“The Master should want the apprentice to surpass him but the apprentice should never forget who his master is. If those two things are understood the student should never have to leave.”
- Keith Owen
Lately, I have been asked from different people across the country,
“Is it ok to surpass your master? Is it ok to be more famous than your
master? Is it ok to tap your instructor out if you can?”
I want to answer with a resounding, “it depends” to that question. I
can only speak to my Master and how he is. Professor Pedro Sauer is
one of the most technical Jiu-Jitsu instructors in the world but what’s
more he is one of the greatest men of character I have ever met. He
recently told me that I needed to get more of my own “personal”
affiliates, the only reason being that he wanted me to do better and
have greater success. He knows I want to grow in Jiu-Jitsu and he wants
to help. Having a master of this caliber I cannot help but succeed!
Having said this, I am acutely aware of the saying, “Never Outshine the Master.” Outshining your Master can lead to significant
issues for some students. Many students get affiliated or involved with
a particular master because of his or her ability as a Jiu-Jitsu
practitioner. They think that just because he or she has won World
Championships that he will make a fine instructor. I will say that a
person’s technical ability does play an important role in addressing the
decision to join a school or organization however; I think it should
only make up 50% of the equation. The other 50% should focus on the
character of the instructor. In the immortal words of the Templar Knight
guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Choose Wisely.”
The fragile ego of some masters just can’t handle their student
outshining them and the jealousy issues will, over time, rear its ugly
head. This can come from showing awesome moves to other students in
class, gathering a large personal following online or even starting to
tap out the master when they roll. You must be careful and watch for
these negative attributes in your instructor or you will pay.
The same can be said for a bad student whose only intention in the
first place was to gather as much knowledge as he could and then take
off to another; only to repeat the process. He is the one who is always
making himself look good and never mentioning where he acquired his
knowledge, like he was somehow born from the womb knowing how to do
Jiu-Jitsu. The student might have honesty issues, sociopathic tendencies
and even criminal leanings. That is why giving a BJJ black belt in ten
years is a good thing for an instructor because they really get to know
the character of the student in that time. The student can’t hide their
true selves for that long.
The problem of a student leaving boils down to either that master is
angry because the student wants to set out and grow and he, as the
instructor, can no longer CONTROL the former student’s actions or
the former student no longer has USE for his tired, washed up master
because he has learned all he can and now wants to cut ties. Both people
will point to the other reason as to the departure.
As many of you know I’m continuously giving ALL the credit to my
Professor, always trying to make him more famous then myself. Not
because he really needs it at all, he’s Pedro Sauer for god’s sake. I
do it to celebrate him. It’s my way of thanking him. If it weren’t for
him…there would be no me. I don’t forget that.
Professor Sauer has been instrumental in setting the example for me in this area. I see Professor Sauer continuously
giving praise to his instructors Rickson and Helio Gracie. I don’t
believe I have ever seen Professor teach when the subject of one of
these two men didn’t come up sometime during his lecture. He cherishes
them greatly! In fact, Professor Sauer bought all of Helio Gracie’s
personal household possessions because he feared that the great man’s
belongings were going to get thrown out. He couldn’t bear to see that.
He was loyal to the end.
Do I want to be like my Professor? Do I want to have as much
knowledge as him? Do I want to be successful like him? Yes, and
Professor knows this and wants to help me get there, not stop me! I see
my personal students and affiliates the same way. I want only the best
for them. I WANT them to outshine me. I expect them to go on to do
great things. I don’t want to hold them back. They are like my
children. I take care of my children without any thought of being “paid
back” in return. I don’t keep score. I EXPECT them to grow and be
successful. I expect them to tap me out one day (good luck). I didn’t
spend all this time and effort to have them not excel. If they
excel past me then how could a father not be proud of that? I expect to
be surrounded by great men and women. It’s who I am.
Remember, as a student, always know your place and respect and
celebrate your master. Bring the master along with your success. You
will want your students to do the same for you one day! A student
should thank God above for bringing this special instructor into their
life that had such a remarkable influence on their progression. In the
words of Professor Sauer on loyalty, “Never drown the man who teaches
you to swim.”
