Archive for the ‘Guest Articles’ Category

“It Doesn’t Matter If I Win or Lose! Really?” SPECIAL GUEST AUTHOR: JUSTIN GARCIA

April 29, 2012

Ya know, in all my years of competition, whether it be wrestling, football, basketball, or yes, even Jiu Jitsu, the only thing that was always on my mind was that there was no way anyone could say I didn’t give 100%. Yeah, I know, corny as hell, but it couldn’t possibly be truer.

Maybe I was raised this way, maybe I was blessed with great mentors when it came to competition, or maybe it just made sense to me. Either way, Justin Garcia has never been accused of quitting. I’ve never even thought of giving anything but 100% because, if you think about it, the ONLY thing you can control is your effort! Now, don’t get me wrong, there were days when things just didn’t go the way it was planned. There were days when I was flat out disgusted with the way I performed, but that’s just a competitor trying to be competitive. 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. Yep. That’s it. And I absolutely believe in this 100%! See, in a world where status is where it’s at, and being the best is everybody’s dream, we sometimes lose sight of reality. There’s always going to be someone better than us. Always. But, to keep things positive, there’s always going to be something we can do to make ourselves better. Maybe it’s staying those last ten minutes to get a round or two more of rolling. Maybe it’s getting your butt off the couch and forcing yourself to class. Maybe it’s putting the cake down! (I’m guilty myself!) But the point is, there is only so much we can control, and so many times in competition it’s the things we have NO control over that decide the outcome!

Now some would say, “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.

One of my favorite things in my dealings with the kids is advising them what to do in the case of “Bullying”. I’m sure we’ve always heard, maybe even said, that the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him, win or lose. Either way, we say, the bully will know he can’t pick on you without being stood up to. Well, my friends, you are the kid, and EGO is bullying the hell out of you!


Justin Garcia (AKA Master Chim)

Owner/Head Instructor of the Jungle Gym


NOTE: Special thanks to Mr Justin Garcia for allowing me to reproduce this article of his. Master Chim is a great Jiu Jitsu coach, competitor and mentor! Please be sure to check out his pages, I can’t recommend him highly enough!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom


“Exponential Function” by special guest Geoff Thompson

June 27, 2010

Exponential Function People have been talking a lot lately about this being the age of information. We even have the information highway on the World Wide Web. The word information is used with some reverence, and rightly so, of course information is important, you might say that information is currency; certainly people do use it as a lucrative means of commerce. But I don’t think that we are residing any longer in the information age, not from my observation, in business and in the business of life. Undoubtedly there was an information age, but we are now through it, certainly we are on the exiting periphery, and entering into a new era, a fresh orbit, a brand new reality called the age of experience.

People have heard about experience, of course, they have read about experience definitely, and every day we all have experiences of one kind or another, but not often the magnificent experiences, the big experiences that we would really like to have – people (it has been noticed) are ready to expand, they are ready to break free from the mundane in order to encounter the extraordinary – they want to immerse themselves into great experiences, because they know that great knowledge without great action is impotent. What is the use of knowing stuff if you can’t apply it?

I know many people for instance that have a great academic knowledge of martial ways but they do not know how to apply it, if you want to see these people in herd go onto any of the MA forums and look out for the folk being negative and spiteful and tabloid. You cannot be a great martial artist, not even a good martial artist whilst indulging in this kind of white belt behaviour, the two are mutually exclusive.

Similarly most people understand palate, they know what food is good for them and what food is bad, and yet they still carry too much body weight and ingest substances that poison them. They have the knowledge but they do not have the power to apply the knowledge.

Why do we do what we do when we know what we know?

Because there is no power in knowing alone, we have to develop the will to put our knowing to work. Knowledge without experience is impotent.

We had the fist session of my masterclass (2010) last week and it was a great session. Not just because the students had invested in world class instruction, rather it was because they had travelled from far and wide – from as far as Poland – to have the experience, and in doing so they placed a greater demand on their will, and their will responded by growing stronger. Getting to the masterclass is challenging for people, time is against many of them, financially some of them are stretched and for many more it is geographically taxing. Most of them said that they experienced a lot of fear when making the commitment, in fact some of them said that it took more will power than they knew they had just to get to the centre, and on their journey down they had the urge to turn back and go home. They felt that the experience was beyond their capacity. We had one person that actually did go home. He paid his fees and was unable to make it to Coventry. But the rest of them, against all these worthy obstacles, made it. And even in that one session you could see people growing, because they had all loaded a demand on their will that placed them ever so slightly out of their depth. So the added demand triggered new growth.

Isn’t that inspiring? How fucking exciting is that? Their will expanded not despite the fear, it expanded not in spite of the geography, it ‘manned-up’ not regardless of the time and the cost implications, it expanded exponentially because of them. All of these elements placed a demand on their will that it had not experienced before, so it was forced to grow.

You will not grow courage without placing yourself before fear.

You will not grow physical strength without placing demand on your muscles.

You will not grow money without creating a fiscal demand.

This is one of the reasons I make my courses difficult for people to attend, I make it a course of high demand, because without it no growth will occur.

And the higher the demand, the greater the development.

People know this innately, that is why my courses fill quickly.

What people experience here is Exponential Function. Look it up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. It is a mathematical exponent in which a function is increased (more and more rapidly) as a quantity raised to a power and this is determined by the variable on which the function depends.

In other words, if you increase the variable (the demand – on your courage, on your finances, on your physique) the quantity will respond.

In even simper terms; increase the weight on your barbell and your muscles will grow proportionately bigger and stronger. Keep the weight the same and no new growth will occur. Why would it? It is not necessary. Growth is determined by demand, so if you want growth that is more and more rapid then keep increasing the demand and watch how your ability will go through the ceiling.

Let me give you a good example.

I wanted to be a strong judo player. I intended to get my black belt in a system that I think is the best kept secret in the martial arts. I didn’t want to be an average player, that does not suit my mind set. I wanted to be really good. So I placed myself under the instruction of Neil Adams, one of the best judo players in history. He had a full time class that contained about twelve international players, most of them in the Olympic squad. I brought five judo suits and I joined his class. I trained two to three times a day in this magnificent art (with Neil, with his amazing students, privately with British champion Wayne Lakin, with my own students and on my own) and the demand I placed on myself forced rapid growth, fuck it demanded rapid growth. This was one of the hardest things I have ever undertaken but within an eighteen month period I could hold my own with internationals in the art of judo.

I am not saying that everyone should jump in the deep end like this, my method works for me, you can increase the demand one small disc at a time, as long as you increase it.

Exponential Function.

If you want better health, create the demand for better health.

If you want to run faster, run with faster runners, it will demand speed.

If you want more money, create the demand for more money and more money will grow.

If you want better martial arts skills, place yourself under amazing instruction; invest the time and the money and the effort (and the more you speculate the more you will accumulate) and you with grow exponentially.

When people tell me that they do not have the time, the money or the energy I know that they do not want it enough yet. Because when you want it enough you will slide more discs along the bar and force yourself to grow.

And I know this because I have made the same excuses myself before.

The universe does not deal in excuses. It deals in concrete laws. You want growth, place yourself in challenging experiences and you will be given growth. No questions asked. And do not bitch and moan when the demands are too expensive too heavy or too geographically challenging, put your bones into the arena – like the Mexican Shamans who collect their power from difficulty – and make growth your business.

But do not ask for growth without demand because the Big Man is not listening.

And neither am I.

Be well Geoff Thompson

NOTE FROM FELIPE: “Special thanks to Geoff Thompson for allowing me to reproduce this article from his website. Please check it out  at or . Thanks again Geoff, much appreciated and you have been a mentor/role model of mine for quite some time now!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom

“Cross Training for Self defence” by special guest Clive Girdham

February 15, 2010

Why do most people commence martial arts training? Perhaps it’s because deep down inside there is an anxiety that one day they may need to protect themselves or others in a violent confrontation.

Conventional thinking is that the scout hall martial arts class will provide all the answers for little Tommy, so with all the best intentions in mind, his parents send him off to learn selfdefence under the guidance of that guy wearing the revered black belt.

Tommy trains diligently twice a week and in 3 years shoots up the ranks and gets awarded his black belt in Scout-Hall-Do. His parents breathe a sigh of relief as Tommy is now fully equipped to take on any violent situation and come out unscathed.

Unfortunately riding home on the bus one evening after training, little Tommy is confronted by 3 older youths all carrying knives. Fortunately for Tommy he is frozen to the spot by an adrenaline dump and his only reaction is to fully comply and handover his valuables.

Ok this isn’t a true story but it easily could be.

My journey in martial arts started with Judo at age 14 and progressed through many other arts including Muay Thai, boxing and now at 44 I find BJJ is the most friendly to my body. Along the way I also became heavily involved in the Reality Based Self Defence or RBSD scene. This way of training became very popular from early 2000 onwards but was actually pioneered by a fearsome Martial Artist named Geoff Thompson much earlier than that

In 1994 I became a member of his organisation because I had come to realise that my one dimensional way of training, then in Judo, did not prepare me for the realities of London’s streets. I was a Judo black belt training hard 5 times a week with Olympic team members however that did not help me in a confrontation one day on the train when two guys began to verbally assault me and my girlfriend. I was lucky enough to not escalate the situation however at the time I didn’t realise how lucky I was. Only two days later, my work colleague who I sat next to each day was stabbed through heart on the bus. These realities caused me to question my own training and preparedness and Geoff Thompson provided the answers.

Clive Girdham doing a live knife drill with Richard Dimitri!


Geoff’s philosophy is simple, if you need to go physical then you must hit first and hit hard. Geoff’s background was in Karate however in all his time on the nightclub door as a bouncer, his Karate as traditionally taught, did not help him. He started to train his karate punches to be pre-emptive and from non traditional stances, hey presto it started to work. However his experiences told him that even though most fights start standing, they quickly deteriorate into messy close range grappling, almost always finishing on the ground. Geoff became an advocate of using various martial arts as “support systems”

For punching and kicking, he chose Western Boxing & Muay Thai
For vertical and ground grappling he chose Judo, Greco Roman & Freestyle wrestling.
He would then pressure test his skills in the gym in what he called Animal Days. These were full contact, no holds barred fights which were won by knockout or submission. This was in the late 1980’s before UFC.

This all deals with the physical side, what most people are not prepared for is the emotional attack on the self. Geoff introduced aggressive verbal attacks & multiple opponents to add realism. It was during these sessions that it became clear to any “one dimensional” martial artist that everything turns scrappy, traditional techniques fail.

I remain a firm believer in the effectiveness for self defence cross training in different ranges (or support systems) and MMA classes are fantastic for this. However I moved far away from the RBSD scene as I truly believe you bring into your life what you focus on and I don’t believe over training in RBSD is healthy for the mind.

Non compliant sports like Boxing, MMA, BJJ, Judo etc where you practice against real energy in sparring bring you enormous physical benefits and sense of well being. I believe other people can see that strength within you and this in turn makes it less likely that you are selected as a victim. The humility learnt in sparring transfers over to the street. You’ve already done the hard yards, know your limitations or capability and do not feel the need to prove yourself.

However I do believe all martial artists can positively benefit from a wake up call of scenario training which can involve multiple attackers, weapons, environmental factors etc

I’ve recently held seminars with Deane Lawler who like myself knows that all of the arts have something positive to offer, the problem is that most Traditional Martial Arts are not taught in a realistic environment. To quote Deane Lawler, RBSD is all about those initial few seconds, where you have to mentally recover from the verbal or physical onslaught allowing you then to use the techniques from whatever system you come from.

Bridging the gap between your martial art or sport and reality is easily practiced and can be as simple as adding a concealed wooden knife to a BJJ roll or adding two attackers to your MMA session. You continue to add layers of variables. Try turning out the lights, add loud music, put your arm in a sling the possibilities are endless, but the important realisation is to find your weaknesses and then acknowledge them. That way you won’t be like Tommy sitting on the bus wearing his black belt as a shield from reality.

Clive Girdham

NOTE FROM FELIPE: “Special thanks to Clive Girdham for sharing his knowledge and experience as a (former) Reality Based Self Protection Instructor and if you’re ever in need of a photographer please check out Clive’s website at . Thanks again Clive, you rock mate!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom

“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

“Training Off the Mat” by special guest Jason Gulati

December 16, 2009

In this article, we will investigate individual specificity and explore the necessity of supplementary training. In layman’s terms, we will determine whether you need to train off the mat, and if so, what you should be doing. .

Due to the complex nature of BJJ, I will use the squat as an example. When you first learn to squat, it will probably be hard. The more you practice the more efficient the movement will become. This is a result of your brain learning to move the right joints, and activate the right muscle groups at the right time. When your technique looks good, you will begin to overload the exercise and eventually hit a plateau. At this point, you will probably seek other means to improve your squat.

Exercise specificity was the cause of squatting technique to improve. Eventually the exercise began to plateau (law of diminishing returns/principle of accommodation), and then new exercises were introduced (principle of variety). When a foreign stimulus is introduced it takes some time for proficiency, and usually the best way to become better at the task at hand, is by performing the task. 

Now let’s apply these sports science principles to BJJ. In modern times, movements performed in BJJ are quite foreign when compared to activities of daily living. This probably means the average Joe is very raw at performing BJJ techniques. Getting tired is normal. It doesn’t mean the individual doesn’t have a good level of fitness. It means his fitness cannot be translated into the language of BJJ. When specificity is employed (in the beginner this means practicing the sport) fitness will improve. Only when BJJ stops improving the individual’s fitness should they seek to employ a supplementary training program to enhance performance. BJJ training is the best way to increase your BJJ fitness.

Assuming you are at a level where supplementary training will cause your game to sky-rocket, what should you do? It is important to realize that a training program should be individualized. This means your program needs to be designed according to your needs, and not printed off the workouts page of your favourite fighter’s website.

Professional athletes are highly refined in their respective sports. They have exhausted the potential of basic exercises and now seek more advanced means to evoke an adaptation response (simple stuff won’t work anymore). Copying the programs of the athletes you admire will not lead to similar results. In fact, many top athletes are at the top despite their training methods, not because of them! Remember, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Evolve your training routine around yourself, and not around the latest training schedules out there.

Jason Gulati


Athletics, not aesthetics!

NOTE FROM FELIPE: “Special thanks to Jason Gulati of “Real Training” for sharing his knowledge! Check out his website: , or to find out more go to . Thanks again Jason!”

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom