Tag Archives: Training

Different Levels of Success With Techniques in BJJ

Pretty sure this is one of those things we know, but don’t really talk about. There are really different levels of success when it comes to certain techniques.

Some are our black belt techniques. It’s those techniques that we have a relative mastery over (regardless of how you feel about your personal level of skill), the ones that keep your partner on their toes, or they keep tapping to regardless how hard they try not to.

Then, there are the mid level techniques- the ones that you have some middling success with. You have some success with them, but there’s definitely still some work to be done. You’re not as confident with them, but they are well on their way to becoming techniques that you master.

And then there are the new-ish techniques, the ones that you are still trying to find your groove with, the ones with low success rate, or you still need to tweak to feel comfortable with, before you can start to fine tune the execution.

The thing with jiu jitsu is that you will pretty much have techniques in your toolbelt that live in all 3 of those categories. Even at black belt and beyond there will be techniques that you’ll find that you haven’t mastered: it’s a process that will take the rest of your life- which for some is exciting, the idea there is some new, undiscovered piece of jiu jitsu they haven’t explored thoroughly- it’s something to be inspired by.

On the other side of that coin, for some it can be daunting, the idea of a perpetually unfinished facet of their game that will always need work: I would ask those people to take heart, and understand that they don’t have to be good at ALL the jiu jitsu to enjoy it. Just like there are miles and miles of unexplored depths to the ocean, that doesn’t mean that you can’t head to the beach and enjoy the surf and parts you know.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share with you all: have a great day everyone!


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Fighting the Right Fight in Jiu Jitsu

It happens to all of us at some point: in the puzzle/human chess game that we call jiu jitsu, we sometimes find ourselves trying to execute on something that either just isn’t there, or focus on trying to do something that isn’t giving us the desired results.

We struggle, trying to put the wrong pieces of the puzzle together in an attempt to make something work- we try to fight the wrong fight, essentially.


This can be super clear/obvious at lower ranks: the first example that comes to mind is when someone tries to break closed guard in the beginning. A lot of people have some…interesting ideas about what to do in closed guard. Some of them make sense, some of them, not so much. But it boils down to what they are considering the threat and what they are trying to neutralize.

This becomes less obvious as you advance in rank, because the road to success seems a little more open, and the options leading to a successful sweep or submission are- or at least appear to be- more numerous and potentially viable options. And while of course we should make an attempt and try our best, we should be careful though and not waste all of our energy on trying to stick a round peg into a square hole. Sometimes techniques don’t work because we need to get better at executing them, and sometimes techniques don’t work because we need to get better at understanding the right timing and opportunity for them.

Of course, it’s hard to tell that at first, but over time you should take the occasional second if you are struggling to think “Is this the fight I should be focusing on right now?” the answer can certainly be yes, but once in a while the answer may be no and that’s when it’s time to change strategies. It will take time to understand those situations, but if you are able to catch them, it should lead to more productive training sessions.

That’s all for now- 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 Injuries: Picking and Choosing Your Battles

Let’s be honest- as much as you try to be careful, as gentle (for the most part) jiu jitsu can be on the joints, sometimes you sustain little injuries. A jammed finger here, a tweaked knee there. Nothing too serious, but if not taken care of properly, or ignored, they can amount to bigger problems down the road. For an example, please refer to my perpetually dislocated left pinky toe.

We all know that you should take care of you injuries, however jiu jitsu players are a pretty hardheaded, stubborn breed. On the one hand, it’s tremendously useful when working on getting out of tight spots and digging deep to get that sweep, submission, etc. On the other hand it also makes us all very prone to “working through the pain” and end up making the situation worse.

This is when you need to take a step back and weigh your options: is this training session/tournament/whatever important enough to exacerbate an existing injury? Sometimes that answer is yes, other times as much as we don’t like to admit it, that answer can be no. When you are injured, there are times when you really have to pick and choose your battles, so you can get up and fight another day.

Have any of you been in that situation recently? Have you had to step back from a training session or tournament because you realize you had an injury, and as much as you didn’t like it, you decided to not participate? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!


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Team Training!

What better way to spend your Sunday? Thanks for the great team training guys!

Team Training

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Old Habits Die Hard, and Bad Ones are Like Cockroaches from Hell

You keep thinking they go away, but they just keep coming back to haunt you…

I really wish I hadn’t just come up with that imagery, now I feel like I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.

Throughout jiu jitsu, hell, life even, you develop good habits, and inevitably pick up some bad ones along the way. It’s one of the reasons instructors really emphasize details and the correct way to perform a technique so often and early: we want you to be successful in the technique, and not only that, but it’s much harder to correct a bad habit and poor application than to start fresh and do right from the beginning.

You can see especially with lower belts that this concept hasn’t really sunk in: they’ll sort of do a sweep right, or not really put themselves in the position they need to be for a technique while drilling. It kind of reminds me of that saying, “moment on the lips, forever on the hips”. Sure, it may not seem like a big deal now, but if you drill a particular technique and position only sort of right in class, how can you expect it to do it correctly when it’s time to roll and you have to depend on your muscle memory? Logically you understand what you are supposed to do, but your body remembers all those half assed repetitions you did, so that is in all likelihood how you are going to execute the technique: half-assed and less effectively than you would have liked.

