Should Jiu Jitsu Academies Enforce Contractual Obligations? (Opinion)




Should Jiu Jitsu Academies Enforce Contractual Obligations? (Opinion)


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that is filled with many realities. Fake people, fake belts and fake techniques are recognized with a quickness that is simply stunning to behold. One of the nuanced realities of BJJ is that we train at academies that are operated by business owners. Whether we like it or not, martial arts is a business. Most of us rational individuals recognize this dichotomy and make our adult decisions to be in accord with this dialectic.


It is obligatory for an academy to keep its doors open and the business operational in order to properly serve its body of students. To achieve this, capital is necessary. On top of the costs to operate the business, the academy owner also needs to provide for his or her family. Should a Jiu Jitsu black belt live in pious poverty like a guru of religion? Or, should they be allowed to live a comfortable life comparable to others?


I am not an academy owner but I can picture what it would be like to be one. You would want to build a gym with a family environment that is based on the concept of a team. Yet you also need money, or none of it will exist at all.


BJJ academies make the bulk of their money from monthly membership dues. Cross-fit gyms, regular gyms, yoga studios, dance academies, etc, all have contracts in place to ensure that a continuous stream of income can not only be collected, but counted on. When you are planning for the future it is extremely helpful to be able to gauge how much money will be coming in at a particular time. This is facilitated via contract. Having a contract also serves the purpose of making the contracted person feel obligated to show up to the academy as opposed to just coming a few times than quitting.


The sticky part of the situation occurs when a student wants to outright back out of their contractual agreement, that they as an adult, agreed to sign in to.


Should the academy owner let everyone who wants to, break their contract? If yes, can we justify a reason to therefore have a contract in the first place? Is there a certain point in time where your friendship with the academy owner supersedes their need for capital? Probably not.


In my opinion it is reprehensible and irresponsible adult behavior to sign an agreement that you do not 100% believe that you can oblige. For instance, my academy offers 1, 2 and 3 year contracts. The 3 year is naturally cheaper because the owner can rest easy for 3 years knowing that that revenue will be coming in. The 1 year contract is cheaper to buy out of but is more expensive per month because the academy owner cannot add into the accounting the 3 years of guaranteed income.


Most contracts have clauses to help the student if the need arises. If you are injured, more than likely you can have your academy “freeze” your account while you heal up. When you are fit to train, the contract will start back up again. The months that you didn’t attend will be added onto to the term of the agreement.


If you are moving, all you need to do is prove it through documentation.


If you simply want to quit, most contracts have a buy out clause. You may have to pay a few hundred dollars, but that is what adults do. You made a decision to enter an agreement that you couldn’t handle, so you must absorb some of the financial obligation.


Does this mean that you should now be angry with the academy because you were in err? Should you “tell the world” how evil the academy owner is for actually enforcing their contracts the way any other business in the world does?


Try telling your mortgage company that you cannot pay and you will lose your house. Tell your auto loan company that you cannot pay and you will lose your car. They will repossess your car, and you will still owe the balance! Why? Because you signed an agreement that says you understand the terms.


Your instructor is not faking their friendship with you, nor the family and team environment. If you cannot meet your obligations, you are not a friend, teammate or family member. I like to associate with those who stick to their agreements and those who make wise decisions. I tend to disassociate with those who make rash decisions that they regret later.


In summary, I believe that your BJJ academy should honor their agreement to keep the doors of the business open, and to teach me the martial art that they sold me on during the introduction period (giving me full view of the academy and what is taught BEFORE the contract was signed). I also believe that the student should meet their obligation to pay, or expect the penalties included in the contract to be enforced. This could mean court, attorney’s, etc.


Consider it a blessing that you only have to deal with small claims court, and not an angry Jiu Jitsu black belt hunting you down.


‘Nuff said.






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8 Ways To Improve Your Jiu Jitsu




8 Ways To Improve Your Jiu Jitsu


1) Supplemental workouts outside of your academyTry doing cardiovascular, strength and endurance training when not on the mats. Doing this will go a long way in helping your Jiu Jitsu. Stronger muscles will help you prevent injury. Cardio and endurance training will help you roll harder, longer.


2) Hang around when class is overInevitably when class ends a few people will hang around drilling techniques or talking about Jiu Jitsu. This is a great time to ask questions and learn tweaks for your game that you might not learn if you were to leave as soon as class ends.


