Happy New Year From Shihan

As we celebrate the Holiday and the the upcoming New Year I have been giving a lot of thought to the word Hope. I thought it fitting to share the dictionary’s definition:

  1. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
  2. A person or thing that may help save someone.
  3. Grounds for believing something good may happen.
  4. A feeling of trust.

We are infinitely grateful to have you by our side in fulfilling this vision the ancient masters had of spreading peace, confidence, and well being to the world through the embodiment of the Martial Arts principles. You are a force for good. Continue to give Hope to the world. You matter!

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday and an Abundant New Year.

Shihan Dunn

Charles’ BBJJ Experience

Over the course of the past year I have spent a significant amount of time training at the Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School and have come to find that it has done nothing but benefit me in a great number of ways. Jiu Jitsu has made me a calmer, more confident and more dedicated person. It’s not only my cardiovascular system that has strengthened by training the martial arts, I have been strengthened mentally as well. At BBJJ you learn that the martial arts aren’t what you see on television. The martial arts are a way of life and a devotion to discipline.

I have on several occasions handed out VIP cards, and recommended different people looking for a new way to challenge and train themselves to BBJJ. BBJJ is different from other martial arts schools, from the phenomenal instructors, to the way they care for each of their students, to the professors amazing talent and eye for technique, BBJJ has everything you could hope for. The Student Creed recited after every class is a constant reminder and guideline to keep the focus on the mat. Those guidelines are truly what the school is about.

Prior to starting my training at BBJJ I was often found in the gym, lifting weights, striving to be stronger and bigger. Now I find myself less often striving at the gym and more often trying to perfect my technique and learn new moves. Jiu Jitsu is now my focus for working out. My stamina has improved and so has my personality on and off the mat. Because of BBJJ I now find myself more goal oriented and less frequently stressing about the smaller things and find myself more often keeping a calm and relaxed persona instead of getting worked up over things that don’t matter. Family and friends notice the change and Jiu Jitsu has done nothing but benefit my life. So I would like to thank my instructors and encourage all new students to take a chance and not give up.


Dealing with Vacations and Breaks!

Whether it’s due to a holiday break, a family vacation or travel for work, there will be times when you won’t be able to get to class. Serious students are often asking us, “what should I be doing in order to keep my practice going if I’m away from the school?”

The truth is that our methodology is unique – BBJJ’s cooperative, proactive learning environment is one-of-a-kind. Our core philosophy is about fostering growth by providing the supportive, non-competitive conditions that allow you to train for the long haul.

So when students ask about “dropping in” to other martial arts schools, our answer is always the same: “don’t”.


There are tons of reasons, including:

  • poor instruction and supervision
  • competitive/arrogant/”macho” training setting
  • unprofessional, unregulated training sessions
  • unhygenic mats and facilities
  • aggressive, uneducated training partners
  • exposure to diseases like staph, MRSA, ringworm, impetigo and mat herpes (if this isn’t enough to dissuade you, you might have mental problems!)
  • risk of injury (your own or others)
  • violation of martial arts protocol
  • dissolution of student-teacher relationship
  • and many more!

Concerned yet? Over the past 20 years of training, we have both seen and heard evidence of all of the above. We’ve watched students and peers who “knew better” or thought they were taking an acceptable risk, only to find their progress physically or mentally disrupted because of one of these circumstances.

The sensible approach is not to put your progress – or your instructors, training partners and dojos – at risk.

You can minimize the chance for injuries, bad experiences and (ugh) diseases from unclean schools or mats by focusing your training energy elsewhere when you’re not at home to train.

Like what?

BBJJ Training Log: Well, you can start with our training log. The BBJJ training log has been designed specifically for you, when you are away from the school. It takes some of the most important solo drills from class and organizes them into an outline so you can still condition your body using martial arts means. These are a selection of the most important developmental skills you can have for longterm success. And the work of practicing them alone is an exercise in self-discipline.

