Blog - Team Passos

Team Anniversary BBQ 7/14

This summer marks the third year anniversary of Team Passos opening it’s doors at our current facility. To celebrate we’ll hold our annual potluck BBQ at 3:00 pm on Saturday, July 14th at Claude Moore Park, Pavilion 1.

Invite friends and family and come out for a fun afternoon of hanging out off the mat. We will enjoy games for the little ones plus volleyball and soccer matches. Be sure to bring a side dish to share; we’ll bring the meat.

Location instructions: Pavilion 1 is located directly across from the Visitor’s Center. There are two entrances to Claude Moore Park. If you are coming from route 7, take the first entrance (less prominent)

Women’s BJJ Training Event 6/16

Ladies, join us for a Saturday morning women’s BJJ class on June 16th at Team Passos HQ! This class is open to any women who trains Jiu Jitsu, regardless of team affiliation. We will train from 9:00 am to 10:00 am and then after you are welcome to stay for our regular 10:00 am all-levels (co-ed) class.

We always have a great time reconnecting with friends and sharing our Jiu Jitsu during these events. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Kids Jiu Jitsu Summer Camp 6/25-29

Give your child a summer they will never forget! Team Passos is hosting its Kids’ Jiu Jitsu Summer Camp, ages 6 through 12, from June 25th to 29th. While here, your child will train in a supportive environment where they will be cared for and strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally so that they can grow and thrive to their fullest potential.

During the week, students will learn applicable self-defense skills, gain confidence, discipline and social skills all while having a blast. Your child will benefit from one-on-one guidance from our team of Coaches and enjoy making new friends.

Camp will begin at 2:00 pm Monday through Friday and finish at 4:00 pm. Additionally, your child has the option to stay for the first kids’ class immediately following. Kids classes are from 4:00-5:00 Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 4:30-5:30 pm Tuesday and Thursday.

No prior martial arts skills is required. Everyone is welcome. Contact our academy today to register your child for a fun and confidence building week!

6 Benefits of Attending Our Affiliate Training

Team Passos Jiu Jitsu has an affiliation made up of different academies and Professors in various locations. We recently held our latest adults’ affiliate training and our kids affiliate training is coming up soon. During these events the team gets together to train at one of our affiliate academies. The point is to provide the opportunity for our students to train with new people, in a different environment that will expand their comfort zone, strengthen them mentally and emotionally while improving their game.

The energy in the academy is high with anticipation and excitement during our affiliate training sessions. It is run in a structured format and our affiliate Instructors monitor all rolls for safety and provide feedback and encouragement to the students so they can improve their game. These events are always such a great time. And there are many benefits to participating in the training:

  1. Team Building

Our affiliate training is really a BJJ family reunion. Everyone is welcome. New friends are made and old friends reconnect. We are able to get to know one another better. It is a time of coming together to celebrate the art of Jiu Jitsu together. And it is an opportunity for affiliate instructors to introduce their students to the roots of the team, seeing firsthand where we come from.

Many of the affiliate academies take turns in hosting the events. For those traveling, the shared moments of carpooling and even going out to eat together after training connects us with one another that transcends just the mat.

  1. Expand Your Support Network

Through attending the affiliate events, you are able to expand your network and gain an extended family. When you are traveling near affiliate academies you are welcome to visit and train with them. By attending an affiliate training, you will make friends in the other academies; which makes stepping on a new mat a little easier.

Further, if you ever decide to compete, teammates from our affiliate academies are usually in attendance. Once at the competition, you will already know each other and can support and cheer one another on. This enhances your competition experience.

  1. Improve Your Game By Rolling Your Affiliate Teammates

During the affiliate trainings, we make sure that you have the opportunity to roll with a teammate from another academy with whose game you are unfamiliar with. This is a tremendous benefit. To roll with someone you do not know forces you to try new things. It will challenge you. This allows you to process and explore Jiu Jitsu in new ways. You will need to impose your game without knowing what the other person is going to do. In order to impose your game effectively, you must have an understanding of what your game is. And these situations have a way of revealing that to you.

