Monthly Archives: January 2014

Happy Friday: Weird Cravings Edition

Happy Friday everyone! 

When people train and diet for tournaments, some crave chocolate and ice cream, others crave nachos and beer….Last night I was hit with a real hankering for celery. Not celery covered in cream cheese, not smothered in peanut butter with raisins on top, AKA “ants on a log”… Just plain old celery, which I gladly indulged. 

Anyone get unexpected cravings during tournament prep?

Let me know, otherwise have a great weekend everyone!  OH! And for anyone planning on doing the New York Spring Open, today is the last day for the early registration, so save yourself $20 and sign up today! 





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What Keeps You From Getting Better at Jiu Jitsu: Fear

Ok, it’s one of the things that keeps you from getting better at jiu jitsu, but it’s a pretty big thing that we all face, and should talk about.

I’m going to indulge the 13 year old in me for a moment and relate today’s post to the lyric of a song that I enjoy, “Dear Death Part 1” (the band is Emery, in case you’re wondering)

“It’s the wrong side of fear that kept me out”

We could nitpick this phrase all day until it doesn’t make sense anymore, however I feel it can be applied to parts of our jiu jitsu journey…career…adventure? Adventure, I like it- we’re sticking with that phrase for now.

As I mentioned, we all have to face it as some point: the fear of failure, the fear of making a mistake, creating a vulnerability and being swept, submitted, etc. We put so much time, effort, so much of an intellectual and emotional investment into jiu jitsu that it’s understandable that we want to do well, to confirm to ourselves and others that we are proficient, hell, even good at this jiu jitsu thing. So we train, or we compete and we freeze up, we become uncertain- we want so much to not make a mistake that we end up hesitating and not doing anything at all. While competition is important, and you can sort of squeak by sometimes by staying in one place and pray no one calls you on stalling, I’m taking a longer view approach and focus a little more on training  and the general advancement in jiu jitsu.

This fear keeps us from doing the jiu jitsu we can do, we want to do- it keeps us from the very thing we are trying to do, which is sort of ironic, and not in that Alanis Morrissette way. You can particularly see and feel it when training with some lower ranks: they know they don’t want to be swept, tapped, etc. but they aren’t sure how to counter or advance in a position, so they kind of just stay still wherever they are, like a little ball of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s endearing because we’ve all been there, and a little funny for the same reason. A personal aside, and also a cautionary tale about looking up your opponents before a tournament-when I competed at the Abu Dhabi pro trials, I looked up the name of one of the competitors, because it sounded familiar (it was Fabiana Borges) and became anxious because she was a black belt and had this long record, etc. I kept telling myself it didn’t matter- I went to the tournament: among the girls I didn’t know, the one I lost to called me a beast (it’s funny how you could call a girl that on the street and she’ll be offended: you call her a beast in sports and it’s a compliment). The girl I won against said it was a pleasure to compete against me and can’t wait to do it again. My match against Fabiana… that doubt, that fear made me hesitate, and I ended up making mistakes, which she quite understandably took advantage of- I can’t even be mad about that. Fabiana is an excellent jiu jitsu player and competitor, but it was also my own hesitation and doubt kept me from the jiu jitsu I wanted to do, knew I could do.

So, now that we’ve established this fear can be a hurdle, what do we do about it?

I’m not condoning going out and intentionally lose a training session or match, but rather keep in mind that in order to progress, sometimes we have to lose, we have to stumble and fall- because if nothing else it teaches us to get back up again. Ok, so you were swept, got tapped, put yourself in a bad position: it’s a weakness of vulnerability in your game that was exposed. But you tried something, you made an attempt to move forward, which opens you to the chance to sharpen your skills, to be on the lookout for opportunities to use those techniques and try again, hopefully next time with more success, and continue on your jiu jitsu adventure. 🙂


Update: While I attempted to take a more general approach to the whole fear and jiu jitsu issue, Chewy over at Chewjitsu talks more competition specific…and honestly his post reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, so check it out!


