View Full Version : Started a BJJ class.
July 12, 2002, 10:29 AM
I had been looking for a class to compliment my karate training. Mostly I wanted to pick up some ground fighting skills. I thought I wanted to take Aikido, but after watching one class I could tell it wasn't for me. When the black belts demonstrated a technique it looked very good. But when the students tried it, it looked more like a monkey trying to have intercourse with a football. It just looked like it was too difficult to perfect and the techniques look like they wouldn't work well in real life except in very specific situations. Plus the philosophy is one that I don't happen to share. If someone is trying to hurt me, I want to stop them even if it means hurting them bad.
I went to a judo class and I really liked the way they taught and worked with the students. The head instructor is a 7th degree black belt and still competes. I would recommend this school to anyone that wants to learn judo. However, I worked out with them three or four times and found out that judo wasn't quite what I was looking for either. It is mostly geared toward competition and it seemed like only about 10% of what I was learning and seeing taught to the upper belts would be useful on the street. I also found out that judo has the highest incidence of injury of all the martial arts.
By going to the Gracie web sight, I was able to find a BJJ class here in town. The black belt whose name is on the school lives in Rio and comes to Texas twice a year. They rent space from another school and the instuctor is a purple belt. Needless to say, I was pretty sceptical but went to watch a class. It was great. The instructor is a black belt in karate and has been studying BJJ for 8 years. He is a good teacher and the things he was teaching the white belts were things that they could use on the street immediately.
I signed up and last night I finished my second class. I am very impressed with what I am already learning. I will let you all know how it goes.
July 12, 2002, 02:19 PM
I also was interested in Aikido and dabbled in it a bit, but I haven’t found a dojo that I liked. There are some very proficient Aikido practitioners out there, but the odd thing I have noticed about a lot of them is that they do tend to get a little too “spiritual” for me. I guess I’m not ready to “become one with the universe”. There are a couple of different styles of Aikido, the Yoshinkan style is pretty brutal, and they can definitely hurt you bad. As for black belts vs novices execution of technique, I can only say that is typical of any MA, not just Aikido. It is definitely an
art that requires intensive practice to execute properly. IMHO their primary goal is spiritual development. If you read O Senseis biography and philosophy, you will understand Aikido much better.
“judo wasn't quite what I was looking for either. It is mostly geared toward competition and it seemed like only about 10% of what I was learning and seeing taught to the upper belts would be useful on the street. I also found out that judo has the highest incidence of injury of all the martial arts.”
Unfortunately, it is true that much Judo instruction is geared towards competition (which is not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion). However, as I stated in another post, once you study it in depth for a while, it is truly a comprehensive MA. Of course, I’m biased. Only 10% useful? I’m surprised. What did you think was
useful and what wasn’t? I think a big part of the problem is that when someone is watching it from the outside, it’s often not apparent what is actually going on (again, not unique to Judo). You can get injured doing Judo, for sure. I lost count of all the bruises, bumps, fat lips and scrapes. I have been seriously injured on a couple of occasions, including broken ribs, but I would add that both times were my own fault. I’m not sure if the injury rates are the highest of any art, but I will agree it’s not for the faint of heart. I once read a statistical analysis of sports injuries and Judo was way down on the list. IIRC Basketball was number one. Judo has a rough and tumble reputation and it does require a considerable amount of strength, but ultimately it is about finesse.
“I was pretty sceptical but went to watch a class. It was great. The instructor is a black belt in karate and has been studying BJJ for 8 years. He is a good teacher and the things he was teaching the white belts were things that they could use on the street immediately.”
First off, I love groundfighting. However, my criticism of BJJ is that it’s not very well rounded. If you are using this to supplement your Karate training, great. But as a stand alone system it has significant flaws. Ground fighting is only one element of a
larger picture. Most Judoka are very proficient groundfighters as well, but the focus is on remaining standing. Laying on the ground is great if you are engaged with only one opponent, but if you have more than one, it is really going to suck when you are rolling around with one guy only to have his buddy kick you in the head with a steel toe boot.
BJJers are very good at what they specialize in. A lot of people are sold on the idea that 99% of fights go to the ground, and that might be true of untrained opponents, but I think this is largely true of people who have no specific training on how to
stay on their feet like Judo practitioners are. If you are familiar with the UFC you might have noticed how it has evolved over the years. At the beginning, the BJJ guys dominated because they were operating outside the normal paradigm of MA competitions and the rules favored their particular style of fighting. Once other MA guys figured out that they needed to fill in that gap in their knowledge, it changed considerably. Everybody is crosstraining now, and the groundfighters have gotten pummeled more often.
