Category Archives: Training

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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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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Focusing on Small Actions for Big Movements

When we are training, whether we realize it or not, we typically make some assumptions in our training: which is fine, half of the human race’s survival has depended on assumptions and quick decisions. We sometimes assume that we need to create a big action in order to create a big movement- literally and metaphorically. We assume that we need to go crazy overboard and either thrash around on the mat to make someone move the way we want, or we look at allllll the things we need to learn in order to increase our mastery in the art (spoiler alert, there’s no “mastering” jiu jitsu like there’s an end point. There’s really just increasing your mastery as you continue to train- it really only ends when you stop doing it)

But remember that jiu jitsu was not originally intended for big guys who make big movements- sure they do well on the mats, but jiu jitsu is really meant for the smaller individual, and sometimes it’s the smaller movements that will create the chain reaction needed for big movements. Same concept applies to learning jiu jitsu itself: by narrowing down your focus to one small thing, you are giving yourself the chance to really dive deep, fully get a feel for it and use that as the building blocks for other moves and techniques that you dive into and experience. And that small thing then builds to some big movements. Take spider guard for example- starting with a simple sweep from there, and then letting that build into different sweeps, set ups for submissions, or just getting you into a better position to move on to something else. And it all starts with that one small thing, the first link in building a chain that becomes your jiu jitsu.

So if you feel overwhelmed by all the stuff that you have to learn, or you look at the vastness of jiu jitsu techniques and think that you’re never going to be able to learn all this stuff in one lifetime, that’s ok: just focus on one thing, at least for a time. May turn out that through the exploration of that thing you find something that works better- and that’s totally fine. But focusing on something at least gives you a direction to start in, which is better than just sort of glossing over everything and not giving yourself a chance to dive into a technique, position, etc.

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

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Trusting Your (Other) Senses While Training

So during our competition team training yesterday, we went through kind of an interesting exercise: we put eye masks on (like the kind some people sleep with) and trained our preferred takedowns, some positional training and even did a couple of full sets of training.

First, it was a great lesson in creating muscle memory. During the takedown practice only one of the partners was blindfolded, and my teammate mentioned how creepy it was that I not only executed the technique correctly, but I ended up stepping in just the right way to put myself exactly in the same spot on the mat to start over again, all while blindfolded. I was weirdly proud of that, but more importantly it shows the importance of drilling a move over and over again: you should be able to trust that your body will execute the same movement regardless, so you can use more brain space on looking for opportunities, rather than obsessing over correct execution.

Second, it was a great reminder that you need more than just your sight for jiu jitsu, and there are also definitely times when it’s actually better not to use your sight. Sometimes you need to feel your opponent’s pressure, and not let your eyes trick you into thinking that they are headed in one direction when you can feel they are headed in another.

So, while you don’t have to head onto Amazon right now and order an eye mask (unless you want to- totally not here to judge) it might be beneficial sometimes to close your eyes, or rather intentionally shift your focus from what you see to what you feel- you might be surprised by what you discover.

Just some thoughts to chew on- have a great day everyone!

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Children in BJJ and Sports: Sometimes They Grow Out of It

I was at a more traditional idea of a gym this morning- you know, the one with the dumbbells, and the mirrors and the people who seem to drape their belongings over multiple pieces of equipment as they seem to have decided that their workout required them to perform 5 reps of something on one side of the gym, and then perform 5 reps of something else COMPLETELY on the other side of the gym.

And of course not put the weights and equipment away, because that would just make too much sense.

Anyway, I digress. While I was doing the working out stuff-and-things, I was in a area with a tv that was running a campaign about childhood sports, and how kids “retire” at a certain age, and how they should be encouraged to continue. While this doesn’t specifically have to do with jiu jitsu, I’m sure there are plenty of kids out there who tried jiu jitsu, really enjoyed it for a period of time and then lost interest. You know, like kids do.

