When Jean Jacques Machado approached me about doing a second volume of The Grappler’s Handbook, I was very excited about the opportunity to be working with him again. When he told me the entire book was going to be dedicated solely to defensive tactics, I was thrilled. This is a topic close to my own heart. The defensive aspects of the martial art have always been fascinating. As amazing as the offensive Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques are, they all have counters and defenses. However, it is not that simple. How do you apply these defensive techniques? More important, when do you apply them and ensure you have an escape? This is where the martial art becomes a science, and the mat is your laboratory. Looking back, my defensive abilities have gotten me out of a lot of bad situations in class and in competition. However, when I think about defense, it always takes me back to one uneventful evening at Jean Jacques Machado Academy. I was a purple belt at the time, and Jean Jacques was putting us through the paces. After drilling some techniques, it was time for free training, otherwise known as sparring. These sessions usually last an hour and are physically and mentally grueling. I started with one partner, and as soon as time was called, a black belt approached me to train. When we were done, another black belt approached, then a brown belt. It went like this for the entire hour. I probably trained with three or four black belts and several brown belts with no break in between. One thing I remember was that they were very aggressive. They were just really pushing my capabilities hard. I remember having my guard passed repeatedly, being mounted, having my back taken. They were dominating me positionwise, but I did not get submitted once. I moved when I could, stayed patient, conserved my energy and survived. As class ended, Jean Jacques announced that he was going to promote someone. This is always an exciting time because rank is so difficult to achieve in this martial art. Jean Jacques gave a small speech and then called my name while holding a brown belt. It took a second to register before I jumped up to accept my promotion. I was absolutely stunned. I had been a blue belt for five years and had only been a purple belt for about a year and a half. I assumed I would remain a purple belt for some time. I approached Jean Jacques after class to thank him, and he told me he purposely sent all those brown and black belts after me during free training: “It was your defense that got you your brown belt. Those guys were all over you, and yet you remained calm. You were methodical, kept working your technique and never allowed them to finish you.” It really emphasized the importance of developing sound defensive skills, which is something I am passing on now as an instructor. Got any great belt promotion stories? Let us know about them in the comments field. (To take your BJJ game to the next level, check out The Grappler’s Handbook Vol. 2: Tactics for Defense.)

SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

To Master the Supreme Philosophy of Enshin Karate, Look to Musashi's Book of Five Rings for Guidance!

In the martial arts, we voluntarily subject ourselves to conflict in a training environment so we can transcend conflict in the real world. After all, we wouldn't knowingly train in a style that makes us weaker or worsens our position. The irony of all this is that we don't want to fight our opponent. We prefer to work with what an opponent gives us to turn the tide in our favor, to resolve the situation effectively and efficiently.The Japanese have a word for this: sabaki. It means to work with energy efficiently. When we train with the sabaki mindset, we receive our opponent's attack, almost as a gift. Doing so requires less physical effort and frees up our mental operating system so it can determine the most efficient solution to the conflict.In this essay, I will present a brief history of sabaki, as well as break down the sabaki method using Miyamoto Musashi's five elements

Keep Reading Show less

Enter our partner's current Sweepstakes. They are giving away a Grand Prize 'FKB Wardrobe'.

TAKE NOTICE!

FIVE KNUCKLE BULLET 'Wardrobe' Sweepstakes

Feeling Lucky? Enter our current Sweepstakes Now! We are giving away a Grand Prize 'FKB Wardrobe' which consists of our most popular sportswear items. Prize includes the following:

Keep Reading Show less

Turn the clock back to 2005 and check out this legendary performance by Steve Terada.

This is the sixth installment of a series that features old school sport karate videos to keep the history of the sport alive. Steve Terada was a member of the prestigious Team Paul Mitchell Karate and gained his reputation as a top competitor with his innovative extreme forms. He is one of the pioneers of martial arts tricking, having contributed to the creation of several tricks including the snapuswipe (an inverted 540 kick with an extra rotation before the landing). He was also the first to land many of these tricks in competition.

Keep Reading Show less

ONE Championship concluded an epic series of events with ONE: A New Breed III that saw several highlight-reel performances. And after the event, the organization was quick to announce the main event of their upcoming event on October 9, ONE: Reign of Dynasties.

At ONE: A New Breed, Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy successfully defended the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Championship against Magnus Andersson with a third-round knockout.
Keep Reading Show less
Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter