In our quest to develop the best jiu-jitsu program for our students, the Thursday 5:30pm class is now going to a BJJ core fundamentals technique class. In this gi class, Head BJJ instructor Michael Jen and his purple belts, Crystina Coats and Lou Noble, will be covering the fundamental techniques of the Smash BJJ curriculum that every white belt needs to know to get to blue belt. This class is also highly recommended for colored belts. Though colored belts will recognize all these basic techniques, this class is an opportunity to really get down the fine details. If you look at what separates higher belts from lower belts, it’s the understanding of those fine details. Those who attend the class will be given a copy of the basic curriculum so students can see exactly what it is they know and don’t know.
The instructors at Smash Gyms are life-long martial artists with various backgrounds of different self-defense and martial arts disciplines.We were there when the fight world was shocked during the original UFC’s which proved that a knowledgable grappling specialist could easily manhandle other high level martial artist who lacked real grappling knowledge. This brought attention to the fact that for decades the Gracie family had open challenges to other martial arts and fighting styles and had defeated countless opponents in no rules fights. We put our ego’s aside and went through hard training to develop real skills, and came to the realization that our past training in combat systems with unrealistic training methods had little value in a real fight.
Through the evolution of sport fighting and MMA in the last 20 years it has become apparent that combat sport styles did very well in real combat situations. This was because of training methods. They go 100% live and test techniques. If you go 50%, you are not going live. Theories, techniques, and strategies must be tested. You must try to prove their effectiveness and not just take your instructors word for it. Sport fighters train this way and have evolved sophisticated systems of fighting. Skills in these sports have been passed down from generation to generation and evolved to be as effective as possible through natural selection and a scientific process. Professional fighters, police departments and even the US Army replaced old systems with these disciplines because the effectiveness could be proven in 100% live situations. Many lifelong martial artist came to the realization that although it was a jagged pill to swallow they needed to learn these arts after losing to these sport practitioners.
Specialist in different fighting sports became hot commodities as coaches for any serious martial artist or fighter. People who were paying attention learned that you could not be successful learning from one style. Jack of all trade fighting styles proved to be a beginner systems at best. The best fighters in the world learned they need a coach for each discipline. A specialist trainer is one that has spent the 10+ years it takes to master a real skill. Fighters realized that to reach a high skill level they needed to get out of their comfort zone, put their ego aside and step into the world of the specialist. They learned that they need to lose in 100% live situations until they could win in 100% live situations. This is how to develop real skill that is repeatable in a live situations.
While the UFC and MMA in general grew in popularity, many traditional martial artist took refuge in claiming that their style was too dangerous to prove in a real fight. When they did go live with people that understood how to produce a real skill it became obvious that practitioners of these untested fighting styles typically did not progress beyond beginner level technique in actual combat, even after many years of training. Ironically these styles are the ones that usually claim to be the most “realistic”. Many of these styles focused preparing on a mentality for certain situations that never happen to make up for their lack of realistic training methods. When these unfortunate practitioners actually were challenged they were not ready for the intensity due to the lack of 100% sparring, and their curriculum of untested, unproven techniques. They would be dominated by specialist every time.
Many styles or instructors claim to have the best answers to every question. They may claim that they have the answer to beat everyone in every situation. This comes from insecurities or marketing. It may seem like confidence but it’s a rouse to control students and instructors to hide their “styles” weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. Those that won’t admit it, often have the biggest ones. The truth is that if you only take MMA, Krav Maga or other general self-defense fitness classes it will be difficult take reach a true level of mastery. Individuals with existing skill sets in focused combat sports will easily dominate in those styles. You will need to take lessons focused on individual disciplines from true experts in each subject if you are serious about becoming effective in self-defense and martial arts. There are no short cuts.
If you want to truly learn a subject you need to see an authority on the matter. To combine kicks and punches at the highest level you need to find a kickboxing coach. To learn to stop or execute a takedown you need to study wrestling and judo. You simply will not be able to execute or defend against those willing to do it. If you want to dominate, control or submit an attacker in a one on one fight you should take BJJ classes. If you want to learn to knife fight then find an expert! No fighting style is an expert in every situation.
For a Martial Artist to evolve techniques, strategies and methods must be tested in unchoreographed 100% live training. Practitioners must be scientific about their training. Don’t just take your instructors word for it. Make it work live. True testing must occur with live resistance. In real life nothing is perfect. When an instructor shows a technique he is showing an example of an exact situation. When you go live there are an infinite amount of variables that could happen. This forces the practitioner to react and adapt the technique in a way to make it work. This leads to a deeper understanding and then to mastery.
