Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Martial Arts in general is a never ending journey. These are 5 principles that help me progress faster in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
1) Show up to class
It may seem a little simplified to start off with this, but the fact is this: to get better, show up to class. Too many guys I see WANTING to get better are not actually training. Watching videos, and participating forums are great. And sure there are times you need to take a day off, but the bottom line is, if you want to get better, show up to class. One way I do this is to set a schedule and stick to it. If I’m going to train 5 days this week, I train all 5 days. If I’m sore, I’ll go to class to drill and then roll lightly. It’s ok to have a light day, just make sure you stick to your schedule.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter give up after getting his blue belt. If you want to get better, you have to stick with it. Train because you love to train and you plan to train for life. Be in it for the long haul, don’t be chasing a specific belt. If you train with this attitude, before you know it, you’ll be a high ranking belt. It doesn’t matter what age you began, be in it for the long haul.
2) Understand the Concept
Understanding the concept was something I discovered and improved my Jiu Jitsu. “There are a million different methods, but only a few principles.” If you understand the concept, you won’t have the worry about the new specific technique. There will always be a new popular technique. Focusing on the concept will also allow you to adapt the move to your body and ultimately create your own Jiu Jitsu. Understanding why the move works and the principles behind the technique will expand your understanding of grappling. If you don’t understand this yet, you will later. Just keep focusing on the principles.
3) Drill, Drill, Drill & Drill Some More
If an instructor gives you a move to practice, don’t just do 3 each and sit on the side. The best grapplers are always those who put in the most work. Maximize your time at the gym and drill some more. Better yet, stay after class or show up early to drill. I like to tell myself to drill until you are bored and then drill some more. If the move hasn’t become boring, you haven’t drilled it enough. The rule of 10,000 applies here with the basic principle being, repetition is the mother of all learning.
4) Set Small Goals
Like anything in life, setting a small short term goal is very important. When it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I tell myself to improve ONE thing a day. If I improve just one thing, over time the accumulated gains will be enormous. I’ll go to training and say to myself, today I want to work on [INSERT WEAKPOINT OF MY GAME]. Then I’ll spend some time drilling certain moves to fix it and force myself into that situation in sparring. At the end of the day, I have improved and accomplished a small goal. Don’t make the mistake of coming to class with a blank slate. Come to class with a purpose and I guarantee you’ll leave 10% better.
5) No-Gi / Gi Grips
When training in the Gi, I try to minimize my use of the kimono as much as possible. That way, when I take off the Gi I am not lost. Sure there are great moves with the Gi that maximize your efficiency, but if you train entirely that way, once you take off the Gi you will be at a huge disadvantage. One benefit from this principle is that you will also save your fingers. A general rule I use with myself is to always know what grip translates to No-Gi and if possible, don’t use the Kimono. If I must use the Kimono, don’t hang onto it longer than 10 seconds. This way I have a style that translates to both Gi and No-Gi.
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We arrived on Kauai after a short plane ride from Oahu to link up with ATH Team Rider Dustin Barca. We wanted to shoot a talk story with Dustin and figured why not get some training in while we were in town. Luckily for us, Dustin Barca is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brown Belt under the Royler Gracie Black Belt, Bruno Ewald. At 6’4”, Bruno earned his nickname “Cumprido” back in Brazil which means “Longman” in Portuguese.
In 1991, Bruno was a recent purple belt transplant from Brazil living and surfing on Kauai. There were no places to train, the Ultimate Fighting Championship had not yet been created, and Gracie Jiu Jitsu was still widely unheard of. While hanging out at his house, Bruno showed some locals Vale Tudo fights that he had recorded on VHS and brought from Rio de Janeiro. Immediately the locals were interested and a few grappling matches later he convinced them it was time to learn Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
Laying down some mats in his garage, Bruno’s first students were Kai Garcia, Carl Ragasa, Lyon Hamilton, and Chris Kaamoana. These guys were all surfers who instantly fell in love with the art. Soon classes started getting too full for the garage, so Bruno and Carl rented a house in Princeville Kauai. They turned the two car garage into their dojo and named it Longman Jiu Jitsu. There, they were able to lay down the mats and train 7 days a week, flying over to Oahu to compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournaments.
