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Martial Musings of An MMA Master

A timeline of quips, tips, and anecdotes from over a decade of martial pursuits…

Justin “Master Chim” Garcia


Thanks for checking out my Ebook!
What you’ll find here is an assortment of short stories, articles, and notes I’ve shard with my students over the last ten year at my academy, The Jungle Gym, located in the Bronx, New York.

While not intended to be a formatted design for instruction or espousing my views on martial arts, enjoy the often irregular grouping of different ideas and approaches to both improving your martial arts growth AND your growth through martial arts!

Osu! ~MC


Remind yourself of what it was like those one. or 12 months from now. I dreamed of one day being good enough to grace the ADCC mats. and I knew it would be my life for better or worse. imagine where you’ll be 1. My goal was never “don’t get tapped when trying new techniques”. or just want to stop rolling. “Coach. We say things like. I just knew that I wanted to reach ABU DHABI. What I decided to do was go for broke. Ironically enough. I used to always use the example. Finally. it’ll remind you to stay hungry! 3 . even browns. I never wanted a reason for failing.” I took those words to heart and never looked back. and that’s the truth. Either way. See. It’s that hunger that eases the illusionary pain felt when you get caught in class. I always preach humbleness to my students. What I felt was that I loved Jiu Jitsu. but lost even more. whenever you feel like you’ll never be any good. remind yourself of what you knew the first day you walked into the Jungle Gym. rain or shine. but it couldn’t be truer! We are all going to have days when we get caught and want to throw our gi away. six. He said in the interview that. “If I put a gun to your head.” I never cared if I got my guard passed. Or my ego didn’t care I should say. it was an interview of a BJJ fighter named Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros that made me believe I could do it. I made it to Abu Dhabi! So remember. Either way. so to speak. ”I need to just focus on techniques.” or “I don’t want to get sore because then I can’t do my reps”.” I knew I wasn’t the most physically gifted fighter in my school so I knew I had to train harder than everybody.A Chance To Practice What I Preach! What an experience it was to finally make it to the Abu Dhabi Combat Club World Championships! First off. It’s that hunger that makes you better. how could I never get caught again?” I would laugh and quickly reply. I never wanted to have an excuse for not making it. Arrogant you say? Not at all. 6. Sometimes. I won some. I trained everyday. you’d roll for three hours straight!” I know I’m nuts. Now acknowledge what you know now. If you were to ask me. I always knew I would make it. I always looked at it like “Hey. let me start by saying when I started practicing Jiu Jitsu a little over four years ago. but the proof is in the pudding." Easy. to you folks. I competed in everything I could. or how a choke worked. I would get tapped by a white belt. or twelve months ago when you didn’t even know what a triangle was. or when you lose a match at the next GQ. Sometimes I’d catch purples. It was never to be the best “Novice” or “Intermediate” grappler in the world. I just got better. never roll again!” It may sound funny. It was making it to “the dance” that kept me hungry. as a blue belt. I never cared if I got caught by someone who I may have felt was less advanced than I was. I always want you to face your Jiu Jitsu challenges with the hunger of a white belt.

some tried their hardest but couldn’t get better. and those who just decorated the mat for a couple of hours a week. if ever. have persevered through the most rigorous of training sessions. You simply had those who were talented and were hungry. and finally those with little talent and not an ounce of hunger. It’s the thing that separates us from many. partners. or even brothers. as a family. but all I knew was that I wanted to share the art that changed my life with as many friends as possible. I wasn’t an Abu Dhabi vet. What wound up happening was that some guys got really good. making sure I did everything in my power to keep their dues current. See. leaving our hearts on the mats and adding to the entity known as the Jungle Gym. did anyone cross paths with those of another “class”. Here we never “leave a man behind”! What I only dreamed of not so long ago is finally coming to fruition. No. I went by “Coach” or simply “Justin” because I wanted friends. We’ve shown up to tournament after tournament. people! Here we look after those that need our help. I wanted to change other people’s lives the way BJJ changed mine. and is what we will always have in abundance here at the Jungle Gym: A Love for Our Brothers! 4 . it’s not the “harness”. In my first Brazilian Jiujitsu school there was never an environment that supported those that needed it the most. nor was I even a BJJ purple belt. it wasn’t called the Jungle Gym at all. including my first school. and it’s about time we recognize what the element is that we have that is lacking in so many other schools. Well.A Love for Your Brothers When I first started the Jungle Gym. not the “arm drag” either. nope. It was for these reasons that I didn’t go by “Sensei” or “Sifu”. I was so paranoid about thinking people would consider me “in it for the money” that often times I even made some bad business decisions for the sake of being “genuine”. The unfortunate thing was that there existed an imaginary line between the groups and rarely. not at the Jungle Gym. It was the Brazilian Jiujitsu program at the Shotokan Karate school next to my gym. I came into teaching BJJ with intentions of changing it from it’s outdated and formal structure into something more intimate. or any other title geared towards creating an impenetrable hierarchy at the school. those with not so much talent but were still hungry. We. but I developed something back then that stays with me to this day and I’m asking you all to acknowledge and try to develop: A love for my brothers. Here we ignite the fire in those who need it. I’ve since learned how to keep the business up while keeping the integrity even higher. I was a very successful BJJ blue belt who had an unquenchable thirst for coaching. if you will. I didn’t want people who I’d refer to as “clients”.