To reach the highest level in anything, you need focused instruction. Many times the fighting styles that will give you cliff-notes of other arts were started by a “guru” that actually went and learned from specialist! They went to experts and put in the time and became skilled. You should do the same! Go to the source. If you go to one person to learn everything you are likely learning watered down 3rd or 4th hand information. In any area, there are experts that truly understand. You must spend the time in their world to really be effective. If you aren’t losing, you aren’t really learning. It is important to distinguish between scenario training and live training. Training partners pushing you with pads then letting you win during a difficult drill is not real fighting no matter how challenging it seems.
Combat is not a religion. Martial Arts have come so far in the last 20 years and many people still don’t get it. Time and time again people have marketed end all be all to fighting styles with no substance. The best instructors have an open mind and continue to learn and evolve on their own and pass that on to their students. Fighting has been around since the beginning of time and it is now evolving at a breakneck pace. Because of the internet our ability to find, share, and test information is easier than ever before. You can find live footage of what works. There are thousands of real fight videos online. You will see virtually no fights end in groin shots, eye gouges and other “dirty ” techniques that many claim take the place of real skill. You will only fulfill your potential by getting out of your comfort zone, putting your ego aside and find true experts that are willing to show you their skills in a 100% live situation. If this idea seems sacrilegious to you then you are part of a cult, not a fighting style.
Veteran martial artist have seen trends come and go and then repeat. Even now every few years a new heavily marketed fighting style shows up late to the party claiming to be the end all be all answer to fighting. These new styles are often popular because they protect the fragile ego’s of the students and instructors. It is traditional martial arts packaged as realistic scenario training without the real training methods. Those with experience know this is nothing new and has been proven to be ineffective over and over.
“One test is worth 1000 expert opinions” – Wernher von Braun
Realistic Weapons training
You really get hit!
Below is realistic close combat weapons training. They use a paintball gun so you can see who really gets shot! Many theory based “experts” may criticize techniques used to win during this live test without but are unwilling to prove it in a live situation with experienced combat sport athletes. Also they may totally disregard the results of the test due to years of being heavily influenced with untested theory. If you train live you will see that individuals with combat “sport” backgrounds will dominate other styles with very little training.
Great effort by our Brazilian Jiu-jitsu students who competed in the 2013 American Cup BJJ Tournament over the weekend. Our competitors put on a great display of skill and heart. At the conclusion of the tournament, Ben Hyatt, Tom Lopez, Javier Martinez and, Sam Spenglar placed 1st in their respective divisions. Leo Shen placed 2nd and Eli Sanchez, Juan Romo, and Patrick Kong placed 3rd in their divisions. Congratulations to everyone!
Check out the highlights! To watch in HD, change the quality setting on the player when the video begins. Enjoy!
Training Jiu-Jitsu can be an important tool for self-improvement. You learn really a lot about yourself if you pay attention during training. I believe training BJJ can expose character flaws and really help you improve as a person.
Are you humble or arrogant? Are you a hard worker or lazy? Are you too competitive? Are you a know it all? Do you never give up? Are you consistent or inconsistent? Are you mentally weak or strong? Are you able to keep long lasting relationships? Do you make excuses or do you make it happen?
Train Jiu-Jitsu long enough and you will discover some things about yourself if you are willing to look inward. If you do not play and work well with others it will become apparent in training.
Many have used BJJ to improve myself as a person. If you practice BJJ we would like to encourage you to use what you learn about yourself on the mat to fix problems off the mat. Personality traits get magnified during tough training. You can find out who you are vs who you want to be…
Santa Clara – The Smash Gyms Brazilian Jiu-jitsu team had a great showing at the 2012 Brazilian Jiu-jitsu US Open held in San Jose CA at Independence High School. The US Open is one of the largest and most prestigious BJJ tournaments in the US. After two days of hard fought competition, the team brought home 4 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze medals. At last years 2011 US Open, Smash brought home six medals with only being opened for less than a year. We expect Smash Jiu-Jitsu to have continued success as a program and a growing medal count every year in both local and nationally recognized sport jiu-jitsu tournaments.
Big congratulations to everyone involved with the Smash Gyms BJJ program. Our success is the result of a team effort from all the competitors, coaches and training partners!
The success Smash has had since we opened in January 2011 is a testament to the dedicated team of instructors and amazing members we have training every night at the gym. Most of our Jiu-jitsu students choose not to compete regularly. We believe that our training environment is unique in that both competitors and hobbyist can find a supportive, friendly, and knowledgable staff and training partners ready to help anyone reach their personal goals.
Here’s a highlight video of some of our Smash competitors in action!
