All posts by Chris Manzo

How Martial Arts Really Saved My Life

I know a karate instructor, we will call him Arthur. This is a pleasant man, not imposing in the least. I had the pleasure of working with him at another place that was not a gym. I was able to see him in his daily life. One day, I mentioned to a co-worker of ours that he is probably good at slicing tomatoes because he is a black belt. It was a small joke, but it was my co-worker’s reaction that brought me to an enlightenment. My co-worker was in disbelief and said that there is no way because Arthur is such a nice guy and wouldn’t appear to hurt a fly. Besides the fact that Martial Artists are not scary people and they don’t fit into specific molds, I knew Arthur as a black belt first so it was easy to picture him throwing kicks in his Kimono. I got a little off track, but the reaction of my co-worker caused me to ask a little bit more about Arthur’s interest in Martial Arts.

Arthur was a very forthcoming guy when asked about Martial Arts, it is perceptible that he was probably asked about the subject quite often when he wasn’t at work. He started telling me a story about how Karate was something that he held dear because it saved his life. Not in the sense that some guy with a gun attacked him and a well-placed snap kick jarred the gun loose and he gave the perpetrator a beating; but in the sense that he was a lost soul until he found Karate. Arthur was an addict, a miscreant, a bad father, a bad husband, a “loser”, in his own words. He was a man without vision or purpose.

He found Karate and learned the discipline that he now teaches others.

After he became so involved in Karate, he started realizing the error of his ways. He started to see who was there to support him. He started to see how much his family meant to him and how proud of him they were for turning things around.

This story has a happy ending, Arthur still finds himself doing well. He is a respected Sensei, he is a loving father, and he is a devout family man, and he owns his own catering business. The same way my co-worker couldn’t picture him as a man who has earned the highest belt Karate has to offer, I couldn’t picture him as someone that was not a productive member of society. I don’t feel that this story is the only one like it though. I looked up the subject of “How Martial Arts Saved My Life” and there were so many stories similar. Humility, inner strength, confidence, and discipline were the main areas of salvation. If you find yourself lost in the world and somehow came across this blog, maybe you can just try a martial art and see if it brings you to a better place.

How to Prepare for a Real Prison Fight

So I was talking about real world examples and who we should talk to about surviving in real life situations. I correlated which martial art would be best in those situations. I guess I didn’t think about the scenario where someone might be incarcerated. I was trying to use the good guy scenario and ignored the fact that inmates are people too and they will most likely encounter a life-and-death situation, probably even more so and more often than a Navy Seal. In prison, you’re constantly on the lookout for people trying to do you harm. Prison is one of the few places left in today’s modern world where a man is measured by his ability to fight. So while you generally shouldn’t take life advice from a person who has ended up in prison, when it comes to learning how to fight and survive a violent encounter, there is something to be learned from inmates.

I read some testimony about the subject from former inmates as well as former prison guards to learn what it really takes to survive when your life is on the line and the only thing standing between you and a cold metal slab is your capacity for violence. The first gem of advice will be to hit them first. I always tell competitors that when you’re defending an attack, you’re usually losing the fight.

Don’t wait for the other guy to throw the first punch. Nobody really cares who threw the first punch.

The only difference is that the person who hits first has a big advantage. The majority of people who wait to be hit before defending themselves end up losing the fight. That’s because while you’re covering up or trying to block a person’s punch, another punch is already on the way. And by the time you block that punch, another is on the way. It’s a cycle that repeats itself until you get knocked out. Don’t be on the receiving end of that cycle. Hit first. Hit hard. And keep on hitting.

