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Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Original Article: The Brain Flux

Psychological health is an important part of our lives. It affects our moods, emotions, behavior, and social interactions. Not only in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. It even has consequences for our physical health. Exercise can bolster our energy, make us resilient in the face of hardship, and has many other benefits for your mental health.

Exercise Alleviates Stress

This exercise benefit isn’t going to shock anyone. It’s a well known psychological benefit. Also one of the biggest reasons why people take up exercise. The science behind it is well documented, as well as it’s calming effect on a stressed mind. But how does a physically stressful activity on the body actually end up relieving stress?

It’s a bit of a puzzle, but the long-term benefits definitely compensate for the short-term stress. For starters, it releases neurochemicals into the brain. The big ones being endorphins, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are associated with better cognitive functioning, alertness, and elevated moods. In addition to dumping feel-good chemicals into your head, it also helps purge stress hormones from your body – cortisol and adrenaline.

From a psychological perspective, exercise also gives you a way to distract yourself from focusing on daily stressors. This could be from your boss, a task at work, or any number of personal problems. When the mind has nothing else to focus on, it will drift. Many people can fixate on immediate issues, specific stressful problems, or strong emotional feelings. So exercise can simply give you an immediate task to focus your energy on.

So while this benefit of exercise won’t come as a surprise to you, it’s still one of the best, time-tested reasons to get out there and get moving. As we’ll explore in other articles, stress is one of the biggest enemies of efficient brain operation. And exercise is an efficient stress management technique.

Gives Your Emotional Resilience

Stress also affects your emotional state. Strong emotions can be an unfortunate side effect of stressful events.

One study separated participants between participants between those who exercised regularly and those who didn’t. Both groups were equal in mood before the experiment. Then they were exposed to a stressful event. They observed that the physically fit group actually had smaller declines in positive mood than their more sedentary counterparts.

It seems that people who get regular exercise are able to maintain a more positive attitude – and emotional outlook – after something stressful occurs. This gives exercisers yet another level of protection from the day to day stress that happens to all of us.

Reduces Anxiety

meta-analysis published in 1995 had researchers take a look at 40 studies to measure the effects of exercise on anxiety. In analyzing several different study types, they found that exercise had a low to moderate effect on reducing anxiety levels. They also noted that adults who led a more stressful lifestyle benefited most from the exercise. So for those that are feeling anxious from stress will benefit even more from exercise than someone who isn’t.

Increases Pain Tolerance

It has been pretty well documented that intense exercise can dull pain in the short term. Your body releases endorphins and other chemicals during and shortly after exercise that will decrease pain in the body.

But it’s more than just short term. Exercise could be the key for those of you looking to increase your mental grit. A small study published in 2014 from Australia showed that participants who completed a six week aerobic exercise program increased their tolerance for pain. It wasn’t that they felt less pain. In fact, researchers noted that participants were feeling pain at the same levels as before. The change was actually a mental one. They were able to withstand pain at higher levels after they had completed the exercise regimen.

Helps Battle Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental conditions that affects people worldwide. An estimated 350 million according to the World Health Organization. Even scarier is the fact that depression is on the rise. It is set to be the 2nd biggest medical condition by 2020.

A large meta-analysis analyzed the effect of exercise on alleviating symptoms of depression. Two things were found from the review. They found positive results from a significant and moderate relief from depression. The second result came from the comparison of exercise to other forms of psychological therapy or drugs. Exercise was found to be just as effective as the other alternatives.

Pretty important news for a nation that has a slight addiction to pills and prescriptions. People who may be looking for other, more cost-effective ways to help fight depression, regular exercise could hold promise.

Prevents Depression

Preventing depression is even more important than fighting it. I won’t use a cliche quote referencing ounces and pounds here. But let’s agree prevention is far better than curing. Research tells us exercise helps the symptoms of depression, but scientists didn’t understand how. At least until recently.

In a study published in September 2014, researchers found a mechanism that helped explain the puzzle. And not just fight it, but help prevent the symptoms of depression.

The study gets pretty technical, but here are the key points. During stressful situations, there’s a harmful substance that builds up in the blood. The blood then carries that substance to the brain. Scientists used genetically modified mice to help produce a certain protein. A protein which helps break down and remove the harmful substance in the blood.

Normal mice and the mice with the protein were then exposed to multiple stressful situations. Scientists saw the normal mice begin to express depressive behaviors, while the genetically modified mice acted normally.

