T Nation

The Tactical Life


Keep up the good work on the thread guys.

Take a few minutes out of your day to reflect and remember those who gave everything.


Good read. Thanks.


Absolutely. Sport is diluting jitz in a big way. Our club has some good, self defense roots, but is definitely moving more in a sport direction these days, as is the art as a whole. I’m not a fan.

I’m all about handfighting, clinching, getting underhooks, stuffing guys on bottom and holding position with heavy pressure. Frame, base, takedowns/defense, side control, KOB, technical mount, gift wrap, kimura and RNC are my bread and butter.

If I end up on bottom it’s all about tight closed ‘survival’ guard, breaking down posture, hip escapes and sit up sweeps. I have zero interest in playing invert or leg lock game. It does nothing for me. In other words my ‘game’ is really simple, aggressive and super boring by modern standards. It’s really more wrestling oriented. But it works and I can make it work on the road.

Truth be told, I’ve been away from the mats for a few months now. It’s been all about gun stuff and general fitness to prep for tactical unit selection lately. That said, my game was so basic, I can still remember how to do most everything after being away, albeit not as smoothly.

Agreed, Make Jiu-Jitsu Violent Again. Love that quote.


This is very similar to the house I’m building right now too. I’m really working on advancing to technical mount, getting the kimura grip and/or forcing the turn-over, flattening out and working the RNC from the top. I want that to be a stroll in the park for me. Not everyone likes that treatment, and I’ve had more than a few tap to pressure before I can even get to the submission I want. Sorry guys, that’s part of the game.

My bottom escapes are working pretty well but my guard game is still pretty crude, and I’m okay with that for now. I can armbar, triangle, kimura and choke from the guard but I’m not hunting those or working to set them up right now. I’ll take it if someone serves it up, but I’m working to make safe and either trying to make space to stand back up or sweep with hip bump or scissor. Get back on top and dominate position. I’m only seeing the guard as an emergency position right now. Good for upkicks too, but I don’t kick my training partners! I’ll give them a little reminder that heels to the chin are a thing that can happen though.

I think the guard is a trap for new students. So many rabbit holes you can go down and plenty of instructors who are happy to lead. I’d like to explore that stuff eventually, but not until I’m happy with my house.

I think you’d really like my instructor and his school. You definitely seem to be of like mind about what you want your jits to accomplish. His instructor (Jay Jack) is the one who put that quote on to t-shirts. He’s a bad, bad dude whose entire teaching philosophy is getting the greenest, least athletic and most timid students ready for violence in the most efficient way possible, operating under the assumption that he’s got about 6 weeks to do it before they most likely quit.

There’s zero sport-only techniques on the white belt curriculum. None. Even so, he’s got a few black belts now that are pro-level sport grapplers too, all built on top of the house of basics.

I’m extremely privileged to be invited to train with one of his senior brown belts across town several times per week for free for the last year and a half now. It’s a gold mine that he literally gives away for the love of training.


You just described about 95 % of all males I have met. LOL.

Really good post, I appreciate your thoughts and experience on this thread…


Thought for the day: Memorial Day 2018.

When I read and study photos of the past battles, especially Normandy, or, read an account of war (Shoot Like a Girl) I am humbled by your sacrifice and courage. No words or poetry can ever thank you enough. Your past and present contributions inspire me to push myself beyond all limits that I thought, I could achieve. To all the warriors before me, thank you.



Thought for the day (2): Happy Birthday to the The United States Marine Corp


From Mike P:

Teufel Hunden - “Devil Dogs”, idiomatic German was “Höllenhunde” … “hells dogs”
A name given to the men of the 2nd Marine Division by German soldiers at the battle of Belleau Wood 100 years ago…earned and written in blood. _
Happy 243rd birthday to my beloved Corps and all Marines past and present. _
Semper Fidelis “Here’s health to you and to our Corps_

Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.”


