Kids bjj Belt Promotion: Ella

🛡柔🛡G-W Belt Promotion! Congrats to Ella on her belt promotion. Ella started with her sister, a bit shy ☺️ at first but with the support of her family, friends, and sister she made the transition in no time. Her resilience to persevere through adversity is unmatched. We are looking forward to seeing her further challenge herself on and off the mat! Congrats!

How to Coach a Black Belt

March 4, 2019

By Aaron Martinez

How to coach a Black Belt

I wanted to give my thoughts on what is the best way to coach a Black Belt during competition, or an athlete that is higher ranked, or is more skilled than yourself. I remember thinking, “Should I even be saying anything at all?” I asked a former Black Belt instructor of mine after one of his matches, when we traveled together to compete and I was the only one there to coach him. I was a purple belt, but he said, “Absolutely.” I did my best, but certainly could have coached him better if I knew what I know now.

As a black belt now, I really want my coaching kept simple. I’ve worked my game plan and drilled it a thousand times. I don’t need someone trying to coach every single element of the match. I want to know:

1. The time left in the match

2. Situational- I’m up or down by points and advantages

3. Be calm and breathe when I’m getting too excited 

4. Motivation when I’m down and losing hope.

It’s the complete opposite of coaching a white belt, or someone new to competition. In those situations you have to do a lot of hand holding and walk them through situations when you can. A black belt knows how they want to defend a choke from the back. Screaming directions on how to defend the neck and escape the hooks is silly unless you see something you 100% know they can’t identify on their own because of their position.

There are many different kinds of relationships between coaches and athletes and many different scenarios that will dictate the dynamics of coaching. But if you walk into a tournament and see your black belt instructor competing and no one is there to coach them, you can at least be helpful and give them information they can use to help them win.

Black belts at The Hills BJJ with visiting blue belt from Minnesota

Kids jiujitsu Belt Promotion for Max

GW Belt Promotion! Congrats to Max on his belt graduation. Max kick started the jiujitsu fever in his family and now his sister trains with him on the mat. He came with great hustle, and has developed the ability to focus fully through his training. Once he mastered this skill, his learning has been snowballing! We see Max to be a silent leader as he continues to grow up on the mat and help his peers become stronger!

Coach Javen, Max, and coach Eliot

Why I don’t cross train at other gyms

February 18, 2019

By Aaron Martinez

Why I don’t cross train at other gyms

                When I first started training I was so excited to learn Jiu-Jitsu that I remember wanting to go to all the other academies to train. Before I started driving around and paying drop-in fees I found out that my head instructor really didn’t want us training at other schools. I never asked why and I didn’t care to speculate. I was happy at my school and loved my team. There was no reason to train somewhere else and go against my instructor, even if I thought he’d never know.

                Now, as an instructor and a competitor I have a clear perspective on cross training. I don’t do it, I don’t like it and I’d prefer that my students and teammates didn’t do it as well. The common assumption by students is that their instructor wants to control their students and is afraid that cross-training students will leave their academy for another after visiting enough schools. This is not my motivation for staying away from other schools, and there are perfectly good reasons for attending other schools under other circumstances.

                But here are a few common reasons why I have heard it is good to cross train and my reasons why I don’t agree with them.

  1. It’s good to go against other styles and roll with people you don’t regularly train with. I agree, and that’s why I compete. Why would I want to go around feeling good or bad about my jiu-jitsu over sparing with someone when I can compete against them on the highest level with zero excuses?
  2. My friend trains there. Mine too, and I’m going to have a cup of coffee with him later. I don’t need to train with someone to be friends with someone. If my friends want to train with me they can join our school and train with me every day.
  3. I want to train as much as possible and we don’t have training on that day at that time.Then that is a good day and time for you rest and recover before training hard with your team the next session. Every session you miss with your team, or you can’t give 100% because you trained somewhere else gets your team further away from their goal. Instead of helping your team, you’re only helping yourself and a group of others that might actually compete against your teammates down the road.

The truth is that there are good reasons to train at other schools. If you’re traveling, if they are an affiliate of your school, if you are participating in an event like a seminar, if you cross train as a team etc.

