3 Tools to Improve Your Training Program

Are You Puzzled?

How do you intend to reach your BJJ and fitness goals? Train? Think about training? Then Train more?  Good start.  But what are you going to train? When? Why? How much? With what frequency and intensity? How do you track your progress?

Many people get stuck developing their personal program.  I’ve written before about setting goals, and shared my own personal goals with you.  BJJ is the primary “anchor” by which all of my other training goals will be hitched.  My strength training, conditioning, mobility, flexibility, and other “puzzle pieces” all are intended to develop and enhance my strengths and shore up my weaknesses on the mat.

Let’s start by laying out a potential week in my plan.

Sunday a.m. Jump Rope

p.m. Strength Training + Isometrics

Monday a.m. BJJ + Grappling Drills + Finisher +  Flexibility
Tuesday a.m. Metabolic Conditioning

p.m. Mobility + Core

Wednesday a.m. BJJ + Grappling Drills + Grips + Flexibility
Thursday a.m. Weighted Walking

p.m. Strength Training + Isometrics

Friday a.m. BJJ + Grappling Drills

p.m. Grips + Flexibility

Saturday a.m. Metabolic Conditioning + Core

The starting point to filling out the schedule is that I emphasize my highest priority items first.  I will train BJJ or No GI minimally two times per week. I will also do two Strength Training and Metabolic Conditioning sessions each week.  Those are non-negotiable.

BJJ and No GI are usually on opposite days at my academy (M/W/F).  Next, adding in my Strength Training (Su/Th) on opposite days and separating those workouts by at least 2 days gives me adequate recovery for my BJJ sessions and my other more demanding sessions of the week. The same applies to Metabolic Conditioning (Tu/Sa). I like to do them as a dedicated session to improve aerobic/anaerobic capacity and work on other important grappling attributes (carrying heavy objects, jumping, throwing, sprinting, pushing, pulling, etc.).  After staggering these workouts in my week, I’ll add in all my other specific targets to work on.  Because my target goals are complementary and fit together (like puzzle pieces) it makes sense to work on them together.  I illustrate this below in the section about “Bundling” workouts.

Weekly Punch Card

One tool I like to use is a weekly “Punch Card”.  It’s simple and flexible and lets me prioritize my training.  Here’s how I use it.  As I mentioned above, BJJ, Strength Training, and Metabolic Conditioning workouts are non-negotiable workouts added to the template first and then I add and categorize the other target areas based on where they complement by primary focus area.  I strive to complete all workouts (punch the card) in the first two columns every week.  I target a minimum of two sessions a week to work on them.  This should be enough that, over the course of a year, I am able to measure and see demonstrable progress.  My main focus with this tool is verifying that I am completing my most important workouts of the week.  Here is an example of my last week of training below.

HWBJJ Focus Areas Weekly Punch Card Optional Training
BJJ training BJJ/No GI BJJ/No GI BJJ or No GI
Strength Training Strength Training Strength Training Strength Training
Grips Grips
Core
– Rollouts
Core
– Mixed
Isometrics Isometrics
 

Metabolic Conditioning

 

 

Jump Throw Sprint (Intervals)

(Explosive speed focus)

Push/Pull/Carry (Strongman drill focus. Total Rep focus)
Finisher Finisher Wildcard
Grappling Drills Grappling Drills Wildcard
Mobility & Flexibility Handstand Back bridge Wildcard
         Yoga Yoga Wildcard
Recovery Jump Rope or Weighted Walking or Foam Roller Jump Rope or Weighted Walking or Foam Roller Wildcard

Legend

Completed

Not Completed

The last column is an “optional” column that I will use to enhance certain “feelings” I get when training.  If I have a rare opportunity to squeeze in another BJJ session during the week, I’m going to do it and potentially take something else come off the list.  If I find, for example, I am really experiencing rapid gains on my Deadlift (a goal of mine this year) and I want to prioritize my strength training even more, I can add additional optional work to that column and reduce (i.e., put on maintenance) or remove other items to reshape my focus for my goal.

