The White Belt Chronicles 2: Do you even compete, bro?



The importance of competing is something that you can read about on nearly any Jiu Jitsu blog, article, advice column, or YouTube comment section. Black, brown, and purple belts all encourage white belts that they feel are healthy and skillful enough for a beginner competition to compete. This is great and can be extremely encouraging when it’s coming from someone you view as a mentor, or even a friend. You may even hype yourself up for it afterwards. “Fuck yeah, coach thinks I’m ready to compete I’ll smash all of those mother fuckers,” you may tell yourself. The inner bad ass (See: Ego) we all suppress every time we step onto the mat with our teammates finally gets to come out to play. Your friends and family that don’t get to see you train get to see you strangle someone. You get to demonstrate your skills. Awesome. Then just when you’re 100% certain you’re ready, you hear the tales of the other white and early blue belts past competitions, and what it was like getting smashed. 


“Ah, yeah man, wasn’t my best day for sure.”

“Yeah well you remember my bum ankle, right? I should have waited.”

“I mean…I did alright. I placed fourth.” “Sick man, how many people were in your bracket?” “Four.”

Then you realize that coach had told all these same people that they were ready to compete and should. Just like you. 


Doubt creeps in. 

“Maybe I’ll end up like them.” 

“Maybe I’ll just give myself a little more time.” 

“I haven’t had anyone go 100% on me yet. I’ll start rolling for competition for a few months then I’ll be ready.”

“I don’t want to fucking lose in front of everyone.”


You need to dismiss this mindset. Lock it away. Tell it to fuck off. Choke it out. There are only two outcomes of any competition: You win, or you learn


Anyone that has the testicular fortitude to step onto the mat against someone that wants to take one of your limbs home with them has already won. Even if you don’t take home a shiny medal afterwards, you can hold your head high knowing that you’ve done what many don’t, and won’t have the courage to.


I signed up for my first competition at the two-month mark in my training. I had trained one bullshit Judo throw for one quarter of one class, and I knew the basic positions, a keylock, triangle, and kimura. That’s it. Oh, and I had never done any work in the Gi. Despite this, I knew I wanted to put it all to the test. I signed up the Orlando NewBreed on March 4th. I placed 2ndin both Gi and No-Gi, against one other guy in each category. They had moved some people around and I ended up going against two tough competitors that had over 6 months of training in. Anyone who’s familiar with Jiu Jitsu time, knows that’s practically dog years. They told me this before I stepped out onto the mat, and I could have either accepted a voucher to compete at the next one or do what I went there to do. Anyone who clicks the link above can see what I chose to do (If you hit control+F and search Nolan, that is). 


It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 


I knew before going that none of my coaches would be there. I was okay with this, and looking back, I think it only made the experience better. My wife sat at my corner, and even though she has absolutely no Jiu Jitsu experience, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She cheered me on, even as I tapped to some ridiculous cross face pressure (something I didn’t do again until I rolled with Art) and an arm bar that I couldn’t have seen coming even if he told me what he planned to do before we started. But you know what, I learned from it. 


I learned that I could stare adversity in the face and still move forward. I learned that I could lose, and persevere without battering myself afterwards. I learned how respectful the Jiu Jitsu community really is. I learned how far I have to go on this journey. I learned that no matter who you are outside of the mats, how popular you are, how rich you are, how poor you are, it all falls away. We are all on an individual journey together, and that lesson is priceless.


**Author’s Note: I’d like to thank the Locker Room Talk crew for inviting me to write for their blog. Don’t forget to subscribe for new podcasts weekly.



DBTG #2: Oh so nastyyyy

**Just a heads up for you guys: This post will contain some foul language. This post might be old news to some of you, yet it is something that can’t be preached enough.**

What’s up everyone?!?!?  I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything for you all, but I’m back with another article for all you beautiful people.

Last time around I discussed with you all “That Guy” and focused on his key characteristics in order to aid you all with identifying him.  I also mentioned that TG unfortunately comes in many evolutions.  As you can guess by me writing another article for you all, we’re going to be talking about another evolution of TG.

Of all forms of TG that can be encountered, this is probably the one that people hate dealing with the most. He’s one that people get annoyed of constantly having to hear about, or maybe one that people hate having to even be around, but one that can never be allowed to continue with his bad habits.  This evolution of TG is so bad that he even has his own name: NG, short for nasty guy.  

