Monthly Archives: February 2014

Happy Friday: Death of the Stinkbug Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

So if you live in the US and have experienced the invasion of the Asian stinkbug (and if you haven’t, you’re quite lucky) there’s good news- apparently it’s been so cold this winter that a large amount of these critters have died off. According to…people who monitor these things, usually the stinkbug hides out over the winter, sitting tight in attics and shingles until the winter is over and they can invade everything all over again. But, apparently due to the polar vortex it’s been so cold these bugs can’t survive the temps and have been dying in larger numbers than usual.

I never thought there would be a silver lining to this particularly cold winter, but there you have it. And what does this have to do with jiu jitsu?

Absolutely nothing, that’s what.

 

Check out the article and join me in celebrating this good news. Otherwise, have a great weekend everyone!

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Your Conversation Style in BJJ

JiuJiu has a nice post over on her site about your “conversation” style when rolling in BJJ: are you a coffeeshop kind of player in training, with a casual, easy back and forth with your partner, are you more argument, a style that I sometimes sum with a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. I think all the styles she lays out have their time and place, depending on who you are training with and how you are feeling that day, if you have any injuries, getting ready for a tournament, etc. I imagine the more you train, the more experienced you become in the other “styles”, becoming well versed in changing modes to fit the situation and even the atmosphere of the training session, or as our coach calls it, “the rhythm of the room”.

Personally, I like to think I’m more debate, although there are definitely times I slide into presentation, because I’m so focused on “making my point” if you will, that I sort of ignore the turn taking. Oops. Also, I would like to add a conversation style to the list: I’m not at all proud of this one, because it’s how I have sometimes dealt with the “argument” partners- stonewalling. Sort of an extension of presentation, you shut down the other person completely, absolutely no receptivity, emotionally withdraw from the conversation and attempt to end it as quickly as possible. Again I’m not at all proud to admit it: it hasn’t happened often and much like after a real argument with someone, I have felt pretty terrible about it afterwards- jiu jitsu should always be a conversation, a back and forth between you and the other person.

Check it out and let me know what you feel your “conversation” style is in bjj, or leave a comment on JiuJiu’s site. Either way, have a great day everyone!

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Grenade Self Defense….What?

So I caught this on The Ground Never Misses: a clip of a Krav Maga instructor showing people how to use a hand grenade in self defense…

 

First and foremost, I have nothing against Krav Maga. I am sure there are many strengths to it, and I’m sure there are possibly some real life applications to it. Admittedly I’m not entirely sure, as I have never  take a Krav Maga class in my entire life. But when it comes to hand grenades, eh, I think I like my game plan best.

Run. Run far and run fast. These moves may look cool and slick, badass even, in reality you only have so many seconds to react and I would like to spend that time getting away from an explosive device.

Check it out and let me know what you guys think. Otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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From the Inside Looking Out

I had an interesting experience on Saturday- I came in earlier than usual, for two reasons: a) to warm up and b) there is a bjj intro class on Saturday mornings, and sometimes we have women who take BJJ and due to religious obligations can’t touch men, so it’s nice to have an extra female here and there to throw into the mix. Fortunately there were two women in the class on Saturday, and so I had a chance to take my time, warm up and chat with my teammate, also a female and was also there early.

What made the experience interesting was I kept noticing one of the two white belt women glancing in our direction- which I thought was a little odd, but then I tried to look at it from her perspective: she’s just starting as a white belt, and not only now knows there are other women in the academy (I mean, you can logically & theoretically, know something but then the evidence is right in your face and then you know it, if that makes sense) but apparently higher belt women- purples and browns that you know, just apparently lay around and chill on the side of the mat on Saturday mornings. Living, breathing proof that women like her not do this sport and do it for a long time, but can excel and reach a high level.

It’s kind of funny to think about: when I started jiu jitsu the high ranking females were training, but they were also few and far in between. Not to brag but we have a pretty strong female presence in our academy- two browns, a couple purples and a slew of blue and white belt ladies. There have been classes where the male to female ratio was equal, and on average we’ll have approximately 5 to 6 women at a time in class. It’s something that I definitely thinks is awesome, but over time it’s something that you sort of take for granted, and that Saturday morning just reminded me of the rare, and really great situation we have in our academy.

Anyway, just wanted to share that experience with you all.  Have a great day everyone!

 

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Team Training!

What better way to spend your Sunday? Thanks for the great team training guys!

Team Training

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Happy Friday: Long Hair Edition

I had a reader recently ask what to do about tying up longer hair when training, and avoiding that whole “short chunk of hair in the back”…thing. You know what I’m talking about- those hairs that get ripped out when someone is pushing their hand under your neck for head control, and catch a couple of strands along the way.

Personally, I kind of just put up with it and tie my hair up in a bun- it’s definitely not the best solution, but it’s what I do. I’ve just sort of resigned myself to the fact that it’s going to get ripped out one way or another. Again, not the best solution, but I also live under the impression (delusion) that since my hair is so curly that the breakage and random short pieces really aren’t that noticeable.

Some other female bloggers have also talked about this issue: some, like JiuJiu chopped it off in favor of a pixie-like haircut, Meg from Tangled Triangle discussed her hair regimen to help her locks stay healthy,  and Meg of Megjitsu compiled an entire Facebook album of what others have done.

Hope this helps- have a great weekend everyone!

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Training in BJJ is Keeping You Healthy on a Molecular Level

You know, I sort of wish I could find interesting science articles often enough to post them weekly, but for now I’m just sharing them with you as I find them, including this one: we all know exercise is beneficial in the long run, helping improve our quality of life especially as we get older- at least that’s what I tell myself now and again.

This recent study suggests there is a relationship between a hormone, irisin, that is released after exercise and the length of telomeres, a small region at the end of chromosomes- short telomeres have been associated with age related illnesses,  such as Alzheimer’s. Individuals with higher levels of this hormone, presumably because they exercise more, were shown to have longer telomeres, meaning they were less likely to have age related illnesses. So think of it this way- every time you train, you are helping keep yourself fit in the long run, even down to the molecular level.

Hooray, science!

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Article on How Non-Competitors Can Stay Motivated in BJJ

 

Groundwork had a nice little article about how non-competitors can stay motivated to train in BJJ. I’m trying to rack my brain if there is anything that I could add to this article, and really the only thing I can think of is this: non-competitors are just as important to an academy as the ones that go out and do competition. Yes, I absolutely encourage people to compete, even in small in-house tournaments because if nothing else you can think of it as a report card, or systems check: in your greatest moment of stress (because let’s be honest, who isn’t stressed and nervous about tournaments) what will you remember?

But, there are some people who realize competition just isn’t their bag: it’s not something they enjoy, and something they would rather not partake in. And that’s absolutely fine: not everyone’s adventure (know I usually say journey, but I like adventure so much more) through jiu jitsu includes  competition. But that doesn’t mean your experience, your training, your time on the mat is any less valuable than the hardcore competitor. It just means you are taking a different path than someone else. I would think one of the biggest motivations to stay active in BJJ is to really take to heart the Human Chess concept- thinking of it as a puzzle that needs to be solved. Also, really embracing the community element of BJJ-stay active in your gym’s community, and participate in outside, non-competitive activities such as the Grapplethons and charity grappling events.  It’s easier to stay engaged in an activity when you are neck deep in the community, and jiu jitsu has a ridiculously active, welcoming community for the most part.

So, that’s pretty much what I have to say about the subject. On an unrelated note, so I have a guilty pleasure: I enjoy watching comic book movies- and did you guys see the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer? I just watched it, and that is definitely one I watch to catch this summer.

Anyway, have a great day everyone!

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Old Habits Die Hard, and Bad Ones are Like Cockroaches from Hell

You keep thinking they go away, but they just keep coming back to haunt you…

I really wish I hadn’t just come up with that imagery, now I feel like I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.

Throughout jiu jitsu, hell, life even, you develop good habits, and inevitably pick up some bad ones along the way. It’s one of the reasons instructors really emphasize details and the correct way to perform a technique so often and early: we want you to be successful in the technique, and not only that, but it’s much harder to correct a bad habit and poor application than to start fresh and do right from the beginning.

You can see especially with lower belts that this concept hasn’t really sunk in: they’ll sort of do a sweep right, or not really put themselves in the position they need to be for a technique while drilling. It kind of reminds me of that saying, “moment on the lips, forever on the hips”. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal now, but if you drill a particular technique and position only sort of right in class, how can you expect it to do it correctly when it’s time to roll and you have to depend on your muscle memory? Logically you understand what you are supposed to do, but your body remembers all those half assed repetitions you did, so that is in all likelihood how you are going to execute the technique: half-assed and less effectively than you would have liked.

Or, think of it this way: drilling is a chance to execute these techniques, positions, submissions, whatever in a perfect world scenario, where the chance for success is 100%, or pretty darn close to it. When rolling, for argument’s sake, your chance for success drops, because you have a less compliant partner. So the guy that’s been drilling, taking his time to get all the details right and avoiding those bad habits will have a higher success rate with the same choke, than the guy that’s sort of been sort of drilling the same technique in a sort of right fashion. Even when you think you have corrected those bad habits, sometimes they come back to haunt you, and you are left to wonder “why in the hell did I do that?”. Cockroach from hell, I’m telling you.

I imagine for the most part I’m preaching to the choir, but when in class I would  say really work to drill with purpose, pay attention to the details, take your time, and if there is something you don’t understand, ask a question: the earlier you can correct these missteps and mistakes the better.

Anyway, have a great day everyone!

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Your Jiu Jitsu Journey: The One Man Race

We humans have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. Maybe it’s part nature, maybe part nurture- from birth we are weighed and measured and compared to others in our age group, to see if we are a part of the average, or some hella crazy outlier. And really, let’s be honest, it sucks to feel like the one that’s been left behind: we’re social animals and in many ways want to feel a part of the “pack”, if you will.

I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but this comparison, this need to feel a part of the fold I feel creates a lot of unnecessary frustration in jiu jitsu. You may feel like you are in a race with your teammates who may have started the same time as you, not to show you are better or some jiu jitsu dynamo (for the most part) but more to “keep up” with everyone else. It’s sort of all an illusion. The only person you are racing against when it comes to jiu jitsu is yourself, which is why I don’t necessarily agree with the IBJJF’s rules on minimum times for stripes and belts that they posted:  some people have taken that minimum to mean average, and want to be like everyone else- they don’t want to feel like they have been left behind.

The journey (or adventure!) of jiu jitsu is a very personal one- yes, you share moments and major milestones with teammates but your experience and development of skill, not one can either do that for you, or even more importantly take it away from you. This growth will take place in due time, so don’t try to force it: sure, you can train every single day and in theory that will help you progress much more than training say, twice a week, but really you know what works best for your schedule, your body and your sanity.

Basically, enjoy your time at each belt! There are lessons and experiences at each level that you can take with you throughout your journey- and how can you truly appreciate them if you are solely obsessed on the next stripe, the next belt or worried about if someone got promoted before you?

Those are just my thoughts on a Monday morning. Have a great day everyone!

 

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