Tag Archives: jiu jitsu training

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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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 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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Friendly Reminder: Cut Your Nails When Training in BJJ

And really in general, but especially make sure to keep them short for the sport. Just mentioning this because while training with someone I received approximately 2 inch cut from someone’s nails while rolling last night.

I spoke with the person after class (it was an honest oversight, it happens) but for anyone else our there who needs a reminder, please cut your nails- both fingers and toes.

Please and thank you.

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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Reading Your Partner When Rolling in BJJ

There’s a phrase that you all may or may not have heard- it’s called “reading the room”. It refers to having the emotional intelligence to pick up on the body language and reactions of an audience to adjust one’s behavior- whether it’s giving a presentation, telling a joke, or simply having a conversation.

It’s kind of the same when rolling with someone: sometimes you have to “read” your partner to figure out how the two of you can have the most successful/productive roll. Maybe you’re dealing with a timid lower belt- it doesn’t really make sense to go 100%, Mad Max “Thunderdome” style with that person: all you’re going to do is scare the bejeezus out of them and maybe even turn them off from the sport forever. Some may argue that it makes the person tougher and that they will come out of the roll possibly stronger, but you would need to know your partner REAAALLLLY well to proceed with a reasonable amount of confidence that they will rise to the challenge, so to speak.

Sometimes your partner wants to go harder, and if you’re game to do the same, by all means go for it: maybe they’re amped about a tournament’s coming up, or maybe they are just feeling feisty during that session.

And sometimes people are just not totally there, mentally. We all have a ton of things that are going on in our lives off the mat, and as much as we try to clear our minds and stay focused on training, sometimes the real world sneaks in and pulls us off the course, and makes us not feel or perform our best. Or there’s a chronic injury that someone is dealing with and for whatever reason- weather, life, etc- that injury is acting up. Sometimes these are not things we’re inclined to admit of course, and that’s where I feel reading your partner really becomes important.

At the end of the day we of course want to train well and get good rolls in, but we also care about and have respect for our training partners, and I don’t know about everyone, but I think a lot of people would agree that they also want their training partner to feel like they had a decent roll. Sometimes that requires verbal communication- which of course is preferable- but sometimes that also requires an unspoken readjustment in training speed and intensity, so everyone can walk off the mat feeling like they had a decent training session.

So how do you exactly read your partner? Honestly, you’re probably doing it already, you just haven’t noticed. Look at you, doing the thing! You pick up on body language signals, reactions, facial expressions of your partner, and sometimes adjust accordingly.

It can be a tricky balance sometimes, training in a way that you and the other person feels like they got something out of the training, but as you train more often, the more accustomed you should become to making these adjustments which leads to a win for everyone.

So, maybe keep that in mind the next time you’re training, and have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

 

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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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