John Will’s regular visits to our mat are always special, but November 28, 2015 was particularly memorable.
The session started with the awarding of brown belts to coaches Thomas Kwok and Mark Schatzdorfer. Brown belt is a high level grade in BJJ which few attain, and these grades are just reward for the years of hard work and dedication shown by these two impressive practitioners of the art. Technically advanced, learning focused and fantastic coaches, Thomas and Mark are lynchpins of the GroundControl culutre.
It wasn’t over there though, as John finished the session awarding the grade of black belt to head coach Mike Fooks. The BJJ black belt is among the most significant accomplishments in modern martial arts, taking over a decade of dedicated training as a minimum. With only a handful of homegrown black belts in NZ this was a proud moment for Mike and the club.
Pool play is almost finished in the world cup and it’s fair to say the NZ public isn’t overjoyed at the all blacks performance so far, although most seem to agree that they looked to come good against Tonga after a shaky first half.
So what’s happened up to now? Well I’m no expert in rugby but I’ve got a couple of theories which I thought I’d throw out because right or wrong – it relates to your development on the Jiu Jitsu mat.
Firstly the commentators I’ve heard – both studio and couch based – seem to be in agreement. The early games have seen the ABs trying to do too much, be too fancy when they needed to just focus on the basics. Jiu Jitsu is the same. It’s very easy to get captivated by the latest cool toy – new sweeps, guards, new positions that involve various degress of upsidedownness. These are all great. One of the best things about Jiu Jitsu is how it continues to evolve making it easy to stay engaged and have that “new student shine” for years and even decades into your BJJ career. But this *must* be built on a solid bedrock of basics. If the basics fall apart the fancy stuff won’t work. If your basics are ingrained into your DNA you will be able to integrate the fancy stuff very quickly.
Antidote: Get to Essentials class!. Once you’ve got your first or second stripe it’s easy to get excited by the new toys and sparring opportunities offered in general class. But remember your requirements to blue belt are all covered off in Essentials. Learn to pace your training so you don’t have to choose between Essentials and General but can do both in a night – the best of both worlds. If you find that’s too much of a mission it may be you’re going too hard, being too tense or doing that weird thing white belts do where you forget to breathe while doing your techniques.
Back to the All Blacks. The important question is why have they started the cup with poor execution on the basics? Here’s my opinion. In a pool with no opponents that would be considered a serious threat how do you impress? I’m assuming they do want to impress the fans, and more importantly themselves to build confidence and momentum going into the elimination games. So how do you do that against “weaker” opposition? You do it by posting something that looks more like a cricket score than a rugby score. That’s what’s happened in previous cups when the mighty sides have faced the minnows. Put aside for a moment the fact that the context has changed with many “minnow” nations now sporting professional players that play in Europe. What does the lure of the big score actually do to the mindset of players? It takes the focus off the process and puts it back on the result. Which is seldom a recipe for success. Time and again when we research into the mindset of elite performers the same thing shows up. The mental focus is not on the result (looking into the future) but on the excellence of execution of the behaviours that will inevitably lead to the result (focus on the now). John Will talks about BJJ being a focus on process not goal. Hence position before submission.
Antidote. Less focus on the tap, more on positional control, setting up the situations you want to be working from, noticing what’s working and what’s not. If you’re in BJJ you are in it for the long game. How many taps you get tonight or tomorrow night is irrelevant. How well you focus on the process of learning, developing, and getting the next technique in the game is crucial. Oh and incidentally the most fundamental thing to focus on to start with – is coming to class. Get that right and the rest will follow.
My prediction is that as the ABs hit the money rounds, they’ll put the focus back on precision execution of the pass they’re making, the ball they’re catching, the ruck they’re controlling and we’ll see them perform well in the second half of the tounament.
I may be wrong about that, like I say I’m no expert on rugby. But I do know this. On the BJJ mat – focus on the process and the goals will come. Make sure your fundamentals are rock solid and people will start asking how you got so advanced.
And who knows, you may also find find that setting goals, focusing on just the next step and doing the simple things well, yields results in that other, non-matted part of your life. I hope so, after all that’s the point – we train on the mat to improve the world off the mat.
See you in class.
MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world today. As events like UFC and shows like The Ultimate Fighter have become more and more popular, interest in training in the sport is growing quickly. However there are many people who feel unsure about making the transition from avid fan, to participant. And it’s no surprise. Sure if you’ve already got a background in kickboxing, boxing, grappling, it might seem like an easy transition (hint: it’s not necessarily). But for the student who is looking to start their journey with MMA it can all be a bit daunting. Particularly given the following two facts:
Two weeks ago an eighteen strong contingent from New Zealand landed in Melbourne for the 13th annual Will/Machado BJJ competition “The Gathering” with clubs GroundControl Auckland, GroundControl Hamilton & GroundControl Cambridge along with our friends from Submission Martial Arts Takapuna, GSW Martial Arts Wellington and the Christchurch Academy of Combat represented. It was my first time in Melbourne and although I haven’t competed in many tournaments I immediately felt like this event was going to be something special. A heap of us rocked up at the event location the night before and helped lay the mats down and there was already a great vibe around.
