Becoming a champion of your own

There are many different directions one may choose in their martial arts journey towards being a champion.

Some may prefer the course of self-realization while others may be driven by the desire of a title, accolade or accumulation of medals. There are many avenues along the journey that one may choose and the beautiful part about it is that each journey is going to be different. The challenging part about it is ensuring that throughout the way, someone truly benefits from the arts.

Maybe that journey is short for some: a new student who sets the goal of simply obtaining their blue belt so that if ever the case, they feel confident enough to defend themselves. Perhaps your journey is to transcend the younger version of you.  Maybe your journey is incredibly unique: you want to one day open up your own academy, support those who have throughout numerous years supported you and you hold yourself, and only yourself, to an extremely rigorous set of standards (that at times you can get rather bogged down with).  The variables are endless but again, this is what makes each individual journey special.

Something that can deter personal progression or affect a team oriented feel is the order of martial arts meaning the organizational structure and even further along that, the hierarchy. Hierarchy in martial arts, in society, is the elephant in the room. It bothers people tremendously and understandably so. One persons struggles (upward) is another persons cross to bear. Why is that?

Perhaps its that most people throughout their lives have experienced a misuse of power. Its entirely normal to be precautious of power and concerned with fairness. What becomes abnormal is excessive concern about fairness.

Now, when I look down at my waist as a black belt I don’t think, ” Oh yes, I’ve done it!  I now can have people eating out of the palm of my hand!” as this never really crosses my mind.  I think of how communal the belt is yet how the journey was challenging. Wearing this belt is humbling and at times, uncomfortable. It makes me sometimes want to wear some no gi attire so I blend in a little better. I consider the obligation I have to grow the art each time I tie the belt around my waist. I also consider my role as the teacher and standards I may set for each individual student’s journey in hopes that I understand them well enough to optimize their growth.

The question I ask myself daily is whether this journey is making me a better person or is it making me worse? Along the way, most of all, I want truth and a strengthening of character.

I’m trying to comfortably say that at this point martial arts has made me better. It has strengthened my relationships with those who matter most. It gave me courage to do things I never could have imagined as a child. It taught me most importantly that when things get tough, not to walk away. It allows me patience to see things through (to quote the ever philosophical Diaz bros, theres different types of black belts). My hope is to become a black belt at life, but I think that quest is truly unobtainable without some serious sacrifices.

Courage is a funny thing. Some people measure courage with specific examples of someone elses life: He fought that guy behind the school, stood his ground, and was a lion. She heard that cage door slam, and at that point she knew she was no longer a wimp.  He spent 17 hours in a tattoo parlor getting two birds and scroll on his lower back.  As you mature, you hopefully learn that courage is most evident in those who have nothing to do with the youthful quests (rites of passage) we all at some point wanted to pursue.  It is often (along with wisdom) most present in the elderly who have accepted, after years of work, the things they can’t change, which in itself is a form of courage. Courage when we’re young is standing strong against adversity. Courage when we’re older is much deeper. Courage is doing what’s hard. Courage is listening to your conscience and doing what you don’t want to do, but you do it anyway. Courage can even be understanding where other people are coming from and supporting them despite it not serving your best interests. Courage is a daily struggle for us all.

If you’re a Buffalonian, I’m sure you have seen the quote, “The greatest things in life are on the other side of fear.” That is not an easy mantra to embrace. (I have to fight many times daily to win this internal struggle.)

The fight is within you; not directly at others. Surprisingly when you truly take on this fight, openly and honestly, you’d be pleasantly surprised to see how supportive others may be. You’ll be rewarded too in some bizarre, cosmic sense.  I hope you all get to experience that feeling often.  (*By no means am I saying I have mastered this daily challenge to apply courage all the time throughout every aspect of life.) Everyone expresses courage differently but everyone has it and is entirely capable than a heck of a lot more than they think.


