5 Factors That Affect The Number On The Scale


I’d like to begin by stating that this is not a scholarly article. My weight cutting methods have been greatly influenced by the research of Mark Sisson, Rob Wolfe, Gary Taubes, and others. The following is an aggregate of their knowledge, combined with my own anecdotal evidence. Much of what you’ll read below hovers over the valley between “bro science” and initial clinical trials. True double-blind randomized studies and mainstream acceptance are always years behind, and rightfully so. But if you find this article useful, the work of the aforementioned authors is readily available both online and in print form.

I stepped on the scale this morning, and it read ‘162.5.' This is over 10lbs more than it read when I competed last Saturday. Most people would find this sudden spike shocking, but given my experience manipulating my bodyweight for competition, I wasn’t surprised.

Can a person really gain 10lbs in a seven day period?

Well, yes. And no. As with many subjects, there are several layers to a response that is accurate. There are five factors that affect the number on the scale. I have had the most success addressing them in stages prior to competition day, in chronological order:

  • body fat
  • inflammatory water weight
  • non-inflammatory water weight
  • waste weight
  • competition uniform (what you’re wearing)

    1. BODY FAT

    Losing body fat is the simplest (although not necessarily easiest) method for lowering competition weight. Any serious athlete should get their body fat percentage to an optimal level (which will vary among individuals) before dealing with the other four factors.


  • Unless your body fat percentage is dipping below 8%, losing this type of weight will not diminish your athletic performance on competition day.
  • You’ll be faster. Speed is greatly affected by weight. This is basic physics, not conjecture.
  • You will appear more athletic. Have faith in the old sports adage “look good - feel good - do good.” If this philosophy is sufficient for UFC legend Georges St Pierre, who admits to lifting weights purely for cosmetic purposes, it’s good enough for me.


  • Losing body fat, depending on your goal amount, could be a long-term proposal. This process could begin more than year before competing.
  • The activities associated with losing body fat (altered diet and exercise) could diminish your capacity for sport-specific training in the short-term.

So, what’s the most efficient way to lose body fat? A quick Google search on this question will return conflicting information, as well as links to messageboard threads bursting with heated debate. My bottom line in this regard has always been diet and exercise. But not just any type of diet. And certainly not any type of exercise.

DIET: I am heavily biased toward a ketogenic diet during the fat loss phase of my weight cut. I’ve tried calorie restriction, low-fat eating plans, blending, juicing, and more. This is my experience. There is evidence to suggest that individuals with faster metabolisms don’t fare as well on ketogenic diets. There is a wide range of diversity when it comes to human biology and metabolism. I am not suggesting that this is the path for everyone.

The ketogenic diet, and variations therein, heavily emphasize the consumption of healthy fats and cholesterol, both plant and animal-based. These include olive oil, nuts, grass-fed butter, animal fats sourced from healthy livestock, eggs, avocado, and more. There is much evidence to suggest that saturated fats and cholesterol aren't the demons that they were once thought to be. After you're done reading this article, read this shameful story on how the sugar industry shifted the blame of our health woes onto fats.

The ketogenic diet is also based on a net-carbohydrate restricted pattern of eating. “Carbohydrate” is an umbrella term for sugars of any kind, as well as complex and simple carbohydrates and starches. Examples include fruit juice, bread, oatmeal, whole grain toast, and rice. ALL OF THESE are converted into sugar and stored as fat. Fiber is also technically a carbohydrate, but isn’t converted into sugar or picked up by insulin. Here’s an example of a ‘net carbohydrate’ calculation:

Serving of Raspberries:

Total Carbohydrates: 20g
Dietary Fiber: 6g
Sugar: 14g


A quick cost/benefit analysis of the keto diet for the athlete-in-training. Pros: puts your body in a state of perpetual fat burning, increased mental clarity, no calorie counting, growth hormone boost. Cons: steep adaptation curve, lack of “5th gear” during moments of high glycogen-dependent exertions (athletic explosions such as takedowns, max height jumps, etc).

Exploring ketosis and its effect on the human body is worthy of many hundreds of articles, so for now, that’s where our exploration will end. The takeaway: find a diet that suits your metabolic machine, and use it to lower your body fat percentage in conjunction with...

EXERCISE: When it comes to exercising specifically for fat loss, not all modalities are created equal. As with dietary options, there are many choices the athlete can make on training day. 

Run five miles? Bench press? Yoga?

There is much evidence to suggest that a combination of strength training and short-term anaerobic cardiovascular interval training will put the body in an anabolic (muscle building) state, while boosting the fat burning metabolism. The term ‘strength training’ is relatively self-explanatory. Think about lifting moderately heavy things with good form. The term ‘short-term anaerobic cardiovascular interval training’ might require further explanation.

