Jul 142013
 

triangle 199x300 5 Reasons Good Grapplers Lose in BJJ Competitions            The art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whether practiced with or without a Gi, has multiple modern applications.  As anyone who has trained for any length of time knows, BJJ is one of the best styles for street self defense due to its emphasis on getting the fight to the ground, limiting the attacker’s ability to land strikes and ending the altercation as quickly as possible while also avoiding the over usage of striking techniques which could land the defender in jail due to excessive force.  BJJ is also an excellent way for people of all ages to get into peak physical condition, including losing weight, gaining functional strength and improving flexibility and cardio vascular endurance.  Of those who do get involved, a large number of BJJ students stick with the art because they grow to love the activity of grappling itself and this influences many to test themselves in grappling competitions.  However, there are many differences between casual rolling in one’s own school and competing in a grappling tournament and failure to understand and prepare for these differences can lead otherwise excellent grapplers to lose matches in a tournament format.  As a BJJ brown belt who has competed in thirty-four grappling tournaments I personally know some of these pitfalls all too well.  In this article I will outline five reasons why good grapplers can meet with defeat in a tournament setting while giving examples from my own experiences and tips which have helped me to be successful.  It is my hope that other aspiring competitors can learn from these experiences so that they can have the best chances for success when they decide to put their skills to the test.

One of the main reasons that many excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students fail to perform as well as they should in grappling tournaments is lack of training in takedowns.  While my current school of Precision MMA in Lagrange, New York does emphasize takedowns we are actually a great minority in that respect.  The majority of BJJ schools start their rolling sessions from the knees and never teach their students how to properly execute or defend against takedowns.  In a tournament setting this presents problems for a number of reasons.  For one, under all tournament formats, whether they are fought with or without a Gi, points are awarded for completion of a successful takedown.  As such, students who do not train takedowns have one fewer way to score points in competition.  However, this is not the only problem because failure to train in takedowns also means that the student will not know how to defend against them and this gives his opponent one more way to score points on him.  Moreover, unless the student who is lacking in takedowns is able to sweep his opponent from bottom guard this also means that his opponent will be able to have the top position whenever he wants it and this limits the students’ chances for victory even more because other than a few tournaments with different rules awarding points for submission attempts, there is usually no way for the opponent on bottom to score points excluding a sweep.  This means that if the opponent on bottom guard cannot sweep his opponent it is nearly impossible for him to win on points and his only avenue to victory is to submit his opponent from on bottom.  Before I became more proficient at takedowns this was a situation I frequently found myself in while competing and believe me when I tell you that this is no fun at all.  Many of my opponents in past competitions have been wrestlers and with how common it is for wrestlers to cross over into the world of BJJ these days if you are looking to compete you had better prepare yourself to be matched against them.  Wrestlers specialize in takedowns above all else and so failure to train in them can spell disaster for the pure BJJ practitioner.

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This leads me to my second reason why quality BJJ students can meet with defeat in a tournament setting which is the mentality of being too relaxed, especially while in bottom guard and while down on points, and failure to grapple proactively and force one’s opponent to make a mistake rather than simply waiting for him to make one.  Now I do not mean to imply that an opponent who finds himself on top or in any position for that matter cannot fall prey to the mistake of letting the time run out in a tournament match while down on points because it can certainly happen in any number of scenarios.  However, I myself have found that almost every time it has happened to me I have been taken down by a superior wrestler and found myself down on points while in bottom guard or half-guard.  I cannot possibly begin to count the number of times my opponent has scored points exclusively through takedowns and I have had to deal with the mounting frustration of realizing that he is content to sit in my guard making minimal attempts to pass as the time to secure a submission becomes ever shorter.  Aside from the inability to get a takedown or sweep myself or stop my opponent’s takedown I attribute my difficulties in these scenarios to two factors.  The first is an “old school” Jiu-Jitsu mentality which had been particularly popular during my early days of training which is actually an over emphasis on being relaxed in training.  Jiu-Jitsu is translated as “the gentle art” from Japanese and this generally implies that it is a style where the practitioner should be able to overcome his opponent while using as little physical strength as possible.  While it is very important that the Jiujitsuka focus on proper technique above all else and never be tense while training, it is possible to take this approach too far to the opposite extreme and refuse to use any extra exertion when grappling.  This generally amounts to being exclusively defensive which is a good way to lose when one is already down on points in competition.

