We are proud to be the 1st South Texas Gokor Chivichyan Fully Accredited Hayastan school. The Hayastan Grappling System is rooted in four grappling arts: Judo, Sambo, Jiu Jitsu, and Greco Roman and Freestyle Wrestling.
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Okay, there are a lot of first time competitors that ask questions about preparing for tournaments, so I thought I may write up a guide of sorts. I hope this gets a sticky! There are a couple important things I am going to address in the following:
Setting Goals/Organizing –
Write down everything you want to accomplish before the tournament. This means the specific techniques you want to improve, positions you are weak in, and how you will exploit your strengths. Also, think about why you are competing. What is your cause, your drive as a fighter? Write this down, or even better, type it up. Print, and place in places you will see. Keep these goals in mind, they are the foundation for your motivation. This will keep you on the right track when you drive by McDonalds and want a BigMac, and then realize you can’t eat junky shit for another 3 weeks.
Weight Management –
This is another enormous portion of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. First, weigh yourself. Then decide if you want to compete at that weight, or go down in weight. If you are going down in weight, but not by much, then maintain your diet. If you need to lose 10 to 15 pounds, then set your diet straight right away. But do NOT neglect this step or else you will be stuck fighting in a weight class too big for you.
Skill Level Evaluation –
Talk to your coaches, and decide what skill level you will enter in. Your instructor will have a good idea of how well you are doing, and whether or not you should start out in basic, or novice. Also, chose if you will do Gi and No Gi, or just one of the two.
This is probably the most important step. Cardio will play a huge role in your fights at any tournament. With adrenaline flowing, you will always become more fatigued than you thought you would be. So add in an morning run, and do some high impact, high intensity training. Wear a mouthpiece when running, and especially when rolling. Breathing is half of cardio. The strength and conditioning forums are great for more information. DO NOT FORGET TO WORK CARDIO. I cannot stress this enough. IF this is the ONLY thing you do, THEN DO IT!!!
GO TO PRACTICE –
Many people will not go to practice and still think they can compete properly. If you can avoid it, try not to miss any practices at all. Go to every single one, and even if you are physically tired and cant roll, get in some technique. Your mind should be saturated with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Go to practice. This is a sport, and athletes never miss practice.
Switch up your rolling –
Roll with people of different sizes and strengths. Granted, you should be doing this all the time, but especially before competition. You never know what type of people will be in your weight class, so its best to be prepared for everything. Also, do not take long 10 minute breaks during rolling time. Roll for the entire time, and minimize breaks.
Simulate fights –
Start rolling standing, and work on take downs. If you go to the tournament without practicing take downs, you will get double tired as the take down department saps energy like crazy. Work your take downs, and work them often. Also, if your school offers super fights (which are just matches between two people in front of the class) volunteer to go. This will give you a simulated experience of what the tournament is like.
Focus on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Before you go to sleep, think about the tournament. Visualize yourself in all different positions, and in all situations. Calm yourself, and practice breathing. These will help you in the tournament. Remember that your coach is right there to coach you, and that you will be fine.
REMEMBER, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a way of life. You must put the effort into training if you want to win. You learn a lot about yourself when you compete. It is the ultimate test. Good luck everyone and remember most of all, HAVE FUN! If you lose do not take it personal. Fight out what you did wrong that led you to getting tapped out and then work on improving your brazilian jiu jitsu.
The youngest of three brothers, Gokor Chivichyan was born May 10th 1963. Gokor was a very aggressive child, beating up all the older kids on the street he lived on. After seeing the boy fighting in the streets of Yerevan, a student at the Dinamo Studio invited the five-year-old Gokor to train at his school. Right from Gokor’s first day at the school, the head-wrestling instructor knew he had great athlete in the making.
After only one year of wrestling, Gokor began his training in Sambo. He trained a minimum of 4 – 5 hours a day with larger and more advanced students, often besting them in class.
In 1971 Gokor competed in his first tournament and won his first Armenian Junior National Sambo Championship. He won all of his matches quickly and with ease.
At the age of nine, Gokor fought in his second Junior National Sambo Championship, taking first place in the 10 – 12 year old division. He won the Gold Medal and qualified to go to Russia to fight in the ’72 Soviet Junior National Sambo Championships.
