Saturday, May 7, 2016

American Jiu-Jitsu Cup Day 2 - Team Results


What a day! Amazing performance by the adults! At the end of the day we brought back to Brentwood 7 gold, 3 silver and 5 bronze medals.

Tina Erickson (bottom right) was the first one to go on Sunday. What an inspiring human being! 42, mom of 2 with a full time job located 35 miles away and still manages to train 4, 5 times a week. Got into a bad car accident last Summer that left her shoulder injured, keeping her from training 100% since then. Still decided to compete and display tremendous heart and technique to beat her two opponents and win gold. 

Denise Gallegos hasn't had a smooth past year either with injures who kept her from committing to the training like she always had. But the passion for Jiu-Jitsu that she has, allowed her to persevere, sign up for the tournament, prepare, compete and win first place as well! 

James Aguilar is one of a kind. This 16 year old has competed in over 100 tournaments in the last 3 years! He's gone almost every weekend with his family, who are extremely supportive of him and Jiu-Jitsu. They travel all over the state. Just last weekend he won a Pancration title belt by submission. This weekend, he submitted his opponent under a minute but ended up choosing the wrong strategy in the finals against the same guy and lost the match. Competition is as much of a strategy game as it is technical. 

Isabela Angus (top right) is just a phenom. She was a student in our Youth Program for two years back in 2011, when she quit at 13. To our satisfaction, she walked into the Academy exactly 3 weeks ago wanting to sign back up. She realized we were preparing for a competition and asked to join the roster a couple days later. 

Before deciding, we evaluated her training that one night and allowed her to register. It was amazing to see that almost 5 years later, Jiu-Jitsu was still sharply embedded in her! We gave her the ok and she signed up for the stacked adult division (she's still 17). We worked on a game plan based on her strengths and since she's been actively working out, we trusted she could do well. 

But she surpassed our expectations! Dominated all of her three opponents (first round arm bar finish, 23 x 4 win in the second round and triangle choke finish in the finals). She had to be promoted to blue belt on the spot! And she did. :)

D'Marcus Cooper (top left) has got to be one of the best competitors of our Academy's history. Not just due to his consistent great results on the competition mats. But due to his calm, collected and umperturned demeanor before, during and after his matches. His ability to stay patient and relaxed throughout his fights, regardless if he's behind or ahead in the score table has got to mess with his opponents minds. He's now a 3-time American Cup gold medalist at his weight class and a 2-time gold medalist in the open weight class. 

Bernard Figueroa (bottom left) is another student who really loves Jiu-Jitsu. There are those who casually train, then there are those who like training and then there are those who love the culture, embraces the lifestyle and love Jiu-Jitsu. He moved 40 miles away over a year ago, has a full time job and still manages to come train and participate in tournaments. He won gold by finishing his opponent in two different rounds with a choke from the back.

Kurtis Ogasawara from Crosley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Napa was expected to face tough competition in the always stacked adult white belt division. With only 6 months of training, Kurtis was scrappy and used his Wrestling background to out scramble and outscore his first two opponents before losing in the semis to the division champion. Great job!

Wade Woodward, 52, also from Crosley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Napa, is another example of pure heart! In his only match of the day, Wade used all experience he acquired in little over a year of training to beat his opponent by advantage and win gold. 

Joe Vernazza has put so much time into training in the past 8 months. A lot of group and individual training. He planned to compete at the US Open 6 months ago and signed up, but found out the day of the event that he had no opponent.

He continued training almost daily, improved his skill tremendously, but unfortunately, didnt get to the highest spot in the podium today. At the end of the day, it comes down to how much progress has been made and you, my friend, have achieved great things so far.

Warren Weatherford is a Dad who joined training soon after his 6 year old son did, who also competed. Tremendous heart displayed by Warren in his semi-final match, where he dominated his opponent, but especially in the finals, where he showed the never-quit attitude that makes the impossible possible at times! He lost by points but his desire to win was inspiring. 

