Monthly Archives: January 2020

Jiu Jitsu and Showing Up

Life and particularly jiu jitsu, are really all about showing up.

It sounds silly though, right? Just physically taking your body from one space into another, and (preferably) remaining mentally present really does exponentially increase your chances of advancing in jiu jitsu. A lot of that has to do with what you say vs what you do.

People say they want to do things all the time- they want to quit smoking, get more healthy, lose those last 5 pounds, compete, get their next belt, be held more accountable. But more often than not their actions don’t reflect their words. They eat an entire pizza, don’t up their activity, they skip class, become unresponsive when you try to follow through and hold them accountable to their goals.

By showing up, you’re putting your money where your mouth is. You said that you wanted to get better and you’re doing the work. Showing up means that others can count on you as a training partner, and someone that will share the experience with them. Showing up means that you are putting in an effort, and people respond to that. It’s frustrating to teach someone who mentally didn’t show up, and impossible to teach someone who doesn’t physically show up.

It’s one of those deceptively simple things- how do you get better at jiu jitsu? Show up. How do you improve your technique? Show up. How do you improve your relationships with your teammates and coach?

Show. Up.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and there are more nuances to some situations, but really the first step to all of it is showing up.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share with you all. Have a great day everyone!

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BJJ Academy Culture: The Intentional and the Incidental

I’ve been reading some business/leadership books recently, and a number of them have been talking about culture. The interesting thing is the emphasis that sometimes culture is something you actively strive for, but culture is also created by simply what is allowed or behavior that is ignored/not addressed and therefore passively allowed.

It reminds me of one of the more unreal moments of one of the first UFC events. Two guys are in the middle of the ring, and one grabs a fistful of the others hair and rips it out. One of the commentators says hesitantly “well, that’s not, not allowed” – I think the next event or soon after they addressed this issue and “no hair pulling” was added to the list of prohibited actions.

Culture in a gym is a bit like that- granted, people aren’t getting their hair pulled left and right- but sometimes we strive for a certain vibe in the academy, make a mindful effort to do this and that. This is a reminder that sometimes we also need to take a look at the things we are allowing in the gym – or letting slide because well, it’s not not allowed.

Some could argue that ultimately it’s the owner of the gym who dictates the culture of the gym, but also keep in mind that culture is not created with just one person. Of course there’s the owner or head instructor, but students- particularly higher belts- also play a part in that culture, and they play a part in setting the example of what’s allowed, what’s not allowed, and what’s not, not allowed within the gym.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share- feel free to comment, otherwise have a great day everyone!

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Drilling vs Training: When to Do Which

It’s been a struggle since the dawn of time- how much time to drill vs how much time for sparring aka rolling.

Ask a newer belt and they will tell you roll, roll, roll: less time drilling and more time sparring. This whole topic was actually spawned from a conversation with a lower belt. It makes sense: you acquire something new, and immediately want to put it to use.

The more advanced you become however, the more you see the value in drilling- you could almost say you took the new thing out of the package, you’ve played around with it a bit, and now you want to mold it better to your habits, body type, other things to make it your “own”, to develop the muscle memory for execution while you are training.

I’ve always said there’s validity to both: you need drilling to improve training, and you can definitely make a case to say you need training in order to know what to work on for better drilling. The two can- and should- go hand in hand if you let them.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t drill just for the sake of drilling and you shouldn’t train just for the sake of training. By combining the two you can push your jiu jitsu forward by drilling techniques you want to hone, and then putting them to the test. Or, conversely you can make note of certain situations you find yourself in while training, and then drilling methods to get out of those positions, or better yet turn those positions into something that is more advantageous for you.

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


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Happy Friday! Man, What a Week

Happy Friday everyone!


You know those weeks where each day feels like a lifetime? That’s been the last week or so for me: all good stuff, but just…. a lot. of stuff.

How’s everyone else’s week been going? Let me know- otherwise, have a great weekend!







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Tattoos and Jiu Jitsu Part 2: This Time I’m the Guinea Pig

So, a few years ago I wrote a post about doing jiu jitsu after getting a tattoo– I used other people’s experiences and recommendations to write that post because I did not have one myself.

Well, I’m back with a round 2- this time sharing my personal experience. I went and got a tattoo Tuesday night, on the right side of my torso. Which, side note, if anyone is in Philly and wants a tattoo, I would definitely recommend the guy that I went to- Eric Guntor at Floating World Tattoos. He was very nice, polite, totally worked with me on the design and ultimately made the whole experience as pleasant as, you know, having a needle repeatedly stabbed into you could be. Studio by all appearances was clean and well maintained, there was tons of gloves/plastic protective covering of things, disinfecting, opening of fresh packets, all that good stuff.

At the end he put a clear, sticky film on the tattoo, so that’s what’s covering it right now. I haven’t trained since getting the tattoo- less specifically because of the tattoo itself, but certainly added to the reasons why I haven’t been in class (but like, reason 4 or 5). the site feels slightly sore, but nothing that distracts me from doing things. I was told to keep the film on for a while and that it could be kept on for up to 5 days (and yes, I can shower with it). It’s day like, 2.5, so I figure I’ll take the film off tomorrow morning.

There’s really only been one small complication, and it’s 100% a “me” problem. There’s been some mild chafing at the end of the plastic film, particularly at one of the corners. I’ve cut that small corner off the film- there’s a little bit of redness at the edge of the film, but the same thing happens when I wear band-aids or medical tape for an extended period of time, so there’s nothing to worry about.

So, I’ll be training Friday night, so we’ll see how it feels then. It’s really not that exciting of a story, I know, but considering we’re talking about something that has happened to my body, I’m glad it’s a fairly bland/unexciting story, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, I’ll be training Friday night, so I’ll report on how that goes on Monday. In the meantime, have a great day everyone!












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Different Levels of Success With Techniques in BJJ

Pretty sure this is one of those things we know, but don’t really talk about. There are really different levels of success when it comes to certain techniques.

Some are our black belt techniques. It’s those techniques that we have a relative mastery over (regardless of how you feel about your personal level of skill), the ones that keep your partner on their toes, or they keep tapping to regardless how hard they try not to.

Then, there are the mid level techniques- the ones that you have some middling success with. You have some success with them, but there’s definitely still some work to be done. You’re not as confident with them, but they are well on their way to becoming techniques that you master.

And then there are the new-ish techniques, the ones that you are still trying to find your groove with, the ones with low success rate, or you still need to tweak to feel comfortable with, before you can start to fine tune the execution.

The thing with jiu jitsu is that you will pretty much have techniques in your toolbelt that live in all 3 of those categories. Even at black belt and beyond there will be techniques that you’ll find that you haven’t mastered: it’s a process that will take the rest of your life- which for some is exciting, the idea there is some new, undiscovered piece of jiu jitsu they haven’t explored thoroughly- it’s something to be inspired by.

On the other side of that coin, for some it can be daunting, the idea of a perpetually unfinished facet of their game that will always need work: I would ask those people to take heart, and understand that they don’t have to be good at ALL the jiu jitsu to enjoy it. Just like there are miles and miles of unexplored depths to the ocean, that doesn’t mean that you can’t head to the beach and enjoy the surf and parts you know.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share with you all: have a great day everyone!


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Happy New Year! 2020 Resolutions

Whether you think they are silly or not, resolutions for the year are still a thing: although if the attendance at the gym this morning is any indication, I think people are waiting to start their gym resolutions until Monday…

Anyone set any resolutions for themselves? Are you already working on fulfilling that resolution, or are you waiting until Monday to get rocking and rolling?

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


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