The bottom line is, I always try to accomplish the first two columns worth of workouts in my plan and I have flexibility to adapt my plan based on feedback from my body and whether I’m making progress toward my goals.  In order to make the most of my training sessions, I prefer using two different techniques that are easy to implement: Bundling and Bite-sized workouts.

Bundling workouts

“Bundling” is a term I use to simply refer to doing more than one thing within my training window.  Workouts primarily center on one area, such as BJJ, Strength Training, or Metabolic Conditioning.  Very rarely will I perform both types of workouts together, or on the same day.  It has happened, as I like to experiment to see what my body responds to. However I often find my joints are too sore from BJJ training to put full effort into a Strength or Metabolic session.

I usually train BJJ in the late morning/early afternoon.  In order to prepare for the session, often I will use Grappling drills, or a Yoga sequence to loosen up my joints, muscles, and get blood and oxygen flowing. Grappling drills are often a part of our BJJ session warm-ups as well.  After the BJJ session, I will very often spend an additional 10-20 minutes performing more Grappling drills.  I will also very often perform a Finisher.  Finishers are a way to blast through plateaus; mental and physical.  You’ll often be fatigued after a challenging BJJ session.  Making the effort to perform 10-20 wind sprints, bodyweight GPP, tire flips, heavy bag carries, sledgehammer swings, etc., will accumulate monster benefits over time.  Extra rolling sessions after class can often give you an extra test as well to finish off your workout.  At the end, I’ll also use yoga sequences to try to improve my flexibility, while the body is already warm.  Another option is to add core or grip-specific work at the end of your BJJ training.  In this manner, I end up bundling anywhere from 2-4 different training needs together, which is an efficient option when your number of training days during the week is limited.  An example session might look like this:

Warm-up (Grappling drills) 10 min
BJJ-specific training (drilling, technique, rolling) 60 min
Finisher (e.g., Tire flips, sprints, extra rolling) 10 min
Yoga sequence (for explosive strength) 10 min
Total workout time 90 min
Total target areas worked 4

With at least 22 target areas to train each week, getting 4 checked off my punch card in one training session is a step in the right direction.

 Bite-sized workouts

“Bite-sized” refers to having a focused mini-workout to perform.  I purposefully keep these sessions brief so my focus can be strong and reserve them for when I’m pressed for time (e.g., I have a 5-10 minute window).  The beauty of these is that you can spread them out throughout the day and really accumulate progress if you stick with it.  Grip work is a great candidate for these workouts.  I often carry a few tools with me and use them throughout the day.

I’ll sit in my car, in the office, or even in meetings and use these tools all day long.  The Pinky ball is a great tool for working individual finger strength. It’s primarily an isometric strength tool (i.e., you’ll hold it for time as you fight the compressed rubber that’s fighting you back).  Any corner store should carry these and they are as portable as it gets.  A quick Google search returns many options.

Pinky balls: (http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=super+pinky+balls&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=60682165032&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2459871253142707371&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_11wm4t9ku5_b)

The captain of crush grippers are great for overall hand squeezing strength. They typically come in a set with increasing levels of difficulty.  They will be hard to outgrow.

Captain of Crush: (http://www.captainsofcrushgrippers.com/)

Note: I have no affiliation with any of these products.

Bodyweight-only work is also a good option to do in bites.  20 pushups and 20 squats performed every hour you’re awake adds up fast – you’ll log in hundreds of reps.  Another option is isometric work.  You can almost always find a door jam to push against or pull against from multiple angles.  Ross Enamait of www.rosstraining.com has been a big proponent of these types of options, whether you are at home, in the car, in the office, etc.  You can do work anywhere. You can see great examples from him at his website and in the video below.

The takeaway is this. Your program shouldn’t be a box of loose and unmatched puzzle pieces.  Use a few simple techniques to “anchor” your program, organize it, prioritize it, and put it together.

BrainPuzzle-657x360

If you have questions about details of my program or your own program, leave them in the comments below, email me at heavyweightbjj@gmail.com.

