I talk to Steve Kwan. Along with his brother Matt Kwan, Steve is one half of the excellent podcast BJJ Mental Models, he is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and works professionally at a tech company improving efficiency in process and operations.
We discuss how he has taken lessons learned there and with the use of mental models how they can be applied to learning techniques and making decisions for jiu-jitsu.
Also, how parameters and constraints can benefit learning and if the influx of information from social media and instructional could possibly benefit or harm the growth or development of Jiu-Jitsu training.
Listen To The Steve Kwan Interview Here:
Steve Kwan Interview
Sonny Brown: Welcome to episode number 25 of the Sonny Brown Breakdown. I’m your host, Sonny Brown and in this episode, I talk to Steve Kwan. Now Steve is one-half of the excellent podcast, BJJ Mental Models and he’s also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and works professionally at a tech company in a leadership role where he looks at improving efficiency and process and operations. We discuss how he’s taken the lessons he’s learned there and with the use of mental models, how they can be applied to learning techniques and making decisions for jiu-jitsu. We get into the discussion about how parameters and constraints can benefit your learning and how influx of information from instructionals and social media could possibly harm or also help your learning process and really get into the details of how we use those mental models to act as a filter for teaching and learning jiu-jitsu. I’m a big fan of his podcast, BJJ Mental Models. It was an honor to chat to him and I really hope you enjoy it too. Again, if you’d like to get in touch with me, my email address is [email protected]. I’m also active on Instagram where the address is Sonny Brown Breakdown. Please send me any feedback if you enjoy the episode and let’s go to the podcast. Steve Kwan. How are you today? My friend.
Steve Kwan: I am excellent today. It’s a beautiful sunny day over here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s great to finally get a hold of you. We’re in very different time zones, so I’m glad we were able to work this out.
Sonny: Thanks to the magic of the internet now. It’s pretty incredible what we’re able to do and the magic of zoom. As I was informed last night by one of the teens students, that’s why they call them zoomers because they’ve grown up now in zoom generation.
Steve: There’s going to be a whole world of people where this is how they connect, this is how they do things. It really makes you wonder if the world is actually going to go back to the way that things were. When we look at how things turned out a year from now, we might realize, you know what? Maybe you don’t need to hop on a plane and fly across the world just to shake someone’s hand and fly back again. Maybe we can just zoom for this stuff. It’s funny how no one knew what zoom was a few months ago, but now it’s just a household name. Even my aunt and my parents know what zoom is and they use it quite comfortably.
Sonny: Also apparently some security concerns with the Chinese government, but that’s for another talk. That’s another podcast.
Steve: There’s also the porn drop-ins, although I think they finally fixed that where just random pornography was showing up in people’s meetings. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I would find that quite entertaining if that happened for me, but I can see how, if you’re in a board meeting that might not be desirable.
Sonny: I could see where that could take things a little bit off track, off the rails a wee bit. I want to start just off with just a little bit of your background. You’re obviously a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, you’ve started your own podcast that’s rather successful BJJ Mental Models. Just to lead us in, just a little bit of your background, what brought you to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and then how you ended up deciding that the podcast was the way to go?
Steve: Sure, Perfect. As you mentioned, I’m a black belt under Don Whitefield from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I’ve been training for over 12 years now. Both myself and my brother, Matt Kwan are black belts, although he is a black belt under Rob Biernacki from Island top team. We trained with different groups, we’ve got different paths. He runs his own gym On Guard and Pitt Meadows whereas I don’t, I’m a hobbyist. Jiu-jitsu for me has always been just a casual hobby. I’m not a competitor, it’s not a thing that interests me, which is interesting because for my brother, that is very much what he’s interested in. He is a full-time jiu-jitsu professional, both in terms of competing and also in terms of running his own gym. We’ve had very different approaches to the way we train. For me as a hobbyist, I can commit maybe a few hours a week to training. My goal is not to be the best in the world. My goal is to get as good as I can reasonably be given the time I can invest to stay in shape, to meet people, to learn, to think outside of the box, to learn new ways of thinking and also just to network and meet interesting people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet. Whereas for my brother, this is also his day job so very different experience from myself but what we’ve found over the years is despite the fact that we have these very different paths in jiu-jitsu, we came away with this, ultimately coming back to the same way of thinking. That is that it’s not so much about just grinding and putting more time on the mats. It’s about being efficient and coming up with ways to accelerate your learning, your retention and to get the most out of your training that you possibly can. For my brother as a competitor, his goal is to use any advantage he can to be better than he is and to improve. One of the best tools to do that is to look at ways to accelerate the learning and be more efficient on the mat. For myself, my goal is to be able to hang with these guys who do this full-time. I can commit maybe two or three hours a week. There are people out there who train eight hours a day, it’s going to be very hard for me to close the skill gap with them. For me, it’s all about getting as much out of those two to three hours that I can commit as possible. What I actually found is I take the lessons that I’ve learned in my day job, mostly centering around learning techniques and decision-making tools such as mental models and applying them to jiu-jitsu. After talking to my brother for a long time, we realized, you know what? We converged independently on these two different paths and maybe there’s a way that we can put together a nomenclature and a thinking model for how you can learn effectively at jiu-jitsu, that would benefit everybody. At some point, after talking about this a lot, we decided, you know what? We should just throw a microphone in front of us and maybe from there, we’ll be able to provide this information in a model and in a structure that is useful to other people out in the world. We started doing that back in the beginning of 2019. At the time we knew nothing at all about podcasting or how it was done. We thought it would be as simple as you just plug a crappy mic into your computer and you sit around and you just shoot the– that’s all you do, but it turns out it’s actually a much bigger, more complicated job than that as you know and it has quickly ballooned up into a much larger initiative. At this point, BJJ Mental Models, as you mentioned, has grown from this small podcast to a much larger framework and educational structure that we provide to grapplers all over the world. The podcast is the hallmark of what we do, that’s where we’re most known, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of educational material that we provide. That’s been a labor of love for Matt and I for a long time growing into a much larger commitments and of course, as you mentioned, the audience base has grown a lot too and we’re happy to see the size of that growth to the point where– I get told that we’re one of the better resources out there when it comes to podcasting. The reason I like podcasting as a medium is because it forces you to take away a lot of the crutches that people often rely on when they’re teaching something as kinetic as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I think the thing is a lot of instructors, they just roll up and they show a technique and they say, “See, look what I did, do that.” They think that’s the end of their commitment. If someone does something wrong, they pointed out and that’s it. It’s not a very intelligent approach. It’s very monkey see, monkey do in terms of the way that you teach. A lot of online grappling instructionals basically follow the same pattern where you get to watch some high-level black belt do some cool stuff, but there’s a lot of talk about what they’re doing, but maybe not a lot of talk about why they’re doing it or how they’re doing it. The benefit to podcasting is by stripping out that visual element, we can only use our words and our ideas. That means that we have to really think about how we’re going to frame and explain things to our audience because you don’t have that visual element. I found that by putting that restriction on us, it forces us to think and explain in a much more conceptual level so that’s why we like doing podcasting as opposed to other mediums. Does that answer your question?
