Jiujitsu

My first taste of Grappling – On the streets (tongue in cheek)

Posted on Updated on

My first experience with grappling didn’t occur in a BJJ academy in the 2000s. It didn’t even occur in my first Judo class in the 1990s. It happened in 1981 in Tallahassee, FL when I was in the fourth grade. But before I jump right into my first fight with a grappler let me set the scene.

I was a student at Oak Ridge Elementary School and this was back in the days when corporal punishment for students was still considered okay.

My fourth grade teacher was Mr. Walker and my parents requested that I be in his class. I was an honor roll student, but I tended to finish my work quickly and then talked or bothered other students, or at least that is what my teachers claimed. Mr. Walker had a reputation for using a one and a half-inch thick paddle that had been carved and designed for maximum speed and efficiency. He didn’t send kids to the principal. The principal sent kids to him. In his class I was one of his main targets and had to come up to the front of the class quite a few times so he could paddle me, —— in front of everybody.

The reason that I bring this up is because we had a new kid come to our school and he quickly joined the ranks of bullies that roamed the playground during recess. So as you can surmise I was in an unsafe environment. I didn’t feel safe with my teacher, many of the students, and as you will see later on, the principal either.

I also didn’t feel safe because I hated bullies and would usually end up in a conflict with them because I was a little loud and didn’t know how to keep my mouth shut. Well, let me amend that, I was really loud. My eighth grade P.E. teacher told me I was the loudest kid he ever taught. (But he was a bastard so I took his criticism with a grain of salt.)

Getting back to the new kid; he was a short guy and stocky for his age. He also had a mean streak. Within a week he had beat two kids up. But he didn’t just beat kids up. He systematically destroyed them. This wasn’t a bully who picked on others because things weren’t right at home type of bully. This was a guy who had been trained to hand out punishment.

When he fought the two kids on the playground the fights started out as any other normal playground fight. They began with the bully bullying and then the other kid deciding not to back down. They squared up and then that’s when the scene deviated from the standard script. The short bully would dive down and grab both of his victim’s legs and lift them up in the air. (I now know that it was a double leg takedown.) As the surprised kid scrambled to get to his feet the bully punched him square in the forehead. Before the fights could continue a teacher broke them up, both times.

Word got around quickly that the four foot tall new kid was not someone to be toyed with. But that didn’t matter because from the looks of things it looked like he was the dog and we were the chew toys. I don’t remember exactly how much time passed between the attack on the second kid and our altercation, but I remember how our scrap went.

I was playing basketball with my friends Willis and Jason and he sauntered onto the court and demanded to play. He didn’t ask, he demanded. No one said anything so I told him he couldn’t play and to, essentially, ‘kick rocks.’

He came right at me. I threw the basketball down and I don’t know how I did it but I put him in a headlock and ended up with a sleeper hold that I had seen slapped on by wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and the Road Warriors. We collapsed to the ground and I held on tight. I had the bully in full control.

I am going to be honest with you, knowing what I know now, I would have put that fellow 8 or 9 year old to sleep. But since I learned the sleeper hold, which is basically the Rear Naked Choke, from watching television and having my brother slap it on me endlessly on Saturday afternoons, I had one arm loosely around his neck with my hand gripping my other arm’s bicep and the other arm and hand holding onto his head at the top. I didn’t know that I could have slid my hand down the back of his head for the choke.

As I held on the kids around the playground began running in our direction.

“FIGHT!” “FIGHT!”

I began eyeing everyone rushing up and soon there was a substantial crowd gathered around us. I was holding my own against the new schoolyard bully. As I did not know what else to do after getting that hold I just held on for dear life. He couldn’t escape. If only I knew about hooks. As some of the kids began to recognize that he couldn’t get out of my TV inspired death clutch they began to get bored. They didn’t care about my wellbeing so some began to say let him go and start over.

“No,” I shouted!

“Let him go!” “Start over!”

What was wrong with them. This wasn’t a f***g video game, even though they weren’t popular at this point.

