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The Golden Fundamentals of Chris Haueter
In the grand scheme of martial arts history, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is relatively young, being less than a hundred or so years old. There are historical records of martial arts and combat sports being practiced many, many thousands of years ago. BJJ is even younger when you think about how long it has been in America. It has been not much more than 30 years since BJJ arrived on American shores and began making its presence felt in the arena of combat sports. Whereas today, most decent sized cities and communities have at least one BJJ academy within their borders. In more and more cases, these academies also feature the instruction or ownership of a black belt practitioner. There was a time less than three decades ago, when there were only a handful of blue belts in the entire continental US.
The first widespread media attention for BJJ came with UFC 1 when a young Royce Gracie showcased the family business for fight fans in Colorado and on pay per view. This event showcased many of the aspects of jiu jitsu that draw practitioners to the academy even today.
In UFC 1, we saw a smaller practitioner beat much larger and in some cases, more athletic looking opponents. Royce's performance also highlighted the defensive aspect of the art. BJJ came away as the answer to every question that any other martial art, whether it was wrestling, boxing, or some other striking based art, it didn't matter. Jiu Jitsu prevailed over all. At this time in America, we had just finished spending the 80s watching people like Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme and The Karate Kid, kick their way out of their problems. UFC 1 left America clutching its collective karate uniforms and questioning the value of their katas.
If you haven't watched the first series of UFC events and you train BJJ, you are truly missing an important part of the history of the art that you love. It would be like an English major who graduates without ever reading Shakespeare. Overtime it's good to go back and reflect on the invaluable impact that Royce and his family had in spotlighting BJJ and inspiring so many people to take up the art on a grand scale. Without UFC 1, chances are you would probably not be at class today learning that triangle choke. If you were training martial arts at all, you'd probably be following one of the more popular at the time when BJJ came to the forefront, like karate or Tae Kwon Do.
What some practitioners do not realize is that there were a number of American students who were actively studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, learning directly from the early generations of the Gracies and the Machados who were cousins of the Gracie Family. These early practitioners in the history of BJJ are the originators of the American perspective on the art.
Amongst that group of early BJJ students, twelve of which ultimately became known as the "Dirty Dozen" or the first 12 non-Brazilians who earned their jiu jitsu black belts, was Chris Haueter who remains an avid competitor, sought-after instructor, and entertaining ambassador of the martial art he stumbled upon back in the 1980's, long before the rest of the world had experienced UFC 1.
Chris is extremely unique amongst his generation of jiu jitsu instructors and practitioners. Though he is an extreme advocate of the fundamentals, he is also a fan of the new developments that sport practitioners have brought to BJJ. He does have some very simple "gold rules" that he reminds us we should be following no matter what the situation, whether it is the local competition, the IBJJF worlds, an MMA fight or a life and death self defense situation, heaven forbid.
Rule #1: Always Be on Top
In real life scenarios, being on top likely means that you are prevailing. Whether you are standing or mounted on an opponent, you are likely in a better position to strike and address any aggression that may be thrown your way from the bottom. And in sport jiu jitsu, dominant positions and aggression are rewarded. In an MMA fight, it can be argued that an active competitor who happens to be actually more active from an offensive position can sometimes lose a fight to a less active person who appears to be "on top."
Rule #2: Once you're on top, stay there.
To keep the momentum of a match or fight going your way, it's important to be able to secure the dominant position and maintain it, not allowing them to sweep or reverse you or escape whatever position you have them in.
Rule #3: If you end up on the bottom, have an impassable guard.
Life happens while you're busy making other plans as John Lennon famously said. Many times, it's easier said to be the top person and stay there than it is in reality. Try holding down an athletic, younger grappler with a wrestling pedigree and tell me how that process went. When all else fails and you end up on the bottom, for Chris, the world is not over. In this case, it's time to rely on the impassable guard you've been developing, whether it's of the closed or open variety, it doesn't really matter. The goal is to keep them there, frustrate them, and ultimately submit or sweep them going back to that top position.
Rule #4: Never forget Rule #1
Chris cautions BJJ players today to beware of the "seductive nature" of the guard. In a sense, pulling guard and lying back allowing your hips to and strong legs to do the fighting for you, can be seen as a little lazy, but at the end of the day, one could say that "being lazy" is an underlying subtext principle of jiu jitsu. I want to achieve the maximum effect through using the least amount of strength or effort. Anyway, I digress. Rule #4 is Chris' tongue in cheek reminder that we must stay active and work to be the dominant one in a match, fight, or real-life scenario.
For more about the value of the 'old school' techniques and respecting the game of the pioneer instructors and practitioners, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics!
In the video below, Chris speaks to a collection of athletes attending the BJJ Globetrotters camp. In this short excerpt, part stand up routine, part history lesson, you will get a better understanding of the true American treasure that Chris Haueter is.
No matter where the development of BJJ ultimately leads, we must remember that the entire history is one long thread that can be traced back to a few brave and pioneering souls who made their way from the grimey garages of the 1980s to emerge as the historians and legendary teachers of this beautiful art. What they should always remind us of is that the fundamentals are the fundamentals for a reason. Because they work.
Now that you've learned a bit of the history of the Dirty Dozen and the impact of Chris Haueter on the art and history of BJJ, you will want to take advantage of his "Old School Efficient BJJ" instructional series, available here at BJJ Fanatics!