I have attended jiu jitsu seminars taught by accomplished grapplers across the spectrum — guys like Caio Terra, Felipe Costa, Jeff Glover, Eddie Bravo, and Gokor. They were each amazing in different ways. These completely different and exciting personalities still couldn’t help me wrap my brain around the question “What would a Nick Diaz seminar be like?” (I even tried to Google it in anticipation!)
Brass Boxing And Fitness, announced the seminar in Kansas City, Missouri. (I was a little worried we would be covering face punching. We didn’t.) How Nick Diaz’s communication style would translate into teaching details from his top notch technical Jiu Jitsu skill set?
Traveling with two of my closest friends from Springfield BJJ so the trip had a fun vacation feel to it, but I really had no idea what to expect.
Let the Nick Diaz Seminar Begin!
Nick Diaz entered the gym and everyone applauded. He did the classic Diaz brothers “flex pose” in response, and I knew this was going to be both informative AND entertaining.
The Stockton grappler took the center of the mat and began speaking.
“I’m only going to show you stuff that I do. If I don’t do it, I’m not going to show it to you. So this is going to be just good stuff. Stuff I use guys…”
And we were off! As he finished this intro, the anticipation in the room was building. He divided us by belt ranks to get a feel for the room. There looked to be about 75 people there, over half white belts, half of the remaining wore blue belts and the rest were upper belts. He felt out the room just like he would feel out an opponent in a fight and now he had made his choices about where the seminar was headed.
We started the seminar with a standup series. Typically, at Jiu Jitsu seminars, the instructor will show a single move and stress the tiniest details of weight distribution and timing and revisit that move 2 -3 more times, honing it further, before moving on. Nick Diaz showed a series of 5 moves all at once. He executed them a time or two apiece without really calling attention to many of the details besides the cues that trigger the moves. Then the UFC star said “go drill it.” The attendees paused as if asking in unison “Which move?” and he said “All of them. Go work them,” and we did.
Lessons From The Seminar
1.) The first lesson of the seminar – Keep my thinking flexible. Be open to new approaches.
At first this format confused me. Maybe this would be just be entertaining and a fun story and I wouldn’t learn as much Jiu Jitsu. As the seminar progressed though, Nick picked up steam, and I started to become more comfortable with his style. I realized that my preconceived notions of what a seminar should be were getting in the way of me learning from his great seminar.
My partner and I drilled relentlessly and I started to understand where Nick Diaz was taking us. It was outside the box because Diaz was more interested in the chaining of moves and how they fit together than individual details. If we didn’t know a Russian Tie or an inside trip, that was just a bummer. He wasn’t teaching the moves, he was teaching the strategy of the positions and the flow.
“You’ll get this later when you learn that move.”
At the end of seminars I have a grasp on the moves but they don’t always fit neatly into my game. These moves end up gathering dust on the shelf. The beautiful part about Nick’s seminar is that he was teaching systems and chains in a very logical way. If I get to any of the common positions he showed (like the bottom side of turtle) I have a whole system to use from there now.
I have spent every training session at my home gym since the seminar working on the positions we covered and have been able to integrate pretty much EVERYTHING he showed into my jiu jitsu. At the end of the seminar I ranked it as great. After a week of drilling and adding the movements permanently to my game, I now consider it one of my favorite seminars!
After attending a seminar, my notes usually look very organized. If you didn’t see words like “underhook” and “choke”, they could be my notes from back in school from History or Science class. You would see an outline format, bullet points, often numbered sequentially (1st I get this grip, 2nd, I shift weight here, 3rd…) with the rare stick figure doodle for clarity.
There would be no way to write notes that way for a Nick Diaz seminar. Nick was focused on the forest not the trees like a movie director showing how all of the shots fit together. I had to be a cinematographer on my own to make sure each shot looked good, no matter how long it took, because he had done his job. Getting the details right is my job, he had shown me the big picture.
