Ojai Valley MMA has hit the ground running

It’s a new year and Ojai Valley MMA has hit the ground running with two fantastic new additions to our coaching staff.

Professor Renan Vital is a World and Pan Am BJJ champion many times over, is a Judo Black Belt, and a third degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  With 23 years of experience Professor Renan will be teaching every Tuesday night.

We have also added a wresting program to OVMMA, led by Coach Carl Fronhofer.  Coach Carl was a multiple national champion at Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling, was a finalist in the NCAA wrestling tourney and has many years of NCAA coaching experience, including the last five years as head coach of the Columbia University wrestling team.  Every Wednesday night at 6:30 coach teaches our adult wrestling class. Our youth wrestling classes are Saturday morning at 9am.

Our kids program keeps on growing and Coach James Saulsberry engages our kids at all levels - teaching them techniques to protect themselves, moves to win a tournament, or having a heart to heart about responsibilities at home, school or at the academy.

Together with head coach and owner John ‘Rev” Jensen, renowned leg-lock specialist and presenter at national and international seminars (most recently in Seattle and later this year in Georgia and New Zealand), our coaching staff is now the most experienced in Ventura County

Why Ojai Valley MMA not only allows, but encourages cross training

Tonight my good friend Jeff Yurk, (Renato Tavares Black belt and Army combatives trainer), is in the Ventura area, and is joining us at Ojai Valley MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a night of teaching, and training together. Jeff is not part of our Association, nor are we a part of his. Yet tonight he will share some of his secrets with my team. But horror of horrors what if my team mate has to match up with one of Jeff’s in the Pan Ams? Well I hope they have a very competitive, exciting and most of all fun match. The truth is both Jeff and I believe that Jiu Jitsu, and our love for it transcends all the stupid fear and paranoia that permeates much of our sport.

The truth is I am living out my own history, and my lineage in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Carlson Gracie stood against his own family and taught not just the self defense moves, but the entirety of the art to anyone who would come in and study with him. This same attitude continued to progress as Carlsons team trained with wrestlers, judo players and even kick boxers. When I was training for fights I trained with the Mount SAC wrestling team, Chris Brennan’s team, even had a few training sessions with Bas Rutten and Duane Ludwig. Our training room was regularly visited by people including Dan Henderson with Team Quest, Renato Babalu with team Ruas and even the crazy man Jason Miller who was at the time with Tito Ortiz team. We welcomed Tim “Obake” Catalfo for a seminar where we learned a number of lethal Catch Wrestling moves.

The truth was we welcomed everyone to our training. And by keeping our training open, we kept our minds open, and our jiu jitsu flourished. Right now there is a battle between those that say, cross training is betrayal, and those like us that welcome students and even teachers from other places. Even here in Ventura County you run into this fight. Some schools close their doors, and more than that threaten their students with expulsion if they train somewhere else. Where does this attitude come from? Sometimes fear is the answer. Owners are afraid if the students find a better jiu jitsu place they may switch. But often it isn’t fear, its arrogance. How? They believe their superior Jiu Jitsu will be shown through their students to other teams and help them. In the end it’s a selfish motivation either way, their eyes are on themselves and their own school, and not on the art.

For Ojai Valley MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we will continue to both welcome others, and encourage our students to train other places. And with a very sincere heart I say if in the process any of our family find they fit better somewhere else, or they could have better opportunities somewhere else… well I will send them on their way with my blessing. I will miss them, but I want what is best for all of my students, my friends and family.


The UFC, Wrestling and MMA

One of the most intriguing match ups of the last few years happened at the UFC Saturday night past.  Seemingly unbeatable Jon Jones matched up against undefeated Olympian Daniel Cormier.  The big questions were how will Cormier deal with such a ridiculous reach disadvantage, and how is Jon Jones going to fight off his back.

The first question was answered right away.  Not very well was the resounding answer.  Jones was able to use his length to continue to punish Cormier.  He even used his length inside with vicious elbows and the biggest shock of all, by taking Cormier down.  This has not happened.

The answer to the second question, well we really didn't learn the answer to in this fight.  Cormier was simply unable to put Jon on his back til late in the fifth round and Jones just stood right back up against a tired beaten opponent.

