Theory

How BJJ is like Chess: The Power of the Fork

Jiu-jitsu and chess are often compared to one another – usually in an attempt to justify the intellectual qualities of jiu-jitsu more than to demonstrate the physical qualities of chess.  But is this comparison apt?  In some very real ways jiu-jitsu and chess are completely different – but the metaphor is not completely without merit.

 

One concept that carries over from chess is the fork.

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Thoughts

Train Forever: Taking Care of your Body

Jiu-jitsu translates to “soft art.”  I think my muscles and joints are the soft part, constantly at risk of being crushed by the art.

So, the trick is to be soft like the willow, bending without breaking.  Or some other metaphor that basically means you have to stretch, avoid overtraining and training while injured, rest, and eat well!

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Technique

Making the Most of Pressure: Side Control

There few terms in jiu-jitsu that get tossed around more than pressure.  You might hear ‘base’ or ‘posture’ more frequently, but understanding pressure is a vital component of any BJJ top game.  Pressure refers not just to physical weight (or the sensation of weight) but also constant attacks that keep your partner on the defensive.  This post will focus on the physical pressure, and at another time I’ll revisit this issue to address attack pressure.

Occasionally referred to as the “100 kilos position,” side control is best known for immense pressure.  Learning to apply more pressure from side control can make the difference between your rolls ending in a draw and having them end in a submission.

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Thoughts

Questionable Fashion Choices of BJJ

A lot of hobbies have ‘uniforms’ or clothing associated with them.  And often times these uniforms, while eminently practical, fail to align with modern sensibilities about what is appropriate to wear in public.  Jiu-Jitsu is no exception to this rule.

Here are the fashion mistakes you’ll feel inclined to make if you play jiu-jitsu:

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Theory

Jiu-Jitsu Spark Notes: Or What You Need to Know to Roll

I’ve already done a post on how to get the most out of rolling, and if you are looking for best practices, this isn’t that.  This post is the information that I believe to be the barest minimum necessary to get someone rolling.

Will they be good?  No.  Will they be as safe as they can be?  No.  But, sometimes you just have to work with sub-optimal conditions.  Maybe you’re at party and some friends want to see what this “jiu-jitsu” thing is about.  Maybe you’re at a college level club and someone without any experience shows up to an open mat.

So, when reality gets in the way of ideal, this is a way to stay safe and have fun.

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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

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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