  1. Gain Emotional Fortitude

Jiu Jitsu as a sport is already emotionally challenging. By the nature of the art, you constantly find yourself in uncomfortable positions yet are required to stay calm in order to perform. These situations put a mirror in your face. You will gain a better understanding of how you react outside of your comfort zone. Jiu Jitsu teaches us the tools to deal with this pressure. And the affiliate training enhances this. It allows you to practice performing under pressure in a safe environment and promises to expand the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Affiliate training sessions are even more emotionally demanding due to rolling in a different environment (for some) with different partners. The anticipation of the unknown, anxiety over how we may perform, the wondering of how we will compare to others, and the excitement of entire experience is even higher than a typical day on the mat. It can be emotionally draining but it is rewarding.

Some people may say that learning to perform under pressure can be equally accomplished through competition. While I believe competition has many benefits, including learning how to perform under pressure, it will not accomplish equal results as something like the affiliate training. The reason being is that during a competition you have one match with each opponent. And when you lose a match, you are finished with the competition. The experience is short lived and before you know it the match is over. In the team training however, you will have multiple rolls with the same person, and then roll again with others. Even if you lose a particular match, you are going to roll again and again. Through this, you will be able to better process and work through your emotions. You can identify your weaknesses to improve upon as well your strengths to leverage.

  1. Exposure to Another Style of Jiu Jitsu

Our affiliate instructors are present on the mat to coach the students during the affiliate training sessions. They are there to manage the mat to ensure safety and will also give you tips and coach you during rolls. To be coached by an instructor of one of our other affiliate academies provides you the opportunity to learn from a different style of Jiu Jitsu.  Additionally, you will be able to learn and experience this differently style of Jiu Jitsu through their students. By rolling with a student from an affiliate academy, you will be exposed to their game, which is often a reflection of their instructor’s style of Jiu Jitsu.

While we are all under the same Team Passos flag, each instructor brings their own unique strengths, talents and knowledge to the mat.  Putting yourself in the position to be exposed to our instructors’ different styles expands your repertoire.

  1. Coaches Receive Insight in Students’ Progress

The affiliate training is also beneficial to the instructors. The instructors are able to see their students’ and how they perform in the group training setting. These insights help the instructors tailor training and coaching to an individual student once they are back to regular training at their home academy.

Further, by observing the structure of the training and how the other instructors teach, they can gain insights in how to improve their classes and instruction at their own academy. The  mark of a great instructor is one who always learning and improving in their own Jiu Jitsu, their teaching, and seeking how they can pass along their knowledge to their students.

Everything we do at Team Passos is with the benefit our students in mind. Each of our decisions and the structure in place on the mat is for the purpose of creating the ultimate Jiu Jitsu experience. We are always looking to improve and build upon our success. These affiliate training events are just one of the ways that we can offer an experience that will enhance each student’s game and grow individually and as a team. I hope you will have the opportunity to attend our next team training.

BJJ Tip: How to Catch Up When Your Opponent Gets Ahead

As I have touched on in a previous post, Jiu Jitsu is the art of controlling your opponent. To do this you must stay ahead of your opponent. Often we confuse staying ahead with speed. Being ahead does not always signify going fast or faster that the other person. The end goal is not a matter of speed. Your aim is to secure and establish a dominate position. Many times you will need speed in order to establish a dominate position. However, focusing solely on speed may not be your advantage to achieve a dominate position.

The fight for a position is not a marathon but rather several small sprints. During that transition moment from position A to position B, when we feel our opponent is getting ahead of us, the mistake many people make is to try to catch up using their speed to go faster than the other person. Trying to catch up in a short race where you are already behind is not the best strategy.

You may already be too behind in this race toward this specific position to gain an advantage. Under these circumstances, the solution is to use all your skills and ability to go after and lock your opponent in. Even if you are not particularly strong in that particular position, lock your opponent in so that you do not get into an even worse position. From there, after your opponent is locked in and you have slowed him down, adjust your grips, catch your breath and begin to impose your game again. Start a new “race” for a better position.

It will take experience through training to build your discernment for when it is time to catch up to your opponent in speed or slow down your opponent. Jiu Jitsu is a beautiful balance between the pressure game and your ability to move at a high speed. One is not superior to the other. It is the combination and knowing which to emphasize at each moment that will help you in your game.

Understanding these concepts will allow you to analyze where you are in relation to your opponent and adjust your game accordingly. For example, if I am rolling with someone larger than myself, I will be the faster one and should leverage that advantage. If I am rolling with someone lighter, they will naturally be faster. So I will keep my game tight and the pressure on. Knowing where your advantages are in relation to others will help you to develop your game and allow you to become more creative and adapt to all circumstances on the mat.