that would probably put you in the hospital. After all. no? What about taking some time off. That’s where most people falter: Establishing a plan that will produce consistent. of course everybody’s different. Without the rigorous nature of your initial approach. amass this huge amount of determination and fail to assess it’s value properly. six months of losing 20 pounds each should leave you weighing about the same as a nine year old. but the title of this article suggests what will probably be the best plan. an unwanted condition that took years to develop is attacked with a strategy that will ultimately fizzle when motivation subsides. Any strategy that attacks a long-term dilemma with an extreme vigor is doomed to fail because when. positive results. people take the sprinter’s approach to what amounts to a marathon-type challenge. the problem is people are creatures of habit and going 100 mph for a month leaves you in no frame of mind to just switch to a “reasonable” lifestyle. every so often. when it comes to getting “in shape”. I can very easily say. “I’m going to drop 20 pounds this month”. You see. Make it a habit to change or eliminate one bad habit a week. what happens then? Do you continue to go ballistic with your routine? No. you’ll be juicing jelly donuts in no time! So what is the solution? Well. but we all know it was our lack of consistent motivation that got us into this jam in the first place What about just switching over to a more reasonable approach after the “sprint” I keep referring to? Again. With that positive outlook comes the necessity for continuous positive results. Being motivated means being positive. For some reason. that goal is reached. After all. or if. Adopt a plan that allows you to consistently make incremental improvements in your lifestyle and health decisions.A Pound A Week All too often. This way you sort of pace the motivation you’re starting with. and then hitting it hard again in a month or so? Unfortunately it would be great if our motivation had pause and play buttons. Acknowledge that you’re human and it’s just not feasible to think you’re going to be a health nut overnight. and then follow up and do it! Now “what’s the problem. people. You make it last. then?” you ask? Simple. losing a pound a week is 52 POUNDS A YEAR! 5 .

It’s why we can’t breathe.Anxiety Ahh. What did you learn from that position? How can you try to make it work right now. when I first started BJJ I would freak out when I couldn’t get someone off of me. remind yourself that you’re not only going to be alright.. It’s one of the reasons we choose to watch TV instead of coming to class. identify that you’re about to become irrational because of the anxiety. If you don’t get it the first time. First. All in all. I suggest you. What we tell ourselves in these most dire of situations is often more important than what we do! I’m a huge fan of self-talk and all it’s potential for positive change in one’s life. what did he do to stop it? And so on… Believe you have the tools to get out. I would start questioning how I was going to die instead of how to get out! Therein lies the problem. It’s why we feel we’ll never get out. Then. and think of it more as a video game that you’re trying to get better at. but that you’re probably going to get a little better because of these “obstacles” in your training! Lastly. it’s something we need to get under control. not as a life or death situation! 6 . become a fan for the benefit of your jiujistu. too. or the guy off of us. think the position through. the word that explains so many instances during those first few months of Jiujitsu. Try this next time you feel anxiety. See.

you start feeling better about “your” Jiu-Jitsu. Overall. as YOUR Coach. It’s the other type of student that is cause for the Coach’s. But after a while a funny thing began to happen. or maybe even brown! Never to realize their true potential. Or. and remember to turn at the sign that says “Champion”!!! 7 . They know they’re far from where they one day wish to be. It’s realizing what the Coach is there for. Whatever the reason. but it’s a different characteristic that I feel serves a student well and makes them coachable. You started learning Jiu-Jitsu! The senior students have a hard time having their way with you. Rather than look to their destination. Now. you came here. they decide to choose a different outlook. Maybe it’s not talking during class. as opposed to the “find a way to win” approach that filled their first Jiu-Jitsu stages.Are You “Coachable”? With numerous tournaments in the coming months. I want to use this opportunity to discuss one of the most valuable characteristics of a champion: Being “Coachable”. What I mean is. and the need and desire for the Coach's help was reinforced. concern. all of these have some merit. as an example. a student at the Jungle Gym. It’s this group that will someday get stuck at blue. you got frustrated. The senior students played with you. Keep winning. They decide to protect their location. maybe it’s screaming over. that you came to this school to learn how to do Jiu-Jitsu. My. It is these students that will falter. They feel they’ve “learned Jiu-Jitsu” and suddenly. Shoot. in the beginning you knew nothing. Now there are many ways to describe what coachable is… Maybe it’s listening to your Coach when He/She tells you what to do. what do I do now!?” during a competition! Well. the goal of their training becomes finding ways to “not lose”. I plead of you. Maybe it was with the end result of becoming a champion in mind. You needed a coach to teach you. as a Coach. It’s at this point that students come to sort of a “crossroad” in their progress. You start dominating a few guys/girls with more regularity. and decide to look to their destination. or purple. Some choose to stay hungry. to use you. So. Their true destination. “Coach. more realistically. Now what I can deduce from this is simple. to learn how to defend yourself. keep trying.

But. in and of itself. those “truck” days didn’t always end in me getting the gold. those “psychic loss” days were always dead-on accurate! The one thing I noticed was that whenever I felt I was going to lose. I’ve seen and felt it all. See. I ALWAYS did! Whenever I had the utmost confidence. A strategy that will lead to better training and most certainly better and more productive competition. Now.Arrogant Amnesia One of the things that I find most difficult to teach is not a technique at all. I mean I was relaxed but “hungry”. So give your wonderful confidence the benefit of a fresh start! 8 . There were those days where I felt like a Mac Truck that was going to run all my opponents over. arrogance is nothing bad or negative. It made jiujitsu fun. What I now suggest to you is a strategy to help you make this happen. giving my all with reckless abandon and I gotta tell ya. sometimes even in the face of logic! It’s what champions are made of. however. but there were also those days where I “knew” I was going to lose. I always felt I gave 100%. Your last performance means nothing. Having competed in over thirty competitions so far. I can assure you. unfortunately. And by 100%. It’s the psychology behind jiujitsu that proves to be the most elusive skill and one I’m determined to pass on to everybody at the Jungle Gym. It’s supreme confidence. I call it “Arrogant Amnesia”. Now by amnesia I mean that each situation is different and needs to be addressed in a “fresh” way.

