Totowa MMA: A look inside NJ United Mixed Martial Arts Academy

“Why not just learn martial arts from Youtube?”

There are some valuable moves to learn on Youtube . . . but the internet won’t give you anything close to a training family who grows with you!

The above question was put forth to me years ago by a young man who had just taken his first classes in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was being partially sarcastic – although new to things, he knew enough to perceive that learning the nuances of a martial art cannot be 100% accomplished through the internet. But he was also being partially serious – after all, if you can watch a fight veteran and master instructor demonstrate a move on Youtube.com, and then if you drill that move, then doesn’t that count for something? Well, I think it does count for something, but that “something” isn’t necessarily something you want.  Daniel J. Boorstin often said that “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” A diet heavy in internet martial arts gives you that illusion.

Whether you’re young or old, make sure you’re learning from instructors who are willing to give you specific, nuanced feedback!

Don’t get me wrong – Youtube and the internet in general have helped expedite the growth of martial arts at an amazing rate. After a training session here at NJ United MMA, I’ll sometimes bring up a Youtube video of a move pertaining to what I need to work on technically. But this is more akin to taking a diet supplement or a bite of a protein bar. On the other hand, the philosophy of “Why not just learn from Youtube?” is more akin to OD’ing on diet supplements and protein bars. Aside from the indigestion-factor, this is plain-old unhealthy!

I have a Youtube account filled with playlists of moves and counters from every position. But when I look back at my journey from white belt to black belt instructor, I’d honestly have to say that I owe 1% or less of my growth to Youtube. And guess what – there were times when I unknowingly used Youtube to indoctrinated myself with moves that were low-grade, flashy for flashiness’s sake, or just plain-old dumb. And worse, it took longer to work them out of my system than it did to work into my system.

Long story short, you need a strong academy of fellow martial artists if you want to gain even the tangential benefits of true martial arts! Along with realistic drilling and sparring, the insight of qualified instructors and experienced training partners are invaluable!

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

Weight-loss or strength-building? Muay Thai is the best of both worlds!

Every Muay Thai class is a workout that will engage and challenge the body and the mind. You’ll also build some unexpectedly cool relationships!

Before Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu were my main fitness habits, I used to hit the traditional gym like most other people do. And today, I’ll still go to the gym, but only if I have a specific fitness goal or plan to compete. There are many reasons why I made this switch, but here I want to focus on the straight-up physical. I used to segment my training as I worked toward being a complete, fit human being – I had a cardio-day, an arms and back day, a day for core body work, and of course the dreaded leg day. But when I took up Muay Thai, I quickly noticed that there was no “day” for anything. It was a total-body workout that was complex on the technical level, but astoundingly simple to apply.

Sure, if you train Muay Thai consistently, the curriculum of the lessons will vary week to week. Sometimes you’ll be working offense, and others defense. Sometimes you’ll be working on how to punch and kick from long distances, and other times you’ll enter or get out of close-range situations. The martial art has its easy-to-learn and tough-to-learn nuances, just like any other worthwhile activity does. And of course, you’re going to have days on which you learn things easily, and other days when your grasp on other concepts a bit slower. But no matter what kind of technical day you’re having in Muay Thai class, you’ll always be engaged in the process of trimming-down your body to its natural weight and size.

Here at NJ United MMA, we offer kettlebells classes following many of our Muay Thai classes. Strength training and Muay Thai training go together like peas and carrots!

It’s unfortunate that we tend to think of the human body as being a simple vehicle to hold the brain, that one “smart” organ. Well, the truth is that every system of the body could be considered a genius! Sometimes, you just need to let all of these systems and muscle-groups engage in some intense, disciplined play. Your body will go into auto-pilot mode to burn fat, and since it is indeed smart, it’ll build-up the lean muscle you need to excel at any position Muay Thai can throw at you! Do you want to build muscle in addition to this? If so, your Muay Thai training will give you a level, solid foundation from which you can achieve that goal. It really is a win-win situation!

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

Vital BJJ-Basics for Rookie Cops!

The reason Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training has gained traction in the LEO community is because of it directly applies to some of the worst situations they can face! 

