Here I show what I believe is the best way to defend the back when the opponent has yet to control the collar or neck. Note how similar the correct posture I show here is identical to butterfly guard. By creating the correct posture, I create pressure and a feeling of disconnection for my opponent. This is achieved by the distance I am creating between my back and my opponent’s chest. I then perform what is effectively a butterfly sweep. By connecting fundamental movements such as going to the shoulder and keeping my head in front of my hips, the similarity between positions such as the butterfly guard and back defence can be identified. We then do not need to learn hundreds of variations. We also get better faster, which is what everyone wants.
Recently, a number of people attending our BJJ Black Belt led and SBG qualified MMA classes have highlighted “Ju-Jitsu” schools in the local area claiming to offer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This was extremely misleading in two specific cases we’ve seen. One MMA competitor who now competes for us had previously been spun a yarn of how one of the traditional ju jitsu schools was “essentially” a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. When he attended, he found people standing in lines throwing choreographed haymakers and the partner doing Chi-Sao blocks and various traditional takedowns against zero resistance. This is NOT Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Unalive patterns are not only ineffective and a waste of time, but highly dangerous as they can breed a false sense of security. The key is to watch the person feeding the technique, rather than the receiver.
The technique can start off slowly and with little resistance to begin with, but should quickly build in intensity until the feeder is fully resisting in freestyle sparring. The other school we came across has a traditional JJ instructor talking about street-based self defence, mentioning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on their website. However, watching a video of their class shows its the same traditional Ju-Jitsu as the other school formerly mentioned.
For newcomers to BJJ keen to train in the ‘real deal’, but with no comprehension of what a legitimate class should look like, there are a number of really obvious giveaways when it comes to finding a real BJJ club. The most obvious first clue is the spelling of “jiu-jitsu” with an “i” in the first word. People who have trained in traditional Japanese versions typically spell it without “ju-jitsu”. A second giveaway is the use of the word “combat” or “street” instead of Brazilian. This is so ropey instructors, often with high dan grades in traditional ju-jitsu can pass themselves off as authorities on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or ground fighting, often whilst also arguing that BJJ “doesn’t work on the street”. The double standards here betray their nonsensical standpoint. They are also the same people who argue they train “for the street” but there is no difference between what they show and the traditional Ju-Jitsu instructors – that’s because the only thing that has changed is the name.
Another way to tell is look at the name of the school. Do a quick ‘google’, and look for who heads up the school. What is their BJJ lineage? In the north-west, legitimate BJJ schools that I know of include (and apologies to who I miss but I will add you if you contact me) my own coaches’s SBG Mainline club which is the UK HQ of Straight Blast Gym, Gracie Barra, Mario Sukata / Gary Savage in Blackpool, Factory BJJ and Strategy BJJ in Stockport, Jason Tan in Liverpool, Next Generation, Andy Aspinall, etc. All of these establishments are authentic BJJ.
Ask the instructor what is their exact grading in BJJ – anybody with nothing to hide won’t be offended and they won’t avoid the question. If they are legitimate, they also won’t start talking about street fighting in my experience. They will have realized long ago that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when combined with real striking systems (like Boxing and Thaiboxing) and real wrestling (Judo, Sambo, Greco, and Free Style) is all you ever need for street defense and you learn it just by going and sparring.
The purpose of this article was purely to discriminate between schools run by traditional or combat / street Ju-Jitsu instructors who are completely unqualified to tell anyone how to defend themselves, let alone pretend to practice BJJ.
I hope this article has been useful in helping to identify legitimate BJJ schools. However, if you are still unsure, feel free to contact us and we will happily help you do this.
When it comes to looking for martial arts classes for kids, unless a parent is a fan of UFC or MMA, its likely they will look for karate classes when looking to improve their child’s self defence skills and discipline. Unaware of the ineffectiveness of most forms of karate and its poor results in the early UFC’s where many of its practitioners took awful beatings, Karate can sound compelling. It claims of increasing children’s safety, confidence and discipline just like many other martial arts such as Taekwondo, Aikido, and Kung Fu.
Beyond its general ineffectiveness at the elite levels of Mixed Martial Arts, there are a number of reasons why we don’t offer Karate at our Ramsbottom Gym (Dojo), and as parents ourselves, especially not to children. Furthermore we have developed a safer, more effective approach, based on the law and SBGs experience at the highest levels of Mixed Martial Arts with representatives of SBG such as UFC Champions Conor McGregor and Forrest Griffin.
