Seminar footage added to Mastering the Crucifix


Have you ever heard of a BJJ instructional suddenly gaining 2 hours of bonus content at no extra cost? Now you have.

We’ve added 2 hours of new seminar footage to Mastering the Crucifix. One seminar is gi, the other no-gi. Artechoke customers who already own MTC can access the bonus content here (you must be logged in):

Don’t own it yet? You can buy Mastering the Crucifix or save money by bundling it with Jeff Rockwell’s Sit-Up Escape System. Get 10% using coupon code RELAUNCH.

The digital nature of Artechoke’s cloud instructionals let’s us do cool things like this. I have a few more additions I plan to make to Mastering the Crucifix later this year.

Let’s take a minute to talk about how cool this is. We’re doing things with BJJ publishing that haven’t been done before.

Marshal is a writer who loves books, but he’s also forwarding-thinking and sees that the future of publishing isn’t made from dead trees. Some time I’ll make him talk about his work to implement a digital distribution model for college textbooks. He was working on ways reduce textbook prices and save college students from being ripped off like they are today.

3-D Jiu-Jitsu was Marshal’s proof of concept. He wanted to know if people would “get” what he’s trying to do. Explaining what makes this different than traditional BJJ instructionals has always been our biggest challenge. Is it a book, a DVD, a BJJ subscription site, a digital download?

The truth is that it’s almost all of those things, but no one exactly. It’s a hybrid. Each component is familiar, but one one else has done it quite like this. That sometimes makes it hard to explain. But when we put it into people’s hands and in front of their eyes, they always go “Wow, this is great! Why didn’t anyone else think of this?”

Today I went through all of Mastering the Crucifix and added up the run time for all its videos. If we released those on DVDs, it would be over 3:30 hours long. Most companies would have split that across 4-6 discs, call it “The Crucifix Trap System: The Black Belt’s Secret to Punishing Any Opponent with Crippling Submissions” and pushed for $175 pre-orders . The price needs to be that inflated so they can pay the 50% affiliate fee to guys who hype it on social media and e-mail lists.

If we published it as a paper book, it would be as big as anything Victory Belt put on book shelves, back when they were into martial arts instead of CrossFit.

If it was in the app store, we’d have to split it into six separate $30 apps to get around the file size limits, like BudoVideos does with their DVDs.

The point I’m making is the Mastering the Crucifix is a big product by any traditional standard, and we went to the trouble of combining all of them in a new way, even adding multi-angle looped demonstrations not seen anywhere else.

Now we’re almost doubling the size of an instructional at no extra cost, basically because I thought “Hey, this would be cool to share.”

I hope you think it’s cool too. Tell a friend if you do.

Remember, Artechoke members have access to the private Artechoke Open Mat group Facebook to ask questions and get answers from authors like me. Find the link in the sidebar after logging in.


Jiu-Jitsu Will Destroy You If You Let It: How I Finally Started Fixing My Broken Body

Anatomy of a Black Belt

Everyone who does BJJ is eventually plagued with injuries. What’s the solution? While I have no magic bullet, if you do the research and put in the work, you can feel and move better. Here is the best advice I’ve found, all in one place.

This is a really long post, and more research has gone into this than anything else on my site, but here’s the 1-minute version if you’re in a hurry:

Quick Advice

  1. Find a physical therapist who understands how to work with athletes. Don’t settle for out-dated methodologies or programs meant for old folks. Go to a therapist who wants to get you back on the mats.
  2. Spend more time moving around and less time sitting. Step away from your desk as often as you can. Go for walks. Set reminders to stretch. Find ways to stand or kneel and take different poses at your desk.
  3. Follow a well-rounded strength and conditioning routine with a focus on improving your health. This could mean doing kettlebells, weightlifting, calisthenics, yoga, or whatever combination makes sense for your body and lifestyle.
  4. Whatever you do, understand how BJJ (and your everyday habits and job) will overwork certain muscles and postures and under-develop others. Be sure you’re balancing those out.
  5. Learn some mobility exercises and prehab tricks for your problem spots. You can go low tech with a $3 lacrosse ball or get mobility gadgets like Rumble Rollers and RAD Roller kits.

In my latest post to the Inverted Gear blog, I said that injuries are likely the main reason people quit BJJ. Even if that not totally accurate, pain will make any other reason to quit easier to listen to. This got people asking “So what is your advice to stay healthy and avoid injury?” That’s what you’ll read below.

This is not an ultimate guide to strength and conditioning for athletic performance in BJJ. We will be talking about many exercise routines and looking at the work of strength coaches, but the focus is restoring health to the joints using basic exercises. I can’t make big promises about resolving pain issues, because pain is a very complicated issue, as I wrote about in The Weird Science Pain and the Brain. I can say this has helped me to resolve many aches and pains and feel better able to withstand the stress of doing BJJ.

The world of strength, fitness, and human performance is vast and sprawling. An expert or guru is around every corner to sell you their secrets. Trying to find “the best” program can send you down many rabbit holes. What are you trying to accomplish? You’ve got strength and conditioning coaches like Joel Jamieson and Martin Rooney. Maybe you want to do gymnastics-based programs with handstands and muscle-ups like GMB and Gymnastic Bodies. You could explore Olympic and powerlifting through Kabuki or Juggernaut. You can get into “movement culture” through MovNat or Ido Portal, who taught us and Conor McGregor all about playing touch butt in the park and dodging pool noodles.

All of those could be good programs, but our goal here is finding the most straight-forward advice for injury rehab/prehab and staying healthy enough to enjoy doing BJJ. Let’s start with what helped me most:

Physical Therapy with a FMS Based Physical Therapist

Back when I was a purple belt, I suffered my worst injury, a lower back injury that still gives me trouble. The exact moment it happened is still clear to me. I was sparring with a bigger partner. I was mounted, but I managed to throw my foot up on the hip like you do for heelhook entries. I pushed him away and he pushed back. I felt a series of snaps in my lower back and felt a flash of white hot pain. I frantically tapped out and laid on the mats in agony for a few minutes.

Being a BJJ bum with no health insurance at the time, I didn’t see a doctor or get treatment. I treated” it with bed rest and taking it easy for a few weeks. But from then on, about every 6 months I would get another flair up and need to quit training for a few weeks.

Years later, when I had the money and health insurance to see doctors, I still had a hard time getting treatment that helped. Clinical doctors couldn’t see why I’d think my hip was causing my back pain. They’d send me to a physical therapist who treated me like a car crash victim and give me “core” exercises meant for fragile old ladies. I remember laying there doing 2 inch leg raises while thinking “You do realize I pick people up on the ends of my feet and toss them around, right?” Simple treatments like that may have their uses, but it did nothing for me.

The big change came when I had the luck of working with a younger physical therapist while my regular one was on vacation. This PT was following modern research and took the attitude of “let’s get you back to training.” She knew what BJJ was and was a competitive athlete herself, having done track and field in college and now Olympic lifting. She put me on a very proactive routine that didn’t treat me as fragile.

She also immediately saw the connection between my hip problems and my back pain. My injury gave me snapping hip syndrome, which is when a tendon catches against the head of the femur and “snaps” (sometimes audibly) during hip flexion and internal/external rotation. While this never quite hurt, it didn’t feel right, and it started the moment I had my major injury. This continued for years until my physical therapist went hands on to massage the psoas-iliacus back to where it’s supposed to be.

She got me on a more active rehab exercise routine using single leg Romanian deadlifts, banded bridges, couch stretch, and various other exercises specific to my problems. Your therapist should come up with a program custom to you.

From X-rays and MRI’s, I now know that I have femoral acetabular impingement, which is to say the head of the femur is larger than it should be, causing it to contact the hip socket too much, especially during hip flexion. This limits my internal hip rotation and causes lower back pain. It only took seeing 4 doctors before I got referred to a hip specialist who could correctly diagnosis this.

Through my PT, I got turned on to the Functional Movement Screen, and through that to Gray Cook, Brett Jones, Mark Cheng, and Tracy and Mark Reifkind, all of whom you should Google and check out. They also all lead me towards kettlebells.

Pavel’s Simple & Sinister Kettlebell Program

Early in 2015, I listened to Tim Ferriss’ interview with Pavel, the famous kettlebell guru. I’d first heard of Pavel back in the early 2000’s, but I disregarded him then because his Soviet marketing shtick didn’t appeal to me. “Comrade, I show you KGB Cold War kettlebell secret!” But Pavel came across as very intelligent and no-nonsense on Ferriss’ podcast, and a lot of what he said about training for health and fitness made sense. That got me to look into his new organization, StrongFirst, and while they still wear cargo pants and overuse “Comrade!”, their branding is less cheesy and they put out a very good information on strength training.

Pavel offers a kettlebell program called Simple & Sinister that basically consists of these five exercises:

  1. Goblet squats
  2. Halos
  3. Knee-squeeze bridges
  4. Kettlebell swings
  5. Turkish get-ups

This is the workout I’ve followed for most of the past year and I have enjoyed good results from it. It is a minimalist workout that doesn’t require any equipment beyond one or two kettlebells and doesn’t take more than 30 minute. It isn’t optimized for any one person or sport, but it’s not trying to be (and you can easily add to it).

Learning to do everything from an e-book wasn’t easy. The two DVDs that have helped me the most were”Kettlebells from the Ground Up” and “Kettlebells from the Center Dynami,” both by Grey Cook and Brett Jones.

Dan John’s Basic Human Movements

Through StrongFirst, FMS, and William Wayland (more on him below), I kept running across strength coach Dan John. He has since become one of my favorite guys in the strength and conditioning world for his friendly, no-nonsense approach. He gets credited with popularizing the goblet squat.

Dan writes and speaks about the five basic human movements. He gives them as:

  1. Push
  2. Pull
  3. Hinge
  4. Squat
  5. Loaded carry

Per a recent lecture Dan gave, that list may have expanded to include static holds and presses. Other coaches add movements like rotation, counter-rotation, lunges, brachiation (swinging arm to arm like a monkey), etc. to that that list too. Whatever list you go by, it gives you a good measure to judge your programming by. Are you doing all of these basic things? If not, you can make a big improvement by simply adding whichever one you’re missing.

The loaded carries in particular have been a great addition. They require zero technical proficiency beyond “pick up something heavy and walk around with it.” Try ending your BJJ training sessions with these if you’re not into doing a full workout.

Dan has many good articles between his website, as well as T-Nation, and the StrongFirst blog. You should sign up for his weekly newsletter too.

Kelly Starrett’s Becoming a Supple Leopard and Mobility WOD

By now I expect most grapplers to know about CrossFit coach Kelly Starrett, either through his book Becoming a Supple Leopard or his popular Mobility WOD YouTube channel. Odds are good that if you look up a treatment for a sports injury on YouTube, you’ll find Kelly showing how to stretch or smash or roll it out.

One of the worst flair ups of my back pain happened a week before I was scheduled to teach a seminar. While practicing a simple move, my back suddenly went into excruciating spasms that made it hard to even breath. This went on for a few days, and nothing I tried helped. I could hardly even stand up or walk.

While laying in bed feeling sad for myself, I remembered months earlier seeing a friend grinding around on a lacrosse ball. He’s a CrossFit coach and he had mentioned he did that because of Supple Leopard. I went out and picked up a lacrosse ball from Sports Authority. It turned out to be was the best $3 I ever spent. Rolling it against my back did nothing, but I felt immediate relief from rolling the front of my hip joint. The change was dramatic, and I’ve never felt faster relief to a more painful back problem before or since.

Other coaches will argue over certain rules Kelly gives for body alignment (like foot placement in the squat), and he may have accidentally got guys spending too much time foam rolling instead of really working out, but if you need a way to “mobilize” or work on a grissley joint, he has enough mobility exercises to fill Mary Poppin’s bottomless handbag.

To learn more, you can find literally hundreds of videos of Kelly teaching mobility with a Google search. He also has two newer books, Deskbound and Ready to Run, that give health and mobility advice to office workers and runners, respectively.