Sonny: Yes, definitely. I remember I think when you first started out, it was just a website with some articles, like a database on it with a few different mental models as articles just to begin with. I’m wondering what exactly is your day job that turned you on to the idea of mental models on– what are some of your favorite mental models to use as an example and what are they?
Steve: Sure. I work at a software company in Vancouver called Broadband TV. It’s a dominant player in the YouTube space. One of the biggest tech startups in the area. I’ve been with the company for a long time, about seven years and I’ve had the privilege of watching it grow from something small to something very large. My role right there, I have several hats, but basically, I have a bunch of leadership roles that involve process, operations and just efficiency across the board. My job is to take this big beast of a company and figure out ways that we can constantly streamline and make more efficient. A big part of efficiency is making the right decision at the right time. Now, my background, I have dual degrees in software engineering and I’ve been doing this for about 20 years. Really part of what I do is I help big tech companies especially be more efficient in their operations. When you’re talking about efficiency, you’re talking about doing things faster, doing things leaner, making better decisions quicker. So key when you’ve got millions of dollars on the line in single transactions, It’s very, very important to be very effective and efficient at everything you do. jiu-jitsu is really a microcosm of that. You’ve got a very small window of time to make an effective decision when you’re grappling, and if you screw up that decision, the results of your mistake are going to be very immediate and very measurable, which is one of the things I love about jiu-jitsu. If you are a desk worker, you might not get the feedback you need to improve for years. If you do something wrong, there’s no guarantee that your manager is going to come by and confront you and tell you, hey, here’s what you should have done. In fact, if your manager is not a particularly strong manager, you may never find out that you made a mistake and you may live the rest of your life thinking that you’re doing things optimally and never learned that you did things wrong. Whereas with jiu-jitsu, if I do something wrong, I will find out in half a second. [laughs] I do not require a big, long process. One of the lovely things about jiu-jitsu, is that a very small scale, you can try things and get immediate feedback in a way that you’re just not going to see out there in the real world. You can actually take a lot of those models that you use in jiu-jitsu and scale them up to much bigger problems. The stuff that I do on the job is fundamentally from the way I make decisions, not that different from what happens when I’m actually grappling. The only difference is I’m not choking somebody, but some of the concepts are the same. Scaling it back down, a lot of the decisions I use on the job, the tools that I use on the job are very similar to the way that I make decisions when I’m grappling. One of the those ways of thinking is something called mental models, which is the inspiration of the podcast. I first became aware of this learning tool from Charlie Munger, he’s Warren Buffett’s business partner, one of the most famous investors in the world. He famously talked about how you need to have a latticework of mental models in your head that help you make decisions. That kickstarted this whole cottage industry of mental models, which basically is where people think about how to think. The idea of what a mental model is, is you look for a piece of knowledge out there in the world or a pattern in the world, something that is a general rule of thumb or heuristic that you can use to make quick decisions relatively fast, and also quality decisions, not just quick, but also quality. In some cases, these might be absolute 100% true things. Gravity, for example, is a mental model. You can prove that with physics, it is 100% true all the time. Some other mental models, and actually, a lot of the more useful ones do not work that way. Of course, one that a lot of people have heard about is the 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, which basically states that if you take a whole group, a whole set of decisions or of entities, you’ll often find that 80% of the results come from 20% of the set. Where this often emerges in the real world is if you’re running a business and you want to talk about how to be more efficient, figure out which of your customers are making the most money. What you often find is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. You’ve got this whole long tail of customers that you’re probably spending a lot of time and money serving and they’re actually not making you any money. That raises business questions about, hey, do I need to focus more on these big ticket customers and try to get more of those customers and not waste my time on these low value customers? Interestingly, as an example, you can take that same approach in jiu-jitsu. When you get to brown belt, black belt, a big part of the game is saying, okay, I technically know maybe 200 different techniques, but if I’m being honest with myself, the results that I’m getting are coming from a very, very small handful of techniques. How can I refine a game plan and tie those things together and start funneling into the moves that I’m good at, the positions that I’m good at and not worrying so much about the superfluous stuff that I never use?” In judo, for example, they have a whole concept for this, they call it your Tokui waza, which is basically your signature move. It’s like how in pro wrestling, all of the pro wrestlers have that one finishing move that always ends the fight. In the real world, Judo works that, too, Most Judoka have two, maybe three really killer throws that you’re good at. It’s all about having a bunch of different entries to get you into that throw. In jiu-jitsu, you see a very similar thing. You have people who are famously good at taking the back or famously good at playing the mouse and they’re always trying to funnel back into a small series of things. High level grappling is not always about knowing more moves, it’s actually about narrowing your focus to be the best in class at a particular style and a particular type of game-plan. There’s an example at a high level of what a mental model is and why this is useful in the world but it also is useful in jiu-jitsu as well.
Sonny: I think people can see then the benefit of that, it’s really just a way of framing different problems that you might come across as a way to help give you a guide to solve them.
Steve: Exactly. It’s a way of organizing your thoughts so that if you see the same pattern over and over again, instead of having to try to solve that problem repeatedly every time, you can allocate a little portion of your brain that says, oh, maybe this is a mental model, a rule that generally applies. If I see this circumstance, then I can just say to myself, aha, I know how I can probably solve this problem because I’ve seen something it before. There’s a lot of such rules in jiu-jitsu. Probably one of the most well known ones that I work with is the theory of alignment, which is the way that Rob Biernacki and the Island Top Team guys describe basically all of jiu-jitsu. If you’ve watched Rob’s instructionals with Stephan Kesting or if you’ve signed up to his online academy, then you’ve heard him speak about this. Basically, it’s a framework for understanding almost everything. Once you learn to think in that manner, then you can look at new techniques, and you can assess really quickly, okay, how can I make this tighter? Where are the weak points in this technique? Is it fundamentally sound? Is it going to work for me? It gives you a shared language and a shared way of thinking that you can just apply across the board. Learning to think in mental models is always one of the most efficient ways to advance quickly in any new craft or any new endeavor. One of the beautiful things about mental models is you often find that the learnings from one area of your life, you can start to see patterns in other areas of your life that you might not have expected.
