Archive for January, 2010

“Identifying the Submission” by special guest Ryron Gracie

January 26, 2010

When I was a child, I would walk off the mat crying almost every time another kid made me tap.  I felt that, just because my name is Ryron Gracie, I had to be better at Gracie Jiu-jitsu than all of the other kids at the Gracie Academy, and I was far from the best.  The pain I created by identifying with my family name continued for years and even reached the point at which I would resist going to class.  My father would let me stay home under the condition that I stayed in my bedroom for up to four hours. That was great!  I would do almost anything to avoid the self-imposed embarrassment, pain, and the suffering.

Now that I’m one of the Gracie Academy head instructors, I see the same thing happening to my students.  They do not walk off the mat crying, but their training behavior shows symptoms of the same dilemma.

Most students seem to think they should outperform their partner.  Maybe it’s just our competitive nature.  Commonly, I will see a 23 year-old find himself in an inferior position when working with a 39 year-old.  For some reason, the younger student will see this as a huge problem simply because they identify themselves as being younger and stronger and therefore, better than the older student.  So the younger student will go crazy trying to escape.  Students who train more frequently or have trained longer than their partners will believe that the extra time on the mat means that they must be better than the other student.

My favorite source of identity-based stress is that associated with rank.  It seems that every purple belt in a blue belt’s guard MUST pass the guard simply because the partner is a blue belt – or else they feel that they’re unworthy of their rank.  Of course, that’s not true!  In fact, it’s kind of crazy. What’s even crazier is that if I asked the purple belt, “Why did you fight with that much intensity and expend so much energy to pass the guard?”  The response I always get is, “I didn’t use that much energy.”  This is because the student is disconnected from the moment.  Identification with a belt is what causes the disconnection.  The fear of losing face or damaging one’s ego is powerful, but rarely acknowledged.  If we asked the student, “Do you think if you can not pass a blue belt’s guard you will lose your belt?”  Most students will say “No”

As I teach Gracie jiu-jitsu around the world, I’m often asked, “How do I improve my endurance?”  Almost everyone that does jiu-jitsu has one time or another reached a point of complete exhaustion.  This is when the student is vulnerable to countless submissions and sometimes the exhaustion itself is the submission.  There are levels of exhaustion and they are all undesirable.  My goal is to show all students of Gracie jiu-jitsu they can improve their endurance “NOW.”  The key is in the mind.

My father has ten kids and seven of those are boys.  My brothers; Rener, Ralek and Reylan are the closest to me in age.  Now that we are all over 21 years old, it is common for me to find myself under one of my “little brothers.”  I just identified myself as the older brother and that can be dangerous.  Especially since that can cause me to feel that because I am older nobody can hold me down or I have the most mat time under my belt so I must escape. So, when one of my little brothers achieves the mounted position how do I react? My first response is to do whatever escape seems to be available, 50% of the time they will neutralize my attempt.  At this moment, my actions will determine whether I will waste energy or not.  If I attempt to defeat them under the false assumption that I will escape just because I’m the older brother, I risk exhaustion. The ideal first reaction is to appreciate the technique that worked so well in controlling me.  Next, is to be very connected with the moment and be so present that any and every movement is noticed – just like waiting.  Reaching this level of presence will allow the student to not only see but also understand what is happening. When a student trains with this kind of focus, they will conserve energy and thereby increase overall endurance.  

Ryron Gracie

NOTE FROM FELIPE: “Special thanks to Ryron Gracie for sharing his knowledge and being such a great ambassador for Gracie Jiu jitsu. If you wish to learn more from Ryron, please drop by the Gracie Academy ( ). If you can’t make it out to the Gracie Academy then you can check out his(and his family’s) excellent online instruction program at .

