Jiu Jitsu and Grappling Training Tips for beginners and experienced martial artists. Learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, MMA Fighting, and Self-Defense at the Cage JSA in Cromwell, CT.

This week’s ‘move’ in our Jiu Jitsu Classes in Cromwell CT we will be focusing on two main techniques or concepts in Jiu Jitsu.  These BJJ moves are for beginners and advanced students – but if you’re brand new to Jiu Jitsu or Grappling, we suggest starting off with our 1-week free trial to get a solid understanding of what Jiu Jitsu training is like here at the Cage JSA in CT.  We ensure that we start our students off slow, but build up their Jiu Jitsu skills quickly with a solid understanding of Jiu Jitsu basics.  To get a 1-week free, simply sign-up here:

The two main concepts we will be teaching is the Tai Otoshi takedown that originated in Japanse Jujitsu, but is also one of the main throws of Judo.  Moreno will also be teaching how to trap your opponent’s arm in side control using the lapel, and then submit with an arm bar.  Check out the video preview of our Jiu Jitsu lessons at the Cage JSA in Cromwell, CT

Ready to learn Jiu Jitsu with us?  We’re ready to share it with you!  Come check us out for a free, no obligation, 1-week trial where you get to see if training Jiu-Jitsu is right for you.

This week during our Jiu Jitsu Classes at the Cage JSA for Gi and No Gi training, we will look at 2 major Jiu Jitsu techniques, and explore variations / combinations from these techniques.

The first Jiu Jitsu technique is a Japanese Jujitsu or Judo technique that you will find in our white belt charts in Kokubai Jujitsu: Kosoto Gake.  It is sometimes called “major outside hook” or outside leg trip; but it is one of the first and most effective takedowns you can learn in Jiu Jitsu.  It is effective for Gi, No Gi Grappling or MMA.

From the Kosoto Gake, we’ll also explore passing the guard with the over under guard pass principles, as well as fighting from the bottom to recover half guard, then to deep half guard.

In our Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes, Diogo “Moreno” Araujo will showing Spider Guard sweep and submissions.  The spider guard is a powerful guard position that gives you a lot of control over your opponent’s posture and arms.  Having a good grip, with a “push-pull” feel is important for dominating from the spider guard position.  Moreno loves the spider guard, and has a lot of great details on how to finish.

You’ll learn these 2 jiu jitsu techniques in our classes in Cromwell, CT at the Cage JSA.  If you are new to Jiu Jitsu, don’t worry!  In our BJJ and No Gi Classes, we start slow and introduce Jiu Jitsu to our students the right way. Many students worry that they won’t know what they are doing their first jiu jitsu class – that’s ok!  ALLLL of our students had to start from the beginning.  That is why we pride ourselves for helping new students learn the incredible art of Jiu Jitsu.

Ready to check out our Jiu Jitsu Classes in Cromwell, CT?

Sign-up for our 1-week free trial, and get semi-private Jiu Jitsu intro lessons to discover the amazing art of Jiu Jitsu.

Getting introduced and acclimated to the world of Jiu Jitsu is a challenge for many new students.  There are so many questions, curiosities, and fears around exploring and learning the incredible art of Jiu Jitsu.  

Here are our top 5 tips to help you either get started learning Jiu Jitsu or make your experience learning even better.

  1. Focus on the basics.  One of our favorite things to listen to is excited new white belts talking about all the techniques that they saw on YouTube last night and can’t wait to try in class.  
    Yes, YouTube and other instructional videos are a great resource for Jiu Jitsu martial artists; but in the beginning, it’s best to ignore the fancy stuff and focus on the fundamentals of jiu jitsu.  For example, look at ways to escape side control, guard retention, or etc.
  2. Ignore the submissions – for now.  Most of you have heard, “positions for submission”.  This is a vital lesson in BJJ. Many new students are obsessed with trying to get submissions right off the bat.  In the beginning, just focus on the position. Learn to stabilize, control, escape, etc. Submissions will come, but don’t force them.
  3. TRY to Breathe and Relax – So many new students are just wild.  It’s hard for them to decipher the difference between a “real fight” and just rolling on the mat.  I know it’s hard to remain relaxed when you’ve got an opponent in front of you trying to hurt you – but you have a secret weapon – “tap”.  No one is going to hurt you or actually try to break you. You have to look at your training partner as a buddy who is going to help you not make mistakes.
  4. Tap Often – If you’re not tapping, you’re not learning.  There’s no ego in tapping. It gives you a chance to reset and go again.  Don’t look at tapping as losing. Look at tapping as a “correction”. Every tap makes a connection in your brain saying “let’s not do that again”.  Eventually you will stop making simple mistakes that get you tapped, and you’ll be able to experience more Jiu-Jitsu.
  5. MOVE – I see so many new white belts just try to hold a position forever like what they are doing is actually going to submit someone.  My favorite is when I see someone trying to squeeze someone in closed guard, and thinking that this is going to cause a submission…
    Just moving more and going in and out of different positions will allow you to experience more jiu jitsu during your rolls.  Don’t be the guy or girl who ignore “learning Jiu Jitsu” because they’re too afraid to give up position. This is especially important for big guys who think that just because they are bigger, which makes it hard for their opponent to do anything, that they are actually doing Jiu Jitsu.  This is not BJJ, this is just being big.

There are probably many more tips we could provide on how to better improve your experience as a white belt in Jiu Jitsu.

But, I’m going to leave you with one more tip.


This is the most important secret to actually learning Jiu Jitsu quickly.  Walk in the door, put on your gi, step onto the mats, focus on learning what your instructor has planned, and train.


Matt Bryers

PS – when you’re ready to give Jiu Jitsu a shot, we offer a 1-week trial that is a perfect opportunity for beginners to experience and start learning Jiu Jitsu safely and effectively.

If you have spent any time on the mats, you will already know the many benefits of training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and other grappling martial arts. There is something about jiu jitsu that satisfies us on a primal level.

Grappling is in our DNA, we did after all evolve from primates who establish their dominance hierarchy by grappling one another. It is also instinctive to use grappling to defend yourself against predators and other threats. It comes natural to us. You will even see kids with no experience what so ever instinctively grappler with one another on the play ground. You can’t deny that humans are meant to express themselves through grappling.

And that is just what jiu jitsu is when you think about. Grappling is an art. To master it takes many years, and there are many ups and downs on the journey. You deal with a lot when you are learning jiu jitsu. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. Not every class it good, and not every roll is good.

Learning to push through failure is part of learning any grappling based martial art. Learning how to fail gracefully builds character. And with character development comes things like confidence, gratitude, discipline, and respect.

How many of us can say we get these things in our daily life if we weren’t out there regularly training jiu jitsu? Society does not condition us to express our physical nature. We spend most our day sitting around at a mundane job, barely moving our bodies at all! It is no wonder why so many people are stressed, or even more f**ked up. It is not healthy to contain all that energy in your body, piling loads of junk food on top of a sedentary life style. Because of this life style, many people are constantly dealing with negative emotions, or in a state of panic and anxiety.

This just isn’t a good way to go about life, especially if you are an adult who is response for raising children. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a healthy way to drain all that pent up energy you have throughout the day. Is your boss an asshole? Does traffic suck? There are so many things to get pissed off at, sometimes you just want to punch a wall or hit the bottle. Make no mistake, we have all been there.

But why not take all this negative energy and turn it into a net positive? Learn to grapple and get your aggression out in a safe and fun environment. I promise you, those upper belts won’t mind your aggression! Try anything you can on them! I bet you tap over and over, but it will just make you want to come back for more. Oh, and don’t worry, we’re all still friends after a tough rolling session. One of the best feelings in the world is to get through a hard jiu jitsu class. Get comfortable with discomfort. Learn how to keep cool in a high stress situation. Jiu jitsu can show you how to do these things, and a whole lot more.

Jiu jitsu undeniably has the intrinsic quality of being “therapeutic” for many men and women. No, a doctor is unlikely to prescribe jiu jitsu for whatever ails you. But do this for yourself. Start respecting your mind and body. Get out of your chair and get on the mats. There is a whole world of experience there waiting for you!

When it comes to understanding the therapeutic benefits of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, nobody knows better than 5 Time World Champion Bernardo Faria. Bernardo has been training jiu jitsu since a young age. Bernardo Faria has now taken on the mission to share some of the lessons, techniques, experiences and more that he has learned along in his 16 years and counting as a BJJ student, teacher and world class competitor.

Check out the video below, in which Bernardo shares his thoughts on why he believes jiu jitsu can be your best therapy.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or any grappling martial art, how do you get back on the proverbial horse after you have fallen off? It has happened to the best of us. An injury or life event gets in the way and we lose our consistency with getting to class, getting to the gym, and training in general. As time off the mats grows longer, negative momentum builds up, making it harder and harder to get back to the routine. So what happens if you find yourself stuck in a pattern that keeps you from reaching your training goals? Today we will explore 3 easy ways to get back on the BJJ horse!

Technique #1: Hold yourself accountable

Some of us are better at this than others. I have friends who float through life unaccountable for their actions, and though they are happy, they are not really pushing themselves to improve and be the best version of who they really are. I have other friends who set daily goals, write things down, set goals, focus on accomplish the tasks they need to do, and reflecting on their failures. This growth state of mind comes from a person who has better discipline over their behaviors.

So what are some ways to hold oneself accountable? A daily journal is a great way to track your progress and your failures. Write down what you want to accomplish daily. Write down what you want to accomplish weekly. Keep track of how many of these tasks you achieve and how many you fail. Deep down inside, you know you want to get back on the mats. You know how great it feels to struggle through a difficult jiu jitsu class and come out the other side, sweating and exhausted. Get this feeling back into your life! Write it down, and recognized that if you are still failing to get to class consistently then you are failing at one of your self imposed goals. Remember, a little discipline goes a long way and it only takes one small decision to reset your momentum towards more positive behaviors.

Technique #2: Have others hold you accountable

Some of my best friends and training partners are the ones who call out my bullsh*t. Yes, it sucks to have someone rub your failures in your face. That is a good thing! Nobody wants to feel like a failure. Having a group of friends from class who ask you what’s up when you have gone missing for a while is a great motivator when it comes to training consistently. Of course, we are there to help one another on the mats, but again, that growth mindset extends to all aspects of our lives, so we should be there to help each other when one of us falls off. I can’t even tell you how many times I have gotten a text from one of my friends and mentors asking how training is going, and I have had to admit to someone I greatly respect that I have had lapse of discipline and stopped going after my goals. I want to be the person who does what they say they are going to do, because it feels good! So tell your training partners you are going to be in the next class, that way they keep you in line if you get the urge to bail.

Technique #3: Listen to great motivators

There is a world of great men and women out there who are pushing themselves every day to be their absolute best. There are a few men that immediately come to mind when I need inspiration. Joe Rogan’s “Be The Hero of Your Own Movie” never fails to get my blood pumping. TAKE THIS IN!

Jocko Willink is one of the most bad ass mother f**kers walking the planet. If this man fails to inspire you then you must not have a pulse. Take his advice NOW!

Ultimately it is up to you to decide to take action. Sure these great men will motivate you in the moment, but if you do not actually take action you will just be getting high off the feeling of wanting to take action. Do not push your goals off for another day. Find some sense of discipline and take action.

There are going to be days where you just do not feel like training. I get it. We have all been there. I can tell you from experience we all know what the right decision is in this moment. We all know how satisfied we will be when we do something we thought we could not do. I truly find this to be one of the greatest experiences you can have in life. It is so satisfying to overcome and obstacle, be it mental of physical. Now quit finding excuses and get out there and train!

As a bonus, are you looking for some practical things you can do right now if you do not feel like training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Have a look at one more video from Jocko called “How to SMASH DAYS When You Don’t Feel Like It” (an excerpt take from JOCKO PODCAST 49). Since you don’t always feel like getting after it, here’s how to deal with those times…

Looking for a Team to help keep you accountable and motivate you to keep improving yourself 1% everyday?!  We got you, come down for a visit.

Discipline could be the most important trait to teach to children these days. It’s certainly necessary in modern times, with kids growing increasingly independent. How can we build trust in our children that they will have enough discipline to walk down the right path, even without our supervision?

Discipline is a popular reason why parents want their kids to learn martial arts. Whether it’s listening at home or in school, or showing more respect to parents or other kids. Martial Arts provides kids with discipline and respect, but it’s not given, it is earned.

Jiu-Jitsu is a great martial art to teach your kids discipline. Through martial arts, kids learn the value of discipline and how to exercise discipline in their lives.

Jiu-Jitsu training is one of the healthiest activities to foster a disciplined spirit. During class there is a structure, technique, drills and of course fun! But kids learn early on if they want to be good at martial arts, they need to be disciplined in their approach to training.

Students who are more disciplined in class, and their attendance are also the ones that advance quicker. This doesn’t mean that Jiu Jitsu is going to take over your child’s life. But spending 2-3 times a week, 1 hour sessions, is a perfect for growth.

Martial arts and discipline go hand-in-hand. One cannot thrive without the other. Kids need martial arts to effectively learn to be disciplined. Conversely, discipline is essential in martial arts training.

Here’s how Jiu-Jitsu is a great a tool for teaching discipline to children.

