So it’s been a while since my last post. I’d love to tell you it’s because I’ve been training so much that I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write anything, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The truth is that I’ve been dealing with a few injuries lately and my motivation has been minimal at best. It seems that every time I recover from one injury there’s another one right behind it. I guess I’m fortunate that they aren’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things but they are certainly debilitating at times and can take a toll on you mentally. Perhaps worst of all, in my case, they could have more than likely been prevented.
In the past 6 months, I’ve dealt with an injury to my rib (intercostal strain), a low back injury that had me on the floor for 2 days, and most recently a neck injury. All of these injuries have come from grappling and from my best guess, they are probably due to overuse and poor stretching habits. As a former personal trainer, it was my job to make sure my clients were stretching and doing all of the things necessary to prevent or rehabilitate an injury and maximize results. So why haven’t I been practicing what I preach? Because I’ve let myself get lazy….simple as that. Skipping proper warm ups and not stretching are sure ways to get hurt in any sport but especially Jiu Jitsu where we are constantly being cranked and contorted into impossibly uncomfortable and unnatural positions.
I remember one of my first few Jiu Jitsu classes at Claudio Franca’s; I was practicing a sit up sweep and as I sat up into my partner, I accidentally elbowed him in the lip. It just grazed him but was enough to draw some blood. My partner stopped and told Claudio he needed a paper towel. Claudio sent him to the restroom and told the class “Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport, sometimes you are going to bleed”. He’s right too, I see a lot of blood in classes from bumps and scrapes….but bleeding is easy if you think about it, you just grab a towel and wait for it to stop. The harder part is dealing with muscle strains, tears, ligament damage, fractures, dislocations, and a host of other potential injuries that await you in this sport that can put you on the sidelines for a few days to possibly months or worse…years.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prevent injuries as well as help speed the healing process and most of them are so simple we chose to ignore them until we get injured.
-DON”T SKIP THE WARM UP! We all have those days where we can’t make it to class on time, but don’t be the guy that shows up only to spar after everyone else has already been moving for an hour…you’re just asking for it.
-SMR: It stands for self myofascial release. You’ve heard of people talking about getting “knots” in their muscles…that’s actually scar tissue built up from overuse and injury. Get yourself a foam roller and learn to break up the scar tissue in your muscles before you do your traditional stretching. Here’s a link to some videos showing how to use a foam roller. Foam rollers are cheap and can be purchased almost anywhere that sells fitness products these days. If you’ve already used a foam roller and need something gnarlier try a lacrosse ball. Lacrosse balls are great for advanced SMR and can be used on large or small muscles in the body. You can get creative but I use mine on the floor for lower body and against a wall for my upper back and shoulders.
-Static Stretching: Everyone knows a few static stretches but most don’t know which stretches their body really needs. Most often people go with the stretches that are comfortable because stretching can be pretty uncomfortable….especially when you’re tight! Pay attention to the muscles of the lower body like the hamstrings, piriformis, adductors,and psoas. Most often back pain is caused by tight hip and leg muscles because it pulls the pelvis out of alignment. If you’ve never hear of the muscles I just mentioned I urge you to look them up and learn how to stretch them. There are some good samples of static stretches for the lower body and back here.
-Stop Training! Easier said than done but you don’t get paid for this….no pain no gain is bullshit. Stopping at the first sign of injury can help you get back on the mat much faster than letting your ego get in the way of taking care of your body (Did I just write that?).
-Ice/Heat: My chiropractor says the latest deal is 20 minutes of ice followed by 20 minutes of heat a few times a day on the injured area. The principal behind that is the ice helps slow swelling and inflammation while bringing heat into the mix relaxes the muscle and promotes blood flow to the injured area to help it heal faster. This method has been working great for me lately for recovery.
-Doctor/Chiropractor: Not everyone is a believer in chiropractic and I won’t try and convert you if you’re not, but having a good chiropractor, for me, has been invaluable. Getting regular adjustments (which I used to do but got lazy) can really help keep your body aligned and healthy. For more information on chiropractic you can check out my friend Dr. Coats’ website.