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Hard Work Profile: James C. Hawkins

“Everything they said I couldn’t do, it became my goal to do.”

“It takes more skill to NOT hit somebody.”

“What people fear is the unknown and what they don’t know or don’t understand”.


These are words to live by.

As my coffee was brewing, I sat on the couch for a few minutes and surfed through all of my social media feeds looking to see what was going on.

I found inspiration from this video clip in my Facebook feed this morning by none other than Wheaties. It was one of the few videos I’ve watched all the way to the end, usually opting to fly through the feed quickly.

James C. Hawkins story was captivating and was a story that I wanted to share right away.

He is a Karate Black belt, a Veteran, an Executive.

He has had 3 battles with cancer and won them.

He has endured incessant racism for a large part of his life.

Here is a summary of some of the things that stood out to me:

  • In a school of 450 kids, he was the ONLY non-white minority in the whole school.
  • He had a fight every day after school for the first 90 days.
  • When he moved to Massachusetts, he and his wife had a coalition built against him by their next door neighbor, night time phone calls, etc. for 30 days of hell. He later became close friends with the same neighbor.

Here is the video:

James Hawkins has words of wisdom from his life that he shares.  This is what resonated most with me.

This man is a true champion.

Through the training of martial arts and the lessons learned in training sessions, the discipline you develop to accomplish or to restrain yourself allows you to get through every day with a clear slate rooted in knowing you did everything you could to improve yourself.

His life is exactly the mission of advancing human potential through Hard Work, Heroic Will, and living a life worth following.


 

“A champion is the one who gives an honest and complete effort in everything he attempts.”

“Don’t tell me why you can’t do it. Tell me what you need to be able to do it.”

“All winners aren’t champions. You know in your heart that you did your best and you accepted responsibility for it and went for it.  That makes you a champion.”

5 Ways to Overcome Training Obstacles

What’s Inside?

Human potential.  We’re all born with it. Untapped.

What are our limits? What is the extent of our capabilities? Where are the boundaries? Do we really know? Do they exist or are the artificial?  We’ve been testing it since the beginning of time.  To some, we are only scratching the surface.

If you listen to others, you may have heard,

“You can’t do…”

“You should or shouldn’t do [X].”

“If it were me, I would or wouldn’t do [X].”

“I doubt…”

“Why are you…?”

People without vision love to dictate to others to validate their lack of initiative, effort, and results. Misery loves company and mediocrity does as well.


“Opinions are like A–holes. Everybody’s got one.” – My Old Man


Self-Doubt vs. Confidence

Yet there are so many examples around us of people who do and achieve things that seem “impossible”. 

People who “beat the odds”.  People who refuse to lose.  

How did they get this way?  

Were they born with this confidence? 

Did they earn it? 

Or did they develop it over a long, arduous, lesson filled journey? (Note: It’s the last one. Trust me.)

Well, if you’ve taken the time to be honest with yourself and take a hard look at where you are and where you want to go, then you’ve answered this question. 

However, as easy at it seems for some, it is just as difficult for others to get out of their own way.

Moments that Define YOU

I believe in order to “find” yourself, you have to be willing to step into uncomfortable territory and perform outside of your comfort zone.

You should not be avoiding the training situations that develop your flight or fight response; we should seek them.

I’m not saying you should be a high-risk taker. Read these words carefully.


IF YOU ARE DEBATING WITH YOURSELF AND ALL OF YOUR DEBATE POINTS SOUND LIKE EXCUSES – GO TRAIN.  


Why? 

That’s how we develop our main character traits. That’s how you develop your identity. That’s how you develop your soul.

Everybody seeks to figure out who they are. 

It’s life. 

Figuring out what we are good at, what we have a “natural tendency” towards, is something every curious human being should be doing.

Your soul is the ‘root system’ of your being.  

What makes you tick. 

Whether you have heart, or you don’t. 

Some of these traits you have an affinity towards (i.e., you’re born with them).  

Others you need to coax and fight with stubbornness to develop. 