Plus you only need a small area in your hotel room to keep yourself physically connected to the movements you’ve been learning in class.

Gym Workout: Another great idea is to workout in your hotel. If you’re traveling, you’re likely to have a small but functional gym in or nearby where you’re staying. If there isn’t one in your hotel, do some research before you get there and see if you can find one within walking/shuttle/driving distance. Pull-ups, pushups, sit-ups, dips and a treadmill/elliptical can provide a great fitness routine without your even having to use weights.

Use Equipment: Two things you always have room to pack are a jump-rope and a resistance band. Most students already know how to jump rope from the Muay Thai classes here, and it’s something you can do inside or out. 10 minutes on the rope a day and you’re cardio will improve…guaranteed! In addition, a small resistance band can be attached to hotel furniture or trees outside, providing you with opportunities to work the core, upper body and lower body as well.

Bodyweight Exercises: If there isn’t a gym nearby (or time to get there), use yourself as resistance. You’ve seen dozens of pushup and sit-up variations in class (and if you’ve been paying attention, you might just remember them!). With a chair or some well-placed end-tables, you can do a wide variety of squats, dips, sit-ups and pushups.

Run: If all else fails, run. You can always use your time away from the dojo to concentrate on cardio. Every hotel, cruise-ship or vacation place has somewhere to run, even if it means wind-sprints in the hallways. Stairwells are a place for stair-runs or -walks, and even plyometrics for the adventurous (be careful!).

Mental Work is Work: Read. Choose a book related (or even unrelated) to your martial arts journey and study. Even better, bring the message of the week with you. The martial arts is not just about physical improvement, but also about developing mental discipline and emotional strength. Reviewing the lessons of training – and some of the recent tips about the BBJJ philosophy – will keep you connected to the martial arts life. And by the way, you don’t have to be away from home to do this one. Its good practice for all of us each week.

Rest and Recharge: Remember that a little rest is a good thing sometimes. If you’re training as hard as you should be regularly (3 times per week), then a trip out of town for 3 or 4 days can be a chance to rest and recharge. You’ll be reinvigorated when you return.

Above all, plan ahead and be creative. Worse than doing nothing on a vacation or a break is doing something that will set you back in training. You don’t need to take unnecessary risks, or endanger the physical or mental relationships you’ve built so far. Reading and studying may not seem like the best substitutes for being on the mat, but they give you a well-needed perspective on the work you’re doing in our classroom.

Give your body something to do, keep your mind focused and prepare to return to class as soon as you can. That’s the sanest, safest and most sustainable approach to personal and holiday breaks.

Kim’s Muay Thai Kickboxing Experience

Purple Belt
November 2013

It is becoming increasingly harder for me to write these essays. I know that I have worked through a lot of issues, both mental and physical to get to where I am today. I was in a class Monday night, and the professor reminded us to think back to our first class. That thought brought back so much emotion for me. When I thought of that first night in June, 2012, I get emotional. I can’t believe how much I have changed. My body has changed of course, I try to train regularly. My mindset has changed more though.

I stepped onto the mat on that night so long ago to try to lose weight. Yes, I admit, if I made my goal weight I’d probably stop. I did not see myself committing to blue/white belt, much less black belt. I figured six months and I’d hit my goal for weight loss, and I’d be gone. That first night I was overly confident that it was no big deal, I could handle it. How little I knew about myself! I have learned that, yes, I can handle it, but it was more than a big deal. I actually felt worse with myself during that first class. I realized how much I had let my body go physically. I was ashamed. However, because I saw that, I realize now, I saw the fact that I could change. I had the power to make the change, to be my change. My physical body has changed a great deal in the 17 months that I have committed to my training, 11 months past my six month mindset then!