But the pressure began to mount. I guess I felt like the refs do in an MMA match or better yet like Cecil “stand-em-up” Peoples because I caved and let him up.

Why did I do that? He jumped up and we circled each other.

Remember what happened to those other kids.

In a millisecond, he grabbed both my legs and lifted me up into the air and I fell on my butt. I scrambled to my feet just like the other kids and he punched me solidly in the forehead.

Oddly, it didn’t hurt but I still wish I knew BJJ technique then. Don’t jump right back up into the punch.

After he socked me in the forehead, out of nowhere there was the teacher who grabbed him by both arms from behind. Where in the hell was she two minutes ago when I had him in my weak, but saving me from danger sleeper hold? Further, who taught him that double-leg? —- I bet he had a good run until the eighth grade.

Anyway, there was no way any of us kids knew how to deal with that. I didn’t even have sense enough to remember his technique to make it my own. It did, however, teach me my first lesson about grappling.

*Oh yeah, by the way, we were dragged to the principal’s office and were both paddled for fighting. The cycle was complete.

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling 101: How to Avoid being Bullied on the Mat, Psychology of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission Wrestlers, Tapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission Wrestlers, Grappling for Newbies, 20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the Mat, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

Chomping at the bit…

Posted on Updated on

My academy is changing locations. Instead of it being 13 minutes away it will be about 7 minutes. (Now, if I can convince them to move one more time. Maybe they’ll move 2 minutes away.)

Wishful thinking.

They are also changing the name of the academy, so to me it is like I am starting out in an entirely new school from its inception. I have never been a part of something like that before so I am wondering what that will be like.

The schedule is going to change a bit. Instead of holding open mat five days a week in the morning, they are going to switch to two open mats and three classes. I told my instructor that I would probably end up being late due to my schedule, but he said it would be fine.

The new move will probably attract a bunch of new students. Also, some BJJ guys in our area are excited because the school is closer to them, so a few of them will probably drop by for open mats. It will be interesting to see who shows up.

Either way, the proposed opening date is on the 7th of October.

I have my gi ready to go.

Peace

Psychology of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Posted on Updated on

Psychologyof BJJ

Grappling is a smash-mouth activity. It is a put your beer down and let’s settle this type of martial art. Man vs. man, woman vs. man, child vs. man, it is one of the ultimate ‘prove it’ combat sports. Yet, once you get past the rough and challenging aspect of submission wrestling it’s easy to see that grappling is much more than that. It is also a very cerebral activity.

Psychology is the study of mental processes and behaviors. By studying our psyches we hope to learn how to successfully navigate our world and become more capable in our endeavors. As the goal of theory is explanatory and predictive power, using psychology theories can help us to understand some of the existential questions behind our art and can help us to create better models for training and success. In other instances, it is just plain fun to think about.

The application of psychology to submission wrestling is relatively new and in many cases non-existent, so this book is more of an exploration of what is possible. It covers a broad range of topics and doesn’t hesitate to introduce counterintuitive thought for the reader to ponder and digest.

Psychology of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” will whet your appetite to see how psychology can be applied to grappling and not just in a generic sports psychology sense.

Through the use of essay, “Psychology of BJJ” talks about what it’s like to be the new guy, problems with warm-ups, success by default, immersive environments, why you can’t always be nice in practice and even asks outright, “Are you happy?”

If that is not enough, it also discusses why you absolutely must not avoid better grapplers, tells you what type of grappler you are and why your team is just as important as your coach. Additionally, “Psychology of BJJ” delves into the unconscious mind and talks about easy ways to improve by taking simple steps you probably never thought about before. It also discusses quirky, but valid, psychological theory, based on new research that can make a difference in your grappling game.

Hey Guys,

Check out my new book. If you like it, will you leave me a review? (Psychology of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)

Thanks,

Bakari (JiuJitsu365)

How do you get water (or whatever) in your Grappling Class?

