Posts

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

 

 

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