“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ”- CS Lewis

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The next time you tie your (and its not really just yours remember. Cue Rocky 4 where Rocky wins when he fights for the people and Drago loses when he fights for himself) belt around your waist, with meaning, ask yourself what you hoped to get out of this practice, this journey. Ask yourself if its helping you and if not, see what you can do in adjusting how it can again. Arrive early, take a breath and allow yourself to let your thoughts wander. Do not lose sight of the aim, which ultimately isn’t a photo, material possession or fleeting place in the hierarchy. Embrace the guardrails that are set up in your martial arts journey, or in your career or in your life, but do not lose sight of your destinations.

-Michael Katilus

PS this is a great quote and can work its way into the theme of the article

“‘Happiness’ is a pointless goal. Don’t compare yourself with other people, compare yourself with who you were yesterday. No one gets away with anything, ever, so take responsibility for your own life. You conjure your own world, not only metaphorically but also literally and neurologically. These lessons are what the great stories and myths have been telling us since civilization began.”- Jordan B. Peterson



For more check out Ephesians 6:12 for more on who we fight



Smiling faces of kids and coaches standing in a circle

A beginner sees a “roll” differently

“Good Things Take Time; What Comes Easy Goes Away Easily”


So you stopped in to see a class and saw a bunch of people “rolling”. What is a roll? What exactly did you see?

The langugage of Jiu Jitsu takes passion and practice.


Its certainly easy to fall out of love with Jiu Jitsu for a variety of reasons: the schedule never perfectly fits your busy schedule, the bumps, bruises and injuries along the way lead you and others to think you’re crazy, its not entirely cheap and well, to see noteworthy progress is difficult at times.

Two veteran practitioners of the art in a “roll” exchange moves, positions and essentially, a language, removing the verbal component most often associated with the word language, and replacing it through a defensive art form that resembles a sophsiticated body language.


A good roll is a cathartic experience, producing a series of receptors in the brain that can become rather addictive in its sensation. Roll well and it feels as if all the major neurotransmitters in the brain related to movement are thanking you, and providing clarity of the moment that a fast life often struggles to identify. The Wolf in Pulp Fiction once famously said ” I think fast, I talk fast, and I need you two guys to act fast if you want to get out of this”.  Coincidentally this famous quote is sampled at the beginning of a well known Jiu Jitsu podcast. So if you’re a beginner, this is what you may be seeing (fast exchanges), (not fully understanding its intricacies), and it may seem weird, or too intense, at times.

Talking to veterans of the art…This degree of intensity (within rolling) varies greatly. The ridiculous notion of “if you go hard” you belong and if you don’t, you don’t, is cultish. It has no place in the art and its incredibly wide array of offerings. Consider each person’s purpose for starting the art and how many have changed that purpose along the way. Each one of us without seeing it clearly loves the autonomy our different individual journeys provide.


The varying degrees of rolling and its importance is better measured by this very simple exercise…..The next time you line up in class….Instead of peaking at everyone elses belt, rank and striping…..Only focus on yours. Each belt, each student, is on a different journey. Your journey is scripted by you and your Professor (all varying degrees). Worrying about someone elses rank is a waste of energy. What does rolling intensely teach us? When NOT to waste energy is a start.

In martial arts, whenever you can, practice humility. For when you look at the world you see way less of it then you imagine you see. Curiosity can always help you fall back in love with something you may be beginning to feel out of place with. Curiosity within jiu jitsu can be positional studies, re-building an area you’ve developed a deficency in, strengthening an area you want to master (studying) or examining a fellow training partners strength. All of these informational choices are also alternatives to rolling. Treating Jiu Jitsu as if its the killing fields is a fleeting approach that will blow up in your face when your body no longer can handle the vigorousness of your efforts.

What makes Jiu Jitsu so unique is the physical chess parallel. We can always improve. Theres no one specific way of going about it.

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Sparring, What is it? Elements of MMA

Sparring: What is it?

Sparring is a common word and practice among martial artists or fighters (particularly for MMA), but to an outsider it might just look like fighting. So what is it? Is it fighting? Isn’t that dangerous? Why do it? 


Buffalo, New York is no stranger to fighting and the culture that surrounds it, although it wasn’t until 2016 that we finally allowed Mixed Martial Arts fights to be held here after a 20 year ban. We have had some great boxers and MMA fighters come from the area. 


