Reopening Soon! Here’s what you need to know.

Today Washington County was approved to reopen following Covid-19 guidelines set forth by the state. That  means River City Warriors can reopen as well! We’re excited about the opportunity to see all of you in person and return to the community we’ve so proudly built. With that we need to inform you that outlined by the state are some baby steps in moving forward.

What will training look like when we open?

Business owners tackle one obstacle after another and this is no different. I can tell you we absolutely never thought we’d be facing public health challenges to keep our doors open. This is a learning process for us, and our goal is to follow the ethical and legal guidelines while offering the most comfortable environment possible. Here’s what we have determined in the moment.

Participation and Health:

  1. Students will be REQUIRED to sign up for classes in advance. We have to limit the space available for all classes to keep the six foot social distance for students. There’s two ways to do this, you can sign up right on our website under the schedule tab HERE. The second way would be to check in using the River City Warriors app found on the Google Play store or the iOS App Store.  This also helps us avoid the step of taking manual attendance and having every student touch the same tablet at the front desk.
  2. According to the state’s guidelines masks are required for staff and highly encouraged for participants. As we engage in boxing, in visceral workouts, we cannot understate the importance of this step. The mask as I’m sure you all know do a tremendous amount to protect those around you. When you mask up, you’re stating you care about your fellow student’s health and well being, and their families.
  3. Classes will be 45-50 minutes during Phase I: The state mandates as a “fitness” facility we MUST clean all equipment and surfaces every hour after each session This window of time we’ll let us prep for the next session. We’ll be using all CDC approved cleaning supplies as well as having soaps and sanitation supplies for students.
  4. You must use your own equipment, particularly GLOVES as there’s no way for us to clean these items as thoroughly as required. You’re welcome to find your own, and we’ll be selling gloves and equipment at 50% off upon reopening to make this as accessible as possible. As always you’re welcome to find gear online or any store of your choosing.
  5. During our 15 minute cleaning window in between classes. We’ll need everyone to exit the building to allow us space to clean. This will also avoid people congregating at the lobby in close proximity.
  6. We encourage students to explore the arts in this unusual time. Many of our programs will look different as we’ll list in a moment. Take this time to explore something new with an open mind, and get to know your fellow students who share our community.

 

How will the actual training work?

Again, as we’re excited to open, a few changes dictate what we can do in Phase I of this reopening. Keep in mind Oregon is currently in a fortunate place, our Covid 19 cases are fairly low in comparison to the nation. We’re happy to move forward cautiously to help keep this trend going in the right direction. Hopefully these restrictions are temporary and in a few short weeks we’ll move in to Phase 2 and then onto 3 which is a complete return to normalcy.

  1. Kali/JKD – This program will be converted to mostly handheld tools in the short term. Using eskrima sticks will allow us to keep six feet apart and still be able to train with another person. We look at this as a blessing, and feel fortunate that this is one area we can continue to train in a familiar way. Class size will be limited to 20 students.
  2. Muay Thai/Kickboxing – Phase I unfortunately doesn’t allow for contact among people even wearing boxing gloves or equipment. This session will be circuit driven as we cycle students through heavy bag, medicine ball, rope, and combination drills. There will be a form of sparring and a myriad of inspiration from us as coaches where we’ll explore the art more than we can describe here on virtual paper. Class size will be limited to 20 students
  3. BJJ – In this phase this class we’ll look a lot different. Professor Erik and I have gone back and forth on what we can do during this time. We determined that the best way to serve students at this time is to have a class where all students bring their own grappling dummy. We’ve posted a couple different ways to build your own low cost BJJ partner using materials around the house. Since there is no partner contact allowed, this is the best solution we could arrive at in lieu of canceling the class altogether. Class size will initially be limited to 10 participants.

 

What and When?

We’re thrilled to announce that we can reopen as early as this Monday June 1st! During this initial week, we’ll be launching all ADULT co-ed classes. We expect kids classes to resume the following week, we’ll look at capacity in regard to the Amazon’s BJJ class for women. In addition we’ll be doing daytime BJJ on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. We’ll do our best to reflect the temporary schedule changes online as well, and expect our full class syllabus to rapidly return. In addition to the schedule, we’ll be streaming classes live via either Facebook or Zoom for anyone who’s still hesitant to come in.

This gap in the schedule at the moment will give us space to make further improvements, prepare the space, and give attention to other requirements on RCW during Phase I. We’re thrilled to be here for you, to see everyone again, and while this list might seem like a lot to follow it’ll flow smoothly. We never expected to face these changes ourselves and never in our lifetime has the model of martial arts been uprooted like this. It’s an usual time, but like we’ve stated since the start of this situation, we are all in this together. We’ll get through this, manage the changes, and before we know it training will return to the lifestyle we all enjoy.

 

Before we get this show on the road, A HUGE THANK YOU

We can’t overstate the amount of support we’ve received from our students and their families. Over half of our students voluntarily kept their membership active during this pandemic. Many of you reached out personally and let us know how much RCW meant to you, that you wanted it to be there when we could return. It is your actions that allowed us to navigate this trying time and we’ll keep our promise to return the favor. Words can’t express how truly grateful we are for everything you’ve done for RCW, for us as people, and our community. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Professors Joe & Erik

 

 

Dear Friends, Students, and Family,

We are all in this together:

 

As the pandemic continues we are closed per the Stay-At-Home mandate along with other establishments in our home state. We are once again asking for your continued support through these trying times. At the same time we want to show our appreciation and commitment to all of you.

Owning a small business and running RCW for over 11 years has been a tremendous learning experience for myself and our staff. There’s nothing that fills us with more pride and joy than showing up to serve our community every day. It’s with much humility I have to lay bare that a loss in memberships would be devastating for us. We understand that everyone’s financial situation is different but we’re asking for your support during this hardship. We want RCW to be a place you can return to when this viral storm passes. Please don’t hesitate to call us if your situation changes, this isn’t going to be a straight line or even a smooth curve. We are here for you and while we ask for support we don’t desire to be anyone’s burden either.

Today on 4/5/2020 we’d like to make some announcements that benefit our tribe:

  1. We’ll be hosting numerous FREE seminars and workshops for all students and their families as soon as we’re able. This will include ALL programs and age ranges
  2. Academy gear such as sticks, apparel, and uniforms will be HALF off for the opening month. This includes the new custom Gi’s that people order prior to Christmas. They are in stock right now!
  3. Any Seminar fees paid for Pedro Sauer or other workshops will be promptly returned
  4. We are constantly updating live videos and home workouts on our PUBLIC facebook page. You don’t have to join FB to go watch any of the content. A lot of schools are hiding this behind a private group, we wanted to make sure our entire community can view these routines. Just head to our page at: https://www.facebook.com/TheRiverCityWarriors
  5. Check out our YouTube channel where we’re also posting tons of content right now as well as a backlog of videos from previous sessions: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrxOUn-aCRpa5QwLesCclsQ

 

We’re trying to do even more!!

We currently have ALL the curriculum in the “can” for the first 3-4 years of every program. Right now we’re looking into editing as well as some graphic design before we launch this mega library. This is the culmination of more than 20 years of experience. As soon as we can announce something further on this you’ll be the first to know. And of course, this information is going to be free to all students.

While we’ve been posting several live videos on various platforms, we want your feedback on whether you feel that’s enough. Please give us feedback across any channel and let us know if you’d like to see live virtual classes. We’ll still keep our other irons hot as we roll out more content every day in these efforts. We greatly appreciate all of you. Without the warriors in our community RCW would cease to be a thing, and the level of support we’ve received is so monumental that it has literally brought a tear to my eye on occasion.

We value you, we are honored to know you and we believe that if all of us do our part, we will get through this together.

