Tag Archives: jiu jitsu class

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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Slow Down if You’re Skipping Forward

So we drilling a sequence of techniques last night- you know, practicing A, then A to B if A is countered, and then going to C if the first two were shut down, etc., etc. I found myself trying to skip the first couple and trying to get to the end of the series. Admittedly the first couple that I was forgetting to practice were the more basic elements leading to the more difficult, but still it’s no excuse. Even if you think you are the master of the basics…you still need to practice the basics. There are so many little details and elements to even the fundamentals of jiu jitsu it’s hard to remember and execute on all of them. And who knows, practicing those fundamentals will open the opportunity to see how other techniques may relate, in addition to whatever it is you are drilling.

Also, unintended side effect, if you are a higher belt there is a chance there is some lower belt who may watch you go through the more basic moves for tips- not that they have a specific question per se, but they want to see someone more skilled at the particular technique performed by someone at a higher level. So in going through the basics, there’s a chance you’re not only helping yourself, but another teammate as well.

So, if you’re like me and you find that you are trying to skip to the end- stop. Take a breath, refocus, and work through all of the techniques, even if you may consider them to be more basic and would rather focus on the more complicated items. You could always use the review of the basics, and you never know who else you could be helping in the process.

That’s all I’ve got for today- have a great day everyone!

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Jiu Jitsu Techniques: It’s the Little Things that Matter

I was talking to a teammate last night about some troubles she’s been having while training, and while there are some larger movements that we talked about, it was really focusing on the smaller details that made the most difference. It makes sense, when you think about it: when we first learn a technique we focus on the general movements and principles, and sometimes become frustrated because we attempt to execute them and fail. But it was supposed to work, right? It creates a sort of cognitive dissonance: I was told to do this thing, in this situation, and it’s not working. It’s not until we go over those techniques again (and again, and again…) and hone in on the details that we really find success with those techniques. If you’re having trouble with a particular detail, slow down, take your time and make sure you have all the finer points and details down, and if you aren’t sure you have it, take the time to talk to your coach or instructor so they can help you with those little details.

Just my thoughts for today- have a great day everyone!


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Starting in BJJ: White Belts are Like Puppies


Sorry guys, in my mind you guys are like puppies: brand new, limited body orientation and spatial awareness, extra wriggly. And also, prone to make mistakes.

I think a lot of white belts are hard on themselves when they start jiu jitsu, particularly when they don’t get a certain technique down right away, which I understand: they are developing a passion for the sport, and want to do well in it. But just as you can’t expect a puppy to learn the command “sit” or “roll over” on the first try, it’s hard to expect a white belt to master something in just one class. It take time, patience, and a lot of practice to master these actions.

Still go to class: still drill, still train, still learn- just remember you’re still in your puppy-phase: this is the time to learn and have fun.


That’s all for today, folks- have a great day everyone!


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When Jiu Jitsu is Like Brushing Your Teeth

I know it sounds weird, but I was thinking about this recently and just hear me out on it.

The act of brushing your teeth is something (I sincerely hope) everyone who reads this blog does at least on a regular basis. I would certainly hope everyone brushes their teeth at least once (preferably twice) a day, but hey, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.

Anyway, the point is that you perform this action on a regular basis, and feels unnatural to miss. It’s (usually) not negotiable or even something you question: it’s just something that’s built into your day. You do it because it makes you feel better, and makes you a more pleasant person to be around- either because you now have pleasant smelling breath, or because you’re not hiding your face like Dracula or Nosferatu due to your (real or imagined) horrendous smelling breath.

Attending class, drilling- all of that should be built into your schedule, much like the act of brushing your teeth. While it doesn’t have to be every day, it does need to be a time in your week that is built in and not questioned: do what you can to schedule your time around it, to make it a part of your life that should feel not natural to do. Much like brushing your teeth.

Anyway, that’s my random thought for the moment: do you agree? Disagree? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!