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom


“Impenetrable defense”

January 22, 2010

Jiu jitsu is often referred to as the “Gentle Art” because it relies on technique and leverage to overcome brute force and aggression. A huge part of getting good at Jiu jitsu, involves developing your defensive capabilities BOTH standing and on the ground. It is important(though often neglected) to develop the ability to defend yourself and escape from dangerous situations such as bear hugs, head locks, chokes etc as well as opponents trying to do you harm with strikes. You must learn to escape these holds and safely close the distance and take down your opponent. And thanks to the work of Gracie Jiu jitsu’s founder, 63kg/139lb Helio Gracie, Jiu jitsu excels as a defensive art for everyone!

In his classic book “The Art of War”, the legendary Chinese General Sun Tzu, writes “First learn to become Invincible, then wait for your enemy’s moment of vulnerability”. This classic statement applies especially well to Jiu jitsu! This was one of the key strategies that allowed Helio Gracie to defeat much bigger and stronger opponents as he aimed to make his defensive movements almost perfect so that his opponents worked hard and expended their energy looking for an opening to attack that wasn’t there! Then when they were tired and weakened, he exploited their mistakes and used them to submit them!

A while back, I wrote about the importance of Escape training and how it is imperative to your development in the art. Well now I will elaborate on this a little further. An “Impenetrable defense” requires more than just the ability to escape, it requires a knowledge and understanding of the dangers of various positions, as well as the ability to pre empt your opponents attacks and defend them before they have completed their attack. It is the ability to put yourself in a position where you don’t have to defend because the opponent has no opening to attack due to correct defensive posture. It is the ability to feel and sense their movements and use their energy against them to escape, reverse or submit your opponent and it is a skill possessed by all the great fighters! Here is a classic example of Roger Gracie entitled “Master of Escapes”. Roger’s incredible ability to defend, escape and reverse has seen him rise to the top of the Jiu jitsu and Submission Wrestling world and with more mma fights in his sites I am sure you will be seeing more of him soon!

To improve your defensive capability it is important to stay relxed, mentally alert and ready to react to any attack! When you are relaxed your body is better able to feel and sense your opponent’s movements and counter quickly. To help you stay relaxed it is imporant to breathe! Often when under pressure, people tend to forget to breathe and they burn a lot of unneccessary energy trying to fight strength with strength. Breathing will help counteract this as the increased oxygen will help you remain calm, mentally alert and sharp as well as able to react quickly! Next time you roll with your instructor or any great Jiu jitsu player take a mental note of their breathing patterns, especially under duress and you are gauranteed to learn a lot! So work hard to denevlop your defensive capabilities and hopefully you  will develop an “Impenetrable defense”!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!


Jiu jitsu Kingdom

“The Importance of Mentors”

January 13, 2010

In business and sports, it is common practise to seek mentors as guides to help you find your way. So why not seek the same with your Jiu jitsu training? I believe it is important to always seek knowledge and look for ways to improve your game, technique and teaching methods. One of the best ways to do this is through the use of a mentor. Mentors are people who inspire you, who have travelled the path before you and have a deep understanding of the knowledge and skills that you seek to acquire.

While it is extremely important to listen to, learn from, practise and study what your instructor teaches you, it can also be of great benefit to seek additional knowledge and learn everything that you can about the art! Sometimes this may be through following and studying the techniques and careers of the great Jiu jitsu/MMA Coaches and competitors. Attending seminars, watching dvds/videos, studying books and magazines, reading and listening to interviews etc. Doing these things inspires you, allows you to understand the art better and see things from a different point of view. One of the things that you will realise when combining the knowledge and ideas that you learn from your mentors with that of your instructor is that there are many ways to learn, improve and achieve your goals. Everyone’s path is different and if you are open to it, you really can learn from anyone.

Hanging out in Rio with Mentor Mario Sperry and Coach Fabiano Capoanni.

