Assuming most of us have gone through at least grade school, we all have had experience with different teachers. Everyone remembers the funny teacher, the mean teacher and so on and so forth. But what makes a teacher so good? Well other than the obvious one which would be knowledge and the ability to convey this knowledge, most teachers who are organized and have an action plan typically are the ones who will be most successful.

Curriculum's are something that should definitely be looked for in a gym/school as well. Think about it, have you had an instructor that just thinks off the top of their head 2 minutes right before class on what they are going to do? Seems kind of scatter brained huh? Whereas a well thought out curriculum, whether it be weekly, monthly or yearly should give you more of an idea on what you will be learning.

What are your thoughts on this idea? Do you like instructor's that have a plan, or just the flow with the go type? Comment below!

As Jiu Jitsu practitioners we are always in search of the submission. Whether is be a choke or joint lock, there is always something we are looking for. This post is more or less a rant of something that I have become fairly passionate about over the past few years. Getting right to the point, join me in trying to find the "Ultimate Submission" which in my eyes at this current point and time would be the cure for cancers. Everyone knows it, Cancer SUCKS, so here are just a few ways that we can help support researchers to find the cure.

By donating or purchasing items from "Tap Cancer Out" a BJJ related non profit organization that raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Also, another way to help donate would be through and organization where you can train for an endurance event such as a full marathon, half marathon, century bike ride, etc., while raising money for LLS as well. Here is there website.


And the last one that I will leave you with is an organization that I care deeply about, Camp Quality USA. (more specifically KS) this is a one week opportunity for anyone where this camp is offered to spend some time with a kid with or recovering from cancer. I've done it the last 4 years and it has truly changed my life. There are camps mainly in the midwest region but check the website for more details if you're interested!


Thanks for reading and I hope you guys will check out some of these great organizations!

_ To most that train BJJ, it is oftentimes more than a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Of those that train, nearly all strive to someday achieve the level of Black Belt. The idea of the Black Belt demonstrates that a practitioner has reached a superior level in his or her respective art. Years of sweat are poured and countless hours are spent on the mats to achieve this belt. So often we often spend so much time training, thinking about the latest techniques, strength and conditioning programs and anything else that will take our skill to the next level that we lose sight of what we do to our relationship with others. In writing this post, I would like to try and convey the concept that although a Black Belt is a sign of excellence, this idea should be carried off the mats and outside of the gym as well.

                     Inside of the Gym/On the mats:

1.)    Be a good training partner- By allowing your partner to train in an injury and ego free environment you give them a greater opportunity to improve their skills.

2.)    Support your Gym/Academy- By doing this all members may feel more like a team/family. Also most gyms should be somewhat of a support system for their students, so why not give back and do the same for your gym? This can be in the form of attending gym events, competitions, or just helping out with cleaning.

                     Outside of the Gym/ Off the mats:

1.)    Be relevant to your family- Depending on situation of course, be grateful to the people that brought you into this world and if you have your own family, be relevant in their lives. Don’t be the person that can’t spend time with their loved ones because their too busy training.

2.)    Be a role model- be a person that others can look up to, not because you do Jiu Jitsu and people are afraid of you, be someone that everyone can respect. We always hear the question “What would you want to hear people say behind your back?” well I would hope that everyone would like to hear good things.

3.)    Volunteer- Get out of your comfort zone and do things in the community. Not only would you be helping your own community and possibly a good cause, studies have shown that volunteering may also increase years in life J

What sparked this idea was actually a Facebook post by University of Jiu Jitsu and their Silver Star patch.

The meaning of a Silver Star for Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu:

“The Silver Star is the highest decoration award from the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association. You can achieve it by showing great competition skills, by being a role model student, supporting in projects, being a RJJ representative School or giving extraordinary contribution to the Jiu Jitsu World.
_In conclusion, regardless of what ranking you are, strive to be a black belt on AND off the mat.
_ With the World Championships coming to a close just this past week, it may be true that many BJJ practitioners are now focusing on smaller tournaments, watching film of their fights from Worlds (in other words, refining their technique) or possibly taking a short rest from training. Wait, what was that last point? Taking a break? Most of you may be thinking, who would ever do such a thing? Although some may believe that it is a myth, overtraining is a phenomenon that can occur. BJJ may be to some a chess game in a sense, possibly an art form that is gentle in nature, because after all, BJJ is both, but it is also like every other martial art a physical activity. With that being said there can be a time when an individual may become overwhelmed with their training or maybe even burnt out. Though taking a week off may seem impossible, it may prevent an injury from occurring or maybe even help improve your game. Here are some tips to avoid overtraining:

_ 1.)    Be aware of the FITT principle- Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. This is in regards to exercise and a good strength and conditioning program will look at each to allow for proper times of hard training and recovery periods as well.
2.)    Mix up your training- This could be in a form of cross training. You can add some different things other than jiu jitsu. These could be things like biking, hiking, swimming, running, etc. Just to mix up the routine a bit and avoid a monotonous routine.
3.)    Taper- When training for a competition obviously everyone will be training hard. But knowing when to begin tapering or in other words lessening your training can be crucial to your success. For example, a half marathoner will have long runs of 10-15 miles 2-3 weeks from their race, but after will lessen their distances to 6-8 to allow for proper recovery.

