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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ari Kay from Submissions 101 sent me the following message, after I reached out to him through email. I was very discouraged a few weeks ago and was seriously questioning my place in Juijitsu. This is what he said:

You are no disgrace to anyone. A blue belt in 10 planet is something to be very proud of. It's hard enough without having physical disabilities to get one. You are the inspiration.
Getting tapped means nothing. So what. Can you teach others? Is there value in Jiu Jitsu and what it has done for you and others? The importance is doing it, not winning.
I could care less if someone got tapped out. 1 time or 1000. We ALL get tapped. It's part of the journey. Keith Owen says you will be tapped out over 10 000 times on your way to black belt. It's called learning. You'll get harder to tap as time goes on. We all learn at different speeds.
Don't quit. Keep moving forward. Make a difference. Keep learning. THAT is Jiu Jitsu."

 I am truly thankful for his words, they have been a deep anchor for me as this journey continues. Every time that I have to crawl out onto the mats, I have to empty myself every single time. Why? Because that is how it has to be. I have to fight harder and be wiser about what techniques will work for me and what will not. Mostly, its the simple and basic things that I have the most effectiveness for me.

It just seems odd at times, because while the techniques seem to get more advanced. My game gets simpler. I love my chokes, leg/foot-locks and what arm-locks I can do. I think one of my biggest obstacles is that I want to be like everyone else. But the truth is, I can't be. I can't be as fast or as strong as everyone else.

I fear greatly being left in the dust, amongst the endless onslaught of techniques that keep popping up. Rickson Gracie once said that, you need five submissions and you need to practice them a thousand times. In my case that seems to hold much merit.   

... Not sure where I wanted to go with this, I guess I just wanted to get a few things off my chest.


Monday, August 4, 2014


            Jujitsu much like life is all about perspective.  Sensei Derek Stewart once told me that my fight would be harder then the average bear. Early on in my journey I realized that it would sometimes take me longer to understand how certain techniques would work with my body. When I first saw Master Eddie Bravo’s Rubber Guard, I thought to myself that there was no way I was going to be able to do that with my own legs. Let alone all of the other techniques that follow the Rubber Guard. But something inside me simply did not want to give up; I wanted to work as hard as I could possibly could at the 10th Planet Jujitsu system and find techniques that fit my body. Master Eddie Bravo once told me during a seminar he was once conducting to only do what I could do. That to me gave me a sense of freedom to self-discover. Master Eddie’s approach to Jujitsu has revolutionized my own mindset to Jujitsu, as a person living with Cerebral Palsy, I am not able to move as fast as I’d like, so naturally speaking Master Eddie’s approach to starting from a sitting position is almost perfect for me. I say almost because so of his techniques require leg strength that I don’t currently have yet. There is also less risk of being pushed backwards when starting from a kneeling position. When I was much younger I had no fear about starting from my knees, my body was much faster and I honestly did not care much about the well being of my body.  
Now that I’m a little “older” though, I fear my knees or ankles exploding on me.  One night at practice during a friendly roll, a guy in the gym pushed me backwards and I heard a pop in my ankle and knee (in my right leg) it hurt for a few minutes, but I was fine after awhile. My point is, the fear of having Cerebral Palsy and two blown out knees or quads was something I was not willing to risk anymore.
I want to be doing Jujitsu at least until I’m in my late seventies or early eighties. In order to do so, my perspective on not only jujitsu but also my life and body as a whole had to change as well. For starters , that meant that I swallow my pride  while on the mat. This largely meant that if someone got me into a submission during practice I would simply tap out. It’s no use being injured and not being able to hone my skills for months at a time. There’re are still so many people in the Jujitsu community that hold on to their pride, and for what? All they’ll have to account for is having something injured on their bodies and less time on the mat. Secondly, I had to improve my relationship with my body. For me that meant stretching in morning and the evening . Most people already hate stretching as is, but trust me, with Cerebral Palsy it hurts all the more.  But every morning the first thing I would do was stretching my neck, back, arms and legs. Stretching out my legs was the hardest part, when I first started my daily routine the pain that I would experience in my tendons and the back of my knees was very painful. But with time and proper breathing things got a bit easier as time progressed. Was I perfect in my daily practice? No, in fact I miss days in between largely because of my own laziness.
I also had to change the way I ate, I’ve always ate relatively healthy, but I wanted to be sure to take in my daily fruits and veggies. Further more I made sure that I still had my daily sources of protein, the only difference is was the amount I allowed myself to have.  There was a time in my life when I got tired of being physically small, I got tired of bigger guys dominating me. As a result I started consuming Crietine, a product that truthfully only balloons your muscles up so you look big. On top of that I would drink two-three large protein shakes a day.
The result, I then felt bulky and slow. The real problem I discovered was not related to my physical (outer self) but more so with my inner self. Eventually I got tired of being bulky and went back to being my skinny self.  Do I still try to strengthen my physical body? Yes, but I am learning to be content as I am while still trying to improve at the same time.   
-Copyright, 2014 Brandon Ryan