 

If you have any questions please email Professor Joe or Erik at RiverCityWarrior@gmail.com

It’s human nature to respond to fear, it’s a survival mechanism, a motivator.

Fear can teach us a lot about ourselves when we’re willing to look internally. It can be the benefit of past lessons learned now a warning sign to not make the same mistake again. It can motivate us over fear of gaining too much weight, fear of not finding the right job, fear of not being able to defend ourselves. It’s important though to discern between fear and panic. 

Precautions are good, behavior changes are welcomed, but it’s integral we keep a positive outlook while doing our part for the community. If panic grips us, the trend is to take fear into the irrational. We no longer benefit from our internal warning system but slip into the deep end of crazy, like stock piling toilet paper when there’s a virus going around. Water won’t be shut off from your tap, grocery stores will remain open, and just know that you’re not alone in your concern.

 

RCW is taking steps to respond to the Coronavirus on a daily basis:

  • We have adopted the CDC standards for all cleaning supplies effective against the virus. This includes our hand soap, mat cleaner, lysol sprays and more.
  • New procedures like more thorough cleaning have begun, as well as cleaning touchable surfaces every day like door knobs and counter space.
  • Instructors have been informed to wash their hands before and after every class
  • All staff are following protocol to avoid coming into the school if they have any signs of illness. Truthfully we’ve always done this as sharing any kind of contagion is irresponsible in the view of RCW
  • In addition all staff are currently ordered to stay away if they come in contact with someone else who they feel has exposed them to the Coronavirus. (Shout to Holly Forrette for already doing this, it turned out to be a false alarm, but super proud of her for taking the steps to protect our community)

The rest falls on us individually:

If you can follow our lead and maintain good hygiene principles, we all benefit. It is beyond appreciated when you take responsibility for the well being of those around you by washing your hands, minimizing exposure to germs, and picking up after yourself. Together we can go a long way to make sure that everyone at RCW remains healthy and active.

With your support RCW will remain an active pillar in the community. A place you can be proud to attend and put down all that daily stress where we come together.

Thanks again for all you do, it is noticed, and much appreciated!!

 

 

Sincerely,

Professor Joe

 

Life vs. Sport, the tale of the tape:

 

Chances are you’re on this website looking for self-defense. While we offer many classes like Muay Thai and Boxing, it’s important to delineate the reality of a street fight. First and foremost and the core tenant of this article is the intent behind an attack, mugging,  or a street fight is vastly different than anything that occurs in a ring.

Should someone attack an individual they might trying to drag the person away, bite them, use a knife, or any other means to get what they want. The assailant isn’t trying to “win” in the traditional sense except that they want your property or something from your personhood.

This is why the curriculum in our Gracie Jiu Jitsu and JKD/Kali programs are so important. Both can assist in ring sports like MMA or Kickboxing, but these methods convey the intent of an aggressor. When someone wants to do a takedown for a few points in a BJJ match that energy and attempt is drastically different than when someone wants to carry you away or drag you to a car. The takedown doesn’t even function the same! This means that if you prepare for a street fight by doing sport methods, you will be left severely unprepared.

River City Warrior has you covered:

Check out this common street hold, the side headlock:

Notice that the blue belt student here is representing a common thug. Someone not that educated, who refuses to let go of your neck. He just wants to pull you down and try to exert his will. This is more realistic for a street fight, whereas this hold in an MMA situation isn’t that valuable. Your average assailant doesn’t have an idea to punch when you start resisting a hold, they think they have something good and will hold on for dear life! It’s our job as educated practitioners to take advantage of their commitment level and use it against them.

 

In a street fight there’s no rules, no gloves, no points, just an attempt to get home safely. This examples illustrates a concept of destroying the attackers limbs in order to gain an advantage. A lot of this won’t even work with a glove, but did you catch that elbow smash to the knuckles? Brutal! Not only is it effective here as an “empty hand” technique, but you can substitute any handheld tool. Maybe you have a leatherman in your pocket, a flashlight, a ballpoint pen, a knife, or you’re carrying an umbrella or cane. All of these hits can target the same component with even better efficacy if you know the basics.

If you’re training for life, make sure it’s legit:

The last example we’ll cover today is pretty brutal, if you can’t watch we’ll try to describe it for you.

The man on the bottom, to the bewilderment of the announcer, is using a move for BJJ SPORT that does NOT translate to an MMA fight. Okay you got us, we’re comparing two different sports here. We feel it can shed some light on the concept in this article. In BJJ this position on the bottom is called half guard, and is relatively safe. The term “half” meaning that both opponents have an equal position for offense and defense. However, when you add strikes into the mix you MUST have a knowledge of how to deal with punches and strikes while on the bottom. Sadly, most people don’t and this is the result.

This is why at River City Warriors in Tigard, we NEVER do BJJ moves that are purely for sport. We have a detailed program that covers these aspects of a real fight and more. In fact our Brown Belt exam is an hour long test where the student demonstrates street self defense in Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

This is a philosophy we’re proud of but can’t take credit for, people like Pedro Sauer and Dan Inosanto have been teaching and prescribing street self defense for decades. We get a lot of our education from these two amazing mentors and do our best to pass it down to all our students.

If you’re interested in self-defense, Gracie Jiu Jitsu, MMA, Kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do or the other programs at RCW we always offer a free trial. We don’t expect anyone to take our word for it.  Come see for yourself the quality of training at River City Warriors.

 

You can get your free trail here —> rivercitywarrior.com/free-trial <—

 

 

 

And as always, thanks for reading,

Professor Joe

After decades of experience I’m ready to share my SECRET training formula!

I don’t normally like extreme titles, but hey, it’s more eye catching than “You Should Just Practice More!” We all hear that in any sport, we need to train, practice and evolve on a constant basis. Many people in all physical activities will hit plateaus from time to time. That’s still going to happen and you need to be driven to solve these plateaus and move through the boring times into another gain.

When it comes to martial arts, we’re often told size doesn’t matter, rely on technique, and anyone can do it. All those things might be true at any given moment, but they don’t FEEL true when you’re on the opposite end having your hopes and dreams crushed. We have this expectation that after TIME has passed we should be at skill level we imagine in our head. Here is the hard truth about training, time is a factor, but it’s how you spend that time that’s most important. In this article I’m going to break down a method I use to get results. What you’re about to read is tried and true and tested time and time again.

Take it Step-by-step

I often espouse that any good martial arts program whether it’s Jeet Kune Do (JKD), Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Boxing or Kali (knife handling) should have a progression. You’ve got this pile of knowledge, but if that information isn’t organized your approach to it will be riddled with holes. Your math teacher didn’t randomly jump subjects and start teaching history, or go from geometry one day and then algebra the next. You take sequential classes and they build on each other along the journey though academia. If you’ve already got that pinned down, you’re probably on the right track. MOST martial art schools I grew up in were a chaotic mess. If you could fight and pick things up quickly you learned a thing or two or just got tough, but there wasn’t a product. There wasn’t a mass of people in a community that all had the same skill set like a Pedro Sauer Gracie Jiu Jitsu Black Belt. Being organized is half the battle, the more you know.

The secret not secret formula to my success:

Once you’ve got information organized, you need to keep these simple 5 steps in mind:

  1. Rep technique with good, clean, form.
  2. Drill technique with focus, intent, and athleticism
  3. Drill technique with a partner AND contest it
  4. Spar with the technique in mind and try to produce it.
  5. Find examples of other experts using the technique, emulate it, research it, explore it, and BREAK it.

 

Level 1: Good, Clean, Form.

