Training jiu-jitsu at my new dojo in Fukuoka, Japan

So I have been in Fukuoka, Japan for a few weeks training jiu-jitsu and learning Japanese. It’s going good.

I started training at a new dojo called Axis jiu-jitsu Fukuoka. It’s a nice small space near Ohori park in Fukuoka.

It’s fun training at a new place too.

I chose this place basically cause it was the closest place to where I live which is like 7km away and the owner let me train there on my first day for free.

Before that I went to a couple of other places in the city to check them out.

The first place said there was no free class and that it would be 2,000 Yen which is about $20 and if I wanted to train for a month then it would be 20,000 Yen.

What?!

I had already done some research on places around Fukuoka and knew a few were around 10,000 Yen a month which is about $100.

I went to the next place and they seemed more friendly. They didn’t invite me for a free class, but said it was 10,800 Yen.

I was thinking that maybe things in Japan were different with no free first class.

So then I was thinking of going to another place, but just decided to go to Axis jiu-jitsu since that was closer anyway. When I did the teacher Kanda invited me to the mat when I walked in the door for free.

So after class I rode my bike home and pretty much decided that was where I was going to train at. And that’s where I am now.

Some customs remind me of my first school in San Fran, Romulo Melo as everyone seems to shake hands when they greet each other on the mat.

Maybe that is a Gracie thing I don’t know.

It’s nice to be able to train everyday too. I hurt my knee, but other than that the vibe seems mostly pretty relaxed too.

More on Axis jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka.

2 Jiu-jitsu Moves NOT To Do

These 2 jiu-jitsu moves are dangerous and I do not recommend doing them. Both of them are illegal in judo and they are also illegal in some situations, competitions or belt colors in BJJ.

I have received a knee injury from both of these moves and you will see one of them in the video below.

I can tell you that you will not want to be on the receiving end of one of these moves gone wrong.

It’s not that they always cause injury, but it’s that they often enough cause injury and when they do it’s often serious.

  1. Kani basami (scissors throw)
  2. Jumping guard

#1 Kani basami (scissors throw)

When I lived in San Fran there was one purple belt there that did this to me. I didn’t get an injury, but it was close enough and very sketchy feeling.

Then like 4 days ago or so I was sparring with a new classmate here in Fukuoka standing up trying some throws when the next thing I know my knee turns in and I feel it pop.

I hit the ground and I am in pain. My opponent was around 220 I’d guess and tried a scissors throw, but I didn’t know that until I saw the video.

It’s dangerous and not worth it. You can see how my knee looks in the video above. Fortunately it could have been worse. I don’t know what happened to it, but I would guess that it is was a minor MCL tear or it just got stretched.

Minor MCL injuries usually heal on their own. I got one in my other knee like 20 years ago snowboarding.

Don’t do it.

Oh, and it’s NOT just me.

If you want to see more injuries from this move then do a search for:

  • kani basami injury
  • kani basami gone wrong

#2 Jumping guard

I personally think jumping guard is kind of a woos move…

And of course I think that now because I got hurt from it. And well anyone that does judo probably also thinks that.

You would never do this in a street fight, probably never if you are smart. And you don’t ever see this in the MMA.

Why not?

Because if you do you are going to get slammed into the ground and punched in the face.

Now it’s a move that’s relatively easy to do, but it’s dangerous.

Here’s what happened to me back in 2016 or so.

I used to go to CCSF in San Fran for judo and jiu-jitsu classes. That day we were doing judo competition practice where you bow, step in, bow and then start going for the throw.

But this guy also weighed well over 200 pounds decided to jump guard which is something you can’t do in judo anyways.

My mistake my not so compassionate teacher said, haha was I was going backward. And I wasn’t on my toes.

So he jumps guard and lands on my knee. He never made it to my waist. It hyper extended my knee backwards. If you weigh 50 pounds more than your opponent you definitely don’t jump guard.

It was really painful and the MRI said I had a bone bruise and a torn meniscus.

I was out for 2 months.

Now…

This is not only me.

Do a search for:

  • jumping guard injury
  • jumping guard gone wrong

And you will see some nasty looking injuries like the one in my video above.

Last words

You have to consider your training partner. You can’t just do a “hail mary” move and hope that it will work out because your partner is going to suffer like I did.

Do you want someone to do that to you?

If you’re a big guy or just bigger than your partner then you need to respect the difference.

It’s possible to do these moves correctly so that you do not hurt your opponent, BUT how often do you do moves 100% perfect?

Let’s say you are good at arm bars from the mount and you do one 90% perfect and smooth, but you hit the guy in his head when you bring your leg over his head.

That’s no big deal because your partner might just get a bump or bruise.

For that move.

But for these moves if you are just a little bit off and/or your opponents position is too then that can lead to a terrible knee injury.

Don’t bother with either. There are plenty of throws and take downs out there to learn.

More on training at my new school in Fukuoka.

If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown

Haha, this was a funny photo from the CCSF Christmas party, 2018. I made those shirts. I made it for sensei. I remember that he said that once and I thought it was cool.

He might have been describing a specific situation, but I thought it also sounded cool figuratively.

Robert Mendoza and Sensei – If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown – CCSF judo

I made another and added it as a random gift in the party. I am happy that Robert chose it.

How I made it…

I did a drawing of sensei that I found on Facebook on a piece of poster board. Then I made a stencil and stenciled it with a fabric marker onto a T-shirt. It’s kind of low-tech and a bit wabi-sabi.

Not sure if he really liked it, but some people seemed to get a kick out of it.

I got promoted to Judo brown belt

So along with another classmate I got promoted from green belt to judo brown belt.

Sensei, myself, Stas, and Samir

This last Tuesday I got promoted to judo brown belt. Nothing feels different though. I still feel like a white belt. Sensei says that it is hard to see your own progress cause everyone else is progressing too.

Beats me.

In promotion everyone lines up and gets to do 3 free throws. You don’t fight you just let them throw you. It’s practice for falling, but it is a lot of throws.

So in about 5-10 minutes I got thrown about…

Let me think…

There were maybe 15-20 students doing throws and they each get to throw 3 times so that’s…

Getting thrown anywhere from 45-60 times in maybe 10 minutes. I sort of dreaded it at first because I remembered last time, but it’s not so bad. Some throw hard, but many don’t.

And…

Judo is hard.

Progress seems slow, but belt promotion is faster than jiu-jitsu. From what I read I think averages for judo might be close to 5 years from white belt to black.

In jiu-jitsu the average is about 10 years from white to black.

I don’t do a lot of judo. I do about 2 days a week and have done so for around three years. Though in the beginning I didn’t do much randori just technique.

I got the photo from CCSF’s judo page.

Judo vs. BJJ for self defense?

Which is better for self defense? Judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I saw this question on Quora and I had to add my two cents.

The short answer is….

It depends.

There are some potential advantages and disadvantages to both and in this post I will explore them both as best as I can.

But first off know that you can’t learn any one overnight, in a couple of weeks or even a few months. I mean you can learn techniques, but how deeply will you learn them? Will they be instinctual under pressure?

Probably not.

You need time and a lot of repetition.

Judo for self-defense?

Judo could be good for self defense as it evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu. But nowadays judo is more focused on throws. In its past it was the full grappling program with newaza (ground grappling), tachi waza (standing) and leg attacks.

But the rules to judo changed because it was boring to watch ground grappling on TV. It was more fun to watch people getting thrown. Then 4 or 5 years ago they banned leg attacks so you can’t touch the legs.

So for judo it’s going to depend on the dojo. Many are going to spend most of the time doing stand up techniques.

But for self-defense you want to learn both stand up and ground grappling.

So if you choose to go the judo route and you want to learn it for self defense choose a school that spends a lot of time with newaza.

The potential problem with judo is that you won’t learn enough ground grappling.

I have only trained judo at one school, CCSF. The intermediate-advanced classes are now 100% stand up. Sensei used to teach some basic newaza in those classes, but now he says if you want to learn ground grappling to go to the beginners judo/jiu-jitsu or intermediate jiu-jitsu classes.

The throws work though even without a gi. In fact I will tell you a story below related to that. But if you are curious here is a cool video that shows judo throws being done in MMA.

BJJ for self defense?

BJJ evolved from judo, but not the modern day judo you see on TV. BJJ is primarily a ground grappling martial art. The goal in BJJ is to basically submit your opponent.

