Training: Getting Better 10 Minutes A Day

It goes without saying, the more time we have to dedicate to something the better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are working on being smart with our time.

Starting from the preceding idea, just think how much you could get done  ten minutes a day if you worked to get progressively smarter.

Technically, this is actually more than ten minutes because it includes time spent thinking of ways to train smarter on top of actual mat time.

To conclude, when people complain about not having the time to train, I see it as an imagination issue, not a time issue:  They usually aren’t making much effort to be smarter about what they can do, and their definition of what can constitutes training is very narrow.

Ten seconds, ten minutes, or ten hours don’t matter, the key is opening the mind and growing possibilities today.

Study: Belts & The ‘Learning’ Skill-Set

First heard the idea of using belts as metaphors for a progressive skill-set (Survive, Escape, Guard, & Guard Passing) from Chris Haueter.  This progression was later documented in Saulo Ribeiro’s now classic text ‘Jiu-Jitsu University.’  If I remember correctly Chris emphasized ‘Style and Personality,’ over ‘Submission’ at Black, but the general framework was identical.

What I’m offering to hopefully compliment the above geographical progression, is a learning progression that I honestly didn’t start grasping well into Black Belt.

White- Learning a fundamental strategy from each geography well enough to spar with an intent in mind other than spazzing to make up for lack of knowledge/drilling.

Blue- Exploring individual geographies to deepen our geographical understanding beyond basic frameworks.

Purple- Having established depth at several positions via intentional focus, we graduate to an ability to blend positions together to create a whole greater than sum of each part.  This is where we start making leaps from positional based strategy to a principle orientation.

Brown- Working from the framework of beginning to understand Jiu-Jitsu as a whole and addressing problems accordingly.

Black- Having a complete game that’s reflective of Jiu-Jitsu as a general concept is kinda like a gravity restricted Neo from ‘The Matrix’ movie.  You’re understanding of structure, energy, and momentum manifests a kind of ‘moveless’ Jiu-Jitsu.

Training: Cataloging Solo Drills

Started trying to catalog solo-drills for personal training, and after some time realized it’s WAY easier if done by position on down to sub-positions like Guard and Butterfly Guard respectively.

In this way, we can ‘discover’ and design solo-drills as a natural extension of positional focus that should start as we move from acquiring the basic game of a blue belt to deeper exploration of specific geographies at purple (see above post).

Study: 9 Core Principles Of Jiu-Jitsu Updated

Update to 9 Principles Post:

Going back and reading the preceding post, was happy to find it was better than remembered!

Still, here are some thoughts five years later:

A principle is a metaphor that attempts to get at the center of an idea, but never fully represents the idea itself.  In Jiu-Jitsu speak this represents the difference between describing the feel of a position versus actual tactile feeling.

So, obviously we can get hung up on descriptors, as well as trying to over-simplify things.  At the time of 9 core principles post, was making the mistake of trying to understand the whole of Jiu-Jitsu by intellectualizing it

Currently, my process starts with the feel of a position, then back-tracking to deduce what’s happening bio-mechanically.

Continuing on, where principles come in is during the creative process of attempting to make the structure and momentum of a position as efficient as possible.  Otherwise, I’m just copying or manufacturing ideas without rhyme or reason.

Saulo Ribeiro articulating these ideas on ‘Rolled Up’ show @ 19:42-20:26:

To conclude, there’s still a thought process involved, but the goal is to make that process as real, sharp, open, and inclusive as possible.  The idea being that if we can begin from a sound place, good destinations are inevitable.

Cross-Sides Escapes: 3 Framing Levers

Quasi-update to following post:

Studying Saulo Ribeiro’s escapes using an Arm-Fold frame against opponents south shoulder, realized that not all frames ‘push.’  In the case of Arm-Fold, you bridge into the top player and leave framing arm there as you shrimp back.  There is no ‘pushing’ involved per say, more just suspending a person in place with the hips doing 90% of the work…

Arm-Fold frame discussed more in depth here:

Next, are frames where we do no pushing at all with frames or bridges.  Instead, we’re simply holding our partner in place while we shrimp away and recover.  From Cross-Sides Bottom the most common instance of this are belly down escapes done when our opponent is blocking Guard Recovery via south arm with weight sprawling away on the mat.  Can’t find a video that illustrates this to my satisfaction, but let’s call this ‘holding’ as the top player is already in the position you confirm, whereas in ‘suspension’ there’s a push involved, but it’s done with hips.

So there you have it, frames can push (see link at top), suspend, and hold a person in space depending our goals and they’re geography in relation to us.

Bonus Note:  Pushing style frames are often coupled with a balling up of our core to facilitate easy spinning on our upper or lower back depending on the angle of the top player.

