Archive for GJJ

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Advance, NC

Posted in Jiujitsu, Miscellaneous, News, OFFERS with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2017 by bradvaughn

gjj-advance-promoGracie JuiJitsu is located at 160 Webb Way in Advance, North Carolina.  Contact Brandon Vaughn and advantage of their 10-Day Free Trial.

Gracie Survival Tactics – The Inside Scoop

Posted in Jiujitsu, Martial Arts, REVIEWS, Safety, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2016 by bradvaughn

The Non-Lethal Techniques Every Law Enforcement Officer Should Know

by Brandon T. Vaughn  01/06/16

GST - Group Pic GJJ

Over the years my position/role/career as a martial arts instructor has offered many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The most recent of which took place last month, November 16th through the 20th, and took me back to California, a place I first had the pleasure of visiting two years ago when I participated in the Gracie Academy Instructor Certification Program in 2013.

My second visit to California would also be connected to the [Gracie] Academy, only instead of Torrance, this time I would be going to Pleasanton, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area approximately 25 miles east of Oakland, CA. I decided to take advantage of a formal invitation to all CTC Certified Instructors to assist and participate in any upcoming Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) Instructor Certification Courses. Eager to get an inside look at this program only available to active or retired law enforcement and military personnel, and in desperate need of a vacation (even if it would be a working one) I jumped at the opportunity. I’m glad I did. It was an incredible opportunity to learn the GST curriculum first hand, meet some of my fellow CTC Instructors, and get some “mat time” with Ryron Gracie himself.

 

Adapting To Meet A Changing Climate

GST - Vaughn teaching 2For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) is the Gracie Academy’s Defensive Tactics Program for Military & Law Enforcement Personnel. Created by the Gracie Academy to meet the ever changing needs of their clients, the GST program is itself an amalgamation of two earlier combative/defensive tactics programs. Gracie Combatives, an intensive course based on the most effective techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu developed for the United States Army, and G.R.A.P.P.L.E (Gracie Resisting Attack Procedures for Law Enforcement), a non-violent and court defensible program developed for police officers. Both of the aforementioned programs were originally developed by Rorion Gracie, eldest son of Gracie Jiu-jitsu founder Helio Gracie, and creative mind behind the UFC.

Since it’s inception Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) has been taught to countless Federal, State and International military and law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service and the US Border Patrol. During my five days assisting with the GST Instructor Certification Program I was able to meet men and women from a wide range of agencies and hear many of their first hand accounts of situations that they have found themselves in while on duty. As well as some of their concerns with the level of self-defense training that their agencies currently have in place.

 

The Road To Certified GST Instructor

For law enforcement or military personnel (active or retired) wishing to learn Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) for their own continuing education, the complete 23 lesson course is available on www.GracieUniversity.com via online streaming video. However, if you are an officer wishing to implement the GST program at your department or agency the only way to do so is by completing the GST Instructor Certification (Level 1).

The Gracie Academy teaches anywhere from 5 to 10 of these instructor certification courses a year varying by location. Some are hosted by the Academy itself  at their main location in Torrance, CA while others are hosted by various agencies around the world or by individuals within those organizations. The particular course I volunteered to assist in was hosted by a member of the Pleasanton Police Department with the actual training sessions taking place in the gym of a local high school.

The week long course began at 8am Monday morning and started with Ryron Gracie giving a brief history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, including its creation, their work with the US Army and the development of Gracie Combatives and how working with the military and law enforcement over the last 20 years led to the creation of the techniques that we would be learning over the next five days. He then moved seamlessly into the first of eight techniques that we would cover that day, setting the pace for the rest of the week. Ryron would teach a technique, using either myself or one of the other four instructors that were there to assist in the course, then when he was sure that everyone understood the technique he would release them to practice the technique with their partner. At this time the assistant instructors would walk around and observe the participants doing the techniques, offering feedback and making any necessary corrections.

Day two and three began with the class reviewing all the techniques that they had learned the day before while. After the review period, which lasted anywhere from 10-15 minutes, we would move on the block of techniques that would be taught that day. The training sessions ended with a series of fight simulation drills in which the participants would combine several techniques from previous sessions with the ones that they had just learned, thus building their muscle memory and making them more familiar with how the individual techniques can be used in any possible combination.

