Posts Tagged ‘BJJ’

Post-IBJFF Worlds thoughts

Posted: August 27, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Krav Maga in General
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Last week I wrote about my thoughts before going off to Worlds in Las Vegas, You can read about it here! This is a follow-up.

If you did not look up the IBJJF World Masters tournament after the last post let me tell you it is probably the largest grappling gathering in the world perhaps outside of the Olympics. It’s not just one tournament it’s actually 4. Every year during the world masters which caps out at about 5000 athletes, they also host the Las Vegas Open (Adults 18+ Gi and no-gi), The International Novice championships (White belts), and the kid’s international championships.

It really is an event for the whole family. This being my first year down I wasn’t sure what to expect but man was I impressed and plan to go back as many years in the future as I can. On top of non-stop grappling competitions, they also had numerous free seminars with some of the worlds best and they also hosted a No-Gi Grandprix invite-only with the worlds best no-gi heavyweights. On top of that add great deals from various vendors (I bought two new gis and other gear) and basically the whos who of the BJJ community just casually walking around or even competing. So if this hasn’t convinced you to go next year then I don’t know what will but if you can only afford one trip a year and are a grappler even as a spectator I highly recommend this event.

Jonathan Securing the Round 1 win at World Masters 2019

So how did I do? In my competition, I won my first match but lost my second. Despite this loss which was my own fault for mistiming a sweep attempt which allowed my opponent to base and gain the points advantage, I felt great. For the first time at purple belt, I am really starting to feel that my game is coming together nicely. Not only this but my reaction times seem to be getting quicker and I am thinking a little less before executing my movements. As always win, lose or draw I also think about how I can get better. What I learned from my performance.

  1. Keep the cardio up – I may have slipped up on my cardio prior to my tournament which I could feel slipping a little bit which slowed me down a little. Next time I will have to time things a little better.
  2. Be patient – One of the issues I have when fighting an opponent who is fairly similar in skill is that I lose patience. This is something I have been working on. However, in my second match, my frustration with not being able to sweep with a single X led me to pre-maturely switched to an X guard which allowed my opponent to pass. So the lesson is to be patient and wait. My opponents were all clearly struggling with my guard and only ever passed or almost passed when I attempted to change what I was doing.
  3. Maintain grips – One thing I have always struggle is getting and maintaining grips. Failing to do this regularly often means I need to rely on strength or speed rather than combining everything together for efficiency.
  4. The mind is important – If you read my tournament pre-thoughts you would have read I was concerned that my mental state has always been a problem during tournaments. This time I can say that this aspect of my game is getting better and better. Mentally I felt great and never quit or self-sabotaged. Even when I was tired I kept fighting and being stubborn. To me, this improvement was my greatest win.

I also achieved my goal of making it past my first match. At the worlds, the level of competition is some of the best. And my opponent did not make it easy. Mike Hansen the black belt coach/professor at Budo Mixed Martial arts Burnaby quoted someone, I can’t recall who but it went something like this.

“In a tournament of 5000 people, 50% of people do not make it through their first match. Thats 2500 people who you made it farther than.”

To me this really is quite the achievement and my attempt to take this tournament one match at a time is something I am going to keep doing moving forward. Unless you are the type that wins often I think this is probably one of the best approaches.

Now that I know that my game is coming along and my tournament mindset is starting to be where I want it to be now I know my goal is to tighten my game and make it so solid that little mistakes happen less and less. Either way, I am happy I competed and am so happy with how I performed.

Did I mention the free seminars? Even if you went down to support your team these seminars would make the trip worth it in its self as each one on their own might cost $100-200 easily. I ended up doing seminars with Rafael Lavato Jr., World Champion and current Bellator MMA Middleweight champion, though this was by accident as I went to Xtreme Couture for a BJJ class and instead was told it was this seminar. (This one wasn’t free but still super cheap). At the actual event, I did Seminars with, Julio Cesar, Coral Belt, world champion and founder of the modern GF Team. Heavyweight bruiser Patrick Gaudio of GF Team. 10X World Champion Bruno Malfacine who was a wizard of the sport. I watched him destroy people twice his size in some open matches at the end of the seminar and think that when I can I will try to go to his school to train a bit. Followed by a Robert Drysdale seminar of Zenith and former ADCC world champion. Both of these seminars were my favorite as each of them showed they weren’t just amazing grapplers but also knew how to properly run a seminar (Something many instructors struggle to do.) On the last day, I also managed to secure a spot in the Andre Galvao, Angelica Galvao of world-famous ATOS Gym and the Mendes Bros of AOJ (Gui and Rafael) seminar. All legends and world champions in their own divisions.

Needless to say, these seminars were amazing resources to continue to develop my game. Again, if the competitions were not enough to get you to go down next year, I hope the free seminars will. While there were many more I was unable to attend them all.

