Lessons From The Master

Lessons From The Master On Learning

One of the challenges that I see in martial arts today, regardless of style or discipline, is that the student does not know or understand all of the different ways to learn and practice properly. Furthermore, they can get very confused on what they should be doing during their classes. This can often give the wrong impression to the teacher or get the student injured all because the student was not training properly. I recently had this discussion with my teacher, Mataas Na Guro and CTS founder Zach Whitson and he explained it in a very logical and thoughtful way that was easy to understand. I would like to share with you.

First, we will need to define a few basic terms so that we are all on the same page and then I will go over a few of the common issues that I have seen and personally experienced throughout my 20+ years of martial arts training.

Mode = a method of operation

Learning Mode:
This is the time that the student (regardless of his or her level) should be LISTENING and NOT TALKING. It is the time for the teacher explain to the student the hows and whys of the particular technique or attribute.

Practice Mode:
This is the time when the student should be trying to work the technique, drill or attribute that his teacher was trying to teach.

Sparring Mode:

This is the time the student should be actively working on his craft against a resisting opponent. This should NOT be done at full speed, fulll power and 100% intensity!!!

Teaching Mode:

This is the time when you are sharing information to help your student learn a particular concept, principle technique or attribute required for your current required material.

Fighting Mode:

The preverbal shit has hit the fan and it is time to kick ass, take names and pile up the body count.

Now the trouble comes in when a student is in one mode when they should be in another mode. Here are a few common examples that happen fairly often.

The student is in teaching mode when they should be in learning mode

The student is in fighting mode when they should be in sparring or practice mode (I see this a lot in BJJ when it come time to roll there is always a few guys that think that every roll is the world championship title fight.).

Student should be in practice mode when they are in teaching mode. This happens to martial artists that spend a great deal of time teaching.

All this being said, the next time you are on the mat be sure to be in the correct mode of training so you can get the most out of your training. I personally make sure that I take a few moments shortly before my training session to be sure that I am mentally prepared.

Brian Brown
Owner/Chief Instructor
Atlanta Martial Arts Club

What Is Your Warrior Ethos

What is your warrior ethos?

The term warrior is often thought of as applying to an individual who fights, such as a soldier or martial artist. However, I believe we are all warriors of life and to that extent most of us live by some sort of moral code that guides us. We change as we grow and we are always trying to figure out our place in life, whether it be professionally, personally or internally. Your ethos is just that – yours and yours alone. It should speak to your soul and if no one else gets it then that is perfectly okay.

I have listed a few of mine in no particular order for your criticism and your entertainment.

Set the standards by leading by example.

Never ask a teammate to do something you have not already done or are not willing to do.

The team is more important than any one person within the team.

Think of the needs of your teammates prior to your own.

Let your decisions be guided with just cause, compassion and respect.

If you share all you have with your teammate you will be rewarded with a with a wealth of knowledge, skill and most importantly, you will understand what loyalty, love and friendship truly means.

Listen more than you talk. (I personally struggle a lot with this.)


Selflessness produces courage because it binds people together and proves to each individual that they are part of a team.

Embrace adversity not from the flank but head on with confidence, courage and conviction.

Let your life be guided by the light of the sun and the moon and not the empty darkness of nothingness.

Courage to me is defined not by the absence of fear but rather having fears and facing them regardless of the danger to oneself.


Guro Brian Brown
Owner/Chief Instructor
Atlanta Martial Arts Club

Breathing & BJJ

At first look, breathing is something we do involuntarily: This means our bodies are designed to breathe on their own automatically. As a result, we don’t need our brain telling our lungs and diaphragm to accelerate, or our heart to beat 200 times per minute while sparring. It just happens due to pressure exchanges and metabolic needs.
So why then do we tell each other to breathe as if it’s something we should be deliberate about? Part of the explanation comes from a basic understanding that when we contract our muscles we tend to hold our breath in the process. Think about it. Every time you lift a heavy object don’t you hold your breath to focus and feel stronger? Holding your breath tightens the core musculature and stabilizes our bodies to withstand external forces.
This is a good thing, but presents a challenge when the duration of a movement, like sparring in BJJ, lasts more than several seconds. When we hold our breath, we induce premature fatigue on our bodies. Our muscles need oxygen to work long and hard, the longest they can go without it is about 3 seconds. Holding your breath might get your core prepped for that submission escape, but it won’t help your working muscles continue long enough for many more subsequent moves.
At times, we need a reminder to breathe. One way to keep yourself breathing is to follow this simple technique. Inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. There is good scientific rationale for using this technique. Breathing in through your nose warms and humidifies the air entering your body. This makes consumption and oxygen extraction easier and more efficient for the cardio/pulmonary system. Less work for the lungs helps maintain a steady state that will prevent early fatigue. In addition, inhaling through the nose causes a reaction which produces nitric oxide (NO) in the nasal air passages.. NO helps improve oxygen uptake in the muscles. That means you can spar longer and fight harder. And in the end that’s what it is all about – performance the gentle way.

