(Advice) “Making the Technique Your Own: The BJJ Notebook” by Aiseop


“Making the Technique Your Own: The BJJ Notebook”

by Aiseop


The best lectures I give my university students are on how to take notes.  Not because they are magnificently inspiring, but rather because learning how to take notes is the best thing a young scholar can do for their academic career.  I tell my students first that a notebook is different than a voice-recorder or a diary or a journal.  That’s obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many students attempt to write word-for-word what a professor says.


A notebook is a blank document in which you write down your thoughts and notes on what you are hearing, reading, watching, or the thing inspired by the touch of a muse.  A notebook is a first draft, a brainstorming document, and an uncensored space where you follow the trails of your thoughts.  A notebook is meant to produce subsequent original texts by you.


In literature classes, the thing to be produced is an essay.  This essay is an original work by the student. If the notebook’s task was rote memorization, then essentially what the student is preparing for is a game of trivial pursuit.  However, the skills college attempts to impart is to create original critical thinkers, people who are able to receive some form of data and make it their own by saying something about it.


If the goal of jiu-jitsu was rote memorization, then all we would be performing are katas until our brains withered away in boredom.  But kata is not the thing; the thing is the game, the in-the-moment application of ways of doing techniques. The thing to be produced is your game.  Before I go further, let me say that there is nothing wrong with having a “technique book,” one in which you write down technique details.  There is nothing wrong with a technique journal or a training diary.  However, a notebook is qualitatively different.


A notebook is the intervention of your mind onto the things you are learning.  The techniques are “worked” upon as they are being annotated in the notebook.  Notebooks look toward the future; diaries and journals look to the past.


A notebook’s entries would look something like this:


Professor X showed us the swivel sweep from closed guard today.  I like it because it seems to be a low risk move.  I’m not sure, though, if I’ll have to modify it as I am one of the smallest in the academy. It seems the move is based on both timing but with a bit of umph. I’ll need to ask him what modifications would be good for me. Next class, I’ll work with John the Giant to drill it.


I’d like to point out a few things about this hypothetical entry.  The first is the necessary memory cue. That is, something to remind you of the event you are annotating. In the above, it is “Professor X,” “swivel sweep”, and “today.”  These three things stamp the entry with a person, a category, and a date.  After this, there is no need to write the details of the technique. If there is something crucial, by all means; however, you are writing about the swivel sweep because there is something about that technique that you found important.  In this day and age, to write the details of the move would be redundant. There are a quite a few free videos online about it, all with different variations.  The point of the notebook is for you to do “added” work upon what you’ve been exposed to.  To think about it more in depth. To take time with it in your mind. To give yourself cues as to when and against whom you think it would work against, and to plan for the future to drill it with various body types.  Moreover, if one is a bit more advanced, one might be able to see connections between that move and follow ups.


For example, “I wonder if I fake a scissor sweep to the opposite side, I can further unbalance my partner, thereby easing the swivel sweep?”


Or, “I notice that my partner can block the sweep with his other arm by posting on the mat, I think I can get an arm-bar from there, but how do I climb high enough to wrap both legs around and behind his elbow?  Must ask Professor if this is viable.”


A notebook merely creates further engagement with your training.  It extends your physical training into the cognitive realm. Football players are notorious for cognitive training, even during the middle of games. You always see various position players with a photograph print out of previous possessions, analyzing formations, talking to coaches, and then instructing their unit on how they will adjust.  They are not memorizing anything about the previous play but rather thinking of future plays.


Ideally, in jiu-jitsu a notebook gets created after class.  After going home, showering.  I don’t recommend “note-taking” or “technique writing” during class.  It feels clunky, and you take valuable time away from yourself and partner of practicing the techniques when you are writing.  Moreover, I find that those notes are generally incomplete and useless.


So, what does one do during class? Here are some practical tips for in-class work that will help you retain the technique but also prime your mind for a notebook entry.




(Record the details you love, in your BJJ notebook)



1. Look at the technique.  Start by simply looking at the technique, the shape of both people, how the two bodies are placed on the mat. Linger for a moment to look at the starting position and absorb this placement. Often times, when we are rolling, we need a visual cue, how our bodies are placed, to realize we are in the “first” position to do the technique.


2. Do it straight through. Do the technique the first time all the way through without thinking. Get a feel without worrying about what you don’t know or understand.


