Alliance Blog

Sport Jiu-Jitsu vs. Self defense



The debate over whether sport Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or more traditional “fundamental’ techniques like self defense are more effective rages on in the BJJ world. But, which side is right? Is a basic and fundamental curriculum filled with self defense more effective or is it preferable to be exposed to the latest and greatest moves in sport BJJ?

Competition results: Sport BJJ

In competition there are a wide variety of people and styles that do well. Some competitors play 50/50, double guard pull, and berimbolo, others use good Judo for takedowns, and pressure pass on top to grind out the win. I think at least in this category its very hard to declare a clear cut winner between the two groups. Competitors like Roger Gracie have been dominant for years with fundamental techniques while other competitors, like the Mendes brothers, have excelled with 50/50, guard work, and berimbolo. It does seem that a lot of those people at lower belts who are successful are utilizing newer sport techniques over fundamental ones, but that is not always the case. In general sport BJJ is highly specified to use against other high level BJJ fighters so the slight edge here goes to sport BJJ.

Self Defense: Fundamental BJJ

In a self defense situation or a fight, most people would agree that a basic and fundamental BJJ game is more effective than a highly refined sport BJJ game. While a high level sport BJJ player could most likely still defeat a fighter untrained in BJJ, there could be some potential to take damage in transitions. A fundamental BJJ fighter would most likely have a much tighter and closed game with more emphasis on quickly obtaining a dominant top position.

As you can see each style of BJJ has its strengths, if a BJJ competitor wants to be truly successful then a good grasp on fundamentals is important, but he would also need to be well versed in sport BJJ in order to excel in competition. I would argue here, that the type of BJJ you focus on should be dictated by your goals. If you want to be successful in competition you will at very least need to understand the moves of sport BJJ and how to defend them. If you want to defend yourself or move into MMA then perhaps a more closed and fundamental game is preferable for you. Overall I think everyone should learn both, but with an emphasis on the one that will get you closer to your goals.

So which style is better?

Sorry, but I am calling it a draw. Find a great gym, like Alliance Martial Arts in Dunwoody Georgia, where you can learn both style and poise yourself for success no matter what your goals.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at October 13th, 2014 Comments Off

Benefits of BJJ for women

The list of benefits for anyone taking part in regular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training goes on and on, but there are some special benefits in regards to the female practitioners of the sport.

Increased confidence. BJJ can impart a ton of positive effects on a woman’s self confidence. BJJ can help women lose weight, increase muscle tone, become more comfortable with their bodies, feel stronger, feel prepared to defend themselves, and also puts them in an environment surrounded with mostly positive and confident people. Having the body you want, or making improvements on your current one can boost your confidence, not to mention knowing that in a self defense situation you could potentially defend yourself even against a full grown man. The environment at a BJJ gym is almost always a highly positive and inspirational one as well.

Get to know yourself better. BJJ forces you to look inwardly at yourself and examine why you feel certain ways. Not only does BJJ force you into socially “awkward” close contact with others, but it also challenges your ego and your perceptions of the world around you. Conventional (mainstream) thinking would usually tend to agree that physically a woman cannot handle a man, but BJJ and its endless complexity make it possible for even a very small woman to defeat a much larger man. Most of the women I have seen who take BJJ classes are very self empowered and have a high amount of respect for themselves.

Develop special friendships. The bond you can develop with someone who shares your passion can be much deeper than a bond with someone who you have nothing in common with. Women who train BJJ not only meet excellent male companions, but often times find other women who can inspire them and help them along in their journey. The bonds that you can form with other women can be priceless.

Increase your self discipline. BJJ is an excellent exercise in endurance and will power. It will not only test you physically, but mentally as well. By learning to stick with it, you get more gritty, you get more willpower. You will get tougher, leaner, and more able to withstand the tough times that life has to offer you with a positive attitude and strength.

Get the passion of learning something new. The passion that comes from working towards something in life can carry over into all the aspects of your life. Not only does this passion pick you up, but you also get to challenge yourself to a new level and learn new things each day. The feeling of waking up a little better than you were the day before is a feeling that most people wouldn’t trade for the world.

Good luck, try out a class if you have a gym available. If you are in Georgia contact us at Alliance world headquarters in Dunwoody, GA.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at October 6th, 2014 Comments Off

Peak Experiences



Life is full of ups and downs, much like a roller coaster, the ups and downs of life should help break up the monotony and help you breathe in new meaning to each day. Many people choose to limit the ups and downs and therefore hinder the unique experience of their own life.

Certain experiences can only be had after a steep climb to the top. For example; in a very literal, and also metaphorical sense, if you ever want to stand on top of a mountain and look down at the breathtaking view all around you; you will have to put in a lot of work getting to the top. In the case of Mt. Everest, it may take a team of many very experienced climbers several months just to make it to the top and back down. Climbers are usually flown into a town at the base of the mountain, here they buy supplies and begin either the Northern or Southern side ascent into one of the mountain’s base camps. These men and women will suffer extremes many of us could never imagine, and even risk their very lives just to stand at the top of the mountain and look out at a world that very few humans have ever seen before.

