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 Iron Legion’s “Forge” bindrune
Iron Legion’s “Forge” bindrune


Most businesses have a corporate logo- something bland, sterile, and devoid of any meaning beyond signaling it as “another fish in the sea, but different.”

We’ve never seen Iron Legion as a simple “business,” and certainly not “just another gym-” so we didn’t make a logo.

Instead, we created a symbol- a banner we can all be proud of, one that proclaims us not just as a place to get stronger, but a forge within which we can realize our own highest potential in every way:

Iron Legion’s “Forge” bindrune

The symbol is a “bindrune,” a combination of pictograms used by the ancient Scandinavians and Germanic tribes- ancestors to the raiding warriors we know as the Vikings- to signify both sound and meaning.

The base of our symbol is the “MANNAZ” rune, the part that looks like an “M” with crossed bars between its upright pillars.

This symbol represents humankind, men and women, and the potential that each one of them has within themselves to reach greatness- but only if they put in the necessary work to do so.

It’s a hopeful idea- that we can all do incredible things if we are willing to demand from ourselves the absolute best of our ability in order to continuously improve.

Iron Legion provides the place, and the tools, to become a pinnacle of the twin flames of Strength and Combat, however, only the individual can put those tools to work and realize their own transformation.

Above this is a diamond shape, the rune called “INGWAZ” which is the tribal structure of Iron Legion: the boundaries that make up our family unit, and the strength and motivation we give to each other here.

Inside this enclosure, all are empowered through the principles of honor and integrity- we demand the best from ourselves and from others, by building everyone up and embodying the age-old adage of “iron sharpens iron.”

At the top, the symbol looks like a tree- arrows pointing skyward.

This is our direction: Always upward, forever, never being derailed by the forces that undo those without the support structure we’ve built beneath it.

It is also two ANSUZ runes standing back-to-back, runes that signify powerful forces, the gods, and interpersonal relationships, because at Iron Legion, this is how we view it:

It’s us, back to back against anything the world can throw at us, with the gods, our friends, our family, standing with us against everything.

In this Forge, we build ourselves, and for this Forge, we sacrifice our weaknesses to become stronger for those around us.

Let’s turn up the fires, and start the work.

We’ve got legends to build!

By Paul Winter


“Jiu Jitsu is all about smaller, weaker people triumphing over bigger stronger people through technique.”

If you’ve been training Jiu Jitsu for a while, you’ve probably heard something like this before.

If you’ve been training somewhere that has big, strong people, you may have also found out that this statement is not exactly correct.

Can a smaller, weaker person beat someone larger and stronger than themselves? Absolutely, otherwise the martial art would really have no benefit at all- how many times are we likely to find ourselves perfectly evenly matched in a real-world scenario?



This statement is also made more often than not by individuals clinging to the idea that they don’t need strength training to inform their Jiu Jitsu…which is incorrect.

In very simple terms, when two individuals of roughly equal size and technique are pitted against each other, who do you think will win the engagement?

If you said the one who is stronger, congratulations. You win a gold sticker.

No matter how good your technique is, or how far you progress in Jiu Jitsu, you are going to have moments where you come up against someone who is strong as hell, and is able to use that to shut down your movement, your attacks, and ultimately, you, as they force you into a key-lock or kimura through sheer force of muscle.

In order to avoid these sorts of situations, it is crucial that we dedicate time each week to bringing up our physical strength as well as our technical grappling.

Because here’s a secret they don’t tell you at the McDojo:

Strength is a skill, too.

We always hear it in an either/or dichotomy, like “Strength versus Skill,” but that’s a false way to look at it.

Skill is defined in the dictionary as:

1a : the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. b : dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks. 2 : a learned power of doing something competently : a developed aptitude or ability

We could say that weightlifting and strength training are essentially the execution of learned physical tasks that lead to an increase in muscularity and power.

Performing a clean split jerk or snatch is certainly as technical a skill as learning an armbar- maybe more so.

So instead of thinking in terms of “strength vs. skill,” we can think “technical skill informed by physical skill” or, in other words, clean technique applied with strength is better than the clean technique alone.

This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all your mat time in order to “get swole.”

On the contrary- too much time in the rack can actually have a negative effect on our grappling…just try a heavy squat session where you empty the tank a few hours before working standing guard passes.

Trust me.

Instead, putting together a sensible 2 or 3 time a week strength routine that focuses on the compound lifts done at a reasonable training max will take you a long way.

