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

The devil’s in the details. Here’s how to tap him out!

Are you new to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? All of our instructors and senior students have walked the path you’re on, and they’re all willing to help you grow and refine your game!

Check out this short, recent article and video from jiujitsutimes.com. Basically, it raises an important issue that is asked in some form by everyone who wants to go beyond the first level of their field of study:

Why isn’t this technique working in THIS kind of situation?

Now, you may be able to relate better to this question if you substitute “situation” with an aspect of your work, or a hobby that requires nuanced skill. It could be anything from building a house to fixing a car, to solving a business-related problem to overcoming a tough challenge in a videogame. Whatever the case may be, it is important that you start with basic, straightforward instruction. Without that, you may not have the eyes to see the later nuances. At NJ United MMA, we make sure to tailor our instruction to help you learn the basics . . . and if your basics are solid, then we’ll look into how and when you’re applying them so that you can further refine your game!

Andres is one of our white belts here at NJU. With just six months of training, he was able to use his closed guard and halfguard skills to take gold in his first tournament! You can use the halfguard on your very first day of BJJ training. However, it can take a long while to use this position well . . . if you don’t have experienced, nuanced instruction on your side!

You can perform BJJ basics on your very first day of training. But once you’ve put in a bit of practice, you’ll soon hit perplexing barriers in your craft. After all, you’ll eventually train with partners who know the basics just like you! Try as you might, you’ll exhaust options and burn a lot of energy trying to leap over or smash through these barriers, but nothing will suffice. Sure, every now and then you’ll find a Youtube video or two that will offer some interesting help. But only training gets you better at training. This being the case, make sure that your training ground is a home-away-from-home – a friendly place with your long-term best in mind.

If videos and instructionals are supplements, then consistent training with experienced professionals is the meat and potatoes of your BJJ or Muay Thai. So come try out a class at a place where you can start training in a no-pressure environment, or get your current game the help it needs through the help of friendly, professional technicians!

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.

JJ Mike

Momentum for life, momentum for jiu-jitsu!

Beginning a journey is good. Continuing it with momentum is divine!

Lately I’ve had conversations with some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu white belt students about belt ranks. They’ve all been legitimate questions, and they usually run along the lines of:

  • What do you think the toughest belt is in BJJ?
  • What about the funnest belt?
  • I feel totally stuck at white/blue/purple belt. What do I do?
  • How’d you get your black belt?

These are all legitimate questions, and every high-ranking BJJ practitioner will answer them differently. But more importantly is the all-encompassing, blanket-answer of . . .

Momentum.

The way you excel at something is not by dabbling in it once in a while, and not by looking at it as a joyride (although having straight-up fun is indeed a prereq!). The way you excel at something like BJJ, and the way in which all the above questions eventually answer themselves is through your own momentum. You’ve got to train regularly. Sometimes we tend to look at tough problems and assume that they have tough solutions. But more often than not, the truth is simple and not glamorous at all. Show up consistently, train hard, and train smart. Belt ranks will then come when you’re ready.

Now and then, a new white belt will join my classes, and he or she will have all of the following traits that anyone can have regardless of talent or genetic gifts:

  • Consistency (training 3 or more times per week),
  • Watchfulness and willingness to ask questions.
  • Willingness to work on a move or a position after class is done.
  • Patience.
  • The willingness to actually seek out and apply constructive criticism.

Money, enthusiasm, and a strong will are all fine traits, and they have their place in martial arts. But without momentum, they won’t unlock the richer treasures that jiu-jitsu has to offer!

People who seek and foster these traits are downright amazing. I’ve had students within their first week of training exemplify these traits . . . and then get consistently out-classed and tapped-out by higher-ranking white belts or blue belts for a while. But to them, that doesn’t even matter, and it shouldn’t! Because over the course of a few months, they either learn quickly or they come to an advanced knowledge of the flaws that prevent them from learning quickly. When they continue their training momentum after trouble-shooting their jiu-jitsu, they start to really threaten the higher white belts and blue belts who often rest on their laurels. This is a wake-up call to such upperclassmen, which helps them return to the values they may have lost track of.