1) Discipline = Success = Confidence

There is a lesson that you learn fairly quick in jiu-jitsu, whether you’re 5 years old or 50… you must “show up” to be successful. There is sometimes a misconception that students will “get it” right away. That’s not the case in Marital Arts. Martial Arts require disciplined practice that makes the student successful in class and life.

This continued success breeds EARNED confidence. These three elements, discipline, success and confidence are so important to your child self-esteem and mental health. You are giving him / her a powerful gift at such a young age, that many adults will struggle to achieve.

Self-esteem is the #1 key deterrent to bullying. Bullies want weak, shy, and “different”. Kids who don’t fit the norm, or as my mother used to say “Goes to the beat of a different drummer”, have a hard time fitting in with the regular crowd. This sometimes leads to severe bullying, especially if your child isn’t particularly athletic. Jiu-Jitsu empowers children with a healthy and positive self-esteem that will carry on into their future.

2) Learning How To Trust The Process

In our modern age, kids have so much stimulus and their brains are so active! Practice, the art of training, calms the mind, focuses their energy and shows them that there is a path to success. Kids learn to trust the process of training jiu-jitsu.

Training marital arts has a unique way of calming everything down and focusing exclusively on what you’re doing. In Japanese Martial Arts, the call this Mushin “No Mind”. It starts small, un-noticed, but students start getting lost in their practice. It becomes meditative, focused and artistic. Eventually this feeling grows and becomes the goal during training.

Martial artists are always looking to improve on a daily basis, even just 1% each day. By this focus on constant daily improvement, children are taught to remain disciplined so they can maximize their time.

Young martial artists will learn being disciplined in jiu-jitsu class and life will provide them the result they want.

Without discipline, martial artists cannot progress and they will never reach the destination. Discipline is one of the most important aspects of progress.

3) “You Must Focus Daniel-son!” 🙂

Without focus, there is no martial arts… it’s also one of the biggest reasons parents want their kids to learn martial arts. The gain the ability to focus, digest, plan and make good decisions. This is jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu is like the best video game in the world, yet it’s real life. In games you’re faced with challenges, decisions, wins, losses, frustration and success. In order to win the game, you need to focus and make good decisions… again, this is Jiu-Jitsu.

There is a huge game element to Jiu-Jitsu training, we call it “rolling”. From the outside looking in, it’s grappling in a uniform, it’s our version of sparring which is one of the cornerstones of Jiu-Jitsu training. This activity is vital for student development, but also becomes a huge playground for kids new Jiu-Jitsu skills. In order to be successful during rolling, they need to focus in class, digest what they have learned, and then apply it during rolls.

Through this training, kids develop a sharp rational mind and learn how to make great choices on the mat and in life.

4) Conquer Fears

Let’s be completely honest here. Sometimes martial arts is scary for the child and parent. Why? Because it’s real.

Students are learning a very power method of defending themselves. Quickly kids get over fears of getting hurt, or being in a fight. They toughen up.

Essentially their training is “fighting”, just a lot funner! They realize that these fears they had around getting hurt or bullied, quickly fade away because they have the power of Jiu-Jitsu.

This mindset sets them up for life. They learn to face their fears and overcome them.

Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best activities a kid or young teen to do. If you are looking to give your kid discipline, confidence, focus and fear-conquering mindset, then I highly suggest that you give Jiu-Jitsu a try. Get 1-Week free intros lessons at the Cage JSA.

According to some study, somewhere, 80% of people fail in the gym and never achieved any semblance of the goal there were looking to achieve.

I think you would agree that most people start off their fitness path by joining their local gym.  It’s close, it’s cheap and they’ve  got a TV on the treadmill.  Maybe there’s a guy in a polo shirt who shows you around, tells you what exercises you can do.  After that… regardless of if they only keep at it for a month, or they hang around for a longer… the result is the same.  Little to no results.


Why do these poor souls who just want feel good about themselves FAIL…?

Well according to my extensive research on the subject, here are 10 reasons why 80% Fail in the gym

1) Lost sight of vision

When you first think about joining a gym, there was a reason.  You had a vision.

There is a vision of you how you want to look and feel.  Maybe it’s gaining the confidence and strength that comes from training combat martial arts.

Or… maybe it was looking sexy as hell, ass popping and feeling good!

But then what happens.  You start strong, go for a few weeks, and something derails you.  Then the excuses start happening, and eventually the gym is just a scan tag on your keys.

You lost sight of the vision.  You lost your WHY.

OR … your vision wasn’t important enough.  You didn’t care enough about yourself to make it happen.

But if you do care, and did care… why did you stop going?