To illustrate, Pablo Popovitch spinning on upper back with pushing frame:

Training: Solo-Drilling Part 1

Working on solo-drilling, starting with familiar scenarios from Cross-Sides bottom.

On the journey so far, solo-drilling seems to require a completely different mental skill-set than sparring, as it’s essentially imagination and a mat. Still, it’s an awesome supplementary tool to develop as we’re always available. ;o)

Was able to zone in last night on keeping my feet close to power source (hips), as well as staying on the balls of my feet during bridging and shrimping.  Was able to feel how the feet (on balls) were able to generate power from the ground through the hips, as well as lessening the drag of core by bridging up on each shoulder or shoulder walking.

While the above movements are very basic, the idea that Jiu-Jitsu is just as much about our relationship to the ground as it is to our opponent if often forgotten.

Last but not least, music is a must!:

Cursory Notes:  Discovered I could shoulder walk towards my feet to bring heels further into my butt.  Had seen this before, but didn’t deduce how the mechanic was accomplished from angle it was viewed.

Secondary Cursory Notes:  Of course you have to test things out with a training partner, but leverage has a certain feel and aesthetic to it where you feel the power.  A big part of Jiu-Jitsu in my opinion is nurturing this intelligence, often dimished by our efforts to model practitioners we deem superior in knowledge.  Remember, bio-feedback is ultimate coach!

Health & Wellness: Training For Movement

Technical, relaxed, energy efficient Jiu-Jitsu is mechanically rooted in loose, mobile hips. This pliability in turn, helps keep our bodies sensitive and agile. Tremendous health benefits here!

So these days (when mindful at least!) I primarily train and drill for watery hips, trusting that the sparring will take care of itself, and, even if it doesn’t will still reap the daily benefits of having a light center.

Overall, the mentality is training for Jiu-Jitsu, not submissions or points.

Some footage of Rickson that blew me away as I white belt, but took for granted at more advanced blue and purple belt levels when I began dominating white belts with superior knowledge. Was in my twenties at the time, and I think gradually we come full circle to appreciate how dangerous a white belt can be in causing us injury from combinations of stiffness, unpredictability, and athleticism.

So, marveling once again at how loose Rickson is against the tightest, stiff, most unpredictable sparring partner there is: The White Belt!

For sake of specific study, watch da hips:

Training: Jiu-Jitsu As Skill-Sets

Know I don’t have the following quite right, but always trying to copy less and understand principles more as Jiu-Jitsu is about sensitivity, structure, and know-how:


Jiu-Jitsu as 4 different Skill-Sets for 3 Dimensions:

Defense:  Framing, Pummeling, Transitioning, Escaping, Reversing.

Domination:  Maintaining, Pummeling, Transitioning, Advancing, Submitting.

Distance:   Maintaining, Recovering, Pummeling, Attaching, Tracking.

Posture:  Recovering, Grounding, Nullifying, Killing, Advancing.

Submissions: Patience & Opportunity

When it comes to taking actual appendages, the best submission is the one we wait for:


The opposite of this approach is expending massive amounts of energy trying to cram ourselves down people’s throats, completely missing the 5-6 easy opportunities staring us in the face in our rush to impress the Jiu-Jitsu Gods.

Why wait?

Well, it reinforces patience and being receptive to what’s in front of us. It also encourages the domination skill and posture mechanics waiting requires.  If we can’t hold mount for example, how are we going to finish anybody?

This approach constitutes a much longer learning curve than basing our game on attributes, new positions, and/or things our training partner’s aren’t familiar with, but is much harder to defend and re-construct because it becomes about how positions are applied rather than positions themselves.

Domination: The Ultimate Submission

‘Fatigue makes cowards of us all.’ ~Vince Lombardi

Heard Ryron Gracie once say that the worst way you can tap is cardio tapping.  That is, we’re too tired to expend the necessary energy to survive.

Inverting the preceding idea , the best submission we can get is the cardio tap, especially when our domination technique is refined to the point of absorbing and nullifying our opponents attempts to create space and move through a combination of relaxation and precise bio-mechanics that steal energy over time.

Henry Akins demonstrating above approach from Mount and Half Guard Top respectively:

In practical terms, think of a cardio tap as a choke that may take 10-15 minutes to take affect, but with longer residual effects than putting some one to sleep with an actual choke.  Along such lines, some people may still have some fight in them even after suffering joint trauma or passing out.  By contrast, you can’t physically drive a car that’s overheated.

To conclude, the intent isn’t to provide an either/or proposition, but offer an alternative to the popular ‘finish vs. points’ debate that in my opinion somewhat misses the point of Jiu-Jitsu as a whole.