Tag Archives: philadelphia BJJ

BJJ and Drilling: Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Rhyme

Whenever we emphasize drilling in class to lower belts, two things happen. First, we talk about how students should find a rhythm to their repetitions.

And second, I pretty much always have to suppress the urge to make a Cool Runnings reference.


What do we mean by finding a rhythm? It’s really about putting the steps together. Often, particularly among lower ranks, you have the independent parts of a technique down: you understand what you are doing, and maybe even why- but your movements are jerky, and sometimes the technique falls apart because the next piece requires momentum or movement from the previous piece to bring it all together. So we tell students to try to put elements together to make a more smooth execution of the technique.

Does this mean you have to zip through drilling like you just took an entire bottle of Adderall and chased it down with a Redbull? Absolutely not.  If you are not familiar with the technique, and you don’t feel comfortable drilling at a fast pace, don’t. If you’re not confident in the technique, there’s a very high chance there are small (and sometimes large) details you’ll miss if you focus more on speed than execution. It’s more of an encouragement to take the building blocks you’ve been given and create one cohesive piece. And, the more you practice the technique as that one cohesive piece, the more confidence you’ll have to execute it in live training and competition.

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Happy Friday! Flashback Edition

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been almost 3 weeks since I received my black belt, and I am still expecting someone to tap me on the shoulder and ask for the belt back, realizing their mistake. It’s crazy to think 8 years ago I started this whole journey, and just how different I’ve become because of it. I was clumsy, shy, and now I’m…. still clumsy, still shy now and again,  but there’s been so much of a difference it’s kind of amazing.

So, since I’m in this reminiscent sort of mood, I have some good news and some back news for you: The bad news is you’re going to get a lot of photos of me.

The good news however is that I seem to look better as I get older- just like Sean Connery! Yes!


In the beginning….


This was about 2 to 3 months before I started jiu jitsu. As you can probably see, while I was an active person, my diet wasn’t exactly the healthiest… Fast forward about a year later (I’m terrible at keeping track of these things):


This may have been the first seminar I attended, I’m not entirely sure…





Definitely not the first in-house I did but you know, nothing wrong with a nice action shot.



First ever IBJJF Tournament. Fun fact, this year was the first time I have been back to the Long Beach Pyramid (for Master Worlds)


The first documented  podium “Katie Face”- trust me, there are a lot of Katie faces, but this one is tournament specific.


Some more IBJJF tournaments… And developing a sweet streak of gray by this point (I found my first gray hair when I was 15- it was bound to happen).


some training, training and more training….



And more tournaments- at this point I’ve learned I can’t look straight ahead when my hand is raised because I’ll probably have a weird look on my face.


Much like Sarah in this photo, while continuing on our journey we learn to enjoy the ride, laugh a bit and appreciate the time we share with teammates and other fellow jiu jitsu players.


Back to what I was saying: you may think by the time you get your black belt you’ll be super cool, or know everything, or something of that nature…



(this was a photo that was taken for work along with some headshots, btw, not how I hang around the gym out of my gi)


Nope, you’ll probably still be an awkward, somewhat more knowledgable panda, and you have a ton more to learn. That’s one of the great (and for some, frustrating) things about Jiu jitsu- it’s a sport/martial art that constantly evolves, so there is always something more to learn and take away from your time on the mats.

Hopefully you enjoyed (or at least survived) this trip down memory lane. Have a great weekend everyone!


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There’s No Slapping in Sport Jiu Jitsu

You know, when running a class there are times when things come out of your mouth that you never thought you would have to say. This was one of those things.

To provide a little backstory, last week we covered some self defense, and some slapping was integrated slapping into some of the moves (that’s really a thing in the self defense system, look it up). Fast forward to this week, while some white belts were rolling the one girl starts slapping the guy while she’s in mount- not very hard, and they were both doing exactly what we went over in class, but it did prompt me to remind them that there was no slapping in sport jiu jitsu.

Just wanted to share that little moment with you- have a great day everyone!


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Black Belt (!!)



So on Monday night we had a seminar with Saulo (you all know which Saulo I’m talking about) and at the end we had several momentous promotions- black belt promotions, actually, and I was one of the students promoted.


It’s funny, and a little weird- it’s something you strive for, but never focus on: first, because that sort of pressure can be overwhelming, particularly in the beginning- and second, because the process of getting to your black belt is just as important as the rank itself. More so, actually. Think about how much you learn when you start training for a competition, how your skills sharpen- all for what, anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes of actual competing? We continue on this journey- we learn, we laugh, we cry, become frustrated, experience epiphanies when something all comes together and finally makes sense for us-it’s all a part of the experience that culminates into preparing you for your black belt.

Earning your black belt is a tremendous achievement to be sure, but it’s definitely not the end of the journey. There are still techniques to learn, positions to drill and commit to muscle memory, more experiences to be had- not to mention more opportunities to teach, and learn from one another. Also, while I am one of the ones who received the black belt, it’s really an accomplishment for the team and the academy in general. None of this could have happened if my teammates weren’t there with me, and I am tremendously thankful for that.



I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds in store- not only for myself, but for my teammates as well. I’m thrilled not only to progress, but to train with my teammates and see them make the same journey as well.