 But when you develop them, you make your soul stronger. You create your identity.

How?

You test them every time you test yourself: physically, mentally, spiritually. 

Expanding on your basic understanding of what your capable of.

You feed it through self-reflection, and building confidence. Through building your strengths and smashing through your weaknesses.


Confession: I have had many self-doubts on my journey. Especially after having to take a longer-than wanted layoff from training. I’ve even turned my car around and gone home after getting to the Academy.


What doubts/fears was I facing? 

All of them pointed to my EGO being bruised. 

Being big and strong for most of my life, and realizing that was not the “answer” on the mat.  

What else? 

Doubt in my abilities to be resilient, survive getting smashed, my cardio, facing physical pain, etc.

My secret for overcoming? Here are a few:

  1. Stop Overthinking: I re-wired my tendency to overthink things. When my excuse machine turned on in my head on my way to the Academy, I ignored it. I literally told myself to shut up.
  2. Audio Stimulation: I blasted upbeat music to lift my mood up. This helps distract your brain if you have a tendency to overthink things. Heavy metal, Pop, Rock – whatever got my mind occupied and stimulated to feel energized.
  3. Face your Fears head on: I faced everything I was running from. I went towards the “discomfort”.
  4. Move Forward and Don’t Look Back: When I walked through the Academy doors, I took the stress off by deciding I didn’t need to “win” anymore.  I needed to survive, defend, and escape bad spots. This accelerated my learning.
  5. Compete With Yourself: I stopped comparing myself to others progress. This only fueled the wrong flame.

The first time you decided to go into a BJJ academy was a pivotal step towards this self-discovery.  

Perhaps the most recent time you put on a Gi to train, you’ve had an internal discussion with yourself about what you want to work on or avoid.

Testing your willingness to accept being the nail to someone’s hammer.  

It takes a special person to enjoy getting physically handled, punched, or kicked as practice.

What are other times you may have this dialogue?

  • Every time you decide you’re going for a new Personal Record (PR) in the weight room, you are testing yourself. What you are made of. How bad you want it.
  • Every time you put on your shoes and get ready to do some drills or conditioning work, you are testing yourself.
  • Every time you decide to do a new yoga stretch……………okay, maybe not that one.

Stretching your personal boundaries. 

Boundaries that are self-imposed. 

It requires discipline and dedication.

Prepare yourself for daily battle. 

Face your fears. Reflect. Improve. 

Repeat. 

I call this Consistent Persistence.  

There are no shortcuts.


“Human beings are capable of virtually limitless degradation; they are also capable of limitless improvement and achievement. Success depends upon goals and on diligence in pursuing them.” – Mas Oyama

Multi-Purpose Training

In 3 Tools to Improve Your Training Program, I covered the concept of “anchoring” your training to your primary focus area (i.e., BJJ) and making your program puzzle pieces fit together to help you achieve your most important goals.  One concept I didn’t discuss was the actual exercise selection for your workouts.

One thing I make an effort to do is select an exercise that has a multi-purpose/multi-function benefit.  Not unlike the trusty Swiss Army knife, the exercises you select for the job are versatile and can accomplish various tasks depending on your goals.  Let’s walk through it.

My primary objectives for my MetCon workouts are pretty straight-forward, and I think most of you would agree are fairly common for athletes:

  • Improve overall athleticism by practicing athletic attributes like jumping, throwing, sprinting, punching, etc.
  • Improve motor-unit recruitment to help in maximal strength training workouts (i.e., train fast to be fast and explosive and to move the weights fast).
  • Improve anaerobic work capacity.
  • Improve lactate threshold and VO2 MAX (fancy way of saying improve capacity to deal with “the burn” and body’s ability to use oxygen).

For your reference:

If I can accomplish one (1) of these objectives with my MetCon workouts, I’m happy. Luckily it’s easier to meet more than one of these objectives with your workout than you would think.  Something as simple as a 100m sprint can check off many if not all of these objectives.  Now, the next important step that adds the icing to the cake, is that I try to select exercises that will also help me improve on my specific focus areas for the year, which are BJJ, Strength Training (i.e., the Deadlift), Mobility, Core, Grip work, and Flexibility.