1973 was a big year for Gokor, beginning his training in Judo; he would go onto win Armenian Junior National Championship and then compete at the Russian Junior National Judo Championships. It was in Russia at these games that Gokor would experience his first loss. Making it to the finals, Gokor would go home with a Silver Medal after losing by referee’s decision to the three times Soviet National Champion. This loss haunted Gokor and drove him to train even harder, promising himself that he would never lose another competition in his life.
1974 brought Gokor back to Russia to fight in the Soviet Junior Judo and Sambo National Championships. Fulfilling his promise to himself, Gokor took Gold Medals in both competitions.
From 1974 through 1979 Gokor continued to compete and win competitions in both Judo and Sambo not only in the Soviet Union, but Europe and at the world games.
In 1980 Gokor qualified for the Soviet Olympic Judo team, but was passed over for an older more experienced athlete, who went to win the gold. Gokor although greatly disappointed by not being able to compete in the Olympics.
One year later Gokor and his family would find themselves moving to America. (Los Angeles).
Gokor didn’t give up on his dream of competing for Olympic gold. He was rewarded for his perseverance by meeting and training with the Legendary “Judo” Gene LeBell. Gene began teaching Gokor techniques he had never encountered before, and quickly Gokor added these techniques to his training.
These were tough times for the seventeen-year-old Gokor who was training, learning English, working and trying to learn as much as he could about American Culture.
Starting in 1982 Gokor began competing in Judo Tournaments again, and Professional No-Holds-Barred fights. Some fights were for money others just for the experience and excitement.
His professional fighting and hunger for competition took Gokor to many new places like France, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, Germany, and England to name but a few. While competing in numerous no holds barred fights Gokor started training in Boxing and Muay Thai to improve his already formidable standing fighting skills.
Gokor’s dream was to train hard and become a U.S. citizen so he could compete in 1984 Olympics for the U.S. Judo team, but was unable to become a citizen soon enough. Traveling back and forth between America and Russia, Gokor qualified for the Soviet team but again, did not get to compete in the Olympics because of the Soviet boycott.
In 1987 Gokor competed for the Judo International World Cup in Spain. After 8 wins, Gokor made it to the finals against a strong competitor from France. Three minutes into the match, Gokor won by full point (ippon).
Gokor met some very strong fighters from Brazil that trained in Jiu-Jitsu. They were so impressed by Gokor’s skills they invited him to train with them. To this day they are still good friends exchanging techniques and visiting each other’s schools.
The United States Judo Federation helped Gokor acquire his US Citizenship in November 1987 to qualify for the US Olympic Team in 1988. Unfortunately, as a late citizen, Gokor did not have enough time to acquire the necessary points to compete in the Olympics.
By 1989 Gokor had won 4 Professional World NHB/MMA Championship Titles and was ready for a completely new challenge, Marriage! Proving to be a worthy challenge, Gokor chose to retire undefeated as a professional fighter and instead dedicated himself to his wife Narine and raising his first child, Arthur, who was born on May 16th 1990.
But fighting was in Gokor’s blood, and the long awaited Hayastan MMA Academy opened in Hollywood California in 1991. With his long history of winning championship titles and his unique fighting system, Gokor found his new school and instant success with hundreds of ambitious students.
The Hayastan MMA Academy has drawn students from around the world to train there, establishing a reputation in the fight community as THE place to train for Mixed Martial Arts Fighting.
Right from the beginning Gokor’s students have gone forward to become champions in Judo, JiuJitsu/BJJ, Sambo Submission Grappling and MMA competitions, including extreme fighting, Pancrase, UFC, WEC, Dream in Japan, M1 and Strikeforce.
Gokor receives many invitations to fight in these competitions but prefers his role as teacher to the champions.
With all this going on in his life, Gokor still found time to compete in and win the US Judo Nationals in 1994.
The only thing that could possibly eclipse his student’s successes happened on July 17th 1996 with the birth of Gokor’s second son, Garry.
In January 1997 Gokor received a call to come out of retirement to fight another Professional No-Holds-Barred World Championship.
His opponent was the 1996 NHB/MMA World Champion from Japan. Mr. Maeda’s record was over 200 wins and no defeats.
For Gokor, this wasn’t viewed as a challenge, but more like another opportunity to display the devastating effectiveness of the Hayastan MMA style of mixed martial art fighting.
The match took place in mid 1997 broadcast around the world via pay-per-view and before a tremendous crowd in Alabama. Gokor fought Mr. Maeda and beat him in 51 seconds to the cheers of his friends, family and students.
