Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rorion Gracie

We often talk about Helio and Carlos Gracie and all that they have done for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but a person who I think deserves a great deal of credit for the popularization of Jiu-Jitsu is Helio’s son Rorion Gracie. Rorion is the one who really helped popularize Gracie Jiu-Jitsu thru the “Gracie Challenge”, his "Gracie in Action" Videos and his invention of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

I occasionally hear people say how much they dislike Rorion because he is “money oriented” or he is “dishonest” or “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is weak” or “they give away belts” or for any other number of unfounded reasons to hate this great man. I have met Rorion on several different occasions and even watched a UFC with him. I think the sentence I would use to describe him is “Passionate about Jiu-Jitsu.” I am sure he is probably very blunt and hard headed like his dad was, but that wasn’t a fault for Grand Master Helio, why should it be for Rorion?

I know that in my career I have achieved a small level of notoriety and I understand how critics can hate. I’m cool with that and I think that Rorion Gracie is ok with what people think of him as well. He has helped carry on the legacy of his father and uncle and whether you like him or not I think he deserves the credit that is due.

Think about this….What if Rorion Gracie never came to America and never made Gracie Jiu-Jitsu popular through his efforts? Where would you be in your training?

Follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/keithrowen or go to www.bjjmoves.com and sign your email up for the tip of the week.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Video: Is Your Goal a Black Belt?

Follow me on Twitter @keithowen or go to bjjmoves.com and enter your email to receive my "Tip of the Week."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Testing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is well known for its instructors giving belts to their students without a testing process. In many schools a student shows up one day and gets a surprise in front of the class by being awarded his next belt. I should know, I used to do this with my students. I now test each and every student for their belts.

“The following is my experience only and should not be taken as how I feel about other instructors. So don't get all bent out of shape. “

Here are the problems NOT TESTING caused ME (you might be feeling this way as a student too).

1. A number of students would continually get angry and resentful when a student they deemed not worthy of a new belt got one. They didn’t outwardly show it but behind the scenes they wondered why I gave the other person one when they tapped that guy out or he didn’t win a tournament and they did, especially if they had been there longer than the one getting the new belt. The backbiting was amazing.

2. Unhappy students questioned my standards behind what I thought was a blue belt or a purple belt.

3. They thought that the guys who were my buddies got a belt quicker than they did. In other words, I played favorites. Not the case, but I lost a number of promising students because of this.

4. No one knew the same material in the school. Their foundation had holes in it.

5. Students felt like they were doing their very best but didn’t know the criteria for advancement causing them to get discouraged easily.

6. Injuries went up because they felt they had to tap people in order to show they were worthy of advancement. Death Matches were rampant.

7. People took getting tapped out as personal failure and thought it would hurt their chances for advancement. They never tried or shared new moves because winning was required to get noticed. Everyone’s ego was on the line.

8. Many students questioned whether they deserve the new belt once they got it because they didn’t know what they knew. They had no reference.

Here is what’s good about NOT TESTING for ME (I'm not proud of this):

1. I got a lot of control over people and they did what I told them because of fear I would withhold a promotion.

2. I could be lazy and not have to make people understand the details about the techniques. They would never have to show them back to me.

3. I didn’t have to keep attendance because it was based on you tapping everyone or winning tournaments. Advancement wasn’t based on coming to class. I didn’t even know how many classes you attended.

4. If I thought a high ranking student was going to leave because he felt he wasn’t getting promoted fast enough I had an option to surprise him with a belt promotion and he would stay.

5. I could give belts at tournaments to reward you and to show what an able and benevolent instructor I was to the world.

6. Many students actually got promoted faster because they were athletic or had a wrestling background and could power their way to submissions. Maybe they had a great night and I was in a really great mood so let’s bring up the moral of the school with a promotion.

The following is what I do now. It’s not perfect but It works great for me and it's very fair for students.

1. You have to have a certain amount of hours of training for “most” students to be “eligible” to test. The more you come to class the faster you can test.

2. Since Attendance is important, I now know when you do and don’t come to class. I call you if I don’t see you. This way you know I care about your training.

3. You have to know basic moves for each belt level and you have to show them AT a high level or you fail. It’s called “a standard of performance.”

4. We are a self defense school first and a competition school second, so if you “choose” to be a competitor you can get striped (yes I stripe) faster at my discretion because I do feel that competition is important for you to find out what you’re made of. If you choose not to compete then you go strictly by hours of training. Everyone tests for a new belt though!

5. This is where I come in. If I feel your technique is not good enough or you don’t know the material but you have enough hours I let you know that you won’t test until you improve. Just because you can tap people out with your athleticism doesn’t mean you are ready for your next belt. I let excess hours transfer to your next belt once you do receive it.

6. I also have better quality instructors who know what they should be teaching in class. We are all on the same page.

7. I find that the more a student comes to class the more skill he gets and the more he taps people out. It's an amazing discovery.

The result?

I have very limited back biting, clearly defined goals for promotion, a way for competitors to progress faster then non competitors, students that are motivated to attend class, less injury, people who are not afraid to try new things and I insure that everyone has a proper foundation thus creating a better and happier student.*

The only real downside to this is that some people who want to get promoted super quickly might leave to another instructor who doesn’t test and will promote them faster. I don’t really care because I’m trying to create masters of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and not some dudes with black belts.

Last thing…

Could you see Harvard ,Yale or a Military Academy graduate people with no testing or curriculum standards? The Dean just walks up one day and says..You are ready to graduate? Do you really want your next belt without meeting any kind of preset concrete, in writing standard? I guess only you can answer that.

*Keith Owen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recently won the Team Title at the Northwest Submission Challenge held here in Boise Idaho.

Go to BJJ Moves.com and sign up your email for the tip of the week or and check out and subscribe to my new survival Youtube site at www.youtube.com/MySurvivalSkills101

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Washing your Gi

I am regularly asked how often you should wash your gi. The obvious answer is after each session, however; I am not naive enough to think that every person washes their gi after EACH and EVERY training.

I admit that I have gone several classes without washing my gi before and the world didn’t come to an end. The problem comes when you push it more than 3 times on a regular basis without washing, you are really risking

1). Catching a disease,
2) Turning Your White Gi brown,
3) Offending Your Training Partners with your stench. You know..that ammonia smell.

This also goes for rash guards and shorts as well.

I have walked into numerous schools and saw students with dirty gis. I cringe because these are people that aren’t keeping their stuff clean. This means I have a better chance of getting staph. Don’t be one of these guys! Have several gis and wash them regularly! This goes for belts as well! Then wash YOURSELF after every class.

There is nothing cool about Dirty Gis.

Visit us at www.bjjmoves.com and enter your email for the video move of the week or follow me on Twitter @keithowen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Germs and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I am a little late to the party, this came out last month and has been making the rounds but it's a great read on germs and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from a microbiologists stand point!


Follow me on Twitter@ KeithOwen or sign up for my tip of the week at bjjmoves.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Master Pedro Sauer on Self Defense-New Video

Follow me on Twitter @keithowen or go to Bjjmoves.com and enter your email for my tip of the week. I'm bringing my A game for these tips!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Should You Weightlift in Jiu-Jitsu?

In my early days as a Jiu-Jitsu student I was told that to be good at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that I shouldn’t lift weights. I was told it adversely effects your technique because you want to use the proper angle instead of muscling through a position to be most effective.

I don’t know if I totally agree with that but I do think that weightlifting is bad for your jiu-jitsu if you are lifting really heavy weights to bulk up like a weightlifter. That much muscle takes up a lot of oxygen in a match leading to quicker muscle fatigue. You need to be lean and mean to go the distance Baby! You're even starting to see extremely slim and toned fighters in the UFC.

If you do want to weightlift then Kettle bells and Bulgarian Power Bags are an awesome accessory to the grappler’s tool box. This kind of weightlifting gives you strength at different angles and exercises muscles important to good grappling that regular weightlifting won’t train. Body weight exercises are also excellent such as pull ups and pushups to help improve your game.

So is weightlifting good in Jiu-Jitsu? Yep…just make sure it’s the right kind of weightlifting.

P.S. If you do steroids to enhance your performance then you’re a dumbass.

Sign up for the BJJ tip of the week by putting in your email at bjjmoves.com or follow me on Twitter at @keithowen

Monday, August 29, 2011

10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu

I want to say for the record that I am an unapologetic Gracie jiu-Jitsu Gi practitioner. I love the gi and will never abandon it. I know that many of you hate the very mention of the words “10th Planet” and the name “Eddie Bravo.” My personal goal in Jiu-Jitsu is to get better technique and I will study Judo, Wrestling, Sambo and yes, even the dreaded 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu in order to do it. I am unapologetic of this as well.

When I think of Eddie Bravo I think of a quote from Fredrick Nietzche, “Every Profound Spirit Needs a Mask.” Eddie Bravo’s mask is that of the Rock and Roll Messiah that has come to free us from the confines of the gi. I personally think of him as someone who has helped me to explore my gi game better.

Eddie Bravo hasn’t done himself any favors by alienating the gi practitioners in our sport but if you get past the rhetoric and the moves that require great flexibility you can find a lot of gems that will make your game better, especially since it appears to me that gi pants make a very positive impact on getting friction for many moves. Perfect for gi Jiu-Jitsu!

I am not a big fan of Eddie Bravo as a “Jiu-Jitsu Messiah.” but I am a fan of him as a very solid Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and innovator. If you ignore 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu then you are doing a disservice to yourself. So just grab one of his books and a flashlight, go hide in your closet and read it. You don’t even have to tell anyone.

Sign up for the BJJ tip of the week by putting in your email at bjjmoves.com or friend me on facebook at facebook.com/keithrowen

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Language of Jiu-Jitsu

I was going to blog on the Language of Jiu-Jitsu but why blog when my friend Roy Dean can tell you about it. Roy's website is www.roydeanacademy.com

Go to www.bjjmoves.com and sign up your email for my 60 second tip of the week or catch me on twitter @keithowen.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Many Days a Week Should you Train?