While the first three days were dedicated to the learning of the GST techniques, day four was dedicated to instructor training, where the participants learned the most effective ways to teach the GST techniques to their colleagues when they return to their individual agencies/departments. The fifth and final day of the course consisted of a final evaluation to test the participants overall comprehension of all the material covered during the previous four days.

The GST Advantage

GST - Vaughn teachingWhat sets Gracie Survival Tactics apart from other defense tactic programs currently being taught to law enforcement and military personnel is it’s lack of reliance on striking techniques (ie. punches and kicks) which may not be effective against an assailant who may be physically larger or stronger or who may be under the influence of a substance that dampens their ability to feel pain. Instead, all the techniques in the GST program are based on leverage, timing, and efficient use of energy. This means the techniques can be employed effectively regardless of gender, size or athletic ability.

With the number of fatal police shootings reported to be nearing 400 nationwide in 2015, and allegations of excessive force at an all time high, GST provides law enforcement officers with a much needed alternative to relying solely on their firearm or secondary tools (ie. baton, stun gun, pepper spray) in situations where the use of deadly force could have possibly been avoided. The GST curriculum also address the high rate of instance where law enforcement officers are shot in the line of duty by an assailant using the officer’s own firearm by including weapon retention techniques in the curriculum as well as a variety of effective techniques that allow an officer to get back to their feet and create distance in the event that they end up on the ground underneath an assailant.

 

A Fear Of Change

With a seemingly endless list of benefits and advantages, it’s hard to imagine that all law enforcement agencies aren’t already taking part in the Gracie Survival Tactics program.

From conversations I had with some of the men and women participating in the GST Level 1 Instructor Certification Course, I learned that one obstacle the newly certified instructors will encounter when trying to implement the program in their own department may be the very officers that they are trying to help.

Whether it stems from an over reliance on the tools they have at their disposal or the lack of continued fitness requirements after they graduate from the academy, some officers seem resistant to any self-defense training outside what is mandated annually by their state. When you consider that 40% of officers that are shot in the line of duty are done so with their own weapon, it would seem that all law enforcement officers would be eager to learn any technique that, would not only teach them how to retain their weapon, but also how to subdue a suspect without the use of their firearm or auxiliary weapons.

Another obstacle that new GST Instructors may have to deal with is a natural resistance to change. Either from the administration or from their department’s defensive tactics instructor, in the event that the GST Instructor doesn’t also serve that role. Strategies on how to address these and other common concerns are included in the support materials that each course participant receives on the final day of training.

GST - Group Pic Sm

 

Final Thoughts

Gracie Survival Tactics is quickly proving itself to be not only a valuable resource for law enforcement officers, but to military personnel as well. As I am writing this article, the United Nations Security Service has become the most recent agency to adopt Gracie Survival Tactics.

My experience at the GST Level 1 Instructor Certification Course in Pleasanton, CA was like nothing I have experienced before and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to not only assist, but to participate in the training as well. As a martial arts instructor I’ve had the opportunity to teach students of all ages how to defend themselves. Even if learning self-defense was not their primary reason for enrolling, it was still a skill they acquired while working towards whatever their personal goals were. Having said that, I have to admit that there was something exceedly rewarding about working with individuals that will most likely be using the techniques you are teaching them a regular basis.

Brandon Vaughn

Certified GJJ CTC Instructor

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10 Questions with Jennifer Gray

Posted in 10 Questions, Jiujitsu, Women's Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2015 by Combative Corner

Jennifer Gray 1

Jennifer Gray is a Gracie certified jiu-jitsu instructor, fiancé to Ty Gay (Redline Jiu-Jitsu) and the woman behind She-Jitsu and Life & Death Kimonos.  I came to know her through researching her empowering and catchy clothing-line slogan “Real Men Empower Women.”  After reading her blog, and talking with her several times over social media she quickly became one of my favorite people.  Here’s a 10-question interview not to miss!

How did you come to Jiu-Jitsu?