For more mobility and prehab routines designed specifically for BJJ, check out Order & Progress and download their free e-book. Joe DeFranco’s Limber 11 mobility routine is worth trying out too.

Dr. Stuart McGill’s Core Exercises

“The core” is the most over-used term in fitness and physical therapy. Most people I’ve talked to assume a “strong core” means having six-pack abs. That’s not it. A more complete and accurate definition includes every muscle that helps stabilize your spine, from your neck down to your butt, front and back, left and right, and internally. How to train and strengthen the core is also a something most people are doing wrong. This is where I turn to Dr. Stuart McGill.

McGill literally wrote the textbook on spinal rehab and has worked with top athletes in the Olympics, powerlifting, BJJ and MMA. Most of the other experts listed here refer to McGill’s research when talking about the spine.

If you have a low back problem, McGill’s book Back Mechanic is the best purchase you can make. Having read his two two other big books — Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation and Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance — I can say they are extremely comprehensive, but very dry and dense. Only pick those up if you’re a medical professional or a serious sports trainer.

Per McGill’s research, I now do these four exercises everyday:

  1. Curl up
  2. Side plank
  3. Bird dog
  4. Stir the pot

All of those are shown in the video above, and you can find many more explanations of each on YouTube. The first three are what McGill calls “the non-negotiables” because everyone should do them.

This YouTube playlist has more valuable advice and talks from McGill. You should also read this two part interview on T-Nation (his opinions on CrossFit are entertaining too). You can also listen to him speak on many podcasts.

William Wayland’s Advice for Grapplers

William Wayland introduced me to these two important terms: 1) upper and lower crossed syndromes (explained here), and 2) fuckaboutitis (explained here).


William has written many great posts for the Scramblog, all of which I wish I had followed the advice of sooner:

Steve Maxwell’s Mobility and Corrective Exercises

Steve Maxwell has been a major figure in both the BJJ and fitness worlds for decades. He was Royce’s fitness coach for the first UFC’s, and he was arguably the first guy doing kettlebells in the US. Even Pavel credits Steve with bringing the Turkish get-up and halo to kettlebell culture. These days Steve is probably known best for his mobility workshops, but he’s done every strength and conditioning method under the sun. I got to experience this firsthand when I attended one of his joint mobility seminars, where we spent 4 hours running through a variety of mobility and strength training methodologies. I even got to hold his original hand-welded stainless steel kettlebells, courtesy of their custodian, Jason C. Brown.


In a blog post about the history of kettlebells, Steve points out that pure kettlebell programs lack two key movements: vertical pulling and horizontal pushing. He also gives very easy fixes for this: pull ups, push ups, and dips.

Steve has many fitness products including DVDs and digital downloads. His older World Martial Arts DVD set Encyclopedia of Joint Mobility is extremely comprehensive, but at 3 hours long, it will be information overload for most. I’d stick with his more recent downloadable videos through his website. I enjoyed Jiu Jitsu for a Lifetime: The Corrective & Balancing Workouts and still use much of it. At his seminar, Steve recommended Universal Mobility, which is cheap at only $15.

Perhaps the best advice I’ve got from Steve was that BJJ on its own is going to be so taxing on your mind and body that any strength and conditioning training you do needs to be simple and focus on basics.

Jason C. Brown’s Kettlebell Workouts for BJJ

While venturing into the world of kettlebells, I often turn to Jason C. Brown, a long-time advocate for kettlebells for BJJ. He’s who I’m holding Steve’s kettlebells with in the photo above.

If you want to steal one thing from Jason, my vote is for the half kneeling clean to twisting press from the video above. Then swipe his 1.5 stance for swings and cleans. Your hips will thank you. Go check out his Bamboo Blog too.

Dr. Andreo Spina’s FRC

Most recently, I’ve been getting into the work of Dr. Andreo Spina, the man behind Functional Anatomy Seminars. Spina loves his acronyms and registered trademarks, and his system is build around a host of them: FR, FRC, FAP, TTT, CAR, PAIL, RAIL, IsoMP… Once you wrap your head around the jargon, the joint mobility system he lays out is very comprehensive and effective.

