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A Little Shake Up….

This October gone my lovely wife and I set off for Bali for a little R&R, and that rest and relaxation was definitely needed.  But I can only rest for so long, and after a week of doing not much at all I was ready to get back into some Jiu-Jitsu and a training routine.  Fortunately, Bali has a growing martial arts scene, with now a few MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and martial arts gyms to choose from.  Whilst honeymooning in Bali in 2012 I had previously trained with Niko Han and Synergy Mixed Martial Arts in Legian, and had really enjoyed it, so this is where I was headed.

What I like about Synergy is that it has primarily a no-gi and reality-based focus which is very much different to the majority of academies that I have trained at in Australia, or in the US for that matter.  The gi which is the traditional uniform of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been popularised at least in Australia partly due to the enjoyment of the game-like nature of this aspect of the martial art/sport, and also the allure of the gold medals that can be achieved in sport Jiu-Jitsu.  But Professor Niko Han has chosen to resist this allure of sport Jiu-Jitsu and competition medals, and instead focus his teachings on what he feels is more important, which is self defence, and Jiu-Jitsu that has real-world application.  If you have taken any of Niko’s classes you know too well that Niko is passionate about making sure that his students leave every class with a greater understanding of Jiu-Jitsu and its place in fighting and self defence.  They are learning not only to be sportspeople, but also martial artists.

So this holiday gone, knowing that I was going to be taking Niko’s classes, and knowing his philosophy on Jiu-Jitsu, my idea of Jiu-Jiu was still shaken up once again.  And anytime it is shaken up it is a good thing for my growth.  For the entire 3 weeks that I trained at Synergy we trained mount escapes.  Now I’m not going to lie, mount escapes are not the most enjoyable position to train at the best of times, and when you’re training them for 3 weeks straight it can be hard to drag yourself to class, but damn I got good at them by the end.  For those of you who are new to Jiu-Jitsu, or know little about Jiu-Jitsu, the mount is one of the most dominant positions in all of fighting where one’s opponent is sitting on their belly/chest and has pretty much a free reign over their ability to strike or submit you.  It is a position in Jiu-Jitsu, fighting, and self defence that one needs to know how to escape.  Now I feel pretty confident in my ability to escape from the mount, this was until punches were involved.  Here at home we are always training our mount escapes, over time I feel I have become quite proficient at them, but as soon as the gloves were put on, and punches were reigning down (something we don’t train), those escapes I thought I was good at, and thought were effective no longer were.  I had to adapt, and I had to adapt fast.  It once again sounded alarm bells for me.  By not training on occasion with punches and strikes involved are we possibly robbing ourselves and our students of the development of the true ability to defend oneself?  Are we training habits that may possibly be redundant and even adverse to oneself in a real fight?  Are we creating black belts that are great sportspeople but are limited in their ability to fight and defend themselves?  As aforementioned, when the punches were added I had to adapt fast, but in reality sometimes this is not fast enough, it can only take one punch to finish a fight.

Admittedly, I love sport Jiu-Jitsu, I love being a sportsperson, I love the training for competition, the rush of competition, the highs and lows of competition, but in thinking back this is not why I started Jiu-Jitsu.  I started Jiu-Jitsu to learn how to defend myself.  And whilst somewhere along my journey I have definitely succumb to the draw of the sport side of Jiu-Jitsu, I still believe it to be a great disservice to myself and to our students to not teach and train that side of Jiu-Jitsu that can potentially save our lives, the original intention of Jiu-Jitsu, Jiu-Jitsu as a form self defence.  So as of next year (2016), at least in my teachings, I am going to add one class per week that is dedicated to reality based Jiu-Jitsu.  One class per week where striking is involved, one class per week where we can test and refine our ability to survive and thrive as Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in real fight situations.

Now I will never detract from sport Jiu-Jitsu, that is my real passion, that is the ‘art’ aspect of the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu, but after this trip and this little shake up of my opinions, I definitely don’t want to neglect that part of Jiu-Jitsu that can have real world benefits.



Thanks for reading and happy rolling,


Ryann Creary

Co-owner at Flow Martial Arts



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