Ways Jiu Jitsu is Just Like Memory/Brain Training


Jiu Jistu Quote

1. Check your excuses at the door

Nobody is impressed how good your excuses are

Memory Training When people take my memory seminar often the first words out of their mouth are, ‘I’m 52 years old’ or ‘I was in a car accident’ or ‘I have ADD’. Well, blah, blah, blah…When you stop making excuses of why your memory is bad we can get started.

Jiu Jitsu – I find myself making old man jokes (I’m 42) in Jiu Jitsu a lot. But the truth is in my class is a man we all call Wild Bill who is 67 years old and has submitted me more times than I can count. I’ve caught myself justifying my poor performance because I haven’t had time to get in and train. Well, blah, blah, blah.

Will a 22 year old of equal skill level and in top physical shape most likely defeat a 55 year old in top physical shape of equal skill level? Probably. Yes. But stop making excuses. It’s lame in Jiu Jitsu and memory

2. Technique beats brute force.
I don’t care how much you can bench press. It’s irrelevant (in a fight with a trained martial artist)

Cardio work out

Memory Training – In the memory tournament world believe it or not some don’t rely on strategy or technique but simply brute force. This is an awful strategy. I’ve never seen a so called ‘brute force’ memory defeat a memory system. Ever. Sure there are natural ‘Rain Man’ type people out there but they typically don’t compete in tournaments and are without question the exception (that’s why they make movies about them).

Jiu Jitsu – I lifted heavy weights in my 20s. Back then for me it was about 1. Trying to look good for the ladies 2. Self defense. Not sure if I accomplished #1 but I know I didn’t accomplish #2.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen incredibly and I mean incredibly strong men be turned into a mass of confused flesh as they tap out to a guy who couldn’t lift 35% of what they do. Why? Self defense is about technique.

I train with an ASSASSIN named Victor (he’s not actually an assassin) but a 150 pound guy about 5’8″ whose kicks feel like those of a 200 pound man. His technique is devastating in Muay Thai (kick boxing) and he is a force to be reckoned with in Jiu Jitsu. I have 55 pounds on him and it’s not a fair ‘fight’ when we roll. He makes quick work of me because he is relying on technique that he has mastered.

The body builders who think a trained martial artist is intimidated are miscalculating. Here is the perfect example

Does this mean there aren’t STRONG STRONG men in Jiu Jitsu? Of course not. One of the strongest guys I know is Paul Halme and a Jiu Jitsu black belt and one of the best in the WORLD. If the skill is equal and the other is a beast physically the strength will probably win.

With that said, how many body builders do you see in the UFC? There’s a reason for that. It’s about technique not bench press

3. You need a coach

Memory training I won the USA Memory Championship twice (2009, 2010) and came in second twice (2011, 2012). Every time I competed I had a coach. (Former US Navy SEAL Tc Cummings.) A coach can see things you can’t see because you are in the training and they are on the outside looking in. They can call you out on your BS. I would say to TC, ‘I can’t train today I am feeling sick.’ His reply would be, ‘What if you are sick on the day of the tournament are you not going to compete? This is a great training opportunity. Get in there and train.’

Jiu Jitsu – My Jiu Jitsu coach Juan Tatum is a master at watching a Jiu Jitsu match and saying, ‘Lay on your left hip, turn to your right, put your left leg under his arm, turn to your belly, put your right arm under his leg, etc’. It’s amazing what he can see when watching a match that you never see while in the heat of battle.

Coaches have been there and done that. There are some who think they can learn Jiu Jitsu online but I don’t think you can develop to your potential without a coach.

4. Tournaments make you better

World Memory Championship

Ron White at World Memory Championship in 2009

Memory training – I started memory training in 1991 but I didn’t compete in my first tournament until 2008. One of the main reasons is I didn’t know they existed! In 2004 or 2005 I heard about the memory tournament and that people were memorizing 100 digit numbers in 5 minutes and I thought, ‘No way!!’ There is no way I thought I could do what they were doing. But I also knew if I was going to say I was one of the top memory experts in my marketing material I had to go up against the best in a fair tournament and perform or shut up.

