No Gi Reflections #11 | “Learning how to learn is absolutely one of the keys to success…”

The great John Danaher is back, this time with some nuggets on the importance of learning how to learn and why it is such an important skill.

Juggling was the medium that first shone the light on the process of learning for me. From there, I transferred my methodology from learning to juggle, to learning how to slackline. Next, rock climbing, where I used Tim Ferriss’ “D.S.S.S.” method to progress from a grade 5a climber to completing a 7a sport climb in just 16 weeks, a feat that should have taken on average 2-3 years. And since then, coming full circle to developing and exploring my grappling skills.

Danaher breaks down the skill of learning into three techniques that can and should be used;

1. The Trial and Error method (“Phrasing it as an experiment gives you permission to fail” – A.J. Jacobs)
2. The Great Person method (known as “modelling” in N.L.P.)
3. The Organic Nature of Skill Development (Gradualism is the pace of Nature)

The greatest skill of them all – learning: Every jiu jitsu athlete is in a constant quest to improve current skills and learn new ones as a means to performance improvement. However, there is one skill that stands above all other skills that one might acquire on the long road towards mastery – the skill of learning. Every day we have people telling us how to learn a given skill, a new move, a new concept. Yet it is rare to have someone tell us how to learn. Learning how to learn is absolutely one of the keys to success in life in general and jiu jitsu in particular. Most people take a very passive approach to learning. They learn from their teacher and practice when told to practice what they are told to practice. This is fine at recreational level, but if you wish to go further you must take a proactive approach to learning. This is a huge topic, but let us talk today about three key methods of learning that we can use to improve our understanding of the learning process so that we can make better progress. The foundation of my coaching program is always THE TRIAL AND ERROR METHOD. This simple method of taking ideas and subjecting them to rigorous tests to determine their value. We spend countless hours on the mat testing our theories and ideas through sparring and competition until we put provisional faith in them. The second is the GREAT PERSON METHOD. I am a big believer in the idea of using great athletes in the sport to inspire and enlighten. If a given athlete is having tremendous success with a given move, that's a very clear sign that he is doing something right and important. By studying this, you are very likely to improve some aspect of your own game – even if your own method ends up being significantly different from the athlete you studied. The third is THE ORGANIC NATURE OF SKILL DEVELOPMENT. Skills are like life forms – they are born weak, naive and vulnerable; but if nurtured and cared for, can grow eventually into something strong and confident and capable. When you learn a skill, give it a chance to grow. Don't start using it on world champions. Start small and work your way up with it. In time these three principles can transform your game

A photo posted by John Danaher (@danaherjohn) on

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Eddie Cummings and his ghetto-chef formula for making weight | No Gi Reflections #9

I fucking love Eddie Cummings. Not only does he look like a serial killer but he has the work ethic of one, too. In the few interviews I have seen with him, he comes across as a gentle yet supremely intelligent sapien. As far as I know, his background is in the science world. He mentioned that he used to travel hours to training after working full days as a lab technician so he could pay his bills. These were the days before he turned pro.

Sacrifice: Eddie Cummings living the life of the dedicated professional athlete. Making weight for EBI 10 the bantamweight tournament. Nothing comes easy at world championship level and Mr Cummings shows his usual dedication to his craft here with meticulous preparation that began weeks ago and peaks tonight here in Mexico City. This ability to get the details right and stick to a disciplined and well thought out routine that trades current discomfort for future pleasure is the essential feature of every championship program. Here you can see the strain of a harsh weight cut. Mostly done now 😊 Tomorrow will be recovery followed by our contest preparation drills and then on stage. Looking forward to the change in venue and putting on a show for our Mexican audience. 😊😊

A photo posted by John Danaher (@danaherjohn) on

It’s fantastic to see that his work ethic has not left him since crossing the threshold from hobbyist machine to full-blown limb reaper. Check out the image above. Sat on his hotel room balcony, no doubt with his mini-grill that he would have packed or picked up locally, cutting weight on a diet of lean meat. Not quite a private chef cooking up your macros in your marble and gold kitchen, is it? Eddie understands probably better than most the importance of, and appropriate way to approach sacrifice.

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Hacking the Optimal Performance State with Steven Kotler | The Cloudfoot Diaries #75

One of the most fascinating Rogan talks this year, without doubt, was with guest, author and flow state engineer, Steven Kotler.