Fast forward to today, Bruno has a thriving Brazilian Jiu Jitsu association with 3 Academies on Kauai. That night we were able to train at Bruno’s North Shore Academy. Bruno demonstrated his variation of an arm lock and defenses to getting stacked. Being so long, Bruno had some clever tricks that experienced grapplers develop over time.
When arm locking an opponent from the guard, Bruno likes to place his same side hand behind his opponent’s elbow to prevent him from pulling his elbow back to his side to stop your arm bar. This way he attacks his opponent’s arm two on one. Then with his other hand, he controls the sleeve and pushes the face to pass his leg over for the submission.
When your opponent attempts to stack you, Bruno angles off to force the opponent to the mat instead of driving your own knees into your face. To do so, he stays off the back of his neck and rolls onto his inside shoulder. This redirects your opponent’s force to the mat and prevents him from full stacking you.
From there, Bruno climbs his outside leg over his opponent’s shoulder, locks a loose triangle, and proceeds to attack you with a double threat arm bar/triangle choke. If your opponent defends, he arm drags to the back.
This was a good variation of your typical defenses to the stacks that are particularly applicable to a grappler with long arms and legs like Longman. Redirecting your opponent’s force is something that resonates strongly with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. It’s as if the harder you try, the deeper and more entangled you become in the spider’s web.
Overall it was a great trip training with some tough guys from Longman Jiu Jitsu. If you’re ever on the Island of Kauai, be sure to stop by Longman Jiu Jitsu.
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Michael “The Count” Bisping and Luke Rockhold have been swapping barbs for months. Be it on Twitter, during interviews, or at press conferences, the two fighters have not kept their disdain for one another a secret. They’ve mocked each other for recent losses. They’ve questioned the legitimacy of one another’s records. They even got into it over a sparring session that happened years ago. Maybe it’s petty, maybe it’s justified, but the two middleweights don’t seem to like each other one bit.
Thankfully, they’ll have a chance to bury the hatchet in less than two weeks. In the main event of UFC Fight Night 55, which goes down on November 8 in Sydney, Australia, the pair will slug it out to settle their score. It’ll surely be a relief for both men (and for any fans that are tired of the squabbling) as it takes a lot of energy to feud so fervently. But the fight is important for more reasons than the end of their beef. It’s a must-win for both men.
Is it a number one contender fight? Probably not. With Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort’s meeting bumped back to the first quarter of 2015, and monsters like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Yoel Romero waiting in the wings, the road to the middleweight strap is a long one. The victor, of course, takes a step in the right direction, but more importantly, the winner stays relevant. A loss won’t send either man to the unemployment line, but it would certainly be damaging.
Let’s take a look back at each fighter’s recent records. They’ve both got wins in the rear-view; Bisping’s was over Cung Le, and Rockhold’s were over Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch. But they’ve both also recently stumbled near the top of the mountain— Rockhold against Belfort, and Bisping against Belfort and Tim Kennedy. It’s an unfortunate truth, but a truth all the same: fans don’t give top-ten fighters very many chances. If you falter once on the verge of title contention, you can bounce back. Falter again, with hard work; you might climb back to the top rung. Falter a third time and you’ll find yourself labelled “good, but not good enough,” branded with words like “gatekeeper.”
Bisping is in more danger of this fate than Rockhold. As a middleweight, he’s tasted defeat against several elite fighters, and a loss to Rockhold will probably be the final nail in the coffin of his championship hopes. Considering his age (he’s 35) a defeat in Sydney seems even more likely to send the Brit to the point of no return— career twilight spent in the cage with mid-level fighters like Thales Leites and Tim Boetsch.