I had no prior martial arts experience when I began my Jiu-Jitsu journey 7 years ago. It wasn’t until my now fiancé, Gracie Black Belt, Ty Gay invited me to take a class at his school where I experienced Jiu-Jitsu for the first time. I was immediately hooked.
You seem like such a young and enlightened person, how did you get this way?
Jennifer and Ty GayLot’s and lot’s of practice. I was not this enlighten jiu jitsu yogi you see on social media most of my life and I’m a little older than people usually think. I turned 32 this year, but I feel like my life is just beginning. I feel like I’m 22 all over again, but a lot stronger & wiser.
I thank jiu-jitsu for my second chance in life. It changed my environment, it gave me an amazing support group, and surrounded me with great people to look up to.
Since I began my journey in jiu-jitsu, I’ve also began my recovery of alcohol & drug addiction, mental illness, Agoraphobia, an eating disorder, & PTSD.
I didn’t have a quality of life until I started training jiu-jitsu. I was very alone in this world. I was on a fast track to jail or worse… 6 feet under. So, like most people that train jiu-jitsu, you could say… Jiu-jitsu saved my life.
Jiu-jitsu definitely plays a huge part in where I am today. Jiu-jitsu liberated me in a way I never thought possible, built my confidence, and helped me a lot mentally. It gave me a purpose. I didn’t go to college, I studied jiu-jitsu at The Gracie Academy from 2011-2015.
After I completed their Instructors Certification Program & became a Jiu-jitsu instructor I began mimicking those around me by applying the people skills & philosophies I was taught; not only on the mat, but off the mat. Eventually, I began to see results when jiu-jitsu started to bleed into my every day life.
Jiu-jitsu only took me so far, though. There came a time when my flash backs & panic attacks became to much. I had to step away from the mat for a while. I didn’t stop training completely, but I would come in sporadically to drill. Grappling during that time made me very uncomfortable and sadly was a trigger for my anxiety & flash backs.
I never stopped teaching my women’s class during this process though. At the time, I was teaching a free women’s empowerment class every Saturday. It was the only thing that kept me hanging on to jiu-jitsu at the time, I think.
When I reached my final breaking point, I was hospitalized. That’s when I was diagnosed with bipolar, agoraphobia, & PTSD. That was when I realized I needed serious help. I could no longer hide from the emotional pain. I could no longer cover it up.
After my hospitalization, I started to isolate myself & my training continued to slow down. Mostly, because going to therapy, teaching, and training did not mix well. It was very difficult going to group therapy and seeing women that had just got out of jail for substance abuse that are struggling to keep their kids, find a home with a felony record, & with no means of transportation besides relying on a bus; at the same time trying to heal myself, talk about my emotions, & keeping up with a jiu-jitsu training regimen wasn’t the best option for me at the time.
The first group therapy I attended & graduated from was a program called Seeking Safety. That’s where I learned how to cope with PTSD & substance abuse.
Seeking Safety is where I learned how to physically & mentally ground myself by using “grounding” as a distraction. Grounding is a set of simple strategies to detach from emotional pain (e.g. drug cravings, self-harm impulses, anger, sadness).
Grounding as a distraction works by focusing on the external world, rather than inward toward the self. You can also think of it as “centering,” “a safe place,” “looking outward,” or a “healthy detachment.”
When you are overwhelmed with emotional pain, you need a way to detach so that you can gain control over your feelings and stay safe. Grounding anchors you to the present and to reality.
Grounding techniques got me back into the world. Once I applied these techniques, I started coming back regularly to jiu-jitsu. I started grappling again.
After I graduated from Seeking Safety, I was put into another group therapy; Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This is where my life really started to change. This is where I was introduced to Mindfulness.
I was given core mindfulness skills, Distress Tolerance Skills, Middle Path Skills, & Emotion Regulation Skills where I learned a lot about the mind. I was given techniques on how not to judge myself & others, how to observe my emotions, and the greatest thing I learned was meditation.
Every class we began with a 5 to 10 minute guided meditation straight from YouTube. The instructor would have us rate ourselves before & after meditation. Of course before I was extremely anxious, panicked, and nervous because that is just how I felt going to therapy each time; after we meditated I felt fine. I was back in my body again.
I started meditating more and more. I started with 5 minutes a day, then 10, then 20, and I eventually reached 30 minutes. During this time, I also started pursuing my journey in yoga.
My doctors had me on 8 pills a day during this time. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, & antipsychotics.
After being on my meds for a year, I had my worst episode of self-harm I’d ever had.
I’d been fantasizing about cutting my wrist every time I saw a sharp object & it wasn’t until this episode I started cutting my wrist. Thankfully, that was also the last.
