Media: PDX Jiu-Jitsu History w/ Eric Hemphill

Langauge warning: Liberal F-bomb usage ;o):

Chris Haueter’s hair got more air time than I did, and my version of history has me hanging out with Eric, and picking him up to train more than everyone else mentioned combined, but how could I possibly compete with these strands?



Mind States: The Heart Of Play

Most every practitioner I know was drawn to Jiu-Jitsu out of wonder.  The idea of the less genetically gifted defeating a bigger, stronger, heavier adversary through a knowledge of leverage and strategy holds a certain magical, if not mythical element.


Therefore, it’s no surprise that Jiu-Jitsu is a past-time we felt born to. =)

Where the preceding innocence begins to get smothered is when get away from the source of this wonder, and start building identity in Jiu-Jitsu fueled by how we think we’re progressing in accordance with peers, ‘rival’ academies, and perhaps the worst culprit of all, our expectation for ourselves.

The above expectation and comparing probably exists because we believe we need these projections in place to ‘progress,’ but what they actually do is suck our natural vitality dry and limit the imagination Jiu-Jitsu once touched.

Suggested instead is to look in the direction of source, consciousness, and wonder.  After all, these principles are way more a ‘part’ of us than thoughts about how wonderful and/or sh*tty we are based on how a training, match, or competition went.  Let’s think bigger than that.

The Tao Teh Ching


Mind States: Serious About Play

Often still tighter about my Jiu-Jitsu study than I’d like to be, but had a realization that ‘seriousness’ in Jiu-Jitsu is about the time (and quality of that time) we invest.

This distinction frees us up to be playful and loose in actual practice; with capacity to become more serious should our interest and time allow.


Mind States: Expectation vs. Meaning

Have been observing the differences of how goal and process oriented states of mind feel:

Goal:  Fixed, Internal Dialogue, Doing, Habitual, Validatory.

Process: Flow, Quiet/Still, Being, Adaptable, Open-minded.

Although none of this is necessarily new, perhaps a key point is that it’s very hard to see out of an expectant driven mind as it’s very function is validating itself!

Another salient idea is meaning tends to feel consistently refreshing while expectation is fraught will peaks/valleys.

These things being said, I don’t think either ‘state’ is right or wrong so much as meaning being the ever present, deeper part of the mind that is ours by birthright.  Consider it a kind of personal genius that is ours for the taking to the degree we can let go of expectation as a navigation system. =)

Training: Trail Running & Reps

Running is essentially repetition of motor movement the human body is wired for.  Like any other skill, we smooth out this genetic potential and get faster through repetition.

The disconcerting/empowering thing depending on how we look at it is, it took me a year and a half consistently running before I felt light on my feet!  Dude, that’s a crapload of hours and reps for something the body is supposedly bio-engineered for!

Not ‘fast’ yet by any means, but what running taught me is that there’s no end to how smooth and efficient you can make a single position in Jiu-Jitsu through repetition geared training (this includes but not limited to warm-up, daily routine, or specified drilling that takes of the entirety of a training session).

The natural question that follows is, are we working on perfecting positions or settling for serviceable?


Mindsets: Action & Creativity

To elaborate more on active versus passive creativity post below, act-ive creativity means what it implies:  Action.

So simple, but it’s all to easy for us to take credit for the ‘good’ and/or personalize ‘bad’ things that happen more by chance than anything else.  Granted, we want to take as much responsibility as we can for things so we don’t keep putting ourselves in same situation over and over, but you get the point.

Further, action isn’t necessarily hard, but it has a distinctly different aesthetic than passive orientations in that it requires inertia.  The funny thing is, we still have the same ups and downs here as when passive, but at the end of the day consistent, focused, action creates ability to do more.

Next, as previously hinted at, an increased ability isn’t going to make us happier.  In fact it may make us MORE miserable, delusional, injury prone if it’s an extension of a growing ‘more equals more’ mentality.

Lastly, wanted to point out that the ever popular law of attraction (think positive = attracting positive things you want in life) doesn’t create happiness or ability very well…

First off, having to manage every negative thought that comes into our mind strikes me as self-absorbed and a lot of work!