- What’s nasty about “that guy”?

First things first, NG is a fucking pain in the ass.  Many people forget it, but he’s one of the biggest threats to the well-being of any gym.  As much as I hate to admit it, EVERY gym has one and people don’t confront him until they’ve been a victim of his gross ass habits.

Hopefully you don’t need much assistance in identifying this guy, but I’m still going to help you all out just in case he somehow managed to slip right under your nose. (I mean seriously, this dude is stanky. Get your nose checked if you can’t smell him.)

As I have just mentioned, the easiest way to identify NG is going to be the smell coming from this dude.  Those naïve souls out there might be saying something along the lines of, “people always smell at jiu-jitsu…”. But NORMAL people will smell towards the END of class, if they even smell at all.  NG comes into class smelling like he just took a bath in hot dog water mixed with fresh cat urine.

Another sign that you have a NG at your gym will be the stains on his gear.  If you train at a gi school, his least favorite gi color is white.  The reason being is that all his “white” gis are everything but.  They come in yellow, brown, and sometimes even mucus green.  He loves to tell you that washing your belt is bad luck…… but nah homie, that’s shitty hygiene.  If you train at an exclusively no-gi school (like meeeeee) or see NG at your no-gi night, his rashguard (if he even wears one) looks pretty odd.  Like NG’s gi, his “white” rashguard is special tint of white known as eggshell.  If he has any that are of a darker color they have salt stains that make it appear as if he leaves it out throughout the day to let the sun dry it out for him and to burn the germs away.

Here comes the nastiest part about NG and the part that deserves the most attention.  NG not only has some bad habits in regards to his personal hygiene but he’s also out to get you.  NG is pretty notorious for stepping off of the mats and not putting on his shoes, especially when going to use the bathroom.  The rare times that he’s wearing shoes, he forgets to take them off, resulting with him stepping on the mats with his shoes on.  What’s even worse about NG is that he will train despite having a skin infection due to his poor hygiene.  He’s pretty bad at hiding his smell and disgusting gear, but when it comes to having ring worm or staph he’s the master of disguise.  He doesn’t care that someone else is going to suffer due to his nasty ass and gets pretty upset when he gets called out and kicked off the mats when someone manages to spot skin infection.

- What to do.

First off, the most important thing to do with preventing having a NG on your mats is to take care of your personal hygiene BEFORE, DURING and AFTER class.  ALWAYS be sure to take a shower after class.  ALWAYS be sure to wash your gear before training in it again.  ALWAYS trim your nails to prevent cuts which can turn into nastier things like the worm and staph.  ALWAYS take time off if you have a rash.

After you’re squared away you can then focus on fixing the issue with NG.  This is the one time you should directly talk to the person at issue.  Let that mother trucker know what they’re doing is pretty fucking disgusting and that they’re selfish for putting everyone at risk due to their nasty habits.  Also don’t forget to let your coach know.  It’s not cool to leave them out of this and will result in them taking the right measures to prevent NG from stepping foot on the mats if his nasty ass doesn’t change.  

If you’re not grossed out by NG, you got some splainin’ to do…….

*Author’s note: I’d like to thank every single one of you that took your time to read this.  I would also like to thank LRTLK for allowing me to contribute to their blog. Please be sure to check out their podcast because without it, my ass wouldn’t be able to contribute dope articles to you.  They can be found on many platforms, including: iTunes, Google Play and Podbean. 


And most important: GOYA…. GET OFF YOUR ASS and train!*


Muito amor!

Migginho out!!!

The White Belt Chronicles: Vol. 1 - Traditional Jiu Jitsu on the 10th Planet

Everyone has their own story, but I think everyone embarks on this journey in a similar manner. Some may just see it in the UFC, others may have been exposed to it first hand, be it from their friends or even their family. All of us begin by seeing two men rolling around on the ground in a way we’ve never quite seen before. Quick, methodical movements. We may even hear the audience boo because they aren’t knocking the shit out of one another. But we see something else. We see more than just the chokes, or the shoulder being dislocated. We see a chess match playing out on the canvas. For years I had told myself that I would pick up this chess game. Years passed and either money or time, or a combination of the two, kept me from training. After a bit of true introspection, I came to the conclusion that these were really excuses I had been making for myself. As my New Year’s Resolution, I took the plunge. My Jiu Jitsu journey began on January 2nd. 