As I sat across from my doctor with bumps, bruises, black eyes, and cuts on my wrist that I gave to myself, she said well we will just change your regimen. That was the day I refused to live like that. That was the day I refused to rely on medication for my sanity.
That was the day I took myself off medications & I buried myself into meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practice; for the most part I practice them every single day. Sometimes, several times a day and it’s given me a better quality of life than any of those pills ever did.
My bad days are getting shorter and my good days getting better. I still struggle, and I’m still looking into other treatments like EMDR therapy because I still have days that I struggle with triggers, mania, depression, severe panic attacks, nightmares & flash backs, high anxiety, & insomnia, but I’ve found things that work for me.
Through trial and error I will get there. I have to do the work myself and I’m still working on it. I may struggle, but one thing is for sure, I will never quit.
You’re a savvy business lady, with your hands in many pies – how do you divide your time?
So many pies! Have you heard the saying… entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week? That’s me.
I work pretty much constantly, but I’m VERY fortunate in this department. I’m my own boss, I work from home, so I manage my own hours.
I run 3 businesses: Redline Jiu-jitsu, She-Jitsu, and Life & Death Kimonos. I spend the majority of my time in marketing & advertising, shipping & receiving, managing our online shops, managing our websites, managing our social media, & managing our blogs for all 3 businesses.
I train jiu-jitsu 2-5 days a week depending on what I have going on. I practice yoga regularly every Sunday & Wednesday, but I also have my own private practice at home which I do mostly every single day. I’m an aspiring yoga teacher, so I just recently added that to the mix.
Every day I try to do something that gets me closer to these goals and take it one step at a time. Some days I don’t train jiu-jitsu or yoga. Some days I don’t work on my blogs or websites, or even check my emails, but I always come back to them.
If I’m not working, practicing yoga & training jiu-jitsu; I’m reading or listening to books on audio, listening to music, riding my bike, cooking delicious vegan food, having girl time with my favorite girlfriends, spending time with my family, learning how to play the djembe, spending time outside with my dog, or traveling around with my fiancé watching him live his dream as a musician.
As someone who has experienced some hardship, how do/did you rise above them?
By practicing grounding and mindfulness, and reminding myself that everything is temporary including my emotions. Key word: PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE.
Many people with PTSD & substance abuse struggle with feeling either too much (overwhelming emotions and memories) or (numbing & dissociation). In grounding, you learn how to attain a balance between the two: conscious of reality and being able to tolerate it.
There are many different ways to ground. Jiu-jitsu & Yoga are great examples of physical grounding. It takes you out of the mental state you were in when you get on the mat bringing you to where you are: the present moment. It takes you to another state of mind. However, you must get to the mat. That’s the hard part. That’s what grounding help me do. It helped me get back on the mat.
Three major ways of grounding are mental, physical, and soothing. “Mental” means focusing your mind; “physical means focusing your senses (e.g. touch, hearing); and “soothing” means talking to yourself in a very kind way.
The one grounding technique that helps me the most that I still use a lot is looking at objects without judging. Basically, you look at things and name what you are looking at without judgment. Example: When I look around my living room, I see floor, couch, dog, table, chair, tv, fan. I don’t see a wood floor, a brown couch, a yorkie dog, a wooden table, a comfy chair, a big screen tv, and a small fan.
When I do that, I’m mentally grounded & able to focus on the present moment where the past & future do not exist.
So, then I can start to physically ground by scanning my body: Am I clenching my teeth? (relax jaw) Are my shoulders tense? (move shoulders away from my ears) Am I breathing? (Count to 4 on an inhale & exhale). Once I am better relaxed I can start to sooth myself by talking to myself in a kind way. (It’s ok. These things happen. You are not a bad person. You will get through this.)
Grounding is something you can do anywhere at anytime & it’s what helps me the most with my depression, anxiety, and panic attacks which are really the only thing that keep me from doing the things I love. Like getting to the mat…
The mat is my sanctuary, a place I practice mindfulness, and just like anything else; the more I practice, the better I get. Jiu-jitsu plus meditation, yoga, grounding, & being mindful are what led me to who I am today. What you call: enlightened.
Those mindfulness practices have done more for me than any medication, any therapist, & even talking about it. That’s what keeps me coming back to the mat because I know after each time I get to the mat I will be better than who I was when I got there.
Most people like me are in recovery their whole life and that’s something that is hard to accept, but I accept it. I have learned to accept my set backs, take lessons from my struggles, and take it day by day.
Also, turning to my favorite philosopher, Osho, as he always reminds me….
“Life can only be lived dangerously – there is no other way to live. It is only through danger that life attains to maturity, growth. One needs to be an adventurers, always ready to risk the known for the unknown. And once one has tasted the joys of freedom and fearlessness, one never repents because then one knows what it means to live at the optimum. Then one knows what it means to burn life’s torch from both ends together. And even a single moment of that intensity is more gratifying than the whole eternity of mediocre living.”
What role does yoga play in your life?
Jennifer Gray YogaI use yoga as a tool to change my state of mind. It helps me stay focused and brings me back to the present moment each and every time I practice. Yoga takes me to a place where I can find answers.
It’s more than exercise or a physical activity to me. It is my mindfulness practice & I believe mindfulness can change the world. That’s why I want to become a Yoga Instructor. Not only because it’s a lot of fun and helps me mentally, but because Yoga has taught me a lot about myself; How to open my heart; and how find connection to others.
If you have a motto that you live by, what is it?
Nothing in this life is permanent, not even our troubles.
As a jiu-jitsu student, what has been your biggest challenge? And what is the best reward?
She Jitsu Jennifer GrayMy biggest challenge is getting to the mat. Dealing with anxiety & agoraphobia makes it hard to leave the house sometimes. When my anxiety levels are so high it’s hard to walk out that door, get in a car, and drive. Once I’m there, though, everything is fine. That’s why I created the slogan “Get to the mat.”
My best reward is witnessing children & adults grow through their journey, showing them what jiu-jitsu can do for them, and helping them through the process.
It’s just a beautiful thing to be a part of.
If you could name only three people that have been inspirational in your life, who would they be and why?
  1. My mother. She is tough as nails, she sacrificed herself for me & my sister when we were kids & struggled to put a roof over our heads; at the same time keeping food on the table independently. To this day she is one of the hardest working women I know. 
  2. My fiancé, Ty. He’s been my rock, my everything through recovery. Without him by my side, his love, and never ending support I couldn’t have made it this far. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met, the reason I started jiu-jitsu, & he is the reason I’m still alive today. He inspires me with his courage, his passion, and his music. I have learned so much from him. More than he will ever know. 
  3. Ryron Gracie. I admire his mannerisms and sometimes try to be very Ryron-like because I admire the way he carries himself. He is the one that introduced me to the philosophy of being connected, but not attached, how to NOT take others personally, and he also introduced me to the philosopher Osho which helped change my life.
What inspired the message, “Real Men Empower Women” ? 
Misconceptions about all men were part of the force that drove me to my breaking point, and so it’s touching that men, my fiancé in particular, and a male dominated sport were part of the solution that would lead me here today.
That’s why I created the “Real Men Empower Women” t-shirt. As an encouragement to both genders – about how cooperation & not division is a key to empowerment and overcoming challenges. I think it’s important for women to see that there are men out there that support them and want to see them empowered.
Most men want to help, they just don’t know how. This is a way for them to do so, by saying it without saying it; by saying it to everyone they meet.
The same goes for women. It’s important that we empower the men in our life. So, this  message goes both ways. You gotta give support and encouragement if that’s what you want in return. “Real Women Empower Men,” too.
What is something about Jennifer Gray that many people don’t know?
Oh, man. I could right a book on this question!
Most people don’t know that know all the words to almost every 90s R&B, hip hop, & rap songs. I am a huge fan of 70s, 80s, & 90s Country music. During the 80s I was in LOVE with Michael Jackson & Sinead O’Conner. During the 90s I was in LOVE with Billy Ray Cyrus. I even had a night gown with his face on it.
When I was a kid my mom got this little cable box that had about 30 channels on it and the only 2 music channels were BET & CMT. I would wait till she went to bed at night, sneak in the living room & watch music videos all night long.
My first cassette tapes were Silk, Jay-Z, and Conway Twitty. When I got my first CD player, you had to be 17 or older to get explicit CDs, and somehow I talked my mother into buying me 2pac’s greatest hits. I’ll never forget when she asked for the “Shoe-pac” CD. Probably one of the greatest moments of my life.
Bonus Question
If you could have a private, one-on-one with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Probably, Ronda Rousey. I think she is one of the coolest humans alive & I think we would get along really well. Plus, she would be so much fun to train with!
Much love!
Jennifer Gray