So here’s where the rubber hits the road. This same protein can be produced by skeletal muscle (both in mice and humans) through physical activity. The more physical activity you do, the more protein produced. So by doing regular exercise you build up the amount of protein in your system. When stress strikes, the protein eliminates the harmful substance, and shields your brain from symptoms of depression.

Improves Your Mood

Exercise causes the release of feel good chemicals in the brain. This part you know. So I want to share some interesting information you may not be familiar with.

Researchers took a look at how people deal with their bad moods. They identified a total of 32 different methods that people reported using. They then analyzed which methods were most effective at regulating their bad moods. After all the data was analyzed, exercise emerged as the most effective method at changing a bad mood. If you’re curious, the methods coming in second and third were music and social interaction.

Exercise Might Just Make You Happier

Moods come and go. They are temporary by nature. But can exercise have an effect on happiness in the long term?

An important question, but also a difficult one. I thought there would be tons of information on the subject, but it’s surprisingly sparse. There are various definitions of happiness and different ways to measure it. And happiness can mean different things for different people. Despite these problems, there have been some initial attempts to answer the exercise happiness question.

One study looked at data from 15 European countries. They compared people’s physical activity from different categories. Higher levels of activity correlated with higher levels of happiness. Researchers noted that even though there was a link, they couldn’t determine if the physical activity was the cause of the happiness.

In a slightly more convincing study, researchers looked at levels of physical activity in residents of Canada. They first established a baseline happiness for participants. They then analyzed data for changes in activity levels and happiness in the following years.

People who were inactive through the years were twice as likely to become unhappy than those who were active. Those people who were inactive were also more likely to become unhappy than others who became active over the same years. And finally, the researchers noticed people who were active – and became inactive later – increased their odds of becoming unhappy.

Beyond the Psychological

Exercise has some incredible benefits for our mental states, but it can do more than just that. Read other mind bending benefits in this article here. Also, if you have a friend that needs a quick mental boost, be sure to share this information with them!

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The Key to BJJ Success – Showing up

The Key to BJJ Success – Showing up

Original Article: BJJ Fanatics

A few years back, I remember hearing that the BJJ documentary “Roll” had been released. I rushed home to watch it that night after training. Click to watch it.

The film is a great look at some of the history of BJJ, and how its inception in the US  took place. There’s a particular quote that has stuck with me ever since. Chris Haueter is a large contributor to this documentary, and there’s a point where he says, “it’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left.”

What does that mean? To me, it means that our presence and commitment to BJJ carries more weight than any accolades, medals, or belts we hold. The great competitors of BJJ push our sport to evolve and have become the familiar faces of BJJ, setting standards, creating new techniques, and leading the charge for the recognition it deserves. But this is not the only way to be successful and contribute to BJJ.

If you are young, strong, and athletic, those attributes will eventually dwindle. If you are a decorated competitor in the prime of your career, that too, although admirable, will not be the case forever. We cannot rest our worth on the fickle. There has to be a greater purpose.

Be a pillar at your academy. Be the face that everyone knows. There are those in my journey that have been on the mat since before I started, and still, continue to train. In the face of everything that life and BJJ have thrown at them, they continue to be a constant. I have a great deal of respect for these heroes of the mat. They have endured serious injuries, life-changing events, and tough losses They’ve grappled with the ego and have learned to tame it. There is something special about them, and there is much to be learned from these great leaders.

So how do you judge your success in BJJ?

Success in BJJ is not stopping. If you’re on the mat, you are succeeding.

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The Workout to Burn Off Belly Fat

The Workout to Burn Off Belly Fat

Original Article: Men’s Journal

“You can rip out ab exercises all day long in the gym, but without the right combination of high-intensity fat-burning cardio along with specific abdominal-strengthening exercises that build your abs rather than break the tissue down, you won’t ever show off the results of your efforts,” says Liz Lowe, C.S.C.S., owner of Scorch Fitness, a high-intensity interval training gym in Sarasota, Florida.

Spot training doesn’t work, but this workout does. It’ll burn off the layer of fat hiding your chiseled “show” muscles, strengthen your core, and build muscle density so your abs really “pop,” Lowe says. “Strength exercises such as the front squat, overhead plate walking lunge, Bulgarian and counterbalance squats will work to build deeper core muscles since your abdominal wall is being used to stabilize your entire body during each exercise,” she explains. “The Russian twist, suspension trainer crunch, and decline crunch act as fine-tuning exercises, giving your abdominal wall the shape you want.” What’s more: You’re continuously moving in this workout, so it sky-rockets your heart rate, scorches calories, and burns fat long after the workout is over.

Prescription: This workout can be done 2-3x per week max since muscle recovery is extremely important with any muscle-building and fat-burning routine.

The Belly Fat Elimination Workout

Directions: Complete three rounds of each group of superset exercises. Take no rest until all three rounds are completed, then use the prescribed time to recover before the next superset.

Superset 1
1a. Heavy Front Squats x 6-8 reps
1b. Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing x 10 reps each arm

60 seconds rest

Superset 2
2a. Dumbbell Plyometric Step Up (on a box) x 10 reps each leg
2b. Overhead Plate Walking Lunge x 10 reps each leg

60 seconds rest

Superset 3
3a. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat (dumbbells in front position) x 8 reps each leg
3b. Jump Rope x 45 seconds

60 seconds rest

Superset 4
4a. Plate Counterbalance Squat x 12 reps (As you lower into the squat, your arms should simultaneously raise. Once your thighs are slightly below parallel, the plate should be extended in front of the eyes. Push through your heels and return to the starting position.)
4b. Medicine Ball Russian Twist x 15 reps each side

60 seconds rest

Superset 5
5a. Rope Slams x 30 reps
5b. Suspension Trainer Oblique Crunch x 15 reps per side (Start in a suspended plank position with your feet in the TRX straps (toes pointed down) and your shoulders directly over your hands. Bend both knees at the same time, drawing them together toward your left elbow. Extend both legs straight to return to the plank position. Draw both knees toward your right elbow. Extend both legs straight and return to plank position for one rep.)

60 seconds rest

Superset 6
6a. Decline Weighted Sit Up x 12 reps
6b. Treadmill Sprints x 50 steps (The treadmill is OFF. To move the tread, push off the tops of your feet.)

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Adulting and BJJ: 8 Ways to Impact Your Training When You Have Limited Time

Adulting and BJJ: 8 Ways to Impact Your Training When You Have Limited Time

Original Article: Princeton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

For most practitioners of BJJ there comes a time in life when shit gets real. After many years of putting your BJJ before everything in your life other than making some sort of paycheck to cover the most basic expenses (in this order): tuition, online training resources, training gear, tournament fees, ramen noodles and cell phone fees, we start to feel like maybe we are missing out on something.

Oh, I don’t know, friendships, romantic relationships, career advancement, family planning, home ownership, financial planning (what’s that? you mean I can’t just clean mats to train for the rest of my life?) suddenly start to feel like they might matter too.

But what then of your precious training time? How on earth will you get better at BJJ if you have to devote time to your long-term existence and success?

It’s a careful balance when you have to consider shifting your priorities. The first and most important battle is admitting to yourself that something else may become more important than BJJ. Now I firmly believe that everyone has a right to be a little selfish in their life because our selfish needs are what makes life worth living. Without our personal ambitions, we may be living for other people vs. living for ourselves. But moving on from the familiar rhythm of training day in and out and regimenting your entire life around your gym schedule is a very scary thing for many people because you feel like you may be lost without training, or you may feel like it means that you don’t love BJJ as much as the next person.

So before you begin to feel guilty about all the time you won’t be able to dedicate to training anymore, remember that your relationship to Jiu Jitsu is 100% yours. You practice for your own reasons, so don’t let anyone else’s goals or routine make you feel inadequate about yours.

Here are some ways to think about your training and exercise your passion when you are constricted for physical time on the mats:

1. Quality, not quantity. When you consider the hours you can actually train per week, no matter how minimal, seek out the best way to spend those hours. If you only have 2 hours a week to train, look at your gym schedule and zero in on the classes where you really jive with the teacher or you have access to the most helpful training partners. Don’t just go to any class on the schedule. Make your time special and make it matter.

Another scenario is that perhaps you don’t have a lot of good schools around you. If you know that there is a good school further away, it may be worth your time to train 2 times a week at a really good school vs 4 x a week at a low caliber meathead club.