Motivational Monday:

“There are no shortcuts to success, so stop looking for them. Do things the right way. Put in the work, be prepared and never give up on yourself”



Thought for the day: I am going to assume that everyone on T-Nation trains in some capacity. I am also going to assume that no matter what method or training program you use, we all at one time have trained in a commercial gym of some type. I am also assuming that at some point in your training career you have encountered one of these:



Had a buddy you couldn’t tell anything to. He took TKD in college and got okay at it, he could strike pretty fast but did near zero contact sparring.

First time he asked me to fight him I asked “can I grapple”? “Yeah sure”. I bum rush him with guard up, scoop the head and put him in a reverse choke and then just slowly walk backwards and lower him to the ground face first. He did manage to hit me in the ear on my way in with a 3/10 glancing blow. After he taps “I got a point on your ear”.

I think we talked about this somewhere else. In my opinion, full contact sparring makes you better regardless of what you’re training. Specificity is important too. In a perfect world of unlimited funding police would go to a weekly class in full body armor with blue guns and the trainer would say “take that guy into custody”. And they’d practice that from de escalation all the way to hands on cuffing and miranda rights. Make practice harder than real life.


I definitely agree with this sentiment. Anybody who is used to contact and making their stuff work on someone who is actively resisting will have an edge.

On the other hand, this also leads to some deluded thinking, at least in the jits community. Jits was put on the map in the US because of the early UFC and its demonstrable effectiveness. Later on we started seeing cops and other professionals using it to good effect in real-world settings. Sport grappling contests eventually emerged, and it seems like sport grappling schools are now at least as common as schools where self defense is the primary objective.

That’s fine. I have no problem with that. What I take issue with is when these schools give students the idea that they are just as good at teaching you how to protect yourself as someone like my instructor is, or that there’s no practical difference because at the end of they day you’re still full-contact grappling.

A lot of martial arts sell this idea of preparing people for violence, and it starts to border on fraud in my opinion. The trouble for new students is they don’t really have any frame of reference. Throw in a little sensei worship and the somewhat cultish tendencies these places can have and boom, you can spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of training time and have not gotten particularly far in your quest to never get beaten up again.

Sure, you’re probably better off than you were before. How much better would you be if you took all the hours you spent drilling berimbolos, x-guard sweeps and turtle attacks into stuff like headlock escapes, clinch escapes, grip-stripping and mount control? I’m not saying anything is bad to train, I’m saying…

Training is always limited by time. When I first started jits I was mostly concerned with not getting smashed on the mats. That’s not a bad thing to be working on, but I eventually realized I was training to get good at rolling, not fighting. Nothing I’ve learned is really throw-away at all, but I’ve stopped thinking about sparring/rolling as a contest to win and I’ve started looking at it as a way to train my self-defense priorities.

I still win a lot of rolls, but if I spend 5 min trying to get to and hold technical mount but never manage a submission, that’s a better use of my mat time (for my goals) than if I had tapped the guy out three times with an Americana or a collar choke.

I didn’t figure this out on my own. I needed an instructor who was self-defense first and had the bona fides to show me the giant holes in my abilities and help me get them plugged up.

Every person with a black belt around their waist in any martial art will claim to teach self-defense. And they mostly do. Most jiu jitsu black belts at any school would whoop an untrained person’s ass. But that doesn’t need to take 10 years, and some schools do a much, much better job putting the important stuff first and getting their students ready to handle violence, which is still the #1 reason why people sign up for martial arts. The difference is in the mindset, the curriculum and the specific knowledge of the instructor.

Buyer beware.


This is my favorite thread to lurk in. I spent 20 years in the National Guard, the last eight as an MP, did a couple of trips to the sandbox, was a civilian cop for a few years, and also did a short stint in corrections. I’m not reading you my unimpressive resume in order to impress anybody, but just to give a little background so you know I am not talking completely out of my ass, just partially.

