MMA

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

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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.

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

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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)

In MMA, does a smile (at the face-off) mean you will lose?

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According to a study conducted by Michael Kraus and David Chen (via BPS Research Digest), MMA fighters who smile at the “pre fight” matchups are “more likely” to lose their fight.

Coders for the study were asked to assess whether fighters were smiling during their pre fight matchups (without knowing the fighters or the outcome of the bout). Then the researchers studied UFC statistics and found that the smiling fighters were more likely to lose their fights. The results were not major, but enough to question if the findings have merit.

According to the BPS Research Digest, fighters who bared their teeth were “more likely” to be:

1) “Knocked down”

2) Wrestled to the mat; and

3) Hit more times

The fighters who hadn’t smiled were “more likely” to “excel and dominate” according to the BPS Digest article.

The article also stated that people who bet on fights tend to favor the non-smiling fighter as well. The researchers posit that smiling is a cue to the other fighter that you are submissive, lack aggressiveness and lack hostility.

I find this very interesting and wonder if it also applies to BJJ and submission grappling by default.

What are your thoughts?

BPS Article: Smiling Fighters are More Likely to Lose

Check out my grappling books on Amazon: Grappling 101: How to Avoid being Bullied on the Mat,  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.

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

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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

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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…

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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.

Eddie Bravo vs. Angry Guy

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A guy drives all the way down from Santa Barbara and there are only four competitors. He gets pissed. He takes a look Eddie, deems him inferior, gets angrier and demands his money back. Eddie B. convinces him to grapple and the match is on.

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.

Putting in Work! (Summertime Jiu-jitsu)

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I’ve been quietly ‘putting in work’ at my academy. It’s summertime and I don’t teach at the college during the summer, so I’m averaging three times a week. I am really enjoying being able to go as much as I have.

Today, we worked on half guard escapes, sweeps and submissions. It felt like a mini-seminar and I liked the way Prof taught the class. There were not that many black and brown belts today so when the professor left class I ended up being the senior student. I ran rounds and kept an eye out to make sure every one stayed calm.

There was a relative new guy today and so I tried to keep an eye on him. I rolled with him first and asked him to roll at 50 percent. In my roll with him I pulled guard and and he leaned into my chest. I pushed him to the side and put him in a head and arm triangle and he said, “Hey, that’s not 50 percent. You’re strong.” When I pushed him to the side I did it slowly and barely used strength, but I went ahead and let him go. When I say 50 percent I usually mean speed, as I try not to use strength. Yet, I can see how he could see it differently. He stayed calm until I swept him and put him in side control. That’s when he started ‘bucking.’ I had to start using a clamp defense so he wouldn’t hurt me or hurt himself. Finally, I just slowed it down and started to give pointers so he wouldn’t go ballistic from being controlled.

I also had a roll with Jeff. Jeff is about 6’3 or 6’4 and 250 pounds and he is solid. As a White belt he was easy to control, but now that he is a Blue belt controlling him is a chore. I can no longer trade positions with him because when he gets in mount it feels like a truck is on my chest. When I had him in mount, today, he just grabbed me and rolled me over even though I had him grape-vined. Holy Sh@$! I shrimped and made space and then swept him. After that I held him in side control where I could be safe until the buzzer sounded. Whatever!

Everything else was pretty uneventful.

Until next time!

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.

Coolest Review Ever!!!

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I just happened to check on my book, Tapmonster, this morning at Barnes and Noble and I saw the coolest review that anyone has ever written for one of my books. It absolutely blew me away! I appreciate every good review that I have ever received, but this one was special.

Here it is:

BUY THIS BOOK!!

I don’t ordinarily write reviews, but I am notorious for reading and using reviews to make purchases. This will be my second review ever. That alone should tell you that this book was able to motivate me to actually write this!

Where ever you are at in your grappling game, BUY THIS BOOK! I am currently preparing for my first BJJ tourney, had a horrible class and could not stop thinking about all I had done wrong earlier on the mats. After about 3 hours of tossing and turning. I thought maybe I’ll find a book of some kind, some nugget of wisdom that will rescue the “whatever” BJJ game I had left. I had purchased one of this author’s other books and this one seemed somewhat new.

While I understand that this review seems contrived in that this book ended up being just what I needed, but it truly was. I don’t know if it will rescue my game, but it assuredly got me motivated to get back to work on it!! What ever level in your grappling journey, this book will help you. It will more specifically tell you things that no one ordinarily talks about, on or off the mats. It’s a quick read, but the true take away is that you’re not alone in the feelings, the blood, sweat and tears and just plain difficulty that is the grappling arts! You will not be disappointed with this purchase! And though I haven’t written reviews yet, I have also purchased 20 ways to improve your Grappling, and Grappling for Newbies, both by this author, both highly, highly recommended! Hope this review helps!

W

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.

Ryan Hall calmly chokes out a belligerent drunk in a restaurant

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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.

Ryan Hall calmly dispatches an aggressive drunk who interrupts his pizza dinner…

I don’t know which video is better, this or the guy using BJJ in the What-a-burger fight below. [Credit to FightworksPodcast.com for posting the Ryan Hall video on its website.]

*Beware – Language