Still there are those that don’t know what sparring is, and many who see a martial art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or the other two aforementioned sports as just fighting. We hear it all the time from friends and family that don’t practice, “Why do you do that? What’s the point of fighting?” etc, etc, etc.


Sparring by definition refers directly to boxing, “make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training.”


Key phrase right there, is that it is a form of training. So yes, it is, in a way, fighting. However it is more of a simulation of sorts that mitigates and reduces the risk of injury, while still helping a practitioner develop the skills they need, and conditioning necessary to engage in a real fight.


So why do we do it?


In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we end almost every class with “rolling”, our word for sparring. The founders of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu realized it wasn’t simply enough to practice techniques, you also needed to be able to apply them in real, live context.


Rolling is a great way to take the techniques you learned, and piece them together into the whole system, while learning to defend yourself from very real threats. One of the benefits of Bjj is that since there is no striking, such as in boxing or MMA, it is much easier to keep someone from getting hurt.


Applying an arm lock, or choke stops when the opponent gives up, or “taps” out, typically before any permanent damage is done. This is one of the reasons many believe Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to be one of the most effective and practical forms of self defense, due to the ability to train it at near 100% intensity, while keeping yourself healthy. It prepares its practitioners better for a real life situation.


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Sparring is nothing to be afraid of, especially at an academy like Lake Effect Martial Arts where all the students learn to practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with control and mindfulness, not just of themselves but of their training partner as well.


Excel in an area of Mixed Martial Arts before embracing the entity of Mixed Martial Arts.

For more on the subject of sparring or “rolling”……


Author: Tom J Brady

Being the very best version of yourself

Its easy to get mixed up in the popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world. Most of the attention is drawn towards the best competitors ( lets call this medal chasing), the most aestheically pleasing academies and the well off, traveled practitioners who have truly become the “lifestyle”. A common desire is for a practitioner to fall in love with the pursuit of competition success. While competition certainly has its valuable takeaways, lets dive further into the short-sightedness of that medal equals ultimate value directive.
Jiu-Jitsu is gaining a ton of unexpected momentum from popular figures such as Jocko Willink and Joe Rogan.  A repeated host on both podcasts has been Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist, who has received quite a bit of praise over his best-selling book 12 Rules to Life An Antidote to Chaos has influenced a deeper meaning in my life and daily practices. Recently seeing him at a lecture, Dr. Peterson asked the question, “Who could you be”? With the eye opening response, “You Could Be the thing that transcends suffering and malevolence”. You could through the focus of self improvement, which ultimately is what Jiu Jitsu aims to provide, transcend areas of your life that needed repair (by transcend think fix, deal and move forward). Carl Yung, a famous psychiatrist said while studying Psychology and Alchemy, ” In Sterquilinus Invenitor” which means (loosely) what you want most will be found where you least want to look. So applying this to Jiu Jitsu and the topic in the first paragraph, perhaps the medal is the short sighted approach falling to the more triumphant quest of exactly what you could be. Could you be the one that leads and influences others in a positive manner? Could you be the one who spreads the art beyond simply your interpretation of it? Could you be the one who learns from your mistakes, corrects those errors and reaches new levels most cannot?

“Medal Chasing” needs to be addressed for a variety of reasons, which would take an entire day of reading to be broken down accordingly. With the medal chasing pursuit you will at times (but not always) see additional short sighted approaches to poorly aimed goals, such as drug use (illegal, performance enhancing to be clear). Consider how consciousnessly damaging steriod use may be and how likely you will walk away from a martial art without a better understanding of yourself if you are chemically altering your body/mind. It is of my personal belief (which may or may not carry much weight but should be discussed) that God has given us everything we need to succeed and in God’s plan comes balance and understanding. Consider this….You pursued Jiu Jitsu at the highest level but reached your goals through a process even you ethically compromised with. Instead of asking yourself “Who could you be” maybe you see yourself as what you couldn’t. That is not a position you should ever want to live in.

Petersons lecture the other night had an interesting subplot about directing aim and hunting. Dr. Peterson said that everyone wanted to experience a hunt with a successful hunter as he provides more than just the kill (meat). The hunter provides an experience and a success to others that many can benefit from in the future. If you’re a real hunter, that is what you aim for (shared opportunity). Imagine hunting with someone who devours their meal immediately upon a successful adventure, never wipes their hands clean from the mess and only references their hunts while others starve (sounds like a fun person to be around huh!?)

Carl Yungs ultimate aim was wholeness. What character traits have strengthened through your practice of Jiu Jitsu? Maybe calling them character traits isn’t helping well enough with your aim. Lets refer to them as virtues. What virtues (tying together an earlier post about Bushido Code) have you benefitted from?  Rectitude,Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Honesty, Honor, or Loyalty? Maybe a more Western sense will help you more in understanding virtue. Humility, Kindness, Temperance, Chasity, Patience, Charity, or Dilligence. (For me, Dilligence has been the biggest takeaway that I learned through the art thus far).

If your pursuit in the art has too many negative components attached to it, you’ll find yourself too close with: Pride, Envy, Wrath, or Greed. None of these sins will transcend you. Avoid them at all costs. And most importantly, remember that the hardest battle each day on the mats is not with someone else who may beat you, or an opponent who may have your number, but against yourself. You are always fighting yourself, and its a fight that with time, maturity and wisdom, you must win.

Throw that medal chasing language in the trash where it belongs. Don’t cheat yourself out of the lessons you may not be able to see or notice at the time, because if you’re present and aligned you’ll tie them together at points in life where it matters most.


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Grappling 101: Jiu Jitsu isn’t just Jiu Jitsu

Grappling 101: Ground Fighting and Submission Oriented Arts in Buffalo, NY

Our aim and primary sense of pride is within the realm of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This does not mean however that our grappling pursuits are restricted to one creed or ruleset. Our coaching staff have rich histories in a variety of grappling based arts aside from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Our Academy truly is a melting pot of various art forms all designed to optimize performance in Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, submission wrestling, and beyond (we have students who have transferred successfully their mat skills to football fields, baseball diamonds for example). To name just a few other grappling arts our coaches and student body have backgrounds in would be next to impossible, but Sambo, Catch, Wrestling and Judo are easy to note.
Not only has our student body expanded their grappling prowess but they have competed, studied at length and coach the various additional grappling art forms listed above.

Our extensive community has people from all over the Western New York area. It may seem at first glance that we are primarily pulling from the Buffalo and surrounding suburban area (Depew, Lancaster, Cheektowaga, West Seneca, Amherst). Upon further examination you’ll find our community has students traveling from Niagara Falls, Lockport, Holland, Clarence, Fredonia, Rochester, and beyond. Truly devoted grapplers knowing their practice is worth everything they’ve hoped for.

So next time someone tells you we’re just a Jiu Jitsu Academy that primarily does Gi Jiu Jitsu and competition Jiu Jitsu, first come see for yourself. Then kindly remind your friends that Lake Effect Martial Arts is where the best Grapplers in Western New York come to train.

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American Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison cross trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many judokas are finding out that training BJJ amongst the variety of other grappling arts gives them not only a competitive edge, but a leg up on the competition. The newaza (ground fighting) time addition has helped propel many American Judo athletes to higher than ever levels of success.

How Buffalo is your Buffalo? Buffalo Jiu Jitsu and its humble origins from the prospective of team Lake Effect

The history of Jiu Jitsu in Buffalo being discussed might sound something a little like this quote, “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

Training Jiu Jitsu in Buffalo hasn’t always been as easy as it is today. In fact, while the city of Buffalo current hosts at least 5 different academies/gyms offering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, not too long ago, there wasn’t any variety to choose from.


Before we dive further, a quick review of the excellent quote above….
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a sentence that uses correct grammar. It is often used as an example of how homonyms and homophones can be used to create confusing, hard-to-understand sentences.

It has been talked about since 1967, when the sentence was used by Dmitri Borgmann in his book Beyond Language.