My mental state has been both awakened and calmed at the same time. I handle stress much better, and that makes teaching easier. However, the realization that I, along with my great instructors, am responsible for MY changes has empowered me. I have confidence that I have never felt before. I feel in total control of myself. I have learned to do something people had pointed out that I wasn’t doing before. I have learned to accept and simply say thank you for a sincere compliment. I have been complimented by my professors, instructors, senior classmates, and lower belt classmates. I am proud of each compliment now. I also see that I am a teacher in more ways than one. It is just as gratifying to receive a compliment from a new student as it is to hear one from a parent of a student. I am a calmer person because of the ability to process stress differently, and a happier person, and I want to thank Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for helping me to change me. I am now 100% committed to train as long as my body will let me.

– Kimberly

11 Things Every Person Should Master

Adapted from the Basic Goodness blog.

1. Be fearless

Being fearless does not mean being without fear, being fearless means admitting your fears and going beyond them. A courageous person is not in denial of his or her fears, holding up a mask of invulnerability but is willing to face their fears and work on them. They have the courage to do things that frighten them when the situation calls for it. They know that the path towards fearlessness is endless.

2. Be resilient

A person should be flexible and reliable at the same time. If necessary they can start all over again at any given moment. Whatever happens; their house was burnt down, their crop failed, they lost their job: even if they have mourning to do they start all over again. Accept fate but don’t become a victim of it.


3. Live, speak and listen from the heart

Do not hide feelings and intentions. Do not be afraid to be gentle nor afraid to be sad. Be in touch with your emotions and be able to express them. Have the courage to live your dream and the space to listen compassionately.

4. Own your anger

Transform your anger into compassion. You can be angry, strong, decisive and courageous. Your anger serves your presence and the presence of others. It is not a humiliating or destructive type of anger. The latter happens when a person is a slave to their anger, that’s the anger of the coward trying to overcompensate their feelings of inferiority. This is just as sad as a person completely disconnected from their anger. Mature anger, on the other hand, is a big turn on.

5. Make meaning

Try not to become a person of success, try to become a person of value. Einstein said that. I think that’s true and important. If you fill your days with doing something that pays the bills but is essentially meaningless you are wasting your precious life. Yes, even if it pays the bills so handsomely that you can spend 2 months per year on adventurous holidays and eat in fancy restaurants, you are still wasting your life.  A person with values has the balls to travel outside their comfort zone to make a sincere attempt to contribute to mankind. He or she works for the greater good instead of for the sake of protection of their self image and clinging to the illusion of safety.

6. Own your edge

This life is a journey and we all are somewhere on our path. Be honest about where you are at in your development. Don’t pretend to be wiser or more evolved than you actually are. Don’t shrink so that others won’t feel insecure around you. Know your strengths and your weaknesses and do not be ashamed of either. That there is always work to do should be a given. Know where you have your work to do and be willing to listen and learn from those who have done that work.

7. Be vulnerable

A coward is always trying to hide their weak spots, a real person works on them. They are willing and able to reveal themselves even in the midst of pain. They are vulnerable because they want to be vulnerable. By opening up in every moment they are continuously practicing their courage. It’s a way of defeating cowardice.

8. Practice a martial art

When push comes to shove every person should be able to defend themselves, the people they loves, and their honor. Just like we teach our children to swim to prevent them from drowning, a person should know at least enough basic fighting skills so they can throw a punch in case of an emergency. They have spent enough time in a ring or dojo to ensure a deescalating presence. They do not panic, are not easily provoked and have some strength and skills.

9. Have a sense of humor (don’t take yourself so seriously!)

A real person can hold both the utter importance and the utter unimportance of life at the same time. They can see their own failures and flaws and joke about that. Since they know their self-image is just an image they feel no need to defend that image. They can uplift a tense situation with a joke, but they aren’t the immature joker that abuses humor as a tool for escaping intimacy or sabotaging intensity. They have the capacity to light up the room and embrace life.

10. Develop body, mind and spirit

Be devoted to the development of body, mind and spirit. Not to stay ahead of other people, not out of fear of being defeated, but because you have more to offer when you are healthy and present. Taking care of your body makes you fit and strong. Taking care of your mind makes you clever and sharp. Taking care of your spirit makes you wise, warm and compassionate. Know that your body and mind are mortal but that the love you spread during your life remains.