I am a firm believer in the gospel according to Jim Wendler, and his 2/3x a week programs already utilize a built in “training max” system that will have you working at a capacity that allows for other endeavors.

If you are new to lifting, it can be a good idea to pay for personal training to be coached on correct form for these lifts, rather than just flinging yourself into it with reckless abandon- you probably have a grappling coach, so the same for strength training makes sense too.

If you’re still not sure, go have a look at just about every high level competitor out there, even the ones who aren’t on a special blend of tren and acai:

Even the Mikey Musumeci’s and Ruotolo brothers of the world are in the gym adding strength-skill to their Jiu Jitsu arsenal.

To be great, do what the greats do.

Get to it- see you in the squat rack!

By Isabelle Ramirez


We’ve all been this woman. This mother. This person. We’ve all taken some time off for many different reasons. So let’s chat a little bit about why breaks in fitness can happen and how to move past them and move forward.

But first, do any of these experiences resonate with you?

You have been feeling bad, and didn’t know why. It turns out you’re pregnant. You’re scared, happy and clueless. You want to continue your workout routine but don’t know how it will affect your pregnancy and you don’t know what to do so you just don’t go into the gym for a while.

You just had your baby. You feel extra bad now. Recovering, taking care of a newborn and hardly sleeping. Self-care and exercise are the last things on your mind, yet you dream of your pre-baby fitness lifestyle. You want to get back to the gym, the classes and your friends but don’t know where to begin or if you’re cleared to exercise. Bonus points if someone tells you not to lift anything over 20 pounds.

Your kids are on Winter Break and it’s a wild two weeks trying to manage them and keep them fed, all while attempting to work during the bermuda triangle of productivity that is Mid-December to the New Year. You’re not worried about working out, you’re too busy and will get to the gym once the kids get back to school. You may feel guilty and may dread going back and trying to get back on track. It may not be Winter Break, though that is the most recent schedule change I’ve noticed, but you could insert illness, surgery, vacation, busy times at work, or anything that may pull your attention away from YOU.

These scenarios may look slightly different for everyone. They may be more complicated or maybe there are more moving parts. I’ve been through every one of those stages and it took a lot of effort and patience to get moving again. Below are some tips to get you back where you’re feeling good again.

  1. Rediscover your why.
    1. Why do you want to get into the gym, get back to fitness and get back to health? We all know the immense health benefits of regular exercise and good nutrition, but dig a little deeper and figure out why you want this for yourself. It may have changed. You may have a new human to care for and you may be a new version of yourself. Life changes give you an opportunity to change perspective. My why will be different than yours and your why will be different from your other friend. What’s important about having an honest conversation with yourself about your why, is being authentic and true to your motivations. Don’t kid yourself – It’s unsustainable. Your true why will keep you going when things get challenging.
  1. Don’t beat yourself up.
    1. Shit happens. Stuff comes up. Sometimes it’s out of our control and sometimes it’s from shifting priorities. It’s ok. Everyone gets it. Give yourself some grace and get back on track. Whatever your track may be. It truly is a journey and you can honor yours by striving to be the best version of yourself. Having a break in your fitness doesn’t make you a bad person, so there’s no need for punishment, rather, the reward is the opportunity to become better than before.
  1. Create a plan.
    1. The more moving pieces you have in your life, the harder it may seem to find time for yourself. Babies, work, partners and friends may make you feel like you need to place your health and fitness on the back burner indefinitely, it’s actually the opposite. Taking care of your basic needs makes you a better mother, partner, employee and friend. As humans we need to move and we need to sweat. Training to be stronger, better and faster teaches us skills that transfer beautifully, yet sometimes undetected to our day to day lives. This can be challenging though, trying to manage it all. This is why support from your community is paramount for success. Tell your family about the changes that you’d like to make and make sure they’re on board. You will need their support when it gets hard or schedules are crazy. They can help you reach success. Start small with your plan. Plan out one week, and when that goes well, plan for the next one. Breaking up big goals will make easing into a routine more manageable for everyone.

Lifelong fitness doesn’t mean redlining everyday for years and years. I truly believe that the ebbs and flows of life allow us to stay in fitness and continue our ‘sport’ of choice for life. But what needs to stay constant is the commitment to ourselves and our bodies.

This is possible, it may be scary and daunting, but you can do it.

Isabelle Ramirez is a woman, mother and coach. She is a BIRTHFIT Leader and Coach, CF-L1, and USAW-1. Her passion is empowering women through fitness and community.

