I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. However, I know exactly where his spirit comes from. In the quest to get better we will try anything to improve. I have tried questionable tactics as well. Regardless of what one thinks, it is better than sitting on the couch.
Now where’s my toaster? I want to work on a headlock I saw on YouTube.
Click the picture for the video or click: BJJ vs Vacuum Cleaner
Bakari is the author of 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Michael Clarke Duncan wrestles Tom Arnold below:
Michael Clarke Duncan discusses MMA, NBA, Boxing and tries to avoid looking at Eva Longoria.
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.
Check out my grappling books on Amazon: 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.
Aside Posted on Updated on
It was a beautiful setting. I couldn’t ask for a more idyllic scene to receive my Purple Belt. Today we held a seminar with Rigan Machado; BJJ legend and 8th Black Belt. Two of the first books I ever bought were by Machado (Encyclopedia of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I and III).
There were about 50 people in attendance, many of whom I have trained with for 2 years now. Professor Shealy started off by saying there were some people he wanted to recognize and then he started calling us up. Jason Dominguez received his Black Belt. I was called up second and received my Purple Belt. Prof handed Master Rigan Machado the belt and then Machado took off my Blue Belt and tied the Purple Belt around my waist.
I was all smiles while it happened and really appreciated the applause afterward. Not for vanity’s sake, but because I have trained over and over with these guys and without them it wouldn’t have been possible.
I trained for a year in judo in the late 90s, started no gi in 2004 and began training with the gi in 2008. I have moved often due to my career and didn’t receive my Blue Belt until Feb 2009. Since that time I have trained in two different academies.
In other words, it took me 8 years to earn a purple belt. Even though I have a million excuses, I am finally glad that I have a permanent BJJ home that I can grow in and progress. Some people probably dismiss the idea of BJJ being a marathon and not a sprint as a banal statement, but it is truly a journey and I have appreciated every step!
Hey guys, this is the prequel to my MUSCLE Firm Short Story Series, a quick, fast paced, action adventure comedy. If you like it, pass this link to everyone you think would like it. Thanks!!!
© Copyright 2011 Bakari R. Akil II, Ph.D.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any informational storage or retrieval system without express written, dated and signed permission from the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
To people who love excitement and adventure!
Other books in The MUSCLE Firm Series
“He’s here,” were the words Muscle heard through his earpiece. As he peered from his encampment behind the bushes, sure enough, the man in question was walking toward the house. His pace was deliberate and he looked intense. This guy was nothing but trouble.
“The nerve of this dude! Balls of steel,” said Bell, who was positioned in the Blue Ford Edge with tinted windows, two houses down. The man they were watching had the look of a person that felt he belonged, and he acted as if he owned the place. But that was far from the truth.
Yes, he once owned the house, six months ago. But now his ex-wife inhabited the home with their two small children and occasionally, her new boyfriend or what some single mothers refer to as a “a friend” or “your uncle.” No matter who was seeing whom now, the client was inside and that is why Muscle and Bell were here.
The man walked past the long row of bushes where Muscle crouched and headed for the huge front window that occupied the center of the house. He knelt down and tried to look through the brown plantation shutters that were meant to keep outsiders from peering in and not suited for the aims of ‘peeping Toms.’
It was time to move!
Bell had already left the car and began heading to the house. Muscle stood up and left his vantage point from behind the bushes.
They approached the kneeling man from the side as he strained to see through the glass. Dressed in black pants, a black hooded sweatshirt and dark boots; something about the way he acted signaled deadly intent.
“John Wilkerson!” shouted Muscle.
Wilkerson tried to jump up, but as he rose, Muscle kicked the back of his leg between his thigh and calf. His head hit the wall as he crashed back to his knees. Wilkerson was quick though. Unfazed, he pushed away from the house and rolled backwards on the ground until he was able to jump to his feet.
“Awesome!” was all Muscle could think as he watched the stalker perform his acrobatics. He snapped back to reality when he saw the absolute look of calm in the guy’s eyes. Wilkerson took a step toward Muscle when, out of nowhere, a loud whistle rang out behind him. He stopped in his tracks and quickly spun to his left so he could keep an eye on Muscle and whoever whistled at him from behind.
