Posts Tagged ‘Brazilain Jiu Jitsu’

Essential Reading for Jiu Jitsu in Western Mass

For this article I thought I would take a few minutes to recommend a few good books for Jiu Jitsu students to read. If you take the time to study these books I really feel that it will help you learn and grow as a Jiu Jitsu student and Martial Artist. The following books have all been selected for various reasons and have something to offer for everyone.

1. “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle

This is a fascinating book on the study of genius and talent in all areas of life. The application of this to your Jiu Jitsu training, competition career or development into a great martial artist will become immediately apparent! It is such a great book that I often buy it as a gift and always recommend it to everyone regardless of their skill set, knowledge or position in life. It will change your perception and understanding of what it takes to be great in your field and really can change your life!

2. “Advanced Jiu Jitsu” by Marcelo Garcia

Does anything really need to be said about this? Marcelo Garcia is one of the greatest Jiu Jitsu competitors of all time and this book offers you an insight into some of the techniques and strategies that make him stand a head and shoulders above the competition.Very detailed and insightful, you will learn a lot about what makes Marcelo tick why and how he does what he does. A great book that you simply must have in your Jiu Jitsu library!

3. “The Art Of Learning” by Josh Waitzkin

An entertaining read into the mind of a chess prodigy who went on to study Kung Fu and even become one of Marcelo Garcia’s first black belts! Although the book makes no mention of Jiu Jitsu it is a thoroughly enjoyable read and offers great insight into the ability to learn, question, solve problems and overcome obstacles.

4. “Submit Everyone” by Dave Camarillo

Finally a book on strategy and the application of tactics in Jiu Jitsu! “Submit Everyone” is a brilliant guide in hunting for the submission. Dave treats the mat as a battleground and teaches you how to wage war on your opponent and emerge the victor! The material taught in this book is not available anywhere else for Jiu Jitsu students. A sensational book, one of a kind and hopefully the first in a series to come!

So there you have it, four of my top recommendations as essential reading for all Jiu jitsu students and anyone interested in the grappling arts! I highly recommend you make these books a part of your own personal library, you will not regret it! :-)

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3 Effective Ways to Use Cold Therapy to Increase Recovery – Western Mass BJJ

In the quest for more performance humans will try just about anything. In the days of the early Olympics athletes consumed bulls testicles in the belief it gave them strength. Early marathon runners drank a mixture of brandy, arsenic, and cocaine to dull the painful effects of the run. And if you really want a glimpse into the darkness professional sports can reach, read Breaking the Chain by Willy Voet, which describes in gory detail the cocktails of drugs used in professional cycling in their efforts to win and cheat the system.

But what if you don’t want to travel down that path? Is there a way to get more out of your body than you currently are?

Training is really quite a simple process. We stress the body, and then allow it to recover from the stress to achieve a new level of performance. You can increase stress by increasing volume and/or intensity. But what if you’re an athlete who is nearly at your limit of sessions per week that can be performed, or you are seeking to increase volume in the short term to peak for an event? You might be a CrossFit Games competitor or a triathlete trying to fit in crazy volume and intensity, but you need help recovering faster to get to that next level of performance.

That means it’s time to get chilly.

You know how if you get injured there’s the RICE recommendation? Rest, ice, compression, and elevation? Well, the ice helps to reduce inflammation, which allows treatment and healing to begin sooner.

And you know that stress I spoke of, that we are deliberately placing on the body? The muscle soreness we get from training is just another type of injury, often called micro-trauma, which results in muscle swelling and inflammation. If you can reduce inflammation, then you reduce post exercise muscle soreness – meaning you can train again sooner!

So cold therapy can be a great tool to allow us to get back into training sooner and here’s three ways to make it work:

1.Cold water immersion – This is exactly what it says and it’s what is being done by athletes when you see them in ice baths and the like. I’ll be honest, this is not much fun, but research shows cold water immersion for fifteen minutes post exercise can lead to maintenance of work output in subsequent efforts.