I started like most people do--Google. I looked at a few places and ultimately decided on Ludus MMA in Jacksonville, FL. I began learning the fundamentals from Mike Pope, a professional MMA fighter and Brown Belt under Ryan Hall. After five months of training, I earned the first two stripes on my belt. Those two little pieces of sports tape don't mean much to someone that doesn't train, but in that moment, they meant the world to me. I was finally able to tread through the waters that most would drown in. 


Pope teaches a more traditional form of Jiu Jitsu, believing in the efficiency of the fundamentals. Through this I learned how to survive in each position. Once position was acquired, we were taught a variety of submissions from that position, consistently drilling the intricate details of each one. This is inarguably an efficient methodology, and as a result, I gained a solid base to move forward with my Jiu Jitsu journey. However, due to distance and new employment opportunities, my ability to train with Pope all but vanished.


This put me in an awkward position. I was right back to where I was in the beginning of the year, only now I could tread through the turbulent tides of grappling. As a frequent listener of The Joe Rogan Experience, I knew what 10th Planet was, but had never stepped foot into one. Eddie Bravo, the founder of 10th Planet, is a frequent guest of Joe’s, and with how genuine and passionate he is about Jiu Jitsu, I would be doing a disservice to myself to not at least drop in, especially after finding out that both Brown Belts in town are under Eddie himself.


On the 4th of July I decided to head down to the Orange Park location (10POP). I came in ready for a class, and instead found myself intruding on a podcast and the beginnings of an open mat and barbeque. Rather than being shooed away, I was welcomed into the production room as though I was already a part of the family. After the podcast had wrapped up, we went out onto the mats for some rolling.


This is when things got interesting. 


I had warmed up with one of the newer members who has a bit less time on the mat than myself and even then still found myself in compromised positions, so I knew going against the experienced guys certainly wouldn’t go well for me. This was proven when it came time to roll with Art himself. He knew my background in traditional Jiu Jitsu, so I believe what he did next to be intentional. He showed me some of the most unorthodox (yet highly effective) techniques I had ever seen. Up until this point, I had rolled with what I would guesstimate to be 60 people, between two competitions and numerous open mats. I hadn’t experienced, heard of, or seen anything like this before. He showed me a seated mount where his legs were stretched outright, controlling my arms. An attempted bridge and rollover sweep was laughable. Balance was maintained, and he just kept position while I squirmed trying to figure out how to maneuver out of it. When I couldn't, he finished with what I could only call (keep in mind I’m a white belt here) a modified Ezekiel choke. I knew when I agreed to roll with a Brown Belt that my odds of earning the tap were less than 1% (as it should be) but I wasn't quite prepared for that. After a few more rolls, I was hooked. I had to learn more. 


So, I signed up. 


Two days later my I went to my first full class. I'm used to only getting an hour in, so I was stoked to get a full two hour class in. It started out as you'd expect. Standard warm ups for flexibility followed by takedown drills, then the technique of the day. This is where I really began to admire the system. A standardized curriculum, with unique names and practical applicability. These techniques incorporate the traditional fundamentals I’ve come to be familiar with, along with the uniqueness of the 10th Planet system. Aside from the foot and ankle techniques that I was previously told were forbidden until Blue Belt (and consequently have very limited experience with), it was a relatively smooth transition, that I don’t believe will be difficult to adapt to. All I know right now is that I'm hooked, and can't wait for what comes next. 

**Author’s Note: I’d like to thank Art and the Locker Room Talk crew for inviting me to write for them. Stay tuned for more posts. Be sure to subscribe to Locker Room Talk’s podcast. Now go get some rolls in.


Author: Nolan Callahan


Don’t Be That Guy…….

**Please read the whole post before complaining. Afterwards you’re more than welcome to talk trash.**

If you’ve ever stepped foot inside of a jiu-jitsu gym and have spent at least a few days there, you’ll always notice that one guy.  He’s well-known within the gym and some people hope that he decides to take the day off or that he never returns.  Some people have patience with the guy, some just flat out don’t like dealing with him, and you have those few kind souls who genuinely want to help the guy but feel like it’s a task easier said than done.  If you can’t name him off the top of your head….. I got some news for you.  


