OG Starting Over at BJJ After Quitting

November 3, 2010

Paul, I’m a 36 year old OG. I started BJJ back in 2003 and quit a
few times. Well now I want to try again but I keep backing out. I’ve
even driven out to the gym only to turn around and go home. I
suppose I’m worried about looking out of shape and getting hurt. I
think I’ve forgotten all my techniques too. What should I do?

TWG:  This problem isn’t as tough as you think and happens quite
often, OG.

First, you should do is recognize the fact that deep down inside,
you REALLY want to train at BJJ, maybe even become a black belt
someday.  The reason I point that out is to show you that you’re
NOT as big a quitter as you feel.  If you were a “true quitter”,
you wouldn’t still be thinking about going back to the mat or going
as far as driving down to the school, in spite of the fact that you
never stop and go inside the school.

Second, 90 percent of this struggle comes from your poor mental
mindset about who you are or what you think you should be.  It
doesn’t matter that you’re out-of-shape because most of the people
that start training are out-of-shape in the beginning, me included.
You just have to get back in there and let the training get you in
shape.  And as far as forgetting the techniques that you learned
back in the day, no one will know that unless you want to go in and
start telling people that you’ve been training since 2003.  If you
go into the school like you’re a brand new student that’s never
taken a BJJ class before, then there’s no pressure to remember
anything you learned back in the day and you can learn like every
other newbie taking BJJ for the first time.

Finally, as for worrying about getting hurt, you should know since
you’ve been training that bumps and bruises come along with the BJJ
Training.  If you’re really concerned about it, use that concern to
help guide you to the right school to train.  You don’t need to be
at a school with a bunch of up-and-coming MMAers where the risk of
being used as a grappling bag with feet is likely.  Check around
and (if possible) find a school that’s being run by an OG
Instructor (see my website for a list of schools).  If there aren’t
any schools run by an OG in your area, pay attention to the school
that seems to have a good number of OGs in their classes and talk
with a few of them.  That should ease your concern about being hurt
because you’re an OG.

Bottom line:  Do your homework to find the right school for you,
stop thinking about all the bad things that can happen (since most
of it is in your head), and get back on the mat so you can pursue
your dream of being a BJJ Black Belt.

And make sure to let me know once you’ve joined the school and how
the training is going once you’re back on the mat.

I hope this helps and good luck.

Are You Training with an Endpoint in Mind… or Just Killing Time?

October 30, 2010

A few days ago, I was cleaning up my office and stumbled across
some pictures that I hadn’t seen in a while. They were pics of me
training back in the day as a white belt and the early days at

And once I started looking at those pics, I couldn’t help but
notice all those guys that I trained with back then that kinda got
lost along the way on my grappling journey.  Guys that I thought
were more likely to reach black belt than me.

Unfortunately, 90 percent of those guys never even made it to blue

The thing that made me shake my head in disappointment was the fact
that many of those guys were either REALLY good or had great

And as I looked through those pictures, I saw guys that were
bigger, stronger, meaner, more technically proficient, and way more
mentally tougher than I ever could be.

But for some unknown reason, they just got off the road to black

And as I put those pictures back in the box, I thought about how we
never really talked about becoming black belts back in the day.
Most of us thought it was such a far away goal to reach that we
just trained hard and ignored it.

But now I’m starting to wonder since we never talked about or
thought of ourselves as future black belts if that contributed to
many of those guys (and gals) falling off along the grappling
journey.  Maybe just training for the sake of training, without an
end goal in mind, made it easier for many of them to lose interest
and quit.

What about your training?  Are you training with and end goal in
mind (e.g. belt rank, coaching certification, etc.) or just
training because it’s fun and gets you out of the hose a few nights
a week?

Think about that question before you answer it.  It may make the
difference as to whether you’ll still be on the mat five years from
now or talking about what you could have been had you stuck with it.

MMA vs Boxing – A Valid Comparison or Apples and Oranges

September 2, 2010

The Wise Grappler QoTD:

September 1, 2010

“It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”

(Sally Kempton)

Do You Skip BJJ Classes Because You’re Too Tired From Work?

