Category Archives: bjj

BJJ and (Life) Priorities

I would write something about how I’m shocked and appalled that I haven’t posted anything here since March, but admittedly my posting has been pretty sporadic for a while now. I think I mentioned this before, but I switched jobs a while back and the transition, its new responsibilities and workload have just taken a lot of my time, in addition to some larger projects that need my attention (and thankfully have a definitive end). And to be honest, it’s taken a lot of my training time as well, which I’m sure some jiu jitsu person read and then gasped in horror. Sorry, but it’s true.

Which leads me back to the topic of priorities: a few weeks back I had brunch with a teammate, one who also has a job that keeps her pretty busy and mentioned how it’s been a struggle to make it into class on a consistent basis. We then talked about jiu jitsu, and about how attending class has to be one of those things you have to make a priority.

First and foremost, if there’s an important, particularly unique thing that needs to be taken care of in lieu of going to class, take care of that thing: if it’s a big project at work where a lot of people are counting on you, your grandmother’s 100th birthday, whatever it is, do that thing first.

It’s when we let the less important things seem important, that’s when it starts to get tricky. In this case, I would argue it’s less about prioritization and more about a lack of boundary setting – it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race, or a million other things that can keep you off the mat. It’s making sure we understand the difference between those little things that may happen in perpetuity, for those big things that I mentioned previously, and being clear as to the difference between the two.

That’s all for now: have a great day everyone!

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The Word “Retirement” and its Diminishing Impact in the Fighting and Grappling World

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but there are a bunch of fighters who claim they are retiring, and then…. well, don’t. I could have sworn Gordon Ryan mentioned retirement at one point, but he’s recently competed (and then of course we all heard about the argument and slap afterwards) and I just had to look up how many times Conor McGregor retired, because it was certainly more than once.

So what gives? You could argue that they have a change of heart, I guess. I’m not totally sold on that explanation though: I have to wonder if more grapplers and fighters are “retiring” simply because they want to be more picky about the kinds of matches they engage in. Rather than a true admission to hanging it up and calling it a day, it has become a point of leverage for these competitors- they are technically “retired”, so you need to pay them or offer some sort of extra incentive to get them back on the mat. Obviously that may not be the case for everyone, but it is an interesting thought.

And really, I can’t blame them: whether it’s grappling or MMA, it’s not just the match itself that is taxing, it’s everything else that goes with it: the diet, the extra training and sparring, the supplementary strength and conditioning that goes with it. And if the reward of winning a match is not matching the effort and risk that go into it, then I can totally see why these athletes look for some kind of opportunity to take more control of their careers.

Unfortunately, the other side to this though is that when they claim retirement and then get back to competing, it then weakens the impact of someone else claiming retirement and really meaning it. As I mentioned, Conor McGregor -according to the internet- has “retired” at least twice now. When it comes time for him to truly retire and not come back, which is inevitable, are we going to believe him? I guess time will only tell.

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

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The Effect of a Gym’s Aesthetic

I was talking with a former teammate about bjj gyms, and we touched on the topic of aesthetic in gyms and how it can potentially appeal to different students/audiences.

Just like the intentional actions and unintentional culture that take place at a gym, the aesthetic of a gym does play a (albeit minor) part in attracting students to an academy. While most of us could not literally care less about how a gym looks- just needs some clear space and a mat or two to roll, for someone just starting out it sets a tone for what to expect. Think about your more traditional weightlifting gyms, let’s say a Planet Fitness and say a powerlifting gym. What kind of gym goer is the planet fitness trying to attract- maybe the newbie or the not consistent gym goer. There are plenty of weight machines, dumbbells that don’t exceed a certain weight (I don’t think – not sure, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a Planet Fitness), there’s a row of Smith Machines in case you would like to use a barbell, and of course a whole slew of cardio machines. It’s a place where they are trying to encourage people new to working out, or are just simply inconsistent with their exercise to come and work out in a clean, shiny facility, and maybe join them for a pizza party or two…. You get the idea. There’s also the whole membership model where it’s priced so low because they want people to join and not actually show up, but that’s a whole different discussion for a different time.

A powerlifting gym or barbell club on the other hand has an entirely different look. While the facilities are of course kept clean, there is a certainly a different look to them. There are definitely less treadmills, that’s for sure. I guess you could say the same thing about crossfit gyms? Not sure, I’ve actually never been in one. The gym knows its audience: it’s someone who is serious about training and has even found the particular nuance they want to focus on. Neither of these gyms are wrong in their approach, they are just potentially appealing to different audiences. Neither will turn away someone in that cross section: a newbie to fitness is welcome to join a barbell club, and a hardcore fitness fanatic may join a planet fitness to get a sweat on. What I’m saying is that the people who put these gyms together (I would hope) would understand that those cross overs are not their key demographics.

It’s the same with jiu jitsu: the people who train all the time will literally train in a basement, or hell, even a parking lot if you throw a couple of mats down. You may have a few adventurous newbies who may want to join you, but they will be more of the exception rather than the rule. If you have a facility that reflects a little more of your traditional gym, then you can probably expect newer students to sign up: it’s more of a format they may be accustomed to, and then you can ease them into the weird back parking lot rolling sessions as they become more addicted to the sport.

