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erik owings martial arts expert

Black Belt Stands for Beginner – Erik Owings

Mushin martial arts head coach , BJJ black belt and wellness mastermind Erik Owings hits another home run with this really well thought out blog post about what a black belt really means in any martial art.

Hands down one of the smartest practitioners in the arts Erik has a wealth of knowledge and anyone able to should take the opportunity to learn from him his main academy is located in Manhattan website is       http://www.mushinnyc.com/


Erik Owings – Blackbelt stands for Beginner

The title isn’t click bait. It is a fact. At least for Japanese based martial arts. Shodan means “beginner’s degree.” Far too many people think it means you are a master. I have written much about the coveted blackbelt and sometimes I get a lot of slack from people in the community.

erik owings martial arts expert

There are plenty of blackbelts who have a really solid understanding of the full spectrum of jiu jitsu and they actually have a really solid understanding of many other complementary martial arts such as judo, wrestling, kickboxing, and escrima. They have self defense, sport competition, and mma competition knowledge and often times experience. They are the complete package that continues to improve over the years through technical advancements in the art and resistive training.

Then there are those who get good at reciting a certain passage of jiu jitsu poetry if you will.

They have a really good passing or sweeping sequence. They have a nasty heel hook or triangle choke. A vicious spider guard or half guard game.

They are fairly ignorant to a vast majority of jiu jitsu but in a real life roll or competitive match they can drag you into their game and beat the piss of almost anyone. Because they can beat in competition any blackbelt, they are considered a world class blackbelt.

A specialist does great until they have to fight a well rounded person for real. To be fair, the specialist isn’t guaranteed defeat in the all out combat. As their opponent could be dumb enough to fight them where they are strongest, or they may just happen to be a real master and be able to coerce whoever they want to fight them on their terms. So I won’t say that all specialists are hackers. Some are quite intelligent, extremely skilled, and absolutely worthy of the ranking and praise.

great fight of one of canada’s most well rounded jiu-jitsu practitioners Carlos newton vs Pele Landi.

There is a wide variety in the quality of blackbelts in jiu jitsu (from my own experience) and I would imagine most other martial arts as well. Since there are many distinct interpretations of what constitutes a blackbelt I think it isn’t really fair to say the real way is beating the belt above you to get your next belt. I think it should be a curriculum. If I had to explain vaguely without giving away my secret sauce it would be as follows.


Blackbelt curriculum

-Self defense against ignorant uses of force

-Kickboxing: Offense / Defense

-Closing the Gap

-Takedowns: Upper Body and Lower Body

-Takedown Defense

-Standing Submissions

-Guard Pulling

-Closed Guard: Defense / Offense

-Open Guard: Defense / Offense

-Half Guard: Defense / Offense

-Back: Defense / Offense

-Mount: Defense / Offense

-Side Mount: Defense / Offense

-Transitional Positions Past Guard: Defense / Offense

-Choke Holds: Defense / Offense

-Arm Locks: Defense / Offense

-Leg locks: Defense / Offense

-Striking on The Ground: Defense / Offense

-Gi and No Gi Application of all of the above

That is what a blackbelt should know. Some categories only have a few really relevant moves and some have a dozen or more. This can all be taught coherently and systematically over the course of approximately 3,000 hours and the person would be highly skilled.

Some may cry, “3,000 hours is too short, everyone knows it takes at least 10,000 to master something!” I say to those people, “Stop quoting Malcolm Gladwell’s dumb ass!” His book Outliers was a gross manipulation of the research of Anders Ericsson. His research shows it takes 3,000 to 20,000 hours to reach mastery. Gladwell just said 10,000, and the world assumed that must be the facts.


Plus, lets go back to the beginning of the article. Shodan means beginners degree, not master. Blackbelt means you can speak. Any 4 your child can speak their native language just fine. It doesn’t mean they don’t need to learn more, it just means that they are able to speak.

That is what the blackbelt should be in jiu jitsu.

