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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

 

 

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.

 

 

 

In a visual world, why not put all your curriculum on You Tube?

We often get requests from students to make supplemental videos to training. We are definitely on the path and welcome that encouragement! Right now we’re exploring the best way to put curriculum online. Like some ancient culture our martial technology is precious to us. It also comes down to a level of respect and loyalty that we have for our instructors who shared the art with us. It’s not fair for us to see what they went through to attain this level of expertise and then give it all away online to the general public. Like Star Wars, incredible powers of self-defense and badassery that come with skills like Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Jeet June Do can be used for good or evil. Since thugs have access to the internet, we feel a little hesitation in a complete open source martial arts channel.

We’re gearing up to launch video content training soon!

Currently we’re researching platforms and organizing our content that will be released in the near future. It’ll happen! One day soon all our students, and even people around the world, can engage in the martial arts on display at RCW. For now at this crossroads we have a ton of stuff up on our Youtube channel. It’s a good mix of what you can expect from our classes and if you’ve been attending you’ll probably find some drills, techniques or at least fond memories from things we’ve explored together at RCW. If you want to head over to the channel just click.  —> The Tube <—

Nothing beats real human beings when it comes to learning a craft

The warriors in our tribe do the best they can to be generous and sharing with the material on offer. We feel as instructors that there are so many hurdles to training such as scheduling, health and wellness, family balance, and just learning a new skill that we NEVER put arbitrary golden carrots on a stick in front of students and start fishing. Have a question? We’ll answer it! Want to get better and improve? We’ll do our best to get you there! And if we don’t know the answer, we’ll bring in an expert who does. Trust us when we say we’ve seen quite the opposite, but RCW is always a stronger tribe when everyone is working and sharing together.

Here’s a small sample of our Jeet Kune Do and Kali class from a while back. This is the first of 3 core concepts for developing defense against a knife attack. Hope you enjoy and thanks for watching!!

 

Sincerely,

Guro Joe