I know I won’t.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
There comes a time in every culture where we encounter a “paradigm shift” or a change in thinking on the way things are done. This is happening now in the culture of Jiu-Jitsu with the video release of Beyond Technique by Black Belts Nic Gregoriades and Kit Dale.
Beyond Technique represents a shift for the better in Jiu-Jitsu videos from the days where instructors simply showed individual techniques to instructors highlighting Jiu-Jitsu theory. This is the theory of how to do Jiu-Jitsu......better...... "overall" and not just with one static technique.
Many of you know me as an instructor who has produced a number of videos on a wide variety of philosophical subjects ranging from how to be a better student to the CONCEPTS that everyone must know in Jiu-Jitsu. At the risk of sounding egotistical I like to think of myself as a pioneer in this field. Nic and Kit have done me one better and produced an entire video on the concepts that will make your Jiu-Jitsu easier and better and not just how to submit someone with the latest move or position.
In this video they cover such subjects as the “Porcupine” concept (one of my favorites) to "Size Specific Strategies" to the “Border Patrol” Idea. All very effective and something I have put into my game.
My only gripe is that it really left me wanting more. You could really do volumes and volumes on this. I hope they continue.
Check out the video at http://jjbgear.com/collections/bjj-books-and-videos*
*Please be aware that I am only endorsing this video and have not recieved any payment for this review or royalties or profit on the sale of it. In other words..I aint gettin paid in anyway...So go check it out!
Sign up your email at www.bjjmoves.com for some really awesome Jiu-Jitsu videos that I have been sending out lately. =)
Monday, December 8, 2014
My Guest Blogger is my good friend Rob Magao. Rob is a black belt under Professor Pedro Sauer. Rob and I were sitting in a restaurant a few weeks ago talking about the differences between MMA and Reality Based Self-Defense on the Street. What we came up with was eye opening for me. I asked Rob to write down his thoughts on the subject for this blog and this is what he came up with. I share it with you now.
MMA is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. It takes an incredible amount of skill, conditioning, preparation and mental fortitude to be a successful MMA fighter. MMA is the single closest combat sport there is to a real fight. As close as MMA is to a real fight, there are still many, many differences between the two that have to be considered when making that comparison.
On the surface MMA has rules (no eye gouging, biting, scratching, groin attacks, strikes to the throat, kicking a downed opponent etc.) just to name a few. Real street fights have no specific rules. The rules of a street fight are decided by the morals of the participants at the time. How far are they willing to go to “win”? But, the real differences between MMA and a real fight go much deeper.
MMA has weight classes, street fights don’t. Your opponent could be exactly your weight or he could be half your size or he could be 100lbs more.
MMA has gender specific divisions (male vs male and female vs. female). In the real world that is not always the case. In my job (Police Detective/SWAT) I have seen men attack women and I have seen woman attack men.
MMA places two fighters that are “agreeing to fight” against each other in a planned event. They know who their opponent will be, the location that the fight will take place, the date and time of the fight. They will have weeks and even months to prepare for it. They can train specifically to face their opponent. They can watch hours of video on their opponent and have a team of coaches and training partners to help formulate a plan of action (a game plan) best suited to be successful in beating that opponent.
MMA fighters can bring in other fighters that closely mimic the fighting style, size and strengths of their opponent. They may even find other fighters/coaches that may have competed or trained with that opponent before and know their skill set well.
MMA is one on one. Sadly, many street fights are not. MMA fighters have medical exams, gloves, mouth pieces, groin protection and a safe secure cage or ring to compete in. Real fights can take place anywhere, anytime and with no preparation or warning.
MMA fighters usually don’t have to worry about their opponent having a communicable disease (if proper testing was completed) or the opponent being under the influence of a dangerous drug such as PCP. MMA fighters don’t have to worry about their opponent pulling a knife, gun, broken bottle, dirty syringe or some other weapon/dangerous instrument and using it against them.
MMA fighters have “coaches” in their corner that can throw in the towel if they have to. They have a referee that can stop the fight if one fighter cannot intelligently defend themselves. MMA fighters can physically and verbally “tap out” to surrender. MMA fights have time limits, rounds and doctors cage side ready to give medical assistance immediately if needed.
MMA fighters are not “really trying” to kill each other. Could it happen? Yes, but very unlikely. The intent, the very purpose behind an MMA fight is much different than a real fight. It is based on competition and not survival. Unfortunately, people are murdered every day in the USA.