Slow down! To wire the process of new movement and various calibrations into the body you need to go slow. Think of Tai Chi masters who gracefully perfect their form. Rickson Gracie said that “to move fast, you need to go slow.” It seems counter productive but it’s absolutely true. When you’re learning a new skill you need to stay calm and perform it slowly. One of the greatest hurdles to this besides our own ego, is a bad unwilling partner. A partner that won’t let you slow down to check your movement is not a partner at all, but an adversary. You need their help to understand the movement and make it your own. Imagine you’ve never driven a car before and it’s a manual transmission, would you grab the keys and hit the highway immediately at 80 miles per hour? Of course not, cultivating good form is exactly the same. Take it slow and give your body and mind time to marinade on the movement. Skipping this step will hold the student back and a level of sloppiness will permeate all their movement. It doesn’t matter how athletic or gifted an individual is they must take the time to build good mechanics.

With good mechanics, the disadvantaged can overcome.

Level 2: Drill with focus, intent, and athleticism

We know how it is, you’re in class and there’s a lot of material to cover. It seems like the main goal might be to memorize everything. That’s not quite the case, although memorization is part of the process it’s not the immediate goal. Your memory isn’t going to fail you, you’re going to learn and progress and one of the best ways to accelerate your learning is to drill. At RCW that means getting solid reputation on what you can EASILY remember. Class segments can sometime be brief and then we’re moving on to the next technique. Maximize your time by focusing your reps in class AND possibly spending 5 minutes just drilling what you felt was the most important aspects of the hour. If you’re drilling well you’ll see quick results you can feel every 2 weeks to 30 days. One way you can ensure this happens is to watch the chatter in class. Drilling with your partner shouldn’t be constant question and answer time. If you’re talking too much you’ll be moving way to slow to get anything done.

We know you want to get everything perfect, but that will come in the process. Beware the illusion of perfecting everything RIGHT NOW! You will become one of those endless chatters in class and spend more time talking than moving. Drill, repetition, focus, intent and athleticism.

Level 3: Drill with a partner AND contest it:

When you add variety to a technique Bruce Lee referred to this in Jeet Kune Do (JKD) as “liberating from the nucleus.” He was referring to the idea that although you’re at the core of the same technique, the nucleus, you now have a need to bend it, stretch it, break it down, and solve the puzzle. In BJJ it’s pretty simple, spend the class learning the armbar and now at the end go and spar, and try to get land the armbar on your partner. What’s different in drilling and Bruce Lee’s thought here is focus. For example in BJJ you might want to spar or roll as it’s called in Jiu Jitsu, but it might be better to train a specific area. Try to hit the armbar, but only work from the guard. Give your partner parameters: “Hey will you try to defend this, but I’m going to try to work from this position, if you escape the guard or counter the move can we just start over?” Your chances of seeing the puzzle and process of the technique in action go way up. Now that you have a partner who isn’t just handing you the technique on a silver platter you have to figure things out for yourself. This is where a very high form of learning takes place, because it’s experiential.

Level 4: Spar with that technique in mind and try to reproduce it.

When you begin to work on contesting technique, avoid the tendency to work on more than 2 things at once. Let’s do the guard, and I’ll try to sweep or choke my partner. Let’s work on boxing and I’m only going to use Jabs or straights as my strikes. It offers you an area of focus where you can remove the thought process a little, kick up the enthusiasm and get a good result. You’re still sparring, but you’re not quite doing every component of sparring yet.

When that starts to go well, and it may only take a few minutes, then begin sparring with every option available. Depending on if you’re doing MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, JKD, Krav Maga, etc, the tools available might be limitless. In BJJ you might be rolling, but you’re still trying to find your way to the guard to land that arm bar. Maybe you’re trying to find the armbar in every possible position like the mount, back, guard, and cross body. That’s good to do, but focus is usually key, so if you feel overwhelmed and that you’re no longer seeing the technique you’re trying to produce scale it back. Never be too worried about slowing things down, shaping the training, and going back to specific training where you’re trying to deliver the technique amidst resistance.

Everyone advocates for technical sparring, but few stick with it. Resist the urge to go “all out.”

Level 5: Find other examples

Relying on yourself is one of the strangest sensations and final skills you develop as a martial artist. I don’t mean relying on yourself in competition or a contest. We all crave answers and are conditioned our whole life to seek that knowledge outside of ourselves. This is important for foundational learning, and especially the basics. In Martial Arts you walk into class and right away your coach or professor is going to impart their wisdom. You soak it up, this is what we call the parroting phase. You see your mentor do something and you emulate it, much like the rest of life.

It’s important during this time to trust your mentor that they’re leading you down the path to a high skill level, filled with knowledge and truth. To compliment that you should absolutely look to other experts in the same field and compare the same methods being taught. In a martial arts class it might be as close as another instructor at the academy, a high level student in the same class, or maybe they have a supplemental course. In our BJJ program students can access all the curriculum on video with our head instructor Professor Pedro Sauer performing all the Gracie Jiu Jitsu techniques himself. This goes a long way to ensure that your copy cat system is developing. You see the same technique everywhere with subtle differences and you can cross compare.

Over time this cross examination and constant observation of subtle differences starts to reveal your own ideas to you. Within the span of 5 to 10 years you’ll not only be building your skills that will last a lifetime, but you’ll also have an eye for creativity. To quote Bruce Lee again he had a saying “know the rule, follow the rule, bend the rule, break the rule.”

All human creativity comes from remixing ideas, it is nearly impossible to create something utterly unique. However, it is very healthy and transformative to tweak, combine, and mesh together. It can be a pretty amazing journey through Martial Arts where you never stop seeing new ideas, while you never stop cultivating your own creativity, and never stop honing the basics.

 

Life runs in cycles:

It’s the same for myself too, after 30 plus years of training I still follow the same advice I’m dolling out. You can find me in the academy, slowing down, and repping one thing at time. Moving on to contesting it, specific training, sparring, and trying to be creative. Then I’ll rest and put it all back the beginning again, because it’s not all the techniques we’re after in the world but the principle behind the movements. If you follow my layout here you’re guaranteed to have success on and off the training floor.

 

As always if you’re interested you can find River City Warriors right here in Tigard where we always have a free trail. You can hit us up with any questions or comments you might have at RiverCityWarrior@gmail.com

We appreciate you taking the time to read our blog and let us share our experience and energy with you.

 

-All the best,

Professor Joe

 

 

Just starting out in martial arts? Before you make the same mistakes I did, you’ve got to read this!

 

Whether it’s Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, Kali, or any other method of training it’s imperative that you get off to a good start. In this article I’m going to cover some tell tale signs to look for to find good training, just in case you don’t happen to be anywhere near RCW in Tigard and the Portland Area. Maybe you even live near us in Lake Oswego, but you’re already training elsewhere, I hope this information will help you prevent the same kind of mistakes I made along my continuing 30 year journey of martial arts.

First and foremost, how to identify if the coach knows what they’re doing.

I’ll give a couple examples but this isn’t as obvious as it sounds. I wish it was, but good martial arts is a rare find. It’s like discovering a world class musician, painter, auto mechanic, chef, or carpenter. You can relate to their craft, probably enjoy it, but replicating it at that moment is an impossible task. Let alone understanding all he tools and nuances of that trade.

Martial Arts is NOT an activity in the same way people pick up other physical hobbies. There’s such a vast difference between an aerobic boxing class and boxing as a professional sport they’re not remotely the same thing. Most of us understand that doing Tae Bo doesn’t mean we’re learning real boxing and self defense. The problem comes into finer detail when they’re eerily similar but different. Have you ever hired a contractor to work on your house and took the lowest bid? Only to find shoddy workmanship later, and hired another professional to come back and fix those mistakes. It’s because during the bidding process they seemed so similar the price was viewed as the major deciding factor.

Anything look different?

Rickson Gracie knows what he’s doing, notice he and the team behind him do NOT have cauliflower ear!

Watch the instructor closely, watch the students even more.