Friday, August 1, 2014

How to Keep Your Joy on The Jouney

I wanted to give some tools for keep your joy along the way on the Jujitsu journey along the way. These are not abstract suggestions pulled out of thin air, but philosophies that I have used in the entirety of my martial arts career.

1) Motivation: always keep this at the forefront of your mind, why do you do Jujitsu? Hopefully one would answer that they love it and it's fun. It helps you learn about yourself, where you need to improve and where you are succeeding. It should teach you to be kind to yourself, yes there are people who excel at this art faster than others, but so what? You are an original and were never meant to fill the shoes of another. If you want to excel at competing, do so. But do it at your own pace. If you simply want to improve your body and mind, do so. But only because YOU want to.

2) Thankfulness: I my honest opinion, I feel that thankfulness is something that is largely missing from society as a whole. As martial artists, we should always be thankful first for the ability to train and practice our art. Just the other day I got an email from a young women who could only use her arms. While she practiced a more traditional style of martial art, she noted that she wish she could half the things that I am able to do on the ground. After reading her message it was like getting punched in the gut numerous times, because even I loose sight of my own thankfulness more often than not.

3) Rome wasn't built in a day: I know the age old saying, but it's true. While there are very rare talents that pick things up very quickly and excel in rank. Not everyone is like that. It will take quiet awhile more often then not, to get where you desire. So, set small goals for yourself: for me, for the last few months I've been trying to hit an arm-bar in class that requires your opponent to stay kneeling with you. Most times though it was very hard to execute because a lot of people pull guard all the time. But after much frustration I saw my chance and jumped on it and got a tap. Secondly, if I can make it through a rolling session without getting tapped and keeping my balance in tact. It's a job well done for me. So, get some quite time and right down some small goals you want to accomplish,  maybe even share them with your team mates. Remember that while we like to think we can do everything on our own, we need each other. Be kind to yourselves, because while the journey is rough it is beautiful.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Smile-Jits... What's That?

There's something within traditional martial arts that I miss so very much, there was a time within martial arts history, where the Dojo was almost like a sanctuary of some kind. You kept it clean, students stayed after to clean it from top to bottom.

There is something about traditional martial arts (lets use Judo as an example) that didn't just build great Judoka's, but also instilled ethics and values within students. Traditional martial arts at one time in history was for lack of better words. Holy.

Again, with the Dojo being like that of sanctuary of sorts. Students did not use profanity in the Dojo, always showed up on time to class, was eager to learn and so on. The traditional values were not simply something to be present when inside of the Dojo, but also outside of it as well. It served as a compass for how one should conduct themselves in real life.