Sonny: Great. On that topic of alignment, I actually did speak to Rory, one of Rob’s students and he went over that and gave us a good overview of that side of things. In terms of then using these models to learn faster, what would you say would be some of the drawbacks with the current standard style of teaching and learning that we see commonly in jiu-jitsu, that could be improved upon?
Steve: It’s maybe hard to give a universal blanket answer there because every instructor is different and every instructional product you can buy is different. I don’t want to make a blanket statement about how the whole world is doing this or that. Generally speaking, at least when I was growing up in jiu-jitsu, and when you are as well it used to be the case that if you went to buy an instructional DVD, it was usually just 100 random techniques. There was really no unifying theme behind all of them, there was no explanation as to how these tie together into a framework. In fact, a lot of the time, it felt like the instructor didn’t even want to necessarily teach you how to be better. They wanted to just give you a random grab bag of cool stuff that you’ve never seen before. It used to be the case that you’d see some World Champion put out a DVD and they’d be talking about, how to do flying Omoplatas and stuff that has no real fundamental use but it’s more about– it felt like massaging the instructors ego. I would argue that a lot of seminars are structured this way, where you go to a seminar, and you’re there for maybe two hours, and the instructor just gives you 12 random techniques, and mostly, they’re exotic and not particularly useful. Whereas some of the best seminars I’ve been to are just discussions of very basic things, but in a very, very specific level of detail that you might not have thought of before. I’ve been to seminars. The last one I did, for example, with Rob Biernacki, it was I think over two hours. He did one technique. He did the cow trailer ankle lock. That was it. He talked about that for two and a half hours. It was not boring or repetitive at all but it was such a deep dive into that move that you get a lot more value than if you just shown a whole bunch of weird things left and right. I do think that as an industry, the quality of instruction has gotten better. For me, the first time I really noticed a turning point here was Ryan Hall. He was the first guy that I saw who didn’t just show moves, but talked about concepts and principles. Of course, now we’ve got the Danaher team, we’ve got Rob, of course, and I think most instructors take a much more systematized approach to how they want to teach their students. I think, though, a lot of instructors still make the mistake of coming into class and being like, “We got three moves today. 1, 2, 3, we’re done.” They don’t really talk about how they fit them into a framework. The way that I like to teach personally and I do not claim that this is the best way is I like to tie them back to mental models. For example, rather than teaching a one and a half hour class and talking about all of the different ways that you can do an X pass, what I might do is come in today and say, let’s not even worry about the techniques. Let’s talk about one particular mental model. Let’s talk about, for example the elbow-knee connection, you’ve probably heard of people described this. Basically, the idea that as a general rule, you don’t want to leave a giant gap between your elbow and your knee because it exposes your stomach area. It lets people cut your body in half. It lets people grab and pull on your arms and your legs more strongly. Generally, if you stay more compact, it’s going to make it harder for people to control you and harder for people to sweep you or pass you. Rather than going into all of these different variants of the move, what I like to do is create a mental model sandwich where I’ll start the class talking about here’s how this elbow-knee connection works. Then I’ll show maybe two or three examples of how that manifests in practice, like here’s how this works when you’re trying to recover guard from side control or here’s how this works when you’re trying to do a knee cut pass. Then at the end of class of class, I’ll sandwich that back up and tie that back to the original concept to say, okay, we covered these three things today, here’s how this all changed back into this one big mental model and you can forget about the techniques we talked about today. Those don’t really matter so much, but what matters is that you understand at almost all times, you want to keep your elbow and your knee gap close together, keep that tight. If you take one thing away from this, I don’t care if you remember the 12 steps to how to do a knee cut pass but what I care about is don’t leave that gap exposed. If I can get that into my student’s head, then that is going to reap benefits to them throughout their entire journey whereas, if I teach them a knee cut pass and it just so happens that they don’t like the knee cut pass or they’re not good at it, that might prove to be a useless experience to them. My goal is to always give them thinking tools because much like investing, rather than just giving them one thing, I’m giving them something that is going to compound over time and help expand their knowledge in unexpected and novel ways over time.
Sonny: I really like that way of looking at as an investment with the giving them the mental model over the technique. Also in terms of seminars, I’ve noticed the same thing, the best seminars I’ve been to, we’ll spend just the whole time, just looking at one area or in a bunch of different things around that area or that single move and then even if you forget one thing that they’ve shown, you’ve still likely retained enough from that particular move or area that you can still replicate it effectively. Following onto Ryan Hall and especially probably his open elbow DVD, when we’re talking knee-elbow connection, his open elbow DVD, now when I watch it is one of the most important things that I’ve ever seen. Wow, this makes so much sense when I look at it but back in the day, I remember when I watched it, I was thinking, where are the moves here? Show me some more flash and possess. Part of that is a reflection of my own journey and my own level of where I’m at and what I’m looking for but I’m wondering what you would think is the best way then to actually make that connection for people earlier on where they can see those benefits earlier on because a lot of just want to see moves.
Steve: The reality is when you are a white belt especially, you don’t know the most effective way to start your journey. Additionally, we’re attracted to flashy, cool, sexy things. Everyone goes through a phase where they want to do berimbolos and flying armbars and stuff. Most people eventually grow to that phase. They may still use those techniques, but it becomes a less of a priority and less of a pillar of the game. I know a lot of white belts and blue belts where the first thing they’ll try and do is flying armbar every time. Then eventually, they’ll come to the point where they realize that doesn’t work and you train them out of them. The way that I like to really drive this home to my students in my class is basically by just being a total nuisance. What I’ll do, if the message that I’m trying to communicate for the day is elbow-knee connection, what I will do is just repeatedly do that to them while I’m sparring. If I’m training with a white belt and I want to make sure that the message really stuck, I’ll maybe let them pass my guard or try to pass my guard and I’ll just keep an elbow-knee connection and just, they can’t do it and I’ll just explain, this is an elbow-knee connection. The reason you can’t pass is because I’m keeping this gap closed. Then when I get on top, I’ll knee cut them and I’ll say, so that was the elbow-knee connection. That’s why that works and I’ll just over and over and over again, drive home what I did and how I did it. I think that, again, it all comes down to immediacy of feedback and to me, nothing is more helpful than getting that feedback right while it’s happening. The reality is you often don’t get that experience when you’re sparring because way too many people try to turn on the gym training time into the Mundials. They’re there to win and hey that’s fun and all, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t really improve everyone’s learning to the extent that it would, if you use that as a platform for learning. As the senior ranking guy in the class, when I’m sparring– granted, if I’m sparring with a brown belt or a black belt, I’m probably just trying to stay alive but if I’m sparring with a white belt or a blue belt, I will continually talk to the person and give them feedback as we’re going and say, so by they way I’ve dragged them, I’ll say right away, that happened because your arm was not tucked in tight. You need to keep that elbow-knee connection, just constantly reinforce it. That way, to your point about the Ryan Hall DVD, yes, you might not remember all of the details, all of the different variants of the techniques that he showed but if you take away that one core message that is a foundational item and everything else builds on top of it, that’s really all you need because then you can freestyle the rest. If you have a solid understanding of the fundamental movements and mechanical principles of jiu-jitsu, you actually don’t need to remember all of the steps to do an armbar, it just falls into place because the fundamental movements. That’s what I try to teach is not specific variants of moves, but make sure people understand these fundamental movements that power, everything else that we do.
