Saturday, February 5, 2011

If you wanna win, make sure you bring your B game

Hi everybody,

Dartanian here. I'm late again on the blogging, and crazy busy.
I've been going through physical therapy for a lateral menicus tear and subsequent surgery to repair my knee. I injured myself at a Judo tournament last august. I left a piece of myself at that judo tournament, but I took home the gold medal. I was also in another tournament 6 days prior to that one, in which I also took gold. As I've been dealing with getting back on the mat, it has become more apparent to me than ever that, if you want to win, you better bring your B game.

In each of those tournaments, my opponents were strong and hard to throw. I went into the matches with one idea of what I wanted to do and had to change to another plan in the middle of the match, because my opponent was on to me. I found myself thinking about trying throws that i had not done since my Kata test for black belt.

Things dont always go as planned, even when you end up winning. Sometimes your A game is the wrong one. What do you do when you find out that your best move is your opponents favorite one to counter? Or when you run into someone in a tournament that just doesn't move the way you need them to in order for your plan to work? I have seen this many times, and it has taught me to have a damn good B game.

I took 15 of my athletes to the GRACIE NATIONALS this past weekend, and I saw alot of people lose because they only had one plan. I was very proud of my team, they all fought hard and not one of them at any time showed a lack of sportsmanship.
We won 6 first places, 4 second places, 2 thirds and a fourth. Very good percentages. 15 atheletes ,12 podium finishes. I feel that a big part of those good results was that all my competitors had more than one game plan.

As I recover from surgery, I am often not able to do my favorite movements, since my knee is still weak. I have been playing alot in positions that I don't normally play in, and it has been a great experience. I can feel my B game getting stronger.

So train hard, and fight hard.

And if you really want to win, make sure you bring your B game.

See you on the mat, Dartanian.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Having the balls to go easy

Hi everyone,

I recently heard a guy complaining about how he doesn't like schools that don't go 100% during training - like they don't have the balls to go hard.

It has been my experience that what someone lacks in technique, they make up in horse power. This is just as true for myself as it is for others.

If I find myself in a timing deficit, I go faster to make up the time.
If my base is off, I scramble to catch my balance.
If I lack sufficient foresight to avoid a bad position, I use power to hold my opponent off while trying to rearrange my game.

The more I am aware of what's going on, the less I do these things. I do not strive to "go 100%" - I strive to go 60-70%. Given my competitive nature, that is not always easy for me.

By practicing with a calm mind, I teach myself to have clear vision.
By staying in the lower horse power range, I learn to use my other resources more effectively when I'm in a bad position.
By not rushing to finish a submission before my opponent escapes, I learn more about how he escapes, and how to stop him next time.

Training is not fighting.

Training is the opportunity to take chances and experiment, maybe even get caught. Fighting is the time to win, not to take chances unless there's no other way.

When you fight, you do what you're already good at and hopefully it is enough.
When you train, you practice what you're good at, and what you're not good at, in the hope of getting better.
When you fight, your opponent stands in your way, and he must be defeated for you to meet your goal.
When you train, your opponent stands beside you ready to help you fulfill your goals, because he is your teammate.

There is a time in the training cycle to up the horse power and go hard, but it isn't that often. This blog isn't about periodicity in training, so I wont go into that right now. Suffice it to say that 80% of your training should be at 70% or lower. And 100% of your training should be about discipline.

So man up, and have the balls to go easy.

See you on the mat,


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jiu-jitsu,babies and caffeine

Hello everyone,

I am sorry I have not been blogging for awhile. There has been a lot going on.
When my son turned one year old I started thinking more about money. The first year of his life I just thought about keeping him alive -I've never worried about anything so much in my whole life. It has been quite an experience. I started thinking about making more money so he could have as good a life as possible.

I have been very happy to teach jiu-jitsu and not worry too much about other things, but Ronan has changed my perspective a bit. As I began looking for a way to increase my income, I started thinking about what my academy means to me, and how that fits into my new set of goals.

So I opened a coffee shop.

That's right -a coffee shop.

I still have my academy, and the schedule of classes is still the same, and I still teach every day. What I know now more than ever is that I teach jiu-jitsu because I love it, and I am a warrior. When it came down to needing more money to meet my goals, I could have made my academy more commercial. I could have easily changed it over to a money oriented school, but that's not what my academy is for; it is for teaching.

I hope that those who followed my blog before haven't lost interest. Just like when you're on the mat, sometimes in life you find yourself in positions that you didn't expect to be in, but that's when you learn more about yourself and how you think. You learn more about who you are.

I'm happy to be back, and i've got alot to say, so hello again.

See you on the mat,


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Hi everyone,

As I watch the expansion of Jiu-Jitsu around the world, I cant help but notice the onslaught of complete amateurs teaching classes to others.
The blind leading the blind.
When Jiu-Jitsu first hit the national stage in the USA, there was an initial backlash as other martial arts struggled to find a reply to the power of Jiu-Jitsu. Suddenly, from every corner, there were "anti Jiu-Jitsu " systems, and even more amazingly, other martial arts were displaying their "long hidden" ground fighting tech found inside katas that had nothing to do with ground fighting.

What a joke.