I’ve had the pleasure of training with lots of police officers at NJ United MMA. One common theme that many of them have repeated is their dissatisfaction with the lack of or quality of self-defense training in police training academies. In recent history, this has led many officers to seek formal self-defense training at specialized MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies.

Check out what veteran officer Tyson Kilbey has to say about the matter over at policeone.com. While there is plenty about policing that only a police academy can teach, Kilbey has been around the block enough to observe:

There is a growing movement in the law enforcement community to incorporate Gracie or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in defensive tactics programs. The reasons for this are simple. Jiu Jitsu is a highly effective means of controlling or disengaging from a bigger and stronger attacker while at the same time inflicting a minimal amount of damage.”

If you’re a police officer or considering such a career, it’s wise for you to consider how consistent BJJ training fits perfectly into the nature of your work!

Other experienced officers have contributed to the #bjjmakeitmandatory movement that has been popping up on social media. One group of officers put it bluntly thus:

“The truth is, most cops are scared of getting dominated in combat sports because it goes directly against their “Alpha Psychology”. Finding excuses is a coping mechanism used to justify not doing it. Most are actually willing to play odds of “this won’t happen to me” and frankly it’s scary. People in the industry, in which an actual job description is confrontation, are willingly not getting proficient in skills that would help them when confrontation turns physical.”

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu culture, one repeated cliché I’ve seen repeated is: “Train as if your life depends on it, because one day it will.” Well, it’s an oft-repeated cliché because it’s far more likely to come true for police officers than for people in most other walks of life! The only step from there is deciding whether you’re going to live-out this truth in your own life, or get a very rude awakening at an unexpected time.

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

 

High-Level Jiu-Jitsu Late In Life? Absolutely!

Not too bad for a 39 year-old. O_O

Slight caveat – I don’t consider age 39 to be “late in life.” But hey, by the standards of some hip, young, early-20s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors, I guess that even age 29 could be regarded thus! In any case, today I was happy to discover this short article about 39 year-old Rubens Charles Cobrinha, one of my jiu-jitsu heroes who has taken more championships than I can keep track of. But at this point in my life, I’m really not head-over-heels fascinated by the mystique of medals. I’m fascinated by how people like Cobrinha can get so much out of martial arts at every phase of life, young or old.

No, this isn’t a dietary blog post. If you know what Google is, you can find and apply plenty of those. Cobrinha keeps things pretty general. à

“. . . my philosophy is that it is very simple. I want to make sure that you know it’s clear that I take care of my body, I live very healthy, eat healthy food. That gives me a legacy, gives me an advantage on those competitors who I know some of them, they don’t take care of their body and when they get older, like 30, 32, 40 I mean they won’t be able to keep on going. So for me I’m 39 but I feel like I’m 21 years old.”

It’s important that you train with instructors who keep the “art” in martial arts!

I started training BJJ when I was age 23. I’m the same age as Cobrinha now, and back when I was grinding through the blue belt phase of my training, I regularly overheard classmate conversations that consisted of sound-bites like: “Ugh, I ate SO much garbage last night . . . so hung-over, didn’t even want to train today . . . shouldn’t have had all that Burger King last night, ha ha!” And yeah, I’ve had my share of Burger King. But guess what – there comes a point where you have to ask whether or not your habits are giving back to you.

Also, what I didn’t know about Cobrinha (until today) is that he originally got a black belt of sorts in the culinary arts! à

“I became one of the best chefs in my town.. .From there I learned a good system in the bakery which I applied to jiu jitsu and my whole life. Everything has to be a recipe. You find a recipe, you create a recipe – Stick with it! Don’t change it too much. We don’t modify the recipe too much, we measure every single ingredient there and… it’s a system. That’s something I learned over there and applied to my whole life.”

I’m not sure what the Japanese text translates to on this DVD cover. But maybe it’s something along the lines of jiu-jitsu being a fountain of youth?

Aside from the cool way in which one facet of life can synergize with others, I think there’s takeaway from how people like Cobrinha have fun in martial arts while not looking at martial arts as a straight-up joyride. In an unusual way, discipline has become a joyride of sorts for them – a feat attainable enough to not even warrant being called a “feat” to begin with!