In particular, check out controlled articular rotations (CARs), a method keeping joints healthy and moving well. The best guides to those (that I can find without digging through hundreds of 15 second Instagram clips or going to a $1000 seminar) are Philly BJJ black belt Josh Vogel’s “Mobility in an alley” video paired with these two articles:

You can learn a lot digging through Spina’s YouTube and Instagram too. Try Googling whatever terms he uses to find people who have written reviews of his seminars with more explanations.

There you have it. That’s my list of the people and practices that have helped me the most. To put it all together, here’s what my routine looks like now:

  • Starting every day with light movement, usually Dr. Spina’s CAR’s routine and Steve Maxwell exercises.
  • Performing McGill’s “Big 3 non-negotiable” core exercises everyday (bird dog, side plank and curl up). I now start my BJJ classes with those too.
  • Doing Pavel’s Simple & Sinister kettlebell program, with push-ups and pull-ups added thanks to Steve Maxwell’s advice.
  • My phone is set to remind me to get up and move every hour so I don’t fall into a trance at my computer. I do exercises like squats, push ups, rubber band pull-aparts, or more CAR’s.
  • Spending as much time barefoot as possible, including when I walk my dog, even if that makes me look like the neighborhood weirdo. (Don’t worry, I wash my feet before BJJ.)
  • Rolling around on lacrosse balls and other mobility gizmos to hit my problem spots.

The biggest challenge is just picking a starting point and sticking to it. Start doing something simple and add to it as you go. Anyone I wrote about above will get you going in the right direction.


Register for Mastering the Gi Crucifix Seminar in Chicago on Fri, June 10


Mastering the Gi Crucifix Seminar
at Chicago Martial Arts

Friday, June 10th, 2016
6:30 to 9:30pm

In this 3-hour Mastering the Gi Crucifix Seminar you will learn:

  • How to incorporate the crucifix position into your back attack gameplan
  • Crucifix setups and submissions that are unique to gi grappling
  • The timing and awareness to achieve the crucifix against a skilled grappler
  • Positional recovery skills to make troubleshooting easier as you learn the new positions
  • Core grappling concepts you can apply across the rest of your game

Pre-register: $40 – Click here to sign up for Mastering the Gi Crucifix (via PayPal)
At the door: $50

Location and Directions: 

Chicago Martial Arts
151 South Pfingsten Road, Suite E and F, Deerfield, IL 60015
Directions on Google Maps

Don’t forget the following day I’ll be teaching a NO-GI Mastering the Crucifix seminar at 10th Planet Chicago. You can save $10 by registering for both seminars: Click here to register for GI and NO-GI.


Mastering the No-Gi Crucifix Seminar – Sat, Jun 11 at 10th Planet Chicago – Register Now


Mastering the No-Gi Crucifix Seminar
at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Chicago

Saturday, June 11th, 2016
Noon to 3pm

Open to all styles, schools and affiliations!

Matt “Aesopian” Kirtley has built a reputation as a BJJ black belt for his highly-detailed technical instruction and simple explanations of even seemingly complex concepts. Matt has spent years developing his knowledge of the crucifix position, going as far as to release Mastering the Crucifix, the most comprehensive instructional available on the topic.

This 3-hour Mastering the No-Gi Crucifix Seminar will focus on:

  • Crucifix entries, setups and transitions from the top or bottom.
  • Key concepts to control and maintain the various crucifix positions.
  • The essential no-gi crucifix submissions, including the one-handed rear naked choke.
  • Demystifying the rolling reverse omoplata (AKA Yadviga) so anyone can do it.
  • Drills and games to quickly develop skills in all the crucifix positions and submissions.

This seminar is appropriate for beginners or advanced grapplers. All students will get one-on-one attention from Matt and a chance to ask anything during a Q&A.

Pre-register: $40 – Click here to sign up (via PayPal)
At the door: $50


10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Chicago
6154 W Higgins Ave, Chicago, IL 60630


Are you making excuses or making progress?

