Study: Natural Goals

I think ‘goals’ are pretty much already there in the form of things we think are cool enough to invest time in, with ‘coolness’ being the motivation. =)

Problems start when we start stacking MORE mental activity on top of this natural process via bad ideas from the positive psychology/self-help movement, i.e. S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timed).

Just play.  Where you need to go next will reveal itself in its own time.


Mindsets: Control Vs. Give & Take

Playing with solo drilling and movement for the sake of movement has drawn attention to how tight my hips are (glutes, thighs, hamstrings, and stomach muscles).

While this situation has improved dramatically thanks to corrective exercises and increased awareness, it was once a source of chronic back pain and waking up sore every morning.

Taking these things into consideration over the past several weeks, the question begged:

Why did ‘Jiu-Jitsu’ make my hips tighter instead of looser and more mobile; especially if we’re talking about wellness and Jiu-Jitsu in the same breath?

Obviously there’s a core misunderstanding here, because logically if my body broke down to the point it has in the past, my whole notion of Jiu-Jitsu must be somewhat off…

The answer that came was I subconsciously believed Jiu-Jitsu was about control and maintaining that control…


…duuuude, no wonder I’m friggin’ tight. =)

In terms of corrective mindset, Jiu-Jitsu is more about give and take than control; meaning we take what’s there, and on the flipside, freely give up positions rather than fight for what’s lost.  Does this mean we are giving up the fight completely?

No way Jose, because to the degree we freely ‘give’ we’re in the process of flowing into the next position…

Surfing is probably the perfect metaphor here because ‘controlling’ a board under foot requires surrendering to the ocean.  So yes it’s control, but it’s a receptive control dependent on ability to skillfully play give and take with the tide.

To quote Rickson, thou shalt flow with the go…


Guard Passing: Pressure Passing Contexts

Consider the old-school ‘smash’ style of passing the equivalent of in-fighting in boxing with hooks and uppercuts.

There are people who out there who still kill with this tight game as their primary approach , but from a fundamental standpoint it’s high-risk, high-reward as you’re literally locked into you’re opponents hips.  In short, it’s a game of inches with a small margin of error.

Still, I think the BJJ player needs these passes like a complete boxer needs a short game for change of tempo, creating fatigue through smothering, as well as being ideal when our opponent is intent on pulling us into them as opposed to trying to create space.

Principles: Strength Distribution & Efficacy

After giving previous post further thought, we want everything we have working in a position (arms, legs, head, and weight of core), the key is understanding where are strongest muscle groups are, and allocating work accordingly.  We’ll call this strength distribution as it relates to design and problem solving.

Secondly, efficacy has to do with maximizing the effect of limb engagement.  A good example of how subtle this principle can be is noticing how dropping the head down in most top positions (in addition to arching our spine) engages the weight of our upper above the nipples (yeah, I said nipple you dolt).


Going off on a ‘using your head’ tangent here, we can make even further use of the head by using it to eat up space.  Again, this is somewhat scenario dependent, but the idea is getting the maximum use out of everything we have as it relates to the power of muscle groups and structure of the respective position.

Guard Passing: Passing With The Legs

Spent a round and a half this morning passing from my knees, which relies primarily on passing with grips.

Need to keep in mind that the legs are seven to ten time stronger than arms, and in general, sound passing mechanics reflect this strength distribution.

In other words, be softer with the hands and more active with the feet.

As in life, ten to twenty years of ‘experience’ often translates to ten to twenty years of a bad habit(s). =)

alfred e neuman

Training: Enjoyment First

“How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.” ~R. Buckminster Fuller

It’s all to easy once we work to a certain level of skill or shape to begin to covet that knowledge and conditioning.

How do we know when we are coveting?  It begins when we stop playing and start measuring.


And, with measurement being built into the literal fabric of Jiu-Jitsu via belts, coming to the above play awareness while simple, is no small task.


Yet another challenge to overcome is constant measuring DOES get us places.  The problem is that place is limited by the thinking that got us there.

So…going to play with the idea of enjoyment first, and see where that takes me…which by definition I’ll never know!

This strikes the rational mind as crazy, but whatever. =)


Guard: The Pressure Centered Guard

Traditionally, have viewed different Guards as leg configurations which act as a mechanism for a particular type of control that lends itself to a specific submission or sweep:

For example, you have the basic hook sweep from Butterfly Guard, Straight Armlocks from Closed Guard, and digging for Underhooks from Half Guard.  From here you build a game around how you’re counters the central attack.

Well, now instead of the central submission or sweep I’m thinking of the particular pressure of the Guard itself, movement within that Guard, as well transitioning to other leg configurations.

Here, the goal is keeping the opponent uncomfortable, off-balance, and unsure of where the attack is coming from, with the finish or sweep being secondary.

Case Studies:

Chris Haueter demonstrating Guard Knee-Ride @ 0:14:

Jack Taufer showing multiple Closed Guard pulling pressures:

Saulo Ribeiro with forward pressure from Butterfly Guard:

Training: Rolling Free & Endurance Through Enjoyment

Had the embarrassing insight today that I often ‘try’ too hard during live sparring.

Came in with the intent of having fun and moving around, which is kinda no intention, and had energy to spare!

Upon reflection, realized that working a little too hard in coming up with things on my own translated to putting pressure on myself to make positions work during live reps.

The truth of the matter is, what we’ve drilled and/or brainstormed is going to manifest itself naturally in it’s own time, often in ways we can’t predict.

Further, I believe lots of movement is crucial to the learning process too.  That is, movement for the sake of movement.

Children, who aren’t bogged down by outcome and over-analysis understand the above innately.  Not sure what the neuroscience behind this is, but it makes sense intuitively.

Feeling stupid in a good way. ;o)

Wellness: Free Will, States Of Mind, & Choice

Had a discussion with a Coach several years back about free will and choice, in which he referenced the classic study of Benjamin Libet demonstrating decisions to move before we are conscious of them:

While I think this is true, I also believe the choices we make are a partial result of the state we’re in at the moment.  If we are feeling fulfilled and at peace with a relative low amount of mental chatter, we’re less likely to take conflict oriented action compared to when our mind is racing.

Related to the above, clearer the state we’re in, the more we’re going to see a continuum of choice, and feel possibility.

In applying these ideas to training, similar to the weather, fluctuating states of mind are human nature where ego acts as gasoline for whatever we’re feeling at the moment; so it’s important not to identify with being on top of the world or down in the dumps as BOTH are illusory.

The cool thing about Jiu-Jitsu is it can serve as a microcosm of this process as everyone has had the feeling where they are finally progressing, only to get stomped the next training session, when in fact neither are necessarily true.

Lesson: Take training in stride, don’t pour on the gas, and enjoy yourself.


Wellness: Willpower & The Long Haul

Currently doing many things I would have found difficulty even 1-2 years ago.


Would say it’s a combo of mellowing coupled with a better understanding of cause and effect.

Conversely, while willpower often works in the short-term, it’s essentially a form of trying to ‘solve’ problems at the level they’re created.

Insight, on the hand changes everything, as realizing we are both pursuer and pursued brings us back to simplicity and clarity.  All that’s left is being and doing. =)