The Doctor(s) will see you now...Expert Advice

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, the constant struggle to improve your grappling game.

If you are anything like me it comes in spurts. There are weeks when you are on top of the world, and weeks when everyone has an answer to your offensive game plan.

During one of those "down weeks" I was doing a bit of Internet searching and found "The Grappler's Guide". As quoted on their website "Dedicated 100% to the improvement of your grappling performance"..

Hmm, tempting, but truth be told it looked to me to be yet another forum full of submission grapplers, except this one wanted $47 to get access to the "premium content".

$47 for a forum? Not sure I'm ready to commit my dollars, so I created a free account and started perusing the free materials. Not bad, looked like they had a pretty decent group of members, most importantly they seemed to have a nice contingent of black belt BJJ practitioners that posted quality responses to questions.

But was it really work $47 a year? I still wasn't sure, but I decided the $47 wasn't much different than the price of most BJJ instructionals so I made the jump and went "premium". In the end I got my money back out of the site within 30 days of signing up!

You see, The Grappler's Guide has very nice contests each month.

It just so happened that they were running a contest during my first month of membership for some MMA Gloves and shorts from Scientific Street Fighting, total value of the prizes was well above the $47 I paid for membership.

Guess what...

Hahah, yep, I won. So right there the membership paid for itself.

However that wasn't the end of the value I've received, frankly far from it.

I've come to treat the guide much like a group of valuable game coaches. If I get stuck on something, am looking for an option from a given position, or would just like commentary on my most recent sparring session, I go straight to the guide and make a post.

Chances are I'll get responses from 1-2 black belt instructors within 24hrs! Now that's some seriously valuable content, where else are you going to get multiple experienced coaches and teachers looking at your problems and providing solid recommendations?

Seriously, if you find somewhere else let me know.

In the mean time you can find old Hazmat posting away on The Grappler's Guide.

So, go ahead, sign up for a free account and make a post or two, I think you'll see the value.

"The doctors will see you now."

Whoops, got to go, time for my BJJ game checkup.

Until next time,


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Grappler's Toolbox Reborn by RMAX

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This was really an interesting DVD. I don't really know quite where to start. The Internet swirls in negative and positive press on Scott Sonnon and his RMAX materials. There are those that believe his materials and concepts are excellent methods to improve general fitness and martial arts skills, there are others who believe RMAX is simply a marketing engine created to roll out expensive DVDs and training materials.

I'm sorry, but we aren't going to delve into any of that today.

Today we are going to talk about the Grappler's Toolkit Reborn. From the RMAX website..

Coach Sonnon designed these “biomechanical exercises” as a powerful form of specific physical preparedness which: * creates a safety valve for when movements deviate from the expected, like they always do in the chaos of and fighting, so that when you or your opponent move too far, too fast, too hard, you can safely recover and stay on target. * three-dimensionally strengthens connective tissue (the “outer bag” of your fascia and the muscle it contains, and the “inner bag” forming the joint capsules and holding in the precious synovial fluid, ground substance, and of course your cartilage and bones.) * provide a movement model for your nervous system to improve your technique without a partner, like a form of “shadow grappling” - probably the most under-estimated form of practice in modern day gyms.
RMAX International - Grappler's Toolbox (Video Demo)

Production Quality

I'd rate the production quality of this DVD somewhere above average but short of excellent. The visuals are easy to follow, however the audio is substandard, in fact you are going to want to turn up the audio higher than you might like to get all of the commentary. In addition, while the DVD menu shows numerous biomechanical exercises ("BMEs"), they don't organize them. It's a shame, perhaps I'm a bit spoiled, but Whitecollar BJJ readers are known for their lack of free time, the ability to jump straight to a section that would assist guard work, or mount transitions would be a real plus. Also, it would be useful to see subtitles for each exercise. Scott's names are often cryptic and can be difficult to remember, a nice series of subtitles would help a good bit.