Rockhold is younger, and has only tasted defeat twice in a seven year career, so he’s got a little more wiggle room. That said, losses to perennial top-tenners like Belfort and Bisping would not be good for him. If he can’t punch his way through the top-ten, how are we supposed to believe he can cut it against the champion? He’s only 30, so it’s possible he’d have time to work his way back to the top, but a loss to Bisping might leave him in a middleweight grey area too.
Yes, the stakes of this matchup are high for both men, and not just because they’ve laid their dignity on the line with a war of words. They both need a win, but more importantly, neither can afford a loss. So, when the cage door closes on the 8th of November, who emerges victorious? That’s hard to say.
On paper, Rockhold seems to have the advantage in most facets of the game. He certainly hits harder, and he’s got a size advantage to boot. He’s also the stronger wrestler. The odds say he’ll win for a reason. That said, experience is a dangerous weapon, and Bisping has it in droves. Having clashed with the likes of Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Brian Stann, Cung Le, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, and Yoshihiro Akiyama, it’s unlikely Rockhold will hit the Brit with anything he hasn’t felt before. That fact bodes well for Bisping. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that a calm, collected Count frustrates his younger opponent en route to a win— be it a stoppage or a decision. With five rounds to play with, both fighters certainly have a lot of time to make something happen.
It’s an important fight for both men, and for the division they call home. Which man will fight off gatekeeper status and rise to the occasion? Until fight night, there’s no way to know. But given the animosity between the pair and the implications this fight has for their careers, you can expect it to be a hell of a fight while it lasts.
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Everybody knows how good Max “Blessed” Holloway is. Whenever fight fans talk about him, the discourse is dominated by terms like “promise” and “potential.” Yes, at 22 he may be young, but few will deny the Hawaiian featherweight has an extremely high ceiling.
Yet it hasn’t been an easy road for Holloway. Perhaps it’s due to his obvious potential, but his UFC career thus far has been a classic example of being thrown to the wolves. His was not a slow climb. There were no stepping stones, no testing of the water. Let’s recount.
At just 20 years of age, he found himself across the cage from Dustin Poirier, who had already waged war with name opponents like Danny Castillo, Josh Grispi and Pablo Garza. It was a stark test, and unfortunately, it would not be Holloway’s night. 3:23 into the first round, he tapped out to a triangle arm bar.
Still, nobody questioned his potential. Sure, he came up short, but his defeat against Poirier was the first on his professional record. At such a young age Holloway undoubtedly had ample room to grow. And grow he did.
Over the course of his next three fights, Holloway erased the memory of his loss to Poirier with three impressive wins. His first victim was pat Schilling, who he pummeled on route to a unanimous decision. Next, he defeated Justin Lawrence with a savage barrage of punches in the second round. Then at UFC 155, he battled Leonard Garcia— tooth and nail— to a well-deserved decision win. It appeared that after faltering against Poirier, the young Hawaiian had hit his stride. Barely old enough to legally order a drink in the United States (not that a fighter of his calibre has time for boozing); he appeared to be realizing his potential.
But the fight game is a tough game. For rising fighters, the road is fraught with speed bumps. Just when Holloway seemed to be finding his groove, he hit another. It’s name? Dennis Bermudez. It was a highly contentious decision, but unfortunately for the Hawaiian, a loss all the same. And it would be followed by another. The culprit? One of the most talked about fighters in the game today, Connor McGregor. Though he survived three rounds with the notorious finisher (he’s McGregor’s only UFC opponent to do so), it was a sour setback for the young talent.
Suddenly, talk about Holloway took a turn. As always, nobody questioned his potential, but the consensus—once again— seemed to be that he had some work to do before he reached that potential. He was having growing pains. When it came to hanging with the divisional big dogs, he was too young, too green.
Yet Holloway is a rare breed. He swims in a small pool of fighters who respond extremely well to adversity. Defeat makes him more dangerous. Following his losses to Bermudez and McGregor—who are both now title contenders—“Blessed” has pounded out four straight wins. And not one has seen the judges’ scorecards.