Posted on Updated on

I was reading an old article in the NYTimes about Guy Ritchie training in a Beverly Hill Jiu-Jitsu club. What stood out about the entire article is not the fact that Guy Ritchie has a Black belt in Judo and a Brown belt in Jiujitsu, but that at the end of the training session the writer said that Ritchie and his rolling buddy stood by the water cooler drinking out of a cup.

I had to say that it sounded really refreshing. I would love to sip cold water out a water cooler after a practice. It also made me think about how people get their water where they train. Where I train now its bring your own water (BYOW) or you can buy water out of the machine for ($1 or 1.25/ I don’t know because I always bring my own). I have also trained at a place that had a water fountain. But in the majority of places, I have brought my own water. I absolutely had to.

What about you?

Don’t forget to answer this one too.

Michael Clarke Duncan – A BJJ Man

Posted on Updated on

I was very sad to hear about Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing today. I heard about his heart attack several weeks back, but I always assumed he would be okay. Not to mention that his family, friends and close ones lost someone dear to them, but he also made a huge impact in our world.

Not just from great films that he starred in, but Duncan is also a cultural icon; especially when it comes to BJJ and MMA. Although the man was a giant among men (6’5 300 lbs), he still loved BJJ (he was a Purple belt) and took the time to learn the art. Here is a man who probably never, ever, EVER, needed to know a ‘lick’ of grappling who respected the art and heralded it. I have seen him many times at UFC events, front and center, and heard about his ventures training with the Gracies and in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

He’s a part of my cultural landscape and I wish him good travels.

Peace!

Michael Clarke Duncan wrestles Tom Arnold below:

Michael Clarke Duncan discusses MMA, NBA, Boxing and tries to avoid looking at Eva Longoria.

Gracie Combatives…

Posted on Updated on

Yesterday, I went to Gracie Combatives again. It’s probably my fifth time going since they started at my academy a few months ago. It’s a Saturday class so I can’t go every week, but I really appreciate this class. I’ve always been in to the self-defense aspect of BJJ, not because I want to use it on the street, but because of the practicality of it. I love flashy grappling just like the next guy, but I also want to stay grounded in the basics. Gracie Combatives does that for me.

It’s like going to a fundamentals class with all of the sporting element taken out of it. No long warm-ups or six step set-ups based on a trained person’s reaction to your technique. It’s all about responding to a basic human aggression. As I always tell everyone, I do not take BJJ for self-defense. Like Lloyd Irvin says, self-defense is all about the situation and grappling is not always the right play. I take BJJ because I love matching my wits against another person and I have always have been good at martial arts, so BJJ allows me to express my intelligence through my body. I’ve played chess and I have played regulation sports and very little tops BJJ for me.

Anyway, we worked on Knee on Belly to Kimura, Knee on Belly to Mount and mount defense. Then we worked with the gloves from positions. What’s nice about reviewing these type of basic techniques is that I have been using them in class with surprising effectiveness. Moves that we normally eschew in a quest for eight sequence half-guard techniques have been saving my butt in class. That’s why I am loving Gracie Combatives and will keep going.

Peace!

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission WrestlersTapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.

Non-stop Grappling!!!

Posted on Updated on

Class was fast paced today. We had one minute rolls for the majority of class in various positions. We paired off and started in guard, switched positions after a minute and then went to side control, back control etc. Then we had people get down in the center and if you were swept, reversed or submitted then you were out.

Near the end of class we rolled until the other person tapped out. My first roll lasted with Justin, a Blue belt who takes about 8 to 10 classes a week. He caught me with a triangle while in mount at the end. Jeff, another Blue Belt caught me in a Kimura. Not my day, but at least I can say I am not worried about a lower belt tapping me out. I wondered about that before I was promoted, but it was just like any other day. I do need to continue to work on my endurance though. I could feel my resolve leaving me near the end of class and I was being sloppy with my defense.

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Tapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission WrestlersGrappling for Newbies20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the MatThe Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.