Sonny: That’s a good way of looking at things. You’ve also highlighted there, the importance of feedback in helping people learn and helping students get that feedback and go through the process of failing and understanding themselves, why something doesn’t work to make what does work stick with them. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is just ways to help increase that feedback across all the students because obviously as you mentioned there, you’re the one giving the feedback but if it’s just the instructor giving that feedback, then they’re obviously limited by how many people they can get around to per class. What are some of the ways you think that we could possibly increase the amount of feedback given between students?
Steve: This ties into one of my favorite new areas of evangelism within jiu-jitsu. That is that we need to change the culture. To your point, if you’re the ranking black belt, you can’t provide that level of standard and care to every single one of your students or maybe you can when you’re small, but when the gym starts to grow, it just becomes less feasible. You need to aggressively focus on managing and building the culture that you want to see. That means teaching your lieutenants and the other black belts, brown belts, purple belts, that this is the effective way to learn and making sure that they then do that to their students, to the students as well, when you’re not there and they propagate that learning down. Basically, you need to not just try to be the only person who’s doing the right thing, but you need to try to ingrain these habits into the people around you such that they then are able to propagate that knowledge down in your absence. Basically it’s like, if you’re trying to build a company, the CEO can’t make every single decision and a big part of growing a company is– and one of the growing pains that every company gets to is at some point, there’s going to be an internal revolution and they basically tell the CEO, you’ve got to delegate a little bit more. You’ve got to be more hands off and let us do the job. In jiu-jitsu, you tend not to have that discussion with your gym. I don’t know exactly why. I think because there’s unfortunately a little bit of black belt worship that we see in jiu-jitsu, but ultimately what the instructor needs to do is be willing to push down more control and more best practices to their second in commands and their lieutenants so that they then can share that knowledge with everybody else at the gym.
Sonny: That makes a lot of sense to be able to foster that culture within the gym, with point within a company. One of my– not favorite sayings, but a saying I do like to refer to when talking about cultures is from someone else. I can’t remember exactly who it was, but it’s the idea that culture eats policy for breakfast, which is, we might be able to then set a policy, hey, everyone do give feedback and if you’re a blue belt, make sure you pick a white belt and help them out but then the actual culture that’s been already built within that gym is just going to overrule whatever policy that you try and set to make a change.
Sonny: What would you think would be the best way to build that culture or to develop that culture when for most people something’s already going to be in place?
Steve: To your points, to tie into what you said there, as you know, culture is not what you say you’re going to do, it’s what you’re actually going to do. You can put together a code of conduct and say that our gym does not tolerate X, Y, Z, but if your gym actually lets things slip through the cracks and maybe there’s some bad behavior and you cover up for one of the instructors or something, that speaks much more to your culture than anything that you stapled up to the wall. It’s all about leading by example and then not just that, but also telling the people at your gym that you want them to also foster this example but the best thing that you can do as is the case– Leadership is not about telling people what to do. It’s about doing the right thing, such that it inspires other people to follow in your lead. As an instructor, one of the best things that you can do is be a pillar of your community to share these best practices that you want to share, to share this positive message and a lot of that could mean going out and engaging the community, going beyond your gym. Part of the reason why we do the podcast is because we wanted to take a stand on thinking intellectually about jiu-jitsu. Everyone likes to think that jiu-jitsu was the thinking man’s martial art. That’s true to some extent, but let’s actually do some real deep thinking about it then, let’s have that conversation. The more people who come out there and take a stand and share the knowledge that they’ve got, the more that we see these examples in our community that people are going to want to follow. I always encourage people, if you’ve got good ideas, share them openly and freely, don’t buy into this whole secret knowledge thing where you don’t share anything outside of your gym. All of the best instructors in the world now, they understand that free sharing of knowledge is foundational to raising the tide for all of us. John Danaher, for example, the amount of knowledge that that guy and his crews share is ridiculous. They don’t by any means appear to be particularly worried about people stealing their techniques. They are willing to share this stuff and it reaps benefits for everybody including them. I think that if you want to encourage that attitude, the best thing to do is to be that leader yourself and show people how it should be done and encourage them to follow that path as well.
Sonny: I was actually reading a discussion online about the idea of creonite the other day. I was thinking that hey, I might take things one step further now and if someone watches an instructional from another instructor, maybe that can be considered then that they are a creonite because there’s been such a big change in how things are done that especially with BJJ fanatics, pushing instruction was very hard that I’m sure everyone’s seen one of their ads from somewhere. It seems much more acceptable that you’re going to be buying instructionals and learning from someone else at home that it’s changing the culture in a way. How do you think those instructionals and all these elements, people are going home, listening to podcasts and watching these instructionals, how can these influence the culture from a bottom-up perspective?
Steve: I think just their sheer existence does in a lot of ways. Even beyond instructionals, I think the stance on social media that you see people like Danaher and his crew, even like Stephan Kesting and all of these guys where they freely sharing this information, sets a very positive example for the rest of the community. I think you could argue that it has made a big difference. I can’t speak to everywhere in the world, but here in Vancouver, generally speaking, the Vancouver community is very open. Cross-training is not just permitted, it is encouraged. Most gyms, they will freely let you swing by and just train and hang out. The free sharing of knowledge and the building of the community is key for everyone. There are maybe one or two gyms in Vancouver that are more isolated on an Island where they still adopt that approach of like, these are our walls and you will stay within the gym and you will not train elsewhere and lo and behold, those are usually not the gyms that are cleaning up on the competition scene. I worry that that approach over time leads you very much down the road that a lot of these traditional martial arts have gone to where, because they’re not sharing their ideas and ultimately not getting feedback about whether their ideas even work, over time those arts get diluted to the point where they don’t even work anymore. My brother, for example, on the podcast has repeatedly criticized GB’s continent program because they’re basically conducting competitions only for their own team, but by doing that, it makes the art a little bit more incestual. You’re only training with your own guys. You’re not being exposed to external ideas anymore. To some extent, if you really close the borders in that manner, then you don’t have that constant external pressure from outside schools that’s forcing you to be better. I worry that if people all segment off and you’re not allowed to train with anyone else, then we’re going to wind up one of these other martial arts where all you’re doing is katas and it doesn’t even matter if it works anymore whereas one of the beautiful things about jiu-jitsu is that it’s very scientific and it’s very, very, battle-tested. It’s a very easy to prove that jiu-jitsu works. I worry that if you’re not constantly going out there and exposing your jiu-jitsu and facing new challenges, you’re not getting that feedback in terms of how to improve. I definitely do think that the leaders in our community have started openly sharing their knowledge. That has very much created a positive top-down message that other gyms then picked up on.
