Jiu-Jitsu Gripping Fundamentals From Keenan Cornelius




Jiu-Jitsu Gripping Fundamentals From Keenan Cornelius


I know from my time as a white belt and my experience rolling with white belts, that grip fighting is something that white belts are not generally focused upon. It is of no fault to the white belt. BJJ is a vast ocean of knowledge. We start out hearing the terms sweep, pass and submit but often times it goes unnoticed that all three begin, and are executed, with grips.


I was hoping to get an entire series of grip fighting videos together but Keenan beat me to it. So go to Keenanonline.com to get the entire series and enjoy this fantastic excerpt below!



Check out our video, “grip fighting from the standing position” below!





Helio Gracie Discusses The Jiu-Jitsu Belt System




Helio Gracie Discusses The Jiu-Jitsu Belt System


In the video below Grandmaster Helio Gracie discusses the reasoning behind his students, the Valente brothers, being promoted faster than his other students.


His reply when asked this question is both frank and deliberate. I think you will enjoy his reply as much as I did!





How To Actually Maintain An Illuminating Jiu-Jitsu Journal




How To Actually Maintain An Illuminating Jiu-Jitsu Journal


If you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I’m sure you’ve been told to keep a journal. I’m also sure that if you made the attempt to keep a Jiu-Jtsu journal, you most likely did it for a while, and then stopped (not abruptly… more like a slow fading stop). The best I’ve been able to do at my gym is about 50% – half the Advanced Class students were keeping regular training. So I know its not an easy habit to develop.


Black Belt World Medalist Tim Spriggs Talks About the Importance of Note-Taking



For the past 6 months, I’ve been keeping a journal. This is my fifth or sixth attempt at it now and its been sticking – so I wanted to share a few tips that have allowed me to succeed this time!


TIP #1 – Be clear as to what the purpose of the journal is.


A journal should be a study of your jiu-jitsu experience rather than a perfect how-to guide for the moves that were taught in class.


As a Blue Belt, I remember that the morning class instructor taught a bullfight pass differently than the evening class instructor. The point of difference was whether you push the knees down to the ground or to push the knees up to his chest. When I was looking through my notes a few weeks later, I noticed the discrepancy. I had the same technique listed but with one detail being completely different (I didn’t even realize this at the time I was writing the actual entry)


I was very focused on the move being “right” so thinking more about the difference causes a series of positive epiphanies.


A. I recognized there was actually a difference.


B. I began to make theories about why you would do the first one vs. the second one. Was it preference? Was it a particular situation? Is one “old school” and one “new school” ?


Examples of Two Different Types of Bullfighting




This contemplation is what you want to foster. As Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code writes, “What matters is not the precise form. What matters is that you write stuff down and reflect on it… a notebook works like a map: it creates clarity.”


TIP #2 – KISS: Keep it simple stupid.


The #1 problem that you face when starting a journal is getting into the habit. Which why its important to Keep It Simple.


Don’t write down everything that occurred in practice. You don’t have to be Jane Goodall; putting to paper and noting the specific behaviors of animals throughout the day for future scientific research. If you make your journal entry too complicated, you will create a lot of resistance to writing it. The most important thing is that you get into a habit of writing it – not writing it well.


Imagine that you have to compile your entire journal entry into a single 140-character tweet. It can be as simple as that.


TIP #3 – Focus on wins.


Focus on personal victories. I like to limit myself to three – this requires me to reflect on practice and focus on the positive. When you look back on your entries, you should feel motivated not overwhelmed.


I’ve found that when I focus on mistakes, looking back at the notebook can lower my energy level:


“Ugh, I have so much things I have to fix.”


By focusing on the victories, your mentality will shift to “wow, I’ve come a long way.”


Wins can be wide-ranging.


Submitting a person you’ve never caught before.
Helping a new student understand a particular technique.
Training hard each and every round.
Hitting a technique you have been drilling.
Getting in an extra 20 minutes of drilling that day.


I recommend focusing on processes as well as outcomes. In other words, putting in effort into the process of getting better is important. Submitting someone by putting your chin in their eye shouldn’t be considered a success unless your goal was “submit partner at all costs.” Drilling your sweep with full focus for 15 mins can be considered a success even if you don’t hit the sweep in live rolling yet.


Once a week, I compile a short summary of each of the daily entries. At the start of each week, I read through the previous weeks’ summaries to get an idea of where I am.


Your Face Looking Through Your Jiu-Jitsu Notebook


TIP #4 – Emphasize “positive counterfactuals” rather than “negative counterfactuals”.


WTF are these?


It’s a fancy way of saying Things you should have done vs. Things you shouldn’t have done.


Focusing on things you should have done makes you better. “If only I had grabbed my opponent’s ankle during the Berimbolo…”


Focusing on things you shouldn’t have done makes you worse. “I shouldn’t have gone for that single leg.”


I have a student – very strong guy. He loves Kimuras which always gets him in trouble. Everytime someone starts passing him, he reaches over the back and tries to roll them or get the Kimura.


I’ve been on him about it: Stop doing that. Recently, I’ve started telling him to frame and post on his opponent’s shoulders. The second way works a lot better.


These four tips have helped me keep my note-taking habit intact longer than ever before. If you don’t have a notebook yet, go get one. If you have any questions, ask me on Facebook by clicking here.


This Video From Tim Spriggs Finally Convinced Me To Get A BJJ Notebook




This Video From Tim Spriggs Finally Convinced Me To Get A BJJ Notebook


This video came out a couple of weeks ago. After I watched it I remembered seeing coach Danny Ives and Julius Park teaching from their notebooks. I decided it was time to give note taking a try, even if the endeavor was nothing more than an experiment.


