Mat time vs space time

One without the other is useless in grappling, and in life. Mat time is the data input and space time is the data analysis.

The Mat Time: During your hands-on live training, you’re taking in infinite data, mostly downloaded into the unconscious, but some hanging at the forefront of our consciousness. Either way, data is being entered in an infinite stream, constantly reinforced and corrected with a series of micro punishment and reward, offering instant feedback along it’s gathering. Mat time is your doing, your actual practice in your art, or life. The power of mat time? Your conscious choice to make this happen. Train live, as life is lived live! 

The Space Time: As immediately as our subconscious starts analyzing all this data, it does take time, time to space on shit a bit, let it sink in. This is especially when trying to make it’s way from the subconscious to the conscious. The power of space time? All this happens in the background, while you’re doing other things, grappling or otherwise, driving to work, or sleeping. 

Everyone knows that mat time is crucial and is usually the major focus of training, as it should be. What good is training, or living, or you’re not doing it. But Space Time?

An example of space time at work: when you return to training after a decent break, especially when lasting weeks or more, you fear how much worse you’ll perform than before you left. But the opposite can happen, you return to roll better than before your break! Minus your physical conditioning, your first day back to live training takes on the cliff notes version of your prior grappling ability.  You instead focus only on the main takeaways of what you’ve already learned, what’s already been boiled down, even if only subconsciously. Your conscious brain isn’t “distracting” by the interference of constantly streaming and compounding new data from last week or the week before. Taking the break from mat time gives your unconscious a chance to “sleep on it”, distilling your thoughts and patterns during space time.  After your reset, you have shaken out the non-essentials, and can now focus on the next wave of new input while your constant subconscious analysis remains at work.

*Consider this be your pep talk if you’ve been on a break for a bit, you’re still learning, and weeding out the weak non-essentials 🙂

Without mat time, there is nothing meaningful to analyze. And without space time, you’re just getting a workout. Luckily the space time analysis happens whether you like it or not, and continues well after your last roll. But the all important data gathering mat time needs to be a conscious choice. Choose mat time today, and let space time happen.


Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

3 reasons you should show up with an Injury

harlie-raethel-516092-unsplashWe know injuries are inevitable, and are usually perceived as a huge bummer when time is needed off from live rolling. But with every injury is opportunity, and continuing to show up to class is key to capitalizing on them.

1) We learn from watching, and everyone is at least somewhat of a visual learner, even if you’re dominantly more audible or hands-on. It’s an opportunity to analyze the jiujitsu of others, without the urgency of direct interaction with a live training partner. We are usually caught up in the trees of problem solving with our current partners when rolling, so this presents a great opportunity to zoom out and watch the forest for a change.

2) We maintain the emotional connection with your training partners, and help them along their journey, which also helps you along your’s. It shows you’re part of the team, wounded but still on the front line. It can motivate your training partners to train with greater purpose, knowing you wish you could be out there with them. For me, it always showed me that nothing will stop me from training, from showing up, and that my injury is an opportunity to show my resilience in the face of whatever gets in my way along my path.

3) We reinforce your hard earned habit of showing up. This is the most important component of your training, the way you’ve rearranged your life to consistently make time to train, not “finding time” but “making time” . For most of us it takes a decent juggling act and commitment to make it work to get to class each week, and to develop the balance in the other areas of our life. Showing up to class strengthens your current schedule pattern, and helps prevent the weeds of undesired time killers from filling the unintended vacuum.

If you can’t be on the mats, be near the mats.

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Turning thefts into gifts; submissions should be gifts, not thefts

Navigating your BJJ journey entails mile markers, defined differently by all; tournaments, number of classes attended, rolls without breaks, and the obvious rank upgrades. You achieve it, and you’re motivated to the next, always moving forward and evolving along the way. Great ways to measure progress, and are easy to measure.

But some milestones aren’t as easily identifiable as events or achievements at all, they’re more like transitions. As an instructor, my favorite example of these is the long transition from “stealing” submissions to being “gifted” submissions. I’m always scanning for progress in this area.

Still with submission as the example, it’s great to see the initial cue recognition, and the player’s response to it…getting the actual tap or not is initially irrelevant. Just proud to see the cue and it’s response.

After some experimentation and countless failures, the details of each technique come together and they start getting the first few, live taps, against full on resisting partners, and confidence skyrockets. It doesn’t usually look pretty during the struggle, but the first objective, and their focus, has been achieved with the rewarding tap. And it’s a sweet transition to watch as it shows their skill set and confidence growing.

But infinitely more impressive is the next transition to the “gifted” submissions. Until this transition takes hold, most submissions are attacker attacking, defender defending, and victory to whoever does whichever better. It’s simple, The attacker needs to know more of the steps of the attack and faster, before the defender can recognize the attacker’s shortcoming with time to exploit them. Straightforward struggle that often comes down to attrition.

As the grappler evolves and polishes along their journey, each attack requires less full on dedicated, thought-driven focus to achieve success. So much is left to habit to handle, that frees up the mind to think outside the immediate initial objective. This allows him to think more like a flanker than a straight charger. With this flexibility in focus, the attacker is able to attack multiple targets, other limbs, angles on the same limb, the neck, positional upset etc. Because of this the defender splits his focus, unable to defend all his real estate. As he defends one aspect, he’s leaving himself open to be outflanked and attacked elsewhere. It’s on the attacker to be savvy to this, constantly attacking while predicting escape route and prepared to snag vulnerabilities as they present themselves. The attacker works to get so smooth with this, that the defender’s full on defense of a choke lands his arm in their lap, appearing as a gift in exchange for the safety of his neck. No struggle, no back and forth, no attrition. No muscle fatigue, no immovable object vs unstoppable force. It should look gifted.