This question gets asked frequently by many students. I try and break it down to my students depending on what goals they have.

If they are a casual jiu-jitsu practitioner then I always suggest two to three times a week. If they are crazy about Jiu-Jitsu then I suggest three to four times a week and If they are trying for world competition domination then I say 5 to 6 times a week. This doesn’t always mean that you should roll in EVERY class although you have no choice in some schools, but in our school I never force anyone or make them feel bad if they don’t want to roll that night. I’m in the minority.

I suggest that if you only come once a week then you should quit Jiu-Jitsu because you are only going to get left in the dust by everyone else and you will forget what you have learned from the week before. I know there are exceptions to this but really..why waste your time? It’s called Goal Setting. You should try it. Jiu-Jitsu should be a life style not something you freakin dabble in.

Go to www.bjjmoves.com and sign your email up for my sixty second video tip of the week.

and check out and subscribe to my new  Youtube site at www.youtube.com/MySurvivalSkills101

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Self Defense Techniques in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Pedro Sauer

Here is my Professor, Pedro Sauer (www.pedrosauer.com) explaining why Self Defense Techniques are important in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also talks about his vision of what a black belt should be. I really like this video! I will only leave this up for a week or two and then I will be taking it down. Share it with others.

Be sure to sign up for my 60 second Jiu-Jitsu tips with your email at www.bjjmoves.com and follow me on twitter @keithowen

Monday, July 25, 2011

To Stripe or Not To Stripe in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I have been to and trained at a lot of BJJ schools and I have noticed that in some Jiu-Jitsu schools they don’t give stripes on student belts. I had trained at the Las Vegas Combat for a couple years when I lived in Las Vegas and they didn’t give stripes to students either.   They even laughed when the mention of stripes came up.

I want to say that not striping students can be a great moral wrecker and a lousy way to keep the  students of your school.  I will even go one step further and say that in BJJ we need to have MORE belts. I know that in a few schools they are starting to implement the green belt right before blue.  I think this is a great idea.  I think we also need to have an advanced blue belt, advanced purple belt and an advanced brown belt thrown in the mix.  This will keep our students motivated.  It’s a mighty long haul from blue to purple and this is where most of the students quit in BJJ.  Why not help them stay motivated?   

If you say “No Way” to the new belt idea then I suggest we get back to our roots and we keep just two belts..the white and black belt.  You can stay a white belt for ten years.  Who needs motivation?

Be sure to enroll in my "Tip of the Week" Video Series by signing up your email at www.bjjmoves.com or if you are interested in lessons go to www.idahoujj.com.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I think one of the most difficult things for a human being to do is admit that they have fear in a given situation or for an upcoming event.  American Male Culture seems to act like the absence of fear is a good thing and it makes one a tough person.  I think of MMA  most when I think of this.  The fighters never act scared but I assure you, they are pissing their pants.
I subscribe to the theory that if you don’t have fear, trepidation or concern in certain situations then something is wrong with YOU.  Fear is vital for human survival.  It is a positive thing and is nothing more than our bodies telling us that it is concerned about what is about to happen and we need to pay some serious attention.  It’s like a child screaming.  If a person ignores the child then the child will typically yell even louder bugging us to death.  But if they first acknowledge the child screaming, then one can typically take action and get it to calm down after a short time. The child just wants attention and so does a person’s brain. 
I have been frightened, scared, hesitant, anxious and concerned a multitude of times. I have grappled hundreds and hundreds of people;   I have spoken in front of thousands of people giving seminars and speeches.  I was also a cop having to take people into custody.  I know what fear is!  
The way I handle fear is to simply admit that I’m scared. I admit it quietly and just like the screaming kid, my brain gets the message and my hesitation will subside.  What else can my brain do?  I admitted it.  How can someone keep arguing with me if I admit what they are saying is right?   I also change my word pattern.  I don’t say “Scared, “I change the word to “Excited.”  Works like a charm.  Give it a try…Just admit the fear, change the word around and surprisingly the fear subsides letting you be the hero.

Be sure to enroll in my "Tip of the Week" Video Series by signing up your email at www.bjjmoves.com or if you are interested in lessons go to www.idahoujj.com. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Many Gi's Should You Own?

I know a lot of my students own at least Six  BJJ Gis (Uniforms) .  They are always buying the latest and coolest gi they can find.  To be honest I like it.  I think being fashionable in Jiu-Jitsu is ok.  I personally have around nine gis of my own and lately I have been buying more but for the longest time I owned only three. 
I would suggest that a student own a minimum of three Gis.  That way he can always rotate and wash them so that the gi remain clean.   Owning only one gi will make your gi old and dirty real real fast.   Do yourself a favor and make the investment in a number of gis.

Sign up for my FREE "Tip of the Week" Videos on my website at www.bjjmoves.com. or check me out at www.idahoujj.com to sign up for lessons.