Do not confuse getting ahead of your opponent with meaning just using speed. Speed does not necessarily equate to competency. Team Passos’ structured curriculum is designed to enable our students to adapt and establish a stronger position where they can control their opponent. At our academy we work with each student to help them analyze their giftings and challenges. We then tailor a game that will best suit them individually. If you have not had a chance to train with us, I invite you to come try class and take your game to the next level.

How Crying on the Mat Builds Character

During class, it is not uncommon for one of our young students to cry on the mat, and so we would like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about our policy on how to handle this when it happens, and the thinking behind it.

The reality is, crying during class will happen. It’s inevitable. When it does happen, it should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If the child is crying because of true pain due to an injury, then that should be dealt with appropriately and medical attention will be sought if needed. Thankfully this is an extremely rare occurrence at our academy due to the structure and rules we have in place. In all other cases of crying our policy is to approach the situation differently.

The reasons behind crying on the mat are varied: the child may be frustrated, they could be intimidated, or maybe simply embarrassed, for example if they are losing a match. Crying can also be used by kids as a form of manipulation. It is also important to address crying on the mat quickly, because this is one of the few behaviors a kid can do in class that will distract all of the other students and disrupt the progression of the entire class. More often than not, a kid crying in class is their way of avoiding an uncomfortable situation or getting attention rather than true injury. We also find that it is commonly the same offenders who are repeatedly disturbing class. Unless they are crying due to real pain, we will make it clear to them that this behavior is unacceptable, and teach them the skills and tools to handle their emotions and express themselves in an appropriate way.

As instructors, part of our job is to teach our students how to handle their emotions, and the best way to express themselves. When I see kids crying on the mat it is most often out of frustration, mental pressure, or even a form of manipulation, rather than them being in pain. It is therefore up to the instructor to employ his or her judgment to assess where the child is in terms of emotional development, and therefore determine the real reason behind the tears.

This is particularly relevant to students who attend a regular class. The instructor will be able to figure out if a particular child using crying as a way to avoid an uncomfortable situation, or to get attention, because a pattern will emerge over time.

In this way, if we were to give the child a easy out of the situation, such as quickly ending the warm up or whatever it may be, we would be doing them a disservice as instructors and mentors. Instead, as long as they are in no physical harm, it is better to allow them to stay in the uncomfortable position so they can figure it out for themselves, work out their emotions and explore other ways of overcoming difficulty, rather than escaping the situation or giving up. By letting them find their own achievement, we give them the tools to success that they will carry into adulthood.

The habits and attitudes we are helping kids develop at an early age through Jiu-Jitsu are critical to their success later down the road. In most cases, left to their own kids will eventually learn that crying is not socially acceptable and “grow out of it”. However, this doesn’t mean that they have learned to deal with their emotions. If they are not challenged and taught how to appropriately handle their emotional reactions to situations, this will often manifest as unhealthy anger or in some cases psychological issues later in life.

Our policy is to be strong against crying in class. In many cases what may look like tough love or disregard for the child’s feelings from the outside, is actually a specially targeted way of helping our kids develop emotionally to become healthy and functioning adults. In these circumstances, it is our responsibility as instructors to make it clear to the student that their behavior is unacceptable. We should also take this opportunity to teach them other skills and tools to handle their emotions, and appropriate ways of expressing themselves.

Concept-Based Versus Technique-Based Mindset

Understanding concepts in Jiu Jitsu is just as important, if not more important than learning strictly techniques. In the art of Jiu Jitsu, it is difficult to make just one technique or a single attack work. Instead, it is your constant attacks adapted and varied to the game that will eventually wear down your opponent and have them fall behind in their defense and counter-attacks. The ability to adapt your approach is based on your ability to understand the concepts of Jiu Jitsu. This conceptual understanding provides a solid foundation to build techniques upon. From there it is then a matter of time that you will be able to apply the technique and submit your opponent.

Think of a technique as a tool. With a technique-based mindset, you will focus on implementing single attacks, individual tools. Using one tool to try to apply and make work, and if it does not, use another and then another hoping to submit. All the while not being able to get ahead in the match or strategizing for your opponent to fall in your game. It is difficult to become creative simply based on tools.  But when you learn the concepts you learn the art – the essence of Jiu Jitsu; where you can apply the tools to create the art.  By grasping the concepts you can adapt and apply more attacks. You can develop your own game and learn how to tailor techniques to your own body and ability. This will enable you to be able to more effectively improvise and respond to bad situations.