3. Slow down and redo. Slow down the next time so you can begin to feel the various shifts in weight and positions of the technique. Do it a few times. Focus on something different each time you go through it.


4. Do it aloud.  Sometimes you need to speak to yourself as you are applying the technique. An auditory memory cue can often help you organize and expose details that you aren’t conscious of.


5. Feel what you can’t do when applied to you.  When your partner or instructor does the technique to you, note the things you cannot do.  Notice whether you can move your hips, or that your right shoulder is pinned, or that your chin is pressed really tightly against his shoulder.  A technique has two sides to it. What you feel and do when you are applying it, and what you feel and cannot do when it’s applied to you.


6. Notice the parts. Sometimes a technique can be divided into “sentences,” meaning that there are pauses between one part of the technique and another. A sweep might ask you to switch grips and hip position, pause, and then move your leg or hands to execute the sweep. If you can notice these pauses, you can cognitively begin to see the constituent parts of the whole move.


7. Ask questions.  You can, of course, ask, “what if my opponent does x?”  However, a more useful starting question might be, “what is my right foot supposed to be doing right now? Am I on the balls of my feet or heels? Is all my weight on it, or fifty percent, or is it supposed to be light?” I’ve found instructors appreciate questions that show you are interested in the details of the techniques they are showing, as opposed to questions that ask them to possibly show a second or third or fourth technique to cover your hypothetical of a counter to a technique you haven’t even learned yet.


8. Let the technique be itself.  Begin by trusting the literalness of the technique itself. Slow down the rush to apply it to the streets or the doubts that may arise because you are too big and don’t feel comfortable inverting or too small and don’t like being in mount and rather be in knee-on-belly because you get toppled over easily.  The technique does not need to be translated nor does it need to be given contingencies.  It is what it is, do it, try it, experiment with it.


At home, you can then begin the task of letting your mind process what is has experienced. For some, a notebook is that final step in accelerating learning.  If you’re like every other jiu-jiteiro addicted to the art, you are thinking of it anyway. All the time. A notebook is a place where you can store some of the more important and interesting thoughts you have had.


Thank you for reading!


This blog post was written by Aiseop

Twitter: @edrik17

Blog: www.throughjiujitsu.com

Aiseop has been practicing jiu-jitsu and judo for 7.5 years. He holds a rank of brown belt under Luigi Mondelli of American Top Team. He lives in Connecticut with his two boys, aka future grappling buddies. He is proud to join the WBBJJ team as a blogger.



(Aiseop and son)


(WBBJJ News) Todd Shaffer Earns Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association Silver Star


WBBJJ.com’s Todd Shaffer has been awarded the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association Silver Star. This award is only given to the most loyal and dedicated students of the association. To be given this honor is emotionally akin to receiving a belt promotion.




The meaning of a Silver Star for Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu:


The Silver Star is the highest decoration award from the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association. You can achieve it by showing great competition skills, by being a role model student, supporting in projects, being a RJJ representative School or giving extraordinary contribution to the Jiu Jitsu World (Source).


Congratulations Brother!


(Advice) “The Jiu Jitsu Gods Above” by Aiseop


The Jiu-Jitsu Gods Above

by Aiseop


I do not know the reason why this particular image of when I was a white belt has stuck with me.  I do remember, though, the feelings associated with it.  I felt awe. I felt small. I felt the desire to be as powerful as that towering blue belt across the mat.  His name was Lionel Perez, and Lionel had what seemed to me to be a perfect-form knee-on-belly on someone.  Lionel nearly upright, above us, but you could feel the knee driving into the torso of his poor partner.  I was a few feet away.  I was rolling with someone else, but, for a brief second, I caught site of what I wanted to be in jiu-jitsu but felt so far from being. Then, I probably got tapped out.


Currently, I hold a brown belt at an American Top Team school in Connecticut.  Lionel has since received a black belt from Relson Gracie.  The image of Lionel stuck with me even after I stopped training for awhile because I moved across the country for a Ph.D. program at Berkeley.  I resumed training in jiu-jitsu when I came back to the east coast.


