Flow like River, not like Glacier


When rivers flow, they gather more oxygen, invite higher life forms, cover ground, and see major landscape. They’re constantly changing, carving, and evolving. Rivers are experts at navigating obstacles quickly and efficiently along their path. They LEARN as they flow.

When glaciers “hold their ground”, they invite little life, grind on, and have the same damn view for years. They grind slowly, hold on to the past, and take 1000s of years to cover any ground, experiencing so much less. They lay still, and OBSERVE life happening around and to them.

Grappling is the same. Resist the temptation for the instant gratification of “not making mistakes” as a glacier. Take the “risky” route into the unknown, and get as much experience out of each roll as possible. You can learn FROM and AS the glacier, for sure. But you’ll cover more ground and gain more experience, faster and more efficiently, as a river.

*Advice to rivers confronted with a glacier, KEEP MOVING!

Many grapplers meet static partners by joining them! If he’s not moving, then no need for me to. This works to slow the pace and take a break, and that’s great if that’s your goal. But if experience is your goal, try not to let them slow down YOUR  learning. Inertia works both ways, either you join their static state, or you convince them to join your flow. Writhe and bridge, roll and shrimp.  Sometimes the only way to get them to move is to give them increasingly tempting movements, offering a limb or neck can do the trick. Worst case: you get caught and continue your flow. And through flow is the learning.

Roll like river, not like glacier.

best when paired with: The river or the rock. or Don’t roll to “last” or showing up is NOT half the battle: mathematics of bjj skill acquisition


Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Don’t roll to “last”

A challenge: don’t roll to last.

Give yourself permission to push it, to “fail” early, out of breath. Attempt to push the pace past your comfort level, repeatedly, instead of resting to make sure you don’t. Embrace and look forward to the feeling of desperation in your breathing, and the challenge of controlling it.

Don’t take breaks or slow the pace to avoid getting tired. Do the opposite, just move, get tired and put this priority above “winning” in your training.

You’ll find a much greater workout, more experienced gained, a faster technical mind with the muscle memory that follows, and a test of your grit that keeps you flying high well after the final buzzer buzzes.

Caveat: don’t make a mess on the mats. And know your body. This is a goal state, a challenge to build up to.

Best when paired with: showing up is NOT half the battle: mathematics of bjj skill acquisition

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Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Childhood Lessons Towards the BJJ Black Belt

As children, we learn to play. Through play we learn to trust, share, communicate and show empathy. We allow ourselves to get exhausted, forgetting sometimes to eat or sleep. A cartwheel for no reason is encouraged.

As adults, new skills are added. We now have the responsibility of paying rent and discipline of showing up to work or school early. We protect and provide for the youth, pay taxes and vote.

Somewhere along the way, adults forget the much more important lessons of youth. These new skills of adulthood REPLACE instead of AMPLIFY those of the youth. It’s as if there is room for only one set of skills. But without the lessons of youth, those of adulthood are pointless. We forget how to play in exchange for car payment timeliness. You CAN have both.

White belts are encouraged to soak up all they can, from whoever and whenever they can, like children. Build trust and humility through the tap, our powerful form of communication. Share the mats and show empathy. More importantly, enjoy the play, carefree and fun. If someone isn’t fun to play with at the moment, no need to play with them today. Try them again later. Everyone grows at different rates, with different skill sets. If you catch yourself flowing through the round timer in an awesome technical exchange with your partner, keep after it! There’s no curfew on flow! These lessons are critical to progress and longevity, and not to be forgotten along the way.

Black belts have responsibilities; usually running a school, training or mentoring others, whether they know it or want it or not. They must look after the others, ensure their safety, and keep them having fun and progressing! But they also must never lose the wide eyed curiosity of the white belt, the vulnerabilities, or forget the fears that they have. And don’t forget the lessons of the white belt and the belts that follow. Don’t forget to play. You CAN have both.

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

The river or the rock.


