July 14, 2021 · 7:25 am
I would write something about how I’m shocked and appalled that I haven’t posted anything here since March, but admittedly my posting has been pretty sporadic for a while now. I think I mentioned this before, but I switched jobs a while back and the transition, its new responsibilities and workload have just taken a lot of my time, in addition to some larger projects that need my attention (and thankfully have a definitive end). And to be honest, it’s taken a lot of my training time as well, which I’m sure some jiu jitsu person read and then gasped in horror. Sorry, but it’s true.
Which leads me back to the topic of priorities: a few weeks back I had brunch with a teammate, one who also has a job that keeps her pretty busy and mentioned how it’s been a struggle to make it into class on a consistent basis. We then talked about jiu jitsu, and about how attending class has to be one of those things you have to make a priority.
First and foremost, if there’s an important, particularly unique thing that needs to be taken care of in lieu of going to class, take care of that thing: if it’s a big project at work where a lot of people are counting on you, your grandmother’s 100th birthday, whatever it is, do that thing first.
It’s when we let the less important things seem important, that’s when it starts to get tricky. In this case, I would argue it’s less about prioritization and more about a lack of boundary setting – it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race, or a million other things that can keep you off the mat. It’s making sure we understand the difference between those little things that may happen in perpetuity, for those big things that I mentioned previously, and being clear as to the difference between the two.
That’s all for now: have a great day everyone!
March 2, 2021 · 8:40 am
So for a while now I have been making an effort to lift weights around 5am. And for the most part I’m successful in this endeavor…. and occasionally I’m not. While I usually try to head to my local weight lifting/all the cardio things gym to work out, thanks to recent lockdowns I do have a few pieces of equipment in my basement for what I call “creepy basement workouts”. Because my basement is creepy- it’s dusty with an uneven and cracked floor, the walls are pointy rock foundation for the house, the ceiling just the beams to support the first floor along with some random wires, and for some reason there’s an unfinished dirt pit in the back of the basement where I kind of suspect there’s something unsavory buried deep back there: drugs? bootleg liquor? Jimmy Hoffa? I don’t know, and I don’t really want to find out.
Anyway, this morning was a struggle for some reason: even though I went to bed extra early, laid out my clothes the night before, when my alarm went off for some reason I could not get my act together and just get up. I did eventually finally get myself in gear, but I had seriously cut into my workout time. In the past I would have just given up, said “well I’ll try again tomorrow” and that would be that. I did make it down to my basement though, managed to lift a few things and not dwell too much on what could be down there- it was by no means the kind of workout where you feel amazing and accomplished- emerging victorious and feeling like you can take on the world. But it was something: and that’s ok sometimes. Not every day makes it to the highlight reel: in fact, most don’t. Getting something done though provides consistency, and allows you to keep moving forward towards your goals. Sure, it may not be the large strides that you are used to, but doing a little is better than doing nothing at all.
It’s something that we also need to keep in mind with jiu jitsu: as you train, as you drill, as you struggle with positions, there are most certainly days where you are not going to feel your best. In fact, it may actually feel like you are getting worse: that’s ok, it means that you are trying something outside of your comfort zone, that you are developing skills that – if you continue to work on them- will eventually become a part of your skill toolbelt, if you will. Remember that everyone has days where they can’t give 100%, but giving something to ensure consistency is better than giving nothing at all.
Just some thoughts I wanted to share- have a great day everyone!
December 8, 2020 · 8:23 am
I think I have talked about this a couple of times now, but I would argue that if you put two people in front of me: one that was naturally athletic and one that was not, I would say the non athletic person would succeed in jiu jitsu.
Granted, the definition of “succeed” is highly subjective, but I’m using it to mean continuing in their jiu jitsu journey- because you only stop succeeding at the sport when you give up…. Win, lose, doesn’t matter as long as you’re showing up.
Sure, the athletic person would acquire some quick and (presumably) easy wins in the beginning- they would be able to use their athleticism and agility to finesse their way through a few things, or would have the mechanical movements down to achieve some of the basics. At some point (as we all know) this runs out.
For the non-athletic person, it starts being hard from the beginning, and so the expectation is set from the start: this is not a walk in the park. And when it gets harder, there’s no shock- it was hard, and now it’s getting harder. The person has the advantage of not going through the surprise moment of “oh man, this is hard.” For them it’s always been hard, and they just stick their nose back to the grindstone and keep pushing on.