- Punching, Kicking & The Law – whilst many forms of striking can be effective, its difficult for even high level martial artists to control the outcome of a punch or kick. How can a child, even when skilled in the striking arts, know exactly how hard to apply a technique or when? What can fail to deter one individual may lead to serious injury in another. Is it right for a child to punch another who has grabbed their wrist or engaged in behaviours demonstrating mild dominance?
- Lack of grappling – Karate classes generally offer little, if anything, in the form of grappling, which has been shown time and again to be more effective and more safe than striking arts, both to the defender and aggressor. It generally gives the option of a punch or kick as the physical solution to all issues. By contrast, gently breaking a wrist grab or if required pinning a bully to a floor or wall without hitting them in a calm controlled manner, tends to be far more effective and safe for all concerned and generally leads to minor rather than major outcomes.
- Head Trauma – Increasing research into adults is showing that head trauma is far more dangerous and more easily caused than previously thought. Many former professional fighters turned coaches, such as SBG’s Cage Warriors Champion Alex Enlund have now banned the training of head shots for their under 12s, based on his research, as an unnecessary risk to benefit ratio for his students.
At SBG Bury, we have 20 years experience in Mixed Martial Arts and Self Defence so we know what works and what does not. However, we are also parents and know that safety must be balanced with effectiveness and in full consideration of the law. The SBG Gorilla’s Programme has been developed globally by world class MMA and BJJ coaches at some of the top gyms in the world. Its simply a better approach than you will find in any Karate classes for kids anywhere. Its more effective, far safer, and a lot more fun.
We offer Free Online BJJ & MMA Training in our Facebook group for prospective students to take a look at our classes prior to coming down as well as for existing students to recap on previous classes. Many of our online students have attended seminars from all over the world due to our reputation for excellence in coaching fundamentals and have asked to join our group. Please apply to join our group at the link above.
How much can you gain from online BJJ or MMA training?
Quite a lot. Online training should always be a compliment to an existing training programme with qualified coaches from clear lineage and association. Watching videos is never a replacement for live training. Furthermore, randomly searching YouTube for videos is never a good idea as a beginner. Whilst part of the fun of Jiu Jitsu is discovery, my preference as a coach for students attending my class is to exhaust all the existing material I have already curated, created and shared based on a judgement developed over 20 years of training with some of the best coaches in the MMA and BJJ world and also taking into account wider experience in continuous improvement design like machine learning.
The best way to use online training is to watch back material from the classes that you actually attend and practice. The reasons for this are numerous:
- Correcting miscommunication or misunderstandings about the material covered during class.
- Repeatedly hearing and seeing the same message often creates greater levels of realisation and understanding.
- This repetition embeds the ideas, movements, and feelings experienced to hardwire them into your brain.
- Reduces the latency between recognising a situation, selecting a response, and then executing it.
- Ask questions to correct and further understanding in the forum.
By having a structured approach to watching material that you are currently working in class, you optimise your performance in the gym and avoid wasting your time searching for poor quality material elsewhere that is irrelevant to your current level of knowledge and understanding. YouTube has little way of preventing poor quality instruction and simply watching random material is unlikely to improve your game without a significant level of experience. Filling your head with new techniques whilst you are trying to learn and master what you are doing in the gym only delays the learning process.
We have began forming an online syllabus that will always be a work in progress as we further our own understanding. However, its worth watching back previous material as our conceptual approach connects together the same concepts in different positions.
Here is a clip from a recent class on pummelling from our Head Coach showing how its commonly taught and practised by nearly everyone in an incorrect way which can lead to you being knocked out or cross faced.
We were asked to film a number of instructional videos by the Warrior Collective. They should help those wanting to learn more about BJJ or considering coming to train at SBG Bury a flavour of the coaching approach.
Here is my video on BJJ side mount bottom posture for the Warrior Collective filmed at SBG in Bury……http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvMaFU4aU2E
There are a number of others filmed too. where we have since completely revised our approach. There were filmed in around 2014.
One of the most important ways to accelerate your development is conceptually linking positions together. This video shows how the correct posture in butterfly guard is identical to the correct posture for back defence.
