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!