Have you ever heard of a shank? Prisoners will go to almost any lengths to make sure they can protect themselves out in the yard, and one of the best ways they do this is by being armed with a weapon. A good weapon acts as a force multiplier and can greatly increase a man’s ability to do serious damage in a fight. Because of this, inmates are constantly coming up with new and inventive ways to make sure they always have access to something dangerous when they need it. One of the more ingenious methods I heard of is a prisoner who hid a weapon in plain sight by sharpening a piece of metal, then taping a few leaves to the end of it and sticking it straight into the dirt out in the yard. To the rest of the world it just looked like a small weed popping out of the ground. But to the prisoner who put it there, that “weed” was a potential life-saver. Out in the real world you don’t need to get this creative. Depending on what country you live in, it’s perfectly acceptable to carry a knife or gun with you for self protection. Remember, having the right weapon can save your life. Conversely, you should also keep an eye out for weapons that your opponent may have. Always be aware of people’s hands.

I’m not telling you to join a gang, but in a gang fight, a man without backup is as good as dead. Unlike in the movies where a lone hero can take out ten men using nothing but his speed and fighting skills, in the real world, having reinforcements can mean the difference between getting a few cuts and bruises, and ending up in the hospital. In prison having backup usually means joining a gang, but on the streets it could be something as simple as hitting up the local bar with your buddies instead of by yourself, or being friendly with the doorman. At the very least, do your best not to get in a fight with someone who’s rolling with a bigger crew than you are.

You probably don’t count on going to prison, but in general, you should train for fighting and pick up a martial art. I know I say this all the time, but in prison, you will be happy you did so. Most of the guys in prison aren’t trained martial artists. A few of them have boxed or wrestled, but when it comes to fighting most of them don’t really know what they’re doing and just rely on strength and aggression.

The good news is that strength and aggression can be overcome with proper training.

Most martial arts are bullshit and won’t help you against a real attacker, but a few of them will. These are the five most legitimate martial arts for learning how to win a fight against a bigger and stronger opponent.

The best advice that was offered by the inmates and guards was to always be alert. Prisoners are constantly on the lookout for trouble. That’s because inmates don’t normally telegraph the fact that they’re about to attack someone. Firstly, the guards would try to shut them down before they had a chance to do their business. And secondly, they don’t want to give up the element of surprise and warn their victim that an attack is imminent. Lucky for you that’s usually not how it usually works in the rest of the world. Out in the real world, most people make a big show out of preparing to fight. This is more true in prison where surprise attacks are the main way to get the upper hand. Always be ready. May you never see a prison yard from the inside, but if you do, be ready to get your chuck ems on and be on the winning end.

Who Knows Best About Self Defense?

Who is more apt to use martial arts in real world situations? I would say those who are in active combat situations more often than other people. When a situation arises where hand-to-hand combat is used to survive, a Navy SEAL is probably the person you want advice from. When it comes to self-defense, what do SEALs recommend? Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL who served alongside Chris Kyle and Michael Monsoor in Task Unit Bruiser, earning the Silver Star and Bronze Star for heroism. He has some good avice on the subject.

When it comes to self-defense, Willink’s top recommendation isn’t a martial art in the strictest sense. It’s a gun and concealed carry.

“If you are in a situation where you need to protect yourself, that is how you protect yourself,” he said, noting that potential adversaries will have weapons, they will be on drugs or suffer from some psychotic condition. “If you want to protect yourself, that is how you do it.” I suppose he would know best and he was asked what the best form of self-defense was so his answer is perfect.

It isn’t legal everywhere, but that works in the states that have “constitutional carry” or “shall issue” carry laws. But suppose you are in California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, or Delaware which the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action notes are “Rights Restricted – Very Limited Issue” states where obtaining a concealed carry permit is very difficult? Willink then recommends Brazilian jujitsu, followed by Western boxing, Muay Thai, and wrestling. These are similar to the list that I myself put together a few months ago in a blog about which martial arts I found to be most effective in real world situations. Makes me feel pretty good about myself.

