8th Best of the Best BJJ ProAms

The Best of the Best wants to encourage participation in the last tournament of the season. Time to get in shape before enjoying the holiday season. If you haven't had a chance to compete this year...NOW IS THE TIME!

What's in store for the December tournament?

Bruce Hoyer puts his Absolute Title on the line:

Bruce Hoyer (Best of the Best Absolute Champion and Rigan Machado Purple Belt) vs Jonathon Menke (Best of the Best Middleweight Champion and Rodrigo Vaghi Brown Belt)

Pro Bracket Lightweight Tournament$300 1st place and Championship title/$150 2nd place

8th Best of the Best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ProAms: Saturday, December 6, 2008. Location: Blackburn Senior High School, 2606 Hamilton Street, Omaha, NE

Please Note: The fee for early registration received before Monday, December 1 , 2008 - 11:59pm is $55 Gi/$55 No Gi each division/$65 both. The fee for late registration (received after Friday, December 5, 2008 - 11:59pm) $65 Gi/$65 No Gi/$75 both. Also, note that registration fee(s) are non refundable.

For complete information go to BJJ Omaha.



Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is the way to go. Gretchen Reynolds published an article in The New York Times the other day, Stretching: The Truth. I found the article to be extremely educational and insightful.

Duane Knudson, a professor of kinesiology at California State University, Chico, points out that research now shows that many of the old school methods of stretching are outdated and can even be harmful. “The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.”

A proper warm-up should loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and literally warm up the body. When you’re at rest, there’s less blood flow to muscles and tendons, and they stiffen. “You need to make tissues and tendons compliant before beginning exercise,” Knudson says.

“There is a neuromuscular inhibitory response to static stretching,” says Malachy McHugh, the director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The straining muscle becomes less responsive and stays weakened for up to 30 minutes after stretching, which is not how an athlete wants to begin a workout.

Stretching muscles while moving, on the other hand, a technique known as dynamic stretching or dynamic warm-ups, increases power, flexibility and range of motion. Muscles in motion don’t experience that insidious inhibitory response. They instead get what McHugh calls “an excitatory message” to perform.

Dynamic stretching is at its most effective when it’s relatively sports specific. Athletes who need to move rapidly in different directions, like Jiu-Jitsu players, should do dynamic stretches that involve many parts of the body. “Spider-Man” is a particularly good drill: drop onto all fours and crawl the width of the mat, as if you were climbing a wall.

STRAIGHT-LEG MARCH (For the hamstrings and gluteus muscles)

Kick one leg straight out in front of you, with your toes flexed toward the sky. Reach your opposite arm to the upturned toes. Drop the leg and repeat with the opposite limbs. Continue the sequence for at least six or seven repetitions.

SCORPION (For the lower back, hip flexors and gluteus muscles)

Lie on your stomach, with your arms outstretched and your feet flexed so that only your toes are touching the ground. Kick your right foot toward your left arm, and then kick your left foot toward your right arm. Since this is an advanced exercise, begin slowly, and repeat up to 12 times.

HANDWALKS (For the shoulders, core muscles, and hamstrings)

Stand straight, with your legs together. Bend over until both hands are flat on the ground. “Walk” with your hands forward until your back is almost extended. Keeping your legs straight, inch your feet toward your hands, then walk your hands forward again. Repeat five or six times.



Superhero Seminar at Roseberry's

Where did you think they all learned how to fight?



Gi Collar Choke


Get in my Guard 2

The saga of the over zealous MMA fighter continues. In the first Get in my Guard, we saw a MMA street fight caught on film. Although the sequel is not near as good as the original, it's still worth a chuckle with the ultimate showdown between a UFC fan and a WWE fan.



Self Analysis

"True strength is not always shown through victory. Stand up, try again and display strength of heart." - Rickson Gracie



The Talent Myth or Why BJ Penn is a Talentless Non-Prodigy

“The conventional wisdom about "natural" talent is a myth. The real path to great performance is a matter of choice,” says Geoff Colvin, senior editor Fortune Magazine.

I read an interesting article the other day that I thought really applied to Jiu-Jitsu. The article is entitled "Why Talent is Overrated" and is written by Geoff Colvin, an editor of Fortune Magazine.