Troy Rowe went 1-1 for a third place finish. Another dad who competed alongside his 6 year old daughter. How awesome is this? Two generations not only training together but also competing in the same event. Memorable!

Edgar Barajas, Mj Eugenio and Philip Arsenaultstepped up and fought hard until the end but their opponents were the better competitors yesterday. 

Like Troy, Warren and Joe Vernazza, Maris Goldsborough entered his first competition, also fought hard but didn't get the win. 

We can't be more satisfied with what we saw. Everyone trained hard during training camp, sacrificed life's pleasures for a while and displayed the desire to win. Some did win and some didn't. But that doesn't mean anything. If you truly gave your all and, your mind, did all you could do to perform at your best, challenged your comfort zones, then you are all winners.

Crosley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu placed 6th in the overall team results, out of over 100 participating schools. Huge thank you to instructors Crosley Gracie Ac and Ryan Murphy for the hard, diligent work in preparing the competitors for the event.

Team photo album:
Official team and individual results here:

Congratulations, everyone! We'll see you in class!

Training tip: Grappling w/ Patience

Today in the Adult JJ, I had a discussion at the end of the class about a few live training tactics that, most of the time, goes unknown by beginners. The first one being PATIENCE. This was going to be shared within our closed group page as a follow up, but I felt that this could help a lot of people out there so here it is. 

This conversation got originated from the training method we utilized today, which was about resisting at only 50% of our physical capacity when it was our opponents turn to try the techniques. And along with that, all the benefits that it brings as opposed to always going to 100% full resistance mode.

First, we had the students drill with no resistance in order to get acquainted with the moves, which in today's class was about a reversal from closed guard that had as an alternative attack, a back take technique.

Once I felt they understood the sequence and were satisfactorily executing it, they headed into the 50% resistance mode. The rules were that only the opponent on top would go 50%. The person executing the move would try and hit it as if their opponent was also fully resisting. It was a 2-minute round for each role, which I estimated should have been accomplished 2 or 3 times in the allotted time. Which they did.

We did 3 rounds with different partners every time, for allowing them to feel each person's ability to control their strength usage and stay true to the 50% resistance "agreement" while on top, despite how much intensity their bottom opponents would give. This ability to stay calm and not allow their opponents intensity to affect how relaxed you stay at any given time in the match is actually the other topic we talked about, which I will post more about later. 

I will also talk about more of the incredible benefits of 50% live training in a later post.

About patience. There just isn't another possible way for an individual, half of the size of his opponent to come out victorious other than knowing when to attack and when to wait. You can't just implement an aggressive, uncalculated, do-what-I-want, when-I-want strategy against someone potentially bigger, more athletic and stronger than you. You need to know that there are times you will have to wait to attack. And that's an undetermined amount of time as it could be 10 seconds, minutes, etc.

Knowing how to maintain a defensive approach is crucial to improve your position within the match at times (and probably everytime if your opponent is physically more gifted than you). Often your patience will pay off in a way you won't believe, such as in a moment where your opponent will make a mistake, due to either lack of technical skill or even due to his own lack of patience in what to do next.

The right technique won't work if timing is off. If it did, it likely required a lot more strength to work. This repeated approach will eventually exert your energy, and hopefully you submitted your opponent/attacker before completely gassing out. 

If you did finish your opponent (in class), you still have  to complete the round stipulated by your instructor anyway and now what? Now you have a smaller, more patient and energy-conserving opponent smothering you with chokes and joint lock attempts until time is up. What's the point of all that? Another factor that exhausts people is the desire to finish their opponents too quickly. 

Defense allied with patience will always provide the tools to winning. What is the point of doing a 2-minute strength sprint against your opponent, submitting him/her and then asking to quit, when there's still time left in the clock. That's not fair. Another point of the training is to learn to recover within the match. Learn to survive until you can fight back. Otherwise, you might just turn into "the guy" that will have very limited training partners, rendering your progress. 

Not every roll has to be to the death and those who understand this will reach mastery more easily but more importantly, more safely, likely reaching black belt level.