Anyway, I trained in bjj for a year with my middle son. I couldn’t do a lot of heavy rolling due to a back issue that is finally starting to resolve after about two years. The school was a legit Gracie school under Pedro Sauer’s guidance. My instructor got his black belt during the time I trained there. He did a good job of separating the self defense from the sport, but I still found myself drowning under sport related techniques.

I am in no way trying to shit on bjj, but my experience with it was there was some valid self defense buried under a lot of sport specific techniques. I felt I learned very little that was applicable to real self defense. Maybe I was just a shitty student, which I’m sure I was, but I got the impression that bjj is way too sport focused today.

I personally felt that it would have been better for white belts to learn more takedowns and no gi grappling from a self defense standpoint. I know for me personally, that anytime shit hit the fan anything overly complicated went out the fucking window. I have been told at high levels rolling is like chess where you are trying to anticipate your opponents next few moves. I just don’t know how applicable that is when someone is trying to smash your head in. I’m a big fan of keeping shit simple, but I wonder if I didn’t give bjj enough of a chance. I’d be interested to hear your opinion on the huge fucking essay I just wrote that was supposed to be a simple post. Thanks.


Ha ha well you read through my screed, so I’m more than happy to give you a reply.

I think you’re spot-on and I think you’ve got a really common experience on the mats. Pedro Sauer is as legit as they come. My first school’s lineage is from a guy named Marcelo Alonso, who is also as legit as they come.

For whatever reason, and there can be good ones and bad ones, instructors see a need to deviate from basic self-defense concepts and drift towards sport. The instructor at my first school only taught two classes per week, so it was really more of a club than a serious martial arts school. He had a room that usually had 5-10 white belts, a few blues and a few purples. I think he tried to please everyone. Earlier this year he even admitted that he needs to work on more self-defense. I gave him a lot of props for that, and I think my other instructor and his head instructor had a big influence on that line of thinking. Those guys are the premier school in the state for all the right reasons and people can’t help but take notice.

The problem is he doesn’t know the material all that well, because he never learned it that way and he grappled under his system until another black belt decided he was a black belt. He’s a great instructor btw. He does a great job teaching his system, which is basically sport grappling with some basic takedowns and a few little self-defense tidbits thrown in, like reminding us we can be punched in the guard (but not teaching us punch blocking from the guard).

After training with an instructor from a school that has been around since 2003 with the core concept being self-defense first from day 1 on the mats, the difference in curriculum and ability to impart the concepts is pretty dramatic. Both are jiu jitsu. The top purple belt at my old school is a nightmare to roll with and he’d probably do pretty well in a fight. In a friendly roll he can definitely hang with purples from that school. He’s definitely legit. But I don’t think he’d be able to teach a headlock escape class in clear, concise terms or with all the right techniques. It’s just not something we worked on there. Ever.

Regarding gi and no gi, I think both are valuable. Especially if you live in a place like Maine, where people wear gi’s for half the year but don’t realize that their blue jeans and Carhartt jacket are weapons that can be used against them. Training in the gi teaches you how to use clothing against people, but like you said, people aren’t always walking around in pajama-like clothing.

No gi teaches you how to use other grip points. Most of the white belt curriculum is in the gi, but almost all of it will translate to no gi as well. All of it is applicable when people are trying to hit you, grab you or choke you on your feet or on the ground. That’s self-defense material. It’s not EVERYTHING, but it’s a 2-3 year path of training that’s going to prepare you very well. Sport stuff there starts at blue belt, but even blue belt is mostly self-defense concepts. Their purple and aboves are the ones who spend more training time on the “human chess game” of high level grappling.

I’m still playing checkers. Getting pretty good at it though. I can beat a chess player every once in a while!

In just over a month they’re hosting a slap-fight tournament. It’s jiu jitsu (both gi and no-gi) with palm-strikes with a few area schools putting up guys on a 5 card match. It’s a friendly training match with honorable dudes, so no need for MMA governing bodies to be involved. I’m really looking forward to it. Let’s see what techniques fly out the window!