Ultimately it does actually come down to the person’s mentality: remember jiu jitsu is for every BODY, but not for everybody. There’s a certain amount of grit and (and stubborn mindset, if we’re being honest) that you either need to have, or be willing to acquire with a physically and mentally challenging sport/art like jiu jitsu.
Just some thoughts I had- agree? Disagree? Let me know: otherwise, have a great day everyone!
September 8, 2020 · 6:28 am
So, I’m not sure what it’s like at the moment in your city, state or country, but for some of us particularly on the East Coast, restrictions are slowly starting to lift and we are getting back to some semblance of training. Yay!
I and several other people have made jokes about going back to the gym and training and basically destroying our bodies. While that to some extent will be true for everyone that had to take some time off, we should also remember to be kind to our bodies: we collectively spent months either attempting to compensate for our lack of jiu jitsu through a variety of other activities in our own homes or with some version of social distancing, or simply not working out but rather taking care of our families and loved ones, or even yet trying to navigate unemployment and other hardships that were brought on by the virus.
For those who can go back to training at this time, great! Please sure to do so as responsibly as possible: I imagine your academy has come up with some safety protocol to keep everyone as safe as possible. Another thing is to make sure to be kind to yourself. As I mentioned we spent this time either trying to compensate for not doing jiu jitsu, or outright not doing anything workout related at all (and for good reason): and as we say, the one thing that’s going to make you better at jiu jitsu, is more jiu jitsu. And as tempting as it is to go whole hog, and try to do “all the things(!!)”, that’s just a recipe for disaster, and may keep you on the side lines for a while as you recover from some injury due to over-enthusiasm.
It can be difficult to be sure, but practice a little self restraint, give yourself some time to ease back into jiu jitsu and I’m sure that you’ll be back to your old schedule in no time.
That’s it for now: have a great day everyone!
February 11, 2020 · 10:12 am
While preferably we would like everyone to follow along and do the things we tell them to in class, students sometimes are just physically unable. They are injured, sick, or have some other issue that makes them incapable of participating in class.
It’s tricky, making sure that someone is still able to be engaged and feel included in class. We had a little bit of an accidental genius solution last night: we had a teammate who was unable to take some judo takedowns, and so she became our “photographer” for the night, taking a ton (and I mean, like, A TON) of shots of us tossing each other around- it was a lot of fun and a great way to keep someone involved, without having them do something that they would feel uncomfortable engaging in.
It’s something that instructors can and should be mindful of when it comes to students who may not be able to participate, and for students who maybe are unable, it may be a good idea to offer a suggestion on what can be done in lieu of a technique. Sometimes your teacher is not entirely sure what you are capable of doing at the time, so it’s helpful to offer an alternative.
Just something I wanted to share with you all: have a great day everyone!
January 20, 2020 · 11:26 am
It’s been a struggle since the dawn of time- how much time to drill vs how much time for sparring aka rolling.
Ask a newer belt and they will tell you roll, roll, roll: less time drilling and more time sparring. This whole topic was actually spawned from a conversation with a lower belt. It makes sense: you acquire something new, and immediately want to put it to use.
The more advanced you become however, the more you see the value in drilling- you could almost say you took the new thing out of the package, you’ve played around with it a bit, and now you want to mold it better to your habits, body type, other things to make it your “own”, to develop the muscle memory for execution while you are training.
I’ve always said there’s validity to both: you need drilling to improve training, and you can definitely make a case to say you need training in order to know what to work on for better drilling. The two can- and should- go hand in hand if you let them.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t drill just for the sake of drilling and you shouldn’t train just for the sake of training. By combining the two you can push your jiu jitsu forward by drilling techniques you want to hone, and then putting them to the test. Or, conversely you can make note of certain situations you find yourself in while training, and then drilling methods to get out of those positions, or better yet turn those positions into something that is more advantageous for you.
Just some thoughts I wanted to share: have a great day everyone!
December 16, 2019 · 10:47 am
It used to be Sensei Youtube, now there’s a new guy in town….Sensei Instagram.
It’s understandable: people want to share their knowledge or just share what they are working on (which I’ve totally done on my own instagram account, so trust me, there’s no high horse that I’m talking down from ). While I imagine youtube videos of techniques are still quite popular, there is an appeal to just getting down to the shortened, basically nitty gritty of a technique in the shorten format of an instagram clip.