Secondly, believing managing thought is the pathway to attracting positive things and/or ability is a road moving AWAY from the do or do not simplicity of action!

Keep it simple sweetness. =)

As far as happy…  Well, that’s beyond the scope of this blog, but just remember love is mysterious thing that’s more a part of you than your name, interests, passions, or personal history.

I think with Jiu-Jitsu we often screw things up by using to build our personal history. Again, too much work!  Have fun and be simple.


Mindsets: Active Vs. Passive Creativity

To be human is to be creative, as every moment of our life is taken in through one kind of filter or another (affectionately known as ‘states of mind’).

The question is, how conscious are we of such filtering and/or active in creating filters through intention?

To close, be aware of the force, cause yeah you’re using it whether you realize it or not, and use wisely!

Principle: ‘Forcing’ Positions aka Directing

As recently as a year or two ago I would have scoffed at the idea of ‘forcing’ a position as there’s an ideal time and place for every technique, and thinking otherwise was ‘bad’ Jiu-Jitsu.

So much for an open mind! =)

First things first, we can have injury(s) that prevent playing specific positions, so knowledge of how to creatively funnel people into other positions we can play is not only invaluable, but crucial training information to help keep ‘rolling’ alive.

Second, is the idea of survival and being able to protect ourselves first, mounting offense if necessary with limited resources.

So, in summary, for deep understanding not only do we have to figure out the perfect time for a position structurally, but also a number of ways of directing people into it.

I believe this ‘directing’ concept is one of the ideas that made Rickson’s Jiu-Jitsu so formidable, as I’ve heard multiple stories of him destroying a room full of Black Belts with the same move; a move everyone KNEW was coming!  To my mind this was him training this principle.

Pedro Sauer ‘forcing’ a hand post with bridge instead of opting for the traditional one leg up/one leg flat mount bottom posture (setting up a possible arm grab for a trap and roll escape as well as other options like the shrimp escape variations discussed @ 0:00-0:30):



Principles: Creating Drag, Limitation, & Sense-ability

A common, welcomed theme I’ve seen in Henry Akins game is he really looks to lock his opponent in place.  The beauty of this is, is it limits the options of you friend transitionally, creates drag that slow them down, as well as the locking mechanisms doubling as ‘feelers’ to calibrate transition attempts.

Summing up, ‘good’ positioning should facilitate sensitivity to movement, slow your partner down, limit transitional options, and set-up counter-offense.

Akins applying above concepts from Closed Guard bottom, but he’ll even find ways of creating the same general scenario from positions as ‘disadvantaged’ as Cross-Sides Bottom:

Conversely, something I’ve seen even multiple time world champs do, is compensate for lack of detailed positional design with transitional speed.  To be fair, competition occurs in a fixed time format, but this can easily become a habitual fallback if we aren’t mindful of how efficient we are…

…yes, we might have steamrolled a couple of the good Black Belts on a given day, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we were even close to being efficient!  Which leads us to a future topic:

Being functional with praise!



Commentary: Thoughts On Blue Belt Instruction

A buddy texted me a few days ago asking what I thought about some of the blue belt instruction going on, certification intensives, and online learning..

I said I loved the idea of a uniform curriculum and testing standards.  Also, you have to start somewhere!  So, from an educational standpoint, they’re a great thing. =)

The thing to remember though, and why criteria as pointed out in the previous post is important, is the relative beginner who went and completed a two-week ‘instructor’ intensive is still a beginner two weeks deeper into their Jiu-Jitsu joruney!

If one tries to sell the above fact as something it isn’t to some one with 5-10 years of mat time, you’re coming across naive at best (keep in mind 5-10 years of thoughtless ‘training’ doesn’t necessarily entitle us to anything either).

Back to the main point, substance takes time and is a lifetime process.  Jiu-Jitsu changes, we change, our bodies change.  Depth occurs over the course of many phases and learning cycles.

To put all this into perspective, imagine what kind of background and experience Stephen King would expect if you told him you ‘taught’ creative writing: