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Coaches Corner: My First Experience Coaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

So I’m sitting here reflecting on my experience coaching at the Western PA BJJ Championships at Baldwin yesterday, and figured it was a great topic for a blog post.

To this point in my life, I’ve only coached at tournaments as a Wrestling Coach. A while back, we decided that I’d help out with the Kid’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team though I (admittedly) had very little Jiu Jitsu experience. My knowledge on the sport consisted of training for a month in 2013, learning a few things from Coach Chaz, and competing in a tournament with basically just wrestling knowledge. Past that, I knew very little. But, Coach Travis needed an Assistant, and I’d worked with youth wrestlers for a while now, so it made sense to give it a try. Since then, a ton of students (and parents) have embraced our gym, learned a ton, and had a lot of fun. So much so that 8 of them decided to compete in a tournament this weekend.

Fast forward to today. 8 Kids show up at Baldwin High School to compete, and I have no idea what to expect. Most of these kids have been training less than 6 months, never competed before, and have very little knowledge on the sport in the scheme of things. They understand what the coaches have told them, but have never attended a Jiu Jitsu Event in their lives. They’re not even really sure what to expect. I wondered if our kids were prepared enough. I questioned (as any coach does) if myself, Coach Travis, Coach Chaz and Coach Josh had done everything in our power to prepare these kids for experience they were about to have. Then, I started thinking about what the kids had done leading up to this. Those kids that dedicated themselves to this for the last few months. Showed up for practice up to 5 times a week, and drilled as hard as you can expect a kid to drill. Those kids who sacrificed being out playing with their friends in exchange for hard work in a sweaty Gi. Were they ready? I’ll let the results speak for themselves.

I’m going to start with Jade. Our youngest (6) and perhaps most passionate competitor. The girl LOVES Jiu Jitsu, and she loves her teammates. She’s on the very young spectrum to be competing, but she said she wanted to give it a try, and decided to compete. Unfortunately, they didn’t have many competitors her age, weight, or experience level. So, they combined some brackets and put her with some older kids. Her first match, she gets paired up with an Orange Belt, 8 year old boy who outweighed her by at least 15 lbs. I think the final score was around 10-0, but I couldn’t be prouder of her effort. She listened to exactly what the coaches told her to do, and tried her absolute hardest to perform the techniques. The maturity and age of her competitor was a little bit too much for her. The important thing here was her will. She didn’t quit. She had to have known going in that she was a bit outmatched, but she threw everything she had at that kid, and it put a smile on my face.

Moving on to Jeremiah – this kid works his tail off in the practice room. He’s a tough kid with a great attitude for the Sport. He went out and battled extremely hard in his two matches. Ultimately, he fell a little short of a medal. But, the thing that impressed me the most about this kid happened while he wasn’t competing. He was paying attention to the matches throughout the day. Obviously supporting his teammates, but you could tell he was trying to understand and gain some knowledge from some of the other matches that happened through the day. Even in defeat, the kid was trying to learn and get better through watching and understanding what was going on. Growing up, I had a buddy named Adam Frey from Wrestling, and he taught me the importance of this. He would always sit there and watch matches and simulate from the sidelines as if it were him out on the mat competing. One time I asked him why he did this, and (paraphrasing) he told me it helped him get better through seeing things he didn’t know yet. It’s something that always stuck with me, and I still focus on matches in the same way. It was cool to see Jeremiah so intent on watching his teammates compete, and learning through watching. It reminded me of my old pal Adam, who has since passed away. I’m positive things are going to go better for Jeremiah in the future, and I know this was an excellent learning experience for him.

Then you’ve got Logan Koon. I was having a conversation with one of our adult competitors and he made a comment that went something like “What impressed me the most about a lot of these kids is they haven’t been training very long. 2-3 months isn’t a very long time to understand Jiu Jitsu or what’s going on out there.” Logan pretty much epitomizes that statement. He’s been at it for less than 3 months, and when given the opportunity to compete, jumped on it. He attended every single additional Saturday Session that we offered, and tried his hardest to put himself in a position to be successful. Obviously, he’s not going to understand or retain everything about Jiu Jitsu in 3 months, but he sure fought like hell at the competition. He ended up with a bronze medal after some hard fought battles. He listened to the coaches, tried (and succeeded) on a bunch of techniques, and left with some hardware. Pretty impressive after less than 50 Jiu Jitsu Practices.

Kids MMA Monongahela
Layla with Coach Josh – couldn’t find a photo with her wearing her medal

Speaking of not having a lot of experience, and doing well – let’s move to Logan’s sister, Layla Koon. One of the most intelligent students we have. My favorite thing about her (and this is echoed by the other coaches as well) is her eagerness to learn and ask questions when she doesn’t know something. Growing up, my dad always encouraged me to ask questions and try to understand everything I did as best as I could. He told me a story that I’ll paraphrase – when he was in technical school, anytime he was stumped on a subject, he’d raise his hand and ask the question. He developed a reputation in class for being the guy who asked a million questions about everything. Finally, his teacher had enough, and replied to one of his questions with “I don’t know Rick, why is the (explicit) sky blue?” That seemingly irrelevant story taught me a valuable lesson whether my dad knows it or not. If you don’t know, ask. People may get annoyed, but I’m not going to let that stop me from getting better. Anyways, that’s Layla – at the end of every class we ask “Does anyone have any Jiu Jitsu related questions?” Cue Layla asking at least 3 or 4… and I love it. The girl wants to learn. And it transitioned from the practice room to the competition mats. She went out and dominated all but one opponent on her way to a Silver Medal. Less than 3 months of training, and she already has knowledge of someone who has been doing this far longer. It’s going to take her a long way in the sport.

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Zach Geletei in the Middle, and Logan Koon on the left.

Zach Geletei was our next competitor. Another one without much experience, but this kid is a scrapper. He’s the type of kid who understands how important aggression is when you’re doing Jiu Jitsu. Also a kid that didn’t miss many training opportunities. When we put an opportunity in front of him, he was more than likely going to be there. And I can’t count the times he showed up early for class and got workouts in with Coach Josh. The little things add up in this sport. For him, they added up to a Gold in NOGI, and a Bronze in Gi. The thing that impressed me the most about him was his Wrestling skills. Admittedly, we didn’t have a lot of time to go into Wrestling techniques with the kids. Most of the takedowns they learned from the coaching staff were Gi Trips, a few throws, and one hour worth of double leg takedowns. Apparently Zach was paying attention to it all, and acted like a sponge. His wrestling was pretty on par yesterday, and he dominated a lot of his matches with solid positioning, and a great base. Excited to see how his Jiu Jitsu journey plays out, because he’s got the right attitude and skillset for this.

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Mason Sinagra in the Black on the right.

Mason Sinagra has been at it for going on 5 months now I believe. He’s been a student of the month at Octane mainly because he’s a grinder. Just pure work ethic and determination. He also listens very well. However, I’m glad he chose not to listen to me in his last match. Forgive me if I’m forgetting some details, but I believe he was down by about 4 points. I was yelling in for him to try to get positioning and tie the match up and perhaps send it to Overtime. Mason had other ideas, and slapped an arm bar to win the match right there. We haven’t gone over that technique that much. Maybe 2 or 3 times. But, he retained it because he drilled it so hard when he had the opportunity. And, it led to match success. He left the tournament with a Bronze in Gi, and a Silver in NOGI. More importantly, I think he left with a chip on his shoulder. He’s going to continue to work towards Gold when he gets another opportunity.

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Ryan Celaschi, in the Black Gi on the right.

Ryan Celaschi competed in both divisions. He’s testing for his Gray and White Belt this week, which means he’s been at this for just under 6 months now. However, he has an extensive Wrestling Background. For those of you that don’t know, Ryan placed 3rd in the State of Pennsylvania in Freestyle Wrestling last season competing for our Youth Wrestling School, Odyssey. Naturally as you all saw yesterday, wrestling crosses over very well to Jiu Jitsu. So, I expected a pretty good tournament from Ryan, and he lived up to those expectations. He ended up with a Silver in Gi, and 4th in NOGI. The Gi finals match is the one I want to focus on, and less on the results and more on the aftermath. The kid goes out and loses an Overtime heartbreaker for the Gold. Because Overtime ended tied, they gave the match to the competitor with the most submission attempts. Unfortunately, it went to the other kid. It’s different than the way we do things in Wrestling. There, we have no ties. You determine the match on the mat and go until someone scores the winning point. I was impressed with the way Ryan handled himself in defeat. Most kids would sulk, not understanding why they lost. Ryan kept his head high, shook the other kids hand, walked over and shook the coaches hand, and took it with grace. I’ve watched this kid for the last few years in Wrestling, and I’ve seen him get down on himself a fair share of times in defeat. In this instance, I was extremely proud of the way he handled himself and the way he took it like a man. Obviously, his on the mat performance was great, but it’s those little things that most people overlook that I like to focus on.

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Trinity McIntrye in the black Gi on the right.

Trinity McIntyre competed in Gi Only, She’s also testing for Gray and White Belt this week. Another one that never misses class. Honestly one of the hardest workers we have, always sprinting when asked to jog, going as fast as she can on the agility drills (bear crawls, baby crawls, etc). After this weekend, her new nickname is Killer, for a few reasons. First, this girl jumped on her opponents from the very beginning. She’s got a mean streak in her that one can only have growing up around brothers. You can tell that she doesn’t take a back seat to them at home, and she doesn’t take a back seat to the boys in competition. I was shocked when she beat a boy 12-0 in 3 minutes in her first match. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been knowing this girl, but after the match I looked at Coach Travis with a look of “what just happened?” Domination. The other reason she’s now going to be known as Killer is what happened after her Final Match. She got caught in an armbar, and had to tap out giving her the Silver. We preach winning and losing with Grace, and we expect that to be the Standard. Trinity.. well, Trinity is a bit of a different breed. After the match, she stands up, shakes the kids hand, and then pushes him to kind of make the statement that “I’m not going to back down from anyone.” Obviously, we made her apologize, shake the referees hand while looking him in the eye, shake her competitor and his coaches hand to teach her a lesson that it’s unacceptable behavior. Reflecting on it though, I kind of like the fire this girl has. Obviously, pushing her opponent wasn’t the appropriate way to go about it. But, she showed me that she hates, repeat, hates, losing. It’s a mentality that one must have if they’re going to be great at anything in life. We’ll work on her with how she went about it, and she’ll probably owe me some pushups as a result. But, Killer had herself a heck of a day, and I couldn’t be more proud of her results.