I hope this article helps a few of you out there. If I had been taking the advice I just wrote down, I would probably be training right now! Remember if you do get injured to take your time getting back on the mat. Ease into your sparring and really listen to your body. Nothing sucks worse than taking 2 steps forward and then taking 5 steps back.
Thanks for reading,
It is an honor and privilage to be one of the first to review Roy Dean’s latest DVD project: The White Belt Bible (Jiu Jitsu in Theory and Practice). Roy’s latest work is his way of introducing men, women, boys, and girls to the beautiful and intricate world of Jiu Jitsu by encompassing not only Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also the sister martial arts that lent a hand in creating it such as Kodokan Judo, Jujutsu, and Aikikai Aikido, all of which Roy holds a black belt or higher in. This DVD is unique in that it is not just an instructional teaching the basic positions of BJJ. Experienced practitioners can learn plenty from this DVD, but it’s bigger than that; it’s about the Theory and Practice of Jiu Jitsu.
The White Belt Bible’s production value is extremely well done as most fans of Roy Dean’s DVD’s have come to expect. Roy’s instruction is clear and concise and he blends his instructional segments with live sparring demonstrations, student’s belt tests, and of course his signature instrumental music which he composes himself. Also worth noting is that Roy wears his own white belt throughout the DVD which I feel is a great touch that makes it easy for the viewer to join in without feeling intimidated. Without further ado, let’s step into the world of the White Belt…..
Tying the belt- The DVD starts of with some upbeat music and a beautifully shot segment of Roy tying on a white belt. The segment is then shown again in slow motion so that the viewer can learn the proper way to tie their belt. Now that your belt is tied, it’s time to learn some Judo….your Jiu Jitsu wont be all that effective if you can’t get your opponent to the ground right?
Kodokan Judo- Not everyone knows this but Roy also holds a black belt in Judo. The segment on Judo begins with the theory of Kuzushi or off balancing your opponent. Once you learn the fundamentals of getting your opponent off balance, Roy goes into some of the most basic and high percentage Judo take downs such as Ippon Seionage, Kata Guruma, Osoto Gari, Uchimata, and a few others as well as how to use them in combination with one another.
Jujutsu Examples- The next segment shows examples of Jujutsu techniques such as armlocks, sweeps, throws, leg locks, and chokes. The examples are comprised from real footage of Roy’s students sparring during regular classes as well as during their belt demonstrations. This segment is a very clever way to make the viewer feel as if they are sitting against the wall watching their first Jiu Jitsu class and trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
Aikikai Aikido- Roy is a long time practitioner of Aikido and shows some really cool pins, wrist locks, elbow locks, and even a weapon disarmament that most Jiu Jitsu students probably haven’t seen before. The segment is short and sweet and flows right into an old Seibukan Jujutsu demonstration by Roy.
Seibukan Jujutsu Demonstration- Roy’s Jujutsu demonstration is an intricate combination of throws, joint locks, and sweeps….there’s even a sword and some knives in there. I think what he is trying to show by putting this segment along with the Aikido segment is that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was not just developed out of thin air. By watching these other forms of martial arts, you begin to realize how they are all interconnected and pieces and parts of each of these martial arts help make up what we know today as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu- Now we move onto the main event if you will, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The segment starts with Roy going into the basic positions of BJJ, starting with the closed guard which is where new students will spend a majority of their time. Roy breaks down the positions into Major and Minor positions, an example of a Major position being the mount and a Minor position being side control. Once he covers the basic positions he goes into showing submissions, but not before reminding the viewer that the submission is just “the cherry on top”. Roy explains that although getting a submission is fun and feels good, you must develop a strong foundation before being able to finish opponents frequently.
The submissions that Roy shows are some of the most basic and effective submissions in BJJ such as armlocks, shoulder locks, collar chokes, triangle chokes. He then shows how the submissions can be strung together to make them more effective against a savvy opponent.