I can now confess to you that I am in deep regret of not having taken enough notes over the past 4+ years. I used to come home from Jiu Jitsu and would immediately go into “chill mode”. Now I take the time to recall the day’s technique (which facilitates memorizing the technique’s details) and I write it down inside of my new BJJ notebook. Also in the notes I write down who taught the class and what the date and time were.


After doing this for about a week I went back and read over my notes. I could not believe what happened. Every note took me right back to the class that I was in and I was able to visualize the technique as if I were actually there! Many times before I would come home and watch a video on YouTube that was similar to the technique that I had learned. That did not help me remember anything at all really.


I’m not kicking myself too hard however for not having taken notes thus far, because my early notes would have read something like this:


Coach taught a choke today. I couldn’t really figure it out and was too afraid to ask. Thankfully the other white belt and I made it through unnoticed and we eventually rolled. Rolling was great. I didn’t really land anything. I didn’t really survive either. It was super fun though.


Ya. Pretty much. Now that I know the terminology involved with Jiu Jitsu; note taking is much easier, enlightening and useful.


Thanks for the great video Tim!



My New BJJ Notebook. Hand-painted with Cryptic BJJ runes that only I know the meaning of.


The inside.


So An Incredible BJJ Documentary Was Released Today! Jiu Jitsu Vs. The World




So An Incredible BJJ Documentary Was Released Today! Jiu Jitsu Vs. The World


Eat films has released their “Jiu Jitsu Vs. The World” documentary today. The film was largely funded through an indiegogo campaign and the result is incredible. I had plans this afternoon but inadvertantly got stuck watching YouTube for almost 2 hours.


Kudos to the filmmakers! I will definitely watch this one many more times.



5 Habits of Successful BJJ Students




5 Habits of Successful BJJ Students


Go to Class Regularly


This is obvious. If you’re going to actually develop Jiu Jitsu skill, you’re going to have to show up.



That feeling when your instructor is showing an advanced technique, but you’ve missed too many classes.


Apply energy outside of class to improving your Jiu Jitsu


When I wrote this originally, I had specific out-of-class activities to recommend. Watch your diet. Do strength & conditioning. Keep a Jiu-Jitsu journal. Take private lessons. But for every single recommendation, there was a person who has been successful NOT doing it.


The only common characteristic was that every person was doing something extra.


So, my recommendation is to apply energy to an activity outside of class that will improve your Jiu Jitsu. It can be directly applicable or not. Just do something – whether its eating better, studying film, starting a S&C routine, taking private lessons.


Ask for constant feedback


You get a certain amount of feedback by rolling. You try something and get submitted. You try something else and it works. But what YOU perceive and recognize is not the whole story. Your coaches and training partners will notice other things and recommend different adjustments. So ask them for feedback.


A journal is a good way to keep track of feedback. You can record your reflections and compare them to the observations of others.



When asking for feedback make sure to ask your instructors and upper belts – not just other white belts.


Fight hard and tap


Don’t be afraid to roll hard but don’t be afraid to tap either.


Every gym has a guy who refuses to train hard. I’m not referring to someone who suffered a injury or has a “real” reason. I’m talking about the guy who always wants to be “technical”. The BJJ student who believes that if his heart rate gets about 140, he is somehow offending the Jiu-Jitsu gods.


Taking this approach all the time is harmful.


When I was a Blue Belt, one of my classmates never took it out of first gear when he rolled. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes – but he didn’t have a truly threatening offense either. In retrospect, I think I enjoyed training with him because if he put me into a bad situation, I could out-hustle and out-work him to escape.


The anti-thesis of this guy was a student I’ll call “the Russian”. The Russian was 110% all the time. Training with the Russian, you could expect upkicks if you were passing the guard, full pressure regardless of gender or weight, and if he locked on a submission, prepare to scream-tap. This guy was all about getting the tap and not being submitted himself. If he got into a bad position, he would immediately cross his arms and ball up. It wasn’t about escapes – it was about not being submitted.


Both guys plateaued at the Blue Belt level.


The purpose of skill training is to develop coordination under stress. As you increase speed or weight, it becomes more and more difficult to stay coordinated i.e. have good technique. Being able to execute a beautiful seio-nage in a demonstration is different than being able to execute the same throw in a match.


Your training has to reflect this difference. If you give up every transition and refuse to go hard, then you’ll have trouble when you need to transition or go hard (duh). If you go hard all the time, you won’t be able to develop proper technique . So don’t be afraid to train hard – but don’t be afraid to tap either.



Just another training session with the Russian…


Learn and experience Jiu Jitsu in an expansive way


When I was thinking about this article, I realized that I couldn’t think of any Black Belts that have NEVER competed. I also can’t think of any Black Belts that have NEVER done No Gi or Judo or Wrestling etc.


The reason I’m bringing this up is to point out that Jiu Jitsu is a BIG art. There’s lot of ways to experience it and lots of aspects of it to learn. The successful people that I know have experienced it largely in its entirety. Whether its competing, traveling around, wearing a gi, not wearing a gi, training for time limits, dealing with no time limit, doing hard practices, doing technical practices, etc. they’ve done it all.


About Julius Park: I am a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I’ve produced BJJ World Champions from Blue Belt up to Brown Belt. My next goal is to get a student to the Black Belt World Champion level and into the UFC. I have an English Bulldog, Ghostface, who has so far resisted all training methods. I teach out of Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts gyms in the Baltimore area.



Julius Park


Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts can be found on the Web, Facebook and Twitter.


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!