I haven’t been following it closely at all in recent years but from what I have seen there is a dramatic difference in todays matches compared to the first ones. There is more stand up fighting now. The rule changes are a large part of this, but the
rules were added for legitimate reasons. In the first matches, there were no time limits. While at first this might seem like a good idea, it is not entirely realistic. Like I mentioned, in the real world of multiple opponents, you are vulnerable when you are on the ground for extended periods of time. Some of the matches went on for ridiculously long periods, with opponents locked in a stalemate. If you are laying on top of someone for 45 minutes, that person better be your girlfriend. There ARE BJJ guys who are extremely proficient that can take on multiple opponents on the ground, but they are few, and they are in a dojo environment.
When you go to the ground, you give up your mobility, which is not usually a good idea. You give up your ability to deal with multiple opponents and you give up the option of escape. In Judo matches the primary method of scoring is by performing a clean throw where the opponent lands hard on his back. Depending on the execution of the technique, you can either win the match outright, or score points (actually, fractions of a point, but I’m not going to get technical here). You can score by pinning your opponent (definitely NOT for 45 minutes, though) or by forcing your opponent to submit (tap out) by using an armbar or stranglehold. There is a (short) time limit on ground techniques, however. If you are ground grappling and the referee sees no measurable progress, he will stand both competitors up and restart the match. This makes sense from a martial as well as a
spectator standpoint. You can choke someone unconscious in a few seconds if you are proficient, so this is not unreasonable. If you find that your opponent is successfully defending against your attempts at pinning, choking or jointlocking him, then you are better off trying something else instead of wasting titanic effort and lots of time trying to wear him down.
Throwing techniques are very effective when executed correctly. Getting slammed on the mat is an eye opening experience. Getting slammed on pavement is a sure trip to the ER. When dealing with more than one opponent, it makes more sense to
stay on your feet and strike or throw your opponent clear in order to deal with another threat rather than pull one guy down with you and then have his buddies do the river dance all over your head.
With all that said, I have used MA for self defense on a few occasions, and twice it went to the ground. Both times that I went to the ground, it was over very quickly, probably less than a minute, and I used strangleholds both times. Every situation is
different and on those instances I chose not to do anything more dangerous because the situation did not warrant it. The nice thing about strangleholds is that you can easily vary the amount of force depending on the situation, but this requires that you show self restraint.
It’s good to know what to do on the ground, but being well rounded is important. You have a Karate background, which is good. I have worked out with former Karate guys who transitioned to Judo and they have a good foundation. They move
quickly, they are good at spotting openings and of course, their atemiwaza is good. I’m sure you will do well in BJJ.
July 15, 2002, 05:53 PM
There have been a couple of great Judo vs. BJJ fights. In Renzo Gracie vs. Ben Stryker (Olympic Judo Champ), Stryker lasted a couple of minutes, which is longer than most lasted against Renzo in his prime. Also, Oleg Taktorov (Judo, Sambo, UFC Champ) vs. Renzo Gracie, Oleg lasted about 90 seconds before being KO'ed. Many Judo guys depend too much on their ghis, and have trouble adjusting to strikes mixed in with the grappling. The upside of Judo is that they tend to be very tough, have endurance, and fight like they train. They are also the best, along with freestyle wrestlers at take downs and resisting take downs. Judo is much more than 10% useful. But about the only thing that can match or hope to beat a BJJ guy on the ground is a freestyle wrestler who crosstrains very heavily in BJJ. But someone who only knows wrestling falls for everything (chokes and locks).
Purple belt is fairly high in BJJ. Everyone is sandbagged for purposes of competing. It's the opposite of most arts where people have higher ranks than they deserve. When I was only a blue belt in BJJ (and black in a stand up art), I choked out an Olympic gold medalist Freestyle Wrestler who wanted to test his skills against BJJ before he tried to enter a UFC. But I was thrown around a lot and took a lot of punishment before he gave me his back, thus allowing me to finish him. Another blue belt from my academy knocked out a Thai boxing world champ in a no rules event on pay-per-view. So don't discount what a purple belt knows- he is probably very competant and as you noted most have black belts in other arts.
TPS is right that BJJ isn't complete, it doesn't address multiple attackers or surviving an attack with weapons to an acceptable extent. But that's why you cross-train. No art has everything.
But it is a great addition to your karate training, at the very least an insurance policy for if you are taken down, and it will make you much, much harder to take down if you choose not to allow it.