Some examples of some of my mentors include legendary BJJ/MMA fighter and coach Mario Sperry, whom I believe is still one f the greatest BJJ/MMA coaches of the modern era. I have been fortunate to train with him on a number of occasions both in his original Academia(academy) Sul Jiu jitsu in Porto Alegre as well as Brazilian Top Team headquarters in Lagoa, Rio De Janeiro. His knowledge of Jiu jitsu is phenomenal and encompasses the entire spectrum of self defense, competition(both gi and no gi) as well as mma. Another mentor who inspires me to learn and master the art of Jiu jitsu is Marcelo Garcia. Marcel Garcia’s devastatingly effective technique has allowed him to dominate and submit some of the greatest grapplers on the planet in various competitions both gi and no gi and I greatly desire to study and learn more from him.

Myself with mentor, Marcelo Garcia after a very humbling private class!

Some others who I avidly follow and hope to one day learn from include the likes of:

-Renzo Gracie (Jiu jitsu/MMA legend and master coach)

-Fabio Gurgel (Jiu jitsu legend and master coach)

-Rickson Gracie (Jiu jitsu legend and technical master)

-Dave Camarillo (Jiu jitsu/Judo Innovator and MMA coach)

-Rorion Gracie (Jiu jitsu legend, master coach and master businessman)

-Greg Jackson (MMA master coach)

-Lloyd Irvin (Jiu jitsu master coach and businessman extraordinaire)

-Osvaldo Alves (Jiu jitsu master coach)

-Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (Jiu jitsu/MMA legend) – I have had the pleasure/pain of rolling with Mino before! 🙂

-Randy Couture (MMA legend)

I could probably go on and list another dozen names but I’m sure you get the idea! 🙂 Each of these mentors have different skill sets and as such I look up to them for different reasons. One thing’s for sure, these gentlemen combined have several lifetimes worth of knowledge and I hope to learn as much as I can so I can pass that on to my students! I hope you decide to seek a mentor or mentors to learn from and learn more about the beautiful art of Jiu jitsu.

God luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom

“How have you chosen to start 2010?”

January 6, 2010

Welcome to the New Year! I wish you great health, wealth, happiness and success for 2010 but most importantly I hope all YOUR dreams come true! You probably spent some time thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and how this year would be different…. Well how has 2010 started for you? If it hasn’t yet started the way you would like, well there’s no time like the present to turn that around and get cracking!!!

“My New Year” started on Monday the 4th January. I taught a productive private class to Marcus (student) before heading off to another student Richard’s place for a “Vision Day”. I’m sure you probably aren’t familiar with a “Vision Day” and neither was I prior to this, but it was such a great idea that I had to write about it! The purpose of the “Vision Day” was to create a visual representation of the goals that you would like to achieve for the year. How we did this was cut up a bunch of magazines looking for words and pictures of significant meaning to us and stuck those to large pieces of cardboard which we later framed! The result was a “Vision Board”! The idea is to look at it  for a few minutes each morning and a few minutes each night before going to bed and become inspired  and motivated to achieve your goals/dreams for 2010! It sure was an inspiring and fun day, I suggest you try it! In total there were five of us from the gym who took part as well as others and all the Vision Boards looked fantastic!

Vision Day 4th January 2010


Tuesday also started great with me teaching another really productive private class followed by my regular class with five brand new students on the mat! Talk about starting the year with a bang!!! But then again, building my school is one of my primary goals for the year and it seems that I’m just attracting good energy to me! After class I had a couple of good friends and training partners Luke Picklum and Alex Chew come down to the gym for some hard training! And boy was it hard! It reminded me of a quote I’ve heard Renzo Gracie say, “Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail” and on Tuesday I sure felt like the nail!

Wednesday started well too, after another solid private class, one of the newbies came back for more and everyone trained really well! I’m lucky to coach such a great group of talented people! More hard training followed with Luke again although my body ached I walked off the mat feeling great and like my base had improved significantly overnight! What can I say, you learn something new every day!

Well that’s enough from me for now, I need to go do some kettlebell training and plan my schedule for tomorrow! I hope you 2010 has started with a bang for you and if not well I hope this inspires you to START your year now the way you want it to go! I’ll leave you with a motivational clip I saw on the Cage Warriors BJJ forum, enjoy!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!


Jiu jitsu Kingdom