Archive for August, 2011

Self Defense… The Foundation of Gracie Jiu Jitsu

August 28, 2011

In this day and age of modern Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition, Submission Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition, it is easy for people to forget why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created as a means of survival and self-defense for a smaller, weaker individual to overcome an attack from a stronger and more aggressive attacker! Helio Gracie spent his life developing and refining the techniques of Jiu Jitsu that we now know today as Gracie Jiu Jitsu (or more commonly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu).

Helio Gracie was the pioneer who applied the theory of leverage to the techniques of Jiu Jitsu and in the process began a revolution that allows men, women and children of all ages, shapes, size and athletic ability learn techniques to defend themselves with maximum efficiency and minimal effort. Gracie Jiu Jitsu was the catalyst for modern MMA competition and the UFC. And although MMA is soaring in popularity, it is important that we do not forget Helio’s original teachings and intention for Gracie Jiu Jitsu and that is Self Defense.

One of Helio’s many famous quotes regarding Gracie Jiu Jitsu is: “Always assume that your opponent is going to be bigger, stronger and faster than you; so that you learn to rely on technique, timing and leverage rather than brute strength”. Through the techniques of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, an individual is able to develop confidence, awareness and a sound technical arsenal to protect themselves should the need ever arise. Another great Helio Gracie quote is: “Jiu Jitsu is personal efficiency to protect the weaker, which anyone can do. It is the force of leverage against brute force”.

Just last Friday I began training a new student, Kimberley who had no prior Martial Arts experience, yet was keen to develop more confidence and learn how to protect herself. Kimberley took to Gracie Jiu Jitsu training like a fish to water and within the first 10 minutes was starting to develop some serious base! I at around 95kg was not able to push her or drag her around once she understood the basic principle of dropping her weight and establishing base even though I outweighed her by around 35kg!

Once Kimberley saw the results of good technique and the correct application of leverage we moved onto Bear Hug defenses both Front and Rear. Within minutes Kimberley was able to escape and throw me with remarkable ease and confidence! Again no small feat considering this was her first exposure to Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Martial Arts in general. After being beaten up and thrown to the mat over 50 times we moved onto mount Escapes, specifically the “Upa”. Again we started slowly and gradually added progressive resistance as she her technique improved and she gained confidence with her “Upa”. To say I was impressed with how fast she learnt and understood the movements would be an understatement… Shocked actually! 🙂 Kimberley soaked up the techniques like a sponge and was showing some real promise, all while smiling and having fun… As a coach I felt both proud and inspired by her progress and her new-found confidence in Gracie Jiu Jitsu!

On a side note in case you missed it, there was a little secret to success mentioned in the previous chapter and that is the idea of having fun while you are training. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing you wont put in the necessary time required to learn the techniques and develop your reflexes. A teaching principle I try to apply to every class is that of “S.S.L.”. “S.S.L.” stands for Smiling, Sweating and Laughing. If you can have your students doing all three while working hard on developing your technique you have the recipe to develop lifelong Martial Artists and Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Remember Gracie Jiu Jitsu has so much more to offer than just physical self-defense techniques, it can literally change your life as it has mine but that is a topic of another post! For now always keep in mind that Self Defense is the foundation of Gracie Jiu Jitsu and should always remain so.

Good Luck With Your Training And Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom


UFC Rio: Toquinho – “Inspirational”

August 19, 2011

I have been a fan of Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares’s as a BJJ/MMA fighter for quite some time and after watching this video, I am even more of a fan of Toquinho as a man. Truly inspirational!

I look forward to seeing Toquinho put on another clinical display of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at UFC Rio! One of the best submission artists in MMA today!

Good Luck With Your Training And Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom

30 Day BJJ Challenge!

August 14, 2011

In today’s post I’m going to ask you to do something. Don’t worry, it’s not hard, I’m not asking you for money or anything of the sort. What I will ask you to do is something that will really help your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game if you follow through with it. It has the potential to rapidly increase your learning curve in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu yet sadly most people who read this will nod their head and agree with me but still NOT follow through with it!!! (Yes this is frustrating for a coach!)

 What I want you to do is choose one technique and do 500 repetitions of it in your own time over the next four weeks. That’s it, it’s that simple! And believe it or not, this simple idea has the ability to really take your game to the next level.

 For beginners I recommend you start with a basic technique that you have already worked on a lot with your instructor. The reason for this is simple; I don’t want you to drill a bad habit or incorrect movement. So if you are a beginner, forget the latest rolling knee bar you saw on YouTube or in the UFC and focus on the basics, something like a “Hips Escape from Side Control”, a “Double Unders Smash Pass” or an “Armbar from Closed Guard”. Now where do you find the time to do these reps? Easy, either you get to class 15 minutes early and ask your instructor’s permission to drill the technique before class. Or you stay back and drill the technique after class for 10-15 minutes. If you are able to do this you may even be lucky enough to get additional input from your instructor while doing your reps. Believe me if you start doing this regularly your instructor will sit up and take notice as it is not often that a student dedicates time to drilling the fundamentals!

 If you are at an intermediate level say blue/purple belt then a good idea for you would be to choose an area that you have trouble with when rolling. For example defending the “DoubleUndersSmashPass”, or developing you squeeze and finishing the “Guillotine” choke. While these areas may not be the most fun to train, they are generally the ones that will help lay a solid foundation and pay big dividends when you roll! Again the emphasis here is drilling, not rolling. I say this because intermediate level students tend to get the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu bug and want to roll every chance they get as it is so much fun and their minds are like a sponge soaking up information!