Colvin's claim is interesting because according to him truly successful people, whether they are in business or athletics, are not more talented than anyone else. So the good news is that my Jiu-Jitsu talent level is on par with both the Nogueira brothers and the entire Gracie family. The bad news is that doesn’t mean that I am as good as they are at Jiu-Jitsu.

Confused? Well perhaps this excerpt from Colvin’s article will help. He writes, “A number of researchers now argue that talent means nothing like what we think it means, if indeed it means anything at all. A few contend that the very existence of talent is not, as they carefully put it, supported by evidence. Such findings do not prove that talent doesn't exist… But they do suggest an intriguing possibility: that if it does, it may be irrelevant.... All we can say for the moment is that no specific genes identifying particular talents have been found. It's possible that they will be; scientists could yet find the piano-playing gene or investing gene or accounting gene.”

Okay, so now you are probably wondering what separates the great ones form the rest of us. I mean why did it take BJ Penn roughly a week and a half to become a black belt while it takes many people a decade or more? Colvin’s answer lies in what he calls deliberate practice. He offers us an example of a famous violin player and his teacher. When the student asked how to become great he was told. "Practice with your fingers, and you need all day. Practice with your mind, and you will do as much in 1-1/2 hours." What do Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Jacare do differently from the rest of us? They engage their mind in this type of deliberative practice.

According to Colvin there are 8 aspects of deliberative practice that any of us can master to become great. So when you all become 10th degree black belts after reading this post, don’t forget to thank me.

1) Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve performance. Here we have an advantage in having teachers like Conan and Shihan Roseberry who do not allow us to merely stick with what we are comfortable with.

2) Deliberate practice can be repeated a lot. Just as Shihan says you don’t really know a move until you have done it at least 3,000 times. I once tried that same line on a girlfriend of mine, needless to say this explains why I am still single.

3) Feedback on results is continuously available. “In many important situations, a teacher, coach, or mentor is vital for providing crucial feedback.” Often times this feedback comes in the form of an arm triangle, where by in my last moments of consciousness I realize that Conan is merely reminding me not to cross my arms.

4) It's highly demanding mentally. This statement makes me think of the way that Ron practices. Ron was at class yesterday and working with him reminded me the mentality that he brings to class. While it’s tempting to dismiss his skills as being the product of natural ability, Colvin would argue it’s the product of his mentality. A demanding mentality that forces him to try and execute each move as precisely as possible.

5) It's hard. In essence doing things we are good at is easy, so most of us stick to those things. Doing what we hate and are bad at is hard, so most of us shy away. For example, most NBA stars begin to deteriorate around the age of 30 when their natural athleticism begins to decline. During this time Michael Jordan remade himself from a guy who played above the rim, to a player with a killer fade away jump shot. Because he wasn’t content to stick with what he was good at, he allowed himself to still be winning championships while his peers were in decline.

6) Before the work. Star performers set goals. According to Covlin the worst performers set no goals, average performers set broad goals that are outcome oriented, and top performers set specific goals that are process oriented.

7) During the work. It's all about self-observation.

8) After the work. There must be self-evaluations. Only we can know fully what we were attempting or judge how it turned out.

Whether you believe all of Colvin’s claims about the nature of talent, I think it's an interesting argument. I mean come on, what are the odds that the entire Gracie family would be blessed with the Jiu-Jitsu gene? Isn’t it more likely that they became great through intense and challenging practice. This is by far my longest post, so I’ll close with this thought from Colvin.

“Why do certain people put themselves through the years of intensive daily work that eventually makes them world-class great? We've reached the point where we must proceed by looking in the only place we have left: within ourselves. The answers depend on your response to two basic questions: What do you really want? And what do you really believe?”


The Wrestler's Transition to Jiu-Jitsu

The last few days I have been wondering what it is that makes a wrestler's transition to the Jiu-Jitsu game so uniquely successful. This is sparked mostly by our discussion of Cael Sanderson being on our poll for the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter and actually getting votes. While I realize these votes are likely tongue-in-cheek, we can only imagine that if he trained how good he would be. If nothing else, his submission defense would be exceptional, if nothing else because he would be near impossible to control, to get dominant position on. I'm reminded of how Randy Couture went to a stalemate in a grappling match with Jacare.