Gokor shocked many of the spectators with his speed, strength and technique.
This was also the year Gokor was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame and awarded with the prestigious “1997 Judo Instructor of the Year”.
Gokor’s school and his role as it’s founder has been written about for cover feature articles in Kung Fu Magazine, Black Belt, Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, Karate, Germany’s Budo Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and newspapers around the world.
(1984-1997) Living out another dream Gokor has appeared as an actor and stunt man in feature films like Blood Sport II, Streets of Rage, Personal Vendetta and also on televisions shows like JAG, It’s On Your Good and many Armenian and American sports and news programs.
Since this time to present Gokor has appeared many more movies,tv shows and other media.
But nothing can compare with training his son and watching him win as the 5 time Judo Junior National Champion and winning the Junior Judo Olympics in 2000. With this kind of success, Arthur is moving onto NoGi Submission Grappling and MMA training while continuing his training in Judo.
Gokor currently trains professional fighters and amateur students in judo, sambo and MMA.
Many MMA world champions today, come and train at the Hayastan MMA Academy, to exchange knowledge with Gokor.
He has affiliate schools across North America, in Europe and his homeland of Armenia.
Gokor does seminars around the world and has been training the LAPD self-defense instructors since 1996. He has received city commendations for his services to the Los Angeles community and was recently given a commendation for teaching the LAPD. Gokor has also taught for FBI, numerous SWAT teams and Interpol in Europe.
In 2008 Gokor took the Hayastan MMA Academies Judo Team to compete at the USA Judo National Championships and to the supprise of many including himself he competed. He was asked to represent and compete and at first did not want to due to injury and he had not prepared to fight. But after many requests he gave in and competed. He dominated the competition and took home the championship.
Gokor Looks forward to competing maybe for fun, maybe for money. But his dream is that Gene LeBell & Gokor’s Hayastan Fighting Association (HFA) “Formerly – Grappling World” branch out across the world and that their students can go on to become as successful as Gokor has or even more so.
Gokor has competed in over 400 NHB, MMA, Judo, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Submission Grappling and Sambo fights, and has never lost as a professional fighter. Though hugely successful in the fighting world, Gokor is humble, honest and friendly to everyone he encounters. His respect for all mankind is something that you will see the first second you meet him. It is this extraordinary attitude, which makes him a true champion and not only a champion in fighting, but also a champion in life.
- De Ashi Barai (Advanced Foot Sweep)
- Hiza-Guruma (Knee Wheel)
- Sasae-tsurikomi Ashi (Propping Foot Block)
- Uki-Goshi (Floating Hip)
- O-soto-gari (Major Outer Reap)
- O-Goshi (Major Hip)
- O-Uchi-Gari (Major Inner Reap)
- Seoi-Nage (Shoulder Throw)
- Ko-Soto-Gari (Small Outside Reap)
- Ko-Uchi-Gari (Minor Inner Reap)
- Koshi-guruma (Hip Wheel)
- Tsurikomi-goshi (Lift Pull Hip)
- Tai-otoshi (Body Drop)
- Okur-ashi-barai (Sliding Foot Sweep)
- Harai-ogoshi (Sweeing Hip)
- Uchi-mata (Inner Thigh Sweep)
- K0-soto-gake (Small Outside Hook)
- Tsuri-goshi (Lifting Hip)
- Yoko-otoshi (Side Drop)
- Ashi-guruma (Leg Wheel)
- Hane-goshi (Springing Hip)
- Harai-tsurikomi-ashi (Sweeping Lift-Pull Foot)
- Tomoe-nage (Circle Throw)
- Kata-guruma (Shoulder Wheel)
- Sumi-gaeshi (Corner Counter)
- Tani-0toshi (Valley Drop)
- Hane-makikomi (Winding Spring)
- Sukui-nage (Scoop Throw)
- Utsuri-goshi (Shift Hip Throw)
- O-guruma (Major Wheel)
- Soto-makikomi (Outer Spiral)
- Uki-otoshi (Floating Drop)
- O-soto-guruma (Major Outer Wheel)
- Uki-waza (Floating Technique)
- Yoko-wakare (Side Separation)
- Yoko-Guruma (Side Wheel)
- Ushiro-goshi (Reverse Hip Throw)
- Ura-nage (Rear Throw)
- Sumi-otoshi (Corner Drop)
- Yoko-gake (Side Hook)
The purpose of this article is to answer any questions you might have about starting to train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and your first class in particular. Every school is different, but this article will help you understand how MOST Brazilian Jiu-jitsu schools operate.