2) No Plan

How many times do you see people aimlessly walking around the gym?  BTW – these people are a lot of fun to watch.  I always would wonder what they were thinking

[in my head, thinking about what they’re saying in their head]

  • “I’ll just uhh grab this thing over here, yeaup, give that a few curls… hell yea, gonna get jacked arms… I should get a tattoo”
  • “Ah shit, I should hit the treadmill for a bit, burn some calories, increase my cardio, scope out the gym scene… I think those two are hooking up”
  • “Ohhhhh that ab machine looks cool, so THIS is how you get abs.  I can’t wait to have a six pack.  I wonder how many reps I have to do to get a 6 pack.  Is there a chart for that? Let me google that now while I’m working out.  Multi tasking rules.”

How can you expect to succeed like that?  And you know that’s why … 80% of them are thinking!!!

Without a plan – a structured approach to results that makes the path CLEAR is what you need.

“The plan gives you the path to your vision”.  (that’s solid gold right there).

3) Went The Cheap Route

The FIRST question … 80% of all people ask me when they inquire about the Cage JSA is

“How much does a membership cost?”
For those who are inquiring, we have a variety of different options, come down for a visit and we’ll go over them with you.

Why do people ask this question??

1, it’s probably the only question they know to ask.  They want to go to the gym, they’re used to paying $10 a month for their regular gym who they don’t go to anyways, and they don’t use that gym, so they don’t want to pay for another gym that they’re not going to use.

2, they are scared of the cost because again, they know if they fail, they’re going to be paying for 2 memberships

3, they are on a tight budget, and cannot afford groceries, but want to get in shape

4, they never have any intention of joining, but they want to use the excuse “it cost too much” for NEVER getting results.

Listen, if you are not willing to invest your time and money into yourself, we can’t help you.  No one can but yourself.  But we are here for our clients to provide them everything they need to get their results.  That’s why they pay us 🙂

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to join the Cage JSA or some other facility.  What matters is, don’t be a dump ass when it comes to taking care of yourself.  This is your body, health and part of your life progression…. don’t ignore it.  Don’t make excuses to prevent yourself from seriously, like REALLY doing what you set out to do.

4) No Gym Buddy

We all know that when you workout with someone else, you are much more successful in the gym.  You are accountable to that person.  But also all gym stories of failure go, once one gym partner ditches, the second one is soon to follow.  And now no one’s doing anything.

What if, the WHOLE gym and the staff were your workout buddies.  No WAY would you let them down.  They expect you to be in class, in the gym or on the mats – making improvements every day.  Everyone knows your schedule, and you know everyone’s too.

No gym buddy left behind.

5) Wrong Gym

The gym, fitness facility, martial arts school, whatever is a unique place.  You have to feel comfortable there.  You have to feel like “I can hang out with these people”.  This is really, really important.

If the environment is “weird” and doesn’t make you feel good  – there is absolutely NO WAY you are going to show up there on regular basis.

Of course in the beginning, it’s challenging walking into a legitimate training gym.  That’s why you need to evaluate it.  Give it a week, and go from there.

Do not EVER just join a gym for their workout equipment or extreme close proximity to your home or work.  Go to a gym that is designed to get the results you are looking for, in a way that is fun and engaging.

6) F_cking Lazy

What do you want me to say?  People are f-ing lazy.

I don’t care what excuse they got, and I am sure there are some legitimate ones, but come on… the amount of excuses and LIES people tell to themselves is unreal.  My gym BS meter is very honed in.  Over 25 years in gyms, martial arts schools, and just about every other facility for training you can imagine, and the out right lies people tell to themselves is insane.

I don’t get it.  Some people are just never going to get “going”.  It’s sad.  I wish I could do something.

In fact, when I first started teaching, I used to spot these people and think that I was going to be the one that changed them.  That showed them the light…  Unfortunately some people just can’t get out of their own way.

So those our my 6 reasons why people fail in the gym.

I don’t want to see them fail, it makes me sad 🙁

But, if they OR you are looking for a place where we ensure that doesn’t happen, where failure is a learning experience that we use to grow – then come hang out with us for a week.

We’re always looking for new gym buddies!


Jiu-Jitsu is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to a child.

Not only does the child learn valuable self-defense skills, respect, become more disciplined and develop a strong self of confidence, but it also helps kids in the school / social life as well.

Here are 3 ways Jiu-Jitsu can help your son or daughter not only improve themselves on the mats, but also how Jiu Jitsu can make them better students.