Speaking of handling punches from the guard, here’s the great Pedro Sauer putting up against a monster of a man. He’s definitely legit!


Thank you for taking the time, I do appreciate it. The light bulb would flicker on occasion, but I rarely felt like I was “getting it.”

I’m thinking about looking back into bjj eventually as the sport side does intrigue me and I realize there is no better ground game. Before that though, I am looking into a Hawaiian Kempo , Pit affiliated school that is near me. From what I’ve read about it I think it may be a little more up my alley for now.

Now that I am retired from the guard, I don’t even have the benefit of training combatives every quarter anymore, so I need something more than just a heavy bag to work on improving my skills.

Again, I appreciate your assessment, and it makes me feel a little better about my bjj experience.


Good Post and an accurate and sad fact. I am looking at an add now from Precise Publications that states: "In just two hours after you receive"Super Karate" you will be on your way to being an invincible Karate Master" in your home, all for 99 cents. Good Lord.


Welcome and you have too much experience to lurk. Look forward to hearing from you.


Thanks brother, I appreciate it. I’ll start throwing my $.02 in when I feel I can contribute. I mostly enjoy just learning what I can from you guys here. I let my edge dull too much the last six months. Time to sharpen it back up.


Thought for the day: This applies to anyone with self awareness and pride, not just first responders. IMHO, we need to return to some form of a martial society. I do my part by hard work and training. How about you?

The truth is your body is a display of the current standards you hold. Some of you won’t like that, some of you will provide an excuse to make your self feel better. But that is the harsh truth. .

For any of us, but more importantly for those of us who serve, we are meant to hold ourselves to a higher standard, to provide a reference point for others to strive towards. .

When we drop our standards and let ourselves go we aren’t just letting ourselves down, we are letting down our brothers and sisters who serve by our side, we are letting down our units and we are letting down those who have worn the uniform before us. . .

Be honest with yourself here, are your standards where they need to be? Does your body display the values and characteristics of someone who serves to protect their nation? I the answer is no it’s time to make that change. .

Right now this might be a hard pill to swallow. But I promise you, raise your standards and you will raise the quality of your life. No matter what assignment you hold, make sure you represent it and execute it to the highest possible standard

This isn’t a game of call of duty with some bullshit cheat code, this is real life and in real life you have to go through the pain if you want to be the best you can be.


Thought for the day (2): What motivates you to train?


I have written before about several instances that changed my life, but, regardless of where I have been or what done or the shit that I have seen, I always come back to the fight in a small housing project bedroom with a guy high on PCP, as being the major factor in changing my training. I spent 4 days in the hospital after that fight, the injuries nothing compared to the humiliation of being stomped. At the time, I was an ex combat veteran, black belt holder and thought I was a certified bad ass. ha. ha. looking back that is embarrassing that I even thought that way. Train , Brothers, train.

another view:

How do you keep yourself so motivated? “ I get that question multiple times a day… Nine out of ten times it’s from another cop or first responder. .

The answer is quite easy especially for the LEO community. On the days that you don’t feel like training or going to the gym, just think of that one person you dealt with at work that almost overpowered you. That one incident where you weren’t sure if you had what it takes to survive that particular situation. That one time you weren’t sure if you were going to go home… .

Most cops have had that experience at least once. .

Then I want you to think of your family, friends and all the people that depend on you to come home and be a part of their lives… I’m not going to let them down because I was lazy. .

That is your motivation to train, be proficient with your tools and be the best possible version of yourself. .

At one point in your career your level of fitness will determine weather or not you see your family again. It’s time that we all start making our health at fitness a priority. . .


Sounds good man. My kinda club. Sounds like you fully appreciate how lucky you are to be there
I’m not far away (up in Atlantic Canada). Maybe I could make it down for a roll sometime. I doubt I’d be much of a challenge right now. Like I said I said, I’m more on the range than the mats these days. Gotta remedy that.

Guys from my home club do the Origin camp in Maine every summer. Always wanted to see the Pine Tree State.