Which leads me to my post today.  How can one of the best wrestlers on the planet and arguably the most dominant wrestler in MMA today be beaten, not only in an MMA match, but beaten in the wrestling category of an MMA match?  The answer may be obvious to most people, but I figure why not tell you that you are right.  Wrestling in MMA is not wrestling, it is something more, and something less.  George St. Pierre was another great MMA wrestler, but had no real amateur wrestling background.  MMA wrestling is a different beast.  Because of the addition of strikes, a cage, and the threat of submission all of the rules change.

Now I don't want anyone to hear me saying Jon Jones was not a great amateur wrestler, he was.  And with all of the training GSP did, I am sure he would win a few tourneys as a wrestler as well.  But the truth is they consistently beat wrestlers who are far better than they are.  At Ojai Valley MMA we will be learning wrestling.  We will learn it as a grappling art.  We will seek to make it relevant in our submission wrestling and our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition.  But we will also focus on our MMA wrestling. How do you take someone down when they are punching you.  How do you defend a takedown up against a wall or cage?  What is a proper MMA stance that allows you to both strike and wrestle?  This past UFC we learned once again, that a well rounded martial artist will often beat a singularly talented one.


Ojai Valley MMA news

Ojai Valley Mixed Martial Arts is still running classes at Ojai Valley Community church.

Our classes run Monday from 6-7:30 pm Submission Grappling, Tuesday and Thursday 6-7:30 pm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and 7:30-8:45 pm Basic Kickboxing, and Saturday morning open mat from 9am til 10:30am.

Classes are growing every week.  It looks like our new, permanent location will be set to open at the end of January or early February.  This has taken a while but I am very excited about our new home.  This wonderful space in the heart of the Oak View will allow us to have more classes including a few zumba and yoga classes.  Our goal is to be a community oriented facility where people from all over the Ojai Valley can come and be challenged, enjoy deep camaraderie and hopefully get fit!  But... prices will go up when we move so JOIN NOW and enjoy a sizable DISCOUNT.


Has Brazilian Jiu Jitsu jumped the shark?

There was a time when rightly or wrongly this art seemed invincible.  This mysterious Gracie family and their undefeated record of fights against all comers.  Royce Gracie destroying all of his foes in the first UFCs.  But now?  Where are the jiu jitsu champions?  What has happened?  Has Brazilian Jiu Jitsu jumped the shark?

Let me start by saying no.  Emphatically no, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is still and will continue to be an important part of mixed martial arts and real life self-defense.  However... there are some very disturbing things happening within the sport that will continue to weaken its effectiveness. 

There are some very simple explanations for why we don't see the dominance of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that we once saw.  First and probably most importantly is the fact that everybody knows at least a little Jiu Jitsu now.  It is one thing to tap out a world class wrestler who outweighs you by a hundred pounds when he doesn't know what a triangle choke is.  But its something completely different when he not only knows, but knows how to defend it properly.  Jiu Jitsu in this case has been a victim of its own success.

But then we have some other issues.  Time limits and stand ups have really made jiu jitsu less effective.  In addition we also have rounds now.  The whole stage is set up to avoid a long protracted ground war.  Add to that the seemingly insignificant fact that you cannot even wear gi pants anymore.  The rules have shifted mostly against the BJJ player.

These are things that we really can't change.  But the thing that worries me, is that there is much that has changed within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it looks like it’s not changing back.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which arrogantly derided other arts as being tournament specific arts not practical for real life situations has become what it despised.  We have people jumping on their backs, working for a point or an advantage and then stalling out an entire fight in order to win a match.  We have more and more complex maneuvers all designed for tournament success with no thought to actual fight relevance.  We have forgotten what the late great Carlson Gracie told us, “you punch a black belt in the face and he turns into a brown belt, punch him again and he is a purple belt”.

At Ojai Valley Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is alive and well.  We are learning this beautiful art with joy and determination.  But our goal is to work very hard towards hearkening back to the old era, where position and submission are the goal.  Where practicality is the foremost goal.  And we are thankful for people like Kron Gracie that are leading the way.


OJAI Valley MMA launches new website!

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