Category Archives: women's bjj

You Need to Make Mistakes in Jiu Jitsu

I remember- oh gosh, at least a decade ago- I was having an argument with one of my older brothers (I have 2- a step brother much older than me, and a brother that is only about 2 years older). The argument was with the one that is closer in age to me- we were disagreeing about something- I think it had to do with relationships? He and I have gotten into so many arguments over things that it’s hard to keep track. In a different set of circumstances he would have made an excellent lawyer.

I do remember him giving an exasperated sigh at one point and asking why I wouldn’t listen to him, and avoid making a mistake. And my response that it was because it was a mistake that I needed to make. Which is sort of how I feel about jiu jitsu- there are mistakes that you need to make if you are ever going to grow in the sport.

At first glance, the whole thing looks and sounds amazing. Imagine going through life and never making a mistake about anything: on the surface it seems like an amazing super power: you always wake up at the right time, you always do and say the right thing at the right time, you go to jiu jitsu and you perform each technique flawlessly, just as you’ve been instructed.

But have you learned anything in depth? Probably not, because you never needed to explore really why something wasn’t working. Like I mentioned before, humans are amazingly efficient machines, and we focus on inefficiencies when they arise in an effort to correct and streamline. Mistakes are also in a way what make us human: we talk about and laud the super athletes in the sport because they perform certain techniques with a sort of mastery and efficiency that we aspire to, because it is so rare. Certainly not unattainable, but we’re human- we are all bound to make mistakes at some point.

That’s not to say we should all just run around making mistakes, shrugging our shoulders and not learn anything from them (obviously, but sometimes I point out the obvious). The purpose of a mistake is to learn from it, to self correct so we can not only understand why we do something, but also what happens when we don’t. It’s a way of feeling out the boundaries of what we are able, or unable to do in order to get the results we want. Sort of like how toddlers and young children make mistakes all the time, but with like, at least 30% less screaming and cartoons involved- or maybe equal, I don’t know what kind of life you live.

Anyway, the point is don’t be afraid to make mistakes in jiu jitsu, because they are necessary to your growth: just be aware and strive to learn from them.

Have a great day everyone!

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Forgetting We’re Human

I think we have all run into this situation: we go into class not exactly feeling our best- say from a stomach ache, we’re starting to feel run down because we’re starting to get a cold but we haven’t presented all of the symptoms just yet, we have a muscle that’s tweaked, something going on in our work or personal lives that leaves us preoccupied. We drill, we train, and then sometimes we become frustrated when we don’t do as well as we think we should- reality is not meeting our expectations, and so we become frustrated with our performance. In fact we’re probably already irritated that we (probably) had to take some time off, so now we’re in an even worse mood and we stomp out of the academy that night, irritated with everyone and everything. I could say that this has never happened to me…. but, that would be lying.

We occasionally forget that we are human, in a way- we forget that we are more than just a machine that will quickly and efficiently perform the same task with the same amount of proficiency every single time. We progress and excel in learning and performing techniques some days. We understand there are hills and valleys to progress, but at the moment we either are on (or think we are on) an upward swing and we try to milk it for all its worth.

And then a downward swing hits us. And we’re pissed. Sometimes its due to some external factor like previously mentioned, and then just sometimes we’re just having an off day. I want to remind everyone that it’s ok to be human: it’s ok to have off days, to not be 100% on point every single time- you still need to strive to do your best, but sometimes just “meh” is really all you can eke out, and that’s fine.

Remember, jiu jitsu is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint, and during this whole adventure you will make some headway, but there will be times where you are sort of stuck and you need to slog through the mud. I just ask that you remember that this too shall pass, and that you shouldn’t let these less than stellar moments get you down too much.

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

 

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Karma and BJJ Tournaments

Talking about competing in the previous post reminded me of something that happened at a tournament years ago, and how karma sometimes can have more immediate results than we expect.

It was one of the Pans tournaments and I had placed (I don’t remember what place- again, they all just kind of run together at this point). I was intent on doing the absolute weight division (also known as the open, in case I switch terminology at some point) and as one does at these tournaments, I started to make my way down to the area in order to sign up for that part of the tournament.

As I got in line, from what I recall there was a girl behind me who had a friend ahead of me, and I offered to switch spots with the one behind so the two friends could chat. Then, as we’re waiting in line to sign up there was also one of the more popular competitors who also got in line, and they decided to jump in line ahead of me in a very intentional fashion. The girl that I had previously had the interaction with kept looking back in a sort of “wtf?” look on her face. I told her “it’s fine”- it wasn’t really fine, but we’re all headed to the same place and I’m not the type of person to cause a ruckus over a spot in a line. Risk is definitely not worth any reward in this situation.

