Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thesis Wednesday: Empty Your Tea Cup and See There is No Spoon

There is no spoon.

Between the replies I saw to my POST on Judoforum and this post here in its entirety, you can read nearly everything I've come to abhor/dislike about high level Judo and BJJ players that choose not to see the forest for the trees.

From the above post: "I'm surprised I have to explain this to people but I often do. I cannot tell you the number of judo players I meet who are convinced that jiu-jitsu will help their matwork. If that is true (and it often is) it's because their matwork really sucks."

By extension then, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will only improve your Judo matwork if your matwork sucks. 

We, as Judo players complain or do so silently when a BJJ player only wants to learn takedowns or leg grabs. We frown on their unwillingness to drill foot sweeps and kuzushi.
But then, in the above post, complain if there is not immediate cross over into our Judo-centric rules/competition when we practice BJJ.

It's mindblowing that such a ground-centric former competitor as the owner of the above linked blog would remark that cross-training is the problem.

Mindless cross-training can be too much of a good thing.Cross training with no consideration of the cross over to different rules is also a problem.

But, to think that doing BJJ will not (in the long term) help your Judo is laughable...or that the costs will outweigh the benefits.

I could assume that. I can postulate the above is correct. But how many people who have cross-trained for more than several classes or a month or so do you know that have stated the above belief?

The only people I know that have said the above are either long time BJJ players or long time Judo players that have not competed in both sports. When I was a kid, I would ask my mom about something someone told me at school or in the neighborhood. and I would start a sentence with "well, ****** said...." and my mom would inevitably ask, "well, son, did you consider the source?"
It was her version of "take it with a grain of salt."
Few teachers and coaches will tell you that there is something to gain by training elsewhere.
Especially, if that something is something that they do not personally know how to teach.
Even fewer will outright admit that there is something about being on the mat they do not personally know nor understand and do not know how to teach for competition. 

An Example from MMA:
Consider Nick Diaz. He lost to wrestlers and takedowns in the UFC during his previous foray into the organization (Joe Riggs, Sean Sherk, and Diego Sanchez ). Instead of acknowledging his lack of wrestling training as pivotal in his decision losses, he blamed the scoring system (of which he has full access to), he blamed the judges for scoring the "boring wrestlers" who held him down, and he blamed the wrestlers for taking him down and grinding out decisions. It's called "MIXED Martial Arts," not "let's do whatever Nick Diaz is the best at. He blames the scoring, the rules, the judges, and the opponent for the deficiencies in his game.
In short, he finds fault with everything that he cannot change, thus accepting the deficiencies in his game rather than addressing, changing, and improving those holes. 
But, back to my original topic: 

No current AND active competitor whom I personally know has told me that cross training hurt them in either sport in which they participate. But, I have had a considerable number of people at both Judo and BJJ tournaments attest to the fact that either the takedown/gripping aided in winning my BJJ match, or my matwork/transitions on the mat aided in winning my Judo match.

I regularly competed in Judo for about 6 years until my last knee injury. During that entire time competing I won by pin 3 times that I can recall specifically and had won by submission 1 time. I had however been pinned several times and been submitted twice. Over that period of roughly 6 years competing in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland and having competed against players from across the country I won on the mat 4 times. 4 times.  
After some minor and a couple significant knee injuries and some time off to fight in MMA, I competed at a Judo tournament.
I managed to win 7 matches in 2 brackets in one day with no ACL in my left leg.
(2 pins, 2 submissions, 3 throws).
I was also the smallest competitor. It was open weight class starting with the smallest guy in each division, with varying skill levels.
In the span of a few years or so of regularly doing BJJ, I managed to, despite being handicapped by a significant knee injury, win 4 times on the mat. In one day. 
I won as many times in one day as I had in the previous 6 years. 
Draw your own conclusions.

Training is training, and not the same value in my mind as to what truly works against an unresisting opponent, but I've also tapped out far more Judo players in training than I did before I spent time focusing on my mat work (regardless of rank, size, and experience) and based on their faces/expressions/demeanor, it's clear to me they were resisting as hard as they possibly could and did their best to stand up/halt the mat work and reset.

I make claims on this blog.
I state my opinions.
But I base them not on what I see in training, or what I see when others compete.
My opinions are based on factual and statistical differences over time that I have experienced first hand.

I'm not a high level Judo competitor beyond state level tournaments.
I'm not a high level BJJ competitor as I'm a blue belt and have only done 2 major BJJ tournaments ( Pro Trials and the Pan Ams) and 13 local level BJJ tournaments on the East Coast.
I have used my Judo in BJJ, my BJJ in Judo, and both in my MMA fights and also to defend myself in altercations.
I don't consider myself a gifted athlete nor overly physically strong as my training partners and coaches will attest.

I have won matches in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling due to my competency in gripping, countering bad posture, and moderate throwing skills.
I have seen a vast improvement in my ability to pin and submit for Ippon in Judo due to my cross training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I won my first 2 MMA fights having never trained without wearing a Gi, thanks to my Judo background.

These are facts. Not opinions. Not theories. Not closed minded and antiquated opinions that sound every bit as inane as theorizing if Wing Chun Kung-Fu is better than a Northern Shaolin Praying Mantis style.

At the end of the day, I am a competitor, limited by an injury that saw discernible changes and advantages in my game as a result of cross training. I could never have won the same number of matches with my injury and avoided worsening my injury had I not spent my time doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for its own endeavor. If you attend BJJ with the "add to my Judo" mentality, you are missing the finer points.
No more than we Judo players complain that BJJ players who visit just want to learn leg picks or sacrifice throws that don't require kuzushi.

Empty your f'ing tea cup and go outside of your comfort zone.
Count Koma traveled the world and showed the efficacy of Judo under a variety of rule formats.
You don't even have to do that. Go enter a BJJ tournament. Fear of loss or shame or embarrassment (pride and vanity) are the biggest impediments to learning and evolution.

Stop learning and your journey ends.

Tomorrow for Interview Thursday, Gustavo Dantas tells us about BJJ Sponsorships (and some points that apply to all grappling competitors).


  1. Really a nice post I find this blog interesting and Good Collection of pictures. i'll look forward for your next post for more updates onBrazilian Jiu Jitsu . Thanx

  2. Team Coban - thanks for the reply. more stuff coming over the next few weeks