The Gentle Art……eventually

When posed with the challenge of imparting some of the wisdom that the years of training have provided me, the first hurdle I faced was realizing that I, in fact, do have the experience to have wisdom to impart… a concept I still struggle with at times.

Pondering this…again, over a glass of red and a bit of a barbeque, the solution presented itself… just tell a story and say what you think. Now I consider myself a reasonably clever person and as such this revelation should not have been so hard to realize, but one of the things that BJJ has taught me is that so many times, common sense, isn’t… and the obvious, isn’t…. also, anything you say before the word ‘but’ doesn’t count, think about it, but that is for another time…..

Anyway back to the title for this post… I find it hugely ironic that the gentle art, for soooo long, isn’t. It takes years to have the ability to express yourself in the physical medium of kinetic chess in a gentle manner.

And I think now, for the first time, I have ever contemplated the attributes that make up the elusive Jackalope, that is, the perfect training partner….

Knowledge, ability, control, fitness, experience, confidence…… trust… I could address each of these individually, but I won’t, my goal here is to stimulate thought, self analysis and introspection, so that bit is up to you, the reader.

Most of us know it, or have felt it, perhaps just a glimpse, even if we didn’t realize it, but you roll for what feels like hours, you are relaxed and in the zone, the full repertoire of sweeps, transitions and movements on display, training with speed and intensity, to exhaustion….. and no one got hurt, sometimes not even a bruise.

Compared to allowing a white belt into your guard and the inevitable pin point bruises that pockmark your legs and inner arm from the grip of death. Woe betide you if we are starting from the bottom and he/ she is in side control, because the barrage of elbows and knees that follow will be furious and that is in the simple transition to north south…….. I exaggerate… sort of 😉

And why is this, is it because they think they can win (the white belt), are they that intent on their first elusive BB scalp.

Are they scared? Interesting, as far more BB’s get hurt by white belts than, whites by Black’s.

Do they lack the traits listed above, not enough mat time to have the body awareness and control?

I don’t have the answer, as I feel it is different for each person, but at the end of the day, I am far more likely to relax, share and play with an opponent, when I can see that they are genuinely trying to learn how to be good partner and not just a good practitioner.

I could go on and on about this, but at the end of the day, we can’t drink from this holy chalice alone, we need those that can help us, push us and learn with us, but that care about the manner in which they do it, those that have the presence of being to think “no, today is his day, not mine, how can I make this roll better for my partner?”

Until next time ☺

Macronutrient Evolution

Fuel. What do you need to power you to your best performance, particularly for competition?

I started off thinking the carb loading of endurance events had something to recommend it. After all, if you can run a marathon, why shouldn’t that be good fuels for a few rounds of fighting? After seeing Tim Ferriss post on the Slow Carb Diet, and subsequently publish The Four Hour Body, I started to see that a diet high in carbs probably wasn’t going to be the best thing to make weight.

So then I was more focused on protein and low carb vegetables, like cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower etc) and lefty greens, salads and such.

From there I started to hear about gluconeogenesis, from Ben Greenfield’s podcast, and also from the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore. Basically if you eat too much protein, it gets turned into carbohydrate. Back to the same problem.

Now I’m working on a ketogenic diet. Eating about as much fat as possible, and minimising carbohydrate. A smoothie I make involves a can of coconut cream and an avocado. I have a blood glucose monitor, to regularly check the impact of the meals I eat. I’m also looking to get a device to measure breath ketones. A ketogenic diet also helps with intermittent fasting, sometimes inadvertently, because I’m not overly hungry.

For further reading check out Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance by Stephen D Phinney.

The Right Jigsaw Piece

When I started BJJ, it was strictly “Old School”. Closed guard, side control, cross lapel choke, rear naked choke, armbars, knee ride (knee on belly). Your standard Roger Gracie repertoire. Half-guard wasn’t even a thing. You didn’t need to decide what to learn, because it was a pretty limited standard set of techniques. No Berimbolo. No  worm guard. No Gracie University. No MG In Action.