The goal at the end of the day is to learn, to train, have fun but efficiently manage your energy and execute each move with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. This should be everyone's motto in life professionally and personally speaking, more efficiency, less effort in our actions.

So then, when the day that you are really exhausted arrives, you can still, first of all, survive against any attacker of any size, and/or train for long periods of time with your friends/ teammates without no strains on your body, contributing to a fun therapeutical session and, long- term, an extended lifespan on the mat.

Many practitioners will never be given the chance to know what to look for in training other than sweeps, submissions, etc. Jiu-Jitsu is so much beyond that. The mental spect of the training is the biggest benefit we can all get from it. That's where real confidence and peace of mind comes from.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Martial Arts "Contracts"

This has always been a topic for discussion. Some people seem to prefer to see it primarily as a "financial contract" rather than a commitment/investment towards their own or their children's self-improvement. Martial Arts as life education and Colleges/Universities as academic education will have no utility in anyone's lives without the right amount of commitment and dedication.

People still seem surprised and perhaps don't understand the reason behind an initial commitment for Martial Arts training. Besides improvement in fitness levels that will vary from person to person, one, two or three months of training won't offer absolutely anything else to the student. Only Martial Arts Instructors know what kind of devotion it takes to "transform" an individual into someone of effective self-defense skills and that as a vehicle to heightened character values.

The amount of effort that takes to "train" someone who many times was never exposed to any form of exercise, or children who never had much sense of discipline and respect implemented in their lives, is too great to not require a sort of "mutual commitment" as in I'll be here for you but you'll need to be here for yourself as well. This mutual commitment comes in the form of a legal document. Named "contract" by many, but we like to call it an agreement.

It isn't worth for any Martial Arts staff to commit time to someone who isn't "committed to commit" to their own goal. Because by default we are, that's what we do. 

By signing an "agreement", we are actually helping the student stay loyal to his/her initial commitment. Statistics show that the longer the students train or the higher their rank is, the lower are the chances they will quit training. White belts have, by far, the highest drop out rate than any colored belts. Drop out as Brown Belt is a lot lower that Purple, which in turn is a lot lower than Blue and so on. Why? Because the benefits aren't short termed. After a certain amount of time, Martial Arts becomes a way of life. Your life will revolve around staying healthy to better perform on the mat. You get accustomed to accept challenges and perform under pressure due to an improvement in self-confidence from training.

Nothing motivates a human being more than reaping the results from the efforts they put it. Another reason: the more skilled you are at something, the more fun it is. The more fun you have, the more you like it. The more you like it, the more you commit. The more you commit, the more skilled you will be. It's an endless cycle.

The highest cancellation rate in Martial Arts occur within the initial 12-months, and mostly because of a lack of consistency in the student's training. All of our new members are required to sign up for a minimum of 12 months, but we are still very flexible and analyze every situation individually. Yet, the main thing is to always encourage and ensure every student gives him or herself the chance to commit to an uninterrupted initial 12 months of training (our policies allow students to freeze within the initial term only if they sustain a medical condition, or to terminate it if they move away).

Avoiding regular freezes within the initial term keeps the student focused on their goals, and it keeps them from losing momentum and therefore interest. Martial Arts is hard work, however the results attained come in direct proportion to the amount of effort put in.

Some people have had bad experiences with contracts before, but we are huge advocates of them in our industry. Our policies are very transparent and are designed to maximize material retention and results. There's a legitimate explanation and purpose for every policy in place. It's very unlikely a Martial Arts facility that preaches initial month-to-month training have contributed to as many success stories around their community as those schools that offer their Martial Arts training "product" as a mid to ong term program. 

Still, the best thing before committing to an agreement or "contract" anywhere, is to do your own research and make a decision based on that. Unfortunately, there are indeed professionals out there with questionable ethics, and that's in every industry, but thanks to the internet and our own communication skills, we can efficiently protect ourselves from illegitimate, unethical businesses/Martial Arts schools.   

