Sep 222009
 

I wasn’t able to go to class on Sunday. Our daughter got a flu shot and… like clockwork, 7 days later she showed symptoms of the flu. Her fever was a consistent 102F and she was lethargic and generally unhappy. Her fever broke on Sunday afternoon, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving her at home with the kids, so I stayed back.

I’m hoping to get to class tomorrow. If not, definitely Friday.

Since I don’t have much to report on the training front, I thought I’d throw some love to a few blogs I’ve been enjoying recently. I read a ton of blogs regularly, but it occurred to me that I might be keeping a few of them to myself, and my blogroll is getting pretty large. So, while I can’t promise a weekly thing, I am going to try and make this a regular offering.

This week, I’d like to highlight some blogs that are new to me and others are ones I’ve read for a while, but all offer something a little different.

BJJ Kids is a new blog that I think has a lot of potential. It’s a blog written not by a BJJ practitioner; rather, it’s written by their mom. BJJKids is a blog written by a mom who has two kids training BJJ. I think it’s interesting because it deals a little with being a parent, as well as commenting on all of the great benefits that BJJ offers kids. I’m not sure where this one will end up going. I’ve seen so many start strong and fizzle… but so far, I think it’s interesting.

Goergette’s World has grown to become one of my favorite blogs to read. Georgette is a blue belt and trains down in Texas. She’s articulate and witty, and trains like a maniac. She’s also a redhead, and we gingerkids have to stick together.

The Ground Never Misses is one I’ve recently found. I like reading local blogs, and this is one I hadn’t known about until recently. I stumbled on this blog while looking for results from the recent ADCC Regionals and linked it right away after reading the frank and honest (and kind of funny) account of the event.

John Will’s Personal Blog. If you haven’t heard of John Will, he’s one of the Dirty Dozen… the first 12 non Brazilian black belts. John Will teaches down under, and offers a regularly updated, insightful blog on BJJ, teaching, training and the business of martial arts. If you don’t regularly read this blog, I highly recommend it.

And finally, Conceptual BJJ, a project by Adam Ashmead over in the UK. I like this blog because, as with most of the others, it offers a unique look at the art of BJJ. Not a lot of content on specific moves. Instead, Adam tends to post more about issues and concepts related to a more overarching approach to BJJ… but without getting too out there.

 Posted by at 3:50 pm
Mar 192009
 

I don’t know whether anyone’s noticed, but off to the side of my blog is an area called, “Articles that caught my eye.” I’m not the most interesting blog around… by a long shot. I read tons of blogs and try to flag some of the ones that I would like to share by highlighting them in the sidebar here.

One blog that I consistently try to share over there are the posts by Jay on his blog, Grappling with Life. Jay describes himself as “I’m 30 some’odd years old. I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and MMA at KnuckleUp West Coast in Lancaster California. I am married to an incredible and supportive wife who not only understands, but supports my love affair with BJJ.”

There are several reasons why I think everyone should check Jay’s blog out. First, if you read my blog, chances are you’re interested in grappling, BJJ, martial arts or something along those lines. Jay writes about all of those things. He’s a guy that clearly loves to roll and is one of us.

Lately, he’s been writing about medical issues that he’s been struggling with. While I’ve read a lot of blogs about injuries and recovery. It seems as though ACL surgery is an epidemic among martial artists. Jay’s medical obstacles are much less common. He tells a compelling story and has a great way of writing about it that manages to make the very technical, complicated medical issues easy to understand without insulting your intelligence. I also appreciate the optimism that is clear in every post. I don’t get the sense that he’s looking for sympathy or pity. Rather, it’s like talking to a friend who says, “Jesus Christ. You won’t believe what happened to me today. I had a friggin’ stroke! Can’t a guy get a break?”

I hope Jay doesn’t stop writing anytime soon, and while I’m confident that he’ll figure out these medical problems, I will definitely read his blog as long as he continues to write it.

