Don’t let the idea that you’re too old to start training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I was 44 when I started, and I train with people who have started even older than that. Many people give the excuse of, “I’ll start when I get a little stronger,” or, “I’ll start training once I lose a little bit of weight,” but both of those things just prolong progress! Have no fear, visit an academy for a trial class, and fall in love with your new favorite hobby! For this class we trained outside in the sun, and it was 78 degrees and a little breezy. Beautiful day! I’m peeling now so I wish I would’ve worn a bandana to protect my scalp. But practicing outdoors was new to me, felt very Brazilian, and was a blast!

I had the pleasure of attending the Rangemaster Tactical Conference this past weekend in Dallas, TX. The conference consists of dozens of different areas of topical study, all related to the finer aspects of both personal responsibility and self-protection by thought leaders in their respective fields. I spent a portion of the three day conference training with the, “Shivworks Collective,” which is comprised of a group of professional martial artists and multi-disciplinary practitioners who specialize in both the armed and unarmed projection of force in the 0-5 foot range. I highly recommend this type of training for anyone, but especially for the CIVILIAN DEFENDER who also has an interest or trains in any type of grappling.

Professor Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives taught a stand-alone seminar on the last day of the conference that was geared towards welcoming new students to the art, and also rethinking basic concepts to other BJJ practitioners of all levels. After all, as it is so often stated, there is no advanced anything…it’s just a mastery of the basics. Professor Cecil talked about the importance of knowing the lineage of the Professor or Head Coach at the Academy you choose to train at. Cecil traces his lineage as follows…Wellington “Megaton” Dias, Royler Gracie, Helio Gracie, Carlos Gracie and Mitsuyo Maeda.

We set up mats in one of the flat, grassy areas of the range where no live-fire events were taking place, and we also used the grass to drill on. Professor Cecil took us through a truncated version of a normal training session with him, beginning with BJJ specific warm up drills. As anyone who has trained BJJ for almost any length of time knows, the difference between great BJJ and just, “going through the motions,” is largely a function of hip activity. That is, having both proprioception (knowing where your hips are located, in space, at any point in time) and also having enough flexibility and mobility in your hips to effectively move. The difference between, “just ok,” and, “great,” isn’t much, but small adjustments cause a tremendously beneficial downstream effect! Two of the movements we worked on the most were based on the hip bridge and the hip escape (or shrimp). These basic movements are at the heart of many of the fundamental escapes in jiujitsu, as well as being foundational for so many of the attacks. To the uninitiated, this at first seems like a tremendously exhaustive and impossible series of exercises to attempt, but trust the process and understand that after a period of a week or two, your core muscles will adapt to the movement and it will become far less uncomfortable and fatiguing! Since the course was of limited duration (immediately before the lunch break) we weren’t able to get to the live-rolling portion, also known as, “sparring.”

But, before the class adjourned, Professor Cecil, (with Shivworks Collective member and BJJ Blackbelt Larry Lindenman as his co-instructor and Shivworks Host, Alum and BJJ Blackbelt Guy Schnitzler) we covered two techniques that are relatively straightforward to learn, but still have applicability to any level practitioner. The first was a closed-guard attack called the, “Kimura,” which is a double wrist lock type of submission that, if the opponent doesn’t tap-out to, will result in a heavily damaged shoulder! The other technique is a closed-guard pass that Professor Cecil calls, “Meg’s Pass,” after his Professor Megaton Dias. In my home academy (Artista BJJ in Nashville TN under Professor Felix Garcia) most people call this same technique the, “Log Splitter Pass,” It is a particularly effective and not-fun (for the person getting passed) because of the amount of pressure involved, but since I am a larger, older, not-nearly-as-fit-as-I-once-was practitioner, it works great for my slow-paced game and I’m looking forward to putting it into regular use. I normally stand up to break the closed guard and then try and drop into a knee-slide pass, Torreondo or double under pass, but this method is safer, minimizes space and maintains the attachment of me to my opponent. So less scrambling and smoother transitions to other positions.

If you read this, and you have some BJJ or grappling experience, you understand the terminology and general direction of what I am describing. If you are new to BJJ or grappling and want to know more, you should seek out Professor Cecil and train with him. He teaches at his home academy in Arizona and also around the country at various locations. He is very approachable and dispenses with much of the boorish behavior that tends to sour people new to BJJ. He answers questions, demonstrates hypotheticals and does a fantastic job of explaining concepts to people who literally have no experience outside this class! Learning two hours of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is hardly a compendium of study, but that isn’t the purpose of this seminar; the purpose of the seminar is to expose new people to BJJ and also give BJJ students of any experience level, a focus on the basic movements that will help them refine their own practice. And since you read to the end of the article, Professor Cecil also gave us the secret to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and that is, “SHOW UP!” It is that (deceptively) simple! Only a concentrated effort over a long period of time will net measurable results! And even though the road is fraught with bumps, bruises, minor injuries, sweat and maybe a couple of tears, the pay-off is worth it and the difference it makes in your demeanor, confidence, physical conditioning and self-defense capabilities is tremendous! As Professor Cecil put it, he has spent decades working on his brand of, “Sloth JiuJitsu,” so do not be put off by any physical shortcomings you may feel you have…he can help anyone improve. Seek him out for training, find a local BJJ academy and get to work! And tell Professor Cecil that the Doctor sent you!

Professor Cecil is an admitted Brazilian JiuJitsu evangelist, and he does a phenomenal job of introducing the uninitiated to the wonders of his life’s vocation. Although I’m new to BJJ (14 months experience) I find myself spending most of my free time either reading about BJJ, watching videos about BJJ or practicing BJJ either at my Academy or at our home. It becomes an obsession, but a very healthy one at that. I tend to make better choices when it comes to how I eat, behave and train to maximize my capabilities when I’m in the academy. And as a both a past philosophy major and a continuing student of philosophy, there is no shortage of material about the the philosophical warrior underpinnings of BJJ, along with the stoic ideals of undergoing rigorous physical education and continuing despite great opposition. It is addictive, and the path to eternal self-improvement never ends! I’m looking forward to training with Professor Cecil more and also getting more experience in the SHIVWORKS methodology of armed and unarmed combat!

The 21st Century J-Frame

It’s probably not what you think…years ago I wrote a piece about the Glock 19 and how it had become, for good or ill, the 21st Century K Frame. You can read that essay here.

The Ruger LCR, (which I’ve been using for years and have written about here and here) truly does everything the J frame can do, but with a few distinct advantages. First, no safety lock to contend with. There’s been anecdotal reports of the lock failing on S&W revolvers of recent manufacture, and although I’ve never seen it myself, my mentor Tom Givens has and it completely immobilized the gun until the lock could be turned off. Next, is cost. LCR’s are less expensive and even in the odd political climate, they’re still quite inexpensive.

I’m a fan of the high-tech Cyberpunk esthetic of the LCR series, but the grips have never really done much for me. While I really like the function of the Hogue Tamer grips on the range, in actual use as a concealment piece, they impede the draw when carried on the ankle because the rubber grabs the pant leg. And when carried AIWB or under a light shirt in an OWB, they grab material as well. So while I dig the ergonomic shape, I wish HOGUE would make an EXACT copy of the rubber Tamer but make it out of Goncalo Alves and checker it. I know this is possible because some other makers have done it. And I know they make a G10 version but it is HUGE. Putting giant stocks on a carry revolver might be awesome for some people, but I’ve never understood the point…just get a bigger gun. Also…the aluminum and polymer frame of the LCR coupled with wood grips makes for an interesting recoil impulse. Not awful, just different. It would be even more wild with the magnum variants, I’m sure.
The LCR is capable of great accuracy, even with more-than-mild loadings. I wouldn’t hesitate to use an LCR in any capacity I might need a subcompact, personal defense weapon.

But even though the LCR is a capable weapon, and would really work in well for personal defense missions, the technology has changed and there are new technological innovations in even just the past few years that bring new capabilities to the CIVILIAN DEFENDER in need of a personal defense weapon for concealed carry. Enter the…

SIG P365. Thought by many to be the pinnacle of self-defense weapons, the relatively new technology has many great features. Most notably is the size which despite it being smaller than even a Smith Shield, it carries more rounds (standard capacity magazine holds 10 rounds) and it also has great ergonomics that allow it to actually be shootable. Add to that a weird, but usable trigger and great sights, and you have an interesting entry into the practical carry gun realm.

Like most new guns, there were some teething issues. I didn’t jump on the P365 train initially. I test-fired one at my annual police department qualification in 2018, and had no issues running through a steel plate confidence course. The recoil impulse was quite pleasant, despite the gun’s diminutive size. It shot to the sights and was as, “easy,” to shoot as a full size duty pistol.

Reports from my friends having issues with their P365’s gave me pause. I didn’t want to commit to a platform that had so many issues. Some people had problems with accuracy, primer deformation from the striker impact/metallurgy issues. And others complained of the sights not staying put. All things that I hope worked out over time. It’s probably useful to note here that I pay little attention to what the gun media promotes as, “absolute reliability,” because a 50-200 round range session, most often on a climate controlled range, with high quality performance ammo isn’t a very good barometer for using a gun under real-world conditions. I want to see how guns work in actual use…students bring them to class dirty, sweaty, and improperly lubricated. They load them with crap ammo or poor quality remanufactured ammo. THOSE are the conditions I want to hear about. Because many of the guns we think about as being the, “benchmark,” guns WILL PERFORM QUITE ADMIRABLY under these same conditions. Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&P series, as well as some CZ’s, HK’s and other reputable pistols.

I waited until May of 2019 to purchase the P365, and I found the NRA Special Edition sitting lonely on one of the LGS’ shelves, NIB. I handled and function checked it, then slid my driver’s license to the salesman to begin the purchase. The little pistol has repeatedly performed with aplomb, through 1000 rounds of (pre-pandemic) American Eagle 115 FMJ and 200 rounds of SuperVel all-copper hollow points. The little gun shoots right to the sights, and works as well in my big hands as it does in the medium-larged sized hands of our 15 year old.

Range day. Early quarantine, my Son and I went to a place where hungry wildcats had been spotted milling around, so I brought something more substantial in the event we stumbled across one we shouldn’t have. Luckily, we didn’t see any! I bring a full bore medical kit anytime I go to the range especially in remote areas like this place.
The J frame and the SIG P365 are similar in size and role. And there the similarities end…for a deep concealment appendix carry, ankle rig or ballistic vest BUG, the P365 is hard to beat.
23 ounces (loaded with 11 rounds) the P365 is only 6.5 ounces heavier than a Smith M38 loaded with 5 rounds.
The OEM sights from SIG are very bright, with a tritium vials front and rear. The front vial is surrounded by a large luminescent green halo that makes picking it up at speed easy even for aging eyes. A PRO TIP I picked up from the LEGENDARY LAWMAN MARSHAL CHUCK HAGGARD is to color in the rear lamps with a red Sharpie, which cuts down on the distraction of the rear dots in daytime and lowlight conditions. The dots are still barely visible in no-light, so that the pistol on the nightstand is still visible if you know roughly where you left it (next to your flashlight, hopefully). The factory texturing gives good purchase without unnecessarily eating large holes in clothing or cover garments, and even with the light weight of the P365, it doesn’t abrade the hands like many mini-9’s tend to do, especially with hot ammo.
The DARKSTAR GEAR HITCHHIKER is the primary way I carry this pistol. DSG’s owner Tom, is a multi-disciplinary practitioner, and understands intimately the attributes a concealment holsters needs but also how to optimize the in-fight weapons accessibility qualities of a true carry holster. This rig does both, allowing the user to customize both the level of retention with grommets and set screws, but also the height at which the pistol is carried in relation to the belt line. There is a provision within the design of the spring loaded clip that allows for carry with good stability and retention of the holster on belles pants and shorts (like gi pants, yoga leggings and athletic shorts). This makes the rig great as a, “grab and go,” rig to head to the corner stop and rob, or the mailroom in your building. Tom makes this rig long enough to carry the shorty P365 or its weird sibling, the 365XL. Fear not though shorty P365 users…the extra length of the holster really helps with ballast to keep the short gun from, “flopping,” over the belt. This is one area where the AIWB revolver wins over the self-loading pistol. The weight of the pistol is in the grip, so the design of a proper holster necessitates being able to balance that grip. The bulk of a revolver’s weight is midship, in the cylinder, and thus directly under the belt of the wearer, so a shorter holster for a revolver actually balances in that position without issue. So don’t hate on the extra length of the rig. It is undetectable while wearing.
The ten round, standard capacity magazine. A marvel of firearms engineering. I remember back in the day thinking that a ten-round Smith 6904 magazine was small…this is even smaller.

So there you have it…several of the features that I feel are worthwhile about the SIG P365, and why it has supplanted the J frame that has been a regular feature in my carry arsenal since the 1990’s. The real majesty of this pistol is the magazine. The SIG P365XL is slightly larger, but can carry an impressive 15 rounds using an extended magazine, that still doesn’t look or feel unwieldy. This continued reduction in overall size envelope of carry pistols used in the PDW role, begs the question, will, “full size,” 9mm carry pistols that also hold approximately 15 rounds become superfluous? Just like the N frame revolver gave way to the more compact and lighter/shorter K (and later L) frame revolvers, with no discerbal loss in real performance/capacity, will, “reduced design,” carry pistols become the norm for all except for uniform carry? Time will tell, but it’s an interesting trend.

With a list of real-world users like the SHIVWORKS Collective, and who I believe is the most innovative firearms designer of our generation (Chris G. Barrett of BARRETT FIREARMS MANUFACTURING) adopting the SIG P365 for hard use, anyone who has a need for a full-caliber concealment piece should consider the SIG P365. A, “RULE ONE,” gun (that is, a gun that allows the user to not violate RULE ONE OF A GUNFIGHT…”have a gun”) in the past used to be a J frame at best, and maybe a Ruger LCP .380, Keltec P32 or NAA .22 Magnum Mini-Revolver at the other end of the spectrum, but the P365 opens the performance gate to a class of weapons previously not usable in that same size. Although it had some growing pains at first, the P365 will probably go down in history as the concealment piece that changed the game.

THANKS FOR READING! FTC Disclosure- I have no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned and I am not receiving any compensation for this article.