A good instructor will be able to relate key details to their students and pass on the knowledge to create numerous copies of their work. Do the senior students exhibit these same qualities? Look to see if these long term students (there should be some!) can perform the technique of the day easily, coach beginners on how to do it, AND make it work in live drills or sparring with resistance. The instructor should be able to perform the movement even if they’re into their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s. They should make it look effortless and relate the concepts contained in the idea presented. At RCW currently our head coaches are just entering their 40’s and have been training for more than 20 years. We would never ask a student to do something we haven’t done ourselves and often we can demonstrate it on the spot.

A good instructor should NOT have to be rough to prove anything to you!

People who are qualified know how to train. That means they can prepare people for competition without injuring them in the process. I have been privileged to train with some of the best in the world, and the better they were the safer the academy. Being hurt cuts your training short, you have to take time off, you lose training partners who are also out hurt, and being tough has little to no benefits! IT does NOT mean you never spar, or that the technique is not effective.

You should be able to FEEL the technique is effective and senior students should be able to handle beginners through skill, not by trying to be overly aggressive. This is another key area, where the natural inclination is that the harder people go at it the more “real” it must be. Nothing could be further from the truth. People like Rickson Gracie, Pedro Sauer, GSP, Bruce Lee, Anderson Silva, and countless other professionals all advocate training safely. Yet at the same time parring is alive elements of timing, pressure, control, and strategy that simulate reality.

What are their qualifications? Ask questions!

Are they offering Gracie Jiu Jitsu? Then they should be able to point to members of the Gracie family they’ve trained with. Jeet Kune Do, then surely they have some credential from Dan Inosanto or someone in the association. Be careful with quick photos, and paperwork on the wall, anyone can attend a seminar on a weekend and say they’re the next grandmaster. Funnily enough, across the board anyone I’ve met who’s qualified as a grandmaster NEVER wants to be called that! Your future instructor should have dedicated mentors who passed not the trade just like a head chef or an electrician. Who walked them along their path?

Go to the seminars and workshops!

At any good school, you should have the opportunity to work with the head instructor’s mentors. At RCW this year alone our students were offered the chance to work with Master Pedro Sauer of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Henry Akins a a student of Rickson Gracie, Greg Nelson, Ajarn Chai of Muay Thai, and Dan Inosanto of JKD and Kali fame. When you attend these workshops the material you’re covering should be the SAME. If you’re affiliated with Dan Inosanto and claim to practice Kali or Silat and attend the seminar and it’s nothing what you practice all year long, then your school is NOT following the program!

Only one of two things could be the case here, either your instructor is exposed to material and chooses to do his or her own thing back home. That usually means they think they’re own material is better but they are depriving you of what you’re paying for and after years of this they probably can’t perform the technique either! Secondly, they might not have ever been in the affiliation to begin with! Countless people SAY they do Gracie Jiu Jitsu but very few are actually connected to the family and the art. It’d be like getting hired at a fancy Italian restaurant with farm to table food and then they find out you’ve only worked at the Olive Garden. They’re similar on the most basic level but drastically different!

Don’t fall for extremism!

A quick glance on Youtube and you’ll find some top videos with literally MILLIONS of views, often provided by people who have ZERO experience in the advice they’re giving. Phony JKD representatives, bad Jiu Jitsu, and self defense technique that if you tried to use it in a real fight you might not even make it home. Worse still is I’ve seen schools adopt this attitude and start ramping up their vocal intensity as if it adds something to the movement. Sadly, people who lack confidence can view these people as knowledgeable and be quickly defrauded. That person might even believe, like a bad relationship, that their next instructor has to exhibit the same machismo all the time or it must not be authentic.

I cannot tell you how many former Krav Maga students, and even black belts, I’ve had come through RCW only to find out their intensity and material just doesn’t work. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that is the sad fact. Many people don’t break free of the extremism paradigm and will fight to defend it. As recently as this week in November 2019 I had a recent transplant from Krav Maga in our adult classes. I came in to start the class and the young man was asking another coach “what if I do this, oh wait let me do it as hard as I can…I’ll try this now… ugh ugh!”

Our coach was barely responding and just asking what he was trying to do as this young man tried to throw him around every which way. Before we could deduce the intent, the man exclaimed, “are you serious! None of this stuff works, I wasted a year of my life for what? I thought I was learning something.” This young guy might not know it yet, but he’s in a field of one in ten or twenty who ever look deeper.

Van Damme is in shape, but it doesn’t mean he knows martial arts

I made all these mistakes and more…

That’s right, I’m speaking from personal experience. I hired the sub-contractor and was duped for years trying to find the gold standard for RCW. I was lied to by people who told me they had qualifications. I was lied to by people who told me they could give me qualifications. I too fell into the trap that if training was hardcore it must be genuine. There was even a would-be-mentor I worked with who I later discovered was basically running a small cult! The problem with getting hooked on horrible training is that it can be hard to tell the difference even after a couple years.  Once you’re drinking the Kool-Aid, the sensation of being trapped can take a tremendous mental will to break through.

I had to throw it all away

When I encountered my failure at finding genuine Gracie Jiu Jitsu and had to say “uncle” to Relson, I didn’t run from it. I knew I had found what I was looking for, I was in awe that this 60 plus year old man could wrap me up. He smiled ear to ear, he didn’t use any muscle, and I was playing what sounded like drum beats constantly tapping out. I could’ve blown it off, or called him a jerk, but I knew right then this was a real thing. I wanted that skill to use leverage and principle over muscle and aggression. If it worked for him, I hoped it would work for me and I left the MMA school for Gracie Jiu Jitsu and never regretted it for a moment.

 

TL:DR!

  1. It’s worse to train with horrible people than to not train at all
  2. Observe the instructor and other students
  3. Make them show you their credentials/who trained them?
  4. If advanced students can show efficacy while smiling, they probably have “it.”
  5. Attend workshops and compare your school to the material presented
  6. Being rough is not a sign of good training, it’s the opposite!
  7. Don’t be afraid to start over, it’s never too late!

 

 

 

Good luck out there! When I was a kid good training was hard to find because it was such a rarity. It’s still rare, but good training is now hard to find because there’s schools on every block. In the last 5 years almost as many schools have closed around RCW as have opened. The one thing you can’t get back is time, invest yourself and really find out where you should be training to get the results you want.

 

 

 

In real martial arts and self defense, strength is only one small aspect of the total arsenal:

After 20 years training countless students, it’s fairly often that a new student has the common misconception that brute force solves a puzzle. Whether it’s Muay Thai Kickboxing, Gracie Jiu Jitsu, or the Knife play of Kali, beginners sometimes think that if they just “go harder” they’ll be able to achieve something. Maybe they’ll learn faster, prove to themselves they’re not weak, or invalidate technique. Maybe it’s such a simple option that it’s the most obvious solution.

It’s only natural…

I can’t fault them for it, centuries of human nature are kicking in. After all, how could someone smaller and weaker than you put you in an arm bar and utterly dominate you? In our lizard brain it doesn’t make logical sense, at first. It’s such a massive affront to everything we understand about gender, masculinity, and how the world works that it can be a massive blow to the ego. After that break in the psyche it is also the most empowering and liberating concept you’ll ever learn.

Check out this Documentary on the women of BJJ and why the principles of leverage and technique can beat strength every time. (article continues below)

Ready to throw off the shackles of this paradigm? Let’s do this!

First, here’s what did it for me…

 

I was a tough guy:

My first experience with real technique in a grappling sense was with Relson Gracie. Many of my students have heard this story, but I entered a seminar with Professor Relson and proceeded to be a complete noob. I had done some grappling before, but it was all at meat head factories where explosive force solved everything. If you injured yourself or your partner that was just par for the course. I was doing my thing, being an ass, and Professor Relson tapped me on the shoulder. “Wow you’re pretty strong my friend, why don’t you play with me for a minute.” I was in my prime, 28 years old and working out for a living which meant weights, boxing, kick boxing, grappling, and Kali every day for a minimum of 8 hours a day.