2.Contrast therapy – The muscle flushing effects of alternating periods of hot and cold have been well documented for some time. Alternating hot and cold for one to two minutes at a time for periods of up to fifteen minutes has been shown to reduce swelling and lead to faster restoration of speed and power post training.

3.Recovery swimming – This may not be practical for many, but is certainly something our train-a-holic triathletes could take part in. If you finish your dry land sessions – run, ride, or gym, it won’t matter – with a recovery swim in a cold pool you will be able to achieve many things at once.Firstly, you’ll achieve all the things that cold water therapy is good for – reduced soreness and inflammation and increased ability to maintain training intensity in the following sessions. Perhaps even more importantly you’ll also add valuable swim time, allowing you to master the technique faster (and swimming is largely technique based, far more than riding and running). It is important not to swim so that you “see rainbows at the end of the pool”, to quote Soviet coaches, but merely enough to work some of the lactic acid out, allow the body to be in the colder environment for a period. (And don’t forget that some aerobic work has been seen to be beneficial in reducing recovery time.)

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The importance of hips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


In terms of importance for Jiu Jitsu proficiency, be it in practice or competition, the hips are by far the one area that has the greatest impact on performance in the sport. Whether being used in the most fundamental of positions to create space to escape, generate angles for attack or producing speed and power for more advanced sweeps and takedowns, the hips are responsible for bridging the gap between lower and upper body power generation and creating the leverage needed to apply the forces used in Jiu Jitsu techniques. Looking into their function, specifically within the art of Jiu Jitsu, studying the science behind the hips will help give us a better understanding as to how we can maximize their potential for creating energy efficient movements and improve our all around game on the mats.

Hips and Principles of Physics
Going back to science, we know that force is any action that causes a body to undergo a change in velocity, speed or direction, usually from a pushing or pulling force exerted on the body. In attempting sweeps and takedowns, we are applying force to accomplish this goal, by using leverage and technique, coupled with speed and power. Power is the rate that this force is applied and transferred to this body or object. In the case of Jiu Jitsu; we normally are referring to our opponent when we talk about the application of force on an object. When an object, or opponent, is then moved or repositioned such as the case of performing a takedown for example, we can say that work has been done on that object. The amount of work done on an object is in direct proportion to the amount of force that can be generated and applied to the object. The more force applied, the more work that can be accomplished.

In terms of Jiu Jitsu application, we can sweep, pass, defend and perform takedowns with greater speed and efficiency when we apply these principles of physics. The goal of any Jiu Jistu artist is to use the least amount of energy possible to create the greatest impact and movement of your opponent. As the hips are the body part responsible for coordinating our upper and lower bodies, as well as positioning our bodies to take advantage of angles and space, the impact that they have on generating force and power is profound. When the hips are used properly, we can maximize our potential strength and generate more power to ultimately use less energy performing the same amount of work as compared to someone trying to “muscle” their way through the same technique. When one uses just their arms to try and move an opponent or only their legs to complete a movement, they waste energy and have a much more difficult time applying their technique properly. Correct hip positioning will maximize efficiency of movement and conserve energy, time and power as well as decrease the chances of failure in attempted techniques. When this happens, and the hips are used properly, you will see effortless Jiu Jitsu, the kind of jiu jitsu where a person looks as if they are using no strength, yet easily manipulating their opponent.

Hips as an Interchangeable Term with Technique
The idea of being technically proficient in Jiu Jitsu really means that you can control your opponent with greater ease and with less output of energy than they use while successfully preventing them from applying their technique efficiently against you. The hips are a critical part in almost every position and situation in Jiu Jitsu in demonstrating technical proficiency. If the hips are used incorrectly a seasoned opponent will take advantage of the situation and force a series of mistakes to be made and change the momentum of a match. It’s the reason why a smaller person can dominate a much larger adversary. For example, take downs on an opponent will be made easier when you harness the power of leverage and strength from proper hip placement. When you try to force a take down with just your arms and back muscles, you not only give yourself a much tougher time physically, but you also give your opponent a chance to defend fairly easily by dropping their hips and neutralizing your attack practically before it even began. However, by lowering your hips below the opponents and driving them forward when you shoot for a takedown, you will extend the powerful muscles of your own legs and knock your opponent off balance for two points. This synchronization of the upper and lower bodies makes more efficient use of strength and generates greater power from a better position of leverage, making the technique easier to perform and thus more technically proficient.

