*Contributed by EGA Black Belt and Coach, Joe Pomarico
In every major combat sport, from novice to the professional level, competitors rely on a coach or series of coaches for guidance before, during, and after competition. Competitive Jiu Jitsu is no different, and having an experienced coach is a necessity which should not be overlooked. Even Gordon Ryan, who is hailed as the No-Gi G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) has John Danaher in his corner as he enters into battle on the big stage.
Prior to competition, the coach has several responsibilities including informing the competitor of the specific rule set and points system. The coach helps develop a strategy or game plan, utilizing one’s strong suits while also providing adjustments to areas in need of extra attention. Functional and live scenario drilling is incorporated into the training regimen as we look to mimic possible situations which the competitor may face in the heat of battle.
During competition, the coach serves as the controller or ‘joystick’ (as Coach Mike Palladino has been quoted) by articulating direct and detailed instructions in real time to the competitor with the goal of providing the most efficient way to victory. Other responsibilities during the competition include but are not limited to; informing the competitor of the time and score, reminding the competitor of his or her position and objective, and keeping the referee in check. After competition, both the coach and competitor can review film, with the coach offering his or her unbiased opinion, citing strengths and areas in need of improvement.
Without question, having a coach in your corner is more beneficial than not, and having the right coach will give you a competitive advantage over your opponent; it’s equivalent to having a ‘cheat code’ in some regards. It is worth nothing, however, while having an exceptional coach is a blessing, it’s only one side of the coin. Being or becoming coachable is the other.
Being coachable begins with having unwavering trust in your coach and the experience he or she brings to the table. It is necessary to remind ourselves that our coach is analyzing our training and matches from a third person perspective. Simply put, the coach can see things the competitor cannot, giving them the ability to convey the correct adjustments in real time. In a competition, it is up to the competitor to use that unwavering trust to react without hesitation…something I personally struggled with for many years. To be clear, trust was always there. My ability to react, however, has been a work in progress.
Becoming coachable also entails developing a game plan with your coach while attempting to execute it during functional training, even if it’s at the expense of losing rounds. Just like anything, practice and dedication is the foundation of success. To no surprise, the majority of my wins at brown and black belt have all come under the coaching of Mike, while my short falls have come at the expense of not having a coach or failing to execute when Mike presented opportunities.
Even as a black belt, the hardest rounds I experience in the training room have always occurred when Mike coached my training partner, regardless of their experience or belt level. My main pitch as to why one should become coachable to improve their jiu jitsu: an exceptional coach has the ability to bridge the gap between experience, skill, and belt levels.
The video below is from our last Grappling Industries competition this last August. In this video, you will see one of our dedicated students Hanami Robles execute her game plan, listening intently and reacting without hesitation to gain top control and win the match via armbar. Hanami has been putting in a tremendous amount of work the last few months, developing all aspects of her game. Her hard work paid off as she took double gold in both her gi and no gi divisions. I’ve been lucky enough to not only coach the many talented students at EGA but also shadow Coach Mike during competitions in attempts to improve my coaching, as well. Strive to be coachable as you may one day find yourself guiding others. – Joe Pa
Reminder! There will be NO CLASSES at any EGA location Monday, September 4th in observance of Labor Day. Please join us at 10 AM in our Beacon location for an Adult BJJ Open Mat. Hope to see you there!
Save the date for an incredible NoGi Seminar with grappler Keith Krikorian following his WNO 145 title matches on October 1st! This seminar will be on Sunday, October 8th at 11:30 in our Beacon location. Payment will be taken at the door in the form of cash or account charge, or by registering online following THIS LINK. Reach out to [email protected] or @evobjj with any questions you may have. Feel free to share!