Or so I thought:

He put me in his guard, which as the name implies is a position that protects you in Jiu Jitsu, but is unique because it also allows you to go on the offense. Imagine all the abilities of a Goalie in soccer, but also the two passing forwards. I began to activate my super power of youth and explosive strength. In the next moment I was utterly shocked, as soon as I tensed up Professor Relson relaxed. I found myself stuck in a mouse trap where I had just grabbed the cheese expecting to claim the spoils. Contrarily I couldn’t move anywhere, I was literally stuck under my own weight. Then I began to notice that Relson was almost tipping me over but wouldn’t let me fall, and to top it off he was choking off the blood to my brain and breaking my arm ALL AT THE SAME TIME! All I could do was tap out and let him release me from the web with a big smile on his face.

A realization was about to unfold:

I had never seen this kind of Jiu Jitsu in Portland up until this point. I had no clue how to fathom what Professor Relson was doing. We were wrestling, but I could not comprehend HOW he was controlling me with ease. This hooked me immediately,I laid down my ego and signed up for classes  as a white belt and never looked back.

What I quickly noticed over the next 11 year journey to attain a Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt is that all the top tier athletes and coaches follow the same prescription. The very best boxing coaches, UFC fighters, BJJ athletes, they all strive to be smooth and use finesse, leverage and technique before strength. They all have academies where learning and authenticity go hand in hand with safe training practices.

The benefits of using finesse, leverage, and technique when preferred over strength

  1. Better Cardio: Because you’re not exploding all the time, you learn better cardio management and can function almost the same level throughout your work out
  2. Injury prevention: In any sport where there’s brute force you’re susceptible to ailments like muscle and soft tissue damage. This is compounded in combat sports and self defense where another person is already trying to do you harm.
  3. Calmness of mind: when you slow down, along with the breathing being more regulated, it also gives you time to think. In a fight that can save your life, in the academy, it gives the body time to process movements, plan, grow, and learn. Your workout will be far more productive and you’ll retain information better.
  4. Longevity: Most people get hooked on training and they want to do it for the rest of their lives. Now you can train into old age, and even be better than when you were younger!
  5. Everything works! This is the best part, when you start to use technique and your mind is calm, all these factors become extremely rewarding. Once you get a taste, the first time you use technique to control and own someone using muscle it’s 100% addictive! You’ll never go back to your former inefficient idea of brute force.
  6. It changes your thought patterns! Once you’re calm and using crafty planning to solve the puzzle of your opponent you begin to think differently. All of the sudden you start to look for the most efficient way to be good at everything. Driving through traffic, managing relationships, negotiating a sale, daily life events shift as you start to apply subtle technique in every situation.
  7. Learning is a constant: Once you open the door to strategy and start being solution oriented you will be amazed at what you learn. There’s rarely a plateau because you keep your ego in check and are always looking for new tricks, new understanding, and ways to build upon what you have.
  8. When you’re easy going, everyone trains with you: When the attitude in the academy builds on all these tenants there’s strategy everywhere. Maybe you catch your partner in an arm bar and there’s no way out. They tap, but the excitement is just beginning, because you caught them in a friendly way with technique they immediately want to see if they can escape it the next time.
  9. The training hall is a science lab: When everyone is playing like this with good mechanics, tapping out is just a training protocol. It’s not a win or lose thing, because again we’re winning KNOWLEDGE. Now what happens is everyone in the school starts sharing with everyone else and it flourishes. When it’s all muscle people ended up hiding moves, details and technique from their partners and rivalries begin.
  10. Self-Defense is perceived as effortless and you feel safe every where you go. When you can control any size of human being despite their athleticism it’s a very comforting feeling. All the machismo is gone, and you don’t feel intimidated by other people. This allows you to brush off conflict and if it’s unavoidable you have tremendous confidence.

What can you expect if you HULK OUT all the time:

  1. Constant injury: You might win the battle, but the war rages on. People in martial arts that are injured all the time are constantly taking time off. That means your training partners are getting better while you’re sitting at home. The only trophy for time on the mat is learning, you don’t take anything home with you but your body and knowledge. If you’re going to risk an injury it should at least be for a real street altercation or a professional match.
  2. False power, false success: Since muscle does work from time to time, it will reinforce the habit and belief that your strength leads to success. Since it’s a falsehood what will happen is you’ll inevitably meet someone stronger, and worse you’ll meet a plateau. The early gains of training will fade into a stagnate wall you’re unable to process.
  3. The hammer problem: Part of that learning curve decline is because every problem is only viewed with the one solution: athleticism. There are many activities that require hardly any muscle in life, archery, horseback riding, music, cooking, writing, disc golf, and on and on. You wouldn’t try to solve the mystery of these disciplines with more power. It’s like taking a hammer around the house and trying to do every job with one universal tool. Very quickly everything starts to look like a nail whether it’ll help you or not.
  4. You will hurt yourself far more than other people: Strength = toughness, and the same idea that brought us here brings the downfall. Its our ego trying to prove that we are not weak. You can expect cauliflower ear, arthritic fingers, lots of medical tape, for YOU! When you apply a force on an object some of that force is applied directly to you. I made these mistakes as well, I wanted to sweep my opponent flat on their back. I managed to do it, but in the transition I applied so much strength that I tore the cartilage in my ribs.
  5. How you train is how you live – Smashing things with a hammer? Unable to learn? Plateaus everywhere? I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is also a metaphor for the other areas of your life. Chances are you’re not listening in your relationship. You’ve plateaued at your job or you might be angry all the time. You have to put the active mind to work to counter the lizard brain.
  6. People won’t want to train with you: When someone is using a tremendous amount of muscle against me these days I don’t flip out. I calmly subdue them and work my game with a smile on my face. This usually infuriates them more! I’ll do this a number of times before I say something like “hey partner are you looking for a fight here, if you’re going to go 100% and try to hurt me, why shouldn’t I do the same?” Sometimes that will sink in, other times I just start avoiding that person because I’m not getting anything out of training any more. I already know I’m tough, my goal is to learn and come back tomorrow. The only thing that individual can offer me is a chance to see how calculating I can be while someone goes crazy. That opportunity is easy to find and the benefits are infinitesimally small.
  7. If they do train with you, they won’t help you. Take the same partner I described above, instead of avoiding I train with them all the time. I feel comfortable and I get to own them in sparring any chance I want like a fun game. When we wrap up they’ll say “oh man, lucky you got me there I could’ve had a grip or I could’ve done this…… but tell me, how’d you do that?” To which I always reply “Gee I don’t know, you’re right on my friend, I just got lucky again!” There’s no point in imparting advice because the Hulk has proven he doesn’t have listening skills and the ability to change.
  8. You will find others like you – If you stick with a place like RCW where everyone is trying to use good mechanics first, you’ll try to find like minded people and roll with them. Hulk vs Hulk is about to happen. Injuries are more likely, but what you’ll do is reinforce with each other that muscle is the way to go. After all this person agrees with you, so it must be the way. Should that plan fail, a lot of Hulks end up quitting and finding a gym that FOCUSES on strength and athleticism. Usually cauliflower ear and taped joints are in sight.
  9. You’ll start to fear people with two years or more of experience: Since the Hulk has to defend the belt and smash, when he’s encountered with a fresh faced blue belt who’s been technical from the beginning it can be devastating. For the Hulk! A black belt journey is 10-12 years under Gracie Jiu Jitsu, so now the guy who was 28 and in his prime is 40 and looking back at the college kid. Ego got in the way of his training and he refused to believe in finesse, but the college kid is smart and has his number. Pretty soon the Hulk quits rolling with the more technical lower belts and might quit sparring altogether if they don’t quit the school.
  10. You could become a bully: It’s true story time. We had a Hulk floating around the academy for a while, we cautioned the guy. He was super rough, never listened and once even said he hurt his partner because he didn’t tap “fast enough.” Just a meat head through and through, and if you ever had his number he’d whine and bemoan about how life isn’t fair. Finally we decided it would be best for the school if we didn’t have this person around and we told him to pack up his loin cloth and go. Within the first month he found a like minded meat school and was excruciatingly injured. In martial arts it often doesn’t end well for the bully.