I also understand that at a certain point, a practitioner want’s to train with similar training partners that their academy just simply lacks. High level females, professional level black belts, rooster weights, ultra-heavy weights, etc. These aren’t terribly selfish reasons to train elsewhere in my opinion, but there is a goal behind it: to get ready for competition.

And that’s where the difference comes in as an individual. As a competitor, I’m training with competition in mind. That is the focus of my training and reasons to decide why I don’t want to cross train. I really believe that if I leave my team to train somewhere else for competition I am never going to have the training partners and school I would need to get ready for competition. It’s the symbiotic nature of training together. Everyone is helping each other get better; consistently over time. Every time a main training partner is absent because they are training somewhere else our training suffers.

If you don’t compete and sparing is your competition then I understand why you’d want to branch out and train with other people. To me, it’s silly to be that competitive and not actually compete, but maybe I’m wrong and there is something I just don’t understand. I’m open to hearing your input.

Peewee class belt promotion: Ally

Gray white belt promotion


Congrats to Ally on her next challenge! Ally started Jiujitsu after watching her brother on the mat. If was as if she was already training when she stepped on the mat. She understood the importance of focus. Her ability to focus is a very strong asset that she continues to use and develop in training.

On another note, this marks the beginning of our 3rd year teaching the peewee class (age 4-6). It’s great to see the little ones grow out of their gi along with their growth on the mat. Here’s to another year of learning through fun & play!

BJJ Brick podcast with Eliot Kelly

El Dorado Hills Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach, Eliot Kelly, was featured on the BJJ Brick Podcast. The podcast features Eliot’s experiences and take on being a coach and a competitor.

BJJ BRICK with Eliot Kelly

The podcast talks about:

  • His start in BJJ
  • How taking a train to BJJ helped him get better
  • Coaching BJJ and preparing himself to compete
  • How to learn from a loss
  • How coaching makes him be a better competitor
  • How competing makes him a better coach
  • Dealing with injuries
  • Getting hurt and coming back to the competition world
  • Balancing BJJ and a home life with family
  • Dealing with trends
  • Matching your BJJ to your personality
  • Focusing your training
  • Evaluating your performance


Winding up 2018 and looking ahead

I wanted to congratulate everyone on an epic year. The school has accomplished so much this year as a result of individual effort, leadership, and teamwork. We’ve had parents of students become dedicated practitioners. We’ve had students work their way through the curriculum and earn their Blue Belts. We’ve had practitioners become competitors. Leaders have emerged and became mentors to newer students. Simply an amazing year for us as a group. I’m very proud to share the mats with all of you and I’m excited to see everyone continuing their progress through 2019.

There is more to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu than competition, but I believe that the competition aspect of BJJ requires more intention and planning than training for recreation and self-defense.

Here is a list of upcoming tournaments:

Sat Jan 26th the Hills Jiu-jitsu Tournament (in house)

Sun Jan 27th Allstar Gi & NoGi Kids and Adults, San Jose, Bjj tour

Sun Mar 31st Grappling X Gi & NoGi Kids and Adults, Elk Grove

Sat & Sun April 13th & 14th San Jose Open Gi & NoGi Adults and Masters Only, IBJJF

Sat & Sun May 4th & 5th American Cup, Gi Only, Kids and Adults, San Jose, Bjj Tour

Sat June 8th Sacramento Open, Gi & NoGi, Kids and Adults, UC Davis, Bjj Tour

Wed-Sat August 21st-24th Master Worlds, Las Vegas Open, Kids International Gi Only, Kids and Adults, Las Vegas, IBJJF

Here are some links for registration:

RE: IBJJF Competitions

All competitors are required to be IBJJF members to register and compete in their tournaments. The process can take a long time, so if you plan on doing the San Jose Open, Master Worlds, or any other IBJJF event, you need to go through the application process. It’s $35 for an annual membership.

Fight 2 Win 97:

Also, let’s show Eliot our support and get a huge group for his title match at the Fight 2 win on Friday January 11th! He puts so much time and attention into everyone’s jiu-jitsu, let’s show him how much we can cheer for him in a couple of weeks.

As Always, I’ll be here for anyone who needs help with the curriculum or competition planning. Please schedule with me if you need help with anything like curriculum testing. I have 30 minutes before 12pm classes on Tuesday and Thursdays, and time after 10AM Class on Saturdays.

I’ll be competing and coaching at the San Jose Open Gi and Nogi, the Sacramento Open Gi and NoGi, and Master Worlds. Possibly the American Cup as well, but I will be at the Grappling X to coach competitors. If you plan to compete, please let Eliot and I know after you have signed up for a competition.

Thanks again, and good luck in 2019!

Coach Aaron

EDH BJJ Mat exercises: the hip escape

El dorado hills Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Javen shows how to do the hip escape mat exercise. This exercise is one of the fundamental jiujitsu movements used on the mat in Bjj.

View Link to video

The hip escape is one of those movements that can be difficult at first, but once mastered is like riding a bike. The hip escape is a full body movement that could be likened to tapping your head and rubbing your stomach. It doesn’t come easy at first. However once you have it mastered, you never forget how to do it.

We encourage parents to practice this movement at home on days they don’t have practice for a couple minutes at a time when they first start learning jiujitsu. Doing so will help expedite their child in learning other movements on the mat!

The four keys to consistency at Jiu-Jitsu

The 4 keys to Consistency

By Aaron Martinez

October 10, 2018

The past several months for me have been hard to want to train. My wife had a sternotomy last June and it took all summer for her to recover and for us to get back to our usual routine. Physically I felt fine, but mentally and emotionally I have just wanted to take a break for a period of time. Even though I haven’t wanted to be consistent I have. It’s a habit and it’s the most positive aspect of my life, even if I didn’t want to do it at the time. After training with the absence of inspiration I was able to see more clearly what it takes to be consistent as a habitual practitioner.

Staying injury free

It’s impossible to stay injury free forever, but I believe injuries can certainly be minimalized. And if you’re injured often it’s impossible to find a rhythm and a schedule to progress at a pace that you gain satisfaction. Other than just a general loss of interest, injuries have been the primary reason I have seen practitioners quit. I’d like to think that I have been more than just lucky to have trained consistently for over eleven years with only taking one month off due to a severe injury.

This is what has worked well for me:

  1. I stay up on my Strength and Conditioning, but I do it to help prevent injuries and not create more. That means that I never chase Personal Records or compromise my form for any result. I like the Olympic lifts (Snatch/ Clean & Jerk) with very manageable weight. It has helped with my Jiu-Jitsu in general, but has really strengthened my shoulders, hips, and knees. Three areas that bothered me with pain before I started the Olympic lifts.
  2. I tap to compromising positions. There are times in sparring when a training partner just has my knee articulated in a certain manner, or is compressing my ribs while inverted, and I will stop the match and consider it a submission for my partner. Most injuries I see from practice are from not recognizing that a joint is in danger because it’s not a submission. One partner rolls one way and the other partner in the opposite direction from half guard and someone’s knee is probably entangled and vulnerable.
  3. Be mindful while rolling. I’ve had a few minor injuries from rolling light and mentally taking a break. My body isn’t engaged like it should be in addition to my mind isn’t focused on preventing injuries and then one of us moves offensively and it’s too late to anticipate a dangerous landing or roll.
  4. Know your opponent and if you don’t, protect yourself like they want to put you in the hospital. After a few rolls with a handful of dangerous training partners I have learned to yell tap as they are entering into a submission attempt. I’ve gotten dirty looks from people because they thought I was giving up too easily, but my goal is never to win every sparing match. My goal is to be able to spar every chance I get and to win every match in competition.

Challenge yourself

There are quite a few motivators for training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. For me, it was always to challenge myself. At times, I have to really force this because it’s easy to become complacent with anything. Even people trying to choke you and break your limbs.

  1. Train with the big guys. At our gym we have some monster sized individuals that I see other people avoiding. I wouldn’t say that I love having them smashing my guard, but I love the challenge. Keep in mind staying injury free and tapping to bad positions as to avoid injuries as much as possible, but it’s good to deal with a mismatched size (Especially if you are a Black Belt!).
  2. Competing is a great way to see what you are made of. After a decade of competing; I swear the success and failures of competition have more to do with your mental fortitude than your physical abilities. Even though you are fighting opponents, it really is a match against yourself. You finally have someone to fight that is your size, your age, and your skill level. There are no excuses and you can only win if you believe in your abilities. It is the best way to challenge yourself in Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu.
  3. Train when you are too tired to train. This is a challenge to your physical abilities and your ego. What’s the worst thing that will happen? You will get submitted by someone that you usually never get submitted by. It is going to be alright. Do you want to get better and move forward with your Jiu-Jitsu journey, or worry that “So and So” will go around the academy telling everyone that they got you in an arm bar? Training when you are exhausted will certainly make you a better practitioner and tougher on the mats.