By Paul Winter

Jiu Jitsu tournaments can be pretty intense, and in many cases, stressful for a lot of the people who sign up to compete.

Because of this, it’s important to go in with a good game plan, and avoid some of the major pitfalls people seem to make over and over in BJJ tournaments.

This way, you can focus on the gold, instead of adding extra strain and stress to what should be a fun and rewarding day.

Here are a few of the biggest BJJ competition mistakes, and how to avoid them:

1) Weight Problems

Before you ever even step on the mats at a tournament, you’ve got to make weight.

Depending on the tournament you’ve signed up for, this can look very different- for example, some federations allow night-before weigh ins, which is a far cry from the IBJJF practice of weighing in right before you hit the bullpen, and must be done in the gi (if it’s a gi tournament.)

The first thing you need to know is- what kind of weigh-in does your tournament require?

If it’s a night before, or morning of weigh-in, you’ll be able to fast from the evening before and still get food and hydrate long before you wind up on the mats. This gives you a certain amount of leeway in your weight cut.

If it is an IBJJF tournament, you need to come in on weight- meaning you have to be able to make the weight you signed up for and still be hydrated and ready to go- this means you’ll need to make an allowance for the gi itself, and the fact you’ll want to have water and food in your system.

To make this all simple, I recommend not cutting more than 5-10 pounds for your earlier competitions at low belt levels- if you have several weeks, you can use a sensible nutrition plan combined with some moderate cardio to lose a few pounds- you’ll want to be within 5 pounds of your target weight the week before your competition.

Planning a poorly set-up water cut can be one of the worst things for your cardio and stress levels, and is not recommended for more novice level competitors.

Pay attention to the weigh-ins, set a reasonable goal for target weight, or simply sign up at your walk-around weight. This will be one less thing to worry about, and you can focus on your training and game plan.


2) Cold Blooded

When you show up to class, do you walk straight in, throw your gi on, and immediately crank the dial to 100%?

Maybe if you’re still a young person with nothing to lose- if you’re more like me and sound like bubble wrap popping with each step and a list of injuries longer than your techniques- probably not.

Going in to your match “cold” is a good way to risk an injury- having a warm-up plan is crucial to not just avoiding injury, but being mentally ready for your first matchup as well.

If you’re flying solo, you can do some body weight squats, sprawls, shots, and so on, getting your body warmed up and ready to go.

If you have someone with you who also does Jiu Jitsu, do some drills- guard passing, pummeling, takedowns, and so on to get you in the right mindset and your body prepared for the rigors of a tough match.

3) Zero Chill

Between rounds, it’s essential that you hydrate, bring down your heart rate, and get rid of the lactic acid from your match.

Ideally, you won quickly and feel fine.

However, more likely, as a newer competitor, you’re feeling a little gassed, your grips might be “blown,” and your mouth is drier than the commentary on a bad History Channel documentary.

Have a bottle of water with either some sea salt or BCAAs at the ready.

Practice deep breathing from your diaphragm to get your wind and heart rate under control. Slowly walk around to stay warmed up and avoid “locking up” or stiffness from setting in.

4) Hail Marys

For whatever reason, once I get out on the mats in a competition, I have this terrible habit of thinking to myself: “ah…this is the perfect time to try out that weird Hail Mary technique I’ve been working on!”


It’s the perfect time to work the plan that you and your coach have put together, stay calm, trust the time you’ve put in, and take home either the “W” or the data needed to improve your game.

It is not the time for haphazard nonsense that is likely to result in an avoidable loss.

The same goes for your diet and other training as you approach a competition-

Don’t switch it all up!

Avoid the temptation to think you need to go nuts with things and switch everything at the last minute to get “comp ready.”

It is certainly ok to make small adjustments and constantly work toward improving your physical fitness, nutrition, and game plan- it’s not productive to throw a monkey wrench in the gears by introducing the unknown to your game-plan this close to a tournament.

I hope these pointers improve your tournament experience and make it more rewarding- there’s nothing quite like competition to ascertain your level, holes in your game, and where you can improve…

But also, and maybe most important, tournaments should be enjoyable.

Follow these tips to keep ‘em that way!

Classes available in downtown Ocala, Florida!



By Paul Winter 

All across the internet, pretty much every article targeted towards you, the white belt, is the same:

It will tell you not to quit, it will tell you to “relax,” and a few other cookie cutter things that you’ve probably heard now from everyone and their mother at your gym until you’re ready to puke.

This is not to say these things aren’t important- it’s a pretty obvious statement that to make it to blue belt you have to not quit…

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to quit at blue belt- which is just the black belt of quitting.