Willinck is a proponent of jujitsu in particular, recounting how he used it to beat a fellow SEAL in a sparring match who had 20 years of experience in a different martial art. He noted that people should not buy into the notion of a “magical instructor” who can help them defeat multiple attackers. He said martial arts like Krav Maga can augment jujitsu and other arts.He also noted that you have more time than you think. The attack isn’t likely to happen next week, it could be a lot longer, and one can learn a lot by training in a martial art two or three times a week for six months. Willick notes, though, that martial arts have a purpose beyond self-defense. They can teach discipline and humility. He notes that few who start jujitsu get a black belt – because it takes discipline to go out there on the mat constantly, especially when you are a beginner.

Famous Martial Artists

It dawned on me, that it is common sense to me that celebrities are people too and that they probably have an interest in martial arts. Specifically with the popularity of the sport of mixed martial arts, especially the UFC, it’s no surprise that there has been a direct correlation to the growth and popularity of people training martial arts, specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This doesn’t exclude A-list celebrities, however; on average it takes a person around a decade to achieve the rank of black belt and that is with consistent training. To achieve the rank of black belt in BJJ is an honor, a privilege, and one of life’s greatest accomplishments for practitioners of the art. Several famous actors, actresses, musicians, and athletes are trained in various martial arts. Some celebrities are black belts in Karate while others study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Several Hollywood actors began studying the martial arts in preparation for roles in popular action films.

Musicians who know how to rock but also know martial arts are a pretty famous group. Willie Nelson earned a black belt in Taekwondo. Megadeath musician Dave Mustaine has a black belt in Karate and Taekwondo, and Tool front man Maynard James Keenan trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Lou Reed practiced Tai Chi on a daily basis, reportedly for up to three hours at a time. I’m sure the discipline of music is similar to the discipline required for martial arts. Rikki Rockett and Guy Ritchie are also martial artists. Ritchie not only holds a brown belt in Karate but held that same rank in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu…for 8 years! That is until BJJ pioneer Renzo Gracie surprised Ritchie at the movie premiere of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and presented him with his black belt. Renzo had this to say in regards to Ritchie’s accomplishment,

No one has ever worked harder than Guy to get his black belt; he spent 8 years as a brown belt – training every day. He is my favorite.” ~ Rockett

Rockett, the drummer of the beloved band Poison not only has a background in wrestling, boxing, and Silat but is also a 2nd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renato Magno. Rockett began training in BJJ back in 1998 with Rigan and Jacques Machado and supplemented his classes with private lessons from Magno. Rockett is also a fierce competitor having competed in the 2010 Pan-American Championships

Some celebrities have obviously studied martial arts. It is apparent from their smooth moves on film. Wesley Snipes is an action star, so if we were to find out he had never trained martial arts it would be crazy news. That of course, isn’t the case. Snipes began training in martial arts when he was 12 years old. He has a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan karate and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido. Jason Statham is another guy who throws the good strikes on camera and even shows up at UFC events on a regular basis. Since he is so proficient at martial arts, Statham was offered more film roles, and in 2002 he was cast as the lead role of driver Frank Martin in the action movie The Transporter, in which he was responsible for his own stunts (Statham has made this choice for all of his films). He has studied Wing Chun kung fu, karate, and kickboxing. With the popularity of Jon Wick, you would think Keanu Reeves has had extensive training in martial arts. To even my surprise, Keanu Reeves doesn’t practice martial arts. Although he does play a kung fu master in movies. “I’ve done a lot of Movie Kung Fu. So I’ve had some training in that,” Reeves has been quoted as saying.

The famous comedian and announcer Joe Rogan speaks quite often about martial arts. He is a proponent for them. He is also holds black belts in eight different styles: Shotokan, Taekwondo, Kobudo, Goju Ryu (for which he studied under Master Eddie Morales where he learned to sharpen his Goju karate technique), Tang Soo Do, Wushu and Kyokushin, with a specific focus in Kyokushin. Most widely known as his role as the UFC’s primary color commentator, Joe Rogan is a very interesting and popular personality indeed. He is also widely known for his work as a standup comic and has one of the most interesting podcasts currently on the air, The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan, a Taekwondo national champion and lifelong martial artist, is also a black belt under 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo.