I am not minimizing techniques. Instead, I am emphasizing the concept of position that will allow you to implement the submission/technique. A conceptual understanding of Jiu Jitsu is demonstrated when a student is able to flow from one technique to another. To be able to accomplish this, they must have a thorough understanding of the position they are in.

Another way to illustrate a technique versus concept-based approach is say you have a gun… a friendly NERF gun. The techniques are the bullet darts. A technique-based approach would have you load one bullet and then shoot, then load one again, and shoot, and so on. However, a concept-based understanding allows you to load all bullets at once and shoot one after another without hesitation for a faster, more efficient attack. This approach does not allow your opponent the space to counter attack and enables you to stay ahead of the game.

In developing your conceptual understanding it is important that you do not neglect maintaining or improving a position by rushing to apply a technique. Take time to understand a position, not just on how to improve the position or find submissions from it, but to understand how to keep that position. When rushing to apply the technique your opponent can wait for you to attempt to execute. Then when you make the move you give space to the opponent where he has an opportunity to escape.  The better you can keep a particular position, the harder your opponent will have to fight to escape from the position and the less effort it will take you to keep that position. When your opponent must work harder to escape a position, he will eventually expose himself to a vulnerability that will allow you to apply your technique. For example, when you are able to keep your opponent in the closed guard effectively and they fight to escape, the opportunity for implementing an arm bar will be more likely to present itself.

To illustrate further, suppose I get on the mount. From that position there are several techniques I can try to implement to finish the match. The arm bar may work. But if I cannot maintain and generate a good pressure from the mount, my opponent will wait for me to move to the arm bar and it will be much easier for him to escape. However, if I am able to develop a good mount control and heavy pressure control from the mount my opponent has no option of waiting for me to go to the arm bar to then try to escape due to the uncomfortable pressure. Because he is feeling the pressure from the mount he is forced to engage in trying to escape which will give me openings to apply a technique which could be the arm bar, or americana, or cross choke. The point here is to be strong in the position (i.e. the mount) and then have several tools on hand to be able to apply the technique or submission when the opportunity presents itself.

This is the approach we take with our classes at Team Passos. The format of our curriculum is developed as a system that begins with a position where we reinforce the understanding of that position. We then demonstrate three or four techniques from that position. Each of the techniques are connected to one another so as to allow the student the ability to adapt and transition as the game changes while ultimately gaining a better understanding of the art of Jiu Jitsu.

The purpose of teaching in this format is to show the student that a single move, though it can work, is more difficult to be effective because their opponent is focused on defending that attack. Teaching from this systematic concept-based approach, that includes three to four attacks, will improve the student’s chances to not only control their opponent but also to succeed in the attacks.

-Professor Tony Passos

Setting Personal Training Goals

Have a purpose for your training (and your life) so that you can know where you are going and how to get there. Always know what your reason is for training. What is driving you? Know your bigger mission and set goals to achieve it. Without a purpose, we are directionless. Without goals we will eventually wander off, become lost, and make no progress.

In this season, I would like to encourage you to reflect on your reason for training and to set goals. Think of three specific and measurable things you would like to accomplish. I and the other Coaches are available upon request to help you work through this. Our goal is to offer each of you support in improving your Jiu Jitsu game and growing personally. Use the academy as a platform for your own development.

Mat-Specific Goals:

Below are examples and thoughts on some mat-specific goals you could set for yourself in this next season.