3) Use what you learned in training that dayYour BJJ coach teaches specific techniques for a reason. They want you to learn how to use those techniques while you are rolling. If your coach teaches a mount escape, go for that particular escape that day when you are mounted. Doing so will give you practice with the technique and show your instructor that your were paying attention in class.


4) Increase your training hours per weekTry to squeeze in as much Jiu Jitsu as possible per week. Sometimes there are classes we could attend at our academy but maybe we don’t feel like waking up early or staying up late. Force yourself to get to the academy during those times. You will absolutely be glad that you did. I have never left BJJ class thinking, “I should have stayed in bed.”



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5) Rest/RecoverRest and recovery is extremely important in terms of improving your Jiu Jitsu. Gains are not made in the gym. Gains are made during the period of rest. 8 – 9 hours per day of sleep will keep you energetic on the mats and will ensure that you don’t over train your body, which can set you back more than it will help.


6) Proper nutrition“You are what you eat.” You have heard this spoken and it is true. Fruits and vegetables are your friend. Processed fatty foods are your enemy. If you adhere to a proper diet you will literally have more energy than you can burn off. Eating the wrong foods will make you feel slow and sluggish.


7) Have funSometimes folks can take Jiu Jitsu too seriously. Remember why you started Jiu Jitsu. We started because it is such a fun sport! Try expressing your creativity on the mats on occasion. Forget about being tapped out. Try techniques just for the fun of it! Come to Jiu Jitsu as a child would, ready to have fun!


8) Visit other academiesVisit some other academies in your area to get some new rolling partners and fresh perspectives. Visiting other academies will go far in showing areas you areas that you can improve in. You will also make new friendships and form new relationships! This is a huge part of BJJ that keeps us all bound together and enjoying ourselves.


Below are some cool videos that offer further assistance in improving your Jiu Jitsu. Enjoy!




How To Increase Your Flexibility For Jiu Jitsu – Ryan Hall




How To Increase Your Flexibility For Jiu Jitsu – Ryan Hall


In the video below Ryan Hall details his stretching routine and how it makes his Jiu Jitsu more effective!



(Sponsored Ad)


9:08 – Shoulder Stretch
12:00 – Lower Body
12:45 – Standing Hamstring
14:10 – Squatting Buddha Stretch
15:20 – Shoulder Belt
16:48 – Forearm & Wrist
18:12 – Lying Pectoral Stretch
20:26 – Sitting Inner Thigh
22:44 – Kneeling Hip Flexor
24:30 – Sitting Sprinters [1/2 butterfly]
27:05 – Sitting Shoulder & Back
28:52 – Sitting Back & Hip
30:57 – Granby Neck Stretch
35:08 – Neck Bridges
36:29 – Upward Dog
37:16 – Hamstring Belt
40:13 – Lying Knee
41:31 – Triangle Hip Stretch
44:13 – MMA Hip Stretch
48:00 – Butterfly Stretch
49:06 – Combo Stretch Routine



How I Lost 25 Pounds In One Month, For Jiu Jitsu




How I Lost 25 Pounds In One Month, For Jiu Jitsu


First off, and most importantly, let me preface this piece by stating that I am not a medical professional. I do not recommend any diet plan without seeking the advice of a trusted health practitioner. This is simply my story of how I lost weight, and why I did it. Every person is different. What may work for me, may be unhealthy for you. So again, seek a doctor’s advice before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.


When I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 4 years ago I was 170 lbs and in really good shape. My academy has a lot of bigger guys that I would always be paired up with because I had “muscles”. It was frustrating being smashed every time I rolled as a new white belt so I decided to gain weight. I decided to do this the good old fashioned way with beer, steak, pasta and desserts.


Before I knew it I was 200 lbs. I still looked pretty good and my guard passing game did improve. My “invisible Jiu Jitsu” game was quite painful to deal with. However my new eating habits mixed with 300 calorie beers everyday caused me to get up to 225 lbs. This is the point where I said, “Oh heck no”. My health could start to be an issue and my guard game was lacking. You shouldn’t be laying flat on your back in guard but with a beer gut it was difficult to do anything but.


In order to drop weight I realized that I had to start exercising outside of Jiu Jitsu again, cut my caloric intake, and quit drinking. Every time I tried to lose weight by leaving out one of these components, it did not work.


You quickly grow accustomed to having a couple of beers every night and you eventually begin to feel off if you go a night without any. Step number 1 was to comfortably taper down the alcohol intake until I wasn’t drinking at all. This alone cut 1200 calories per day from my regular consumption. Not drinking in the evenings also makes it much easier to do an evening cardio session (which I will get to later).