1.) Jiu Jitsu teaches students to learn.  Jiu Jitsu classes are like school lessons.  There are topics, concepts and techniques to learn those concepts.  No one gets the jiu jitsu move right away, nor do students understand the underlying concept right away.  Students need to continually practice to understand.  They need to fail multiple times, yet keep trying until they get it.  This is a sometimes challenging for new students.  But the process of Jiu Jitsu helps students make small incremental improvements that over time give them the confidence and ability to perform.

2.) Jiu Jitsu prevents bullying.  This is a big one, and so important for our children.  Jiu Jitsu classes are built around working and training with other students.  Students most work together to learn the moves.  There is no bullying in class, it’s not allowed.  In fact, the concept is that every student needs to help every other student get better.  This carries over into their normal lives.  For weaker students, having a safe environment allows them to learn jiu jitsu, make friends and be a part of something bigger.  For more aggressive students, this process allows them to see how helping others is important.

During their regular school, we notice that after Jiu Jitsu many students cite that if they were bullied, it stops happening.  It’s not because the child had to “fight” anyone.  It’s because they start develop a self of confidence that is perceived by other students.  We also see that students become protectors.  Because Jiu Jitsu teaches the students to help each other and work together, they are more likely to help the weaker and potential bullied students.

 3.) Respect, Respect, Respect.  Jiu Jitsu is a marital art… duh.  But in martial arts there is this deep sense of respect for fellow students and your instructors.  Maybe because Jiu Jitsu is physical, or maybe because they are learning serious self defense skills, or maybe it’s something that just can’t be described that gives students a strong respect for others.  You see it happen almost immediately with both young and adult students.

This sense of respect carries over at home and in their regular education.  As time goes on, the respect they have deepens and they become strongly respected themselves.

We maybe a bit biased 🙂 – but we know that Jiu-Jitsu is one of the absolute best things a parent could ever give to a child.  But let me warn you.  All of these benefits don’t happen over night.  We just can’t give your kid “respect” the first night, week or month.  It takes time.  Our suggestion is to start off with a week trial.

During this trial, what you are looking for is to see if your child “likes it”.  Are they having fun?  Are they engaged?  If so, give them 3-6 months, and see how they progress – we guarantee that you will be impressed with their progress.

The 5 BS Myths of Self-Defense Training

Self-defense… as a term, is sometimes too broad.  The word itself is thrown around and marketed so much, that it’s tough to actually understand what it is AND what you can expect from learning self-defense.

Recently I worked with a group to give them some self-defense skills during an 6 hour seminar.  This group contained about 20 people who were a mix of men and women around 30-50 years old.

What was interesting about this group compared to our normal jiu-jitsu or MMA classes, is that they had no preconceived notion of what to expect, nor were they REALLY excited about learning.  it was almost something that they had to do.

I started giving my speech on the importance of self defense, the “survival mindset” and some expectations for the class.

The first thing I always show as a technique is the bubble principle combined with getting into a defensive stance and posture called “the fence”.  If I could have taught one thing to these people, this was it.  It is all built upon awareness, creating space aka opportunities to escape or grab a weapon of opportunity or fight for your life if you have to.

Not even 1 minute into my explanation, a women chimes in and says “We don’t need to learn all of that, we need to learn how to defend when someone grabs our neck”.

I was completely baffled, and to be honest, a bit pissed.  I’m not used to having a student tell me what they need to learn.  In fact if that happened, the rest of my students would probably tell him / her to shut-up before I would have to say anything.

But, as a looked across the room after he statement, and saw a good portion of the group nodding in agreement, I INSTANTLY realize that this group has really no clue what goes on in a real life or death situation where you either survive or you get seriously injured or worse.  

It was her impression that learning self-defense was basically being shown a series of moves, and then suddenly she knows how to do them.

This was evident by how they approached their training (the group would practice something a few times, and then stop and chat, as if they “got it” immediately).

So – let’s dispel the myth of what self-defense is, and how you can approach training to defend yourself or not.

Myth #1: Self-Defense can be learned in 1 class / session – It’s funny how many people actually think this is possible.  Yes, the ability to defend yourself against 80-90% of the population can be learned in a short amount of time, but my idea of a short amount of time is roughly 50 hours of training.

Not many people are willing to hear this.  But, I can prove this fact every day.

Give me a fresh student, let me train them 2-3 hours a week, for 6 months, and I will give you someone who can handle themselves REALLY well.  We prove this by live sparring / training drills and technical work.