Hopefully you can see the irony in what happened above, these people spend years preparing, weeks of extreme cold and exhaustion, all for a few fleeting moments of standing on top of their accomplishment. Anyone who has ever reached a goal that seemed out of reach will know this feeling well, the extreme satisfaction of being totally present in a moment and knowing that the adversity that you overcame created this unique experience.

The point that I am trying to make here is really a simple one, if you want to taste the finest moments in life, you have to be willing to put in a lot of work to earn those moments. I would even argue that if a helicopter where to drop you off on top of Mt. Everest at the same moment that the expert climbers arrived, that your feelings of wonderment would be nothing compared to those same people who risked everything to stand there with you.

The few who ever become the greatest in life, of the handful that truly achieve their dreams will always tell you that disappointment, failure, and tons of hard work will be needed along the path to success. Whether your goals are in BJJ, work, fitness, or even internal transformation, you will experience set backs along the way.

The feeling of pain, the struggle with adversity, is part of what makes these “peak” moments so special. We can’t live in a world of perpetual wonderment, never ending satisfaction, and endless joy. Without darkness there could be no light. This duality of life is what makes it so amazing, your mind could never appreciate the sun if you were born in darkness and never saw light. “Hard” times are an essential part of the journey of life. The next time you are standing at the bottom of a crossroads, don’t look down at your feet in defeat, look up into the clouds at the view from the top and start climbing back up!

Posted by Shane Sorensen at September 27th, 2014 Comments Off

The 5 best tips for the BJJ or MMA beginner.



If you are just starting BJJ or MMA then there are definitely some obstacles in your way that you will have to face to make it to your black belt. I have compiled a short list of the top 5 tips to help you make it through the hard times in the beginning.

1. Know that even the very best in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu took time to get better.

Number one on the list is twofold, first is that if you are just starting out then you are not going to be good at BJJ. Maybe you wrestled, maybe you did Judo, are in good shape, or have a natural affinity for Jiu-Jitsu but the fact remains that in order to be good at BJJ, you have to put in the hours and train BJJ. Sure other talents can bring you early success, but if you really want to get good at BJJ you have to learn it. Secondly, there are very few if any “phenoms” who go from white belt to black belt in 5 years, and the ones who do trained incredibly hard and put in multiple sessions daily to make it happen. If you want to get better its going to take time, so just be patient.

2. Know that upper belts you roll with will usually match your intensity.

If you have ever found yourself getting absolutely crushed by a purple belt then it might be because you were being overly aggressive. Many times beginners get so focused on submitting an upper belt or hitting their new move that they will spar way harder than what is practical. Most of the time upper belts will let you work a little and give you opportunities to try new things, but if they let you sweep them and you explode as hard as you can, do a cartwheel and try to armbar them as hard as you can, then they will most likely go a lot harder next time to keep you from doing anything.

3. You probably aren’t as good as you think you are, and probably don’t know as much either.

It is common to see beginner white belts with 2 stripes coaching others, but at this stage in the game you should really be focusing on learning and not trying to coach others. You might know a few things from your time on the mat, but often times the true art of coaching lies in understanding positions deeply and being able to explain all of the nuances. Its good to be a team player and help out during drilling, but try to leave coaching to an instructor unless you know for sure what you are talking about.

4. Try new things.

To get better you have to try new things and it is vital to your growth in BJJ. Don’t focus too much on one move, branch out more, learn, get in bad positions and try to figure out how to escape. You are building your foundation so build it strong.

5. Stick to the basics.

Sure flying armbars look cool, but sticking to simple, proven, and fundamental techniques will serve you better in the long term in developing a solid game for BJJ.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at September 9th, 2014 Comments Off

“Winning or loosing it doesn’t matter, the important thing is to be on the mat”



“I am very proud and pleased of all my students that competed last Sat at the Atlanta Open, I could see how much better you’ve got, winning or loosing it doesn’t matter, the important thing is to be on the mat representing you and our team.”-Jacare in response to taking second place as a team at the Atlanta Open.

Alliance had a great performance at the Atlanta Open this past Saturday. The team collectively did great, but lacked the sheer number needed to produce a first place prize for the team. All of the competitors who stepped on the mat Saturday did great, regardless of outcome. As our professor Jacare reminded us above, the most important step is the first step, the step to action. People can talk their whole lives, wish and dream, but without taking action we will never succeed, we will never improve, we will never meet our fullest potential. Fear of failure, or fear of anything can cripple us easily if we let it take root within our minds.

Sometimes winning or losing is irrelevant, sometimes what looks like a loss is only a short term setback that will leave you poised for greatness later down the road. As Alliance Atlanta continues to grow, and as the team continues to improve and push past our limits we will all begin to see more success, not just one or two of us, but all of us.

That is basically what life is, its not being afraid of all the risks we can’t control. It is refusing to let fear cripple us. The man who grows the most isn’t the man who lives a life of comfort, never takes risks, never looks failure in the face and refuses to let it overcome him. What matters are the moments out in battle, on the mat in competition or in training each day. To the person who challenges themselves every single day to be the best that can, congratulations. Congrats to all of our Alliance competitors, and if you aren’t yet a part of our team, now is the perfect time to become a part of the alliance family.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at September 3rd, 2014 Comments Off