President, She-Jitsu L.L.C.

 

“The enemy is within. Let’s start a war.”
Twitter @shejitsu
Instagram @shejitsu

10 Questions with Brandon Vaughn

Posted in 10 Questions, Bullying, External Arts, Jiujitsu, Karate with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by Combative Corner

Brandon Vaughn CC

The CombativeCorner is proud to bring you this special 10-Question Interview to you today.  Brandon Vaughn is not only a masterful teacher and martial artist, but he’s also Coach Joyce’s close friend and training partner, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu training center owner, author, and contributing CombativeCorner writer since the very beginning.  For those of you that would like to get to know him even better, please read this interview that we did with him, check out his bio here, or train with him in person at KIelkin.com. Without further ado, I give you the man… the Legend… Brandon Vaughn. {wild applause}

How did you get involved in Karate?

Shortly after high school I took informal lessons at a traditional Isshinryu club with a friend for a few months. Later, after College when I moved to Winston Salem, my wife and I decided to look into Martial Arts Schools. She knew how much I wanted to start training again and she thought it would be something we could do together. After looking around at nearby Martial Arts schools my wife brought home some information for local Karate & Kung Fu centers. I didn’t want to train at another Taekwondo school as I still felt a strong connection with my old Taekwondo Instructor and dojang. I was ready for something different. I dropped by to check out one of the schools my wife looked up, Karate International, and talked with one of the Black Belt Instructors. I liked what she had to say and that they incorporated weapons training in advanced classes, so I enrolled us that day. My wife wasn’t too happy that I made the decision without her, but we started classes that week and she loved it. Twelve years later, not only are we still training, we also own our own dojo.

What was it about the discipline, history and art of Karate that appealed to you?

There was nothing about Karate in of itself that attracted me to it. As someone that has struggled with ADHD and Anger Management most of their life, I think I’m drawn to the traditional martial arts on a subconscious level. The structure and discipline that accompanies traditional martial arts training calms and focuses me in a way that I can’t really explain. It’s almost as if I’m not the same person when I’m not training regularly. There’s a feeling of disharmony. I feel less stable, less in control, I don’t like that feeling. It doesn’t matter what style I’m training in, as long as I’m able to practice martial arts I’m happy.

What, in your opinion, is the hardest part in running a successful martial arts business?

All the hours that you have to put into the school off the mat. People don’t realize just how much time and effort goes into running a martial arts school full-time. Not only do you perform all the roles associated with traditional businesses, (Owner, Customer Service Rep., Office Manager, receptionists, etc.) you also have to be a teacher, a mentor, a leader and on occasion a counselor. That’s enough to stress out even the most ardent individual, but add to that the fact that you’re basically your own product and every time you step on the mat or volunteer to teach a P.E. class or speak at a school assembly, you’re demonstrating, not only the effectiveness of the style you teach, but your ability to teach, motivate and inspire others effectively. It’s no surprise that instructor burnout is so prevalent in the martial arts industry.

Anti-Bullying is a subject very close to your heart. Can you tell us a little about that?

As someone who was bullied when they were younger, I know all too well the effects that bullying can have on a child growing up. It’s not just the physical abuse (e.g. pushing, shoving or hitting) but also the verbal abuse (e.g. teasing, name calling or intimidation) that victims of bullying, some as young as 3 years old, endure on a weekly or even daily basis. In school I was picked on for everything, from the way I talked to the complexion of my skin and it was that constant harassment that was the driving factor behind me begging my mom to sign me up for martial arts when I was thirteen. I was tired of being bullied, tired of feeling helpless.

What I gained from my three years of training at Lee Brothers Tae Kwon Do was so much more than the ability to defend myself. I found a level of confidence and self-esteem that I didn’t have before. I also found something that I excelled at, which for me was equally important. As a martial arts instructor I’ve spent the last ten years doing my best to give those same benefits to every student I teach.

The effects of bullying can be both dramatic and everlasting. Depression, anxiety and substance abuse are just some of the issues that can result from repeated bullying that can persist into adulthood. We need to get away from this outdated idea that bullying is an inevitable part of growing up. Instead, we should be giving children the tools they need to effectively deal with bullying, explaining to them why it’s wrong in the first place and teaching parents and teachers how to identify instances of bullying when they occur.

Over the last few years, you’ve become more involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu… Why the change from what you’ve been doing?

Nowadays, the martial arts are practiced more as a hobby or sport than a means of survival. Most modern day practitioners only train in a single style and while this may allow them to become very proficient in their chosen art, it often times makes them close-minded when it comes to seeing the benefits that other martial arts may have to offer. They develop a sense of superiority regarding the techniques that that have spent countless hours perfecting, forgetting a simple but vital truth-  That no one style is going to work in every single situation.  As the popular saying goes, “There are no superior martial arts, only superior martial artists.”