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Good News and Bad News

So I’m full of all sorts of good news and (sort of) bad news today:

Good news! I thought of a great topic to write a post about. Bad news! It took so long to come up with it (I only have so much free time guys) and it’s probably going to take a while to write it, that I can’t post it today. But good news! It’ll be up tomorrow- that’s the plan, anyway.

Good news! I’ve lost weight to the point I think I went down a gi size. Bad news! The hyperlyte gi that I bought is the old gi size, so it looks like I look like I’m swimming in it. Good news! I get to buy a new, smaller gi. Bad news!…I have to buy a new, smaller gi.

And lastly good news! My roommate ran into Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington (aka everyone’s favorite bastard, Jon Snow) at a coffeeshop in the city.


Bad news! She wasn’t sure it was him, and when she finally realized who it was, she was totally tongue-tied, and sadly did not tell him that “he knew nothing” or made any other sort of cheesy Game of Thrones reference.

Any good or bad news that you would like to share? Let me know, otherwise have a great day everyone!

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Update on Training, Life and Things, and New BJJ Move: The Polar Vortex

Honestly I really don’t have much to talk about today: we’ve been training a lot for upcoming tournaments, and that’s going fairly well- got a new gi a week or so ago and will be wearing that to class tonight. It’s the Hyerlyte gi from Hyperfly (or is it Do or Die? How does that naming hierarchy work?) We’ll see how that goes. Other than that, nothing too interesting is happening- dieting is going well, seeing some change in body composition, although the scale is not moving quite as quickly as I would like, but then again when does it ever. I just remind myself to keep going, and that a little progress is better than no progress at all.

Also, I would like to propose a new bjj move, the polar vortex: basically, berimbolo your opponent, get to their back, pull open collar at the back of the neck and then pour a bucket of ice into their gi. 😉

Anyway, have a great day everyone!

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Jiu Jitsu Guilt: It’s Ok to Take a Break Sometimes

I’ve talked about this a number of times here, but it definitely bears repeating: Crawl Atop Me and Meet Your Doom has a post about the guilt we have as Jiu jitsu players and not training hard enough while we’re injured, sick, etc.

Ah, we’re a hardheaded bunch, us Jiu jitsu people. Which does work to our benefit for the most part- we tirelessly work away at certain techniques, and sometimes even when we are tired of them we continue to drill anyway. We get the sniffles, tell ourselves that our allergies are acting up, and is it just us or did it suddenly get really hot in the mat room? And why is the room spinning… Or we get injured and we continue to drill and train anyway, even though every time we kneel on that one knee there’s a blinding pain like a nuclear blast went off in our heads, wiping out any and all other thoughts… we’ve pretty much all been there.

It’s a double edged sword- this determination and perseverance; it’s a drive that can get us a win on the mat, but these qualities also can work against us sometimes: a double edged sword that yes, can push us to become better, but also has the potential to do us real harm.

Times like these it’s good to take a step back and think of your training in a long term perspective: I think too often we think of the next tournament, and the next after that, and think of our progress and competition career (for lack of a better term) in these smaller increments. Taking the time to take care of yourself however is just as important as training hard, and taking the time now will benefit you in the long run, particularly when it comes to injuries. You don’t want to have that knee/ankle/elbow, whatever that never really got better because you never took the proper time off for it to heal.

So, it’s hard, and it may feel counter intuitive, or even against the very fiber of your being, but put that guilt aside and take care of yourself. It may chafe you at the moment, but it’s better to take care of these things now than to have to deal with the repercussions and consequences of ignoring these injuries later.


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Happy Friday: Tournament Season Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

I guess I’m just thinking about this because I registered for Pans last night, and already they opened registration for the NY Spring Open (for realsies?)

What IBJJF tournaments are you planning on going to this season? Or other tournaments you’re making plans for/really looking forward to. I’m mainly pointing out Pans, since it’s the biggest one for us since we’re flying all the way to California…and let’s be honest, I don’t get out of the east coast all that often.