You never know when your breakthroughs will occur. You certainly can’t force a breakthrough to happen. What you can do is stack the deck of jiu-jitsu in your favor by sticking to the simple values listed above, and keeping your momentum going!

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.

JJ Mike

 

 

Yesterday I was on bjjfanatics.com, and I read this cool article titled BJJ for the Small Guys. It rang true with me because I hover around 145lbs. Thus my ‘cross to bear’ in my grappling career has been simply not being particularly big or strong. When I first started training, I sure had my share of matches where larger, stronger, more talented grapplers would outclass me. But when I was discouraged, I’d watch the brown and black belts who were my size or smaller. When I saw them outclass just about everybody, I took courage in the fact that there is always a way to win. However, that’s a fact that applies to whether you’re big, small, or anything in between. There is no one-size-fits-all style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At NJ United MMA, we help all of our students find the moves and styles within BJJ that will help them the best as the individuals they are!

Men and women of all sizes and levels of athleticism come to NJU to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Our instructors will make sure that you’re learning the art in a way that accommodates your attributes!

I have to admit, small people get a lot of the limelight in jiu-jitsu culture. And sure, I understand why – if a smaller, weaker person is consistently out-classing a larger, stronger person, there’s got to be some degree of technique going on there! And that’s all well and good, but what about people who are not smaller or weaker? Well, no matter how big you are or what your build is, take confidence in the fact that the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu arsenal has everything you need to help you reach your best. When you start training, you may have days or moments when you think that victory was impossible for you, or that there was nothing you could have done to win. However, we have coaches and assistant instructors of all sizes and styles at NJU, all of whom are ready and willing to help you find the solutions that suit your build, style, and capabilities.

No matter where you are in your training, or even if you next class is your first class, rest assured that we’re here to help you where you’re at!

Regardless of your size or build, there’s always a way to win. Training BJJ is not just about getting in the best shape of your life, although that sure is a legit enough motive to train! It’s also about developing the eyes necessary for you to see the way to victory. This will change how you look at some grappling problems and life-problems that you may have seen as insurmountable. As wrestling legend Dan Gable said, “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

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.

JJ Mike

Become the best version of yourself through jiu-jitsu!

Through consistent training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Zoric has become a sharp, technical practitioner here at NJU!

I’ll be honest – I was tired of seeing ads about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and weight loss. That was before I saw it happen twice (and in dramatic fashion) with my own eyes. And it wasn’t just the weight-loss issue that caught my attention – it was also a matter of watching a human body change to fit its ideal fitness level. That’s what I mean by jiu-jitsu being a means for you to become the best version of yourself. Not everybody is genetically cut-out to look like the Incredible Hulk, but not everyone is cut-out to eventually resemble a beanpole either. Your body is smart. If you treat it right, and if you give it the right challenges, it will change itself into its ideal – into the best it can be. This is what the human body moves toward in each BJJ class. It’s a total body-and-mind workout experience every time.

Zoric with his family after taking the championship belt in his purple belt division at a NAGA tournament!

The two examples I refer to are those of my friends and training partners Zoric and Rich. Zoric is a purple belt and Rich is a blue belt, they’ve each lost 90+ pounds since they started training, and they’ve each taken home more gold medals and championship belts at tournaments than I can remember. I don’t even believe that it’s necessary to compete – some of my own toughest matches have taken place here at NJU rather than at actual tournaments. My point is that through BJJ training, Zoric and Rich each started lifestyles of positive energy and momentum. Their consistency on the mats is not due to their quest for some high-pressure gold standard. It’s due to their love of mental and physical challenges. It’s due to the substantial relationships they’ve built with the training partners who have helped them improve.

Rich fell in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from his first day on the mat. Since then, he’s dropped 90+ pounds and has gained muscle!