I go back and forth on whether or not it’s a good idea. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s really the place for a newer belt to learn techniques. While a student can do a good deal of self correction, there really is no substitute for learning fundamentals in person and having someone give you pointers on the things you don’t see that are missing in your technique. On the other, for the more advanced jiu jitsu player it’s a great sampling of other techniques out there, and even for the less advanced player it’s a lovely way to continued to be inspired.
I just become a little concerned at the idea of someone ignoring their mastery of the basics in order to go for the fancy stuff, essentially. It’s like the Bruce Lee quote “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Chasing after the new and shiny is fun, to be sure, but it will not help you if you do not- at the very least- have a firm understanding and a level of mastery in the basics. So in short, I would say allow yourself to be inspired, try things out from instagram, but treat those techniques more like a dessert than your main meal.
Just something to consider- have a great day everyone!
December 12, 2019 · 10:16 am
Last night we had some end-of year promotions for some teammates, and now we have a whole sea of brown belts (including a whole bunch of brown belt ladies) and two new black belts!
It’s always exciting to see teammates take the next step in their jiu jitsu journey: I’m happy and proud of everyone who were promoted!
November 20, 2019 · 12:04 pm
So, fun entry in the Chronicles of Katie Losing Things, I couldn’t find the band to my Whoop fitness tracker (you can take the band off and slip the actual tracking part into an arm band), I looked through the pockets in my bookbag, all around my house, and decided that I must have left it on my desk at work, as sometimes I change the tracking device from my wrist to arm when I’m at work before I make the trek to the gym to train.
Trekked all the way up to New York and back, went back to work and the band wasn’t on my desk like I thought, so I decided to take one last look in my bookbag, but one pocket that I didn’t totally turn inside out…. and it was totally there. Whomp, whomp….
The moral of the story is this: sometimes we think something won’t work, but in digging a little deeper, and operating outside or even in spite of our assumptions can occasionally surprise us. We thought that escape wouldn’t work until we dug a little deeper and surprise! We’re out. That sweep that hasn’t worked before, the choke we were a little too shallow with in the past: sometimes when we dig a bit deeper, there’s a reward waiting for us at the end.
Not to muddy the theme of this post, but just like we talked about learning the fine lines in jiu jitsu previously, there is a fine line between digging deep and insisting on something past the point where you need to just move on. How can you tell the difference? Instructors can give you tips and tricks for certain moves, but ultimately you need to train, experience it first hand and figure it out. And there will be times it will go (potentially hilariously) wrong, but there are times where it really is worth digging deep to find out something works.
Just some thoughts to share- have a great day everyone!
November 18, 2019 · 10:37 am
Just a thought I was having this morning: I was thinking mainly about movies, if we’re being totally honest. Something can look good, but not necessarily be good in other regards.
When it comes to movies, I’m sure you could come up with a couple of examples of films that in terms of visual styling are amazing, but when you really start to dissect the plot and dialogue, really don’t make any damn sense. The most recent example for me is the movie The Witch: visually really interesting, great shots…. plot looks like a slice of Swiss cheese.
Jiu jitsu has its own issues with that. I’m sure there are some jiu jitsu players out there with some really cool, fancy guards and sweeps…. that really don’t connect to anything, or are really just done for the sake of being done. I like to think of those moves as almost the haute couture of jiu jitsu. I believe someone, somewhere in my life explained haute couture this way: no one in their right mind would (or should) walk out the door in some of the outlandish outfits that walk down the runway, but it’s more you should expect to see those elements in fashion in the coming weeks, months, etc.
Same thing with pretty jiu jitsu: you can take some elements from it any incorporate it into your game, but to take some of these techniques wholesale is the jiu jitsu equivalent of walking into a party looking like a fluffy, 3D Rorshach test.
…But does it have pockets?
Visually impressive, not terribly practical.
It’s also important to note that sometimes good jiu jitsu is not necessarily pretty. In fact sometimes basic, unimpressive moves are the most effective. Of course there is beauty in simplicity, and of course we can appreciate when a move is well executed, but sometimes the unimpressive “unpretty” stuff is really the best. It’s the stuff that may not make the highlight reel, but they are relatively simple moves that you can rely on.
So, just to recap- don’t worry if you don’t think your jiu jitsu isn’t pretty, because sometimes the good stuff just isn’t pretty- what’s important is that it works.
Have a great day everyone!