Let me know- otherwise have a great weekend everyone!


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The Johari Window of Jiu Jitsu


Yeah, that’s right, we’re kickin’ it back to your old Psych 101 class and talking about the Johari Window- which is typically in reference to personality traits and self awareness, but what the heck, we’re going to apply it to jiu jitsu, because it just fits too well to not take a crack at it.

The first square is your known self- what people know about you, and what you know about yourself. For example, you know you are pretty good at one particular sweep from spider guard, and your teammates also know that happens to be one of your stronger games to play. Next there is the second window, the hidden self, in which you know things about yourself, but they haven’t been revealed to others. In relation to your spider guard sweeping abilities, let’s say you are beginning to see opportunities for other sweeps and submissions from the spider guard. you haven’t acted on them yet, but that part of your game is developing.

Then we have the blind self, as you can tell from the image above, which is things others know about you, but you don’t know about yourself: say you love that spider guard sweep, but other can see it leaves you crazy vulnerable to getting you back taken, and you can’t figure out why. This is also what you should think about when an instructor gives you a stripe, promotes you to a different colored belt even, or just praises you for a good training session, even when you feel like you were all knees and thumbs. They saw something that may have been hidden to you, but your instructor saw and felt deserved acknowledgement.

Finally, there’s the unknown self- which is hidden from yourself and others. In relation to jiu jitsu I see this as the potential for the player you will evolve into as your jiu jitsu journey progresses- maybe you’ll become a phenomenal open guard player, maybe you’ll move on to de la riva, or even decide screw it all, your going to become a closed guard player (I don’t know, I’m just throwing things out there).

So there you have it, the Johari window of jiu jitsu. Think it fits, or do you think another theory works better? Ooh, we could talk about Freud….on second thought, let’s not. I think it’s fun to apply this concept to jiu jitsu because much like your personality, these elements will almost perpetually be in a state of flux: as time goes on and you advance in the sport, more will become known, and the hidden and unknown self will change over time.  Let me know what you guys think-otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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Metamoris 3, and Stupid Cold Weather

You know, I was really going to try to be one of those people that didn’t write about how it’s hella cold where they are now. I could deal with the near foot of snow yesterday, but the biting wind that is blowing all over the place is making me grumpy, and annoyed.

Anyway, so, the Metamoris 3 lineup came out.

metamoris 3

From what I understand (Groundwork BJJ mentioned something about it on their Twitter feed) they are offering a discount on the streaming of this event until  January 31st. It’s $10 at this point: I’d say jump on that sale like it’s 4am on Black Friday. You can purchase a ticket for the stream here.

Also, how does one get a nickname like Babalu? It’s just fun to say. And what’s up with the thumb thing with Eddie Bravo and his team? I haven’t actually watched the promo video yet: it just looks like they are asking me to join a cult. Which really sort of turns me off from wanting to watch it in the first place.

Anyway- are you planning on watching? Let me know!


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Fundraisin’ and Instagrammin’

So as I admitted several weeks ago, I’m pretty bad at getting involved in the social aspect of the whole social media thing. I’m getting a little better with blog commenting, and a bit better with Twitter, but my Instagram “game” is sorely lacking. Part of that has to do with the fact that I rarely take my phone to class-and it’s pretty hard to take photos while in the middle of training. I know this because trust me, if you could I think our one student and Instagram addict would never stop taking photos.

But, our coach has been taking photos and videos of our training sessions, so feel free to follow his Instagram feed: PhillyBJJ.

More often than not I’m in the photos/videos, so that counts…right?

My own Instagram feed is not nearly as interesting, but if for some reason you want to follow it, it’s the same as my twitter username, skirtonthemat.

Also, this is for family & friends, or anyone who just wants a super cool t-shirt- we’re holding a Booster Campaign and selling t-shirts to raise money for the team going to Pans (which includes me! I’m going too!). This fundraiser is, in particular, for our students who work hard, really put in the work, time and effort in training, but may not have all the money required to make this sort of trip on solely their own funds.  If you’re interested in buying a shirt, just click on the photo or go here.

