Gordon Ryan Wants to Know What You’re Working On – BJJ Fanatics

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Recently, my home academy Leverage Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which happens to be Tom DeBlass‘ first affiliate hosted both Garry Tonon and Gordon Ryan for a No Gi Super Seminar.  These two have have the competitive resumes that only the rarest of athletes could ever hope to come close to.  Between the two of them, they’ve won nearly every EBI, they’ve each had success at ADCC, with Gordon achieving gold in his first ADCC ever last year in Finland.  Garry Tonon has now turned his focus towards MMA and recently secured his third straight victory with the One Fighting Championship organization.

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While all of these competitive successes are amazing, the true reason our academy loves to have them in is that they put on an amazing clinic which distills the teaching philosophies of their mentors, instructors and coaches like John Danaher and Tom DeBlass.  Their seminar covered a number of crucial areas such as guard passing, back takes, attacks from mount and a very in-depth exploration of armlocks from different positions.  

Gordon started the seminar off with an amazing introduction to three different schools of thought with regards to guard passing.  Once he set the stage he went into great detail with his own leg pummeling system that he has begun to develop which runs counter to everything we’ve ever learned about guard passing up to this point.  From there he covered back attack techniques as well as a few attacks from the mounted position.  Garry tagged in at this point and went deep into the land of the jiu ji gatame.

After the seminar, as I drove him to the airport, he filmed this great video detailing his goal setting process and how he charts the course of his own development.  Check it out below!

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As Gordon explains, it’s important to have short term goals, in this case 12 months and long term goals of 5 years.  In my conversation with Gordon, he adopted this approach after training with Professor John Danaher who in turn was influenced by a quote from Bill Gates which essentially says we overestimate what we can accomplish in 12 months, but under estimate what we can accomplish in 5 or 10 years.

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For Gordon it’s crucial to be able to clearly state what your short and long term goals are if someone should ask you.  This is not simply so you can sound cool for your friends or family at Thanksgiving when they ask you what you’re working on, although you just might.  No, in actuality, being able to clearly and simply articulate your goals means that you have them locked into your mind and they are clear to you and therefore on the way to being achieved.

To help me better understand the relationship between 12 month and 5 year goals, I asked Gordon the following question.  So let’s say I have very minimal leg lock knowledge and I spend the next 12 months studying the Danaher Leg Locks Enter the System series from BJJ Fanatics, can I become proficient?  Gordon’s response was that this would take 5 years.  A better 12 month goal might be to become proficient with entries or perhaps a single lock focus for the year.

He then went on to use his good friend and the man who gave him his black belt Garry Tonon and himself for examples.  Garry Tonon was already a well-accomplished black belt under Tom DeBlass having won world titles, but in the 4 to 5 years of training under Professor Danaher, he has completely changed his BJJ game.  For Gordon it is also no coincidence that he has been able to achieve so much with 4 to 5 years of training under Danaher.

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So let’s recap Gordon’s short term goals.  The first involved sharpening his wrestling skill against Olympic level wrestlers with the ADCC ruleset in mind.  Obviously getting ready for the next ADCC world championship in Los Angeles next year, Gordon who already displays some solid wrestling skill is looking to perfect that in the next 12 months.  The second and third goals involve increasing the number of kimura finishes and triangle finishes he has.  I can only surmise this is to continue to round out his overall game and become maximally skilled in every position. 

For his long term goals, over the next five years he wants to perfect his leg pummeling and guard passing system that unites the three schools of guard passing into one effective system.  For his second goal he wants to develop a system of berimbolos and inversions that will more effectively open up back takes and leg attacks.  Lastly, in terms of long term goals, Gordon wants to be able to have such good submission finishing rates that regardless of the opponent’s skill, they are unable to escape, therefore Gordon won’t have to chain submission options because his opponent’s reactions will no longer matter.

Take some time and figure out your goals.  As much as we think it’s simply mat time that is standing between us and our next belt or new skills, that’s not the entire story.  It’s not only our time on the mats, but how we approach and design our training to most effectively get to where we want to be faster and more efficiently.  One year of focused movement towards our three goals is going to be much more productive than 5 years of just training random techniques.

While you’re at it, check out John Danaher’s Enter the System series.  With his most recent release, the Kimura, he continues to revolutionize how we approach techniques and learning BJJ in general.  In addition to the Kimura, he has series that focus on leg locks, back attacks and front head locks.  Check them out here!

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