pain threshold. focus. Submission Grappling. connections. promise to leave no one behind. We are a family that will grow and improve together. we in the martial arts world are consistently beaten into a submission of compliance through the use of titles. endurance. attitude.Birth of a Dynasty! Well. flexibility. We won’t care if we get “caught” a dozen times a day. We will come to terms with the chance of temporary failure. but we will learn to snicker in the face of challenge. money. What does that mean? It means we all can strive to be better than we were yesterday. Here at the Jungle Gym. consistently. with the demise of “Team Groundhog” and the need for us at the school to continue to fly a flag in the world of Jiu-Jitsu. It’s going to represent a new era in the submission arts and you can take pride in knowing that you are part of the movement! In a nutshell. What we DO all have is the ability to improve incrementally. Why? Because we will strive to improve OURSELVES! Not everybody has the time. and Mixed Martial Arts. We will never promote the “Natural Athlete”. potential. strength. It takes all that and more!). and desire to become a world champion (Yep. a new team has been born: The Jungle Gym. This is where the notion of operating a “gym” comes into play. We will not only be able to defend ourselves in an ever growingly hostile world. you’ve just established the “ceiling” that will forever limit your Jiu-Jitsu. learn to keep your light on “green”. and I will help nurture the hunger that will make us all champions! Remember. You need your teammates just as much as they need you. hierarchies. Hold on to your “cowardly” ego. and release ourselves to the inevitability of triumph! Egos are cancer! You had better rip them out of your person or they will eat you alive! The premise is quite simple: Leave your ego home and you will learn to flourish in this school. I. and egos. because it’s in the refusal to stop trying that leads us to the GOLD!!! 10/5/04 9 . as a coach. We can all realize a degree of achievement in this art that is far passed our original expectations. we aren’t interested in who’s better. as YOUR coach.

This is a situation I seek to remedy here at the Jungle Gym. but it’s hard getting someone to get their motor going to not only work a little more to help me. all the while helping make your team stronger. Rarely was what I asked of them their choice on top priorities for their games. I always found myself begging someone to pass my guard. It was a dilemma I soon realized had some of my teammates running off the mat after rolling or even right after class. I would always offer to reciprocate the extra help . often the situation has arisen when I needed the assistance of a teammate on a particular drill when I knew they wouldn’t get as much of a benefit as I did. or maintain topside on me. simply because those were my weakspots. What I propose is the concept of “Boomerang Training”. Maybe they happen to be the same thing. or maintaining the mount. All it entails is simply figuring out what you need to work on. The point is each of you will get valuable individualized drilling. and then asking a teammate to do some “Boomerang Training”. You would then rotate reps of each’s given “Boomerang Agenda”. like escaping bottom side. but then work even more still to then receive the favor in return.B o o m e ra n g Tra in in g In the relative short time of my jiujitsu training. So do yourself a favor and start setting up your Boomerang Training Agenda’s ASAP!!!! 10 . maybe they’re completely unrelated.

You hate wearing the gi. I know. It really is. Brutha. “No-Gi is better for reality” they say. Obviously. Many of the top submission grapplers in the world still religiously train in the gi. It requires patience. but it’s your Jiu Jistu. that’s fine. You know the gi has nothing to do with the “street”. and you know what. Enjoy yourself! 11 . but so many rank beginners of the art “know”. you’ve got another thing coming. hey. Well I firmly disagree. “why does he keep holding my clothes?”. some of you just don’t have fun with the gi. It takes the attributes of it’s participants and puts them away from the forefront of a match. The gi is what teaches you the battle of inches. After all. Fordham and Jerome. But. It’s amazing to me how so many students of BJJ fail to see how the roots of their own art have evolved the sport at a rate never seen in the history of martial arts. if you think that someone on the street isn’t going to be grabbing at you and refusing to give an inch because of the adrenalin pumping through his veins.But I Don’t Want The Gi! Yes. They’ve figured it out. but their gi training didn’t do them wrong either. right? Well. they probably weren’t doing it in their gis. Who wears pajamas in the cage. and espouse the benefits of doing so. don’t even think of mentioning belt promotions. no. Some of you can’t handle that. right? WRONG. When the Gracies were choking fools out on the streets of Rio. Mr. You like the speed of no-gi. I know. according to themselves.

t h er e a r e goin g t o be t im es wh en you n eed t o m ove t o a bet t er posit ion a n d t h er e a r e t im es wh en you m ove t o t a p. you a r e a figh t er !) t wo ba sic opt ion s a t a n y m om en t wh ile r ollin g/spa r r in g: Clim b t h e La dder or F in ish t h e F igh t ! Clim b t h e la dder r efer s t o a n im pr ovem en t on t h e posit ion la dder (see Agen da Gr id). you ’r e u p by 2 poin t s a n d t h er e’s 15 secon ds left . n o m a t t er wh a t ’s h a ppen in g. fin ish in g t h e figh t is exa ct ly t h a t . r em em ber . you a lwa ys sh ou ld be m ovin g! 12 . for t h e m ost pa r t t h e sit u a t ion will dict a t e wh a t ’s m or e a ppr opr ia t e. At a n y given poin t you m a y fin d t h a t su bm ission isn ’t a n opt ion . if you didn ’t kn ow. you ’r e in a ba ck a n d for t h m a t ch wh er e t im e is less of a con cer n . wh ile n ever bu r den in g t h em selves wit h ego-r idden st a gn a t ion . Ma ybe t h e flyin g t r ia n gle you ’ve been wor kin g on ca n wa it ! Bu t . get t in g t h e su bm ission . In t h e fin a ls of a com pet it ion . Wh a t I’ve design ed wit h m y “Agen da Dr iven ” a ppr oa ch t o BJ J is ba sica lly give figh t er s (yes. pr ide m yself on h er e a t t h e J u n gle Gym is m y su ccess in get t in g begin n er s t o m ove a n d t r y t ech n iqu es. It ’s a t t h a t poin t t h a t im pr ovin g posit ion sh ou ld be you r im m edia t e goa l. m y gu ys figh t ! I don ’t a t t r ibu t e t h is t o r u n n in g a “Gla dia t or Sch ool” n or bein g a sla ve dr iver . bu t r a t h er t o a n a n a lyt ica l.Clim b th e La d d e r Or F in is h th e F ig h t! On e of t h e t h in gs I . a s a coa ch . Th er e will be t im es wh en a su bm ission pr esen t s it self a n d you ’ll h a ve a ch oice. In E n glish . bu t . st r et ch h is a r m ! So. a ppr oa ch t o t r a in in g a n d lea r n in g. Obviou sly. do I go for t h e t a p ou t or do I pla y m or e con ser va t ively a n d im pr ove posit ion ? Well. som et im es scien t ific. by t h e sa m e t oken .