Booster Campaign T-shirt

Yes I’m shamelessly promoting my team’s fundraiser. No, I’m not apologizing for it. Not that there’s anything to be ashamed of in the first place…whatever, you know what I mean.

If you are interested in a shirt, the campaign only lasts for about 2 more weeks, so I would say grab ’em while they last.

Anyway, have a great day everyone!

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Gender Issues in BJJ and Why We Need to Talk About Them

There have been several female, and some male, bloggers lately who have been talking about gender issues and how they relate to BJJ. Some people want to read about them, some don’t- some want to have a discourse about issues and situations they have witnessed or have been a part of, and some would rather bloggers move onto a different subject.

While there are most certainly a plethora of situations and experiences that are not gender exclusive, there is most certainly a need to talk about gender issues in BJJ. Admittedly this is a tricky and nuanced subject, because there are so many elements to it: we could talk about the marketing, different situations that effect men and women on  and off the mat, how some receive different treatment, or held to different standards based on their gender, or not even allowed into an academy because of their gender. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, so it only makes sense that so many bloggers (as far as I’m aware, predominantly female) have written about all of these things; well, because there’s a lot of material to work with when it comes to these issues.

First and foremost I feel this discussion needs to happen, if nothing else to let one another- women, people, know they are not alone. There are others who have been in similar situations as you have, maybe the same gender, orientation, background; maybe not. But they may have a similar experience to share-you just need to reach out and find them, and what better way to find people from around the world than on the internet!

Also, these issues need to be brought up to outline what is not okay in the jiu jitsu community. Some things in jiu jitsu really are just the norm, and will have to be put up with: sweaty dudes, close contact- I’m sure we could come up with a pretty substantial list. However when it comes to a jiu jitsu student’s behavior, there will always be someone who is attempts to push the envelope, to behave in a way that while they may not intend to harm anyone physically or emotionally, but comes off as crass, insensitive and belittles or excludes others for the simple reason that they exist. Or worse, it is absolutely intentional: blame it on their personality, their own insecurities and personal emotional baggage; whatever, the point is that it happens. What matters is if the behavior is continued unchecked, if no one says anything and these behaviors continue, there is a chance others join in and the next thing you know it’s just one of those things that people just take to be “the norm”, when it really shouldn’t be, but you just put up with it because everyone else seems to. It’s like when people talk about that friend, you know the one I’m talking about:


And I will totally admit at this point that there are some things that people will have different opinions about regarding what’s ok and what’s not. As I’ve mentioned before, it takes a lot for me to be offended. For others, not so much, and still more may even find that it takes a lot more for someone to “cross the line” with them. We’re all (for the most part) rational adults and are free to have our differing opinions. But there are those magical times when the Jiu jitsu community can come together as a whole and say “this is not the norm, and more importantly, not acceptable.” But we have to know these issues exist to take a stance against them, and that’s where the bloggers, the forums, etc. come in. Admittedly, sometimes I know what issues are out there, other times I totally feel like I’m living under a rock: there are other bloggers out there who are much more in tune with these issues than I am, and you should read their blogs to get up to date on what you and I (quite obviously) have been missing.

And finally I feel we need to talk about these issues because honestly, I am really a fan of the idea of communication and sharing experiences: that if both sides understand these situations we can work towards solutions that benefit everyone. I feel both, all genders should definitely talk about issues that effect them- write about them on your own blog, let us know what sort of issues you face that we may not be aware of due to our experiences, so we can understand where you are coming from. No one should shrug off the issues or experiences of others: instead I have this crazy idea that we should view each other- those of all genders, backgrounds, orientations, you name it- as humans, who need to be heard. Our stories can bring us together as a stronger, more cohesive community when we respect, and at the very least understand one another a little better.

Er, so in conclusion I hope all this rambling makes sense and we can basically all get along, share our experiences, respect one another and overall live as better human beings. Or something.


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