A “mind map” ended up being the clearest organization option for my notes. Most seminars I’ve attended covered 5-10 moves, and if it was closer to 10 moves there was a good chance they were moves with identical setups just different endings based on reactions.
I have used small versions of “mind maps” before to outline how a few moves fit together from a seminar, but rarely is it not evident by the techniques themselves. When I had finished my Nick Diaz notes, I counted over 40 moves we had covered from a handful of different positions in two and a half hours!
We started on the feet, worked through a number of takedowns, worked from the perspective of the guy being taken down and defending the single leg especially, worked from top side of sprawl with the guy on bottom having a locked in single leg, worked from the bottom side of sprawl as if the top side sprawl guy broke up our single leg and circled to the side, worked back up to the feet, and finally escaping the back. The whole seminar was cyclical
2.) The next lesson was – You have to move with your guy
“You have to move with your guy”
This is how Nick Diaz talks about timing and why he doesn’t teach in steps ( “step 1 I do this, step 2 I do this, step 3 my opponent does this, so step 4 I react by…”). In a REAL roll, moves aren’t linear. They are a complex organic blending of movements. You are trying to feel the weight shift which makes execution “feel right”. There is a perfect time that feels great and then there is a buffer of less effectiveness on either side of that perfect time where execution requires more energy but is still useable. If you have the feel of “moving with your guy” the movements become much more connected.
3.) This chains with the following lesson – Your guy doesn’t have to move WITH you, he can go rogue and try other things.
“He can try to take me down again from this position, but each time he’s going to get tired. Eventually he won’t want to try that anymore.”
The seminar’s material all linked together from the single leg to the ground to standing again. There were a few spots where the standing opponent could elevate our base to look for a slam. He talked about staying safe in these exchanges by “skydiving” and going right back into the system. The opponent trying to force a takedown is actually a part of his system. It is a planned contingency.
The thought is, that those throws use blasts of explosiveness and extra energy. After throwing me 3 or 4 times and ending up where we started, my opponent begins to feel like he is exercising and not making actual progress. He gets tired and frustrated and I am just working my system. Tiring our opponent while conserving our own energy is a tenant of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
4.) The final lesson – I move with my guy on my OWN time.
“This is what I do. We can sit here all day. You have to have that patience”
During the chaining of moves there are a few times where everything bottlenecks. Some positions are open with lots of choices and options, and as each grappler makes their decisions they reduce their opponent’s choices. Finally when all options are eliminated it becomes a battle of wills, who wants to implement their move more, because there are no other options to open things up. The opponent is playing MY game.
Maybe I have done everything right to escape the single leg and I am almost out, but if I try to force my escape further my opponent is going to get his chance to finish the takedown on me. If he tries to force the single leg from my spot, he will lose it. Nick Diaz stressed the importance of patience here. I’m where I want to be and I’m not giving up this great spot. I can sit here the rest of the match because I’m on my way to winning the exchange here. He wasn’t talking about stalling. He was talking about not conceding advantageous scrambles that were brewing.
So what should you expect from a Nick Diaz seminar?
40+ great Jiu Jitsu moves chained together
lots of homework to implement everything he showed into your game
Keep my thinking flexible. Be open to new approaches.
You have to move with your guy
Your guy doesn’t have to move WITH you, he can go rogue and try other things
I move with my guy on my OWN time.
comedic gold (see the video below of Nick teaching at the seminar!!)
an interesting note taking process
This seminar was the Stockton Slap my Jiu Jitsu brain needed.
TL;DR – Nick Diaz teaches an amazing No Gi Jiu Jitsu seminar. Go in open minded for a different format than usual and take it all in! Take thorough notes afterwards.
Brass Boxing And Fitness was very accommodating and has a great facility. They even shared part of the seminar via live Facebook Feed. Check it out here or on their Facebook page.
I would love to hear other Nick Diaz seminar experiences. Post them here or on my Facebook!