While working up this review I found it difficult to really explain the exercises on this DVD. Many of them are very straight forward, you watch Scott perform the movement and can immediately see the practical usage. In fact I often found myself visualizing the movements with a partner or in an actual grappling match and understood their use.

However, just as many times as I felt I understood what he was teaching, I also found myself completely lost looking at a particular exercise. It's hard to describe, however there's a sequence early in the DVD that focuses on Triangle development that best illustrates my confusion. Scott talks about a squat he's developed called the "Shin Roll". Essentially he believes this squat will help your triangle beyond what you could by performing triangles from your back without an opponent.

I'll be honest, I watched this squat/twisting movement 4 times before I was able to duplicate it. Now having performed it a few times I'm still lost as to how this will affect my triangles. However, like all things exercise oriented I'll give it the benefit of the doubt until I've worked it for a few weeks.

Bottom Line

That's really the best way I can summarize this DVD, it's got some very "exotic looking" exercises, it's hard to say how these will benefit your game. However it also has some very bread and butter movements that appear to be directly applicable. All in all, I wish they included footage of the movements in an actual sparring setting (where possible), this would have really driven home the material. Who knows, perhaps they'll be a "Version 3" in the future..

Next step is to incorporate some of these exercises into my training plan and measure the results.

Until then.. Train Smart!


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Patterns in Movement - Solo Training

Sunday, January 27, 2008

For those of you who don't know, my martial arts journey did not start in Submission Grappling, MMA, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, I spent many of my younger years involved in Kempo and Kung Fu (Gong Fu). Something both of those arts appeared to rely upon (too frequently if you asked me) was the concept of pre-arranged movement patterns, or what is better known as forms and kata.

Kata (型 or 形, literally: "form"?) is a Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. Kata are used in many traditional Japanese arts such as theater forms like kabuki and schools of tea ceremony (chadō), but are most commonly known for the presence in the martial arts.
Kata - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

These pre-arranged patterns of movements were supposed to mimic those of an actual fight or encounter. It was often indicated by past instructors that frequently performing these movements would ingrain them into your muscle memory, in essence they would "spring forth" when called upon in a pinch. I must not have been performing them enough or properly, as this never happened for me.

Where am I going here?

Well as a white collar professional with precious little time available to train I started thinking about those forms and katas of my past and whether or not that type of training might provide some value now.

Quite simply, the body learns movements best by doing them. Want to get better at the mounted arm bar? Practice mounted arm bars. Want to improve your triangle? Practice more triangles.

Now, what do we do when we don't have a partner to practice with? How do we get a better mounted arm bar with no one to mount and arm bar? How do we get a more efficient triangle with no one to triangle?

With this in mind I started reviewing two very interesting BJJ/Submission Grappling based "shadow grappling" or solo drills DVDs.

Grappler's Toolbox Reborn DVD Cover
Both DVDs promise improved base skills using solo or two person movement patterns, here's how we are going to test that promise.

First, I'm going to review each DVD and give you the reader a chance to get some insight as to their contents and more importantly, how useful I think they might be.

Next I'm going to include two solo drills from each DVD into my weekly training plans. I'll report back here in a few weeks/month once I've had time to see if they had any effect.

On top of all of that, I'm busy cooking up our first ever give away on WhiteCollar BJJ. Stay tuned!

Until then, Move Smart!


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Inspiration for the smaller guys

Monday, January 21, 2008

Whenever I'm sliding a bit in my game, feeling like it's difficult training against guys larger than me I fire up this video.

Marcelo Garcia vs Xande Ribiero ADCC 2005 Absolute 3rd Place Match

Quite simply, Marcelo is inspirational.

In re-watching this last night it got me really thinking about sweeps, making sweeps a larger part of my game, and developing a nice open guard game that leans toward reversals over submissions.