Now, let's train!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crosley Gracie helping Brazilian jiu-jitsu take root in Napa

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

(Live) Training Tips For Beginners

If you just became eligible to begin rolling, keep in mind that if you don't take some precautions to protect your most valuable asset, your body, it will be a matter of (short) time until you begin experiencing injuries, especially when rolling with another inexperienced practitioner. These are in no specific order of importance. 
1. Clean your diet - stay hydrated. Look to consume high Ph waters. The more alkaline your body is, the less inflammation and the stronger your cells will be against the strain of athletics. Cut processed sugar and salt. Use raw sugar and Himalayan salt, instead. The Gracie Diet consists of mixing the proper foods to oxygenate and raise the Ph levels of the blood. We have Gracie Diet recipe books for sale in Brentwood and Napa. 
2. Enhance your intake of Vitamin C, but be careful with the synthetic kind. Take joint supplements such as MSN and Glucosamine. Look them up. 
3. Listen to your body - when you are too sore, skip live training. Drill instead, or even take a day off.
4. Stretch (preferably after a short warm up session, which is when your joints and muscles are warm).
5. The more repetitions you do, the cleaner and more precise your techniques will be when rolling. You will maximize the efficiency of the move and minimize the effort, also minimizing the risk of injury.
6. Train your brain to avoid panicking when rolling. Don't get too emotionally involved. Learn to think methodically and apply what you were taught in detail. Intense drilling will help provide that. 
7. Back to #3. If you are already injured, DO NOT ROLL. Unless you are a Black Belt or are rolling with a Black Belt, it's very likely you will make your injury worse. 
8. No, you will not go 50% when injured. Neither will your partner. Again, unless you are a Black Belt or are rolling with a Black Belt, you won't develop and carry on that kind of control when rolling.
9. Always listen to your instructor. 
10. Learn to attend practice injured (depending on the injury, of course). One of the greatest things Jiu-Jitsu has to offer it's the multitude of things you can still drill to improve, with most injuries. There are dozens of variations for each move that is taught. Let your instructor know what you are unable to do and he or she will find something for you to drill and continue your progress. 
11. Supplement your training with weight lifting - this is to strengthen your joints, not to hurt them. So no crazy Olympic weightlifting on unexperienced Crossfit gyms where everyone thinks you are a world class 25 year old power lifter. Lift light weights with high number of reps, super sets is ideal (one set of 15 to 20 reps per exercise, three different exercises back to back). 
12. Supplement your training with a 45- minute minimum of cardio- vascular activity. This can be alternated with weight lifting. Two, three days a week of Jiu-Jitsu, one day a week of weightlifting and one day of cardio. 
13. Tone down a bit, When rolling with someone that is not as athletic or technically gifted as you. Get your work out, work on sharpening your attacks and escapes but allow them to work on a thing or two as well. 
14. We say this all the time: train differently with different people. Not everyone has the exact same body type, age, weight and etc... Some techniques will work on some easier than others. Some techniques will only work on a small percentage of people and vice versa. It's your job to find out which ones they are and apply (or avoid) the right ones on the right body types. 
15. MAT TIME. Be it stretching, drilling, assisting with a private lessons, studying moves, helping with a group class, etc... Whatever time you spend on the mat adds up to your skill set somehow. Think longer term. At the end of the day, it's always about helping you relax during the live sessions and act less spastic, subsequently helping you avoid injuries.
16. When caught on a bad position, don't force your way out 100% of the time. Think creating a reaction from your opponent to then attempt an escape. Remember every action required a reaction. Use this when you notice you can't accomplish the next step of your move. Distract your opponent by making them react to something else, when they do, you move on to your original goal.
17. If you do get injured (sprains, torsions, bruises) - 20 minutes sessions of ice (not a frozen corn bag), an actual icebag. Available at any Walgreens or CVS (look up Body Glove ice pack with a wrap online). Then off for 50 min before another icing session. 
18. Don't get frustrated when you are injured. Accept reality and focus on your recovery. Keep a positive attitude and take one day at a time. Talk to your instructor about your injuries and ask for advice what you can do and what you cannot do.
Follow these as closely as possible and be sure to keep away from silly injuries and maximize your fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Legacy

