Category Archives: Training

A Difference in Focus: Newer Students vs Seasoned BJJ Students

It’s something I’ve noticed when teaching classes, but also when I taught a seminar. Granted, I’ve said before that my moves were not very flashy: I went over guard breaking, a decidedly not sexy move.

The newer belts wanted to see something dramatic and flashy, something they had never seen before…. and they were pretty unimpressed with my guard breaking instructions (but, they were all also successfully executing said guard breaks during the rolling sessions at the end of the seminar, so I don’t really feel that bad about it).

The higher belts though seemed generally impressed, and almost a little jazzed about something that would be considered mundane, but there were certain nuances or particular phrases that I used to convey the information to everyone. It was an interesting juxtaposition, I would say.

This is a personal theory, but I think when we are newer to the sport we want to see all the cool stuff, the wildly different- possibly because we’ve been drilling all the fundamentals and we want to see something big and spectacularly different than the things we’ve been drilling the past bajillion times over the months and years. You can’t see the nuances, so they don’t really excite you. Totally understandable.

For the higher rank though, the person that has been around the block and then some when it comes to the sport, there’s a respect for those little things. Sure, the big fancy stuff is cool and you’ll try it, but now you know and understand the finer points, and if someone can provide you with some insight to small tweaks in your game, different nuances in your existing technique, then that’s exciting! It’s a way to streamline your technique, or something different without having the reinvent the wheel and relearn a whole bunch of muscle memory.

Neither viewpoint are wrong: it’s all very much in line with the progression in jiu jitsu and really boils down to what you are focusing on in your journey. The newer student craves the big and the bold because they its something they can sink their teeth into, the more advanced student focuses on the tweaks and nuances to improve upon the solid foundation they have already created for themselves and their jiu jitsu game.

It’s just an interesting observations I wanted to share with you all 🙂

Have a great day everyone!

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The Importance of Friendship in BJJ

We talk all the time about how teammates are crucial to our development in jiu jitsu- while maybe not considered as important, friendships also pretty important when it comes to jiu jitsu.

The moments that are experienced and shared on the mats can last a lifetime: struggling through the same technique together, laughing at the same silly thing one or both of you did, the list goes on and on.

Friendships can also take place in a competition setting as well. In fact, it’s one of the bigger reasons why I like competing: it’s a chance to meet people from all over the country, globe even, and share in the same experience and love for the sport.

While it’s certainly possible to train without developing any deep friendships with anyone, I think it would be a bit lonely. That’s just my opinion though, I’m sure there’s someone out there who would disagree with me.

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

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Getting Back Into Training: Sometimes It Takes Step by Step

Hello everyone! I’m back from the mountains, getting stuff and things together for 2020. Unfortunately, while I was out my cardio went from pretty great, to pretty terrible.

It happens to most of us now and again: we take a few weeks off due to injury, vacation, or sometimes we just need a mental break now and again. And then we eat a bunch of cookies, and then next thing you know we’re huffing and puffing and feeling terrible on the mats.

It’s important to remember during times like these not to get too frustrated with yourself: take you time, take it a step at a time and give yourself smaller goals to get yourself back to the level of fitness that you were at before. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took you some time to get to that level of health and fitness.

But, on the other side of that, you’ll never get back to that level of fitness if you don’t get you butt off the couch 🙂 So go back to class, be patient, and suffer a little to get the results that you are looking for/expecting.

Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Does BJJ have an “Inspiration Porn” Problem?

The term certainly catches your attention, right?

Author Andrew Pulrang wrote an article in Forbes about “inspiration porn”- a term used to identify articles, memes and other forms of media that we see regarding people with disabilities that “…share one or more of the following qualities- 1. Sentimentality and/or pity, 2. An uplifting moral message, primarily aimed at non-disabled viewers. 3. Disabled people anonymously objectified, even when they are named.” The article explains that while those in the disabled community understand that the author may mean well, the content can be embarrassing or possibly demoralizing to the subject of the article/meme/whatever.

The article made me think about jiu jitsu, and the memes or social media posts that you occasionally see, with someone who may be blind, or may be missing a limb, and then of course the tag line of something along the lines of how much heart that athlete has. I get it- it’s supposed to emphasize that jiu jitsu is for everyone regardless of size or physical ability, it’s about the heart of that person…. I understand all of that. We also have those in the jiu jitsu community who have certain disabilities that we all look up to- take Jean Jacque Machado, who has a congenital hand defect and is considered one of the greats in the art.