Then you don’t have this elitism, where all blackbelts walk around like they are a Renzo Gracie, BJ Penn, Murilo Bustamante, or Damien Maia. Those guys are legends and there are hundreds if not thousands more. However so many people act like getting a blackbelt is a major achievement, when in actuality is as significant as being able to speak a new language. It is a skill and just that.

bustamante cross choke

Not to diminish it to nothing, but being good at jiu jitsu is no different than being good at Call of Duty or tennis. It is just where you choose to focus your efforts.

Now if you have logged in over 3,000 hours of real training and you aren’t good at jiu jitsu in both the gi, no gi, and understand how to fight for real. Then you may want to rethink your training program.

I was able to speak Portuguese fluently in less than a year. Why? Did I grow up speaking Spanish or some other latin language? Nope. I just studied and practiced with a nation full of Portuguese blackbelts. I made lots of mistakes and got laughed at a bit, but also had a lot of people correct me and teach me once they saw that I wanted to learn their language. Imagine if I just learned how to tell women they are beautiful, say witty phrases, some popular slang, and swear words.

Kinda like learning how to pull guard and leg lock or triangle choke. Maybe I would be effective at making people laugh and getting laid, but I probably wouldn’t be fun to talk to for somebody who can’t speak English. That is how most people are in jiu jitsu. They are fun to train with for another competitor but not for the average person because their jiu jitsu has too many holes and uses too much strength. The ego dominates the training and teaching.

Sticking to the language analogy. Imagine if you never learn the alphabet and never get taught correct pronunciation. Imagine if people tell you certain topics are off limits and you shouldn’t talk about them. You probably won’t learn the language.

Another thing to consider is application of what you learn. I consider myself a Shodan in Portuguese. I got to where I can have a fluent conversation but never went deeper. It served it’s purpose for what I wanted from it. I think that is how most people view jiu jitsu.

The vast majority of practitioners do not want to compete in jiu jitsu tournaments or mma matches. Most do not want to even get into a street fight. They want to learn a skill that could one day come in handy but hopefully that day never comes. They want a way to improve their health and fitness while being involved in a community of like minded people from a broad spectrum of society. However most people are being led astray about the difficulty and commitment of what it takes to get a blackbelt in jiu jitsu.

3,000 hours isn’t much, considering the average person watches tv or internet over 40 hours per week. That means in 18 months the person could put the same amount of time into jiu jitsu. To be fair the body would probably break down. So lets say 10 hours per week. That would take 6 years. That isn’t a lot of time when you get down to it, but it is way too much time if you don’t want to actually do it. In the end the only thing that matters is the journey, not the destination. I must say my 3rd degree blackbelt means nothing to me at this point in time. I know that I know way less than I would like to know about so many things. I’m not a master, I am a practitioner. Everyone can get their blackbelt and they should aim to be a blackbelt in many things.

Better yet instead of Shodan, beginner’s degree, I would like to suggest that we all strive to achieve Shoshin, beginner’s mind. I will leave you with the words of the great D.T Suzuki, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Jiu Jitsu Kaizen Shodan Black Belt Shoshin



classes at core bjj in the gi

Core Jiu-Jitsu & Grappling | 2018 Mississauga BJJ belt promotions

New system for belt promotions @ Core BJJ Mississauga

Some healthy buzz going around regarding the 1st of the series of 2018 students curriculum’s and lesson plans, that’s good because they are going to be a solid tool in helping guide both new and experienced students stay on track while covering the right technique’s and concepts being focused on by the group at our Mississauga BJJ academy.

The plethora of free info available today can actually work against you as a someone trying to learn Jiu-Jitsu.  with too much going on you master very little and with BJJ skill development being the goal here we’ve taken the stance of running the core curriculum as a base to build around, in addition to whatever else is taught or worked on by you individually.

The russians put it best explaining the benefits of steady practice and a solid understanding before jumping all over the map in terms of training…

quote detailing the process behind at curriculum


BJJ evaluations focused on both form and function

As a martial arts & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools go most seem to land squarely in one of two camps, either more focused on Form or Function.

