Monday, July 19, 2010


That's pretty much what I felt like tonight.

I rolled with a guy I have never rolled with before. Whitebelt. Nice guy. Always been friendly with me. I'm thinking we're going to have a nice, relaxed grapple.


He sits down in front of me and says, "Go easy on me." But as soon as the grapple starts, he is after me. He stuffed my guard pretty easily, which was frustrating (lol), and then went on to a lot of smashing. Shortly into the grapple, he goes for a heel hook. I tapped. Didn't want to mess with it because I'm not the greatest at heel hook escapes. After that, I was on defense for most of the rest of the roll. I kept returning to my guard or half guard. He kept smashing and passing.

It sucked. I sucked.

I was already feeling pissy after that and then I rolled with another guy who is relatively new and notorious for spazzing and not tapping. I mentioned him a couple of weeks ago. Same kind of stuff. He kept trying to go for heel hooks from starting position. And he kept doing this thing where he waved his hands in front of my face to try to distract me or something. Didn't work. Just annoyed the garbage out of me. I got two heel hooks but had to let them go because he wouldn't tap. He kept spazzing out trying to pass my guard. Finally, after he kept trying to choke me from inside my guard, I arm-barred him. Twice. Nasty, tight ones too. I let go as soon as he tapped, of course, and I didn't pop his elbows or anything, but still. I don't normally go that hard on anyone, let alone some new guy who just doesn't know how to calm down. A few of my buddies in class told me they think the kid needs to be tapped out like that so that he calms down. But I just felt even crappier after that.

I guess the reason why I feel so crappy is that I know I lost my temper. I wasn't trying to hurt him. But I was like, "Alright. That's it." And then the barring ensued. Normally, I am able to tolerate spastic guys like him. Yeah, I get annoyed. But they don't send me into outer-space like this guy did tonight. If I'm honest, I know the reason why I got so mad was because I was frustrated about the grapple before. And I took it out on this other guy.

Yeah, let the hate comments roll in.

After that grapple, I was even more frustrated and angry, so when Fabio started to put me with another white belt guy, I just asked to sit out. I knew already I wouldn't be able to relax and grapple without being insane. After class, I apologized to the second guy for going a little too hard.

I talked to Fabio about it too and he told me a lot of the same stuff my other friends said. The guy needs to tap. Don't worry about it. But he also said he is going to keep putting me with the first guy who frustrated me until he doesn't frustrate me anymore. I know it will force me to grow. Fabio put me with him specifically because he likes to stuff inverted guard. I need to focus on developing other things and this will force me to do that. But I am not looking forward to it.

Anyway...I am going to stop with the angry blogging and go to bed.


Dev said...

Don't get too down on yourself. It happens. Look past it, and focus on tightening your game down. Try to remember what that guy did to stuff your guard. Don't let it happen again.

On another note, WTF are white belts doing going for heel hooks? I don't think that's safe. That's how people get injured in practice. Good for you for tapping early.

Georgette said...

Exactly what Dev said. WTF are whitebelts even being taught heelhooks for?!?! I would have IMMEDIATELY stopped the roll (with a tap) and laid down the law. I had to do that on Sunday, with some nogi guys. Uh uh. I like my ligaments in one piece.

And don't feel too badly, you really didn't do anything beyond the pale. In fact just be proud that you were able to demonstrate a truism (don't choke ppl from in their guard or you'll be armbarred) and not be like me telling people instead of actually doing it.

Liam H Wandi said...

Fully agree with the above!

Not to mention that we so often deal with people who know a bit of jits so usually NO ONE tries to choke you from inside your guard, but imagine if you were in a situation where you needed to defend that and you freeze! It would suck so much more!

A brilliant anecdote from my old Karate days. We had a really shard black belt girl (she was brown at the time) and this guest came into our dojo from out of town. When we reached the sparring part, sensei partnered me with him, then another black belt with him then another. He kept doing this wavey-handy-distracty thing and we didn't really know how to deal with it without stuffing it and going in strong because he would otherwise time a counter with our stuff-down. So he basically got three black belts a little frustrated.

Then Sensei put him with the girl. She hadn't seen this wavey-handy thing and we were all looking to see what she'd do.

As soon as they bowed, he started to wave his hand.

She lowered her fists and went into the most inviting, amazing, tantalising, hysterical fit of laughter I’d ever been privileged to witness. She literally held her tummy with aches of laughter and ended up leaving the room because she just couldn't control herself. By then, we were all howling at how silly we'd all been in our white pyjamas.

I still think about that sometimes when I see random people waving in the street. :o)

leslie said...

Lol, why would we hate? We've all done it, too. :P

Rule of thumb: if a guy says "Go easy on me," he's only trying to off-balance you and trick you in to thinking that he will reciprocate. He will not. He will sense weakness and go 200%. And trying to make up that difference in intensity is difficult after you've already relaxed and gotten behind mentally.

Heel hooks for spazzy white belts? Seriously, what?

And yes, spazzy muscley boys need to be tapped and tapped and tapped, especially when they do stupid stuff. Preferably by small females who are rolling calmly. Eventually they learn.

Final advice: if I have a crappy roll when someone ticks me off, I aim for the biggest higher belt that I can find for the next round. That way I can expend all my frustrated energy without hurting him.

Thomas said...

Hey kiddo. Don't get dowm om yourself, we all do the same thing. And you know I have just as much of a problem going easy on the new guys, and Fabio talks to me about it ALL... THE... TIME.

He said something to me today that actually clicked, though. I don't know this person. This person doesn't know me. If I met this person in a fight, how would I fare? My goal in the first few rolls with someone is to test myself in that sense. If this were a fight, how quickly could I end the match? Tap him. Go hard. If he doesn't tap, pop his elbow. The fact is, we have all had our elbows popped, and it sucks... but it isn't broken. We ice it, it is sore for about a week, and then we move on. Not the end of the world, but certainly an important lesson on tapping when you are caught. Heel hooks... well, I wouldn't pop those. Lol.

Which, as a sidenote, leads me to mention my intense disagreement with withholding techniques from white belts. Personally, I think you get injured more by getting caught in techniques you don't know, don't know how to escape from, and try to escape incorrectly than you do with techniques that simply have th capacity for injury. All techniques carry that risk. It is better to learn what they are and how to deal with them than simply hide from them. In all honesty, they lose a lot of their scariness when they are brought out and exposed. This guy was not scary bc he was doing a heel hook, he was scary bc he was spastic and you felt he had no control over the application of technique.

Also, I should caveat this with an understanding that Fabio is particular about who he places together for rolling. Spastic guys that are liable to imjure people are generally put with peep who can handle them. Unfortunately, Ms. Blue Belt, you fall into the "handle them" category. ;)

Dev said...

Okay, whoa. Hold on a second here.

I disagree ENTIRELY with Thomas, all respect.

First, if someone doesn't tap, that absolutely does not mean "fuck them, pop their elbow." That's the kind of ridiculous thinking that gets people hurt, sent to the hospital, and forced to take time off from work.

Yes, your goal is to see how you would fare against someone. But that's not what sparring is for. That's why we have competitions. Sparring is not a competition. Sparring is to test your techniques in a SAFE and CONTROLLED manner against people that presumably aren't going to fuck up your elbow if you don't have the recognizance to tap quick enough.

Second, I agree in part - no one should WITHHOLD techniques from white belts, or blue belts, or whatever. But there's a reason that no one in an IBJJF competition can reap the knee when performing a leg lock - it's dangerous and can permanently injure someone. Permanently. Heel hooks are damn close, and it doesn't take any pressure at all to pop an ACL.

"Fuck him, he didn't tap." I don't think so. Wrong, wrong, WRONG.

leslie said...

The reason I say balk at heelhooks (and several others) for white belts is because of exactly how you described this fellow: "he was scary bc he was spastic and you felt he had no control over the application of technique." Precisely why he shouldn't be allowed to do a technique that has less margin for error on either side.

White belts get far too excited when they get near a submission (especially on a higher belt), and they don't know how to apply a submission -- especially ones like those -- slowly and controlled. I don't mind them being taught such things and the defense for them, but I do not want them to be allowed to use them in sparring yet.

Georgette said...

Holy crap Thomas...

[disclaimer: I feel strongly about these issues. Forgive me if I sound a bit strident. I would enjoy chatting with you further on this issue, feel free to email me at georgetteoden at yahoo dot com.)

1. You say:
"If I met this person in a fight, how would I fare? My goal in the first few rolls with someone is to test myself in that sense. If this were a fight, how quickly could I end the match? Tap him. Go hard."