Sonny: That’s very interesting that you would highlight the people staying more traditional as being a way to dilute the art into other traditional martial arts when I think they would probably see it as people changing the way things have always been done as the road to diluting the art and going into traditional mindset. How would you square it off with someone who was taking that point of view that, hey, any change is going to be a negative as it’s taking us away from what made jiu-jitsu to get where it is?
Steve: You’re basically talking about the appeal to purity, where someone says, our interest is in adhering to the pure version of the art as it was originally intended and my concern with that approach– appeals to purity usually don’t end very well. It’s not a strong argument to take because there isn’t necessarily anything valuable about doing things just the way they were always done. That is not necessarily better. The concern usually what those people are talking about is that all from a self-defense standpoint, you’re not supposed to be pulling guard. You’re not supposed to be doing berimbolos, you’re not supposed to be doing spider guard, all of this stuff, waters the art down. To some extent, that can be a valid argument. You could very easily argue that judo’s effectiveness over the last 100 years has been reduced due to changes made at the Olympic level where they’ve stripped out certain types of takedowns and stuff. I think it would be reasonable to say that although judo is still clearly an effective martial art, it definitely has had some of its key tools removed from it. You can make the same argument from jiu-jitsu. A lot of the stuff that we can’t do, like knee reaping, for example or the disallowance of heel hooks completely eliminates a whole avenue of the martial art that would make it otherwise effective. I think those are very valid concerns, but I don’t think the right answer is to do things the way that they had always been done. I think if you were to build a time machine and go back and see what Hélio was doing in the early 20th century and compare that to what the guys are doing now, I think it would be pretty clear that there has been exponential improvement. Even looking back 10, 15 years, I think it’s pretty clear there’s been exponential improvement. I do think that it is worth continuing to guard the rules so that they don’t get that diluted but if we’re going to be honest, I don’t see it. Novel techniques, like berimbolos and stuff, yes, they crop up but usually these are tricks in a lot of cases. A lot of the time, when something new and novel comes up, as soon as people start to understand how it works and how to shut it down, that’s when we find out if this is a long-term sustainable thing or really more of a fad. Because the techniques that are worked by obscurity, meaning they only work because the other guy hasn’t seen them before, if those things are not fundamentally sound, give it a year or two and those things will just disappear on their own. If it turns out that they are fundamentally sound, they will hang around. I think that again, jiu-jitsu is not perfect from an MMA/self-defense standpoint, but I don’t really see this big dilution of quality that the purists would argue we’re seeing. I would say that if anything, if you were to go back and build a time machine and sound like Gordon Ryan to go back and fight Hickson in his prime, I don’t think Hickson would win. I think the bar has– and this is the case not in jiu-jitsu, but in every sport, the bar over time goes up over time. That’s how advancements work. It’s great to treat the past with some degree of reverence and to respect where we came from but that doesn’t mean there’s value in doing things the same way, just because.
Sonny: It seems wild to think that even just stating that Gordon Ryan could probably beat Hickson might be a controversial statement for a lot of people that there might be some degree of your– that’s heresy to even suggest that but–
Steve: It’s just, it’s the time. Hickson is one of the greatest, no one is saying he’s not, but it’s just that, the reality is we have a lot more knowledge of what regular competitors are actually capable of. Hickson only has 11 MMA fights on record. He makes these claims to have 400 fights, but even his own family has disavowed that claim, whereas with modern competitors, we have a much better understanding of what they can do and things like the modern leglock system didn’t even exist back then. It’s easy to go after someone if there’s a massive hole in their knowledge to exploit it. I’ve been there when my daughter was born I took about a year-and-a-half off of jiu-jitsu and during that time, the leglock scene really exploded. When I came back, I wasn’t even that out of shape in the grand scheme of things, but man, there was a period where I remember I was sparring with a blue belt who I outweighed by 40 pounds. This guy was tiny. He tapped me 12 times in five minutes. It was so embarrassing. It was because I’d never seen this entire game. I never thought that this could happen. I never wasn’t used to people just diving for my ankles. It took me a good six months to catch up and learn how to shut down that type of game. If there’s a hole in your knowledge, it’s very much like the Trojan Horse. It doesn’t matter how good your fortifications are, if there’s one big gaping weakness and someone can exploit it, that’s not a knock-on Hickson , it’s a knock on the evolution of knowledge over the past 30, 40, 50 years.
Sonny: It’s interesting there that you’ve described maybe what would be considered that– describing something that is a step away from a traditional mindset of Jiu-Jitsu thinking. That has actually reinforced one of those great traditional tropes of the smaller person being able to beat the bigger person with the increased level of knowledge that that’s actually one of the beautiful things of Jiu-Jitsu that you’ve encountered.
Steve: Yes, definitely. It gets harder when you get to the higher levels because when you’re training with other black belts, when the skill level is relatively equivalent, then the other variables start to come into play. The reality is, if you are a brown or a black belt, I don’t care what the size disadvantage is. You could be fighting like Brock– not Brock Lesnar because he knows how to fight. [laughs]
Steve: You could be fighting an untrained Brock Lesnar equivalent and I’m very skeptical that they would be able to take on a good brown or a black belt regardless of size. The way that I think of it, is that Jiu-Jitsu really, it’s an art, that’s all about leverage. The one thing about Jiu-Jitsu that’s really fundamentally interesting, the idea is to get leverage from really any position, including the bottom. Now granted leverage will only get you so far. Your force is like a multiple of your strength plus the leverage you have. If you have crazy leverage, but zero strength, anything times zero is still zero. Athleticism does come into play, but at the end of the day, if you’re fighting some untrained brute, a very, very simple Jiu-Jitsu technique is enough to work against them if your skill level is high enough. I think we move away from that because there’s so much quality grappling now. We see people in the same weight class, just the highest levels and we see that athleticism matters. I think a lot of people forget that you’re talking about world-class athletes here. For the average person, if you have sufficient knowledge of how to use leverage, you will be able to handle yourself against pretty much almost anybody.
