BJJ Competitions and Courage

We just had an in house tournament this past weekend at our gym: it was a good time, a couple of other local schools were invited so people were able to get in a couple of matches with some other students they haven’t gone against a thousand times before. All in all it was pretty good.

One thing that I think some lower ranks tend to forget is that really any competition you go to, of course the ultimate goal is to win. You train a bunch for some of the bigger ones, hone your skills, maybe put down that extra slice of pizza if you are looking to make a certain weight division. But really the biggest part of the whole thing, and really the biggest win when you think about it is having the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and compete.

It’s part of the reason why you see so many inspirational quotes about competing and putting it all on the mat and all of that stuff. It’s because jiu jitsu people who have competed, fully understand just how stressful competing can be- and more importantly, how many people shy away from competing, for a myriad of reasons. They think they don’t know enough, that they aren’t good enough, haven’t practiced enough….The list of reasons why not to compete can literally become a mile long.

More often than not the person who is competing probably feels much the same way- the difference is that person has taken all of those things into account, and has still decided to test their skills against another person. Maybe they will do great and win, maybe they will lose, but that person has decided to pull themselves together and compete anyway.

It’s that part of the whole thing that your coaches or instructors look at: sure, they also want you to do well, and everyone comes from a different place and mindset, but for the most part coaches know that win or lose, ultimately it was the choice to face your fears and anxiety, and to head out onto the mat that really matters. That is a major win for the day, regardless of what happens during your matches.

Just some thoughts for the day- have a great Wednesday 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-


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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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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Happy Friday! Failure to Launch

Happy Friday everyone!

This week was a little weird: I would start to write a blog post and then get caught up in another activity/emergency, and would leave a thought half finished in my drafts.

So, the good news is that I have some posts for next week about a variety of topics. The bad news is that they should have been up this week but suffered from a failure to launch. In penance I will go and watch that awful rom-com that starred Matthew McConaughey.


I don’t know if it’s actually that terrible, I just kind of hate rom-coms in general so I’m just assuming that it’s going to be awful. It could be someone’s favorite movie: who knows.

Anyway,  I’ll be back at it next week, but in the meantime have a great weekend 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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Happy Friday! Back to the Land of the Living (and Happy Labor Day Weekend!)

Happy Friday everyone!

This week was a bit of a doozy- I had a head cold that just knocked all the will and energy out of me…. but I’m slowly but surely coming back around to the land of the living, so there’s that.

For those in the States, have a great and relaxing Labor Day weekend, and for everyone else, just have a great weekend in general!


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Girls in Gis Event in Philly: Sept 29th!

It’s about a month away, but the Girls in Gis organization is coming to Philly, with Valerie Worthington and Angela Vogel. Our gym is doing a team outing that day so I don’t think any of us will be able to make it, but for anyone in the area, you should go and check it out!


Have a great day everyone!


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Happy Friday! Master Worlds 2019

Happy Friday everyone!


Things are looking pretty exciting over in Las Vegas for the Master Worlds! Flograppling has been recording the matches and posting updates on Instagram- you should definitely check it out!

Also, while the event is still going on, points are tallying up, and so far Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu is in the lead for women!

Master Female

1 – Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu – 83
2 – CheckMat – 80
3 – Alliance – 57
Be sure to check out some of the matches, and have a great weekend everyone!

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Teaching in BJJ and Removing Assumptions

Admittedly over the past couple of months I have been mainly teaching classes with more advanced students: we separate our gi classes into people who are super beginner and those who are more advanced and just due to scheduling conflicts I haven’t been able to assist in the beginner class, so the by the time they get to my world they are people who have been doing jiu jitsu for a couple of months, and while they have their struggles, by and large they sort of have a base understanding of certain principles and we build off of those.

I’m teaching that beginner class this week while we have some people out to go compete in Master Worlds, and if nothing else it’s very much a reminder that some of the things you think of as second nature after a while. How for some people not only is elbow escaping (or shrimping as some people call it) not something their body naturally does, but that even sometimes they know their right from left.

It’s a reminder that sometimes you need to stop and make sure that everyone is on the same page. It’s a bit like when you are telling your friend a story, but you never told them who the story was about, you just started using all the pronouns and expected your friend to understand exactly who and what you were talking about….and they just kind of stare at you blankly. Other people, particularly at my job do this to me all the time, actually. That’s when I will stare at the person and say, “I want you to repeat that entire story, but don’t use ANY pronouns. Go.”

Sometimes when we -higher ranks that is- are teaching, we know that people don’t have the same level of teaching, occasionally the erroneous assumption that people will know certain things will creep in without us noticing. Of course a white belt would understand why this guard is important! Of course they would know to turn left instead of right…and so on.

While it’s just human nature and there’s certainly no malice behind it, at the same time teachers need to be aware of those assumptions while on the mat, and do what they can to correct them. While some do have a bit of natural body awareness, more often than not people literally don’t know what they don’t know, with white belts having the biggest blind spot of them all. It’s our responsibility as higher ranks to expand their horizons bit by bit, showing them what’s possible and what’s necessary as they begin to learn the ropes of jiu jitsu. And the more we share that knowledge, really the better we all become: the newer student becomes more well versed in jiu jitsu, and the more experienced student understands the potential struggle that another future student could also have. There are also benefits of being the teacher instead of the student, but that’s for another time.

Have a great day everyone!

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Happy Friday! Nate Diaz & UFC 241

Happy Friday everyone!

Well, just when you thought UFC was getting relatively more tame….


For anyone who didn’t catch it, this is UFC fighter Nate Diaz. Nate and his brother Nick are all about fighting, and the 420 lifestyle. So, absolutely true to form, Nate smokes a joint during the UFC open workout, and then from what I understand gave it to his fans to finish.

It’s literally the most Nate Diaz thing I have ever heard. Keep livin’ the dream, man.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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