Monthly Archives: June 2014

Helping Teammates be Successful, On and Off the Mat

This past weekend I had the chance to pitch in and help in preparing a commercial space which will house her café, Little Spoon!

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It was a weekend of caulking, sanding, priming and painting with fellow teammates, and it was totally worth it. It makes me happy to think that I can help a friend and teammate get one step closer to their goals on, and off the mat.

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How was everyone else’s weekend? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!

 

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Happy Friday: Preparatory Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

I would say nothing too much is going on around here, but that’s not entirely true. It’s more the fact that we are training, drilling and preparing for some tournaments coming up in a couple of months. So, on the surface it looks like nothing is going on, training and routine as usual but really the team is just putting in the leg work, nose to the grindstone and sharpening our skills for tournaments in the next few months. It just doesn’t make for very interesting updates at the moment.

How are you guys all doing? Training hard, getting prepared for tournaments/promotions/to better suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in general?

Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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BJJ Competitions and Brackets: Don’t Worry About Who You’re Competing Against

So, confession time: lately in particular when I’ve been signing up for competitions, if it’s a tournament where the brackets are posted ahead of time I choose not to look at the names of the other competitors. I’ll look up the bracket a) to make sure I’m registered properly and b) sometimes to see the number of people registered, but that’s really more just for a rough “over ten/under ten” estimate- and I’m even just using ten as an arbitrary number, and that’s about it. In my opinion it really doesn’t matter who you are competing against, particularly in your weight division.

Think about it: you learn their name. Then you Google their past matches. Look them up on Facebook. You see all the medals they’ve won, the sweeps/submissions/etc. that have worked for them….Next thing you know, you’ve researched so much into these people and built these competitors up so much in your mind, and in a lot of instances you start to downplay and even doubt your own skill. And then when the time comes, you’re so worried about what this other person is going to do that you forget your own game- you hesitate, become unsure. You start to react to their techniques, rather than be proactive and play your game. And that, my friends, is a very slippery slope which can lead to defeat.

So why worry? Particularly when it comes to your weight division- you already know the general essentials. They are typically either your age or chose to fight people about your age, probably about as heavy as you are, more likely than not have two arms, two legs, etc. Human- well until we find sentient life on other planets that can fit into a gi anyway.

This doesn’t mean to be rude or cold to the person when you get on the mat: I am definitely a fan of being cordial to my fellow competitors- they took the time, the money and effort to participate in the competition that day, and win or lose that’s something to be grateful for, and that appreciation should be expressed. If they weren’t participating you wouldn’t have anyone to go against when the time came. I’m just saying I would rather first see my opponent in person on the mat, rather than Facebook stalk them and in the process run the risk of doubting my own jiu jitsu.

What do you guys think? Do you look up your opponents when you know the bracketing ahead of time? Or do you have more of a “come what may” attitude, and just jump in?

Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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The One Thing They Don’t Tell You About BJJ

…Is all the laundry you’ll be doing.

You step into your local academy- a friendly instructor takes you through an intro session, or you take your first beginner class, and some higher rank takes you through what you should do and expect: you bow on and off the mat, shake hands with your partner, drill this, locker room is there, you’ll progress, lose weight, become (slightly) more athletic and agile, feel amazing….

What they don’t tell you is “you may want to buy a membership from Costco just for detergent and dryer sheets, ’cause you’re gonna use a lot. Like, a lot.” 

It’s actually true of all sports and heavy involvement with any physical activity, but you have been, or will be doing a heck of a lot of laundry to maintain your hygiene. There is a brief mention of always wearing a clean gi, but it’s a deceptively simple sentence.

“Oh, keep your gi clean,” you say to yourself, “easy enough!”

And it is easy in the beginning, when you are only training a couple of times a week.

Until you train everyday, or sometimes twice a day. In the summer. And maybe you’re a girl, and so you have to wear a sports bra. And I really hope everyone, guy or girl is wearing a bottom set of underwear (don’t laugh, that’s not always the case- why do you think IBJJF mentions athletes wearing underwear in their rule book?)

And we’re not even talking about no-gi and all the other accessories you may have to wear: rashguards, board shorts, assorted braces….the list goes on and on. The good news is your training partners greatly appreciate your efforts to keep yourself clean and smelling fresh. So, you have that going for you.

So, if you get bit by the BJJ bug, and become heavily involved and train all the time, prepare yourself- you’re going to be doing a lot of laundry.

 

 

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Metamoris 4: The Matches So Far

Well, that seems tremendously quick. I feel like we just finished 3, and already we’re getting ready for 4. An exaggeration of course, considering 3 happened on March 29th, and this even isn’t happening until August.

So, the matches they have released so far are:

Chael Sonnen vs Andre Galvao

Saulo Ribeiro (hooray!) vs Comprido Medeiros

Dean Lister vs Josh Barnett

Keenan Cornelius vs Vinny Magalhaes

Kit Dale vs Garry Tonon

There will also be a “secret match”: I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it should be interesting. Apparently competitors won’t know who they are fighting until right before. Does this mean the pool of competitors will have their names thrown into a bag and two will be drawn out? Will they blindfold two random well known fighters and lead them to the ring? I mean, this is the family that attempted to integrate a moat of alligators around a UFC ring in its early days, so really anything is possible.

There are some other sites talking about Metamoris 4’s lineup: mainly about the MMA/grappling only mix, but hey, it just may be the way to generate more interest in the grappling/submission side of MMA, instead of so much focus from the casual MMA fan on the striking element. Check them out when you have the time:

MMA Hour: with Frankie Edgar in Studio (video/podcast…thing)

Bleacher Report: Why MMA fans should care about Metamoris 4

Fightland: Why We’re Psyched About Metamoris 4

What matches are you guys excited for? Not so thrilled about?

Let me know- otherwise, have a great day!

 

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Summer Plans?

Good morning everyone! This Saturday marked the summer solstice, or the official first day of summer!

What are your plans for this summer? Any tournaments? Hanging out at the beach? Traveling in general?….None of the above?

Let me know what your plan are for this summer- otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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Happy Friday: Leg Lock (or Lack Thereof) Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

Science of Skill posted two graphs about why we all suck at leg locks. A lot of people apparently have said they lack the proper instructions, and want to learn the basics.

Personally, I’m bad at them for entirely different reasons: first, I don’t practice them enough to really see/take advantage of an opening unless it’s staring me blatantly in the face. I’m getting better at that, but still…

And second, my aim is off. Or I have a short torso. One or the other- the point is, in the middle of training I don’t seem to get my hips in the right spot, which really circles back to “I don’t practice them enough”….

Well, I guess we all know what I’m thinking about working on this summer.

Are you good at leg locks? Do you not even concern yourself with them, due to rank or riskiness of the technique? Or do you accept that it’s not really in your “A” game arsenal. Let me know- otherwise, have a great weekend everyone!

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Hydration Frustration Sensation…of the Nation… OK I’ll Stop Trying to Make this Rhyme

So we’re getting into those hot and humid days of summer, which means now more than ever it’s imperative to stay hydrated when training. Water is great, but for those who also want to replenish your electrolyte balance, here are some options for you:

Sports Drinks: The obvious choice, but also the one with the strongest artificial flavors and funkiest colors, which personally is a bit off-putting.

Coconut Water: ok, real talk- I think coconut water is pretty gross and has a high sugar content, but it has the same electrolyte balance as human blood. So if you have no problem with the whole sugar thing and can stand the taste, I would say go for it.

Electrolyte Infused Water (like Smart Water): I know they say the electrolyte…stuff they put in is just for taste, but hell, it’s better than nothing. And, no refined sugars or crazy food dyes- hooray!

Electrolyte Mix Powders/Supplements: I’ve tried a couple of these, including the mix Emergenc-C puts out. They are pretty good, and give you want you need. I didn’t find a pressing need to go back out and buy more packets of these- most liekly because I’m just lazy and haven’t thought to do so until now.

What are you guys drinking to stay hydrated? Let me know!

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DON’T Get Your Black Belt (as Quickly as Possibly)

I swear this isn’t Buzzfeed headline link-baiting (ok, maybe just a little), but the sentiment remains the same: don’t attempt to rush through your ranks, and attempt to speed through your jiu jitsu journey.

I know I have mentioned this before, but it still holds true. There are so many lessons that can, and should be experienced at each rank that don’t always have to do with being a particular techniques. It has to do more with the culture, with growing into the belt emotionally as well as technique wise, before feeling ready to move on. You don’t want to reach your black belt, and realize there was so much you missed out on, so many experiences that others had and you missed, because you chose the fastest track to the top.

Life isn’t always about the destination, it really is sometimes about the ride you take, the place you pass, the people you meet, the challenges you face on the way. These experiences and people can mold you, change you, make you a better person when you aren’t looking.

And, we’re also ignoring the bigger part of this whole equation: your instructor. They, ultimately are the ones who decide when you are ready to progress.