 

The truth is out there…

The last few words I’ll leave you with is understand we’re all the same. What’s tough for you was at one time tough for me. I couldn’t believe what people like Pedro Sauer were able to do on the mat, it was like magic. The best way for us to embrace change, is to hang out with people who set the example we want to emulate. If using finesse, leverage, technique and good mechanics sounds too good to be true, then you just need to find a place like River City Warriors that offers a way to train these elements. To gain understanding you need to feel it, to experience how it’s different. Let me tell you this my friends, once you get a little taste of how good technique can be you will search endlessly for the same results.

Don’t just take my word for it, come an experience quality training at RCW and see for yourself.  We always offer a free trial for new students conveniently located in Portland, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Tualatin and the surrounding areas. You can find that on our webpage and a direct link right here —> FREE TRIAL <—

If you don’t live in the Portland area but need to find a good Jiu Jitsu school we’re happy to help you search nationwide. We’ve trained across the continent and know many of the best coaches all over the country.

 

Stay safe, and stay effective by practicing good mechanics!

– Professor Joe Heller

Gracie Black Belt

 

Gracie Jiu Jitsu isn’t just for the athletic, the strong, the young, or the GIANT! 

Helio Gracie, who launched Jiu Jitsu into the mainstream along with his sons, was not a large man. Tipping the scales at 145lbs and a height of 5’9 he was average in stature. What he accomplished is the stuff of martial arts legends and the point I’m going to make is beyond the fact he was an immigrant to the U.S, learned a foreign martial arts style (Jiu Jitsu was originally from Japan), and completely disrupted that system and evolved the ground game. Then along with his sons he developed the idea for the UFC and lit the world stage of MMA on fire. What I’m saying is, Helio Gracie and the authentic pioneers still pushing the art did something even more incredible than all of this!

Quest for authenticity:

I have been on a journey since the 1980’s to find “real” martial arts. There’s a number of reasons for this like having a fraudulent karate instructor who lied about teaching Jeet Kune Do (JKD) like we do at RCW. Another contributor was an MMA school where I was supposedly learning BJJ and Grappling. Yet, it didn’t seem to work on students bigger or more athletic than myself. I looked inward for blame and surely thought I must be doing something wrong! This is the nightmare that keeps me awake at night, someone is out there who hasn’t found this piece of the puzzle yet. They think Krav Maga and all the confidence they instill in their class is ready for genuine reality. In my career path I have learned the different between feeling confident, and having skill. You have to be certain without a shred of doubt that your material is going to work for you when you need it.

Real self defense prepares you to survive any situation

GM Helio Gracie’s biggest contribution to the world was packaging a system that could serve any one, any size. Other greats have been able to do this like Dan Inosanto who is the heir apparent to JKD. Gracie Jiu Jitsu/BJJ when done correctly though, is such an efficient form of defense that you almost don’t need anything else! That’s a monster claim, and I’ll address it momentarily, but for now check out our own Coach Holly demonstrating one possibility for escaping the bear hug. This hold can be used in a variety of ways, but typically on the street it is used to drag people somewhere they don’t want to go.

Self defense with coach Holly!Rivercitywarrior.com

Posted by River City Warriors on Thursday, 19 September 2019

 

What if…???

It’s one possible escape for the bear hug as shown here, and there are numerous others and perspectives that include striking. So why not do those? Well for one, this is the method as Helio Gracie and his successor Pedro Sauer teach it. Secondly, and this is the struggle for real BJJ, it often looks like there’s something else you could do like hit the groin or the throat. When someone grabs you correctly, it is impossible to do those things. Think about this, those moves were legal in the first several years of the UFC, but how come Royce Gracie didn’t get hit in the groin or the throat? Because the technique works! At our academy we believe a move or technique must satisfy a few requirements. It should be based on leverage, a connection to the opponent using weight and scientific principle, it should also be effective when done slowly against a full on 100% resisting partner. Sometimes when you’re looking from the outside, you can’t get a sense for how it feels. You might think to yourself it looks easy to fly a plane or drive a formula one race car, but behind the seat of the machine it’s a whole other world. Jiu Jitsu is like that, it’s simple and effective, but sometimes slow and once you have a feel for it you won’t settle for anything less.

Using BJJ as a way

Back to the packaging of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, when it’s authentic the curriculum encompasses all manner of scenarios. For instance on our white to blue belt exam, the first major milestone of your journey, we emphasize about 35 standing defensive maneuvers. Out of list of 88 total moves this is a huge percentage of the exam. This is what sets RCW apart from schools that do BJJ solely for tournaments. GM Gracie and Pedro Sauer believe that the self defense aspect is one of the most important pillars of the art.

If you get in an altercation out on the street there’s no points, and you certainly wouldn’t sit down on the ground and expect your assailant to walk in and grapple with you. Because of this we feel it necessary that all students at RCW have these stand up elements like the one shown in the video. Eventually all students will do these techniques under a high level of stress and pressure, because they’re ready for it and they have to KNOW that it works.

This is what I mean when I wrote that if you only had Gracie Jiu Jitsu as a form of defense it would be enough. We can ponder things like John Wick, but how many of us are going to whip out our .45’s and go guns blazing. Nobody, self defense is going to come in the form of someone grabbing you on the street, or a single person trying to hit you. If you’re smaller, or female, odds are that the person is trying to intimidate you with their size and strength. In altercations like these the techniques that come out of Jiu Jitsu address the most common situations you could ever get into. And because the movements aren’t size dependent, anyone can feel confident in their own skin.

BJJ = Gracie Jiu Jitsu

Sometimes. Maybe. It depends. At RCW we were trained by the source, we have two Gracie certified Black Belts on site teaching classes each week. The curriculum that was passed down to us features a strong back bone in self defense that continues even on the ground. Meaning when we are “rolling,” the sparring in Jiu Jitsu, we are always aware of how to defend strikes and get to the best position for an advantage. Many sport based BJJ schools throw out this material altogether and focus on winning certain competitions by points alone. They don’t do any stand up defense and you’d be lucky to find a school that has solid takedowns found in wrestling. Usually these places have a few athletic students, frequent injury, and less than 1% of people that come through the door progress through these systems.

The knowledge of self defense prevents your joints and ligaments from being vulnerable to injury. In fact I have had several intermediate to black belt students visit our school and the ones from outside the Gracie method have NEVER seen the self defense positions like we offer. Be very wary of schools where BJJ means a lot of grip strength, jumping around, flashy agility, and moves dependent on flexibility. This is not the art, and these athletes generally don’t hold up well tot he test of time. Pedro Sauer opens seminars with “you need to be spoiled by good mechanics,” built on leverage, finesse, and skeletal structure. Once you get a taste for this elusive style of Jiu Jitsu you’ll be after it’s rewards forever AND you’ll be able to enjoy a long and healthy relationship with an art millions around the world love.

 

Don’t take our word for it.