 For advanced students, I highly recommend that you focus on a transition between techniques. In my opinion with regards to high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Transitions is where it’s at! Choose one position and work on your transitions from there, get your timing and execution down and keep sharpening your techniques! Enjoy the challenge and remember that ultimately, you are responsible for your progress. The only person you cheat is yourself by not taking up the challenge and following through so step up, hit these 500r eps in the next thirty-day and watch your game transform!

Good Luck With Your Training And Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom

Looking Back Over The Week

August 13, 2011

I’d like to start by congratulating Justin Mehmet on picking up a silver medal at the EventsBJJ NSW Championship last Sunday! Justin recently started training with us at Jiu Jitsu Kingdom by way Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Legend Marcelo Garcia who he trained with back home in New York City, USA. Justin did a great job winning one match on points, two matches by submission, before losing in the final. Congrats Justin, we’re happy to have you as a part of the Jiu Jitsu Kingdom team while you are here in Australia!

On that note, I’d also like to take a moment to thank fellow Marcelo Garcia student, Mark Ronquillo for stopping by and training at Jiu Jitsu Kingdom while he was over here on business. It was a pleasure to have you on the mat training with us mate and you are most welcome to stop by anytime you are in Sydney, Australia! Otherwise I am sure I will see you again on the mat at Marcelo Garcia’s New York Academy in the future! 

The Monday night Coaching Course group are coming along nicely and are starting to look very sharp! I’m excited about the rapid progress you are all making. 🙂 Keep up the great work guys and I am sure you will all go on to bigger and better things in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world!

Training at Jiu Jitsu Kingdom has been great this week and everyone’s guard passing is starting to look a lot sharper. Stay tuned for more guard passing next week and let’s take our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game to a whole other level! There are a few competitions coming up so lets continue to work hard and put our skills to the test! Remember its all learning and experience. And as great as it is to win, we learn far more from losing so don’t be disheartened if you lose a match, learn from it and bounce back hungrier and better than ever!

Finally I’d like to take a moment to thank Marcus Flanagan for helping me out and teaching Friday’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class at Jiu Jitsu Kingdom for me while I was at home looking after my son Hunter. I heard it was a great class, thanks again mate! Well that’s it for now, have a great week-end and I hope to see you on the mat next week!

Good Luck With Your Training And Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom


Control, Position, Submission

August 7, 2011

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a dynamic art that is designed to allow a smaller, weaker opponent overcome a larger, stronger and more aggressive attacker through the use of leverage, technique and timing. At Jiu Jitsu Kingdom , skill and technique are what we aim to develop on the mat every day. And while we may roll hard, always looking for the “Submission“, technical skill in applying the “Submission” as well as correct application of strategy and tactics is at the core of our game. Now this may seem obvious but I often see people focus so much on “winning” the round of training or trying to hit their favourite “Submission” all the time. While doing so they often neglect some of the subtleties of setting traps for your opponent and gently guiding them towards their demise. I like to think of letting my opponent “Choose his poison” whatever mistake he makes will be the end of him. 🙂 

There are a lot of elements to  keep in mind while training, so that you maximise your chances of playing your game and getting the “Submission“, even against an explosive and aggressive opponent. The use of strategy and tactics will often allow you to surprise your opponent and cause confusion which in turn will allow you to capitalise on his mistake and get the finish, sweep, pass or escape.

Three basic ideas that I encourage all my students to keep in mind while training are “Control“, “Position” and “Submission“. They are sequential and are meant to be thought of in that particular order. A simple example of hitting an Armbar from Guard would involve the following concepts. Firstly establishing “Control“, “Control”  of the opponent’s base and posture, as well as their arm that is being attacked. “Control” of direction and momentum of the fight is also something to keep in mind. Get your opponent playing your game and you greatly increase your chance at success! Secondly “Position“, in order to apply any technique you need to be in the right “Position” to begin with. In this case the Guard (preferably closed) as a secure and stable launching platform for your attack. While utilising “Control” of your opponent’s arm you need to get in “Position” to execute the armbar (actual mechanics and technical details of the armbar). Finally we have “Submission“… The ultimate goal! In order to apply a “Submission” in this case the Armbar from Guard, we have to “Control” our opponent at the very least their arm, get into correct “Position” and finish the “Submission“.

On a deeper level, even when applying the “Submission” there is a lot more going on under the surface, that is not always visible or apparent to the casual observer. It’s kind of like the mass of the iceberg that goes unseen and is the reason why great Jiu Jitsu players are much more effective with their technique even though their game and techniques may appear simple. Higher level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players often internalize these concepts so well that when they attack they are fusing the three concepts into one. For example when Roger Gracie hits the Cross Choke from Mount not only is his “Position” from which he launches the attack perfect but his technical application of the “Position” (or technique) is also flawless. By having almost perfect “Position” he is able to really “Control” his opponent, beyond just applying that particular technique. His body combining the principles as one, also “Controls” his opponent in such a way that his timing, base and “Position” nullify his opponent’s ability to escape the “Submission“. In effect he has closed off all possible escape routes while applying his technique and is in complete “Control” of both the direction of the fight and the actual technique being employed. This level of skill is achieved through his perfect “Position” and total “Control” of his opponent making his “Submission” look both effortless and unstoppable. The same can be said of Marcelo Garcia’s Back Attacks and Mata Leon.

I hope you have found this article useful and that you are able to apply these concepts in your game!

Good Luck With Your Training And Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom