Theory

The Guard: Control their Posture!

Every position has a goal, or mission.  From the mount, knee on belly, side control, and the back the goal is simple: to submit your opponent.  From the bottom of these positions the goal is equally simple: escape and improve your position.

If you are inside of someone’s guard your mission is still simple: pass the guard.

But the guard is more complicated.

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Technique

The Lowly Headlock: Worthy of Knowing how to Defend.

Today a newcomer showed up at my university’s BJJ club practice.  He had trained Hapkido before and had “done some grappling,” so we walked him through the basic positions of jiu-jitsu, gave him the jiu-jitsu spark notes, and then got him rolling.

You see, our club is small and relatively informal.  And Thursdays are the most informal day – more of an open mat than anything else.  Also, lets be honest: we’re mostly there to roll.   But I digress.

I paired him up with John (not his actual name mind).  John is probably 5’6″ and all of 140lbs – not a big fellow, but fit and tenacious.  He has been training at the club for a couple of months and knew enough to move through the positions, pass the guard, attack from the mount, and the like.  I figured it was enough for him to hold his own with Mr. Hapkido, who probably outweighed him by 40 lbs.

Well, I was right and I was wrong.

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Self-Defense

The First 5 Self Defense Moves I Would Teach a Friend

I was talking with a couple of friends over dinner and the topic of women’s self defense came up.  My friend (who does not train jiu jitsu) showed the rest of us (who do train jiu jitsu) the self defense move she learned.  She’s a very small woman who is so non-violent that she was reluctant to finish the choke on my husband who outweighs her by 75 pounds and started jiu jitsu when he was 15.

I was a little concerned that the self defense technique was a choke from the back – it just seems like an unlikely situation for her to be in.  If the only self-defense technique she knows is the choke, how will she get into position to finish the choke?  Also, how practical is this move against a larger person?  Sure, if she is able to get and stabilize the position, the choke would be effective.  But with no experience against a resisting opponent this doesn’t seem likely.

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Self-Defense

Defending yourself with Sport Jiu-Jitsu

“Horrible” is how Royce Gracie describes modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in his recent interview with Bloody Elbow.  He laments how the art has developed lots of competition oriented rules which have made it less viable for self-defense.

Are things really that bad?  Should everyone who trains BJJ just resign themselves to their competition medals and accept that they can’t defend themselves in a real confrontation?

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Theory

Sparring in BJJ: Not just rolling around

Jiu-jitsu players will tell you that a lot of things make their art special.  The leverage element that offsets weight differences.  The technical, detail oriented approach to techniques over speed and strength.  But really what makes jiu-jitsu special is that it can be practiced at nearly full intensity everyday of the week.*

This means that if you aren’t rolling (jiu-jitsu parlance for sparring) you aren’t taking advantage of what makes jiu-jitsu special.  But how do you get the most out of rolling?

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Self-Defense

The Structure of Self Defense, Part 3 The Guard

Whenever I’m asked by a friend to teach “show” them some jiu-jitsu I inevitably show them the rear naked choke.  Its easy to teach and the results are dramatic as it can put someone to sleep in just a few seconds.  Yet what I want to show them is the guard.  The guard is jiu-jitsu.  It is why jiu-jitsu is special, and it is why jiu-jitsu works so well for self defense.

The reason I don’t show people the guard is really simple: it doesn’t lend itself to a couple minute long demonstration.  Its a somewhat awkward looking position for those who aren’t familiar with jiu-jitsu and most of the things worth knowing take time to learn.  And yet, if you are really interested in defending yourself you need to know this position.

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Thoughts

Not Another BJJ for Women Post

I have a predicament.  On the one hand I’m always trying to recruit more women to jiu jitsu and to find ways to make jiu jitsu feel more accessible.  On the other hand, I find endless articles and videos on how to do your hair for jiu jitsu, nutition for women grapplers, and what to wear to class to be a little superficial and demeaning.  Women in jiu jitsu do more than show up and try to get in shape.  We do techniques and roll and have other concerns too damnit.

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Thoughts

How I am Using Mindfulness for Pain

Honestly, I’m not doing great right now.  The pain from my shoulder surgery is pretty much constant – which is exhausting – and not being able to do normal life tasks on my own is frustrating.  So I’m writing this to remind myself how I used mindfulness techniques before surgery to deal with the pain.

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Self-Defense

The Structure of Self-Defense, Part 2 Fighting on the Ground

While Part One of this series dealt with standing ‘zones’ of self-defense, this article will address what happens when you end up on the ground.

Why do fights end up on the ground?

If you are 6’8 and have physique that Homer would have sung praises to you might think to yourself that fighting on the ground is literally and figuratively beneath you.  But being prepared to fight from the ground is a vital skill for the physically imposing as well as those of us with slighter builds for a very simple reason:

Usually fights end up on the ground because someone falls down.

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