Oh hayell no! This is jiu jitsu class. This is not a street fight. How do you know those goals are consistent with the goals of your training partner? I bet if this guy had asked Allie "Hey, I want to test myself with you as if you and I were in a real fight, is that okay?" that she might have answered "NO!" But at least it gives her warning! Especially against someone you don't know and haven't rolled with. Especially against someone smaller or weaker (and yes, even women larger than you are often weaker.) For many people, the whole point of sparring in class is to learn, not to win.

2. You continue:
"If he doesn't tap, pop his elbow."

I'm amazed to read this. If someone doesn't tap in a tournament maybe... but even then I would hesitate. In class? Why would you do that? Why injure your friend and training partner just to prove a point? Why not open your mouth and say "look, I have your arm fully extended, your escapes aren't working." And if they work out of it then so what? No one's keeping score!

Georgette said...

3. Next, you note: "The fact is, we have all had our elbows popped, and it sucks... but it isn't broken. We ice it, it is sore for about a week, and then we move on. Not the end of the world, but certainly an important lesson on tapping when you are caught. Heel hooks... well, I wouldn't pop those. Lol."

OK good, at least you partially acknowledge that heelhooks are more dangerous than other techniques. In fact, heelhooks and toeholds work similarly, and are incredibly dangerous because there are some ligaments in the knee which are poorly supplied with pain nerves. In other words, you feel the pain simultaneously with the snapping of the ligament, not previous to it... ergo, you think you have time to work out of the technique when you don't.

And here's your next comment, which proves my point:
"Which, as a sidenote, leads me to mention my intense disagreement with withholding techniques from white belts. Personally, I think you get injured more by getting caught in techniques you don't know, don't know how to escape from, and try to escape incorrectly than you do with techniques that simply have the capacity for injury. All techniques carry that risk."

Uh, no. Some techniques are more dangerous than others. Jiu jitsu practitioners with even a modicum of training, judgment and discretion will refrain from utilizing those techniques on whitebelts or inexperienced people. For example-- kneebars, toeholds, heelhooks, wristlocks, cervical locks. They're usually not allowed in competition until much higher levels. They're dangerous because inexperienced people can hurt others inadvertently because they are unaware of how quickly they get tight, or injure themselves trying to get out of the technique the wrong way. So don't worry about people "withholding" them from you, you don't need to learn how to defend them yet. You have enough on your plate to learn as it is!

When your instructor teaches you how to defend them and do them, likely when you're blue or higher, still you should refrain from doing them against lower belts for the reasons I mentioned above.

IMHO-- whitebelts should never be permitted to do heelhooks, wristlocks, cervical cranks, toeholds, or kneebars. They are simply much more dangerous than ordinary chokes, armbars etc. The margin of error is much smaller and 99% of whitebelts simply lack the experience on the mats to have the physical and mental judgment to safely use, or defend, these attacks. Since they're not permitted in competition, why bother working on them until you're a blue at the very least. And if you REALLY think you're going to have lots of street fights, against people who might know how to heelhook you, maybe you have bigger problems than I can address in a blog comment. :)

Georgette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Georgette said...

AND.... I will point out the complete and utter HORSESHIT of him saying "go easy on me" at the start. At least Testing Thomas the Streetfighter won't be asking for mercy with a halberd behind his back.. it's right out in front.


A.D. McClish said...

First of all, thanks so much for all the encouragement, guys!! I am still sorting out how I feel about my grapple with the first guy. Another post on that later.

And not onto the hot topic. Heel hooks and white belts. At our school, there's not beginners class. On your first day, you are taught 3 submissions (an armbar, an americana and an rnc) and then you grapple with everyone else. After that first day, everyone learns the same thing. Now, here's what I have been told about dangerous submissions:

1.) Everyone is allowed to do them. Though Fabio doesn't really teach many cervicals and I have never seen anyone attempt one in class.

2.) When someone is doing heel hooks or dangerous submissions to you, tap. When in doubt, tap. Tap early. Tap often. Tap.

3.) With the exception of open mat, which only happens once a week, Fabio chooses who grapples who. As Thomas said, he won't put a spastic whitebelt with another spastic whitebelt. He puts spastic whitebelts with higher belts who can handle them, defend if they get caught and show restraint with their own submissions.

4.) If you are one of the "higher belts" going with a spastic whitebelt who doesn't know when to tap, this is what I have been told. Let go of the heel hook, take their back and choke them out. If they don't tap, let them go to sleep.

