A Willow in a Snowstorm (Jujutsu and the Transcendence of Violence)

Does your jujutsu (jiu-jitsu) propagate violence or transcend it? The Japanese word jujutsu (柔術) is often thought to translate as ‘gentle art.’ Gentle implies a lack of force or lack of strength. Anyone who has ever done any form of jujutsu knows that there is nothing gentle about being thrown, pinned, joint-locked, or choked. In…

Cutting Through Closed Guard

Accepting even an expert’s opinion as fact, without testing and retesting it in different contexts, can be detrimental to growth and progress. When I first started cross-training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), I accepted the opinion that closed guard is better than open guard for self defense. It seemed logical. There is more postural control in…

Mercy is Found in Death

Mercy is the ability to destroy a person at the very moment of his or her error or mistake, at his or her most fragile and vulnerable, but choosing instead to offer compassion to that person, to teach him or her how to be better. One of the foundational training methods of classical Japanese martial…

Facing The Challenge (To Who We Think We Are)

Who you think you are is your greatest obstacle to growth and progress along the way. We all step onto the mats with a certain amount of ego — a self-perception, self-protection, and self-projection — that we consciously or unconsciously hide behind. As we train, if we are being challenged in a safe and healthy…

Be The Partner You Want And Need

The fastest way to improve in martial arts is to have great training partners, but the best way to have great training partners is to first become one yourself. In martial arts, paired drilling, the concentrated practicing of specific, often isolated, skills with another person, is an irreplaceable component of any well-rounded training regimen. However,…