If you’re even remotely interested in optimising your own performance, be it in the movement and sporting world, or cerebral domain of intelligence, you really ought to give this episode a listen all the way through. These guys cover some fascinating topics and much what I write below is in relation to what is discussed.

Enjoy the ride!

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No Gi Reflections #8 | Structuring your training feat. John Danaher

“So often I see people engage in training with no plan as to what they are trying to accomplish.” TRUE THAT MR. JOHN DANAHER!

I see it all the time, too, in pretty much every physical endeavour I undertake. The most common arena I see it is within the gym world, an area that you could argue places the most emphasis on following a programme to get results and yet nobody seems to do it! Blows my mind. And even those that do log their progress, only around 20% of them actually have an idea as to where they are heading and what they are working towards!

Structured training: So often I see people engage in training with no plan as to what they are trying to accomplish. This will always limit your ability to improve over time – the whole reason why we engage in practice. It is critical that someone in the room have a clear idea as to what we are trying to improve and how we are going to do it. In a beginners class or a general class, it is enough for the coach to know what the plan is and run the class accordingly. At elite levels however, I like to make the athletes part of the discussion as to what we are trying to achieve – they have the knowledge and insight to add to the discussion and we can make adjustments based on their input. Here Garry Tonon, Gordon Ryan and myself outline want we want to go over at a local gym in Poole England just prior to Polaris 4 – once the plan is set, words get replaced by action and the room heats up accordingly.

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No Gi Reflections #7 | Class Quality – the difference between hosting and coaching

One of my biggest influences in the coaching world; John Danaher.

One of my biggest influences in the coaching world; John Danaher.

I’m going to try and refrain from turning this post into a rant and the reason for that can only be due to the fact that I have been spoilt. Yes, spoilt in the realms of high quality coaching. Instead, I will try to form this post into more of a published discussion that I had with a training partner of mine recently, in the hope to shed some light towards the current holes in the BJJ club format here in the county of Surrey, UK.

Over the last 3 years, I have carried out much of my own research, self-experimentation and learning from others at the ever amazing Locker 27 Strength and Conditioning Gym in Surrey, UK.

However, it is perhaps only in the last few months since attending No Gi classes twice a week that I have come to appreciate a core element of the Locker’s ethos more than ever; quality coaching. I have been exposed to some of the best coaches in the country at this place, many of whom work for the Harlequins rugby team, some being ex-professional athletes themselves and others just very passionate coaches and scholars. By default, my mirror neurons have picked up on the importance of quality and I strive to apply it to all of my clients’ sessions, be it via strength coaching, mobility assessments or submission grappling.

The flip side to that coin, though, is the fact that I have somewhat re-entered the outside world in the form of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clubs and classes and have fast come to the conclusion that there is a LOT to be desired with; the class format, coaching quality and (lack thereof) syllabuses.

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Review | Methods of Modern Mobility Seminar with Emmet Louis

I first came across Emmet’s work on Youtube via his videos on the illusive topic of Loaded Progressive Stretching a couple of years ago and since then have seen various other clips on his approach to gymnastic movements, progressions and protocols etc.

Since starting my own service of providing mobility assessments and programming to clients, I wanted to continue my personal learning around the realms of mobility, flexibility and all things stretchy. Partly for myself and partly for my clientele.
Cue Emmet’s Facebook advert; Modern Methods of Mobility Seminar in London.
His ad caught my eye for two reasons; the cover photo of a partner stretch which looked pretty intense, and his name attached to it. Immediately I was interested but price would be the deciding factor for me. How much a seminar costs will usually turn on my bullshit detector, as I know when someone is milking it in this industry. I was pleasantly surprised with Emmet’s Early Bird pricing option of €300 for 12-14 hours of instruction, split over two days. (Note; if someone is charging over £400 for a weekend seminar in the UK, on subjects relating to physical training, ask yourself seriously if it is worth it and what you are really going to learn in those two days.)

Emmet demonstrates a Pike fold partner stretch

Emmet demonstrates a Pike fold partner stretch

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First day of Wheelie School; when your instructor crashes, too! | The Cloudfoot Diaries #73

The Yamaha RXS 100 has been praised in my circle as the only bike you’ll ever need to become a baron on the back wheel. My sensei has owned 7 of them in his lifetime and has struggled to kill pretty much all of them. Their legacy is diverse; from escaping police through the local woodland multiple times, to performing helmetless stand-up wheelies for half kilometer lengths. And when you ride one, you can’t help but feel exactly like John Connor from Terminator 2.