Professor Michael Katilus started training Jiu Jitsu (approximately) in early 2005. Professor Michael is a born and raised Buffalonian, and proud to have started a business in the town where he went to high school Depew, NY). Fun Fact: Lake Effect Martial Arts held its first class in June of 2016.  Buffalo Jiu Jitsu had at the time (2005) no real brick and mortar location to choose from (the closest was an mma gym in Lockport which is nearly 30 miles away). Professor Jarod Koopman started a year or two before Professor Michael and he was based in Rochester, NY at the time, training with Kyle Saunders, who was at one point the earliest organic black belt in WNY history. Many of the coaches at Lake Effect Martial Arts started in the mid 2000s and were left learning from at best, a videotape or blue belt at the time. A lot of the training back then was meant to compliment the small yet growing scene of MMA fighters. Now it is easier than ever for Jiu Jitsu to sustain itself on its own, or be independent from MMA fight training. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to share the mats with multiple upper belts. It may very well be possible that for Buffalo Jiu Jitsu all together, Lake Effect Martial Arts houses the largest amount of brown belts in the area, and this can be seen at almost any class you should choose.

While many “old school” Buffalo Jiu Jitsu practitioners may become almost cultish in their origins, it is of distinct importance to note, that there were many small pockets of teams assembling and of which, many talents came out of these small pockets. Its possible to become rather prepared at a lower belt rank training with a friend or two in a garage, basement, or renting mat space at a nearby martial arts academy. The difference in skill becomes more nuanced in some areas and more widespread and obvious in other realms as one progresses through the higher ranks of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

If training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a long term goal, beyond the ranks of a blue belt, we highly recommend joining an academy so that you can improve at a much faster rate, likely faster than those before you.

Many devoted practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Buffalo have helped pave the way. Some of these practitioners who helped shockingly may still be dormant, retired white belts (a language common to the most devoted and uncommon, almost foreign to a newcomer). Taking risks in a growing scene requires sacrifice beyond the duties of a single person or entity.

How fortunate so many of you have become in starting your Jiu Jitsu journey in Buffalo at an incredibly robust time. While the competition mats for Jiu Jitsu in Buffalo may not always reflect the opportunistic time period, the plethora of class times, academies to choose from and unbelievable variety of instructors to absorb/learn and become educated from has never been stronger.

What we offer better than any Buffalo Jiu Jitsu academy is a deep variety in styles, understanding and a holistic approach to Jiu Jitsu as it can get.

LEMA (Lake Effect Martial Arts) boasts a Professor who began training Jiu Jitsu in 1991 in Brazil, under the legend Professor Roberto Godoi, founder of team G13. Professor Fernando Volpe Mello teaches all Friday 7am classes. Professor Michael Katilus is inarguably the most decorated black belt competitor in Buffalo Jiu Jitsu history, and he teaches all Monday and Wednesday classes at 630pm. Professor Jarod Koopman is easily in the top 3-5 longest running practitioners of the art in not just Buffalo Jiu Jitsu but the Western New York region as a whole, is a decorated defensive tactics instructor, and can be found teaching every Monday and Wednesday at 630am.  This is just a starting point of reference for our incredibly diverse, dedicated, active, able bodied and disciplined coaching staff. Our coaches will roll with you, be accessible to you, not compartmentalize any aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for their liking and most importantly, encourage you to be your very best, on and off the mats. Our coaches have paved the way and paid their dues so that learning is easier for you, and we’ve cycled through what does and doesn’t work through long trying periods of trial and error.

We’ve mentioned 3 black belts above currently teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (from self defense, to gi, to no gi, components of wrestling, components of Judo, and not restricted within one particular ruleset) with a combined time of FIFTY FIVE (55) years of devotion to the practice of Jiu Jitsu. When factoring in teaching (teaching is in of itself another art form) we offer well over FOURTY (40) years covering classes, growing the art and being there for students. For our kids classes, we always have at least a brown belt or above teaching our childrens classes, another LEMA exclusive worth noting.

So what are you waiting for? Fill out the free trial week form  here, today….



Team Lake Effect Martial Arts and 4 of its most active coaches celebrating Jarod Koopmans promotion to black belt in New York City, and Professor Fabio Clementes school, Checkmat NYC, take on December 1st, 2017. Respect your coaches journey, it makes your journey stronger.

Artistic Creativity in Self Defense

How might you make self defense a regular practice in your life???


It’s a Monday night, you just got finished with a long day of work/school, and you’re cringing at the fact you have 4 more days until the weekend. While you are on your way home, there are others who too are leaving work/school, but not to go home.