But sometimes those posts of those who are seen as disabled or differently abled end with a tag line that can be summed up as, “what’s your excuse?”. The audience of those kinds of posts is geared toward the able bodied community, and as the Pulrang points out:

“Disabled people are used as stock figures in larger cultural narratives about hard work, gratitude, and other “traditional” values. A disabled person lifting weights or working every day for less than minimum wage is a convenient, (and seemingly apolitical), object lesson for the rest of us to work harder, complain less, and be thankful for what we have.”

So, does jiu jitsu have an inspiration porn problem? It’s a complicated answer that I don’t believe can be answered with a simple yes or no. In short, I think we as a community try to be inclusive- as I always say jiu jitsu is for ever body, but not for everybody- but we could certainly do better in giving a more prominent voice to those who continue on their jiu jitsu journey in a less conventional way. If we are truly serious about how jiu jitsu is for everyone, then we need to do a better job of having those unconventional stories told, and told by those who have experienced them firsthand.

Just some food for thought… Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Digging a Little Deeper in BJJ

So, fun entry in the Chronicles of Katie Losing Things, I couldn’t find the band to my Whoop fitness tracker (you can take the band off and slip the actual tracking part into an arm band), I looked through the pockets in my bookbag, all around my house, and decided that I must have left it on my desk at work, as sometimes I change the tracking device from my wrist to arm when I’m at work before I make the trek to the gym to train.

Trekked all the way up to New York and back, went back to work and the band wasn’t on my desk like I thought, so I decided to take one last look in my bookbag, but one pocket that I didn’t totally turn inside out…. and it was totally there. Whomp, whomp….

The moral of the story is this: sometimes we think something won’t work, but in digging a little deeper, and operating outside or even in spite of our assumptions can occasionally surprise us. We thought that escape wouldn’t work until we dug a little deeper and surprise! We’re out. That sweep that hasn’t worked before, the choke we were a little too shallow with in the past: sometimes when we dig a bit deeper, there’s a reward waiting for us at the end.

Not to muddy the theme of this post, but just like we talked about learning the fine lines in jiu jitsu previously, there is a fine line between digging deep and insisting on something past the point where you need to just move on. How can you tell the difference? Instructors can give you tips and tricks for certain moves, but ultimately you need to train, experience it first hand and figure it out. And there will be times it will go (potentially hilariously) wrong, but there are times where it really is worth digging deep to find out something works.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Learning the Fine Lines in BJJ

It’s difficult, time consuming, but ultimately rewarding when you really dive deep and learn the fine lines that exist in jiu jitsu.

We all start off with the broad strokes- place hand here, foot there, move leg and head and arms this way and that. As you progress there is still some of that simplicity, but there as they say, the devil is in the details. You start to learn to the find the fine line between a choke and just bugging your partner’s neck and irritating them. You start to learn, feel, and finally understand the difference between using a lot of muscle in a technique versus using leverage and letting physics and body mechanics do a lot of the work for you. You start to learn the fine line between just muddling through a submission versus really effectively executing it.

You start to learn some other fine lines too, like the difference between confidence and cockiness, between assertive and overly aggressive, bravery and false bravado….The list can go on and on, but they wouldn’t be alliterative, and I do love my alliterations 😉

You get the idea- at first you start to learn the basics, and then as time goes on- if you are paying attention, you will start to really get into the nuances and the fine lines that exist in jiu jitsu. It will take some time so don’t panic if you don’t see those differences right now. It’s one of a couple of reasons that it takes approximately a decade to earn your black belt in jiu jitsu- it takes time to notice these differences and nuances, to fully understand them more than just logically, but to ingrain them, to understand them “heart and soul”.

There are also fine lines that even when we try not to, occasionally we trespass to the other side- despite our best efforts we botch a technique or submission, accidentally cross face someone, again the list goes on. It’s important to acknowledge those moments, and to dust ourselves off and try again. We can’t progress if we don’t own our failures as well as our successes. It’s through drilling and training, failing and succeeding, can we navigate these nuances and fine lines in jiu jitsu.

Just some food for thought- have a great day everyone!

 

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The Discomfort of Getting out of Your Comfort Zone, Inside and Outside of BJJ

I know this is one of those “well, duh” kind of statements, but man it’s hard getting out of your comfort zone sometimes.

But man, is it also rewarding- fortunately more often than not.

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It would be dishonest to tell you that’s it’s amazing to step outside of your comfort zone, and to just leave it at that. To be perfectly honest it can be anxiety provoking- your stomach turns into a big old knot, even if it’s something you know you want. Knees weak, palms are sweaty- no vomit on anyone’s sweater though (at least I hope not)… Also, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, sometimes things won’t work out the way you originally planned.