“Relaxing” is important too, although I’ve never had a roll that felt like I was kicking back on a La-Z-Boy and having a beer…

However, there are a couple pieces of advice I like to give fresh new white belts right before I hit ‘em with a Berimbolo, Buggy Choke, or teach them a ridiculously hard heel hook entry (hey, I’m a purple belt- it’s what we do…well, that and skipping warmups).

The first isget accustomed to getting your ass kicked…but don’t give in to it.

Kinda like the line in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the dude at the beginning gives young Indy his trademark hat and says…

“You lost today, kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.”

As a white belt, you’re gonna get beat up by both upper belts and even white belts with more experience- but don’t “get used to it.”

Assess your rolls- try to figure out, obsessively, what you’re doing right and wrong. Mix up your rounds with different levels of belts, and set different goals- that is, against a blue belt, your goal can simply be “try to survive,” but with another white belt it might be “hit that new sweep from class this week.”

Without direction in our training, we are unlikely to get anywhere. I wish I had started this much earlier- don’t let anyone tell you that just because you’re a white belt you should just “show up and shut up.”

Ask questions. Try to glean what you can from blue belts and purple belts- they’re usually happy to be asked for help…it makes them feel special.

Don’t ever accept the idea that you’re just not advanced enough to sub a higher belt- it happens all the time, and usually by white belts who work hard and surprise them by having some “game.”

Second- there’s no reason to wait for a higher belt to start feeling out what you like and developing an “A game…” even if that’s your only game. 

I know black belts who have been hitting the same submission over and over from white to black- they’re just really, really good at it now.

My problem was always being all over the place with my attacks, and what position I wanted to work from- I couldn’t seem to focus on a specialization. In Jiu Jitsu, there’s so much there, you could never learn it all- pick something and go nuts.

Work armbars only for 6 months, or longer. From everywhere. From anywhere. Pick a takedown and “nerd out” on it.

Same for your sweeps. Get really confident with a few sweeps and attacks and just keep after them- eventually, that blunt butter knife is going to turn into a friggin’ ninja sword!

Finally, when it comes to “relaxing,” and “strength” in grappling: 

It is, for sure, critical that you learn to understand economy of movement and breath control- the easy way to say this is “relax.”

However – this does not mean you need to become some super-Zen, Miyagi-Do white belt…

It just means you need to learn to not blow yourself out one minute into a five minute roll and tap to “sorry, bro, my cardio.”

Try this:

Challenge yourself a few nights a week to breathe only in and out through your nose. If you have to start breathing through your mouth, take it down a notch- even if this means “losing” the match- you’re not “losing,” you’re training your breath.

Setting these kinds of goals creates new victory points in your rounds instead of simply “winning.”

Use people newer than you to see if you can hit a sweep or a sub without muscling it- try to make your Jiu Jitsu as clean as possible. Focus on the details. Try to make it flow.

That being said- once you start to understand all this, you will be able to use your strength when it is appropriate, rather than *all the damn time.*

Because strength is something that must be trained, strength is a skill also- but like all skills, you need to know how to apply it with good technique.

Strength and technique are not two opposing things in Jiu Jitsu, no matter how much people will try to bullshit you about it…go ask Romulo, Ryan, Galvao, Buchecha, or even smaller guys like Musumeci, whether strength is important in Jiu Jitsu.

Then, no matter what they tell you- look at their physiques.

Thought so.

And now, to end with the cliche…

Don’t give up!!!

“How long will it take?” 

A Jiu jitsu Series

Part 1: Exposure

What is it that made you start training Jiu jitsu? Was it to get in shape? To learn a new skill? To feel more confidence while under stress? To protect yourself and loved ones? To find out what you’re really made of?


Whatever the reason maybe I can say with a fair amount of certainty that you didn’t expect to be a black belt in the first week. You likely didn’t even think a blue belt was achievable; it probably seemed like some distant, unreachable finish line.


You looked at the black belt as something to be romanticized, a future version of yourself that seemed impossible to become; a daydream. You started training detached from the colors of the belts, with a purity and sincerity, only intending  to learn.


At some point along the path (and this transition is different for everyone), that viewpoint disappears and is replaced with entitlement.


One of the most common questions asked by novices who have chosen to embark on the incredibly long path of Jiujitsu is, “How long will it take for me to get to [insert belt color]”. The problem with this question is what no one wants to hear: there is no definite answer.


How can there be so many practitioners around the world who achieve colored belt ranks if there is no answer? Let’s talk about it.


One of the most important factors in progression is something that makes every single one of us uncomfortable: exposure. There are three different primary ways we can be exposed, and those three fall under the two macro forms of exposure, internal and external.


The first two versions of exposure fall under internal, and they are egotistical and cognitive exposure. The third we will be discussing falls under external exposure, and that is the physical form we are all most familiar with. They all have their own independent forms of resistance that must be overcome, and in doing so you will be all the better for your efforts.


The first one that we encounter is the most frightening (to our ego), and that is the exposure of ignorance. This is a form of internal exposure. In order to seek out knowledge and learn a new skill set, we first have to admit to ourselves and (sometimes even worse feeling) to others that we don’t know what we are doing.


Most people quit right there, before the journey even starts. We’ve all seen it before, the stranger in the bar next to us watching athletes compete and spouting their opinions for the world, “Why don’t they just …” “I would have…” “I cant believe they…”. That is self exposure.


As the great Theodore Roosevelt said in his speech Citizenship in a Republic: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without failure and shortcoming…”.


The vast majority of us who are skilled in complex endeavors do not harshly criticize our peers for taking risks to become better. That behavior is almost always reserved for those among us who have a shallow knowledge or skill base, and refuse to acknowledge and  expose that inner truth to facilitate growth.


That form of exposure is the first and (usually)  the largest hurdle that holds us back from evolving, and when it comes to jiujitsu, keeps most people from even starting.


Our second form of internal exposure is cognitive, and unfortunately this is often the most neglected of the three. So what is the difference between egotistical exposure (EE) and cognitive exposure (CE)?


I’m glad you asked, because it is significant.


While EE Does fall under internal, it is far more about taking control over the emotions that tell us to remain stagnant and comfortable. CE is what we are engaging in when we study technique.


This can be through discussion or lecture, study and breakdown of professional competition footage, and instructional and educational material. We must understand that everything single thing we do throughout our lives starts within our mind and is expressed through our bodies.


Therefore, in order to reach your maximum potential and expedite the process of skill acquisition, it is a requirement for you to also train your mind. This can be as simple as sitting off to the side of the mats and admiring the exchanges between practitioners, or as complex as creating diagrams and flow charts.


CE has the highest longevity of all forms of exposure, and can sometimes be the only form available. This is not the most stimulating version of exposure for some, but if taken seriously, CE can award the disciplined practitioner with consistent and sometimes exponential growth over their peers who do not practice it.


The third version is the external form, physical exposure (PE). This is the tangible, active participation and engagement form. This is the style of exposure that comes after we have succeeded beyond EE, and admitted we need guidance to evolve.


This is far and away the most focused on form of all the types. This is showing up to class, drilling, flowing, and sparring that everyone wants to jump passed EE and CE to get to. PE is incredibly important because jiujitsu is after all a tangible skillset, and requires physical expression to manifest CE into reality. Without PE there is no expression or operative growth.


In order for us to reach our maximum potential in jiujitsu, we must have exposure. Exposure can often times be uncomfortable, and sometimes discouraging, but if it is embraced can take us mentally and physically farther than we ever dreamed possible.


Exposure is not the enemy, it is your best friend. It is brutally honest, incredibly unforgiving, and deeply humbling. Without it, we go nowhere. With it, we can go anywhere.






I remember my first few Jiu Jitsu classes as a whirlwind of information that left me feeling confused, lost, a little embarrassed and self-conscious (man, I hope there’s not a test after this!), and asking:

Am I supposed to remember all this?

Many years later, I could probably say I’ve forgotten more techniques over time than I still retain- and I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered any of them; at least not yet.

However, what’s changed the most from those first few uncertain sessions has been my ability to remember techniques, and be able to drill them later with a pretty high level of detail and nuance retention.

How did I learn to do this?

Glad you asked. (You didn’t, but I’m going to tell you anyways, so buckle up.)

The good news is that you’re not destined to forever feel as though your professor or coach is flinging a handful of marbles (technique details) at the semi-sticky wall of your brain and hoping more will get stuck than bounce off.

While that may be a weird analogy, I’m sure some of you can relate.

I was always left wishing my brain was stickier.

Then, I figured out how to add the glue.

Here’s how I did it:

See, people don’t just see or hear something and then immediately retain it- not unless they’re lucky enough to have a photographic memory.

Instead, they have to go through levels of learning and application in order to really lock something in.