Myth #2: Self-Defense is a series of moves – NO.  Self-Defense is a mindset where your body, mind and spirit do NOT accept the threat.  You REFUSE to be a victim.  You have confidence in your ability to fight and survive.  Confidence is earned.  You have to spend time working on it, you have to develop it through training.  It is impossible to just give TRUE confidence in your ability in 1 session.  The self-defense moves you will learn in a class are not designed to give you “answers”, they’re designed for you to learn a concept that doesn’t have to be remembered.  It becomes instinctual.

Myth #3: Strength = Self-Defense – 🙂  This is a favorite of mine.  We have many, many, MANY new athletic students come in who are strong as hell, built like it too, and THINK they can fight.  Strength and size may look intimidating, but that doesn’t mean that you can use it.

Those who spend hours in the gym getting a pump on are actually training their bodies to NOT be optimal for self-defense.  Of course their strength helps, but when you train fixed movement patterns (bench press), you’re only learning how to be strong in one way.  Give me a small student with some basic head movement and entering skills, and I’ll show you someone who can dance around a “big guy” who only lifts a lot.

Quick side story.  For many years (before she started traveling the world), we had a girl at our school who was very talented, yet was the sweetest and quietest girls you ever meet.  She weighed about 150lbs.  As a joke among the black belts, we would have these new strong cocky guys… and even the experienced strong cocky guys go against her during rolling (grappling sparring), and the boys would get completely destroyed.  The guys would get so frustrated and confused as she would politely submit them over and over again … and apologize to them after HAHAHA!!  Ahhh what good times 🙂

The point is, just because you are strong and BIG, does not mean that you can fight or defend yourself.  In fact, those big strong guys can become very easy to defend against because they are typically slower, tighter, and gas out VERY quickly.

Myth #4: All I need is a gun, a knife, etc – This is another favorite of mine.  For all you gun owners out there, how many times do you actually train to get your gun out, in your hand and ready to use… compared to shooting at the range?  Yes the range is a lot of fun, but that’s just target practice.

Using a gun in a self defense situation is much more COMPLICATED and STRESSFUL!

I attended a seminar recently on exactly that – ways of drawing your weapon quickly and efficiently, and then firing in the “point and shoot” method starting from the hip and zippering up.  We did TONS of live action drills using replica air-soft handguns, and it was insane at how challenging it was when you had a single or multiple attackers charging you / threatening you with deadly harm.  There were a lot of gun owners in that workshop and one of the biggest themes was that just because you have a gun, does not mean you know how to use it.

The same goes for a knife.  I walk around all the time and see people carrying knives.  I always wonder, how good are they at deploying that knife?
Do they know how to get it out of the pocket, open and ready in one beat?
Or are they going to fumble around and give their attacker an opportunity to use their own knife against them?

Because that’s a big concern!

If you don’t know how to handle your weapon the stress of a life or death situation, I’m sure your attacker won’t mind fighting for that weapon and using it against you.

Myth #5: I will never have to use self-defense – While I hope this is true, I think it’s pure ignorance and arrogance.

Why would you not be prepared?  It’s like having car insurance.

You NEVER want to have to use car insurance.  But when you have it, thank GOD!  Self-defense is the same way.  You never, ever  want to deal with a life or death situation.  And for those who haven’t – GOOD.

Having to defend yourself for REAL is a very scary and eye opening encounter.  It will change you.  But that doesn’t mean that you just ignore the possibility.  You’re almost setting yourself up to be a victim.

I’ll leave you with one last question to ponder on the victim mindset.

Let’s play out a little scenario.

You’re leaving a restaurant on a Saturday night, a bit late, a maybe had a glass of wine or two, and you had to park on that side street because there was no parking anywhere close.

Maybe you’re talking to your significant other, or maybe you’re on your phone texting your friends what a great time you had.

Suddenly you’re faced with a man who has got a gun in his hands.  There’s a look in his eyes that isn’t right.  And he simply says “Get in that car now”.

Do you….

A: Comply and get in the car, and put your “TRUST” in this man to do what he wants with you.


B: Fight for your fucking life.

Of course everyone WANTS to choose B.  But if you don’t have the skills and the confidence to deal with the fear, stress, and threat… and truly fight for your life.  Then I guess your only option is to go for a ride and hope for the best.

Surviving means fighting.  That doesn’t mean you need to be a “fighter”, but it does mean that in order to survive the worst, you need to learn and train to develop those skills to not become another victim statistic.  It’s your right and responsibility to be able to defend yourself and protect those you care about.