But there are so many good things that can come from stepping outside of your comfort zone: you can “level up”, so to speak, or you can be placed in a completely different path than what you imagined. And even if things don’t work out, you’re at least not hindered by “could of, should of, would of” conversations, wondering what could have been if you had taken that step

This applies in and outside of jiu jitsu- trying for that takedown may not turn out quite as great as you imagined in your head but it’s better to take that risk, to deal with those nerves and accept whatever comes of it with open arms, rather than sitting and wondering how things could have gone if you had opened your game up a little.

This actually reminds me of my dad- love him dearly, but he is someone that it can take some effort to get him outside of his routine and comfort zone. In his own words, “it’s safe inside the box, nothing bad ever happens in the box.” – we were talking about his insistence on buying one exact brand of New Balance sneakers at the time, if anyone was wondering.

And in some ways he’s right, nothing bad happens inside the box…. But there’s really no chance for anything cool to happen either. Or a tremendous amount of growth, while we’re at it: we grow to the confines of the “box”, so to speak. We then have the choice to push outside of that box, that comfort zone, or we stop growing in order to remain within the confines of what is safe and comfortable.

So while it totally sucks, and makes you feel anxious and a little awful sometimes, don’t let that stop you from stepping outside of your comfort zone- you may be surprised at what you will find and you’ll have the opportunity to grow, regardless of the outcome.

Have a great day everyone!

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de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis and BJJ

Lately I’ve been experiencing pain in and around the base of my thumb, which according to a nurse that trains with us (and the internet, or course), it seems that I have tendonitis in the thumb (which, interesting fact, it’s also spelled tendinitis, but just looks weird to me and the other spelling is also acceptable, so I’m leaning into spelling it as ‘tendonitis’).

Tendonitis in the thumb or the fancier name it goes by, de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (try to say that 5 times fast) is “A painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. The main symptoms are pain and tenderness in the wrist, often below the base of the thumb.” It can occur as a result of multiple things, but repetitive motion is on the list, which after 13 years of jiu jitsu frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t been a problem before now. 

So how do treat it? Well it should be getting rest, and ice, and some ibuprofen. And since I’m stubborn, I’m still training but I’ve been wrapping my hand in a bandage and attempting not to over exert my hand/wrist. Which, that means not going for as many chokes. Which makes me a little sad if we’re being totally honest.

If it’s really that bad, a splint is also an option to immobilize the thumb. Personally, it’s not a great option for me because it’s my left hand, and I’m left handed… One of the most sinister things about me, really. And if you got that joke then good job, nerd 😉

So, that’s it really. If you have tendonitis in your thumb and it’s not super serious, don’t panic, let it rest, put some ice on it and take some ibuprofen for a couple of days. And as always, if it’s serious enough or is getting worse, then you probably should consult a medical professional to talk about more intensive treatment and next steps.

Have a great day everyone!

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Working Smarter to Get the Most Out of Working Hard in BJJ

We’ve all heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”- which totally makes sense. But I have a confession to make: it’s not a phrase that I like all the much, but I’ve never really thought about exactly what made me not a huge fan of the phrase.

It only occurred to me recently it’s the second part of the phrase that I don’t like. This is my own (mildly demented) interpretation to be sure, but there’s the implication that the only reason I’m working as hard as I am is because I haven’t found an easier way: that if I found the more efficient path in completing a task that I would almost be lazy, that I would just kick my heels up and coast if I just worked a little more efficiently. And I dislike that image, immensely. It makes my face contort a little like I just smelled a gi that hasn’t been washed in a week. It’s not a pretty sight.

When it comes to jiu jitsu, we work hard, and by nature I believe most of us (if not all of us) are hard workers: we toil in a sport/art that takes twice the amount of time that it would normally take someone to achieve a black belt, and the mastery to a point can almost be fleeting- there is no end all, be all mastery to jiu jitsu. It’s an ever-evolving sport that you will spend a lot – and I mean A LOT – of time working on for personal fulfillment, and also for some pieces of cotton that are dyed in a variety of colors and little pieces of athletic tape that go around said pieces of cotton.

Instead, I propose this: we work smarter in jiu jitsu so we can get the most out of working hard. There’s no question that we are willing to put in work- we walk onto the mats, day in and day out, committed (most of the time) to give our all and put in the work to hone and refine our jiu jitsu. But, we should also look to be working smarter so we can get more out of that hard work and allow us to move forward to tackle the next part of our game that needs that refinement.

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

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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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