By  Form that I mean sticking to the pre-set ways of doing things according to the “style and tradition” as dictated by the higher ranking belts . Keeping with the concepts and strategies being presented as time tested and effective.  The other side of the coin lies with those more interested developing the best skill set to get the job done when needed.

Honestly in a tournament or confrontation of any sort are you more concerned with good results or doing thing according to the book?? This is heavily highlighted in the competitive realm of the sport bjj,  styles and tactics evolve so quickly it can be easy as a student to be so caught up in the latest sweep or submission popular that month/year  and end up lacking many of the key basics the leave you with a more complete BJJ skill set.

we’ve fixed things up at the elite but a few years ago this was strongly the case with some of our most successful competitive students ” who remembers the 24/7 Berimbolo days :)” lol nothing agains the berimbolo but i stand by the reasoning if you cant hip escape you may want to address that movement 1st:)

just to prove it here are two berimbolo masters in action

Core BJJ testing structure fix going forward

Really quite sensible when you think of it, with the belts being given the 4 stripes at each level going forward the promotions will be based on both the academic / technical understanding of the curriculum in addition to the real world application of things.

Going about things this way ensures we are all on the same page technique wise & still ensures promotions are based on more than just competitive results or the ability to simply duplicate the movement a few times while being evaluated.

Mississauga BJJ belt promotion process

1-general grasp of the technique ( 2 ) practical application of those moves..(3) More advanced technique from the list at that belt  (4) enhanced application of the new technique and a VERy solid understanding and ability to apply the fundamentals from the belt introduced in phase 1.

bjj belt system in mississauga

This new graduated ranking system should help keep everyone on track to their respective goals in the art whether that be hobby, personal study or competitive aspirations.

To download your copy of th student curriculum email me directly here and I will get you the appropriate testing sheet and upcoming lesson plans.



no post is complete without some must watch footage.. in this some classic roger gracie doing what he does to such a masterful degree



henry and bjj legend rickson gracie

Henry Aikins Hidden Jiu-jitsu Workshop @ Core BJJ | August 13th

Henry Aikins Hidden Jiu-Jitsu Touches down in Mississauga

mississauga bjj seminar with henry aikins

Mississauga BJJ does it again.. this time with a ground breaking seminar featuring none other than Rickson Gracie black belt Henry Aikins.

Henry Akins is one of very few black belt promoted directly from  Rickson Gracie  former instructor at the main Rickson academy in California, US.  Regarded by many as one of the  best black belts produced by the legendary Gracie, Henry’s views on the “fundamentals” of BJJ and style of instruction make him one of the most sought after and highly regarded instructors in the industry.

Trusted enough by Rickson to lead his academy as head coach for years we are very excited to be welcoming him for the first ever GTA area seminar.

Take a look at some footage below

The workshop taking place Sunday august 13th from 12pm – 3pm

at the Mississauga Elite Training Centre


Full sign up registration is available here —–>>

Take a look at some clips highlighting his work below and we hope to see you there

Again here is the link to the registration for the workshop——->> Click to register

takeaways from the big match

Roger Vs Buchecha 2 | Judo vs Wrestling & There’s no escape

Gracie vs Buchecha | Takeaways from the Clash of the Titans


The long awaited match went down this past weekend in Rio with Roger Gracie coming out on top by collar choke from the back to solidify himself as the best of this generation.

Some people equated this to some form of match to see whether new school or old school Jiu-Jitsu was best and I don’t see it that way. Instead what we’ve been shown is Jiu-Jitsu works and when used right it gets the job done since good technique never goes stale.


My Observations –

In the Gi Defensive judo come in handy

A lot of BJJ players have tossed the standup element in the trash racing to play guard or sweep which is fine but at the middle weight and up divisions we’ve seen a resurgence of champions working on their wrestling to claim top position.  A good idea for sure as controlling the range of combat is super important at all levels but given the fact the action in these events is taking place in a kimono it looks like building the grip fighting and ties up often used in JUDO seem like the best bet for fighting at a distance.

Wrestling has a lot more than just leg attacks  in the tool box but it is super hand to implement many of the techniques if in gripping distance and your opponent knows how to tie you up.