Step #2 for me was to taper back what I was eating as well as find healthy things that I could enjoy eating every single day for a month. For me it was hard boiled eggs, salad mix with plain balsamic vinegar, raw broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and celery, Chipotle vegetarian bowls (that I would split into 3 portions), watermelon and strawberries. The only thing I would drink is carbonated mineral water with lemon and a splash of orange juice. To make the raw vegetables taste good I would dip them into a 0 fat cucumber dill yogurt (tzatziki). I should mention here that I went the vegetarian route for this diet because savory meats seem to make me hungrier.


Although people say it is bad to eat late at night, I would try to go as long as I could every day without eating until the evening. Eventually my stomach shrunk down so I wasn’t hungry at all until the evening anyway.


I would jog every morning before work on an empty stomach. At first I could only jog a mile or so. Every day I would increase my distance by a little until I was jogging 3 miles every morning. When I got off of work, still on an empty stomach, I would do another 30 minutes of cardio on a treadmill and do some light weightlifting. Finally after all of the hard work, I would enjoy my veggies, 1/3 of a chipotle bowl, and lastly some fruit for dessert.


Taking Jiu Jitsu classes were and are great for burning fat. I would easily lose 3 lbs per class. Some of this would return because the bulk of it was water weight, but some of it does stay off each time.


Adhering to this regiment was difficult for the first week but became a breeze soon after that. It really all boils down to willpower. It sucks running with a beer gut but I did it every day even when I didn’t want to. Soon you start to see results and it drives you even harder. After a month, the gut is gone and I’m back down to 200 lbs again. I can casually lose another 20 lbs now that the bulk of the hard work is finished.


I am sharing my story because it may inspire someone else who wants to lose weight but doesn’t really know how to. You don’t need fad diets, phone apps, fitbits, diet pills, etc. (I did take green tea extract because it has been shown in peer reviewed studies to naturally increase fat burning by almost 20%.) Losing extra weight is easy if you cut out the empty calories, workout, eat healthy and most importantly, do lots of Jiu Jitsu!


In just one month I feel so much better than I did before. I sleep better. I have tons of energy as soon as I get out of bed. I look great. At the end of Jiu Jitsu class I still have lots of energy. I have tons of extra money because of the diet and dropping the beer. All is good, and getting better!


Hope you enjoyed the read!


(New Video) How To Be Dynamic From The Closed Guard In BJJ




(New Video) How To Be Dynamic From The Closed Guard In BJJ


“In Jiu Jitsu, the possibilities have no ending. Here we show you some options against common reactions from your opponents, for you to drill and get more and more dynamic in training and competition!


Don’t forget that the tips are just as important as the main steps for this quick guide! And also, this technique we showed in a few minutes, is just meant to serve as a guide for people that practice with an instructor who doesn’t only correct the technical mistakes, but also guides the students with concepts that can’t be explained briefly. These moves were executed in training and/or competition and have worked.” – BJJ Project



Joe Rogan On How To Improve Your Jiu Jitsu




Joe Rogan On How To Improve Your Jiu Jitsu


In this excerpt from the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast #688, Joe lays out what he believes is the best way to improve your Jiu Jitsu.


“You’re supposed to be building muscle memory, but the real way to do it after you do that is to practice on people with a limited amount of proficiency. Just to choke the s–t out of ’em. That’s the way to ultimately get better is to practice on people who aren’t quite as good as you.” – Joe Rogan



Mat Maturity: What Is It?




Mat Maturity: What Is It?


On occasion you’ll hear me throw out the term “mat maturity” during a conversation pertaining to how someone carries themselves on the mats. Though it can represent a range of things to me, it primarily suggests that a practitioner has a fair amount of control over their emotions while rolling (live wrestling). It also suggests that they can “tone it down” for newer ranking students while working with them.


A good example of someone I consider to have a great deal of mat maturity and self control is someone that does not aim to retaliate on the mats after being submitted or put in bad positions. Stepping things up to keep a roll session ‘interesting’ is one thing, but going after someone for validation purposes is another. Retaliation is often a sign of insecurity, as one generally only retaliates on the mats to reiterate their skill set and dominance to others or themselves.




In my opinion, the only time you should be “retaliating,” if you will, in the practice room is if you are a competitor prepping for a competition in your respective field, or an instructor is encouraging you to step it up as a means to push through mental blocks that you may be experiencing when rolling. At the end of the day, our training and journey isn’t just about us as individuals. It is, or at least should be, a cooperative effort for us all to reach our goals through collaboration.


By: Coach George | York MMA Academy



Looking Back At White Belt With The Eyes Of A Black Belt


mark cukro

(Mark Cukro, Pedro Sauer Black Belt)


Looking Back At White Belt With The Eyes Of A Black Belt


I wish someone told me all of this when I started. So, if you are new take a few minutes to read this.


As an Instructor and someone that has benefitted greatly from learning Jiu Jitsu I appreciate every time a person decides to train and get on the mat.


When I was new to Jiu Jitsu I made the same mistakes most new students make and the one’s that you will most likely make too. Although your path with be unique to you there are plenty of common experiences that most people have when starting. So, here are a few insights I hope you’ll find helpful.


It is true and your Professor knows it. A common phrase you’ll hear is “Work on the fundamentals and positions before submissions, relax, learn to breathe and work on defense first” and that is because it is a universal Jiu Jitsu truth that will remain unchanged and has been proven to be true for a very long time.


In most cases your Coach has spent a ton of time on the mats and has made every mistake just like every other white belt when they started. Michelangelo probably wasn’t the remarkable artist he became the second he was handed a paintbrush and you can’t expect to be remarkable right away either. Jiu Jitsu is a process and the learning never ends, ever. That is what captivates so many people and keeps the interest so high. Ask any high ranking person.




Take the time to learn the positions and details at a slower pace and then when you add some speed you have much better technique as you progress and you’ll work less and be more efficient with your movement. The sooner you learn that and accept it, you’ll most likely make much faster progress than the person that just wants to go for the submission yet can’t hold anyone in a position.


Jiu Jitsu is about getting submissions, it is not about injuring your training partner. Tap fast and often and you’ll be glad you did. There is no medal given for being the toughest White Belt that refused to tap to anyone and there are too many ways to get injured; the main cause is the EGO.


You cannot expect to beat higher belts in the beginning but if you are a good training partner to them, they will be a good training partner to you. Be the person that people want to train with and most people will go out of their way to help you get better. Probably more than you expect.




If and when you get caught, and you will, say thanks and ask the person to show you what they did. Do NOT be the person that gets angry and takes the lesson of the experience and makes it something it should not be. It is a lesson, treat it like one.


Give yourself a break. The thing about Jiu Jitsu is that you will quickly find out where you need to improve. Not every match or sparring session is a championship. It is ok to get tapped and every single higher belt has tapped countless times. Getting submitted does not define who you are. How you handle it says much more about you.


Getting submitted at your academy is not the same as losing a match or fight. You are supposed to have obstacles and you will learn a great deal about how you deal with something when it doesn’t go your way. It is just Jiu Jitsu, nobody gets a belt without getting submitted just like in life nobody gets out alive.


Have fun, laugh and just keep showing up. Progress is inevitable for those that show up consistently.


Too many people focus on how everything should go right and fail to learn how to overcome doing your best and still not doing well. Hang in there. I guarantee you will see a new person start training at your academy after you have been there for a few months and have an “ah-ha” realization that you are getting better. It is a good feeling, it will come, and you’ll remember it.


Be coachable and do the work. If you have a good Instructor you are going to get feedback and while everyone has their own style of coaching and teaching. Learn to take feedback and try to follow the advice. In the beginning you may not even understand why, if you don’t be sure to ask or speak up, and get back to training. Do not be the person that wants to debate every piece of advice or instruction. Ask questions but don’t be “that person”.


What is hard today will be easier tomorrow. That is one of my favorite Jiu Jitsu truths from Master Sauer and the more time you are on the mats the better you will move, the more poised you will become, the better your techniques will get and everything will seem easier and you will have a much deeper sense of accomplishment and confidence that will have an impact in every part of your life.


Jiu Jitsu will change you for the better. You’ll have a new perspective on how you influence everything.  You will be forever grateful that you started. Just ask every Black Belt you meet if it was worth it to them. Enjoy your training, be safe, and I hope to see you sometime on the mats.




Mark Cukro


Check out the fantastic armbar from mount video that Mark put together for below!



If you live in or near Harrisburg, North Carolina or want to visit Mark Cukro’s academy you can get all of the details here!


Hope you all enjoyed the read!