It didn’t matter though. Bell was already in the air and had a big smile on his face. He used a body scissor kick to bring Wilkerson down to his back. In an instant, the two…
Check out my grappling books on Amazon: 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.
Excerpt from 20 Ways to Improve your Grappling Skills Off the Mat It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Smashwords
We used to train a lot at my house… People used to wake me up at night… Like at midnight, people would come… I would train every time… – Caio Terra, Multiple BJJ World Champion, talking about training from home when he had no academy. (Inside BJJ)
Like most people who practice the art of submission wrestling, I try to spend as much time as possible on the mat. And when I’m not on the mat, I think about grappling entirely too much. Yet, sometimes, the only thing I can do is think about grappling because I have other responsibilities clamoring for my attention.
Since I have grappled for nearly a decade, I have had to come up with ways to insure that gaps in training don’t derail my hard earned gains. As a consequence, I have developed numerous strategies. Those strategies are what this book is about. 20 Ways to Improve your Grappling Skills off the Mat will share with you how you can increase your grappling abilities when you can’t make it to class.
It discusses mindsets and approaches and it is designed to help you become a better grappler when no one is looking. The ideas provided in this book will give you an edge when it comes to training. — Following a few of the suggestions will take your game to the next level.
Imagine if you used all of them.
20 Ways also contains quotes from grappling and MMA veterans. It explores:
-How to be 8 steps ahead of your opponent
-The real deal with heavy bags and grappling
-What’s up with grappling dummies?
-Ways to use visualization that are never discussed
-Why solo drills matter
-How a few simple words can change your game
-How Claude van Damme can improve your grappling
-Why maps are important in submission wrestling
-How being a bookworm is good for grapplers
-How you can improve without lifting a muscle; and
-Ideas that will revolutionize your game and make you a tapping machine
Thanks for purchasing this book and I hope you enjoy.
Bakari Akil II, Ph.D./Jiu-Jitsu365
You only have two options, you win or you lose. Why not just win. – Daniel Cormier-Olympic Wrestler
I would argue that when most people pull up YouTube, looking for a grappling clip, it is not to learn how to achieve or maintain dominant positions. They are looking for ways to tap chumps out. Admittedly, it’s not a bad idea. If you grapple for more than a few months, you quickly realize how difficult it is to make your partner submit when he’s learning the same things you are. Springing a surprise wristlock you learned from your favorite online guru makes training that much easier.
However, most grappling techniques offered online begin with the instructor ordering the uke (one being demonstrated against) to take a certain position on the mat. Then the uke jumps down like he’s expecting a Scooby snack in return. Yet, when is the last time you were able to tell your grappling partner to lie on his back so you could assume side control during a live roll?
Dominant positions have to be earned. Then they have to be maintained. Now, there are many ways that you can practice catching people in submissions and we will explore them in this book. But let’s start off by covering how you can use the heavy bag to improve your ability to dominate positions and improve your overall grappling ability.
Using the heavy bag is the blue-collar way of learning how to hand out beat-downs. It doesn’t do everything you want it to do, but it can get the job done. Its design is simple, sturdy and it can take a beating. They are also large enough to give you the feeling of dealing with a person and heavy enough where you have to exert yourself when working out with one. The length of heavy bags allow you to practice a wide range of moves and its bulk lets you apply pressure that even your training buddies wouldn’t allow.
They are also relatively cheap, especially in relation to the many years of use you can extract from one. I paid $65 for my 60 lb. bag and have owned it for 8 years. You can also purchase one cheaply from a second hand store like Play it Again Sports or from a yard sale. Now if you’re really cheap, you can learn how to make a heavy bag by watching a YouTube clip of some weird guy creating one in his mom’s basement.
No matter how you obtain one, your investment will pay off each time you can’t make it to class due to work or other commitments, yet you still have enough energy to drill at home. (Or, in my case, when I lived in the middle of nowhere and had to use my bag as a training buddy for a few months.)
Whether boxing or grappling, the heavy bag can help you review the basics. Just like in boxing where you can practice jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts and combinations, the heavy bag will allow you to practice the rudiments of grappling. Side control, mount, North-South and Knee-on-belly are all fair game on a heavy bag. You can also practice applying pressure to the chest and the proper spacing of your legs when trying to hold an opponent down. You will never, ever find a drilling partner who will allow you to work on your positioning as much as a heavy bag. If you do, money will be involved.