They enter a school, but not one filled with books and desks. They change out of their clothes into a uniform, made from heavy cotton, tied with a simple belt. They walk up to a large space covered in mats, remove their footwear, then bow before they step forward.

The rest of the world is gone, all of the days previous concerns put aside, for their focus is now on each other. Calculating distance, angles, force, along with a myriad of other variables as they apply one technique after the other to try to take control. Like a painter commands their brush, these students command their bodies to learn new ways of movement, that produce profound effects.

To the outsider this can look like a violent exchange of grappling. There are sometimes bumps, bruises and big throws. You might even see someone being “submitted” with either a joint lock or choke, leading to a simple gesture, a tapping of the hand or foot, signaling “I give up”. After, a variety of emotion is expressed, sometimes frustration at losing a position, even a smile from respect for their opponent. It is a humbling experience for all who try, and remains so even for those at the top.

What can be gained from such an experience is a confidence unlike any other. Practical self defense skills are learned, that can help protect even the smallest of people from a threat. Strength is built, not just of the body, but of the mind as well, to weather the panic that sets in when you are stuck in a position and have to find a way out. Bonds are built and friendships forged through an activity that can be hard to explain and is better to be experienced. Self Defense isn’t always the focal point, but being properly conditioned for combat makes the quest much more earnest than other martial arts.

Artist are made with the ability to inflict harm, but have the choice whether to do so or not. Gentle in their approach, always seeking the path of least harm for all. A true approach for self defense.

It isn’t an easy path to take, but rewards are immeasurable for a gentle artist.


Author: Thomas Brady

6 Reasons why every child should do Martial Arts


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1. Confidence through effective self-defense 

The importance of being able to defend themself is the greatest tool a young child can have to raise their confidence. Bullys will never go away but through training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu(BJJ), we can give children the skills and confidence they need to effectively protect themselves and others. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the focus is not on “flashy” or unrealistic holds but on techniques that are applicable in real life scenarios. Through training BJJ, a child will learn how to effectively neutralize a much larger aggressor by taking them to the ground and effectively controlling them there – all while never throwing a kick or a punch. Striking is also an effective way to defend oneself, but it’s more likely that one will injure themself and their opponent in the process which is not ideal. Enroll your child in BJJ and watch their confidence radiate in all aspects of their life.

2. They learn perseverance, discipline, and respect 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a popular martial art,  will quickly embed the values of perseverance, discipline, and respect in all those that actively practice the art. The more a child trains, the more these values will become instilled in them. They learn discipline and perseverance through training and consistently putting their best effort during class, especially on the days they are tired or having a rough go. Children also learn to persevere through being stuck in uncomfortable positions or having an off day in class where their training partners are getting the better of them. They learn to overcome these challenges and turn into resilient young adults. Children learn respect for their instructors much like their teachers at school and as a result they will better understand the process of education which leads to them becoming more adept in learning. Learning to respect authority figures(instructors, teachers, bosses, etc) is an important skill for children to have as they mature into young adults.

3. Building lifelong healthy habits

With Obesity on the rise and becoming an epidemic in North America, getting children in the habit of exercising while they are young has never been more important. Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will set good habits at a young age and significantly improve their body awareness, coordination, flexibility, strength, agility, and endurance. They will get in the best shape of their lives while learning life changing skills which will stay with them throughout their lives. Once the child sees the progress they are making, they will be more inclined to start making healthier food choices to further boost their progress.

4. Building social skills 

At Lake Effect Martial Arts, we have kids and adults of all ages with diverse cultural backgrounds. The children will learn to socialize with other kids of different ages and ethnicities at a young age which will greatly help them develop their social skills. Building good social skills will ensure that children will enjoy success in many aspects of their lives(career, relationship, making friends, etc).

5. Staying calm in stressful situations

Losing your cool or temper in life never leads to anything fruitful, in fact we all know what happens when we lose our temper – we instantly regret our actions. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes will challenge children as they will get stuck in uncomfortable holds and positions especially when they are training with more experienced students. Through practice they quickly learn to become comfortable while being physically uncomfortable. There’s nothing like the feeling of being comfortable and relaxed while a heavier opponent is on top of you while patiently waiting for the right moment to escape their hold. This effectively minimizes other challenges in life by comparison and will help children to stay calm during stressful circumstances.