Overall, Octane MMA Kid’s Program had a ridiculously successful day. Going in, if you were to tell me that 6 of 8 of our kids, who are all first time competitors, would leave with Medals in Gi, I’d have probably told you that you need to manage your expectations. Those kids proved me wrong in the best way. With limited knowledge and an urge for the unknown, these kids went out and put 110% into every one of their matches. We’ll talk about the wins for sure. And we’ll learn from the losses. But, the thing that I’m taking from this as a Coach is the effort. ONE HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT. Every single one of them fought their butts off yesterday. Win or lose, I’m gleaming with pride today.

Thanks to all the parents, fans, coaches, families, and other Octane Team Members that came out yesterday. You all made this a very positive experience for these 8 kids. I cannot wait for my 2nd experience coaching at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament. Hopefully we’ll have many more competitors the 2nd time around, bring home twice as much hardware, and learn many more positive lessons that we can carry into our lives. Until then…

Coach Jason

Coaches Corner: Why I Enjoy Teaching Kids Martial Arts

We all question things from time to time. We want to delve deeper to understand why we do the things that we do. This can pertain to our jobs, our relationships, activities that we enjoy, or simply wondering about the future. In the past few weeks, I’ve found myself pondering a lot of these subjects, and have come to some conclusions that have allowed me to better understand the dynamics of my life. Through all of that, the one thing I didn’t question was my passion for working with children, particularly in our Kids Martial Arts Classes, and Youth Wrestling Classes. Even if I woke up tomorrow on a different continent, I’d find a way to help children in the athletics that I’m passionate about.

martial arts Monongahela
Myself (grey) and Coach Travis (Blue) speaking to the Kids during one of our “Life-Lesson” Talks

Right off the bat, the biggest conclusion that I can come to is that I had a strong mentor/coach when I was a child, and I want that for every kid. Yes, parents have a lot to do with the development of their children, raising them properly, etc. But, we all know that kids don’t always listen to their parents. Coaches play a significant role in impacting the lives of children, whether parents recognize it or not. My Youth Wrestling Coach taught me the value of hard work, respecting elders, discipline, goal-setting, perseverance, willpower, mental toughness, teamwork and so much more. All things my parents reinforced. And all lessons I diligently attempt to pass on to our Kids Martial Arts Students. When you think about it though, that’s generally all secondary when we think about Coaching. As a society, we view a Coach as someone who teaches our children to be good at Athletics. We tend to think more highly of the Coach who has the highest credentials in his or her given Sport. While there’s a bit of truth there, THAT is what we should be viewing as Secondary, especially with young athletes. In my opinion, the best thing I can do for a child at a developmental stage of his or her life is teach them life skills that will help them in the future; regardless if those skills have absolutely nothing to do with the sport or martial art that we’re studying. At Octane MMA, we talk about wanting to teach children to be more than athletes… we want to first teach them to be good people. It’s a philosophy that I wholeheartedly believe in, and practice on a daily basis at our gym. And, I have the freedom to do so, and the correct staff around me who share similar goals and ideals. It makes my job extremely fun and fulfilling.

karate monongahela
Me with Trinity, July 2016 Student of the Month, thanks in large part to her Community Service Efforts (she helped a struggling elderly woman pack groceries into her car, unprompted).

Aside from that, I enjoy working with Children because they’re so full of Energy, and make you feel like a kid again, even if for a few hours a week. Remember that television show “Kids Say The Darndest Things?” Welcome to my life as a Kids Martial Arts Instructor. I can’t count the amount of off-the-wall, “from left field” comments I’ve received from children that just make me stop for a second and smile. It makes me remember when I was a kid growing up with no responsibilities and a fresh, wide-eyed view of the world. Before bills and responsibilities caught hold of me. Back when everything I saw or did was absolutely remarkable and amazing, because I had never experienced it before. Working with children is fulfilling because you gain new perspectives on things, recount times when you were that age, and you can dive into their world of simplicity, even for a few moments. It’s a really rewarding experience.

And then, there’s the obvious “watching children progress athletically” angle to it all. It’s pretty fulfilling to start teaching an 8 year old in martial arts or wrestling, and see him learn and employ techniques and lessons that you taught him over the years. Then, you blink, and he’s a 14 year old post-pubescent young man who you’ve molded in a positive way. I can’t really describe that feeling in words. Perhaps my vocabulary isn’t advanced enough, or maybe that feeling is an anomaly.

