bjj

Steve Erceg headlined Eternal MMA 52 tonight in a flyweight championship bout against the reigning champion Shannon Ross.

(via @eternalmma on Instagram)

After a slick knockdown in the first round, Erceg smothered Ross with his dominant grappling, resulting in a first round finish via rear naked choke.

As someone who’s had the privilege of having their ass handed to them by Steve, it was an honour to watch him claim the highest honour in Australian Mixed Martial Arts.

Steve’s victory tonight was not just historic for his career, but for Australian MMA at large. Eternal 52 was the first Australian MMA event to be streamed through UFC’s fightpass.

Tonight marks a huge step forward for Steve ‘Astroboy’ Erceg, and perhaps an even bigger step forward for Australian MMA.

With such a dominant victory, it seems like only a matter of time before we see Steve on the biggest stage in MMA.

With the UFC 251 coming to his hometown of Perth on June 7, could we see this hometown hero scrapping with the world’s finest?

Long story short, I’m trying to put on a little bit of useful weight. Skip to the bottom for the delicious recepie I’m using to jam breakfast back into my mornings.

Unfortunately, I’m not bulking up just for the hell of it. In order to continue being competitive in higher level jiu-jitsu competitions, I need to be stronger than I am.

As it turns out, this is harder do than I thought. First of all, getting strong hurts. A lot. Which doesn’t make training jiu-jitsu any easier either.

In spite of the pain, I’ve just started the Stronglifts 5×5 workout program. A number of muscly people I trust have reccomended it as a good starting point for building the type of strength required for jiu-jitsu.

The program consists of two alternating body weight workouts, each comprised of compound free weight exercises with the intent of progressive overload.

If that was gibberish to you (like it was to me a few weeks ago), what this means is that the program has you switch between two workouts which don’t involve any machines or special equiptment. You show up, lift free weights and progressively add a tiny bit more weight each session until you can no longer complete 5 reps at a given weight in an exercise.

Avoiding machines at the gym and focussing on free weights means there is a whole lot more balance and posture involved in the lifts. Because Each exercise activates (and agitates) a big portion of your body, so you have to focus on keeping your whole body activated throughout each lift, and need to focus on less total exercises to get results.

I’ve never been one to get motivated by superficial physical incentives. Muscles are nice, but if I were desperate for them I would have started going to the gym a long time ago.

I’m going to the gym primarily to hone the tools I take to war on the mats.

But what I’ve found out is that in order for all that work to mean anything on the mats, I need to pay a lot of attention to what I eat while I’m off them.

If I want to gain muscle mass, I need to be consuming roughly 4000 more kilojules than I’m used to eating every day and a large portion of that needs to be protein. At my current size, I’m simply not putting in enough food to offset all the energy I expend exercising. Which is a good problem to have. But still…

As someone mostly disinterested in the prospect of breakfast most mornings, this was a troublesome fact to uncover.

However, I think I’ve stumbled across something which is going to solve my problem; peanut butter protein shakes.

Luke’s Peanut Butter Protein Shake

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 scoops vanilla flavoured protein powder (whey or plant based)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 table spoons 100% peanut butter
  • 1 table spoon chia seeds
  • 1 table spoon honey
  • 1 date
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups milk of choice

The best thing about this recepie is that you can prepare it ahead of time.

Just put everything except the milk into a container or zip lock bag and pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to have it, empty the contents of a container into your blender, add your milk and blitz away!

I’ve prepared a batch of these in advance, and am now looking forward to each morning when I get to slurp down a meal which feels like a treat, even though it’s a necessity.

My Jiu-Jitsu team, Legion 13, won the state championship last weekend for both the kids and adult competition.

In the week since, it’s been interesting to see how bound together everyone feels.

There’s a unity which shared success can generate which is infectious and highly motivating.

Like shared trauma, shared success brings people together.

Successful teams relish the relief of success together through shared pride. In order to be proud of the team’s achievements, one needs to be proud of themselves and also their teammates.

By definition, the team is larger than any one of the individuals which make it up. Great teams relate to one another as such.

The social benefit of this shared success compounds as the team does better and better; the more unified a team, the higher their chance is of succeding.

We have seen this in every era of every sport; mythical teams who found success and went on to seem undefeatable.

That’s all a bit grand for our local Jiu-Jitsu club, but the comradery and respect amongst team members this week has been a privilege to witness nonetheless.

If you’re not involved in some team activity, sporting or otherwise, it’s worth considering seeking out a tribe.

You might be surprised by how much can accomplished in unison with others.

Image via the Legion 13 Facebook page

Bad days are a natural part of any meaningful pursuit.

There will be days when the things that normally fall into place just don’t. The writing doesn’t flow, your technique doesn’t work or the weight simply won’t go above your head.

It’s easy, and natural to feel exhausted and defeated; like progress rests on the other side of a swamp you might drown in before you cross it.

I had a bad Jiu-Jitsu day today; my body felt weak and slow. I felt as if I was two steps behind every one of my training partners. It was hot, and I felt like vomiting for most of the session.

Times like these are a valuable reminder that sometimes growth feels like drowning, and that’s okay – as long as you keep showing up.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I’ll be back at the gym at 6am tomorrow, and I’ll have every opportunity to find my feet again. If things still aren’t working, there’s always the next session, or the one after that.

Losing finite games only becomes a problem once you stop playing the infinite ones.

It’s hard to do, but so are most things that matter.

“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.”

Naval Ravikant

In both art and business, we are usually defined by those we can be likened to.

We’re lumped into genres or styles, niches and roles.

When competing for success, we are often assigned a category.

Maybe you were proactive enough to assign yourself the category which best defines you.

This is great news, on one condition;

That you’re the best in class.

If you’re going to allow yourself to be defined by a category, ensure that you’re the best fish in the pond.

When in doubt, dig your own pond.

Don’t be a slightly-above-average animal photographer when you can be the world’s best Quokka photographer.

(Photo: Natalie Su)

Never call yourself a ‘pretty good’ sales assistant when you could be the best speckled beanie salesperson in the state.

Why would you be a writer with a blog when you could be the only young West Australian writer with a BJJ blue belt who publishes original work daily?

(If there’s another one, someone let me know, I’d love to meet them.)

You do you.

I only ask that you do us all a favour and do it brilliantly.

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.”

Seth Godin

ADCC 2019 is done and dusted and Australian grappler Lachlan Giles has taken bronze in the open weight division. The Anaheim crowd erupted as Giles submitted Mahamed Aly by heel hook to secure his place in ADCC history.

Why is this such a big deal?

Giles weighs 77kg. The three people he submitted on his way to bronze each outweighed him by more than 20kg. He submitted the +99kg champion (Kaynan Duarte) in his first match. And the only reason he didn’t take the gold was that he lost to the winner of the division (Gordon Ryan).

Image source: Kit Canaria for Jiu-Jitsu Times

As a smaller guy, I know first hand what it’s like to be overpowered by someone significantly stronger than you.

The fact that Giles managed to overcome this, on three seperate occasions against some of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet and in an age where performance enhancing drugs are rampant throughout the sport is outrageous.

His success is a testament to Jiu-Jitsu; it’s an art form which empowers smaller, weaker combatants to defend themselves against larger, stronger opponents through effective use of technique, timing and strategy.

Even at the highest level.

Giles is a head coach at Absolute MMA in Melbourne, has a phD in physiotherapy and is one of the most respectful guys in grappling.

I’m looking forward to taking a trip over there to train with him and his team sometime in the near future.

Hobbies are things we regularly do for pleasure.

They tend to be fun, nieche activities involving some form of social element. Our hobbies recharge us – in part because it doesn’t matter if we’re bad at them.

Pursuits are like hobbies, except for the fact that gradual improvement is at the core of our enjoyment of them.

Going bowling with your friends for a laugh once a fortnight is a hobby. After a few months, perhaps you’re a better bowler than average. Some nights you might even get lucky and put together an impressive score. But the vast majority of your time bowling would still be considered leisure time.

If you were treating bowling as a pursuit, while you might still have the same fun fortnightly game with your friends, the majority of the time you spent thinking about bowling would revolve around the question;

How can I be better?

You’d find time to practice on your technique, you’d probably invest in your own ball and shoes and you’d study footage of professional bowlers with awe.

You’d be obsessed with progressing and improving, because becoming a better bowler is the fun part of pursuing bowling.

All pursuits require the processing of feedback in order to innovate our approach to the activity.

In bowling, the feedback is clear; you either knocked the pins over or you didn’t.

Until you can score five perfect games in a row, there’s technique to work on.

When you find a pursuit you’re passionate about, there is an intense gratification which sprouts from putting in the work to improve. You bowl to get better at the bowling.

The fortnightly hobbyist has no interest in the intensity or focus required to pursue bowling.

When bowling is a hobby, the fun is showing up. The fun is the bowling.

When it’s a pursuit, the fun is the result of consistently showing up. The fun is the bowling because it’s making you better at the bowling.

Idenfying these patterns in the things you love to do and making clear decisions about what you’re willing to suck at is can liberating and quite valuable.

Pursuits demand tenacity and a refusal to fail. They’re high stakes and hard work, but far more gratifying tham hobbies long term. Pursuits are a commitment to growth.

Hobbies provide a special kind of short term satisfaction which we all crave. They’re low stakes and relaxing. Hobbies are the time where we can give ourselves permission to fail. The results don’t matter because taking part in the activity is it’s own result.

We should all have both hobbies and pursuits, but we should also know the difference.

The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) is one of the fiercest submission grappling competitions on planet earth.

In little over a week, the ADCC World Chamionships will be held in Anaheim Calafornia. The best no-gi grapplers in the world will travel to compete for the highest prize in submission grappling.

But this Sunday September 22, ADCC Western Australia (ADCCWA) will be putting on a show of its own at Craigie Leisure Centre. If you have any interest in grappling or Mixed Martial arts… you should probably be there.

Unlike traditional Jiu-Jitsu competitions, ADCC organises competitiors into divisions based on experience, not belt rank; allowing grapplers from all backgrounds to compete against one another.

Freestyle wrestlers will fight Judo practitioners, who will fight Jiu Jitsu artists, who will fight Sambo competitiors.

In a sense, ADCC is the Mixed Martial Arts of the submission grappling world. It fosters a space where grapplers from all disciplines can come and test the efficacy of their practice.

Which is why it’s so impressive that ADCC champions are almost exclusively Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners.

My favourite Jiu Jitsu artist (Nicky Ryan) on his journey to ADCC 2019

But on Sunday, at the local level, expect everyone to have a chance at victory.

‘What sets the ADCC apart from the other grappling competitions is the emphasis on going for the submission victory’.

ADCC WA

ADCC WA are adopting the same ruleset we’ll see at the Word Championships next week, which is the perfect introduction to grappling for the unaquainted.

One of the common critiques of Jiu-Jitsu competitions is that there is an overemphasis on complicated point systems, which isolate those who don’t already train. ADCC WA promises that this won’t be a problem on Sunday.

‘You won’t see stalling tactics used like you do in other grappling competitions’.

ADCC WA

Over the past few years, submission focused competitions such as team-based grappling competition Quintet, and the Eddie Bravo Invitational have emerged with the hope of appealing to more casual fans.

For the competitors in these organisations, the ADCC is their version Olympics.

If you’re a grappler of any kind and haven’t signed up to compete this weekend, you only have a few hours to register (which you should).

And if you’re at all curious (or skeptical) about what submission grappling looks like, or whether Jiu-Jitsu is a practical martial art to pick up for self defence, do yourself a favour, support your local grappling scene, and be at Craigie Leisure Centre on Sunday.

Submission focussed competitions like ADCC are the future of grappling. With so many new organisations promoting the sport, there’s never been a better time to get involved; fighter or fan.

Perfecting a technique ensures that you’ll be able to execute it perfectly from a distinct starting point.

But what if you never find yourself at that starting location?

Perfecting a system ensures that you’ll be able to execute a move from every starting point possible.

As you become proficient in a technique and begin to practice it; you learn about the counters to the technique and how to prevent them; the set-ups, the angles and preconditions required to execute the technique; and the principles which apply to the technique, and to your opponents reaction.

The implementation of these counters, set-ups, angels, preconditions and principles is the systems based approach to learning Jiu-Jitsu.

A Jiu-Jitsu system endeavours to define all possible scenarios within the system.

Mastering a system maximises your chances of submitting you opponent once you have them within in.

For example, you can have the best swinging armbar from guard on the planet, but if your opponent would rather be triangled than let you cross his arm over your centre-line, you better have a good triangle set-up too.

Having an incredible armbar is worth nothing compared to having an incredible guard which includes a great armbar.

It took me a while to realise this, so for those of you just starting out; apply a systems based approach. Don’t just ask your instructor how to execute a technique; ask how, why, when, and when it doesn’t apply.

I was six months into training Jiu-Jitsu when I found myself standing across from my first opponent in a state-wide competition.

He had trained much longer, and I simply wasn’t on his level.

So he submitted me.

Looking back, I lasted much longer than perhaps I should have.

The fight taught me a valuable lesson. Not in the four and a half minutes of sloppily trying to defend myself while failing to implement the one technique I was half-good at, but in the opening ten seconds of the match.

The referee said ‘Combach!‘ And we were on. I locked eyes with my opponent as we each hesitated. We stared each other down for less than three seconds before my coach’s voice pierced my ear with a nugget of wisdom which has been bouncing around my head ever since;

‘Be first Luke. Be First!’

Without thinking twice, I took his advice. I closed the distance, took my grips forcefully, and executed the guard pull which I’d drilled for weeks leading up to the comp.

I caught my opponent completely un-prepared, and I had the fight where I needed it to be.

I created opportunity by seizing initiative.

I didn’t win, but I put myself in a position where I could have. A position I wouldn’t have found myself in had I not bitten the bullet and committed to action.

It’s unlikely that I would have lasted as long as I did had I not seized control of the fight at the start.

The importance of this extends far beyond losing Jiu-Jitsu fights slower than you could have.

We all have moments every day when we could use a coach to prompt us into action, but hiring someone to follow you around whispering ‘be first every forty seconds is expensive.

In life, we have to be our own coaches.

Remind yourself constantly.

Carpe diem translates to ‘seize the day’, but it means seize the moment.

Seize every moment possible.

You bump into a friend on the street and you’re both waiting for the other to extend their hand, or offer a hug?

You and a stranger are both politely waiting for the other to get on the bus, and now you’re holding up the queue?

Your lecturer asked a remedial question that everyone in the class should know the answer to, but nobody wants to risk answering?

Be. First.

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, someone will be thankful you did.

What have you risked? Nothing.

The only think you’ve risked the one-in-a-hundred chance of an awkward three seconds, and you’re probably better for it.

Being first is always better than waiting for someone else to be.

Who’s the most decisive person you know? Who’s the most confident? Next time you see them, notice that they’ve made this a habit.

Try and think of one person you look up to who doesn’t put their front foot forward. Can you? I can’t.

Be first friends. Start now.