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Jiu Jitsu and Your Body: Be Your Own Advocate

JiuJiu has an interesting article on her blog about how no one cares about your body. Which, in a sense I agree with, but I would like to offer my own interpretation.

Listen, your teammates do care about you: they will encourage your success, they will empathize with your frustrations and sadness when you lose, they will help you when you train. But they aren’t mind readers: and more importantly, they’re dealing with their own psychological battles, physical injuries and limitations. When it comes to training, you need to become your own advocate: you need to know when to push yourself, and more importantly when you need to back off. Your teammates don’t know how much training you can take, and how hard you can be pushed.

It’s good to let a teammate know that you’re injured, but at the same time, it’s sort of unfair to assume that they will remember which arm/leg/whatever is injured the entire time while drilling or training. There have been multiple times when I’ve trained and accidentally-just from muscle memory- have reached for a partner’s injured limb. Once I remember, or I’m reminded I stop immediately, and others have done the same to me. And I’m sure the same has happened to you.

Be your own advocate on the mat. Push as far as you can go, but be ready to stop when you need to, and be ready to protect whatever injuries you have if you decide to train or drill. That way, everyone wins.

Let me know what you think- otherwise, have a great day everyone!


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Article on What Beginners Should Know When Starting BJJ

Breaking Muscle has a pretty good article on what beginners should know when starting BJJ.

Check it out, and let me know if there is anything you think that should be added to the list.

Have a great day everyone!

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Pans Training Camp Weekend

In preparation for Pans this week, our academy had a training camp during the entire weekend- hours of drilling, positional training, we even threw in some strength & conditioning and a yoga session. It was a good time, and in addition to a great training session, just a fantastic time to be around friends and teammates.

I’ll post some photos when I get them (I know, I never seem to take photos of these events- usually because I’m in the middle of doing said activity). How does your academy get ready for a big tournament? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!

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BJJ and Drilling: “I Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything, Which Means I Probably Should Do Something”

(I’m quoting myself, in case anyone was wondering)

As much as we all love jiu jitsu, sometimes we just don’t feel like doing anything. Drilling, sparring, you name it- there’s no interest in doing it. It could be due to a minor injury, or just our brains saying “your know what, I’m really not feelin’ this today”. Let’s be honest, it does happen- rarely, but it does happen.

It’s during those times though (barring a serious injury) that you should probably try to drill something. It doesn’t have to be hard and fast: it can be something basic- nothing too fancy, really just to keep the body moving and the mind active. By keeping in the routine it will be easier to stay on track when you do get around to feeling plucky and ready to be more active in class. for most, especially in the beginning of their jiu jitsu journey, when they stop it becomes much more difficult to get back into the swing of things, rather than if you had just maintained a routine throughout.

So really in short, even if you don’t feel like moving- if you can, you should.

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


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Men and Their Partners Who Don’t Let Them Train With Women….What?

One female jiu jitsu player recently shared her experience on Planet BJJ, about how a man refused to roll with her because the man’s wife “wouldn’t let him” roll with a female….


Er, what?

I legitimately do not understand this mentality- which admittedly even though I was in a relationship with a fellow grappler/jiu jitsuka/whatever, I’m also involved in the sport so I’m coming at this from a totally different perspective. I was never jealous of him rolling with another female because I knew how I behaved with other guys, and understood what happened in class and on the mats.

I would really like to sit down with one (or a couple) of these women and try to understand their concerns which leads them to push this edict on their partners. Is it lack of communication? An expectation as to how each grappler will react while rolling with one another (how a girl will react to the guy, and vice versa)? I’m genuinely curious as to where the issue lies precisely: I typically believe that once we understand the cause of an issue, we can work on resolving it, or at least coming to some sort of compromise.

Have you encountered this as a woman, a guy refusing to roll with you due to the request of a partner, and more importantly, did they explain why? Dudes, have you been with a girlfriend/partner that didn’t like the idea of you rolling with a female, and did you two talk about what was causing the issue? Let me know!




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