11. Be real

In the end, know that you are just a person. A real person does all these things because that’s what they are: a human being. They have basic human needs and inclinations just like everyone else.  But someone trying to be real is just doing their best to make the most of life and have some fun while doing that. Their sweat is honest. Their heart is open. Their back is straight.


Simple Two Words

Great advice from Martin Rooney, featuring our own Shihan Dunn. Originally distributed by Training for Warriors

As a therapist, a trainer, a martial artist and a coach, I am always “listening”. This has resulted in many of the profound concepts that have helped to shape my own personal philosophy, the TFW System as well as many of the stories, articles, blogs and newsletters that I have shared over the years with my readers.

One great man, (and martial artist for that matter) that offered me one such lesson is Gene Dunn. A past karate world champion and BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie, Gene trained with our group for years and is even featured on the original TFW DVD. One day when we were training, Gene gave me two words that I believe can change anyone’s life instantly. He was teaching me a bit of his BJJ philosophy and, as we were rolling, would coach me to “Address It”, every time he began to attempt to gain better position or a submission. He would get me looking at everything happening on the mat and make sure I was “Addressing” the situation before it got out of hand.

You see warriors, by addressing a move on the mat before it goes too far makes sure the move isn’t going to happen. Wait too long before addressing anything in life, and there will be a point of disastrous results.

Simple two words…. Big Concept.

Now warriors, what are some areas of your life that you have failed to “Address It?” I am sure that if you think of the classic personal topics like diet, career, physique, finances, you will find areas that you know you could have more. If this is true for you, then start to “Address” the problem. If you are overweight, “Address It” with getting the junk out of your house and start cleaning up the diet tomorrow. If you don’t have the career or money you want, “Address It” by setting goals, reading the book you need to read or going for that interview. If you have been needing to say something to someone in your life and you have not “Addressed It”, the time is now. What are you waiting for?

My mental warrior challenge this week is to use these two words with everything you do this week. I want you to say them in your head when you are about to hold back or let something slide. When the alarm clock rings, say “Address It” to yourself, get up, and shut it off. When you are about to eat a poor breakfast, say it again and so on through out the day. I have used this for some time and it has always lead to results. Life is a battle my friends, and it is going to constantly throw new “submissions” at you. Address them as they appear and you have a much better chance of shutting them down in their tracks and making great progress.

Top 10 Benefits of Training

10 Most Often-Seen Benefits from Training at  Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Brooklyn Vindhya Yoga

We’ve spoken to hundreds of students about the most important part of their training here at BBJJ/BVY. Below are the top ten reasons why people started – and continued – their martial arts and yoga practice with us.

#10 Healthy Lifestyle
Our students enjoy not only the exercise and physical fitness that comes with on-the-mat training, but also a “healthy lifestyle” mentality. Not only do they learn to create healthy habits inside the dojo or yoga classroom, but  then to take those habits into their daily routines. Committed students learn to focus on what will get them closer to their goals, and as a result they make healthier lifestyle choices. Everything from what foods to eat, activities to participate in, books to read and people to spend out time with are part of this process.

#9 Discipline
Time is something we can’t get back. BBJJ/BVY martial artists and yoga practitioners know that the key is to discipline is not to spend time, but rather to invest their time in those areas which are most beneficial. The discipline that comes from being on a regular training schedule and following school protocol will help students become more disciplined with time and priorities outside the school.

#8 Goal Setting
At our schools we focus on Black Belt and Black Mat training. Setting these long-term goals will come with some challenges along the way, but the results are more victories through the process. Any smoker can give up smoking for a day; in order to see real benefit they would need to set a long-term goal like quitting smoking for good. For children, setting longer-term goals for school (like having perfect attendance or consistent on-time homework) will do wonders for their grades.