You’ll find a glossary of basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu terms at the bottom of this article. This is to help you understand any technical words used here or in your first class.
At most schools you can watch a class, meet the teacher and ask some questions before ever getting on the mats.
What to Wear
Before you come to your first class, you’ll need to figure out what to wear.
You usually don’t need to own a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi for your first class. T-shirts, board shorts and sweat pants are all fine. Sometimes you can wear a gi or uniform from another martial art (ask the instructor about this issue). You will need to buy a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi if you continue training.
Do NOT wear anything with extra pockets, belt loops or baggy fabric. These are dangerous since fingers and toes can get caught in them. Baggy cargo shorts are a common example of what not to wear.
If you already own them, you can wear any protective gear (knee braces, ear guards, mouth guard, cup, etc.) you feel you need, with the exception of wrestling shoes (some clubs allow shoes, others don’t). Athletic tape can be used to protect injured fingers or toes.
Make sure your finger and toe nails are well-groomed. If you have long hair, you’ll want to put it up in a ponytail or bun during class. You should also remove any piercings to prevent injuries.
Your First Class
You’ll probably want to show up a couple minutes early to introduce yourself to the instructor and check out the school (if you haven’t visited already). You’ll often need to sign a waiver.
Before class starts, you’ll have a chance to get dressed and stretch out on the mats. Be sure to get everything ready before class starts so you don’t have to miss anything.
Some teachers use a very light warmup, whereas others start the class with a heavy-duty conditioning session. Most classes start with a group warm-up, such as running laps and doing push-ups, followed by solo drills like forward and backward breakfalls and shrimping. Those last three moves will probably be new to you, so just watch what everyone else is doing and try to copy them. These are to help you learn how to fall safely and move your hips on the ground.
Don’t worry if you don’t get the exercises correct at first—no one does on their first day, and they take a little practise. Just give it your best try and the instructor or a higher belt will make sure you learn to do it right.
After warm-ups, you’ll be partnered with someone and go to your own section of the mats to be taught your first lesson. At some schools you will practice a beginner curriculum, and at others you will simply do whatever techniques are being taught that day. An example of a beginner curriculum might be learning and drilling the following four techniques:
Upa mount escape.
Guard pass to side control.
Taking mount from side control.
Americana armlock(no-gi) or cross collar choke (with gi).
I think it will help you learn these techniques if you understand why they are taught.
Position Before Submission
One of the core principles of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is “position before submission”. By “position” is meant the relative position of your body to your opponent’s. By “submission” is meant an action that causes your opponent to submit (surrender), such as an armlock or choke.
It can be demonstrated that different positions in grappling offer varying degrees of control, and that those with the most control offer the best leverage for submissions and striking, with the least threat of counter-attack or escape. It is from this that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to seek and advance towards dominant positions and only attempt submissions once these are obtained. This also includes escaping from inferior positions to a neutral or dominant position.
You start in a bad position (under mount) and escape to a relatively neutral position (in the guard), then advance (pass guard) to a dominant position (side control), and then take an even more dominant position (mount), at which point you have the control and leverage to effect a submission (americana or cross collar choke).
You would not want to escape from mount to then try an americana or cross collar choke from inside their guard. This breaks the principle of “position before submission,” since you’re trying to jump to the submission before gaining real control. They still have more than enough control to stop you from submitting them and it puts you in danger of being submitted.
Each technique flows one into another, from position to position, and ends with a complete reversal of who is mounted. Once you’ve learned all four techniques, you and your partner can drill them all back and forth, switching off each time someone ends under mount.
While these techniques may seem basic, if you could consistently perform them successfully against resisting opponents, you’d be well on your way in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Usually resistance drills and sparring follow the instruction and repetition of techniques. This will be your first chance to try out what you just learned against a fully resisting partner in a live drill. And as such, it’s important that you understand some basic rules for all live drilling and sparring:
* No striking, punching or kicking.
* No eye gouging or hair pulling.
* No twisting or grabbing fingers.
* No slamming (picking someone up and dropping them).
* No heelhooks (twisting the foot or knee).
* No neck cranks.