The result of his recent success? Holloway, again, seems to be realizing his potential. Yes, with his last win, an absolutely brilliant knockout win over Akira Corassani in Sweden, he blasted his way into the divisional top-15. That means big fights on the Hawaiian’s horizon. What kind of big fights? Let’s play matchmaker, ladies and gentleman.
A fight with Charles Oliveira or Clay Guida would be a great test for Holloway. A scrap with slugger Jeremy Stephens would be also make an excellent pairing— and it’s got bonus money written all over it. Should Holloway win a fight of such a calibre, he’ll find himself in the top-ten, and from there, it’s no more than a few Ws from a featherweight title shot.
Will the Hawaiian hit another snag? That’s hard to say. In the fight game, no fighter’s continued success is guaranteed. But he certainly has the skills to make it to the top. And he’s only ever improving— his current win streak is proof of that. His TKO wins over Will Chope and Clay Collard were showcases of his stunning striking and the effectiveness with which he uses his mammoth reach. His late submission win over the highly-touted Andre Fili was evidence of his ever-evolving ground game, his patience, and his composure. His KO of Corassani was proof that even at 22, he can hang with the best. Sure, Corassani is no Chad Mendes or Jose Aldo, but he’s a respected enough fighter to earn matchups with the likes of Dustin Poirier and Chan Sung Jung. And Holloway shut his lights off as easily as I’ll hit the switch on my lamp when I’m done writing this article.
The moral of this story? Now, more than ever, fight fans should keep their eyes on Max Holloway. I know it’s been said before, but his potential truly appears to be coming to fruition. He’s got the tools, and they’re sharp. Despite his youth, he has the experience and “fight IQ”. When it comes to the featherweight division, everyone is talking about Mendes, McGregor and Aldo. But the hard-hitting Hawaiian might just sneak up on us.
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Dustin Barca, professional surfer turned professional mixed martial artist now turned environmental activist, sits down and talks to us about finding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and growing up on Kauai. Dustin Barca grew up on the island of Kauai and started training when he was 15 years old with Bruno Ewald of Longman Jiu Jitsu. He took a brief break while surfing in the professional ASP Surfing World Championship Tours but found his way back to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Martial Arts. He is currently keeping himself busy with environmental activism and running for Mayor of Kauai.
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You can’t mention Gracie Jiu Jitsu and not mention the grandsons of the late Helio Gracie, Rener and Ryron. Rener and Ryron both help run the flagship Gracie Academy in Torrance, California and their father Rorion, created the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). So when I caught wind of a Ryron seminar coming to town, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
This seminar was set to focus on escapes. Ryron is probably most known for his Metamoris match versus Andre Galvao, who Ryron claimed he won just by the fact of him surviving for 20 minutes without being submitted. An impressive feat in itself, since Andre Galvao is a multiple time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion.
The first defense that Ryron went over was the cross choke defense. The late Helio Gracie famously said, “When it comes to chokes, there are no tough guys, everyone goes to sleep.” And because of this, Grandmaster Helio’s favorite technique was the collar choke. Ryron explained a few different variations to defend the cross choke, slowing down the choking hand, trapping and rolling. As always, the fine details are what separates a world class martial artist from the average joe.
Next, Ryron showed a series of triangle defenses, the main emphasis being: not being there. He demonstrated the classic, “stuff the wrist and control the collar” set up from guard along with a clever escape. In a classic Gracie-esque move, instead of fighting the opponents force, he simply dove the uncontrolled wrist through your opponent’s legs, preventing the triangle strangulation. Instead of having a triangle choke, your opponent now in danger of having his guard passed. That seemed to be a common theme, finding the most energy efficient move possible. Instead of fighting fire with fire, Ryron preached to redirect the opponents energy and use their strength against themselves.
Finally, Ryron showcased a series of armbar defenses, ranging from an upa (portuguese for bridge) to a defense that split your opponents legs apart, negating the leverage and preventing your arm from being hyperextended. Gracie Jiu Jitsu has that way about it, a smaller man can defeat a bigger foe by setting a trap and waiting for your opportune time. It’s like Helio Gracie once said, “Jiu-Jitsu is a mousetrap. The trap does not chase the mouse. But when the mouse grabs the cheese, the trap plays its role.”