So, um, in closing- black belt, yay! 😀


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Friendly Reminder About Being Mindful with Your Jiu Jitsu


Remember kids, it’s harder to break an  old habit than to create a new habit. Be mindful when drilling, work on being as technical and precise as possible, because it will eventually become ingrained into your jiu jitsu.

Have a great day everyone!

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BJJ: Understand Your Strengths, but Don’t Cater to Them

This is a pretty funny article, a satire of the “oh, only things this particular personality type will understand” articles that are floating around the internet right now:

Sorry I Murdered Everyone, But I’m an Introvert

And I guess as someone who wobbles between INTJ and INFJ, this is my favorite comment so far in response to the article- “…INTJs are the people who help you plan your party. We calculate the minimum effort necessary for maximum enjoyment, and plan ahead to reduce the stresses of being in crowds. Accidentally slaughtering all of your guests? That’s sloppy. That’s some ISFP nonsense right there.”

I feel like these articles almost excuse our personality traits-which, we should accept and acknowledge our strengths and shortcomings, but I have always disagreed with the concept of catering to them. For example, I just found out there’s an app for my phone where I can potentially have wine and liquor delivered to my house, just like a pizza.Will I use it and cater to my introverted nature that really hates crowds? No: buying alcohol for me is really such a rare occasion (maybe once every 3 to 6 months) that I can “put my big girl pants on” and face a store full of strangers just like everyone else.  Also, browsing can be fun sometimes.

To put it into a jiu jitsu context, I am pretty decent at chokes, but that doesn’t mean I should neglect joint locks. I really like one kind of sweep, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only sweep I should do. The examples could go on and on- there are certain techniques that work really well for me, some that don’t, but I try not to excuse the deficiencies in my game and only focus on my strengths. That leads to a lop-sided player in a way: almost like only working out the right side of your body but not your left, because the right side is your “strong side”.

Do you want to be the jiu jitsu equivalent of this guy? I don't.

Do you want to be the jiu jitsu equivalent of this guy? I don’t.

Understand your strengths- introversion, extroversion, right, left, chokes, armbars- but also understand that you have to work on your weaknesses on and off the mat to make yourself a more well rounded jiu jitsu player, and human being in general.

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Deep Thoughts About Jiu Jitsu, and Stuff

During the last day of our trip to Long Beach for Master Worlds, we ended up at one of the beaches in the area overlooking the gorgeous….tankers and industrial stuff that covered the shoreline.

Anyway, the team ended up walking/climbing along a rock jetty on the beach, which was pretty interesting, particularly because I was already in city shoes with little to no traction- not “walking and climbing on a bunch of big rocks” shoes. So what the heck does this have to do with jiu jitsu? I started to wonder the same thing as I climbed along. And surprisingly, a lot more than you would initially think. You climb along the rocks, jumping from one to the other- sometimes you leap over areas some people have difficulty navigating, sometimes you are temporarily stuck in spots that others may breeze through. Sometimes to continue you just have to make a leap of faith onto an area you’re not entirely sure is safe, and trust that you can land without doing any serious damage to yourself. You continue along, even gain a little rhythm, even some momentum to your movements. You occasionally stop to look back and you’re surprised at how much progress you’ve made, even though it feels like you really haven’t gone all that far. Sometimes you underestimate how well you’ll do, other times you overestimate and falter a little, but the important thing is that you keep going. As long as you don’t stop- you adapt, you learn, you continue to progress.

Those are just my “deep thoughts”. Just keep working at it, and you will eventually progress in jiu jitsu. 🙂

Have a great day everyone!


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A Return to the East Coast and Article on BJJ and Joint Care

Holy crap, I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without posting for quite some time.

I went to Master Worlds- won one match, lost by points in the final of my division and lost by points in the absolute. A bummer, but I’m also taking it as motivation to get back in the gym and tighten some techniques up, adjust some reactions to things.

Anyhoo, while I get caught up on work and life things, check out this article from the Science of Skill on joint care. Because trust me, even if you don’t think you need to take care of your joints, you totally do.

Check it out, and have a great day everyone!

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BJJ: Why You Shouldn’t Quit at Blue Belt

Imagine reading a book, and getting through an exhilarating first chapter- filled with highs, lows, frustration and finally a resolution. You know there are so many more chapters to the book, but you close the cover and walk away. Or you go to a move theater to watch a film- you sit through the exposition, become invested in the characters and their conflicts, nuances, struggles, and then just as you get through the first major conflict in the plot, you stand up and walk out of the theater.


That’s sort of what happens when people quit at blue belt. Sure, a number of people have real legitimate reasons they can’t continue with jiu jitsu: work, family, health- I totally get it. But there are some people that just fade away once they get their blue belt, which is mind-boggling. There’s so much more! Sure there are more obstacles and some sacrifices to be made, but there are so many other milestones, accomplishments, unique experiences to be had, and these people are missing out on them when they quit once they receive their blue belt.

Have you had people just disappear after they get their blue belt? Is it just as baffling to you as it is to me? Let me know!


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Congratulations to Our New Purple and Brown Belts!

Last night we had some striping for a couple of people and some pretty big promotions- we had a couple of guys move to purple, and two teammates move up to brown(!!).

Congratulations to CJ and Vance for your move to purple belt, and congratulations to Marty and Sarah for the move to brown belt!

Hooray! 😀

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