Another example is when you have an opponent in side control and use the principles of hip control to establish a dominant position and prevent them from moving and escaping beneath you. By staying heavy with your hips on top of them, you use leverage, gravity and just a small amount of energy to create incredible pressure which effectively pins them to the mat. When done while simultaneously controlling your opponents hips, you prevent them from creating space to generate both the leverage and power which they need to escape. In both situations, you need to effectively drive into heir body with your hips and position them properly to expend less energy to control your opponent and achieve technical mastery. It’s the proper use of hips which make some people feel as if they weigh substantially heavier than they actually do.

Hips to Create and Maintain Space and Angles
Arguably the single most important solo drill in Jiu Jitsu would be the hip escape. I have never been to a Jiu Jitsu academy where this was not taught the first day to a new student of the art. The importance placed upon this movement is certainly not undeserved. Without proper hip movements in Jiu Jitsu, you would not be able to create the space that is needed in order to apply the most basic techniques, like escapes or sweeps. When in a dangerous position, we shrimp out with our hips to create a space to recover our guard. On the bottom, we hip escape to create leverage for moves like a scissor sweep or to catch an armbar. We align our hips in a manner that capitalizes on using our body’s strength more effectively against our opponents when their bodies are aligned in such a way that allows us to take advantage of them while they are at their weakest.
We try to get out hips under our opponents to facilitate lifting them and disrupting their base and balance to create the correct distance we need to reverse them. When we have someone in our guard, we can push off their hips to maintain space by keeping our feet planted on them so that we can move around and generate distance and angles more suitable for our attacks. When we are in someone’s guard, we control their hips preventing them from elevating into armbars or triangle submission attempts. It’s the positioning of the hips that allows us the space and leverage needed to apply our Jiu Jitsu techniques.
By preventing our opponents from controlling our hips, we enable ourselves the opportunity to move freely in almost any direction that we chose as well as recover our guard when caught by a faster stronger opponent. The more that our opponent begins to control us and eliminate our hip movement, the fewer options we have available to us to escape and transition to other positions. It is of paramount importance that we maintain the freedom to move our hips unrestricted in order to be effective in Jiu Jitsu.
Conversely, we would want to control our opponent’s hips as much as we can, as it is the key to eliminating their offensive and defensive capabilities. When we mount someone, we want to lookout for them bumping us off with their hips and bridging as these are the best chances an opponent has to escape from that position. In side control, when we dominate and control their hips, we can eliminate their ability to hip out and reposition their knees in between our bodies to replace their guard.
Controlling a person’s hips will even limit the range of motion they have in their shoulders and upper torso as their upper body is connected to their hips and requires some freedom of pelvic mobility in order for the upper body to move effectively. There is only so far a person can rotate at the core when their hips are locked flat on the mat. When we take someone’s back, we keep our opponents locked in tight against our bodies, eliminating space, making them unable to escape our attack by controlling their hips and legs with our hooks and preventing them from scooting out to limit our ability to move our hips freely. Everything we do in Jiu Jitsu requires some degree of hip functionality, placement and mobility, whether we realize it or not. The more aware we are of the hips importance in grappling, the more we can utilize it to improve our game.

Improving Hip strength and Flexibility
It should be no secret that the best fighters in the world, whether it be in wrestling, BJJ or any other grappling sport, have heavy hips and are able to create huge amounts of space and pressure quickly. They can turn the corners on their opponents during a match, taking their backs in an instant. They can sustain crushing pressure when in side control or the mounted position because of their proper use of their hips. Most beginning Jiu Jitsu students are usually in awe of this effective technical ability and are without an answer as to how these veterans of the sport are able to move in such a precise and devastating manner.

