Jiu Jitsu in St Barthélemy – 1

Question – What’s better than a vacation in the French West Indies? 

Answer – A jiu jitsu vacation in the French West Indies. 

So this was the 6th BJJ camp I’ve been to and although I love them all for different reasons this one I believe to be my favorite to date. More on the reason for this thought later. 

The trip started with a flight to St. Maarten. After getting through customs I jumped into a cab to Philipsburg so I could catch a ferry to St. Barthélemy. When I got there I had a couple of hours to walk around town and grab some lunch. The biggest thing I noticed in Philipsburg is that they have yet to recover from hurricane Irma. The city seemed pretty run down and although there is rebuilding in progress it seems some areas are forgotten and it’s going to take quite some time. I did sit in a small bar/restaurant for lunch (I don’t remember the name but the wifi code is buybeer). The place is what I pictured as a stereotypical Caribbean bar and while I don’t drink I was hungry and the place looked really cool so I felt compelled to get lunch there. My lunch; an awesome vegetable wrap and fries.

Did I mention I ate like shit for the past 9 days? 

*Side note – left Saddle Brook 10 Feb 174.8 pounds, this morning 19 Feb 171.6.. Scratches head…..

Ok, the ferry from St Maarten to St. Barthélemy, where do I start? Do not, and I mean do not under any circumstances sit outside in the last row on the left side of the boat unless you dig the smell of diesel fuel and like being soaked with salt water, by the time we docked it looked like I swam there however, I was in St. Barthélemy and about to begin a week of surfing, jiu jitsu, and all around fun with a group of awesome people.

Now I need to address what’s makes this camp so special,  besides the prefect weather and island life of course. Most of the camps I’ve attended have anywhere from 100 to 200 participants so training partners of all size and skill levels are readily available however, it’s hard to meet everyone and people tend to group off. This camp has about 35 to 40 people in attendance so it was easy to meet everyone and actually get to know them. We ate dinner together ever night, went to the beaches together, trained together and just had a great time hanging out and playing games, one night after dinner I witnessed one of the most intense games of pick up sticks ever played. 

Cliff Hanger…..

To be continued……..


Repitition, Repitition, Rep.. Well You See Where This is Leading…

sabjits sample 8 Anyone who trains with me, takes my classes, or takes privates from me knows 2 things about me. One is I talk a lot, probably way more then I should, and two I’m big on basics and repetition. Everyone and I do mean everyone should drill the basics regularly to become proficient with these base techniques. Build a strong foundation and you have a strong house: this applies to all facets of life and all facets of martial arts, fitness, and diet as well. The problem I face regularly while trying to instill this mindset is that people in general become bored very quickly. Everyone wants to learn the kill but no one wants to learn how to hunt. Teach a class with 10 submissions and everyone leaves happy, problem is they have no idea how to actually set up and apply the subs in live rolling or competition.

I believe it is extremely important to drill positioning, set ups, and transitions regularly. An arm bar is an arm bar is an arm bar. Now how many positions can you set that arm bar up from? When that arm bar fails where can you transition to? Can that transition set up another arm bar, or maybe a completely different sub, or maybe just get you into a dominant position from which you can launch a new attack. The key to finding the answers to all these questions is to drill, drill, drill and then drill some more until going from position to position becomes a natural part of you game, something you don’t need to think about, second nature.

Flow drills are an excellent way to drill transitions, get repetition, and help you build that ability to know where to go when you partner is moving. Another thing is to drill the set up for a specific submission without the finish. I notice lots of students rush through the set up to get to the submission and struggle to get a finish that a partner is letting them get. Why is that? Because all the little details in the set up put you in perfect position to finish the submission, without the details the story is weak and the ending sucks.

So if you want to improve your game drill the basics, get in as many reps as you can, and pay attention to all the details along the way. Don’t be in such a rush to finish the arm bar that you forget to lock up the arm in the first place. Oh and one more thing, work both sides. Most everyone has a strong side and a weak side. I know some who claim to be fully ambidextrous but I’ll reserve my comments on that. Personally I like to get a move down on 1 side first then move to the other side, some people prefer to go side to side. Do whatever works for you, but be sure to work both sides for a well rounded game.

I wrote this specific to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu however this approach works in any setting. In boxing if you can’t throw a proper punch, regardless of what punch it is (jab, cross, hook, etc.), how are you going to use those punches to set up other punches? If you don’t focus on proper foot work (and DRILL it) how can you have a built in defense and strong offence? You can’t…
So don’t forget, repetition is extremely important: drill, drill, and drill, than drill some more.