There are many options for conducting MetCon workouts (e.g., As Many Rounds/Reps as Possible or AMRAP, Reps for time, timed intervals, total # of reps, total distance covered, timed circuits, compound exercises, etc.).  Here is how my last workout looked. I’ve also included a brief video below to demonstrate the exercises.

MetCon Workout: Jump / Slam / Punch 

Exercise & How Performed

My Focus Areas

BJJ

Strength Training

Core

Grip

Mobility & Flexibility

(Warm-Up)

1. Balance Board (Grappling Drill)

2. Side Bends

3. Plate Circles

4. Plate Twists

5. Sprawl + Jump

6. Tire Slams

7. Heavybag combos

If I can check-mark two or more of my target focus areas with one exercise…..SCORE! All I am doing is making a small modification to certain exercises to link them closer to the demands and specificity of BJJ.  An example is the Sprawl + Jump.  I could have easily selected burpees for that exercise, which as a brutal conditioner and athletic movement.  However, adding in the Sprawl will force me to practice the move that so often comes up on the mat to defend a takedown attempt.  Any chance you have to practice, you should.

Bruce-Lee-quote_1000

Another example is that I could have performed all of my core exercises by hanging from a bar.  I chose to do them standing while bearing weight. Moving the weight away from your body creates a similar engagement of the core as you would encounter during grappling a standing opponent and perhaps fighting for underhooks. Are there better options? Sure. You have to make modifications to the tools you have at your disposal.

Tire slams are a great way to generate power and transfer energy from your feet through your body through the object. Anything that starts with the feet as the catalyst and ends with the hands releasing the energy (essentially most combat sports and other sports) is a great exercise.  Standing up in the guard and removing grips often requires the coordination of these muscles and athletics attributes similar to this.

Heavybag combos helping my BJJ? How often do you need to close the distance on your opponent to clinch and takedown? Plus, it’s just fun hitting things and generating that expression of power output.

I hope this helps put a perspective into making minor modifications before your next workout to help you reap even greater benefits and accomplish more of your goals.  Overall, remember that doing anything over nothing is best, so keep it simple and avoid analysis paralysis.

Set Your Goals

Goal Setting

It’s time to recommit to your plan to dominate.  We all start out strong each year with motivation to do better than we had in the past year.  But how many of you are putting thought to what you want to accomplish, and exactly how you plan to accomplish your goals?  If you aren’t putting thought into it and coming up with a plan, you’re on the wrong end of the goal-setting wall. You’re either in front of it with tools to tackle it, or you’re stuck behind it with no plan to improve your spot.

I’m all for simplifying things, and this is really about as easy as it gets. I think the SMART goal system is pretty straightforward, and more than useful for this purpose. Just ‘google’ SMART goals and you’ll find out exactly what it is. To summarize, goals should be:

Goals_SMART

If you actually blow past some of your goals before the year is out, by all means set a new ceiling. The sky is the limit, but make sure it meets the SMART criteria above. Strong foundations are built brick-by-brick.

Tips

Five quick tips for you to remember as you start out the year trying to build a better you.

