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Jiu Jitsu

By Paul Winter

If you’ve been training Jiu Jitsu for a while, the thought may have occurred to you to take your skills and see what they can do in a competition setting.

Some may be encouraging you in this, while others might tell you to give it some more time.

Still others will give you that age old Jiu Jitsu adage seen on countless Instagram posts following someone getting dog-stomped at a comp:

“Hey, you either win or you learn.”

On the surface, there’s no issue with this statement. It’s true that each time you step out on the mats to put your pride and limbs on the line, you’re going to assemble some data about your game.

It’s also true that there is a graceful way to lose and a “loser” way to lose: taking things in stride and dealing with it, versus moping around, making excuses, or letting it ruin your day/week/month/you’re a blue belt and you just quit Jiu Jitsu.


However, I always bring to mind before a competition the famous quote of the famous-er…er? football coach Vince Lombardi, who took the Green Bay Packers to 5 NFL championships in just 7 years.

“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”

His point was, no one should just “take the L.”

Being competitive is about not wanting to lose, hating to lose, and looking for the victory always, being willing to sacrifice for it.

I’m guessing ol’ Vince knew that not a lot of “fourth quarter hail mary to the endzone after battling through hordes of opponents” are likely to happen when all your players just shrug as they play the Superbowl and say, “hey, man, it’s like…you either win or you learn, right?”

Eddie Bravo once said: “Jiu Jitsu is a game of death.”

The entire point of the fighting arts, especially one like Jiu Jitsu that involves strangles, and was designed as a battlefield art, is that losing essentially means, “you’re dead. I could’ve killed you just then.”

In these kind of scenarios, you don’t win or learn. You win or you die.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you need to bring that approach to the table at every local tournament or what have you, but when you get out there, it’s worth remembering:

You’re not just representing yourself.

You’re representing your school, the coach who invested all that time in you, and you’re representing how you want the story to be told – “easy come, easy go,” or “I went for victory at any cost.”

It’s good to learn, and it’s good to have an approach that there will be a benefit to your matches win or lose, but it isn’t good to give yourself an “out” already before the match has even started.

This is what Vince L meant when he talked about the idea of a good loser being a loser.

If you’re comfortable enough with losing, you’ll lose every time.

So get out there, and learn. But try your best to learn…and win.

By Paul Winter


Iron Legion has never been about creating a cookie cutter environment, or being “just another gym.”

Like it says on our website:

The combination of effective programs, supportive leadership, and steadfast comradery is the key to our clan’s results.

Our members are not just members.

They are part of something greater — they are part of the family of warriors and athletes that is Iron Legion.

What makes us different is that we believe the lone wolf mythology is bullshit- lone wolves die alone in the woods.

Our pack brings stability, strength, and resistance.

Bold words that we are confident about the reality of, as we have put them to the test, again and again.

Another major aspect of our forward march has been initiating the Iron Legion Jiu Jitsu program, turning our place of power into not only somewhere an individual can become strong, conditioned, and athletic-

But providing them with the effective tools necessary to embrace the real warrior lifestyle.

We’ve all seen the shirts, the memes, the slogans- a weightlifter is picking up a barbell, and there is a line equating what he’s doing with being a warrior.

But weightlifting isn’t fighting- it provides a different kind of value, which we discussed in THIS ARTICLE.

Strength training informs our other abilities- otherwise it’s just strength for…well, strength.

Here at Iron Legion, we definitely believe that being strong for it’s own sake is still a damn good reason, but part of bringing high-level combat training to you, our family, and to the Ocala area, is about going further.

What is all that power for?

In any tribal structure, there is a difference between the family units that made up the greater community, and the warrior class.

And maybe that’s a good way to explain what Iron Legion is trying to do:

Create an environment in which one can truly go beyond being a member of the wider family of Iron Legion, and work to become part of that warrior class.

We live in a world that can change at the drop of a hat from safe and unassuming to harsh and brutal.

A routine trip to the gas station has the potential to turn into a nightmare for the unprepared, the untrained, the unmotivated.

There’s plenty of reasons to train Jiu Jitsu for the sport aspect, but at its core, grappling remains the oldest system of warfare between humans- it focuses on distance control, positional dominance, and choking or breaking movements to dismantle opponents.

Detractors will continually claim that Jiu Jitsu is merely a sport martial art, and not effective for street application, but this is simply not true.

Sport Jiu Jitsu (an important distinction) is not suitable for street application, but grappling itself is a highly functional and valuable skill to dominate a physical engagement.

There are other reasons to train Jiu Jitsu beside the simple fact that a human being should know how to handle themselves in a violent confrontation:

It improves brain function, especially memory management tasks and coordination- meaning Jiu Jitsu makes you more effective off the mats as well, in your daily life, your business interactions, and so on.