Two new posts written by yours truly are up on the Inverted Gear blog. I’m proud of both and you should check them out:

I’ll be at Reilly Bodycomb’s 3-day Rdojo sambo camp in NJ this weekend along with Nelson and Hillary from Inverted Gear, so you can expect a write-up on that experience in the near future!


Crucifix Double Feature with Inverted Gear

Lately I’ve been lucky enough to train with Nelson and Hillary, the black belt couple behind Inverted Gear. We got together and shot technique videos for the Inverted Gear YouTube channel, including two on my favorite position, the crucifix.

As a gift to fans of, Nelson and Hillary hooked me up with coupon code AESO for 15% off coupon code for I’ve been a fan of their gis since back when they first started (here’s my video review from a few years ago) because they make tall/slim models in my size so I am very happy recommending you pick up one for yourself.

Here are the crucifix videos:

Crucifix from Side Control to Wristlock

Breakdown of Baret Yoshida’s Crucifix at Polaris Pro


I’m doing a seminar in Flagstaff, AZ on Sat, Nov 14

Flagstaff BJJ Seminar

I’ll be in Flagstaff, AZ in a few weeks to teach a seminar at my friend Greg’s new school, The Jiu-Jitsu Club.

The seminar is on Sat, Nov 14, 2015. It will be 3 hours from 10am to 1pm, and be split 50/50 between gi and no-gi. I’ll be showing a lot of crucifix material by popular demand, but I’ve also got special techniques and concepts I’ve really been wanting to share. You can ask whatever you want at Q&A at the end.


The Jiu-Jitsu Club (inside Sleeping Lion Martial Arts Academy)
2103 E. Cedar Ave,
Flagstaff, AZ

Pre-register by calling (813) 540-1761. It’s only $40 if you pre-register, or $50 at the door. All affiliations and belts are welcome.

Message me if you’re in the area and maybe we can meet up outside the seminar too. I’ll be teaching the Thu morning class before the seminar, and probably the Mon morning and evening classes after the seminar too.


Flipping the BJJ Classroom with Bruce Hoyer

Last week a friend directed me to a video called “How I teach BJJ” by black belt Bruce Hoyer. In the video, Bruce explains how he has converted his school to the “flipped classroom” model, inspired by a recent movement to reform education made popular by organizations like Khan Academy.

In an academic setting, a flipped classroom has students watching online videos of lectures on their own, then coming to class to do their practice problems, group discussions, hands-on projects, etc. with the teacher going around to give one-on-one attention. Bruce has adopted this for his BJJ classes at Next Edge Academy in Sioux Falls, SD. Watch his explanation:

Watch “How I teach BJJ” on Youtube.

As you read through the Q&A with Bruce below, you’ll see mixed in videos by cognitive scientist Robert Bjork as he talks about the science of learning that supports Bruce’s approach to teaching.

Q: As an instructor, did you have any mental blocks that made it difficult to get away from the classic class model?

A: The biggest mental block I had to overcome was the fact that I had yet to see anyone teach this way so I assumed it must not be a proper way to instruct. I kept researching and researching and finally I just decided to take the leap because much of the information I read about learning pointed to this style of teaching. I made sure to keep one group learning the traditional way just to see the difference in the two groups.

Q: How much work was it to film the techniques and set up the online components? What would have made this easier?

A: The first step was building a curriculum. So far I have about 300 5-minute videos that I have filmed for the curriculum and they are kind of ever-evolving, so I am constantly making changes.

My first stab at this had things broke down into systems and I quickly realized this was a bad idea because the student could go a long time without learning basic positions and fundamentals.

The second version of my curriculum had techniques more widely scattered which worked better. The mind tries to make sense of everything so sometimes putting things in systems can, in my opinion, actually hurt people’s progressions because they are not coming to the conclusion on their own. Essentially I am giving them the dots and asking to connect them, rather than me showing them how they are connected. From everything I have read, if they come to this conclusion rather than having it given to them they will retain it better.

