Category Archives: jiu jitsu and health

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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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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Interesting Article on The US Women’s Soccer Team and Working with Their Menstrual Cycles

I’m a bit late on sharing this, but here’s an interesting article on the women’s US Soccer Team and how their training was adjusted for the different stages of their menstrual cycle.

I think it’s mainly interesting because if nothing else, it can start to change the conversations that we have about women’s health and training during those different cycles. While many may not need this kind of tailoring, since they don’t depend on their health and athletic abilities to pay the bills and put a roof over their heads, it’s interesting to think that there is a shift in this conversation and something that athletes and coaches talk about- having athletes take proactive steps to minimize any detrimental effects caused by their menstrual cycle.

Just something interesting to share- have a great day everyone!

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Celebrating the Small Accomplishments

So real talk, I am a slow runner. Like, I’m sure there are a ton of grannies that would leave me in the dust on a race track. And while for the most part that’s fine, I decided at the beginning of this year that I wanted to be able to run an average of under 10 minutes/mile for at least 20 minutes. I figured this was a pretty attainable goal, and there would be additional benefits of improved cardio over an extended period of time.

I’ve gotten close a couple of times, and then due to whatever (illness, vacation, just general lack of consistent training- take your pick, really) I would have to literally slow down and my average would creep back up. Which to be completely honest was kind of discouraging. But, we’re jiu jitsu people- and if there’s one common trait in jiu jitsu people, is that we are stubborn.

So, I’ve been working diligently to Recently I was able to get my average speed under 10 minutes per mile- I hit my goal! And a couple of times as well, which has been exciting! I also recently decided to then increase the goal and see if I could run for at least 25 minutes at the same pace- success!


I take photos of the summary screen to track my progress

This isn’t anything that’s going to wildly change my jiu jitsu: but it’s a small win that should be celebrated.

That match where you finally stop getting stuck in that same position? Stop getting submitted with the same technique over and over? Those are wins- congrats! We all know there’s still a lot more to do and work on, but don’t forget those small wins- small wins will lead to bigger wins, and they are all indicative of progress.

Just offering a gentle reminder 🙂 Have a great day everyone!




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Adventures of Wearing a FitBit

At the recommendation of a friend, I’ve been wearing a FitBit over the past- oh, 2 to 3 months. It’s been an interesting experience, and I continue to plan to wear one for the foreseeable future…. Or until I forget it somewhere and/or lose it, much like multiple pairs of sunglasses I seem to have lost over the years.

It’s been interesting to see what kind of data it can provide: I’m not exactly worried about how many steps I’m getting, but I do focus on the data provided regarding heart health and sleep patterns. Basically I want to make sure that I’m getting enough sleep, and I’m not about to give myself a heart attack. The no- heart attack thing is reasonably easy to attain, the adequate sleep thing for me is a little trickier.

I’ve been taking the data that its been providing and making little changes here are there to improve my heart health. I’ve also noticed that when I achieve more deep sleep (about 90 minutes as opposed to my usual average of 60) I feel better/more well rested in the morning, so I’ve been trying out some things in an effort to increase my time in a deep sleep cycle.

If you’re thinking about getting one, first and foremost there is absolutely no reason to buy a brand new one (unless you’re really into getting the latest and greatest of stuff). I bought a refurbished Charge 2 for about 50 bucks, and other than a few light scratches on the screen I would say it’s doing just fine.

Also, one of the primary things to think about is what part(s) of your health you want to focus on, because there are a lot of things it can track for you- steps, heart rate (not all fitbits track heart rate, so if you are interested in getting one for this reason just make sure its one that can actually track your heart rate, fyi), sleep patterns, days that you are active, weight, water intake…. the list goes on and on, trust me.

Also, I don’t wear it during jiu jitsu- I know I’ve seen at least one person post the results of their heart rate monitor while training in jiu jitsu, but frankly the idea of wearing something that could hurt me or a teammate makes me uncomfortable, so I don’t do it.

Just wanted to share with you all- anyone else wearing a fitness tracker? What parts of your health have you focused on, and have you done anything with the data? Let me know, otherwise, have a great day everyone!




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BJJ and Strength Training

Lately I’ve been focusing a little more on strength training than simply jiu jitsu: while I’ve done kettlebell strength and conditioning for pretty much as long as I’ve done jiu jitsu, and have been teaching classes for years, I have also bee interested in starting a more traditional weight lifting program, one that involves more reps, barbells and the like. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either, it really just depends on what you are looking to accomplish. At our academy a kettlebell workout has more of a HIIT feel to it, with short breaks and short bursts of activity- which is great for jiu jitsu in a lot of ways. And I’ve been treating the more traditional weightlifting approach at a little more slower pace, with a somewhat steady increase in sets and weights over time.