Not only did I compete, I broke the records I thought were impossible and held the record for the fastest to memorize a deck of cards in the USA for 2 years. The tournaments forced me to get better (or shut up)

Jiu Jitsu – I’ll confess I’ve never competed in a Jiu Jitsu tournament although I would like to. Why? The people I have seen compete tell me that nothing they have done gets them better quicker. It focuses your brain intensely on your training and that focus propels you to get better. Plus going against others outside your gym exposes you to different styles and techniques and that makes you better

Competing simply makes you better.

5. Nothing beats consistent training

Memory Training – Many who compete in tournaments will train year around for the tournament and hour a day. Nothing beats getting in there and training every day. One reason is that to memorize numbers, playing cards, names, etc you have to have predetermined pictures. For example your picture for 429 might be a rainbow, the name Steve might be a stove and the Ace of Spades might be Drew Carey for you (as it is me). These images need to be instantaneous. The only way to get to second nature with your images is consistent training

Jiu Jitsu – Here is a Bruce Lee quote on this one

Bruce Lee 100 Kicks Quote

My coach Juan Tatum told me when you started out he would drill a certain move for 5 hours straight in one day. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Watching Juan do Jiu Jitsu is like watching a salsa dancer dance. He is so smooth because the moves have become a part of him. They have become second nature because he drilled them over and over.

Nothing beats consistent training.

6. Nutrition will make a difference

Regret nothing


Memory Training – Training for the 2009 USA Memory Championship I lost 20 pounds! Because I was eating healthy and working out. A fit body is a fit brain. I also lost 20 pounds training for the 2010 tournament (same 20 pounds I had gained it back).

When your cardiovascular is fit blood flows to your brain easier and this means more oxygen to your brain and that means a more alert brain. Foods good for your brain include: walnuts, blueberries, water, spinach, omega-3 among many others

Jiu Jitsu – Nutrition is going to make a difference especially as you get older. When I am out and I have the urge to have some vodka the first thought in my mind is, ‘When do I have Jiu Jitsu next?’ You just can’t get buzzed every night and roll into the gym the next day and think you will be sharp. You will pay for it.

That’s obvious though. What may be less obvious is that non stop junk food will be your enemy in the gym unless you just have some freak of nature body. There’s a reason UFC fighters watch everything they eat when training. It is your fuel.

7. You will have plateaus and breakthroughs


Memory Training – I started memory training in 1991 but never competed in a tournament until 2008. When I first head of tournaments I was intimidated and at a decade plateau in memory. My memory had seen no noticeable improvement. I saw a big jump when in speed and amount of data when I started training but then I hit a plateau. For the longest time I was at 125 digits in 5 minutes. Nothing I could do would get me past that plateau. I was stuck I thought. Then with the encouragement of my then girlfriend and trying new strategies I ended up memorizing 167 digits in 5 minutes and setting a US record.

Cards was the same for me. I hit a plateau at 3 minutes I was there for weeks. Then I got where I could do it in 2 minutes. I was there for weeks then BOOM I was at 90 seconds at that is the current plateau I’m at. But I am confident I could move past if if I pressed.

Jiu Jitsu – This has been a TOUGH year for me. I’ve been getting smashed and submitted by just about everyone. I felt like if a new guy off the streets walked in he would submit me on day 1 (ok that’s an exaggeration) but it was tough.

My coach Juan gave a speech one night after class that many of us have stopped being the alpha males and become beta males. We need to fight to get that back.

He was right. But he gave me more than motivation he also gave me 2-3 points that I’ve been training and after being at a plateau for 6 months of getting smashed I’ve had the most incredible break through.

Now, I’m at a new plateau. I can get someone in my side control (a dominant position) but I’m stuck. That’s my current plateau but a great one to be at and it’s progress.

Plateaus and breakthroughs.

