JiuJitsu Journey: Julian Gabbard

Julian Gabbard is a Brown Belt under Mike Moses of Evolve Academy.

(Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rickson Gracie > Pedro Sauer > Mike Moses).

He has been training for 10 years.  He actively balances work, studying for law school, being a husband, a father to four kids, training up to 6 days a week and competing when he can.

To say he has his hands full is an understatement.

Find out how be balances it all and makes the most of his time on the mats. Julian shared his JiuJitsu Journey with us here and we are pleased to share it with you here at WWW.HEAVYWEIGHTBJJ.COM.


Question 1. What is your name, age, competing weight, number of years training?

Answer: Julian Gabbard.  I have several nicknames, the most used one is Toeholio (because of my love of Toeholds), I’ve also be called The Law, Double Barrel, the Ghost and Casper (I am extremely pale).

pale

Question 2: What is your all time favorite technique? 

Answer: If I had to choose, I’d say my most common/favorite submission is the heel hook.

Question 3: What Academy(ies) you train with? What team or sponsorship do you represent?

Answer: I am coming up on 10 years training. I am currently a Brown Belt under Master Mike Moses at Evolve Academy. I also work with the Fort MMA in Frederick, MD where I teach on Saturday mornings.

I’ve competed at every belt level mostly at local competitions. I’ve placed 1st in several of those but those placements are irrelevant, what I treasure from those competitions are not the medals or belts, but the growth that is fostered from pushing myself. This is why I compete, its nothing but a tool for personal growth.

belt

Question 2. Why did you start training JiuJitsu?

Answer: I was bored with the typical gym workout. I was a power lifter. My mind was changed after I rolled for the 1st time and was choked out by a 16 year old who weighed around 150 (I was 195 and could bench around 300lbs).

I decided to cancel my gym membership and devote as much time as I could to training martial arts.

Question 3. What can you recall from your first experiences with JiuJitsu?

Answer: I hated BJJ. I was extremely claustrophobic. I would have panic attacks when mounted.

I signed a contract so I told myself I would get my monies worth show up and at least try and learn something even though I disliked it.

Question 4. Are you an active competitor? If so, what is your last tournament and results?

Answer: I wouldn’t classify myself as an active competitor. I try to compete as much as I can while balancing other priorities (family, school, and work).

My last tournament was October 2016 at NewBreed Richmond. I placed 1st in the Nogi Masters Advanced and 2nd in Brown Belt Gi.

sub

Question 5. How often do you train BJJ? Strength Train? Conditioning? Mobility or Flexibility? What does a typical week look like?

Answer: I train at NoGi 530am 4-5 days a week. I teach a Gi class on Saturday at The Fort MMA in Frederick.

About a month ago I started yoga. I do this 7 days a week and light weight training twice a week.

Question 6. What BJJ Practitioners do you look up to the most and why?

Answer: I wouldn’t say I look up to any. I find value in every instructor I have had and every training partner or student I train with. Every session I learn, even if its a beginner. I learn from and value everyone.

Question 7. What are your strengths and weaknesses related to JiuJitsu?

Answer: My strengths are leg locks and submitting from non-dominant positions. My weakness is definitively wrestling.

Question 8. What do you like most about JiuJitsu? What do you dislike about JiuJitsu?

Answer: What I enjoy most about BJJ is the personal growth that comes as a result from training.

Something I dislike, is sometimes people get too focused on who tapped who or focusing on the belt.

I feel the focus should be on your growth and helping others. Focusing on belts and the ego of who tapped who sometimes get in the way of improving.

CAPSTONE QUESTION 9. How has JiuJitsu changed your life? What types of lessons have you learned on the mats that you have successfully brought into your personal life and the lives of others? Please elaborate.

Answer: Master Mike Moses really set a great foundation for me.

mike moses

In my early days as a white belt I had a fixed mindset when it came to skill set. If someone was good, it was because they were naturals and born that way. I felt like I was terrible not because I wasn’t trying but because my skill set was fixed and couldn’t be changed much. This mindset was like a disease infecting many areas of my life.

Evolve Academy and Mike Moses blew that mindset out of the water. Every day I came in and saw everyone working hard, taking control of the own development, the path has been paved, all that’s need is for the individual decide.