Counting calories is fine, and eating well is essential. But if you’re looking for substantial and sustained improvement physically and mentally, nothing beats the martial arts lifestyle. Some people prefer grappling over striking, and vice-versa. Some train very hard with self-defense or competition motives, and others train or “roll” for more therapeutic, health-related motives. But no matter where you’re at in life, there’s a place for everyone on the mats here at NJU!

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.

JJ Mike

There’s no workout like a Muay Thai workout!

A Muay Thai gym isn’t necessarily like something out of a Rocky movie. People of all sorts come to NJ United MMA to see what the Science of Eight Limbs has in store for them!

I’m the kind of person who wants the best version of whatever it is he’s aiming for. When I was a little kid, I could always tell the difference between Special K cereal and its knockoff competitors, so only the true Special K sufficed! When it came time for me to get my first car, I decided on a Toyota Corolla because it was a hearty, low-maintenance vehicle that would get me from Point A to Point B without breaking my bank. In other words, no matter what stage of life I was in, I wanted the real deal. And that’s the logic that led me to Muay Thai training years ago.

I personally don’t plan on getting in the ring and taking amateur or professional fights. Rather, I sought after the best workout I could find AND the best stand-up self-defense martial art I could find. If you take up Muay Thai training, then you will have the opportunity to take up a training lifestyle that always gets you amazing, no-nonsense results no matter what your workout-goals are!

Muay Thai is a total-body workout. While our Muay Thai trainers here at NJU will cover different strategies and positions week-to-week, there is no “leg day” or “back day” or whatever-day  in Muay Thai. Much like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, you’ll be using all of your body during each training session, giving your body and mind a sense of balance.

Sparring is optional. But those who do wish to spar will face awesome and rewarding challenges that are just as mental as they are physical!

Is competing not on your agenda? It doesn’t have to be. Another benefit of Muay Thai training is that it does not have to be watered-down for people who don’t plan on fighting. Ironically, since fighting has played a large part in Muay Thai’s developmental history, practicing Muay Thai as a straight-up pad workout will give you a huge percentage of the benefits that competitors gain.

Muay Thai is also a thinking-person’s martial art. It’s been dubbed the science or art of eight limbs because it employs fists, legs, knees, and elbows to get the job done (you have two of each, so do the math :P). So no matter what the drill-of-the-day is, or whether you’re sparring or not, you may find that the cognitive challenges provided by Muay Thai are just as cool and rewarding as the physical challenges!

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.

JJ Mike

The best gift is the opportunity to earn!

Want your children to work hard for good values and timeless skills? Start them training when they’re young!

Recently, I was considering what I should buy for a young relative of mine on her birthday. Now I’m already known for promoting martial arts frequently, so I didn’t get her a kimono or a pair of boxing gloves. After all, parents are ultimately the ones making the call on whether or not their children take part in a sport or martial art. And there’s nothing wrong with material gifts, but I’ve found that such a gift is far more rewarding when it’s earned. And when I watch a child receiving a hard-earned promotion in their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai training, it really is amazing to see how it changes them for the better!

Only a qualified instructor can bestow the gift of a higher rank – whether it’s a simple stripe on a white belt, a new belt color entirely, or an arm band in Muay Thai. And while many traditional martial arts hand out regular promotions based on the amount of classes attended, earning rank in BJJ and Muay Thai is comparatively much more difficult. For children and teens, earning rank is based in part on attendance, but also on:

  • Taking responsibility to use technique to win (not raw power or anger),
  • Winning respectfully and losing gracefully,
  • Listening well and treating everyone on the mat with respect,
  • Working hard, working smart, and staying consistent in training.

There’s nothing wrong with a material gift. But it’s far more rewarding to gift children the opportunity to earn rank that represents substantial skills!

Sure, there are other disciplines in which children can learn these timeless values. But the benefits of learning them through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai is that there’s no corner-cutting, and that they’re learned in a safe but unforgettably serious manner.