[On an aside note, that's why I felt bad about my grapple with that guy. I didn't follow the "rule". I didn't go for his arms, but they were there and I took them. And I wasn't playing around. I had restraint enough not to try to pop his elbows or anything, but I did make sure there was no way he could do anything besides tap. And I will say that before I went for those two armbars, I triangle choked him once and gi choked him once and he still didn't calm down. So then I did the armbars. I should have just kept choking I guess. I don't know. ]

5) As far as people getting heels and arms popped, it does happen. I have never tried to pop anything on purpose nor do I feel anyone has ever tried to pop anything on purpose on me. The vast majority of the guys at our school have enough self control not to do that.

But I also know that the policy at our school is that it is your responsibility to tap. Whitebelts who are stubborn about tapping are usually warned multiple times. If they continue not to tap, there have been times where someone won't let go and they get something popped. But it is rarely with heel hooks. Fabio warns people to tap early to heel hooks for all the reasons you guys said. And, as I said earlier, the general rule I've been told with heel hooks is that if someone isn't tapping, let go and go for the choke. Then explain to them that they need to tap.

I have never actually asked Fabio what he thinks about heel hooks and whitebelts. I think I will ask him next time I'm in class.

A.D. McClish said...

I have never actually asked Fabio what he thinks about heel hooks and whitebelts. I think I will ask him next time I'm in class.

I will be perfectly honest and say that there are some people I am hesitant/scared to grapple because they are spastic. I always have the option to tell Fabio that I don't want to grapple that person. Fabio usually only puts me with whitebelts who are near my size (within 20-30lbs) or whitebelts who have been grappling long enough not to be idiots. I feel inadequate sometimes in my ability to "handle" these guys, but that is my own issue.

Lastly, while injuries do happen, I don't want you guys to get the wrong impression of our school. It's not like people are trying to pop things on other people. I have seen only handful of ankles get popped since I've been training. And none of them were serious. The only injury serious enough to send people to the hospital that I've seen were 2 people who both got rib injuries. Neither of them had broken ribs, but bruised the muscles.

Georgette said...

No worries, we all trust and believe you wouldn't be training somewhere unsafe! Don't worry about making your instructor look bad. You just keep on blogging.

Interesting that your instructor picks rolling partners. That would drive me batshit crazy. But we have so many people in our classes (usually 30ish) that would eat up a ton of time. We have hour long open mats give or take at the end of every class, so about 3 hours a day of OM. I think it would drive the instructor crazy too.

Jiujitsunista said...

Oh wow... Found a hot topic have we? =)

My unwanted two cents on the issue:
As far as the competition aspect goes, I realize they are reserved for higher ranked belts, but if I never practice them, or have them done to me, I will not know how do to them, or escape from them when I get to that level.

I do understand they are dangerous, and generally insta-tap when someone has both arms on my one of my ankles. Though, if I am with someone I trust, I will sometimes stop and ask them if I can try to work my way out.

There are some people however, that I will tap well before the submission is even finsh-able just because they are scary and spastic and all they care about is getting a tap.

And as far as popping joints to prove a point or because someone won’t tap, I disagree with that notion. However, it is our responsibility to tap. If your pride is more important to you then your joints, that is your problem.

There was one instance when I popped someone’s joint, but there were MANY underlying factors, and I do believe I did the right thing, but I did not really did not expect to pop anything, and I still felt terrible afterward. Outside of that, I have and always will let go of joint submissions.

Dev said...


I agree with you for the most part, but I will say this: while I think it is LARGELY our responsibility to tap, it is also the responsibility of the higher belt to know how much pressure to put on. Just because you CAN pop someone's arm to prove a point doesn't mean you should. That restraint is part of our maturity in this sport, and quite honestly, holding someone's arm just prior to the tapping point is the ultimate sign of control that shows me - personally - that you are WAY better than if you just go till I yell out. Just saying.

Jiujitsunista said...

Oh, I do agree with that as well The higher ranked belts should be able to exercise control and restraint. I don't think it is ever okay for a higher ranked person to pop a lower ranked person's joint to prove a point. You are a higher belt... any point you want to make has already been made. Esp if it is a really person as they may not really have any idea when to tap. When I got my elbow popped on my third day, by someone equally as new... That was just a sheer lack of know how on both our parts. But if some blue belt popped a newbies elbow... that is just wrong. I don't care what they did.