deep half 5 Reasons Good Grapplers Lose in BJJ CompetitionsThe second factor I attribute my difficulties in competition to while in a “down on points” scenario is related to the aforementioned, but rather than being an attitude towards grappling it has to do with a style of offense and defense, especially while on bottom guard.  It has been said that some BJJ practitioners have a “pro-active” guard style while others have a “reactive” guard style.  A “pro-active” guard style is one where the opponent on bottom guard does not rely on his opponents’ attempts to pass to set up a sweep or submission.  Instead of expecting that the opponent will aggressively pursue a guard pass, the “pro-active” guard player attacks the top man relentlessly, chaining together multiple sweep and submission attempts until something works for him.  One popular style of “pro-active” guard is Eddie Bravo’s “Rubber Guard” but this is by no means the only type of guard which falls in this category.  I myself have found significant success with a variety of “upside down guard” techniques which involve hooking the top man’s leg with the near hand and rolling underneath the opponent in an attempt to secure a leg lock.  Other “pro-active” guard styles include the deep-half guard, X-guard, butterfly half guard, and many others.

On the other hand, “reactive” guard styles are those where the bottom opponent relies almost entirely on the top man’s attempts to pass guard to set up a submission or sweep.  A simple closed guard where the bottom player refuses to open for extended periods could be seen as a “reactive” style, but the truth is that any time the bottom player refuses to act first he is grappling “reactively”.  For years I grappled this way and lost many matches because I simply assumed that my opponent would aggressively attempt to pass my guard.  What the BJJ competitor needs to realize is that if the top opponent is up on points he has no need to pass, he need only remain active enough not to be called for stalling and otherwise he’ll be cruising to an easy decision win against a bottom player who refuses to act first.  Now let me be clear here: I am not saying that reactive grappling and guard styles do not have their place in competition, and in reality all grappling matches include a combination of proactive and reactive techniques.  My point is merely that rolling in the dojo exclusively is likely to foster a sort of reactive grappling which does not acknowledge time limits or a point system since neither exists in casual rolling.  As such, before entering a competition the casual grappler must become acquainted with these differences and realize that there may be times in competition where the onus will be on him to press the action if he wants a favorable outcome.

Another reason that casual Jiu-Jitsu practitioners these days often fail to have success in tournaments is that they do not train in leg locks.  While every BJJ school offers instruction in all varieties of arm locks and chokes, for whatever reason many instructors do not teach leg locks or allow their students to train in them.  One reason may be that they are afraid of students injuring each other, but the truth is that if trained properly leg locks are no more dangerous than any other submission.  As one of my specialties, I frequently win tournament bouts with leg locks and have later heard many times as an excuse that my opponent simply did not train in them.  Just like the aforementioned problem with failure to train in takedowns, a competitor has no one to blame but himself if he has not at least attempted to gain familiarity with techniques which might be used against him in competition.  If attacking with leg locks is not your thing then there’s no need to go for them while competing but you should at the very least know how to defend against them if you want to find success on the competition circuit.  Even if you do train in every possible technique Jiu-Jitsu has to offer you are likely to eventually encounter someone who is better at it than you but you will not completely be a “fish out of water” so to speak, when confronted with it.

derek 212x300 5 Reasons Good Grapplers Lose in BJJ CompetitionsMy fourth reason for why a good casual grappler might be unsuccessful in competition might seem to go without saying but I know its importance first hand, and this is failure to warm up properly.  While most BJJ classes do emphasize warm ups, they are not nearly so important in casual rolling.  This is because tapping one’s training partner should not be, nor is it usually a major concern of the casual grappler since grappling in a dojo is only practice.  As such, the very beginning of the rolling session itself can be part of the warm up and the partners can increase the intensity of their grappling at their own pace.  On the other hand, a tournament match can be extremely intense from the first second to the last.  Because of this the intensity will be a serious shock to the system for the grappler who has neglected his warm up.  Not only will his muscles be cold which may be a risk for injury, without his blood pumping freely before the start of the match the stiff grappler will be likely to fatigue more easily and I have personally lost matches for this reason alone.  I strongly recommend that all grapplers wear layers, such as sweatshirts and sweatpants prior to competing in order to keep their body heat up and engage in any activity which will get their heart pumping faster such as jumping rope, jumping jacks or burpees.  Make it a priority not to get out there until you have a good sweat going first.  I’ve personally noticed a big improvement in my performance since I started taking my warm ups seriously.