August 20, 2010

A few days ago, I had an interesting discussion with a high-ranking student about whether he should go to a grappling class or not when he felt too tired to go.

The conversation took place because he asked my opinion as to whether he should miss the third consecutive class after being too busy at work to attend two previous training sessions.

He admitted that missing the first two classes were beyond his control, but the third one was due to laziness. And his concern was if he missed the third class, it might get easier to miss the fourth and maybe not go back at all.

I told him that he shouldn’t be having the “Should I go to class tonight?” conversation with himself because that was more likely to keep him from going to class. I also told him that he should definitely go to class and whenever faced with that decision in the future, to ignore the internal mental debate and just do it.

The grappler understood my point, shut down the debate in his head whether to go to class or not, went to class, AND had a great time

learning some cool stuff.

That grappler was me.

Yep, even as a black belt, there are times when life gets in the way and I can’t train. And then there are times when I don’t want to train because I want to go home and watch TV.

Whenever those “I don’t feel like doing chit!” moments creep up on me, whether it’s grappling or cardio training, I just shut down theinternal voice in my head that wants to give me a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t train and tells me to go home and chill because Ideserve it.

And I ALWAYS feel better when I’ve decided to do what I needed to do instead of what I wanted to do.

So, the next time that you’re driving home from a long day and that little voice keeps telling you to drive by the exit to get to your training academy and head on over to happy hour or home, stop the discussion and do what you need to do by going to class.

You’ll be glad you did.

Quote of the Day

August 19, 2010

“Experience is the worst teacher; it gives the test before presenting the lesson.” (Vernon S Law)

Do You Use a Mouthpiece and Groin Protector When You Grapple?

August 18, 2010

This question is based on something that I’ve heard over the years and wondered how the rest of the OG Nation felt about it. 

 I’ve heard grapplers say that they don’t train with a cup or mouthpiece because it causes just as many problems than it solves. 

 For example, the cup may protect the groin from direct or indirect shot, but it makes the grappler lazy in being able to react to safely protect that area, especially in self-defense situation. 

 As for wearing a mouthpiece, I’ve heard many grapplers say they don’t wear them because it makes it harder to breate and they can control how much force is directed towards their face and mouth (which is why they would need protection from the mouthpiece).

 And then there’s that group that think groin protectors and mouthpieces are for punks!

 Personally, I don’t wear either as much now like in the past, but I have situations occur lately when I wish i had and made me seriously reconsider.  What’s your thought on the question?

My 46th Birthday and Looking Back Over What I Learned This Past Year!

August 9, 2010

Today (August 9th) is my 46th Birthday and to keep with a tradition
that I’ve been doing for the past 10 yrs, I always take time out to
reflect on the key things that I’ve learned over the past year and
share them with the OG Nation.

In the past, there were a few occasions when I had to reflect back
on a lot of stuff over the past year because I was messing up so
much and trying to fix it! But this year, I’ve only two “life
lessons” to share and the impact they had on me.

The first “life lesson” learned this year was the painful fact that
if you don’t set boundaries in your life, someone else will set
them for you, with their views of what they think your life should
be. In the beginning, it may not be so obvious that what you’re
doing isn’t “your plan”, but the day will come when you realize
that you’re being dictated by someone else’s agenda, especially
when you try to do what you want to do and it’s met with resistance
and criticism. I learned there were many things I was doing
throughout the year not because they bring me joy or add value to
my life… but because someone else thought it was good for me in
spite of how I felt about it.

The second “life lesson” from the past year is about not making the
same mistake twice. I made a couple of (actually three) mistakes
this past year that caused me tremendous grief and extremely close
to being major setbacks for me personally and professionally. And
even though I was prepared to “gut it out” and work around the
setbacks, self-reflection showed me the problems could’ve been
avoided if I had made some different choices. We all make mistakes,
but once we start making the same mistakes too often, they move
from mistakes to habits… and bad habits can destroy you.

