Category Archives: bjj

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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Who is Less Likely to Succeed at Jiu Jitsu

I think I have talked about this a couple of times now, but I would argue that if you put two people in front of me: one that was naturally athletic and one that was not, I would say the non athletic person would succeed in jiu jitsu.

Granted, the definition of “succeed” is highly subjective, but I’m using it to mean continuing in their jiu jitsu journey- because you only stop succeeding at the sport when you give up…. Win, lose, doesn’t matter as long as you’re showing up.

Sure, the athletic person would acquire some quick and (presumably) easy wins in the beginning- they would be able to use their athleticism and agility to finesse their way through a few things, or would have the mechanical movements down to achieve some of the basics. At some point (as we all know) this runs out.

For the non-athletic person, it starts being hard from the beginning, and so the expectation is set from the start: this is not a walk in the park. And when it gets harder, there’s no shock- it was hard, and now it’s getting harder. The person has the advantage of not going through the surprise moment of “oh man, this is hard.” For them it’s always been hard, and they just stick their nose back to the grindstone and keep pushing on.

Ultimately it does actually come down to the person’s mentality: remember jiu jitsu is for every BODY, but not for everybody. There’s a certain amount of grit and (and stubborn mindset, if we’re being honest) that you either need to have, or be willing to acquire with a physically and mentally challenging sport/art like jiu jitsu.

Just some thoughts I had- agree? Disagree? Let me know: otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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Hello Lockdown, My Old Friend…

Well, here in Philadelphia we had a good run of relaxed restrictions when it came to gatherings, going to the gym, etc. Unfortunately due to a stark climb in cases over the past few weeks, starting this Friday we will be back to more severe restrictions- which includes a ban on indoor gyms.

Whomp, whomp.

As I mentioned before, this is a complicated issue when it comes to whether or not it’s the right call: on the one hand, it’s an effective way to slow the spread of the virus, ensuring those who are more vulnerable to contracting and dying from it are kept safe. On the other hand, I know that jiu jitsu and physical activity can be a comfort for many in uncertain times, and is seen as a form of therapy for some, such as military vets who suffer from PTSD. Also, there were some studies that suggested those in poor health were more likely to die from the virus, and so it would make sense to continue with physical activity to avoid that. And, not to mention that a lot of small gym owners will have to shut their doors with no guarantee that they will open again. In a perfect world there would be enough funding and maybe even some rent freezes to support these gyms as they weather this lockdown, along with supplementary services for those who have been dealing with anxiety and other issues with jiu jitsu- not exactly how this has all played out but as I said, perfect world scenario.

The ban is supposed to start this Friday and go through January 1st, 2021: hopefully the city will see a drop in cases over the next 6 weeks and we can try to reopen again. In the meantime I might try to put a gi on my dog and work on how to deal with a super squirmy opponent….

Have a great day everyone!

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For Those Getting Back to Training: Be Kind to Yourself

So, I’m not sure what it’s like at the moment in your city, state or country, but for some of us particularly on the East Coast, restrictions are slowly starting to lift and we are getting back to some semblance of training. Yay!

I and several other people have made jokes about going back to the gym and training and basically destroying our bodies. While that to some extent will be true for everyone that had to take some time off, we should also remember to be kind to our bodies: we collectively spent months either attempting to compensate for our lack of jiu jitsu through a variety of other activities in our own homes or with some version of social distancing, or simply not working out but rather taking care of our families and loved ones, or even yet trying to navigate unemployment and other hardships that were brought on by the virus.

For those who can go back to training at this time, great! Please sure to do so as responsibly as possible: I imagine your academy has come up with some safety protocol to keep everyone as safe as possible. Another thing is to make sure to be kind to yourself. As I mentioned we spent this time either trying to compensate for not doing jiu jitsu, or outright not doing anything workout related at all (and for good reason): and as we say, the one thing that’s going to make you better at jiu jitsu, is more jiu jitsu. And as tempting as it is to go whole hog, and try to do “all the things(!!)”, that’s just a recipe for disaster, and may keep you on the side lines for a while as you recover from some injury due to over-enthusiasm.

It can be difficult to be sure, but practice a little self restraint, give yourself some time to ease back into jiu jitsu and I’m sure that you’ll be back to your old schedule in no time.