So I had an amazing experience and I say to you, why dont you have one too next year!

 

 

 

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Off to the World’s I go!

Posted: August 20, 2019 by Jonathan Fader in Competition, Mental Health
Tags: , , ,

No, I am not talking about competitive Krav Maga. An idea by the way I generally do not support. I am however talking about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This year will be the first year I compete at the World Master IBJJF Championship in Las Vegas. BJJ is being more and more incorporated into the Krav Maga/Kapap world as we recognized that we must improve ourselves in all aspects of hand to hand combat skills. Training in some grappling outside of Krav is a requirement to be ranked at the upper levels of the UTKM system. Yes, it is that important.

I have written before about why I compete. For me, it keeps me motivated to train. Also, I can learn what I need to work on and grow through competitions.

Leading up to the worlds I have done a few other IBJJF and other competitions. One thing I learned is that I have not been performing at the level I know I can while I am competing. When I freeroll with my training partners I perform much better than when I compete. Over the last few months, I have been trying out different things in hopes of figuring this out. I got in the best shape of my life and trained more than I normally do by far and yet something still wasn’t right. After much thinking, I realized the problem was not physical. While in the past it might have been, that is not the issue now. No, my problem, like many others, is much more complicated.

The problem, you see, has been my mental state all along.

Knowing-is-half.jpg.jpgThe good news is, now that I have identified the main problem I have something to work with. However, knowing is half the battle.

The issue seems to be that when I am rolling with people for fun I am just trying to do the best Jiujitsu I can. I take risks, play around and I have fun. I am free

In competitions, however, I am trying so hard not to screw up. I overthink it and I end up not doing what I know I can do. After losses and wins, I always reflect deeply about my performance. I started to realize that while I certainly lose sometimes to opponents who are clearly more skilled than me, a lot of my losses are because I screw up on something that I shouldn’t have. Only to be thinking, why on earth did I do that.

Then, I realized that for some messed up reason whenever I am clearly winning I managed to lose. I must at some level self-sabotage. This is quite a sobering realization. Not only that I am failing to turn on the warrior mind I know I have but it is also quite possible that I am purposely screwing it up.

The funny thing is I know (FACT) in life or death situations I do just fine because body and mind go into automatic mode and I do what I need to do. In competition, however, as I know it to be a relatively safe environment, I have yet to learn to turn that part of my brain on and not overthink both consciously and subconsciously and end up losing not just the match but to my own worst enemy, myself.

Some solutions to this problem are:

  1. Train more – This is the obvious answer which is true for any style. Train so much that you no longer need to think your body just does. While I will never not train, the level I can train is usually dependent on many factors. On a slow week, I’ll get in 3-4 hours of training. On a crazy week, I will get closer to 10 hours of just BJJ. People often ask me how do I stay motivated. The truth is, I still struggle. Sometimes I train a lot, sometimes I dont. And I don’t feel good or bad about it either way. This then, I suppose, is a work in progress.
  2. Change my mindset – When I compete I should fight to do the best I can rather than worry about points. I know, it’s cliche, but as always cliches are often right no matter how annoying or unoriginal they are. While points do matter, trying to just not lose is nowhere near the same as trying to do the best you can. This is possibly the reason that many competitions now take a submission only approach. Rather than just trying to get points they encourage you to try for the submission no matter the risk. I often enjoy these tournaments, because I tend to do better. Hmm, I wonder why.
  3. Try to turn on my animal instinct – This one is both tricky and not. I have always been a slow starter. This means if my body isn’t totally on I am going to think more rather than just act. The solution for me at least is to start warming up well in advance of my start time. This why I am not going in cold. While some people can simply jump in and compete and win (Marcelo Garcia is notorious for waking up from a nap and winning) I do not think I am one of them.

Though my revolution about my problematic mindset may have come a little to close to the World Master, I will be going in knowing what I need to work on most. I even have several days in Vegas before I compete to contemplate and work on this.

If you are reading this and also struggle at competitions, then perhaps you have not figured out what your individual issue is. Do you train enough? Are you in shape? or is there some other deeper issues you are having trouble with. No matter the reason, if you would like to improve your performance in competition, then it is never too late to figure it out. Especially in the master’s divisions.

So keep training, and for those of you in Vegas, I hope to see you there.

Assuming you watched the video and have trained or taught this scenario may be all too familiar.

For some, it is a very easy thing to understand and for other very difficult, in Krav Maga it is even more so problematic than in other styles due to its inherent aggressive nature.

When someone is looking for a new style often people will look for the best person with the most championships, most titles or medals. In some cases, this is certainly warranted as they may very well be the best not only in practice but also in teaching. But the truth is sometimes the best instructors are not at all the most winningest of all.