6. Learning from mistakes 

Everyone that trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu makes technical errors when they are training(even the most experienced black belts) and BJJ is like human chess. As a result your opponent will often capitalize on your mistakes and use them to defeat you or put you in a vulnerable position. Through trial error and guidance from their instructors, children will learn from their mistakes and quickly improve their skills as a result. What Einstein said correlates directly to BJJ; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. If something is not working then adjustments need to be made. Martial Arts force trial and error and combative arts excel in it. Smiling faces of kids and coaches standing in a circle

If you are located in the Buffalo Area and are interested in enrolling your child (or yourself) in martial arts, come try a full week of free classes at Lake Effect Martial Arts to see why we are right gym for your family. Your child’s first class will be a fundamentals to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lesson with one of our children’s program instructors where they will learn how to fall safely, fundamental movements, and to help them get comfortable in a new environment. Does your child feel too intimidated to try a class? Check out our schedule and come watch one of our classes from our viewing area with your child to see what we are all about. We specialize in teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but also have a Judo and Fitness course list to specialize our locations. Contact us today to book your child’s free intro to BJJ lesson and kickstart their 7 day trial, we are located in Depew NY at the Wegmans Plaza, between the former Hobby Lobby and DMV.

Original author Professor Dainis Nguyen from Team DNA BJJ

Do you prefer an MMA school or a Jiu Jitsu Academy?

Having a choice between an MMA oriented school and a Jiu Jitsu Academy leaves one with many decisions to make. Often someone will simply choose the Jiu Jitsu Academy near me, in terms of proximity to their home. Lets expand on how that can be a short sighted approach…

What is the best course of action for a budding artist? A budding fighter? Is it best to develop an expertise in one domain or develop skills everywhere to avoid boredom?  All of this depends primarily on your long term goals. If your short term goals are to take an mma fight or two locally, your best trajectory is outlined by many of those before you….You can have success honing in on a comprehensive art such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The lure in current combative arts is the appeal of a “have everything” fighter. By have everything, we mean, they are well dressed, well conditioned, experienced, gifted with the tongue and what every other “fighter” (according to them) aspires to be. The fighter eats whatever we all wish to consume, and maybe in part to optimize performance, also often to flaunt their status. The fighter takes every boastful opportunity to show the world not just when they are at the top of their division, but when they experience things they feel everyone else needs to know. The distinction remains difficult for many to see, but can be found in a martial artist. Martial Arts were formed as systems or traditions but over time, naturally, gathered more from philosophy. Martial Arts origins date back to before 10,000 BC. Current Martial Arts are dominated by less weapons oriented styles, but more of those derived from combat sports.

And as we are weighing choices for whether or not a fighter or a martial artist is the best course of action for you, have you considered what again you are hoping to gain LONG TERM out of your endeavors? Are you hoping to transfer your skills (consider your skill development with expertise will go beyond the walls of an academy or school) elsewhere in life? To the business roundtable? To your relationship? To your family? What are those skills you are hoping to aquire? Patience? Focus? Discipline? Committment? Bravery?
What has always interested me has been the bushido code. The bushido code can be found here but to summarize, its broken down into eight virtues one can acquire once enlightened. The one that sticks out to me most is the final one titled Character and Self Control. 
An excerpt from the website above “Bushido teaches that men should behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The difference between good and bad and between right and wrong are givens, not arguments subject to discussion or justification, and a man should know the difference. Finally, it is a man’s obligation to teach his children moral standards through the model of his own behavior: The first objective of samurai education was to build up Character. The subtler faculties of prudence, intelligence, and dialectics were less important. Intellectual superiority was esteemed, but a samurai was essentially a man of action. No historian would argue that Hideyoshi personified the Eight Virtues of Bushido throughout his life. Like many great men, deep faults paralleled his towering gifts. Yet by choosing compassion over confrontation, and benevolence over belligerence, he demonstrated ageless qualities of manliness. Today his lessons could not be more timely.”