It’s something I think a lot of academies owners may consider, but not really think about WHY it needs such consideration. We tend to think of our own experiences, needs and wants, rather than those of another person – just generally, it’s a natural default in life. But, if gym owners want to think about how to bring in new students (or if you want to bring in people who already have experience with jiu jitsu, that’s fine too) then you need to think about the kind of gym THEY might want to train in.

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

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Diego Sanchez and his Only Fans Account

So, you may have heard that Diego Sanchez set up and is currently promoting his Only Fans account… If you are not sure what Only Fans is, it’s like an alternative to Patreon- content creators ask fans to sign up and pay a monthly fee for exclusive content. Only Fans however has made a name for itself however by being a site that is popular with online sex workers and content creators who specialize in that niche.

I quickly checked out what I could without signing up for it, and I’m honestly trying to decide if it was an honest interpretation of the platform (oh, this is for only fans, and only my fans will sign up- great!) or if this was a brilliant strategy to get people to check out the site and sign up for his channel…. While I would love to think it’s the latter-just some brilliant publicity move- I would not be surprised if it was just the former.

Anyway, at face value it does not appear Diego is selling anything too salacious on the site, he’s really just offering a space for his fans to subscribe and keep up with his training, interviews, and (I sincerely hope) his “Yes” cartwheels.

Have a great day everyone!

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When Should You Start Rolling in BJJ

Again, I was looking around at questions people were asking on the internet, and this is one that happened to pop up. It’s a totally valid question: just starting out you may not feel totally at ease rolling when you barely know anything, so some may want to hold off on rolling straight away.

My personal philosophy is you should start early- maybe your second or third class in. By then you should have one or two things in your toolbelt, and at the very least start to get used to the idea of rolling around on the floor with another human. I’m sure there are many conflicting thoughts on this and that’s absolutely fine: the way I see it is that rolling that early in your jiu jitsu journey sort of takes the scariness out of it. My concern about waiting too long to roll is the anxiety that may build due to some expectation that rolling is really going to be a bigger thing than it really is. Just rip the bandaid off, jump headfirst into the cold water and then figure it out from there.

Some academies from what I understand have their white belts wait to roll until they are a few months in, ensuring they have some more tools in their toolbelt before letting them go live. And that’s also totally fine: I will admit one of the drawbacks of having someone train that early is sometimes they freeze because they are in an unfamiliar situation and haven’t been taught how to get out of it, or learned how to take advantage of certain opportunities when they are presented, so I totally get why some instructors may want their white belts to wait on training for a little while.

At the end of the day, I would trust what your instructor advises. If they want you to jump in, just jump in and have fun! There’s no expectation to wow anyone or make the highlight reel: you literally just started. And if they want you to wait a little while you build your fundamental skills, great! More time to practice those basics before putting them to use. More than anything don’t build rolling up into something more than it really is: it’s an opportunity to try some things out, and particularly for a white belt, a chance to practice defending and escaping. No one is expecting any flying inverted submission out of you, just that you will follow the fundamentals and work to defend and escape. Just have fun and do your best.

That’s all for now- have a great day everyone!

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Getting Back to Jiu Jitsu: It Takes Courage and Grit

I logically understood the courage it took to get back to jiu jitsu after taking some time off, but when we were able to train, I fully appreciated the guts it takes for someone to get back to jiu jitsu.

Almost every time someone comes back from jiu jitsu it’s because they took some time off to focus on their family or career, or (unfortunately) to deal with some sort of injury or other personal issue. After some time the siren song of jiu jitsu gets them back into the gym, which is great. It is a little however like trying to go through a choreographed dance after years of not practicing it: you’ll remember bits and pieces, but you’ll feel clumsy and your timing is off. Still, people still take all of this and make an effort to persevere.

Over the summer gyms were open to some extend and we were able to attend classes, and man it was rough: feeling out of shape for jiu jitsu, clumsy, the frustration of knowing that you understand how to do something, that you used to do it all the time but your body will not cooperate. And that’s hard for a lot of people- we like to be good at things, and we especially hate when we used to be good at something and now we’re not.

We’re back to a full lockdown now for the time being, but when gyms open back up, I have to say it will take a lot of courage and grit for people to come back. We will, it will suck, and then it will get better. Keep this experience in mind the next time someone comes back to jiu jitsu after all of this covid craziness is over: it’s going to suck for them, but it took a lot of courage for them to get back to the gym and it will continue to take some grit for them to keep continuing, and that should be respected.

That’s all I have for now- have a great day everyone!

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Not Every BJJ Gym is for Everybody

Recently on social media someone made a comment that they had yet to find a gym where they truly felt welcome. That’s absolutely unfortunate, but it does bring to light something that is not discussed that often: not every academy is going to be a great fit for someone. There are some schools that appeal to a certain crowd because the owner has decided- either consciously or unconsciously- to appeal and attract that certain crowd. And, if we’re being totally honest, there’s a chance that some gyms have a culture that was born out of simply what worked for the gym. Keep in mind, for a lot of people this is a business and their primary source of income: while this by no means excuses any less desirable behaviors, more something to keep in mind if you wonder why there may be a dissonance between what a gym owner or instructor preaches and behaves vs what they allow to transpire. Gym owners should take a good look at not only the qualities and values they intentionally promote in an academy, but also what they allow to “slide” in a gym, because that also plays a huge part of the gym’s culture.