With thousands, if not millions of techniques, what I take away most from a seminar is the philosophy of jiu jitsu. Ryron’s philosophy of energy efficient jiu jitsu was easily relatable. “There are times,” he said, “that you cannot move.” If you move, you will be submitted. He used an example of passing the guard, “If you try so hard to pass the guard, your opponent will have the opportunity to strangle you. But if you force him to move, like a game of chess, he will make a mistake and give you the pass.”
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When we decided to create a plant based protein bar, there were many things we needed to consider. We obviously needed something delicious and natural. We also didn’t want 10 million ingredients that you couldn’t pronounce. We wanted to use 10 simple, earth harvested ingredients that were nutritious as well as delicious. We wanted a bar that was minimally processed to a point where you could actually see what you were eating. Afterall, our athletes are on the go and needed something to fuel their lifestyle.
Each serving has 12 grams of protein from natural occurring sources and Hemp & Rice Protein. We specifically chose these two plant products because of their complete amino acid profile and their ability to provide a lot of protein with very little powder. Hemp Protein is also a good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are critical for cell structure and prevention of heart disease, cancer, and more. It’s arguably the best plant protein out there.
We decided to make it gluten free, diary free, and wheat free. But we also wanted to make it delicious. To accomplish that task, we used organic Vanilla bean shavings and organic Honey to sweeten it. Each serving has 4 grams of fiber which nutritionalists say help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. Our almond slices and rice crisps top off the texture of our bar to make you coming back for more. Whether you’re going on an expedition outdoors or training on the mats, our Hemp Gold bar will keep you satisfied, fueled, and ready for whatever life throws at you.
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We hopped on a plane and flew to the island of Kauai where we met up with ATH fighter and professional surfer turned environmental activist Dustin Barca.
In 2009, Dustin Barca resigned from the professional surfing tour to focus on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. Most of the money he made during the World Championship Surfing Tour went towards building his back yard gym “Boars Nest.” At the time he resigned, Barca was one of the top ranked surfers in the world competing with the who’s who of surfing such as Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow, and Joel Parkinson.
“I never liked what I seen, I never liked the vibe, I never liked the ego. I was getting real into jiu-jitsu, boxing, mma, and just like training hard… and becoming humble. I felt like a fish out of water when I was on [the professional surfing] tour! It was a different mentality, a different upbringing. I couldn’t relate to anybody, you know? And the only people I could relate to were the people in the gym” Barca said.
But after tasting success as an MMA fighter, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, and an environmentalist, Dustin Barca decided to go all in and run for Mayor of Kauai in 2014. One day he just said, “Fuck it, I’m going to run for mayor.”
“I was in town doing some random errands at the DMV when I saw this Kauai County lawyer run by. Then I saw a bunch of people running toward the council building causing a big scene. When I walked over there to see what’s up, I saw that the Mayor of Kauai was announcing his run for re-election and the bosses of all these big agrochemical companies were there supporting his campaign… these same chemical corporations that are suing our county are his number one supporters… How crazy is that? — The companies that are suing our county are the Mayor’s biggest supporters? That’s when I was like ‘F this, I’m running for Mayor!'”
Dustin’s new opponent is the biggest and scariest he’s faced yet, politicians backed by the biggest chemical corporations in the world versus a grass roots normal person speaking from the heart. But fear is nothing new to Barca:
“Yeah I mean, you go into surfing like, I surfed Pipeline, Teahupoo, basically when you drop in you say ‘I’m ready to die..’ You know what I mean? ‘I could die right now.’ When you step into the ring you have that fear, ‘I could die right now.’ That no fear of death, I’m ready to die for what I’m doing now. That’s how dedicated I am to my island, my friends, my family. We got some heavy shit going on right now… We’re dealing with the biggest chemical companies in the world who are doing all their experimenting on our island.”