The wrestler's transition to Jiu-Jitsu is interesting. Their skills on ground control and speed make the grappling battle very practical for them. Many years ago I wrestled in junior high school for two short years. I was pretty successful, yet by the time I started training Jiu-Jitsu at age 21 I had lost much of those skills. In essence, I think I was much more of a "beginning from scratch" Jiu-Jitsu student rather than coming from an extensive wrestling background. Other than still naturally employing the Gable grip and knowing that I needed to be in side control position, I was very raw on ground technique.

I am interested in this transition and I want to discuss it. One reason is that many of us have wrestling backgrounds. Another is that we have many wrestlers that come in to test the waters of Jiu-Jitsu for a class or two, and never return. A third is that there are two wrestlers that will be fighting for the UFC Heavyweight title in less than two weeks. But I don't think the ground battle between the two will look like an Olympic wrestling match, I think we'll see some employment of Jiu-Jitsu principles, even if its not extensive.

So here are some of my thoughts on the wrestler's transition to Jiu-Jitsu.


First, the wrestler comes in with a unique physical strength that is unseen. I once had an argument with a friend about "strength." He was stating that a person who lifts weights is most likely to win in a fight. I argued the opposite, that a wrestler will be much more successful. A wrestler might not develop the muscle tissue that a bodybuilder does, but he will have a different strength in his muscles. It will still be a physical strength, but different. In the end, I told him to go fight a bodybuilder and then fight a wrestler and come back and tell me who is stronger.

Second, the wrestler's balance. Wrestlers have a knack for both manipulating their opponent's balance and of maintaining their own. I love when raw wrestlers come in because they are so difficult to control. Their energy level is amazing. It's a true challenge to employ technique against raw strength. It's just about as close as we can get to having to employ Jiu-Jitsu in a real situation.

Third, wrestlers know how to trust their body movement. So much of grappling is doing what seems counter intuitive (to steal from Conan here). Wrestler's are comfortable being in the positions that seem strange in order to be a successful grappler.

Fourth, wrestlers have amazing speed (both on the feet and on the ground). I'm reminded of watching our wrestlers do the sit out drill we often practice in warm up. Some even do it quicker than Conan. Their hip movement is exceptional.


Yet I think there are roadblocks. These are not physical challenges, but mental challenges. In so many ways, the wrestler must follow the advice of Yoda, "You must unlearn what you have learned." Understand that this is not a knock on wrestlers (I was indeed a wrestler myself), but some of the challenges I think a wrestler faces.

First, in the beginning it is uncomfortable to consider being on your back. While this subsides eventually, a wrestler becomes comfortable on their back because they realize their advantage in hip movement. The main challenge is in the tendency to give up the back mount in an attempt to get back to the feet because being on your back in wrestling is the worst position to be in.

The second is the tendency to focus on strength instead of technique. Wrestling is much more physical than Jiu-Jitsu. It is much more a match of strength. The wrestler, while employing much technique, is required to exert a lot of strength in successfully applying technique. The story of my brother who is an experience Jiu-Jitsu player that started as a wrestler applies here. My brother was an accomplished wrestler in high school. He took second in state his senior year. He lost very few matches. Although he does not lift weights much anymore, he was brutally strong in high school, setting the school's bench press record at 385 pounds his senior year. I mention these things to emphasize his physical strength. When he started training Jiu-Jitsu about 10 years ago, he was very successful. He even spoke of forcing higher belts to tap while at the blue belt level because of sheer strength. Yet he tells me that his teachers were constantly having to tell him to slow down and think through things instead of going 100 miles an hour if he truly wanted to develop technique. He was exhausting himself and, upon failing to use force, would burn out and eventually be defeated by more technical, patient practitioners. I think we all tend to do this when beginning (whether we're wrestlers or not).

In any case, I think the sheer focus on strength can render skill unable to be employed completely. In essence, it seems that such exertion can lead to forgetting to think through movement and technicalities when we're trying to progress.

In the end, the wrestler's advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. In fact, "far outweigh" is an understatement. I think a wrestler's progression in Jiu-Jitsu can be accelerated many times faster than the Jiu-Jitsu fighters that have no wrestling background.

I'm hoping that the wrestlers in our midst will weigh in on the issue, i.e. Ryan, the Aarons, the Andies (when you say "Andies" do you change the "y" to "ie?" I've never written Andies before. This is an interesting grammar issue. I'm pretty sure it's incorrect. Nonetheless, I'm keeping it for creativity's sake) and of course all others!



The Benefits of Wrist Control