Question 10. Name a setback you’ve experienced during your path of JiuJitsu and how you overcame it.

Answer: LAW SCHOOL. I work full time and go to law school at night. I am also a husband and father of four. I told myself a lie. I told myself I was too busy to train more than once a week.

In my first three years of law school I only taught on Saturdays. That was my only mat time. I told myself I was too busy to stay in shape as well.

Then I thought about my journey and the life lessons learned from Master Mike. My development is under my control, its my responsibility. I cleaned up my diet started working out when I got home from school. I started showing up at 530 am to train at Evolve 5 days a week. I went from 190 and then competed at 156 last June. I’ve become much stronger mentally and learned to balance priorities. I am thankful for this setback.

Question 11. What are the ways you currently do or you plan to give back the lessons JiuJitsu has taught you? Are you involved in any Jiu-Jitsu related projects (e.g., podcasts, community education and training, web-sites, etc.)?

Answer: I give free private lessons every Saturday before the schedule JiuJitsu class. My goal is to really help grow the program and get more people hooked on JiuJitsu.

Question 12. How can a general level JiuJitsu practitioner get more out of their JiuJitsu? In other words, how can they incorporate mat lessons into their everyday life and the lives of others?

Answer: There is a proverb “How you do anything, is how you do everything” if you slack, or are indecisive, or lack confidence on the mat it will bleed into all aspects of your life. Fixing those problems on the mat will affect corresponding problems in your relationships, career, etc.

Question 13. What are your personal and professional goals with regard to JiuJitsu?

Answer: Growth every time I train.

I have several short term goals. I give myself specific tasks for each training session. For instance, I was challenged to hit 20 toeholds in 7 training session. Then it was 10 Kimuras in 5 training session. Right now I am trying to hit 20 arm drags.

Question 14. What do you want your JiuJitsu legacy to be?

Answer: Someone who made a difference in students lives, not just someone who helped them on the mat.

Question 15. Any parting words of inspiration or wisdom for BJJ enthusiasts?

Answer: Don’t complain or make excuses, focus on growth and be grateful for adversity.

In Closing

Thanks to Julian Gabbard for sharing his JiuJitsu Journey with us. We will enjoy watching him continue to evolve and be active in the JiuJitsu community.

Here are 3 takeaways from his journey:

Takeaway #1: Time is what you make of it.  Everybody has the same number of hours in a day. When Julian struggled to find time to train (or let himself believe he did) he doubled down on his effort to make the time and continue juggling everything else in his life.

Takeaway #2: Don’t set artificial limits. Looking at your progress with a limitation-first mindset is a dead-end to progress. We are all born with unique attributes and JiuJitsu has proven effective for every body-type, size, shape, weight, etc. When you don’t set limits and look at progress as a never-ending quest with milestones that are aligned to goals, you can achieve much more than you ever thought possible.

Takeaway #3: Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Julian knows he has a solid leg lock game but he also knows his wrestling is weak. He makes time in his training to work both, shifting priorities to help both areas.

What have you taken away from Julian’s story?  

Hopefully his story will inspire you to share your story with us!

Go to the JiuJitsu Journey page, fill out the questionnaire, and we will do the rest! You can be featured in a future article, just like this one!

Share your journey and help spread JiuJitsu worldwide!

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DIY Balance Board & Muscle Roller

One of the best ways to get your “Mat Legs” is through balance drills. Your equilibrium and staying on your feet in combat sports (really, any sport), requires you to have basic faculties of maintaining balance.

You’ve also undoubtedly sought the foam roller at your academy, or maybe you even spent money on the giant foam packing peanut and learned quickly how weak and useless the product is.

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I’ve got one solution that addresses both.