Remember that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is designed to be trained safely without serious injury. These rules are to help keep you and your training partners safe and healthy.
The normal way you signal submission in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to tap your opponent three times. When you tap, make sure you do it hard enough that your partner can feel it; or tap yourself or the mat where they can see and/or hear it; or verbally tap by saying “Tap!”; or loudly tap the mat with your foot so they can hear it.
Likewise, be aware of your training partner tapping and stop whatever you are doing when he does so.
Tapping is just part of training and there is no shame in it. Don’t worry about winning or losing. Just try the techniques you’ve learned to the best of your ability and tap when you need to, ideally before it hurts.
Passing the Guard
The most common group drill is Passing the Guard. It’s purpose is to develop a strong guard passing game. I’ll explain one way it is typically done (but there are many variations of this drill).
Everyone lines up along the wall while a number of guys lay out in the middle of the mat. Then people from the line pair up with those on the mat and get in their guard. When they are ready to go, they slap hands and get to it.
The person with guard has the goal of sweeping, submitting or taking the back of the person on top.
The person on top has the goal of passing guard to a dominant position and holding it for at least 3 seconds. Dominant positions include side control and mount, like you learned earlier.
Whenever someone succeeds at their goal, they stop and the “loser” goes back to the end of the line while the “winner” stays out and takes guard on the next person in line.
At most schools the class concludes with live sparring. You may be assigned a sparring partner(s), and usually you’ll change partners after every round.
At the start of each round, you’ll begin by facing your partner on your knees. When you’re both ready shake hands and start to “roll”: try out your techniques, stopping whenever one of you taps and restarting from knees.
Some schools start with timed rounds, but allow you to continue doing “free sparring” with no time limits after class is officially over.
With class over, you might have more questions, now you’ve trained for the first time. If you enjoyed the class and want to continue training, you can also discuss prices and setup a schedule.
You will need a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi for continued training. Most instructors sell gis, but you can also buy them at most martial arts stores and at many online stores.
I hope this answers any questions you might have about what your first day could be like at a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school. Good luck in your future training.
Americana — A basic submission where the arm is bent and twisted towards the head in order to crank the shoulder. Also called American armbar, bent armlock, chicken wing, hammer lock, paint brush, top wrist lock, ude garami, and v-lock.
breakfall — The techiques for safely falling to the ground, such as after a throw. To breakfall means to execute a safe fall to the mat. Also called rollovers and ukemi.
gi — The uniform worn when training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Also called kimono.
guard — A number of positions in grappling where the person on bottom is defending themselves and controlling the person on top using their legs. Closed guard is where the position is held with one’s legs wrapped around their opponent’s waist with their ankles crossed. Open guard
guard pass — A technique done in order to get around or “pass” someone’s guard, ending with them securely holding a dominant position. Attempting to perform these techniques against an opponent is called passing the guard.
heelhook — A submission where the heel is used to twist the leg and possibly tear the knee.
mount — A dominant position in grappling where the person on top sits straddled across the torso of the person on bottom. In a self defense situation, the person with mount would be able to strike without much threat of being struck back. In grappling, mount offers the leverage and control to effect chokes and armlocks. The person on the bottom is considered mounted.
no-gi — Refers to training without the gi, usually wearing shorts and a T-shirt
shrimp — A drill done to train proper hip movement while on one’s back. It is an important part of many escapes and techniques. It is called “shrimping” because one bends in half like a shrimp as they scoot along the mat. Also called elbow escape or hip escape because of it is used in combination with the elbow in several escapes.
side control — A number of dominant positions in grappling where the person on top pins the opponent, usually with chest to chest contact. Also called crossbody, cross-side and side mount. Many particular holds from side control have specific names, such as 100 kilos and scarf hold.
sweep — A technique done from guard to put an opponent on their back and allow one to come up on top. To sweep means to successfully perform such a technique.
take the back — To gain one of the most dominant positions in grappling (called rear mount) on an opponent’s back. From here, one can strike (in self defense situations) or choke with little fear of retaliation.
weave — The type of fabric a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi is made from. Single weave is one of the thinnest types, making it good for hot weather training. Double weave is twice the thickness of single, and gold weave is somewhere between the two. Summer weave is the lightest and most easily torn.
upa — A bridging movement where you lie on your back and lift your hips off of the ground. Used in the basic bridge-and-roll mount escape.
Article written by Matt Kirtley