So much of Jiu Jitsu is unseen. By that I mean that there are so many small movements, shifting of weight, etc. that only with experience can a student start to see the details that are going on below the surface. Roy ends the first DVD with a brilliant black and white segment that shows what Jiu Jitsu looks like from the perspective of a white belt and how that perspective changes as you advance in Jiu Jitsu. I was very impressed by this segment and I think it would be a great idea for a white belt to re-watch this segment every 6 months to see how their perspective changes and what they pick up that they didn’t see the time before.
As the first DVD was instructional based, the second DVD is meant to give the viewer examples of the skills it takes to go from white belt to black belt. Roy selected some of his top students belt test demonstrations and put them in order starting with a white belt testing for her blue belt. After the blue belt demonstration we can take a look at what it takes to get to the coveted purple belt and after that, the even more intricate test to reach brown belt. The last belt demonstration is Roy testing for his second stripe on his black belt which he recently received. After the demonstrations there is a video of Roy taking a private lesson with world champion Saulo Ribeiro, followed by a trip that Roy and some of his students took to England to train with one of his affiliate schools. The second DVD ends with some trailers for Roys other DVDs such as Blue Belt Requirements, Purple Belt Requirements, and No Gi Essentials…all of which are must owns!
Overall, I really enjoyed Roy’s latest project and would highly recommend it for anyone starting Jiu Jitsu, thinking of starting Jiu Jitsu, or even a seasoned practitioner to have on his or her shelf. I am told that Roy will begin releasing The White Belt Bible on iTunes first and will make it available shortly after that for DVD purchase. You can follow Roy’s blog and purchase materials from him at www.roydeanacademy.com
Thanks for reading!
I feel completely lost. Things that should make sense don’t. Up is down, left is right…..white is branca. I am humbled and at times defeated, yet I have this desire to figure out what is going on. I keep coming back, and each time I come back, things get just a little bit clearer. I am white belt again, a white belt in Portuguese.
I have always wanted to learn another language. I tried taking a Spanish class in middle school but was kicked out after only a few weeks due to several “disagreements” with my teacher. She never did appreciate my humor. Anyways, since becoming a devoted student to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and making friends with several Brazilian instructors and students, I thought it only fitting that I try to learn to speak the language. My wife was nice enough to buy me Rosetta Stone’s level I Portuguese series, now all I have to do is practice.
After about 5 minutes into my first Portuguese lesson I was transported back to 2006, the first day that I walked into Claudio Franca’s Jiu Jitsu Academy in San Jose. I had finally decided to give this Jiu Jitsu thing a try and showed up to the afternoon class for my first lesson. The instructor at the time was a purple belt named Evan who was a really nice guy, he welcomed me to the academy and had me sign some waivers that essentially stated that if I died or was seriously injured during my training there it wasn’t their fault. Of course I had no gi so I was training in my gym clothes and even kept my socks on…what a dork. Now it was time to warm up.
The first warm up consisted of trying to pass your partners open guard with one hand behind your back. Looking back, the drill is a great way to learn to get around your opponents legs without relying on the use of both hands for say a Toreando pass. It also gives the person on bottom a chance to learn to use their hips and hooks for defense, but keep in mind that at the time I had no idea what an open guard was, let alone how to pass it. I was partnered up with a massive blue belt. He was an ex college football player who probably weighed 250lbs or so and although his weight wouldn’t really matter at the time, his understanding of hip movement and the open guard did. I remember just running around and spinning in circles trying to get past his legs. I am an athlete, how is this so complicated!? To say I was frustrated was an understatement (by the way, after about a minute or two I was completely gassed from expending all of that energy and going nowhere.) Now it was my partners turn to go. The best way to describe my open guard then would be to imagine putting a turtle on his back and…yeah, you get the picture.