It increases mental toughness.

Persevering through a difficult round, remaining calm in stressful situations, and realizing you’re not made of glass and are tougher in many ways than you think you are is a great thing.

It increases confidence, well-being, and helps you manage anxiety and depression- there are more scientific research papers on the benefits of martial arts and exercise on the overall sense of mental health than you can shake an armbar at.

If you need any other reason to start training Jiu Jitsu at Iron Legion, here’s a final one:

In any group of individuals placed into a worst-case scenario, the ones who can’t fight are ultimately a liability to the ones who can.

Are you a liability or an asset?

Make sure.

By Paul Winter


Last week, I was a guest at American Combat Club in Orlando, Iron Legion Jiu Jitsu’s parent school.

The event was Convocation, brain-child of “Merciless” Mitch McElroy, owner and head coach- his idea for it was simple:

Put out the word to all area black belts and have them gather at one spot each month to share knowledge, train, and of course – roll.

All other belt colors are welcome as well, and at the end of the evening, the black belts start at white belt and work their way up through the ranks, eventually having a match with every belt level.

The vibe was high at the new ACC location on Orange Blossom Trail, where the smaller, but much more comfortable (dare I say “intimate”) space lent itself well to the “family style” training session Mitch was looking to capture.

The mats were packed with young and old, belts of all colors, and the incense burning near the door gave a “temple” feel to the whole proceeding.

The night kicked off with Mitch addressing the assembly, explaining some of the backstory of the gym and its emblems and symbols, as well as some great stories about the early days (never knew those wrestling mats in the cage were…*ahem* “borrowed” from a high school wrestling program), and explained what the Convocation would be all about.

He turned things over to the very first individual to earn an American Combat Club black belt, Rick Webster, and ACC’s own Scott Ross, who had been chosen to instruct the class.

Mitch’s philosophy is “fights start standing and so do we,” so some excellent Judo details were taught on the Sumi Gaeshi, followed with Rick dropping some knowledge bombs on the tried and true armbar, adding some elements I’d never seen into my game- thanks Rick!

As the drills started to come to a close, there was a commotion in two different areas of the gym, as two ACC brown belts, Donald, and Iron Legion’s own Terry Bourgeois were seemingly attacked by two groups of people.

Being in on the situation, I knew they were being awarded that highly coveted prize they’d obviously been after for a long time from the state of their ragged brown belts:

The black belt.

After the (I’m told) customary friendly beating, Mitch presented the two with their belts- before tying them on, he looked them both in the eye and said:

“You were supposed to quit.

Everyone quits.

Before you put that black belt on, think about everyone who started this thing with you, and isn’t here anymore because they quit at white belt, or blue, or purple, or brown.

You didn’t.

And now you get to experience the journey all over- the new beginning of black belt, and pass on information to the next group of students, so they can eventually beat you, and earn theirs.”

The rolls started in earnest after that, and following a mauling by a few black belts, and some great times with many others, Mitch’s words stuck with me as I returned to my tiny house Airbnb on Lake Fairview.

Everyone is always looking for some secret in Jiu Jitsu- but the fact is, there isn’t any.

Like every other good thing worth having in this life it comes down to discipline, dedication, and time invested.

No new technique or Brazilian master is going to change that.

You have to put in the time, and maybe one day you’ll get that coveted black strap- just don’t quit.

Train hard. Tap early. Ask Questions. Stay on the mats.

Keep training!

What do top performers Joe Rogan, Jocko Willink and Tim Kennedy and more all have in common?


Each of these guys operate at an extremely high level in their careers – and all of them train Jiu Jitsu.


Here at Iron Legion we have found a direct correlation to the types of programs we offer – and some of the most successful people in Ocala. 


And now, to enhance our offerings to Ocala’s Leaders and Doers – we offer Jiu Jitsu.


Iron Legion in downtown Ocala is now a Helio Soneca Affiliate:


Helio Moreira, commonly known as “Soneca”, is regarded by many as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend. A black belt under Carlos Gracie Junior, Helio “Soneca” became one of BJJ’s top competitors in the late 1990’s decade, having also followed a short term career in mixed martial arts (MMA). Moreira was one of the first black belts produced by the Gracie Barra academy, having later become a well respected instructor in Jiu Jitsu and MMA.


Our American Jiu Jitsu program is excellent for beginners and upper belts as well. Each class is professionally instructed by both Brown and Black belts in the Helio Soneca lineage. 


We are excited by the growth we are seeing and want to invite you to come try a week free on the house!


Come see what makes Iron Legion the training center for some of Ocala’s most successful people!


Shoot us a message right here and we will get your free week started straight away! Classes are filling up and space is limited – don’t miss out!