Sonny: That’s a good point and in keeping them with the idea of the cross-training and instructionals, opening Jiu-Jitsu up to more avenues of exploration, what then is the main filter to make sure that it still remains relevant and applicable to stop the dilution? Is it just the framework of leverage or putting it through some of those mental models?
Steve: It’s all about the ruleset. One of the great concepts that one of our listeners actually wrote in and asked us to codify. We actually have an article on this on our website now is the concept of win conditions. Which is that whenever you’re playing any game or any competition, it is very important to know what the criteria are for winning and to reverse engineer from there. Yes, your technique is a major advantage, your athleticism is an advantage, your size is an advantage, but a very common and forgotten advantage is your ability to understand and play to the rules. If you understand how the rules work and you can leverage those, you can beat people in the competition who are technically better than you in every other manner. Famous example is, of course, Mackenzie Dern versus Gabi Garcia who won by what? I think one penalty point. That’s a situation where she went in with zero advantages, except better she was able to handle herself under the rules better. There is a great anecdote about this from Tim Ferriss in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek. He opens up the book talking about how he became a martial arts national champion or something.
Sonny: San Shou it was.
Steve: Basically, all he did was he looked in the rule book, he found some technicality about how, if you push the other guy out of bounds, three times you win, so that’s all he did and he won. He became a national champion with the ugliest, most awful, hideous version of martial arts that you’ve seen, but what works, works. I think that what that speaks to is the importance of having a ruleset that reflect the reality of Jiu-Jitsu. That’s what I think we have to keep sacred, if we want Jiu-Jitsu to remain relevant and applicable for self-defense and for MMA. We need to make sure that we don’t do anything to the ruleset that would water it down. Now, I am not a huge fan of the IBJJF as an institution, but I do like the ruleset for the most part. I think that the ruleset, although not perfect, I would make some changes for sure, but I think it very clearly encourages you to play dominant positions and to do Jiu-Jitsu the right way. I think that that ruleset, as long as we can keep a ruleset that doesn’t encourage all sorts of weird sporty variants, I think that’s all it really matters. I would say that the best thing that we could do is make sure that whatever changes we make at the rules level, trickle down into every other aspect of Jiu-Jitsu. Just make sure that people are always motivated to follow these rules such that they’re grappling remains quality. If they were to, for example, change things such a way that– I would already argue that takedowns are not prioritized enough in Jiu-Jitsu. If they were to make a change where they eliminated the points for takedowns or even if they just set it up so that sweeps got you more points than takedowns, that would be disastrous. The impact would be that there would be a much greater incentive for people to pull guard and we don’t want that. That’s not to say that guard is necessarily bad. I actually am okay with people taking the bottom position if they know what they’re doing, but you always want to encourage from a fight perspective that people take the dominant initiative from the top. That’s an example of where like a subtle change could really impact the way that people train. I would say that the one big weakness in the IBJJF is the limitation on heel hooks and leg reaping. There is a massive, massive, fundamental weakness in the art that stems from our inability to do those moves. If you were to put me in control of the IBJJF and asked me to make a few rule changes, the big things I would say is that reaps are legal from purple belt and up. Heel hooks are legal from purple, brown belt and up. That would be the big change I’d make.
Sonny: I hear you on that. The general fundamentals of the ruleset, I think is great because it’s still tight-down, past guard, get the mount or back, go for your submission is still reinforced as one of the key ways to victory in that. One thing I have noticed that seems to be perhaps unique in Jiu-Jitsu and I wonder if you’ve noticed the same thing is that, it seems to be a sport where a lot of competitors will enter without quite having full understanding of the rules of the sport.
Steve: Yes, for sure.
Sonny: I guess, there’s that element where that happens because people just think of it more as that fight. It’s a fight, I know the rules of the fight, beat the other guy, make him tap, you win. Do you think that there is that battle between that sport side and the fight side or just, “Hey, is submission only the only ruleset that should matter?
Steve: That’s a tricky one. There’s something novel about the idea of a submission-only fight. It sounds like you should think, “Holla, a submission is a submission. Once you get that, you win.” I’ve changed my thinking on this. I believe that the IBJJF ruleset now is, from a practicality standpoint superior to a submission-based ruleset for a variety of reasons but the main one being in the real world. If we’re talking about what martial arts are actually for. Martial arts are not for cage fights. That’s a sport. Martial arts are for self-defense at the end of the day. In the real world, if I get you in a chokehold and I choke you. Then you tap and I let you go; I have no indication that you’re not just going to get up and kick my ass again. That’s the thing. The reality is, most people, I think, who train Jiu-Jitsu don’t want to be violent. If I put you in a twister, let’s say it’s a self-defense situation. If I get you in a twister somehow, what am I going to do? I’m not going to kill you? Am I going to break your neck? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. I would much rather knee-ride you and hold you there till the cops arrive because martial arts are about de-escalation. At least martial art is supposed to be about de-escalation. Although there is something romantic about getting the sub, I actually think prioritizing positional control is more important, especially for the art that we train. Bring me back though, there was a specific question that you had, and I think I may have deviated a little bit off on it.
Sonny: Oh, I think I just started with the idea of people not knowing the rules while entering in the competitions.
Steve: I think I’ve definitely noticed that too. I would guess that it’s probably for a variety of reasons. One being that out of the gate Jiu-Jitsu is a fundamentally complicated martial art to get your head around. A lot of other martial arts or just much less dynamic in terms of the number of things you could possibly do. Jiu-Jitsu, there’s a lot of moving pieces. There’s a reason they call it human chess. The hardest part I think for Jiu-Jitsu in terms of learning to be good at it, is just tracking your mind where all of your arms and legs are and where your opponent’s arms and legs are at any given time. As a result of that, the ruleset is just inherently more complicated than if we were doing kickboxing. There’s a lot of things you have to think about. Try to explain to a layperson what like knee reaping is. It’s absolutely a bizarre thing when you think about it, “Oh, well, your leg can go this way but not this way.” It’s incredibly complicated. I think just the nature of the complexity of Jiu-Jitsu, makes the ruleset complex to the point where people fully don’t understand it. I would also say that though, for a long job the IBJJF did not do a great job of communicating out what the rules were. It has gotten much, much better. I remember back when I was training, just getting a straight answer on a very simple question was incredibly hard. A lot of the time, even at the highest levels, the refs didn’t seem to have a consensus on what the rules were. They would sometimes call something a DQ and sometimes wouldn’t. I remember spending months at the blue belt level trying to figure out, “Am I actually allowed to attack like a top side ankle lock?” In fact, I’m still not sure if I can do it. I think there’s two sides of it. One is, lack of clarity from our leadership level, from the IBJJF. Another is just the fundamental complexity of the art. I think as a result of that and also the just the romantic nature of this being a “fight”, which honestly, it’s not, but I know a lot of people like to think it is. Because of that, I think a lot of people just go in there with tunnel vision. They want to get the submission, and they do that to their detriments. Learning to play the rules is so important if you want to actually take this seriously as a competitive sport.