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Yoga for Martial Arts -

Thursday, January 17, 2008

With the tremendous increase in interest regarding the Rubber Guard and Twister game a lot of BJJ enthusiasts are becoming more interested in improving their flexibility. Yoga immediately comes to mind, however as John Foster mentioned in his prior post, Yoga is more than just stretching. There's a lot more to it, but where do we start? There are hundreds if not thousands of Yoga DVDs on the market, many of them provide "flows" or sequences of Yoga postures designed around a particular goal. The problem is these goals often just don't match up with the needs of a BJJ practitioner or Mixed Martial Artist. Thankfully Stephen Kesting, Josephine Krizovensky, and the rest of the team at have put together a professional, well conceived, and useful Yoga for Martial Arts DVD. So, let's get on to the review.

Production Quality

Top notch, the DVD has been designed with the beginner in mind. Each section (with the exception of the Introduction) shows both Stephen and Josephine. Essentially Stephen shows the easier or beginner variation while Josephine shows the more complex or advanced variation. Here's where I think Stephen really thought things through, I believe he purposely downplays his flexibility throughout the DVD. I'm convinced after watching the introduction Stephen could easily perform the advanced variations Josephine does, however he doesn't, he dutifully performs the beginner variation. This sort of humility is refreshing in the fitness/martial arts industry.

It honestly appears that he wants any martial artist to feel like Yoga will work for them.

All of the voice-overs are done by Josephine, let's be honest, it's always nice on the ears to hear a woman's voice. Her commentary is excellent, however like all movement based DVDs (Yoga, Martial Arts, etc) you are going to want to watch it a minimum of 2-3 times. The first time you'll be watching the movements closely and most likely missing most of the instruction. With each subsequent viewing you'll be less focused on the visuals and pick up more of the instructions. In fact one of my only concerns with the DVD is here, the background music can overwhelm her voice on occasion. However with good speakers or a head set it's not a real issue.

Lastly, the title of each pose taught in the video is displayed on the screen. For those interested it's very easy to write these down and look them up on Google. This is a nice option for someone looking to get more information on a particular movement.

So, let's talk about the content.


A very nice overview of Yoga movements and why they matter for a martial artist. Stephen talks about more than just flexibility (some will note his rather impressive wide angle forward bend). He talks about controlling the body through extreme range of motion and the power of breath control. Here's where I think he's on to something. As a grappler understanding and controlling your breath, maintaining a calm, relaxed posture throughout sparing and competition is very important. Roll with enough advanced guys/girls and you'll see they can maintain a placid, relaxed demeanor throughout.

Stephen has posted the Introduction on his website in QuickTime format, I've linked to it here.

Breath Work

Much more difficult than it looks. Your lungs are powerful organs, they can work like a pneumatic pump bringing large amounts of oxygen into your system. Here Stephen and Josephine go over a few different forms of Yoga breathing exercises. I'm quite pleased with this section as they go through a very well conceived progression. They start with a very basic form of abdominal breathing, asking you to focus on your lower abdomen using your hands. By putting you in the mind set of breathing using your belly or lower abdomen they are getting you in the right frame of mind for Bellows Breathing, which they cover next.

The Anatomy of Hatha Yoga has this to say about Bellows Breath (Bhastrika)

...highly energizing abdominal breathing exercises. In their mild form they are excellent for beginners, because they require only that students be acquainted with even abdominal breathing. The bellows breath imitates the movement of the blacksmith's bellows...the additional oxygen pulled into the lungs by the bellows exercise increase the potential for combustion throughout the body.
Overall, a well conceived portion of the DVD, for those interested, I believe Rickson Gracie in the CHOKE documentary performs a variation of Bellows Breathing.

Cat Series

It all starts in the core. If you are a grappler or Jiu-Jitsu fighter you know this. Closed guard, open guard, half, butterfly, and anything else in the guard game (yes even De La Riva) depends on a strong and flexible core. Stephen and Josephine's Cat Series is a great warm-up for that core, done properly it's a great way to get the submission grappling core ready for more intense training.

Sun Salutations

What's a Sun Salutation? No it doesn't mean praising the Sun God and getting your summer tan. It's a very simple series of stretches aimed squarely at what John was speaking about the other day. Expand and Contract. Here Stephen and Josephine provide three different Sun Salutation series. Each one is slightly more difficult than the one before it. Here again Stephen provides the beginner variation while Josephine impresses us with more complex variations.

