Good Jiu Jitsu Isn’t Always Pretty, and Pretty Jiu Jitsu Isn’t Always Good

Just a thought I was having this morning: I was thinking mainly about movies, if we’re being totally honest. Something can look good, but not necessarily be good in other regards.

When it comes to movies, I’m sure you could come up with a couple of examples of films that in terms of visual styling are amazing, but when you really start to dissect the plot and dialogue, really don’t make any damn sense. The most recent example for me is the movie The Witch: visually really interesting, great shots…. plot looks like a slice of Swiss cheese.

Jiu jitsu has its own issues with that. I’m sure there are some jiu jitsu players out there with some really cool, fancy guards and sweeps…. that really don’t connect to anything, or are really just done for the sake of being done. I like to think of those moves as almost the haute couture of jiu jitsu. I believe someone, somewhere in my life explained haute couture this way: no one in their right mind would (or should) walk out the door in some of the outlandish outfits that walk down the runway, but it’s more you should expect to see those elements in fashion in the coming weeks, months, etc.

Same thing with pretty jiu jitsu: you can take some elements from it any incorporate it into your game, but to take some of these techniques wholesale is the jiu jitsu equivalent of walking into a party looking like a fluffy, 3D Rorshach test.

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…But does it have pockets? 

Visually impressive, not terribly practical.

It’s also important to note that sometimes good jiu jitsu is not necessarily pretty. In fact sometimes basic, unimpressive moves are the most effective. Of course there is beauty in simplicity, and of course we can appreciate when a move is well executed, but sometimes the unimpressive “unpretty” stuff is really the best. It’s the stuff that may not make the highlight reel, but they are relatively simple moves that you can rely on.

So, just to recap- don’t worry if you don’t think your jiu jitsu isn’t pretty, because sometimes the good stuff just isn’t pretty- what’s important is that it works.

Have a great day everyone!

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Happy Friday! Fall NY Open Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

It’s been one of those silly weeks where a bunch of little things go wrong (amazon package mix ups, getting to work late, pen exploding in my hands and ink getting everywhere… those kinds of things) but I dunno, I’m still in pretty high spirits.

Our team is heading up to New York this weekend for IBJJF’s New York Open, so that’ll be exciting. I decided not to compete to let my thumb/wrist continue to heal, but I’ll be running around coaching our teammates…. so if you see a woman hopefully just jogging, but possibly sprinting to a mat, hello, and I apologize in advance for all the yelling I’m going to do.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Learning the Fine Lines in BJJ

It’s difficult, time consuming, but ultimately rewarding when you really dive deep and learn the fine lines that exist in jiu jitsu.

We all start off with the broad strokes- place hand here, foot there, move leg and head and arms this way and that. As you progress there is still some of that simplicity, but there as they say, the devil is in the details. You start to learn to the find the fine line between a choke and just bugging your partner’s neck and irritating them. You start to learn, feel, and finally understand the difference between using a lot of muscle in a technique versus using leverage and letting physics and body mechanics do a lot of the work for you. You start to learn the fine line between just muddling through a submission versus really effectively executing it.

You start to learn some other fine lines too, like the difference between confidence and cockiness, between assertive and overly aggressive, bravery and false bravado….The list can go on and on, but they wouldn’t be alliterative, and I do love my alliterations 😉

You get the idea- at first you start to learn the basics, and then as time goes on- if you are paying attention, you will start to really get into the nuances and the fine lines that exist in jiu jitsu. It will take some time so don’t panic if you don’t see those differences right now. It’s one of a couple of reasons that it takes approximately a decade to earn your black belt in jiu jitsu- it takes time to notice these differences and nuances, to fully understand them more than just logically, but to ingrain them, to understand them “heart and soul”.

There are also fine lines that even when we try not to, occasionally we trespass to the other side- despite our best efforts we botch a technique or submission, accidentally cross face someone, again the list goes on. It’s important to acknowledge those moments, and to dust ourselves off and try again. We can’t progress if we don’t own our failures as well as our successes. It’s through drilling and training, failing and succeeding, can we navigate these nuances and fine lines in jiu jitsu.

Just some food for thought- have a great day everyone!

 

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Happy Veterans Day

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November 11, 2019 · 10:15 am

Don’t Fear the Chaos in BJJ

This is one of those things I think a lot of us know logically, but we don’t know “heart and soul”: it’s not something we understand and utilize on a consistent basis.

We know there’s chaos in jiu jitsu- we know about the scramble, the mess of a pile of limbs and awkward angles that we can sometimes end up in. When it comes to progression sometimes however we hang onto what semblance of order that we can, and sometimes even missing some opportunities in order to maintain that sense of order we are so desperately seeking.

I’m talking about those moments in which we all have, at some point or another, stalled in training. Not because we didn’t want to move forward, but we wanted to ‘get our bearings’ or pull ourselves out of the chaos for a moment to think about our next move.

This is fine and good sometimes, absolutely- what I’m saying is sometimes you need to embrace the chaos, let things get weird sometimes and see where it leads you. It can be sort of uncomfortable, sure, but allowing yourself to ride that wave of chaos can sometimes land you in positions (for better or worse) you may not have otherwise found yourself in, and gives you the opportunity to grow in your jiu jitsu. Of course we would hope that unusual position would be a good one, but let’s not forget there’s validity in putting yourself in a bad position in training: remember, we train hard and face the chaos so we can fight easy come tournament time.

Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

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The Discomfort of Getting out of Your Comfort Zone, Inside and Outside of BJJ

I know this is one of those “well, duh” kind of statements, but man it’s hard getting out of your comfort zone sometimes.