The fifth and final reason I will give for why many casual grapplers fall short in competition is that they do not realize the importance of finding the right weight class.  As someone who stands just shy of 5’8, I have only recently realized that I’d be best off competing in the 159lbs division.  In the past I have grappled as high as 179lbs and I can say first hand that being the smallest one in your division can make things difficult.  BJJ tournaments are full of wrestlers who have been cutting weight for years and all Jiu-Jitsukas would be best to learn from their example.  While the weight classes at different tournaments can vary greatly, if you wish to compete go over your options with your instructor ahead of time and figure out the weight at which you will be most likely to find success.  You will generally want to get as light as you can without weakening yourself, and to do this proper diet is essential and you should only sweat out as much water as is absolutely necessary.  If you make your diet a priority you just might find yourself the biggest and strongest competitor in your weight class which can only increase your chances for success.

In summation, competitive grappling is very different from casual rolling and any BJJ student who wants to be successful on the tournament circuit should keep in mind all the aforementioned tips if they want a leg up on the competition.  By training in takedowns and takedown defense the Jiu-Jitsuka can gain the ability to decide where the match takes place and not give up much needed points.  By learning to grapple proactively and through understanding that the pace of a tournament match is different from that of a casual rolling session the student can take the initiative against the opponent.  By training in leg locks the student will never be caught off guard by attacks which many schools neglect.  And finally, by warming up properly and finding the right weight class the aspiring competitor can avoid injury and fatigue come game time and hopefully find himself amongst the stronger competitors in his bracket.  These are just a few tips the BJJ student should know before actively competing but they can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

 

About the author:

jamey 300x300 5 Reasons Good Grapplers Lose in BJJ Competitions

Jamey Bazes is a Hudson Valley martial arts practitioner holding a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt with over 15 years of competition experience earning over 100 tournament victories.  He also holds a Masters of Arts Degree in English from SUNY New Paltz with a focus on the English Romantic poets.

 

 

Jul 012013
 

Precision Mixed Martial Arts in the Hudson Valley: Compliments and Expands Upon Karate Training

mt11 300x214 Hudson Valley Martial Arts More Than Karate at Precision Mixed Martial Arts

Hudson Valley Martial Arts

Every martial artist in the world starts with a base or “core-style” which they must then build off of.  Few who become passionate about the martial arts will train in one style alone throughout their life; most will branch out and experiment with other arts.  While the Hudson Valley area of New York does offer a variety of different styles in which to train, like most parts of the United States and perhaps even the world, Karate and its multiple sub-styles is generally the most common.  I myself got started in Kenpo, Karate at age eight and continued with it up until I attained my second degree Brown Belt at age fourteen.  Like many, I wanted to try out other arts and went on to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and later other styles.  Though Karate certainly has its strong points, in general many of its sub-styles neglect ground grappling as well as takedowns and the key elements of boxing head movement and footwork, as well as others.  Precision Mixed Martial Arts in the Hudson Valley teaches a number of styles which can compliment and expand upon the Karate background of many students who walk through our doors.