When choosing a Jiu JItsu academy, or a MMA School, you get to learn the ins and outs of someones character rather quickly. A friend request on social media gives you a decent glimpse. The physical presence and day to day practices of your instructor will be on display and give you the most comprehensive look. Has your Jiu Jitsu academy instructor benefitted from martial arts through the virtue of Character and Self Control? Self Control can be read in a variety of ways. How are they around children? How are they in a tension filled situation? How is their body language? How do they respond to poor food choices? How do they respond when things don’t necessarily go their way? How are they around the opposite sex?

The path to enlightment takes a lifetime, but can be easier through the art of Jiu Jitsu. Find a Jiu Jitsu Academy not only near you, but for you. For your goals. And for your benefit beyond winning a street fight.


Photo above is Coach Jarod Koopman receiving his black belt at Fabio Clemente BJJ/ Team Checkmat NYC after a 14 year dedication to the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


Author Michael Katilus


5 Steps To Finding The Best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy Near You

Step #1: Google the name of your city followed by BJJ for example “Depew BJJ” if you live in the Buffalo area. Take a list of all of the academies that come up. BJJ is short for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu remember.

Step #2: Check out their schedules and make sure that it works with your schedule, there’s no point in signing up if you can’t make any of the classes. There are many academies that offer noon/evening classes 6-7 days per week, the bigger their schedule, the more options you have, and the more likely it is you will be able to make it to class. Check back often, as schedules are subject to change (the more a school grows the more classes they’ll likely offer). Consider too you want to see your head instructor, so find out what classes he/she teaches and see if you can prioritize them as well. Some students really enjoy a more intimate brazilian jiu jitsu instruction/class, so if you find classes that are less populated maybe its the right one for you.

Step #3: Now is the tricky part, where you have to decipher information about each academy to find out which ones stand out and are worth checking out. Here are a few points you should look into, in no particular order:

– A clear and traceable lineage for the head instructor(You should verify this if possible). If they are an IBJJF certified black belt or/and IBJJF certified academy, then they are good as the IBJJF will verify their lineage prior to certifying them.

– Reviews, Reviews, Reviews. Going through reviews will give you valuable third party insight into what the public thinks about each academy which will help you make a decision about which academy would be the best fit for you or/and your children. Facebook, Google, and Yelp are great places to look at reviews.

– Certifications, for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is the lead governing body for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around the world. An instructor who is an IBJJF certified black belt must have their instructor sign off on all of their belts from blue to black belt. Also in the United States you must provide a criminal record check in order to register your academy under the IBJJF. In other words holding a black belt certification under the IBJJF is like having your RMT licence for massage therapy, you know it’s legit.

– Instructor’s background, have they competed before, what have they accomplished? Do a quick google search of their name and you should find their tournament results and certifications they have etc. If you want to be extra thorough, cross examine any accomplishments they claim to have on their website on google. If an instructor has competed in the past, you should be able to find the results as they are almost always posted online. An instructor doesn’t have to be a great competitor to be a good instructor but it’s a big bonus if they have a good competition resume especially if competing is one of your goals. Heres an example of what Professor Michael Katilus did at the 2012 Pans (photo featured), under Purple Belt Masters :

– Competition team, most academies have at least a handful of students that compete. If you are interested in competing, look into the academies’ results in competitions and inquire about their competition team. Look up competition footage/highlight reels/matches of the head instructor and academy’s students on YouTube.

– Especially if you are looking to register your children, you should ask for all of the instructors’ current criminal record checks, many places have this posted at their academies or keep it on file in case people ask. You can email ahead if you feel awkward to inquire in person. An IBJJF certified black belt means they have begun the criminal record background clearance, so thats a big plus.

– Risk free trial, each academy should offer a free trial where you can come in and check it out risk free. Usually it’s a few classes or a week trial. Bonus points if they give you an introduction to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lesson for your first class.

-Pricing, the membership options should be simple and easy to understand. Bonus points if they have the pricing options on their website or for viewing when you walk in to their academy. If they beat around the bush about memberships or ask you to come in first, go elsewhere. If they have a lot of salesmen or sales directors, its a high pressure environment so be careful.