Seated Flow & Supine Flow
Ok all you Rubber Guard Eddie Bravo fans these are the sections you want to focus on. Stephen and Josephine go through a very straight forward series of seated and supine hip openers, core stretches, back bridges, etc. Want to get additional flexibility for the Rubber Guard? This is where you need to pay close attention. In addition the multiple core twisting and rotating stretches in this section are perfect for those of you reading up on the "twister". Just like in all the series before, Stephen sandbags to show you what a less than perfect Yogi should shoot for first. Once you've mastered his movements pay close attention to Josephine for the next level of difficulty.

Bottom Line

Yoga can help your game if you practice it diligently. Could Rickson Gracie, Murilo Bustamante, Wallid Ismael, Dan Inosanto, and Ricardo Liborio be wrong? There is a strong bond between the movements of Yoga and those of the martial arts. So give Yoga for Martial Arts a try and enjoy the journey, I'm convinced your BJJ game will appreciate it.

Stretch Smart!


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Guest Post - John on Yoga

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Today's Post is one of the first in a series of posts on Yoga. I've asked John Foster a rather accomplished Yogi friend of mine to give us his unique insight. Yes, that's your's truly (hazmat) in some of these photos, John and I thought it would be best to show you Yoga postures by a "non-expert" as well as an accomplished practitioner. Without further delay...John on Yoga. -hz

There are lots of videos on the web of famous fighters training for competition. I usually find these videos inspirational up until the point the fighter slumps into something a bit like a yoga pose and begins to “stretch”. At that point I wonder why on earth his trainer hasn’t put a fraction of the effort into flexibility training he put into strength, technique, and endurance work.

Many yoga poses have been adopted as stretches and most martial artists practice them regularly without knowing it. Unfortunately they practice them without following the principles which make yoga so effective

There are eight aspects, or “limbs” to yoga and the physical practice of yoga postures, or “asana” is only one of them. According to Patanjali, a yoga sage writing around 200BC the overall purpose of all eight limbs is to achieve “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”.

The physical practice of yoga postures is not static or passive stretching; it is a holistic approach providing holistic results, including a less tense and more balanced body and mind. Such a body and mind are, along with other benefits, more flexible. Yoga is not as effective as a way to increase flexibility as a good dedicated stretching routine but it offers many more benefits than such a routine and such a routine will include many things that seem to come direct from yoga.

In yoga as in everything else there is the agonist, the antagonist, and the synergist. It is essential to work the antagonist and the synergist when in a pose which lengthens the agonist. It is also essential to completely relax every part of the body not involved in the pose.

In yoga as in everything else there is a kinaesthetic chain. It is essential to begin a stretch from the right place and keep it moving all the way to the limit. When that limit is reached the stretch is still not static. Either the posture is held dynamically at that limit with the balance between the muscles involved shifting as the body opens and the breath moves the body or the posture fluidly moves into the next in a sequence.

The result, with practice, is a system that both stretches the body and works it, increasing its elasticity and reinforcing the optimal kinaesthetic chain for both dynamic and very subtle movement. Movement is driven by the breath and the goal is a practice where the attention is focused entirely on the breathing.

This is best explained by an example. Every one is familiar with the simple standing forward bend, the yoga posture uttanasana. Done as yoga the posture starts standing. As the yogi breathes out they bend forward from the very base of the spine, the pelvic floor lifts gently, the lower abdomen core lifts and tightens very slightly, the spine extends forward and downward under traction from the pull of gravity, spilling out of the pelvis as it tips forward, the muscles of the feet and lower legs work as if to rotate the lower leg in while the muscles of the upper legs work as if to rotate the thighs out. The toes spread and relax against the floor. The hands come down to the floor either side of the feet with the palms resting flat on the floor. The fingers spread wide and root into the floor relaxed but firm. The muscles of the forearm work to lift the wrist so the skin is soft and there is no pressure on the wrist joint. The upper arms role out and the shoulders draw down the back. Once completely in the posture the yogi continues to breath fluidly in and out. On the in breath the spine lengthens and the lower back expands; on the out breath the head comes down closer to the floor as the leg and back lengthens.