This was about the time Google was incorporated as a company. It was six years until YouTube would exist, and eight years before Google would buy them. It’s a different story now. Search you tube today for “BJJ” and you get “About 1,030,000 results”.  Search Google for “BJJ Tutorials” and you get “About 397,000 results”.

So where to start learning? And where to start expanding your game?

If you are starting out, a fundamentals program is a must. You need solid basics. Check out Rodger Gracie winning world titles with the techniques taught in these classes.

What about if you are an old hand? You have the basics down, you can Berimbolo, you even know what worm guard is. How do you drink from the fire hose? The way I do it, is to focus. I find someone who has a style or a game that works with my game. I try to focus on a specific area and practice that. If they have a series of ten 40 minute tutorials, I’m more likely to watch one of the tutorials ten times, than watch all ten tutorials once. Then it’s practice and problem solving. Work through it, find the problems, where it doesn’t work, then review again. Repeat ad infinitum.

The apprentiship to Black

Well said mate. I really see the belts to black as markers in your apprentiship. Finishing them signifies competence and then allows you then the right to push on an attain mastery.  I felt so comfortable in my other belts after a year or so. You know, when that belt looses its stiffness, wraps itself around your waist comfortably before training.

Man, this black just doesn’t play by them rules. What black has allowed me to do is realise how much I don’t know. I think that it is the real start of the journey once you have the realisation just how big the mountain is, like climbing through the clouds to see the real peak!! And as far as being tested, that is every second of every roll. And that is gold.

On the Topic of Fingers

As we are on the topic of fingers, an Avulsion Fracture occurs when the ligament tears out the fragment of bone that it attaches to. The little grey lump near the second knuckle is the fragment of bone that the tendon has torn out.

Avulsion Fracture


Caused by an over under pass from half guard, and the opponent turned to their knees. Splinting and therapy for about eight weeks to recovery. Still a couple of degrees range of movement missing, but it works well otherwise.



When I first started BJJ, there was only two blue belts in the whole state (that I was aware of). The access to coaches and technique was somewhat more limited that it is now and it took me around four years to get my blue belt.

That belt and every belt since, I have felt I was not ready for. Not ready to bear the load of the responsibility of representing that grade, not ready for the onslaught of lower belts looking to get a scalp, and not ready to defend against others already at that grade that I looked up to and respected as proficient and skilled fighters.

As I have said so many times in regard to BJJ, “You can and will be tested, every time you get on the mats”. There is nowhere to hide, not on past achievements, and not on the rank you wear.

A coach I once had, had a saying, “You don’t earn the belt, you become the belt”. This rings true to me. You are not being awarded an achievement certificate, as congratulations that you have past some test. You are being recognised as having climbed a mountain, and this is our vote of confidence that you are now ready to begin the journey of climbing the next mountain.

On the issue of tips (or degrees as they are called in the IBJJF Grading System). The difference between a white belt and a four stripe white belt is magnitudes apart, whereas the difference in purple belts may not be so striking. I was thinking back to when I had my brown belt, and only ever remember having a single stripe on it, so I went and dug it out, and found that it had two. This didn’t stop me progressing to black belt (incidentally that took about three and a half years from brown). Don’t be too worried about stripes as you progress through the belts, as all too soon you will have that vote that you are ready for your next mountain.

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Mallet Finger

You mean like this 🙂 dislocation of right little finger from a scramble that resulted in mallet finger, self re-location, continued to roll and no follow up treatment… Long term result… arthritic, painful, decreased ROM and strength… I now manage to compensate with other 3 fingers and god bless that opposable thumb 🙂


Finger injury-Dislocated and Mallet finger

Well, lets start off simple but with something really common. Fingers are injured so often in BJJ and many times if we think they are dislocated we just pull on them till they ‘clunk’ into place. Hey, that’s not a bad option.

To do this you have the person sit in front of you  on the ground, and you gently grasp the end of the finger. Now just tell the person to take the weight slowly on their finger and you slowly match the resistance. Its really quite deceiving, but you usually need quite some pressure even to put back the very small end (distal phalanx) of the finger. There really should be no pain, and actually relief when the joint pops in. They should then be able to move it with some ease and it should look and feel normal. From there its the usual sporting injury care.