Finally, some competition footage of myself back in 2007 in the final of the Revolution Tournament Absolute Final vs Pro MMA Fighter Dave Hirst.
Dr Belisa Vranich is one of the go to experts on breathing in BJJ and grappling having coached the likes of Bas Rutten and Henry Akins. Here Glyn Powditch of SBG Bury and audience ask her questions after reading her book “Breathe” which is available on Audible. Questions asked include:
“What should I do if I gas during a roll?”
“How much cardio will I need to do if I breathing optimally?”
“What do you think of the Wim Hof method?”
We offer private lessons in MMA, BJJ, Judo, Wrestling, Thaiboxing and Boxing which we have been certified to coach by the world renown SBGi since 2006. We also offer the opportunity for private classes to be recorded on video for review by the student. This saves note taking for the more diligent student but we have also found that being able to see and review the session enables faster progression. If the student is unable to record the session, we can usually tag them in our Facebook group on the pertinent videos for the position.
Unlike many BJJ coaches who predominately coach with a purely BJJ sport related mindset, normally showing you their own game in group or private classes, our fundamental approach is tailored around your specific requirements and preferences within the context of the “art of jiu jitsu” itself. All of our BJJ and grappling classes take into account strikes first and foremost unless you wish for them to be specifically removed, which is easy to do. Its very challenging for a coach that is not use to coaching jiu jitsu with striking to reverse the process. Gi or No Gi makes no odds to us as we employ a scientific approach to coaching.
We also coach specific MMA applications such as fighting off the wall and the use of vertical pinning for self defence and MMA prior to takedowns or strikes. Please call 07775 901 452 to book a private class.
Matt Thorton, SBG Founder, draws out his description of what is a fundamental from his seminar at SBG Edmonton, April 2015. The focus on fundamentals and concepts, over moves and techniques is what creates SBG’s competitive advantage for its athletes. Some have fed back they are unable to read some of the writing on their mobile devices so here is what it says:
“Jiu Jitsu = Maximum Benefit, Minimum Effort”
“Base -> Posture -> Pressure”
“Connection Leads To Flow, Flow Leads to Leverage, Leverage Leads to Victory”
“If you are not on your toes, you are not serious about passing”
“Perfect Jiu Jitsu begins with connectivity and ends with victory”
1- transcend culture
2- transcend bodies
3- transcend style
4- transcend environment
5- transcend time”
3) Make a Frame
4) Move away from the frame
5) Don’t go from bad to worse”
Efficiency, Effectiveness and Economy are known as the 3Es in economics. The 3Es are a framework used to maximise value and are highly useful to any performance athlete, from the leisure player to the professional. I see its usefulness all the time in both training and coaching.
I am contacted daily by people interested in training BJJ, Mixed Martial Arts, or some combination of the “Alive Arts” (BJJ, Sambo, Judo, Wrestling, Thaiboxing, Boxing). Its always beginners who want to discuss the optimal balance of different approaches and the notion of being “rounded”. Effectiveness could be expressed in its various guises as simply “does this work?”. Once the student comes down to train their focus quickly turns to Efficiency i.e. “am I doing this right?”. As their journey progresses, the student typically comes to revisit Effectiveness once again when they start watching BJJ instructional videos and tournament footage from competitions. Seeing that their favourite competitor favours a particular style, certain positions like worm guards or 50:50 or “moves” such as Twisters or Berimbolos, they quickly seek to master these moves. The logic is obvious but flawed. Copy the champions who are winning, and I will progress more quickly. Thus a loop continues where the student interchanges between adding new moves based on what is popular in competition circles and refining them. The fundamental issue of why it is flawed isn’t down to a lack of mastery of the basics and fundamentals; these are actually the effects of their failure to consider the third E, the ‘Economy’ of top class competitors compared to their own.
Economy is simply “how many units can I put in?” in a given time period. The difference between being “great” and “good”, and “good” and “average” is far more determined by Economy (how many units you put in) rather than Efficiency or Effectiveness. This isn’t to say efficiency or effectiveness are not important, but if we were to look at where the average student can make the largest gains (of course assuming they are training an alive art in an alive manner) its mainly determined by units of hours spent.