“Our BJJ competitors have been extremely successful in competition in the short time that Smash Gyms has been opened. We consistently have had numerous people win or medal at every competition we have entered. What have I learned from our competition success? It does not reflect one’s entire knowledge or skill in the art, but rather who can play this “game”. While winning is great, competition is only very small part of the entire art of BJJ.
The rules of competition have changed over the years. This basically means a person or small group of people have begun to change the definition of what BJJ should look and be like. In my opinion, if one is true to the art and has integrity, they will stick to what they believe the art should be rather than change their views based on what a small committee decided.
My students will continue to go out on the competition floor and have fun. But for me, I judge my students by what I see on the mat every class they attend, year after year, not from 5 or 6 min. at some event.” – Michael Jen, 3rd Degree Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
Most people begin taking Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as a martial art. This was especially true in the past when Sport BJJ tournaments were much more rare in the US. Many people who began training with the Gracie family in the early 90’s did not even know that BJJ Sport tournaments existed in Brazil. As more Brazilians moved to the US and more people reached Black Belt level it was natural for the sport jiu-jitsu to grow in the US as well. Sport BJJ is fun and many BJJ practitioners are competitive. Plus, the nature of the art is a that of a “show me” mentality. In BJJ you are able apply your skills with 100% live resistance and no one gets hurt. We do it in our training rooms together so it makes sense to have events where people from different schools can test their skills.
Jiu-jitsu was originally designed to be effective in a fight. BJJ evolved from a Japanese prize fighting teaching Kano Jiu-Jitsu to Brazilians. The art continued to progress and evolve until the Gracie family showcased the art in the original UFC’s as the best martial in the world for a one-on-one fight. The UFC started as a infomercial to show the effectiveness of BJJ against other styles. Before the UFC: the Gracie family used “Gracie in Action” videos showing hundreds of victories in their bare-nuckle no rules challenge matches against other martial artists. This campaign from the Gracie family left little doubt that BJJ was an incredibly effective martial art.
Jiu-jitsu has split into two very different directions: Sport vs. Martial Art. Some of the most effective techniques commonly used in today’s sport BJJ would be ridiculous to try in a fight. Many very effective grappling techniques are no longer allowed in sport BJJ. Jiu-jitsu for fighting has changed to Jiu-jitsu for grappling.
High level sport BJJ has turned into a beautiful display of grappling that no one could have imagined. It has turned into a legitimate sport and is growing rapidly. The popularity is partly because it offers a unique option for anyone to compete against people who are the same age, same belt and same weight as themselves! This has turned hobbyist into competitors. People who like to compete in individual sports can continue to do so in a level playing field far passed high school or college. Sport BJJ has created communities , friendships and families within teams. This is a beautiful thing.
Other arts have followed this path and often the sport flourishes and the art dies. Many other martial arts have become great sports but lost much along the way. As more rules are introduced, the less effective the sport is as a martial art. Most top sport BJJ practitioners would still be very effective in a one on one fight against an untrained and unarmed attacker. New BJJ practitioners trying to mimic sport jiu-jitsu technique in a real fight could get hurt.
If you look at the evolution of BJJ vs Judo one can argue that same art changed radically under different conditions. The Gracie family learned the same art that was practiced in Japan in the early 1900’s. In Brazil very few rules were added and the environment supported creativity and innovation. Meanwhile in Japan traditions and rules took the sport in an entirely different direction. These rules helped the sport of Judo grow all the way to the Olympic games. But the rules obviously hurt the effectiveness as a martial art. Meanwhile in Brazil practitioners were not forced to stand straight up, they did not add time limits for ground work, or rounds. The absence of rules made the art much more effective in a fight and led to BJJ. The addition of rules made the art of Judo much less effective in a fight but lead to it becoming an Olympic Sport.
This of course is not to say Judo guys can’t fight. Top Judoks are some of the toughest guys to walk the Earth. Same thing with collegiate or olympic wrestlers, boxers and who ever else practices full force sparring. As a martial art though you would have to be terribly biased to think the sports of wrestling or judo match up with BJJ as a stand alone martial art for the average person.
At Smash we believe that it is important for students that attend our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes to remember that Jiu-jitsu is a martial art first. Royce Gracie didn’t pull guard in the first UFC. Royce took people down, punched them then submitted his opponents. We give our students the ability to do this first.
At Smash we teach a very definitive system of Jiu-jitsu. Our core system consists of carefully chosen techniques and systems designed to be effective in MMA, Sport BJJ and a one-on-one self defense situations. Once our students are proficient in the core system then they will be taught supplemental techniques based on their goals.
Is the Sport BJJ good for the Jiu-jitsu as a martial art? Yes! The sport definitely helps raise awareness of BJJ. It helps teams and schools with retention and team camaraderie. In the end every practitioner needs to decide why they train and find a school and instructor that fits their goals.