  1. Plan ahead: You must have the discipline to log your workouts, make your meals, review your journal, get adequate sleep, etc.  If you begin to drop the ball it’s human nature to continue the momentum you’ve gained and “start next week”, or do something drastic like change your whole plan to make it easier.  Do yourself a favor and make a journal (notebook, smartphone, iPad, apps, whatever. Get in the discipline of making your goals and sticking to them by documenting your daily activities and mental notes. It’s human nature to throw in the towel when you drop the ball, but don’t be weak. Plan ahead and avoid this issue.
  2. Think bite-sized chunks: You’ve probably heard “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, or “Don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite”.  In order to accomplish your goals you need to know three things: Your current baseline, your target goal, and a roadmap to get there. Making the roadmap can sometimes be where folks lose it and will rely on “willpower” to drive them.  As my good friend Philip Chubb says, “Human willpower and drive is a finite resource that has to recharge”.  As an example, let’s say you’ve never trained BJJ before, and your goal is to not only to start training, but to compete as well.  That’s great.  You should ask yourself, “What do I need to do before I should even consider doing this?”  Well, you’ll need a Gi, an Academy to train, an idea of your weight class (which can likely mean additional conditioning and dietary changes for weight making/maintenance), target tournaments, a target date for your first tournament, and honest feedback from your coaches and training team on your readiness.  Now, all of this doesn’t unfold on its own.  Finding a suitable Academy can take you weeks or even months until you find a match for you and is a sizable “chunk” towards achieving your goal.  This may seem like common sense to many of you, but don’t overlook the simplicity of this. Don’t let your eagerness turn into neglect for mapping out your path to success.
  3. Be honest: When you track your progress, be honest with your self-assessment. If you achieve something (sort of), and you are second guessing your accomplishment, re-evaluate the achievement or the goal itself. Maybe your progress indicators were flawed or your goal wasn’t specific enough. Don’t take shortcuts. Instead, claim small victories. They accumulate over time.
  4. You’re in Control: If you’re a white belt, of course it’s natural to set your sights on the Blue Belt.  However, making this a goal in weeks, or even a year may not meet the test of being Realistic, because it’s out of your hands when you get promoted. Instead, focus on certain elements of your BJJ game that will improve your standing as a White belt, such as working on survival tactics against higher belts. You can work on this every time you roll in class. The less times you get tapped, the more you are improving.  It meets the SMART criteria. You can also increase the likelihood of improving your skills with more mat time. So make sure you attempt to get to class a minimum of 1 time per week, then 2, then 3, etc. You’ll have to decide, but make the activities to achieve your goal something you can control and reasonably and consistently perform.
  5. Stay Positive: Your mindset needs to be glass-half full…always.  There is no room for negative thought when your goals are on the line.  Remove the negative thoughts like doubt and pity from your dictionary. Excuses are irrelevant. You’ll only be fooling yourself with excuses. No one cares why you’ve missed a workout, or why you can’t eat right, so don’t waste your breath telling everybody. Just evaluate your options to get back on course and keep positive momentum moving forward. You’re equipped with the most powerful analytical tool that we know of: your brain.  Use it to build a positive mindset and get to your goals.  Period.

My Goals

Goal_Bullseye

When sitting down to think through my physical development goals (the focus areas of HWBJJ) for 2016, I already know, based on my 2015 goals and progress, what I want my goals for 2016 to be.


It helps to know where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you want to go. If you’re starting off for the first time, you have nowhere to go but up.


Next, I spent time asking myself whether the goals were specific and realistic enough, how I would measure and track my progress, whether I could achieve these goals within my time-frame (i.e., the SMART criteria). I plan to follow my goals for the entire year, so my ability to track progress, make adjustments, or even add new goals, will be a critical step in this process. Personally, I track my goals in a journal (my laptop) and my smartphone so it is easy to refer back to and evaluate.

Learn how to establish your goals here.

About Mark

Top of the Heap: The Heavyweight is KING!

When I was a kid (’70’s – 80’s), being a “Heavyweight” (HW) has always been linked with being the best, biggest, or baddest person on the planet (or kid in school, in town, on the sports team….you get it).  There has always been a fascination with big versus small, with the idea that bigger always triumphs over small [insert David versus Goliath]. Whether or not you believe the factual accuracy or outcome of that story is irrelevant (I doubt a pebble took him out). The point I’m trying to make is that there is an intrinsic fascination associated with the HW athlete, persona, or individual, whether it be Goliath, Tyson, Fedor, Lesnar, the Incredible Hulk, Hulk Hogan, or even Big Bob Sapp (look him up – he’s huge in Japan).