12076823 precision front 300x177 Hudson Valley Martial Arts More Than Karate at Precision Mixed Martial Arts

Hudson Valley Martial Arts

As a young martial artist growing up outside the Hudson Valley area I trained daily in Karate.  For whatever reason, this style has gained perhaps more notoriety over time than any other and tends to be most frequently the style which young martial artists start off with.  While I enjoyed this training and found that it greatly aided my flexibility and kicking ability, I also had certain gripes with it.  For example, even as a kid I innately realized that the lack of full contact sparring inhibited my reaction time to attacks.  We did include sparring, but the only legal target was the body, and this sadly was not enough for me to learn to apply my techniques in real time.  I wanted a martial art like boxing or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which would stress full body awareness and reaction time so I would be prepared for attack.  After attaining my second degree Brown Belt in Kenpo, Karate at age 14, I stopped and within the next few years became involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after seeing the great Royce Gracie use it to win the first Ultimate Fighting Championship.  I quickly realized how many areas my former style of Karate training had neglected.  I had no idea how to defend myself on the ground, nor did I know how to defend myself against takedowns.  After a year or two of BJJ I began to grasp these elements for the first time.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is, of course, one of the main arts which Precision MMA in the Hudson Valley focuses on.  This is quite fortunate for any Karate stylist who decides to train with us.  Even the most effective Karate Black Belt will be helpless against a trained Jiu-Jitsuka, or for that matter even an entirely untrained attacker, once the fight hits the ground.  The grappling techniques which Precision MMA teaches its students will enable all former Karatekas to expand upon their core striking style so they can defend themselves either standing or on the ground.

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Hudson Valley Martial Arts

Now, if you happen to be a Karate practitioner you may be saying to yourself “if I am ever attacked I want to be able to use my core martial art to defend myself, and would rather stay on my feet than go to the ground.”  This is a reasonable stance, and Precision MMA in the Hudson Valley can accommodate this mode of thinking as well.  The last range of standing combat, which occurs before the fight must conclude on the ground, is the takedown range, and in order for any Karate practitioner or striker to use their art they must be able to defend the takedown.  The two best martial arts for defending against takedowns are wrestling and Judo, and both of these are taught at Precision MMA in the Hudson Valley.  We have division one wrestlers who help with our no-gi Jiu-Jitsu classes as well as a world class Judo black belt who aids us in our Gi classes who can show you all the necessary methods for defending different types of takedowns and keeping the fight standing.  Indeed, this strategy is quite well known in the world of Mixed Martial Arts today and is often referred to as “sprawl and brawl”.  We at Precision of course also teach all around Mixed Martial Arts classes which combine striking with wrestling and Judo, so we can show you how to mix up your striking attacks with your takedown defense and offense in these classes in ways which will expand upon our wrestling and Judo classes as well.  However, any Karate stylist who attends Precision in the Hudson Valley will want to be sure to make it to our wrestling and Judo classes so that they can acquire the takedown defense necessary to utilize their prior training.  A Karate expert with top notch wrestling and Judo would be a very dangerous opponent for anyone as they would have the tools to keep the fight standing against nearly anyone and use their Karate background, and if they should find themselves on the ground they would also have our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques to fall back on.

dan miller 300x203 Hudson Valley Martial Arts More Than Karate at Precision Mixed Martial Arts

Hudson Valley Martial Arts

Still, Karate as a martial art does not have all of the answers for self defense against standing attacks either and the person who’s entire background consists of what they learned at their local Hudson Valley Karate studio will be lacking when it comes to certain fundamentals common to boxing.  Boxing is just one of several martial arts taught at the Hudson Valley’s Precision MMA, but our instructors know how to teach this art in such a way that it will compliment all other styles the student might know.  One of our boxing coaches, Jon Russo, has himself also trained in styles such as Taekwondo and Jeet Kune Do, which have quite a few similarities to Karate.  As such, he is especially adept at combining his knowledge of these styles with his boxing technique and helping Karate practitioners to add boxing fundamentals to their game.  Karate tends to focus on parries and moving blocks as opposed to head movement and footwork to get out of the way of punches like boxing does.  While Karate’s defenses can work at times, they are limited when facing a skilled striker and knowing boxing’s methods for defense is very important.  Not only this, but as mentioned before, boxing is an art which is almost exclusively done in “real-time” and honed in serious sparring sessions.  Therefore, the concern of many former Karate stylists like myself that we may not have developed the proper reaction time to defend strikes is addressed in boxing training and perfectly compliments a Karate background.  Likewise, though Hudson Valley Karate schools are likely to teach a number of interesting hand strikes, such as back fists and reverse punches, they are not likely to train their students in the useful punches taught in boxing such as the jab, hook, cross, lead and back hand uppercuts.  All of these are addressed at Precision Mixed Martial Arts in our boxing classes and add to the former Karate stylists’ repertoire.  Essentially, the boxing classes allow a Karate student to sharpen a weapon they already posses.

