Tag Archives: Sports

Working on some new moves!

Sorry I haven’t been present in my blogs or any blogs for that matter. I’ve been very busy with family visiting from out of town last couple of weeks and been training really hard for an up coming fight in September! However I’m also working on some exciting, new and BIG things with Keep Calm and Roll On. So please continue to show the love and support and check back with updates.

Youtube: NateKCRO

Twitter: @NateKCRO

Stay Tuned…

Welcome to the first Keep Calm and Roll On video blog!

Bom dia! My first video blog is live! I know I have much developing to do, but it’s a great addition! In the Vblog we will have open chats, questions and news to discuss in regards to BJJ and the lifestyle of BJJ. I’ll also be posting random fun things and more! So do please show some love and support by subscribing. Obrigado!

The Importance of Losing

In life there are many checks and balances and losing is just another one. In order to feel joy, one needs to feels sorrow, in order to experience success, one must taste failure and in order for one to win one needs to lose. All of this is pretty much the same concept. You can’t have one without the other. Experiencing both allows you to know what each feels like and how to prepare for next time. This concept also creates a sense of balance, you can’t have too much of any one thing. That would all be too mundane and you would lack growth and development in many aspects of your life. That’s why challenging yourself is important and sometimes in that challenge you don’t always happen to be the winner.

Monday was a tough day. I’m fighting many battles within my self mentally and physically but I’ll save that for another day. No excuses, my roll today was quite upsetting. We slapped fives and I automatically went into butterfly guard (seated position). I was constantly forcing my way forward to keep my hooks attached. Continuously attempting to play X guard, De La Riva and even deep half. I was quickly looking to utilize sweeps and transitions from the bottom into a more dominant position such as the back. However THAT was my major issue… I was playing the wrong game! This guy was strong and aggressive. So playing off the bottom might’ve been my problem from the start. That was such a lame mistake by me, which cost me to end up flat on my back each time. For all my attempts, he just stuffed it all as if I was no competition. I felt his weight crush my sides, trapped underneath his side control. I had to force my way out every time, giving each upa, each hip escape my every energy leaving me completely drain to start again. It was tap after tap after tap. I honestly felt humiliated, confused, frustrated and angry. I couldn’t wrap my head around this. It wasn’t until time was called as I sat there in disappointment in my performance that it hit me. It wasn’t that I didn’t play my game. I just didn’t play the RIGHT game against him.

I know this guy’s game. He’s strong, aggressive and he just bulldozes his way through. Each time I sat my butt on the mat he kept charging at me like a raged bull. Worst part is I knew this! I tell others that when they roll…”take the position! Stay on top! Don’t play bottom!” and look who doesn’t even listen to their own advice, this guy. I’d grab his lapel and sleeves and he’d just run right through me. I didn’t want to roll with anyone else that day; I only wanted to roll with him. I was not concerned about beating him once, but beating him as many times as he beat me. For every tap, I got right back up and slapped fives again and ended on my back again. All I kept thinking was how? why? And What the F***? I’d get so caught up and frustrated the match wasn’t going my way that everything, my belief, my skill and my calmness went out the window.

I should’ve played for the top from the very beginning. I’ve rolled against him many times and he is a great competitor however, I never had as much trouble with him as I did that night. Looking back now that’s what I realized. Recently I talked much about developing your game but there’s one important thing that I forgot to mention, you need to develop a game from all sorts of scenarios, structures and sizes. Hence in a case like this, the game I’d play with someone equal my weight and size should not necessarily be the same game I’d play for a person bigger and stronger. For someone like him I should’ve forced my way to take a dominant position like side control, mount, the back or even in his half guard. I wasn’t playing aggressive for the top at all. I was clouded by ignorance and frustration. As soon as things fell a part, I panicked and crumbled and only allowed myself to care about the winning than care about what the hell am I doing wrong. Caring and focusing so much on the winning cost me to only lose.

This is a clear look as to why losing is so important. Losing adds growth and development. Think about all the times great teams like the Bulls and Lakers had to lose before winning. They even lost championship games but came back and at times winning back to back. As an individual think about how many times you have to fail before you can succeed. See, you’ll never know what you’re doing right if you never do something wrong. You have to assess the issue, fix it, train it and then make it yours. If you keep winning, then you’re not going against the right person. How does continuously beating the same person or people make you better? It doesn’t, that’s why you always need to challenge yourself and look for those people that will make you work, that will challenge you and that has the potential to beat you. THAT’S HOW YOU GET BETTER. That’s also how you build your confidence in yourself and your game. It wasn’t that I lacked the strength or the skill; no…it was I folded under pressure and I let my emotions try to play the game for me. I know what I should’ve done but from the start I did everything I tell everyone else not to do. I did everything I tell myself not to do. I did everything besides keeping calm.

That’s the importance of losing.

Back in the Competition Game!

Competition is awesome because you get to see your game and your moves at the fullest and in its rawest form. You’re going against a person you never met. Their style, game and everything may be foreign to you but you get to see your technique shine or even fail. Both are important pieces to add in developing your game which I talked about last blog.

