Strength & Power.
Aerobic baseline conditioning.
Additional Anaerobic conditioning if recovery allows.
Set a challenge.
Set a time frame.
Correct the technique of higher ranked, more experienced people than yourself.
They love it and will view you with respect and awe.
Never wash your rash guard or gi.
Just keep it in your car or balled up in your bag. If someone complains they clearly don’t understand the #bjjlifestyle.
Don’t pay any attention to what is being taught.
If you haven’t seen it before it’s definitely bullshit. If you have seen it before you already know it and it’s not worth your attention.
When your partner is practicing a new technique counter it every time to show them they are doing it wrong.
This way they will know that you are definitely better than them and they will appreciate the constructive feedback.
Always roll like you’re in the final of the Mundials.
If you’re not practicing winning, you’re practicing losing.
Just hug your partner and perform a 300 second isometric squeeze. If you don’t attempt to do jiu jitsu you can’t fail at doing jiu jitsu.
About to lose? Start coaching or fake an injury.
You haven’t really been submitted if you stopped trying.
Either don’t trim your nails or trim them right before class to ensure that they are razor sharp.
If your training partner has to leave the mat to make sure they don’t bleed out from the thousands of cuts you just inflicted that stills counts as victory.
Always brag about the submissions you got in training to other class members.
Re-live your favourites with anyone nearby. Your past submissions are like MASH reruns – no one ever gets sick of them.
If you compete in a tournament and lose be sure that everyone understands that the problem wasn’t your poor work ethic, your low level of fitness or your complete lack of technique – it that you (select all that are appropriate):
Haven’t slept well all week
Didn’t eat before the match
Ate too much before the match
Had a BYE the first round
Had an opponent who had a BYE the first round
Lost to the guy who won the division
Were robbed by the ref
Had an injury
Lost to a sandbagger
Faced an opponent who was on steroids
Didn’t have enough time
Got DQ’d for some bullshit
Lost by a bullshit advantage
Faced an opponent who just stalled
Were tired from traveling
Just remember that you don’t need to do better; you just need to convince yourself – and everybody else – that you already have.*
Explain how if this was a no gi match you totally would have won.
Explain how if this was a gi match you totally would have won.
Explain how if this was an MMA match you totally would have won.
Exclusively go for techniques you are not allowed to do.
Neck cranks, finger locks and nipple cripples should be your go to moves. BJJ is a martial art for the street and you refuse to water down its effectiveness.
Ask for advice from your coaches and training partners about a problem you are having. Explain to them how it’s not actually a problem and why you are not going to follow that advice.
That way they will know that even your problems are actually successes they don’t understand.
Beat the hell out of new guys.
This will show them the power of BJJ and guarantee they come back.
If you are tired wait until you are losing to stop.
You shouldn’t give your training partner a false sense of success by letting them tap you just because you are tired from all the winning you have been doing. Instead stop rolling and the moment you end up in an inferior position you can’t easily escape from and explain that you are not unfit – you’re just recovering from a max deadlift attempt and the three different Crossfit WODS you considered doing earlier that day.
If your training partner let’s go to make sure that you don’t get hurt then the submission wasn’t really on. If you get hurt then they are being way too reckless and there’s no way they could have got you if you had been going as hard as they were.
Always use extra force and power when rolling with anyone smaller and weaker than you.
They will appreciate the respect you show them by not holding back and be encouraged to get better. Whenever you roll someone bigger or better than yourself complain that they are too rough.
Before rolling explain you have an injury and want to go light.
After they agree roll lightly for ten seconds before surprising them by attacking with 100% speed and power. This will definitely impress anyone watching.
*credit to a Josh Hinger rant for inspiring this one.
See to it that you temper yourself with one thousand days of practice, and refine yourself with ten thousand days of training.
– Miyamoto Musashi
Your sport or art should obviously be the primary component of these six practices. The key here is to understand that your athletic practice is the most important aspect of all your training. If you are interested in being a legitimate athlete then focus is genuinely required.
To quote coach extraordinaire, Dan John, “The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.”
If you have an element of your training or lifestyle that is interfering with your ability to train or perform your sport or art you have to decide what your focus is going to be.
You should be training or performing in your athletic practice 4 to 6 days a week.
Strength and Power Practice
The poor implementation of a strength and power practice is by far the largest and most common impediment in an athletes development.
Too many people consider the barbell a test of mettle rather than as a tool of training.
The goal of this practice is to become strong and powerful for the kind of athlete that you are and not in some kind of general or absolute sense. This means that roller derby skaters need to be strong compared to other skaters but not necessarily when compared to powerlifters or gymnasts.
The bottom line is that what you do in this practice should support – not hamper – what you do on the mat, field, track or ring.
Ideally your strength and power practice should be overseen by a knowledgeable and experienced strength coach. If a personal coach is not an option for you I recommend researching Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program or Pavel Tsatsouline’s Power to the People program.