Sonny: Yes, that was certainly me in blue or purple belt. [laughter]
Sonny: I had bad habit of giving up as many points is, as I felt I could while still just searching for the sub. I think that it brings up a good point of the benefit of rules and constraints, placed on a just, I guess, any art to produce something that’s more desirable than just a bit of a free for all. I think we see with some sub-only matches; you can see things just being given away that is only being able to work because punches aren’t involved and may not be technically good Jiu-Jitsu but it works for that ruleset. With that benefit of constraints and limiting rules in mind, taking it back into the gym, what are some of the best constraints that maybe people can put on themselves to help learn or maybe that you could put on to a class to help students learn Jiu-Jitsu more efficiently?
Steve: Are you talking about, specifically, in the context because you mentioned strikes? Are you talking specifically about defending from strikes?
Sonny: Maybe not just defending from strikes, but I know that we can make people work on certain positional sparring, would be one way to put a constraint onto a class or just if you’re rolling maybe you’re only going for a certain move. Is there other ways that you can think of, just that benefits of constraining your training maybe that’s those self-imposed limits?
Steve: Yes, innovation comes from constraints. An example I always love to give is, we live in this Twitter world now and Twitter is a bizarre thing when you think about it. For the longest time, the defining characteristic for Twitter was you could only send the messages that were 140 characters long. It was constrained by, at the time, the length of a text message. The fact that they quit that constraint on their platform, actually created an entirely new way of communicating. That at the time in the tech world we called it microblogging. The idea being that you’re not posting these 800-word essays out there, but you’re just sharing a thought. It creates this ongoing stream of consciousness, and it’s created a whole new means of communication. Sometimes one of the best practices for innovating is to put constraints around yourself and see what you can do within those constraints. In the case of how that can impact your training, positional sparring is one example, but I would walk the concept back even further. A mental model that we’ve discussed on our podcast is, training with purpose. Meaning that what most people do is they will go to class, and they will just roll. They don’t actually have an action plan for what they want to achieve that day or how they want to get better. I think one of the best things that anyone can do to improve Jiu-Jitsu on a day-by-day basis is before you do any training sessions, think in advance about what your goal is for that day. Like, “What do I want to get better at? What is the area that I want to improve in?” Make a conscious effort do to do that during that class, and then reflect on it afterward. A big part of that is by putting parameters on yourself. This is important because, like it with anything, in Jiu-Jitsu you build habits. Habits are often good, but sometimes they can close your mind to other possibilities. If you only ever do the scissor sweep, and you get to the point where you’re so good at doing the scissor sweep, if you decide to introduce something else into your game plan it’s going to be hard because your mind doesn’t go there right away. It’s going to be demoralizing because you suck at it. [chuckles] You’re going to fall back onto the scissor sweep because you’re good at that. If you decide, for example, “You know what? I want to have an awesome hip bump sweep.” Before you go to class, you set a goal to train with purpose. You say to yourself, “I will make this commitment to myself. Whenever I get into that guard position, I will go for the hip bump sweep. I don’t care if I think it’s a good idea at the time. I don’t care if I want to do this scissors sweep. I will do the hip bump sweep.” Then after class, you reflect on that. You ask yourself, “Okay, well first of all, did I do what I said I was going to do? Also, what went well? What didn’t go well? How can I adapt this? What are the learnings?” Then you take those learnings and you use them to make another commitment for your next class. You say, “Okay, well, the problem with my hip bump was that I was not getting my hips high enough. I commit to my next class; I will raise my hips even higher.” You build incremental goals and you take things down so that every single training session has a discrete purpose. Part of that could be positional sparring. If you want to get good at playing guard, you might say, “Today, I’m going to pull guard. Every single time I get so many feet I’m going to pull guard.” You know that might not be the best strategy overall, but if you have an area of your knowledge that you want to focus on, that’s the best way to do it.
Sonny: Yes. I think you’ve highlighted something very important there, is that reflection process, and looking back at what you’ve actually done. What you’ve done to work towards, whichever goal, it is you’ve set. Is there a formalized way of reflection that you would recommend people in Jiu-Jitsu practice?
Steve: Yes. I don’t think you need to get totally crazy and have some big official process. The way that I describe it, stemming from my day job, there’s a concept called Kaizen, which is Japanese for continuous improvements. Basically, it is a strategy that really became famous back and I want to say that’s the ’60s when Toyota revolutionized the way the cars were built. They went from being basically nobody to just completely decimating the American car market to the point where it still hasn’t recovered. They did this through a variety of management practices, one of which was Kaizen. The idea is that regardless of what happens, it’s not necessarily about whether you won or lost, it’s about getting better. You set small discrete goals for small-time blocks like I’ve just described. Where like, ” Hey. Today, here’s my goal.” You try it, and then you measure it at the end of the day. “Hey, did I succeed? Did I fail? What are the learnings for what worked well and what didn’t?” Then you apply that next time. It’s not so much about whether you won or lost or about whether you got what you wanted or didn’t, the goal is not on a daily basis to win or lose, the goal is to learn and improve. I think the thing that a lot of people do as a mistake is, they go into class and they measure the success or failure of that day based on how many taps they got or who they beat up, or whether they got beat up. I know it’s very tempting to walk into class and be like, “Yes, I tapped five people today and nobody tapped me. I did good.” Did you really? If you rolled with a bunch of white belts who are like on their first day, and you tapped them all, did that actually improve you in any meaningful way? It might have made you worse. Really, the goal should not be, “Did I succeed, or did I fail?” It should be, “Did I learn, and did I improve?” Some of the best days I’ve had are days when I walked onto the mass and I just got my ass kicked, but man I learned a lot. [laughs] Your focus should be for the long-term, not winning the daily battle of, did I get the tap in the gym, it doesn’t matter. It should be, “Am I taking the steps up the staircase every day to improve myself? So that two years from now, when I look back at where I was I’ll be like, “Man, that guy sucked.” That’s what you want to be doing.