Some other unlikely celebs who are proficient in martial arts are pretty entertaining. Ed O’Neill, that’s right, Al Bundy is not only more of a man than you’ll ever be but could more than likely wrap you up like a pretzel and make you scream uncle with his hands literally tied behind his back.

Ed O’Neill, Al Bundy is more of a man than you’ll ever be

Ed O’Neill, famous for his role in the sitcom Married with Children, has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for more than 22 years and in 2007 received his black belt from one of the UFC and BJJ pioneers Rorion Gracie. Another one, but not as surprising is The Boondock Saints and Dexter star Sean Patrick Flanery began training martial arts at the tender age of nine and continued with various disciplines through his college years. Flanery began his BJJ training with the legendary Rickson Gracie in 2000 and then continued his training with Renzo Gracie in 2003. For the next five years Flanery continued his diligent advancement through the ranks and on May 4, 2008 he received his black belt from one of Renzo’s top instructors, Shawn Williams.

Martial Arts and Disabilities

One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of being a youth instructor is coaching disabled children. From kids with autism, to a double amputee, to children with traumatic brain disorders, I have been lucky enough to coach some amazing disabled children. Dealing with unruly children or disrespectful teenagers is definitely a challenge. It is more of a challenge than it is to coach children with disabilities. I have taught several children with what people consider to be a disability.

Some athletes with disabilities have accomplished some pretty amazing things.

If you don’t know who Anthony Robles is, you should. He was so good at wrestling that he became an NCAA champion, an amazing feat. This was with the fact that he is missing a leg. Yes, he has one leg. He became such a dominant force that coaches were even saying he had an unfair advantage because his strength was that of a wrestler in a higher weight class. Amazing young man. He isn’t on the scene anymore but Matt Hamill is a deaf American mixed martial artist and wrestler who has competed in the Light Heavyweight division of the UFC. He is a three-time NCAA Division III National Champion in wrestling while attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Hamill also has a silver medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling and a gold medal in Freestyle Wrestling from the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, which is impressive also, but tells the story of how many deaf wrestlers must be out there and are very good at what they do. I’m sure these two don’t consider themselves to be disabled at all.

Another great example is Baxter Humby. Baxter Humby is a Canadian kickboxer known as “The One Armed Bandit” due to his missing right hand, which was amputated at birth just below his elbow after becoming entangled with the umbilical cord. He is the only man in the world to win world titles with only one hand. He competes against not-disabled fighters and I have seen him fight on several occasions. Baxter is the current IMTC World Super Welterweight Champion. He holds a number of different title belts including WBC Super Welterweight National Champion , IKKC USA Kickboxing Champion, IMTC World Middleweight Champion, and IKBA International Kickboxing Champion. His interest in sports led him to take up running at age 11 and martial arts at 17. He ran for the Canadian National Track Team in Barcelona in 1992 and in Berlin in 1994. So the man has accomplished many feats that people with all of their limbs will never come close to.

What an amazing person to not let something like a missing limb be an excuse for not doing the things he wants to do in life.

Coaching these types of athletes has proven to be something that I love. I find that people with disabilities in one area of their person, always make up for it with excellent strengths in other areas. A person who is blind is known to have better hearing than others. The other senses seem to be amplified when one is absent. This has been true about everyone I have had the privilege to coach that has a disability. I hope this goes to show those of us with no disabilities that if we were to have half the drive and determination of those who were told they couldn’t do something because of a disability; that we are only limited by our own minds. More power to all of those out there trying to do what they dream.

Who Needs Martial Arts the Most?

After blogging about law enforcement and their need for martial arts, it occurred to me that although they are in serious situations often, military personnel may be in more dire situations more often. Now in any war, there is always a necessity to be skilled at close quarters combat. Encounters with those who mean to kill you in the name of country are readily available and are usually at war because they are trying to occupy the same space you are. The whole point is, if you are in the military, Martial Arts are going to be taught to you. Krav Maga is a martial art that was specifically developed and adapted for Military use, Israeli Military to be exact.