If it doesn’t seem realistic, you haven’t yet approached this transition yet, or are currently in transition with us 🙂


Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Don’t be the snowbank either!

On the flipside of the “rock out, rock on” blog (link at the bottom), don’t be the snowbank either!

Nothing grinds my gears more than watching a higher belt, who should know better, bear down on a much less experienced training partner, leaving them to writhe helplessly beneath the “snowbank”.

It’s hard to avoid the occasional lay and pray when your options appear minimal as a newer grappler, but when you DO have some experience, i recommend using it. Expose this less experienced grappler, and yourself, to movement and space, dynamics over static tension. Statues are for museums. And nobody wants to grapple with a statue.

Training is for gaining experience, not for parking. Open the game, zoom it out for your partner and yourself.

What if my partner is much more experienced than me? This is even more of an opportunity to explore the movement in space, and likely they’ll guide you through your intro to new movements as they polish their own. I understand the (crutch) strategy of rolling with someone of higher experience to just survive at all cost through defense, but opening yourself up to attacking (or allowing his attacks and movement associated) the more experienced grappler will elevate you both (and even more safely than with the lessor experienced partners).

Why stop your partner from showing you something? We are meant to train WITH our partners, not against, regardless of either grappler’s experience.

As a part 2 to:




Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

The General’s Army: Delegation Through Repetition

Our body as our total fighting force, we’d all assume the brain as the general and our body the army. Like any army, it requires training to be effective in combat, from the top general down the ranks. During the instruction portion of class, our ways of learning are to watch the movements, listen to them described, and physically walked through them. It’s putting our brain through officer training, and it’s a great start.

Our general is then normally instructed to pass this on to their respective armies, through the actual drilling of the same movements with our partners. Since our general almost instantly understands the techniques and how it applies to the big picture, it  is now to share it with the troops. and this is where a major hiccup can occur in the passage of information.

Many people, because their general has it “perfected”, will only drill the new movement a couple times, think they mastered it, and sit idly on this “knowledge” while the others drill their armies around them. The problem is, without actual repetition, your army can never know this information.

You see this watching two grapplers drilling with their respective partners. Both think about the movement and can nail it in just a few tries, and can demonstrate it flawlessly to their instructor when he comes around, outstanding.

The first grappler reps it those few times, pauses, talks about last weekend and farts.

The second grappler reps it 20-30 times and breaks a decent sweat.

Again, both grapplers can demonstrate it perfectly to the instructor, but in many cases the first grappler executes it BETTER than the second. This is because their general is still leading the movement with conscious thought.

The second is slightly fumbling during the download to their body, their unconscious, their army. But this allows their army to perform without the generals direct orders, freeing the general to zoom out and focus on other, bigger picture strategy. It allows higher order analysis of the movement as a whole and the principles behind it. This is much more developed and sustainable, allowing for gathering of more info from the top, whether more details on the same particular movement over time or for future movements. Each exposure filtering through again and downloaded, delegated all down to the lowest foot soldier.

When the general is freed to no longer think about each and every detail of each movement, it’s able to add additional details and applications under its own discretion, and over time. A good grappler can imitate and execute movements, a great grappler can train their army to master them subconsciously.

Only through repetition can your army free your thinking general. Drill your army.



Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

newb advice from a new father

A few months ago we finally got to meet our daughter, our second spawn. And of course i look to BJJ for guidance.

With our first child, i read everything i could get my hands on, talking to everyone that had children, and annoyingly to those that didn’t. I wanted to make sure I didn’t go in blind, and that i didn’t screw anything up….selfishly forgetting that it’s my wife that will be pulling the weight, ripping, gushing, likely pooping, and spending precious energy on deciding on loving or hating me through it all. I remember being frustrated finding that everyone’s opinions and pointers differed drastically, everyone had different plans, and none of them went accordingly. But always the same, “don’t worry man, you’ll do fine.”

Looking back now, i remind myself of the non-BJJ people that consistently ask about what to expect on day 1; how to be prepared, what to know first, how to get in shape first, or how to excel or win at BJJ. And i distinctly remember the look i got from other parents exactly matching those of the BJJ practitioner to the newbs. In one form or another, it’s the same, just show up. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.

I know from BJJ that nothing is even remotely as important as mat time. And as i translate this to fatherhood, i see it’s the same. No study of life even remotely comes close to simply living it, especially in the creation of it, and the shared life that follows. I learned more in his first day breathing than i did with months buried in books about first poops, latching, and skin-to-skin contact.

I still maintain my steady study of the process of our second child growing towards toddlerhood, but with the comfort of my “mat time” with our first to keep me relaxed and breathing throughout. I’ll focus on the details i missed with him, and the new ones that will appear with her. With my fresh mat time i have less fear, i’ve seen some stuff. I’m more free to enjoy the process, decided what to bring for the hospital downtime, what photos we wanted to capture, whether to eat the placenta cooked or raw, dried into pill form, or not at all.

The difference in studying BJJ before and after any amount of mat time is enormous. Once you have mat time, your study is clearer, more focused. In some ways it can still be overwhelming, but at least you know why you’re studying it, and get better at filtering what applies to your specific journey through BJJ. Likewise, studying how to father is compounded infinitely by being a father. And life by living it.

To get good at Jiujitsu, to “win”, there is no faster way than to start living it, getting your feet wet, and gaining mat time as soon as your comfort allows. Your fears will diminish and your questions will become more applicable and specific, less driven by fear of the unknown. A minute of mat time serves you better than a month of youtube. Get after it!


Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts