“First Day of BJJ” From The Japanese Jiu Jitsu Perspective

 

First Day of BJJ (from the Japanese Jiu Jitsu Perspective)

by Bill Jones (BJJ Black Belt under Pedro Sauer)

 

billrelson

 

I will never forget my first day of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. It truly changed my life, and the direction my martial arts training would head forever. Before I get to that point, let me give you a little background on me.

 

In 1985, I started training Tae Kwon Do after seeing the movie, The Karate Kid. The years eventually led me to training Kung Fu as well. In 1993, Royce Gracie rocked the martial arts world when he participated in the first UFC and decimated the competition with little effort. Like many “traditional martial artists” of the day, I dismissed this as some sort of fluke. In my mind, there was no way he could ever do that to me, or anyone that I knew. So I continued on, and even wrote a 10 page essay on why I believed BJJ was an ineffective martial art. Then, in the early 2000’s, I began training traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu. I really enjoyed the grappling aspect, and assumed (as many do) that it was as good, or better, than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Shortly after earning a black belt in the art (in 2002. That’s right, it took me only 2 years to earn), I was deployed to Iraq. While I was away, the owner of the school where I taught, hired a BJJ instructor named Tony Rinaldi to teach classes (I was promised that I could continue teaching when I returned). It was then, that I experienced the most major turning point of my life.

 

An ancient adage states, “When the student is ready, the master will appear.” For me, this was the day I met Tony Rinaldi. Anyone who has met Tony will chuckle at the idea of me calling him a “master”. He is a fiery, redheaded Italian who walks about the mat with chew in his lip, and a spit cup never out of reach. He yells a lot, and tells crass jokes, often picking on his students and creating an undeniable “locker room” feel. However, his grasp on Jiu Jitsu (and the combat arts in general) is virtually unparalleled. He is able to see, and apply Jiu Jitsu to his entire life, and always strives to do so. It is a rare thing for him to seem unsettled by anything. His martial arts skills are only superseded by his compassion for others. He is a fierce friend; and anyone who has seen him work with children, or the developmentally disabled, always stand in awe of him.

 

I entered back into my home dojo for the first time in over a year, and a man greeted me as a “long lost friend”. I had never laid eyes on him, and I had never met him, but he immediately accepted me as an equal (he did not treat me as a subordinate or as someone that was in his way). As was customary for me, I wore my traditional Jiu Jitsu black belt in class. He did not so much as bat an eye. He simply said, “Do you want to teach? or do you want me to?” I responded that I had heard that he was good, and that I wanted to take a class with him , “if that was okay”. However, in the back of my mind, my ego was screaming frantically. I honestly thought that I would not learn anything of value. I could not have been more wrong! That day we learned how to pass the half guard and to attack the Americana from side control. For the first time in a long time, I realized what it meant to be, to be a white belt again.

 

I remember looking at him and saying, “There are so many steps. How can people remember this?” He simply responded, “It takes more steps to walk from your car into the building. You seem to do that just fine. It just takes a little practice.”

 

Despite being shocked at the good nature of the people in the class, and the intricacies of what we were learning, my ego would not give up quite yet. As we approached the open rolling section of class, I figured I would destroy everyone. After all, I was a black belt in Jiu Jitsu already. Tony had me roll with him first. I took him down, passed his guard and submitted him with the Americana we learned. I told myself that I did that because, “I was better”. But I would soon learn differently.

 

Next, a smaller guy named John Fleet rolled with me. In what seemed like a blink of an eye he had passed my guard, mounted me, and armbarred me. When I asked him if he could beat Tony, he quickly responded, “Not even close man. That guy destroys me.”

 

I continued to roll with a few more people with a similar result.

 

I left shortly thereafter, and fought with my ego the entire night. It boggled my mind that the instructor would just let me win. He allowed me to learn by losing. I was a person with 20 years of martial arts experience. I had 3 black belts, and a ton of specialized training; and I stood no chance against guys that had only been training for a few months. That is when it dawned on me. I experienced a stark epiphany. An epiphany that is very difficult for many to believe, or to accept. I was a white belt. When I got home that evening, I went into my closet and found a brand new white belt, that had came as an accessory to one of my gis (kimonos). I put away my “Jiu Jitsu black belt”, and vowed never again to wear it, until I had earned it in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

 

When I showed up the next day, Tony took a look at my white belt and said, “You don’t have to do that.” I responded with the only thing that I could think to say, “Yes I do.”

 

For many reasons I am glad that I made that decision. It was the first real defeat of my ego.  Despite having black belts for multiple years; in my mind, I realized that I should always keep the mentality of a white belt.

 

Today, I make it a habit of seeing how many times I can get submitted in class. I put myself in the worst positions I can think of, and try to work my way out; rinse and repeat. I am constantly trying new moves, or playing in new situations, with different movements.

 

Master Pedro Sauer says, “Train with a white belt mentality. Learn from every person you meet, no matter what rank. If a student goes to a seminar; see what they have learned, and add it to your Jiu Jitsu.”

 

To my brothers, sisters and friends who are training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; I echo his sentiments. Never stop being a white beltI know I that won’t!

 

Bill Jones Teaching Guard Sweeps

 

This blog post was penned by Bill Jones, a Pedro Sauer Black Belt.

 

(Advice) “Children” by Elle_Renae

 

“Children”

by Elle_Renae

 

A few months after I began training at Cosens MMA, I was given a wonderful opportunity.  They were a booming gym in dire need of help.  From early on my life began revolving around the gym. The coaches noticed that I would regularly come in early to watch the kid’s classes before my own classes would start.

Sensing what they thought were “maternal instincts” and a love for children (granted, I’m just assuming here), they approached me and asked if I would be interested in assisting with the kid’s programs.  Initially, I was flattered.  So I replied with an immediate, “YES!”

But that flattery quickly dissipated upon the quick realization of one key problem…

Children hate me.

It all started when I was about 10 years old.  I attended a small school which held classes for grades K-8th.  The school was tiny enough that all the students would eat lunch at the same time.  After lunch we had regularly scheduled recess and so children ages 5 to 13 would march outside after they finished eating to enjoy 15 minutes of shenanigans before starting the second half of the day’s classes.

On a particularly fateful day in the summer, I decided to practice gymnastics during recess.  Mind you, I never actually took any gymnastics classes, but I was an avid fan of the Olympics that year.  Having watched a routine on television, I worked up the courage to try my hand at my very first cartwheel.

It seemed simple enough at the time, so I went for it.  I got a running head start, placed my hands on the ground, swung my legs into the air, and finished the technique.

I had done it!  I had performed my very first cartwheel!  I erupted into laughter and celebration, but my cheers of victory were cut short by cries of pain.  I turned to look over my shoulder toward the direction of the screams and saw a small, kindergarten boy clasping his hands over his chin as tears streamed down his cheeks.  Apparently, I forgot to check my surroundings, and he wound up in close range of my gymnastics; and even closer to my foot.

I had just kicked a kid in the face.

The little boy shot me a gut-wrenching look. Every time I saw him after that, I felt the horrible guilt. This same look I managed to project on every other child that ever looked at me.  From then on, I chose to avoid children. On the rare occasion I did interact with them, they usually stared at me awkwardly, ran away, or started crying.

So you can imagine my shock and surprise when my coaches asked me to assist with the children’s programs.  Considering I had none of these “maternal instincts” they suspected I had, I found it pretty ironic that they chose me of all people to help.  But since I had already replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” (and they really did need help) there was no turning back.

I showed up the first day, and every day for a month after that, scared s–tless.  Having to face not just one, but 10-15 of those accusing faces, was absolutely mortifying.  Since the curriculum included jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, I would be showing kids how to kick each other.  It could have been Cartwheel Boy all over again…

I decided that this challenge could be an opportunity to grow, so I stuck it out.  I showed up to every class. I acted excited. I pretended to have the energy of a four year-old. I didn’t kick anyone in the face. Eventually my teaching skills blossomed.

I began anticipating class.  I would look forward to working with the children.  The most amazing thing is, they looked forward to seeing me too!  Down the road I suffered short hiatus due to my ribs. Upon my return, I was swarmed by a horde of children with inquiries of where I had been. They were hoping that I would be teaching that day, and showered me with hugs.  No more accusing eyes, no more stares or cries.  I had hugs.

There is a saying that I have found to be very true, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”  However, it is not simply a saying, it is an attitude.  People too often forget the influence of their own mind-set.  If we think and act positively, positive things will happen.  If we think and act negatively, negative things will happen.  The same holds true for characteristics and qualities as well. These are basic laws of attraction.

Prior to working with the children’s program, my attitude towards those ferocious miniature humans was pretty pessimistic.  In changing my outlook and my actions I was able to become something I doubted I ever could be: a teacher.  A children’s teacher to boot!

Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard, actually did some amazing research on the “fake it ‘til you make it” attitude. You can check it out here. She shows that there is an unharnessed amount of power in the effects our body language. She shows that something as small as altering the way you stand, can change not only how people view you, but how you view yourself.

If you find yourself faced with a challenge, an extreme goal,  or an obstacle; or any kind of difficultly, try faking the characteristics and mind-set that you wish you had.  You may be surprised to find, that you start becoming it.

That is as long as you avoid doing cartwheels in a child’s vicinity, of course.

 

kidsxmas

Me and the kids at the Cosens MMA Christmas Party

 

This blog post was written by Elle_Renae

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Lauren

He is an amputee and trains BJJ. This is the story of our good friend, B Neil Brown

 

The story of B Neil Brown, one stripe white belt:

 

neil royce

B Neil Brown with BJJ legend Royce Gracie

 

I have been asked to share my story many times, by many people. When WBBJJ asked me if I would like to share it, I knew I had to do something a bit different. First off, thank you for allowing me to share; being asked by you is truly an honor for me.

“I am a grappling amputee, and this is my grappling perspective. This is where I have been, and where I am going.”

I was a wrestler in grade school and in high school. Those are the institutions that made me fall in love with the grappling arts (I graduated high school in 1991). I was never considered the greatest, and I will tell anyone who asks, that I think I was mediocre compared to most of the guys on my small team. I would break bones and blow out knees, but I kept at it until high school was over. I came back for a year or two when I could, to help our coach with the team. Then, all of the sudden, life began catching up with me; and I found myself with work, and a family to attend to.

I had to take a break from wrestling.

I grew up in fairly rural Western Kentucky. I became a father and eventually found a career in the pest control industry. I have earned my credentials as a certified entomologist. I spent a lot of time traveling for my company. On the weekends, I would work part time at the fire department, as a fire fighter and EMT.

Twelve or thirteen years had passed since I was on the mat, when one day I ran into an old friend from high school (a fellow wrestler) and he told me about this awesome grappling sport called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I was skeptical because I had gotten old and fat. According to my buddy, that didn’t matter, because his trainer was a guy that loved to train ex-wrestlers.

I gave it a try, and I was hooked.

The first six months or so I trained with Sensei Eric Myers. I dropped thirty pounds, and was tapped out (submitted) more times than I care to remember. It took me the entire six months to get out of the wrestler’s habit of never willingly putting your back to the mat. Yes, I paid the price — but I loved every minute of it. Shortly thereafter, I began hearing about Eric’s new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trainer (a guy named Royce Gracie, whom I had never heard of) and heard him speak with more pride about the BJJ blue belt he had earned from him, than all his other previous martial art black belts combined.

 

neil royce 2

 

Work had me on the road, so I trained on and off for the next two years. Eventually I gained an orange belt (about the equivalent of a 4 stripe white belt in BJJ) in the Japanese style of Jiu Jitsu.

The fun finally came to an end when work moved me too far away to train regularly. I would be lucky if I could drop in to hit the mats once every few months. Eventually work would move me even further into South Central Kentucky, and I finally had to give up the mats. It would be in that far away town of Bowling Green, KY, where I would end up nearly losing everything.

In September of 2010 I came down with a sore throat. It wasn’t much of a bother. I was popping cough drops to keep it at bay. Two weeks later, and after several trips to the doctor, I was sick as a dog laying on my couch. I had finally had enough, and I did what any grown man of thirty seven would do. I called my mommy and told her that I was sick, and to come get me so that I could be sick on her couch, not mine.

That call probably saved my life.

My condition worsened. It hurt my throat to swallow. I couldn’t breathe. I could barely move. Doctors kept giving me medications and sending me home, but nothing seemed to help. Around the 30th of September I was told that I staggered into the kitchen where my family was at, sat down in a chair, and whispered “I need help.” I don’t remember that, or anything else, until I awoke from a coma nearly three weeks later.

It turns out my sore throat had actually been a MRSA infection, and had spread to my lungs and blood stream, causing sepsis. I was told that somewhere between the ER and the ICU unit, that I had died and been brought back. My body was sick with infection so an experimental medication was used to try and fight the sickness coursing through my body. The reason being was that I was going to die anyway; so it couldn’t hurt to try.

The medications worked; at the cost of both of my legs, and all the fingers of my left hand. When I awoke from the coma (in incredible pain) my fingers and feet were black and had no feeling in them at all. Once I was stable enough to be transferred, I was sent to Louisville, KY, to one of the best hand surgeons in the nation. It was there (in November of 2010) that I would have both of my legs amputated below the knees, and all, or parts of all, of the fingers on my left hand taken.

It suddenly became time to walk the long road to recovery,  and to experience many setbacks. But, by October 2011, I was walking on prosthetic legs; without the aid of walker, crutches, or cane.

I set a lot of goals for myself around that time; things that I wanted to do again that I had been told I would not be able to (riding a two wheeled motorcycle again, putting on my bunker gear, fighting fires, and even getting back on the Jiu Jitsu mat). I was told all of those things might be out of reach for me, but it was my prosthetist (that’s “leg maker” in laymen’s terms) who really lit the BJJ fire under me. You see, the very first day I ever stood up and took steps on my new prosthetic legs, I told my prosthetist that I would be getting back on the mat.

 

 

His response was, “Well, I don’t know about that.” That was all it took for me to decide that I would. I hate being told I can’t do something, and my leg guru knew it. To this day, I don’t know if he was being honest with me, or prodding me into trying.

It would end up being April of 2012 before I was able to find my old trainer Eric. We became friends on Facebook, and it was there that I explained my situation and asked him if he would allow me onto his mats. Working with a triple amputee was something he had never done, but he was willing to give it a try.

That first day back in the dojo and on the mats was an emotional one for me. There I was, a freaky looking guy with no legs and no fingers on one hand; crawling around on his hands and knees on the mat. We all wondered how things might go, but we were ready to give it a try. Eric partnered me up with someone to roll with, and told me to try a simple arm bar. It definitely felt awkward, but muscle memory kicked in, and I had my partner tapping.

Eric’s only response was, “You got this, no problem. You can still do it.” And that was it, just like that I was back on the mats.

Transitioning back into training was a bit tough, and it was sometimes hard to find anyone that would roll with me (everyone thought they would hurt me). I was also still recovering from the trauma of losing my legs, so I had a lot of down time where I couldn’t be on the mats.

Another setback was when I was told that my Japanese Jiu Jitsu orange belt, while earned, was of no use to me. Eric’s academy was now under Pedro Sauer’s Gracie system. My orange belt was put away, and I started out fresh again as a BJJ white belt. In retrospect, it was the best thing for me, as I had to learn everything all over again anyway now; sans legs. It did hurt my ego a bit when we would line up at the beginning of class to show respect, and I was again down at the far end of mat, with all the noobs. However, I quickly learned, that egos can heal.

 

neil orange

 

I have accomplished a lot since my illness took my limbs. I have gone back to college after a twenty year break to get my degree in Physical Therapy, so I can help other amputees. I sold my old Suzuki muscle bike, for a more timid (still two wheeled) motorcycle that I ride. I have also done some volunteer work at the fire department. The most important accomplishment of all though, is getting back on the mat, and training my beloved grappling again.

 

B Neil Brown performing a modified berimbolo

 

Between prosthetic problems, and plain old amputee problems, it would take me more than a year to get my first stripe; but I got it, and I earned it. No one thinks a thing about slapping hands and having a sparring session with me, and I tap out my partners about as often as I get tapped out. I don’t really keep count, because I always learn more from losing than I do winning, and the worst day on the mats is better than the best day laying in a hospital bed looking down at where your feet once were.

My name is Neil Brown, and I am a triple amputee one-stripe white belt under Brown Belt Eric Myers with Team Pedro Sauer. I trained today, did you?

 

www.twofeetshorter.com

www.facebook.com/followtwofeetshorter

Twitter @twofeetshorter

Instagram @twofeetshorter

 

Thank you B Neil Brown for being one of the earliest fans and friends of WBBJJ! You are a constant inspiration! Best wishes to you in your future endeavors! OSS!

(Advice) White Belt Question

Question from a fan of the page:

“Has anyone ever had the issue of nowhere to train? I’ve put in 6 months of my life so far to this journey and I’m only a white belt but it is something beautiful to me. In my life filled with pain and chaos it’s the only peace I ever find. Sadly in this small town only a handful of us really cherish BJJ, though it’s not enough to pay the bills, so no I have no where even close to here to train. I feel like all my hard work was to just hit a wall. Seeing as I cant afford a car due to paying for my moms bills and for her to go to school and taking care of my daughter..I feel kind of hopeless..had to rant and wonder if someone has been in this position..if so, what do I do? All I can do is drill what I know until I figure something out.”

What do you all think? Leave your answer in the comments section! OSS!