On another level, systems like Sambo, that had only rudimentary tech on the ground, started to imitate the moves they saw in Jiu-Jitsu. This type of incorporation is a natural part of the evolution of martial arts. i think the people who wanted to use Jiu-Jitsu should have went and learned it from a BJJ black belt, but many were too proud to do that.
So much for humility in martial arts.

I hear a lot of beginners in BJJ, who are ranked on other arts, say "I feel like I wasted all that time", and I tell them that we all have to learn everything we can to be complete. Just because one man starts his journey on the ground and another starts it on his feet doesn't mean anyone has wasted their time, just continue to learn.

The next thing I saw happening was purple or blue belts teaching people.
Good God.
Although this is one small step above imitation, it's not far from it. Do you go to some one in their first year of med school when you're sick? Why not? After all, he knows more than you. He can kick your butt as far as medical knowledge goes, right?
A purple belt teaching class, in the academy, under the supervision of a real black belt, is ok as long as the black belt is giving him the curriculum and he doesn't go out side the boundaries given to him by the black belt. A blue belt helping his beginner partner in class with a move the class is working on is fine, as long as there is a black belt IN THE ROOM watching the class.

Purple belts running programs and blue belts teaching classes is ridiculous. There is a reason the belt is purple, and although some one with a purple belt has learned some things and can win matches against white and blue belts, there are a lot of things he does wrong everyday on the mat. I see purple belts who have a few good moves that work well for them and they know how to get those positions pretty regularly, but outside of those few positions, they struggle.
Black belts are good at many positions, hundreds of positions. High level black belts can often do a move well only having seen it once. That is because they understand JIU-JITSU, not just moves.

Learn from a black belt. Because there is a reason the belt is purple.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dana White and the Myth of the Fighter

Watching fights on tv has become a bit tedious. All I see is kickboxing with takedowns (not many good takedowns at that) - but mostly kickboxing. I would rather watch a K-1 type show for that.
Why is this happening?
Entertainment for the masses, that's why. Most people don't know that much about fighting, and what they do know comes from watching the guys on tv and listening to the commentary. Sadly, what they learn is the Dana White version of what it means to be a fighter.
He puts on a good show, but the aim has more to do with entertainment than fighting well.

I knew it was over when the ref pulled Jeremy Horn off of Frank Shamrock all those years ago, using the excuse that he wasn't getting the job done fast enough. Mount used to mean something in the fight game. Now it's just another place to throw punches from. The clinch used to be a place to transition to the ground, or to reorganize the fight if someone was a good striker and you didn't want to trade with them. Now it's a place to "stay busy" (translation: throw punches or haphazardly attempt to take the guy down even if it's not the right time to try that, so the ref doesn't give your striking friend a free restart).
Striking, striking, striking.
Strike from the guard, strike from the mount, strike from side control (the geniuses on tv call it "side mount"), strike from the back (but never behind the ear line, you might hurt someone). Maybe he wouldn't have turned his back so easily if he could get hurt.

The only innovation I see is when they find another way to strike when they should be grappling. It is amazing to see what happens when you change the rules of real fighting for the sake of the guy in the 20th row who's too far away to see anything but strikes, or to make blood thirsty fans of the big knock out happy. When I see a guy walk to the mike and say he wants to "put on a good show", I feel sad. When I see guys say "I want to thank the fans, you are the important ones, none of this would happen without you", I feel disgusted.
Newsflash: there have been Warriors of all types on the path for thousands of years without the help of "the fans". The fans should feel honored to watch two men struggle in combat, they should watch with humility. The fighters should try to win.
That is all.
If the fans are entertained, so be it. If not, so what.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle is here

Hello world,

My name is Dartanian Bagby. I teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts in North Hollywood, CA. As a Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt, I am always interested in the latest in the MMA world. As a fighter, striking has always been part of my life - I started with boxing at age 2 with my father as my guide, then started judo at age 3. Practicing these two arts gave me my first glimpse into the complexity of combat. I never played baseball, soccer or any of the normal sports; it was all Martial Arts for me. As a teenager I became a blackbelt in Karate. I still trained in Judo and while my high school friends went to wrestling meets, I went to judo tournaments.

In my late teens, I discovered Jiu-Jitsu, which would change my life forever. Learning there was more to the ground game than holding your opponent down for 25 sec. to get the win (as in judo) was an amazing discovery for me. Before Jiu-Jitsu, I never thought much about the wrestling tech my friends would use during our constant battles in the living room or back yard. Sometimes they would take me down, sometimes I'd throw them. The throws were more exciting for me, so although I picked up tech from them, I never used it much. Jiu-Jitsu showed me a different picture. The closer proximity of takedowns started to make more sense to me as I learned the the transitions of groundwork in Jiu-Jitsu.

When I went to college I joined the wresting team, which was another eye opening experience. I learned to hate the sound of a coach's whistle, and never did so many sprints in my life (while throwing up). I learned what all wrestlers know; hard work is the name of the game. Go hard or go home in shame.

Now as an MMA/BJJ Instructor I enjoy the blending of the various skill's I've acquired over the years. As I explore the common themes in the different forms of combat, as well as the differences, I feel that my knowledge of each becomes greater. I love to share my knowledge with my students and I'm hoping to further share my insights with the rest of the Martial Arts Community through this blog. I hope Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle can help bring people closer to my world.

Thank you for reading,