Zoe Y. is a 9 year old Yellow/Black Belt with 1 stripe and is a regular Junior Warrior. Having been on the mats for 2 years now, we have watched her grow in many way, including her understanding of and strength in jiu jitsu! Starting off as most kiddos, a little shy and timid, she now loves coming to class and says one of her favorite parts about showing up is, “…seeing my friends and making new ones.” When she’s not training, Zoe loves to bike, swim, hike, and build forts with her little brother (also a regular at EGA!). On the mats, Zoe likes to work her Hip Bump to Kimura. “I used to feel uncomfortable wrestling other kids (and sometimes I still do), but it’s gotten a lot easier for me. Listen to your coaches, trust the process, and be confident in yourself. Even if you’re scared at first, just keep at it ’cause the more you overcome the more you will grow.” Coach Al says, “Zoe impresses me with her good nature and tenacity. She is always smiling, is very attentive in class and always asks great questions. I had the pleasure of coaching Zoe through her first competition earlier this summer. She faced 9 very difficult opponents and had a tough day all around, but she never gave up. After every match, she would sit out, collect herself, and head back out for another try. That kind of grit and determination is hard to teach, but she already has it. The future is very bright for her.“
Matthew “Little Chete” G. Jr., a 9 3/4 years old Grey/Black belt with 4 stripes, started his jiu jitsu 3 whole days before the gym shut down in 2020. Fortunately, the uncertainty of the world didn’t rub off his desire to return to jiu jitsu as soon as he could. Now with a few years under his belt he has learned so much. When he’s at class he enjoys the warm ups, learning new techniques, and being with his friends. Outside of class, he enjoys video games, comics, and anime. According to Little Chete his favorite technique is going from S-mount to armbar while he also enjoys working on his closed guard and triangles. Coach Al says, “MJ (Chete Jr., Yung Chete, Cheteburger) is an absolute pleasure to have in class. He is kind, motivated and hard working. He is also very skilled on the mats and is beginning to develop into a serious guard player (much like his father and fellow coach, Coach Matt). I often pair MJ up with newer students due to his good nature and willingness to help others. The world needs more great kids like MJ!” Hoping to someday be a Black Belt, teacher, and school owner, we asked MJ what he’d like to share with others. He says, “Train as much as you can and never quit!”
From Coach Mike: “Caleb S. has been a consistent part of the EGA tribe for last 5 and a half years. He is a part of a Jiu Jitsu family, where all three of his siblings and both of his parents also train in the art. Two of Caleb’s attributes that I really admire are his heart and his grit, but maybe growing up with two older brothers will do that to you 😉 I see his heart come out when he’s paired with larger, older or more experienced students. This is also where his grit is most noticeable. He gives everything he has when faced with an obstacle. He doesn’t ‘cave in’ to the adversity; he rises to the challenge. Approaching his 11th birthday next month, this gritty grappler is going to be a treat to watch over the next several years.” When Caleb isn’t training in the Teens Class at EGA or trying to sneak on the mats with this parents, he is at home shooting hoops, roaming the woods, or gaming with his brothers and friends. “The best part about training is learning new techniques and putting it together. I really like working closed guard and have been looking for pendulum sweeps.” Caleb would like to say, “Just keep coming. Sometimes you don’t want to, but it’s always great training.”
Sam Sanchez: “I started my BJJ journey here at EGA back in October 2022. I am a regular participant of the 5:30 Morning Mania class as that is the only class that I’m able to consistently attend. I am truly grateful that EGA has a schedule with such a variety of class times that I believe it can work around anyone’s schedule. I decided to give BJJ a try because I really wanted both a physical and mental challenge. I’ve been hooked ever since. I think there’s something allegorical about starting my day off with grappling. It sets the tone for the rest of my day. I have no prior martial arts experience and am extremely happy with my choice of starting BJJ here at EGA. Outside of class I work as a Manager of Cybersecurity in the Energy sector. Most of my time outside of EGA and work is spent with my beautiful daughter Isabella.”
Brittany Casella: “I have been training BJJ on and off for the last 15 years or so – taking breaks for life events like so many of us have. I took a long stretch of time off after having my twins who are 5 years old and now also train at EGA – Go Mila and Dani! All it took was one trip to EGA Fishkill for a morning class and I have been hooked again ever since. I love morning class in Fishkill, I’ve enjoyed the 5ams in Beacon, and of course Ladies’ Rolls on Saturdays are the best. I also help coach the kids class when the girls attend and it’s fun to share the mats with them. Off the mats, I manage a woman’s softball league and play CoEd softball with my husband, Dan. I also enjoy strength training and reading in my free time. My time back at EGA has made me realize how amazing this community is and I really did miss it. I’ve loved reconnecting with old friends and have made so many new ones since being back on the mats. It’s a thrill to be part of this group of people who genuinely encourage success and challenge you to improve your game.”
Fernando P.: “I started training at EGA 3 months ago. I started because I would watch fights and videos of fighters training and I felt like that was what I wanted to do. After I started I felt a lot less anger, I’m more confident, I use my phone a lot less, and overall I feel better than before. I’m very grateful I started at EGA and I’m proud to know I’m doing well. I want to thank everyone that has taught me what I’ve learned so far.” Coach Rocky was very quick to recommend this young striker for this month’s spotlight saying, “Fernando always shows up early, is super respectful, and works hard every day!”
Attention All New Students!
Are you new to the Tribe? If so, welcome! This has been an incredible year of growth and we’re enjoying getting to know each one of you as you settle into your spot in the EGA Tribe. Did you know that we can only get to know to you if you show up?! That’s right! Not much more troubles our soul than having an eager student excitedly sign up and then never show up for their first couple of classes. Is that maybe you? Read our recent blog post found HERE to find a little encouragement to “Just. Show. Up.”