I believe that as a martial artist, in order to truly be able to defend yourself in any given situation, you have to train in more than one style. This was also something that warriors of the past knew with absolute certainty. Yes, they may have specialized in a particular style of fighting or mastered the use of a specific weapon but they also practiced other arts. When the sole purpose of your training is to protect yourself, your loved ones or your land, there’s no room for foolish notions or petty squabbling about which style is best. It doesn’t matter how good you are on your feet, if your opponent manages to take the fight to the ground all those strikes, kicks and punches that you’ve spent months or even years perfecting go right out the window. Thanks to a friend of mine who wrestled in high school and had no qualms about taking me to the ground when we used to spar, I learned that lesson first hand. It became abundantly clear that my self-defense skills were lacking in a key area and I was determined to remedy that.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools were I lived at the time so I’d have to wait to several years before I could officially begin my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training.

What has been the biggest obstacle(s) for you in the recent years?

One of the biggest obstacles has been keeping up with my own martial training, specifically my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. When you run a martial arts school full-time and teach five days a week, the time you have available for regular training drops dramatically. With Karate and other stand-up arts you can easily practice as long as you have a bag to work out on or a clear space to practice kata. However, with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, nearly every technique needs to be practiced with a partner to be truly understood, so having one or more training partners that are readily available is an absolute necessity.

Add an injury to an already challenging lifestyle and keeping up with my personal training has become even more difficult. A severe fracture to my fifth metacarpal (aka boxer’s fracture) has pushed me to the limit, physically, mentally and emotionally. Teaching, training, running a business, and life in general, have been more than challenging while dealing with a serious injury.

Besides Karate and Jiu-Jitsu, what other 2 martial arts do you admire most and why?

That’s a tough one, believe it or not I keep a mental list of all the martial arts that I’d like to train. I’m not sure I can pick just two, but Wushu or Kung Fu as it’s more commonly known as, and Eskrima currently rank at the top of my list.

I’ve been fascinated with Wushu ever since I was in elementary school. I would stay up late watching Kung Fu Theatre and copying the moves. Inevitably my mom would hear all the commotion and come up stairs to tell me to get to bed. When I heard her coming I would jump back into bed and pretend I was asleep. I love the fluid movements, the way one technique flows seamlessly into the next. Attacking, blocking, trapping, countering, they all seem to happen simultaneously. I also like the fact that Wushu practitioners can employ each of their weapons (hands, feet, elbows, knees) equally in a fight. It’s like Muay Thai, only prettier. [Laughing]

In the past year I’ve been learning more about the Filipino martial art of Eskrima, specifically the Doce Pares system. I like the fact that Eskrima practitioners learn to apply the same techniques using a stick, a knife, or empty handed. It’s also a very practical style to learn as far as weapons training goes. Nowadays the average person doesn’t walk around with a Bo staff or a pair of Sai tucked in their belt, but most people carry a pocket knife or could find something that mimics for an Eskrima stick in a self-defense situation.


What martial artist(s) currently give you motivation (living or deceased)?

It seems like everybody says this, but Bruce Lee is definitely one of them. He was one of the first Kung Fu instructors to go against tradition and teach Kung Fu to non-Chinese students. He then literally fought for his right to do so. Bruce was also one of the first martial artists to realize that strict adherence the natural doctrine of any single style of martial arts can limit both your growth and your effectiveness as a martial artists. It was this realization that prompted him to throw out years of Wing Chun training and dive into researching other martial arts. The results of which were Jeet Kune Do.

Another one is Dave Kovar, known as the “Teacher of Teachers” in the martial arts industry. Even if you aren’t familiar with Master Kovar, you’ve probably either heard or read his Instructor’s Creed at least once. When my wife and I first started running our own dojo we became members of MAIA (Martial Arts Industry Association). The Instructor Teaching Tips, Mat Chats and Combative Fitness Drills that Master Kovar recorded for the MAIA Instructor DVDs were an invaluable resource that made it easy to incorporate fitness as well as Life Skill Lessons into our class lesson plans.

In 2011 when my wife and I attended our first Martial Arts Super Show we had the opportunity to attend Dave Kovar’s Instructor College. At this point we had been teaching for seven years and officially running a dojo for six years, but we were still able to learn a wealth of teaching tactics, techniques, and tools that we still employ to this day and have started to pass on to our own team of belts and instructors.