The image recently resurfaced a few weeks ago.  I was rolling with someone, and there was a white belt who is older than me sitting off to the side, resting.  I chained a few moves and attacks to tap my partner with a bow-n-arrow, and I heard an emphatic “damn, that was smooth.  I wanna be like Aiseop when I grow up,” followed by chuckles at the joke.  I laughed, too, and was grateful, but what I was thinking about were the errors I made.  I rushed through the mount. Someone like my friend Steve, who’s incredibly good at recovering guard, would have put me in his half; and my other friend, Travis, would have escaped that choke because my initial grip was too low.  What they saw versus what I experienced couldn’t have been further apart.  Yet, I understood for that one moment, I was Lionel to that white belt.


As a white belt, you may feel like I felt: that blue belts are awesome; purple belts are lethal; brown belts are gods; and black belts are the Titans, the beings that were here before gods existed.


As a blue belt, you may feel that white belts are lucky to be white belts; that purple belts are awesome but have some holes; that brown belts are incredible; and black belts are gods.


As a purple belt, you may feel that white belts are spazzes; that blue belts are the best belt because you can still make mistakes; that brown belts are incredible but sometimes slip up; and black belts are still gods.


As a brown belt, whites are the best belt; blues are the best belt; purples are the best belt; brown is the worst belt, and black belts are still gods above, and you fear any promotion consideration for another ten years, because you need to work out the massive holes in your stupid brown belt game.




I won’t try to imagine what black belts feel. That’s sacrilege or something.  Think about how someone like red-belt Grandmaster Relson Gracie thinks of all the belts. I dared not put a “coral” or “red belts” slot because I cannot even fathom a language for them. They are the Watchers, outside history and place.


Granting a more-than-human aura to those above us in skill and experience is obviously something not limited to jiu-jitsu.  Freshmen students see seniors as kings of the campus.  As an intern at a corporation, you may imagine the manager as a noble of some sort.  Jiu-jitsu borrows from this key error in human perception.  Time is forgotten when comparing two persons.  Then, powers are superimposed on the greater skilled whose origins are mysterious.  Yet, truly, the only real thing that separates the ranks is simply time.  Sure skill and talent and genetics may have a role, but nothing really works like time on the mat, especially with something so intricate as Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  There are no shortcuts and there are no superpowers.


In Spanish, there’s a pertinent saying: más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo. Translation: The devil knows more because he’s old than because he is the devil.  Age and experience are the simple ingredients that grant us superpowers.  With the proliferation of information, the idea of a sacred scroll containing a secret martial art technique seems a remnants of a by-gone era.  I remember when I first started training how difficult it was to get information about techniques outside of your school’s curriculum. The best objects were books and all you could do was hope Barnes & Nobles was carrying them.  Today, one can subscribe to Marcelo Garcia’s or Andre Galvao’s website and become a virtual student of their jiu-jitsu a minute after reading this article.  Has this significantly and magically improved anyone’s game overnight?  I doubt it. You still have to get on the mat. You still have to roll.  You still have to put your time in. And in time, you may even hold someone under a knee-on-belly and be that singed, early iconic, image of the power jiu-jitsu holds for a new jiu-jiteiro watching you.


Thank you for reading!


This blog post was written by Aiseop

Twitter: @edrik17

Blog: www.throughjiujitsu.com

Aiseop has been practicing jiu-jitsu and judo for 7.5 years. He holds a rank of brown belt under Luigi Mondelli of American Top Team. He lives in Connecticut with his two boys, aka future grappling buddies. He is proud to join the WBBJJ team as a blogger.



(Aiseop and son)


(Advice) “My First Jiu Jitsu Competition Was Last Weekend” by Lauren LaCourse




“My First Jiu Jitsu Competition Was Last Weekend”

by Lauren LaCourse (Blogger, WBBJJ.com)


My coach grabbed my shoulders as I turned to face him. “Okay Lauren, this is it. I want you to keep your hips back and your base low. Remember to keep your head up in the clinch, and fight for your underhooks.” His voice faded away as I looked down at my hands. A giant smile spread across my face as I shook out the nerves. “I should start jumping up and down” I thought. I had seen everyone else doing it before their matches. My feet started to move. “Yeah, that feels good” I said to myself.


My coach caught my attention again. He noticed my smile and looked me dead in the eye. “Don’t underestimate these girls Lauren” he said. I shook my head to reassure him, but the smile stayed put.