Think about getting on an elliptical, and turning up the resistance to a moderate level. Sprint (all out, take yourself to death’s door) for 30 seconds, keeping your RPMs or strides at a consistent level. Rest for 30. Repeat for no more than 10 minutes. Experiment with work time / rest time durations. Again, this is my experience, and the modality with which I’ve had the most success. Combinations of strength/cardio regimens specific to this style of exercise might include:

  • Deadlifts and squats, followed by treadmill interval sprints
  • Pull ups, pushups, and kettle bell swings, followed by elliptical interval sprints
  • Heavy sled sprints (a simultaneous combination of strength training and anaerobic cardio)


It is difficult to establish credibility with a reader when using terms like “inflammatory.” Unfortunately, this word has been associated with phrases like “flushing the toxins” and “aligning your chakras.” As a staunch former skeptic, I’m here to tell you that inflammatory water weight is real. Your body can, and does, hold onto water weight that isn’t serving you, under the right (or wrong) circumstances. Let’s talk about how it happens.

Simply put, eating the wrong foods can create an unintended immune response that causes the accumulation of excess water in the body. Recent genetic evidence suggests that these ‘culprit foods’ are not uniform across the population, and individuals likely have unique inflammatory responses to different foods. My culprit foods include:

  • industrial seed oils (canola, safflower, etc)
  • garlic (bummer!)
  • preservatives (monosodium glutamate, nitrates)
  • refined sugar (table sugar, corn syrup)
  • most grains (rice and oatmeal seem tolerable)

So, how much water weight are we talking about? Here’s a quick anecdote. During weight cuts, I track the number on my scale very carefully. I weigh myself in the morning and at night, and I keep a journal. My schedule is very regimented during training, and my weight is predictable in a declining linear order. One night, I allow myself steak and a salad at a nice restaurant, knowing that most restaurants cook with canola oil, and most salad dressings contain canola as well. 

My weight spikes 2lbs overnight, with no other variables being introduced. The next day, I return to cooking at home and controlling what goes into my body, and the 2lb spike dissipates over the next 48 hours.

If this concept is new to you, I know how strange it sounds. But you shouldn't believe me, or Mark Sisson, or any of the geneticists who run blood tests that identify inflammatory foods for individuals. Clean up your diet and see for yourself. A quick cost/benefit analysis of dealing with inflammatory water weight. PROS: Losing this type of weight is essentially ‘free pounds’ off of the scale for the competitive athlete, as it does not aid athletic performance. CONS: Experimentation, lots of label reading, and a blood panel might be required in order to identify your ‘culprit foods.’



Everyone has lost non-inflammatory water weight at some point in their life. Simply put, this is the sweating phase. Shedding a percentage of the water that keeps your body hydrated. In my experience, this phase doesn’t need to begin more than 12 hours before competition time. If the athlete is well prepared and disciplined, roughly 4 hours before competition time is more reasonable. Let’s talk about acceptable methods for efficiently and wisely sweating off some extra pounds.

  • the sauna
  • sport specific drilling
  • exercise (jogging, sprinting, stairs)
  • any of the above, with the aid of varying layers of clothing

So how should it be done? Rather than make a list of exercises, I'd rather outline what NOT to do:

  • DON’T do anything new in terms of exercise. If you’re not used to the sauna or running stairs, try to avoid making an experiment out of competition day. This is also a wise reason to structure part of your regular strength and conditioning routine to mirror your ‘day of’ warmup. Have something familiar ready to go.
  • DON’T overdo it. There are levels of hydration, and diminishing returns on lowering one’s levels. If a person weighing 165lbs sweats out 10lbs the day of, there’s an excellent chance for a poor athletic performance, and under the worst of circumstances, medical complications.
  • DON’T use stimulants or diuretics. Assuming the athlete followed the ‘diet’ protocol, the introduction of either would be a new element. Competition day should be predictable and familiar in all respects. Many diuretics contain stimulants that could have an adverse effect on the athlete. And under certain athletic commissions and governing bodies, they’re illegal.
  • DON’T consume too much salt in the days leading up to the event. If your diet is already dialed in, and you’re comfortable with what you put in your body, just scale your sodium intake back about 20% a few days before you compete.


    What are we talking about here? Let’s be honest. Weigh yourself before and after going to the bathroom. There’s a difference, and depending on who you are and how you’ve structured your diet, that difference could be significant. 

    Without getting into the specifics of the average weight of a human bowel movement, the typical volume of a human bladder, or world records associated with either, it is very reasonable to say that the average person could lose one to three pounds after a trip to the bathroom. I’ve read unsubstantiated reports online that clock in higher than five pounds. To put that in perspective for the competitive athlete, that’s roughly one 16oz bottle of water for every pound, that you could (or couldn’t) drink on competition day. Thirsty yet?

