Monthly Archives: October 2019

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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Whoop vs FitBit: Battle of the Fitness Trackers

So a few months ago I mentioned that I was using a Fitbit to track my sleep and heart rate. A couple of weeks ago a teammate suggested that I try a different fitness/heart rate  tracker called Whoop. It’s a tracker that takes a deeper dive into your heart rate variability, and the amount of physical stress you put your body through, in addition to tracking just how well you’ve recovered from that stress. It also estimates how many calories you’ve burned that day- I’m always wary of that feature, but I’m sure with its constant monitoring it probably has a better idea of your caloric expenditure than most trackers out there.

I signed up and have been using this new device for about 2 weeks now. It’s… interesting, to say the least. Where I think Fitbit gave you an average of how your heart was doing throughout the day, Whoop will check your heart rate basically every 2 minutes and track it all in their system:


And since they want as much data as possible, you are basically told to practically never take the thing off, not even to charge it- it has a slide on accessory to charge it, so you don’t have to take the tracker off for charging. Also, to accommodate those of us who are engaged in full contact sports, Whoop offers an armband with a padded exterior- basically looks like a fitted volleyball kneepad that you put on your arm. The main focus of Whoop really boils down to evaluating how hard you worked out (your “strain”) vs your recovery, and will even make suggestions based on those assessments.

taper screenshot

I was fighting and now have a cold, but thanks for making me feel like a lazy bum, Whoop.

Fitbit was also starting to do this just as I switched over, but Whoop also rates your sleep quality (bonus, whoop also rates how many breaths per minute you take while sleeping, which is kind of neat), and will recommend an amount of time to sleep and recover for optimal performance-


I win sleeping, yay!

If I was truly looking to compare the two, I guess I could be wearing both a Fitbit and Whoop at the same time, but that’s a bit much, even for a nerd like me.

Another big difference is pricing- so Fitbit you just purchase the device, and I believe their basic plan is free, although I’m sure there’s some upgraded plan on their site that I just ignored. Depending on what version you buy, a Fitbit can run you between $50 for a refurbished device up to- according to my google search- about $150. Whoop is a subscription plan however that you can’t ignore- it’s $30/month for a minimum of 6 months, and right now they have a deal where if you sign up you receive the tracker for free. I also received a referral code from my teammate which also gives you the first month free. Which if anyone wants the referral code, just comment or let me know in some fashion (email, DM, carrier pigeon, whatever) and we’ll make it work.

I will say Fitbit is more all-encompassing when it comes to wellness. With a Fitbit you can track your calories, steps you take throughout the day, water intake, women can track menstrual cycles, in addition to sleep and exercise. With Fitbit you can also connect to other apps such as MyFitnessPal, entwining itself into all your other apps and trackers and such in your life. I’m still getting acclimated to Whoop, but it seems to be dialed in and intensely focused on just a few things: how hard you work out and how well you recover from those work outs. Which is totally not a bad thing: sometimes focusing on doing a few things well is way better than trying to do everything all at once. For some it can leave them frustrated however, as life is more than just stress and recovery and want to take those other factors into account.

When it comes to the actual wearing of the wearable fitness tracker, I would have to go with Whoop- right before I made the switch I found myself taking the Fitbit off more and more, mainly because the wrist strap would dig and irritate my skin when I would do things like type on a keyboard. Whoop has a much thinner band which feels almost cloth-like that they call “proknit”, which is way more comfortable to wear, and even the arm band is pretty comfortable once you get the hang of it. Also, no one has complained about anything digging into them while training, so that’s a win.

Ultimately I think if you want something that is a little more all inclusive, or maybe you’re someone who struggles with being active on a daily basis, then a Fitbit is totally the right move. If you are a more intentional about your workouts and really want to make sure you are getting the most out of your stress and recovery periods, and want to get more into some nitty gritty, granular data when it comes to those periods, then Whoop will probably be a better option.

Just some thoughts: if you wear a different fitness tracker or have a different opinion on either, please by all means comment and share your thoughts- otherwise, have a great day!


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Working Smarter to Get the Most Out of Working Hard in BJJ

We’ve all heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”- which totally makes sense. But I have a confession to make: it’s not a phrase that I like all the much, but I’ve never really thought about exactly what made me not a huge fan of the phrase.