So we’re moving up in the line and the first girl gets to the table, turns around and motions to me to come up with her, acting like we’ve been friends for years. She chats in Portuguese to the coordinator, they’re laughing, I’m standing their awkwardly because I just jumped past the line jumper – which they didn’t say anything at this point, and I’m not entirely sure what they thought about the whole situation. It was a bit of a surreal experience, to be honest, and one of those few moments where karma has a more direct cause and effect than usual.

Just wanted to share that little story with you all: the moral of the story being be kind and courteous to those around you- not only because it’s the nice thing to do and we need a little more kindness in the world, but also because of the fringe benefit that karma is a thing and will reward you at some point in some fashion.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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You Can Compete Against Someone and Still be Friends with Them

I think this is something we all know, but not really something we talk about in jiu jitsu. I’ve had conversations with other jiu jitsu women where this is sometimes the elephant in the room that’s danced around, and I think that it’s time we explicitly state it.

You can compete against someone and still not only have the upmost respect for that person, but you can in fact be friends with them.

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There are plenty of other women in the jiu jitsu community that I have competed against, and regardless of winning or losing I am always thrilled to see them at the next tournament. And they seem pretty happy to see me as well! We chat, talk about how things are going, so on and so forth.

While the sport is growing in popularity, it is still relatively a small sport. Particularly as you gain more rank, you’ll see more and more of the same faces at tournaments, the same people standing across from you to shake your hand to start a match, the same smiles on the podium as you sit there and wait for that one guy to get out of the photographer’s way so you can just take the damn picture… It seems kind of silly to see someone a bajillion times (granted, at one specific function, but still), and not at the very least exchange a few pleasantries.

Anyway, my point being that there are times where it seems to be a bit awkward: you’re not sure if someone is willing to extend their hand in friendship after a match. And some won’t, if we’re being totally honest. But more often than not they will, and to me that’s also part of what competing is all about: of course the main purpose is to step on the mat and do your best with the intent of winning, but win or lose it’s also about meeting new people and having a chance to connect with other people in the sport.

Just some thoughts for today: have a great day everyone!

 

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Extra Drilling in BJJ: a Little Bit is Better Than Nothing at All

Knowing that it takes a bajillion repetitions to master a technique, it might seem a little silly to do a few reps here, a few reps there of a technique. I fully believe there is validity to even practicing a move even just 15, 20 times after class- or even killing time before class.

A lot of jiu jitsu, in addition to physics and body mechanics is a lot about muscle memory- and we all know the more time we can dedicate to building that muscle memory, the better we should become at certain techniques and allow us more mental bandwidth to keep an eye out for the opportunities to use said techniques.

The nice thing about building this muscle memory is that it is not necessarily something you need to dedicate large blocks of time towards creating. It really is something you can take small “bites” with: a few reps here, a few reps there- it’s all with the intent of building a good habit essentially. We all know good habits don’t suddenly appear, that it takes time and consistency, and that same approach should be taken with jiu jitsu.

While we should still take larger pieces of time to drill specific things in order to get really in depth and work out the kinks (so to speak), I still feel there is definite validity to taking advantage of some time and doing a little extra drilling of some techniques.

Just my thought on the matter. Have a great day everyone!

 

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Hillary VanOrnum & Gabi Garcia to Compete at Fight to Win Portland

I mentioned how Hillary was opening a new gym, and fairly recently it was announced that she’s going to be competing against Gabi Garcia on June 7th. Pretty exciting!

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While most of us can’t make it to the event in person due to silly things like taking time off for traveling and responsibilities, Fight to Win usually streams the event through flograppling.com and I would say this is probably one to sign up to watch. Just my opinion though.

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

 

 

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Hillary VanOrnum Opening Her Own BJJ Academy- Unicorn Jiu Jitsu!

Hi everyone! This is going to be super quick, but just wanted to share how Hillary VanOrnum is opening her own academy with her husband and brother in Portland!

I met Hillary at Master Worlds…. two years ago(?) She’s a lovely person and I’m really excited for her and her new business venture!

Check out their site: Unicorn Jiu Jitsu and have a great day everyone!

