Two Questions Every Grappler Must Answer Before 2010 is History

December 24, 2010

After a good workout in “The Lab” last week, a few OGs were looking
through their training notes and talking about all the things they
learned over the past year.

That’s a good thing.

But when I asked two simple questions, they had no clue about what
I’d just asked them.

And that was a bad thing.

I simply asked them if they…

1. Achieved the training goals they set out to accomplish for 2010?
2. If they hadn’t, what was their plan to achieve those goals
before the year was over?

And since they “just didn’t get it”, I had to explain the point I
was trying to make.

The first question focused on the fact that most people have a
basic understanding of setting goals. But since very few grapplers
talk about creating a plan to track goal progression, most goals
never make it beyond the sheet of paper they’re written on and go
unaccomplished. That’s the reason why they had goals at the end of
the year they didn’t get around to achieving,prepared to just
“roll them over” into 2011.

The second question focused on the idea of maximizing the last days
of the year to achieve outstanding goals instead of just “waiting
until next year” to achieve them. You can wait until next year to
do whatever you promised to do this year, but those last days you
let get away “this year” will be lost forever, regardless of that
foolish idea that you can just “work harder” to make it up later.

Once I explained it that way, they spent less time focusing on the
goals they achieved and more time on the work left to be done
before the year ended.

How about you? Have you reviewed your training goals and
discovered that you still have some work left to be done before
2010 is history?

The Wise Grappler QofTD:

November 4, 2010

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

William James

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.

The Wise Grappler QoTD

September 18, 2010

A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don’t ever develop that attitude, and the ones who aren’t blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest heart.

(Tom Brady)

BJJ Class or Instructional DVDs: Which Teaches You More?

September 9, 2010

A few days ago, a BJJ student was asking me for help with a
technique he saw on an instructional DVD.  He didn’t do a very
good job of explaining to me, resulting in me not being able to
help him with the move.

He thought if he told me who made the video (Grappler X), that
should jar my memory, but it didn’t.

And after his disappointment in me not being caught up on the
latest DVD learning, he asked if I watched a lot of instructional

I told him that I do have a DVD collection at home, but that I
don’t watch them as much as I used to back in the day.  In fact,
I told him that it seemed that the more I progressed in BJJ rank,
the less I watched the DVDs.

Needless to say, my comment provoked a look of disgust on his
face.  So, before he stormed out of the school and demanded my
removal from the teaching staff, I thought I’d better explain
why I ended up watching instructional DVDs less and less as I got
promoted in belt rank.

When I was a white/ blue belt, I was more concerned about seeing
lots of techniques and trying to find something that my classmates
didn’t know.  It was more about me learning something “new” to
get an edge over them during sparring than it was about me trying
to build a grappling game.

When I got promoted to purple belt, I got a rude awakening because
that was the first rank when I was “expected” to routinely submit
or dominate most (if not all) of the junior belts under me. And
the truth of the matter was that I couldn’t because I could
demonstrate a lot of stuff, but didn’t really know anything
that could be called a mat “A” game. I “knew about” a lot of
techniques, but didn’t really “know” them.

Once that reality hit me, I started watching instructional DVDs
that complemented my core game more and a little less for adding
another new technique that I could demonstrate in class, but not
execute on a partner during live training.

And since I wasn’t watching the DVDs to get a new technique to
beat my classmate every week and focused on my core techniques,
I just started watching the DVDs less.

When I got promoted to brown belt, I started watching the DVDs for
techniques that would ONLY fit into my game, not so much to add new
things that would take away from me being able to perfect what I

Now that I’m a black belt, I watch instructional DVDs to learn the
concepts behind the positions and technique.  I don’t have to watch
a DVD so much to learn how to apply a technique (which I still do
because every instructor has their own unique way of teaching),
but to extract what I call the “5W’s” of a technique so discover
the strategy behind a technique and the best time to deploy it.

After that explanation, he said he understood my point and said
that he would take what I said under advisement.  I hope for the
sake of his grappling journey he does.

The Wise Grappler QoTD:

September 1, 2010

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

(Sally Kempton)

The Wise Grappler QoTD:

August 25, 2010

 “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.”

(Japanese Proverb)

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.

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?