The one thing that does seem to be missing in the training of many Jiu Jitsu practitioners is exercises designed to increase hip flexibility and overall speed and strength. The hips are designed to move and rotate as a ball and socket joint in a circular manner in almost a three hundred and sixty degree range of motion. The more active we are and the more we practice stretching and strengthening our hips, the more mobility and power we will posses in them. When people ignore training these important joints, they allow their hip flexors and hamstrings to tighten up and shorten which will cause a decrease in their overall flexibility and range of motion in their hips, especially as they grow older.

When our hips loose flexibility, we may begin to over compensate other muscle groups such as the knees, legs and lower back and begin to slowly develop chronic injuries over time. This can easily be avoided by adding a few beneficial exercises to your training routine. There are many exercises that we do in the gym before class to loosen up and help with flexibility, but overall to achieve greater results and improvement in hip strength, one needs to supplement what is performed in class with a little extra work outside their normal training sessions.
To improve flexibility in the hips, a few extra stretches can do wonders for a Jiu Jitsu fighter. A simple bridging exercise will stretch out the hip flexors and improve your overall mobility.
1. Partial Hip Bridge. Start out by lying on your back, with your feet on the floor slightly apart with your knees bent, you raise your hips off the ground and upwards. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat for 3-4 sets. You should strive to feel a gentle stretch in your pelvic girdle. Eventually you can work up into a full bridge with your hands on the ground and a full arching of your back.
2. Cobra Stretch. Starting off by lying on your stomach, have your legs spread out away from your body behind you with the tops of your feet against the ground. Place your hands on the mat about shoulder width apart and push off the ground slowly to raise your upper body while keeping your hips driving against the ground. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat for 3-4 sets. As a variation, sitting back in base, as if you were in someone’s guard. Make sure that you position your feet so that you are sitting on them with the top of the foot against the floor underneath you. Place your hands on the mat with your back arched slightly upwards; drive your hips forward which should start to bring your abs and chest close to your thighs and knees. This will help open your hip flexors and increase your flexibility.
3. Lunging stretch. Step forward with one foot and bend at the knee. Stretch your other foot backwards balancing yourself on your toes. In this position, lower your hips to the ground and focus on the flexing of the pelvic joint. If added into your routine on a regular basis, you should start to feel and notice improvements in your hip mobility in a short amount of time.
4. S –Stretch. Sitting on the mat in almost a hurdler’s position, you will place your right leg in front of you and bend it at the knee, bringing your right foot back in towards your left hip. Your left leg will be stretched out behind you with your left foot curled behind your right side, making an s shape with your legs. You will lean your upper body forward, trying to touch your chest to the inner thigh and knee of your right leg. After holding for 20-30 seconds, you will turn towards your right foot and lean forward over your shin while pressing your chest down also 20-30 seconds. Finally you will turn towards your outside with your left elbow touching your right knee and try to lay your chest flat on the mat and hold this position for the same amount of time. If you want to adjust this drill for the benefit of speed and balance, switch legs without using your hands for balance as fast as you can for a set amount of time or repetitions.