2. Put effort into what you train and with who. I often hear the complaint, ‘I’m a brown belt and the school I go to only have white belts and 2-3 blue belts. They don’t push me hard enough.’ This is bullshit (most of the time). Be accountable for your own training and think about what you need to get better. We don’t walk into a clothing store and say, ‘Dress me, I’m here!’ You go pick out the things you like. If you want to work on sweeps, pick out techniques you want to work on and then just hit them on everyone you can. You’re lucky to have another body in the room. It’s up to you to make use of them. It’s also your responsibility to help make them better and mold them into the training partners you’d like them to be. The overall outcome is that you can get what you need out of whoever is breathing and moving around with you. If you have the opportunity to travel to a different gym from time to time where they have more belts at your level, go test yourself out. Take ownership of your practice, everyone is useful in some way.

3. Watch BJJ. A lot of it. If you can’t get on the mats a ton, watch a lot of matches on the internet. Enroll in an online academy. There are so many online resources now. If you’re a visual learner, watching matches may help you emulate movements on the mats. MGInAction has an ‘inaction’ feature where you can watch Marcelo Garcia hit particular techniques in live training over and over again from varying entries. I loaded up a whole bunch of these once and mysteriously found myself trying to hit these moves in sparring a week later. It gave me more motivation to study the techniques more closely. Sites like the Grapplers Guide give you the ability to build flowcharts and link videos. There are a ton of great tools out there to help you methodically piece together your game or help you think about how to push your studies forward.

Alternately, go support a teammate at a local tournament. Watching tournament matches is a great way to see what is trending.

4. Go to a BJJ camp or retreat and consolidate your learning. If you can’t go to class 5 x a week, how about dedicating 2-3 days to training 1-2 x a year? There are some incredible camps and seminars that are being marketed these days with stellar instructor lineups. Find a camp or a seminar series with a solid reputation and in 2-3 days you will probably take in enough technique to keep you going for 6 months or more. This is especially helpful if you are an instructor yourself and you don’t have the option of being a student much because you have to be the responsible leader on the mats most of the time. Going to a camp or seminar allows you to take everything in and be a student again.

5. Stick your nose in a book. Read a BJJ book. Read an autobiography about a fighter your admire. Read about performance psychology. Reading or listening to an audiobook can greatly influence how you think about training. This in effect can affect your physical time on the mats. Perhaps you begin to drill more efficiently or implement routines that you learned about in your exploration.

6. Grab a grappling dummy. For some people, drilling is super effective. Building muscle memory helps you take the thinking out of execution in the moment. If you need hours but don’t have bodies and time, grab a dummy and put in some reps each day on your own time.

7. Create feedback loops. Film your training. You can study your footage and critique your strengths and weaknesses. Then when you get on the mats you can specifically ask your partners to set up training situations that will address your problems.

8. Invest in a periodic private lesson. I see some students on a regular basis and others on a more periodic basis. Working with your teacher or another teacher you enjoy can be a great investment in time and money. They can help you troubleshoot areas you are getting stuck in, or teach you a stylistic series of movements that you’ve never seen before. Either way, you are getting personalized attention for a full hour (typically). This is a big bang for your buck.

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A Few Words On Belt Promotions

A Few Words On Belt Promotions

Original Article: https://graciebarra.com

I read a social media post by Prof. Brent Littel who is a GB black belt that I thought was worth sharing with the GB blog readers. Prof. Brent teaches some classes at Gracie Barra HQ in Irvine, California and has a frank and refreshing perspective on belt promotions.

“A little bjj rant during this promotion season:

Promotions are simultaneously the happiest and most frustrating events for professors.  They are the happiest when seeing the joy in the students who advance. They are the most frustrating when listening to the resentments from those who do not.

So here is a little note to all who do not get that promotion this time: ranks are not objective.  Winning this or that title doesn’t guarantee promotion. Also, beating this or that guy in the gym doesn’t. And, being better than the guys who did get promoted doesn’t guarantee either.

Why? Well, people have different potentials.  Some come in young. Some come in strong.  Some come in with experience, and others come with poise.   A persons rank is reflective of their skill in relation to their potential.  It is not a comparison of skill between two different people.

Thus, when you are held at a rank, it’s not because we do not see your accomplishment. It’s because we see you can accomplish so much more at that rank. So, don’t compare yourself to the guy next to you; compare yourself to the person you can become.  We all are on our own unique journey.”