Also, all of that being said, there’s just a chance that a gym is not a fit for someone. Maybe they do not agree with some parts of the culture- while of course there are some non-negotiables when it comes to respect and safety, but take for instance there are some jiu jitsu gyms out there who take a more formal approach to classes, while some take a more casual and relaxed approach. Neither of these academies are wrong (in my opinion), and some students are going to be more drawn to one kind of environment than another.

I know there’s the whole idea that it’s frowned upon to switch gyms: and from a teaching perspective, I do have to say that sometimes it’s hard to watch someone that you spent so much time working with, emotionally investing in their success that it does hurt a little when they decide that they want to train somewhere else. However I also don’t believe in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole: if it’s simply not working for you, then it’s not working for you. If you decide to leave your current gym, try to be as professional and courteous about it as possible. It’s kind of like a break up- the more you speak poorly of the other person, the worse you look.

That’s it for now: have a great day everyone!

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Will BJJ Survive Covid?

It’s a valid question: we’ve seen or heard about a lot of schools shutting down due to Covid restrictions, so it’s a concern and fear for a lot of people. Some may see this as a moot point, since vaccines are on their way, but considering the spacing of the vaccines and overall availability, the sport could take a hit over the next few months as cases rise.

We have to keep in mind that this was a martial art and sport that started in garages, and also it’s a sport full of stubborn people. As long as there are at lease two people with a desire to roll on the ground in some fancy thick pajamas, jiu jitsu will survive. At worst in some areas it may need to be paused in some areas, or there could be a shake up in terms of available academies where one can train. This is also a sport though that for some time was practiced in garages. While IBJJF has added a level of legitimacy to academies, that’s really more of a concern for people that want to compete in their tournaments. For a very large portion of the jiu jitsu population, most just want to train without dreams of making it to an IBJJF podium. In that case, a lot of these schools can basically go “underground” while we try to rebuild as the vaccine becomes more available.

lt’s a stressful time to be sure, especially for a lot of small school owners as they are unsure about their future. As a whole though, I think jiu jitsu in general will weather the pandemic and we will be back to trying to choke the living daylights out of one another at some point.

Have a great day everyone!

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MMA Fighter Israel Adesanya Receives Purple Belt

I know, I’m a little late to the party in delivering the news, but Israel Adesanya just received his purple belt form Andre Galvao. Congratulations! Honestly I really haven’t watched him fight, I’ve just seen his super fun walk out routines. (you can find one of his routines here if for some reason you haven’t seen them) – I’m sure I’ll get around to watching one of his matches…. at some point….

Anyway, I’m sure however that it’s well earned- congrats to him!

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Can Jiu Jitsu Get You In Shape?

I was recently looking at a tool that tells you what people are asking about on the internet, and this is one of the questions that came up.

Well, in short yes, but it depends on a couple of things, including what you mean by “in shape” along with some other factors. In the beginning as a spazzy white belt, you will absolutely lose weight and absolutely feel like you are getting healthier: you’ll start to lose some weight, it may become easier to climb a flight of stairs…. Or you’re so tired from your jiu jitsu classes at first you don’t even notice the changes that are taking place. I can tell you personally I’m not even sure I was aware of the changes that were taking place when I first started jiu jitsu: it was ages ago, but I think I was so focused on just getting the basics down that it wasn’t until my instructors said something about my weight loss that I finally got on a scale.

After that, it kind of depends on what you do with that beginner momentum. Do you use that momentum to change your diet, add some supplementary strength training to your routine (to answer another question on the internet, jiu jitsu may help you build a little muscle but if you are really looking to make gains you’re going to have to find them in the weight room, not the jiu jitsu mat).

There are some people who definitely take the healthy route- and jiu jitsu is definitely a great motivator. You will spar with people in better shape, which can motive you to get into better shape- throw a little discipline into the mix and you have a great formula to getting “in shape”- if that for you means better cardio and losing some excess weight, and maybe getting a little more flexible than before.

But, as with most things in life, results will vary based on experience and of course your personal choices. After a while you will become more efficient at your movements in jiu jitsu, along with your body becoming acclimating to your level of activity. Food also plays a somewhat big part in this: we tend to believe that we can train and then repeatedly way over our caloric expenditure, or food that doesn’t give our bodies the nutrients they need, and that can potentially lead to weight gain: it may take some time to catch up to you, but it will eventually.

This isn’t meant to be preachy- if anything I’m trying to emphasize that you have a choice. Can jiu jitsu get you in shape? Yes, particularly in the beginning: jiu jitsu is a great way to start on the path to being healthier in a number of ways, and it’s up to you to decide just how far you want to go on that journey.

Have a great day everyone!

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