Learn From My Mistakes!!!

As most of you may know, I’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu for about 7 years now (crazy that it’s been that long!)…by most standards, I’d probably be near Brown Belt by now. But, as some of you may also know, it wasn’t a consistent 7 years. I belonged to a gym for about 1 year, then they closed down and I took the next 4 years on my own, starting my own garage gym called “Black Flag Combat”. Bought mats, built a facility in my garage and used the interwebz to recruit other people who were in my situation (didn’t have a gym due to differing reasons: location, time, money, etc.) We had some pretty good success with the gym and grew a great network of people (about 82 people via our Facebook group). Training was about 2-6 days a week and we always sparred hard! I ended up meeting a lot of great people and still am good friends with many of them. Around late 2010, I visited Gentry’s MMA & Fitness (formally known as Eagle Training Academy) to start classes under good friend, Pan Am Champ and incredible Alliance Brown Belt: Phillipe Gentry.

Everything Changed Then.

I would try to toggle between hosting Black Flag Combat events at my garage & attending classes at Gentry’s MMA – but the more I got a taste of Gentry’s MMA and the structure & methods of their teaching – the more I was sucked into training there full time. I received my Blue Belt under Coach Phillipe in 2011 and continue to train under him and literally 1 of the best Black Belts that I’ve ever gotten the opportunity to work with or even meet: Adam Benshea. I’ve now had about 2 years of consistent training under their tutelage at Gentry’s MMA and feel like my Jiu Jitsu game has skyrocketed as a result.

However, there is 1 observation that I made – which is why I’m writing this

Believe it or not, I didn’t intend to start this as an autobiography, but just wanted to give some background =)

I feel like my Jiu Jitsu game is light years ahead of what it once was. I’m able to teach moves with a confidence & correct form, I’m able to spar with more precision & patience and I’m 100x’s more technical than I ever was! However, I have obtained MANY bad habits. For as much as I valued the time spent on the mats at Black Flag Combat and training with such great friends – it truly kept the fire lit for this Gentle Art that I love so much – but I certainly feel that I obtained numerous bad habits. It is of no fault to anyone, really. It’s simply the result of not having a skilled, technical & qualified Teacher to teach proper technique and correct bad form before they become bad habits. So, let me just put this out there: I’m a full supporter of Garage Gyms and the eagerness of every-day people to learn this incredible Art. However, if you do not have a quality instructor that you are primarily learning Jiu Jitsu (and I’m assuming this can apply to many-many other Arts and fighting styles as well), then you are risking the chance that you may be learning bad habits, that are very hard to shake!

Take it from me!

I feel like I’ve learned some very bad habits in my Jiu Jitsu game that, with other White Belts, I was able to get away with. But now that I’m sparring with Blue/Purple/Brown/Black belts – these bad habits are getting exposed and are deep flaws in my game. And, take it from me:

It’s so much easier to correct bad form as you’re learning it for the first time – than to correct it after you’ve been doing it wrong for 5+ years and your muscle memory needs to change completely.

In the last 2 years, my Jiu Jitsu knowledge has grown incredibly! But I am still regularly haunted by the muscle memory of bad habits that I picked up long ago, without correction. If you’re learning Jiu Jitsu (or any other Art) – do an audit: Are You Learning From A Quality Instructor? (YouTube doesn’t count! LOL)

As the old saying goes: “Practice does not make perfect! Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!

Not to turn this into a commercial, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I withheld the knowledge that I possess about finding a place to find PERFECT PRACTICE. I don’t just train here because it’s convenient, or cool, or whatever…I train here because it’s literally on of THE BEST places to grow your Jiu Jitsu game! As a (7 Time World Champion) Alliance Affiliate, it comes with all the prestige that you would imagine. All instructors (including guest instructors) train at the main Alliance Head Quarters and bring that level of knowledge, technique and curriculum to the mats every single day! If you’re reading this, and you can make it – I encourage you to come join me at Gentry’s MMA & Fitness, in Lawrenceville, GA. It’s nearly impossible to find this type of family atmosphere & championship quality anywhere else! If you’re not in Georgia, find a location near you (I would highly recommend looking for an Alliance Affiliate).Gentry’s MMA

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Learn from my mistakes! Avoid picking up BAD HABITS and start PERFECT PRACTICE, today!

Come join me…



I really appreciate a lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from different people! One of the common responses I’ve been getting from this blog is that you’d like to know some of the BAD HABITS that I learned and am trying to break. So here are some:

Bottom Side Control & Bottom Half Guard

    • Getting on the wrong hip initially (again, bad muscle memory habit) and then when realizing it, having to work much harder to get on correct hip and adjust hands to correct placement)
    • Sometimes I find myself accepting the action of being placed flat on my back, which is not where I want to be….correcting it after I’ve accepted the position isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially if the guy has a nice tight pressure game from top.
    • Another for Bottom Half Guard – not immediately looking for the proper under-hook…by the time i think of it, I then need to fight to get it – but if Muscle Memory hadn’t learned the BAD HABITS then, the under-hook would have been in much much sooner.

Hip/Bump Sweep:

    • When applying this sweep, you need to raise up onto your back hand on the mat…this is a small one, but I have bad habit of not coming up to the hand with my fingers pointed backwards (this prevents the opponent from pressuring back into me and putting me back on the mat – thus preventing the sweep)

Butterfly Sweep:

    • Common BAD HABIT that I still have from doing it wrong all this time: Doing the sweep completely correct (arms, feet, legs & hips in the right position) but then executing it by falling straight back and then choosing a side to send the opponent, instead of falling to the side….again simple BAD HABIT that basically prevented me from completing the execution of the sweep.

Hope that helps give you guys any idea of the BAD HABITS that I obtained. This isn’t 100% due to “Garage Training”, but it’s due to training with peers and never really having a coach to point out the little details that I was doing wrong – therefore, I was getting 100’s of reps with the BAD HABITS and sealing them into muscle memory. I’m certain there are more, but these 3 listed above are definitely the more common ones that I notice in my game lately. What are some of yours?

Now GO TRAIN!! =)


About cleanleansharp

Lover of all things: God, Family, Health, Jiu Jitsu, & Huskers

One comment

  1. Team balance under Marco perazzo…walk in/tapped out….

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