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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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Wrestlers lock up and look for a takedown at the 2011 ASICS U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of familymwr via Flickr.

The basic wrestling sit out escape from turtle is one of the most important wrestling techniques, especially – as fighters like Minotauro Nogueira have shown us – for those planning to branch out into MMA. Mastering the wrestling sit out enables a wrestler to shoot for a takedown without worrying about being stuck under their opponent’s sprawl. It may be among the first wrestling techniques you learn, but the sit out escape is still effective in submission grappling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and MMA at even the highest level of competition.

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Kickboxing before BJJ class at Dynamic MMA in Vancouver

Boxing isn’t typical Jiu-Jitsu Vortex material, in many ways it’s the opposite of BJJ – there’s no grappling, no throws, and punching is the only way to score. Sure, putting your opponent to sleep is a win in either sport, but boxers try to jolt the brain into shutdown, while Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters like to cut off its blood supply. Despite the differences, many of us BJJ addicts also love boxing – it’s integral to MMA after all, which is what got many of us into Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the first place. And some of MMA’s best boxers are also high-level jiu-jitsu fighters. Let’s take a look at some examples.

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AFC 7: Break Out. Victoria, BC on November 5th, 2011.

On Saturday, November 5th, 2011, Victoria-based MMA promotion, Armageddon Fighting Championship, will be throwing their seventh mixed martial arts show at the Bear Mountain Arena (1767 Island Highway). It’s not exactly a Vancouver mixed martial arts event but it’s close enough, and there are some Vancouver and Lower Mainland MMA fighters on the card. Continue Reading »

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? Continue Reading »

River Rock Casino hosts Team Canada vs. Team China Muay Thai on November 25, 2011. Photo courtesy of chem7.

Friday, November 25th, 2011. If you’re a muay Thai kickboxing fan in the Vancouver, BC area mark that date on your calendar. Ken Low’s Shaolin Kung Fu Institute and The Canada International Sport Sanshou Federation are joining forces to host the Team Canada vs. Team China sport Muay Thai Fighting Championships at the River Rock Casino in Richmond.
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Mac Danzig MMA seminar at Dynamic MMA in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of vegetarians-dominate-meat-eaters-01

Vancouver mixed martial arts fans take note – Dynamic MMA in Richmond, BC will be hosting an MMA seminar by UFC fighter Mac Danzig.

When: Sunday, October 23rd, 2011. Noon – 4pm.
Where: Unit #140 – 7951 Alderbridge Way, Richmond B.C.
How much: $50 in advance ($75 at the door)
Who can come: Anyone! Not limited to Dynamic MMA members.
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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. Continue Reading »

Half guard sparring – No-gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Photo by C. Bueno.

Half guard is arguably the most important development in the evolution of submission grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques. Before the development of half guard, effective bottom games revolved around the “full” guard positions (ie. closed and butterfly) where the guard player uses their legs to control both of the opponent’s hips and legs. Half guard gives bottom players offensive options when their legs are in control of just one one of their opponent’s legs. Among the advantages of building a half guard game are: more options when you’re unable to prevent an opponent who is starting to pass your guard, and having a very mobile bottom position to fight from. Not to mention that when you’re mounted or in turtle it’s easier to snag a leg and get into half guard than to recover closed guard.

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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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The “which is better, Brazilian jiu-jitsu or judo?” discussion has been going on for some time and by now, most people who train in either see it as a silly question. If you ignore one or the other, there’s a massive hole in your game. Period. BJJ and judo came from the same roots and are so closely related that they’re almost the same thing (but not quite). In fact, aside from a subtle difference, judo and jiu-jitsu have the same name.

The short story is that Brazilian jiu-jitsu came from judo, which came from traditional Japanese jujutsu. For the long story, most aspects of the history of judo can be found at the Judo Information Site. The Gracie Academy does a nice job of outlining their family’s side of Brazilian jiu-jitsu history. Renzo Gracie and John Danaher’s book Mastering Jujitsu has one of the most extensively researched sections on the history of grappling (from ancient Japan to 21st-century MMA) that I’ve ever seen. Also interesting is T.P. Grant’s Bloody Elbow article “History of Jiu Jitsu: Oswaldo Fadda, Nova Uniao and Non-Gracie Jiu-Jitsu“. The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex is giving a middle-of-the-road, quick-skim version.

Samurai using bujutsu on the battlefield

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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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