So sit back, relax, trust your skill and their assessment of that skill, and enjoy the adventure that is jiu jitsu. 🙂

 

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Teaching Martial Arts to Those with Special Needs: An Interview

I am of the belief that martial arts, particularly BJJ can and should be available for practically anyone, including individuals who are considered who would be labeled as “special needs” either as a result of physical or cognitive challenges.

And I have the pleasure of knowing a woman who works with individuals labeled as such, and even offers course certification for instructors to learn how to approach working with this particular kind of student. Her name is Debbie, and she has over 2 decades of experience working with special needs children and adults both professionally and in her free time has taken the opportunity to share the joy of learning martial arts to this particular group. I asked her if she could answer a few questions about her experiences, and any advice she could offer:

 

Can you tell me about your background in both martial arts and your work in the psychiatric field?

I have been working with marginalized individuals since the age of 18. I started right out of high school. I was a classroom assistant working with individuals ages 18 to 21 who experienced severe cognitive challenges. When working with them and in relationship you really needed to mindful and aware of their expressions and action and learn to listen, watch and observe to understand their needs and wants.

Understanding what they wanted and needed, and helping to make small steps forward together were so satisfying and rewarding for both parties. It really set the stage for my career and my passion in the field of human service. I received my degree as a special education teacher and began working with various groups of children and adults. My focus at that time was working with children with various developmental challenges including psychiatric concerns and social issues, and my work led me to explore complex societal systems influence on family development.  I earned my degree Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Drexel University, and have completed all the PhD course work at Drexel in the Couple and Family Therapy Program.

 

What first lead you to teaching martial arts to children with special needs?

My children and I both trained in martial arts and it became increasing clear that there are existing built in fundamentals at exist in martial arts that benefit anyone who walks onto the mat. It is my belief any child who requires additional support for any reason could receive such support through martial arts with a skilled instructor. They earn belts, learn and have fun, develop strengths and improve! Parents feel good! Parents feel like their children are moving in a positive direction. There is no stigma associated with their child’s concerns, and their child moves to the regular classes as quickly as possible, and class becomes a real community! Real life lessons for all children and families come to life at the school.

 

How long have you been teaching this group?

Approximately 13 years.

 

What have you found to be the greatest benefit of teaching these children martial arts? Do you have a story or experience you would like to share?

The great benefit has been that these children do not create limits for themselves and achieve great things on and off the mat.

Greatest story: A two year old boy challenged with severe symptoms of autism came into the school and began private lessons. He could only tolerate a few minutes of floor time per session. He did not speak or give eye contact. Nine years later, he does not carry a diagnosis. He attends a regular school, plays baseball and hockey and enjoys friends and family.  He only has routine wellness visits with pediatricians and his parents see a bright future for their son.  This may be an atypical outcome BUT most children and their parents will benefit without the stigma of insurance processes, doctors appointments, waiting room talk, multiple therapists, etc.  It’s “therapy” through a normal, healthy socially supported venue IF the instructor is qualified and aware to support the child in their progress.

 

What do you find to be the most rewarding part of teaching? The most frustrating?

The most rewarding part of teaching is being with a person and enjoying the moment with the person. A moment can mean so much if you are mindful of it. The most frustrating part of teaching? I have been a teacher more than I have not been a teacher. I find nothing to be frustrating. I love it. It is not my job- It’s my fun.

 

If there was one piece of advice you could give BJJ and other martial arts instructors when dealing with children who have special needs, what would it be?

One piece of advice would be to remind the instructor that they are the expert of the art. The student is the expert of him/herself. Find out how he/she learns and what motivates him/her to be on the mat. Adjust your style and curriculum to meet the person where he or she is developmentally and move at his or her pace. Be more than an instructor, be in relationship. BJJ is interesting: it’s an intimate art. There is an innate closeness. Trust, active listening and awareness of a person’s comfort will be key as you progress. We do offer certification in All Abilities Martial Arts, as I support the Martial Arts community and advocate providing support to all people. There are some considerations which are valuable when working with vulnerable individuals. I am often concerned when academies brand themselves competent to address issues such as these in children who already feel discouraged and suffer from low self esteem, and are then placed with instructors who have good intentions, but no training in child development or the psychology behind building a healthy, strong, and confident child.

Thanks so much to  Debbie for humoring my crazy request and answering these questions. If you are an instructor, or if you know of an instructor that would be interested in the All Abilities Martials Arts certification, please check out Choice Martial Arts Academy, or email Debbie directly at msdebbie@choicemartialartsacademy.com.

Otherwise, hope you all enjoyed the interview, and have a great day everyone!

 

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