Good, consistent habits create momentum. And whether you’re a striker, a grappler, or both, momentum will bear you results that you once thought were only for “the pros”!

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

The Importance a Newbie-Friendly Gym!

Whether you’re sharpening yourself up for competition or learning your first takedown, make sure that you’re training with a fellow technician who can keep your spirits up!

Have you ever had to teach or ‘coach’ someone to do a task? Maybe it was a new coworker who didn’t quite know how your computer system works. Maybe it was a friend who needed help with a maintenance job around the house, or even a younger family member who needed your help with some facet of adult life. When things like that happen, you probably don’t feel smug or inclined to lord your knowledge over these people (at least I hope not!). After all, nobody wants to deal with a Nick Burns in the workforce, in the ring, or on the mat! However, when lots of people start-up a martial art, they feel intimidated that something demeaning (directly or indirectly) may happen to them. Regardless, please keep this in mind when considering donning a jiu-jitsu kimono or Muay Thai / boxing gloves:

Even our instructors and seasoned veterans will be happy to tell you their martial arts origin-stories from times in their lives when they were first starting!

Practicing martial arts is not humiliating, but it is absolutely humbling. You will be amazed at how fit and knowledgeable you can become in a remarkably short time . . . but you will also be awed at how much unexplored depth awaits you.

I find that another misconception people have about starting a martial art is the idea that the students or trainers are either seasoned professionals who don’t want to train with ‘noobs,’ or people who have been training a martial art their whole lives. Well I can’t speak for all schools everywhere, but I can say that if it weren’t for the accepting and welcoming vibe I get from NJ United MMA and our affiliate academies, I probably wouldn’t be training today. Our fight-toughened students and the veteran trainers all have humble origin-stories, and we treat others the way we’d want to be treated if we were just starting-out.

The bottom line is that nobody here at practice is going to be critical of your inexperience about technique or fight-jargon. Heck, they’ll probably lend you their spare pair of gloves if they have some in a gear-bag (and if they don’t have any, just ask for Mike at the front desk, because I do :P). So, since the weather is getting better and all, consider giving yourself a spring break of sorts at NJU, and enjoy your first free day of training!

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

Push Yourself, or Play? #Whynotboth!

You can develop some of the best relationships of your life with people who know how to help you and push you to reach fitness and self-defense goals!

I always feel sad when I see people working out while simultaneously keeping track of time or the “outside world.” They check the wall-clock, check their phones, get pulled-into social media on their phones, and that adds to the high drop-out rate that traditional gyms often have. However, one incredible benefit of training martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai is the fact that they’re absolutely partner-dependent arts! What happens when you’re working toward a technical, self-defense-oriented goal with good people? Your knowledge, confidence, and skill will skyrocket in ways you’d never expect.

“Hey, how do I get out of this again?” It doesn’t matter if your main training-goal is fitness, self-defense, or competition. Good training partners are a must!

We tend to forget an obvious truth that young kids know: You cannot genuinely be at play if you have a mentality of “punching-in” to playtime. Likewise, you cannot learn realistic self-defense without training partners who react realistically yet responsibly. Sometime I find that people carry a misconception that MMA gyms are filled with “people who are trying to tear each other’s heads off” or something like that. Well, thanks to Hollywood and flashy UFC ads, I can understand having that misconception. But when you think about it, there’s no way you’re going to have healthy, unparalleled workouts and learn valuable skills if you aren’t training with people who:

  • know how to practice and drill realistically yet safely,
  • are open about sharing knowledge and testing strategies,
  • can develop awesome relationships with you . . .
  • . . . and push you to grow in technical, athletic ways that can’t be gained from counting reps on a machine or miles on a treadmill!

Martial arts gyms are the only places where I’ve seen men and women of all ages engaged with the focus and enjoyment of a young kid at kickball, or a dog chasing-down a tennis ball. You will also be pushed to improve, but the results you get will make you want to push your own self as well!

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

“You don’t know how you’ll feel until you try!”

You really don’t know how Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will benefit you until you train with serious, friendly instructors and training partners!

“Nah, I’ll wait a few months until I feel in better shape.”

“Yeah. No. I don’t know. I’ll totally let you know how I feel later.”

“I feel that I’ve got some things to figure out first.”

^ Those are just a few one-liners I’ve heard from people who inwardly want to raise their standards from training at a traditional gym to training a martial art . . . yet at the same time don’t want to. The idea of wanting AND not wanting to do something sounds puzzling on paper. But human beings are not paper, and we express that ‘want vs. not-want’ sentiment regularly in everything from conversation to pop songs. But there’s another one-liner from NJ United MMA Muay Thai instructor Maggie Rickman that, for me, cuts through all of the ones above:

“Why not try? You don’t know how you’ll feel until you try!”

It’s a simple truth that cuts through a lot of the simple dodges we make to keep ourselves feeling safe. When it comes to trying something new, you really don’t know how you’ll feel about it until you try. I’ve been teaching and writing about martial arts for a while, and I’ve always been amazed at the contrast between people who want to try a proven martial art like Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the people who do try. I’ve seen intimidating-looking, muscle-bound men talk themselves into and then out of taking their first martial arts class . . . all within the scope of ten minutes. However, I’ve also seen shy housewives put on a pair of gloves, take an hour-long Muay Thai class, and then excitedly talk about training with their new partners tomorrow, or how they’re going to get their first organized fight!

And I think the weird truth behind this is the fact that initial feelings don’t always tell you the whole truth about a matter. So if you’re looking to fill a void in your fitness life (or if you want to straight-up start a genuinely fit life), why not try some friendly drilling and sparring in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or throw some leather in Muay Thai? Mr. Chow from The Hangover 2 has a good point! 😛

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

Burn Fat, Get In Shape, and Solve Problems! #BJJlifestyle

Jay’s awesome testimonial is one of many that reflects what NJ United MMA is today!

I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu testimonials because each of them rings true to me in a different sense. Check out this recent video testimonial from our student Jay Hernandez here. I’ve been training with Jay for about a year now, and I can 100% vouch for what he’s saying. Here are two ideas from Jay’s testimonial that deserves some more attention!

Training Jiu-Jitsu burns fat and gets you healthy without you having to think about it.

First off, I think there’s good to be gained from counting calories and reps, from using a Fitbit, and from working out at the gym regularly. Unfortunately, people tend to have a high drop-out rate from using these methods. I believe this is due to getting in shape for the purpose of getting in shape. This is like sharpening a knife for the sake of sharpening a knife!

When you start training Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll be introduced to a creative, logical world of balance-points, clever tricks, geometrical and mathematical thinking . . . and some interesting, very cool training partners. Your mind and body will be so engaged with thinking-through and feeling-through problems that you won’t have the time or the inclination to check your reps, Fitbit, or calorie-expenditure. Your body will get to the fitness-level it needs to be without you having to think about it!

Getting that hard-earned first stripe on your white belt is a memorable moment!

Training Jiu-Jitsu helps you fight your inner demons.

No matter how people appear on the outside, everyone has bad personal issues that they battle on the inside. Maybe your average-looking co-worker seems upbeat, but is enduring the effects of a rough divorce. Maybe your friend at school is making the grades, but is living with a family that’s falling apart. As you may be able to attest, people can spend big portions of their lives with you, yet never know the life within your mind and the problems that seem to define you.

But through smart drilling and sparring, Jiu-Jitsu gives you the chance to face and solve your problems both intellectually and viscerally. Your experience on the mat will certainly not be a cushy pillow-fight, but Jiu-Jitsu does translate to the “Gentle Art.” Thus, your ability to fight your inner demons will correlate with your willingness to fight using your mind first and your body second.

Sure, you already know that everything happens for some reason. But you’ll be surprised at your ability to master those reasons. This will translate to small victories on the mat, which will in turn translate over to leverage over life-problems. Wrestling legend Dan Gable is known for saying “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” The same is true for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle as well.

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

The True Spirit of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu . . . Demonstrated by Red Pandas?!

Sure, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu CAN be a brutal art. But that’s definitely not what it has to be.

If you bring up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or “submission wrestling” at the water cooler, your listeners are going to have many different (and many false) impressions of what you’re talking about. They could imagine something like this suplex to flying armbar by Demetrius Johnson. But what you could be trying to communicate is something along the lines of how these red pandas here and here are play-fighting.

