Leg Locks

The training of leg lock submissions has always been a controversial issue in the grappling arts.  Sambo and catch wrestling practitioners swear by them while… Read More

A Brief History of the Belt Ranking System

The modern martial arts belt ranking system first started emerging in 1907 when the creator of Judo, Jigoro Kano, introduced the iconic Judo uniform and belt. Before that, his students practiced in traditional Japanese kimonos. However, back then there existed only two belt colors: white and black. White belts were those in the process of learning the fundamentals while black belts were students who mastered the basics, knew how to use them functionally and were ready to pursue Judo on a more serious and advanced level. The white coloring represented purity, avoidance of ego, and simplicity while the black symbolized a fuller repertoire of knowledge. Read More

Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh 2011 Recap

Two thousand twelve is here! The past year went really fast for me so writing this was a nice way to reflect on all the good memories. Challenges overcome are always good memories so I’ll start with those. The toughest challenges were thrown at guys most of us respect. First, Lance Thompson had a very serious injury last December. I’ve heard that the number one reason purple belts don’t move up the ranks is due to injuries. This is understandable having had one myself. It is amazing how such an obstacle can change your mental state. Injuries give some people a powerful reason to quit something, even when it is positive for them. Lance underwent surgery and came back even better than when he left! Mike Wilkins faced a different kind of challenge. After establishing himself as one of the areas best amateur MMA fighters, he decided to step up a level and go professional against the advice of the armchair critics and other people involved in mixed martial arts. He finally got a fight in Costa Rica. He lost at the very end of the first round (which he dominated) to a submission. It was a difficult way to lose after spending almost a year on improving his grappling. The critics and naysayers were vindicated, right? Wrong. Mike came back and had a dominating win in his first official pro fight right here in Pennsylvania. Heather Wiederstein also came back from injuries and losses. Read More

Self-Defense vs. Sport Jiu-Jitsu at RGA Pittsburgh

I’m reposting this, which was originally a question from someone looking at our school for the first time. I’ve edited it a little and added some things. The question was: “Does your school focus more on sport or self-defense?” It is a good question and I had to reflect on it some before writing an answer. There are schools that focus on one or the other, if not exclusively then at least they state one or the other as a focus. For example, Gracie Torrence states that the main goal of their jiu-jitsu is self-defense. I think Alliance would be on the other end of the spectrum. There are both great schools and, although I have trained with students from both, I have never been at either school for a class. Below is what I feel is the focus of our school. Individual members may have a different focus. Hopefully the response will give you a better idea of what our guiding principals are at Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh. Read More

New to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? What to expect Q & A

Q: What should I do if I would like to try a Jiu-Jitsu classes, fitness, and/or a private class? A: Fill out the simple contact form found on our webpage. Someone will get in touch with you soon. You can write to us on the contact form  with any questions that you may have. You will  find  our instructors and members are happy to answer any questions. Most importantly, just take the first step and contact us. It has the potential to start a very rewarding journey and there is no risk or pressure. Q: What should I do once I arrive? A: Introduce yourself to the instructor, fill out the participation waiver completely, tell the instructor a little about yourself and your background in athletics and martial arts, if any, and ask questions. Read More

Jiu-Jitsu Techniques and Position Outline

The amount of technique in jiu jitsu can be overwhelming especially when you are new to the activity. It helps with learning to organize technique into categories and names. The Japanese did this very well with Judo. Techniques are grouped into two general categories for example, ground and standing techniques. There are subgroups under this. Wrestling has not done as thorough of a job of naming and organizing techniques. Organization and naming is, in my opinion more important in the beginning learning stages of jiu jitsu. Because competitive rules and, hence, priorities in jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts are so different than Judo, and other techniques not used in Judo are involved, the following can serve as a guide to organizing jiu jitsu techniques. Another reason I believe that Judo names don’t suffice is that something is lost in using Japanese language words for English speakers. [1] Read More

A Quick Insight Into BJJ Competition

Competition plays a huge role in every sport, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no exception. On October 15, 2011, several members of RGA Pittsburgh put their skills to the test at the 5th Annual Western PA Grappling Championships. Afterwards, I got the chance to interview one of our white belt competitors, Jonas Rubiano, and pick his brain about the experience. Read More