Forward Bend Pose

At the point where the posture is complete the next begins. In one popular sequence (surya namaskar A, ashtanga style) the out breath shifts the weight in a movement starting at the base of the spine which tilts the pelvis even further over, lifts the legs off the floor, drops weight into the hands and then expands out of the psoas and the core shooting the legs back to land softly on the floor with the body in a low press up position – chatturanga and the weight evenly balanced in the centre between the hands and feet and held by strength expanding from the centre.

Plank Pose

From chatturanga the in breath draws the centre forward slightly rolling the feet over and bending the thoracic spine back so the head rises.

Upward Dog

With practice the postures can flow into each other very quickly without ever jolting or over straining the body, reaching a maximum range of movement every time.

The postures are linked into a sequence according to various principles. The most obvious is common sense. There are only so many postures the body can fluidly move into from standing forward bend. Slightly less obvious is the principle of complementary movements. At the end of the forward bend the front of the body has compressed so much that it has to expand. The move to chatturanga offers some expansion but the body needs to go further, reversing the forward bend with a back bend that takes the front of the body to the extreme of expansion after which it will have to contract into the next posture, downward dog.

Down Dog

Another principle behind krama, the sequencing of postures, is that of progressive repetition. After one posture prepares the body another takes it even further in the same direction.

There are other, deeper, principles behind the sequence of postures, such as the placing of energising and cooling postures in the sequence, but these are best experienced to be understood and are often expressed in terms that can seem esoteric.

Training like this is phenomenally hard work. It requires intense focus over a long period to build up the body awareness. It requires a constant willingness to renounce the illusion of a short cut straight to the point of maximum flexibility and instead to move into the posture step by step focusing all the intention on the current step. In return you get a combination of strength, flexibility, aerobic, balance, awareness and kinaesthetic training in one package.

There are other, more esoteric benefits too. Most are probably best left to be experienced after practice but some are quite simply explained.

It quickly becomes a challenge to maintain smooth, even, natural, full, breathing in the yoga postures and transitions. It is tempting to grab for breath and pause breathing when moving into handstand. In postures like bound karnapidasna the body is forced to let go of restricted breathing patterns and breathe using the full lungs. This translates into an ability to breathe well in even the most restricted positions and to remain calm and relaxed when the breathing is restricted, both useful when grappling.

Training like this reveals imbalances in the body and forces the student to confront them. I can transition from downward dog to seated forward bend swinging my legs up towards handstand and then down between my arms two ways. I can either use my upper back and shoulder muscles to force through or I can use my legs and core to full advantage, exactly positioning the pelvis to direct my body movement. After 90 min of the first my shoulders are in knots and my elbow and wrist joints are protesting. After 90 min of the second my body is calm and energised and my joints feel strong. There’s no contest between the two methods, as long as I listen to the feedback my body gives me I’m going to use the correct kinaesthetic approach and gradually my overdeveloped shoulders and (in consequence) over tight upper, outer, abdominals will relax as the small muscles of my core and the big muscles of my legs strengthen and I learn to move in the most efficient way. With efficient movement comes increased endurance, more result for less effort.

Focusing on the breath is an excellent way to monitor the body. Practice with awareness and focus increases body awareness which leads to honesty in practice. It becomes easier to know when your ego is pushing you towards an injury which will put you out of action and cost you training time.

Correct yoga breathing and movement calm the mind and produce a positive response in the nervous system. The mind learns to relax and focus even in unusual and difficult postures which extends to life off the mat.

Building one posture on another, using crow to work the balance, energise the body, and strengthen the upper body then working the balance more intensely and adding hip opening by moving into lotus crow.