In boxing, for example, Freddie Roach, widely regarded as one of the best boxing coaches was actually a mediocre boxer (though still a very impressive record). Mike Tyson was one of the best, if not the best, boxers of all time. One of these individuals produced many great boxers and one was just a great boxer. It is likely that in any style you can find examples of both types of individuals.

If I was a student wanting to learn, while it can be tempting to search out for the winningest person the reality is I would much rather find someone that I connect with and whom weather is better than me or not can help me be the best version of myself that I can be. In Jiu Jitsu, for example, I have trained with many champions but there are many that I don’t really want to learn from because I just don’t click with them. There are of course other that even if I don’t connect with personally still are incredibly beneficial to my development. Then, there are those whom with I both connect with and can learn from. The latter is, of course, the ones who I will train with more often when time and other factors permit.

Enter Krav Maga. There are no competitions. Not only this Krav Maga is known to be an aggressive style that beats the crap out of people and can be very intimidating to start for some. So how do you know who is good to train with or not? Do you simply challenge them to a fight? The answer is NO!

Trust me, if you do this, even if you can beat the instructor in a fight it will not impress them. Personally, I have had many students walk in the door that it is likely they could beat me in a fight. They are faster than me, fitter than me, more athletic than me and may have more training years in another style than me. Yet the good ones stay and learn because I have something to teach them just as it is likely they have something to teach me.

As the video points out, in the event of someone really resisting the truth is as the instructor you can simply go passive, you can hurt them, or worse both individuals get hurt. If a student who is 200+lbs 6 foot plus wants to challenge me for real as an example I am in big trouble. I am only 5 foot 6 and about 160lbs so I would be on the losing end of physics. If I cant quickly stop them with a strike that would be considered illegal in most sports fighting the outcome of such a fight is not very hard to predict.

So why learn from someone who you can beat? Simple. If it wasn’t already clear, they may be the person who can make you not only better in your style but also a better person. In the end, shouldn’t that be the main goal of any form of training?

I think so.

If you think always going balls to the walls crazy because that’s what you like, or that’s what you think Krav Maga is then you won’t have to wait long until no one wants to play with you. Either because you have injured all your training partners or you simply have an over-aggressive, overcompensating shitty attitude.

FACT: Nobody likes such a person.

Then there is the simple thing that one of the founding principles of Krav Maga is to Avoid Injury. Which applies both to yourself, your instructor, your training partners and using only the required force to stop any given threat.

So how do you know who to train under, and how to behave when you are training with your partners? For the former its a simple matter of trying different places out and seeing what you like. For the latter, if the environment of the gym is good your training partners will be open and communicative and will always let you know if there is an issue.

No matter what the case is for you, please leave your ego at the door. As Bruce Lee famously said:

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I Must Not Fear 1

Pull yourself together! Just overcome your fear! It always sounds so corny or easy when people tell you that but it actually can be very difficult.

Last weekend I participated in my first BJJ tournament and I sucked, I lost my two matches and still got away with a bronze medal. But even though I lost, that bronze medal means so much to me – over 20 years ago when I competed in Judo I always dreaded competition day. When I stepped on the mat I was scared and I often blanked. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing so I often did nothing. You remember the colours we always talk about in krav maga? White being oblivious, all the way through yellow, orange and red and the colour we always try to avoid – black. This is where I was, code black, frozen, unable to do anything. I didn’t enjoy competition at all and tried to avoid it like Satan the holy water.

So why would I sign up for a BJJ competition to begin with? We were talking about cross training for Krav Maga and how competition can help you to get better. When rolling mostly with the same people you are getting used to their style and it limits you. When I signed up I was hoping others in my club would follow. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but it doesn’t really matter.

I was incredibly nervous and anxious, like for my orange belt test. It was my first competition in decades; I read the rules over and over again to make sure to understand them and not to do anything that could get me disqualified. When I stepped on the mat for my first match I tried to focus only on my opponent and also to be active. And I somehow managed to not go into black but was able to do something, I faked one way, used my opponent’s reaction to throw her and got her to the ground. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to submit her and we went into overtime. Each of us had to take the back of the other and we had to try to escape out of the seatbelt grip with the hooks in as fast as possible. My opponent was a bit faster than me.

Editors note: Though we fully understand the ruleset of the competition she was in (a submission only tournament). Petra should be proud as in a points tournament petra would have dominated as control is an important aspect in these styles. We want to give props to her opponent who showed excellent defensive skills.

