Finding Jiu Jitsu

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This was previously published on the 4th of July, 2009. I received a few favorable comments about it and decided to repost it with a few adjustments.

I hate stew. I don’t know if it’s because I was forced to eat it as a child, or if I came out of the womb with an aversion to it. Still, I hate stew. It’s chunky, thick, and messy. I guess what I truly dislike about it is that it tries to be too many things at one time. It’s got broth, meat, corn, potatoes, etc. It contains whatever the “chef” decides to toss in. You don’t know what you’re getting. I’d rather just eat everything separately, not as a huge lump of garbage.

Many jiu-jitsu instructors seem to like stew. I mean, at least the few who are open to different ways of doing things. Some of them will throw in some sambo and judo. Those who teach MMA fighters will usually toss in some muay Thai, sprinkle in some boxing, and mix in a whole lot of wrestling. What you end up with is a mosaic of styles, none of them assimilated into the whole. You end up with a stew.

My goal has always been to find jiu-jitsu, not add to it. What I mean by that is, I try to find the jiu-jitsu in other styles. I look for the jiu-jitsu in boxing, wrestling, muay Thai, sambo, judo, karate, etc. Jiu-jitsu is all about efficiency. It’s about not using strength, weight, or size. It’s about finding the essence of everything and having things fit that essence. I do it with everything, or at least try to. I try to find the jiu-jitsu in poetry, relationships, working out, kayaking, art, and everything else that interests me.

Jiu-jitsu is the “smooth art.” It isn’t a block of wood onto which you can tack anything you like. Not everything fits into it smoothly. Only jiu-jitsu fits into jiu-jitsu. You have to find the right puzzle pieces, or else the picture will come out all wrong. That’s why you have to find the jiu-jitsu in everything if you’re going to join those pieces.

I hate stew. But I think a lot of people are creating stews out of jiu-jitsu. Go to their websites and you’ll see “this art” added to “that art” in their jiu-jitsu. You can actually see where the various arts join. Almost as if they were badly welded together and you can see their hideous fault lines. They end up looking like those half men/half beast creatures of Greek mythology. But if enough time was taken to find the jiu-jitsu in the other arts, they would simply absorb smoothly without effort. I can’t really tell you how to do this. I think it comes with time. It comes with an intimate knowledge of one’s jiu-jitsu. You have to understand what jiu-jitsu is before you can find it elsewhere. But if we’re to avoid making yet another stew, we need to know our jiu-jitsu, then find it in everything we do.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No Guard

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No guard, no jiu-jitsu. That’s something I try to remind everyone in my jiu-jitsu classes. Even though there are numerous styles of classical jiu-jitsu that don’t use the guard, the way I see it is that jiu-jitsu begins with the guard. It’s not the mount, side control, or even the back position. It’s the guard.

The most important skill in jiu-jitsu, to me at least, is guard replacing. Guard replacement simply means getting to guard from any and all positions. After all, if you can’t get guard, how are you ever going to use it? If you suck at guard replacements, what’s the point of learning to submit from it?

Guard replacement is a rather simple science, but like all skills it requires dedication to repetition. It should be the skill that precedes all others. Learn how to get to guard while you’re mounted, side controlled, etc. Work three or four solid replacements and then you’re on your way to learning how to use the guard. Instead of learning the upa, (the bridge-and-roll mount reversal), learn how to go from being mounted to getting your guard. Once you have confidence in replacing your guard, only then try to learn other escape methods.

Since we’re on the subject of the guard, let me say that the second most important skill is breaking your opponent’s posture and establishing solid control. Instead of learning how to submit, learn how to shift in such a way as to set him up for those submissions. We tend to be too eager to learn submissions at the expense of the foundation that provides for them.