Roger did a good job of shutting down double and single legs with effective gripping.

gri fighting in action


To clarify I’m not saying any style is better than another and personally think without a Gi wrestling is more easily implemented than Judo but playing to the rules and battlefield is always smart so as a high level competitor facing a Leandro lo  Felipe Pena, Eberth Santos or Xande Ribiero  effective use of the Gi standing is a must.


Points  vs Sub Only |Mentality make the match

This is an argument that can and will go on for days so I won’t open this can of worms except to give my opinion that the mentality of the athletes makes the match. My personal preference was the Metamoris rules but the recent growth of the art has created another divide in participants as to what’s best EBI vs IBJJF??

Nothing is perfect but a point scoring system that penalizes bad position in some way is my preference.  Watching some of the sub only matches deteriorate to hapless  submission attempts looking to ride things out till overtime doesn’t sit well with me .Especially given the option of taking the back or Arm-lock to start that overtime period. Its a nice game to play for some but not the jiu-jitsu i know on a fundamental level.

If two game competitors step to the mat intent o proving who was really best and not just winning however they could you get great matches under any rule set.

Sometimes there is no escape

Roger takes the crown in this unofficial GOAT matchup between the best big men in the art of all time but watching him force Buchecha to the turtle reminded me of something Saulo said over lunch once… “anything under Roger dies”.

These is a certain level of Jiu-jitsu proficiency that when reached is pretty much fatal for the opponent , making avoidance key.


When we are looking at guys like Roger & Kron Gracie, Marcelo Garcia, Rafa Mendes or prime Terere + JJ Machado” these guys   and they establish Establish the back in the GI you are likely not getting out any way outside of tapping.

No loosers in this one as we were treated to a inter-generational duel that could have easily not happend unless both warriors put it on the line as they did simply put right now you’ve Gotta love Jiu-Jitsu

A BJJ Black belts said this??

Reality hits hard part #2 | A BJJ black Belt really said that??

Reality hits  hard part #2 | You wont believe a BJJ black belt said this


Funny I was talking with a close friend who took the liberty of spell checking my recent blog post about the Mayweather vs Mcgregor super fight.

A long time friend he one of the very first people to highlight my general disregard for grammar and the basic conventions / rules of written english.. spell checking me since my very first Facebook days this time he noticed I made a mistake in  that I said boxing isn’t MMA and Mayweather would clean the floor with him in the octagon..

This was obviously the opposite of what I meant in that Conor would walk right through Mayweather in a Mixed martial arts rule set.

Brase youself for this, but much to my surprise he disagreed with me  on the grounds that

“Conor was not as deep double leg take-down guy and Mayweather would catch him on the way in.”

Remember those delusional people and their  Elvis sightings?? Well ya this is a perfect example of that LOL

elvis lives before mayweather beats mcgergot

What makes this really bad

We all know those MMA fan boys, everyone’s got a friend or two watched a few episodes of Joe Rogan podcast and the latest series of UFC fights & all of a sudden they are an expert on all things fight related .

If it was one of those i’d just say OK, discount it as more babble from the general public that make up the masses in every sport, but not this guy. BJJ black belt, and one of the original MMA pioneers I know of in Canada.. were talking about fighting before its cool or financial incentive to be stepping the cage… so this is a real dude.

If he could be this deluded I had to stop and say to myself whats really going on here??

Dangerous Misconceptions about Grappling / BJJ & how a fight really goes down

People watch UFC’s and don’t see any Jiu-jitsu or  watch a guy countering it and winning decisions via jab and jog  and counter grappling tactics, to the untrained eye its easy to get why they now could assume BJJ is ineffective in a fight..

This could be no further from the truth..

Taking it past the sport of MMA where everyone knows the basics of  a Jiu-Jitsu approach to ground fighting and also disregarding any of the pre-rehearsed concepts that often pass as self defense the real thing goes down a lot different than most people are training. Just follow the logic….