Many of us were brought to the Jungle Gym with aspirations of never getting your ass kicked again. and who’ve equally needed help. They spend bank on BJJ accessories. I’ll spend my life in pursuit of them. and You Well. They just do for themselves. and what a fulfilling life it will be. I’ve been around the world competing and training. Jiu Jitsu is one of the most rigorous and physical activities one could do. My career. Others know that it’s just a matter of time. but ultimately left someone in the same situation with no shoulder to lean on. Unfortunately. I’m a coach. My question to you is: What role is Jiu Jitsu going to play in your life? See. The puddles on the mat after class will attest to that! Camaraderie. Just make sure you’re good to Jiu Jitsu in return. but stranded the training partners that needed help of their own. Self-defense. and an easy choice it was. and growing our Jiu Jitsu is usually on our mind 25 hours a day. They came looking for a family. too. We dream of Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu will always be good to you. They have fewer friends than they would like. 13 . Jiu Jitsu certainly sways the odds in your favor during a confrontation and I’m confident in my ability to convey those skills to all of you. they’ve developed an extended “family” that’s gotten them through tough times. Jiu Jitsu is their messiah at first. Fitness. maybe most importantly. They could stand to lose a couple of pounds. but ultimately left a family looking for them. My point is there are infinite benefits to training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.Commitment. but we’d rather die than give up Jiu Jitsu. These people have passed on their void to the environment that nurtured them and helped them to persist and reach their initial goals. competitions. I do feel a sermon coming on. you’re well on your way. They’ve shed a few inches. and I wouldn’t train it in for the world. It’s all too prevalent in Jiu Jitsu. After some time. They want to be able to hold their own in a scrap. The experimenters are those who have a void that is initially filled by Jiu Jitsu. so I apologize in advance! See. and well. etc…. this lifestyle of ours. Everything in my life begins and ends with Jiu Jitsu. techniques. funny you should ask. many of us want to reap all the rewards that Jiu Jitsu has to offer. My life is dedicated to holding the light to the path of my students. It’s a choice I’ve made. I just happen to want to cover some of them briefly. I’d imagine at this point you’re all wondering what I’m going to preach about now. Most other people fall into the next category: The Experimenters. and needs to stop. the Jiu Jitsu Lifestyle. This gives me more joy than anything on this Earth. my wife. We’re a rare breed. This transcends the Jungle Gym. Maybe everybody is ultimately solely motivated by selfpreservation. They ride the wave of our sport to a point in their life where they’re “satisfied”. My life’s network is a JiuJitsu network. They QUIT! Maybe it’s human nature. They wanted to perfect an armbar. This is where a sad thing happens. Some of you have literally “melted” dozens of pounds off on the mats of the Jungle Gym. They needed to lose a couple of pounds. They rack up a Jiu Jitsu video and instructional collection pretty quickly. It’s all about training. we cringe at a missed day of training. for some of you. all begins with this sport of ours. Whatever the case. And. The problem is too often coaches need to make sure someone’s walking the path. there are those of us that are hooked from day one. they could probably triangle an unsuspecting opponent. What rewards? Well. for one. I’ve met the most fascinating people in Jiu Jitsu. my dreams.

Those weeks you got five classes in are giving you five classes worth of progress. I myself am having my first child. It could be interpreted as a plethora of things. but I’ll deal with it as that which keeps your butt coming to class! I have yet to meet a student who has nothing in his/her life other than Jiu Jitsu. In the midst of this. I’ll venture to say that 100% of the people that train BJJ are always negotiating the relationships between training and life’s other “channels”. Now we all know that there are ways to maximize our training strategies. No. and have to fight MMA in March. but the big problem is when people place 5 times a week expectations on a once a week training regimen. It’s like trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents! 14 . In Jiu Jitsu. I recently had to get ready for the ADCC Trials. running a business. the cashier would laugh at you and you’d know why.Consistency It’s one of those sometimes elusive traits of a Jiu Jitsu fighter. and orchestrating a slew of projects on the side. and that week you couldn’t make it? Let’s just say you didn’t get any better that week. How on Earth do we get it all done and do our best when it comes to the mat or ring? I’d say being realistic is the best start. you must recognize that the progress you see is a direct result of the training you’ve “paid” for it. If you went to the store and tried to buy a dollar soda for 15 cents.