But, I kind of view the athletic accomplishments as the least important aspect of it all. How many kids are going to grow up to be professional athletes? Less than 1% of the population. But how many kids are going to practice important life skills that they learned at a young age for the rest of their lives? Much higher than 1%. But, I digress. When I started coaching Youth Wrestlers 4 years ago, I had no idea what I was in for. They were needy, didn’t remember things very long, it was difficult to relate to them on an emotional level. And, worst of all, I treated them as if they had the same goals and mental awareness that I did when I was their age. I quickly learned every kid is different, and as a coach, you have a responsibility to identify personality traits in different student athletes, and tailor your coaching style to meet their needs. Since I came to that realization, things have been a lot better for everyone involved. And a heck of a lot more fun. I grew as a Coach as much as they grew as people. Everybody wins.

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Playing Dodgeball at the end of class. We always end with a game to keep things light, and make sure the children enjoy their training.

To sum it all up, I enjoy Coaching Children in Kids Martial Arts because they reinforce ideals that I know that are important and may have lost track of along the way. And it makes me smile. Kids can be very tough to work with sometimes. They can be moody, needy, unwilling to listen, and test how far they can push you. But there are also moments that they can be disciplined, respectful, funny, energetic, charismatic, helpful, friendly, and all around joyful. And it’s the little moments that make it all worth it. And there are plenty of those.

Top 3 Differences Between Jiu Jitsu and Karate

Parents tell us all the time that they tried out a traditional martial art such as Karate before ultimately landing on Octane MMA’s Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing classes for their child. I just wanted to take a few minutes and explain some key differences between our Jiu Jitsu & Kickboxing program, and a traditional Karate program.

#1 Ground Self Defense for Jiu Jitsu vs. Standing Self Defense for Karate

karate monongahelaKarate generally deals with self defense from a standing position. However, Jiu Jitsu is a martial art form that focuses on ground self defense. In a combat situation, things often get taken to the ground. If this happens, knowing how to defend yourself and subdue an opponent is of utmost importance. Jiu Jitsu is defined as a martial art form that teaches a smaller, weaker opponent to defeat a bigger, stronger opponent by use of technique, leverage, and joint manipulation. It will teach your child how to effectively stop an attack that happens on the ground by using reversals, sweeps, weight distribution, body movement, and submissions. Simply put, Karate focuses solely on self defense from a Standing Position. Jiu Jitsu focuses on self defense from the Ground.

What if I want my son or daughter to learn Standing Self Defense too?

Jiu Jitsu is just one part of our program. The other part is Kickboxing. Kickboxing is a Martial Art Form that combines elements of Karate, Boxing, and Tae Kwon Do. This teaches children to be comfortable in a standing position. We focus on movement, footwork, an array of punches and kicks, and most importantly, defense. While a traditional Karate program will teach you all of this, our program combines elements of both Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu for a more well-rounded Martial Arts base for children.

#2 Practicality of Jiu Jitsu

Simply put, Jiu Jitsu is a practical form of self defense. Children are learning take downs, and what to do when you find yourself on the ground, whether on top or bottom. It’s very practical from a self-defense standpoint considering most attack situations ultimately end with one person on top of the other. Karate is a very prestigious martial art form, don’t get me wrong. But, your child won’t learn ground grappling in a traditional Karate Program. Therefore, while they could learn every Karate technique known to man, it won’t help them if they find themselves on their back. Jiu Jitsu will.

#3 The Fun Factor of Octane MMA Kid’s Program

karate monongahelaKarate classes can be fun. Traditional Karate programs teach excellent life skills, respect, discipline, etc. Fortunately, our Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing classes teach the same set of life skills, if not more. But, unlike a traditional Karate class, we like to keep it really fun so the kids learn, but also really enjoy what they’re doing. Studies show that children have a 10-15 minute attention span doing an activity that they find enjoyable. Because of this, we mix games into our class curriculum. Children think they’re having fun playing a game. In reality, they’re learning important skills that will help them get better at Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing. Most traditional Karate programs don’t operate this way. However, this approach has been tried and tested at top Kid’s Martial Arts Gyms across the country. And, we practice this style of teaching right here in Monongahela.

If you’d like to try a class out, or learn more about our Program, please click below. There you’ll find details of what a typical class looks like, age range for students, our teaching philosophy, examples of life skills students will learn, and much much more! As always, our first class is absolutely Free.

www.octanemma.com/kids-martial-arts-classes

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO LEARN MORE!

Self Defense Training – Could You Truly Defend Yourself?

With more and more stories coming to light in regards to people being attacked or involved in some sort of altercation, would you be prepared in the event it happened to you? Odds are the answer is no. If you have never trained in some form of martial arts or self defense training, you’re at risk in the event of a physical altercation. According to Cornell University social psychologist David Dunning, PhD. (2003),
“People overestimate themselves,” he says, “but more than that, they really seem to believe it”.
This phenomenon of an overestimation of ones skill set can lead to disastrous results if the situation involves an attacker. Knowing how to defend yourself and thinking you know how to defend yourself are two different things.  There is a quote that says:
“When the time to perform arrives, the time to prepare has passed” – Author Unknown
Truer words have never been spoken. The time to prepare for a self defense situation begins long before that situation occurs.  But why not be prepared and ready if it ever comes to that point? If you have made the decision to prepare, be sure the self defense program you chose encompasses the following things:

 

#1 Physical Interaction

self defense classesWhile there are a number of online self defense and martial arts programs on the internet that are great to learn new techniques from time to time, they are worthless if you are not training inside a reputable gym with others. Why is training with others so important? Because you will have no way of testing your skills in a practice situation. Without training partners and someone to correct your mistakes, you could unknowingly be doing something completely wrong that will be ineffective when the time comes. Online training can be used a supplement, but can never replace the knowledge and experience you will receive working on self defense with like minded individuals.