Full disclosure, I have no children but I feel like there’s an unfair pressure that is placed on kids when it comes to activities such as sports. It’s this weight that is put on a child in a variety of ways:

  • Sometimes if the kid that excels for his or her age, and so their parents exclaim how they are the next prodigy and force the kid to do nothing but THAT specialized sport, turning what was a fun activity into a chore.
  • Other times the parent becomes overzealous and over-competitive, bringing out a side of that adult that really doesn’t make it fun for anyone one. Side note, I think some parents need to chill out at tournaments. Like really, everyone is at a tournament to do their best and have a good time. I think parents sometimes let their competitive nature get the best of them and they end up almost seemingly angry at another child or even their own for something that happened mid-tournament. And funny enough, it seems like more often than not the angriest parents are the ones who don’t train in jiu jitsu themselves. Funny, how that goes.
  • Or you know sometimes a kid just doesn’t want to do the thing- people, especially children grow in and out of phases, or maybe just doesn’t have the vocabulary or verbal acumen to properly explain why they don’t want to participate anymore.

I can understand the frustration of a parent who paid a bunch of money in uniforms, classes, sometimes even private lessons, tournaments and travel expenses to get the kid from place to place, but a child doesn’t understand that unless you take the time to explain it to them. And even then it’s not a guarantee that explaining such things would change their mind. It can also be frustrating I would think if you are in jiu jitsu and it was super easy to just enroll your kid in the same academy, and suddenly they don’t want to go to class anymore. Not that anything bad happened to them (goodness, I hope not) but again, kids are kids and their interests wax and wane as they try to figure out who they are as people, and that person just may not be a jiu jitsu person. I know a lot of people have expressed regret at not starting jiu jitsu as a kid, but I don’t agree with putting that kind of responsibility on your child, to carry out your own “coulda, shoulda, woulda” fantasies.

I know this is a lot from someone who doesn’t have kids, really this is more just commentary from the peanut gallery. I think above all else, don’t take the fun out of the sport for the kid by either pushing them to a point where they burn out, and maybe take into consideration that at some point your kid may not find jiu jitsu fun anymore, and that’s okay. Again, literally just a comment from someone on the outside, but I think it would be more beneficial to just encourage the child to engage in some activity, to keep them active and social.

Just my two cents- have a great day everyone!

 

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Why You Shouldn’t Be Self Conscious in BJJ

Every so often someone will mention something about jiu jitsu- about training or some other secondary element, something that will imply that they are feeling self conscious and are worried about what others are thinking of them. And I can see where they are coming from- humans are pack animals that for the most part strive to get along with one another to be a part of the group, and sometimes we are worried about doing or saying things that will make us stand out from the crowd, particularly if we think it is something wrong or out of place.

I think we feel it the most when we are white belts- we barely know how to tie our belts, we get the names for things wrong all the time, we maybe turn left instead of right: it totally makes sense. The thing that you will eventually learn however is that everyone is so focused on their own journey, problems and struggle, there’s absolutely no reason you should worry about how you are doing. In the beginning everyone particularly feels a bit weird and out of place, and everyone does the occasional stupid thing. Or puts their gi pants on backwards- seriously, if I had a dollar for every time someone put on gi pants backwards, I could buy a bunch of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes… you get the idea.

Instead, appreciate that you have people who are there with you, and you are all on the struggle bus in solidarity. We are all focused on our own issues and struggles, and really our own efforts to feel a part of the group as well. As you progress in ranks you start to feel more at ease- you not only build a camaraderie with your teammates, but you do enough that one or two stupid things don’t stick out in your mind because you’ve done a thousand other things successfully so it doesn’t feel so silly or give you cause to start worrying that maybe you feel silly and out of place.

So, in short don’t sweat it, keep trying your best and realize that we’re all striving to better ourselves- and well, sometimes that means making mistakes and looking a little silly in the process.

Have a great day everyone!

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Friendly Reminder: Cut Your Nails When Training in BJJ

And really in general, but especially make sure to keep them short for the sport. Just mentioning this because while training with someone I received approximately 2 inch cut from someone’s nails while rolling last night.

I spoke with the person after class (it was an honest oversight, it happens) but for anyone else our there who needs a reminder, please cut your nails- both fingers and toes.

Please and thank you.

Have a great day everyone!