Having represented and competed with this patch on my back throughout my youth was a blessing, a privilege and an honor that I will forever cherish. My combat sports skills, overall work ethic and character, could not have had better foundation while growing up training in Copacabana, Rio-Brazil.
Being one of the greatest factory of martial arts champions of all time was just one of the reasons that makes this patch so special. Many of my lifetime friendships were built on those mats in the 90s. The bonds developed through years of training, the daily grinds, the emotions shared on the mat, the disappointments and the achievements alongside my teammates could never be replicated in any other activity. 
Only those who persevere through the ups and downs of the initial years of training, will experience what nothing else in the world can provide. Family and academics can only teach us so much. The rest is self-discovery. Jiu-Jitsu was the most complete form of education I have received. To everyone who spent years training by my side out there, my eternal respect, gratitude and friendship. Distance and time away are not enough factors to change this. Nothing is.
If all children of the world could have the opportunity to be exposed to proper Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, the world would be a much better place! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Post 2015 Jiu-Jitsu U.S Open Words

We want to congratulate everyone who stepped up to compete at the US Open this weekend, in special the ones who won their divisions in Santa Cruz, Elijah Tabasa, Marlon Reyes, Montana Rushing, Ed Juarez, Travis Newton, Joe Vernazza and Rylah Lenford. Elijah, Rylah and Ed also won gold at last year's edition. Regardless of the end result, if you gave your all and based your preparation on a "never quit attitude" throughout the entire training camp until the day you stepped on the mat be proud of what you have done. 
The competition is won in the months, weeks, in the countless hours of sacrifice and sweat on the mats leading up to the day of the event. Nothing else will give you more confidence than knowing how much you committed and sacrificed. The atmosphere this past weekend at the Kaiser Permanente Arena doesn't get more intense than that. It was hot, loud, crowded... If you can function efficiently in an environment like that, you can perform well in any other walk of life. And that's just one of the many reasons why we do this, to do and be better at living life.
For some competitors, it was a lot to handle, for others was just another day at the office. What it matters is that everyone learned more about themselves this weekend. To those who didn't succeed at gold, time to assess what was missing. Mat time? Proper diet? Supplemental training such as weight lifting, cardio, etc? As we always say, to win a tournament this level, which is equivalent to a state championship at least, it is going to take more than training a few hours a week. From kids to adults and masters division, U.S. Open gold medalists don't train seasonally. In the age of health & fitness, and the UFC craze, everyone takes competition training serious. As a team, we will also take a look at our own work and see where we can improve as the journey seeking perfection in all we do in our Academy will never end. 
Competition isn't required to excel and benefit from martial arts training, but it is important to understand that should you choose to test your skills out there, it won't be easy, we won't let you slack and you better set your mind for the training you will need to go through to succeed. But at the end of it all, It will be worth it. You will have become technically better, mentally stronger and more confident on your capacities. 
Our records show that out of 42 competitors, we brought back seven gold, 12 silver and nine bronze medals. We are very excited with the results from our Napa affiliate. Out of the three competitors that stepped up, we won one gold (Travis), one silver (Lance) and one bronze (Jaret). Jaret was dominating the division, won his first two matches, but got injured in the semis after taking his opponent down. He was forced to pull out and earned 3rd place. Travis also dominated the division, submitting two of his three opponents. We couldn't be happier, with only eight months of training, the 707 crew did great!

Check out Travis beautiful double leg takedown to a guillotine choke in the finals:

Thank you to:
- Crosley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu staff for working so hard to ensure the team was ready;
- All teammates who made themselves available on the mats daily, having crucial role in helping everyone get ready;
- Competitor's parents for all the support and trust in our work. 
Check out the weekend in photos:…

We'll see you back on the mats!