The Benefits of Competition for Kids

Competition has been an integral part of Jiu-Jitsu since the beginning, and whether you compete in Gi, No-Gi, MMA or any other form it is the foundation on which the scientific process of Jiu-Jitsu is built. When it comes to kids’ classes, I’ve always thought of it also as a way for them to prepare emotionally and psychologically for self-defense and other aspects of their lives. You can train hard in the dojo day in, day out, learn the techniques and become a better athlete, but in the place you know surrounded by your friends, teammates and family you’re always going to be somewhat comfortable. At a tournament, competing against other people you may not know in an unfamiliar environment can be overwhelming. You’re more tense and less efficient than normal because of the adrenaline, you’re nervous because of the unknown opponents and their capabilities, and you don’t want to lose. You may even be afraid, and feel as though you don’t remember anything. Despite all of that, you step on the mats and fight nonetheless. This is exactly the kind of cocktail of emotional and physical symptoms that occur in a real-world self-defense situation, and tournaments offer a safe (and fun!) way to practice your ability to perform better in that state.

Inevitably, tournaments will also provide opportunities to deal with the concept of winning and losing. All sports do this to some extent, of course, but there’s something a bit more primal, and more visceral about winning or losing in martial arts. The thing is, jiu-jitsu is so infinitely variable that it’s pretty much impossible to go undefeated for long. Not only do I not personally know any undefeated jiu-jitsu fighters, I don’t even know OF any. The first few tournaments a kid does can be an emotional struggle one way or the other, but over time they begin to be able to approach their wins and losses more objectively, extracting lessons from them about what needs to be worked on to push to the next level. This is an essential skill for long-term success not only in jiu-jitsu but life in general. In relationships, business, financial and family matters, being able to view successes and failures as potential lessons and opportunities to grow is a great lesson for a child, and jiu-jitsu makes an excellent teacher.

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“King of the Mat” Drilling – The What and Why

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Deighton proudly showing off his “King of the Mat” belt along with fellow contender and brother Nixon

Many different drills and training methods go into a well-rounded education in Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the most common and productive methods is the “King of the Mat” drill. At Arashi-Do St. Albert we use the format quite often, sometimes even officially for the chance to win the championship belt for the day and take some pictures with it.

The basic idea is to take an objective that is relevant to what the class has been working on. If the last few lessons have been on bear hug escapes, the objective may be to escape a fully locked in bear hug. If a tournament is coming up, the objective may be escaping mount, getting a particular takedown or something else the class in general has been struggling with. The class is then split up into groups and take turns trying to complete the objective. In the example of the bear hug, one student bear hugs the other and if they manage to hold on for ten seconds they win but if the other escapes, they win. Each time, the winner stays in the middle as acting King, and tries to stay in as long as they can.

This drill works well for a few reasons:

  1. The matches tend to be short, but high intensity. If two students know they’re going to be doing something for a while then they will pace themselves but if they know they have less than a minute to make something happen they’ll really go for it.
  2. There are always going to be differences in ability and size in any given class, but every student has different skills that they’re particularly good at. Since King of the Mat usually sets very tight objectives and those objectives are different each time, all students get their chance to shine when it comes around to their specialty.
  3. The process is self-regulating for all abilities. If there are multiple kings on the mat that are rotating through opponents, the student that is more athletic or more highly skilled will remain in the middle having to fight fresh opponents every minute until they lose, so everyone tends to get the workout that’s right for them by the end of the class.

King of the Mat can be a tough drill both physically and psychologically, but it’s also a lot of fun and is an excellent way to make great improvements on a particular technique in a short period of time. Don’t be afraid to take chances and lose in class, at the end of the day everyone is on the same team, and training partners that push you to be better are one of the greatest gifts you can have on the mats.

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Fight Classics: Marcelo Garcia vs Kron Gracie (ADCC 2009)

In classes at the St. Albert Dojo, Professor Tyson can often be heard speaking about “splitting the focus”. This is a common concept in martial arts, but is especially important in Jiu-Jitsu. In any roll or tournament match, you must consistently try to improve your position, submit or otherwise threaten their opponent from every position. The reason is that if you and your opponent are easily matched and they are trying to pass your guard, they will likely be successful if they can dedicate 100% of their energy and focus to that task. If you threaten with a sweep or submission, they will be forced to split their focus between passing your guard and defending themselves, doing neither to the best of their ability. The idea be applied to any situation, offensive or defensive. At the elite level, this match between Marcelo Garcia and Kron Gracie is perhaps one of the best examples of this concept in action. Even though Marcelo spends the majority of the fight in the bottom position, Kron never gets a chance to fully apply himself to a pass or submission attempt because Marcelo doesn’t give him an inch of breathing room. There is never a time in the course of the 14-minute match where he isn’t working a sweep, takedown, pass or submission. Kron displays excellent base, posture and threatens with attacks of his own, and ultimately the match ends in a spectacular submission. Watch and see for yourself, and see you in class tomorrow!