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Fighting the Right Fight in Jiu Jitsu

It happens to all of us at some point: in the puzzle/human chess game that we call jiu jitsu, we sometimes find ourselves trying to execute on something that either just isn’t there, or focus on trying to do something that isn’t giving us the desired results.

We struggle, trying to put the wrong pieces of the puzzle together in an attempt to make something work- we try to fight the wrong fight, essentially.

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This can be super clear/obvious at lower ranks: the first example that comes to mind is when someone tries to break closed guard in the beginning. A lot of people have some…interesting ideas about what to do in closed guard. Some of them make sense, some of them, not so much. But it boils down to what they are considering the threat and what they are trying to neutralize.

This becomes less obvious as you advance in rank, because the road to success seems a little more open, and the options leading to a successful sweep or submission are- or at least appear to be- more numerous and potentially viable options. And while of course we should make an attempt and try our best, we should be careful though and not waste all of our energy on trying to stick a round peg into a square hole. Sometimes techniques don’t work because we need to get better at executing them, and sometimes techniques don’t work because we need to get better at understanding the right timing and opportunity for them.

Of course, it’s hard to tell that at first, but over time you should take the occasional second if you are struggling to think “Is this the fight I should be focusing on right now?” the answer can certainly be yes, but once in a while the answer may be no and that’s when it’s time to change strategies. It will take time to understand those situations, but if you are able to catch them, it should lead to more productive training sessions.

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

 

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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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Picking and Choosing Your Battles When Rolling in BJJ

When you progress in jiu jitsu, you have to become a little more careful about who you roll with, in particular circumstances such as getting ready for a tournament, getting over and injury, and also just generally when you get older (hey, it happens- and it’s certainly better than the alternative). Side note, all of this is predicated of course on the idea that you have multiple options for people to train with: if there is only one other person to train with, hey, there’s only one person to train with and that’s kind of that. But we’re operating under the assumption that you have a number of training partners that you can choose from when it’s time to roll. It’s great to train with as many bodies as possible, don’t get me wrong, but there are some match ups that may not work in your best interest, and worst case scenario, could end up hurting you.

For most people after training for a long enough period of time, you start to know who those people are. And if you’re not sure, then before the next time you train you should think about who is in class, or will probably typically be in class, and the kinds of sets you have with that person: how do you feel when you roll with them? What kind of intensity do you two typically roll with- are they more chill sorts of rolls, or are they more aggressive and why? Are they pushing the pace, or is there something that makes you roll harder when training with that person? And more importantly, what sort of intensity and positions are you looking for with your upcoming training sessions, and which partners at the gym are a good fit to meet that goal? Are you getting ready for a tournament and so you want to push yourself, or are you getting over a hurt… something or other, and need to take it easy for a couple of days? And more importantly on the injury thing, will rolling with said person put you at risk of re-injury? Say you tweaked your ankle, and you know you have one teammate who LOVES going after footlocks. Do you like rolling with them? Sure! But if rolling with them puts your ankle at risk of injury, then maybe it’s not a good idea to roll with them for a bit.

Some may object to that, saying that you could just tell your partner not to go after that ankle- but friends, after years of training I can tell you with relative certainty that there is about a 60/40 chance they will remember your injury while rolling. What happens more often than not is you will start rolling, they will avoid the injured part of your body, then after some time muscle memory will take over and the chance of them going after that injured part increases substantially, and while your partner may have the best intentions, they will forget about that injury or it will turn into one of those footnotes in the back of their mind until something happens to that injured part of the body, where that reminder will come rushing back to them. They will look at you with wide eyes- and with a hint of panic in them- and will even sometime say “oh shit!” as they realized they are doing something to the body part that they shouldn’t be messing with. Again, while that person may have the best of intentions, sometimes in the heat of the moment they forget what they shouldn’t be doing. Granted, also in that person’s defense if you are that injured then maybe you shouldn’t be training period, but we’re a stubborn breed, jiu jitsu people, so you know there’s that.

Just some food for thought as we all prepare for competitions, some get over injuries, and for some who just need to start to get a little more picky about who they train with when it comes time to roll.

Have a great day everyone!

 

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