 Posted by at 6:25 pm
Jan 182009
 

I’m always adding and deleting blogs from the blogroll, but I want to bring your attention to a new one I’ve just added as a non martial arts blog. I read a ton of blogs, but this one is definitely on my list of ones to check regularly: Humor and Satire at You Will Be Tasered. The blog is filled with posts that reflect a dark sense of humor written by a cop with a lot of opinions. Enjoy.


Don’t forget, if you’re looking for BJJ gear, check out Razorback Jiu Jitsu. Douglas sells the full range of Atama gear, including the Mundial #7, and if you use the coupon code “STEVE” you’ll save 15% off of your offer.
 Posted by at 10:27 am
Nov 252008
 

A few months back, Caleb at the FightWorks Podcast posted about how to share his RSS feeds using Google Reader. If you haven’t done this yet, take a minute and do it now, then come back. Really. Not using an RSS reader is like not using soap after class.

I’ve been playing around with the Blogroll here at Stevebjj, as well as a list to the left of articles that I’ve enjoyed in particular (also available here), or that I want to be able to go back and read more thoroughly at a later date.

While I think I’ve got it all sorted out, in the process I unsubscribed to every bleedin’ blog I like to read. Seriously. I crapped my pants… and it may have had something to do with deleting my blog feeds. Maybe not.

Anyway, what I’ve got on that blogroll is a collection of high quality blogs I could painstakingly recreate from memory and from Caleb’s largely still up to date RSS List.

If anyone sees any blogs I missed, please let me know. I’ve got it set up now so that when I subscribe to a blog in Google Reader, they’ll automagically be added to that list. That blogroll accurately reflects the blogs I actually like to keep up with.

Conversely, if you don’t see your blog or one that you know I’d like, it’s not because I don’t like you. Let me know and I’ll add it, because if it’s not on that blogroll, it’s not on my RSS list and I’m not getting updates.


Don’t forget, if you’re looking for BJJ gear, check out Razorback Jiu Jitsu. Douglas sells the full range of Atama gear, including the Mundial #7, and if you use the coupon code “STEVE” you’ll save 15% off of your offer.
 Posted by at 6:40 pm
Nov 212008
 

Yes, it’s that time again. Caleb at the Fightworks Podcast has announced that they’re accepting nominations for the BJJ Blog of the Year 2008 Contest. He’s put together quite a list of prizes for first and second place. Check this out:

First Place:

  • A highly sought-after Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi from Padilla & Sons, to be shipped when they receive their new inventory in January
  • An autographed copy of The Gracie Way from Kid Peligro
  • A one year subscription to Gracie Magazine
  • Any photo you want of the amazing BJJ and Grappling photos at AliciaPhotos.com printed at 8 inches by 10 inches
  • A copy of the newly released DVD, Renzo Gracie Legacy

Second Place:

  • A copy of the newly released DVD, Renzo Gracie Legacy
  • A Brazilian jiu-jitsu t-shirt from Southeast Asia courtesy of BJJ Asia

My gut tells me that I have a snowball’s chance in hell, but what the hell! Right?

The first step is getting nominated. So, if you nominate me, your game will instantly improve by at least 117.5% I’d really appreciate it. And if you can’t bring yourself to do it, nominate someone else. Make sure that the blogs you read and enjoy are in the mix.

 Posted by at 9:24 am
Aug 202008
 

Gi or No Gi?

The other day, I got an email from Hazmat asking about whether I’d like to post my thoughts on the subject of Gi vs No Gi. The email went something like this (paraphrasing):

“Steve,

You seem to wear that gi a lot. You’re ugly and your mama dresses you funny.

Hazmat.”

Okay, so it was nothing like that. But the tone was explicit. He was calling me out. I had no choice but to accept. So, read on. And after you’re done, don’t forget to check out Matt’s article where he writes about why he prefers to train without a Gi.

Before I get into why I really prefer to train in a gi, I want to give a little background. For those of you who don’t train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are two schools of thought: training with a Gi or training without a Gi.

I did an article called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi 101. Check it out to learn about what we’re talking about when we refer to a BJJ Gi.

Here’s an example of BJJ in a Gi. This is BJ Penn, called “The Prodigy” because it took him only three years to earn a Black Belt in BJJ (where mortals like me will be lucky to get one shy of a decade):

No Gi guys will often roll in board shorts and a rash guard. Here’s a classic example of No-Gi BJJ. Eddie Bravo vs Royler Gracie. While this may not be the most exciting match, I think it’s one of the most important No Gi matches, historically. Eddie Bravo broke through a lot of barriers with his new approach to training, and has revolutionized No Gi BJJ. This is about as technical as it gets, and Eddie Bravo is a stud.

Perhaps the most vocal champion of No Gi training is Eddie Bravo, the famous owner of 10th Planet (operating out of Legends Gym) and I believe long time subscriber to High Times magazine. Eddie Bravo trains exclusively no-gi.

Hazmat goes into his arguments in favor of No Gi, and he’s very convincing. I’ll do my best to address some of his points and add a few of my own.

With that, I present to you my…

Top 10 reasons training in a Gi is better than training No Gi:

Reason Number 10: In a Gi, your offense has to be technical.

With a gi on, you won’t be able to replace solid technique behind a flurry of activity, strength and athleticism. Skipping steps leads to opportunities to counter, because the gi provides grips. You can’t slide through an opponent’s guard, sit through to a scarf hold, then around to north/south, back to side mount, etc, without at some point getting caught. Your opponent will get a grip, slow you down and work a counter.

So, in order to pass guard, you have to do all of the little things correctly. To transition from one position to another, or from one submission to another, you have to understand the details and account for the defense. There isn’t an opportunity for Shock and Awe. You can’t count on slipperiness or a lack of grips to get you through.

Reason Number 9: Your defense has to be technical, as well.

As was true for offense, you have to do everything correctly. My opponent has more tools with which to submit me. He’s got my gi. There are lapel chokes. There are also chokes that take advantage of the skirt of the gi. He’s also got his own gi.

Also, because there is still friction, even when we’re sweaty, I have to be more technical in my defense against almost every submission. A simple armbar from guard will be much more likely to succeed in gi than No Gi. This leads to good habits: stack my opponent up, get my back leg in a good position and counter the submission… correctly. How many times have we seen a UFC fighter (i.e., a top tier professional) STAND UP and extend his arm when his opponent locks on an armbar from guard? It makes me crazy! These are bad habits born from being able to substitute strength and athleticism for proper technique.

Take guys like Marcelo Garcia. He trains almost exclusively in a gi, and yet does VERY well against guys in No Gi competition, even against guys who are significantly stronger and larger than he. The skills translate. Going from training in a gi to training No Gi is really more about limiting your tools than anything else.

Conversely, I’ve run into several guys who are lost in a gi. They train almost exclusively No Gi and in tournaments, in a gi, they get smoked. Based upon my unscientific, completely anecdotal experience, I believe that it’s actually more difficult to transition from No Gi to gi than vice versa.

Reason Number 8: Flair.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can get WAY more patches on my gi than you can on your board shorts.

Reason Number 7: Pacing.

In a gi, the pace of a match is slower. I’ve mentioned gi grappling being more technical, and I believe this is true. There’s also an opportunity to think… to strategize. This is particularly useful if you’re working on new technique.

Matt Thornton refers to the three I’s of training: Introduction, Isolation and Integration. In No-Gi, because the pace is so fast, there is often a barrier to effective integration. You try to work a sweep from guard, and, fwoop, the guy literally slides through. You’re a new guy trying to work on your armbar from guard. No sooner do you turn your hips and, fwoop (yes, that’s the sound it makes), the guy slides around and is in side mount. Sure it can be done, but it’s easier to do it right when the pace is slower and there’s less room for masking poor technique with explosive athleticism.