The third version I added moves before and after the move to help with association. So say the move is kimura from guard. The first class you would learn kimura from guard — that’s it. The second class would then be getting into guard and doing a kimura — so maybe you are escaping side and going into guard. The third class in this sequence, which is actually about 10 classes later, would be getting into the guard, doing a kimura then something after the move fails, maybe a guillotine or hip bump sweep. They get to pick the techniques before and after for the most part so they get to influence their game, so they start to associate the new move with moves they already know. I also purposely put it 10 classes after because that will force them to recall a move from a few weeks ago. The more they have to think about it, the better chance it will stick.

So long story short, to date that’s the best possible system I could come up with that and I would try to mimic that, but once the curriculum is set the videos don’t take long. Keep them short, 5-6 minutes per class tops so the person can review easily before class. Also on review days you don’t need to show the move again. Those review videos in my curriculum are me just talking about the concepts of the moves.

Q: Have you run into any unexpected problems implementing the flipped classroom model?

A: With a flipped classroom the problem I was surprised with was how quickly you have to convey to everyone what they are doing. Often I will yell out what everyone is doing that round and I only give myself 1 minute to do it in. If I have a class of 25 that’s a hard task to tell 13 people what move they are doing. The TVs helped with that. Now everyone can look but I still yell them out just as a confirmation that they understand.


In this system, the higher belts have to know the name of the moves by heart so they can help. This was difficult in the beginning too. All of our higher belts had to go back through the white belt curriculum so they knew what I meant. This is tough for new students from other schools coming in that were blue or purple belts already. I feel that it is necessary though.

The other big one is keeping up on lesson plans. It doesn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes tops for a class of 25 people, but sometimes you get sidetracked and the students are like “Hey, where is my lesson plan!?” The nice part is at least you know they care!

Q: I have seen concern that this method doesn’t suit the student who just wants to show up and not put in extra time outside class. Is this a concern you share?

A: I do often run into are people being unprepared. Most of my students are prepared which is great. However some don’t want to put in the work. At first this upset me, but later I understood that not everyone is looking to become the best. Some people just want to train and that’s fine. Now if someone hasn’t studied before they came in, they are the last person to drill so it doesn’t take away from others’ time, then I or a higher belt will show them how to do the move. I feel that even with them not preparing beforehand, they learn a lot. I just think it would sink in more if they reviewed the 5 minute video before class and after. Some of the students make notes after each class in their online notebook that I can see, and I think that further helps cement the learning process. The goal is to not make it detrimental to those trying to learn.

Q: What advice do you have for someone interested in trying the flipped classroom?

A: It’s a lot of work in the beginning and you should prepare for your students to reject it at first. It will feel super clunky for about 2 weeks then once people get the idea they really like it. It also makes for tougher learning in the sense that you have to bridge some of those gaps I talked about earlier. So people start to get frustrated when they can’t think of a move to do before or after, but like you have learned with “training dirty or ugly,” that’s often when the real progress is made. You start to form links and force your brain to remember these things because your brain has determined that they are essential. I am a huge fan of active recall. If I can get someone to remember move associations that they have built they are far more likely to remember it rather than telling them “do an armbar, now a triangle, now an omoplata.” For me that’s the biggest part.

I want to use as much research on learning as possible to develop a system where no matter who it is, they will learn at an accelerated pace. A lot of information is out there and we as a community refuse to use it because that is the way it has been done. Does the old system work? For sure! Can it be better? I think so.

Grapplers of the 1920’s took Judo and modified it into what today is known as BJJ. They broke traditions and evolved it to fit more body types and work for everyone. I feel like the same needs to be done in teaching, not only for BJJ but in schools in the USA as well. I still feel like I am maybe just now a blue belt at this learning stuff, so I think my personal system will change dramatically the more I learn.

With that being said, people shouldn’t be afraid to try new things with teaching. The best support I get is from my students because they know the hard work I put into it. When they see that, they try harder and it makes my goal easier to achieve. You have to really take time to set it up so it won’t fail. However, if you do put in the time, your students will love it. To my knowledge, I don’t have a single student that would prefer learning the other way and that speaks volumes to me.

If anyone is interested in trying it, please let me know I would be happy to lend a helping hand and maybe you can show me a better way!