The Kauai primary election was held on August 9th, 2014. Dustin Barca drew over 30% of the vote and will now face the incumbent on election day, November 8th, 2014. For more information, go to barca4mayor.com.
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It’s difficult to deny Jose Aldo’s status as one of the greatest fighters ever to grace professional mixed martial arts. His dominance is marked by wins over a plethora of the sport’s top athletes. There was his eight-second destruction of Cub Swanson in 2009. There were his savage knockout wins over Mike Thomas Brown and Manny Gamburyan. There was his memorable battle with Mark Hominick in 2011. And there were his dominant, decision wins over such superstars as Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, Frankie Edgar, the Korean Zombie, and Ricardo Lamas. Really, it cannot be refuted that Jose Aldo, the UFC’s long-time featherweight champ, belongs in the same conversations as Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Fedor Emelianenko and Jon Jones. He’s one of the best ever.
Yet perceptions of Aldo are somewhat dampened of late. His dominance remains unquestionable, yet the killer instinct for which he was once known has become a rarer and rarer thing to witness. Sure, he was able to stop Chad Mendes and the Korean Zombie, but those stoppage triumphs are sandwiched between a slew of decision victories that have given some fans the impression that Aldo has forgotten how to pull the trigger. His style, in many ways, seems to have become more methodical. Lately, he seems more concerned with winning rounds than scoring breathtaking knockouts as he used to do so often.
There are a few theories as to Aldo’s recent tepid performances. One suggests that his opponents are simply better than they use to be. The level of competition with which he is faced has improved, which makes stoppage victories harder to achieve. Another theory surmises that Aldo’s weight cut to 145 lbs. has become too taxing. As a result, he is forced to fight smarter— even slower— to ensure that he has the energy to fight for five rounds if necessary. A third theory, and perhaps the most pessimistic of the bunch, suggests that Aldo is simply losing his drive to destroy. A veteran of 25 professional fights, the featherweight champion has a lot of mileage. It’s been a long career, and as a result, perhaps he just doesn’t feel the same kind of competitive fire that he once did. Despite all the speculation, though, there’s really no way of knowing why Aldo’s style has underdone the transformation it has.
Regardless, it’s not as though Aldo is no longer capable of spectacle. He still possesses some of the most feared striking in mixed martial arts. He still owns a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. If he decides he wants to finish a fight, chances are, he will. And this begs the question: when he rematches a surging Chad Mendes in two weeks at UFC 179, which version of Jose Aldo will we see? Will it be the same Aldo who showed up to fight Mendes in 2012? The same dynamic competitor who turned out his opponent’s lights with a blistering knee inside one round? Or will we see the newer, more reserved Aldo— the Aldo who, despite his dominance— has failed to become the big-money, UFC pay-per-view star many fans expected he would.
At the end of the day, there’s no way to know until fight night rolls around. Will Aldo score a vintage finish over his American challenger? Will he strike his way to a decision victory? Will he even win? Without a crystal ball, these questions will remain unanswered until the cage door closes in UFC 179’s main event on October 25th. But maybe, we shouldn’t linger on the what-ifs. Perhaps our focus should lie instead on our luck. Let me elaborate.
Fedor Emelianenko is retired. Georges St-Pierre is on hiatus. Anderson Silva’s aura of invincibility was smashed alongside his tibia by Chris Weidman. Jon Jones is out with an injury. As fight fans, we would be months deep in a greatness drought if it weren’t for one man. That man is Jose Aldo.
Regardless of how Aldo performs at UFC 179— whether he scores a knockout or not— when he enters the cage, greatness will be on display. He will put is spectacular, 24-1 record on the line against a bona fide killer in Chad Mendes, and for every minute the fights lasts, viewers will be privy to the dominance of one of MMA’s true icons. Given that, perhaps it’s better not to waste time wondering as to why Aldo is scoring fewer stoppages. Perhaps, fight fans, we’d be better off to sit back and enjoy the show. Greatness is a rare thing in any sport. So why question it?