#7 Focus
The ability to block out distractions and concentrate on one thing at a time is important. It’s especially significant for parents who are managing a career, a home life and taking care of kids.  The training on the mat builds focus as we concentrate on one drill at a time with repetition. This skill will come in handy when things get hectic at home and setting priorities becomes vital.

#6 Stress Relief
It’s unfortunate that out of the 168 hours in a week, adults often will say they don’t have 2 hours to exercise. One could say if we can’t find 2 hours out of 168, then we are shaving a lot more then 2 hours a week from our life. It’s important that we give ourselves the time to enjoy learning a new skill, to improve our health, to surround ourselves with energetic people and to “vent” in a positive manner. Students enjoy the stress relief that comes with leaving work, school and family for just a few hours a week to focus on themselves. In doing so, when they get back to work, school or their families they have more energy and are a nicer person to be around.

#5 Respect
BBJJ and BVY students love the aura of respect that comes with martial arts training and yoga practice. By preserving a traditional atmosphere of humility and courtesy, our dojos start and end with respect. From the beginning of class – where we bow and show respect – to the end – when we offer thanks and compliments on our partners training – there is a sense of community in the training. This is very different from sports environments where there is often yelling, taunting, screaming and insulting opposing players.

#4 Teamwork
Inside and outside our yoga and martial arts classes, we encourage teamwork. We do this through a cooperative work environment that favors community over competition. Training the same techniques together, working with all different ages and abilities and attention to partner work builds a sense of connection among all students.  Students often find themselves in a teaching role with a junior student as often as they are in the learning role. The ability to work as a team together allows all our students to make progress in a much faster time.

#3 Confidence
The way we look, feel, act and think all play a huge role when it comes to confidence. When a student starts to look and feel better as they become more fit, it gives them a burst of energy and confidence. When they learn techniques to defend themselves and their families, they grow in self-reliance and assurance. As a student moves up in rank and must help the newest students to learn, their confidence also increases.

#2 Self-Defense
It is more important than ever that we are able to defend our personal space. And not only from physical harm, but also from verbal attacks. The often-overlooked aspect of prevention can mean the difference between success and failure in a street confrontation. Often times attackers will target those who look weak. The martial arts and yoga give a student confidence and purpose in their life. Because of this they are less likely to be targeted and more likely to be left alone.

#1 Fun
Yoga and the martial arts are a growing practice. As more people train, new techniques are discovered and new postures are created. Because our instructors are also students of their arts, we are committed to constantly developing and refining your classroom. Endless variations, alternatives and permutations are part of the learning environment here at BBJJ/BVY. Overcoming new challenges in a healthy and rewarding way puts our students on the path to mastery,  so they learn something new each day while getting fit, staying safe and enjoying the process.

Halloween Safety Tips

Don’t Get Tricked While Trick-or-Treating

Kids look forward to Halloween more than most holidays of the year, and for good reason: it’s fun, they get to dress up, and the night ends with a pillowcase filled with candy. Halloween is also a potentially dangerous holiday with many kids walking around unsupervised and thus vulnerable to sticky situations. To avoid any scary experiences with your young ones (besides haunted houses, of course!), here are some do’s and don’ts to ensure a fun-filled and safe Halloween.


Your research
Find good neighborhoods to take your children to ahead of time. Not all neighborhoods in NYC are appropriate for trick-or-treating. This is a good list of kid-friendly neighborhoods that are safe and have the best bounty (candy galore!)

Take basic safety precautions
Always make sure your kids are supervised during trick-or-treating. Be sure to carry a flashlight and always be careful crossing the street, etc. Don’t skip out on safety measures you would take on a daily basis just because it’s a holiday. In fact, it’s even more of a reason to be careful!

Examine candy after trick-or-treating
This rule is a classic! We’re not saying you’ll find razor blades in your child’s fun-size Snickers bar, but they definitely should not be eating open or unwrapped Halloween foods. The only reason you want your child feeling sick is because they ate all that sugar!