It only occurred to me recently it’s the second part of the phrase that I don’t like. This is my own (mildly demented) interpretation to be sure, but there’s the implication that the only reason I’m working as hard as I am is because I haven’t found an easier way: that if I found the more efficient path in completing a task that I would almost be lazy, that I would just kick my heels up and coast if I just worked a little more efficiently. And I dislike that image, immensely. It makes my face contort a little like I just smelled a gi that hasn’t been washed in a week. It’s not a pretty sight.

When it comes to jiu jitsu, we work hard, and by nature I believe most of us (if not all of us) are hard workers: we toil in a sport/art that takes twice the amount of time that it would normally take someone to achieve a black belt, and the mastery to a point can almost be fleeting- there is no end all, be all mastery to jiu jitsu. It’s an ever-evolving sport that you will spend a lot – and I mean A LOT – of time working on for personal fulfillment, and also for some pieces of cotton that are dyed in a variety of colors and little pieces of athletic tape that go around said pieces of cotton.

Instead, I propose this: we work smarter in jiu jitsu so we can get the most out of working hard. There’s no question that we are willing to put in work- we walk onto the mats, day in and day out, committed (most of the time) to give our all and put in the work to hone and refine our jiu jitsu. But, we should also look to be working smarter so we can get more out of that hard work and allow us to move forward to tackle the next part of our game that needs that refinement.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share- have a great day everyone!

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Happy Friday! Motivation Edition

Happy Friday everyone! I took this off of facebook, and I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but remember:


Have a great weekend everyone!

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Making Hard Choices on Your BJJ Journey

It seems really easy at first: you sign up for a class, you begin rolling (flailing) around as you try to find your rhythm, and slowly you begin to fall in love with jiu jitsu. And so you spend more time at this sport/art that you begin this sort of love/hate relationships with- you love doing it, you hate how bad you are at it. So you keep going to class, chipping away at it so to speak, still spending some time frustrated but also building friendships, and whether you know it or not, you are actually improving at jiu jitsu.

And occasionally throughout your time in jiu jitsu, there comes pressure not to continue- sometimes internally, but also sometimes you may have someone or a couple of people in your life- who may be well intentioned- but they may want you to stop the sport all together. I can specifically remember talking to my mother over the phone and can still hear her ask “can’t you do something else?” She was speaking from concern, and I think partially from a lack of understanding of not only what the sport entails, but the benefits that come from learning and training. Also, pretty sure I was venting about some jiu jitsu related frustration at the time, and so to someone who really isn’t interested in the sport, that seems like a totally logical response. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

When it comes to those sorts of moments, that’s when it comes down to a decision that’s made by you and you alone. I think this is when a lot of people have that moment of either listening to others and back off, or they “take a break” that never seems to end, because they take a few months off and before you know it their schedule is filled with another million things that need to be attended to.

Side note, that’s not to say that people don’t have absolutely good and legitimate reasons not to train jiu jitsu: some people have loved ones that need to be taken care of, some have work/family/life responsibilities that simply cannot and should not be ignored. And really, for some people they just don’t find the joy in jiu jitsu anymore. And that’s totally fine: again, jiu jitsu is for every body, but not for everybody.

Ultimately, no matter who says what if you want to continue on your bjj journey, you have to do jiu jitsu for you.  When I have been faced with these kinds of choices in the past, I’ve taken a moment to think about what I wanted, and the two options that were offered- one would be to say yes to others who would not want me to do jiu jitsu-again, not out of malice, but really from a place of concern and lack of understanding. Unfortunately that would also mean probably not living a life in a way that I would have chosen specifically for myself, and in that be unhappy. It’s not the most fulfilling path but can appear to be the easier road to take. Or, I could continue with my choice, which can be harder, requires a little more time defending your choices and actions, and makes those close to you a little uncomfortable as they come around to the idea of your choice and the journey you have decided to embark on, but they will eventually come around to the decision (for the most part). I have frequently chosen the latter, knowing that it is sometimes the harder road to take, but ultimately the more fulfilling one, because while it may not be a decision that others totally understand, it’s one that I have made about my life and a path that I have chosen for myself.