_ To many these tips may seem irrelevant. But the take home message here is to take time to recover. If you show any signs of overtraining, whether it be loss of interest in training, feeling sluggish or your becoming ill more often than usual, etc. Try some of the above mentioned tips or try taking a few days or possibly a week off and come back to the gym; you may see some huge improvements in your game.

So you’ve just started training Jiu Jitsu, or you may have been training for years. Regardless of the situation, whether you’re a brand new white belt or a seasoned black belt, everyone always asks themselves “How do I get better?” This question comes up more often than not, so here are some tips that I think can help improve your game:

1.)    Trust your Instructor/Professor/Coach:

 Ernest Hemingway once said “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” When you train BJJ, it is extremely important to believe what your instructor tells you to do. After all they are the ones with years of experience. More than likely they will have years of competition and teaching experience and will have a lot to pass on to you. As the saying goes “A black belt is a white belt that never quit”. If a certain technique isn’t working for you, don’t think it’s the instructor’s fault, ask him/her what you can do to correct any mistakes, etc. Trust your instructor, if you can’t do this, it may be a while before you see any progress.

2.)    Be a good training partner:

This cannot be stressed enough. As I mentioned in a previous post, your gym family may as well be your real family. Most often people are very protective of their families. If this is the case (as it should be) then why not be protective of your training partners as well? After all, they are coming to the gym to not only help improve their game, but to help you improve yours too! Don’t crank on armbars, go too fast on kimuras, omoplatas, americana’s etc. Think of the Golden Rule: "So always treat others as you would like them to treat you”.

3.)    Drill:

So often you hear BJJ practitioners talk about drilling techniques but that’s just it, you HEAR them. Everyone should take some time during their busy schedule to drill techniques, set a time with a training partner, have one technique or a list of techniques that you plan on drilling, come into the gym and drill. Some ideas if you guys needed any:

a.)    Set a timer-one partner can drill leg drags for 5min straight and then you switch and the other drills the same for 5min. Just like sparring rounds but with drilling instead.

b.)    Perform sets- Like in weightlifting, oftentimes athletes will perform say, 3 sets of 15. Incorporate this into your drilling too. You can do more, you can do less.

4.)    Set Goals:

Setting goals is huge. If you look at the most successful people in the world they all set goals and have the persistence to achieve them. The difference between these individuals and others that set goals is some are lacking the drive, the motivation, the confidence to achieve these goals. Tom Landry, one of the most successful coaches in NFL history once said "Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan." So whether it be the long term goal of achieving you Black Belt , maybe even getting one stripe on a white belt or hell, it could even be learning the correct posture while in guard; Always set goals and make an action plan to achieve them. Some tips for goal setting:

I.    Make short term goals: This can be a one or two week goal. An example of this would be making it to the gym 5 times or drilling 100 guard passes in a week, etc.

II.    Make realistic goals: Not that you can’t shoot for the stars (please do), just make the goals achievable. For example, don’t expect to win Worlds at the black belt level when you’re a white belt, instead, set a more realistic goal, like winning at your current belt level.

III.    As mentioned earlier, make an action plan: When you set a goal you must look at the steps you will need to take to achieve the goal. For example, when you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you’ll need slices of bread, peanut better and strawberry jam (personal preference) and to keep the article short, I’ll assume everyone knows the other steps. Odd example, but the idea is the same. Set your goal and make an action plan.

5.)    Have Fun:

This one is easy, if you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then the chances of sticking with it is very unlikely. All adults have an inner child in them, like a kid that doesn’t want to play soccer, what do they do? They do something else. Adults are the same way. You can practice BJJ for fitness purposes, for self-defense or for the competitive aspect, but in the end you have to have fun with it!

AV: I hope everyone can take away some things from this article, these have all been successful from my personal experience and I believe that some of these tips can help others as well. Let me know how it goes!

