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Archive for the ‘Martial Arts / Jiu-Jitsu Philosophy’ Category

Jiu-Jitsu Strategy: Frustrate and Annoy

The Brendan Schaub vs Ricardo “Cyborg” Abreu debacle at Metamoris 2 on June 9, 2013 was an embarrassment to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After Ryron Gracie vs Andre Galvao at Metamoris Pro I wrote about my personal default Brazilian jiu-jitsu strategy – “Frustrate and Annoy” – likening it to Ryron’s KeepItPlayful.com. However, I have to clarify that while Schaub’s performance was indeed frustrating and very annoying, it wasn’t the Frustrate & Annoy strategy endorsed by The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex.

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Problems with tribalism in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and society

Tribalism = the behaviour influenced by strong loyalty to a tribe.

Early on New Years Day 2013, two high-profile competitors from the Lloyd Irvin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team – Matthew Maldonado and Nicholas Shultz – raped a drunk teammate in a Washington D.C. parking lot. The assault was captured on video and hit the BJJ world like a firestorm. About a week later, another story resurfaced: a gang rape case from 1989 involving a Lloyd E. Irvin Jr. Things got ugly. A debate sprung up about whether a “rape culture” exists in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Tribalism reared its (sometimes) nasty head in a localized exhibition of a species-wide phenomenon.

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BJJ strategy frustrate and annoy

Frustrate and Annoy – The official BJJ strategy of The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex. With an obvious nod to Craig Stecyk and Thrasher skateboard magazine.

What did Helio Gracie and Vince Lombardi have in common? Brazilian jiu-jitsu strategy is a hot topic and recent events like the Gracie Worlds and the Metamoris Pro have added fire to the debate by pitting the traditional “submission is the only victory” BJJ against more competition-friendly strategies. All of the talk got me thinking about my own approach to rolling and what the strengths and weaknesses are.
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The Internet is full of crap, but manure piles are great places to grow flowers. Case in point, London Real, an interesting podcast by Brian Rose and Nic Gabriel. The London Real team recently emailed The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex to ask if I’d help spread the word about their recent one-hour interview with the (almost) unstoppable Brazilian jiu-jitsu juggernaut, Roger Gracie. I like their show, and Roger’s the man, so I hereby wield my very limited influence over the BJJ community…

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Beware the jiu-jitsu vortex. Photo couresy of ahisgett.

The name of The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex was originally inspired by the tendency for BJJ to swallow the practitioner’s life, but further investigation has unearthed deeper meanings. As it turns out, the phrase “jiu-jitsu vortex” can be used to describe the sparring style of almost any Brazilian jiu-jitsu addict.

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One of the most famous black belts in BJJ - Royce Gracie. Photo by superwebdeveloper.

Belt promotions are a hot topic in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Hang around the mats and changerooms of any BJJ academy and you’ll hear lots of talk about who does and doesn’t deserve a promotion. Stories abound of instructors who intentionally delay promotions with the intention of giving their students the edge in competitions. But what does a belt really mean? And where did the colours come from?

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Japanese Calligraphy of Bodhidarma, often credited as the progenitor of the Asian martial arts. By Hakuin Ekaku. Image is in the Public Domain.

What do Mac Danzig, Miles Davis, Ken Kesey, Genki Sudo, Joe Frazier, and John Irving have in common? They all have a combined talent for art and combat. The connection between artistic pursuits and the combat arts is lost to many participants on both sides of the issue (it’s hard to imagine Chael Sonnen wielding a calligraphy brush or Woody Allen choking someone unconscious) but a notable collection of warrior artists is keeping the tradition alive.

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Learn to defend leglocks. Even if leglocks are illegal in judo and in the lower belt categories of IBJJF competitions, most no-gi submission grappling competitions allow straight leglocks like achilles locks and kneebars. Some of them also allow the more dangerous twisting leglocks like toeholds and heel hooks. And in MMA it’s absolutely game on. If you train submission grappling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu or MMA, ignoring achilles locks, kneebars, toeholds, and heel hooks means leaving a massive hole in your game. Besides, any technique that can make Bas Rutten squeal like a little girl has to be good, right? (more…)

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Children take a break during a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. Photo by kundl.

For many parents, the idea of their children taking part in a martial art or combat sport seems wrong. Who in their right mind would willingly let their children learn to fight? A good example of anti-combat sport sentiment was the recent outcry over the video of two kids in a grappling match at the Reps Retribution event in England.

As it turns out, martial arts training doesn’t generally lead to aggressive and violent behaviour, in fact it tends to do the opposite. Children who practice martial arts like judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, kung fu, or karate generally have strong social skills, fight less often, and perform well in school. And this effect is particularly pronounced in at-risk children or those with special needs. (more…)

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The recent furor over a video clip of two eight-year-old kids “cage fighting” has been the past week’s most visible story in the combat sports world. It was yet another case of audience manipulation causing the public to act like the residents of Springfield and whip themselves into a frenzy for no real reason.

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Brazilian jiu-jitsu players can take a lesson from wolves. Photo by Bruce McKay

Martial arts training is good for your body and mind. BJJ, muay Thai, judo, wrestling, grappling, boxing, and all the rest have huge benefits to offer in the area of keeping you in shape physically and balancing out life stress so that your sanity remains intact. A few days ago, WebMD published an article about how to stay healthy by acting like your pets and as it turns out, Brazilian jiu-jitsu addicts have most of the 20 objectives covered just by training regularly. Check it out…

1. Live in the Moment
A Harvard psychology study called “A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind” found that people are happiest when their mind is focussed on a specific activity – like trying to stop someone from tearing their shoulder out of its socket with a kimura.

2. Stay Curious
Brazilian jiu-jitsu training is like participating in an arms race. Your training partners are going to learn to counter your throws, sweeps, and submissions. If you stop learning, you get left behind. Curiosity killed the cat, sure, but it’s also the reason that you learned that new omoplata defense or triangle choke entry.

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Why indeed. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is rough. It hurts. The objective is to take your opponent to the ground, establish control by grinding your weight into them, and then finish the fight by cutting off the flow of blood to their brain or twisting one of their joints to the breaking point. And doing it before they do the same thing to you. It can be the most frustrating experience you could imagine… sweeps, escapes and submission techniques won’t work unless you do them exactly right, and – if your opponent knows the counters – sometimes not even then.

So what drives people to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu? To put up with being thrown, choked, sweated on, and having their joints bent in unnatural ways? To endure torn knee ligaments, broken fingers and toes, crushed egos, black eyes, cracked ribs, pinched nerves, sprained ankles, pulled muscles, and dislocated shoulders?

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