You should be implementing your strength and power practice 2 to 5 days a week.
People often act like proper nutrition is some kind of complicated black magic or quantum level science but unless you have a severe or rare metabolic disease nutrition can be boiled down to two simple rules.
1. Eat like a fucking adult.
2. Don’t kid yourself.
If you can do this you are already out performing 90% of the population.
Eat like a fucking adult.
Eat real food.
Real food doesn’t come out of a can, or a box or a bag. Real food goes off.
No one over the age of 12 really thinks that nutri grain is ironman food or that diet coke is a healthy choice.
Eat vegetables for health.
Eat meat for strength.
Eat carbs for recovery.
Don’t kid yourself.
You know that pizza and beer aren’t getting you closer to your goals.
And the problem is not that you should *never* consume pizza and beer. The problem is that you pretend that because you ordered a gluten free base and low carb beer that you are somehow still eating well when what you actually did was fuck up a perfectly good meal.
Repeated movement patterns take a toll and the more specific and intense your athletic practice the more specific and intense stress is placed upon your body.
If longevity in your sport and maintaining a pain free day to day life are among your goals (and they should be) then these issues should be addressed by maintaining a movement practice as a part of your schedule.
Stretch what is too tight, open what is too closed and stabilise what is too loose. This can be as simple as going through a mobility routine – like DeFranco’s Agile 8 – three or four times a week or beginning a full blown yoga practice.
A meditation practice is an incredibly powerful tool for improving all areas of your life especially your athletic performance.
We’ve all had those experiences of getting into the “zone” or hitting our “flow”. Matches or performances where time seems to slow down and our ability to think, move and react seems limitless. We recognise the advantage of this state but hardly anyone actually trains to deliberately enter into it.
As athletes we are obsessed with training our bodies but so few of us put the effort in to train our minds.
The “zone” is really nothing more than consistent mindfulness. The ability to remain in and focus on the present moment without distraction.
Regular meditative practices cause actual structural changes in the brain. Just ten minutes a day can improve your will power and decision making capabilities; increase your focus and decrease your stress.
Ten minutes a day, everyday.
Developing a meditation practice doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll end up sitting in the lotus position, wearing flowers and talking in the breathy, hushed tones of someone who just finished a three day yoga instructor course.
Your lifestyle practice is primarily about making sure you stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. By necessity training environments tend to be fairly insular and it’s easy to fall into the pattern of eat, sleep, train, repeat. While this makes for some neat tee shirts the reality is that it’s an expressway to injury and burnout.
The specifics of a happy and healthy lifestyle are unique to each person but there are few general principles that will always apply.
Get enough good quality sleep.
Have interests outside your athletic practice.
Spend time with people.
Spend time by yourself.
Spend time simply playing.
1. Learn the broad strokes.
When you begin learning a new technique it’s easy to get lost in a virtual sea of detail and nuance. At this stage of the learning process don’t worry about these smaller details but instead focus on breaking the technique down into three to five key steps.
These key steps are your points of emphasis.
When you are practicing the technique be sure to pause at each of these points and really “lock” the step into place. Tighten up the step as much as possible making sure that each of your limbs, including your head, is where it is meant to be.
Which brings us to the next step…
2. Learn precisely where your legs, arms and head should be for each of these steps.
Whether we are cleaning our teeth, flicking a lightswitch or chopping onions the point of contact to our task is typically our hands. As such, whenever we interact with the world we tend to think about it in terms of what we are doing with our hands.
Complex tasks though – like nearly every technique found in Jiu Jitsu – are full body affairs.
It is especially important to train yourself to be specifically aware of the positioning of each of your legs and head. The positioning of your legs greatly influences your ability to use your hips and the position of your head reveals the alignment of your spine. Correct positioning of the hips and alignment of the spine maximises your ability to apply force while minimising effort.
3. Drill the technique against resistance.
Once you can move through the technique reasonably accurately and smoothly introduce some resistance to your repetitions. This doesn’t mean that you should jump straight to trying to execute the technique in full on rolling – you need to find a way of adding progressive resistance while performing specific repetitions.
There are many ways of doing this but there are two which are particularly effective and easy to do. The first is simply to have your partner start applying a very light amount of resistance and every time you successfully perform the technique apply more resistance on the next repetition. If they escape or defend the technique for a significant amount of time then they apply less resistance on the next repetition. The second is for your partner to start applying resistance at a particular stage of the technique; Start at the last step and, as you successfully finish the technique, work back towards the first step.
4. Add details.
Working the technique against some resistance should have provided you with some questions; Is there a particular stage or way in which you fail to finish the technique? Are you struggling to finish the technique against people of a particular size or rank?
