On Haters

If it hasn’t yet, this Jiujitsu journey will bring haters. They can come from within the BJJ community; your competition success, rank, or your gi. And haters will appear outside the dojo as well, as it takes time away from others, sometimes distancing you from old friends without BJJ in common as it grows in importance in your life and not their’s. You’re too old for this sport, etc.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of “haters”. The act of sending negative energy, silently or openly, in the direction of someone doing something that they themselves are not, whether good or bad. It’s crazy, because haters, like most groups, LOVE other haters, as long as they’re hating in the same direction.

I used to get super bummed when on the receiving end of this, even to try to find something to hate on them for, falling right into their (sometimes unknowing) trap of escalation…Even just the use of the word hate, to describe haters, almost tempts you to join in!

As the pack animals we are, standing out, doing something different from the group, usually had harmful consequences; either to the group as a whole, or to the individual standing out. How would a zebra with no stripes fare sharing a prairie with lions? Or the rest of the herd if the stripe-less zebra DOES escape and attention is drawn to the nearest next best?

Regardless, any standing out, any change to even one member of the group can cause a reshuffling of the alpha order, scary for even those moving upward along it, and especially for those moving downward. The outlier is left vulnerable to predatorial attack, or worse, left alone to drift for being TOO outside the group’s ways, succumbing to the elements.

Most of us want to be similar to each other in most things, it’s natural, safe, and yields synergistic results for the group.

At a basal level, are haters just looking out for your safety, and the group’s safety, by making sure we are all similar enough to avoid danger? Or are haters just selfish assholes jealous of whatever someone else did first/better, wishing they had that one “opportunity” or lucky break that you had? Is it our job to deflect the hate, or absorb it, or ignore it?

Maybe looking at haters in the animal pack sense will allow us to forgive these turds as simply a maladjusted attempt to look out for the groups survival, your survival and their own.  Maybe a better word for haters would be sentinals or preservationists, giving them the benefit of good intention. Maybe seeing them as unknowingly fighting for their survival and/or your’s, is a good way to deal with their negativity….or at least not match their hate….or should i say their protective efforts?

Maybe we need haters to ensure we all don’t become TOO different from one another, to keep the group balanced, while maintaining the innovators to keep it diversified.

Maybe if we turn down our interpreted volume of the loud familiar squeeks of the haters into a gentle reminder that we are doing something different, strengthening our group through our courage to innovate, we wouldn’t be hurt by what appears to be their projected negativity.

Maybe haters keep the group balanced, and afford us the balanced opportunity to be different, safely.

So, to the haters: thank you sincerely for looking out for our group 🙂

And to you: find a healthy, balanced, and strong group to grow with.


Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

Level up With Flow

Everywhere in life, progress is found through flow, through doing, not stopping doing from being done. There are certainly times to hold the line, park, wait it out and hide. But these are temporary solutions. Real results come with action, if not before the ice freezes or the shitstorm hits, then at the earliest moment after it passes, or even during. When you’re pinned down, and NEED to take cover, turtle up or turn your back, it’s imperative that you immediately start working on your breakout, without even a moment of “oh shit” to sink in.

But what if you don’t have enough skill set to know how to move when allowed to move? Shut that conscious brain off and move in ANY direction, good or bad. With this; there is a difference between moving with physical reckless abandon (dangerous) and moving with a tactically carefree mindset (educational). Don’t be unsafe in your movements, but DO move, as much as possible, even if your silly conscious brain can’t pinpoint, categorize or explain what is happening, your subconscious is downloading the experience at lightening speed and can be digested later as you pass it back up to the conscious forefront later. See mat time vs space time for more on that. Just don’t rob the unconscious of it’s opportunity to learn because your conscious brain isn’t able to keep up.

If you’re not flowing, you’re slowing. You can certainly grow with little flow, but it will be slowed. Those straightforward cue and response exchanges, and insistence until completion or failure, is a natural and critical concept, and is orbited throughout our lifetime of Jiujitsu. There is nothing wrong with straightforward, head on attack, but it should be used like a first gear. In the beginning of your journey, that’s all you have, and still decades later it’s how to start each roll. But moving on to the next level of your training requires a gear shift involving more flow.

You’ll always need your first gear, don’t forgot how to get to where you are, and that first gear will forever become cleaner along the way. But remaining always in 1st gear, isn’t sustainable. The aching joints will never smooth out, never improve, injuries will be more frequent, combined with burnout and frustration. Every temperament and gas tank is different, but none last long when they red-line each class and each roll, in first gear, with tug-of-war straightforward attacks and defenses. Either the physical toll of aching joints or the lack of progress in your game will leave you frustrated irreparably and you’ll quit.  I’ll repeat, it’s great (and critical) to see a cue presented and hit it, but the next step is to simultaneously see it, and respond to it WHILE scanning for the flanking opportunities if it fails.

Developing this flow mindset is what gets you into 2nd gear and beyond. Put yourself out there, into the unknown, without the damaging self imposed pressure to “succeed”. This opens you to experience the consequences as education, consciously or otherwise.


Source: Jon’s Jiujitsu Thoughts

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