It’s not uncommon for people to compare BJJ to chess… with pain. I agree, and this aspect is a large part of why I am addicted. No-gi is more like speed chess, more about quickly recognizing patterns and quick reflexes than contemplation and applied strategy.

Reason Number 6: Self Defense.

I want to be clear, I’m not training for self defense. I don’t anticipate being jumped by 9 ninja in a dark alley. (Quick aside: plural of ninja… is it ninjas or ninja… or ninjai?)

But even though I don’t train for self defense, training in a gi represents a more realistic training environment. Unless, that is, I’m defending myself from several ninja while sunbathing. Chances are, in any encounter, I’ll have a shirt, jacket, or something else to use against my would be assailant.

Reason Number 5: Chicks dig the gi.

Okay, I’ll admit I have no idea whether this is true or not. Actually, if I’m being honest, I suspect that it’s actually not true at all. But I don’t care. I’m going with it.

Reason Number 4: Fat guys sweat more.

If losing weight is your goal, put on a gi. My gi weighs about 6 lbs before class. I swear it weighs at least 50 lbs after. Or maybe it just FEELS like it weighs that much.

Reason Number 3: Training in a gi is Traditional…

… and that matters to some people. I get a kick out of the discussions about Traditional Martial Arts vs. MMA (or other “Non-Traditional” styles). BJJ is a style that has a lot of tradition, even if it’s not as formal as some. I’ve written before about some of the traditions that appeal to me in BJJ. Most of them are without pretension.

I like that our stripes are little strips of athletic tape. I like that the gis are often garish and tacky, that there is little uniformity. I like how the art respects and encourages individuality. We’re students of a martial art, not soldiers. I like the traditions.

While training at a BJJ school may not be anything like training at the local Karate Dojo, these traditions are still important, tying what we do today with what was done by Helio, Carlos and the rest of the Gracie family, as well as Luiz Franca and Oswaldo Fadda back in the first half of the 20th Century. Anyone who suggests that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is without history or tradition just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in its present form is arguably older than modern Tae Kwon Do, just as an example. A terrific summary of the history of BJJ can be found at AustinJJ.com.

Reason Number 2: It’s a better value at tournaments.

Many tournaments offer discounts if you roll in both divisions. The best tournament around in the Seattle area, The Revolution tournaments, hosted by Jeff B’s Liberty Events* offer a discount if you register in the Gi AND the No-Gi divisions.

And as I said before, picking up no gi from gi is easier than going the other direction.

And finally, Reason Number 1: Because I said so.

All kidding aside, I have been thinking about No Gi more and more. I’ve been training almost exclusively in a gi since I started, and I need to work on expanding my game. I would like to add a No Gi class to my training schedule. It would be relatively simple to do, if I can work it out. But do I want to? I’ll have to think about Hazmat’s article for a while, and I guess we’ll see.

So, where do you fall? Gi? No-Gi? Somewhere in between?

*Jeff, I’ll accept kickbacks for the free advertising in the form of cash or in-kind payment.

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Aug 142008
 

On a non-BJJ training note, along the left bar of my blog is a header: “What I’m Reading Now.” I have been using Google Reader for a while to organize my RSS feeds. Since Caleb, at the Fightworks Podcast, shared his list of BJJ blogs, I’ve been in hog heaven reading everyone’s training stories. One of the features available on Google Reader is the ability to “share” certain posts. So, as I read something that resonates with me in a particular way (like The Approach to Competition posted by ThailandBJJComp), or that I agree with but don’t necessarily want to post about in a “me too” kind of way (like Brock Lesnar Steamrolled Heath Herring posted over on Bloody Elbow), I can share it and it will show up in that list.

If you’re ever interested in what posts on other blogs are catching my attention, check that list out.

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Jun 252008
 


I know. It’s the season of “staycations” and gas prices going all wonky, but we’re going to DisneyWorld, dammit! With the baby coming in a few months, and my daughter being so damned cute, this is likely our last chance to “get away” for several years.