    The key is staying regular. You can’t force yourself to go if your body isn’t ready. But the athlete who’s diet has been clean, disciplined, and consistent will know in advance when they’ll have to go. There are certain foods and activities that will help promote regularity. These might include:
  • Healthy oils, including coconut, olive, and hemp oil. If you’ve subscribed to a ketogenic diet, consuming these will already be part of your daily routine.
  • Plant-based foods that are high in fiber. These might include raspberries, oatmeal, dates, cacao nibs, and cruciferous vegetables.
  • Staying properly hydrated.
  • Coffee! I know, I know...caffeine is a stimulant and a diuretic. But it isn’t nearly powerful enough to make a cup of coffee a net-negative in terms of hydration. If your mornings always consist of a cup of coffee, have one! Caffeine is a drug, and regular coffee drinkers are addicted to that drug on some level (I’m one of them). You don’t want to be going into withdrawal on competition day.

Avoiding any sedentary time. Walking, yoga, and swimming are great ways to keep moving without burning unnecessary energy. 


A pair of shoes, socks, underwear, shirt, and jeans could easily weigh four pounds. The same can be said for a competition uniform. For example, an IBJJF Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor is subject to a pre-match weigh in. Step onto the scale, and then onto the mat to compete. Items to consider when weighing in:

  • Your gi weight. To my knowledge, the Vulkan Ultralight is the lightest gi on the market. But because of how sheer the material is, your opponent is able to grip the sleeve like a thin piece of rubber. Conversely, I own a beautiful Gameness Pearl. But it clocks in at a hefty 3.5lbs. So which is the best? There is no correct answer, and preference will vary among athletes. Read online reviews, ask your training partners, buy as many uniforms as your financial limitations allow, and find what works best for you.
  • Are you wearing patches? They’re not weightless. Under the gun, I’ve cut .3lbs of patches off of my uniform before.
  • Are you wearing underwear? Of course you should, but a nice pair of boxers weighs about .2lbs. I’m just throwing out information here.
  • Are you going to be taping up any injuries? A roll of tape on your ankle is a roll of tape on the scale.

    2/10 of a pound here or there might not seem much, but cumulatively, these combined factors could make a pound of difference. There are so many moving parts here. Competition rules and format, weigh-in date, uniform requirements, and more. The takeaway: through experience, the athlete must develop awareness of these moving parts, and their relationship to success on competition day.


Don't listen to me. I'm skeptical of everything I read, especially on the internet. Do research, critique what I've laid out here with a discerning eye, and try some of these methods for yourself. If you notice something that I didn't list here, email me at John@HurricaneJJ.com. I'd love to hear about it.

Fighting Back: BJJ therapy for PTSD

In August, I offered a combat veteran suffering with PTSD a free lifetime membership to Hurricane Jiu Jitsu. The results have been nothing short of miraculous. Here is his story:

"I served in the Army for five years as a 19D Cavalry Scout (Recon).  I spent a year in South Korea and then was stationed in Fort Drum New York with the 10th Mountain Division.  While in the 10th Mountain Division, I was deployed to South Baghdad for 15 months.  In 2010 I was screened by a team of 10 different doctors and diagnosed with PTSD, severe anxiety, severe depression, and insomnia.  After my diagnoses I was prescribed medication and pushed along like most of us are.

In late August, I saw John’s offer to take on a veteran suffering from PTSD, and began training at Hurricane.  I could never anticipate the amazing affect it would have on me both physically and mentally. The hardest part was walking through the front door. I didn’t really know anyone who trained there, which was incredibly intimidating.  My anxiety was through the roof on my first day. I would be lying if I told you that I almost didn’t show for the intro class. 

In the beginning, there was a heavy amount of anxiety that I had to deal with, but over time, it is has become almost non-existent when I’m training. Even on my first day, every person I met encouraged me to keep pushing. The team seemed invested in my constant improvement.  That is something that is true to this day. I never would have thought that Brazilian jiu jitsu would have helped me as much as it has. I feel better. I sleep better. I eat better. My endurance has increased which helped increase my confidence. The intimidation in beginning is gone and now I look forward to going to class anytime I can. I don’t get up in the morning depressed because I know at the end of the day, I am part of something.

Not only does John want me and all of his students to progressively get better at jiu-jitsu, but his students are constantly pushing to improve eachother. The first two weeks can be challenging, but John told me it would be. This has been an amazing experience from day one until right now. I encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in BJJ to try it.  I still have a long way to go when it comes to jiu jitsu, but I’ve made a lot of friends that are more than willing to help me along the way."

If you know someone who is suffering with PTSD, please share this post.

How To Train With Everyone: A Methodology For Sparring

I have a poster hanging in the changing room at Hurricane that reads "Every Partner Can Teach You." I didn't hang it up in an effort to be ultra-inclusive or patronizing. I hung it up because the quote is absolutely true. In fact, a more accurate version of the quote would read "Every partner can be an essential training tool." Yes, I'm comparing your training partner to a piece of simple machinery. But we don't have weights or machines at our school. We have mats and bodies.

During sparring, have you ever gotten paired up with someone who is well below your skill level, or smaller than you, and thought something like "this is a wasted round"? I will be the first to admit that I've had this thought. Thinking this way is unproductive, uncreative, and completely inaccurate. Over the past several months I've developed a very simple training methodology for getting the most out of sparring with ANY partner. As a general rule, you will encounter three types of sparring partners. While there are shades in between, you will typically find those with:

  • Inferior technical and physical capabilities 
  • Comparable technical and physical capabilities
  • Superior technical and physical capabilities

How can you get the most out of training with these three different types? Follow the guidelines below, and I guarantee that your BJJ skills will improve drastically in the months following.

- Sparring with partners who have INFERIOR technical and physical capabilities -

Don't be the training partner who coasts through the round with the less technical/physically capable practitioner. If you do, you will be missing an imperative part of the puzzle when it comes to improving your game. 

"So, you want me to crush the new guy?" Nope, that's not the message at all. "Okay, so maybe put myself in defensive positions the entire round?" That is also relatively unproductive. "You're confusing me man." Hang with me. The payoff is just around the corner. Sparring with someone who has inferior physical/technical capabilities gives you an opportunity to accumulate your ATTACK REPS. 

"Hey John hold up a sec. What do you mean "reps?" Like doing 10 curls at the gym? Reps like that?"

Yes, reps just like that. Think about it. You don't go to the gym, slide an arbitrary amount of weight onto the bar, and hoist it with no idea of how many reps you're going to do. You would normally have a training methodology in place. A set amount of weight on the bar, a set amount of reps. A goal oriented activity. You can translate this analogy directly to sparring. Here's what you do:

1. Evaluate your partner. How far behind are they in terms of skill? How much smaller are they than you, if at all?
2. Cross reference your evaluation with the time on the clock. 5 minutes? 7 minutes? More?
3. Considering the above factors, set a reasonable amount of submissions that you can get for the round. USE COURTESY AND COMMON SENSE. If your partner weighs 30lbs less than you, is two belt ranks under you, and you set the number of submissions as 15 in a 5 minute round, YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE.

Here's a reasonable scenario. I'm a black belt. I go up against a purple belt who is my weight, and the clock time is 5 minutes. I will go for 2 submissions. And I will work hard for those subs. After that, I go casual. Flow roll, defensive positions, whatever I want. But I get my 2 submission reps first. If you aren't getting your attack reps against a resisting partner, YOUR LIVE ATTACKS WILL NOT IMPROVE.

- Sparring with partners who have COMPARABLE technical and physical capabilities -

Everyone has that sparring partner in the room. Sometimes you win, sometimes they win. You improve together, and the rolls always stay competitive. This person is so important to your development in BJJ. They will help you accumulate your HEART REPS. I know...it sounds like the Legend of Zelda, but it's a real thing. This sparring partner will make you very familiar with this painful scenario: One minute left on the clock. Each of you has scored a sweep and a pass. Both of you have escaped submissions. Your lungs are on fire. Your grips are numb and curled permanently inward. Both of you are pushing for the final score, waiting for the other to show a sign of cracking. Neither side gives in, and seconds seem like minutes. You won't find this feeling with partners who are inferior for obvious reasons. Surprisingly, you won't necessarily get this from a partner who is superior either. Sometimes, it is easier to get destroyed than to fight an even battle.

- Sparring with partners who have SUPERIOR technical and physical capabilities -

There's a famous jiu jitsu quote that reads "To become a lion, you have to train with lions." The problem with this ideology is, against a superior grappler, you will accumulate very few attack reps. So you will become a lion with no teeth. We need the inferior and comparable sparring partners to facilitate our growth in many areas. But there is great value in sparring with higher level grapplers. This is the partner that will help you accumulate your DEFENSE REPS.  

Sparring with someone who's physical and technical skills are superior to yours is relatively simple. I use the word 'simple' because you will likely have very little choice concerning what happens during the match. You will likely be countering, defending, and tapping out. Your attack reps will be few and far between. And sometimes this partner is so far ahead of us technically, we are beaten without effort, and subsequently do not accumulate heart reps either.

So, every partner really can teach you. If you're serious about improving your development in BJJ, this methodology should be followed at almost every practice.

If you'd like to try a class at Hurricane Jiu Jitsu, email me at john@hurricanejj.com, or visit www.hurricanejj.comfor more info. See you on the mats!