It would be great if we could just watch that sick berimbolo or Imanari roll on YouTube or Instagram and immediately strut into class while the Beegees was on full blast, throw down with the black belts and leglock them into oblivion…but that ain’t the way it works.


Instead, we have to check a series of boxes in order to have any hope of making things work.

Otherwise, we are always that guy at class who goes, “hey lemme show you this cool move,” and then a few fumbling steps in is like…”oh, shit. I think maybe I’ve got my hand in the wrong place or wrong lapel…uh, maybe my foot is supposed to go here or something…? Anyways, it was super cool.”

You know that guy.


So, to avoid him, first we have to:


This one is pretty obvious, right?

Without seeing the technique at all, we are pretty unlikely to learn it.

Try your best to really *see* what’s going on with the technique, though, rather than just passively watching.

Break things down- what is the left hand doing?

The right?

How are the feet positioned?

Is he on his right hip or left?


Actively watching the technique and logging that data helps you to actually get better at “seeing” techniques, and done slowly like this, in repetition, will help you learn from more advanced stuff, like watching high level matches.


After you’ve drilled the move quite a few times after you’ve first seen it, and going through the inevitable “uhh…coach?” and getting walked back through it, now you can think about “mapping it.”

By mapping, I mean, if we think about the structure of your game as a little map, with different positions being different areas of the map, where would this go?

Where does it fit into the larger context of *your* Jiu Jitsu-

For example, learning a new Omoplata entry from closed guard, you might think, “oh this would be the perfect thing to try if they shut down my scissor sweep!”

In this way, you start to put the new technique into the framework of your Jiu Jitsu, considering where it will be most useful, and what might come before, or after it.

This helps give the new technique real value, instead of being a disconnected move- you’re more likely to remember things when they fit like this.


Like the previous example of the scissor sweep, it’s important that when we start picking up new “moves,” that we actually have some kind of value to obtain from it.

If I mostly work a top-pressure game combined with front headlock, a new leglock entry might not have a huge value proposition to me at this point in time, which can make it hard to remember since it’s not interfacing with me personally, as it doesn’t have much of a spot in my game.

However, in the aforementioned example, the new Omoplata entry is going to be something I can really lock in place because I can immediately start using it in flow rolls or harder rounds as something to close up a gap in my “where do I go from a failed scissor sweep” weakness.

The more we are able to think about our game as a series of potential responses, the more we can interface with new techniques, see where they fit, and then directly personalize them by adding them swiftly into our live rolls.


Knowing why something works is important.

If you’re like me, as a kid, the answer “because” to “why?” was never a satisfactory answer.

When I see a technique now, I try to think “why does this work?” and “how did this technique develop?”

If someone at your gym is nailing certain submissions all the time, ask them why they got into that.

Sometimes the answer will surprise you- Coach Mitch McElroy of American Combat Club in Orlando (and father of our program here at Iron Legion, Ocala), is a notorious triangle choker.

He developed his triangle choke by obsessing over it.

When people started escaping it, he would ask “why is my triangle not working anymore?”

By studying their escapes, he would come up with answers to the “why?” and began developing alternate routes of attack that came off the back of their most common escapes.

Sometimes these would result in a different finish than the triangle- but it was the product of attacking with the triangle choke that led to forcing the escape he knew they were likely to do- in order to finish with the belly-down armbar- or whatever.

Knowing the why of Jiu Jitsu techniques will take you a long way to understanding the concepts behind the art that will up your level immensely.


You don’t own techniques you never use.

You don’t often get good at things you don’t try.

So- when you learn that new technique- set a goal for your training if you like it.

Tell yourself “I will attempt to get to this Omoplata entry 5 times tonight every roll before I do anything else.”

Making a plan for your training instead of just coming in to “roll” is always a valuable decision.

Successful people don’t attack their finances or weight training programs in a haphazard fashion- neither should you do this with your Jiu Jitsu.

Have a goal going into your sparring rounds or flow rolls- tie in that new technique and set a goal for it. Then, chain them together in a way that makes sense contextually:

I’ll try to scissor sweep everyone. If they defend, I’ll shoot for the Omoplata entry off that.”

From there, you can start thinking the obvious: “What if they shut down the Omoplata?”

That’s where you need to add another attack to add to your growing “stack.”

Whoever has the last answer in any “stack” is likely to win that engagement.

So, to recap-

See and drill the technique, map it out and give it a connection to your framework, interface with the technique by applying it directly to your game, understand it’s “why,” and underlying concepts, and then set and accomplish goals with it.