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Hygiene Guide for Jiu Jitsu Athletes

Hygiene Guide for Jiu Jitsu Athletes

Original Article: www.gbgardengrove.com

While addressing hygiene issues might stink, it’s a crucial part of safety in martial arts. Here are several guidelines to keep our academy sanitary and members healthy:

Wash all equipment after every class. This includes, but is not limited to your kimono, rash guard, shorts, and other protective gear. Besides the obvious benefit of eliminating odor, this can help prevent dangerous infections like staph. Make sure this becomes as natural to you as your martial arts techniques because this is the first and most important hygiene training rule!

  1. Ensure fingernails and toenails are trimmed short before each class.
  2. Shower and use deodorant before and after training. Jiu Jitsu hygiene products like Defense Soap are sold on the web and possible local MMA/BJJ stores like On The Mat in Huntington Beach and Budo Videos in Fountain Valley
  3. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash before training to eliminate bad breath.
  4. Experience, the more likely you are to acquire and keep high-quality training partners!
  5. Treat dandruff with products like Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo.
  6. Cover cuts and scratches before training.
  7. Never train if you are sick with common communicable sicknesses such as the cold or flu.
  8. Skin issues are a common but serious part of any martial art. It is especially important in grappling arts like BJJ to be able to recognize issues like staph and MRSA and consult your physician for further assistance.
  9. If you suspect a staph infection, get medical attention immediately. These fast-spreading illnesses can actually be fatal if ignored.
  10. If you suspect ringworm, consult a doctor right away. As with all grappling infections, wait to confirm it is completely gone, even after your symptoms appear to subside before resuming training.
  11. Wear compression shorts or Under Armour-style athletic underwear. Boxers and briefs are not only uncomfortable to train in, but they aren’t designed for this kind of activity.
  12. Take everything you brought to the gym with you home when you leave. Leaving these around causes odor and fosters bacteria growth.
  13. Put on footwear when you’re not on the mat. This is absolutely necessary if you have to use the restroom before, during or after any training session.

This simple guide is very effective, but is by no means a “master list”. If you want to go the extra mile in self-care, that’s great! You can never be too clean and your gym will definitely notice your effort.

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Guillotine Choke – Basics, Secrets and Variations to Make it Perfect

Original Article: www.bjj-world.com

Guillotine Choke
How many submissions do you know that you can get from both top and bottom positions as well as from standing? Arguably, there’s only one that ticks all these boxes. And it’s a tight one if the mechanics are in order. The guillotine choke is a mainstay in Jiu Jitsu, granted, more on the No-GI side. It is, however, just as effective in the Gi. Actually, it might be even more effective, seeing how lot’s of people seem to disregard it on account of it being a No-Gi move.

The guillotine choke has long been regarded as a strong man move. People involved in BJJ looked at it as just a one-off move useful mostly to MMA fighters. It was probably the emergence of Marcelo Garcia that started to change that impression. Marcelo managed to fine tune and modify the guillotine to deadly effect. That resulted in a greater awareness of the finer technical aspects of the choke. Today, guillotines can be seen in almost every competitive grappling environment done at every level of Jiu-Jitsu.

Guillotine Choke Variations

As simple as it might seem, the guillotine choke is had complex mechanics that require long-term practice. This is opposite to it being a brute choke that can be learned in a few classes. Shocking, I know, but if you want a Daniel Strauss-like guillotine, you need to learn the technical nuances.

The guillotine choke has two “main” varieties when it comes to execution. The original version involves trapping the opponent’s arm while going for the choke. That’s the “arm-in guillotine”, which acts as an air choke. The second variation is done without the arm and can be both a blood and an air choke.

Both guillotine variations revolve around the same basic principals. The most important part is to utilize the correct part of the arm for the choke. To avoid mistakes, it is best to place your thumb on the outside of the opponent’s neck. This allows for correct placement of the wrist and easy transitions between the two variations. Strapping the chin offers a very tight controlling position as well.

There are several grips available, with the Gable and S-grip as favorites. Besides arm placement and grips, finishing relies on using the correct power source. A crucial principle of finishing a guillotine is to always push the crown of the opponent’s head towards their hips. To do so, one has to close both elbows towards their body and push with the hips while shrugging the shoulders. In the high elbow guillotine, the supporting arm’s elbow is placed upwards on the opponent’s shoulder.

The arm in guillotine requires an appropriate angle of the trapped arm. Namely, it should always extend past the head of the opponent. Opening up the arm allows the choking arm to correctly apply pressure on the windpipe.