I was disappointed in myself. I usually tend to be very hard on myself and that’s not always easy to deal with because it is in my head, my inside voice(s). When somebody else is yelling at me or gives me a hard time I can go away, close the door or hang up the phone. That is impossible with my inside voice. After I also lost my second match I was sad, disappointed and then also relieved because it was over. And then I realized that I also had a bit of fun. I have to train more, put in the effort but it also means that next time I’ll be better prepared, I’ll know a bit more about BJJ competition, the rules etc. It won’t be completely new for me. If I had given in to my fear I would not have made that experience and learned something. Every failure is also a learning experience, unless you die, of course. After the matches were over I started to feel excited because I had stayed and seen it through and this is what that bronze medal stands for.

if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

Fear can be good, it makes us more cautious. I’m an analytical person. When I’m in a difficult situation or have to make tough decisions I analyze everything and try to be as rational as possible. When I’m able to understand what makes me feel scared I can somehow handle it better. It doesn’t take the fear away but it helps not to drive me insane.

Petra wins bronze.jpgI also had a little bit of an epiphany when I was in my early twenties and working as a travel rep in Crete. I got into an argument with a co-worker who lost his cool during that argument and started threatening to kill me. He got fired right away and had to leave Crete. I went to the police but they couldn’t do much. It didn’t take long and that guy came back, he had gotten another job at a car rental place. He started stalking me and one night he slashed two of my tires. My car was parked right in front of my apartment. The knife marks on the tires weren’t pretty and it was a shock for me. At night I kept my windows closed, my door locked. I was incredibly scared! Also because he came back couple nights later to slash my other co-worker’s tires. It took me a long time to get over that fear but it taught me a valuable lesson – if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

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Above: What Judo can be!

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Warren in 1980

Some of you may be aware that I am currently in the final stages of being graded to my black belt in judo.  I first started judo several decades (!) ago when I was 10 years old, and then I had to stop at a blue belt level once I entered university.  I was never that enthused about judo when I was younger so when I had the time after I finished school I went onto other things and left judo behind.  Fast forward 30 years and my then 12-year old daughter started taking it, and surprisingly enough she started doing so well in competitions that it inspired me to get back on the road to getting my black belt.  I should mention that I’ll be 55 at the end of the month so it’s never too late to accomplish something!

The first step was to get my brown belt so I started attending the adult classes and slowly, ever so slowly, dusted off the techniques and began to get my timing back.  I was promoted to brown belt within 3 months of my return and then the official clock started on the path to a black belt.  In judo there are very specific requirements as a brown belt in order to be graded to black.  You need a total of 120 points, accumulated through a combination of competitions, time in training, attendance at seminars, volunteering at tournaments, etc.  For older judokas such as myself, you aren’t required to compete and you can gain 30 points per year just by attending regular classes. However, I wanted to speed up the process so I trained to be a referee and began reffing at tournaments several times a year.  The points gained by being a referee probably knocked off at least a year from just attending classes to gain points.  Also, I wanted to give back to the competition community since I fought in tournaments when I was younger.  Although refereeing can be very stressful, it can also be quite enjoyable.  The highlight of my career to date was when I reffed at the BC Winter Games this past February.

Once a brown belt accumulates enough points then there’s one more hoop to jump through before being graded, and that’s having to attend a 10 week kata clinic where you learn 9 specific throwing techniques.  Although it’s not mandatory to attend, it’s highly recommended and serves to make grading that much easier.  You also need your club’s sensei to write the grading board a recommendation letter on your behalf, so if you pull off the attitude that you won’t be attending the clinic then you likely won’t get your recommendation.  So not wanting to leave anything to chance, I signed up.

The kata clinic is held in Steveston every Monday night from 8:45 to 10:15 PM.  I live in Burnaby close to New West, so Steveston is not close and it takes me about 40 min to get there and back.  Plus, it’s at a time when it’s prime time for kicking back and winding down for the day.  Needless to say, I find it a struggle to get my butt to the class.  The clinic started in September, will end in November, and I have 3 more classes to go.  Learning kata isn’t difficult because it’s just a prescribed set of moves, like choreographed dancing, however, if you’ve never done it before then it can be very confusing.  While you’re trying to remember exactly how to pull properly for the throw, you forget that your foot needs to be planted and pivoting instead of moving.  And since there are kata competitions, it’s very important to get it right because it’s well known how good the kata can actually look.  However, the reality is that, like many things in life, it just comes down to practice, practice, practice.  The instructors know the moves like the back of their hands and have been doing the kata for literally decades, so it’s easy for them to demonstrate it.  However, for newbies like myself, we’re doing well if we can replicate the moves without looking like complete idiots.  Learning the kata will also improve my general judo as well, since I’m now being shown more accurately what makes the throws effective.

If all goes according to plan, I will finish the kata clinic on November 5th and be graded

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Warren today

to shodan (black belt) on November 18th.  It will have then been a 3 year long journey from my brown belt, and a 45 year journey since I first started judo, and it will be very rewarding once I can put it on for the first time.  And as proud as I should be, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that my 16-year old daughter got her brown belt in only 3 years and is already on her own journey to get her black belt.  Kids!