How to Build a Grappling Dummy

When I first started Jiu Jitsu I was looking for any advantage I could gain to speed up my progress. I found that too often life got in the way of me getting to the mats more than a few days a week. I would sometimes make it to open mat and find someone willing to do a little drilling, but as we all know, drilling quickly turns into full out rolls.

I wanted to find a way to drill at home by myself. I learned some solo drills (check out Henry Akins solo drills for some good ideas for drilling at home: Henry Akins Solo BJJ Drills), and these helped some, but I really wanted to get a grappling dummy to practice my moves on. The grappling dummies I found online were pretty pricey (if you’re interested in checking those out, here’s a link: Grappling Dummies on Amazon), so I thought it might be fun to try to build one myself and save a little cash.

In doing so, I tried to document as well as I could my process in building the grappling dummy. I created a website and YouTube video which shows the steps I took to build it. You can find it here: Build a Grappling Dummy

I used this dummy a lot as a white belt. I don’t use it as much now, but it does still come in useful when I want to solidify a confusing move that I had learned in class. I think for the amount of money that I spent building this grappling dummy it has served it’s purpose well. If you decide to build one I hope it works out well for you too.

Jiu-Jitsu as Meditation

One of the main skills I’m trying to acquire in my life is the ability to disengage from the endless internal chatter that my mind perpetually generates. This chatter tends to be a non-stop feedback loop of repeated ideas which at best revolve around mundane day to day tasks that need to be completed and at worst focus on any negative thoughts I may have about myself, others or situations. That inner critic can be crippling, and the more I can dissociate with it, the more clear minded and emotionally centered I tend to get.

I do practice meditation, though I haven’t been practicing it for long, and certainly not as consistently as I probably should be. It helps, quite a bit, but I often find myself slipping into “auto-mode”, where hours can go by without me really being in control of my own thoughts. Gurdjieff talked about waking up from this robotic existence by continuously focusing your attention on a small body part (such as your right hand pinky). Doing so forced your brain into the moment, and practicing doing this was supposed to cultivate the same mind-state that meditation does.

What I’ve discovered is that Jiu-Jitsu has the same affect on me.

In Jiu-Jitsu our class is typically divided into 3 sections: warm-up, instruction, and sparring. After a long day at work I’m usually wanting to go home and lay down. The last thing I want to do is get entangled in a difficult workout. But I always force myself to go. At first during the warm-up the thoughts that usually come up in my mind are along the lines of: “I’m tired, too tired to be doing something so difficult”, “I had a really rough day at work, I should be home trying to enjoy myself”, or “I should really be spending my evenings trying pursue the new career that I want”.

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Maynard James Keenan and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Revolver Magazine has released a 4 episode video series with Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer frontman Maynard James Keenan. In the 4th installment of the series Maynard discusses why he does jiu jitsu, his wrestling background, and the importance of doing what your heart tells you to. You can view the video in the link below.

Revolver Magazine – Maynard James Keenan Interview

Maynard has been doing Jiu Jitsu since the 90’s, when he first saw the UFC and decided to start training. In the video he says that he found Rickson’s school and began attending class there. In various other interviews he talks about the difficulties with training while on tour, and how that has slowed his progress as a jiu jitsu practitioner. I find it encouraging to hear that he worked through his delays and is still training. In my training I sometimes have breaks due to illness, injury or just responsibilities getting in the way, which can be frustrating. It’s always helpful to hear stories about sticking people with it, and moving ahead at whatever pace life allows them.

And if there is any doubt about Maynard’s abilities, check out this beautifully executed Judo throw on stage:

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