Mind Your Manners

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a recurring topic across gyms, so let’s dive in.

The Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.

How does this translate to grappling? I’m glad you asked. If you treat your rolls like a professional grappling match, expect your opponent to do the same. Conversely, if you are rolling with someone more advanced than you and you decide to play some “grey” jiu jitsu, it will be returned. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and it will be terrible.

The longevity of your BJJ career depends on your understanding of when it’s appropriate to train like there’s something on the line. Mostly because if you make the wrong choice with the wrong person, your day is going south fast. By looking out for your training partners, you look out for yourself and they look out for you. DON’T INCUR THE WRATH OF THE MAT ENFORCER!!!



Clean Up

Last week I said I would put forth my ideas about cleaning up the sport, so here we are. First things first, the tournaments have to matter. Right now, in order to compete in the world championship at a black belt level, all you need to do is acquire points. If you compete at enough IBJJF Opens, automatically you will have enough points. Effectively anyone with the funds and a black belt can compete in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. That’s dumb, no other sport does that.

So, let’s limit who can get in. Everyone needs to qualify, no more automatic bids. It shouldn’t matter whether you were a previous black belt world champion, a brown belt world champion, or some super famous MMA fighter. If you want in, it is solely based on the merit of what you’ve achieved in the current season.

The top 20 ranked athletes in each division should be subjected to USADA testing throughout the year. If you miss a test, your season’s over.

Brackets should be capped at 32 and if you’re in the top 16, registration and lodging is free.

Stop having any other belts compete in the same weekend as the black belt adult world championships. If you want to continue having blue belt world champions, that’s fine, but let’s make it seem like being an adult world champion actually matters.

An IBJJF membership card necessitates a lower tournament fee. Wrestling and Judo both have international federations with membership cards, those guys are not paying $200 to sign up for a tournament. I don’t care if sponsors are paying those fees or not, a mandatory membership card plus 3 digit number tournament registration is a scam. Especially since there’s no insurance attached to that membership (Judo & Wrestling have insurance).

Pay the athletes, not just to win Worlds, but to win any tournament under the IBJJF banner. Someone posted “Cyborg” received $40,000 for winning the IBJJF grand prix. Okay, that’s good for a nights work, but what about the other athletes? Did the IBJJF foot the bill for everyone who competed to fly out? Did they pay for hotels? What was the reward for the athletes who lost in the first round? If you’ve ever traveled for a tournament, you know that money burns fast, so $40,000 goes up quick if you’re consistently trying to make it to IBJJF Opens in the effort to qualify for worlds. Then you have to find a way to make money, which cuts into recovery time, thus making steroids an attractive option.

Here’s the thing, the adult black belt competitors are not funding the IBJJF, and if you’ve seen the big tournaments, it is feasible that there is some spare money in that organization. I’m not saying that the for profit thing needs to stop,  but if you want less steroids among professional grapplers, it might be time to start treating them like professional grapplers.

Why are we surprised?

If you watched no gi worlds in December, you knew that suspensions for PED use were coming down the pipe. Many of the finalists didn’t show up for their finals matches or the podium. They basically begged to get tested. They made it so suspicious that the IBJJF had no choice.

Let’s talk about some things-

Vagner Rocha and “Cyborg” are over 40 years old and they compete against adults regularly… of course they are on the sauce. Have you seen them train? What hobbyist 40 year old do you know that trains like that and comes back the next day?

What about the young guns? Surely you’re not saying that some 20 year old kid needs PED’s? I don’t think they need them, but I get it. I have 18 classes per week right now, I have done up to 27 classes a week on a regular schedule. Usually, a professional BJJ athlete spends about 30 hours in the gym per week. Naturally, the recovery time you would need for that negates any life outside of grappling. Synthetically, you reduce your recovery time significantly. If you are making your name in jiu jitsu, you are probably earning very little even if you are contending for world championships. The appeal of steroids is that you can use your time differently. Even the Miyaos had a PED violation. To be a professional athlete you need to dial in training, nutrition, and recovery. When you are low on funds, quickening your recovery allows you to train more, put more time into your nutrition, and possibly work so that you struggle less.

There are so many drawbacks to steroid abuse, but we are incentivizing it, and the IBJJF is not helping. How do we clean up the sport? That’s for next week.




This Sport Sucks!

In the middle of an open mat the other day, one of the newer guys said that exact thing. Maybe it does, but there is also an accountability piece that goes with getting better. Let’s look at some things that may cause you to believe this sport sucks.

