Category Archives: women’s bjj

(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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Galentine’s Day Event This Past Weekend!

Yes, I know technically the 13th is actually Galentine’s Day, but we decided to commandeer the following weekend to invite some ladies around the city to stop by our academy, learn a little BJJ/self defense, and enjoy some snacks and drinks afterwards!

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We showed them a little self defense stuff, including a simple hip throw, as well as a taste of some other basics moves to give them a feel for the sport.

We also happened to get some nice slow mo footage of me demonstrating on a teammate:

It was a fantastic team effort, with ladies on our team from blue belt all the way up helping out. All in all I would say it was a pretty great day 🙂

Just wanted to share with you all- have a great day everyone!

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Promotions!

Happy Monday!

Friday night was a bit special for our academy- we had a couple of students earn some stripes, and another one of our students became a black belt! our teammate Jeanne also happens to be a dear friend of mine, so it was exciting to see her achieve this tremendous milestone.

I’m super happy for her and the fact that she reached this part of her jiu jitsu journey- and it’s exciting that out of 3 out of the 12 female black belts in PA all under one roof.

Just wanted to share with you all- 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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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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Bjj and Life- Less About Balance, and More About Counterbalance

So I’m reading the book “The One Thing” right now-

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It’s more or less about hyper prioritization and how you can’t do all the things at once, and so you should prioritize your life to do the most important things that can effect your life for the better, making the other things/goals easier to achieve.

There’s a section of the book that makes the statement that there is no such thing as “balance” in a person’s life- it’s sort of more like walking on a tight rope. If you’ve ever watched a clip of one performing, they are constantly readjusting, re-calibrating one way or the other to achieve the overall goal of balance to get to their end destination.

And I kind of agree with that sentiment: there are definitely times in my life where I am totally committed to getting ready for a tournament: extra dieting, extra training, extra time spent on the mats in order to prepare. And most importantly, I keep in mind that all of this extra time away from other responsibilities and other aspects of my life is not something that is sustainable. I know that a lot of people go through that same kind of regimen, and then express some wishful thinking about how they could train and be that focused on jiu jitsu all the time. Listen, it’s awesome that you love BJJ that much to want to put yourself through that kind of regimen, but to do that sometimes means you have to sacrifice A LOT- mainly relationships, free time to explore other interests and other responsibilities that need your attention.

And hey, some people make that jump, and they are usually those few elite that everyone else looks up to. But even if someone happens to be one of that very tiny subset, fact of the matter is that they also have responsibilities and relationships they also need to attend to. Also, the body is not really meant to sustain that kind of grind for an extended period of time, on a physical or psychological level. It’s like going on a juice cleanse with no end date- you will become physically and emotionally depleted until you burn out or possibly really hurt yourself.

This may be a better way for us to talk about how to live a life where one can still compete and give their all, and not alienate other aspects of your life. Sometimes in order to really feel like you put the work in for important tournaments, yes, you need to absolutely dive whole heartedly into training and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Ordinary effort will create ordinary results, and extraordinary effort increases your change of extraordinary results. I think very few people would argue with that. But there needs to be an effort to counterbalance- a purposeful effort to focus on the other elements of your life in order to achieve the “balance” we strive for.

Just some thoughts to chew on- have a good day, and if you can, please take a moment of silence to think about/honor those who lost their lives and were effected by the events of 9/11.

 

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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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Tips for Competing in a BJJ Tournament

While there are a number of people who read this blog and don’t do jiu jitsu, there are some, and maybe a few of them have thought about competing in the near future. This is by no means a complete list, but here are a couple of tips and things to keep in mind if you are thinking about competing:

  1. Get there on time– This is sort of obvious, but take a look at travel times, and take into account the possibility of traffic. I’m not saying get to the tournament 8 hours early, but if you are headed to say NAGA’s Battle at the Beach, which takes place in a New Jersey beach town, maybe add a little time in case you get stuck in beach traffic. You’ll also probably want to warm up beforehand, so I would say show up at minimum an hour or so beforehand.
  2. Make sure you have the right gear– if you’re not sure, see if the tournament has rules on the kind of gi that you can wear, belt, if you need to wear a rashguard reflecting your rank if you’re doing no gi, etc.
  3. Bring some snacks, water, possibly a yoga mat– It’s going to be a long day, so unless you want to roll the dice with the food and drink provided at the venue (which can range anything from a full meal to some hastily made PB&J sandwiches), you’ll probably want to bring your own snacks and drinks.  And if you’re looking to stretch somewhere before competing, it may not be a bad idea to bring a yoga mat so you can plop down somewhere and loosen up.
  4. Warm up– Related to the previous point, you should warm up. Stretch, jog, jump rope, do something to loosen you up before competing.
  5. Make sure you know the rule set– again a gimme, but don’t assume that all tournament organizations run with the same rule set. Some run their matches for different lengths of time, some allow certain submissions that others won’t, and so on.
  6. Keep an eye on the progression of the tournament and check on how they are going to call you to compete–  A lot- not all, but a lot of- tournaments will simply designate one, maybe two tables to a division and then corral the division by the table(s). If that’s the case, keep an ear out for your name, and/or just keep an eye on the general progress of the tournament. There are some tournaments that progress by rank from small sized competitors to larger sized competitors. So, if you’re a smallish blue belt and you’re watching some larger white belts on the mat, start to pay attention because you may be called soon.
  7. Breathe, and have fun!– No matter the outcome, you’re going out there and doing the thing! You’re facing your anxieties and stepping out on the mat. It may feel super stressful leading up to your matches, but afterwords you’ll feel accomplished, and can walk away knowing that you did your best!

Those are some tips for competing that I can think of off the top of my head- hopefully this is helpful to someone out there if they are thinking of competing in the near future.

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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