Just be ready for the reality that studying BJJ is more demanding than most arts- you get so fatigued that you get sick sometimes grappling and you have to get used to pain. Good luck.
July 15, 2002, 09:54 PM
I keep hearing about a Judo champion named Kimura who beat Helio Gracie. As I understand it (from looking at many internet conversations) there are two lessons to be learned from their fights:
1. Judo rules and BJJ sucks, because Kimura beat Helio.
2. BJJ rules and Judo sucks, because Helio won the rematch.
July 16, 2002, 02:56 AM
I keep hearing about a Judo champion named Kimura who beat Helio Gracie. As I understand it (from looking at many internet conversations) there are two lessons to be learned from their fights:
1. Judo rules and BJJ sucks, because Kimura beat Helio.
2. BJJ rules and Judo sucks, because Helio won the rematch.Helio did not win the rematch. Helio beat Kato in an earlier match. Kimura tossed around Helio like a little boy.
BJJ came from Kodokan Judo, period. BJJ practitioners of pre-WWII did not come even close to top level Japanese Judo practitioners of the same period.
However, since WWII, the two took very divergent paths. Judo became a sport (largely becase a ban on "martial arts" by the occupation authorities), and as it became an Olympic sport, its more combative aspects were de-emphasized and winning by Ippon (perfect throw) became all-consuming.
BJJ continue to refine its ground techniques and began to make great use of "no rules" contests, adapting much of its techniques toward that end.
So, to say that BJJ beat Judo because some modern ex-Olympic style practitioners lost to some BJJ practitioners in "no holds barred" contests makes no sense (and I am mostly a BJJ practitioner of Carlson Gracie lineage). Judoka will toss BJJers around like kids in Judo contests. In Nage-Waza (throwing techniques), most BJJers are no match to Judoka. Of course, many BJJers will beat most Judoka of similar training level on the ground. In any case, the entire reportoire of BJJ techniques was present in pre-WWII Judo (the training contexts differ today, of course).
It used to be that BJJ WAS a better preparation for NHB contests than Judo, mainly because such competitions were emphasized in BJJ, but less so in Judo. But BJJers are having tougher time lately in NHB because the latter is becoming more of a standup striking game with time limits. So people who incorporate striking into their systems (like Brazilian Luta Livre - witness Mario Sperry's defeat) and fighters like Vanderlei Silva (who do Muay Thai and BJJ) are doing better than "pure" BJJers. Most BJJers are now working overtime on their striking skills (like Sperry, Murillo Bustamente and even Renzo Gracie).
As for "real" use, I don't know which is more suited. Some argue that being thrown Judo Ippon style head/kneck first on a pavement means pretty much KO (no ground fighting needed). Others say that "95%" of the fights go to the ground. For me, all this is very last ditch (long after attempts at escape, gun, stick, chair, umbrella, knife, rocks, etc.). It's intellectually more honest to say I practice all my martial arts for fun (certainly more fun than mindnumbingly doing running, weight-lifting, jump ropes, isometrics and etc. for 2-3 hours a day).
July 16, 2002, 10:54 AM
Perhaps I should clarify a couple of things. I was/am looking for something to complement my karate training as I said above. I am still training (and teaching) karate two to three time a week. And, I am only willing to devote one or occasionally two nights a week to training in this other style. So I want to get the most out of the limited time I have to spend. My goal is not to get a black belt in this style, but to become a more rounded martial artist.
The American style of karate that I study has some basic judo incorporated into it. We learn and practice some of the basic throws and breakfalls, and incorporate them into our self defense. The ground work was what I was mostly looking for, and how to apply it in a SD senario. When I was taught in Judo to roll over on my stomach to keep from being pinned, it seemed that this was the last thing you would want to do in a SD situation. It seemed that 10% of what I was being taught or saw others (under brown belts) being taught fell into both things that I did not know and things that were useful to SD. 10% was a number that I picked and it may have been 20%, but it was well under half. With me only wanting to train a day a week, I felt it would take too long to aquire the ground fighting skills that I was looking for from Judo.
Please don't think that I am dissing Judo. I think it is an awesome martial art. I only wish that I had the time to study it. However, there are only so many hours in a week, and I felt that I could get more of what I was looking for in the BJJ class with my limited time. I hope this clears up my earlier post some. Thanks.