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Back from a Long Writing Hiatus…

Oh man, it’s been a minute… Coming back and writing is something I’ve thought about often, but just haven’t had the chance due to life and such.

Actually, I’m not being totally honest: there was also someone that was connected to my social media accounts that at the time I couldn’t block or unfollow and didn’t feel comfortable sharing anything with, and so in response I withdrew a lot from social media. Anyway, that person is pretty much no longer in my life, so they are no longer on my social media and I’m slowly coming back around to posting stuff online again. I hate admitting when things are not ok, but it also doesn’t feel honest to not address that part of the whole thing.

Anyway a (somewhat) quick recap of the more interesting things that have happened over the past… goodness, 9 months? Dang….

  • Went to Costa Rica: It’s a beautiful place with some amazing beaches, rainforests and volcanoes: however, a lot of people will tell you that ‘everyone there speaks English’. MOST speak English, but not everyone. I think every time I failed to say something in Spanish, somewhere in the world my old high school Spanish teacher felt a twinge of sadness (…Lo siento?). I would still highly recommend visiting.

 

  • ¬†Training, training, and trained some more.
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And we’re in a new space- with huge windows!

  • Competed in a couple of tournaments: didn’t really do anything amazing at any of them, but that’s just fine. I did the best that I could at the time, and I’m ok with that. I don’t really dwell on “could have, should have, would have” scenarios when it comes to tournaments and instead prefer to look ahead to the next challenge. Made some friends along the way, which is also great fun and something I always enjoy.
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Competed against Emily Kwok! Lovely person to lose to….

  • Co-taught my first seminar! I was asked by Girls in Gis a few months ago to go through a little mini teaching session with another black belt in the area, Jen Russell. I didn’t really teach anything super cool, but everyone seemed to have fun, which is really more of the point.

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So anyway, that’s more or less a quick recap of what’s been happening over the past several months. I’m hoping to get back into a more regular posting schedule- I may even try to redesign the look of this blog (whaaaaaat…). It’s been what, 8 or 9 years, at least? Probably time for a little- er, a lot, rather- sprucing up.

Anyhoo, for anyone who still checks in now and again to read this, let me know what you’ve been up to, and see you later!

 

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Surviving Hard Summer BJJ Training Sessions

It’s super hot and muggy here on the East Coast, and with that sometimes training can feel brutal. It doesn’t help when it’s basically 100 degrees outside, not much cooler inside due to body heat and whatever else- on top of the fact that you are wearing anywhere from 1 1/2 to almost 6 pounds of extra clothing. My general take on these conditions is to try and keep training (because if we all stopped we would have to basically take 3 months off…. inconceivable!) but also listen to your body and make sure to take care of yourself.

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  1. Bring water to class: I imagine there are a couple of academies out there in which there is that one person that doesn’t drink water in between sets. Friend, don’t be a hero, drink some water. Or gatorade- whatever it takes to keep yourself hydrated.
  2. Train with a lower rank: so maybe you’re not feeling great, but not to a point where you need to sit out. This is a perfect time to work with a lower rank- they are still working on trying to figure things out, you need some time to be in a position where you are still working on things, but presumably this will allow you to slow a little bit while you come back around.
  3. Sit out when you need to sit out: You’ve been a brave little toaster up until now, and you are just not feeling well. You’re nauseous, maybe a little dizzy… just sit out. Every jiu jitsu person I know is amazingly stubborn, and it truly becomes a double edged sword: on the one hand its great when you need to “dig deep” and persevere through some bad situations, but it can also become a liability and you can really hurt yourself because you were too stubborn to not stop.

So, those are my main tips for surviving some hard summer training sessions. Hopefully you either take my advice or maybe you’re just one of those people who “love the heat” and can train unfazed in super steamy conditions. If that’s the case, well then good for you: I imagine you lived in either Florida or are secretly a lizard. Hey, I’m not here to judge, just here to provide some tips for others who have trouble with the heat.

Have a great day everyone!

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Kyra Gracie Organizing Women’s Only Tournament

Well this is pretty cool: according to FloGrappling, Kyra Gracie posted on her instagram account that she is organizing a women’s only tournament. only down side? It’s March 24th and in Rio de Janeiro. March 24th in the States? I would totally be scouring for some flights. Rio de Janeiro and in say December? I would be saving up my pennies and looking into arrangements (and ways to avoid raining spiders), but the two together unfortunately just don’t work for me.

March of 2019, maybe? I would be down for that. Anyway, check the article out and have a great day everyone!

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