It is entirely possible to train in this way without doing yoga but you are on your own. With yoga you are not on your own, you are benefiting from thousands of years of dedicated practitioners behind you who have honed the asanas and the sequences and the breathing exercises to perfection.

How do you start getting these benefits? Find a good yoga class nearby and start practicing. Like anything else it takes time to find a good teacher who suits you and can offer what you are looking for. Different schools and teachers emphasise different aspects of yoga practice. Expect to have to try several different classes and “styles” of yoga to find one that suits. Be prepared not to find everything you are looking for in one teacher or school. Buy some books or DVDs to get a wider exposure.

Keep an open mind and try to investigate what you are being taught not your own preconceived ideas. Don’t reject anything just because it doesn’t fit what you think you know about yoga or because it involves listening to a philosophy you may not have adopted yourself. Expect to sweat, expect to sweat buckets at first, that’s just your body cleansing out impurities. In return you will gain essential techniques for your flexibility regime, an invaluable addition to your training, and an introduction to a comprehensive system for living.

-John Foster with thanks to Franziska Koller of Zisgo Yoga who introduced me to this approach

Thanks John, you're an inspiration. It's important to remember one of the key points about Yoga John drove home, much like Supersets (or strength training using opposing muscle groups back to back), Yoga works by alternating between contracting and relaxing muscles. That's why the flow or sequence of Yoga postures is just as important as which postures are selected. Don't worry though, you are in luck, we've been given an evaluation copy of a very interesting Yoga for Martial Arts DVD, look for a complete review in the next few days. Until then.. Namaste!

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Stability Ball Fun

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Going back to my prior posts on "Thing 2" and learning by doing and less by thinking I wanted to share something very interesting with you.

I found the following videos through a forum post the other day.'s Stability Ball Drill, Part of the SAID Circuit Series (We covered these DVDs here.)

Stability Ball drill part of the Impact BJJ Cross Side Top DVDs (Sorry, haven't seen them yet)

Now, I had to give this stuff a shot, so I pulled out the stability ball and started "playing".

First, it's kind of fun, it looks easier than it is, twisting and turning your body while trying to maintain constant pressure is difficult. Next, well to be honest I really didn't think it would have much actual application to my BJJ game. I mean there are plenty of movements that make sense and fit within the context of a roll, but there are also plenty that don't. So, while I was having fun the jury was still out on whether I was doing anything more valuable than rolling around on a big inflatable ball.

Bottom line.. Is there any value to this type of training?

Turns out my answer was right around the corner, at the very next roll in fact!

It was a very strange feeling, here I was rolling around, countering, defending, angling then all of a sudden it happened. I couldn't really put my finger on it, it was a feeling, however for a few seconds I felt just like I did when I was rolling on the ball. I found my body moving smoothly from side control to mount to knee on belly and so on. Of course like anything physical in nature as soon as I recognized it and "tried" to capture the feeling it was gone.

So Stability Ball Rolling is on the weekly training plan now, it's a relatively low impact, low stress exercise that has some strange intangible value to your BJJ game, even if it's all but impossible to capture in words.

Best of all a Stability Ball or Physio Ball is inexpensive (<$20 dollars, be sure to get at least a 55cm or 65cm ball)

Give it a try, it's a fun way to get a little "sport specific" training on the side.

Train fun!


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The Inner Game of Jiu-Jitsu?

Friday, January 4, 2008

The holidays couldn't have come at a better time this year. Work, family, business, and my Jiu-Jitsu game all could use some much needed perspective.

Now, since this is a BJJ blog, let's focus on my game for a minute.

Just before the holidays I was feeling quite frustrated. Ever since October my game has felt like it was in a tail spin. First my favorite instructor moved on to travel the world. Yes he and his wife packed up their belongings and headed off to see the world, amazing opportunity, we were all sad to see them go but tremendously happy for them. Want to read about their travels? Check them out at

Now, after he moved on a new BJJ school opened less than a mile from my home. At first it was like Christmas in October! I couldn't believe my luck, with gas prices climbing and time away from the family a precious commodity it was great fortune to have a new school so close by. I used my free week of classes and was quite impressed with the instructors, students, and "their game", however.. they are a No Gi school and I had just spent the last year plus training in a Gi.