For the remainder of the warm up I was taken through a series of six different “snake moves” which teach you how to move your hips and the rest of your body in ways specific to Jiu Jitsu. I remember thinking that these movements were so silly at the time (mostly because I couldn’t do them). I remember asking myself what does any of this have to do with fighting? We finally finished the warm up and I was relieved to be done with these strange drills, now it’s time to learn how to kick some ass! Surely I was about to learn some bone crushing throw or joint snapping submission….nope. Evan proceeded to take us through the proper way to finish a clock choke from the turtle guard. I don’t own a gi, I don’t know what a collar choke is, and what the f*#k is a turtle guard? This was my first lesson in the gentle art.
What made me come back? I hadn’t learned anything about fighting (so I thought), I didn’t submit anyone, I felt completely uncoordinated, and I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to get submitted multiple times by a small woman. I decided to give it a month and see how it played out. I bought a gi, and started attending classes two days a week. Each class I was left with more questions than answers. Everything was foreign. I was lost. I was humbled and defeated many times but I just kept coming back.
After a while, I started to learn the meanings of basic words. I didn’t have great pronunciation and I couldn’t spell the words right yet, but I could see the word and match it with a corresponding image. I wasn’t ready to put sentences together let alone paragraphs but I trusted that if I just kept going it would make sense eventually. This is what it feels like to be a beginner. Practice makes perfect and just showing up to class is half the battle. Forrest Griffin of the UFC was recently awarded his black belt by Robert Drysdale. When asked in an interview how he was able to attain his new rank, he replied in classic Forrest fashion, he said “Just keep showing up to practice and eventually you will stop sucking”. I think Forrest is dead on. There will be many times where you feel that you are not making any progress and you’ll become frustrated. If you just keep showing up to class and participating you WILL get better. Jiu Jitsu has taught me to apply this philosophy to everything I do. That includes learning Portuguese. I know that if I turn on the computer and practice, no matter how frustrating it may be, I WILL get better. I know I will eventually learn to put sentences together, then paragraphs, etc. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to write a whole blog entry in Portuguese!
*Coming up- A report on Roy Dean’s latest project…I can’t wait to tell you about it! I will also be reviewing a new gi from Submission Fight Company, nice looking gi, how will it perform? Stay tuned!
On February 5th, a few friends of mine packed up our gi’s and headed over to Smash Gyms Grand Opening party featuring a free two-hour seminar by Master Joe Moreira and Michael Jen. Michael Jen is a 3rd degree black belt under Joe Moreira and is the Head Instructor at Smash Gyms in Sunnyvale California.
Smash Gyms is a beautiful new facility with lots of mat space in a clean and open environment. Although it’s technically a new Jiu-Jitsu school, Michael Jen has been an instructor for many years and has a solid group of students ranging from white belt all the way to black belt. Now onto the seminar…
I have wanted to meet Joe Moreira for some time now. Joe has been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for 40 years (yes you read that right…forty years) and has produced over 30 black belt practitioners. The man is a legend and an authority on all things Jiu-Jitsu. Joe received his black belt in 1984 from Grand Master Francisco Mansur and is currently an eighth degree Coral Belt. Next to Francisco Mansur himself, Joe is the highest ranking instructor that I have had the pleasure of training with.
As soon as the seminar started, I realized that although he’s been in the United States for over 20 years, Joe’s English is at a blue belt level so to speak(high-ranking blue though….sorry Joe, don’t smash me!) At this point I have trained with enough Brazilians that I can follow along pretty well but it helped to have Michael Jen there to help break down and explain in painstaking detail, the techniques that Joe was sharing with us. The techniques that Joe shared that day were truly black belt secrets. Nothing fancy, just solid movements and submissions that are so simple in theory, yet take years to master and apply correctly.
Because this was such a special event, I don’t feel it would be right to tell you exactly what Joe showed us that day. You really just had to be there. I will tell you that we learned a choke from the mount that I now consider the most uncomfortable choke I’ve ever felt.