 

#2 More Than One Martial Arts Style

Focusing on one martial art is absolutely better than nothing, but it is not ideal. A gym that offers classes in varied martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Krav Maga, Judo, Wrestling or the like will better serve you than a single discipline, if your goal is self defense training.

 

#3 A Structured Curriculum

self defense classes monongahelaHave you ever attended a class or seminar (self defense related or otherwise) where the person you paid to teach you seems scattered or like they are coming up with things at random? This is a telltale sign that they do not have a structured curriculum in place. We refer to this as the shotgun approach, and it is a terrible way to learn how to do anything. Having a path to success is one of the most important elements of self defense training. Without one it can take you much longer to see the same results.  As Ben Franklin said,

 

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

The last thing I’d like to touch on in regards to self defense is the element of common sense. Often times, people find themselves in an altercation that could easily have been avoided. Yes, there are times when you have no choice to defend yourself. However, sometimes walking away is the best course of action. If you find yourself in a situation where taking the high road isn’t an option, wouldn’t you rather know what you’re doing in a bad situation? Self Defense Training has saved lives across the country, and it may just save yours or a loved ones.

If you’d like to try out our #1 Self Defense Class (Kickboxing) for Free in Monongahela, PA, click below and fill out the form. We’ll get in touch with you and discuss everything we have to offer.

Kickstart My Self Defense Journey with a Free Kickboxing Class

 

Nervous or Tentative to Try Kick Boxing? Read This!

When a new student joins our Kick boxing Program, we always ask them a few simple questions. Besides learning about their goals, the main question we want an answer to is “what made you want to try Kick boxing.” The answers always vary from weight loss, self defense, learn something new, etc. Typically attached to their answer comes the most important thing… they tell us “I was really nervous to try it out” or “I’ve been wanting to try it forever, but I couldn’t work up the courage to come in.” It seems Octane MMA has fallen victim to the stigma in our Industry that Kick boxing = Fighting. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and we take steps to make sure our students feel welcomed & comfortable.

Friendly & Inviting Environment

The first thing you see when you walk into our gym is couches for our parent’s area. As soon as you walk in, we want you to feel comfortable and feel like you’re about to have a very different gym experience (because you are). We try very hard to be different than the prototypical “Fight Gym,” simply because that’s not us. Our gym and mats are clean, we have men’s and women’s locker rooms, and everything about our place screams “friendly.” We don’t want you to feel intimidated, or shy about coming to try Kick boxing. We want you to feel like you’re heading over to a friend’s house to hang out and learn something new. We understand that the idea of Kick boxing can be intimidating, and our culture is set up to destroy that intimidation factor.

Outgoing & Helpful Teammates

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An actual Kick boxing Class at Octane MMA in Monongahela

Our team is pretty remarkable and come from all walks of life. They all have one thing in common though… they’re good people. When new students come in to Kick boxing class, we find that a lot of our more advanced students bend over backwards to help them (without being prompted). If a new student is having trouble with a technique, you often see an advanced student jumping in to give them a hand with it. When a new student gets down in the dumps about anything Kick boxing related, these advanced guys and girls jump in and give them pep talks. It’s pretty much without fail. The camaraderie in our Kick boxing Classes is phenomenal to witness.  We’re not building a “Fight Gym,” we’re building a community of like-minded individuals who want something better for their lives. And, our advanced students understand this concept, and do a great job of helping us with our mission.

Personable Instructors

We do a lot of laughing in Kick boxing class. We have a lot of great personalities on our team, and everyone vibes pretty well together. Obviously, we’re there to get a great workout & reach our goals. But, we’re not drones, we’re human and we’re meant to have fun trying new things. We get that. So, our instructors go out of their way to make classes fun, engaging, and personal to you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, but the benefits are pretty unbelievable. We had a new student last week lose 10 lbs. in her first 6 classes. She has also absolutely loved her experience so far. Not because she’s lost weight. But, because we care about her & the journey that she’s on.  And we made her feel welcomed. We’re committed to helping her reach her goals, and she is committed to becoming a better student & person. Everybody wins.

No Sparring for Beginner Students

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“Bob” the dummy. One example of things you’ll be hitting in class.

When you’re a new student in Kick boxing, you won’t spar (fight with a human opponent). Heck, you won’t even hit a human opponent in drills. In fact, you’ll never be forced to spar. Once you reach a certain level, you’ll be given the option if you want it, but you’ll never be forced.