You can also work on transitioning from one position to the next. For instance, transferring from side control to the mount, mount to side control and side control to North-South. The bag can help you develop the speed and timing required to jump from side control to Knee-on-belly and from Knee-on-belly on the right to Knee-on-belly to the left. Drilling these basic positions will give you the ability to ride opponents. I have to admit, I feel like a bull-rider when I am controlling a ‘spazzy’ new guy and a pimp when I’m jumping from position to position on an experienced guy. Sometimes I have to restrain myself from asking, “Where is my money?” That skill doesn’t come from attending class once or twice a week. It’s from my heavy bag training.
You can also practice more advanced positional drills on the bag as well as work a little technique. For instance I cemented my ability to capture…
End of Excerpt
Thanks for reading! If this caught your attention you can purchase 20 Ways to Improve your Grappling Skills Off the Mat at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
This book can be read on your computer, tablet or cell phone using your Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble free apps. You can also read it on the computer using Smashwords or Lulu.
Check out my grappling books on Amazon: 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.
The new semester begins next Monday. All week I have been attending college wide, departmental and discipline related meetings and preparing my curriculum for my students. My BJJ lifestyle of the summer has already been affected.
Yes, I am ready to teach and head back to the classroom but I will miss my Summer of BJJ. This time I really stuck to my statements and attended, on average, three classes per week. (I initially tried going five times a week but hurt my back on the fourth day of the first week and decided maybe three times a week would be best.) I learned many things over the summer but I think the most important thing I learned was to stop holding back.
I don’t mean being a ‘douche’ to my fellow grappling buddies when rolling by being over-aggressive. What I mean is that I learned that I need to use my skills and make my opponents actually work to achieve a position or submission and not just give it to them. I had a tendency to be a back and forth player. After I dominated a position for a while I would let my rolling buddy back into the game and let them work. A lot of this would be to my detriment when I faced equal or higher level players. I realized that most, if not all, did not have the same mindset (and no one told me they should) and I always paid for my approach.
After a particularly bad day this summer where I played this game and ‘got’ crushed I decided to bring it, yeah I said bring it, to every class. I started using my A game and stopped working my B and C games because I wasn’t getting any better at them. I decided to work off of my strengths and become well rounded in my weaknesses when the moments presented themselves (as they always do). After about a week of this I had an eye-opening conversation. A white belt who had a little experience under his belt told me that my game had really changed as of late. He told me he was “unable to stop” me and then he said these words,
“where we had almost been equal before.”
I was flabbergasted. He’s a nice guy and meant no harm by his words but to me it was a shot in the gut. I thought when I was rolling with people and I let them work their games or didn’t always submit them that they knew I was doing it on purpose. I didn’t think they thought I was just not really all that tough (not saying he said that). I thought about all the times I had tried to be fair and ended up fighting for my life in a roll because of it. I realized that a lot of people thought I was really putting my all into it so they put their all in it.
My wife had been saying for a couple of years that people don’t know I am going easy on them, but I figured they had to know. I stood corrected.
As a result I stopped playing that game. If I have the tap I take it. If I have the position I keep it. I am not malicious but I am on a mission.
As my epiphany gained strength I realized that upper belts who doggedly pursue submissions are upper belts because they doggedly go after submissions. They maintain positions and they pursue the taps until they get them. They don’t give up positions to make their partners feel better.
My game has improved as a result and I have improved as a grappler. I still have a lot of balancing to do but I believe I am on the right path.
Class started off as usual today. We were going through drills (from side control) and then our Prof. called for a break and told us, “Get water guys!”
As we headed off in different directions he went up to the front counter and started pulling up tape. Long story short, I received a stripe. He told me that I had been working hard all summer and really improved my game. So now I am a second stripe blue.
(I didn’t blog this but I had a dream on Monday that I was getting promoted. The major difference is that he called me into his office and told me he was going to promote me after an event on Saturday. He also gave me a ribbon and a medal instead of a stripe or belt. I woke up that morning and told my wife that I was going to get promoted.)
Luigi also received a stripe on his blue belt (to 4 stripe blue).
Seth and Brian received a stripe on their purple belts (to one stripe purple).
Congrats to all and time to get back to the grind.