To improve hip strength, there are many exercises that can benefit both the flexor and extensors as well as improve the power you can generate. By strengthening muscle groups above and below the hips, you will begin to strengthen the hips themselves.
1. Single leg step ups. These help increase the strength involved in extending the legs and hips and require the use of the hamstring and gluteus muscles. Find an elevated platform, such as a bench or plyometric steps and slowly step up onto it with 1 foot and raise the body slowly up onto the bench while maintaining controlled movements and balance. Slowly raising and lowering the body in this exercise will help increase the strengthening of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the hips. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each leg.
2. Box jumps, squats and lunges also work very well for the purpose of strengthening the hip flexors and should be performed with a conscientious attention to the hips themselves, rather than the muscles of the legs to increase the benefits of strengthening this region. At the end of each repetition, extend the hips outwards, over exaggerating the “popping out” of the hips to ensure that they are getting a proper workout. This may require doing these as body weight exercises at first and paying close attention to how they feel during and after workouts to prevent straining or injuring them.
3. Stability ball exercises. To increase hip flexor strength, you will want to focus on the muscle groups of the abdominal region. Stability ball exercises are well suited for this purpose. Start by lying down face on top of the exercise ball. Walk your hands out in front of you into a pushup position with your feet resting on the ball into a plank position and hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute. By focusing on the pelvic muscles, you will increase the strength in your hip flexors. Perform 3-4 sets of this exercise.
4. Pull up bar hang and twist. While hanging from a pull up bar, raise your knees towards your chest and then twist your upper torso to the left and right with your knees bent at a ninety degree angle. Try to do this while keeping your upper torso as straight as possible, using your hips to generate the power needed to move your legs. When you get comfortable with this, try to do it with your legs completely extended outwards. This is a great exercise that will increase the strength of your hip flexors and improve your speed. The added benefit is that it will increase grip strength, lower back and abdominal muscles as well. Try to do 3-4 sets of 20 repetitions.
5. Triangles. Lying on your back with your hands palm down at your sides, lift your hips off the ground as high as you can and practice locking in triangles. By focusing on the lifting motion of the pelvis high off the ground, you will develop functional strength in the hips. When you’re hips are stronger and faster than your opponents, you will be able to beat them to certain positions and have an easier time dominating them in a match. As the most important area in our bodies for Jiu Jitsu, we should stress strength in our hips as a major priority in our training routines.

Essentially there is no position in Jiu Jitsu where you don’t use your hips. Hips are the key to success in Jiu Jitsu. Without mobility and strength in your hips, you will have difficulty trying to create the space, leverage and force needed to apply your techniques. Soon you will revert to using too much strength and energy in your arms and back and you will tire out quickly. Against a seasoned Jiu Jitsu fighter, this will be the beginning of the end for you. When you use strength, you get tired. When you get tired, you make mistakes. When you make mistakes, you get tapped out. Practice hip drills with a partner. If you are alone, there are tons of solo drills that will improve your game. Increase your strength and flexibility in the hips and focus on them as they are the most important piece of the Jiu Jitsu puzzle. When you take the time to recognize the tremendous role that the hips play overall in your game, and make an effort to improve this aspect of your Jiu Jitsu, you will begin to make huge gains on the mat as the hips truly are the centerpiece of the gentle art.

Bruce Lee, Father Of Mixed Martial Arts MMA Jeet Kune Do

Western Mass BJJ is a big fan of how Bruce Lee affected martial arts in Springfield Ma.
Mixed martial arts or MMA as this popular fighting sport is commonly known is a combination of different martial arts combat styles including kickboxing, jiujitsu, wrestling, boxing and others.  The MMA fighters are basically using the most effective fighting techniques from different styles of martial arts in the ring.  Interestingly enough, there is a Bruce Lee connection to MMA.
So instead of training in just one discipline like wrestling or boxing, MMA fighters must train in a variety of techniques from different martial arts which make them better rounded fighters.  Although it may seem like a novel or revolutionary concept, this idea of using the best of different martial arts styles is not new.
In fact, the martial arts legend and action movie star Bruce Lee, is considered by many in the martial arts world to be the father of mixed martial arts.  He was the first to publicly advocate training in a variety of martial arts styles including western boxing and wrestling.
Bruce Lee moved away from being a traditional martial artist utilizing classical forms, stances and techniques.  He created his own style of martial arts called Jeet June Do which is pretty well his style of mixed martial arts.  He even compiled his ideas of mixed martial arts in his book called Tao of Jeet Kune Do.
This caused some controversy among some of the traditionalists in martial arts back in his time, especially before he became famous through his movies.  But as time went on, even after his death, his concepts became more accepted by modern martial artists around the world.  He has influenced countless numbers of martial artists to train with a variety of martial arts techniques.
History now suggests that Bruce Lee was way ahead of his time with his early ideas of mixed martial arts.  If he can only see what he has started now with the explosion of MMA as a popular sport.  He would be certainly be proud.  The mixed martial arts MMA world definitely owes a lot to Bruce Lee for having the ingenuity and courage to go against the traditionalists to develop the mixed martial arts concept so many years ago.
Brought to you by Western Mass BJJ

MMA, Rugby & Polo Combine to Make “Ultimate Ball”

There have been some horrible MMA ideas in the past. Yamma Pit Fighting, Jared Shaw, Kimbo vs Houston Alexander, Bob Sapp vs….well anyone. The list goes on and on. But this may be the worst MMA-related idea I’ve ever seen. I say that with not an ounce of exxageration. I even had a hard time watching just a few seconds of this horrible idea known as, ‘Ultimate Ball’. I’m not sure what’s even happening here, but I guess it’s supposed to be a mix of polo and MMA?? Whatever it is, I dare you to try to sit thru this entire video. Good luck.