And that’s all the “reflecting” for 2010. Thanks for sharing my day
with me. Let’s do it again next year for my 47th Birthday
reflection! 🙂

Dedicated to improving your mat experience!

OG Commits to Competing in 50 BJJ Tournaments by Age 50!

July 10, 2010

Two months ago, I heard from another OG who told me about a
challenge that his instructor (Alvis Solis) decided to take on at
age 46 because he was a little “bored” and wanted to do something
momentous on his push to age 50.

Alvis decided that he would compete in 50 grappling competitions by
the time he turned 50.

That’s almost one tournament a month for the next four years!

And once I heard about this self-imposed challenge, I knew I had to
talk to Alvis about it and find out a little about it and him.

So, when I heard that he was coming out to TLI for the Mendes
Brothers BJJ Camp that we had out here a few weeks ago, I made sure
to get him on video talking about the challenge.

You can check out quick interview video here at:


Dedicated to improving your mat experience!

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)
P.S.  Remember to check out Alvis’ training blog over to keep track
of his “50 by 50” Journey (including his Super Fight today at the
Houston Grand Prix Championships against BJJ Black Belt Renan
Chavez) at www.50by50Blog.com

Black Belt Demoted Back to Taking Basics Class?

June 25, 2010

Note from the Wise Grappler:

If you’ve been reading my e-newsletter for a while now, you know
that I’m a HUGE fan of learning and applying the basics to
grappling training, regardless of belt rank or time on the mat.

And since I’m such a proponent of the basics, I decided to do
something with my own training to ensure that I’m practicing what I

So, check out the featured article and see who demoted me back to
the basics classes and how a demotion can apply to your own

Dedicated to improving your mat experience!

Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)

P.S.  If you’re an OG that travels a lot for work or business and
having a hard time finding a place to train that’s “OG Friendly”,
check out “OG Friendly” School Directory at

Feature Article: “Black Belt Demoted Back to Taking Basics Class?”
A few weeks ago, I made a decision that some of you might find to
be a little odd for a black belt to make.

I decided that I needed to go become a regular student at our
beginner white belt introductory classes.

In other words… I demoted myself back to the basics class!

I know what you’re thinking… why would a black belt need to go back
to taking the beginner classes?

To be honest with you, I think my basic techniques need more
improvement and what better place to improve on your basics than in
a BJJ class dedicated to beginners.

So, I decided to go to our basic “Grips & Sweeps” Class, taught by
one of the TLI Black Belts, Donnie Achnick.

That was one of the BEST training classes I’ve ever attended in my

Why, you may ask?

Well, there were a few reasons why it was one of the best training
classes for me:

1.  I had a chance to learn from one of the best “grip fighters” on
our team with “Master Donnie”, a man who’s had the opportunity to
be a training partner with Rhadi Ferguson, a 2004 Olympian Judo
Player and OG4Life.

2. The other big deal was the fact that I taught “Master Donnie” in
his second BJJ Class ever back in 1997 and now there he was
teaching me!  I don’t know about you, but that’s an instructor or
coach’s dream to not only see one of their students complete the
BJJ Journey to black belt, but to also have them teach you from the
BJJ knowledge that they’ve developed along the way.

3. Lastly, it was kinda cool to see the white belts react when they
saw me show up for class and jumped into the workout with them, not
as an instructor for which they know me, but as a classmate. I know
it’s not uncommon for black belts to train at “all levels”
grappling classes, but at a class dedicated for beginners, you
could tell it blew them away a bit and that’s good.

Hopefully, those beginners will note that I didn’t take the
approach that I’m “too advanced” for the beginner class because I’m
a black belt.  Maybe they’ll realize that the “basics” are good for
EVERYONE and follow my example in the future when they’re black

What’s New With The Wise Grappler?

OG Competition Mindset 101 (coming Aug 2010)

Past e-newsletters and testimonials are available here…

Send an email to paul@thewisegrappler.com