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27. Too much or not enough? December 4, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in Adam Adshead, BJJ, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, too much - not enough.
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BJJ is a battle of inches as they say and everyday we all walk the fine line between too much or notClipart enough.

Whether that’s using too much or not enough strength, being over active or under active during a roll, sinking your hooks in too shallow or nice and deep, playing loose and fluid or tight and rigid – the list goes on and on and on.

So what is the right amount of strength to use? How active do I need to be in a roll? How deep should I play my hooks? What is the perfect balance between being loose and fluid and tightly impenetrable?

Well the answer is… very complicated and also different for everyone at their different levels, weights, styles, game-plans, the situation you’re in, the phase of the moon, the brand of deodorant they use and most importantly their dress sense.

I’m sorry to raise your hopes in trying to define and solve the complicated quandary that is the ‘Too much – not enough‘ spectrum but although I haven’t solved it yet, I think conceptually it’s something we can all be thinking about.

So if you think you might be using too much or not enough during training, try to redress the balance for the better. Remember it might not be a technical issue that is stopping you pull off a sweep or guard pass it might just be that you weren’t in the right place on the ‘Too much – not enough’ spectrum.

What inspired this post is a fabulous advert from the good people at Audi (crosses fingers, awaits free car) who have an advert on the different types of grip we all use everyday. It really illustrates the spectrum and as you’ll see it neatly transposes over to BJJ.

Anyway, take a look and make sure this week you consider the spectrum and how it may have helped you pull something off or miss a golden opportunity.

Take care people.

Adam Adshead

25. Things I learnt from – Chris Haueter #2 – There is a huge difference between having something (i.e a grip, hook etc) and actually using it properly. November 17, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in Adam Adshead, BJJ, Combat Base, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, Things I learnt from:.
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Things I learnt from – Chris Haueter #2 -There is a huge difference between having something (i.e a grip, hook etc) and actually using it properly.


There is an old phrase that goes:

‘Neither use, nor ornament’ – that is used to describe something as having no functional use or aesthetic qualities.

Now what Chris Haueter plus Darren and Helen Currie have taught me is the importance – grips, hooks, positions etc have in being both useful and also ornamental (Technically sound).

Well kind of, it boils down to the fact that there is a big difference between having something and actually using it.

For example if you take a collar grip – all you’re doing is holding a bit of cloth but when you start to use it – say pull, push, twist, turn it, all of a sudden it has value and use.

The same can be said for (more…)

24. Things I learnt from Chris Haueter – #1 Starting a roll from your knees isn’t as useful as starting it in different positions. November 14, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in BJJ, Chris Haueter, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, Things I learnt from:.
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Things I learnt from Chris Haueter – #1 Starting a roll from your knees isn’t as useful as starting it in different positions.

Most grappling clubs start sparring with both people on their knees and whilst this minimises the injuries that sparring on the feet has, I don’t think it’s the most efficient use of limited class time.


I agree that it’s fair and even, but why not start with one person in closed guard, in side control or in back control etc? By doing such a thing you’re in the thick of the action straight away and not dancing around the mulberry bush just to get started.

I think taking such an approach is also a really useful way of building the repetitions of breaking a closed guard, getting out from under side control or keeping on someones back (All fundamental core skills that can never be worked enough).

But you don’t have to stop there you can start from any position.

If for instance you’ve just taught a class on De la Riva guard, how inefficient is it if everyone then starts to roll from their knees? Yes, eventually one person will end up in guard but why not save some time by starting with one person in De la Riva guard? Then if someone progresses to a tap etc, then they end up in De la Riva guard, giving the other person a go. This gives both people a chance to work what has been covered, work opposing sides of the material and is a more efficient use of your time. (more…)

23. Things I learnt from – Chris Haueter November 13, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in Chris Haueter, Conceptual BJJ, Factory BJJ, Inspiration, Things I learnt from:.
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Last week I had the pleasure of training twice and having a roll with the legendary Chris Haueter. It was a privilege to host him at our gym and we all learnt soo much.

So in this mini-article I’m going to give you an overview of Things I learnt from – Chris Haueter. I will then expand some of the points into separate entries with photos, explanation and video where appropriate.

So here we go – Things I learnt from Chris Haueter:

  1. Starting a roll from your knees isn’t as useful as starting it in different positions.

  2. Americans like to whine if they’re injured, whilst Brits are ‘Stoic’ and soldier on regardless. (Chris’s words not mine)

  3. There is a huge difference between having something (i.e a grip, hook etc) and actually using it properly.

  4. The goal of sport BJJ is to win and the goal of BJJ as an art is to be as smooth as possible.

  5. Chris Haueter is pure awesomeness!

21. ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ October 23, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, Mahatma Gandhi.
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Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ and after reading that quote attached to a chamomile tea bag, I’ve been interested in how doing such a thing can positively affect the different factions of my life.

In terms of BJJ, I think a useful idea that this quote rouses is the fact that you can set an example and tone that will carry out through the rest of your academy.

If for instance you constantly ramp up the pressure and intensity when you roll, then other people will think it’s acceptable to do the same back. Now, if you’re a coach or senior athlete setting such an example will be magnified – as they say ‘Monkey see, monkey do’.

So if you train at a club where things get a bit too heavy during rolls, then ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ – roll how you want to, don’t be drawn into playing any other way as you’re selling yourself short and only adding to the atmosphere.

I have always been a light, fluid, mobile grappler and I know that by consistently setting such an example, even when I wasn’t a coach, that it helped influence, in some way, the athletes I’ve trained with over the years.

‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ as I’m sure we could all benefit from being more like a grappling Gandhi.

Adam Adshead

Additional inspiration – John Will

20. ‘Grappling is a rubix cube, the tighter you hold it the harder it is to solve’ October 17, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in Adam Adshead, BJJ, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, Thoughts.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of attending a friend of mines grappling for MMA classes so I can tweak and add bits to the already stellar coaching.

Apart from being a lot of fun, it has sparked a lot of thoughts about Conceptual BJJ.

The first thought surrounds the idea of using too much strength when you first start grappling. It’s only natural and although it can be difficult to play against, it’s something that people need to get past before their game will open up and progress beyond a basic level.

So this had me thinking on how I could explain the idea of toning down the strength game for the greater good of your grappling and I came up with this:

‘Grappling is a rubix cube, the tighter you hold it the harder it is to solve’

So if you’re coaching or rolling with people with a tendency to go mini-hulk on you,  rather than tackle grappling with a more intelligent outlook, use this analogy. You all know how complex both grappling and doing a rubix cube is and if you try doing either with white knuckles you’ll struggle to get anywhere close to solving the puzzle.

Spread the gospel.

Adam Adshead

Nuggets of advice by Aesopian March 13, 2008

Posted by Adam Adshead in Aesopian, BJJ, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration.
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In absence of time to write a full or partially original entry, I thought I’d post a link to a post which I think every BJJ practitioner/coach and school should adopt.Light bulb

Some what of a cop out but I’ve been sitting on the post for a while and now is a perfect time to share it

Titled ‘Nuggets of advice’ and written by Matt Kirtley (Aesopian) I think once you’ve read it you’ll agree that you should endeavour to adopt at least all of the points he makes.

I’m a big fan of Aesopian and I think this entry sums up his attitude to training which matches mine completely. (In fact I think he stole this article from my brain, although I have no proof)

So enjoy the advice and expect a piece on Guard Passing Vs. Sweeping theory with pretty photos and complex words before Christmas 2009.

Till then,

Adam Adshead

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10. Question not what you know, but your reason for questioning. November 19, 2007

Posted by Adam Adshead in BJJ, Chess, Conceptual BJJ, Existentialism, Inspiration, Martial Arts, Thoughts.
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I was watching the Simpsons in Spanish the other day (yes, I do that kind of thing sometimes) and it got me thinking that even though my Spanish is weak that I could still understand what was going on because of the context of the situation.

Even without any knowledge of the Simpsons or of Spanish, because of the brain’s ability to adapt, second guess, assume and fill in the gaps you could watch a whole episode and be able to tell someone what had gone on.

To a degree the foundations of animation and the structure of children’s TV aid that ability massively. For instance, you can watch any kids TV show and there will be an edit/cut every second or so to keep the kids attention focused.

In terms of training I think that people worry way too much about trying to answer every physical question (i.e. a successful sweep) with an opposing answer. (i.e. retaining position/guard)

Obviously you want to do well but if you get swept, passed or submitted a lot of people think that it’s because you haven’t got the right answers, when actually it might just be that the other person had an unanswerable question with their positioning, foresight, ability and/or experience. (more…)

9.Chess is to BJJ what writing is to thought. October 31, 2007

Posted by Adam Adshead in BJJ, Chess, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, Thoughts.
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Chess in the Philippines

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a very complicated chaotic thing. The amount of possibilities from any one position and subsequent positions is staggering. Add to this counters, escapes, experience and chaotic synergy and this level of complication multiplies almost infinitely.

So trying to prescribe a conceptual understanding of such an unpredictable organism seems like a near impossible task.

Making this increasingly difficult; people speak different languages, have different learning styles, use varying terminology for the same thing (side control, cross side, side mount) and most importantly understand things on differing levels.

As a result I believe that using the game of chess to convey my concepts and theories is an appropriate platform to transcend the differences mentioned above.

Chess just isn’t another love of mine which I’m trying to crowbar into articles; it really is a great tool for understanding conceptual BJJ. I believe that Chess is to conceptual BJJ what writing is to thought. (more…)

8. In the spider web of facts, many a truth is strangled. October 20, 2007

Posted by Adam Adshead in BJJ, Chaos theory, Chess, Conceptual BJJ, Inspiration, Martial Arts, Thoughts.
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Spider web

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I was sat in the garden yesterday and I saw the most inspiring piece of natural engineering, a spider web.

It was fairly big but the astounding part was the mechanics of how it must have bridged this gap between my fence and the side of my house. I’m not the most technically minded person but I really struggle to envisage how a tiny spider could make such an effective trap over two distant points.

This got me thinking how it relates to BJJ and remarkably it does.

Everyone knows what a spider web looks like but what struck me about this web were all the little extra bits that the spider needed to construct to keep the web functional and effective – little off shoots and structures to keep everything together.

It’s these extra bits which really define whether the web survives or not and it’s the extra bits of your game which determine if you’ll survive something more deadly than wind and rain and that is change. (more…)