Western Mass BJJ – Rickson Gracie Seminar: Making the Invisible Visible

By Andreh Anderson

Rickson Gracie stands at the center of the enormous Gracie Academy mat and begins to share. I choose the word share over teach because one gets the feeling immediately that the information he’s transmitting is the essence of his jiu-jitsu—the art that defines him. He isn’t phoning in a series of random techniques to amaze us, he’s letting us in on the very thing that makes his jiu-jitsu the envy of perhaps every world champion that’s rolled with him—he calls it connection.

I don’t know whose arm is around my neck, but I perform a technique I just saw Rickson demonstrate. I execute the move immediately and turn to find that my attacker is a broadly smiling Rorion Gracie. He pats me on the back and asks me to do it again. He’s noticeably enthusiastic about the material and our exposure to it. He’s pleased and I’m relieved when I repeat the movement correctly. There’s always pressure wearing a black belt and having a Gracie family member—a red belt no less—ask you to perform a technique. I thank him for his help, and when his back turns I scurry over to a group of blue belts that seem to have an odd man out.  The technique was a way to lift an attacker who has reached around your neck from behind without committing his weight either forward or backward. Without the benefit of his weight falling into you, lifting is difficult. Rickson shows us to bend at our hips the way we would if we were sitting into a deep chair, and then walk backward to get our hips under our opponent’s center of gravity. In any other seminar, this might simply be a basic self-defense technique, but Rickson uses this to as an introduction to the idea that weight can be easier to move if approached from the correct angle. He’s talking about leverage—a word that is frequently tossed around in jiu-jitsu circles; but as Rickson calls black belt after black belt forward and none are able to lift their opponents the way he can, one begins to realize that the concept might be familiar to most of us, but perhaps not deeply understood.

Rickson whistles through his fingers and everyone stops to watch as he calls forward a black belt and asks him to keep his balance. Rickson then grabs his partner’s gi at the shoulder and tugs and pushes while the black belt falls forward then backward, clearly out of balance. The roles are then reversed and the black belt pushes and pulls, but Rickson’s steps forward and backward are small and balanced, and we begin to see how connection is the a relationship between the attacker’s base and our own. Soon it’s our turn to push and pull each other. We begin with basic judo grips on each other’s lapels, and when my partner pushes, my weight transfers to my front leg, and when he pulls it transfers to my back leg. Fair enough—anyone who’s wrestled or trained in judo will be familiar with the shifting of weight from leg to leg—but Rickson points out that when you’re connected, there is a certain tension in the arms as well as the legs, and that allowing that tension to disappear is to give up the connection you have to your opponent. Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to teach you how to throw or avoid being thrown—not specifically—it’s to demonstrate the interaction between connected and disconnected. The first time I grab my blue belted partner, he’s easy to move. He reflects a bit on what Rickson said, and his balance becomes better and I have to push or pull harder to get him to step. He pushes me and I feel the sense of balance that Rickson described. I don’t feel it perfectly, but I have a better sense of control over my base, even as my opponent begins to pull and push with more intensity. There isn’t a good way to describe this technically—at no time does Rickson provide you with a set of instructions to follow—because Rickson is trying to convey a feeling rather than a sequence. When we are connected, we shift our weight in a way that doesn’t give our attacker anything to use against us. Rickson spends more time on this exercise than on any other, and with good reason, for it shows how being connected allows your base to remain independent of your opponent’s actions, while his lack of connection allows you to manipulate his weight and posture.