How I Promote Students in BJJ

With our bi-annual belt promotion celebration getting closer, I have had many students ask me how and why I decide to promote people to a new belt. The process of promoting students in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been historically arbitrary. There is no published set of guidelines or worldwide standard by which instructors rank their students. The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation offers only a chronological guideline under which students should be promoted. 

I put a tremendous amount of time into deciding who to promote every six months. It is not a process that I take lightly. I make a list of all of my students, and outline each individual’s positive attributes and shortcomings. I order bright new belts and a roll of tape, and wait for the promotion just as excited as anyone else. It is an important day. Because it is so important, I thought I would finally put the rough promotion criteria that I have in my head onto ‘paper.’ 

Imagine that you’re being graded on a set of attributes. The student earns corresponding points for having one of the following attributes. Now, I don’t think someone’s rank can be summed up by a set of points, but I think it serves as a loose guideline for how I make decisions regarding who to promote. While there are intangibles and other variables to consider, I would like to see students who are close to being promoted score around a 70 (in proportion to their current rank):


technical knowledge: 25
total hours on the mat: 20
live application (sparring): 15


competition experience: 10
mental toughness: 10
dedication & consistency: 10


athleticism: 5
strength: 5

In the future, I'm going to break down what each of these individual points means to me. For now, I've got to get to a tournament! Our next promotion day is Sunday November 15th at 11:00am. We will have a big open mat followed by promotions. Please mark your calendars!


New School vs Old School: An Objective Analysis

by John Lawrence
Hurricane Jiu Jitsu, Cleveland OH - BJJ classes for adults and kids

About once a week, I get an email from a potential student asking something along the lines of "do you teach sport jiu jitsu, or do you emphasize a style based on self defense?" Before answering that question for the readers of this blog, I would like to admit that I'm pretty bummed out that this question needs to exist in the first place. For those who are new to the sport, you should know that over the past decade, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) has been divided into two ideological camps: New School (NS), and Old School (OS). The dichotomy that has been created challenges the way that we label BJJ. Is it a martial art? Is it a sport? Can it be both? Before getting into deeper discussion, let's do a better job of defining these two ideologies:

  • a style that puts heavy emphasis on striking awareness & self defense
  • a style that requires only a moderate amount of athleticism and flexibility to perform
  • a style that is centered around a small, core group of fundamental movements

When BJJ was in its early stages of development on the streets of Brazil, there were no tournaments. The Gracie family would publish ads in the local paper challenging any and all comers to walk into their academy and, for lack of a better description, have a street fight in the gym. If you'd like a sample, check out this video narrated by Rorion Gracie and his absolutely fantastic mustache: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8jvy8XBsQk. This era is highly romanticized (and rightfully so --- sounds pretty badass!) by the now-ageing generations of BJJ black belts.

  • a style that conforms to the ruleset of the IBJJF
  • a style that emphasizes highly technical open guard positions and transitions
  • a style that requires a higher degree of flexibility and athleticism to perform

Enter the modern era. The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) holds tournaments every single weekend all across the world. Every relevant mixed martial artist holds at least a brown belt in BJJ. YouTube is rich to the point of pollution with BJJ content. The popularity of the sport drastically increases competitiveness. Iron sharpens iron. The level of pure Brazilian jiu jitsu has never been higher.

Problems With Old School

I would like to start my criticism of the old school ideology with a disclaimer. I hold self defense and striking awareness in very high esteem. I believe this technical knowledge to be incredibly important at all levels of BJJ. While I hold these values in high regard, I see the following issues sometimes attaching themselves to the old school (OS) camp:

1. Old school practitioners are often dismissive of new school practitioners. I have been on the mats to witness high level NS athletes get the better of their OS counterparts. I have also been unfortunate enough to witness the OS guys take a very 'sour grapes' position on the aptitude of their NS training partner. "Yeah he's good on the mats, but he probably doesn't know how to block punches from the closed guard" or "he couldn't teach you the first thing about headlock defense" and sometimes "he's doing great now, but he can't maintain that athletic style forever."

Do me a favor. Go put Joao Miyao in a headlock and let me know how it goes.

Diminishing the effectiveness of NS BJJ in lieu of celebrating its technical beauty and mat effectiveness is silly. Framing a humbling round of sparring in this manner is a self-defeating copout, and is never how any setback should be handled. The OS guy in the paragraph above actually makes some valid points, but they are wrapped in a blanket of envy.

2. The old school style has grandfathered in some relatively inefficient techniques. The OS camp has an understandable love of BJJ history and tradition. Having tradition is roughly defined as 'doing something because those who came before you did as well.' In many ways, tradition has a way of maintaining fundamentals and keeping people grounded. it is also the antithesis of innovation. 

Let's take for example, the ippon seoi throw, a staple of almost every fundamentals curriculum I've ever seen. Let's go ahead and state what everyone is thinking, but nobody is saying. This throw works really well...if you've done 100,000 repetitions, have a natural aptitude for the throw, and you are under 6' tall. Otherwise, I don't understand what business this throw has in any fundamentals curriculum. It is incredibly technical and takes razor sharp timing to hit, in addition to the prerequisites already stated above. By definition, it is an inefficient technique.

Before you scorch this blog post, answer the following question: I give you a brand new student. They have a street fight/MMA fight/BJJ tournament in one hour. They have the choice to practice either the double leg takedown, or the ippon seoi during that time. As that person's coach, which one do you teach them? What is the more effective choice?

Problems With New School

You're pretty deep into my post at this point. Are you already convinced that I'm a New School BJJ coach? Not so. Read on! Because new school BJJ places heavy emphasis on pure grappling (no strikes), the practitioner is free to explore new and wondrous positions. Inversions, berimbolos, 50/50, and the like. This is changing what the tournament and classroom landscapes look like when it comes to sparring. New School BJJ is starting to branch off of the 'martial art tree' into a pure sport style:

1. Because new school heavily emphasizes guard play, takedowns are falling by the wayside. I love takedowns. There's no more exciting or effective way to begin a match. Or a fight. Remember fighting? This is why many of us started practicing BJJ. We were MMA fans, or were looking to become more prepared in terms of street defense. Many modern BJJ matches resemble some strange ground dancing rather than a fight, and I have a real problem with that. People simultaneously sit and leg-wrestle rather than vying for effective position through a takedown. This is damaging to BJJ athletes looking to transition into mixed martial arts, and also detrimental to those who are looking to become effective in the street. THIS (click it!) is not an effective strategy.

2. Getting used to new school techniques presents dangers for street and self defense. Let's assume that the NS practitioner gets into a self defense altercation, and is able to effectively guard-pull their way to the ground. What kind of half guard does he begin to work? That depends. What kind of half guard does he practice every day? A good fundamental half guard with their head protected, a deep underhook and a game plan to take their attackers back? Or does their body go where it is conditioned to go...deep half guard? In the street, this guard has a different name. It is called 'hammerfist my face into pulp' guard. Let's assume that the NS practitioner instead drops into reverse DLR guard, better known on the street as 'I don't understand distance management, please break my jaw' guard. You always play how you practice. In this instance, you'll fight how you train.

3. New School is not a style that can be practiced into old(er) age. I'm 32 now, and BJJ has turned me into a guy who thinks several moves ahead. So I'm already thinking about BJJ at 42, 52, 62, and so on. Developing an OS game that is centered around simple, core fundamental movements will serve me well as I age. Is it possible for a NS practitioner to make this transition as they age? Of course it is. But they will need to re-engineer their game, and shore up their foundation. Teaching an old dog new tricks. Or a new dog old tricks. You get the idea.

RESOLVING OLD SCHOOL vs NEW SCHOOL: People love dichotomies. They love to pick a team and push all of their chips onto one side. How does a good BJJ coach decide which style to teach? Despite the old saying, you really can have it all! Simple, core techniques and self defense are essential to my fundamentals curriculum at Hurricane Jiu Jitsu. At regular and advanced BJJ classes, I teach sport BJJ and points, while highlighting what each position means in a street situation. Every couple of months, an entire week is dedicated to fundamentals and self defense. Next week (8/3/15) is dedicated entirely to dealing with the addition of strikes.

If you'd like to try a class at Hurricane Jiu Jitsu, email me at john@hurricanejj.com, or visit www.hurricanejj.com for more info. See you on the mats!


3 uncommon reasons why your kid should try jiu jitsu

Kids' classes on Monday and Wednesday 5pm, Saturday 10am

Kids' classes on Monday and Wednesday 5pm, Saturday 10am

John Lawrence
Hurricane Jiu Jitsu - Cleveland OH

If you've ever read a kids' class flyer for a martial arts school, they typically highlight the same stale bullet points. "Get your child in shape! Teach them confidence! Learn self defense!" And these points are quite valid. Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) will provide your child with these things:

- Yes, your child will get in shape. BJJ is a unique form of high-intensity exercise that combines resistance training and cardiovascular training. There are few better forms of total body conditioning.

- Yes, your child will develop confidence. A child (or adult!) who feels fit in a healthy body, while having the skill and knowledge to subdue any physical threat will intrinsically have a strong sense of confidence.

- Yes, your child will learn self defense. BJJ is considered by many to be the single most effective form of self defense. And children learn far faster than adults.

So enough with the obvious. The three bullet points above are relatively apparent to the casual observer. Let's review some essential benefits of putting your child in Brazilian jiu jitsu that are rarely discussed. In the many years of my life that I have poured into BJJ, I have taught hundreds of people. And I have seen the following transformations consistently take place in children and adults alike:

-- BJJ will teach your child empathy. Probably not quite what you were expecting? Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Let me be the first to tell you that even when practiced carefully, BJJ is difficult and somewhat painful. The pain that your child will experience in a BJJ class is a healthy kind of pain. The pain of working muscles, of burning lungs, and even the mental pain of losing a match. This pain will help your child develop a sense of empathy. By experiencing the challenge of discomfort in a controlled environment under an experienced instructor, they will begin to understand that what feels unpleasant for them will also feel unpleasant for those around them. A well trained child is never a bully. Put your child in BJJ classes, and watch them become a better person.

-- BJJ will change your child's perception of "difficult." The adults at Hurricane Jiu Jitsu occupy a variety of jobs. Concrete workers, law students, doctors, and tradesman. Ask them "what's the hardest part of your day?" and across the board, the answer will be "jiu jitsu class." In our modern world, a child's most difficult task is often deciding what to watch on Netflix. Everything is designed to be easy. The distance between your child and most things is the length of a button-push. 

I have a four year old daughter. When I ask her to put on her shoes, she'll sometimes tell me "I can't, it's too hard." The logical part of my brain chuckles and says 'she's only a four year old,' but somewhere in the dreaded depths of my subconscious, I worry (completely illogically) that she will carry this attitude throughout her life. Putting your child in BJJ classes will recalibrate their definition of "difficult." Assuming you read paragraph above, I won't need to reiterate how incredibly difficult it is to practice BJJ. When they compare yard work, chores, and homework to BJJ class, these tasks will seem simple in contrast.

-- BJJ will help your child manage their biology. Our children's bodies are not meant for the sedentary world in which they live. Our children are built to move, jump, run, climb, and discover. They spend most of their time in environments that discourage these activities. Think about the average child that is diagnosed with ADHD. What is this child actually guilty of? Not wanting to sit immobile in a chair for 8 hours, listening to a lecture on a subject in which they have no interest, given by a person with whom they cannot relate?

Children need a healthy, nurturing outlet for the explosion of energy happening in their bodies. Put them in a BJJ class! They will spend the hour running, stretching, moving each other's bodies around, drilling, and sparring. And they will leave tired every day. They will eat better, sleep better, and behave better.

If you'd like to give your child the gift of Brazilian jiu jitsu, our kids' classes take place on Monday and Wednesday at 5:00pm, and Saturday at 10:00am. Visit http://www.hurricanejj.com/kids/ for more info. See you on the mats!


How is an in-house tournament beneficial?

I was talking with some people today about the in-house tournament, and why I encourage students to try it out. Here are a couple bullet points that I think are important.

1. First, an easy one. If you are at all interested in actual competitions, this is a great way to dip your toes in the water with people you already know.

2. Approach the in-house competition as you would any other rolling session. It's just a different format. That format is designed to evoke a different psychological response from the participant. You are sparring alone in front of a room full of people. Generally speaking, it is much more stressful than a regular sparring session. Why is that important? Because...

3. I put very heavy emphasis on what is known as 'stress inoculation.' The more you are used to doing jiu jitsu under elevated stress, the more effective you will be in the unlikely event of an actual attack. It's easy to get comfortable with your everyday training partners. Comfort is a nice thing to enjoy, but not a nice thing to grow accustomed to. Get out of your comfort zone inside of your own school with your own team.

4. Let's discuss a physical component associated with bullet point #3. You will feel a very different physical response during the in-house tournament. This goes hand-in-hand with the level of stress associated with sparring in front of your team and spectators. Cortisol and adrenaline soar. Your mouth dries out. Your forearms swell with blood and lactic acid. If this is your first competition ever, it will likely be the most tired you've ever been in your life.

After reading all of this, you might think "why does John want us to feel so terrible?"

I don't. At least not all of the time. But I'm a realist, and it would be very disingenuous of me to teach you guys/gals Brazilian jiu jitsu, and to tell you that it will work seamlessly in a real-life situation without first having some stress inoculation training.

The registration is open. I would never put undue pressure on anyone to compete. It's not for everyone. But if you're on the fence, let this be the push that you need! See you on the mats killers.

Training without the gi

Whether you practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for sport, self defense, or as a casual hobby, training without the gi is essential at all stages of your development. It is the philosophy of many BJJ black belts that their students start out training in the gi, and then slowly transition to no gi. Or worse, that their students train exclusively in the gi.

Training without the gi is a huge reality check. A few things that you will notice as you begin your no gi journey:

1. "My A-Game is useless without the gi" Your spider guard is dead. Your fancy lapel chokes have been thrown out the window. And now the sweaty, athletic new student is slipping out of your poorly sharpened no gi attacks and getting the better of you. This can be a huge bummer for the seasoned practitioner. If you find yourself having a hard time handling these setbacks, you might also notice.......

2. "My ego might be out of control." The reality is, a young athletic college wrestler can be a nightmare for even a seasoned BJJ black belt without the gi. And nobody wants to get beat by the new guy. So instead of dealing with the reality of a different grappling style, the black belt is dominated by their own ego. They shy away from training without the gi, and insist that all of their students do the same. This is destructive thinking on the mat, and in life. You should embrace new failures on the journey to learning something new.

3. "I never train without the gi, so I can't do no gi competitions" This one is pretty self explanatory. You will get smoked if you enter a no gi tournament without having trained for it. Yes, there are outliers like Roger Gracie, who takes his gi off just a week before competition and destroys everyone. But guess what? YOU'RE NOT ROGER GRACIE.

4. "I might get my ass kicked in the street." It's cute to say "Hey we live in Cleveland man. Everyone has a heavy jacket on." It's partially true, and I've said it myself. But people wear a variety of clothing throughout the year, in a variety of different settings. And I'm assuming that you occasionally travel to warmer climates. So be prepared for an attacker/opponent wearing a gi, wearing no shirt, wearing a sweat shirt, wearing a dress, anything! Training both gi and no gi is the best way to cover all of your bases.

See you on the mats!

How do I get started?

"How do I get started?"

This is the number one question that I get from people who are thinking about trying a class at Hurricane Jiu Jitsu. As discussed in my previous blog post, walking into a traditional martial arts academy can be uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. My students and I have been lucky enough to cultivate an environment into which a person can enter and be totally at ease.

So, how do you get started? The process is very simple:

  1. Check out our schedule, and pick a class that sounds interesting to you. If you're not sure, I would recommend any class except Wednesday night advanced, and Saturday competition class.
  2. After you pick a class, send me an email at john@hurricanejj.com and let me know you're coming. This is certainly not required, but it will ensure that I have a clean trial uniform ready for you.
  3. Arrive 10 minutes before the start of your intro class. Your instructor will show you around and introduce you to the rest of the team. We will have a clean trial uniform ready for you.

And that's it. Nobody will sit you down in an office and pressure you into signing up. I don't even have an office. Mat space is too precious. There will be absolutely no sales pitches, obligations, or paperwork for you to fill out.  All you will need to do is sign a waiver, and you're good to train for 30 days -- free of charge.

See you on the mats.

Martial arts training in a casual environment

When I was a kid, I begged my parents to sign me up at a local Tae Kwon Do academy. Walking into the school for the first time was intimidating and strange. The place was decorated with pictures of old men in kimonos that I did not recognize. There were many different flags hanging on the wall to which people bowed in sequence. There were tiers of instructors of varying ages wearing different tattered belts, also addressed formally in a specific order. And the place smelled weird. It smelled the way that a traditional martial arts school is expected to smell. Like old pads and incense. A new student is constantly wondering, "Can I step here? Am I supposed to bow to this guy? Is someone going to get mad at me?"

When I opened Hurricane Jiu Jitsu, I wanted to create a casual environment into which a person could enter with the same ease that they would enter a Starbucks to buy a cup of coffee. We teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That is our product, and we are outstanding at teaching BJJ to new students. There are no formal titles for our instructors. There are no strange rituals that you are expected to perform before stepping onto our mat. We are a bunch of (mostly) normal, intelligent men and women who believe that BJJ is a challenging, fun thing to do.

There's a place for everyone: We train doctors, lawyers, tradesman, teachers, and students. We train beginners. We train hardcore competitors who fight at some of the highest levels in BJJ. Our competition class is absolutely grueling. Our fundamentals class is informative and well paced.

Is Hurricane Jiu Jitsu right for you?

You'll fit right in if you enjoy:

  • MMA, wrestling, or other martial arts
  • a challenging, character-building workout
  • pushing yourself to the limit
  • learning new things
  • hanging out with really cool, relaxed people

You might want to try a different school if you prefer:

  • a very formal environment
  • high pressure sales
  • discussing the lineage of the Gracie family at great length
  • gossiping about other students, instructors, or schools
  • having a 'professor' or guru to look up to
  • association politics, rules, or unquestioning team loyalty

In short, we offer the following:

  • a large, clean, professional facility
  • highly skilled training partners for both the casual practitioner and serious competitor
  • outstanding, friendly instruction
  • reasonable prices

So how do you get started? Send me an email and let me answer any questions that you might have. My name is John and I'm the head instructor at Hurricane. My email address is john@hurricanejj.com. See you on the mats!