DIY Materials

You’ll need:

  1. 1 PVC Pipe
    • Dimensions: ~2 feet length and 6 inches diameter and 1/2 inch thickness
    • Requirements: Make sure it is at least 1/2 in. thick. You’ll be standing on it so it needs to withstand your weight.
    • Cost: ~$4.40
  2. 1 roll duck tape
    • Cost: ~$3.50
  3. 1 roll rubber or insulation tape or foam insulation
    • Cost: ~$7.20 (insulation tape price)
  4. Medium Density Fiber (MDF) or Melamine Board:
    • Dimensions: A 2 ft. by 1-1.5 ft. board, or 2.5 foot by 1-1.5 ft.
    • Requirements: Something that can withstand your weight. I weigh 240 lbs. and I’m using an old shelf from an old TV stand.
    • Cost: $4.95

Total Cost: ~$20.00

Quick Comparison

A quick price comparison reveals this is a “no-brainer”.  The links I provide were quick searches performed on the Internet. You may be able to get items cheaper if you have a local hardware store or a chain hardware store like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Balance Board options are usually over $100.  Here are two examples: This option costs $119.95, and this popular option costs $159.95.

Foam rollers are all over the map. A higher end foam roller like this one can run you nearly $45.00.

You’ll make a more durable, more versatile version of these products for 1/10th of the price.

Instructions

  1. Use the rubber tape, insulation tape or the foam insulation to create a thin layer over the PVC pipe. The pipe is too smooth on its own to make contact effectively with your skin or the board, so this layer will help create friction for balance drills and a little comfort (not much) for rolling. NOTE: I made the version in this video with insulation tape as it’s easy to apply and not expensive.
  2. Apply one, thin layer of duck tape over the insulation tape. This helps protect the insulation tape from wear.
  3. Go workout.

Here is the final product:


Video Training Demo

Here is a quick video of the new item in action. I demonstrate the balance board option using the upper body and lower body.


That’s all there is to making your own. A couple of quick things to make sure you get the most out of your time.

Tips:

  • Consider smoothing out the MDF/Melamine board on the edges. Use the extra tape around the sides or have someone good at wood work smooth it out. If not, wear long pants the first few times you try balancing.
  • Wear shoes at first when trying until you find your legs. After you’ve comfortable with the movement, you can go barefoot, which is ideal.
  • Perform this on a suitable surface. You may fall at first. This works very well on mat surfaces. You don’t need to be a show-off and do this on your sidewalk and crush your elbow when you fall. If you have no alternative, wear elbow pads, helmet, etc. like you would with a skateboard (Note: I know most of you won’t listen, but it’s my recommendation to be safe, not stupid).

Want to see more drills like this? The new DRILLSKILL WORKOUT MANUAL for COMBAT ATHLETES is now available in the Store. It has over 120 exercises and 100 workouts for you to put into your program!

3 Resistance Band Drills For Grappling

I’ve used resistance bands for training for over a dozen years. The right bands can add a lot of value to your training program.

They are a very affordable alternative when compared to a complete weight set, durable, portable, and versatile.

You can perform nearly every exercise with bands that you can perform in the gym, with some creativity and modification.

Iron Woody Fitness resistance bands are by far the best bands I have ever used. I do not have any endorsement deals with this company. This is simply my experience. Try it for yourself and you’ll find out.

Drill for Skill

With JiuJitsu and other grappling based movements, we have many ways to move that are not common to other exercises.  Therefore, drilling these movements is a useful and necessary ingredient in your overall success as a practitioner of the arts.

In the videos below, I will demonstrate how I use bands to train:

  1. The Wrestlers Shot
  2. Maintaining Positional Control
  3. Neck and Guard Posture Maintenance

I’ve a big fan of drilling. If you’ve read my articles, you know that every workout and training session I perform is reviewed as a set of drills. I’ve created a product around this concept called DRILLSKILL.

Solo drilling is a way to turbo-charge your results. You may not always have the luxury of a training partner to drill with, being creative with your solo drills becomes paramount to your development.

Overall, drill by yourself, drill with a partner, drill with multiple partners….it all helps you reach your goals faster.

In this video, I demonstrate a few of my favorite video uses for bands: the wrestler’s shot and positional control maintenance.

 

Here is another example using bands to improve the quality of neck training.

The first drill includes a guard posture drill where you resist the tension of the band throughout your neck and body as if your posture were being compromised in the Closed Guard.

The second is a brief demo of resisting the tension from the side, making your entire body resist the tension and posture-breakdown caused by the bands.  In this manner, neck training becomes much more “functional” as a result, rather than isolating the muscles of the neck.

Add bands to a few basic drills and you will notice the difference in your performance on the mat.

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.

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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.