A basic armbar: You have your partner ALMOST there, one leg over his chest, the other sorta over his face. You’re grabbing his arm (most likely with your hands buried in his elbow pit) and ripping rearward with everything you got, this fool better learn not to reach up at you when mounted! Not the most technical setup but it feels promising.

He’s got his hands clasped, or folded upon each other, attempting to bury his arm through his chest in defense, grunting and writhing from the bottom.

For a solid minute this goes on, you’re jerking, ripping back and forth, testing the limits of your mouthguard. They’re hoping their arm holds up until the timer saves them.

Nearby newbs are silently (or not) cheering you or them on in a titanic clash of wills. Experienced players nearby wince, waiting for the inevitable.

The grip breaks, a hurried tap, a celebration either externally or within. Both players lie on their backs panting, like a cheesy sex scene from the 80’s, and sit the next round out.

For them, the mistake was made long ago, they should’ve tapped earlier, without exhaustion, and without increased chance of injury. If it’s that much work to defend, they’re caught! They should pay their ticket before there’s interest!

And for you, MOVE ON to something else, something more fruitful, meeting less resistance. Staying where you are, slamming your head against the wall in the same static state, is like a river meeting a rock and insisting on going through it.

Water would go around, and so should you.

Constant pounding of the river on the rock will wear away the rock, but it’ll take much longer that flowing around, and your progress in BJJ will too. BJJ is more about adapting than insisting.

Let the rock be the rock, they can have their arm…for now🙂 Let the river be the river, maintain your flow. Your growth will be much faster, and you’ll see more of the BJJ landscape along the way.

Are you the river or the rock?

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Break your path, Wear your Path

You are shown the technique and practice it. You are corrected in your technique, usually several times, and adjust accordingly. You are praised for “getting it” and are now searching for the next. This is the usual routine for most students learning a new technique. And this is where most students fall short.

Learning a new technique is finding a new path through the woods, from one village to the next. You are told where you need to go and accept it readily. Through instruction and repetition, you are given the landmarks and shortcuts; avoiding the thorns, animals, and sketchy bridges. Through correction, most students navigate their way through the technique or the woods, arriving at the technique’s completion or next village.

But a freshly worn path is only as good as the moment you made it. Soon after it will be overgrown and slow moving. It’s not enough to break the path, you must wear the path. Your movement along it gets smoother, quicker, and with little hacking along the way.

You see this manifesting when 2 grapplers do the exact same technique, village to village, but one looks so much more slick, smooth, and “quick”…the other looks janky, jerky and almost painful.

The repetition that counts most in learning a technique, are those that happen AFTER you “understand” and can imitate the technique, AFTER the path is broken. Once you think you have it, THAT is the time to drill it most.

Traveling a freshly worn path frees your mind to relax, and more easily find new paths along the way. 

Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

When the hand is raised

steve hand raise In defeat: If the opponent’s hand is raised. Blame no one, for there needn’t be blame. You put in your effort during and up to this point, the rest is out of your hands. Be thankful for the opportunity, and respectful of your opponent’s hard effort before and during their contest against you. They were on the same mat at that moment. Be thankful for his willingness to put himself in the same position as yourself, where only one can win today, in front of everyone, and one must lose. Cherish his courage that matches your own. Ignore the shallow comments of the bleacher peasants and on-line warriors, they are spectators and you’re the sportsman. Be proud, take credit for all the hard work and planning you put into the weeks leading up to this moment.

In victory: take the moment to absorb what happened, record it for later review, take pride in being there, shake hands, acknowledge their skill. Don’t run around like an idiot… beating your chest, digging them an air grave, flipping them off or throwing your mouthguard. No dropping to your knees, pointing to and thanking the gymnasium ceiling. Shake their coaches hand, walk off and recharge. Avoid the temptation afterwards to gush over details of your victory, especially to someone who has just lost. A person can be judged better by how they handle victory than by their ability to achieve it, because the latter is all you.

Would an outside observer be able to tell if you won or lost, if no hand was raised, based only on your immediate post-match behavior? The goal is no.
Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts