Jason C. Brown

3 Things You Need to Get Better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

How do you get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

You practice of course.

But practice is a very deep and rich conversation. Things can complicated quite quickly.

And although I love the science of motor learning, I like to keep things super simple in concept and design. 

This is why I fell in love with this simple concept I read about from MMA fight Frank Shamrock. 

Embracing the Seasons of Jiu-Jitsu

If you want to grow your mind, your body, your movement practice or your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills you have to plant seeds.

The seeds of tomorrow's brilliance, your shiny new skills, your beautiful new body and Jiu-Jitsu are planted in the soil of today's activities.

That begins right now.

It begins with what you're putting in your mind and your body. How you're cultivating the soil and how you're tending the seedlings. 

So many of us live in a perpetual harvest mode.

We just want to reap a harvest all the time. But we're not willing to plant the seeds, to tend the seeds and to take care of it.

There is a natural progression to everything in life: you plant, then cultivate and then finally you harvest.

When we were farmers everyone knew this intuitively. And the results were self-evident: it's just the way things are. 

Plant. Cultivate. Harvest.

But that's all changed today.

In today's culture everyone wants to go from plant to harvest.

We get frustrated when we join a BJJ school and aren't brown belts in 6 months. We get upset when we start a diet and don't lose 10 pounds in 2 days.

Cultivation. This is the step we've lost touch with. But it's exactly where the power lies.

And it's this step that you have the most control over.

And it takes place totally with your movement and Jiu-Jitsu practice. 

In fact, I would go as far as stating that Cultivate & Practice (as a verb) are quite synonymous. 

So don't worry about your training year or your 8-week cycle. Master your day. Cultivate daily rituals that will lead to the beautiful type of fruit your looking to enjoy. 

Master your day and all else will follow. 

The Way of the Iron Kimono

Iron Kimono is more than just another BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) brand. It is a lifestyle, a choice, a calling to choose the most simple, strongest and most sustainable path. It’s a path dedicated to Strength & The Soft Art of Breaking Bones.

It is an attempt to live a more simple life, to be less stressed, to take it easy and be gentle on yourself and those around you in your day-to-day life and training.

Iron Kimono is about the "being" and not the "bling." It's about the process and the practice (as a noun & verb) and not being overly attached to the external outcome. It is the combination of discipline and surrender.

Iron KImono is taking the Gentle Art (Jiu-Jitsu) out of the dojo and into the world. 

Here's what I believe.

  • Brazilian Jiu~Jitsu is about much more than positions and foot-locks... to me anyways. Those are great, but it’s also about freedom, fun, challenging myself and finding flow, working on something interesting, living a life I’m crazy about, making a difference and creating a legacy for my sons.

  • That you are the author and creator of your own unique Brazilian Jiu~Jitsu experience from the very first day you enter the Dojo or academy. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the vehicle but the journey is completely up to you.

  • That you can create meaning from your BJJ training that extends far beyond the walls of your academy into your life and career.

The Dojo is always open!

Logan Says Practice  The Deep Art  or Get a Knuckle Punch

Logan Says Practice The Deep Art or Get a Knuckle Punch

The 3 Levels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

There are 3 levels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu...and I'd imagine any form of martial art and combat sport to be honest.

These 3 levels are:

  • Reflexive/Reactive

  • Responsible (Or Response-Able.)

  • Creative

The Reflexive/Reactive Level is marked by our instinctual movements....movements that are hardwired into our system to protect us from danger. Think about going into the fetal position when we hear a loud sound or something startles us. These can be good reactions in most situations but in a grappling context they can be quite dangerous.

Some common sights you'll see in the Reflexive Level is giving up the back or pushing with the arms when you get mounted which quickly gets you choked or arm-locked. 

Another example of the Reflexive Level is using up all your energy while trying to escape and panicking under the pressure, exhausting yourself to the point that you can no longer defend yourself and surrender position.

Picture the new white belt student in your head for a moment. They have the best intentions, but are usually quite spastic and reactive simply because they haven't learned how to respond well to the techniques that are being applied to them.

The Responsible Level is the next level in BJJ. I want you to think about that word for a second and break it down...Responsible...Response-Able. It's literally your ability to respond.

On this level, you're able to think clearly and respond to your partner's attack with clarity and focus.

You know what to do.

You can step between stimulus and response and choose the most appropriate counter.

Please try to pay attention the next time you feel yourself being triggered and see if you can sneak back into that lovely place between stimulus and response and actually stop the reflexive...knee-jerk reaction and choose your next move.

In many situations you know well ahead of time what your training partner is planning so your response is proactive and not re-active. In fact...you can start to develop your game entirely around well-timed responses that put you into better position and also use your responses as attacks. For example, I have very few guard passes, but one of my favorites is the old-school stack pass. Often times I will simply wait and bait my partner to go for an armlock or triangle and use this opportunity to secure his collar and go for the stack pass. Do I get caught sometimes? Of course. But it does work very well for me. Being well-developed within the Responsible Level can blend into the next and 3rd level of BJJ, the Creative Level. 

On the Creative Level, you are the attacker, you are the person that decides where the game will be played and just how quick the pace and flow will be. You know that term Martial Artist? I believe that's where the "Artist" comes from, the Creative Level. 

Cauliphlower BJJ Creative


But the strange thing is though...artist don't sit around talk about art. They talk about work....works of art. It's a creative process. One that requires great effort and patience. One that requires us to chisel away at the non-essentials on a daily basis so we can bring out the beauty that's not hindered and dampened by excessive effort and tension. 

Jiu-Jitsu is not something you take...Jiu-Jitsu is something you make!

So get to work Jiu-Jiteiro! Start creating!

When you get a second please check out these awesomely creative Jiu-jiteiros:


Show the Art.

How to Get Smashed and Keep Smiling

Maybe I'm just a selfish guy. Maybe I'm asking for too much? But to be blunt, I think the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world is pretty closed-minded and incestuous.

Personally, I want more out of my jiu-jitsu journey than the move of the day and let's roll syndrome. I'm looking for a deeper connection with human movement, play and physical challenge. 

Sometimes we need to look outside of our own culture to discover some gems.  I think I've found one.

There's an entire world of movement available to us. Beautiful movement cultures and approaches that would blend and resonate very well with the gentle art, but we're so slow to adopt them and to explore what they may have to offer us as Jiu-Jitsu players. 

One dogma I hear quite frequently is "You don't need anything for your jiu-jitsu but your jiu-jitsu..." Although there is some truth to that statement, it's not the best way to train if longevity is a goal of yours. 

Take a moment and check out the video below. Please watch and listen through the eye's and ears of a jiu-jitsu player and see the truth, the beauty and wisdom in exploring other movement arts. See what this type of play can offer us.

Here are my favorite highlights:

  • When you are changing partners, you're meeting a new strategy. And you can test on yourself how adaptable you are.

  • You have to speculate how to put your partners out of their habits. Because only there do you cook & develop.

  • Everybody can have muscle...but what kind of muscle do you have?

  • Diversity brings immunity! (This may be my favorite.)

  • Try.Try.Try. Change partners. Try.

  • Out of repetition the quality will come.

  • Play.Play.Play.

  • If you don't have pressure you don't develop.

  • Stay healthy but be challenged. (This sounds very much like Judo's "Mutual Benefit Tenet.")

  • You get smashed but you still smile and go on to explore more.

Jiu-Jitsu and the Art of Churning

I grew up in small-town PA. There were plenty of woods around my house and they were always a favorite get-a-away for me and my friends. We spent hours playing in the woods behind my house and one of our favorite things to do was to make a mess with an old water pump that was on my neighbor's property.

Jason C. Brown | Churning

Every Spring we would sneak down to this old pump and try to make a huge puddle of mud. But we had one issue...there was always a ton of junk in the line...leaves, mud, stink and skunk piss.

So we had to churn.

Churning is the art of producing garbage. 

We had to literally pump out the garbage before we could get to the cool, clear pure spring water that we were searching for.

And one day while I was down on myself about my Jiu-Jitsu skills and practice I started thinking about those days and then it hit me.

Our bodies and our Jiu-Jitsu can be just like that old water pump (I wonder if it's still there.)

We literally have to crank our levers up and down and churn out the garbage before we see the quality of movement that we're searching for. And sadly, sometimes that garbage has been sitting in those pipes for a very long time. It's brown, it's rusty and smells horrible.

But, the solutions isn't to stop pumping. The solution is to pump more. You have to keep going. I have to keep going.

Eventually the bad movement will be pushed out of your system and you can hit the clean pure water (Jiu-Jitsu) hidden below. Churn out enough garbage and you can start to create beautiful movements and Jiu-Jitsu.

Just accept the fact that churning is a process. Something you will revisit every training session perhaps or maybe not so often. In that case you're lucky.  Just don't let it get you down...the pure waters are on their way.

Do You Make These Mistakes in Your BJJ Training?

Getting the most out of your BJJ workouts involves making some decisions. Problem is, when making decisions it's very easy to choose the wrong path or maybe the longer path to where you want to be.

I love stepping off the beaten path from time to time and don’t always consider it a waste of time but I’m going to make four assumptions about your workouts for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

  • You want to get the most out of your body.
  • You want to get the most out of your training on AND off the Jiu-Jitsu mat.
  • You want your workouts to compliment your BJJ specific training and not take away from it in any way.
  • You want the greatest impact and reward from your training when you actually have the time to train...

With those 4 assumptions in mind I’d like to highlight some of the most common mistakes that I see BJJ players make in their conditioning plans. In no particular order by the way, as these may manifest differently for you and from athlete to athlete.

1. Devoting too much time to strength & conditioning: I know this is a weird one coming from a strength and conditioning coach but here me out. I truly believe that if you want to succeed at a sport then you must spend most of your time actually training that sport, upwards of 70-80% of your time should be spent on that mat mastering the basics and working on the technical skills you need for your BJJ game.

The other 20% of your time could be devoted to strength & conditioning and corrective exercises, injury prevention and reduction etc…

So, in case you’re not good with percentages, if you had 10 hours per week to train, 8 of those should consist of actual BJJ training, technical and tactical. 2 hours of your week would be supplemental strength & conditioning work. And that can further divided into shorter sessions over the course of the week etc…15 minutes before work, 15 minutes during a lunch hour. Your supplemental work does not need to be done all in one session.

Quick note: If you’re a re-creational BJJ player those percentages can completely change and disappear all-together. I know many people that use their time on the mats as their only workout and have no desire for additional training. There’s not one thing wrong with this unless (and it’s very probable) that imbalances occur. At that point they seek out some additional training but only enough to help correct the imbalance and speed recovery.

2. Getting too sport specific: I learned this term from Vern Gambetta “Athlete Specific- Sport Relevant. “ and I love it. Your athletic development program should be specific to you and relevant to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Unless you’re nearing a competition there’s no need to have your work and rest ratios to mimic a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match. There’s no need to continuously stress the same movement patterns as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You’re getting enough of that on the mat. Save that stuff for when you’re in the top 3% of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors.

3. Choosing the wrong exercises: This one is closely related to my last point. Since you’re only devoted around 20% of your training to strength and conditioning you better be choosing exercises that have the greatest impact on the physical attribute you’re trying to develop.

As in BJJ, the basics work best, deadlifts, squats, presses, rows and pull-ups. If you bore easily you can apply the “Same but Different” principle. Instead of pull-ups use gi pull-ups or mixed grip chin-ups. Instead of bench presses hit some incline dumbbell presses…you get the point.

4. Always working your strengths: Don’t be that guy that bench press 600lb but can’t wipe his pooper. You are not a powerlifter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one sport that requires several physical attributes to have fun and be successful…agility, mobility, flexibility, endurance etc…

If you know you’re lacking big-time in one area spend some time bringing it up to acceptable levels.

5. Not having fun: This one is hard for me to understand. It’s 2012, you have more options than ever before to get in-shape. Don’t suffer through some class that you absolutely hate. There’s no need to. Find something that makes you come to life and go for it. Don’t like yoga? There are other ways to get flexible. Don’t like weight training? I know some beast that do nothing but bodyweight training. Cool? Cool.

Getting Started? How to Build Momentum in your BJJ Training

You can plan, plan and plan your BJJ Training but planning does not produce any training momentum.

You’ve got to start moving. You’ve have to do something, anything to start your training process/momentum and build your movement/BJJ practice. 

Nothing Happens Until Something Moves.
— Albert Einstein

It’s much easier to start with something very small, like a brief 10-15 minute training session instead of stressing over your huge training plan.

What small change can you make right now? Arrive at BJJ class 10 minutes early and jump some rope? Drill? Maybe some hindu push-ups?

Here are 3 action steps you can take right now to build your BJJ fitness:

1.Do at least 1 thing everyday to build your BJJ fitness. This doesn’t need to be anything too intense or complicated. Be willing to try new things. If something isn’t working or isn’t enjoyable please move onto the next thing. Just keep doing something until you find out what works for your and your BJJ game.

2. Find cool, motivated people to hang out with. You are a reflection of the people you hang out with so associate with successful and motivated people that take their health, fitness and BJJ seriously. Listen to and watch interviews with successful people. Read about their lives and their habits. This will help you develop a great mindset for your own life and training.

3. Remember, nothing gives you confidence on the mat like being in great shape. When you do the work and put in your time you know that there’s nothing more rewarding than being in-shape. You’ll be able to push the pace and impose your BJJ game.

Just keep enjoying your BJJ lifestyle. Life rewards those that love what they do, so do something.

Fast Yoga Flow for BJJ (Basic Flow)

I use the term "Fast Yoga" to describe simple bodyweight movement flows that I incorporate into my daily training. Often times these are my pre- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu warm-ups but I also like to do some fast yoga flows before other non-BJJ related training like barbell or kettlebell work. 

You could also use these flows as a pick-me-up during the day to improve mobility, brain and blood flow or just to improve your mood. 

The flow below is a basic flow consisting of a full squat, a sit-through or sit-out and standing up in base. 

Here are just a few quick tips:

  • Feel free to hang out in any one of those positions as long as you like. There is no right or wrong here actually...do whatever is resonating with your own body at that particular time.

  • Feel free to sway and swagger gently from side to side. Check your stability and base. Play with active and non-active shoulders. Play with the position of your palm and gently pry open your hips with your elbows.

  • For more conditioning add some speed and quickness to your flow. Jump into your sit-through and add a jump into the technical stand-up.

  • You can set a timer or work for repetitions...both options work quite well.

  • Finally, you can combine this flow with other training tools and methods. For example, doing some jump-rope work prior to this flow would be great.

Please try it out and let me know how it goes...have a question ? Let me know.


A 10 Minute Kettlebell & Bodyweight Workout for BJJ

The russian kettlebell may be the ultimate "Becoming Bamboo" tool for jiu-jitsu players.

It's effective because it is simple. And so is this quick 10 minute kettlebell and bodyweight workout.

I explain everything in the video so please be sure to watch completely to get the details but here are a few quick tips:

  • Start a new round of 10 kettlebell swings and 10 sit-throughs or sit-outs every minute on the minute for 10 minutes.

  • The faster you work the more you rest. Stay active during the rest.

  • You can pick any kettlebell swing variation. The choice is all yours. But remember, some kettlebell swings are slower/quicker than others. You may be able to perform 2-arm kettlebell swings quicker than the hand-to-hand swings that I use in the video.

  • You can progress this workout a few ways...once 10 & 10 become too easy pick a heavier kettlebell or up your repetitions. You could also add some complexity to one of those skills like throwing a high-bridge into the sit-through. Make sense?

Please let me know how it goes.