- Who is “that guy”?

That guy, or TG for short, comes in many forms.  For the sake of this article and your brain, we’re going to focus on one evolution of TG that seems to evolve into an even bigger problem the longer he goes with his ways without realizing that he’s THAT GUY.  

The biggest problem with TG is that he thinks that he knows every little thing about the martial art. At first it’s pretty unsuspecting, but you begin to question TG after he corrects you during drilling….. except you’re doing everything right and he’s doing the opposite.  Then you notice he’s starting to correct the new guys and they listen to him since they have no clue what’s right and what’s wrong.  When you think things couldn’t get any worse, you notice TG talking over the instructor and even at times attempting to correct the instructor as they’re showing the technique of the day.  (P.S. If you know everything, why are you even here?)  

Another common characteristic of TG is his uncanny ability to come up with an excuse as to why you were able to do so well against him during a roll.  Almost every sub you managed to get was because he wanted to “feel” it out to see how long it takes to tap from it.  If he wants to change up his excuse so you don’t get suspicious, he’ll tell you that you only got that sub because you muscled it instead of using 100% technique.  Did he just tap from your knee on belly?  It’s because he’s recovering from a rib injury.  You know that most rolls with him end a few minutes early since he’ll run out of excuses, I mean get tired due to having issues with his cardio.  Even though he has an excuse for every single thing you were able to do to him, don’t expect him to be so light when things go his way during a roll.  He’ll be sure to let you know that you’re not improving and that maybe you should listen to the advice he tries to give you during drilling.

The overall issue with TG is he’s creating a not-so-great training environment for everyone else and is blind to the environment that is a result of his behavior.  It gets pretty frustrating for everyone in class when the instructor has to direct some focus on TG in hopes of getting him to stop which then leads to less time of rolling after instruction.  It also gets pretty annoying when TG finally gets the hint to keep his mouth shut but decides to go back to correcting others because he got tired of being quiet.  

- What to do.

If you’re not so sure on how to handle TG, the first thing you should do is talk to your instructor(s).  They should be the one(s)you go to for dealing with anyone and anything that makes you feel uncomfortable at the gym, not other students.  Be sure to let them know what’s going on with TG and be straight forward.  Believe it or not, you can be just as damaging to your gym if you let TG go under the radar and only complain about him rather than speaking to your instructor.  The good news here is, your instructor will take care of TG as they deem appropriate and be mindful that change doesn’t happen overnight, so that means it’s going to take some time in order to see change in TG.

Remember that at the end of the day, TG is your teammate, and be sure to show him what makes a good teammate and help him out when you can.  If TG is there after your instructor has been made aware of his actions, it’s because they know TG has just as much potential as anyone else and that they just might need a little extra push in the right direction.  Don’t take it as a sign to put matters into your own hands, because if it’s that much of a problem for you, maybe you’re better off finding a new gym to call home.

IF you realized that you’re TG from reading this, I got some good news for you…… there’s time to change.  If you’ve been able to train at a gym and your team has had the patience to deal with you rather than kick you to the curb, thank them.  Those people clearly care about you and want to see you succeed on and off the mats.  Be sure to LISTEN to your instructor(s) and just focus on YOUR Jiu Jitsu.  In no time you’ll see your knowledge of the martial art expand and then maybe one day you’ll actually be able to teach the newer guys some stuff that won’t set them up for failure.  Do yourself and your teammates a favor and work towards becoming part of the team rather than “THAT GUY”.


*Author’s note: I’d like to thank Locker Room Talk for allowing me to write up the inaugural post for LRTLK’s official blog.  It’s an honor to have this opportunity and I really hope that you guys liked the post.  For all you readers, thank you for checking this post out and I hope I didn’t disappoint.  Please be sure to check out Locker Room Talk’s weekly podcast because without that, this blog would not be possible.  And most important of all, GO TRAIN YOUR ASS OFF!


Migginho out!

Author: Miguel " Migginho" Lugo

IG: myjiujitsuisbad

Twitter: isuckatjiujitsu