It’s good for self defense, but it has a weakness and that is that it is mostly focused on the ground. If you don’t learn how to take your opponent down then you’ll never be able to apply what you learned in ground grappling.

The potential problem with BJJ is that you won’t learn how to take someone down.

I’d say most BJJ schools will spend 90-99% of the time on the ground. For example, the first school that I learned at probably spent 95% or more of the time doing ground techniques.

The rules won’t apply on the street

Judo has a lot more rules and formality than does BJJ. BJJ is basically about submitting your partner. Judo contests are mostly about throwing your partner and getting him to land flat on his back, ippon!

But judo sparring matches start standing up which is more like a real fight. BJJ sparring usually starts on your knees. Contests start standing up, but in class you usually start on your knees or sitting which is not like a real fight.

A submission can win the contest too, but only black belts can do arm locks in competition. Lower belts can only do chokes.

Keep in mind either way the rules applied to either one don’t apply on the streets. The same goes for MMA. While in MMA you can kick and punch you can’t kick and punch everywhere or attack the groin or eyes which could be done on the street.

Also on the street someone could try to bite you too right when you are about to arm bar them. So keep that in mind.

I had an altercation once where this freaky street guy probably on drugs without shoes or a shirt came by and tried to steal my money. I was able to use what I had learned from both judo and BJJ to stop the fight and control him until the cops came by.

Here’s a video about that or you can read and watch it here.

So which is best? BJJ or judo for self-defense?

I’d say both. Learn both if you can or choose a judo dojo that has a good newaza program or a jiu-jitsu program with good takedowns or throws. Commit to a year for starters. That’s what I would do. It’s easy to quit after a month or two and like I said you won’t really learn or remember much in a month.

What about Japanese jiu-jitsu?

That might be good, but as far as I know the sparring element is missing which can be common in some other martial arts.

The first martial art I did was wing chun. It was kinda cool, but I thought it was overly mechanic and everything was staged – there was no sparring.

Sparring is important. And judo and BJJ both have live sparring.

There are a lot of martial arts that could be effective. It just depends.

Crazy Guy Tries Stealing This Street Performer’s Money

What a day. Some crazy homeless guy possibly on drugs tried stealing my money as I was street performing on Grant in Chinatown, SF. I do a hybrid kinda street performance that entails a costume (see the latest), some miming, story telling, goofing around, and beatboxing.

I divided this post into 2 parts as there were 2 altercations with this same guy within maybe 10-20 minutes.

Part 1 – Guy tries to steal my money

So I was sitting out on Grant St. in Chinatown doing my pink man show and waiting for someone to push play. Then this guy who wasn’t wearing a t-shirt or shoes comes by and picks up my money can sitting between my legs and starts walking off.

At first I thought is this guy joking?

I told him to stop and he kept walking. So I threw him with a judo throw. It happened fast and I can’t remember what kind of throw it was, it was something like osoto gari or o guruma or harai goshi.

He hit the ground, my money went flying and then there was that moment of thought…

“Arm bar him, get on top or this guy is probably going to go away…”

That was my mistake. He got up hit me in the side of my temple and than ran over to a store across the way and grabbed a bin of umbrellas.

Then he tried throwing them at me and eventually ran off.

After that I was thinking about my mistake. I was telling myself… “You got to get on top of the guy and finish him with a submission. That’s why he got up and hit you. That happened cause you didn’t control the situation. Don’t assume he is going to go away.”

Luckily most people are good people and a few people collected my money that had flown everywhere and watched it while this was happening.

Weird too, after that the woman who works next door gave me $20 and another guy $5. It’s weird how that works. The same thing happened another time when a guy was being a jerk throwing these loud firecrackers near me and then I got angry and went over to him and said some things.

Drama.

Maybe people like drama or maybe it’s compassion. Maybe some people feel a sense of compassion for this pink or blue dude who people are messing with.

Anyways back to the story…

Part 2 – He comes back

Then he came back.

He started saying I took some of his stuff. This guy was crazy. He wouldn’t go away and kept walking around me. This time I took off my sign that I wear. Then he took his shirt off the ground and started whipping me with it.

This is all happening on the sidewalk and middle of the street.

There was that thought (a moment) of, “do I back off or attack?” I actually attacked him and grabbed him and got him up against a car from behind in a rear naked choke.

But his chin was tucked and I couldn’t finish him. Later I thought how I could have got that choke… more on that later.

Then another guy comes and asks if we could get off the side of the car. So I threw the guy again on the pavement and got on top of him. He was pulling on my shirt and pushing towards my face.

I was going for the americana. I was thinking of a choke, but he had no shirt on and I’m less confident about my arm triangle chokes. So I went for the americana.

The guy is fighting, but eventually I got his wrist to the ground. I kept my elbow by his head to keep him from biting me. I was thinking this guy could bite, try grabbing my balls or any other dirty thing.

Once I got my grips I pulled it down and up toward his hips. Then I heard some pops and cracks in his shoulder or elbow, the guy yell and then suddenly he became limp and apologetic.

“Sorry. Sorry.”

“I am sorry”, he said.

“Sorry.”

He stopped moving.

If I wanted to be mean or really destroy his elbow or shoulder I would have done it again even deeper. But he stopped fighting and started saying sorry.

So I just held him there in that arm lock.

I was thinking, “do I let him go or hold on or what?”, but I held on, the cops eventually came and handcuffed him. I guess he was causing problems up and down Grant.

Things I learned from that fight

So that’s my story about using judo and jiu-jitsu in a street fight. I always wondered if it would work. I mean it should right? I had been training in jiu-jitsu for maybe close to 3.5 years frequently and in judo for a few years less often.

But you never really know until you are in a fight.

Even after part 1 I was thinking about that mistake and well like most things in judo or jiu-jitsu there are no mistakes.

I know it sounds a little cliche, but…

There are only learning experiences. You may have heard that if you have been practicing jiu-jitsu. It may sound cliche, but it’s the truth.

And I got the chance to immediately apply what I had learned from the first episode. I knew this guy was a problem when he came back so I took my sign off. He took his shirt off the ground and was whipping me with his shirt and then I attacked.

In the end I submitted the guy until the cops came. But learned a few things along the way.

  • Don’t just throw the guy and think the fight is over. Get on top and/or submit.
  • I think I could have gotten the rear naked choke had I used my other bicep on his fore head to open up his neck more for my other hand. Probably hard for some to visualize what I mean.
  • Be aware of your vulnerabilities because the guy may try the dirtiest stuff.

But that’s jiu-jitsu.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a real fight, rolling at the gym or a competition.

The same sort of reflection happens every time you roll with someone. When you fail you can look back on what you did and think about what you will do next time.

The damage

My performance glasses got f*cked up, I got a bump on my temple from getting hit, scratch on my forehead and a bruise on my knee – mounting on the pavement is a lot harder than a mat in the dojo, but otherwise I am o.k.

I noticed that guy had a bloody hand when I had him in an arm lock and I am pretty sure by the sounds of things mentioned earlier that something tore or broke in his elbow or shoulder.

I didn’t punch or kick him I just did what I learned.

In the end

I wanted to get a video because I saw some people recording it, but left by the time the altercation was finished. So hopefully one will surface on Youtube or somewhere else that I can use in the next week or so.

Seeing some pink street performer dude fighting on Grant Street in Chinatown, San Francisco is a little unusual so maybe a video or two will surface somewhere.

Before I got into jiu-jitsu I heard people talk about how it can make you more confident. I always wondered if it had made me more confident. I still don’t know, but had these things happened 4 years ago I think the outcome may have been different.

The cops were actually pretty cool to me which was surprising considering I had known one of the cops for a long time. I think that same cop seems to respect me more now for whatever reason.

The “Pleasure” Of Getting Promoted To JUDO Green Belt

I got promoted to green belt in judo yesterday at CCSF. And I am being a bit sarcastic when I say “pleasure”. When you get promoted there is a certain sort of ritual and part of the ritual is that you line up and get to throw the people who got promoted 3 times – once for yourself, once for the teacher and once for the person promoted.

Me about to get thrown by a big black belt

Me about to get thrown by a big black belt

Last week Jackson got promoted to 3rd degree brown belt. I thought it looked a little brutal when I saw some people throwing him pretty hard. I was thinking that maybe that treatment was reserved for the higher belts and maybe newly promoted green belts wouldn’t get thrown.

I was wrong.