whether it be an elaborate submission setup. you can start to formulate the oh so important “agenda” from each position. where you know what techniques you can try from each position. chances are. Get your self a pen and notebook and write it down. This could grow into a “section” for each position. neither do I. Do you know the phone number of every one of your friends and associates by heart? Nah. with concepts and theories included. don’t rely on an admittedly inferior means of storing info. top side. page by page. Nope. word for word. but I’ll start you in the right direction: Make a list of all the positions we encounter in a match/fight. folks. ultimately. when you learn something new. like many successful BJJ competitors and students.Do You Have A Photographic Memory? Well. and therefore have always relied on some form of “system” to organize and store information that is too great for us to “memorize” right off the bat. you’d lend it to them! So why then is it that most Jiujitsu students feel they can “remember” all the techniques and concepts shown to them on their quests’ for better jiujitsu? I haven’t the slightest idea because I. Would you ever try to explain your favorite book to a friend. why do I ask? It’s very simple: We are humans.. the most comfortable format will be up to your own personal standards. you probably own a phone book. or the proper place to grab the lapel when trying a favorite technique. and you avoid the disheartening “stuck on stupid” mode when rolling! NOW BACK ON THE MAT!!! 15 . So. The next thing you know. the answer is a resounding “No”! I have some good news. You know. etc… Then right down a list of techniques you know from each position. not computers. mount.. though. How should you organize such a notebook? Well. believe in the art of “writing stuff down”! That’s right. and nor does anybody else I’ve ever met in jiujitsu.

See. sometimes hopeless. I’m never going to get better. Blind Master Po gave Caine the nickname “Grasshopper”. I’m willing to bet it’s no more than a class or two ago that you lent a much needed hand to one of your brothers or sisters at the Jungle Gym.” Or. you might ask. Well. My goal with this writing is to identify your help’s importance. that is. you’re either helping to make the class better or taking away from the class’ value. so too. The Grasshopper had grown. how am I ever going to do that?” It was then that someone helped you out. It’s impossible to be an invisible spectator in a class. but Po recognized what Caine could be with the proper guidance and mentoring. The point is. He showed little athletic potential. remember. are the students around us striving for discoveries of their own. when times were tough. Well. Whether it was showing you a detail that helped you perform a technique. ”Man. “Aww. So. someone was there to help lift you up. I’m sure we can all remember the disenchanting. help your family out. was a pupil of Po’s class at the legendary Shaolin Monastery. what the heck does this have to do with Jiu-Jitsu or the Jungle Gym? It has everything to do with them! What so many of us fail to realize when we learn JiuJitsu is that just as we are on our own path to discover all the things our JiuJitsu can grow to be. or (cont’d on p2) maybe just a motivating word after an otherwise dismal training day. It was through hard work that Caine became a Shaolin Master. feeling that sometimes overcame us during those first few days and months. let me ask you a question. and don’t step on the grasshoppers! 16 .Don’t step on the grasshoppers! In Kung FU. Many fail to realize that during a class. If you allow it to. Some are further down the road than we are. when’s the last time you helped someone? When’s the last time you gave someone a pat on the back? Knowing most of you as much as I do. But some are nothing more than “Grasshoppers” making their first steps down their individual roads to achievement. It was one of my favorite movies as a child and it teaches so many valuable lessons. Caine. played by David Carradine. Everyone’s affected by everyone.

I instead choose to “handle” them. But not anymore. 17 . See. knowing that they are lucky they didn’t run into a fighter. it represented the perfect armbar. often at the Jungle Gym we talk about those three letters that will destroy your Jiu Jitsu. being a great fighter was the pinnacle of studying a martial art. During those few occurrences recently where a problem was imminent. contribute to true progress in Jiu Jitsu.Fighter or Martial Artist? When I first started to train Jiu Jitsu around four or so years ago. break his arm? Put him in the hospital? Get arrested? Just because he thinks he’s tough? He doesn’t even know that I train Jiu Jitsu!” What would happen is that I painted the total picture in my mind. E-G-O. I would ask myself. What’s changed is my definition of the word “Handle”. It’s the element of one’s personality that prevents them from the possibility of failure because it sways them away from true obstacles. and I still very much believe this to be totally true. The fact was that he didn’t. Having been through many individual progressions and evolutions in the art. that when overcame. I now define it as being above petty conflict. never being concerned with the consequences. I realized I didn’t care if he thought he could beat me up. When I first started. avoiding conflict at all costs. but a true martial artist. Ego makes us take on only those challenges that we can win. Well. and I didn’t get myself in trouble in the process. and I would come to the conclusion that I would be nothing more than a bully if I were to fight this person. or a slick and sneaky choke. Nor did I compromise my integrity as a Martial Artist.” What am I going to do. I often used to wonder how awesome it would be to be able to “handle” any attacker or opponent with superior Jiu Jitsu skills. Why fight on the street against somebody you know you could beat? Why use what you’ve worked so hard to develop on something so beneath you? Anyone can swing at somebody else. I usually smirk to myself when they walk away feeling like they just won a trophy. I can now tell you that being a great fighter has a limited amount to do with the pinnacle of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It helps us make excuses when we lose. This directly translates to the point of this article. those obstacles.

Well. that if you’re reading this you train at the Jungle Gym. You’ll be training hard and you’ll be noticing the increasing ease with which you’ll be handling each new addition to our family. except for those one or two guys that knew they could smash you. of course. or are you going to have yourself some good ole’ humble pie? 18 . neither could anyone else! So it’s with a hopeful intention that I ask you to choose which teammate you’ll be to your greener Jiu Jitsu brothers and sisters.Have Some Humble Pie! It’s that time of year when everyone starts following their diverse resolutions for the new year and I’ll take this opportunity to slip one in on you! Assuming. You tried to grasp the concepts your more experienced teammates exhibited with ease and they. it’s with great confidence. that is. in turn. tried their best to make your growth as comfortable as possible. that you began your grappling journey and you knew nothing. Are you going to make yourself feel better by showing off and bullying those who haven’t had the time in that you do. then. only to make themselves feel better. It’s before this happens that I’m taking the opportunity to request you remember your roots. and did as often as they could. You couldn’t stand these guys and. that I’ll assume that this new year will be one of immense improvement in your Jiu Jitsu. All of them. There was a time. newsflash. whether here or elsewhere.