Little did I know I was in for a crash course in grips.

First I had to kiss my Spider Guard away, and if you've seen the grip training posts, Spider guard was one of my more favorite positions, I've always felt like it gave me time to think and survey the situation, ahh well, all but gone now. Next I had to re-learn a good bit of my grip game, where do I grab when there's no collar, no sleeve, no lapel?

Needless to say I became very frustrated, instead relaxing and enjoying the learning process I would get uptight, tense, and rigid trying to find the right handle. I felt like I'd been busted back to newbie all over again and I just couldn't get over that idea.

So, now back to the holidays, I was sitting down at Old Man Hazmat's house enjoying a tall cup of green tea and thinking about my game. Perhaps I should get some more instructionals? Maybe a bunch of private lessons? Maybe I should go back to Gi? What if I just worked harder?

Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of "The Inner Game of Tennis" on Old Man Haz's book shelf. He was a very avid and successful Tennis player in his day even won a couple of small collegiate tournaments, so I was intrigued to find this "self help" looking book on his shelf.

The Inner Game of Tennis - Cover

I took it down and started reading.. in short I was amazed at what I read. It was like this Tennis Pro had been sitting in the peanut gallery of my BJJ studio and was commenting on my every movement. Who knew Tennis players have so many of the same problems that BJJ players have?

I don't want to spoil the book for you, as it's very inexpensive and frankly your local library most likely has a copy you can read, but here's the gist of it.

You have two selfs, please think of these as Self 1 and Self 2 (or as I like to think of them.. Thing 1 and Thing 2).

Thing 1 & Thing 2

Thing 1 is your mind, it's the part of you that says "Good job, nice sub, great escape, man you suck today, you couldn't kneebar a grappling dummy, way to overthink it boy-o". Essentially Thing 1 is trying to "help" you by making all those great constructive(destructive?) comments while you train. "Grip better, get lower in your cross side control, keep moving your hips, shrimp!".

Sadly, Thing 1 is not really helping at all, you see, Thing 2, he's your body and is plenty capable all on his own. Here's poor Thing 2, he just wants to be left alone, he wants to flow, to put on that arm bar or spin into knee mount, however the whole time he's got Thing 1 breathing down his neck, before you know it he's living up to Thing 1's expectations. So, Thing 1 thinks we've got a bad arm bar, so I guess we do I'll just do it poorly.

So what do we do? We need to help out poor old Thing 2, but we can't talk to him, he really doesn't understand words, but he does understand pictures and more importantly VIDEO. In order to really help out Thing 2, we need to get him access to lots of "non-instructional" video.

Now after reading and absorbing this I quickly ran to my DVD case (yes I had it with me, don't ask) and pulled out a favorite..101 Submissions Vol 1. It's a very slick fast paced video of 100+ submissions, no instruction, no details, just movements in real time (and slowed down).

So I queued up the DVD and started watching.. however I noticed I was immediately looking at the details (see his arm is there, you need your legs more like that, wow his bridge is spectacular) yes, Thing 1 was back in the drivers seat telling Thing 2 what to do. Sigh. Let's try this again.

So I jumped ahead a few chapters and started again, this time I tried to get Thing 1 occupied with the visuals (who is the sponsor? Nice rash guard, what tournament is this from?) and I let Thing 2 just enjoy the video.

End result? Well it's hard to say, this sort of thing is difficult to measure.. as Yogi Berra would say "90% of the game is mental, the other half is Physical".

Do I feel different? Yes, I feel like I'm enjoying things again, I'm not trying desperately to capture all the details nor am I letting Thing 1 run the show when I roll or drill. I'd say regardless of my outward successes (or failures) I'm having more fun now, and isn't that really what it's all about?

Thanks Thing 2.
Thanks Thing2


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