The moment before getting thrown

The moment before takeoff

The four of us promoted got thrown 3 times by each classmate (16 classmates). So that means we got thrown 48 times in about 10 minutes or so. This isn’t like randori. You have no fair chance. You just have to accept it. You let the other person throw you.

And some won’t throw you that hard and others will. I was a bit worried about that.

But I survived.

The four of us in the front row were promoted to green or brown belt.

The four of us in the front row were promoted to green or brown belt.

I have been practicing judo since around 2015. I started with jiu-jitsu and gradually got into judo. I didn’t take it as seriously as jiu-jitsu and didn’t practice as much, like 2 half classes a week.

I realized that it was important to learn judo because if you don’t know any take downs or throws then how are you going to get your opponent to the ground?

So from a self-defense perspective I think you have to know some judo to be a better grappler.

Jessica getting thrown with the osoto gari throw

Jessica getting thrown with the osoto gari throw

I didn’t really do a lot of randori (sparring) with judo. I would often go to jiu-jitsu Tuesday and Thursday at 6 and then stay for the first hour of judo which follows jiujitsu. I would do some technique and then go home.

Then I tried to add a little randori with a few people before heading out. And I recently started to stay a bit longer to do some more.

I don’t think my judo is very good, but you know it’s getting better, slowly

Learning to fall is part of it too. I try to work on my falling. Sometimes it’s fun to fall like when you have it timed right and you break the fall with your arm(s) just right.

Then…

Other times it’s not so fun especially when you don’t see it coming or you get the wind knocked out of you.

The photos are from the CCSF judo page.

Related:

New Judo & Jiu-jitsu gi Size A3 [For Sale] CCSF

This is a brand NEW judo gi that I have for sale. It’s cheap and it’s good quality. It includes a jacket, belt, and pants.

Works fine for jiujitsu too, yet it just has a bit longer jacket. I tried it on, but it was a bit big for me (5’11, 155) and they wouldn’t return it for free.

judo-gi

Guess it would fit someone about 20-40 pounds heavier and/or a bit taller. I normally wear an A2 yet this was a bit big and may be closer to A3. It has a different sizing which is 4/170.

If you are a student a CCSF [or not], in San Francisco and are looking for a new gi for judo/jiu-jitsu then let me know and I can bring it in sometime.

You can buy it on Ebay too for $59 +shipping or directly through me for $50 which is what I paid for it.

 

How to Increase Your Bone Density & Improve Balance

“Spend more time in a squat position throughout the day. Just doing that will improve your digestion, your knee health, your hips, and it will start to move things in the right direction. Another is hanging, which is so beneficial for shoulders.” – Ido Portal

Squatting has actually improved the mobility of my legs and knees. I had stopped doing them or positions in yoga like child’s pose and after a few years realized I couldn’t kneel any more or put all of my weight done in a kneeling position when I started jiu-jitsu.

But after months of simple squatting I regained that ability.

Yoga is also a great way to improve your balance as there are many single leg positions to do.

I have been doing some squats as an exercise too, but starting tomorrow I will add some single leg squats in there as those are supposed to be better in that they add variable resistance and balance into the mix.

Those things will supposedly make your bones stronger. And when your bones are stronger your muscles can get stronger according to this video.

Listen to the last few minutes starting at (55:09) of this podcast to get some ideas on how to improve your bone density.

Jump

Funny, while watching the above video and listening to the guy talk about bone density and some exercise one of the things I thought of were burpees.

He said something about Tony Robbins jumping on a mini trampoline probably helps his muscles and tendons, but maybe not his bones because of the give in a trampoline. That’s when I thought of doing burpees.

That’s when you combine a push up, squat and jump in one quick exercise. If you do a bunch of them fast in a row you’ll get a good work out.

Before I kinda wondered if they were bad for your knees jumping. But here is some evidence that jumping is good.

How to do burpees

  1. Stand up
  2. Raise your arms to the sky
  3. Jump up
  4. When you land jump back or step back into a plank position
  5. Do a push-up or if you can’t just hold the plank for an instant then…
  6. Jump forward so your arms are outside of your feet
  7. Stand and jump up with your arms raised
  8. Continue

When I first did these I would be out of breath after 10, however with time they get easier. It’s a good exercise as you are using a lot of different muscles too as well as making your bones denser.

If burpees are too difficult you could try jumping jacks or even box jumping.

Here’s a 5 minute workout on Youtube