This is not to say you have to strength train in order to do jiu jitsu- there are people out there who don’t and I’m sure that works just fine for them, depending on what their goals are. For lower ranks especially if jiu jitsu is all that you can do, then by all means stick to that one activity. There may come a time however where you want to incorporate something additional into your training- which doesn’t have to be strength training. You can get involved in something like running for cardio, or yoga for flexibility, or even something like capoeira for agility and dance-y fighting. For women I would recommend strength training, actually not only because it will help with jiu jitsu, but for its long term benefits in reducing the chance of developing osteoporosis in the future.

Ultimately, whatever  you choose, it’s fine to incorporate other exercises and activities, as long as you keep your priorities in mind. It’s very easy to get sucked into the activity you’re involved in that was originally supposed to be supplemental to jiu jitsu. We’re a competitive bunch, jiu jitsu people- I remember taking yoga classes and thinking how I wanted to “beat” yoga.

Spoiler alert, there’s really nothing to beat in yoga, just your own inflexibility, lack of coordination and unquiet mind.

There is a bit of humility involved sometimes in trying these new activities, because they are newish to you, and will require that you use muscles and movements you may not be accustomed to- and that’s great! It should hopefully mean that when the time comes potentially in jiu jitsu to use those same muscle groups or actions it shouldn’t feel so awkward. I also think we should all put ourselves in that vulnerable position of the new student now and again- it reminds us that while we may know a lot about things, we don’t know everything.

Although, side note- sometimes incorporating something new into your schedule means getting to the gym around 5am and not being very happy about it, but doing it anyway. Exhibit A, for anyone who missed it on my instagram:


Anyway, feel free to comment and let me know what activities you guys have gotten involved in, or are thinking about getting involved in, and have a great day everyone!

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The 5 Love Languages and BJJ

I’m not sure how many people out there are familiar with the concept of the 5 love languages- and to be honest, “love language” is a bit of a misnomer: it would be more apt to call it “5 ways people show they give a damn about you”, but that isn’t quite as succinct.

The concept,  in a book written about by a man named Gary Chapman, really down to the idea that people either show they care about someone, or certain ways that displays of care and concern will resonate with people more than others. It’s sometimes touted as a method to understand how you can best show someone you care, but frankly I think that requires a level of self awareness in our actions that not many people are able to achieve on a consistent basis. I could go on at length on why, but long story short, while it’s an hard balance to maintain, ultimately I think caring for others while still having a sense of your own personal boundaries is sort of the best way to go. Anyway, back to the point, I have found that it’s a great way to understand why people do what they do: the language they use in order to show their care and concern for others.

The five languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, gift giving, acts of service and quality time. And if you think about it, I’m sure there are multiple ways you can think of how these play out in your academy: the teammate who offers to let you use gum or tape, the teammate who offers to help you drill something, the one who gives you a (friendly) slap on the back off the mat, the higher rank who is willing to sit after class and listen to some of the problems you are having while rolling or maybe something you struggled with during your last tournament, and work with you on how to solve those problems.

It’s nothing ground breaking, but they are just little ways that people show one another that they care- I don’t know about you, but I wonder sometimes why people do what they do, and this is one possible explanation for some people’s actions. Granted, people are amazingly complex and this by no means is the end all, be all when it comes to explaining the many nuances of human behavior, but it’s a nice way to start to explain certain actions and behaviors by your teammates.

Have a great day everyone!

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Science! Jiu Jitsu is Beneficial for Your Brain

As if we needed additional evidence…

IFLScience has an article about how aerobic exercise is not only beneficial for the heart, but for the brain as well.

Take a look at the article and have a great day everyone!

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The Necessity of Etiquette in an Academy

It may seem silly- I totally get it- but believe it or not etiquette really does have place in an academy.

There are several reasons why etiquette is necessary in an academy, and it may surprise you. First and foremost, safety. There are certain things you allowed and not allowed to do in a gym simply because it’s not safe to do whatever you want. By doing so, you could potentially put yourself and your teammates at risk of injury or disease.

Second reason? Respect. It shows respect to your partners, respect to your coach/instructor, and respect to your academy. And they do deserve a level of respect: they are taking the time out of their day to roll with you. You can use a grappling dummy all day, but it’s nothing compared to drilling and rolling with a real, live human.

So while it may seem unusual, it is important to follow the etiquette of the academy.

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Article on an Injury Survey- We’re All Beat Up, Yo

The Grumpy Grappler has  an article in which he took a survey about how banged up we all are: there’s a lot of them- knees seem to the most abused body part though.

Check it out, and have a great day everyone!


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