WBBJJ Private Lessons #1 – James “300” Foster

 

PRIVATELESSONS

 

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In the past you have seen our “Private Sessions” interviews, where we get to know various BJJ players. Now we will also be doing “Private Lessons” (you see what we did there?) videos featuring some of our favorite Jiu Jitsu personalities.

 

For this first installment of Private Lessons we are featuring Professor James “300” Foster. Coach Foster has been a friend to us since the very beginning. He was our first Private Sessions interviewee. In this video Coach Foster teaches us some of his Guard Passing concepts!

 

 

Thank you Coach Foster for the technique!

 

Connect with Professor Foster on your favorite social media sites:

Facebook athlete page = www.facebook.com/coach300foster

Instagram = @shoyorollplayboy

Twitter = @fosterjiujitsu

 

If you would like to film a Private Lessons video for us, or know someone you would like to see do a Private Lessons video. Please contact us!

 

Female BJJ Bloggers Directory

 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more and more becoming a sport that women are participating in. It is no longer a sport just for the guys. BJJ is a system of self defense that allows women to feel confident and safe. It is also a tremendously fun and competitive sport that appeals to women and men alike.

I recall an interview with Claudia Gadelha (womens MMA and BJJ Fighter) where she stated that when she was growing up, girls were not allowed to train BJJ where she lived in Brazil. These days women are coming to the sport in droves!

Below is a list of Female BJJ practitioners who blog about their journeys in Jiu Jitsu. I am a man but I still enjoy reading the female perspective of BJJ. Hopefully this list will lead you to some sources of inspiration that you were previously unaware of!

BJJ Grrl

Georgette Oden

Skirt on the Mat

Julia Johansen

Lauren LaCourse

Meg Smitely

Shark Girl BJJ

Shakia Harris

Megan

Grappling Girl

Crawl Atop Me And Meet Your Doom

The Last Ronin

Jodie Bear’s Journey

A Grappler’s Heart

Liv Jiu Jitsu

 

If there is a female BJJ blogger that you want to have added to this list please contact us!

 

“The Creonte”

 

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Some are familiar with the term. Others that are not as deeply involved in the art, may not be aware of the expression. I honestly never even heard the word until someone addressed me as one. Apparently in the ancient times of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (which some still choose to live in) students who left an academy they were training at, to train at another, were labeled as traitors; or “Creontes”. Their reasons for leaving, did not matter.

 

Jiu Jitsu then, is not what Jiu Jitsu is now. It has evolved, and is more than just a martial art. In today’s world BJJ has become a business for those who choose to open their own academy, a career for those who have what it takes to make it as an athlete, and it has become modernized.

 

This means that a lot of BJJ practitioners with modern mindsets, are now involved in a martial art, that still has ancient minded people pointing fingers.

 

What makes someone a traitor exactly? Is there a BJJ Bible somewhere that has an exact definition of “creonte” in it? Where are the lines drawn in terms of being labeled a traitor? Do certain situations exist that make switching academies okay? If I leave one academy to train at another, because I think I will advance myself more at the new one, does that make me a creonte? Think. What if it were the exact same situation, except the roles were reversed? I have an instructor say to me, “Hey, you will only be held back here. I think if you want to achieve great things, you should train at a better academy.” If I choose to leave now, am I a creonte?

 

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At the end of the day everyone will have an opinion, and there will be people standing behind their beliefs on both sides of the topic.

 

In most common cases, people that switch academies, do so for a handful of different reasons. More specifically, these people that switch, are not involved in the politics of Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu isn’t their career (for all intensive purposes, this article is not referring to the casual, lower belt, BJJ practitioner). When the topic is addressed these days, it is because the athletes switching, are mainly switching for causes that never existed until now. Now, BJJ is possible to be made into a career.

 

I have seen people switch academies for many reasons. To list a few common ones; belt promotions, money (which breaks down into a thousand other related reasons), and training partners. Is someone who trains and competes for a living, considered a creonte if they leave? Regardless of the reasoning, an athlete is going to go wherever they feel will best serve their career. Those who understand and respect that, know that one must do what they have to do, in order to accomplish great things. I humbly set forth that this should not make one considered to be a traitor. In fact, in my personal experience, most of the people that I have discussed this with were incredibly supportive. White belts to black, regular practitioners to world class athletes, generally all showed support.

 

I recently made the biggest decision of my career thus far. I decided to switch over from one well-respected team, to another, at a time that was very questionable. I was at an academy for just under 3 years and became heavily involved in helping them out in multiple areas. Many would say that I was in an ideal situation. I was teaching full time, winning major championships, and training all in one place. So why the change? In my time at Drysdale Jiu Jitsu, I truly grew a lot. I would go so far as to say that I was a completely different person the day that I left, in comparison to the day that I showed up.