Marines implement martial arts as a huge part of their regimen. Mainly because Marines are in the thick of the battle most of the time. Marines are on the front lines and must be highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat because they are the most likely to employ its tactics. They have their own program. Marines have the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, or MCMAP, which focuses on hand-to-hand and close-quarters combat. There are specialized instructors that are usually taught by some of the masters of certain martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai in order to take what they learn and pass it on to their students. How involved a Marine gets is usually up to them, but all Marines are required to gain minimal knowledge of Martial Arts. It could surely save their lives.

The flexibility and muscle memory in martial arts is necessary and must be learned and then practiced.

With all of the physical attributes mentioned, I’m sure you can easily the connection between the mental toughness and discipline needed for both military training and martial arts. It is well known and quite celebrated by both that discipline is not just present but very necessary for becoming an expert in hand-to-hand combat. You have to get through the bumps and bruised involved in learning. You have to deal with the disappointment of being beat by those who know more than you. You have to endure the hours of conditioning. You have to keep an open mind and follow instructions from those who teach you. There are so many similarities in the mentality that it takes to be a soldier and a martial artist. Perhaps the need to protect yourself, or your country is the motivation for most soldiers. What is the motivation for most Martial Artists? The notion of being able to defend yourself is probably the number one motivation for beginning a Martial Art.

When something is a life-and-death situation, you want as many tools as possible. Martial Arts provides that. There have been many young people that came into the gym because they had intentions on joining the military. I always thought that it was a good way of “cheating”. It isn’t actually cheating, but why not become proficient at it quickly. As I have mentioned several times, learning a Martial Arts also allows you to learn how to learn. Those of you familiar with my writing know what I mean but for those of you who don’t, I stress the fact that learning a Martial Arts helps you become a “coachable” person. Learning how to learn is a great way to advance in any aspect of your life.

Martial Arts teaches you about yourself; your strengths and weaknesses all come to light when you become a Martial Artist.

My advice to anyone thinking of joining the armed forces: Get a head start now and learn a Martial Art. A great coach once told me that it is better to become a master of something than a jack of all trades. Become great at a Martial Art, it just might save your life.

Law Enforcement Officers Should Always Train

Knowing what we know about recent history, it seems like common sense that those in Law Enforcement should not only have trained, but should have ongoing training in Martial Arts and Self Defense. For them it could be a matter of life and death. I read articles all the time on Law Enforcement Agencies and their need to defend themselves. Practical Martial Arts should apply here. MMA, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, Jiujitsu. The arts can be brutal, but people don’t die when they train or compete in MMA, what is brutal are the streets. The martial arts I mentioned don’t kill the person who is at the unfortunate receiving end, but it helps practitioners enjoy better fitness and confidence.

With the ones I mentioned, people have tried these techniques and they work. The training teaches approach techniques, immobilization and how to disarm someone with a gun or knife. The training also includes self-defense techniques, ground encounters with weapon retention, ground avoidance and ground escapes.

These skills can save the lives of people who are put in harms way daily.

With all of the negative press surrounding law enforcement in regard to brutality, this may be a great way to reconnect with the community.

The purpose of this training? The training is intended to keep officers up-to-date on the latest techniques and provides them with the knowledge to better perform on the job. As someone who trained and teaches MMA, I can attest to the many benefits associated with MMA. It may go further and actually change the lifestyle of an officer who didn’t realize the obvious benefits until they started practicing. If the training can save a life, or cause an officer to be more confident so that they don’t have to use more force, then the training is working for everyone.

Who was teaching the El Paso police officers? You may recognize the last name, Colin Gracie from The Gracie Gym/Fight School is led the instruction for officers. The Gracie name is famous for being one of the leading founding families in the sport of MMA. Royce Gracie was the first winner of the UFC when it was a tournament style format. I don’t need to go over the entire history, but let’s just say that before him, nobody knew what BJJ was, now all MMA practitioners incorporate it into their regiment.