You’ll be subbing those black belts in no time!

Iron Legion Jiu-Jitsu seminar training

I looked across the cafe in disbelief.

My old BJJ training partner, we’ll call him “John,” was sitting there in a booth with one of his kids.

The last time I had seen him was at his blue belt promotion, close to a year before– he had obviously fallen prey to the “blue belt curse,” the infamous tendency that blues have to quit shortly after attaining said belt.

Maybe it happens as a product of putting that first big accomplishment on too much of a pedestal, so that once it happens, it feels like they got what they came for, or maybe, as so many have said to me later, “life got in the way.

Whatever that means.

That wasn’t what had me in a state of shock in this case, or even that John hadn’t so much as reached out on social media since dropping off from our usual 3 a week meet-ups at our old Jiu Jitsu spot.

It was that he had probably blown up by about 40 pounds  since I’d seen him last, and I’m not talking about “lean mass.”

He looked bad. Bloated, out of breath, uncomfortable and stressed out.

I evaluated my next move, and thought, screw it, I’ll go talk to him.

Maybe I can give him a nudge in the right direction- after all, he’d been my training partner for almost two years, and I liked the guy; he had been a great person to learn with and we’d shared some good times.

I approached his table, and I could tell as soon as we made eye contact he wasn’t stoked.

That nervous, shifty, embarrassed vibe put off by those who know they’ve bailed, and changed, and not for the better.

Happens every time.

“What’s up, John,” I said, affecting a relaxed manner to hopefully put him at ease. “Long time no see.”

I nodded to his kid, who looked to be about 12 or 13.

“Hey man,” he said, uneasily, and we shook hands for the first time since the usual pre-roll slap and bump somewhere around 10 months prior.

I asked how he’d been, and he gave that usual shrug, and answered something to the effect of “just…doing, ya know.”

We made a little small talk about family and work and that sort of thing, and then I hit him with it:

“Where ya been, man? Haven’t seen you since you got your blue.”

“I know,” he said, with a defeated tone. His shoulders slumped a little.

“It’s just between work and the kids, and all that stuff, it just got hard to juggle it all. I had to put some stuff on the back burner.”

“I get that,” I said smoothly, even though I didn’t.

I knew and he knew, and he knew that *I knew* damn well that half the guys training at our spot had wives, jobs, kids, the same as everyone else. They just prioritized.

“Plus,” he went on, “now I’ve gotta get back in shape before I can come back on the mats.”

I raised my eyebrows at that one, finished the conversation and left.

Two hours later I was on the mats for my 6pm Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.

Let me tell you about something I’ve seen over and over in the last 8 years I’ve been training.

I’ve heard the phrases “Life happened,” and “I need to get in shape first” more times than I can say without feeling ill.

Both of them are nonsense.

The first one is just someone saying “it honestly just wasn’t important to me,” which is what they would say if they were actually being honest with themselves, and that I would respect a lot more.

Cool- there was a bunch of other stuff that was way more important.

I get it. Not everyone loves  Jiu Jitsu- that’s fine. Not everyone has to.

But just call it like it is.

For the second, the “I need to get in shape before I start training” crowd- this is kind of like saying “I need to get fluent in German before starting my German class.”

Guess what- getting on the mats will solve the “out of shape” problem all on its own.

You’ll be doing cardio. You’ll more than likely start making healthier nutrition choices.

Maybe you’ll supplement your Jiu Jitsu with some strength and conditioning work (it’s certainly benefitted mine).

You’ll be developing discipline, and creating a structure of positive habits.

These are all the things you need to be in good shape:

exercise, good nutrition, discipline.

Jiu Jitsu can create a framework for all of those things- there’s absolutely no reason to wait to already have them before you get on the mats the first time, or if you’re coming back from a hiatus. Just do it, as they say.

I promise- it’ll work itself out from there.

My friend John?

I saw him again, back in the gymsigning his kid up for classes.

He never made eye contact and I haven’t seen him since.

His kid, though…he’s in great shape now.


By Paul Winter


Life balance is a comical term to me. Life by definition for most of us is chaos. For some of us it’s a calm but controlled chaos – and for others it’s just seemingly unexplainable chaos. Each of us would like “balance” but how do we find it?

Here at Iron Legion we train some of the busiest and most productive people in the Ocala area. I am always astounded by the sheer will of some of our folks to make sure they have found time in their day to give to themselves by training. 

Some of the day to day schedules that a select few of our Iron Legion members keep are beyond impressive.  