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

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Life in the Times of No Jiu Jitsu

So in our little corner of the world (by that meaning Philadelphia County), gyms are still not allowed to open. More western parts of the state have begun to reopen, including allowing jiu jitsu gyms to resume operations, but the original “green phase” (the state organized their phases of restriction in color categories: red, yellow and green) start date for Philadelphia was originally July 6th has been postponed to August 1st.

It’s definitely been trying, if I’m being totally honest: I’m lucky enough to have a job at this point, one that hasn’t been furloughed, one where I can work from home and even one that was lucky enough to receive the small business funding needed to keep our payroll going. On the flip side of that I have also been working anything between 10 to 12 hour days to keep operations going when others on our staff had reduced hours or shifting responsibilities to keep the business going.

That being said, and maybe some of you are in the same position which is pretty much the only reason I’m saying it, to share in commiseration: life without jiu jitsu leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of us use jiu jitsu as a means of stress relief, of active meditation, a means to pull ourselves into the here and now, which gives us an opportunity to approach a problem with a fresh perspective. While some of these things can also be achieved with yoga, meditation, a run, there’s also the sense of community that you miss when you aren’t able to see the people that you roll around on the floor with as you attempt to choke one another.

As awful as it may sound though I still think it’s a necessary measure: we all have had our teammates sweat on us, and while we seem to be at a place where we have some grasp on the virus and what it does, it feels like new information is being released practically every other day so there’s still a LOT we don’t know. We need to work together to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, even if it means wearing a mask in public and even for the time being not doing jiu jitsu in an area ripe for an outbreak.

I sincerely hope we’ll be able to hold the August 1st start of Philadelphia’s green phase. I can’t totally recall how that is evaluated, but there needs to be a continuing downward trend in cases, with x amount of cases per x amount of people in the area.

Anyway, I hope you and yours are keeping safe, and have a good day everyone.

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(Not) Training in the Time of Corona

Well, it’s been a wild couple of weeks, I can tell you that much. Everyday there still seems to be something new we’re learning about this virus, cities are opening early, only to be shut down again, protests, people getting sick when attending said protests…. Overall, a little bit of madness.

There have been a couple of people online asking the same question: if your gym opened up tomorrow, would you go and train? This quickly becomes a polarizing issue that ranges from “yes, absolutely!” to “no, are you crazy?”¬† Frankly that’s not an easy question to answer, because different areas are, well, different. For instance I live in a pretty densely populated city where hundreds of cases are still being reported daily. It’s an area where a decent percentage of the population also uses public transportation: basically a bunch of people cramped into smaller spaces, which is no bueno.

In order to ascertain if a gym should open or not, there are a couple of factors that have to be considered: for instance how many cases have been reported in the area, how people get to the gym, what sanitation and distancing protocols are being put into place to ensure that all participants are kept as safe as possible. Some could also argue that these gyms opening sets a bad example and could influence other gyms in more risky areas to also open, and that’s certainly fair. This isn’t an easy problem to answer and we’re all doing our best to navigate this whole thing.

That being said, there are also gyms in higher risk areas that either have, or are planning to open that really shouldn’t: while I certainly don’t agree with the decision, I can understand it. Gyms, especially in niche disciplines like jiu jitsu, don’t have fat profit margins. Between operating costs like rent, utilities, cleaning supplies, salary for employees- that stuff adds up, leaving very few with an option to continue to be shut down for an extended period of time. There are a number of schools that are shutting down for good unfortunately: I’m not privy to each of their financial situations, but I’m sure the current bills they are facing, coupled with the reduction of their already razor thin profit margin most likely has a part to play.

“But what about the small business loans?” you may be asking. Anecdotally, I can tell you I have yet to hear of a gym receiving one of those loans. So again, while I don’t agree with it, I can certainly see how some academy owners feel their hand is forced in opening their gym.

In terms of our gym, we are still closed. Our entire county is still in lockdown, with only essential businesses allowed to operate- meaning grocery stores, pharmacies, the like. The state has a three phase plan, marked by colors- red, yellow and green. We are still in the “red” phase, meaning we are still under the most restrictions and not allowed to open period. There is some talk of possibly moving to yellow in early June, so we’ll see.

That’s it for now- have a good day everyone!

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Getting Acclimated to the New (Tenporary) Normal…

It’s been kind of a wild ride the past couple of weeks- everything has been shut down, people trying to figure out how to keep drilling with themselves or with their partner.