 

I wanted different things. I had new goals and needed bigger hurdles to jump in order to accomplish them. What I wanted didn’t exist in the world I had created for myself in Las Vegas. I began wanting to teach less and to train more. I wanted to travel the world competing, and teaching seminars, but more importantly I wanted to the best in the world at my weight class. Being the competitor that I am, I make sure to celebrate every accomplishment by setting the bar higher for the next goal; and this instance, the formula for doing so was to be found somewhere else. Once I realized this, the decision was made, and the necessary steps were taken.

 

Shortly after I relocated from Las Vegas to San Diego, and proudly joined Andre Galvao’s team, Atos.

 

I quickly discovered those who were my supporters, and who were not. Nothing can make a more clearer distinction of who supports you, and who doesn’t, then making a purely selfish decision such as leaving one team for another. It is always nice to have people say kind things to you about your decisions. However it was more enjoyable to see who was there for me, and who wasn’t when the time came. I had a student of mine ask me, “Coach, you won all of these great tournaments and have all of your students here supporting you. Why leave?” I am not sure if he understood it when I explained to him, or if he will later, but I told him the truth. Its not about what I had, it was about what I wanted. Indeed I could have stayed. I would have eventually been promoted, and maybe won a few tournaments, but I knew I would never reach my potential. That is what made it such an easy decision to make.

 

For me it wasn’t about the color of a belt around my waist, money, or anything else that some may think. It was about my future. I needed to be in an environment that I could thrive in, and make a name for myself in the sport.

 

I want to tell my kids one day, “You have to let go of the good, if you want to reach out and grab the great in life.”

 

-The Creonte

 

Kristian Woodmansee is World, Pan American and European Champion. He is currently the #1 ranked No Gi Brown Belt in the World. You can reach him via Facebook.

 

Jim Barrett’s Inspirational IBJJF Pans Story

 

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Jim Barrett

 

The 2011 Pan Ams was my first big jiu jitsu tournament and it was one of the best days of my life. To make the experience more authentic my friends and I showed up to the event on Brazilian time, or late. Being a lightweight I was the first of our group to compete and when we got there the feather weights were already underway. The arena was filled with twelve rings of mats all filled with competitors. People shouting, celebrations, crying, the whole world of jiu jitsu was gathered at this spot today. As a blue belt, I had a division with over 120 competitors, meaning it was seven rounds to the finals. It was a huge challenge; this was the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan Am.

 

As soon I had hurriedly put on my gi the announcer was calling my bracket to the warm up area. Inside this fenced off pen gathered all of the guys in my division; mean mugging each other, aggressively doing burpies, and singing along to gangster rap as it blared from head phones. We were all here to send each other home but were first forced into a tiny area with almost no room to do our intended warm ups. After a rush of claustrophobia I sat on the floor, closed my eyes, and meditated on my affirmations. ‘Everyone else here thinks they’re the good guy, so I’ll be the bad guy. I’m like Darth Vader so I wear my black gi. I’m here to ruin someone’s day. I am the bad draw they didn’t want’. I waited so long I began considering that they must have forgotten to call me when I finally heard my name.

 

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As I weighed in and got my gi checked, I realized that my opponent had a strange ID card from another country. He said a few words of his native tongue to his coach and I knew that ‘lispy, whinny Spanish’ meant I drew a Brazilian in the first round. He wouldn’t be here unless he was good. My heart started pumping. I was across the country in this huge tournament, I didn’t know where my friends were and my coach Comprido was away at the UFC in Las Vegas.

 

Standing there in the weight ins, I started to run through my mind all the excuses I could use after I lose this match, when in the corner of my eye I saw Andre Galvao, one of my biggest heroes. “Andre” I yelled, “I’m a big fan” he turned around, looked back at and grabbed me by the shoulder. “Yes” was all he said then walked away but it completely hit a reset button on my train of thought. I’m not here to lose this match, I’m here because I love jiu jitsu. They called us to the mat.

 

In every first match of every tournament I’ve ever done I get hit by what’s called the adrenaline dump. You lose sense of time, your IQ plummets, you have amnesia for much of the experience. All your training at the gym cannot prepare you for when your brain goes out the window and you rely on instinct. About half way through the match I got my bearings together and was no longer so vulnerable. ‘Slow down’ I told myself, ‘breathe, relax your grips’. Once I swept my opponent and got on top I felt him start to panic. This wasn’t supposed to happen to him, but then again he pulled the bad guy in the first round. I used a lot of energy holding him down as he kicked like a wild deer but I eventually passed his guard, winning the match on points. With the first one behind me I returned to the still crowded warm up area with a new comfort and focus. Now it was time to get in the zone.

 

Right away when the next match started I could feel my opponent nervously shaking. He probably got a buy and this was his first match of the day. As the bad guy, I had to use his jitters to my advantage. I kept my cool but pushed the paced on him, quickly sweeping to the top and passing straight in to an armbar, forcing him to tap.

