Jiu Jitsu Seminar in Arizona Brings New Perspective

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Professor Rob Handley, Head Coach for Flavio Behring Jiu Jitsu USA, gave a seminar last weekend in Phoenix, Arizona. Affiliate schools, Like Minded Jiu Jitsu and ACS Martial Arts, attended. These growing schools came with enthusiastic students that trained hard and asked good questions.

Saturday’s session began with Professor Handley asking attendees questions that caused each person to evaluate their own Jiu Jitsu. Asked to identify aspects of their own personal “Art of War”, students were forced to consider the intellectual side of Jiu Jitsu.

Jiu Jitsu is often considered a science, a matter of physics or purely physical endeavor due to the highly technical application of force using leverage, angles of attack and specific body positioning in relation to your opponent and the pressure/force they are applying. There are many schools which concentrate solely on this aspect of Jiu Jitsu.

Professor Handley helped them see that Jiu Jitsu has more than just a physical aspect, something often overlooked in day to day training. He challenged all attendees, white belt to black belt, instructor to beginner, to look at their training in a different light. Professor Handley posed three questions to the seminar group;

“What do you like about Jiu Jitsu?”

“What are you good at in Jiu Jitsu?”

“Can you get better?”

He  went around the room and asked each individual to answer these questions out loud. The answers varied greatly. Some were vague, unfocused ideas about training and some were very specific answers. You could see that most of the attendees had never considered what they do from this perspective. Professor Handley sparked thoughts about each person’s Jiu Jitsu in a manner that they were unused to. He caused them to look at this art of ours in a different light, a perspective that forces increased  intellectual involvement and critical thinking. This intellectual involvement is a rare perspective for many Jiu Jitsu practitioners.

How many of us are content to be “better than that guy?” This can be a measure of success in Jiu Jitsu. How we hold our own against an opponent or training partner that has dominated us before. Someone stronger, faster and/or more skilled can push us and help us grow. However, these are external influences. In another session of the seminar, Professor Handley asked each person to if they were “climbing the Ladder of Excellence.” He said, “Are you trying to improve your Jiu Jitsu and yourself or are you hanging on for dear life? What happens to the person who is hanging on? They get tired, their grip burns out and they fall.” He wanted them to see that if they are not actively trying to improve their skill set or if they are doing the bare minimum. Just showing up to class with no focus or intent to push themselves will never get them to the next level. In order to get to the next rung on this “Ladder of Excellence”, we have to use the resources available to us. Namely, our instructor. He asked the group another question, “Are you taking advantage of your instructor?” He again looked for a verbal response from each person. Most said yes, only a few said no.

Do we really pay attention to the progression we are being taught? Do we ask intelligent questions? Do we ask for direction from the one who has invested time and effort to share their knowledge with us? Or, do we look to the Internet and Youtube for the latest move, the thing that’s the craze at the top tournaments? Are we taking advantage of the person who has gone before us and wants us to improve? These were some of the questions raised by Professor Handley’s questions. Not easy ones if we are honest with ourselves. But, if we are looking to get to the next rung on that “Ladder of Excellence,” and the one after that, we will find value in the answers.

Professor Handley shared several variations and set ups for the Kimura and a take down progression with the students of ACS Martial Arts and Like Minded Jiu Jitsu. There were promotions to blue belt and strips awarded as Professor Handley was present. The training was good the instruction was great. If you have the opportunity to attend a seminar by Professor Handley or Grand Master Flavio Behring be sure to take advantage of it. You never know what you will get out of it. Perspective, technique or maybe an approach, mental or physical, that will improve your Jiu Jitsu.