Dev said...

Amen to that! :)

BJJ Judo said...

White belts and heel hooks dont mix. Whenever we get a new guy that tries to go for a heel hook on me I immediatly say very loudly "STOP" and I address the issue. In our school we dont do heel hooks at all, the higher ranks know them but dont use them. There are obviously different opinions on the matter. My opinion is white belts should not do any leg locks because they hamper your progress in BJJ. White belts are better served learnering how to pass guard rather than dropping back for a leg. I know many disagree, but that is my opinion. Regarding heel hooks, I dont think anyone should use them in training or in competition. They are too dangers. My personal stance is, regardless of your heel hook policy mine policy is dont do it on me. The set will immediately stop and if you go for it again we wont roll any more.

Thomas said...

Part 1 of 2

Let me make a few points to clarify what I meant with some of my earlier comments. I agree with some of the counter points mentioned, and disagree with some others, but I also fear that some of my comments were misunderstood, and others had a background to them that I failed to present, so let me do so.

First off, in response to popping the elbow... I am not advocating rolling to break, or going all crazy and trying to imjure your partner. At all times, submissions need to be applied slowly and with control, giving your opponent ample time to tap. However, there are people who have an ego issue where they simply refuse to tap. If I am slowly increasing the pressure in an arm bar, and the person has ample time to tap, failure to do so is their own fault. I wouod MUCH rather they learn to tap in a training environment where the result of failure is having to ice an elbow for a week, than to learn it in a tournament where they have their arm ripped off. Tap early, tap often. We all need to do it.

As to "Thomas the Street Fighter," let me explain what I mean. When I say "go hard," I mean roll for the tap. A lot of times we roll for movement. In fact, if there is a skill difference when I roll with someone, I usually either give up positions and roll defense, or work a specific part of my game and, when I get a dominant position or submission, I let my partner work out of it instead of applying. The first time I roll with someone new, however, I roll to tap. I test myself... if I were to find myself against such a person, how quickly could I end this? In this circumstance, "end this" is demonstrated by a tap.

Also, keep in mind that there is a somewhat unique situation at our school. In our immediate area, we are rather well known to the other schools in the area. People from other schools have shown up to visit our school since before I started training three years ago, with the sole intention being to "catch" one of our guys in rolling. Initially, it was because we existed in a government rec center, and it was assumed we were illegitimate. As a result, Fabio instituted the "welcome," where on a first visit during rolling, Fabio gave a signal and you knew that meant to tap the person repeatedly. The result was that when the person left, they knew that 1. BJJ is a legit art and 2. this is a legit BJJ school. As the school became more prestigious in the region, people started to show up just to see if they could tap our guys - being able to tap a Novaes student was a bragging point in some of the local schools, including the school I attended briefly before migrating to Fabios. In the past year, with all the press our academy has been getting, that has only expanded. It is not uncommon for you to roll with someone who acts chill, says they have never trained before, and then as soon as you touch hands goes for a flying armbar... No, if it is a first roll, you roll for the tap. That is what I meant by test yourself... I didn't mean go all douche street fighter on the poor guy. Just tap them.

Thomas said...

Part 2 of 2

Lastly, heel hooks. Let me be perfectly frank here... there is a lot of myth and mystery about the forbidden heel hook technique. But yet, look at Sambo. In Sambo, toe holds, knee bars, and heel hooks are their bread and butter. Our arm bar is their heel hook. And yet, you don't see Sambo practitioners being crippled by busloads... why? Because the technique is no longer so mysterious. They learn it out the gate, learn to apply it, defend, learn what it feels like. It is true that there are not as many pain receptors in the ACL as there is in other joints, but it is hardly a numb area. You may not feel PAIN. but you absolutely feel pressure, and you can feel it building in your knee long before it pops. And also, it is not as if the knee pops and you are suddenly in need of surgery... as with every other joint, there are levels. I have tweaked my knee, which has made it sore and in need of being iced, but never have I had to do anything doctor related. The stigma around heel hooks has an entirely different origin than being "dangerous." Honestly, look at the BJJ culture, especially in its infancy... when have the Gracies ever shied away from something bc it was dangerous? Early UFC was no rules except eye gouging. The first match showed a guy having his teeth kicked out into the audience... dangerous? Really?

The fact is, in early BJJ, leg attacks were considered cheap moves. In an interview with Fightworks Podcast, Stephan Kesting recounted an experience at a a high level BJJ tourney (don't remember for sure which one...) where he watched a match between two well known black belts, and one competitor dropped back and sunk a leg lock, securing the tap and winning the match. The onlookers issued a very profound "booooooooooooo..." to show their disagreement with the cheap move. We have come a long way since then, but the stigma still carries in some circles. Do you really think that black belt practitioners are not capable of handling heel hooks at the competitive level? And yet, we find that it is still illegal at the black belt level at any IBJJF tourney. I still maintain that all techniques are dangerous, and you need to tap early and often to any applied sub. I do not think that heel hooks are any different.

These are just my thoughts, and I don't mean any of them disrespectfully. I think Allie will back me up in this... but I am actually a pretty chill guy.

A.D. McClish said...

@ Thomas: You've been a great friend to me and I can attest to the fact that you aren't trying to come in and kill people. :)

On a side note, I had no idea that was where the welcome at our school came from. Very interesting.

Jiujitsunista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jiujitsunista said...

That is not my understanding of the welcome at all. While I know what Thomas said is true, that is not why I was told the welcome is done.

It was explained to me that when you first roll with someone you show them what BJJ is. You show them what they can learn if they too dedicate themselves and train hard. They also get a pretty good lesson in tapping. Which is also important. To learn jiu-jitsu, you must learn to tap, and if you are so prideful that tapping is going to be an issue for you, you learn really quickly that BJJ isn't for you. And if someone shows up for a second class, then you know you have someone who will probably go the distance.

I've seen welcomes done. 99% of the time it is a higher ranked belt rolling with a new person going at a normal pace just applying submissions. It's not as if they are going 100% smashing newbs and tearing limbs off. And our guys are polite, offer compliments afterward and tell them they did a good job. There is the random occasion where someone comes in, thinking they are awesome, and try to slam and toss around our smaller higher ranked belts... at which point, the tension level goes up considerably. Which I understand. And when our instructors get wind of said newbies misbehavior they get put with our bigger higher ranked belts whom they can not toss around.

Jiujitsunista said...

(apparently I am a blabber mouth, and this reply is a two parter.)

I realize this is not the norm, and I understand if people take issue the idea. Different schools have different ideas and traditions.

I also want to say this, I love my school. Love it. I love everyone there. And I have NOTHING but respect for Fabio. My team mates are like my second family, it's like I have 100 big brothers who always have my back. Our team is a family. Fabio's wife, Roberta, and son come to most every class, and you should have seen Roberta's recent baby shower. It was wall to wall. Just about the entire team was there. Our school has no clicks, and no boundaries. Once you are a part of the team, you are part of the team, white belt or other wise.

While the idea of a welcome may rub you the wrong way, I assure you, our team is chalk full of nice people who will go out of their way to help you, and train with you, and support you your entire BJJ career. When we go to competitions, I have an entire corner, not just a coach.

Granted, there are is the random bad apple if you will, but I think most schools have those one or two guys who you kind of have to brace yourself for when you grapple.

And I also respect the BJJ blogging community as a whole, and love to hear your input and thoughts, which is why I read and blog. So, feel free to tell me what you think... and I have thick skin, so don't feel like you have to sugar coat anything. =)

Much love!

Thomas said...

Stephanie, I agree and that was largely what I thought I said, I just tend to phrase things very poorly.

The welcome began when Fabio started his own place as a way to counter the claims of other schools that he was not a legit instructor, and it was not a legit school  In response, he would "welcome" newcomers by displaying how effective BJJ technique is. Fabio would actually do the welcomes then, and he would tap people repeatedly without hurting them, even without bruising them. The same tradition is carried on today to demonstrate the same things - that BJJ is a legit art, and that we are a legit school of BJJ. And the initial mindset also holds true... the art is proven by tapping someone repeatedly WITHOUT hurting them.

My earlier comment abouit popping elbows was not intended to promote injuring people, but rather meant principally to illustrate one point - that you are the primary person responsible for your own safety. Nobody at our school, myself included, is LOOKING to hurt other people. In fact, if someone is deliberately injuring other people, Fabio will kick them out of the school. However, if you catch me in an armbar, the only person who can completely feel my body is me. I would expect you to apply the submission with control, and you would expect me communicate that you got it by tapping. A failure on either part is what leads to injury. If I spastically crank on your arm, then you get injured bc I am a jerk. If you refuse to tap, you get injured bc you are prideful. If I roll with someone who is a spastic applicator, I tap way early. I do this bc I am responsible for my own safety. At no point does anybody at our school TRY to injure people, but make no mistake - refusing to tap sooner or later will get you injured.