Parents are able to give the gift of the opportunity for children to train, but the children themselves are ultimately responsible the gift of a higher rank. From an instructor’s standpoint, I can honestly say that it’s wonderful to see the proverbial “attitude of gratitude” that comes about when a child learns this firsthand. A membership at a martial arts academy has a financial cost. But the reward of a child taking more pride in a stripe on a white belt than a new Xbox? That’s a priceless thing, and it’s immensely rewarding to parents as well!

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.

JJ Mike

Starting martial arts training? No pressure!

Thinking about starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai? Don’t worry about “Being as good as _______” or “Starting too late.” Have fun, build good relationships with cool people, and let your martial art surprise you!

Some people get cold feet shortly before committing to martial arts training. Whether they’re interested in a striking art like Muay Thai or a grappling art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, people often hold themselves to some sort of gold standard. Maybe they’ve watched a lot of UFC events where everyone tangentially involved is a professional of some sort. Maybe they’ve watched videos of young Thai children throwing accurate and powerful kicks like it was nothing, and think I could never match that. Or maybe they take their first class and think Wow, there’s a LOT more to this than I first thought!

And sure – if something is worth doing, then chances are that there’s a lot more to it than you’d first think. However, I believe that one of the healthiest reasons for starting martial arts training is to actually get away from any sort of stifling gold standard. Don’t worry about being like someone else or gaining a certain reward in a certain time frame. Ironically, once you get away from that mentality, that’s when you’ll develop an authentic, natural confidence and joy that will lead you to awesome gains in fitness and skill!

Come try out a class at an academy that’ll help you grow and find your place in martial arts, regardless of your experience level!

Life is full of situations that put you you in states of mind you’d want to avoid. In middle school and grade school, many of us followed trends we weren’t enthused by or people we weren’t genuinely interested in, all for the sake of being like some skilled expert or popular figure. Naturally, this tendency carries over into adulthood as well. It’s a tendency that never gives back to you, and ironically keeps you from becoming like the people you first admired. So instead, let life itself surprise you by letting your happy, consistent martial arts training surprise you. Be a tough, trustworthy training partner, and maybe down the road you’ll become a newcomer’s role model! Your martial arts training is whatever you make it. And if you’re not quite sure who you want to be, you’ll come closer to finding out through fun, consistent training with our training family here at NJU!

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.

JJ Mike

The best time to start is ALWAYS right now!

I’ve sometimes found that the more someone wants to do something, the more they’ll put-off doing it. Why? Well, sometimes people are reluctant to start a commitment, and other times they’re overly cautious about how they spend their money. There can be all sorts of motives for putting off the self-care that comes from martial arts training and exercise. But a lot of times I find that the reason people do this is task-avoidance. This is not because they don’t want to train, but rather because that they want everything else in their life to be in order before they start training. I find that two points are necessary here:

  1. Your martial arts training is not a “task” at all. It’s a fun skill, and to many an act of play!
  2. You’ll never have everything in order. The best time to start a good habit is always right now!

Everyone should be doing something physical to stay healthy and balanced. So why not use that time to practice the best martial arts in a safe, ego-free environment?

I’m in a unique position where teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai have become my job. But I can say in all honesty that if I started looking at them as jobs, I’d be burned-out and wouldn’t be training for long! I understand wanting to do very well at anything you start, but I also understand how this mentality can inadvertently turn a favorite activity into a “job.” This is one of those pitfalls that you can fall into and remain in for a long while without even recognizing it.

No matter what your background or experience level, there’s a place for everyone on the NJU mats!

I also understand the mentality of wanting to be in a good position in life before you start a new activity. As they say, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” In fact I’ve seen that a good portion of people who quit BJJ or Muay Thai training are people who simply bit off more than they can chew in more aspects of life than they could handle.

If you own a human body, you should be concerned about balancing everything you do and keeping your health. Everyone should be doing something to keep healthy, even if it’s just once or twice a week. But if you’re going to do something physical, why not do the best thing for your body and mind? Come jump into a free class and see how you like it!

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.

JJ Mike

 

Congrats to Steve Vega for medaling at NJBJJF yesterday!