So, for anyone who skipped the past five paragraphs (no worries, totally don’t blame you), the TL;DR version is this: there are going to be times when you have some hard decisions you have to make about whether or not you want to continue in jiu jitsu. This will be a hard decision for others around you, especially if it is one that maybe those close to you don’t truly understand. But, ultimately it is your life and really the main person you need to be accountable to when it comes to this decision is the person that stares back at you in the mirror when you’re alone (we’re not counting the creepy ghost that haunts your bathroom vanity, they don’t get a say in this). Living your life in a way that’s best for you sometimes can be difficult, and comes with some hard decisions, but ultimately is the most rewarding because it is a life that’s chosen and lived on your terms.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share- have a great day everyone!

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The Problem With “Everyday Porrada”

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the term  “everyday porrada” or the two words switched around- and if you haven’t, or if you have and weren’t sure what it mean, it comes from BJJ player Romulo Barral, in an interview after an exciting match with AJ Souza. When asked about his secret to doing so well during the match, his response was “The secret is to train hard every day. Everyday Porrada and nothing else!“ (thanks BJJ World for the backstory)

The article I pulled that from also quickly notes that very few people actually embody that lifestyle, and personally I think there’s good reason for that: it’s because training like that for an indefinite period of time will absolutely burn you out, physically, mentally and emotionally. We talk about and look up to the people who can train like that everyday, because frankly they are outliers. They are the exceptional, because what they is an exception to what the human body really is typically capable of handling, and I think that’s something we sometimes forget.

In order to truly be effective and still keep all your body parts running in a more or less optimal condition, there has to be times of intentional, effective recovery. The human body- yours, mine, from the lowest white belt to the most seasoned black belt, needs a time where the body can recover from the damage that we do to it. Think about running absolutely as hard as you can for say 15, 20 miles every single day for the rest of your life: most people’s bodies would break down due to the repeated stress of running that hard and with that kind of regularity. And there would be very few who would excel at it, and we would admire them and secretly (or not so secretly) wish to be them. But it’s not healthy in the long run (ha, pun unintended).

I think ultimately I would be more ok with the idea of “everyday porrada” if there was more of a “work hard, recover hard” kind of mentality to it- train hard as hell, and then apply that same amount of focus on really ensuring that you go through some sort of effective recovery schedule- yoga, massage, those cryo freeze therapy things, tub of ice water (not really my thing but hey, whatever works for you), focusing on each to get the most out of your training, without the risk of running yourself ragged and feeling like something is going to -metaphorically or literally- fall off.

Let me know your thoughts on this, otherwise have a great day!

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Happy Friday! Time to Start Getting Spooky

Happy Friday!

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and Halloween my favorite holiday- it’s the fun of all the other holidays without the familial pressure of sitting down for dinner or stressing too much about who is going to visit who’s house….

Anyway, to start to get you all into the season, here’s the skit from SNL of a man who’s also all about this season, David S Pumpkins. Watch, enjoy, and have a great weekend everyone!

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Activity Does not Equal Productivity on the Mat

It’s a hard lesson that we learn over time on the mats: activity does not equal productivity on the mats. If that were true, white belts would be beating everyone, all the time. We all know what a white belt match looks like, lots of flailing, exaggerated movements that don’t really lead to anything, the occasional flop over someone or something. Funny to watch sometimes, but not entirely the most productive. Unless the white belt is trying to tire themselves out, which in that case they are overachieving in their efforts.

It’s over time where we start to streamline our movements- we become less “spazzy” on the mats, we stop trying to do all the things and we start to really learn to put intention and purpose behind our movements, and learn to conserve our energy, to look for opportunity and start to learn when its time to work and time to wait. It’s something that we need to learn while drilling as well- simply going through the motions while we drill won’t help us hone our skills.

When we really begin to take this lesson to heart and start to really focus on purposeful, intention filled drilling, we can really hone in on the important actions and see ourselves really progress in the art/sport. We focus while drilling so we can create the muscle memory, so that we may trust our muscle memory as we hunt for opportunities while training or competing. It’s working smarter to get more out of when you have to work harder.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share- have a great day everyone!

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