But now I want to open the door for the next level. See. I think some of you are ready. Our “Olympics”. because this is going to be one of those articles that’s going to require a great deal of interest in order to make a difference. But each of you has the obligation. I didn’t miss class to go to the beach. in my opinion. and I couldn’t be prouder of the effort put forth by every one of you all. Maybe I know you can go another round. you may not even care about reaching that level of competition. maybe I know you’ll feel better about yourself if you push that little extra. So I ask of you. This is the manifestation of what I had dreamed of when I first started the Jungle Gym.How Far Can We Push You? Ok. it’s my job to be your own individual mirror. if you will. I didn’t get there by being a little sissy when I got mat burn on my toes. I trained. I just went to watch class if I couldn’t move. if this is what you’re thinking. Shoot. or a “tough love-driven” comment from one of your teammates. just maybe. That’s all. I trained. I didn’t take a week off until my elbows stopped hurting. I didn’t get discouraged when choked at a tournament. We all know that I want everything you have. to reach something far more valuable than Abu Dhabi. good. then a little more. That’s all. I didn't get there by stopping when I was tired. Tell me. I want you to be anxious to know what I’m talking about. There have been days when you know you would’ve packed it in if it weren’t for a suspicious look from me. well. we all know that the Jungle Gym is place built on the concept of “tough love”. I don’t think everyone’s going to be in AD any time soon. Your own potential. My dilemma now is I need to find a way to transfer that kind of drive to my students. what goes through your mind when I give you “that look” when you tell me you can’t go another round? Why do I ask so much of your efforts in class? Is it because I like being a slave driver? Is it because I like seeing people throw up? Or maybe. No. the most prestigious no-gi grappling event in the world. how far can “we” push you? 19 . I started Jiu Jitsu with a fire I rarely saw in my peers. and my drive and hard work culminated in me being invited to Abu Dhabi. now what on earth is Coach talking about now? What does he mean “we”? Well.

Even I got my brown belt in a little over three and a half years! There’s no more ridiculous time table on progress in this art and it doesn’t stop there. The way the art is taught nowadays is improving by the week and techniques of coaching have been brought from all different sports and subjects to help make the road to Jiu Jitsu success a short one. the average time spent at each belt is around 2 years or so. I guess it’s a testament to the powerful impression Jiu Jitsu makes on observers and beginners alike that accounts for the feeling of “novice hopelessness” to which I’m referring. he was too small and too weak. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is for the weak and doofy! But wait. The structure and format of cutting edge schools (like the Jungle Gym) are much more evolved than traditional schools and the progress of it’s students are what schools of the past could only have dreamed for! So. there’s more. His answer to this dilemma was to alter those techniques to some who is assumed to not have any of the favorable “athletic” attributes. The bad thing about this is that it accounts for a lot of dropouts of those just starting out. leaving the average time to acquire the black belt around 10 years! But that’s changing here in the states. I’ve got it from there! 20 . Helio Gracie. I have proof! Brazilian jiu-jitsu was developed by a man. In other words. which got me over the “hump”. that couldn’t perform the more demanding techniques of traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu. you’ve all heard me say this many times but I’ll say it again. I’m never going to get this stuff! I’ll never be able to do those moves!” It was a very humbling experience but I think it was my competitive nature. if anything. so to speak. but the awesome thing is that it’s absolute nonsense. In Brazil.” Man.I’ll Never Get it Right…Or Will I? One of the feelings I remember most when I first started Jiu Jitsu is thinking. The rate at which people are learning the art now is sometimes a fraction of years past. in conclusion. So. hopefully more convincingly: The hardest part of Jiu Jitsu is showing up to class. in other words.

would you say “don’t worry. believe that competition makes us better and we need to always challenge ourselves. you believe you should lose! Whenever you step on the mat to compete. my friend. But do not confuse this with a poor mindset going into a match! Every time you get ready to compete the thoughts “it’s OK if I lose” or “I hope I do well” should NEVER enter your mind. is being intense! 21 . If you try to tell yourself that on the mat.Intensity Descriptions often fall sort of adequately expressing it’s impressive power. Often. Imagine your son or brother was going to compete. INTENSITY needs to be shown and. and you’re going to beat this guy no matter what! That. That’s the stuff you tell yourself before you leave your house that morning. Tell yourself that you’re ready. you need to treat your “self-talk” the same way. in turn. hungry. when it comes to competitions. I truly believe that it’s the challenge itself that has value. for one. there should be nothing but positive thoughts in your mind. experienced. or the weeks leading up to the competition. while others choose to exhibit a lot more energy and want to “psyche themselves up”. No. some choose to compete even keeled. I. not trying to get themselves to excited. people confuse what their “perspective on competing” should be with what “intensity” they should have during competition. it’s ok to lose”? Of course not! Well. regardless of whether we win or not. Now.

the ONLY thing you can control is your effort! Now. Either way. Maybe it’s getting your butt off the couch and forcing yourself to class. we say. in a world where status is where it’s at. and EGO is bullying the hell out of you! 22 . One of my favorite things in my dealings with the kids is advising them what to do in the case of “Bullying”. There’s always going to be someone better than us. don’t get me wrong. basketball. maybe I was blessed with great mentors when it came to competition. there’s always going to be something we can do to make ourselves better. I know. in all my years of competition.It Doesn’t Matter If I Win or Lose? Really? Ya know. to keep things positive. there is only so much we can control. And I absolutely believe in this 100%! See. but that’s just a competitor trying to be competitive. Justin Garcia has never been accused of quitting. Maybe I was raised this way. whether it be wrestling. my friends. and being the best is everybody’s dream. there were days when things just didn’t go the way it was planned. Yeah. that the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him. Yep. win or lose. Maybe it’s staying those last ten minutes to get a round or two more of rolling. I’m sure we’ve always heard. or maybe it just made sense to me. yes. Either way. Maybe it’s putting the cake down! (I’m guilty myself!) But the point is. maybe even said. That’s it. and so many times in competition it’s the things we have NO control over that decide the outcome! Now some would say. football. you are the kid. even Jiu Jitsu. we sometimes lose sight of reality. Well. the bully will know he can’t pick on you without being stood up to. “So what you’re saying is that we can’t control who wins and loses?” Absolutely not! What I’m trying to convey is that the beauty of competition is its ability to test you against yourself! “How hard did I try? How much effort did I give?” Those are the things that should decide victory and failure. But. the only thing that was always on my mind was that there was no way anyone could say I didn’t give 100%. but it couldn’t possibly be truer. corny as hell. if you think about it. Always. Nothing more! One of the things that I’ve deduced over my years of competing and coaching is that the only reason one refuses to compete is the worst three letter word in the English language: EGO. There were days when I was flat out disgusted with the way I performed. or. I’ve never even thought of giving anything but 100% because.

