Tag Archives: jiu jitsu training

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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Limiting Beliefs May Be Holding You Back in Jiu Jitsu

 

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There’s a term that’s tossed around my work sometimes- limiting beliefs. We think a certain thing won’t work, or a behavior won’t change. The definition of a limiting belief, according to the internet is “a thought or belief that a person acquires as a result of making an incorrect conclusion about something in life.”

This can plague our everyday lives, and can also effect our jiu jitsu. After one bad session of trying spider guard, we suddenly proclaim that we are terrible half spider guard players and we refuse to work in that position. We mess up a takedown, and suddenly we’re not the kind of jiu jitsu player that does “that” kind of takedown. We’ve all done it at some point, myself certainly included. We have one bad experience and then BAM- we think that we can’t do something, full stop.

While sometimes there are things we really can’t do due to some physical impediment, we shouldn’t let our limiting beliefs keep us from progressing into more fully rounded jiu jitsu players. Obviously, waaaay more easily said than done: humans are remarkably efficient machines, and it takes conscious effort sometimes to do things that we think are inefficient uses of our time: we like doing things we are good at, or have promise of being good at, because it feels like a more productive use of our time- to hone our skills at something we’re already doing well.

My ask really is to still try things that you have a belief that you are not good at- whether it’s a takedown, a sweep, or something else you think you can’t do (without hurting yourself, of course). When you are taking class and that particular technique comes around in the rotation, try to make an effort to clear your mind of the previous bad or less than stellar experiences, and try to start fresh. You never know, there may be something that you didn’t pick up on last time you tried and makes everything substantially easier.

I don’t know about you, but the next logical question for me would be “so how do you know when something is a limiting belief, versus an actual limitation”? Honestly, I’m not sure. I think there is always some validity in trying something, even something you know you aren’t good at- either you will improve, even just a little bit, or worst case scenario you are reminded that we can’t be good at everything, and that there will always be things to work on when it comes to jiu jitsu. But regardless, you should always make an effort to try things, even when you think you are not good at them.

Have a great day everyone!

 

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Science! Being Left Handed Can Help in Some Sports

According to one recent study, there may be a benefit to being left handed in some sports, mainly one with a time constraint.

I haven’t noticed a real benefit to being a south paw in jiu jitsu, to be honest- just a confused look from my partner when I want to drill something on the left side because it just feels more natural.

Anyway, check out the article and have a great day everyone!

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Sometimes I Tell My Training Partners How to Beat My Techniques

Seems counter-intuitive, no? I find myself doing this with some of the lower belts: I literally tell them how to beat me, or how to defend against some technique I just happen to be doing particularly well with them.

I do this for two fairly simple reasons- first, it helps my partner as it gives them the ability to give me trouble and not just feel like they are getting repeatedly tapped by a black belt without rhyme or reason. Not that I don’t think our students are tough, but it’s sort of like being sick without having a diagnosis- it depressing because you aren’t really sure what’s going on, or when it will really end.

Second, it keeps me from being complacent in my techniques. If someone knows how to give me trouble in something I do successfully, I need to find an effective “out” and then different approach- either a different entrance for the same technique, or something different all together if the opportunity presents itself. It encourages creative thinking, experimenting, which also gives the lower rank more opportunities to work on whatever they are trying at the moment, because it’s forcing me out of my comfort zone.

I think by all means you should have an A game- a handful of positions, sweeps, submissions, etc. that you know like the back of your hand. But I don’t think it benefits anyone, yourself included, if there isn’t someone that’s trying to beat you- either through their own efforts, or if you tell a partner exactly what will give you trouble.

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

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Experimenting in Jiu Jitsu: Let’s Get Weird

Basics and solid fundamentals are key in jiu jitsu, to be sure. But I fully believe it is beneficial to occasionally put yourself in unusual positions- to get a little weird with your jiu jitsu sometimes. Well, weird in a safe way, I guess I should mention.

There are a few benefits to putting yourself in unusual situations: first and foremost, there’s a good chance it will fail and will give you the opportunity to figure out an exit strategy. It’s all fine good if it actually works, but putting yourself in less than advantageous positions also has value, as it helps you figure out how to squeak out of a sticky situation.

Second, it can possibly help you see opportunities for different sweeps or submissions. There’s more than one way to break an egg, and there are multiple ways you can initiate a technique. It doesn’t have to always be simply “A+B=C”. Play around, see what works best for you and the game you like to play.

And finally, it adds fun to your jiu jitsu! Changing up your game and approach, experimenting adds a bit of variety to your training sessions, which can be a lot of fun.

So go out there and get a little weird, everyone!

 

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Article on the Perceived Importance of Belts and Stripes

Hey everyone- while I’m catching up on taking Monday off (because I was being a birthday princess), take a look at the article from Gracie Barra about their policy on promotions and the perceived importance of belts and stripes.

Check it out and have a great day everyone!

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