You’ll be doing most of your work on pads, mitts, bags, and dummies. You’ll certainly be hitting things and relieving stress. But, you never have to worry about walking in to work the next day with a black eye. Again, that’s not our style & we don’t practice that way. We’re completely committed to safety in our training.

Let Your Guard Down & Give Kick boxing a Try?

Listen, if you’ve been thinking about trying Kick boxing & are tentative about it, all I’m asking is that you give it a shot. Get out of your comfort spot for one night, and try it out. The thing you’ll find is behind the negative stigma of “Kick boxing = Fighting” are real people. Real, normal people who will help you if you let them. In our case, very personable people who want the best for you (even though we don’t know you yet). We’re all just people trying to get along in life, and you may end up making some new pals in the process. If this sounds intriguing, click the link below & fill out the form. We will call you to discuss your goals, and set up a day/time for you to try it out for Free.

Click Here to Try Out Kickboxing

Hopefully we’ll be seeing you soon.

Jason Weslager, Co-Owner, Octane MMA

Why Try A Kickboxing Workout?

Summer is right around the corner. For many people, fitness and moving towards living a more active lifestyle is at the top of mind. Maybe after the past holiday season, you went out and grabbed yourself a gym membership and have been pounding the treadmill everyday burning off the fat. But let’s be honest. Running on a treadmill is one of the most boring things in the entire world. You’d love to continue (or start) this “new you” but the treadmill thing just isn’t working out, and you cannot take another day of running in place. We’d love to introduce you to Kickboxing so that you can start or continue your fitness journey and burn even more calories.

kickboxing

The biggest concern we hear is that Kickboxing requires you to get punched, and people are nervous or fearful of that. Fortunately, that statement is untrue. Most of our work is done hitting pads, bags or mitts. In reality, Kickboxing is one the very best high intensity, high-energy workouts on the planet. Just search “Kickboxer” on Google and you’ll see images of real people around the world in peak physical condition as a result of Kickboxing Classes. Yes, many of these people are professional fighters, but at no time does Kickboxing require you to fight, spar, or anything else that involves more than getting one of the best workouts of your life.

With that said, let’s discuss some of the benefits kickboxing has to offer those looking for a new and exciting workout routine while leaving the treadmill behind.

You’re Going To Melt Fat

Kickboxing is a full body workout that combines HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with Cardio, ab exercises, speed and agility training which melts fat away and provides the user with a workout that is fun, engaging, and constantly changing to break the boredom.

FACT: Kickboxing has been shown to burn 750-1,000 calories per hour depending on the intensity of the class.

You’re Going To Learn Self Defense – If you are in a legitimate program.

womens kickboxingWhile for many, the idea of kickboxing is purely a fitness proposition, one of the side benefits is that you are going to learn how to defend yourself if you have chosen the right training program.  Like many things in life, not all programs are created equal. Some instructors use the calorie burning benefits solely for that and while students may feel that they are learning kickboxing, they’re really not.  A good program is going to have an instructor that focuses on proper technique so that while you may not be there for competition reasons, you will still know how to defend yourself if the time ever arises. Plus, you’ll be burning serious calories at the same time.

But why is that important if I am only there to get fit?

The short answer: Perfect practice makes perfect & not just practice.

The long answer is: Just like any other form of exercise, doing techniques improperly can lead to injury. Without being shown the proper way to do something you will run a much higher risk of injury from your training.  Plus if you have taken the time to dedicate yourself to a workout program, don’t you want to get the maximum benefit out of it?

You’re Going To Be More Confident

Making the decision to become physically fit and better yourself is like placing dominos in a line and tipping one over. Once the domino line begins, it doesn’t stop until the end. Often times, people suffer from a failure to start. But, once they make that first step towards achieving their goals, each additional step becomes easier. All you need to do is tip over that first domino, and you’re on your way. This leads to being more confident. Not just in your workouts, but in decision making and life. It breaks the barrier of entry and shows that things are achievable if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to starting and finishing things. Accomplishment is contagious!

Are You Ready To Start Training Kickboxing?

Click Here to Get Your Journey Started with a 5 Class Trial For Only $19.99

About the Author:

kickboxing monongahela

Chaz Sztroin is co-owner and the Head Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and NOGI Grappling Instructor for Octane MMA. He’s been involved in Martial Arts for most of his lifetime, including a Black Belt and National Title in Tang Soo Do. He has also trained exclusively in Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, MMA, and NOGI Grappling through different periods of his life.

3 Ways to Get a Mental Edge in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Let’s discuss the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Mindset:

The biggest, strongest, most talented competitor doesn’t always win. Let that sink in for a minute. You can be the most talented, technical Brazilian Jiu JItsu practitioner in your gym, or in your tournament weight class, and you may still come up short. It’s not because you don’t want to win. It’s because you haven’t mastered the mental aspect. The mental edge is arguably the most important aspect a competitor in any sport can acquire.

As a lifelong wrestler, I consider myself extremely mentally tough when it comes to competing. It’s difficult to describe, but prior to a match, your mind takes you on a journey. Self-doubt tries to creep in and negatively affect your preparation. Mental toughness is the art of drowning that out, and confidently believing that you’re the best, you’re going to win, and nothing will stop you.