When I refer to the term “street fight” I am not referring to the school yard bully fight or even a minor bar fight with the local drunk (most MMA fights are worse than those). While minor bar fights and school yard brawls can be dangerous, I am talking more about an all-out criminal assault by a predator. Examples include; armed robbery, home invasions, domestic violence, workplace shootings, school shootings, random attacks, sexual assaults, muggings, kidnappings etc. I am talking about someone that truly wants to hurt you and carries very bad (sometimes outright evil) intentions with them.
I think of “ISIS” as an example of what I am talking about. All the MMA training in the world will not (alone) help you survive an attack like this. Don’t get me wrong, martial arts can help but it is not the only skill you will need to survive.
Real attacks give little to no warning. You have no say about who your opponent will be, what their skill level will be. If they have a weapon, if they are under the influence or have a mental illness. If multiple people will attack. What the environment will be; outdoors, indoors, large area, confined space, bright sun, darkness, extreme heat/cold, snow, wind rain, traffic, crowds, loud noises/alarms etc… The list is endless.
All of these conditions are not within your control. These conditions are decided by “chance” or a “higher power”. The only things you can control is are you in shape, have you prepared the best you can and do you truly have the will to survive? Better yet, do you have the will to train to survive? To train everyday for that one moment you may truly be in danger and need to protect your life or the life of another.
Finally, MMA Fighters do not have to worry about facing criminal charges for having to defend themselves. Sometimes, in a real fight it is hard to tell who was at fault and occasionally both people get arrested. Ultimately, it has to be decided in court. This could be the way the civil case goes as well if the attacker decides to sue you.
I'd rather go watch the fights.
Also see Rob's Self Defense Videos at Survival Skills 101
Subscribe to Keith Owen's New BJJ Youtube Channel
Monday, September 29, 2014
I recently received a copy of Tim Sleds new video “ Leg Drag Workshop.” I want to say that I don’t set out to intentionally make my blog a dvd review site but when important DVD’s come along I feel I need to pass on info about a quality set so that others can have the opportunity to take advantage of ground breaking material. I get many videos from numerous people all the time and much of the time I don’t feel the need to give a breakdown because it’s typically run of the mill material.
Tim’s new video, however is an amazing compilation on the subject of leg drags and passing. Many of you know me as a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practioner with a focus on the self-defense aspect of Jiu-Jitsu.
At first glance many people who think of the Leg Drag as a position will think it simply another aspect of tournament Jiu-Jitsu. I disagree. I think it has applications for traditionalist as well as tournament players. This video has applications for all Jiu-Jitsu players and besides the leg drag is getting to be more popular and every student must learn to deal with it lest they have it done on them at a tournament or when a visiting student starts to put this move on them.
Tim Sledd is a black belt under the great Andre Galvao and he learned these moves directly from him. Tim spends time breaking down the leg drag position from numerous traditional positions that give students another avenue to help pass the guard. We all know that guard passing can be difficult at best and at worst impossible from a good guard player. Tim’s video is easy to understand and follow and I have been using the material I have learned during rolling sessions with students at my school with great success.
I would highly urge you to buy a copy of Tim’s video because it’s an important position and because there isn’t a lot of material out there on this position. If you decide that you don’t want to, it’s ok. I would rather keep this info to myself.
You can get Tim's Video at The Fight Hub Check it out!
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I want to endorse a new video I saw from a young black belt named James Clingerman. It’s entitled "Mastering The Von Flue Choke."
In the series James is able to get the Von Flue Choke from so many positions that it’s hard for me to fathom. I was blown away from all the sheer awesomeness that this video series had to offer! I think this is such an important position (especially for self-defense) that I thought I must highlight it on my blog.
I’m afraid that a video of this significance will merely disappear in the heap of all the other countless videos have gone away because of non exposure. I think it’s changed my game and added a bunch of new options especially when someone tries to wrap my neck (hint hint) for any reason.
I don’t endorse anything that isn’t awesome. I am not making any money off of this video. Check it out if you want to get better
This is not the video but an intro. It gets so much deeper.
The Von Flue Choke with James Clingerman
You can download "Mastering the Von Flue Choke" at
The Fight Hub
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