After competing for a number of years, it became apparent that Officers of the law benefit from training in martial arts.

The benefits don’t just include them being able to defend themselves, they benefit the community.

When an officer can share his knowledge with the community through teaching, it boosts morale and brings worlds together. The other side of the coin is true as well. When an officer walks into a studio and meets new people, they become more approachable and more understood by the community around them.

In conclusion, I would say that training in Martial Arts is good for everyone. The benefits reach beyond personal goals and self defense tactics. The benefits are social as well as physical.

Nate and Nick Diaz

One of my favorite topics is the Diaz brothers. Tony Ferguson recently let Nate know that he isn’t scared, because the Diaz brothers love to say “Don’t be scared homie.” They may sound a little immature at times, but make no mistake, these two are well versed in the disciplines of boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As a fan of MMA since its inception, I can say easily that I have never cared for their unprofessional antics, where they lose their cool more often than not and actually engage in “street fights” with other fighters.

These two do have something that we all love though, a warrior spirit. They are true fighters to their core.

With all of that said, and the the fact that Nate just eagerly and aggressively agreed to take the fight with superstar Conor McGregor on just two weeks notice after RDA pulled out due to a broken foot he sustained during a sparring session; Nate Diaz is definitely either not scared homie, or he is really good at hiding his fear. Hence the subject of this blog today.

Oh, in fact, you should be scared. Should you be scared of another man if fighting is your profession? Not necessarily. Fear does drive us to train harder and smarter though. If you are not confident that you have done everything you can to prepare yourself physically and mentally for a fight, fear is exactly what you will feel. Being scared is natural in any competition. You started out in a sport or activity and you began to love it. You may have even gotten good at it. You practiced against the same people day in and day out, or you spent hours perfecting your technique. Whether it is intellectual or physical, you have invested a lot of time, sweat, tears, blood, and/or money in this. What if you get out there and fail miserably? What if you aren’t as good as you thought you were? What if you get injured? What if you injure someone else severely? What if what if what if… These are all things that go through your head if you devote your time and energy into something that turns into a competition setting.

If you are not scared that you have the possibility to fail at something you think you care about so much, then you may not really care at all.

We all know Nate Diaz is telling his opponents that they need to stand in front of him and fight him “like a man”. But is that the best strategy for his opponents? No, not in most cases. There is always a game plan and standing in front of a puncher that peppers and moves forward is not a great idea. I know that Conor is supremely confident in his training so fear of Nate Diaz does not amount to simply thinking Nate will kick is butt. Fear amounts to the fact that you will lose a lot of what you have built up over the course of a lifetime. Every black eye, every bloody lip, every bruise has all brought a fighter to the place you see them at on fight night. Fighting is not a job, it is a lifestyle. It is a daily grind of pushing yourself beyond the limits of what you even thought was possible. It is the amazing movement and rhythm that comes with years of dedication to a craft. If you aren’t scared, you aren’t normal.

In conclusion, I’m not saying that I was or any other fighter is “scared” but fear can be a great motivator. Find out what fear is and you will be able to develop a goal that helps you avoid that fear. If that isn’t the solution you want to hear, then face your fears head-on. If you’re scared of snakes, go hold a snake. Fear does motivate those exceptional athletes to go beyond what normal people feel is possible…

What Do You Call Your Martial Arts Teacher?

The question struck me as odd, but I suppose that you really need to know what you call your martial arts teacher. I have the kids call me coach, but it depends what martial art you are teaching. I don’t think anything is insulting, but here are some common teacher names for some common martial arts.

Japanese martial arts commonly use Sensei meaning “teacher” or literally translated, “born first” or “one who has gone before”.

A Sensei is a person who has knowledge and is willing to teach that knowledge to another.