Sonny: Yes. I think it’s that, I want to beat the person who I was yesterday rather than getting the taps today.
Sonny: Although you still have to enjoy those little victories. You still have to enjoy the taps I think because that can give you the motivation to turn up the next day.
Steve: Oh, yes.
Sonny: I guess for the long-term, it’s more important to enjoy the learning process.
Steve: Yes, victory is always enjoyable, it feeds the ego. I’m not saying don’t care. Obviously, you need to care to some extent, but it is important to separate your ego and your sense of self-worth from, whether you got the tap or not. This applies right up to competition. There are many, many world-class athletes who were– they look like absolute killers until they weren’t. Ronda Rousey comes to mind; Mike Tyson comes to mind. They look unbeatable until they weren’t, and then they never got back on the horse. Then you’ve got guys like George St-Pierre, I’m a Canadian, I’m very biased, who suffered a humiliating loss, the scale of which most of us will never be able to understand. He got beat up by a reality show contestant while the whole world was watching. He got back on the horse and he went on to have one of the greatest championship runs of all time. You have to make sure, as my brother often says, “Your ego is not your amigo.” The reason you’re training is to feed your ego. You’re setting up a barrier that will prevent you from actually growing. They say that martial art kills the ego. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I know that that should be one of your goals if nothing else.
Sonny: Yes, I hear that. Well, the saying that we have is, “Leave your ego at the door when you step onto the mats.” I always do wonder, would that really result in everyone having an existential crisis, as I walk through the doors of the gym? [laughter]
Sonny: On GSP, I think he’s undoubtedly the goal of MMA, especially by never having gone back and had those losses that a lot of the other people in the contention for that discussion have had themselves.
Steve: The thing about GSP is that, yes, there were guys who had longer title reigns. Yes, there were guys who finished more fights, but there are a lot less question marks surrounding GSP. Guy never failed a drug test, Guy was consistent across the board, the only two losses the Guy ever had, he avenged in dominant version. The only possible question mark you could put around the Guy was that you could argue that– it’s very clear, he got lucky in the decision on that Johny Hendricks fight. There were a lot of variables around that. Johnny Hendricks, I don’t want to lay any accusations, but there were some significant rule changes at the UFC and he was never the same after that. With GSP many years back, he walked off the couch, came back, and worked the ass, and got another title. He’s been very consistent. The only person I think you could even make a comparable case for at this point is Amanda Nunes, in terms of her performance. I think everyone else just has questions like Demetrious Johnson. Amazing, amazing athlete, but the quality of competition wasn’t there. John Jones, his biggest enemy is himself. He has all of the potential to be the greatest of all time, but he has prevented himself from achieving that. Anderson Silva, amazing guy, but a lot of failed drug tests. Once you control for those variables, you’re left with very few pure people in Jiu-Jitsu who you can really say are up there in the gold discussion, and GSP is definitely one of them.
Sonny: Yes. For him, he’s my, the kind of role model for martial arts. As it stands, I’m happy that he doesn’t have those questions around him because if he just keep it like he is, I’m quite happy.
Steve: Yes. That’s one of the things about GSP. Yes, he is not just a dominant athlete, but in a lot of ways, he’s an aspirational figure. No one looks at Jon Jones and says, “Man, I want to be like that guy.” Even Anderson Silva, I don’t know, many people who look at him and look at him as a pinnacle of the type of person they would want to be. Whereas GSP also has the aura of being the paradigm, the pinnacle of what a martial artist should be. Granted, a lot of that is probably marketing and manufacturing his image that way, but there’s no arguing that a lot of his popularity comes from the fact that people can project into him as being an example of the best of us.
Sonny: Yes. Is it the myth or is it the man? At this stage, I’m happy that the myth, at least, for GSP appears to match up with the man. I can use him still as that aspirational idea of a martial artist.
Steve: Yes, definitely.
Sonny: Steve, an hour has flown by, and it’s been a wonderful conversation. I’m wondering maybe if we can just loop it back to the start with your podcast, BJJ Mental Models, and maybe give people an idea of your favorite episode that they could jump in on. I know you guys are up to 70, you’re in the ’70s now or maybe?
Steve: I think as of this time, we just put out 77 today. Not today, sorry, on Monday.
Sonny: Yes. There’s a lot to choose from. What would be your favorite episode and the things that it covered that would be good to take a look at?
Steve: Sure. If I were to recommend to our listeners where to get started, In terms of the mechanics of Jiu-Jitsu, I think the most important thing to understand is, what we mean when we talk about alignments. How all of the body parts fit together. How leverage works. How to deny your opponent that leverage. We talked about this on the very first episode that we did because we thought that was the most important thing to talk about. Problem is, when we did Episode 1, we had no idea how to podcast. I’ve gone back, and I’ve tried to like sweeten the audio and make it sound better, but it’s pretty clear that these are just too unprepared morons sitting around and talking about Jiu-Jitsu. When we got to Episode 50, with everything that we learned, we decided to reapproach that episode so that if we wanted to direct people to this conversation, we had a better version of it. We brought Rob Biernacki onto the podcast because he’s the guy who popularized that model. My recommendation for anyone who would be interested in a Coles Notes version of what we do and how we do, it would be to take a look at Episode 50 as their starting point.
Sonny: Beautiful, beautiful. That seems like a good place to wrap things up. Steve, what’s the best way, then if people want to get in touch with you, they’ve got more questions for you, how should they go about doing that?
Steve: Sure. Thanks. Obviously, our website is the jumping point to everything we do, bjjmentalmodels.com, very easy to find. Of course, you can also find the show on any pod culture that you’ve got. It’s also on YouTube, on Spotify. Generally, very easy to find, just Google it. Of course, you can go to our website and from there it links out to all of this other stuff. If you want to get in touch with me, we love getting people’s questions. We do our best to answer every single one. We have a contact form on our website. Of course, if you also look us up on Facebook or on Instagram, shoot us a message, we would be happy to talk to you there.
Sonny: Beautiful. Steve, thanks so much for your time today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the discussion, and we could perhaps do another one in the future.
Steve: Absolutely. I hope this is helpful for people. It was great to finally get a chance to talk to you. Again, if there’s something I can leave people with, it’s to just try to make every day a learning experience. It doesn’t really matter if you won or you lost, but set goals so that every time you train, you get the most out of that training. You have a plan for how you’re going to do it, and you reflect on it afterward to figure out how you can get better for the next time.
Sonny: Beautiful. Steve, have a wonderful day and thank you again so much.
Steve: You too. Take care.
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