Rickson gathers us around and asks me to grab him around the waist while he pushes into me. I do the best I can, but he adjusts my shoulder so that it becomes the point of connection between my base and his, and suddenly I’m stronger. The difference wasn’t necessarily my posture, but the way the shoulder allowed me to connect to him more powerfully than with the broad surface of my chest. The shoulder represented a narrow point through which I could direct my “base” or my weight—neither word is appropriate, yet they are closest I can think of without using the word “energy”—a term I despise because of its mystical martial arts connotations. Like the pushing and pulling we did when we grabbed lapels, I am shifting my weight into my front leg when I’m resisting his push and transferring it to the back leg when I’m being pulled. Rickson switches directions quickly and tests my response time so that I remember to shift my weight immediately as the need arises. He reminds all of us that this isn’t something we can expect to do perfectly, as it requires a feeling for when the weight must shift, but that we can now practice shifting the weight more consciously.

Similarly, he shows us how sprawling to stop a double leg takedown requires the same type of connection. As Rickson sprawls, he walks backward but drives his weight into his opponent so that the attacker’s base is disrupted while Rickson’s is maintained. His opponent not only bears Rickson’s weight, he must do so from a broken and weak posture. Imagine sprawling, not only with the hips, but also with your chest connected to your opponent’s back so that you can move your hips out further and circle to the back more easily. The technique itself is useful, but it’s more important as another clear example of how Rickson’s idea of being connected is about inhibiting the opponent while improving your own ability to move.

We hit the ground for escapes from side control. Not really, though. Once again, the technique is secondary to the illustration of connection. Once again he asks advanced students, purple belts all the way up to black belts (plus one ambitious white belt), to escape from the modified kesa gatame of another black belt. None of them escape until a female purple belt from his association demonstrates the concept Rickson is looking for. Rickson then shows us how grabbing the lapel and connecting through your arm into the opponent’s neck creates a fulcrum that allows you to easily move your hips away while also preventing the opponent from maintaining control or following. Rickson emphasizes that the arm that blocks the opponent’s neck does not push, it simply connects, and the result is that it becomes a point we can use to move our hips away more easily.

For the next escape, the point of connection is your armpit, as you reach over your opponent’s back, toward his belt, and focus your “energy” (there’s that horrible word again) into your opponent’s shoulder so that you can escape your hips and slide onto your shoulder easily—while also preventing your opponent from flattening you out again. The key here is that the connection point works best against your opponent’s resistance because it not only blocks that resistance, it allows you to move more easily away from it. Picture this: your arm is out of position from the bottom of side control. Your opponent is on your right side, with one knee at your hip and the other leg sprawled back. He controls your head and his other arm is over your body, attempting to block your left hip. With your left arm over his back, you reach toward his belt and direct your weight into that connection between your armpit and his shoulder. Your right arm remains loose and straight. You then escape your hips, without bridging (a key point), and hide your right shoulder under you by simply sliding the right arm back. Do not bridge and do not bend your right arm—hiding the shoulder is a subtle shift of the arm so that it is not stretched along the mat, but instead it is pulled under your body. Hiding the shoulder prevents your right arm from blocking you as you try to turn into him to get to your knees or recover guard.

It is nearing the end of the scheduled time, so Rickson gathers us around to go over a submission. Once again he asks various black belts to try to armlock him from the guard, and each time he manages to show a moment in their attack where they are vulnerable to being stacked. Experienced black belts attempt the armbar in various ways, all performed correctly—according to common understanding—yet each is stacked before they can finish the submission. Rickson then shows how to shoot the hips up quickly, without swinging them in either direction, to bite onto the opponent’s back uncrossed. The bite of the leg into the back is the connection point for this attack, and it allows Rickson’s hips to remain elevated and his core to remain strong and unbendable. The technique appears to be unexploitable. He then bites heavily with one leg so that he can raise his hips further and pivot them so that the other leg can swing tightly over the opponent’s head. The movement is so tight and precise that he is able to demonstrate it without the use of his hands—in such a manner that, even without his hands, his opponent cannot retract his arm or defend by stacking. This is eye opening for everyone in attendance, as evidenced by top black belts, including other Gracie family members, excitedly performing the technique on one another until Rickson whistles for attention for the last time.