8. Check your ego at the door

less knowledge more ego

Memory Training – You are going to get beat. Deal with it.

It was nice being the 2 time USA Memory Champion and it sucked coming in 2nd. It SUCKED. It hurt my ego. But if I got consumed with ego it would have killed my business on many levels.

1. I never for an instant considered not competing again in 2010 after I won in 2009. Some say if you don’t compete again you can stay undefeated. That’s crap and cowardly. If you don’t compete again you can’t stay on top of your game
2. On the flip side of the coin after losses in 3 consecutive years (2011,2012,2013) I had to push my ego to the side and say, ‘It’s time to focus on your business.’

Your ego gets in the way of learning.

Jiu Jitsu- In Jiu Jitsu you are going to get beat by people older than you, younger than you, stronger than you, weaker that you, richer than you, poorer than you, smarter than you and dumber than you. If you let this impact your ego you’ll never get better.

Not IF you get beat but WHEN you get beat, learn from it and get better. But if you hold a grudge or secretly harbor bad feelings towards someone because they tapped you then that is just ego.

If you want to train and get better so you can beat a certain guy and that is a measuring stick for you. BY ALL MEANS DO IT!

But if it is controlling your emotions when you lose and you are getting angry with a loss is it because you didn’t train hard enough or is your anger ego based? Being upset with yourself for not training hard enough, not learning fast enough is healthy and good. Being upset because your ego is damaged is not.

Check your ego at the door.

9. The best teach others what they know

Jiu Jitsu training

Memory TrainingI can think of very successful memory athletes (yes that is what we call ourselves) who aren’t willing to teach others. I recently interviewed one of the top competitors in the Rubic’s Cube speed solving world. I asked him what is a basic strategy a beginner could use to memorize a Rubic’s Cube. He wouldn’t give me a clear strategy. I point blank asked him, ‘Are you afraid to tell me because you think someone will learn it and beat you?’ He said, ‘No.’ But what other reason could there be? It was C-O-W-A-R-D-L-Y

When someone asks me, ‘What strategy did you use to set record for fastest to memorize a deck of cards in USA?’ I tell them. When someone asks my strategy for numbers (another USA record I held), names or something else I tell them. Why? It’s just what the best do. They teach others.

Am I afraid they will learn the skills and beat me? No. Sure they may but I am not AFRAID of that. I don’t fear that at all. Life is temporary. If competitors don’t get me time will. Teach others

Plus when you teach your best stuff it requires you to come up with NEW BEST stuff that no one knows. Then when they do you innovate again.

Jiu Jitsu – Do I think my coaches are holding back their secret ninja techniques so no one else will get them? I don’t. Not at all. They are good…no they are GREAT.

It’s like the sword fight when one opponent drops his sword and the other gives it back to him.

He’s handing his opponent the sword and it’s a way of saying, ‘Here you go…you’re going to need this. But I’m going to beat you anyway.’

Does your confidence increase when you hold knowledge in and beat someone or is it better to teach what you know and still win?

My coaches are teaching everything they know and others are getting better around them and that is what makes training with these guys so great. (one of the things)

10. Don’t Just Train When You Feel Your Best

train while sick

Memory training – When I was training for the 2010 USA Memory Champioship I was siiiiiiiicccckkkkk. I had a fever and my mindset/mental coach (TC Cummings, former US Navy SEAL) called me and asked how my training was for the day. I replied, ‘I’m not training today I’m sick.’ He was stunned and asked me if I was sick on the day of the USA Memory Championship would I still compete. Of course I would.

‘Well then, this is perfect training for that scenario’, TC replied.

Guess what? The night of the 2010 USA Memory Championship I ended up getting about 45 minutes sleep. I felt awful competing but you know what? I had trained for that…and I won. National Champion!!

Jiu Jitsu – Do you know when I feel like training? Just about never.

I’m exhausted. I’m tired. My muscles hurt. I am constantly sore.

I never feel like training but always feel better when I leave.

Don’t be a wimp. Don’t wait until you feel like it to train. You’ll never get better