I used to think that the bow and arrow was the worst due to the extreme amount of leverage being applied, but this one beats it. The story of how Joe developed this choke was as interesting as the choke itself. After 40 years of gripping gi lapels, Joe noticed that his fingers have taken quite a beating. But, rather than give up on lapel chokes altogether Joe just found a new way to apply them without the gi. His solution was a simple, extremely painful and effective choke that I am still trying to nail down (it’s hard to find training partners willing to let you practice this choke).
More importantly than his choke, Joe showed us a variety of submission opportunities that can present themselves by just going for the choke in the first place. As many of you are aware, with enough pressure and discomfort, an opponent will do just about anything to reduce said discomfort. Students in attendance were also treated to a couple of effective and simple techniques to control an opponent in side control which I really liked.
The turnout to this event was amazing. There must have been sixty students give or take and seven of them were black belts. After the seminar we were also treated to a promotion ceremony in which Joe presented Michael Jen with his 3rd stripe on his black belt and Michael Jen promoted one student to brown belt and one student to black belt. Overall it was an amazing event and I would like to thank Michael Jen and Joe Moreira for putting it on. If you are ever in Sunnyvale, stop by Smash Gyms and try out a class.
Great news for the faithful readers of rynobjj.com! In response to my recent review of Tatami Fightwear’s Estilo Jiu Jitsu Gi, Tatami has generously offered a 10% discount when you order from their website. To get your discount, simply enter in the following code at checkout:
That’s it…simple as that. Go to http://www.tatamifightwear.com/ and go crazy!
It’s been a crazy few weeks for me at work but I met Joe Moreira last weekend at a seminar in Sunnyvale and will give you the full report this weekend. Stay tuned!
I am pleased to bring you the first of hopefully many gi reviews from Rynobjj.com! I first heard of Tatami Fightwear from my fellow blogger Seymour Yang of Meerkatsu fame. Lately I’ve found myself searching for gi’s that one; everyone else doesn’t have and two; are high quality without costing an arm and a leg. The following is my unbiased review of Tatami Fightwear’s Estilo Premier BJJ Gi.
Who is Tatami Fightwear?
Tatami Fightwear is based out of the UK. They make products for Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and MMA. With sponsored Jiu-Jitsu fighters like 2x World Champion Fernando “Terere” Augusto, you can rest assured that they have put a lot of time into product R&D. Tatami also carries BJJ gear for women and children.
Tatami’s Estilo Premier BJJ Gi:
The Estilo Premier is touted as Tatami’s top of the line BJJ Gi and it did not disappoint. This gi screams quality! As soon as I opened the gi and took it out of the package, I realized how much attention to detail was put into it. From the beautiful red contrast stitching, tastefully placed embroidered logos, and heavy-duty reinforced seams, I couldn’t wait to put this bad boy to use.
The jacket of the Estilo is hands down my favorite top I’ve ever worn. The jacket is made of a Single Piece of 500gsm Pearl Weave. The outside is a bit rough and feels like armor while the inside is as smooth and comfortable as you could possibly want in a gi top. All of the stress points have been very well reinforced with a combination of double and triple stitching. I ordered and A2 which at this point has been washed and dried several times and fits me perfectly. It’s really incredible how light the jacket is still while feeling absolutely bullet proof.
The Estilo is made with a canvas rubberized collar as opposed to many gi’s made with traditional twill collars. They say that canvas collars are longer lasting and help keep the shape of the jacket better than twill although I haven’t dove that deep into the subject….I’ll have to start paying more attention. What I can tell you is that the collar does feel great but is thinner than all of my other gi’s and you know what thin collars mean…..easier chokes. The collar in my opinion is very easy to manipulate, especially when you compare it to say the collar of a HCK Kimono although I’m comparing apples to oranges at this point. My advice is simple; practice your collar choke defense and you won’t have to worry about it!
The pants are made of heavy-duty 14oz. canvas with double reinforced knee padding. My favorite part about the pants is that they have four drawstring loops which help keep them in place when you’re training and a rope drawstring as opposed to a flat drawstring which can be a real pain to untie after a training session. Both the rope and drawstring loops, like the stitching, are a beautiful red that really stands out against the black canvas. The pants aren’t the lightest (especially after sweating in them for a bit) but they fit great and are very durable.