We line up in front of Rickson and Rorion. Rickson becomes emotional when thanking Rorion and reflecting on his “coming home” to the Gracie Academy. It’s an important moment in Gracie family history, and one is left to wonder what a force an already great family could become if all sides of the clan were to similarly reunite.

Immediately after the seminar, I receive a call from one of my heroes—Kid Peligro.  “So tell me,” he says. “How was it?” His voice is filled an excitement that matches the kind I’m feeling after sharing the mat with someone I had wanted to train with since I first put my name on the five-year waiting list for privates ten years ago. My response:

“Kid, it was amazing. It wasn’t about techniques, it was about every technique. If someone wonders why a particular technique isn’t working for them, this seminar would have helped them find the reason. Rickson tried to put words to a feeling. It was like having Kobe try to explain how to cut to the basket the way he does—except Rickson found the words and the examples to actually describe that type of thing. My expectations were high, yet the experience surpassed them.”

None of what I said might be exactly true, but it’s all honest. We’ve always felt frustrated by the way people who’ve attended a Rickson seminar have responded to questions about it vaguely, but I was able to see why it’s almost unanimously the case. Rickson’s jiu-jitsu is the result of years of practice, a God-given capacity for understanding it, and enough love of the art to want to share it in the way he experiences it—through feeling not a list of easily imitable instructions.

Western Mass BJJ ask why Train BJJ with a Kimono (aka Gi)?

As you practice Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Western Mass or anywhere for that matter, you will find it useful as both an offensive and defensive tool; you will also realize its value as a common uniform to promote safe and technical practice of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

The gi game obviously has a lot more to it. Everything that can be done without the gi can be done without it, making it a more complex game. Additionally, taking away the gi allows physical attributes such as size strength and slipperiness to come to play with greater effect due to the lack of levers and friction. Working with the gi is generally considered more of a “thinking man’s” game. Not that no-gi isn’t, it’s just that the gi removes many physical advantages and ads more techniques.

For now, you should view your kimono as a set of training wheels. As you develop a higher level of proficiency, you will learn to perform Brazilian Jiu-jitsu techniques both with and without a kimono. For now, the kimono will add a level of sophistication to your game that will result in you as a student becoming a more advanced and technical fighter.

Why Train with the Gi (Uniform) in the Grappling arts?

The following is a short article pointing out some of the benefits to training with the gi (uniform) in grappling arts like Jiu-jitsu or Judo.

Chess and Checkers

It is simply logic that when you add the gi to a grappling match, it will add more possibilities; it is therefore a more complex game. It would be much easier for a good chess player to join in on a game of checkers than the other way around.

Making Big Fighters More Technical

There is no better way to take the physical attributes from someone than putting him in a gi. Without the gi, a bigger person can use more of their strength and faster opponents, more of their speed. The point of any art is to use more technique and skill than strength; using the gi will help develop that skill.

You can always take it off

I’ve seen submission grapplers and wrestlers with ten years or more experience get choked by people with half that time-in while wearing the gi; they look as if you’ve just put them in a straight jacket.

When you train with the gi (properly), it is just a matter of a few grip adjustments in order to fight without it. If you do not train with the gi enough– you’re the checkers guy.

Military and Law Enforcement Application

Unless you are patrolling a beach (in which case, you have a sweet assignment and nothing to complain about), your opponents are wearing clothes. There have been many reports from the Military personnel I train saying that they favor training with the gi and make good use of collar chokes. In fact the core of the Modern Army Manual is based on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and soldiers often train in their BDUs.

It gets cold

For those of in Western Mass were it get’s cold, you’ll be wearing something that resembles a gi for a large part of the year. Even if you are in a hot climate, you’ll most likely be wearing some sort of pants or shorts and a t-shirt that an opponent can grab onto. Additionally, the gi is great for training because it won’t rip like a t-shirt.

Training both with and without the gi is important for anyone who practices any type of Grappling art. Make it at least 50% of your practice and you will be better for it.