  1. How long have you been training? If you haven’t been training very long and you don’t train very often, there is no reason that you will be magically good at grappling. Most likely you will be terrible. Time and time again people who believe they are athletically inclined walk into BJJ gyms thinking they’ll be fantastic grapplers, and almost always they are disappointed. Developing skills takes time jiu jitsu is no different.
  2. How often are you training? If you are training once or twice a week and decide to compete, the odds you will succeed are low. If you train three times a week, but one of those is an open mat and you just started training, that’s not enough for you to magically know jiu jitsu. If you only come to open mat, and are not intelligent about the way you train, you will be a white belt forever.
  3. Are you actually putting the work in? Did you go through the full 8 weeks of fundamentals? Are you listening to what your instructor says? Are you correcting your mistakes? Are you doing the techniques properly? Are you short changing the drills? Are you on time so you can do the whole class?
  4. Unfortunately, your coaches/ instructors/ professors can really only help you when you are physically present, and I can almost guarantee all of them want you to succeed, but you are responsible for making yourself better at grappling. You are also responsible for being realistic about how much you are actually doing and the results you can expect from the work you put in. This sport only sucks because you suck at this sport.

Stretching Warm Up

This is the full stretching warmup I do with the kids class feel free to add other stuff or hold onto stretches longer.

Small Stuff

As a coach I want my students to be better than me, to have information I didn’t have as early as possible. Some things I will leave up to preference, whereas other things I will very clear about my expectations for a particular move, position or behavior. My only goal is to make my students better in and out of the gym. If you feel like I’m being harsh or too meticulous, know that it is not malicious. I have done this for twenty years and if I can do nothing else with my life, I can make you a proficient if not stellar grappler. You just have to care, care about the small stuff. If I tell you it’s wrong or not to do something, it’s probably because I know you’re not good enough to bend the rules. World class grapplers do things all the time that coaches tell their white belts not to. The difference is that they’ve messed that stuff up so many times, they have made bending the rules efficient and effective for them. The small stuff matters at every level and emphasizing that early on will pay dividends.

Take Care

Take care of your training partners and take care of yourself. We beat our bodies up all the time, and sometimes it catches up with us. If you want to train, but your body isn’t up for murder, death, kill you should be able to. We all know that people are notorious for saying I’m injured and going 100%, don’t be that guy, but also don’t be the guy that doesn’t respect other people’s injuries. There’s a lot of trust that you place in your training partners and your training partners place in you, breaking that trust tends to end badly. Err on the side of caution when approaching a training partner who says they are injured, and listen to your body when it’s not working the way it should. We are all trying to wake up tomorrow in one piece.

Adult Criteria

I did a kids version, so I’ll do an adult version.

The basic criteria of receiving your first stripe through me is being able to defend yourself from someone who is brand new. Not to beat them, but to keep them from being successfully offensive against you.

Blue belt criteria- have systems of attack from top and bottom and proficient escapes from non-dominant positions

Purple belt criteria- fundamental understanding of attacking and defending submissions on the arms, legs, and neck.  stellar positional maintenance both top and bottom

Brown belt criteria- varied and thorough knowledge of attacking and defending in the core positions of grappling, multiple efficient systems of attack from all control positions. Dead to rights sweeps and submissions

Black belt criteria- Be a good and knowledgeable grappler, represent yourself and Chuva Brazilian Jiu Jitsu well


We have a kids stripe test coming up and so I thought I would lay out what I’m looking for when I hand out stripes and belts for kids.

  1. Knowledge
  2. Execution
  3. Effort
  4. Behavior

If your child receives a stripe or a belt through me it is my expectation that your child meet these criteria to the level of their rank. In the most basic terms, your child must know what I am asking them to do, execute it properly, work diligently, and behave at the level they wish to be promoted to in order to receive rank.


A major part of success in fighting is controlling the distance. I need to be in a range where I can effectively attack and my opponent can not. That does not necessarily mean I need to be far away. Especially in a grappling context, if I can not touch my adversary I cannot control them. One of the things I see, especially in no gi, is abandoning grips. whether we have a gi or not, sound fundamental Jiu Jitsu begins with four points of contact. If we loose our points of contact, we no longer have control. If we no longer have control, we are behind. As Saulo Ribeiro says “if you’re late you muscle, if you muscle, you get tired, if you get tired you die”. It may not be that severe, however being in control of the distance in any combat situation will make your life easier.