Provided that you are still correctly executing each major step of the technique getting these questions answered – usually by asking someone more knowledgeable than yourself or through trial and error – will let you know which of the many smaller details to focus on.
5. Start trying the technique against progressively better and larger opponents in free rolling.
Start with small white belts and work towards successfully executing the technique on large black belts. Whenever you encounter a recurring problem go back to steps three and four.
If you can get to the point where you can successfully and regularly pull off the technique against brown and black belts while rolling you are very, very good at it.
But we’re talking about mastery.
Mastering a technique is something beyond very, very good. Mastery implies a level of understanding that exceeds technical detail and nuance.
6. Alter your perspective.
Looking at a technique the same way as everybody else is a sure fire way to limit potential – both yours and that of the technique itself.
Be aware of the typical patterns your mind falls into and try to break out through conscious effort.
Working on a sweep? Try thinking about how you would approach it as a throw or takedown.
A submission? Practice it like you would a position.
If you are genuinely on the road to mastery then by this stage odds are good that there is something you do in the execution of this technique that is different from how it is typically performed. Whether it is a new entry, a change of angle or a grip placed in a new location there is something that improves either the effectiveness of the efficiency of the technique and it’s now a case of recognising and defining what you do that is different and why.
The mark of a master is simplicity. The ability to take everything learnt over the previous seven steps and boil it down to three to five key points denotes genuine knowledge and understanding. This is the same as step one but with the key difference of the experience of the months and years you have spent studying, practicing and training.
These key points might be different from the ones you started with in step one or they might be the same but with a different emphasis.
A while back I republished a new and updated version of the popular article “The Best Supplements for General Health” where I focussed on discussing which supplements were useful in building a foundation of good overall health. They were simple vitamins, minerals and fats that help with immunity, energy levels and general well being.
This time around I want to look at some supplements that will help you get the most out of your training without breaking any laws or taking any undue health risks – nothing here will land you in jail or the hospital if you use them as described.
As always – It is important to note that I am not a doctor, and I don’t pretend to be one on the internet. If you are pregnant, have a chronic condition or are taking medication, you should consult a physician before commencing any supplementation regime.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Branch Chain Amino Acids are made up Valine, Leucine and Iso-Leucine and can help promote muscle protein synthesis, increase muscle growth, regulate blood sugar levels and prevent muscle catabolism.
BCAAs are also an excellent way of managing appetite during weight cuts as your liver can convert 8g – 12g of BCAAs into just enough blood glucose to alleviate cravings without slowing fat loss.
Some people also experience a reduction in fatigue while supplementing with BCAAs but the jury is still out on whether this is a placebo or a genuine physiological effect. At the time of writing most journals and text books refer to this as a reduction in “perceived fatigue”.
While research does seem to indicate that Leucine is the most beneficial of the three, clinical trials have found no advantage to either isolating or increasing the ratio of the acid in the supplement so you are probably best off consuming a balanced ratio.
A dose of 10g to 30g depending on your size and activity levels is pretty standard. Branch Chain Amino Acids are best consumed before or during training and quantities larger than 10g should be split into two or three doses for maximum effect.
Creatine helps regenerate a molecule called Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) which is what your body uses for energy in practically every physical process from muscle contraction to cellular regeneration. Basically, whenever an ATP molecule is ‘used’ it loses a phosphate becoming Adenosine Di-Phosphate (ADP) which cannot be used as a fuel source unless it is converted back into ATP. This is where Creatine comes to the rescue – by donating its phosphate group to the ADP, Creatine reforms it back into ATP refilling your body’s energy stores. Supplementing your body’s own Creatine allows this process to go on for longer that it would otherwise enabling you to train longer and harder.
Also, as Creatine itself is also a fuel source for short duration, high intensity anaerobic activities (like weightlifting and sprinting) supplementation can result in performance increases.
If potential weight gain is not a concern for you I would recommend taking 5g in the morning before any training and 5g in the evening before you go to sleep. If you participate in a sport where weight has to be factored into the equation just take the 5g in the morning.
At this dose Creatine must be taken daily for two to four weeks before it is likely that you will see the full benefit. You can speed up this process by starting with a loading phase where you ingest 20g daily for five days before dialling back to the recommended daily dose of 10g but this can cause gastro intestinal distress in some people.
Finally, I would recommend cycling off Creatine for one week every six weeks or so and for one full month every year. Supplementing Creatine will increase your body’s natural stores for a short period but after a while your body will get used to receiving this extra Creatine and down regulate its own production as a result. Regularly cycling off Creatine for short periods of time will help mitigate this effect.
These days more and more people are over fed but under nourished and the thing missing from the majority of athletes’ diets is sufficient protein. While bodybuilding magazines tend to recommend a daily protein intake somewhere in the vicinity of 2.5g per kilo of bodyweight, studies and experience indicate somewhere between 1.2g and 1.7g is probably sufficient unless your goal is to put on substantial amounts of mass.