In closing, one of my favorite quotes from Master Sauer is a simple “let’s see if that’s true.” Everything must be tested, much like the origins of JKD, the early days of the UFC, we need to put ourselves out there. At RCW we do exactly that, come see for yourself any time the difference in our Jiu Jitsu. Maybe you’re new to the sport, maybe you’ve been injured before, maybe you moved right after you achieved your purple belt, whatever the reason we welcome you with open arms.

In fact, we offer a free trial year round and typically the first 30 days for $1 dollar to prove we have the goods to keep people around. You can get yours right here –>FREE TRIAL<–

 

Thanks as always for reading!

Professor Joe Heller

Rule #1: Always Talk About Fight Club

 

Ever since I was a kid in the 1980’s I’ve embraced martial arts. The decade prior was known for Kung Fu theater and hooked a broad range of fans on Bruce Lee with the likes of connoisseurs like Portland’s own Dan Halstead who owns and operates the wonderful Hollywood Theater. In the 80’s though, Martial Arts truly exploded thanks to source material  like the Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and countless more. It seemed like the runaway train Bruce Lee ignited in Enter The Dragon was going to last forever.

And then it didn’t. Something even more magical happened for the first time: The UFC. In the start of my childhood unbeknownst to me a movement had begun. In Torrence California one of Helio Gracie’s sons (of Gracie Jiu Jitsu fame) had begun to teach small nonexistent classes. By 1988 Rickson Gracie, who was undefeated around the world in over 150 matches, was teaching from his garage and begging people to come and train. Literally, him and his friends Pedro Sauer and Luis Heredia would plead with the mail man to try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the first time. Nobody wanted to do it, rolling around on the floor wrestling into human pretzels and calling it chess? No thanks.

Bruce Lee (left) and Dan Inosanto (right)

Rule #2 “Adapt what is useful, reject was is useless, and add what is specifically your own” – Bruce Lee

In the UFC, pioneered by the Gracie family, there was something old world about pitting style against style. Prior to that people like Chuck Norris, Ed Parker, and Bruce Lee were committed to an ideology that martial arts doesn’t mix without sparring. This ran contrary to the countless martial art schools around town with non-contact “aura” sparring and lightning bolts embroidered on their pants. The UFC established and cemented the core ideas of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) were valid. A blend of standup based on Boxing and Kickboxing along with a high degree of grappling skill would create the most formidable opponents. Keep in mind that back in the fledgling days of the octagon there were far less rules, eye gouges, hits to the groin, kneeing a downed opponent, were all legal. The time limits for the matches could be as long as an hour with NO ROUNDS! It became quickly evident that movie like Kung Fu sequences were out, there’d be no successful Shaolin this-or-that on display. Personally I don’t think these systems are useless, there’s value in it somewhere, but over time they’ve walked away from their combative roots. Today we could see techniques from these methods return. They have to be able to be delivered from a kickboxing structure or a grappling posture.  With more than a century of documentation, and as we’ll talk about next, it’s the training method behind these arts that gives them their credence.

Rule #3 “Keep it playful” -Rener Gracie

It’s what Bruce Lee proposed, and what the Gracie’s accomplished: Everything has to be vetted through rigors testing. Built in to Boxing, Kickboxing (its’ many forms), JKD, and Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a constant pressure testing that occurs in sparring. Among them is a similar approach of regular sparring. After many people were disillusioned by the Rex Kwon Do’s of the world, wanting to bring home the UFC, another misnomer cropped it’s ugly head. I can’t decide if I like it more or less than non-contact sparring, but one of the fallacies of sparring these days is that it has to be a 100% all out death match.

It certainly bodes well that someone is willing to spar, but frankly full contact every day doesn’t do much except for toughen you up slightly and then it starts to chip away at your health. If you think of the top athletes in these sports like Paquiao, Mayweather, Bukaw (Thai Boxing), Damien Maia (UFC) or Kron Gracie they aren’t going into the gym and killing each other every day. There’s little to no value in this, just as there isn’t any in non-contact sparring. Like Rener Gracie said, keep it playful. Most of the time the intensity of our sparring only has to be hard enough to move our opponents balance. When boxing this means that your knuckles will make contact through the padding, and could displace the position of your partners head, but not cause a knock out or accumulate damage.

Rickson Gracie, Dan Inosanto, Jean Jaques Machado are all great at keeping it playful and all champions

If you want to train for longevity this is the best way to accomplish it. You need to have a sparring regimen that promotes playfulness and the ability to show up every day and mix it up. When you’re going full contact you get hurt, have to sit on the sidelines while you recover, and most importantly you don’t bring NEW concepts to your game because your fighting all out all the time. Anyone in Jiu Jitsu knows this, if you go 100% you can’t work on new techniques, only what you have right now in the fight. It’s good to test those limits, but it should be a rarity. In an 8-12 week training camp we’ll do hard full contact sparring a couple times and no later than 2 weeks prior to the event. That way if any injuries are sustained the fighter can recover before the day of the bout.

Tips on Sparring Smart and Training for Life:

Here’s a few things to start you off right and continue sparring throughout your journey

  1. BE a good partner
  2. FIND good partners
  3. Try to remain calm, breath in through your nose and out your mouth
  4. Look to refine technique, what are you doing in relation to the class exercises?
  5. Give yourself homework; one month improve your jab, next your defense, and on and on.
  6. Spar just hard enough to influence the balance of your partner
  7. Leave your ego at the door
  8. Don’t be a jerk
  9. Don’t spazz out
  10. Don’t coach people on their technique unless you’re their coach

 

Seriously, no really, leave your EGO at the door

It’s a big enough issue that I have to address it in more than one bullet point. Check your EGO, and there’s several types so you may not be aware of your own tendencies. First we’ll get the obvious out of the way, don’t try to flaunt what a badass you are with everyone. That’s a surefire way to alienate yourself from the school and put a target on your back. There is ALWAYS someone more skilled than you around the corner and if they see you beat the break pads off the 14 year old kid and brag about it they will end your days early. Plus, have some human decency. Most people aren’t like that, the EGO just pops up in different ways here and there. The biggest detriment being the “I’ve got to win” syndrome. You might also know it as “well I know I just started but I’ve got to be good right?” Nope. When you’re pride steps in the way and you feel like you’ve got to win you can slip into category 1 jerk right away. Even WORSE than that is you’ll start to rationalize and avoid sparring altogether because the ego just can’t take it.

There’s no other way around it, some call it paying your dues, I call it the price of progress. Remember we’re training in a playful manner if we have good partners. You’re not going to hurt me, bloody my nose, or bust my ribs, all that’s going to happen is I’ll have a little leather introduced to my face or maybe I say uncle on the BJJ mat. All those experiences are learning opportunities and once you realize there’s no consequence and nothing bad really happens you can embrace learning and growth.

This is the number one reason I see people spazz out and coach each other too. The spazz is looking for that one advantage to try and turn the tide, let’s go for a finger lock! (or some other cheap move) because they’re trying to over ride the fact their ego is telling them a big loss is incoming. If you’re out there every day sparring just remember you’re going to improve. This process will get easier all the time. Soon it’ll be one of your favorite activities in the gym and you’ll look forward to playing with your classmates in a competitive manner.

Lastly, the coaches-coach A.K.A Professor White Belt. Don’t over due any criticisms or critique during sparring unless you’re actually the Coach for that class. One it can come off as a know-it-all attitude and limit your sparring partners. You’re there to learn first and foremost, not be the greatest free advice coach in the world.  Learning should always be your primary goal.

On any given day a purple belt might beat a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. A white belt might dust a purple belt because they have a background in collegiate wrestling. Someone more athletic than you comes along, more awkward, whatever the case we have to respect the person across from us. I have seen people instruct others AFTER they have lost to them in sparring, “oh hey, you know you’re doing great but you could really beat me EVEN BETTER if you did…..” Sadly that’s the mark of the ego rearing its’ head again to try and save some sort of face from a situation with no consequences.