I certainly wasn’t born with mental toughness. It was developed over many years of competition. I can vividly remember at a young age looking over at an opponent who had a reputation for being very good, and telling my dad “I’m going to lose this one. He’s too good.” What a horrible, self-defeating attitude. Even if I was every bit as skilled as that wrestler, stronger, and better trained, there was no way in Hell I was winning that match. Why? Because I talked myself out of it before ever stepping on the mat. I believed I was going to lose, and I did (by a lot of points). Fast forward 10 years to my Senior Year in High School, and I beat that same opponent to earn a berth in the State Finals. How did that happen? Magic? Luck? None of the above. I developed a mental game to go along with my physical game using some of the tips I’m about to share with you.

Don’t Rely Only on Yourself… Lean on Your Coaches & Teammates

brazilian jiu jitsuAll of us have support systems in life. Specific to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we have coaches and teammates. It’s imperative that we trust and believe in them before we can believe in ourselves. As a coach, I tell my athletes that when I yell advice from the corner, it’s not a guess. It’s become I see something that they don’t based on years of experience. For an athlete to gain a mental edge, he or she has to unconditionally trust that their coaches and fellow training partners have their best interest in mind. Once you accept that fact, a whole new world opens up from a mental standpoint.

Often times your coaches believe in you more than you believe in yourself. If a coach corrects you on a technique, don’t take it personally. Use it as a learning experience knowing that they’re looking out for you. Their advice and guidance can take you a long way in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but the key word is trust. Just as in any relationship, if trust isn’t there, it won’t work.

Never Say “I Can’t” — Say… “I Cant, YET.” – The Power of Positive Thinking

brazilian jiu jitsuToo often in life, we tell ourselves “I can’t do that.” We see something remarkable happen and think to ourselves that we’ll never be capable to achieve the same. Here’s a secret… can’t simply means you won’t. Can’t is you telling yourself that it’s too difficult, would take a lot of practice, and you don’t want to put in the effort to achieve the same. This is a mentality that is unacceptable if you want to be a skilled Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner.

A few years ago, we held a Wrestling Camp with an Olympic athlete named Jake Herbert. He’s one of the most upbeat, energetic, and positive people I’ve come across in a long time. As he was running a warmup, he had the youth wrestlers trying to walk on their hands (not an easy task if you’ve ever tried it.) One of the kids said “I can’t do that.” Coach Herbert got everyone’s attention and told all of the kids that the proper term is “I Can’t Yet.” There’s something powerful in admitting that you’re unable to do something right now, but if you practice, you’ll eventually reach that level. Changing a simple phrase in your mind can have a profound effect on your psyche. I’m proud to say that the same kid who said “I can’t walk on my hands” practiced it every day since that camp. He can now walk about 100 feet on his hands, and his upper body strength has drastically improved. And only because he believed it was possible.

Something as simple as changing “I can’t do a Flying Armbar to “I can’t do a Flying Arm Bar…yet” puts a positive spin on a negative implication. Clearly you’re not going to master such a difficult technique on your first try. You might not have it down on your 500th attempt. But with poise, practice, and positive thinking, you are very capable of mastering that technique. You just have to believe it.

Part of acquiring that mental edge is telling yourself that nothing is impossible. It sounds cliché, but it’s entirely true. You just have to believe it.

Try This Easy Mental Imagery Exercise

brazilian jiu jitsuThis term was introduced to me in 10th grade by my High School Wrestling Coach, Mel Gray. Mental imagery is loosely defined as closing your eyes, and envisioning that you’ve mastered a specific technique, or reached all your goals. Let me preface this by saying… it sounds stupid and like a waste of time. But it’s the #1 thing I’ve ever done to help with a mental edge.

When you go to bed tonight, I want you to test this out. Prior to closing your eyes, think about one Brazilian Jiu Jitsu technique you’d like to improve, and one Brazilian Jiu Jitsu related goal. For this example, I’ll use a Rear Naked Choke, and winning a tournament.

When you close your eyes, go through the steps of the setup to the Rear Naked Choke. Imagine you just sprawled, and took your opponent’s back. Imagine your opponent turtling, and think about the steps you’ll have to take in order to open up the neck. Envision yourself taking the neck and sinking in the arm. Now, he puts his chin down and you need to sink it in deeper. You’ve now sunk it in deeper and your squeezing as hard as you can. Your opponent taps, and you’ve won. Go ahead and repeat the entire sequence again in your mind, over and over again. This is mental imagery. Imagining events exactly as you envision they’ll take place.

Moving on, your other goal is to win a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament. Don’t imagine how you’ll win the tournament. Imagine yourself standing atop the podium. Take in the environment around you. The look on your opponent’s face as he accepts his 2ndplace medal. The feeling that you’d feel if you were on the 2nd step of the podium. The glee you’ll feel when you put your neck down to have that Gold placed around your neck. The fans cheering when your name is announced. And the sense of self-satisfaction you will have knowing that you’ve achieved your goal. Now, repeat that imagery time and again.