Or, think of it this way: drilling is a chance to execute these techniques, positions, submissions, whatever in a perfect world scenario, where the chance for success is 100%, or pretty darn close to it. When rolling, for argument’s sake, your chance for success drops, because you have a less compliant partner. So the guy that’s been drilling, taking his time to get all the details right and avoiding those bad habits will have a higher success rate with the same choke, than the guy that’s sort of been sort of drilling the same technique in a sort of right fashion. Even when you think you have corrected those bad habits, sometimes they come back to haunt you, and you are left to wonder “why in the hell did I do that?”. Cockroach from hell, I’m telling you.

I imagine for the most part I’m preaching to the choir, but when in class I would  say really work to drill with purpose, pay attention to the details, take your time, and if there is something you don’t understand, ask a question: the earlier you can correct these missteps and mistakes the better.

Anyway, have a great day everyone!

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Fundraisin’ and Instagrammin’

So as I admitted several weeks ago, I’m pretty bad at getting involved in the social aspect of the whole social media thing. I’m getting a little better with blog commenting, and a bit better with Twitter, but my Instagram “game” is sorely lacking. Part of that has to do with the fact that I rarely take my phone to class-and it’s pretty hard to take photos while in the middle of training. I know this because trust me, if you could I think our one student and Instagram addict would never stop taking photos.

But, our coach has been taking photos and videos of our training sessions, so feel free to follow his Instagram feed: PhillyBJJ.

More often than not I’m in the photos/videos, so that counts…right?

My own Instagram feed is not nearly as interesting, but if for some reason you want to follow it, it’s the same as my twitter username, skirtonthemat.

Also, this is for family & friends, or anyone who just wants a super cool t-shirt- we’re holding a Booster Campaign and selling t-shirts to raise money for the team going to Pans (which includes me! I’m going too!). This fundraiser is, in particular, for our students who work hard, really put in the work, time and effort in training, but may not have all the money required to make this sort of trip on solely their own funds.  If you’re interested in buying a shirt, just click on the photo or go here.

Booster Campaign T-shirt

Yes I’m shamelessly promoting my team’s fundraiser. No, I’m not apologizing for it. Not that there’s anything to be ashamed of in the first place…whatever, you know what I mean.

If you are interested in a shirt, the campaign only lasts for about 2 more weeks, so I would say grab ’em while they last.

Anyway, have a great day everyone!

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An Article on Not Judging Someone Else’s Hiatus from BJJ

I know, I’m late to the party in mentioning this article but Valerie Worthington wrote an article about not judging someone when they take a break from BJJ for personal reasons.

As much as BJJ is a refuge from the “slings and arrows” of real life, a way to exercise, a way to cope with the stresses of our jobs, etc. the fact of the matter is things do happen outside of the mat room that will require our attention and force us to address those issues and pull us from our training. These events can knock us on our ass and force us to sit out for a bit. If you feel this applies to your situation, you’re definitely not alone. I’ve had to take a couple of breaks of that nature due to personal events- as much as I care about my teammates, as much as I consider them my non-blood related family, I didn’t want to train and didn’t go to the gym for a couple of weeks, mainly because I had no desire to get on the mat and I just didn’t feel like I was emotionally in the right place. I’m trying to think if I ever felt that someone judged me for my time off the mat- I don’t think so, or if they did I was pretty much in the mindset of not giving a damn.

We’ve had other teammates leave and come back for personal reasons as well. We just had a guy come back from a hiatus as well, and maybe I totally missed others reactions, but I didn’t question his dedication due to his time away; I was just happy to see him back, gave him a hug and that was the end of it. I sincerely hope this is the case at your academy as well: if you feel like you have to take some time off to deal with non-BJJ related stuff, then please know that it’s ok to take time off, it’s ok to deal with the other parts of your life and restore that sometimes delicate balance we all strive to maintain between personal stuff, work stuff and BJJ. Take your time, and come back when you feel like you are in a place where you can train. This is your journey in jiu jitsu, and if you need to take a detour so be it- although you probably should let someone know at your academy know if you are going away for a bit, just to make sure at least one person knows you didn’t drop off the face of the earth. 😉


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Science of Skill Post on Training with Smaller People and Day 7 of the 12 Days of Judo: Hane Goshi

There’s a nice little article geared toward those of a larger stature and about the benefits of training with smaller people (women included). Check it out!

Aaaand here’s Day 7 of the 12 Days of Judo. Sorry for the almost violent cut in between shots: somewhere a single tear is rolling down the cheek of my Communication Technology teacher (I have actually taken a class on audio and video editing- sad, right?).

Anyway, enjoy!

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Happy Friday: Chilly Edition

Happy Friday!

It’s definitely chilly here on the East Coast; while I usually would wear a t shirt under my gi in class and loathe the idea of wearing anything with longer sleeves, I’m actually looking forward to staying warm with my long-sleeve rash guard. Some of teammates will wear socks before class, instead of flip-flops: I still can’t quite get down with that trend. Yet.

How about everyone else? What are you doing to keep warm as the mat rooms get colder?

Let me know: otherwise, have a great weekend everyone!


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