Goal at brown belt: tap more 

On the day before my wedding, we had a special open mat where a host of jiujitsu friends converged to train during my last full day as a single guy.

It was already a tremendous experience — twelve rolls for me! Five black belts! — even before my instructor surprised me with my brown belt.



I want to thank everybody who reached out with congratulations, either for the marriage or the belt or both. Toward the end of the honeymoon, during the long travel day back to Durham from Belize, I started to think about goals for the next year or two.

(Okay, you got me: I was really thinking about this long before the flight back, as Betsy and I were plotting the invention of Double Reverse Secret Octopus Guard on the beach).

Although I certainly still have competition goals, those aren’t really the terms I’m thinking in right now. I’ll analyze those in earnest in December. My main aim has always been to have good, solid fundamental jiujitsu over the long term. The rest will come as long as I keep my eye on that.

My main goal at brown belt is to tap more. Well, kind of. Let me explain what I mean.

To maximize your potential, you have to both enhance the skills you’re good at and shore up your weaknesses. Ideally you do these at the same time, but you’re naturally going to focus more on certain aspects at different stages of the journey. At purple belt, most of what I was working on related directly to positional advancement and control — escapes from bad spots, sweeps to get on top, guard passing and maintaining dominant positions. You can see how this would fit in with the long-term goals.

The jiujitsu teachers I respect most are those that  keep learning and are nearly impossible to submit. One thing I’ve learned: they don’t get that way by locking people down in side control.

At the wedding open mat, I noticed several of the black belts who don’t get to train with each other very often consciously putting themselves in another black belt’s best spots. If a guy had a dangerous guard, they’d eagerly play there. A guy has a good footlock game? Let’s play legs with him. Someone is known for their omoplata? Let’s start there and see what happens.

Does this mean you’re going to tap more than you would normally? Sure. But it also means you’re getting insights that you wouldn’t get if, say, you got to a spot where you knew you were safe, or if the only person you ever let get to omoplata was a new blue belt.

Seeing these guys that I admire, and whose skills are much greater than my own, roll in this manner really inspired me to put myself in more dangerous spots. Jiujitsu is about survival, and there’s tremendous power in learning about where are the danger points are. In order to know those points you have to explore them. Maybe you saw Garry Tonon’s recent quote about tapping several times a round on average? There are many reasons he’s so good, but I have a feeling that’s one of them. You don’t escape a Kron Gracie armbar without getting putting yourself in danger of being armbarred consistently.

At brown belt my A-game is fairly well defined. I know the techniques and move sets that make sense to me. To get to the next level — and have that rock-solid fundamental jiujitsu over the long term — it’s time to spend hours on the mat exploring my weaknesses and fixing those holes, and learning more about other folks’ strengths so I can add those insights.

So yeah, one goal over the next year is to tap a lot more. I have other goals, too, believe me, but those are for future posts.

Goal-setting has been a huge help for me. I constantly try to set and evaluate short- and long-term goals. Do you have tactics for goal-setting? What are they?

ADCC Picks Contest

The Abu Dhabi Combat Club worlds is Sep. 23 and 24 in Finland. Last year, we ran an ADCC picks contest with prizes: this year I want to experiment with a new format, one that will be a little simpler. At least at first, this is just for bragging rights, but if all goes well, we’ll go back to offering prizes next year.

RULES: You have 10 total points to pick a “team” of up to three athletes in each division. You cannot have more than three athletes in a division. You might choose to have fewer than three athletes, but the only firm rule is that you can’t spend more than 10 points. For an example of how this works, let’s take the Men’s Under 66 KG division:

Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles: 9
Marcio Andre: 7
Augusto Mendes: 4
Bruno Frazzato: 4
Justin Rader: 3
Paulo Miyao: 2
Any Fighter Not Listed: 1

You could take the favorite, Rubens Charles, and one other athlete from the field for one point. Or you could take Marcio Andre and Justin Rader. In each case you’d have two athletes. Or you could pick Augusto Mendes, Bruno Frazzato and Paulo Miyao for three guys on your “team.” Make sense? We have a catch-all “Any Fighter Not Listed” because there are often drops and adds.

You pick a team for each of the divisions below and post your team in the comments, or email it to cagesidewhup at gmail.com. Your picks have to be in and final by 6 p.m. eastern time on Sep. 22.

SCORING SYSTEM: Each gold medal scores three points, each silver medal two points, and each bronze medal one point. At the end of the event, we tally up whose team has the most points and give awards accordingly.

Excited yet? I know I am! Here are the point values for each division: choose wisely.

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ADCC: What the odds tell us

I have a confession: I really, really like gambling.

Not the type of gambling where the house inevitably wins over the long term. That act holds no thrill for me. It’s like watching a film that has a few thrills along the way that you know with certainty ends badly for everyone. You won’t see me playing slots or most table games.

But games where you can play against others, where the outcome is uncertain and hence more interesting, and you have a mathematical chance to make money along the way? Sign me up.

That’s one reason I’m glad more sports books are offering grappling bets. Because I can play games I like while watching the matches I want to see — and pass along my thoughts on where the smart money is. Plus, we can have another blog and podcast contest. Everybody wins!

ADCC is coming right up in Finland, and if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ll be watching. Why not play along at home? Here are the odds offered at a particular online betting spot, where I’ll be placing my (imaginary, just for fun) wagers. Let’s talk about the current odds at BetDSI.eu (with the proviso that there are always drops due to injury and late replacements very close to the event). Come back tomorrow and we’ll get to the free contest, where you can play along without the taste of online degeneracy.  Continue reading

Other Jiujitsu Podcasts You Should Check Out

If you like our show, you are probably crazy about jiujitsu. I don’t blame you: jiujitsu is so great that I’m taking the time to write about it on a weekend where I’m about to get married and have way too much to do today.

Because you like jiujitsu, and presumably our show about it, you might be looking for other great shows about this art of ours. Thankfully, they’re out there! I know, I’ve listened to basically all of them. And these are my personal favorites, so if you’re looking for a new audio experience to throw in your podcatcher of choice.
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