This article shows how important units in each week builds up. So how does training 3x per week for 2 hours (pretty serious) compares to 5 days per week for 6 hours (professional)? Over 3 years the leisure player amounts just 936 hours vs 4680 hours of mat time for a professional. Therefore, the professional not only has more time to work on the fundamentals (those movements occurring in every match) and basics, but also greater opportunities to develop their own style and even consider defensive moves to specific games of their rivals. And its the one “E” that often isn’t considered that much in my experience until the coach raises it. Quite often students who train just one or two hours per week will spend time asking their coaches about low percentage contribution to performance nuances i.e When one person in class is trying to Berimbolo, Twister me, what….?. The coach really should redirect the student to focus their energies more productively given the student’s time constraints rather than indulge them in answering their question, UNLESS of course it is regularly occurring on the mat. And by having greater Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness will improve as well.
Economy is the fundamental building block. Student should look to eliminate non-value add activities in your life rather than trying to constantly add more Efficiency and Effectiveness into a small economy. The former is much easier in most cases. The key constraint to most players games is therefore economy and not Efficiency nor Effectiveness. If you turn up more (more units), the rest will come. Keep turning up and everything else looks after itself.
Fundamentally, Gracie Jiu Jitsu and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) are the same martial art. Some members of the Gracie family such as the Gracie Academy and Rickson Gracie like to emphasise more self-defence orientated elements, particularly in stand-up such as strikes and takedowns whilst many modern exponents focused on BJJ competitions such as Gracie Barra led by Carlos Gracie Jnr have taken the major delivery system of Gracie Jiu Jitsu (ground fighting) and focused more upon winning sport jiu jitsu competitions. Others have added other arts like Judo or wrestling for BJJ competitions (see Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu by the Camarillo Brothers) whilst other branches have incorporated Jiu Jitsu into MMA with modifications for no-gi like 10th Plant.
SBG whose lineage can be traced via its founder Matt Thornton to Rickson Gracie and Chris Haueter uses BJJ in all 4 elements; Gi, No Gi, Self Defence, and MMA. In practice, the most important factors for someone to consider when looking to start Gracie Jiu Jitsu or BJJ is not the name itself, but that the club concerned is led by coaches with a reputable standard in the art. How can we do this?
- BJJ Lineage
The lineage of the instructor should be clear, transparent and lead directly to Helio Gracie, Carlos Gracie, Luis Franca, or Oswaldo Fadda. This may seem pedantic but a weekly occurrence on Facebook BJJ groups is the outing of unqualified traditional jujitsu instructors making false claims of holding BJJ Black Belts that they simply don’t have and dressing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gis and Rash Guards rather than what you have found them wearing a decade ago or so. Their students are being misled, wasting years of training and money only to discover that what they have learned is valueless. They often discover this when they happen to train at a real BJJ club and they are repeatedly submitted by white belts despite holding supposedly high grades and even black belts under their fraudulent ‘BJJ instructor’. Whilst some move on and start again, many are lost to legitimate BJJ instruction having never really started their journey.
2. Check with BJJ Forums
Whilst forums attract trolls, you will get a general flavour of whom isn’t truly awful whilst everyone votes up their own club 🙂
3. Online Reviews
Online Reviews on Google and Facebook are pretty hard to hide complaints on these days. Getting lots of good reviews is more difficult than ever although not impossible. However hiding one star reviews is almost impossible on Google or Facebook.
4. Professional MMA or BJJ player Endorsements
Its rare that a professional competitor recommendation, particularly from competitors that sit outside of the club’s organisation, will be made about a club or coach without serious grounds. Professional fighters do what they do out of love for the sport as the vast majority make little money. If several professional athletes from a variety of teams extol the virtues of a coach or club, you should probably listen.
In terms of self-defence, training at an authentic BJJ club regardless of their specific branch will give practitioners better self-defence on the ground than any other martial art offers, even if the club is entirely focused on BJJ competitions. The notion that someone like Rafa Mendes, a world champion in BJJ, or any of his senior students would be unable to defend themselves effectively in a typical street confrontation is utter nonsense as well as misleading. However, Rickson Gracie has raised serious concerns over the effectiveness of sport focused instructors when it comes to coaching their students effective self defence and the application of sport orientated BJJ once strikes are added i.e. in Mixed Martial Arts.