I’m not interested in giving you a list of bullet-points as to why you should take up BJJ. Instead, I think that the red pandas above demonstrate the spirit of the art more accurately than what Demetrius Johnson is doing here (which, don’t get me wrong, is some really awesome jits).

Hey, even Demetrius Johnson has to train like a red panda to get good! Always train for health and longevity!

Do these red pandas know the technical ins and outs of BJJ? Of course not. But what they do know is how to train effectively and properly without even communicating anything like “Hello, fellow red panda, care to have an effective and proper training session?” Are these critters trying to do moves they saw in an instruction manual or on youtube? No, but if you’ve been training for a short while, you’ll see strong elements of actual jiu-jitsu in their takedowns, sweeps, reversals, and quasi-submissions. Well then, how is that possible?

It’s possible because they’re at play. In their own way, without using language, they’re trying to figure out what grips, holds, and ways of rolling, pushing, and pulling will work in their favor. You’ll even notice that these animals will even give up superior positions for a chance to repeat the means that got them there . . . or maybe to give their training partners a chance to practice their move of choice?

Oddly enough, you’re likely to learn more about true Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training by watching red pandas fight than by watching a John Wick movie.

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Train with partners who are red pandas at heart. Train with people willing and able to have a technique-centered, physical conversation of sorts with you. Train with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu partners and instructors who can help you improve by letting you experiment with what grips and positions you should be using, and when.

Once this is established, then you’ll be prepared to do more of the Demetrius Johnson-level stuff later in your career (if that’s even your goal, of course!).

After all, if a red panda can live that lifestyle, why can’t you? It’s at least 8,000% better than running on a treadmill, I promise. 😛

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.

My Experience at NJU’s First Wim Hof Workshop (It was Awesome)

Who is Wim Hof to begin with? I’ll let him speak for himself. 

When I was in college, I remember my favorite professor describing the creative writing process: “It’s hard to be simple, but it doesn’t have to be.” I think that’s true of any walk of life. Over-complicating things seems to come natural to us, and the first things we forget are the basics. That’s a lesson I faced anew, and solved anew, when I took my first Wim Hof fundamentals workshop last Saturday at NJ United MMA in Totowa, NJ. It was run by Errol Doebler, a former Navy SEAL and FBI Special Agent, so I hoped from the get-go that things would be no-nonsense and 100% practical. I was right, and the take-away was as rich as it gets.

If you want a simple, tl;dr explanation of what the Wim Hof method is, I’d say it’s a series of breathing techniques that heighten the oxygen levels in your blood and improve you in more mental and physical ways than you’d ever think. So if you have lungs and air to breathe, you can do it. Got five minutes to watch a cartoon about it? Of course you do.

Opening up the lungs at the Wim Hof workshop, drinks and snacks on-hand.

Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I think this stuff is fascinating on several levels:

Firstly, this is something you can do if you have lungs and oxygen. That’s all you need; it’s pure technique and timing.

Secondly, it’s a fantastic and natural way to set up your body to heal itself. We’re over-medicated and over-prescribed as it is.

Thirdly, if you practice any martial art, you know how important it is to focus on the small “nuts and bolts” of your art: the angles, the timing, and how to maximize every movement. So why not take that approach to breathing – to something you’re doing all the time without thinking about it? After the workshop, I was able to oxygenate my blood more than I thought possible, and I tested this by holding my breath for about a minute and a half. Previously, I’ve only been able to get up to 30-ish seconds.

Yes, there’s an optional cold-bath component to the Wim Hof method. I (on the right) was . . . totally terrible at it. But my training partner BT (on the far left) seems pretty chill about things, haha! -.-

I expected the Wim Hof workshop to be either difficult, esoteric, or weird, but it wasn’t. I expected some catch, or some long and involved process, but there wasn’t any of that either. I do know that I’m really, really, really not a fan of settling down into an ice bath, but that’s just me.

If you’re interested in truly learning Hof’s method and trying out a seminar, drop us a line! We plan to have Mr. Doebler visit us again to do more workshops, so the more the merrier!

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at http://www.njunitedmma.com/ for more info.