I’m not talking about that bullshit “hustle and grind culture” shit that encourages staring over 50 cups of coffee with red eyes and no sleep.

I’m talking about financially stable, aesthetically put together, genuinely happy, well rested, hard charging Iron Legion members. Of which we have quite a few.

Some have families, little kids, big kids, some work crazy hours, long hours and some even work very emotional jobs. 

How is it that a select few seem to find a way to balance all of those things and still find time for themselves to train and stay focused on their nutrition? They not only train – but they literally train at a level that their goals seem to come easy to them to the outside eye?

While there are others that  just can’t seem to ever find the time – for anything that moves them towards their goals.

It’s simple really. Not simple to put into action, but simple enough to understand:

These select few put their training first. They literally plan their day down to the hour around their training. Not the other way around – as so many often do.

They do this – all the time. Every day. Regardless of the season. Regardless of the holidays, regardless of their schedules.

They have a fire – an all consuming fire that training intensifies. By stoking that fire with training it clears their mind. By prioritizing their training first and foremost they become better at – everything. 

The fires stoked by dedicated training will spread into every aspect of their lives – they become better at their jobs, better socially, better parents. They become effective, productive, better humans.

As we roll into the holiday season I challenge all of you to “flip the script”. 


I challenge you to stop trying to find time in your day to train. You heard me. Read it again.



From today forward, prioritize your training first and foremost. This prioritization must be decided before you begin your day. Each day. Every day. 

Don’t let anything disrupt your dedication to that decided upon training time. Whatever time of the day – commit to it with an unwavering, obsessed drive. Let everything else in your life and your day land where it lands.

If some of you just scoffed and commented to yourselves some weak ass shit like  “easier said than done” I promise you, this blog post is directly written for you.

I’m not asking you to try a theory. I’m challenging you to try something that I’ve seen work one hundred percent of the time.

It sounds simple but it will require discipline and practice to get right. It’s worth it.

Look at it this way:

Prioritizing your training is putting your mental and physical health first and foremost in your day.

You will become the best version of yourself by literally putting yourself – first. Soon your mind will be clearer, your goals will become more attainable and the all consuming fire of dedicated training will continue to spread into all aspects of your life.

This holiday season change the script from “crazy stressed” to “super productive and full of energy” by making one simple switch:

Prioritize YOU by prioritizing your mental and physical health first and foremost each day.

It works. We have proof. Flip the script.

Yours in Strength and Confidence,

  • Coach Ted
  • #strengthoverfear
  • #forgingbetterhumans

This was a write up I did internally just for my internal group here at Iron Legion. Thought you all may enjoy it – and I hope you apply it:

A life without intensity will kill you slowly. Taking the comfortable road, always doing the “right thing” just leads to a life of pure boredom.

I remember sitting at an end of the year ceremony at an elementary school with my son recently. They actually gave out an award for “excellent attendance”. At a place that indoctrinates kids to do what they are told all day long regardless of their individual gifts or talents. 

How – boring. Great little corporate drones are a product of “excellent attendance”.

Life is meant to be lived man – full throttle. 


Those people who tell you not to take chances

They are all missing on what life’s about

You only live once so take hold of the chance

Don’t end up like others, same song and dance

“Motorbreath” by Metallica, 1982


Most of you need to start applying WAY more intensity.

This environment here at Iron Legion sets you up to be different – to be better. I never wanted to be like everyone else.

I was 8 when this song was written and released. To say that it changed my life is an understatement. 

I didn’t have a lot of “heroes” growing up – but Hetfield was probably my first.

This tune reached out and grabbed me at 10 years old and never ever let go.

The ferocity – the pure adrenaline rush and the lyrics combine into a masterpiece of pure testosterone and adrenaline generated fury.

I just listened to it in my truck coming to the gym and remember that behind all my drive – all my determination growing up and even today, started with this song.

It was gasoline for a preteen me. It’s still a ripper of a song 40 years later…

I posted a video of its earliest known live video – 1985. Enjoy – 

(Click video now or turn it up and play it again)

You – want to be stronger, faster, a better father, mother, friend, leader, financially stable, healthier, ripped – whatever – it’s your goal.

Your goals should be your passions. Your passion should be your obsession. Your obsession should be your FIRE.

Every rep, every step towards that goal should burn with intensity – NOTHING should be able to stand in your way.

The milestones achieved along the way should be bridges burned to a past you no longer are interested in. 

Start living on your terms – not anyone else’s.

Full speed or nothin.

-Coach Ted