The months of preparation were over. For the first time ever in a Jiu Jitsu competition I heard my name called. I inhaled deeply and stepped out on to the mat. The ref signaled to shake hands. I looked across at my opponent. She had the Batman logo on her rashguard, and a determined look on her face. I was still grinning uncontrollably. “Please let me stop smiling”, I thought, as the ref called us to start.


I exhaled.


I had been warned of the infamous “adrenaline dump”. I had read and reread the replies to our Facebook post about my competing. Everyone was wishing me luck and offering advice for my first competition. “It will feel surreal” they said. “You may not even hear your coach” they cautioned.


During my first match, I was very aware. I remember being very cognizant of my movement and my position. My ears were fine-tuned to my coach’s voice. I remember listening to, and following his directions. I did what I was instructed to do. Next, the referee raised my hand in victory, at the end of my first five minutes of competing BJJ.   However I had almost completely forgot everything that had happened.






Here is what I do remember. At the end of the four minute round we were tied, 2-2. An additional minute was then put on the clock. Somehow I ended up in her closed guard long enough to see the score at 4-3 in my opponent’s favor. I saw the seconds tick down as my coach called from the corner, “It’s go time Lauren! Pass! PASS!


My hands pressed down on her hips and I arched my back. I felt her guard snap open behind me. I closed my eyes. I kept my elbows tucked to my ribs as I picked my knee up, and cut it across her thigh.


When I opened my eyes I was in side control. My weight settled on top of her and the buzzer sounded. I looked to the scoreboard for the results. I had won my first no gi match, my first competition match, by one point. The final score was 5-4. I walked off the mat to stand by my coach, who insisted on making sure I kept moving. “Stay warm,” he warned, “catch your breath.” But I didn’t want to stay warm.


I was pretty sure I didn’t ever want to do this again.


While I settled on the edge of the mat (and took what felt like my first breath in five minutes) I watched the next match. My coach told me to watch because my next opponent could be one of the two girls rolling. But again, I don’t remember any of it. He was right though, I did compete against the winner of that round.


My name was called once more, and I walked out onto the mat. “This is for first and second place”, the ref said as he called me to shake hands with my next opponent. She looked familiar. I had seen her before and wondered if she would be competing that day.  She had been at the Mackenzie Dern seminar I attended the month before, but I had seen her prior to then as well; in a cage fight.  I knew she was a serious MMA competitor and that she traveled competing in Jiu Jitsu as well. To be frank, I felt pretty helpless. As I reached across to shake her hand I saw the muscle ripple under her shoulders. I looked to my coach briefly, who nodded reassuringly in my direction, and the match started.


“And when I get there, I will arrive violently. I will rip the heart from my enemy, and leave it bleeding on the ground, because he cannot stop me.”


I would love to say that I followed the direction of this encouraging quote (that one of our WBBJJ followers left for me), but if I am to be honest, the only thing violent about that match was my opponent. She ran it on me.


It was a scramble I was constantly in defense of. I would get her in my guard. She would go to pass. I would quickly escape so that she couldn’t score her points for passing. She would end up in my guard again, and again she would attempt to pass. At one point she had me in an armbar.  I managed to escape. At another point I made the mistake of trying to pull guard, which she quickly and easily deflected, hulk smashing my legs out of the way. I hung out inverted for a while because it was safe. But as I lingered there I heard my coach yelling toward me. I figured that meant it was time to move so I let my hips swing around into guard, and closed my legs behind her. I knew her next step was going to be to pass (like she had done about a hundred times already) so I let her push down on my hips. I looked to my coach, who was looking at the score. I had 30 seconds and was down 0 to 4. I waited. As the pressure from her arms grew, I slammed one of my hands to her wrist and shot my hips up into what we call “Crooked Guard”. With my other hand, I quickly grabbed my ankle and locked in the best triangle I had ever managed in my life. I could hear my coach screaming from the corner, “Squeeze, Lauren!  SQUEEZE!!!” I reached up and laced my fingers behind my opponents head and pulled down with all the strength I could muster. I watched as her face set in a tight and determined grimace.


Then, the buzzer sounded.


I unlocked my triangle and the smile once again spread across my face. I looked to the scoreboard and shook my head. My time was up, and she had won 5-1.


