Month: March 2008

Good News: Moving to the Big City

Posted on Updated on

I was offered and accepted a position at a college in Jacksonville, FL.

Those who were readers of my previous blog know that I am an assistant professor at a small rural college in Georgia. The college where I teach is in a town that has a population of 5000 residents. The college has 3400 students. In order to keep my sanity I live in a city about 33 miles away that has a population of 50,000. I train in another city at an academy that is 28 miles from where I live.

Well, Jacksonville has the largest land mass of any city in the United States and is 12th in population in the country. This means that there are a lot of people that practice BJJ, submission grappling and MMA. So far I have located five academies that offer BJJ with the gi and one that offers no-gi BJJ along with MMA. I also found a judo club that offers 4 sessions a week.

Further, not only does a majority of my family live there, Jacksonville also offers many cultural, social, professional and economic opportunities that I can take advantage of.

Now, I can send my BJJ training in to hyperdrive. I can finally train with the gi, train at a location closer to my home, train at earlier times and more times per week. I can also sneak in some Judo training….

Joined a Gym

Posted on Updated on

Last week after contemplating my struggles with Big Man in class, I really thought about the use of strength and conditioning in BJJ. Since I am the smallest of the Big Men in class I suffer from what my instructor termed the “law of diminishing returns.” He stated that if I were smaller and wiry I would be able to use flexibility, speed and more techniques. However, since I am in the range where I am considered one of the big guys, my speed, flexibility and technique aren’t enought to counteract the strength and size of opponents like Big Man (6 ‘6 280). My strength and size doesn’t match up either.

So if I am going to compete with the big boys I need to do a few things:

Become a lot stronger

Increase my flexibility

Continue to work on technique; and

Continue to roll with the big guys until I can figure out leverage points

To work on my strength and conditioning I joined a gym last week. Yes, we have a residential gym where I live, but it’s just not the same. I have had memberships at gyms before and nothing has changed, I become more motivated when other people are around and when I am there I might as well workout.

I know that technique is very important, but I look at my situation from this standpoint. In the very beginning of MMA in the US, BJJ and then wrestling dominated. However, as people learned the counters and escapes, ground fighters were forced to learn striking. As that evolved, all around conditioning also became paramount. If you are lacking in one area, it will most likely show.

In my weight range of 200 and up I can’t neglect strength. As I mentioned in a response to one of Crosschoke’s posts, I can hit the high 200s in a bench press without lifting weights for significant periods of time. I can lift good amounts in other lifts too. However, many people over 200 pounds can do the same. Further, benching in the high 200s doesn’t mean anything when your opponent weighs almost 300 pounds and is applying pressure downwards.

I have to be careful because my shoulder is still bothering me, but there are many other things I can do. Hopefully, this move will prove to be a catalyst.

Check out my new books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and Grappling for Newbies on!

My Thoughts on “Iron Ring” (BET)

Posted on Updated on

Check out my new books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and Grappling for Newbies on!

I watched the premiere of BET’s Iron Ring last week and have mixed feelings. I watched two episodes back to back and out of both shows they had one fight that lasted about one minute. It was like watching a teaser program.

I think the show’s initial episode concentrated too much on the celebrities and their thoughts on MMA. I was also irritated with one of the celebrities bragging about never losing a fight. If you have never lost a fight then you have no older brothers, sisters or cousins; you are an only child; or you have not been in that many fights….

The show did have a couple of MMA vets such as Shonie Carter, Charles (Crazy Horse) Bennett and Wes Sims. Plus, they had a diverse array of fighters who showed up for the tryouts. You have to have a lot of patience too watch it though. Hopefully, it will focus on MMA on the next episode..

This clip above is from the tryouts but didn’t make it to the final cut.

Jiu-Jitsu Dream – Dana White and Purple Belts

Posted on Updated on

I had a dream Saturday night that I was sleeping in a Japanese style dojo. I wake suddenly (in the dream) and  hear voices in the next room talking about promoting someone to purple belt. All of a sudden Dana White bursts into my room holding a white gi and a blue belt. He barks out that I need to hurry up and get dressed because they were promoting me to a purple belt.

When I woke up, I reasoned that the dream represented me breaking through a plateau. Not that I am purple belt worthy, but that I am about to break through either a mental block or increase in technical ability.

I am anxious to see what happens….

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.

Spring Break & Minor Shoulder Woes

Posted on

I spent last week enjoying my spring break from the college. I also nursed a shoulder injury that I suffered a week before from wrestling with Big Man. I think that it was just a case of my shoulder being slightly out of alignment caused from me accidently hitting the wall in one of our sparring sessions. I further aggravated it by thinking it was no big deal and sparring in the next class.

I believe I am at ninety five percent and should be okay in a few days but I am not going to risk injuring myself.