It can be easy to start a bad habit, and all it does is limit your own ability to learn and grow. Keep it playful and spar whenever you can with an easy going attitude and you’ll see remarkable gains. If you haven’t done any sparring, consider why your current school doesn’t have that as an activity? Maybe you’ve just been putting it off while developing foundations and that’s good too. When it’s time to jump in take it slow and find a great partner with a ton of experience. Let them know if you’re a little nervous and ask for some tips. They’ll be thrilled to help you because they went through the same process.

And remember, if a nerdy near sighted kid with asthma can get good at all this stuff, anybody can do it with the right training methods and the right amount of determination.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Professor Joe

 

 

We’ve all been there, down in the dumps ready and willing to pull the plug. In the end it could’ve been the right decision but more often than not we regret things that we relinquish too early.A common hurdle in life, but one less talked about is the stages of quitting. It doesn’t just happen overnight, and sometimes it happens before it begins. In my experience coaching mixed martial arts and self defense for over 20 years I’ve narrowed down the stages of quitting that I run into from time to time: and now a bulleted list, because everyone likes that.

  • The didn’t start yet quitter
  • The too quick quitter
  • The almost made it quitter
  • The mission accomplished quitter

If You Feel Like Quitting

The Didn’t Start Yet Quitter:

Right off the bat, we’ve got a quitter who hasn’t even done anything yet, but has already given up in their mind. This type of individual offers up reasons why they can’t begin a new activity or endeavor. In classes we offer like Gracie Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai I have often heard people concur phrases like “Well I’m not good yet…. I’m not in shape yet… I’m afraid people will laugh at me…what if it takes me a long time to learn?” And on and on and on. This line of thought derails your good intentions and prevents you from moving forward. Haven’t even begun yet, but this person is finding a way out.

We’re conditioned from previous experiences that people will make fun of us because we’re new or different. That we might stand out by being the new kid on the block and that it isn’t going to go well. In the modern workplace/academia there’s such a need to be on point and a know-it-all-cause-internets that the sense of exploration and wonder we had as kids is fizzled out like fireworks in the rain. This is probably the most common obstacle for most people, even if they don’t say it, before they come try a class out at RCW. Luckily it’s also the easiest to deal with, all you have to do is TAKE ACTION!

The action you take can be small, something as simple as booking a class, telling a friend you’re trying something new, putting it on your calendar like a scheduled meeting at work. The action step can go in to place, and you can go back to riding the excuse train all day, except now you’ve got an action in place that will probably get you to that new hotness and you’ll realize afterward that everything went amazingly well! Of course it did! Because if anybody made fun of you, or laughed at you, or required you to be highly skilled at a brand new endeavor then you shouldn’t bother hanging out with those kinds of people!

Sure there might be the minor internal quibble that your self-esteem starts to realize that you’re beginning a new activity, but learn to embrace changes and to love learning again and you’ll quickly be on your way.

Too Quick to Quit:

This Too Quick to Quit person… they’re pretty easy to spot, way easier to identify than our first transgressor. Too Quick usually comes in with fire in their eyes and talking the talk. They tell me how great they are and how grateful we should be to have their presence at the academy. They come in 8 days a week and maybe even start to be viewed as the most regular person in the school. Almost too soon, other students and coaches start to buy in and think just maybe this person will be the next life long addict of arm bars. And…. that’s because it is TOO SOON!

As quickly as the fire roared up it dies off from this expectation they can’t uphold. After about 8 weeks they vanish, never to be seen again. Its because consistency and skill are always tougher to come by than talent. This person might even be a serial activity starter, but over the years they’ve never really accomplished anything of substance. To help yourself out of this jam, the first thing we recommend is setting a schedule AND sticking to it. Even if you can come in every day the school is open, chances are you’ll burn out before you begin. Consistency is key, a little bit of discipline and the good news is when Too Quick makes it past 90 days they’re usually tempered and ready for great results.

So Close, Almost Made It!

The Almost Made it type, is the saddest for me as a coach and a mentor. For one I’m in the trenches with my students and have gone through all manner of things with them from cancer treatments and major surgeries to major life events, marriage and kids. It’s a very personal path, but I love the connection we get to have with people in our community and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Almost made it is just about to reach all their goals, is fitter than they ever have been in their life, and their friends think of them as a super hero.

Then it happens, life gets hard. Remember quitting before you started? Almost Made It rekindles the flames of self doubt about the road their on and before checking their map starts acting erratically. They start going to class less, they put in less effort than they ever did before. The excitement is gone from their eyes like the veil being lifted from Wizard of Oz. Often there’s an event that happened in their personal life or in the gym that changed something. Maybe they got the worst of it sparring with a newer person they always owned. Maybe they had an injury playing basketball and the recovery time is the hurdle in itself.

When you make it past the Didn’t Start phase and then knock out the Too Quick commitment jitters, plant a seed in your head on what victory really looks like. Is it an achievement, a belt, a skill level, a fitness level, finding like minded friends, or perhaps a lifestyle? There has to be something in there, some conviction, that when the chips are down you’ll find the resolve to keep going. Pausing your progress after all this time always ends in nothing more than tragic regret.

Deep down this still goes back to the initial reasons to avoid starting something. Most people want an out, we want a valid reason for quitting to relive our burden. That out when you take it is never as satisfying as making it! You can do it, call those friends, talk to your mentors, make a plan and stick to it even if that plan is to simply dig your heels in and be the rock you need to be to succeed.

Mission Accomplished, Right?

Oh Mission Accomplished and still quits quitter is a surprising phenomena. Most marathon runners don’t just run one race and they’re done. They take it to task, feel the rush, and rinse and repeat. Most people who attain an instructorship under Dan Inosanto (Bruce Lee’s protege) or a black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu don’t just drop off. Some do, and it’s a fallacy that’s left over from the Almost Made It mindset.

An out, reinforced by the sheer discipline to keep going it can feel good to take a break, but be careful how long that is or you’ll just end up a quitter. Like Almost Made It, this person fails to have a list of convictions at the ready and reasons why they keep doing things that are good for them. It’s like someone who sets a goal weight and reaches their weight loss number, then immediately stops all the good changes they made and goes back to eating their old lifestyle.

I’ve seen it with Black Belts too, all the skill, time, and dedication required but when it’s accidentally viewed as the end all goal, it’s a let down. As Pedro Sauer says “Black belt is a great place to start learning Jiu Jitsu.” Meaning that you reached the mountain top, and you realize looking down there’s a whole new perspective to learn about in life and it motivates you to keep going. If you thought all the answers were at the top of the mountain, you might be in for a letdown.

The essence of life is in the journey and the steps along the way. Imagine your getting into wood working or music, and you somehow convince yourself after 10 years I will have achieved “it.” IT is impossible to be a stationary goal, it is the accomplishments achieved, the friends made, the learning in itself and those goals are on the move and nothing to be arrived at.

We’re all in this together:

We all face a temptation to quit any number of challenges throughout our life, it’s part of being human. It’s how we handle that process to eliminate our fears and move forward that leads to a life without regret. Also a life filled with new beginnings, new choices, success and thrilling endeavors. Good luck out there!

-By Joe Heller

Head Coach RCW

 

 

*Thanks for reading! If you’re in the mood to try something new, we have tons of classes on offer in Portland and the surrounding area. We hold self defense and mixed martial arts classes like Muay Thai, Boxing, Gracie Jiu Jitsu/BJJ, Jeet Kune Do and Kali year round for all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just getting started we welcome you to come train at River City Warriors. You can START right now by taking advantage of our 5 classes for $5 bucks a class deal. Just click the link below to be an action taker and have a great new experience.