July 16, 2002, 11:52 AM
Don, I don't think anyone here said either art "sucked." In fact, I believe most of us have agreed that people from both arts tend to be good fighters. Also, people cross train so much now that its a moot point- even some of the Gracies have black belts in Judo. Most of us are more than willing to take techniques from each art.
I personally have a lot of good friends in both arts. It's worth noting that there is also a lot of variation between academies of the same art. You could probably find an instructor of any art not managing to teach 10% valuable techniques.
I wasn't around 50 plus years ago to watch people fighting Helio, but I wouldn't be surprised to see 200+ lb people "throwing around" someone who weighed 130 lbs where both had equal or close to equal skill. That being said, Helio did win an amazing number of fights considering his tiny stature. To say he lost one wouldn't take away from his accomplishments. I've found that anyone who fights long enough gets their turn to lose.
"In any case, the entire reportoire of BJJ techniques was present in pre-WWII Judo (the training contexts differ today, of course)."
Of course the basic locks and chokes remain, but in my experience, the techniques seem to be continually evolving. New counters are always being found. That's why the BJJ guys who came to the U.S. early had trouble with some of the ones who stayed in Brazil (i.e. Royce getting choked out in a competition match by someone he considered easy). I see people doing completely different things just in the couple of years I've taken off. And not being ready to counter the old school things I do when I grapple now. In summary, you can study either art and beat anyone you're likely to face on the street at both takedowns and on the ground.
July 16, 2002, 02:44 PM
Guys, I didn't say it. In fact, you may have caught a faint note of irony in my description. I'm just noting what was said at McDojo.com. Don't kill the messenger. My point was that the argument over which was better struck me as a little silly. If both arts have changed so much in the decades since that match, then it's sillier still.
July 16, 2002, 02:54 PM
I wasn't around 50 plus years ago to watch people fighting Helio, but I wouldn't be surprised to see 200+ lb people "throwing around" someone who weighed 130 lbs where both had equal or close to equal skill.Nope. The weight difference was pretty minimal contrary to the claims of those who worship the Gracies. Besides, don't some of the Gracies claim "weight don't matter, it's the technique, the technique..." I have seen most of the match on video and Kimura literally and actually throws Helio Gracie around like a kid (and Kimura wasn't even "the best" Judoka from Japan at the time). Then he proceeds to pin Gracie and break his arm.
Of course the basic locks and chokes remain, but in my experience, the techniques seem to be continually evolving.To the extent that exotic counters to yet more exotic techniques (geared exclusively for BJJ competitions) come out, that may be true. But the vast majority of BJJ techniques (or all the techniques that are commonly taught at different BJJ schools) are all from Kodokan Judo. So says Joe Moreira who is a pretty big figure in BJJ, who also happened to have studied Judo in Japan. So says Michael Jen, one of a handful of American BJJ black belts (who also happen to train in Judo, BTW).
Oh, I noted the irony. It's just that there is so much muck and false information about the whole Helio vs. Kimura thing that I felt compelled to chime in.
July 16, 2002, 05:16 PM
Since BJJ has weight classes, I don't think you can say they don't think weight matters between people of similiar skill. Their statements, though going too far, are more a thing of outside the top levels of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, there aren't many people of similiar skill. Thus, it rarely would matter except to delay the outcome. Rather than add all those caveats, they just say weight doesn't matter, even though it can.
You only have to look at the results of modern no rules events to realize that there is a difference (decreasing every day due to cross training as stated above). One fight from 50 years ago involving a 130 pounder tells us far less than countless modern fights in which BJJ fighters who train for no rules, do significantly better than Judo guys who don't normally train for no rules. Of course BJJ guys who only train for competition can have the same problem in part because they don't focus on no-rules techniques. There has been continuous evolution for no-rules fighting. They learn from every fight and develop counters to things that gave them problems, or new techniques tried against them. I doubt Joe Moreira would say that BJJ no rules techniques haven't significantly evolved in the last 50 years, but I believe that if he did he would be disputed by everyone in the know. I trained with many instructors and fighters even more well known than him who said the opposite. I've been present countless times when new ideas or techniques were found and tried, and if they worked incorporated. There is a lot of overlap- but its not the same as Judo, and not the same as BJJ of 50 years ago.
July 17, 2002, 12:17 AM
Interesting posts. I think that everyone is pretty much in agreement that crosstraining is important.
One of the things that I find funny is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The UFC and other "no holds barred" matches have rediscovered the wheel IMHO. During Kano Senseis day, the Kodokan had their own NHB matches and they consistantly revised and adopted techniques from different ryu.