Trick-or-treat late at night 
Take your child and their friends out before night falls. This gives you the opportunity to show your kids where they’ll be going and any boundaries that need to be set.

Enter a stranger’s home 
This may be common sense to you, but make sure your children are well aware of this fact. A good rule of thumb is to “stick to the stoop.” That’s where all the candy is anyway!

Get caught in the cold 
It’s not quite winter, but late October nights can be chilly! Make sure to check the weather before going out. It might clash with your child’s costume, but the coat will be well worth the extra weight when the temperature dips.

Forget that Halloween should be fun 
Sometimes there’s so much stress about getting your child the perfect costume and making sure they are safe that you completely miss the entire point of the holiday. It’s a day when kids (and adults!) can adopt a completely new identity and enjoy sweets. What fun! If you’re looking for pre or post trick-or-treating festivities (or even want to replace the tradition entirely), be sure to check out this list of free Halloween events for kids in NYC.


Professor Dunn’s Advice to Adult Graduates, Fall 2013

I’m here to tell you today that you should not consider yourself a bjj practitioner. I know it’s shocking, but after I’m done and have presented the evidence, I hope you’ll understand why I make this claim and what it has to do with you.

This is not about the art, on a purely technical level. It’s not about moves or a different kind of guard, or the pros and cons of the newest submission from the back.In fact, it’s got only a little bit to do with you when you’re training and a lot bit to do with when you’re not training.

Part of the reason why is because you should be, must be, have to be starting to separate yourself from the ideology that’s developing around the mainstream culture of jiujitsu. It’s a worldview that claims to be against the grain, an alternative lifestyle, when in reality it supports the same compromised morality that’s reared its head in competitive bicycling or major baseball doping.

The culture of jiu-jitsu worldwide still embraces a competitive, you-or-me, zero-sum-game philosophy. It still hasn’t looked at the dangers of unmediated aggression in the classroom. It hasn’t considered the impact of a dominance-based approach to human interactions.

There is no longevity. No sustainably. What we’re left with us a war of attrition – a dangerous prospect for anyone who’s planning a long and healthy life.

So I’m here to tell you not to consider yourself a bjj practitioner. Not to align yourself with a philosophy of no-philosophy. Not to search for lessons in responsibility and community and unity where they don’t exist.

I’m here to tell you not to consider yourself a bjj practitioner, but rather to consider yourself a student of BBJJ. To set yourself apart from the 97% and take a quantum leap forward for yourself and the people you care about. To put your philosophy first.

We ask you to be responsible on the mat, but real responsibility begins off the mat. It begins with the attitude you develop to create the life you wish to lead, and the world you wish to lead it in.  We’re witnessing the results of ultimate communication breakdown in the world right now; the final expression of the competitive, ego-based approach to challenges is “either you or me”. When I spoke to a student with family in the Middle East, he said “it’s not getting better, it has gotten worse: now it’s ‘you or me'”. The macro of the micro is war.

Imagine recreating that in your martial arts day after day and then being surprised when it shows up in the world.

So consider today where you hope you’ll be – where the world will be – and whether your “philosophy in practice” will bring you there. Because it’s been shown throughout history that no one can serve two masters. Consider the options, consider the  philosophy you intend to develop. Consider the student creed and the principles of your martial arts. Consider what you’ve been learning and how you want to use it. Consider yourself a warrior, a creator, a supporter, a participant. Consider your influence, your associations, your affiliations.

Taking a step forward as a martial artist today, recognize that you’re a student of this philosophy – of giving and caring and changing. Of evolution and effort and practice. Of failure and trying and pain and frustration. Of loyalty and passion and friendship. Of sincere effort, clear purpose, of true aim.

This is the BBJJ philosophy. You are a BBJJ student. You have a chance to transform yourself through your practice – and through your philosophy, you have a real chance to impact the world every day.