There’s a power to mental imagery. I’ll be the first to admit that when this process was first explained to me, I laughed and thought it was dumb. But, after trying the exercise many times, I learned to envision things before they happened. And often times, the things I thought about ended up coming to fruition. Mental imagery helped me clearly define my goals, and areas of my game that needed to get better.

Key Takeaways from this Article:

1) Mental toughness is paramount to success in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and life.

2) Rely on your coaches and teammates. They have your best interest in mind, and will do anything they can to help you achieve your goals, whether they be Brazilian Jiu Jitsu related or not.

3) Say “I can’t yet” when faced with a challenge you don’t think you can overcome yet. Never use can’t as a standalone do-all-end-all

4) Try mental imagery. You’ll be shocked by the results.

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About The Author:

octane mma brazilian jiu jitsuJason Weslager (pictured in the White Hat) is Co-owner & Head Wrestling Coach at Octane MMA. He wrestled competitively for about 15 years, including some college wrestling experience. Along the way, he won a Youth State Title, A High School National Championship, and concluded his High School Wrestling Career with a Runner-Up finish at the PA High School State Tournament (arguably the toughest State Tournament in America). After his competition days, Weslager began coaching at Fort Leboeuf High School, where he helped guide them to a AA Pennsylvania Team State Title. He then moved on to his alma mater, Belle Vernon High School, where he’s held a coaching position for the past 7 years. In his time there, he’s coached 11 State Medalists, and 1 State Finalist. In 2015-16, he helped guide the Leopards to their best Team finish in School History, where they finished 3rd in the PA Team Championships winning a WPIAL Title along the way.

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Top 5 Reasons to Try Kids Jiu Jitsu

Kids Jiu Jitsu is one of the hottest martial arts programs for kids on the planet right now. Mixed Martial Arts schools everywhere have been adding Kids Programs as a way to teach children an array of skills that will help them in multiple aspects of their life… If you don’t know what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is, it’s a martial art and self defense system that focuses on grappling and ground self defense (much like youth wrestling). Students learn how to defend themselves from their backs, submissions, submission defense, reversals, sweeps, and much more.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons you should think about it for your son or daughter.

1. Kids Jiu Jitsu Teaches Problem Solving

kids jiu jitsu monongahela

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not something you learn in a day. It takes years to practice and perfect. There are going to be techniques your son or daughter doesn’t understand at first glance. Some of these techniques will take them out of their comfort zone. But, it will also teach them to effectively solve the problem and think of creative solutions to put their own spin on a technique. If you want to get your son or daughter thinking outside the box, Kids Jiu Jitsu is the perfect outlet.

2. Teaches Self Defense

Bullying is such a gross word. The fact that children are being bullied in schools is sickening. If all children took Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, bullying would be a thing of the past. Kids Jiu Jitsu teaches children how to effectively defend themselves from multiple positions. Like most martial arts schools, we preach that students aren’t to use their new-found skills outside of the classroom UNLESS it’s for self-defense purposes. Parents can rest assured that their children will be able to keep themselves safe from bullying after taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes.

3. Teaches Respect

kids martial arts monongahela

Your child will learn respect through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Students bow everytime they enter and exit the training floor, as well as before and after class. To learn, they must be attentive and pay attention to the instructor. Students are taught respect for their peers, instructor, and most importantly, themselves. They learn that when the instructor is speaking, they’re to listen and learn.

Note: I cannot stress this enough. The morals and values we teach NEED to be reinforced at home. If we teach your child something, it won’t sink in unless you’re reinforcing similar values. If everyone works together as a team (instructors, parents, children), you’ll see noticeable improvements in behavior outside of Kids Jiu JItsu Class.

4. It’s So Much Fun

Our Kids Jiu JItsu program is relatively new. The one thing that stands out from parent feedback is they’ve all told us that their children have fun in class, and that’s why they want to come back.

Our structure is unique in that we blend teaching with games. We’re not just playing games to give the kids a break either. Our Jiu Jitsu Games teach them skills. They think they’re just having fun, but in reality, they’re learning new techniques. Just in a unique way that doesn’t feel like “work” to the children. It’s a proven system that we learned from the #1 Kids Jiu Jitsu School in America. And we practice it right here in Monongahela, PA.

5. Kids Use Energy in Positive Ways

As a parent, how many times have you said this referring to your child: “I wish I had that much energy!” It’s pretty ridiculous how much energy kids have to expend. Their metabolisms work much faster than us adults, so they can constantly move around for hours at a time. That’s where many parents turn to traditional sports; baseball, football, etc. However, in one hour of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, children will expend more energy than they would in those traditional sports. And, they’re using it in a positive way. They’re not just learning a sport. They’re learning a way of life that will teach them how to defend themselves, get them a great workout, teach respect and discipline, and teach them to effectively find creative solutions to their problems.

If you’d like to come in and try a class out for Free, simply click below and fill out the form on the next page. We’ll contact you within 48 hours to discuss the reasons you’d like your son or daughter to take Kids Jiu Jitsu classes, and get you set up with a day and time to come in and try it out.

Click Here to Get a Free Class or a 5 Class Trial for $19.99

 

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