We offer a variety of self-defense classes and training options at the Cage JSA.  We have multiple paths / curriculum(s) to help people of all ages, sizes, experience levels, etc to gain the confidence and ability to fight.

When you realize that learning self defense is one of the best things you will ever do for yourself.  Take our free, unlimited, NO BS 1-week trial to get started.

Author: Matt Bryers

Matt is one of the owners of the Cage JSA / Head Instructor.  He has been training martial arts / combatives for over 25 years with multiple black belts and deep experience in a wide variety of “fighting situations”.  He teaches classes 7 days a week, along with his staff, empowering people with the skills and confidence to defend themselves and better their lives through the study or Jiu-Jitsu, MMA and Reality Based Self-Defense.

Learn 3 Highly Effective Takedowns for BJJ

Takedowns for Jiu Jitsu are a vital skill that most BJJ players tend to ignore over learning glamorous guard sweeps and submissions.  But learning takedowns doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  Here are 3 of the best takedowns for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Students to use in training or in BJJ competition.

Uki Waza:

Uki Waza, or Floating Technique, is a sacrifice throw and one of the original 40 throws in Judo. This is a very effective technique because it is not size or strength dependent and if you mess it up you are usually right by your opponent’s leg to snatch up a single. Bernardo Faira shows this in the first clip. Most of the time you are able to finish the takedown as planned, but as Faira shows, you are able to go right into a single leg which is another very effective takedown.

When doing Uki Waza, you are disappearing underneath your opponent when they give you some forward pressure. This makes it a great choice for smaller grapplers or anyone who doesn’t want to expend too much energy going for a take down. And as they go over in the second clip, you can add a butterfly hook to help really get larger opponents over. There are numerous setups and slight variations to this throw making it personal favorite. I’m a big fan of options when choosing techniques.

(Faira Sacrifice Throw)

(Uki Waza with Butterfly Hook)

Single Leg Takedown:

The single leg takedown is a staple of wrestling and a great option for BJJ. BJJ players will often have their hips low and back making a traditional judo type throw difficult, but making snatching up that front leg much easier. The single leg is more strength dependent than some other takedowns, but with the right technique you are able to use considerable leverage making it possible to lift that leg on even larger opponents. As they show in the first clip the drive into your opponent is key to getting the weight off their leg making it easier to lift. If you just try to pick up a leg it’s going to be extremely difficult, but using that drive makes it possible on the majority of opponents regardless of their size. And like all my favorite techniques, there are a myriad of options of how to set it up and finish it. Everyone has their favorite setup and finish and almost every YouTube technique video has slight differences based on the instructor’s preference. All those options make your single leg very customizable to your preferences and body type once you learn the basic concepts of the technique.

(Stephan Kesting Single)

(Moreno Single Leg)

Kouchi Gari:

The Kouchi Gari, or Small Inner Reap, is exactly what the name says; a small reap on the foot coming from the inside. It is one of the original 40 Judo throws and is classified as a foot technique. Trips and foot sweeps in general are effective throws for Jiu-Jitsu because you don’t need to get under your opponent’s hips. The majority of BJJ players will have their hips low and back making many throws difficult, they also tend to move backwards on the feet shutting down many takedown options. In Judo and wrestling a person gets bumped for stalling if they move back too much, so that forward pressure is why you see more of those bigger high impact throws than in BJJ. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get our own throws or take downs. As you can see in the first clip, the arm drag is a fantastic entrance to the Kouchi Gari. I have been on the receiving end of that exact technique too many times and it’s tough to deal with. This is a great setup for smaller scrappier grapplers, but the Kouchi Gari isn’t only for fast athletic people. With the correct timing you are able to knock anyone off their feet with very little effort and a small amount of movement.

(Arm Drag Kouchi)


These are just three of the takedowns I find to be most effective for BJJ, but there are countless other options for you all. That is one of the great things about Jiu-Jitsu, it is completely customizable to you. Once you get the basic concepts of controlling the hips the options are endless as to the techniques you can make work for you. I don’t even really use the Kouchi Gari personally, but I have been put on my butt enough times to see the value of that technique. What works for some may not work for me, and what works for me may not work for you. And that is what I love about Jiu-Jitsu, it’s a personal journey. Learn as much as you can and keep what works for you. Be like water my friend. See you on the mats. Oss

At the Cage JSA, we offer a classes for takedowns and ground fighting.  We ensure our students are well rounded and have the ability to “fight” from anywhere.

Takedown skills and ground grappling skills are start with basic concepts.  We review these concepts during our intro free lessons.  To sign-up for your free 1 week trial, just hit the button below!