So let’s recap:
Breathing is good
Premature fatigue/tapout is bad
Inhale through the nose & exhale through the mouth for best results
Source: BJJ Weekly

During your next session on the mat, pay close attention to how you breathe during times of exertion. If you’re like a lot of people, you’re actually robbing your muscles of valuable, power producing oxygen when you are straining against your opponent. Learning proper breathing for jiu jitsu, and breathing properly while you train will go a long way in making you a more powerful, capable BJJ practitioner, and will help you to avoid running out of gas when you need energy the most.

You’ll notice that all elite athletes know how to breathe properly during execution. From top level boxers breathing out during every punch to professional tennis players yelling to exhale during serves, proper breathing is fundamental to excellent performance for everyone.
Have you stopped to think about proper breathing during your BJJ training? If you have, and found this informational article helpful, then please help us share the knowledge by clicking SHARE above left. That way, all practitioners can get this helpful advice.

Training Through Injuries & Pain

Training Through Injuries

For many many years, I have been guilty of training when I should not because I was too damN stubborn to take the time to rest and to heal. Whether it be with something broken, something strained or something torn I trained through it all. To be honest, it is something that I really struggle with because I really enjoy teaching and training and I learned to push through pain during my time in the military. It is how I release and how I refresh from everything that life throws at me. However, every time I have done this is the past and every time that I continue to do it I AM WRONG and I should not be doing it. In fact, I even did it today ( I told you that I battle with it, didn’t I ?) after I had a dental implant put in and I should have gone home but not me. I decided to train Combat Submission Wrestling. Yep. I am that guy.

Now, all that being said, I am starting to learn that as I get older that this is really hurting my progress because when I am training injured, my movement is off and I have to compensate for that and that usually means I have to alter my body mechanics. We all know that if you alter good body mechanics then you are not only creating bad habits but you are also making it harder on the rest of your body. So, you are then putting strain on the healthy party of your body and then you have to correct the bad body mechanics. It really turns into a vicious cycle that gets harder and harder to break.

I am not going to sit here and say do as I say and not as I do. That is just not my style of leadership. However, if you are like me, maybe you can find an alternative or a happy ground that can allow you to train. Maybe the answer is simply to go very slowly or very soft or maybe exercise your mind instead of your body. Whatever you do, please consider that if you go all out balls to the wall, even the strongest of bodies will eventually break down.

Good luck and good training!


Brian J Brown
Owner/Chief Instructor
Atlanta Martial Arts Club

Which Is The Best Grappling Art?

Which Of The Grappling Arts Estes The Best?

In my opinion they are all great at what they do and the best thing to do is to get experience in each art and not be closed minded to other systems/styles. That being said there is NO question that all grapplers and MMA fans out there own the Gracie’s their due because they are the ones that are responsible for creating the current grappling rage and the UFC. That being said; it is also true that Catch Wrestling had NHB events going on as early as the 1900’s but their events we eventually hijacked by the WWE type of entertainment grappling and lost popularity.

To keep it simple I will keep this discussion to the most popular and well know grappling arts. Each art naturally claims that their art is the latest and greatest (The Gracie’s come to mind.) and that there is no need to ever train in the other arts. That sounds fine and dandy but the truth is that they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I could write a book on each art but this is a blog so I am purposefully keeping it brief.

BJJ = Developed the guard position. They fight from their backs very well and very technical submissions. This is the most popular art of all the grappling arts these days. Amazing with the gi.

Catch Wrestling (Shoot Wrestling) = They fight on top very well with brutal submissions/hooks. Of all of the grappling arts they guys tend to be the most brutal and it translates to MMA very well.

Freestyle Wrestling = Fantastic takedowns and considered the best base art. Prior to the rise of BJJ this was the most popular grappling art. Sadly, the Olympics just removed wrestling from it’s list of events last week regardless of it’s strong fan base and deep history. This was also my first art that I trained in.

Judo = Throws throws and more throws. Did I mention throws? O yeah I almost forgot a small little detail. BJJ came from Judo so maybe we all owe Judo as must respect as we do BJJ? Just a thought folks!

Sambo = Amazing leg locks/foot locks. Watch your feet with these guys! Sadly there is not very many legit Sambo schools here in the USA. More popular in Europe & Russia.

In UFC 1 the Gracie’s shocked the world with BJJ and now that all grappling arts are benefiting from that success there is a huge amount if grapplers that are training in all of the above mentioned grappling arts. This is nothing short of a great thing and it will be very interesting to see what the synthesis of all of the grappling arts produces. I enjoy all of the above arts and I am not closed minded Kool Aid drinker that thinks that one art has all the answers. If you want to be a good grappler CROSS TRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope that you enjoyed my blog this week and feel free to respond


Brian Brown
Owner/Chief Instructor
Atlanta Martial Arts Club