I do really appreciate and admire the ingenuity of the jiu jitsu community: so many people are posting the ways they are looking to improvise and adapt to this new reality. It’s also heartwarming to know that so many people are encouraging others to stay home- which sounds strange, but it’s great to see that there are so many people looking to flatten the curve and protecting one another. Granted, there are some that aren’t so altruistic…. but I’m choosing not to focus on those people.

What are some changes you have made to your life in this new, temporary normal? Are you running more? Have you made a grappling dummy friend? Or multiple (seriously, I saw someone online had made several grappling dummies. Hey, whatever gets you through this).

Let me know- otherwise stay safe and have a good day!

 

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Jiu Jitsu in a Time of Quarantine

It’s a strange time to be alive, to be sure. As the number of confirmed cases continue to climb, many jiu jitsu¬†academies have closed their doors in the past few weeks in order to slow the spread of covid-19.

First and foremost everyone, just stay home. While this virus may not be the death of you, it certainly could be for someone who is over the age of 60, or is possibly immunocompromised, either due to genetics, some auto immune disease, or as by product of something else, like chemo patients who are fighting off cancer.

So what to do? Well as I mentioned before, Bernardo Faria has been offering a free video for people to sign up for, and a number of other more popular jiu jitsu practitioners have been offering the same. Additionally, a number of academies have been offering online virtual classes, and have been going through online classes/solo drilling sessions to keep everyone’s skills as sharp as they can be in this time. A quick look on social media will also show you the myriad of creative ways people are trying to drill and keep themselves active if you’re looking for

Also, there are a lot of dogs and cats out there who look like they should be at least one or two striped white belts by the time this is all over.

This is truly a strange time for all of us- I know it’s frustrating to have to stay inside, but it’s helping to slow down the virus and protect those in our community who otherwise vulnerable and cannot afford to get sick.

That’s all for now folks- stay safe and make the most of today!

 

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What To Do When Your Academy (Temporarily) Shuts Down

A lot of academies are shutting down for a couple of weeks as covid-19, or the coronavirus makes its way through the states. If you aren’t sure about the benefits of social distancing, there’s a great article with illustrations as to the benefits of social distancing. Will it stop the virus? No. Will it stagger the rate of infections and not overload our healthcare system? Absolutely.

So what to do if your academy is closed? Well believe it or not there are a number of resources still available for you. A number of academies are holding Facebook live sessions with their students (ours included), there are some people out there who are posting solo drills- I know the Ribeiro association is posting some solo drills with Gymnastica Natural, and even Bernardo Faria is offering a free video instructionals on his site.

If you want to take advantage of this offer, just visit bjjfanatics.com and use the code FARIAFREE to pick up a free instructional from him.

Otherwise, make sure you are staying active- if you are able to go outside and stay away from crowds/groups of people, by all means do so. If you can’t for some reason or another, I would suggest checking out those videos, and still attempt to do some bodyweight exercises (if you don’t have a home gym or weights at home) and don’t let the quarantine force you to slow down or hang out on the couch for two weeks. It will make it all the more difficult to get back to jiu jitsu- it’ll be like when you get back from Christmas vacation, but kind of worse in a way, because the weather’s going to be warmer and you won’t be able to hide the flub you acquired during these two weeks. Uncomfortable, but true.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a great day everyone!

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Pans 2020: Will They or Won’t They?

It’s been a wild couple of weeks, to be sure- the coronavirus COVID-19 has sent a lot of people in a tizzy. It’s understandably a tricky situation: it’s a flu-like virus that most people should be able to recover from. It’s when a relatively healthy person however comes in contact with someone who is immuno-compromised due to age or other circumstances is when things get really dangerous.

Events and conferences are cancelling left and right due to concerns of spreading the virus, and so far the IBJJF stated last week they were not cancelling Pans in Irvine, and then as of last night they stated they were working with the venue and would be making an announcement one way or another by mid-day today.

I had to pull out of Pans this year due to other reasons, but I was still planning on going to the venue for that weekend: I know there have also been some big name competitors who have been posting on social media that they have registered for the tournament. I’m curious to see if they will actually move forward with hosting the event. To add to the whole thing, UC Irvine (the venue itself) has told students that they are suspending all activities where large groups of people could congregate….

So, I guess we’ll see either way by the end of the day.

Well, either way stay safe everyone- wash your hands, don’t train if you’re sick and have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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