From my own vantage point, this is not something I've much of any more. I see the newer generation of Gracies still following the path of the Bushido (The Way of The Warrior), Sensei Erik Paulson is another (I know I talk about him a lot) and Sensei Roy Dean. I've never actually had the chance to train with him personally, but from watching him through different videos, I've fallen in love with what he has done with his school. The simple design of his school looks so peaceful. Further more the attitude of his students seems pretty top notch as well.

They don't seem to be out to hurt each other, but have such huge smiles on their faces even when they are being tested for their next ranks. Which brings me to the term "Smile-Jits." This phrase was coined when I was rolling with one of students after class.

She had me in the mount, and as I was working on not letting her have my arms. I look up at her and she has an ear to ear smile on her face. I said to her while protecting my arms "I love that you smile so much when you roll."

"Its fun!" she replied with excitement. That right there is the faint heart beat that needs to return within the Jujitsu community. So many people look so serious and stone faced when they train, and yes, there is a level of seriousness that comes if you want to excel within this craft or any craft. But the art of "Smile Jits" is something I want to spread to  as many people as possible.

As I always say: Jujitsu is a gift, and when something is a gift. It is easily enjoyed.

In the next blog I'll discuss a few ways to keep your joy on the journey.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Upates and New Goals

Wow, I suck at updating this blog.

Anyhow, lets get to the good stuff. I'm done with my second year of college. That means I have about three months off for summer, which means training full time. I compete next month (locally) I really want to bring hope another gold medal, maybe even two.

My workouts have been crazy, most days I put in over an hour of conditioning, followed by weights and Jujitsu. A huge goal I have on my radar, is to compete in the first ever Physically Challenged grappling tournament next year put on by The tournament will take place in April 2015 in the NY/NJ area.

This tournament will feature divisions dedicated to people who have Cerebral Palsy (like myself), the visually impaired and people who are amputees. I've been more motivated in my life. Let it be known right now, I WILL WIN my division, no one is standing in my way!

Currently I am working on getting sponsors and saving up what money I can to fly out there with my team.  I'm focusing on my basics, sharpening them and drilling techniques that fit my body and style perfectly. Can you tell that I'm pumped? Cause I am!

Lastly, I am hard at work on  Jujitsu memoir of sorts, this book will be dedicated to those in the physically challenged community. In hopes of creating a fire in the hearts of people to want to train Jujitsu. That way they may know all the great benefits that come from it. Don't want to give to much away though (ha ha) anyway, that's enough for now.. Gotta get ready to roll.

Brandon, The CP Grappler.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A glance backwad and a launch forward

I've been sick the past week or so with bronchitis, once a year or so my body has to fight through it. Though in a strange way, I think its God's way of telling me to slow down and rest. For the last week or so it's also given me to think and reflect. My thoughts go back to when I was a grappling instructor for my dad when he owned a Dojo. I think of how fast my body was able to move back then, that my skill level (at the the time) could have very well owned my several world championships in Jujitsu and Submission grappling.

The problem rests in the fact that, after a ten year lay will about murder a persons skill and ability. I had no belt at the time in Jujitsu, but I was a certified level one instructor Marc Mcfann, who teaches the concepts of Jeet Kune Do.

(If you want to know more about JKD and one of my past instructors, feel free to google them both).

Reflecting on the past is one thing, but allowing your self to stay there is another. All of this has stirred a sort of anger in me to be back at where I once was, but that may very well never happen. I might in some ways get better. A lot better.

What I'd like to do upon gaining my black belt (maybe even 2 black belts) is start my own Dojo, one that has a program dedicated for those who have special needs, it's the most amazing feeling ever when I watch a young man learn to both defend himself from his chair and out of his chair (on the ground). I honestly feel that a lot of Jujitsu schools, don't really know what to do with someone that has Cerebral Palsy, visually impaired and so on.

In short. I want to be a great teacher.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Christmas Gift

Love it, love Catch Wrestling, love Jujitsu- wish that they both would get married and have babies finally.

PS.. I've been off the mats for a few days due to being sick, but I can't wait to get back at it.