make sense for you guys in terms of feel when breaking down positions.

I had the core Cross-Sides escape from Saulo’s ‘Jiu-Jitsu University’ book wrong for five years because didn’t realize he was pushing away with outside elbow on his opponents south shoulder (inside hand blocked cross-face).

Training: Bite-Sized, Principle Based Planning

The most actionable plans are by definition simple, so paring the previous post down even further, I realized you can make a plan more exploratory yet fixed, and simultaneously bigger and smaller by focusing on single principles.

Xande Ribeiro offering a beautiful example of one idea, five applications:

A bonus thought is, I consider the above knee insertion more of a ‘fundamentally sound’ strategy than some of the reversals I love because it gives you more physical and cognitive breathing room via distance.

Keep in mind too, that a great Jiu-Jitsu practitioner studies hard and can do everything, so ‘just’ doing fundamentals is a recipe for a game easily deconstructed and figured out. ‘Fundamentals’ are our logical foundation, not an excuse to stop exploring.

Mindsets: Bite-Sized Planning

In outlining a workout for tonight, strategically planned less than I wanted.

This way, the workout stays relatively light in mind, versus the daunting ‘epic’ styled plans that either don’t get started, or quality suffers from trying to do too many different things at once.

Also, a lighter approach leaves room during the workout itself to do more, whereas epic leaves little to no breathing room for the enticement of extra effort when it’s present.

In fewer words:

Plan like an adult, play like a child:

Defense: Sensing Energy Through Grounding

Per below post, 85-90% of getting an escape or reversal is Grounding yourself to an opponent.

Next, we’re going to feel for energy:  Is it Squeezing, Pulling Away, Driving, or more Relaxed?

A good Grounding position does two things:  It helps us feel energy in real-time, and places our limbs in a position to counter.

Tomorrow, hoping to play with some Half-Guard bottom position I struggled with the last sparring session.  The difference now is, instead of looking to counter the top player directly, we’ll look at a Grounding position or two (probably just one if we’re smart enough to adopt ‘less is more’ mindset) and feel the different ways to top player can move, creating from there.

The opposite of this mentality is trying to take a position and make it work regardless of what’s in front of you.  Lest you laugh at this approach, it’s an easy trap to fall in to because sometimes things really work, and proof of it’s efficacy gets hard-wired in to the degree we aren’t sensitive to the changing nature of rolls.

Principles: Grounding Vs. Framing

Henry Akins did a couple of cool YouTube videos a few months ago covering the principle of connection, but I never really grasped how grounding yourself to an opponent applies equally in defensive scenarios (credit Jack Taufer for this):

Guess I thought of ‘frames’ mostly as mechanisms for holding training partners in place while shrimping away…

More accurate, in light of this insight is a grounding structure can sometimes act as a frame! =)

The primary goal of grounding in my mind would be creating a conduit for feeling our opponent, increasing our sensitivity to their weight distribution and intention.

Next, depending on what our friend does, a good active framing structure allows for an aware tension that can hold, collapse, and push or pull in short order.

To apply the idea of grounding, one thing to play with is linking up to a training partner with these active frames and noticing how they move and counter.  If they back away can you fill the space with a new posture?  If they drive into the frame can we collapse it and/or change direction, using the momentum for a reversal?

Really, from the perspective of grounding, ‘escapes’ are a misnomer because the priority is sensitivity and survival.  Whether or not you escape or reverse your opponent largely depends on their energy.

For additional study, how does this position (neck & tricep @ 3:01) ‘ground’ Ryron Gracie to the seminar attendees? What are his points of connection, and how and where can he push, pull, fill, hold, and collapse?

Training: Supplemental Training Decives

Watched a video this morning suggesting grappling dummies conjured up images of the type of people who write manifestos and train by themselves in basements.


….I have a grappling dummy, and this blog is a sort of manifesto….

…so… lol

On a serious note, look around, EVERY well established sport utilizes supplemental training devices.  Why?  They save time, and allow for high amounts of reps with little corresponding wear and tear.

Are the necessary for improvement?  No.


Because it’s about the unique needs of the individual combined with their creativity and resourcefulness.

It’s art man, it’s wide open so lighten up, have fun, think possibilities, and be outstanding:

Mindsets: Getting Better Vs. Playing Forever

Loved the simplicity and directness of the idea of ‘Getting Better’ when hearing it repeatedly from then Oregon Ducks Football coach Chip Kelly 5-6 years ago.

chip and marcus

Still, something I realized during a long drive yesterday is ‘Getting Better’ is best suited for high pressure, highly competitive environments that sustainable to the point where college athletes often forgo their senior seasons for retirement…

For the individual seeking lifetime, and possibly everyday involvement, we have to keep things fun and interesting.

In this context, constant measurement is harmful because, well, it’s constant and therefore nagging.  Two, we’re not caught up in measuring any one, two, or three things because we’re involved for a totality of experience in a continual state of flow and change including but not limited to:  Friendship, Health, Expression, Service, Study, Progression, and Community.

Reading the above paragraph, I guess part of what makes blogging so cool as it’s a medium that allows the intensely personal (what is more personal than a thought?!) community audience.