But man, is it also rewarding- fortunately more often than not.

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It would be dishonest to tell you that’s it’s amazing to step outside of your comfort zone, and to just leave it at that. To be perfectly honest it can be anxiety provoking- your stomach turns into a big old knot, even if it’s something you know you want. Knees weak, palms are sweaty- no vomit on anyone’s sweater though (at least I hope not)… Also, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, sometimes things won’t work out the way you originally planned.

But there are so many good things that can come from stepping outside of your comfort zone: you can “level up”, so to speak, or you can be placed in a completely different path than what you imagined. And even if things don’t work out, you’re at least not hindered by “could of, should of, would of” conversations, wondering what could have been if you had taken that step

This applies in and outside of jiu jitsu- trying for that takedown may not turn out quite as great as you imagined in your head but it’s better to take that risk, to deal with those nerves and accept whatever comes of it with open arms, rather than sitting and wondering how things could have gone if you had opened your game up a little.

This actually reminds me of my dad- love him dearly, but he is someone that it can take some effort to get him outside of his routine and comfort zone. In his own words, “it’s safe inside the box, nothing bad ever happens in the box.” – we were talking about his insistence on buying one exact brand of New Balance sneakers at the time, if anyone was wondering.

And in some ways he’s right, nothing bad happens inside the box…. But there’s really no chance for anything cool to happen either. Or a tremendous amount of growth, while we’re at it: we grow to the confines of the “box”, so to speak. We then have the choice to push outside of that box, that comfort zone, or we stop growing in order to remain within the confines of what is safe and comfortable.

So while it totally sucks, and makes you feel anxious and a little awful sometimes, don’t let that stop you from stepping outside of your comfort zone- you may be surprised at what you will find and you’ll have the opportunity to grow, regardless of the outcome.

Have a great day everyone!

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Happy Friday! No Swear November Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

Recently I decided that I’ve been been a little too loosey-goosey when it comes to dropping some f-bombs, and so in an effort to curtail that habit, I’m doing No Swear November: for the next 30 days I will be keeping it (fairly) clean.

And if I mess up and swear? A dollar will be going to Operation Smile– an organization that provides surgical procedures around the world to children with cleft palates.

If anyone wants to join me, just comment or let me know- otherwise, wish me luck y’all, and have a great weekend!

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Happy Halloween!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween everyone!

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de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and BJJ

Lately I’ve been experiencing pain in and around the base of my thumb, which according to a nurse that trains with us (and the internet, or course), it seems that I have tendonitis in the thumb (which, interesting fact, it’s also spelled tendinitis, but just looks weird to me and the other spelling is also acceptable, so I’m leaning into spelling it as ‘tendonitis’).

Tendonitis in the thumb or the fancier name it goes by, de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (try to say that 5 times fast) is “A painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. The main symptoms are pain and tenderness in the wrist, often below the base of the thumb.” It can occur as a result of multiple things, but repetitive motion is on the list, which after 13 years of jiu jitsu frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t been a problem before now. 

So how do treat it? Well it should be getting rest, and ice, and some ibuprofen. And since I’m stubborn, I’m still training but I’ve been wrapping my hand in a bandage and attempting not to over exert my hand/wrist. Which, that means not going for as many chokes. Which makes me a little sad if we’re being totally honest.

If it’s really that bad, a splint is also an option to immobilize the thumb. Personally, it’s not a great option for me because it’s my left hand, and I’m left handed… One of the most sinister things about me, really. And if you got that joke then good job, nerd 😉

So, that’s it really. If you have tendonitis in your thumb and it’s not super serious, don’t panic, let it rest, put some ice on it and take some ibuprofen for a couple of days. And as always, if it’s serious enough or is getting worse, then you probably should consult a medical professional to talk about more intensive treatment and next steps.

Have a great day everyone!

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Changes You’ll Start Making for Jiu Jitsu

Whether you intend to or not, you’ll start to make changes in your life for jiu jitsu: and the thing is, they won’t happen all at once.

Maybe you’ll stop going to that happy hour that all of your non-jiu jitsu friends love to go to, or maybe you’ll find yourself ordering less fried food takeout when you realize that it really just makes you feel like trash the next day and it keeps you from training the way you usually do. You find yourself running on a treadmill maybe, or picking up a weight lifting program to help your strength and cardio while you train.

I know that I’ve stopped a good deal of bad habits because really, I just don’t have the time or energy to feel like junk as often as I used to. I barely drink that much alcohol anymore, and I’m pretty sure the time in between eating something from McDonald’s can be measured in years at this point rather than days. And a number of these changes were unintentional- meaning there was no moment where I sat and thought “I will not be eating this entire bag of potato chips because it may potentially impede my jiu jitsu”. It’s a little more intuitive than that: you start to think about how you’ll feel gross, or sick to your stomach, and who has time for that, really….

That’s not to say that you won’t make some intentional changes in your life for the sport. And in fact, that may be the spark that lends to the other changes in your life. I have found a number of times a good, hard, intentional push during competition training leads to picking up some healthier habits during the off season.

All of this is natural, and good! You are making jiu jitsu a priority in your life (if that’s what you want to do) and you are prioritizing healthy habits which are more likely to lead to better training and a longer, healthier life for yourself, rather than still sticking to bad habits that in the short term may be gratifying, but in the long run may not be beneficial for you and your health.

Now if anyone has a good remedy for breaking a chocolate chip cookie habit, let me know: asking for a friend (kind of…. not really).

Let me know what healthy habits you have intentionally, or unintentionally picked up since starting jiu jitsu- otherwise, have a great day!

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