Top Position Guillotines

The half guard and the mount are the two primary positions for executing a Guillotine choke. Since attacking it from the top half guard often leads to a mount transition, we’re going to focus on that.

In order to get into position for the guillotine from top half, the hips have to be in the reverse Kesa Gatame position. This allows the knee of the bottom leg to control the opponent’s hips. At the same time, it positions the upper body correctly in order to wrap the head up. The torso is used to place pressure on the top of the head while the choking mechanics are applied. Although both versions of the guillotine can be done, the armless variation is used more often.

For the mounted guillotine, the focus should be on two main principles. First, the head has to be pulled towards the opponent’s hips. Secondly, you have to be placed in low mount, putting direct pressure on the opponent’s pelvis.

Attacking From The Bottom

The closed guard is the bread and butter position for the guillotine. It is a very strong finishing position due to the high control of the hips. Having both legs locked behind the opponent prevents any counters ensuring a high percentage finishing rate. Basically, the most important part of the closed guard set up for the Guillotine choke is breaking the posture. Once the head is placed in the armpit and forced back, it’s all about choking mechanics. And we already covered those, right?

In open guard environments, the butterfly guard is the best position for Guillotine hunting. Arm-dragging is the most usual route to setting up the butterfly guard guillotine. From there, having the control position can lead to a direct submission or a sweep. The sweep might even end up with you in position for a mounted guillotine finish. That way you get both the sweep and mount points as well as the sub.

Standing Guillotine Choke

Knowledge of the guillotine choke is going to solve a lot of your wrestling related problems on the feet. It is the perfect double leg counter, both because it stuffs the takedown and leads to a submission. The arm of variation is superior here, though both variations apply. The only extra detail that is crucial is timing. Even if the takedown is completed, the Guillotine has to be timed in order to land at the correct choking position.

In a more offensive manner, the Guillotine choke can be used from the snap-down or via an arm drag. The most direct route is the snap-down since it leads to greater control that can end in either a takedown or a finish. While going to the back is effective, looking to end up in the top half guard or mount is a more strategic approach. The choke can be finished while standing as well. Again, the emphasis is primarily on tight control by way of correct mechanics and secondly on finishing details.

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An Open Letter Thanking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Original Article: www.medium.com

Five years ago this last month I started a path and journey that has been harder and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. If you didn’t know me five years ago (or earlier), here is a little story I wrote about the first chapter of this adventure;

What I gave myself for my 40th birthday ( https://www.facebook.com/notes/10150350263106966/ )

open letter to brazilian jiu jitsu

This video montage puts it all in perspective of the next few years ( https://youtu.be/dwq2K50dozg )
In 2014 I wanted to take over the world; Goruck Challenges, Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, Krav Maga, Alpha Challenge Contests, climbing fourteeners, Boot Camp daily, and lifting daily. I had a great community of friends I did all of these events with and we had fun. Each of these events were physical challenges but did not challenge me mentally. One of my good friends and a trainer at the gym I went to was Gigi Good. I would hear her talk about dirty Gi’s and trying to keep them clean and forgoing a happy hour to go train, little did I realize that I would do those same things a few years later. Jessica Weckle that did a bunch of these events with us invited me to come try jiu-jitsu on a monday night at Lifetime Fitness with Isiah Wright. He taught a no-gi beginner level class. I had a ton of fun. Then just a few months later in July of 2014 I walked into the Kompound Training Center at 3034 Larimer Street in Denver, CO. I recently read a post by Anthony Bourdain which summed up the challenge you meet from the first day you step on the mat.

“I do it because it’s hard. Because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And because it never ends. Every day presents me with a series of problems that I spend the rest of the day thinking about how I might solve — or at least chip away at. Next day same. And the day after that.” — Anthony Bourdain on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (jiu-jitsu) took me back to my childhood and wanting/trying to wrestle in Iowa as a kid. I lived on a farm (didn’t have time), I had terrible asthma (not helped by living on a farm), and my family’s priorities weren’t fitness and training. But there was something about wrestling that I aspired to. Walking on the mat as a little kid you didn’t know if you were going to get tossed on your head or pin your opponent. But with the anxiousness came an amazing high from connecting with another human being in a sport that goes back to the original olympics. There is an energy from the moment you touch. As Saulo Ribeiro, the sensei of Ribeiro Jui-Jitsu Association, puts it “You don’t know which wolf is stepping on the mat. The good wolf or the bad wolf. You always need to be ready for either.” That moment of finding out who your competitor is can be some of the most exciting moments of your life.