I had to skip classes last week as a result and missed the competition that I found out about but I still maintained my 100 reps. Since I am past the 120 day mark I will have to create an update soon to chart my progress.

Chuck Liddell: IceMan’s book was a page turner.

Posted on Updated on

When I first saw the Iceman book I didn’t know what to think. A lot of these books can be either really good or the complete opposite. This turned out to be a very good book.

Chuck Liddell does a good job of letting the reader get into his psyche and describing what made him the person he is today. Each chapter is full of personal stories and examples of events in his life. I like the fact that he offers the reader a lesson  (sort of a parable) in each chapter.

I bought the book on a Friday and I finished it by Monday night (last week). It was a page turner and had a good flow.

One of his pieces of advice really grabbed my attention. In his fight against Randy Couture he discussed Randy “locking” on to him and taking him down. He wrote; “I thought Big John would seperate us, but he didn’t make a move. Instead I kept working to release myself. That’s all you can do when you are locked up like that, work and work, so the other guy has to worry about tying you down instead of hitting you. It’s one of the hardest, least glamorous, least rewarding acts you do in a fight. But if you don’t you’ll leave yourself vulnerable.”

For those of you who know of my battles with Big Man (former wrestler) in my class this is great advice. I give the book an A or two thumbs up!!

Check out my new books, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and Grappling for Newbies on!

Class Again: Takedowns and Tournament Prep

Posted on Updated on

Last night I found out that the team is going to a tournament next weekend. On the 22nd of March. I don’t know if I am going to go to this one since I am preparing to go to one on the 12th of April. However, it is very tempting.

Last night we worked on takedowns and sparred for three – four minute rounds using tournament scoring. We also did a takedown round robin where the guy who takes his sparring partner down stays in the circle. I stayed in three times before getting reversed on a takedown attempt.

This morning I woke up with a sore knee and my jaw muscles hurt all night so I am glad I have the weekend to rest……

Tuesday’s Class: Big Man Returned

Posted on Updated on

I drove to regular training this week and had a good time. Big Man (6’6 280) was back. I was glad to see him because I wanted to see if I had improved enough, technically, to counter his weight and strength advantage.


When we were going through drills I had to readjust to working with someone that size. The other big guy in the class (besides me), Big J,  is as tall as Big Man but he is 205 pounds. Having him lay on my chest was a workout by itself. At one point, the instructor was reviewing technique with him while he had me in side mount and I felt like tapping out from the pressure alone.

When we sparred, starting from our knees, he gave me a little shove and I hit the ground immediately. We both laughed as he pounced and I placed him in guard. I was able to use my hips at first and began attempting a lot of moves from the guard that I have been working on the past few months. I almost flipped him over with a butterfly sweep, but his elbow hit the ground and he postured up on it and I couldn’t make it budge. I attempted a Kimura, tried a omoplata and eventually he ‘chicken winged’ my leg and was able to obtain side mount. I didn’t want the same old thing to happen where he gets me in side mount and then works on a keylock so when he created a little space I exploded up and was able to flip him over. I obtained side mount, quickly mounted and tried to work for a choke. I held the mount for a while before he reversed, obtained side mount and obtained an armlock.

A similar scenario occured two more times.

I realized that in the absence of technique (smaller, more technical guys have tapped him), strength and explosive power would help me spar him. Often when I have him in guard or he has me in side mount I can not move my hips and sometimes my arms. At that point, I can’t use any techniques that I know. He can apply arm locks from any position if he has a grip on your arm from size and strength alone. Once I tapped because he applied a lock that put pressure on the bone in my forearm. I had never experienced that before.

I am going to keep working on technique but I am going to add strength training to the list of imperatives…

Do Most Fights Go to the Ground? (Research I conducted)

Posted on Updated on

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.

You can also check out my writings and research at Psychology Today: Communication Central

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.   

People who have been following MMA, submission grappling and martial arts since 1994 have been aware of the increasing emphasis placed on ground fighting. Yes, a lot of the push is because ground-fighting experts are trying to convince people to become involved in their martial art or trying to attract more students to their studios. However, there is an extreme seriousness to their claims as well. People can get injured, maimed or killed if they aren’t able to defend themselves.

As a serious MMA or submission grappling fan you’ve probably either heard or read the following claims:

Ninety to Ninety-five percent of fights go to the ground; or

Most fights go to the ground

These claims have become a part of the lexicon of grappling gurus and their participating disciples, including me. However, is it true?

The entire report can be found at

No Luck with New BJJ Class

Posted on

I had no luck in trying to attend class at the new place in my city. When I arrived Friday night, they had a sign on the door that stated they were at a BJJ seminar in another city. The sign also said that it would resume classes on Saturday.

Saturday morning I arrived at the academy only to find out that they weren’t holding a BJJ class that Saturday, and that the next BJJ class would be held in two weeks because the instructor would be out of town. I guess I might be traveling out of town after all…..