While it’s nearly always better to get your protein from whole foods like meat and eggs the sheer convenience of a protein shake makes it an easy way to ensure you are consuming sufficient protein.
There are a couple of important things to look out for when purchasing protein powder. First, when you are drinking a protein shake you want to be taking in protein and not a bunch of sugar so try to find a brand that has at least 22g of protein and less than 5g of carbohydrate per 30g serving.
Secondly there is the type of protein to consider. While there are a bunch of different types, blends and brands they generally fall into one of three categories.
Whey Protein Isolate or Whey Protein Concentrate: Whey protein is a fast acting protein whose rapid absorption causes the blood’s amino acid levels to rise extremely quickly making it an ideal post training supplement. While there are differences between Isolate and Concentrate if you follow the above recommendation regarding purity they are basically minimised to the point of non-existence.
Casein: Casein protein is slow acting and its effects long lasting making it better suited to being a meal replacement than for post training recovery. During periods of training where significant mass gain is the goal a Casein protein shake before bed can aid in muscle growth and recovery.
Plant Based: These are best used if you have a dairy intolerance and cannot make use of either of the above options. While there are many, many, many types of plant based protein powders I would recommend finding a blend of rice and pea; it has a fairly neutral taste and two combined covers the shortfall found in just taking either one individually.
There you have it. No magic or secret pills with guarantees of “XtremE” gains in a shockingly short amount of time just three simple supplements which, if used correctly, should help you train a little harder, recover a little faster and perform a little better.
So you’ve got yourself a grappler – congratulations, you’ve just started a relationship that is equal parts rewarding, mystifying and washing training clothes. Having a grappler of your own can be a challenging experience introducing you to new cultures, foods, smells and doctor’s waiting rooms. Knowing how to properly care for your grappler – cause they sure as hell aren’t going to care for themselves – is a key part of having a happy and healthy relationship.
The following guide should help you through those first tricky weeks.
The grooming needs of a grappler vary greatly. The short haired breeds need little more than a reminder to bath regularly but the longer haired breeds, and the breeds that depend upon their plumage to attract a mate, could require various oils, gels, clips and ties as well as your direct assistance to achieve the desired look.
Regardless of the type of grappler you own there two must have items: Nail clippers, which should be used weekly, and Anti bacterial soap, which should be used daily.
Grapplers are social animals that don’t cope well if they become isolated from others of their own kind. Failure to properly socialise your grappler can lead to them becoming listless, confused, pain free and likely to start exhibiting inappropriate behaviour towards non grapplers usually prefaced by the phrase “hey, come here…. I want to try something”.
Depending on the age and breed you will need to socialise your grappler anywhere between twice a week to twice a day.
Determining the appropriate level of medical care for your grappler can often be confusing. Typically a grappler will either be visibly maimed while insisting that nothing is wrong and that they will definitely be going to training tonight or exhibit no signs of distress whatsoever but constantly regale you with predictions of their impending death before saying that they will definitely be going to training tonight.
That said, a medical cabinet that is well stocked with the following items should take care of most situations.
- Ice packs
- Tiger balm
- Compression sleeves
- More tape
Communicating with your grappler can be tricky at first but a few simple tips will see you conversing in no time.
1. Begin all conversations by saying “ok guys”.
2. Pronounce all “r”s like “h”. All of them. Even when saying words that aren’t Brazilian Portuguese.
3. Instead of using full stops to end your sentences start saying “Porra” instead.
4. Finally you can indicate approval, disagreement, indifference or the need to pass wind by extending your thumb and pinky finger like you’re about to answer the gadget phone and shaking your hand around.
Occasionally your grappler may attempt to talk to you about grappling. Now it’s not actually necessary to understand what your grappler is saying – let’s face it, how could you? – but appearing to listen to their incoherent ramblings can be a bonding experience. To participate all you need to do is insert one of these handy phrases whenever your grappler has to pause to draw breath:
“That guy just muscles everything. No technique at all.”
“The knee reaping rule is stupid.”
“They really need to learn some takedowns.”
“Rickson is the best.”
In some sad cases your grappler may begin responding to all questions, statements, gestures and light operettas with the sound “oos”. If your grappler starts demonstrating this tendency it needs to cracked down upon immediately – I suggest a rolled copy of the script of Hamilton to the nose for each infraction – as the only options for long term abusers is to be put down or enrolled in a karate club.
When feeding your grappler it’s important to understand that their diet consists primarily of fads, poorly backed up popular science and what Rick from the gym told them.
You also need to realise that your grappler is never the right weight. Depending on various factors – how their last training session went, how close they are to competition, the phase of the moon – your grappler will either be desperately trying to strip fat or pack on muscle but, regardless of which, self sabotaging their efforts the entire time.
Acai also plays a prominent role for some reason. Don’t ask.