The Terminator

I started lifting weights at the age of 13 after seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a copy of Muscle & Fitness talking about being Mr. Olympia and how he used to lift weights in the woods for hours and hours and cook over an open fire like a caveman. His drive and determination were magnetic to me.  I spent countless hours in my cousins attic in the summer months and even more during the winter months lifting weights, experimenting with exercises and enjoying the pain brought on by the weights.

The changes to my body and my strength levels were addicting.  The power, confidence, and goal-setting mentality I obtained from lifting weights was something I couldn’t get enough of.  To this day it is a cornerstone of who I am, over 28 years later.

Kid Dynamite

In 1991, Mike Tyson convinced me boxing was the superior art form to study, and I was naturally drawn to the boxing-style workouts of road-word, jumping rope, heavy bag work, speed bag work, and sparring.

The ‘peek-a-boo’ style of boxing that Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney trained him in was elusive, different, and destructive to opponents. Having both feet planted in a staggered, squared-up style allowed Mike to showcase the power of his hooks and uppercuts in a way that has not been duplicated since, in my opinion.  The other allure to this style are the workouts and training. They are intense, difficult, and just what I needed to add to my toolbox.  I continue to work in boxing based workouts to this day.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Fast forward to 1993 when I fell in love with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ)/Brazilian-Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

Royce Gracie had proven, at UFC 1, in the ring of combat (actually the octogon) that the bigger man, and even technically skilled practitioners in Karate, Savate, Boxing, Judo, and Muay Thai, were no match for his ground-based/grappling martial art.  He repeatedly closed the distance on them, applied ground pressure to get the opponent to react/make a mistake, and secured a submission by way of choke or joint lock.  It was mystical to watch to me and countless others. Even the commentators had trouble doing play-by-play to describe the fights unfolding with Royce, often, on his back in the Guard.  It was the spark to the flame in my and countless others martial arts journey.

NOTE: The history of BJJ is a great story, and you should know it if you train it. To sum it up (a lot), Helio Gracie developed a style of fighting [rooted in Judo and Japanese Ju-Jitsu], incorporating leverage and fighting off his back (the Guard), to deal with larger and stronger opponents.  BJJ, as a fundamental form of self-defense, teaches smaller practitioners to survive and even defeat larger opponents in confrontational scenarios that end up on the ground; EVEN while fighting off of their back.  That is one of the many reasons BJJ is so different from the other arts and is well-suited for smaller, weaker people of all shapes, sizes, and age.  The laws of physics and anatomy don’t change. If you train BJJ, you are probably already well-aware of this.

I put on my first Gi in 1997, when instruction and anything beyond a blue belt was as scarce as leftovers in my house.  Three career changes, two moves, a marriage, and my first child later, I found a home to train in 2007 at Evolve Academy of Martial Arts, where I am currently a Brown Belt under Master Mike Moses.

BJJ1

Me and Master Mike Moses

Putting it All Together: HW3 JIUJITSU

While I continue to strength train and use various conditioning workouts that include boxing and thai boxing styles, BJJ is my main passion by which everything else is anchored.

One thing I’ve [and everyone else that trains] had to learn is that strength alone is not enough to deal with a skilled BJJ martial artist.  Saulo Ribeiro’s quote in Jiu-Jitsu University says it all:

“If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. And if you tire, you die.”

Fatigue will happen if all you use is strength, and you’ll get swept or submitted.  When you are a white belt, this is the only reaction you know, because you fear the unknown. It’s very humbling and “ego-checking” when you are starting out if you don’t deal with it up front and every time you train.  Remember that BJJ was created to work for anyone, regardless of age, size or strength.

I will share with you how I’ve dealt with and continue to deal with this and other problems during my training inside the academy.

I’ll also share with you the power that JiuJitsu has to make you a better person.

Our goal, with HW3 JiuJitsu, is to promote being a better human through hard work and heroic will.

Being a better human in all areas of life can give you the tools to leave behind a life worth following; a Heavy Weight legacy.

We want to showcase these stories; YOUR stories, on how JiuJitsu has made you a better person.

Continue reading through the articles on this site and we hope you find something that “clicks” with you.