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Great Day at Spar Wars for ADMA St. Albert!!!

This weekend was Arashi-Do Martial Arts’ in-house tournament ‘Spar Wars’. In-house tournaments are usually humble affairs, but not when your organization spans 17 dojos in 11 cities! There were a ton of kids, all the divisions were packed with talent and very competitive, and while St. Albert is the newest member of the Arashi-Do family we could not be prouder of both our competitor turnout and their efforts. We brought a team of six mini monkeys and three juniors, and took home nine medals including six golds! Honorable mention as well to Pablo, who divides his time between St. Albert and the south location and took home some nice hardware himself. Even the students who didn’t come out with the results they were hoping for demonstrated great technique and fought their hearts out right to the bell. No one stays undefeated in Jiu-Jitsu and at the end of the day it is these qualities that determine long term success, not any one particular medal or tournament. Check out some of the pictures from the tournament here, and look for more to come on the Arashi-Do St. Albert Facebook page. In-house events like these are a great place to gain experience for those looking to compete in major tournaments like Mind Body Soul, and also provide opportunities to connect with our amazing community within the Arashi-Do network. We can’t wait to come back next time with an even bigger team!

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Arashi-Do Behring Symposium Oct 2017

Our school represented well at a whirlwind of a grading this weekend with the head of our organization, 8th degree black belt Mestre Sylvio Behring! It began with the instructor symposium, where Professor Tyson was awarded the first degree on his black belt, which represents four years of dedication and hard work on the mats since he first received his black belt in 2013.

Then came the Juniors grading, where nine of our Junior BJJ students showed their skills for Mestre Behring and earned their Gray/White belts.

Finally, Mike and Stephanie did a fantastic job in the adult grading, earning their first stripes and taking the first big step toward blue belt!

In and amongst the gradings were also several packed seminars in which Mestre Behring’s immense knowledge was on full display for us, as it is every April and October. It truly can’t be overstated how special these events are and we can’t wait for the next one when we’ll be bringing an even bigger group. OSS!

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Great Read for All BJJ Students – 3 Tips for Smoother Sailing on Your Way to Black Belt

A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a long, difficult journey. It can be incredibly joyous and rewarding as well as infuriating at times, and progress is rarely a straight line. In this article Professor Tyson wrote for http://www.agatsuapparel.com, he outlines 3 things you can do to make things a little easier on yourself. Check it out!

3 Tips for Smoother Sailing on Your Way to Black Belt

http://agatsuapparel.com/blogs/news/3-tips-for-smoother-sailing-on-your-way-to-black-belt

 

The Benefit of Womens Classes in BJJ

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this recently so I thought I’d write a quick article about the difference between a standard mixed class and the womens class from my perspective.

There’s a myth out there that the reason for womens’ classes are that different techniques are taught to men and women. This is a pretty widespread one and I think it has a lot to do with the idea of using strength and speed in BJJ versus technique. It may seem obvious to some but the fact is that even if you are fast and strong, it’s still important to be as efficient as possible. There’s always someone faster and stronger out there. Different techniques may be more or less useful depending on whether you are tall, short, light, heavy, flexible etc. but those differences exist in men just as they do in women. If as an instructor I feel that a certain technique is the best answer for a certain situation, I’ll teach it to everyone. If for some biomechanical reason it doesn’t work as well for someone, male or female, I’ll adapt the technique or teach them a different one.

Now in my experience, the big difference in womens classes is the natural direction that the class takes. Once you’ve been teaching for a while you start to realize that if you plan an hour of material for an hour of class time you’re not going to get through it all. Depending on what questions are asked, what difficulties people have or perhaps what they pick up faster than you thought, the class tends to unfold in a different way every time. That’s why more experienced instructors will tend to have a general concept for the class with a few techniques they want to cover for sure and then see where the flow of the class goes.

For self defense especially, women do tend to face different dangers and challenges than men do so even if the techniques are the same, the context of a different situation changes how I teach them. These questions about different cases may not get asked in a mixed setting or if they do there may not be as much time spent on them as in the womens’ classes. For example, I teach the same grip breaks to everyone but in one womens class we discussed the topic in detail of being pulled somewhere and having to make a decision of whether to stay connected and buy time or to break the grip right away if a quick escape to a crowded area in the other direction is possible.

Both classes cover both self defense and sport, but many women, experienced or not have found benefits in coming to both mixed and womens only classes to round out their knowledge.

 

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