So, I won’t be around for a week or so. But while I’m gone, if you need a grappling fix of some kind, I’d like to refer you to the Mokuren Dojo blog. Patrick Parker is a fascinating guy. He teaches Judo and Aikido and from reading his blog and my own limited interactions with him directly, he is a passionate martial artist, a very knowledgeable grappler and a genuinely interesting character.

Take some time to check out his interview with Dave Camarillo or Gene LeBell. Or if you’re not interested in his personal interviews, check out this video he’s found of a pre-WWII Judo kata.

Unlike many traditional grappling instructors, I respect Patrick Parker for his obvious appreciation of grappling arts of all kinds. He doesn’t see BJJ as a threat to Judo or anything else. It’s one of many different styles derived of a ruleset and a particular emphasis. He writes about wrestling with the same passion that he writes about Aikido.

Enjoy, and I’ll be back after I’ve spent some quality time with Mary Poppins… hubba, hubba.

 Posted by at 10:50 pm
May 232008
 

Who isn’t talking about this PPV event coming up on Saturday? Well, other than my mom and dad, who isn’t talking about this?

I’m a big fan of The Fightworks Podcast, and listen regularly, as well as subscribe to the RSS feed over there (NOTE: If that last part doesn’t make sense, check out this post by Karl at Secondhand Tryptophan who posted all about RSS feeds and feedreaders and personally offered to walk you through it if you just don’t get it. Caleb has a great explanation of Google Gadgets at the Fightworks Podcast).

Anyway… where was I? Oh yeah. So, Caleb ALSO runs a website called MMAPredictions.com. On MMAPredictions.com you can sign up and… well, make predictions on just about all of the upcoming events. It’s not a fantasy league, per se. It’s just fun. What’s even scarier is that he REALLY IS using those same commercials for another year. I thought it was an empty threat. If you listen to his podcasts, you’ll know to what I am referring. Caleb. Dude. Throw us a friggin’ bone. :)

As you can see, I’m not all that great. I still enjoy it. I like looking at the upcoming cards and learning a little more about the fighters. Of course, I also like being right and, conversely, not being wrong. Heck, I even ended up being one of the MOST RIGHT predictors for an event not too long ago. So, if you haven’t already, go check out the website. It’s fun.

Now, as for who I have predicted to win, here’s where I went:

Penn over Sherk. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if this one is even close. If BJ Penn is in shape (and I’ve read nothing to the contrary), Sherk just doesn’t have the tools to win. All I’ve ever seen out of him is strong wrestling and formidable “lay and pray.”

Silva over Jardine. I honestly view this one as a toss up. The Axe Murderer has been on a decline, but is still a force to be reckoned with. Jardine hits hard, has a good chin and strong leg kicks. I’m picking Silva because I just can’t NOT pick him.

Machida over Ortiz. I actually like Tito Ortiz. I like him largely because I thought he was a good coach on TUF. I think that this one will be a decision, and it’s going to go to Machida. Ortiz will start strong, but if he can’t finish The Dragon in the first round, he’s done.

Salaverry over Palhares. I have to pick Ivan.
Sokoudjou over Nakamura
Gouviea over Reljic
Thiago Silva over Mendes
War Machine Koppenhaver over Yoshida
Dong Hyun Kim over Jason Tan
Rich Clementi over Terry Etim (too bad this is on the undercard, cause it would be a fun fight to watch)
Carwin over Wellisch

Have fun this weekend and take some time to think about our Vets this Memorial Day, those who gave their lives for us and those who are still risking their lives every day!

 Posted by at 11:47 am
Dec 312007
 

The Fightworks Podcast is conducting their Best BJJ Blog of 2007 right now. Take a moment and go vote for your favorite BJJ blog (pssst… if you’re reading this, hopefully that would be this blog!). Voting ends December 30th, so I’m leaving this at the top until then.

PS: I better get at least two votes in this thing, or my mom and my wife are in trouble!

 Posted by at 1:59 am