Continue to Learn

Part of training consistently and progressing as a result is to keep learning consistently. I’ve seen it too many times, where a practitioner feels that following along with the instructor’s techniques is no longer beneficial. They show up after the technique is taught, just to spar. Or while everyone else is learning escapes of fine tuning a fundamental detail of something very practical, they’re in the corner trying to Berimbolo.

  1. Pay strict attention to the lesson of the day. If it’s something you’ve seen a dozen times, try to find a new detail that can help you focus on using it as soon as possible.
  2. Be open minded and be willing to learn from everyone. I learned some great techniques from visiting White Belts. It could have been very easy for me to dismiss what working for them just because of their rank, but as a result of doing the opposite I have some great techniques that I use in my everyday game.
  3. Be quiet when others are talking to you. It took me too long to learn this and probably passed up a ton of free information because I wanted to talk about how much I knew as soon as they were done telling me something. There are times I try to tell my students about a technique, how to game plan, a little detail, etc. and they interrupt me to tell me what they would rather do in such and such situation. I just smile and let them talk over me and I don’t try to force the information on them if they are already close minded to what I have to say.

Make friends and not Rivals

Being competitive with your peers is great, but I’ve seen rivalries go so far as to create actual fights during sparring or both guys not wanting to roll with each other anymore. It’s challenging to be consistent when you don’t have enough quality training partners that want to roll with you, and I see it happen often. Usually it will start out that way with some and they learn before Blue Belt that they need to place nice, even in sparring, or they’ll sit out every other round because no one wants to roll with them.

  1. Be respectful to everyone and try to be a model practitioner. Help your instructor and team set the tone for the culture at your academy. Do you want to have a fight club where everyone is always injured? Or, do you want to do something fun and social with a good group of people? You’re actions and words help build this in either direction.
  2. Be open to other people changing too. Some people will come off as cold or arrogant when they start. Maybe they want to stay distant because they are simply nervous when they start doing Jiu-Jitsu. Some people are just Socially Awkward. And some people are just jerks and need something like BJJ to show them a better way to be. Regardless of why, control yourself and show them how to be. Stay courteous and respectful and give them a chance to be a warmer teammate down the road.
  3. Always leave the door open. No one want to see their friends and students stop training with you, but it happens. Some people leave because they move, or their schedule changes. Those are positive reasons. Some leave for negative reasons like they want to be a student at another local academy, or they have an issue with someone else at your academy. Situations change and people change. It takes most people a decade to earn a Black Belt. Look at where you were a decade ago and look at where you are now. People can turn into complete opposites within that time and be open to people changing for the better and wanting to come back. If you blow up and tell the person never to return, you shut the door on the person changing their mind or their personality in the future. It will be a key to having more quality training partners down the road.

You’ll hear about “consistency” a lot in Jiu-Jitsu. It is the key to getting better, getting stronger, growing, and eventually becoming a Black Belt, but you can’t be consistent if you can’t train consistently. You can’t train consistently if you’re often injured, and you’re not going to grow consistently as a practitioner if you are only willing to roll with the same people that you feel comfortable with. It will be hard to make it to Black Belt if you think you already have it all figured by Blue Belt and are unwilling to learn the rest of the way, and it would be impossible to train if you have no one to practice with. Most of this seems like common sense, but these have been keys to my success and I have seen many other practitioners struggle along the way with some or all of these. Most of them never made it past White Belt.

Coaching Jiu Jitsu in Thailand

Follow one of our black belt coaches, Sean Gonsolin, in Thailand. He will be doing an extended stay in Thailand to train, teach, and experience the culture of the country!

Sean is using his Instagram page as a travel blog to document his experiences in Thailand.

To follow him look up: @grappler_sean