Yes, this is the face you will pull upon riding one.

A 98cc, 2 stroke engine with an esoteric Powerband Induction System means that once you hit 3000 revs, this bastard wants to lift faster than you can say Eddie Hall.
My sensei and myself went halves on purchasing the RXS back in July and due to her being somewhat of an old fart (1986 she was born) it’s taken us the best part of two months to get her running smooth enough to start risking our skeletal health with her.
These old bikes run on a single carburetor, arguably the linchpin in the whole combustion system. When they get dirty and clogged from years of fuel being pumped through them, they really need nothing better than a good clean ‘n’ reset. Just ask Jenna Jameson.

Day one of Wheelie School would commence at a nearby abandoned airport with very little street furniture to crash into other than old tyres and the odd line of shrubbery. Far better than practicing on the main road, as we were about to find out.

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No Gi Reflections #6 | The Principle of Localised Force feat. John Danaher

The legend that is John Danaher, perhaps one of THE most successful sports performance and BJJ coaches of all time, speaks again, this time about the Principle of Localised Force.

Upon reading you’ll see how the Danaher system of leg locks likes to utilise the heel hook as an area to focus on to apply force, no matter the size nor strength of the opponent.

The principle of localized force: The central feature of jiu jitsu is to use mechanical advantage to control greater strength and aggression with less. How is this possible? It is done largely through the principle of localized force. Let's say we have an opponent who can apply an average of one hundred units of strength in standard strength tests while we can only generate 50 units of strength. As a whole, he is roughly twice as strong as us overall. How is victory through grappling possible in such a case? The key is to understand that it is possible to use a very high percentage of our overall strength to attack a small percentage of my opponents overall strength at a point of his body which, if attacked successfully, will end his ability to continue the fight. If I can use the various movements of jiu jitsu to maneuver into a position where I can create a temporary LOCAL strength advantage at a critical point of my opponents body (neck or joints), I can overcome an OVERALL strength disadvantage. The whole basis of our sport is precisely to develop the skill of maneuvering into these local advantages as efficiently as possible and using that to create a threat to a critical but vulnerable body part in a way that leads to submission. A good example would be ashi garami, where a very high percentage of our overall strength – both legs, both hips, back and both arms are used to restrain an opponent's single leg and hip in a way that allows us to threaten severe damage. If a good ashi garami allows us to use 90% of our 50 units of strength against an opponent's single leg, 33% of his 100 units of strength, then we shall have a considerable local strength advantage on an opponent twice as strong as ourselves overall. This is one of the core principles of our sport and one which we must constantly keep in mind as we train and develop. Here, Gordon Ryan uses a high percentage of his total strength on the isolated leg of his opponent through a variation of ashi garami, creating a local advantage long enough to threaten a break and get a submission on his way to victory at EBI 8

A photo posted by John Danaher (@danaherjohn) on


The principle of localised force is a conerstone in any effective combat system. What I like about jiu jitsu and the world of the floor is that once grounded, strength isn’t so pinnacle as the principle of leverage, i.e. properly applied leverage can easily overcome non-calculated strength. And perhaps more so on the floor than in the standing world. So, when it comes to women, I think grappling is such a powerful asset for them to understand and delve in to, as strength is not a priority compared to localised force, leverage and strategy; facets that can be improved and mastered, regardless of gender.

Jiu jitsu, the great leveller!

No Gi Reflections #5 | No Gi classes are still a rarity here in the UK

@brucelee @tmxofficial

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In the quest to improve my own No Gi game by breaking through a recent stagnancy phase I have been experiencing, I took to our friend, the search engine to see what classes were available to me within as smaller radius as possible.

The result? Not many! Though there are a few clubs in the Surrey county area, all of them offer only one No Gi class per week. One! I would have thought the recent boom of Mixed Martial Arts’ popularity over the last decade would have spawned more interest from the community, creating such a demand for No Gi classes that clubs would have to lay them on more frequently. Not the case.

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No Gi Reflections #4 | Working with stunt performer Lucy Cork

For the best part of the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with renowned stunt performer Lucy Cork, teaching her the art of Submission Grappling spliced with elements of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

lucy cork combat

Lucy has an impressive track record considering she’s only been in the stunts game for a few years.

Lucy Cork Filmography

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