Helpful Tidbits for New Competitors



If I could share my experiences… I would begin with this.

I took some time off to chase my BJJ Journey and did a little traveling and really just dig deep into my Jiu-Jitsu game. Every once in a while an event will happen that will snap a person back into reality and realize that every moment is not to be taken lightly and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Try to make it a point to speak to everyone, smile and make that contact… life is so short when you really think about it, take the time to smell those roses!

I cannot count how many seminars and privates I have had over my five years in this sport, but I can tell you who is no longer with us and that is a hard reality to acknowledge. Maurice Zingano was my very first seminar and he ran it like a true Brazilian… (If you know what I am talking about, then you KNOW what I mean).  He was an amazing person, and taught me how to ‘paint the mat with the back of a hand’, yes that would be the Americana. Along the way there have been so many people that I may have taken for granted and did not acknowledge, but the reality is that I am very honored and grateful for everyone who put me in an arm bar, triangle and every other submission you can dream up. When I see new white belts getting frustrated when they are arm barred, I want to run over to them and tell them that it is ok and everything will be alright! I have been arm barred so many times, I am sure it is probably a world record. But IT IS OK!! We have all been there, we all remember the days we were ‘rag dolls’ and at some point it will pass, maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point a light will go off and the tables will turn… but it takes time and a little bit of pain, and it is not easy. If it were easy everyone would do it, and that is exactly why new white belts are so important, they need that nurturing and coaching. Ok, well unless you get the “BREAK DOWN GUY” then…. I mean, at some point there has to be a limit – Sorry small Machado joke.

My conundrum for my experience at my gym tonight, I was working with a white belt and at first I was not looking for mistakes, but then they spotted it out for me. I am not a big fan of points; I do not like stalling… either submit me or get out of the way. While talking I had to remind them to collect the points first then submit. I was trying to think of small things to help them, small tips or pointers and then it started…

I wanted to ramble off every single scenario I could think of and how to defend and turn it around, but I knew that while I was talking a haze was quickly forming over their eyes and then it came to me. I had a seminar with Sean Roberts a few months ago and he said something that at the time was meaningful, but until tonight it really had not set it. We tend to get caught up in our BJJ game, almost to the point that it is robotic. Example: I am going to move here and then do this and then… to here and there and then…  But if we stop and really just STOP and take yourself away from the situation and look at it, there are things right in front of you that are so blatantly right in front of your face, it is like what the… I can do that?! I remember a tournament I attended and I was watching two female blue belts, one had secured a good half guard, arm under the head and holding onto the other girls shoulder, but all she was thinking was kimura… kimura… kimura. But it was not there, she tried and struggled and her coach even shouted, “IT IS TIME TO THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX”! She was perfectly set up for the Ezekiel and never once looked in that direction or thought about it. That is the kind of robotic mode I am referring to. We get into these patterns and muscle memory that we think we need to hit certain points to get to the next transition, but every once in a while… there does not need to be a robotic response and there will be something simple right in front of your face that was there all along, but you weren’t shown that it could be done… your Jiu-Jitsu fundamentals will save your life 9 times out of 10. Think I am kidding? Try to roll one time without shrimping… I can guarantee it will be the worst day you have had in a long time. Sean Robert’s game is smooth and simple, there was no flashy moves here or there it was so fundamentally sound it was ridiculous… he made a guard pass look like a walk in the park! He said that he tries to make his Jiu-Jitsu simple… KEEP IT SIMPLE. Trying to explain this to a bright eyed white belt was probably a little boring and let’s face it when we were white belts we did not want to ‘listen’ we wanted to show the world we were ready.

Explaining how to get to this point was harder, personally I like to listen to some Bach and slip into a hot bath and simply play a little mental Jiu-Jitsu chess in my head. I tend to think about Jiu-Jitsu all day long (when I’m not surfing the web for hot pictures of guys), no seriously, I think about it a lot… sequencing moves, defending, responding, timing. I will go back to rolls I have had and look at it from a spectator’s view to see why a move didn’t work and what I can do to change that move…

My rambling is what made me stop talking to the person that brought this on… so back to topic:

1)      Keep it simple – Fundamentals will save your life 9 out of 10 times.

2)      ROBOTO was a song, not a way of life… THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!!!

3)      Break down your game, MENTALLY and on your free time, not during a match.




If you are ever in the area, please stop by Red River BJJ in Wichita Falls, TX… Either passing through or here for a short visit and maybe stuck on the base, visitors are always welcome!



And remember…

You do NOT have to be Great to START,

But you have to START to become GREAT!!!





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