Tag Archives: bjj

Making Hard Choices on Your BJJ Journey

It seems really easy at first: you sign up for a class, you begin rolling (flailing) around as you try to find your rhythm, and slowly you begin to fall in love with jiu jitsu. And so you spend more time at this sport/art that you begin this sort of love/hate relationships with- you love doing it, you hate how bad you are at it. So you keep going to class, chipping away at it so to speak, still spending some time frustrated but also building friendships, and whether you know it or not, you are actually improving at jiu jitsu.

And occasionally throughout your time in jiu jitsu, there comes pressure not to continue- sometimes internally, but also sometimes you may have someone or a couple of people in your life- who may be well intentioned- but they may want you to stop the sport all together. I can specifically remember talking to my mother over the phone and can still hear her ask “can’t you do something else?” She was speaking from concern, and I think partially from a lack of understanding of not only what the sport entails, but the benefits that come from learning and training. Also, pretty sure I was venting about some jiu jitsu related frustration at the time, and so to someone who really isn’t interested in the sport, that seems like a totally logical response. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

When it comes to those sorts of moments, that’s when it comes down to a decision that’s made by you and you alone. I think this is when a lot of people have that moment of either listening to others and back off, or they “take a break” that never seems to end, because they take a few months off and before you know it their schedule is filled with another million things that need to be attended to.

Side note, that’s not to say that people don’t have absolutely good and legitimate reasons not to train jiu jitsu: some people have loved ones that need to be taken care of, some have work/family/life responsibilities that simply cannot and should not be ignored. And really, for some people they just don’t find the joy in jiu jitsu anymore. And that’s totally fine: again, jiu jitsu is for every body, but not for everybody.

Ultimately, no matter who says what if you want to continue on your bjj journey, you have to do jiu jitsu for you.  When I have been faced with these kinds of choices in the past, I’ve taken a moment to think about what I wanted, and the two options that were offered- one would be to say yes to others who would not want me to do jiu jitsu-again, not out of malice, but really from a place of concern and lack of understanding. Unfortunately that would also mean probably not living a life in a way that I would have chosen specifically for myself, and in that be unhappy. It’s not the most fulfilling path but can appear to be the easier road to take. Or, I could continue with my choice, which can be harder, requires a little more time defending your choices and actions, and makes those close to you a little uncomfortable as they come around to the idea of your choice and the journey you have decided to embark on, but they will eventually come around to the decision (for the most part). I have frequently chosen the latter, knowing that it is sometimes the harder road to take, but ultimately the more fulfilling one, because while it may not be a decision that others totally understand, it’s one that I have made about my life and a path that I have chosen for myself.

So, for anyone who skipped the past five paragraphs (no worries, totally don’t blame you), the TL;DR version is this: there are going to be times when you have some hard decisions you have to make about whether or not you want to continue in jiu jitsu. This will be a hard decision for others around you, especially if it is one that maybe those close to you don’t truly understand. But, ultimately it is your life and really the main person you need to be accountable to when it comes to this decision is the person that stares back at you in the mirror when you’re alone (we’re not counting the creepy ghost that haunts your bathroom vanity, they don’t get a say in this). Living your life in a way that’s best for you sometimes can be difficult, and comes with some hard decisions, but ultimately is the most rewarding because it is a life that’s chosen and lived on your terms.

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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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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Happy Friday! Still in the ADCC Aftermath

Happy Friday everyone!

So everyone still seems to be posting clips, photos and reactions to last weekend’s ADCC results. And that’s understandable, it’s a big event that happens every other year and so there’s still going to be a bunch of hoopla, until the next superfight happens. It’s all exciting, but I’m a bit of a restless soul I guess and I’m already prepared to watch the next competition to take place, to see how things will shake out.

Anyway, just my personal thoughts. Have a great weekend everyone!

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A Reminder for Anyone Struggling with their BJJ Right Now

Saw this on Facebook this morning, and thought I would share it with anyone who needs it this morning:

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Now go out there and be bad at something! And hey, being happily bad at something is better than being good at something you hate, and also sometimes being bad is the start of being good at it, or sneakily becoming better at something else without you realizing it. True story.

Have a great day everyone!

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ADCC This Past Weekend

Well, that was unexpected.

This past weekend a group of some of the top grapplers in the sport came together for the Abu Dhabi Combat Club, or ADCC championships. There were names that most, or not all of us recognize, such as Andre Galvao, Marcus Buchecha, JT Torres, Garry Tonon, and tons of others.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, I live under a rock, so there were a ton of amazing grapplers who I didn’t really know about until now. So, shame on me for that. Admittedly, I didn’t (and still don’t tbh) know much about the absolute winner, Gordon Ryan. But, he won the absolute, so good for him! It’s fantastic to see when hard work pays off. There were also a number of upsets, from Ffion Davies submitting Bia Mesquita, Cyborg losing to grappler and (at the moment) BJJ blue belt Nick Rodriguez, and a number of others I’m sure that I’m not mentioning at the moment. Overall, I think the people at Fight to Win did an awesome job, and while I didn’t catch a ton of it, overall I think it was a pretty well run event. I heard there were some issues with the Flograppling feed, so that was unfortunate.

Overall I’m interested to see what these upsets and the results of these matches bring about in the world of grappling. Let me know what you all thought- otherwise, have a great day!

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Happy Friday! Thoughts While Training

Happy Friday everyone!

In the past while sparring I have a tendency to whistle or hum while training- I like to think it keeps my conscious mind occupied and allows the adaptive unconscious and muscle memory to do its thing- for the most part- uninterrupted.

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I’ll usually have either the Super Mario brother’s theme stuck in my head, and lately the tune to “I Dream of Jeannie” has gotten itself into the rotation…. but then I saw this video, and now “Sweet Dreams” will probably be stuck in my head for a while…

 

Just wanted to share with you all, if nothing else for a little chuckle.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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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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