As I walked toward my coach, whose grin matched mine, I knew I had done well. I will never be sure what might have happened if there had been just ten more seconds on the clock, but I do know that in those four minutes my opponent gave me the most satisfying roll I had ever had. Even though I didn’t win gold, I was reminded of why I love this sport, and the people who practice it.






I would like to say that my Gi matches were as exciting, but I was put in against a fresh girl immediately after my ferocious No-Gi battle, and got collar choked like you wouldn’t believe. That was unfortunate. I was dog-tired, sweating and I wondered how anyone competes in both Gi and No-Gi; and does well in both. But as my name was called again I remembered that I had promised myself I would do well in both too. My next match would be for bronze and so I only needed to get through four more minutes to achieve my goal. I could do itI was so close to doing it.


In my most boring match of the day I managed to stay on top my opponent’s turtle for quite some time. When I did roll her over, she hooked me in half guard, pinning my ankle between her legs while she was on bottom. The next minute was spent trying to keep my base to avoid being swept (the score was still 0-0) while somehow pulling my foot from her half guard. I hadn’t practiced much half guard, which became apparent as I had struggled with it all day. But as my coach came flying in from cornering another match I heard him shouting, “Get your foot out of there!  Get your foot out of there!” Assuming that meant it was “go time” again, I cut my forearm across her jaw enough to redirect her focus, and pulled my foot into mount position with 20 seconds to spare, making the score 2-0.


Like the heavens part for the sun on a cloudy day, I saw it. My arm bar. I had her elbow up, and isolated, in high mount. This was it.  I reached my arm to hook underneath hers and readied myself for the transition I had practiced thousands of times before. Then I heard him yell, “Stay put, Lauren.  Stay put!” I looked to my coach and then to the clock; fifteen more seconds. I locked eyes with my coach again and froze there in mount as the time drew out. I had won.






I got my bronze medal and my silver one and I haven’t taken them off since. I called and told my family. I celebrated with my team. All five of us that competed, medalled in our divisions. We had great stories to bring home and great memories from our first tournament. It was truly one of the most significant days of my life despite it being one of my most challenging. Isn’t that how life always goes though? If you wish to have the sea, you must accept it’s mighty roar. The most important lessons that we learn are the hardest, and I learned much that day.


I learned that my half guard could use some work. I learned that my coach, with all his screaming and yelling, knows that’s the only way to really get me motivated. I learned that I smile like a fool when I’m nervous, excited, anxious or have any feeling that is adrenaline triggered. I learned that determination, dedication, and hard work are the tools that help you most to achieve your goals. I learned that those qualities, combined with a tremendous amount of passion, can help you accomplish anything you set your mind to. Most importantly, I learned that family comes in all shapes and sizes, whether it is the people you share blood with, or the people you would shed blood for. I also learned that sweat and tears are as thick as blood, and as such become a strong glue to bond people together. I realized that the bulk of the BJJ community realizes this as well. That is why even when we compete against each other, we are committed to supporting and encouraging each other. I realized that sense of family is the reason I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu. It is the reason I will always love Jiu Jitsu.


Thank you so much to all those who have supported and encouraged me! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know you, and to talk with you. Thank you for reading about my crazy BJJ antics. Thank you so, so much! I’ll never be able to put into words how much your support means to me.


As always, good luck and keep on rollin’.



This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook Twitter: @LaurenLaCourse



(News) White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is One Year Old Today!




It was on this very day, one year ago that I decided to make a BJJ Fan Page. I would call it White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because I am a White Belt. Soon after I met the mighty Todd Shaffer. Now we have 25000 fans and followers across Facebook and Twitter. Crazy! So anyway, Happy Birthday to US!!


Thank you all for hanging out with us everyday! Thank you for all of the likes and shares, which help us grow, and thanks for always sending in your promotions and progress. We love to see your dreams unfold! #OSS #HappyBdayWBBJJ


meTony Peranio WBBJJ


(Matches) Logan Cook strikes again with his signature “Logeoplata”


Logan Cook’s first place match in the Intermediate Super Featherweight No Gi division at the Extreme Grappling Open, against a tough MMA fighter named Ronnie Shoemaker! This is his second “Logeoplata” in competition! This one ended up getting finished from the a mounted position which required Logan to make a few tweaks to get the tap.





Here is a video of Logan teaching the “Logeoplata”


Click here to Subscribe to Logan’s channel on YouTube.