MMA ad 300x168 Hudson Valley Martial Arts More Than Karate at Precision Mixed Martial Arts

Hudson Valley Martial Arts

Finally, the martial art of Muay Thai Kickboxing as it is taught at Precision Mixed Martial Arts in the Hudson Valley by undefeated 7-0 AKBF champion Karl Nemeth, is the perfect style to compliment a Karate background.  I should know as I have found my former Karate training to give me a bit of learning curve when it comes to learning the kicks unique to the Muay Thai style of striking.  Though Muay Thai’s kicks are unique from Karate’s, especially in the fact that the striking surface is usually the shin bone rather than the foot, many of the kicks are similar in their motions, particularly the round house and front kicks.  As such, former Karate students like myself will not feel completely lost when learning these moves and will simply have to make small adjustments for these kicks to work for them.  Also, much like Muay Thai, Karate training tends to greatly stress stretching and leg mobility in order to be able to throw head kicks with ease.  My prior Karate training is the reason that I can now achieve a full split, and this has greatly aided me in my ability to fluidly perform the Muay Thai kicks I have learned at Precision MMA in the Hudson Valley.  Of course, Muay Thai greatly expands upon Karate training and helps the martial artist to go beyond what his capabilities would have been with the former art alone.  For one, Muay Thai training has a very heavy emphasis on clinching techniques which includes both offense and defense against knees and elbows from close quarters, as well as trips.  None of these movements are taught in Karate and would make a Karate practitioner very vulnerable in this scenario if fighting a Muay Thai stylist.  Also, the Muay Thai clinch is the range of fighting which comes between the punching range and the takedown range, and as such, any former Karate student who wants to learn to defend the takedown and keep the fight standing to use his martial art will need to learn these tactics.  Even with the takedown defense acquired from our wrestling and Judo classes and the boxing techniques we teach, a Karateka could be taken down or out struck if he is unable to defend himself in this intermediary range.  With Muay Thai clinch training, along with all these other areas we at Precision MMA offer, the former Karate student should have all the tools necessary to compliment his core art.  Muay Thai also teaches devastating leg kicks and defense against them, including shin conditioning, which is not taught in Karate.  However, anyone who attends Karl’s Muay Thai classes will learn these skills, and a Karate background should make them easier to pick up on.    Finally, we put the techniques of all our styles together in our Mixed Martial Arts classes, so if the former Karate student also attends those he will become a truly complete fighter.

hassan 300x200 Hudson Valley Martial Arts More Than Karate at Precision Mixed Martial Arts

Hudson Valley martial arts

Karate practitioners find a home at Precision Mixed Martial Arts in LaGrangeville, New York.  Training at Precision MMA not only compliments existing Karate training techniques, but also adds new martial arts dimensions.  With all this in mind, Hudson Valley Karate students who transition over to training at Precision MMA need not fear that they have set themselves back by studying a different martial art.  To the contrary, Karate has many benefits and can give the Precision student a learning curve when it comes to learning new skills, especially those from Muay Thai.  What is paramount is that the new student be open minded and realize that Karate as a style is limited in comparison to the multitude of styles offered at the Hudson Valley’s Precision.  If the Karate student recognizes this, he can then move ahead in his training and become a dangerous and multi-dimensional fighter in no time.

 

To get started with your 30 FREE Days of Hudson Valley martial arts classes visit http://www.poughkeepsiemixedmartialarts.com or call 845-392-8495

About the Author:

Jamey Bazes is a lifelong Hudson Valley martial artist.  Jamey holds a brown belts in both traditional Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  A regular competitor, Jamey is one of the Hudson Valley’s most decorated martial arts athletes including world titles in the North American Grappling Championship.  In addition to his martial arts training Jamey is a graduate of the State University of New York at New Paltz holding a master’s degree in English.  To train with Jamey be sure to check out Precision Mixed Martial Arts!