Learn to replace guard, and then learn how to break your opponent down in the guard. Only then worry about your submissions. Just a thought.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

True Jiu Jitsu

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I have taken some heat in the past saying I don’t believe in sport jiu jitsu, and that such a sport mindset can get you killed. I even suggested that true jiu jitsu isn’t just grappling, but striking, too. A lot of people said I didn’t know what I was talking about. I will let the words of Royce Gracie speak for themselves:

“When I tour the country and give seminars, I am surprised by how many people who are experts in sport jujitsu but do not know the most basic self-defense techniques of jiu-jitsu. The problem with this is that you can get a false sense of security from what you know. Just because you can handle yourself on the mat doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do when attacked. In that case, sport ju-jitsu can actually be a detriment because you’ll be overconfident. We were shocked by how many longtime students had completely forgotten, or even worse never learned, the very important self-defense aspects. For my father Helio, the self-defense moves are far more important than the sport moves. Every time I see him, he always tells me that students are not being taught enough self-defense moves.”– Royce Gracie, Grapple Magazine

That is why I have always been hard on what passes for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gracie Jiu Jitsu isn’t sport jiu jitsu, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu isn’t fight jiu jitsu. That might seem overly simplistic, but that’s the way I’ve always seen it. When someone says he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I know he means jiu jitsu for NAGA, or some other mat event. Go back and read Royce’s words.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Kaizen!

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I’m a very flawed individual. There’s no denying that. I have character defects the size of Minotauro Nogeira’s head. Ask a handful of people what kind of guy I am and you’ll get a handful of answers. They will range from “He’s a really nice guy” to “That F’n deadbeat still owes me money!” to “What an arrogant, bombastic, narcissist!” Truth is, they’re all true. Well, the second two, anyways. But what allows me to go on is the principle of kaizen. It’s Japanese for improvement, and Musashi defines it by saying “Be better today than you were yesterday.” That to me sums up Bushido. Notice Musashi didn’t say “Be a good person.” Because who defines what a good person truly is? Some people consider me a good person, most people don’t. But who cares? The definition of good is subjective and malleable. But kaizen (improvement) is a process of evolution. It’s the only real principle I teach. Someone recently criticized me for espousing Bushido while I myself fall so short of its standards. Well, he’s right, and yet kaizen isn’t about perfection. It’s about growth. I can truly say I’m a better person today than I was yesterday. And will be even better tomorrow. And that is all, I think, you can possibly hope for. Stop comparing yourself to someone else’s standards. Stop trying to be good. “Be better today than you were yesterday.” Let those who hate you go on hating you. Who cares? Don’t demean yourself by defending your actions or words; or for apologizing for who you are. Does a scorpion apologize for stinging? You are what you are. Accept it. Grow. Be better. Always pursue higher standards, even when those standards seem lower than the norm. Kaizen! Evolve.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Yosmany Promotional

I’ve always been a big Yosmany Cabezas fan. Hell, he got his fight name from our gym. So yeah, he matters. I wanted to post something of his of which I am very proud. This should get you pumped up.

Shout outs to Yosmany, his wife Oneixy (for putting this together), and everyone at the gym who helped get him where he went: Florida State Middleweight Champion and RFC Middleweight Champion. Great job sir.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Yosmany Vs. Kirk

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This is one of my favorite fights between my own fighter Yosmany “The Spartan” Cabezas versus John “El Jaguar” Kirk. This is a good action packed fight. It occurs at Elite XC, before they reconstructed and went strictly to Strike Force. Hope you enjoy.

Watch it again. You know you want to.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Seriously?

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Stop taking yourself so seriously. Jiu Jitsu is about having fun; a lifetime of fun. Goof around. Play the fool. Stop acting like some mean-mugging ghetto thug who only wants to prove himself. Lose the chip from your shoulder. Enjoy your students. Enjoy your instructors. Enjoy being live. Goof off. Play hard. Don’t be afraid of being embarrassed. We’re all clowns, so start wearing our big red noses proudly. We live once; live it crazy.

PS: I have no idea who those two people in that picture are.

© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.