Patches and Embroideries:
The Estilo boasts your typical patch placements- shoulders, chest, bottom of jacket, and pant leg which is not a problem but I wish more gi companies would get a bit more creative and stop following this typical formula of patch placements (*Update: Gareth at Tatami was nice enough to educate me on the reason for the seemingly typical formula of patch placements. The IBJJF has very strict rules on patch placement which makes it hard to get creative if you want to sell a gi people can compete in. Thanks Gareth!). That being said, the patches themselves are a bit busy for my taste. Sometimes less is more. It’s not that the patches don’t look good….just a little overkill in my opinion. They did put in some nice embroideries like Tatami Fightwear between the shoulder blades in red and also grey yin/yang logos on each arm and one pant leg. The embroideries are subtle and a nice touch to the gi.
As I mentioned earlier, I am sick of overpriced and poor quality gi’s. You want to know what this gi costs in US Dollars? How about $130.00 tax included. My wife ordered me this gi for Christmas and shipping was free! In my opinion, you would be hard pressed to find such a high quality gi at a better price.
The Estilo Premier BJJ Gi by Tatami Fightwear is beautiful, comfortable, and built to last. After a solid four weeks of training I can safely say that this is my all-time favorite gi. This gi gets nothing but compliments everywhere I train. People want to know how much it costs and where they can get one. For those of you who want to know how to get your hands on one, here you go- http://www.tatamifightwear.com/product.php?id_product=110
*I am not sponsored or reimbursed by Tatami Fightwear for this review. I paid full price for my gi and provided this review only to help my friends and readers select quality training gear!
The Beauty of Failure:
About two weeks ago I was training with a white belt who had a very hard time accepting defeat (being tapped out) during sparring. After being submitted by me, he would curse and slap the mat in anger. While I’m not a fan of this type of display (and let him know that), I can certainly relate to the frustration students face during their first few years of training Jiu-Jitsu. What’s hard for new students to see is that each time they are caught in a submission, each time they are swept, each time their guards are passed, each time they are stuck on bottom being crushed by their opponent……essentially each time they are “failing”, they are one step closer to being a better Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. Let me explain:
The other day I was training with one of my teammates who just received his blue belt. He’s bigger and stronger than me and for the short time he’s practiced Jiu-Jitsu he’s making great progress. After we sparred he told me he couldn’t believe how helpless he felt when I had the mount position and asked how I was able to make myself so heavy and keep such a strong base. I quickly responded by telling him that the reason my mount is at the level it is today is because I’ve “failed” at maintaining it so many times! At the time I didn’t realize that each time I gained mount and my opponent rolled me over or recovered guard, my body was slowly gaining the sensibility and muscle memory to negate losing the position in the future. Eventually I was holding mount for longer periods of time which led to more confidence to hunt for submissions without as much fear of losing it. Ironically, one of the positions I felt so weak with is now one that I can say is one of my stronger positions….all because I “failed” at it so many times.
Less Ego=Quicker Learning
The male ego is a very fragile thing and it’s a huge hinderance to excelling quickly in Jiu-Jitsu. A lot of tough, athletic guys who aren’t used to being dominated come into Jiu-Jitsu class and get a rude awakening. There are generally two ways these guys react when they get dominated by an opponent: one way is to curse and slap the mat…like my white belt friend. The other way is to step back and ask what he did wrong so that he can prevent making the same mistakes in the future…like my blue belt friend. Which of these guys do you think is going to excel faster?
By no means do I recommend you come into the gym and be a pussy cat, but the sooner you realize that you are going to spend a lot of time being humbled in Jiu-Jitsu the better. There is a reason that it takes an average of 10 years to get a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and that’s one of the most beautiful things about this art….there are no short cuts!
The road to excelling in Jiu-Jitsu will be paved with many failures. To be successful, you need to treat every failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. This applies not only to Jiu-Jitsu but life in generall!
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” -Henry Ford