Grandmaster (or Grand Master) and Master are titles used to describe or address some senior or experienced martial artists. Typically these titles are honorific in nature, meaning that they do not infer rank, but rather distinguish the individual as very highly revered in their school, system, or style. It is a badge of honor and respect that isn’t formal, but is a compliment.

Chinese Martial Arts like kung-fu usually call the teacher Sifu,, although the term and pronunciation are also used in other southern languages. In Mandarin Chinese, it is spelled “shifu”. Many martial arts studios pronounce the word like “she foo”. In Cantonese, it is said as “see foo” (almost like “sea food”, without the “d” on the end). The actual Korean word for a student’s master is suseung-nim. This term is only used by the student when speaking to the instructor. The student is hakseang. Many Korean titles are often mistakenly translated as “grandmaster”. The term is general term for any teacher of any subject as well as a respectful form of the word “you”. Coincidently, martial arts instructors (in Korea 4th Dan and above) are called Sabom-nim.

In the Muay Thai world, instructors are called Kru and Arjan. (also ajaan, ajarn, acharn, and achaan). These words do not by any means mean “Master.” Quite simply, they both mean “teacher.” They do not differ from society to the gym. Your english teacher or math teach would be referred to as Kru or Arjan. Although Ajarn is used for more experienced or respected teacher… it still translates the same as Kru. In the Muay Thai world, it is a tad disrespectful to call yourself a Kru or Arjan if you haven’t fought though. Although the term doesn’t mean that you are a fighter, it is commonly understood that the instructor was an actual fighter at some point.

The term that seems to have the most controversy is the name that BJJ practitioners call their instructor. Most of them just call them coach but others are referred to as Professors. I thought this to be a distinguished honor when I first heard it and it added some regal sense of mastery to anyone who was being called a Professor by their students. When I learned why, it was actually kind of underwhelming. The term is a literal translation from Portuguese (the national language of Brazil), that means simply: Teacher. So now you know what to call your instructors.

Martial Arts in the Real World

I look up stories all the time about practical uses for martial arts. I try to find the best headlines and stories about how Martial Arts is used in the real world and the stories I come upon are plentiful. They are from all over the world and it makes me feel good that Martial Arts help people. I found a story from Florida the other day and it proves once again that you can get your self out of a scary situation when you know Martial Arts, more-so than if you don’t. A person who is involved in martial arts is generally someone who is confident in them self. Working through a martial art and the belt ranking system gives you measurable goals to follow that are realistic to attain. The sense of accomplishment we feel by mastering a new technique or graduating to a new belt follows us everywhere. It can even get us out of situations that non-martial artists would be lost in.

In the story, a Florida homeowner said he used his martial arts training to apprehend an alleged burglar who was stealing from his home. Brian Burch told the local news that he used his Brazilian jiu-jitsu training on a burglar, later identified as Josue Ortiz after he found Ortiz stealing from his garage. Burch said he walked into the garage to see Ortiz holding his jackhammer and airgun cases. Ortiz told him that his boss sent him to pick up tools from Burch’s house. He then tried to flee.

That’s when Burch said he stopped Ortiz with jiu-jitsu, which he studied for over 2 years.

A neighbor who saw the scuffle called police as Burch held Ortiz down. Once police arrived, they said they found several of Burch’s tools inside Ortiz’s car. “They told him he got exactly what he deserved,” Burch told the news. “He had a broken nose.” Ortiz’s broken nose and black eye were on full display in his mugshot after he was arrested and charged with grand theft and burglary.

So let this be a lesson to would-be burglars, you never know whose stuff you’re trying to steal. It is good to see that nobody was seriously injured in this situation.

The ability to defend yourself against an assailant is an empowering feeling.

Most martial arts use self defense as a cornerstone of the entire program. The precise methods will vary from discipline to discipline, but you can be certain that with regular practice, you will learn to defend yourself in a variety of different ways. Many martial arts schools also teach street-smart techniques to help you in real situations. The story about the burglar above reinforces all of that. Happy ending to an otherwise tragic situation.