When you have a boxing match why are there are 3 men in the ring (2 fighters 1 ref) ? Simple if you didn’t it would be a non stop clinch fest. Two skilled strikers and I mean even remotely close in ability leads to both people working to find that opening often taking a step  forward and ending up clinching.. “ if you are smart” .

bjj , mma, boxing clinching happens

The alternative as displayed in the recent Justin Gathjee vs Michale Johnson UFC barn-burner, This is a slug fest with no real winners as both guys took way too much damage in that macho brawl.  Sure the crowd loved it and it earned them that 50k bonus money but high IQ fighters (Mayweather) don’t get it in like that. “Mayweather is actually a master clincher even in boxing..

Simple fix From the original BJJ perspective

Properly trained Jiu-Jitsu artist the answer is simple GRAB them in some form of a clinch and the Take-down is almost automatic.

As a matter of fact and this is going to be hard for many to believe but watch some old fights or street fights and you’ll see that when you body lock someone with any precision the odds are the non Grapplers reaction is to throw you backwards or headlock you on top of them in an attempt to roll you over.

Supporting evidence is good take a look ” imo there are no winners in these cell phone challenge matches but this is a good example of how powerful even a little BJJ is vs the untrained and pretty much exactly how Mayweather Mcgregor would go”

I know totally not what you want to do but that’s what te untrained reaction to close contact is. Takedowns are easy vs the non grappler and id bet anything thats what happens with Mayweather vs Conor if Mcgregor in any type of MMA setup.

The most overlooked part of Jiu-Jitsu

Clinch work is the root of fight based BJJ and heavily overlooked in preference of more sportive leg attacks and throws that are needed vs another educated grappler.

It starts with basic understanding of how to punch and kick offensive and defensively from there armed with just the basics you’ll find its pretty easy to close the distance vs another striker.  The alternative is charging in like this poor fellow just praying he can get the fight to the ground. OUCH

Dont use MMA as your barometer of whats working in terms of real world fight skills ,everyone is the UFC is training some form of grappling now so what you see there doesn’t equate to a real style vs style match up or action vs the untrained individual.


My advice to Jiu-Jitsu practitioners is even if you don’t plan on fighting anyone in the parking lot on your way home after practice learn how to negotiate the distance on feet so you could position yourself in a fight dominantly if things ever go off track or you ever end up having to fight Mayweather in the octagon

Connors a bright guy smart enough to talk himself into this 100 million dollar fight and also smart enough to take the educated approach if they were ever to meet in the octagon

Never say never .. most of us never saw this boxing super fight coming up either lol


Game changing Guard passing Concept | Leg Drag

Leg drag’s change the BJJ guard passing Game

If you watch BJJ / Jiu-Jitsu actively you have got to agree all the best passers have a few techniques/ ideas in commong one we can not overlook to develop a complete passing and attacking guard is the Leg Drag..

The idea of crossing a guys legs up and passing back in towards the legs im sure is nothing new BUT given the number of highly level players using its the leg drags taken on a life of its own. Applicable from just about every position you dont want to overlook this guard passing strategy.


Some background on this game changer

First time i saw it clearly demonstrated was Chekmat BJJ leader Leo Viera teaching it in Hawaii in the mid 2000’s.

Prior to that your see it in scrambles in matches as early as the  90’s and even a really primitive version some times in mma but now as i said its take on a life of its own.

Remember grips and hand position are going to vary but the overall goal of spiting the knees is what im calling the leg drag for the same of this post (some people look at it as a step in using a weave to pass as well)

Common uses

1-Passing delariva guard

Variation off the Torreando guard pass

This is a really good as it highlight my point about the movement being more powerful than any one grip

Guard passing grandmasters (mendes bros in action)

Here is a solid highlight that really shows how variable the concept is, Rafa and Gui Mendes put this passing sequence to serious work always keeping the guard player under pressure the brothers and rodolfo veira are two sets of mundial champions who make the leg drag a staple in their grappling toolkit.

here is a highlight of RAFA Mendes using it in every possible way

Mississauga BJJ students be ready we are hitting the leg drag hard this week so touching up on these videos is only going to help.



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