As mentioned before, it is indeed true that Judo has wandered into the realm of martial sport as opposed to martial art. So have many other arts, hence the interest in NHB. Martial artists around the world woke up and payed attention once they realized this.
While we can learn a lot of lessons from NHB, it has to be remembered that it is still a competition, in an artificial environment, and despite the name, it still has rules (just different rules).
As far as weight classes: all other things being equal, a skilled big guy will beat an equally skilled little guy. Najdorf makes a good point: outside of competitions, how often does that happen? In my personal experience, my attackers didn't have a clue (lucky for me). They both outweighed me, but that didn't really help them, in that particular situation. This does not mean that I don't think that size matters, because I recall thinking at the moment: "If I let this big sonofabitch hit me, it's gonna hurt A LOT".
I hope it didn't sound like I was bashing BJJ. I think they have refined groundfighting to a science. My criticism was that they are overly specialized. I am assuming that people in this forum are interested in real world practical application.
The criticism of Judo is equally valid. I also dislike "turtleing" (rolling on your stomach to avoid a pin). This is "gamesmanship". I avoid it like the plague, personally.
NHB has become a bit more realistic, but in the end, it is still just a different type of competition. As long as one keeps that in mind, there are valid lessons to be learned. Once someone falls into the trap of thinking that "my kungfu is stronger than your kungfu", they have stopped learning and are now simply engaging in chest beating. Everyone has their own personal bias, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's important to find something that works for you.
Like I stated in my original post, I think there are things to be learned on all sides, and as David mentioned, there are only so many hours in the week. Good luck and have fun!
July 19, 2002, 05:24 AM
Since BJJ has weight classes, I don't think you can say they don't think weight matters between people of similiar skill.Of course weight matters! I was merely referring to the silly arguments from some BJJ schools (hmmm, I wonder who might that be?) that claim that the "technique" is all.
I doubt Joe Moreira would say that BJJ no rules techniques haven't significantly evolved in the last 50 years, but I believe that if he did he would be disputed by everyone in the know.That's not what Moreira would say (even though I don't know the man, I assume based on what I've heard of what he said). Because that begs the question of what "BJJ no rules techniques" are. How is "BJJ no rules techniques" presumably meant for MMA/NHB different from Shooto or "combat submission wrestling," Luta Livre and any number of other "for NHB competition" schools? Were we to evaluabe "traditional" Gi-based BJJ techniques (if there are such things), it becomes clear that it is essentially pre-war Kodokan Judo with emphasis on ground techniques.
Also, while there may be many BJJ instructors of greater fame than Joe Moreira, what makes him very different from many BJJers who, until very recently, never left Brazil, is that he studied Judo extensively in Japan and seems to understand both "systems" exceptionally well.
Even my own BJJ instructor, a Brazilian, who is a Pan-Am medalist, and is a fairly well regarded Judoka at the same time, says that while the focus differs (throws vs. ground), the two essentially draws from the same body of knowledge/techniques.
His MMA techniques are different, of course. But then again, his stand-up MMA techniques are mostly Muay Thai! Not exactly, BJJ is it?
July 19, 2002, 05:43 PM
I've actually wished for years that BJJ would lose the ghis (as if thats going to happen) and focus solely on no-rules and self defense. I don't like having tournament techniques taking up my limited brain space, but it can't be helped. The problem is people want to compete and it would become very hard to submit each other in competition without a ghi without using strikes, and few people want to be pounded like that (As you know the ghi absorbs sweat, gives a better grip for arm bars than a sweaty arm, and of course allows ghi chokes). And of course you have to compete for your teacher's team...you can't just ignore the tournament side of it. I would settle for dropping the ghis and having less exciting matches which were decided by points for passing the guard, etc. when a submission could not be obtained in time. The only time it could hurt in real life is if you happened to be fighting with jackets on, and would be very unlikely to make a difference.
Not only do the better BJJ guys study Judo, as you say, they also study Freestyle Wrestling takedowns these days, because Wrestlers have tended to school us and our lame takedowns in that phase, before blowing it on the ground. Most do use Thai boxing or boxing in stand up- what would they use from BJJ unless they just shot for the takedown and didn't want a standup option. No one would really depend on standing arm bar techniques against punches as their only standup option.
You're right they draw from the same base. I'm of course right that everyone doing no rules has picked up new counters to what they've faced and thus continued to evolve. Of course once people from another art see it working they will use it and develop counters to it, so you have to keep evolving. And yes it blurs the lines. I'm not sure that there is a real disagreement.
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