If you win, you get that opportunity for moves and techniques to come natural to you in a live situation, especially against someone who’s skill maybe equal or better than you. If you lose, you learn. Maybe you lost because you missed a small detail, off timing or it might be all mental. You might’ve had problems committing to a move. A lot of these questions can be answered during a competition.

I had my first BJJ competition at white belt and Novice No Gi. Like the beginning of my Jiu Jitsu journey, my first competition was very much like that. I was super nervous and very intimidated. I saw kids younger than me at the time, roll like true BJJ practitioners. Made me feel as if all my progress was just quick excitement of adapting to something new so quick. I even saw some gentlemen who were old enough to be my dad roll in some divisions. I must admit, my first time competing, I think I might’ve second guessed my own skills and siked myself out a little bit and maybe… I wasn’t even ready. Fact of the matter is I would’ve never progressed had this never happened.

When training for competition, you can’t think too much about how your opponent is training and working out. All you need to concern yourself with is doing more than your opponent. This is all part of the mental strength you need to have in any competition. Physical attribution is always necessary however, if you can’t apply it then there’s no use for it. The reason in this particular blog I’m not speaking too much about the physical necessities one should have especially for competition is because that’s a given. You know you need to have the cardiovascular and muscle endurance to last 5-10 minutes straight rolling. You also need strength and power to be able fight with a larger or stronger opponent. They may end up sitting right on top of you. But aside from the obvious, what some people fail to train is the mental attribute.

The mental attribute consist of self confidence, commitment, the will, the drive, dedication and most importantly the “mind over matter”. You need to find the will power, that inner strength for just when you think you can’t and when your body says it won’t, you dig deep! You dig so deep to where you do. That strength only comes from belief and that self confidence you only get from your mind. If you can’t incorporate that workout into your routine, then you already lost at LEAST 80% of the fight. Heck, some would even say 90%! You can be strong and have all the moves in the book but if things don’t happen to go your way, you panic and forget all your moves…then what else? You have to be mentally strong. That comes with controlling your emotions, performing under all sorts of pressure, be able and wanting to do what others can’t or won’t. Your opponent, they made sacrifices. Think about the “normal” life top athletes want to have but can’t because they know in order to always perform top level, they always need to be top ready! They’re hungry, I’m hungry. Welcome to the world of competition.

Up coming East Coast Competition (NYC and NJ area):

July 20th : Grapplers Quest- Morristown, New Jersey

July 27th: The Good Fight- St. James, New York

August 18th: NJBJJF Classic- Cliffwood, New Jersey

 

Again, thank you to all on WordPress and Facebook peeps that liked and followed my blog. Really makes me finally feel like I’m doing something right for once and please continue to do share and spread the love! So, Obrigado e gostar!

Developing your Game.

As you move up into your ranking/promotion in BJJ, you slowly start to forget a couple of things along the way. Sometimes those things are the pieces we always need to look back as a reference that will help you grow and develop your game. I think at Purple that’s one of the many mental challenges you will face that separates you from a higher purple, to the next step of brown.

I remember when I first started BJJ I thought it was going to be such an easy transition and sport to pick up on. I had some wrestling experience in the past as a kid, but the high school I attended didn’t have (besides gym class) wrestling and many other sports (basketball, baseball, track etc…) so didn’t go to far with that. For the time I didn’t wrestle, I’d wrestle with a couple of friends that were on the team at other schools. Luckily, by junior year of high school, I started training at Anderson’s Martial Arts Academy.

I remember my first class. Boy was I stoked but I’m not going to lie I had that “grappling? I got this. This is my world” kind of attitude. Sifu made all the white belts line up and all the higher belts take the center. We had to roll with all the higher/advance belts for the center. I rolled against my first blue belt that day. From the knees I still went for the double leg takedown and nailed it! My mind just got a boost of confidence. Feeling so much excitement from the ability to take a higher belt down on my first day! I just wanted to stand up and shout “WHUT? WHUT?” Not only would that be terribly rude and disrespectful but that’s when it all came back to reality! What woke me up from this “ego booster” was that I began feeling a small inch of pain sparking up into my elbow and immediately my eyes zoomed down at the blue belt who cranked my arm up into an arm bar. All that had to have happened in at least 35-40 seconds and it was not any different from any one else I rolled with that day. That’s when I said to myself, “this is NOT wrestling”. That statement right there was the key that opened my door to growth from white to blue.

What I realized at white belt was this is Brazilian Jiu Jitu. Not only being able to fight from the ground however being able to fight off your back. They welcome the take down especially if you don’t cut that corner right, they’re going to pull that guard really quick. Which was what I learned that day. Guard is a basic principle that once you start you need to understand. Similar to how stand up styles, stance or forms switch or change such as orthodox, southpaw, Muay Thai, Boxing, etc.., the guard is similar to that. You have butterfly guard, X guard, half guard, rubber guard, spider guard and so much more. Instead of punches, knees, elbows and kicks, you’re attacking with holds, sweeps and submission. So as a white belt it’s very common to start playing and jumping guard a lot. From there I made it a priority that with all this knowledge to learn, I will keep the most open of minds! When it came time to roll, I’d also ordered myself to only submit using 2 submissions: arm bar and triangle for every person that I rolled with that week. I began doing the same thing with sweeps from the bottom such as tomoe nage and the scissor sweep. Each week I’d change the move ONLY if I saw much improvement from the moves I picked and felt suitable to my comfort level. This really helped me excel in BJJ fast. Win or lose, with the moves you choose allows you to see and feel what you’re doing wrong or right. It also allows you to work timing on a certain body structure and most importantly, you begin to develop the sight for the moves. What I mean by that is you start to see different ways to get to the move or even you’ll start to see the moves in different positions. This makes you super versatile within a move and allows you to start understanding transitions and how to direct a human body. Understanding all that was the first piece in developing my game and within 4 months of training, I received my Blue belt from Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro and my Sifu.

At blue belt, my mindset and thought process was no different. However, my submission toolbox and my entire BJJ arsenal expanded. I now began to mixed new submissions with old and being able to catch these transitions from multiple positions. I also started to learn how to attack the legs with straight leg locks and knee bars, which became extremely helpful when people would stand in my guard or even from a sweep. But what really took my game further and really added a piece to the many moves I made into my own game, was the takedowns. Once I was allowed to begin our match standing, I started working on throws and takedowns and because I was so used to take downs, I was quickly able to make that a part of my game in BJJ. After numerous amounts of drilling take downs, I would take my opponents down and land in side control automatically after the takedown during a fight or a match. I felt so comfortable engaging and shooting for the takedown that it really became a part of me. This was the first time I really saw what my game was going to be. From the ground I was able to find the arm bar and/or triangle from almost any position, even some of them being done off of a sweep. Now with mixing my old experiences like wrestling, I was able to take a person down, land in side control and felt dominate enough to force the arm bar or sneak a triangle from mount.

I had a minor block between Blue and Purple belt and I think this comes from focusing on too much ego of the sport. I couldn’t understand why I’d do so well in class but not as well in tournaments and fights. Hell, honestly it even caught up in class. I found myself forcing what I only knew and what made me good at “that time”. There’s nothing wrong with losing, but let’s all admit it, sometimes we do get a little bit upset when we submit to a lower skill level or belt especially more than once. ALWAYS PRAISE THEM though because they still beat you. Which means they’re doing something you’re not. I would play too relaxed not because I was relaxed but I’d underestimate those who continued to welcome new ideas and techniques. See I was limited to what made me good at the time I was at that belt or skill level. Once you move up, you’re rolling with people equal or higher your skill. You need to KEEP your mind open and stay humble. There will always be someone better, but that person isn’t you. Your job is to keep YOURSELF better. Be real and honest with yourself. I sat myself down and focused my energy on my emotions and did exactly that. I let go of losing and looked at my flaws. What I realized was that I got too used to and too comfortable with the way I was playing my game back then. I needed to think like I did when I was a white belt. The sooner I did that the better I got. My first MMA fight, I scored big with a huge takedown. I dominated the first round by staying on top and even almost choked him out with a rear naked. The next 3 fights were no different, all landing a huge double leg and a rear naked choke. See you won’t know what you’re capable of doing if you never try. You need to always explore and challenge yourself to new things even in BJJ. This is when the mental technique of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu made it’s mark.

Once I opened my mind to that mental aspect of the art, that’s when I got my purple belt. At purple belt I’m still developing my game. Only difference is now I question myself each day and each time I step foot on that mat. I ask myself before class, “what is my goal today? how can I help someone else’s game grow?” and after class I ask, “what did I do wrong today? What should I add or improve for next time?”. This helps me slow down and focus on control when I’m either drilling a technique or even during an actual roll. I’m so calm and relaxed that I’m able to think as I’m rolling. I’m able to see how I can I get from here to there. With all the new moves I learn, I always refer back to how can I make it my own and where can I get this from (positions)? Another thing I picked up at purple was helping others. By helping others you get better because now you’re going to need a new bag of tricks to use on them and also chances are they’ll use your move against you. People will always study your game so it’s important to also learn something new each day and help others discover their game. The physical aspect of BJJ is just one part of growth and development, you also need to have the mental part.

Few things to keep in mind when rolling:

  • Have a plan
  • Commit to that plan
  • Feel
  • Control
  • Breathe
  • Keep Calm and Roll on

To my future readers & friends,

Always refine your craft. Just when you think you know it all, let go and realize how little you actually know then you”ll understand. #teamamaa @clarkgracie @sifudananderson #bjj #brazilianjiujitsu #icandothisallday

This blog is to express and share my experiences and insight in the Gentle Art known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You won’t find much instructional information here, however I do hope you’ll discover something incredible about yourself as I do through this gentle yet effective martial art.

I want to thank the two gentlemen above, Clark Gracie (left) who shows me the things I miss, fine tunes the old and keeps me humble and grounded in the life of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; and to Sifu Dan Anderson (far right), who taught me how to ride the bicycle of BJJ, for pushing me mentally and for continuously challenging me to take bigger jumps.

This blog is dedicated to you guys. Although I’m a purple belt, there’s still so much I’m learning in all aspects of the art in addition to learning so much about myself each day. I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to you both.

Obrigado!