Finding such a connection to a style of sport I hadn’t touched since middle school has been one of the most satisfying things I have done as an adult. In high school we had a tough wrestling teams, but I had chores to do on the farm. That choice was made for me. I joined the debate team instead. In no way do I regret that choice since debate scholarships in college were as good as sports scholarships and it helped pay for a good chunk of college.

Stepping back to 2014, I met some great coaches in Mike Martin and Ty Hudspeth who inspired me to do and try more every day. What started as one class a week turned into two, turned into three, turning into multiple times a day. I was hooked. The hardest part was my body adjusting to the constant trauma if you decide to train hard. It was only a matter of weeks until the big pains dissipated. The other big adjustment is learning to be calm and relax as you train which takes much less of a toll on your body. I trained everyday at lunch and again after work and I loved it.

In November of 2014 I went to a local Fight2Win BJJ Tournament put on by Seth Daniels. I watched a few of my teammates compete. Winning a few and losing a few. I was drawn into the game taking place in front of me. In the gym you train so you can train tomorrow taking care of each other. in a tournament your goal is to break the other guys arm/shoulder/leg, choke them out, they tap out before that happens, or win by points. This human chess match I watched unfold was the most amazing thing I had seen. Grown adults being able to test them in the same ways as wrestling was as a kid. I had to try this.

The lead instructor and professor at the Kompound is Brad Nicolarsen. The way my schedule worked I did not have much time to spend in Brad’s classes since he taught mostly at the Littleton location. I spoke with him about trying a tournament and the next one coming up was the IBJJF Long Beach Open in December of 2012. I spent the next month getting ready for that tournament. Mike Martin and Ty Hudspeth helped me put in as many hours as I could each day practicing and working on a game plan. The hardest part about this tournament is that no one else from my school was going to be attending and I was on my own. I researched who was in my division and as I looked at the Facebook page of Nolan Archer, the only other competitor in my division, his cover photo was a medley of medals he had won in the last year.

As I arrived at the tournament I looked around for Nolan and realized that he just didn’t have a pile of medals but was a giant. When our turn arrived to head out on the mat I played through all of the training I had. The referee shouts “combate” (fight in Portuguese), and you connect with the other person. In this case Nolan the giant with more medals then I knew existed. We went back and forth on grips and about 30 second in I pulled him into half guard where I fought from the remainder of the time. I didn’t win the match, but I didn’t lose. I learned a lot about myself. Even through the anxiety of going into the match I felt like winning and losing had less to do with Nolan and a lot more to do with myself. Getting past fear, remembering things from training, getting in bad positions and working back out of them, finding small success and trying to build on it, and so many other things that occur in a matter of minutes. I finished the match and survived.

open letter to brazilian jiu jitsu

In those few minutes I learned more about bjj than I had in the 5 months I had been training. I also learned that I wanted to do it again!

Fast forward a year later and I have repeated that same experience with 89 tournament matches since. I now have my own pile of medals. I can remember almost every match with vivid detail. The least memorable are the wins. The most memorable were the ones where I nearly left a limb on the mat or the matches were moving my hand even 2 inches would have given me the advantage instead of the loss. But that is why I love this. These matches were not just about who had the best cardio or who had benched the most in the gym. Those help, but the mind matters as much as the bicep or hamstring. Any single type of move has offensive variations with at least as many defensive variations. It really is like a game of human chess.

Those 89 matches have taken place all across the country with people of all sizes, levels of experience, and gyms. But they all had one thing in common, jiu-jitsu.

I spent the last week at a training camp in Costa Rica ( http://subandsurf.com ) led by Henry Akins from Dynammix MMA in Santa Monica. Henry teaches jiu-jitsu that is simple and can be practiced by anyone. His focus is very much on self-defense rather than competitive jiu-jitsu. The things he taught were mind blowing. But during a question and answer session on Friday he was asked about what makes for the best jiu-jitsu students. His answer was, “the best students are passionate about the art of jiu-jitsu. They don’t just show up and train, they will think about mistakes they make and how they can constantly improve.” That answer inspired me. In life and jiu-jitsu that is how I aspire to be. There were also 20 other people which felt that same way at that camp. There was a common bond which brought us together for a week in paradise and will be friendships we will share the rest of our lives.
Jiu-jitsu is the only sport I have found that you could travel almost anywhere in the world and be welcomed to train in a gym as if you were part of their group. You may have a target on your back when it comes time to train but that is all apart of the mutual respect of trying what you know and seeing how it holds up against someone new. When training is done you have have earned another friend. I don’t mean to say there aren’t assholes or egos in jiu-jitsu, but most places weed them out pretty quickly.

Since that first day I asked Brad for his support in going to a tournament he has supported me in every way. From being on the other end of a text when I’m at a tournament asking for advice, celebrating after a hard tournament, coaching from the sideline telling me to get on my side, and most importantly helping me dissect what I can do better next time. I have a ton of respect for the work Brad has put into building the Kompound and building a great team that looks out for and supports each other. The quality of competitors he builds is amazing and I feel so fortunate to be able to rain with them every day. I heard a phrase out of Brad one day that sticks with all of us on the team, plus ten. Anything you can do, you can do it ten percent more. Competing, training, partying, or sparring all of us are chasing that plus ten.

I intended for this to just be a quick post thanking jiu-jitsu for what it has given me so far but also to share the excitement and passion I have found and hope others can find. It’s not for everyone.

One thing I always try and do is say “thank you” everytime I tap from a submission. If you submit me, you have taught me about a mistake I made leaving something open. I will leave it open again until I learn not to, but everytime I say thank you it’s because I am one step closer to not letting that happen. So this post is a thank you to the whole jiu-jitsu community for your support and your friendship. I look forward to many more years of saying thank you.

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Michelle Waterson Awarded Purple Belt in BJJ

Original Article: www.bjjee.com

Michelle Waterson has an interesting story. A karate student since the age of 10, Waterson holds a black belt in American Free Style Karate and has also trained in WuShu, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and wrestling.

Waterson rose to fame as a contestant on the Muay Thai-themed Fight Girls reality show on the Oxygen television network. She was also featured as one of the fighters in the MTV/MTV2 reality show Bully Beatdown.

She has notable victories against Angela Magana and Paige Van Zant.

Still, her most recent loss came by way of rear naked choke as performed by the new division champion Rose Namajunas. As such it’s no surprise Waterson is kicking up her bjj training a bit. She was awarded purple belt over the summer under Rafael Freitas:

michelle-waterson

Waterson is also booked to fight Tecia Torres – girlfriend of bjj black belt and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes December 2nd.

Waterson hasn’t fought since April – which she recently addressed to mmalatestnews:

Anytime you’re not fighting you should still be training, those are the times when I feel like I learn the most. We had so much going on this year after my fight with Paige (VanZant), we had the ESPY’s, we went to Singapore and Mexico, and I was on MTV’s reality show “The Challenge” to raise awareness for one of my favourite charities, MVP.

MVP (Merging Vets with Players) is a charity that was founded by Jay Glazer in 2015. Their main aim is taking former military veterans who are struggling with adjusting to civilian life, and match them up with former professional athletes, to create a new community.
In her fight against Namajunas at UFC Kansas City, the scores were even until Namajunas landed a head kick that dropped Waterson. Shortly after, Namajunas secured a rear-naked choke that forced Waterson to tap. I asked Michelle whether her memory of the fight was clear, or if the head kick altered her recollection.

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15 Tips For Being The Best Jiu-Jitsu Parent

15 Tips For Being The Best Jiu-Jitsu Parent

15 Tips For Being The Best Jiu-Jitsu Parent

Original Article: jiujitsumag.com

Being a good jiu-jitsu parent will help your kids get the most out of their jiu-jitsu, in both the short-term and for the rest of their lives. This list shares many of the things found to be the best for kids, not only in jiu-jitsu but in any new endeavor they take on.

01 Be encouraging
02 Stay calm
03 Don’t fret over bumps and bruises
04 Help your kids be prepared
05 Let the instructor do the coaching
06 Lead by example
07 Help them avoid junk food, encourage a healthy diet
08 Remember your commitments to them
09 Don’t push too hard
10 If you have a complaint, bring it to the instructor, don’t burden your child with it
11 Focus on the positives
12 At tournaments remember it’s about them, not you
13 Don’t argue with the referees
14 Don’t do anything that would make your kid not want to go to jiu-jitsu class
15 Jiu-jitsu for kids should be fun, don’t forget that!

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