But, one thing though to watch out for is mallet finger. This is where the tendon tha make the finger extend is torn either partially or fully. Left untreated this can cause lifelong trouble, especially if its your dominant hand (bye bye ezekiels!!) Its usally easily fixed with a Mallet finger splint . For more info check out Mallet finger treatment. Happy choking!!

Red wine ramblings…

So, as I sit here sipping on a glass of red, nursing my sore, arthritic knuckles from a hard day’s training, I have to wonder, what makes any Barossa Shiraz so awesome?….. The producer, the geography, the climate, the soil… ahhh, that’s right, the Terroir!!!!

And how does this relate to Jiu Jitsu? Well, I’m not sure…. but then when it comes to BJJ, there is a lot I’m not sure about… for instance, what would make sane, intelligent people step onto a mat and choke each other for fun.  What possesses us, day after day, to commit to the acid test that is an open mat, where everyday your ego is checked, when, in every session you can and will be tested. Why, when off injured, you compromise your recovery to just ‘play’. The enjoyment as 2 grown men stand, drenched in sweat, bruised and sometimes bloodied, after sparring for 10 minutes, face each other and smile a genuine smile and then… hug! What about the frustration that comes with trying to explain this martial art, sport, hobby, past time, religion, obsession, life style, family, to someone who doesn’t train. It truly is a conundrum.

People talk about it being an emotional roller coaster, the highs, the lows and everything in between. But in the 15 or so years that I have been training in BJJ, it has never got any easier. In so many ways it gets harder, especially once you get that coveted black belt strapped around your waist… Thanks for that Mr. Robert Drysdale!

Harder in what way? Well, dealing with the responsibility that comes with the rank is a huge one for me. As a person of integrity, I truly want to represent the honour that has been bestowed upon me and on a daily basis I strive to live up to my belt, even having had it for about 4 years…

Another is continuing to try and improve my game, an area I have struggled with for the last year or so, but that will come again… For me, as cliched as it sounds, this is a lifelong pursuit, so a year of marking time is a drop in the bucket. So I won’t let myself get too frustrated, I will deal with my injuries, regain my focus and continue forward…

Then there is the responsibility for students, furthering their education, assessing methods and techniques, adjusting what you do and teach, motivating, leading, inspiring, consoling, learning, listening, reflecting… trying not to let the bad days show, maintaining the daily running of the school… etc, etc…

Anyway, I digress, this blog is about the journey. I am blessed with the people I have around me, the friends that teach, test and mould me, the gym that is my church, and BJJ that is my religion.

As we progress with it, I am going to try and relate what I have learnt, mistakes I have made as well as progression, positives and negatives, ups and downs. In this I hope to impart some knowledge, stimulate some thought and modify some concepts…

So lets try and figure out the essence of why we do this, lets talk about what works and what doesn’t and why, let us observe and report on training methodology (both conventional and un-orthodox), lets throw in health, fitness, performance, nutrition and technique, lets try and work out the terroir that makes Jiu-jits so special to us all….







Injury and training

Great to see a post about weight and training. I guess for us three the main goal now is to keep on the mat. Quite funny how priorities change, but thats the journey eh! We will really get into this more with specific plans for injury as time goes on. However, this is really the guiding philosophy. So often fighters will end up with an injury (insert anything really), but will will keep it simple and say left knee. Ok, so when you see these fighters at the gym/shops/bar they are really likely to tell you how bad their injury is and that’s why there has been no training. Well, the news is that there is plenty of body and one highly organised brain strapped around that knee. There is always so much more you can do and the combinations are endless. One I like is come down to the rolling/training sessions and do push-ups and chin-ups while your teammates rest, and then watch the roll. Your now training a body part you may not usually train, your inspiring your mates and every roll you actively watch you learn something!!! Any how, think up your own deadly combo and trial it. Doesn’t need to be crazy, even the above with 6 chins and 10 push-ups adds up over a session. Injuries are an advantage. They allow us refocus if we choose to, and just get stronger.

The ramblings of three BJJ black belts on the wrong side of forty