Steve used a lot of the moves and strategies we’ve been drilling in class to take home a hard-earned silver medal at the NJBJJF Spring Challenge yesterday!

Big congrats to NJU white belt Steve Vega for taking silver at the NJBJJF Spring Challenge Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament yesterday! Steve fought hard and always had his poker-face on during his matches, never exerting unnecessary energy and always looking to pit the strongest parts of his game against the weakest parts of his opponent’s game. Steve stayed on top for most of his matches, putting his high-pressure passing game to work. As he fought his way to the finals, there was a scary moment where one opponent nearly pulled him into a triangle choke, but we’ve been working on defending against tough closed and open guards in class lately, and Steve’s own drilling and mat-time definitely showed in his defense. And plus, he’s a very coachable guy who listens well, so that sure makes my job as coach a great one!

Like anyone else, I’d prefer winning gold over silver. However, I don’t recommend that anyone have a gold-or-nothing mentality. There may be times when you’re simply not ready for gold yet. But as the BJJ adage goes, “You either win or you learn,” and a lower medal may sometimes be the teacher you need to expose critical weak spots in your game. Ernest Hemingway wrote that “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” That is the road that Steve is on, and it’s the road that we hope to set all of our students on when they train here at NJU.

Steve was ahead on points in his finals match, but lost in the closing seconds due to a clever and well-timed takedown by his opponent. So although there’s always disappointment following a close loss, I prefer to stay positive and drill specific solutions to a specific problem as soon as possible. After Steve’s buddy Andres took this awards picture here, we all went back to the mats of the warm-up area to help Steve work on a couple counters that would have won him the gold. That’s how you set yourself up to become superior to your former self indeed.

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.

JJ Mike

Your jiu-jitsu: Swiss watch, or Rube Goldberg machine?

Please, PLEASE don’t let your martial art resemble this. -.-

Whether in a movie or a cartoon of some sort, you’ve probably seen a Rube Goldberg machine without knowing its Wikipedia definition, which is: “a machine intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overcomplicated fashion.” A picture is worth a thousand words, so check out this guy’s hat on the right. Now maybe you’ve never taken a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class before, maybe you’re a BJJ veteran, maybe you’re a pure beginner, or maybe you’re someone in-between. But no matter where you stand, one of the biggest dangers to your game (or your understanding of the game as an observer) is developing a BJJ style that resembles Pee Wee Herman’s Rube Goldberg breakfast machine. The solution, if you’re into metaphors, is to eventually have a game that resembles a Swiss watch!

There’s nothing wrong with complex, new-school jiu-jitsu . . . as long as you have a foundation of sharp, timeless basics!

Now I know next to nothing about Swiss watches, but I do know that they’re complex, functional, and well-made. Rube Goldberg jiu-jitsu has the complexity part down. But it has . . . trouble with the latter parts (an understatement if there ever was one). However, it’s not as if anyone tries to develop such a game. Instead, this happens when someone new to BJJ tries to imitate a high-level BJJ celebrity or competitor. It can also happen when an advanced practitioner falls into the trap of thinking that “good” jiu-jitsu has to be complex. Well, it can be complex, but more often than not, it doesn’t have to! And if you check out Kron Gracie’s recent battle against Alex Caceres at UFC on ESPN 1, you’ll see that Kron doesn’t use any exotic, multi-staged, inverted jiu-jitsu with more rotations and counter-rotations to count. You can analyze this fight in several ways, but what remains constant are the functional, well-made moves that he applies. The complexity-factor lies in how and when Kron applies them – i.e., in timing and discernment.

People love to be unique and special. There’s nothing wrong with that, and honestly there’s nothing wrong with complex moves in and of themselves. Unfortunately, they sometimes think that being unique and special requires putting exotic flash on a pedestal. If you want to study a complex matter within BJJ, why not study how to apply strong basics with good timing? Because having both is an art that’s harder (yet more rewarding) to master than trying to land a complex move on your training partner while your professor is watching!

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.

JJ Mike