The competition itself was really well run and matches came thick and fast during the day. Some divisions were merged in the age categories so I was matched up with a lighter opponent in the final which I won by an advantage and took out the Gold. I also competed in the open weight tournament which had five competitors in it and after losing my semi-final on points I won the Bronze medal match up by arm bar submission. For me, the matches had a certain feel to them that was refreshingly unique and some new friends were made on the day. The awards ceremony was very cool with John announcing the winners of every division and sixteen of our party were awarded their medals including our two junior competitors James and Glenn Craven which was a joy to witness. Pretty sure the day ended ahead of schedule too (which is pretty unusual in my experience) and this is testament to the planning, organization and execution of the event by John and Melissa.
One thing that really struck me about The Gathering was the care that had obviously been put into the details. There was some very nicely produced merchandise and the whole experience just felt great value. I really enjoyed the day and felt pretty proud to see all the NZ team competing. Need to start saving my pennies for 2014.
It’s a been a huge couple of weeks for GroundControl. On February 11 Shayne Young was back in the cage fighting to keep his undefeated record intact. After weathering a storm in the first round Shane fought back hard to take out the second and show real dominance in the third to win a unanimous decision. The win a testament to his composure under fire and exceptional conditioning. This brings Shane’s undefeated run to 5 straight victories.
Then on February 18 we had BJJ 4th degree black belt and our head coach, John Will back in the house. John once again showed why he is the best at what he does, taking us through a range of not just new techniques but as always training concepts that can be applied on and off the mat.
John’s visits are also a fantastic opportunity to recognize the progress folks have made and award some well deserved ranks. And this time round there were a bunch! Going to the highly regarded rank of blue belt were Shane Young, David Grant, Matthew Tusa and Bryan McKenzie. All of whom have shown outstanding dedication to their training and have developed some formidable skills.
Speaking of formidable it was an absolute pleasure to have John award the rank of purple belt to Jason Kelly. Jase has been a central part of the culture at GroundControl for many years now and his dedication to training is simply awesome. A big man who has the rare ability to roll heavy or light with a thorough understanding of BJJ’s technical landscape this significant rank could not be more deserved.
The injection of more blue and purple into the auckland mat will give another boost of learning to everybody there, and we’re excited about the future prospects.
As if that wasn’t enough, the following day in Hamilton John also awarded the purple to Errol Watson. Errol, assisted by Travis, has been leading the charge in BJJ development in Hamilton for many years now, and it’s fantastic to see him rewarded with this grade. Well done my friend.
There’s a lot more to come this year, with ICNZ and several grappling comps just a few weeks away, more seminars from John to come, and the Will/Machado NZ nationals in the planning stages. 2012 is shaping up to be even bigger than 2011 was.
Well another training year almost in the books. And it was another standout. We welcomed a host of new students onto the mat, bid farewell to some old ones and all in all had a great time rolling round hugging each other.
Title: Robert Drysdale Gi Seminar
Location: GroundControl Auckland, 20 Stonedon Drive
Description: Rare opportunity to come and learn from one of the sports most successful competitors
Professor Robert Drysdale is one of the most accomplished tournament decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts in the entire 100+ year history of this martial art. Robert was born in the USA in 1981 and has lived in both the united states and Brazil. Robert started his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu career in Las Vegas, NV in the late 1990’s and trained extensively with MMA pioneer John Lewis as well as the American black belt Steve Desilva.
Early on in his career, as a blue belt in BJJ while still living in Las Vegas, Robert Drysdale made the decision to return to Brazil to train full time with the best teams in Brazil. From
1999 to 2008 Robert lived full time in Sao Paulo Brazil where trained in BJJ full time, owned and operated a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School, and coached his students when they competed. Additionally, Robert Drysdale made the commitment to compete for almost 10 years. In this time span he competed in more than 100 traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and earned over 90 different Titles.That list of championships includes 6 different medals in the adult division at the Brazilian Mundials and the Brazilian world Cup.
Start Time: Gi 10 am No Gi 14:00
Congrats to Matt and BJ Yeoman who both made their MMA debut in B-Class matches in Shurikens Rising Soldiers promotion on the weekend. Both boys have worked extremely hard leading up to the event and it showed on the night. Matt took an early knockdown to come back hard and dominate in the clinch and takedown. He showed great control on the ground to eventually finish with a back choke in the first round.
BJ’s fight looked to follow the same script at first as he recovered from an early knock down as well. His opponent however was able to defend on the ground and the fight turned into a three round war. BJ showing great grit to wear some big shots and still stick to his game plan and drive the match to the ground time and again with some big takedowns. He dominated on the ground to take out the decision victory.
Expect some big fights to come from these boys in the future. Well done lads.
We’re pleased to announce a new section to the website – Articles. This is where you’ll find the thoughts of various coaches and friends of GC on a range of topics. The posts will tend to be longer and more in-depth than the updates you’ll find on the news page. So if you have a few moments spare make yourself a cuppa, have a read and feel free to post your thoughts. The first article on having a game plan is up now.