Prior to starting BJJ I was a very un-athletic kid that lived a moderately sedentary lifestyle. Yes I played sports, dabbling in basketball, golf, tennis and the unique track and field event we know as pole vault, none of which I had any long term commitment too. There was always one thing that I wanted to do but never did try; I had always had an interest in grappling. Having just graduated from high school, I missed the bus on trying out for the wrestling team. So I looked up some places that had wrestling for adults, to no avail. I then learned of the sport of BJJ. I could explain my entire story on how I got started, but I’ll save that for a later post. But let’s cut to the point, I was one of the nerdiest kids that you could have met in high school. I a small 130lb kid that was lacking in confidence, had hardly any social skills, and other than the small group of friends that I had, didn’t have too much going on in my life. But after stepping on the mat for the first time, learning the arm bar and other basic movements, I felt like BJJ was something that I wanted to stick with.

There are so many things that BJJ can do for you. It’s been nearly 4 years since I started training BJJ, and to be honest my desire to learn and to train more in the sport is growing every day. I am now more confident in myself, and feel pretty sociable amongst a large group of people. My group of friends are still good friends, but BJJ has added to the list and now most of my “gym friends” have now become family even in different states! This was all possible because of BJJ. This is now what I do, my life has become immersed in this art and I cannot get enough.

So this article is for anyone interested in BJJ and thinking about trying it out. It truly has changed my life and I think it can do the same for you. For parents wanting to get there kids into a sport, definitely try BJJ, it can be the tool that helps your child succeed! For anyone else who has considered trying it out, please do yourself a favor and try it out, what’s the worst that can happen? You can feel better about yourself, learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones, and maybe lose a few lbs? Man that sounds awful! (sarcasm) So wherever you are, get online, find a gym nearby, and get started on your journey.

When you start your BJJ journey there are a few things you realize; who can tap you out, who you can tap out and how everyone is brought together by BJJ. With my recent travels and my personal experience training BJJ I have realized that you truly do create a new family within the gym. A great number of BJJ practitioners have two families, their real one and their gym family.

The camaraderie that is created when all are striving towards a certain goal is unbelievable. When training at the 4 months at Dark Horse BJJ, it was truly the environment that kept me there. Everyone there had a common goal; it wasn't to beat each other up but to make each other better. The blood that's shed, the injuries that occurs, and all of the other things that happen when training BJJ brings everyone closer.

I competed in November after training at DH for about 2months, I didn't expect anyone to coach me since there were others competing as well. But as soon as I was called to fight, everyone was calling our team over to coach me. Needless to say I was very surprised and it truly meant the world to me that they would do that for me. Recently I competed at Pan Ams and met up again with my team. It was like nothing had changed, everyone was still family even after being away for 4 months. They are more than a gym family to me. They are my real family.

I don't believe this is a unique feature within one particular gym. Watching Cobrinha, Lucas Lepri, Fabio Gurgel and other Alliance leaders interact at Pans also opened my eyes to this idea of family. They acted like brothers; with Cobrinha in LA, Lepri in Atlanta and Fabio in Brazil, from what I can imagine they probably don't see each other much, but it's BJJ that brings them together. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to me, and to many others is more than just a sport, more than just a passion, it's Life.

I competed in my first IBJJF tournament this past weekend and I cannot say anything but great things from my experience! I didn't do as well as I was wanting to, but that may be the most beautiful thing about jiu jitsu!

Something that I've been pondering about recently is the idea of BJJ for competition. Is it necessary to become good at BJJ? Do you have to compete when you train BJJ?

To be completely honest I have never been one for competition. I love competition training and creating a gameplan, but the competition part has never been my cup of tea. After competing in my first IBJJF tournament my perspective changed. Now I cannot wait to compete again!

I don't think that competing is something that everyone has to do. I think it's common in every gym that there may be an individual that wrecks everyone in the gym, but when competition comes around, they get totally lost. Jiu Jitsu oftentimes is practiced for self defense, sport, or both. Regardless of why someone trains Jiu Jitsu for, many coaches try to urge their students to compete. This may or may not be a good thing in some people's eyes, but I personally think that competition is something that all students of BJJ should try at least once. As many people have said prior to this blog, the things that you learn about yourself when you compete is so helpful in the development of your own individual game. Competition is where you learn what does and doesn't work against opponents that have never seen your game. It's a new way to challenge yourself. Also, working towards a goal is always a good thing as well, some people exercise to lose weight or to PR in a race, etc. In Jiu Jitsu you try to implement your game against multiple people, showing that your technique is the best (for that day at least).

To answer the original questions, No, I don't believe competing is necessary to becoming better at BJJ, although it could greatly benefit a BJJ practicioner. And do you have to compete when you train BJJ? ABSOLUTELY NOT! If your school is competition oriented but you don't want to compete, I would advise finding a new school, training with people who are wanting to make podiums at tournaments may be detrimental to your training if you are not training to compete. In the end, it's obvious that you should do what's best for you, but like the saying goes, "You'll never know unless you try", compete at least once and let me know how it goes!