Last, but not least would be Jet Lee and not because he is an awesome martial artist and movie star, but because he both sees and believes in the value of the spiritual side of the martial arts, as much as the physical side. Martial Arts are much more than just self-defense, they are a path to self-discipline and spiritual peace. This is something that the majority of people that take martial arts either never train long enough to realize or are too close minded to acknowledge.

How has the practice of yoga helped you?

Let’s face it, as beneficial as it is, stretching is boring! Yoga has given me an alternative way to maintain my flexibility outside the traditional static stretches that I had been doing much my entire life. It has also helped keep me in shape. I don’t even go to the gym anymore, trying to master some of these crazy yoga poses is all the work out I need. [Laughing] Yoga is also one of the many things that I do to center myself and calm my mind, along with playing guitar, origami, and obviously martial arts.

What other endeavors are you passionate about?

Several years ago I got really into writing. Unfortunately my schedule has been so hectic the past few months that I haven’t had any time to focus on that passion in a while. Hopefully that will change here in the near future. I’ve decide to initiate some life changes that should provide me with amble time to do everything I love without feeling overwhelmed. Anyone that is interested can check out my first attempt at writing, The Lycan Chronicles, at lycanchronicles.blogspot.com and my current project Knightfall at knightfallseries.blogspot.com.

Bonus Question

If you could see any bout, between any martial artist (in their prime), what would be the match-up?

Ooh! Chuck Norris vs. Bill “Superfoot” Wallace

For more info on Master Vaughn, hit him up at his websitewww.kielkin.com

Or, visit his profile here on CombativeCorner.Com

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So Real… You just gotta “Play” [repost]

Posted in Jiujitsu, MMA, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2015 by Combative Corner

Ryron Gracie - Gracie JiuJitsuBefore I started saying “Keepitplayful” I would always say “KeepItReal.”  It was something I heard on the radio and liked.  Before long I was saying it on the mat and I noticed that students interpreted that as “go for real” or “go hard.”  When you tell someone to go for real in most cases they will apply themselves at 100% to avoid having their guard passed.

I agree that you should have the confidence that you can keep someone in your guard but I also believe that keeping someone in your guard for over 30 seconds robs you of the side mount survival practice.  Because i know it is so unnatural to only control and attack guard for 30 seconds and then allow space for your opponent to pass I came up with the phrase “KeepItPlayful.”

Only someone with a playful mindset can create the experiences that are necessary for comfort in all positions.

Ryron Gracie

(reposted from Ryron’s post, “It’s so real it requires play.” 3/11/15)

Watch and Learn Jiu-Jitsu – By: Ryron Gracie

Posted in Day's Lesson, Jiujitsu, Philosophy, Teaching Topic, Techniques, Training with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2013 by Combative Corner

Ryron Gracie - Gracie JiuJitsuA while back I was sparring with Rener and I remember being in danger of a choke. His attack was relentless. I tried every technique that I knew, but the choke kept getting deeper and deeper.  Seeing no other option, I abandoned the idea of pure technique and used everything I had to twist free from the choke. Let me be clear… I was more than close to losing the battle. What kept me from tapping or sleeping was not technique, but a strategic explosion.

Read the Original Article in Full! (HERE)

Q: Is it better to be technical and lose or explosive and survive?

Ryron’s Answer:

Its more efficient and a better investment of your time to be technical and lose. There is value in exploding out of bad situation to safety, it helps you understand what you are physically capable of.  Be aware of the risk of injury , worsening the position and most of all running away from learning the intricacies of jiu-jitsu.

Originally Posted on November 21, 2013 by

10 Questions with Eve Torres

Posted in 10 Questions, Jiujitsu, Safety, Self-Defense, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by Combative Corner

Eve Torres CombativeCornerEve Torres is not your typical lady – she’s a dancer, model, actress, former professional wrestler (3-time WWE Divas Champion) and now, instructor of the Gracie’s Women Empowered Program

(Combative Corner DVD Review). Click image below to watch.

I had to honor of linking up with her on Skype for an exclusive 10 Question Interview.  Watch and listen as we find out more about Eve and her new-found direction.

Stay in the loop.  Follow the Combative Corner on Facebook & Twitter.

Interviewer: Michael Joyce

*Photos Above used with the Permission of Ms. Eve Marie Torres

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