  • Develop your own game. Begin by first focusing on learning the positions being taught in class and following the curriculum (a goal in and of itself). Then, focus on linking positions. Identify a position you would like to improve on and work on transitioning to and from it from a position you are already strong in. For example: if the Coach is working the mount position and you are very good at the back, try to link this new mount position with taking the back (which you are already strong in). This will enable you to widen your repertoire and strengthen your ability to play the game.
  • Improve your game. Confining your training to just the official class time would be limiting the potential of your Jiu Jitsu. Spend time gaining feedback from not just your Coaches but also your training partners on what is and is not working on your game. They are great resources. Take a few minutes before or after class to talk with each other. Ask things like: “How did you feel about that last position I tried?”
  • Train consistently. Consistency is key. It is the foundation for us to reach the other training goals. Try to commit to the amount of days per week you have determined to train. Set a specific schedule of how often you would realistically like to train and if possible, which days you will be training. It is irrelevant how often you are training, whether it is 5 days a week, two days a week or one day every other week. I recommend setting a schedule of which days you train. It will help you to stay on track.
  • Promotion. The goal to earn a strip or belt is excellent. It is a materialization of our work. However, promotion should not be the end goal. The goal behind the belt or stripe should be growing in your understanding of the art of Jiu Jitsu. If the goal is limited to just the belt it becomes a trap. The belt becomes a “thing” to achieve while not representing growth. This particular goal of promotion, when it represents growth to the student, should be measured by the ability to understand what is being taught by the instructor: insights into why the technique works and why your execution of that technique did or did not work when implemented. In understanding the art of Jiu Jitsu, a student should be able to explain in words to someone how and why a technique works.
  • Competition. Challenge yourself by training for and competing in a competition

Speak with your Coach on the side to gain feedback on what you can specifically work on with your game in connection with your goals. What are the things you would like to add into your game personally?


Lifestyle goals:

As we repeatedly say: it is not about Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu has the ability to change lives. Allow your training to spark ideas and look at things from a different angle. Begin brainstorming areas for adjustments and to come up with a strategy on how to build upon your successes and achieve your goals.

  • Develop friendships. Enjoy the supportive community the academy offers and develop friendships. This is best developed before and after class. Whenever possible arrive 20 minutes before class and stay 20 minutes after class to connect with others. For those who are shy or have social anxiety, the academy is a safe place to interact with new people and to develop confidence. Make a point to talk with teammates whom you do not know yet and keep up with the connections you already have. Remember:  iron sharpens iron.
  • Take risks. If you have a tendency to play it safe in life or have anxiety in taking risks, use your training to allow you to practice taking trying new positions during rolling. This approach will allow you to progressing in your training and is also a great way of overcoming fear of success or failure.
  • Improve physical conditioning. If we are doing the 30 jumping jacks, 20 squats, 10 pushups in 5 minutes try to go a little faster, get a little lower. Improve on what you have been able to do in the past to increase your endurance and strength.
  • Lose weight. Weight loss is great goal. Though simply stating: “I want to lose weight” is not enough. Having a target weight or identifying the amount of pounds to lose by a specific date is a measurable and time-bound goal. This will allow you to aim toward something concrete and know when it has been accomplished. Then, once the weight has been achieved, this goal will evolve to become the goal and journey of living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle should include eating well and getting an adequate amount of rest. The mindset of a healthy lifestyle combats the discouragement we may be faced with when, for example we go on vacation for two weeks and re-gained the weight we worked so hard to lose.
  • Strengthen your relationship with family and friends by practicing Jiu Jitsu as a shared hobby. Training with spouse, children and friends have proven invaluable for many in our BJJ family.


Our reasons for training can evolve and change over time. Taking a previous example, your goal can start as weight loss. Then, once the desired weight is achieved, the goal can evolve to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Or, our reason for training can remain consistent over our entire Jiu-Jitsu journey (i.e. to grow in our conceptual knowledge of the art of Jiu Jitsu). Either is acceptable. The point is to know your reason for training at any given moment. It will enrich your training and help to ensure you reach and even surpass the bar you have set for yourself.


Three Key Components to Achieving Goals

In addition to the goals being S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound) below are three critical components for achieving training goals:

Accountability. Going beyond goal setting, as teammates we are to hold one another accountable to each other’s stated goals. Check in on each other periodically to ask how they are progressing. Offer encouragement, provide feedback, or help to identify anything that may be inhibiting from reaching the goal.

Responsible for own journey. No other teammate or Instructor can make you achieve your training goals. We each must be motivated to learn and progress or we will remain stagnant. We will use every tool we have to teach and coach world-class Jiu Jitsu and create an atmosphere conducive to learning the art, but at the end of the day, we each are responsibility for our own journey.

Power of momentum. Achieving small wins builds confidence that creates a momentum that spurs better performance. It is this momentum that helps to change our perspective: gaining assurance in our  abilities, optimism about the future, positive perspective on ourselves and others, anticipation of future wins, etc. Set yourself up to gain momentum that will inspire, motivate and energize you.