 

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During the third fight I lost points when I got swept and had to use my reserve flexibility to get out of more trouble. I realized that my opponent was one tough guy. While I hung in there, getting smashed on the bottom, I thought about how I tried hard and I won two fights. I could go home and Comprido wouldn’t be that disappointed, this being my first big tournament. Everyone would realize that guy was just better than me. I thought that till out of nowhere, I heard my friend Bruce from the stands ‘One minute left’. That made me move.

 

If only it had been two minutes I would have thought it was too long and quit, but I could push in this last minute and make something happen. The next time he tried to step around my legs, I followed him and rolled upside down. My legs landed right how they needed to be to step up triangle choke but it seemed like he didn’t realized or know the danger. I took a deep breath and unwound, cinching a deep triangle choke. Grabbing my ankle, I squeezed and got the submission from the trick move, narrowly avoiding defeat.

 

In the warm up pen my friends were waiting. They were all excited for how I was doing while I kept it inside. If I won one more match I would be farther in at a big tournament than any of the Americans on our team had gone. ‘One match at a time’ I told them, trying hard to stay cool. While I waited at the mat for my next fight, I saw my next opponent practice wrestling shots, so I started pretending to practice judo throws were he could see. As soon as the match started I showed my bluff and immediately pulled him into a deep half guard, a place a wrestler type like him would feel confused. After a sweep, I snuck to his back and cranked a bow and arrow choke. My friends cheered from their distant seats in the stands. I was now deep in the no-man’s land of the late tournament that was unknown to everyone I knew; that is everyone except for Comprido.

 

After about an hour break I fought this kid in the quarter finals that had a really similar game to mine. The entire match I felt like I had no control but it was still somehow close. I swept him, he swept me back, he nearly got a couple of submissions on me. My teammates were far from me in stands so there was no one to tell me the score but I knew time was running out. He rolled away as I went passed his guard but I jumped on his back right as the buzzer rang. As the ref lifted my hand I honestly had no idea what the score was. For the first time all day I was tired but there was no time for that as the semi final, and hence the meddling round, was next.

 

I focused on my affirmations. ‘You are meant to be here. You trained hard for this. You were already one of the best in the room before the day began. And you still are.’ I was already in third place no matter what, but no, I could do this.

 

The next guy came out strong, stacking me up on my head after I pulled guard. He had a scary look; a white dude with cornrows just seemed intimidating. He pushed me around on the mat for a bit as I scurried upside down in a ball looking for something with no success. As he tried to stack me up again I got the chance to grab his belt. Using my grip on his belt I closed a triangle around his neck without either of his own arms. He tried hard to posture up for a second but quickly tapped. Afterwards, my opponent asked me what that submission was and I told him I honestly did not know, I had never done it before. I had never done any of this before but I had faked my way this far. But I had to focus; I had a chance to take this whole thing. Luckily the submission was quick and I still had a lot of gas left.

 

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In the other semi final that would decide my opponent, there was a Brazilian and a young American. After a little back and forth the American got a nasty armbar, the Brazilian flopped around but would not tap and his arm got bent back. I think I may have even yelled for him to tap before the ref stepped in and saved him from further damage. After the match the American’s coach cheered, it was none other the Saulo Ribiero, the former Michael Jordan of Jiu Jitsu. I had studied Saulo’s book on the plane out to California. So great, he has a hall of famer for a coach. But I knew I was always dangerous. Back to my affirmations before the finals ‘Everyone else here looks like a fool. They wear their gi like it’s a Halloween costume and pajamas. I was reborn on a beach in Brazil in this gi. My gi is still covered in blood, sweat, and amniotic fluid. I was born to wear this gi’. They called us to the mat.

 

It was one of the quicker fights of my career. Within ten seconds I was flipped in the air onto my back. Twenty seconds later he picked me up, rolled me, and jumped on my back. After staving off a lapel choke, mounted triangle, and an armbar for several breaths I had to tap to a combination of the above. The kid simply out classed me. If I would have faced him in the first round he would have beat me then too. When I realized he still had braces on his teeth, I asked him how old he was, 17. This was his day, and it turns out it was the first of many others for him. This second place was the best I ever got. I shook his hand and slunk off the mat.

 

I was sitting there on the ground in a daze when Saulo walked up to me. He told me that I fought well and that I had a lot of talent. He knew my name and gave me a lot of respect. He was so humble to even talk to me and I was honored to meet him.

 

Standing on the second step of the podium, one gets the distinct sense that you are almost literally a stepping stone to the champion. There were 120 people at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day there are 119 losers. They cannot all be stepping stones. They all needed to be here for the sake of the art. If no one but two people came to the World championship there would be a champion decided, but that would be a dull champion. We make sure that Jiu Jitsu stays sharp and that if anyone wants that title, I will make damn sure that they are sharper than me. I may not win every tournament I enter, I may never win a match again but I will keep going out there because I’m no stepping stone, I’m a whet stone.

 

– Jim Barrett

 

 

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“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)

 

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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.