Ir on ica lly en ou gh . bu t I ca n ’t st r ess en ou gh t o you t o ben efit s of or ga n izin g you r t ech n iqu es. t h e a gen da will in t en sify. I a lwa ys seem t o ju st filt er ou t t h e t h in gs I deem u sefu l. r em em ber . h ow’s it goin g? See. I’m a h u ge fa n of in st r u ct ion a ls. a n even bigger fa n of self im pr ovem en t pr ogr a m s. a n d en h a n ce you r jiu jit su ! 23 . Rem em ber . No. a n d disca r d t h e r est . a n d t h en ju st disca r din g wh a t t h ey deem u n im por t a n t . I cer t a in ly do n ot wa n t t o offer a pa r t ia l pr odu ct ! I u n der st a n d t h a t t h e set u p of t h e a gen da m a y be a lit t le ba fflin g a t fir st . solidify. a n d don ’t wor r y I’m pr oba bly goin g t o be cr eat in g a booklet t o do t h a t job for you . well. bu t t h er e h a s a lwa ys been on e pr oblem wit h m y in t er a ct ion s wit h t h ese t h in gs. My qu est ion t o you is. Th e r ea son I see t h is a s a pr oblem is t h a t t h e a ppr oa ch m a y fin d it ’s wa y in t o m y dea lin gs wit h ot h er t h in gs t h a t m a y n eed a lit t le m or e a dh er en ce t h e wh ole pr ogr a m . you ’ve a ll en t r u st ed m e wit h t h e job of t ea ch in g you jiu jit su a n d su bm ission gr a pplin g. t h e a gen da is on e su ch pr ogr a m ! I r ea lly wa n t t o a void t h e a ver a ge st u den t h er e a t t h e J u n gle Gym ju st sor t of list en in g t o wh a t I h a ve t o sa y.The Jiu Jitsu Agenda Revisited It ’s been m on t h s sin ce som e of you h a ve been in t r odu ced t o t h e con cept of t h e “Agen da ” a n d t h e pit fa lls of t h e dr ea ded “st u ck on st u pid” m ode. m or e t h a n sim ply or ga n izing you r t ech n iqu es.

some would say you should just relax and try to escape. then how to make it harder to pass. “I’m the best in the world at this position” is what I believe he said. then how to sweep. we’re gonna die!!!!! Of course I’m being humorous. we’ve all been there. you’ve fought with every ounce of skill and effort to stop this monster from passing your guard and. You know. when in a horrifying position. Etc… The end result is a “full” agenda from all positions. unfortunately. he’s hugging your ribs like he wants them for dinner! Now. sometimes we have to develop our games from the inside out. We learn how to get our guards back first. and with varying degrees of success. we can’t breathe. no? Well. He suggested that. but we lose sight of logic itself! We start getting down on ourselves on how we’re never going to get out. Some would suggest working on your guard. and he couldn’t be more right! The problem with weak positions is that we lose sight of what we know. not to panic (duh!). Some would say tap when you’re about to pee yourself. even the “deadly” ones! Give it a try! 24 . but to repeat a positive “mantra” if you will to keep you in a PRODUCTIVE frame of mind. but I’m sure I’m not too far off of shared experiences.Let’s Not Make A Bad Situation Worse! Oh my god!!!! How do I get this guy off of me?!?!?! Ha-Ha. Not only that. BOOM. I would say none of the above! One of the brilliant strategies my friend Lloyd Irving had suggested once sums up what I figured out in my early white belt days the most.

Let your subconscious deal with it for a while and you’ll be surprised at how efficient your brain can be. Jiu Jitsu is filled with these “Lightbulb Moments” and they should always be taken and absorbed in the context of which they’re intended..BAM! You hit the original move flawlessly! You mentally let out a big “Ohhhhhhhh…” and you realize the previous error of your ways.“Lightbulb Moments” You all know the moment: You’ve been trying to get a move for weeks. only to be frustrated by the absence of that one detail that brings it together.. You’ll always find that a technique that is frustrating you should be abandoned for a while. Get it off the plate of anger and into the bowl of patience. Well. Never give up on a move. “Give it over” to your brain’s hidden workers and let the “lightbulb moments” shine! 25 . That one little step that makes the difference between your opponent tapping from you or laughing at you! Then. when you’ve forgotten about it. or even when you’re busy being frustrated from something else entirely.