I worry that my earlier phrasing may have cast a false shadow over our school. The fact is, this school is the least internally competitive of any school i have trained at or visited. We are a family, and are looking to improve and help eachother improve, not to "win" a match. Some of my very good friends I have met at this school, and I dont worry about rolling with anyone. I roll with people MUCH higher belt than me, with guys two to three times my weight, and with guys of all different styles, body types, and skill levels. I know they are not out to hurt me, nor I them. Fabio creates a very tight family in this place, made up of some very good people.

I don't want to miss the point of this post in my rambling, so let me sum up my correction. Nobody at our school, myself included, is so focused on "winning" a roll that they are willing to injure people.  Nor is the welcome about that... the welcome is to demonstrate that the technique of BJJ is highly effective, and that our school is a highly effective place to learn it.  It does so by applying that technique in a way that is dominating, but not smashing, not overpowering, and not injuring.  And the people here are some of the best people I know, to this I am sure any of my team mates will also attest.

Rick said...

White belts (like me) can't even do straight ankle locks at my school. Even though the straight ankle lock is perhaps the safest submission since it's really only tricking a reflex / pain reaction in your Achilles and not threatening any sort of joint or soft tissue damage. But I suppose if not done correctly someone could cause some damage with an ankle crank as opposed to the proper pressure point technique.

Knee bars only for brown belts and up.

No heel hooks (ever), although we learn prevention and escapes in case a visitor or ignoramus sets it up so you know what's coming.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you didn't get hurt. Those guys are idiots, but your instructor is even worse. If he doesn't see that these guys are spazzing out than he's not that good of an instructor.

This is why I'm glad that my school doesn't let white belts roll until they've taken 6 months worth of classes.

Dev said...

Hey - not to jump back in the mix here, but let's not get rude about this. If you haven't rolled there, you don't know whether or not anyone is good.

And to not let white belts roll for 6 months sounds pretty neglectful. The way we all learn this stuff is through rolling, and sparring. I don't know, because I haven't been to your school, but that seems like a really long time to keep someone away from other students.

Jiujitsunista said...

@Anon ..... I'm not even going to respond to the first paragraph you wrote, however, I agree with Dev. Not letting your students roll until they have had 6 months worth of classes seems crazy to me.

By the time I had been training for 6 months, I was a three stripe white belt, and had three competitions under my belt... with 1 gold medal, 2 silver and a bronze. The bronze medal I earned at a competition I entered after training only two months.

I'm not trying to brag or anything like that... I will be the first one to tell you how much I suck, and how much I need to improve and how I am sure I do everything wrong 100% of the time.

My point was only to show you how much I accomplished in six months.

By nine months, Allie earned her blue belt, and I assure you, it was well deserved.

Thomas said...

I have to agree with Stephanie here. Not rolling door six months seems counter to some of the foundational elements of the BJJ culture. A lot of VERY traditional Japanese MAs spend up to the first year teaching break falls and defensive techniques, but nothing offensive and certainly no sparring.

BJJ, however, is in part defined by how we train. We don't deal in just untested theory, we consistently test our techniques in a simulated self defense. Certainly, it is imperfect - you cannot completely recreate a fight and still be relatively safe - but when you have two people both trying to impose their will on eachother, you quickly discover what does and does not work. As anyone who grapples will agree, there are a great many times when a technique that works perfectly in drilling suddenly falls short in live rolling. Usually, this is a matter of a missed detail lr improper hip placement or something similar, but you never discover that until you hit the mat. Theory can only take you so far...

Georgette said...

@Anony-- wow, six months is a LONG time. I personally subscribe to the SBGi philosophy of Aliveness in training (see here: Unlike TMAs, BJJ can't be learned in the absence of alive training. Whether that means positional sparring or full on rolling, I think it's crucial to development of good habits (and is the natural way to prune away bad ones) from the beginning.

BUT... I still think heelhooks and knee bars belong to higher belts ;)

SavageKitsune said...

No locks below the waist allowed until blue belt at my school... and no heel hooks ever.