J iu J it su is so m u ch mor e t ha n sim ply a ma r t ia l a r t . Be it a pla ce to m eet new people. t h r ough J iu J it su . E ver yone fr om t he gu y who wa n t s t o lose som e weigh t . m a ke J iu J it su you r own . t h e bigger pict u r e t h a t is. E ven ca llin g it a lifest yle seem s la ckin g t o m e. a n d I h a d t o rea lize t h a t som et im es even if I t r ied m y best . or t o give you t he t ools for t h e r in g. Th er e wer e t im es t h a t t r a in in g a llowed me t o esca pe st r essfu l da ys (Ca n you sa y pr egn a n t wife?). a n d t h e ea ger n ess t o st ill r ea p it ’s ben efit s. m y wife in clu ded. t o Royce Gr a cie wh o’s been r a ised on t h e m a t . Th er e wer e t im es wh en t h e m a t s wer en ’t so fr ien dly. obviou sly BJ J m a y be a lit t le m or e im por t a n t t o som e wh o m a kes a livin g wit h it a s I do. t he mea n s t o pu sh you r self like n o ot h er a spect of you r life does. Now.Ma k e J i u J i t su You r O w n ! In a ll m y yea r s of pr a ct icin g Br a zilia n J iu J it su I’ve m et people who’ve ha d BJ J a ll over t h e spect r u m of pr ior it y in t h eir lives. I’ve m et som e of m y dea r est fr ien ds. bu t m y poin t . Th e one t h in g t h a t I’ve fou n d in com m on in m ost of t h e people I’ve m et is t h eir a ccept a n ce of t h e r ole BJ J pla ys in t h eir lives. a n d ha ve t r a veled a ll over t h e wor ld beca u se J iu J it su is a pa r t of m y life. F or m e it ’s a lwa ys been t h e wa y I’ve discover ed t h e ch a llenges t o im pr ove my ch a r a ct er a nd lea r n a bou t m yself. a n d t h er e wer e a lso da y s wh er e I’ve u sed m y knowledge of BJ J t o pu t a sm ile on som eone’s fa ce. vict or y wa s ou t of r ea ch . a n d u se ou r J un gle Gym t o do it ! 26 . is t h e a r t we've come t o love does m a n y t h in gs for m a ny people.

: Ma ch in e Milit a r y P r ess a ft er st r a in in g a n AC join t wit h a t igh t Am er ica n a ). t her e wa s on e t h in g on ever y gym r a t s m in d…BODYBUILDING! Wh a t ’s wr on g wit h t h a t . So r ea d wh a t I h a ve t o sa y wit h a s open a m in d a s you r br a in wa sh ed on e cou ld m u st er . you DO get wr on g dir ect ion s…. Th e ba d en d of t h a t wa s t h ey st opped wor r yin g a bou t “St a bilit y”. St r on ger Lon ger . bu t . I get em ba r r a ssed ver y ea sily. a n d. Well. Im a gin e a t en t in t h e deser t …ju st go wit h it …wit h m a n y differ en t dir ect ion fr om wh ich it cou ld be r ea ch ed. Wh a t I’ve m a de m y pr ofession is t h e “Debr a inwa sh in g” a n d “Rebr a in wa sh in g” of t oda y’s a t h let es. If I h a ve t o m a ke weigh t . You see. ch a n ce for bid. Th e r ea son for t h is is I WANT TO DO TH E WORK! Ou r m u scles h a ve t wo pr im a r y fu n ct ions. wh en you ’r e don e. so let ’s lift t h a t wa y. a s lon g a s you do. Th a t m ea n s I wa n t t o n ot on ly m a in t a in t h e st r en gt h I h a ve over a gr ea t er per iod of t im e. I t a ilor m y ea t in g. a n d bein g “H UGE ”. st a bilize weigh t . a n d t h en m ove it . wh y n ot ju st h a ve it do th e set for you a lso?! Ou r bodies a r e st r ongest wh en t h ey ca n st a bilize a s m uch a s t h ey ca n lift . ba ck t h en . A differ en t a ppr oa ch doesn ’t n ecessa r ily a wr on g on e.Org a n ize Yo u r Ch a o s ! Wh en I fir st st a r t ed t r a in in g wit h weigh t s I en du r ed t h e sa m e u seless edu ca t ion a s pr oba bly m ost of you . 27 . or wh en t h e bodyweigh t /fr ee weigh t ver sion of a m ovem en t is t oo a dva n ced (i. n ot a pa r t icu la r wor kou t or r egim en . If we h a ve t h e m a ch in e h old it for u s. In a n u t sh ’r e dea d. you sa y? Qu it e sim ply. people st a r t ed wor r yin g a bou t “Tr a ps”. a n d t h a t ’s t h e on ly r ea son I weigh m yself. bu t “pr et t y fr ea kin g la m e” is a bou t a s soft a s I get . Now m a n y people believe in m a n y differ en t ph ilosoph ies. m y goa ls in t h e weight r oom a r e sim ple. Let m e st a r t by sa yin g t h e on ly t im e I u se m a ch in es is t o eit h er r eh a b a n in ju r ed m u scle m ovem en t (i. or h ow t h in m y skin is. Wh a t exer cises a r e best ? Wh a t m a ch in es? Wh a t r est per iod? Well. n ot m y lift in g.e.e. a t h let ic per for m a n ce. m a ybe “u seless” is a t a d bit h a r sh . I a lso wa n t t o con t in u ously in cr ea se t h e lim it of t h a t st r en gt h . “Ba la n ce”. (con t ’d on ba ck …) I don ’t ca r e h ow m a n y a bs I h a ve. “P ower ”.: La t pu lldown m a ch ine for a per son wh o ca n ’t do a pu ll-u p). Th is is t h e fir st of m a n y in st a llm en t s on wh a t I like t o n ot -so-hu m bly ca ll “Th e Ch im Ch im Wor kou t ”. “Abs”. m ost som eh ow r ea ch in g a com m on bot t om lin e. Doesn ’t m a t t er h ow you get t h er e. t h e pur pose of t h is a r t icle is t o con vey a ph ilosoph y. I st a r t ed in t h e ea r ly n in et ies a n d. I don ’t wa n t a n y “m essia h ” t a lk.

FIN 28 .