Rafael Barata Joins KASAI 135lb Tourney

rafael barata promo shot

Original Article: Flo Grappling

KASAI announced today Rafael “Barata” Freitas will enter the eight-man World Bantamweight Championship Tournament at ‘KASAI Pro 6’ on Saturday, August 17th at the Showboat Atlantic City Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. Six competitors have already been signed to compete in this event, they include:

  • Geo Martinez
  • Joao Miyao
  • Jon Calestine
  • Ethan Crelinsten
  • Ashley Williams
  • Richard Alarcon (Pro Qualifier winner)

“Barata is a creative and super exciting competitor” said KASAI CEO Richard Byrne. “We expect that he will add even more sparks to this stacked tournament.” Rafael de Freitas “Barata” is a black belt from the Gracie Barra Academy.

Barata is best known for a shoulder lock submission of his creation called the “Baratoplata.” Barata has had a long career and has won many important tournaments such as the World No-Gi Championships and the Pan American Championships. In addition to BJJ, he is also an accomplished MMA fighter.

The ‘KASAI Pro 6’ card will also include many other exciting matches: Jason Rau vs. William Tackett; New Jersey local, Tom Deblass vs. Andrew Tevay; KASAI World Welterweight champion Matheus Diniz vs. Josh Hinger; and KASAI World Light Heavyweight champion Kaynan Duarte vs. Yuri Simoes.

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Old Man Jiu-Jitsu

old man jiu-jitsu

Original Article: BJJ World

Unfortunately, not everybody in the BJJ community discovered the gentle art during their physical prime. If you step foot in any BJJ academy around the world, you will see men and women of all ages training on the mats. However, there is a different mentality in perspective and training between the “under 40” and “over 40” crowds on the mats. While the younger grapplers can put the “pedal to the metal” and push their physical limits on the mats, the older ones need to live and train differently due to physical limitations, work, family, and other life obligations. That’s where “old man Jiu-Jitsu” comes in.

What is “old man Jiu-Jitsu”? Well, first of all, it applies to both sexes, not just men. It just sounds cooler as praise put this way. Secondly, it is an approach that is going to allow an older practitioner to extend their training well into the senior years. Moreover, those that start off fairly late should use this approach so that they do not quit prematurely. All in all, it’s not rocket science, just a look at the smart little things most young studs often overlook.

Extra Gear To Get You Through

Have you ever wondered why older athletes (in and around their early forties) from all kinds of sports often wear knee braces? Well, after years of running, jumping and lifting weights, the wear and tear of athletic life inevitably lead to issues. Arthritis, tendinitis, and inflammation in the joints are the most common culprits. So, conversely, the first step before training should be getting the supportive gear on. At least for the older BJJ practitioner.

Pads and braces are other traits of “old man Jiu-Jitsu”. The compression braces and additional support help with comfort, stability, and peace of mind. Knee and ankle braces become almost mandatory after the age of 40. It is not that people are too old. The art is too demanding on the joints regardless of age, forcing extensive prevention measures upon older practitioners. Additionally, a nice lube of Tiger Balm or Icy Hot before and after training will keep the muscles loose and the sinuses clear.


Be Thorough With Warm-Ups

While a young teenager or a fit person in their twenties can jump right into training without a warm-up, the senior practitioner of grappling martial arts can not. “Old man Jiu-Jitsu” starts with a thorough warm-up and ends with an equally extensive cooldown.

Why? Well, first to prevent injuries. Warming up gets the body in motion and sport-specific movements play a huge role in preventing possible injury. Since an injury heals slower as a person gets older, this makes sense. Next, a good warm-up offsets inflammation because the muscles are not shocked with physical exertion straight off the bat. Last but not least, warm-ups aid in flexibility, more specifically in maintaining it.

While this is recommended for athletes of all ages, the young and limber can get away with going from 0 to 100 in less than 6 seconds. Their older training partners, on the other hand, need to acknowledge their limits. “Old man Jiu-Jitsu” means managing risk factors in order to be able to train consistently.

Focusing On Jiu Jitsu

Training time is precious to the older practitioner since most of them have busy lives with work, family, and other obligations. Getting 3 to 5 hours per week for a hobby is hard to negotiate, so they want to get the most of it. While younger students might have a hard time paying attention or slack off during drilling, the senior BJJ practitioner has to be deadly serious. Those that roam the masters’ divisions know how hard it is to find the time to train and are busting their tail at work to pay for the classes. So, pay close attention to what happens in class and be mindful when drilling.

Old Man Jiu-Jitsu vs. Youthful Athleticism

The OGs might not proudly and loudly gloat about it, but they feel really good on the inside when they get the better of their younger peers during live training. Despite not being as fast or well-conditioned, they do hold certain advantages. Namely, old man strength is real and can easily surprise a young and very self-confident training partner.

Furthermore, the wisdom of life often makes older practitioners more careful and slow paced. They like to focus on the defensive side of things, but that provides them with ample countering opportunities. The technique has a crucial role when rolling with a younger training partner. Just as with female practitioners and those that belong in the lighter categories, the technique is the king in “old man Jiu-Jitsu”. Instead of strength, the masters look to utilize technique against physically more conditioned opponents

It might not happen every round, but when the older practitioner gets the better of a younger training partner, a part of them will tell themselves “I still got it” or “not bad for an old guy.”

BJJ can help the senior grappler get by in the streets as well. Check this article out:


The “Old Man Jiu-Jitsu” diet

When you are young, you can eat burgers and fries an hour before working out and run up and down a basketball court with no problem. Well, ok, you shouldn’t be on burgers and pizza, but you can get away with it.

You can even go out drinking all night and wake up on 2 hours of sleep to train at 9 AM. You won’t be fresh, but you’ll shrug it off easily. Once you get past 35 though, your body can’t handle chaos. Eating the wrong meal before or after training can leave you wrecked for days. Process alcohol is also very different it was when you were 21. Part of “old man Jiu-Jitsu” is understanding nutrition and how to eat before and after training to optimize energy levels and recovery.

No Regrets!

Lastly, older practitioners often like to tell young people how lucky they are to be able to start training at such a young age. “I wish this was around when I was your age” or “Take advantage of this time before you get too busy with work and family.”

In many cases, people discover the sport later and life and use it to get back in shape. BJJ is great to learn something new, take on a new challenge, or fill a void in someone’s life. It is a fun and social hobby for most, but a piece of them wished they started in their teens or early twenties since they would likely be further ahead in their journey.

Remember, you can still compete in BJJ even at an advanced age. See how it’s done by two Coral Belts Going Against Each Other HERE.

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How anxiety almost ruined BJJ for me and what I did to stop it


Original Article: Gi

Life has a tendency of keeping us on our toes. A few months ago, I wrote an article about how to deal with panic attacks while training BJJ, but little did I know that a major mental health episode was lurking around the corner.

The thing about mental health issues is that there really isn’t a cure just remissions. I spent most of my teens on medication after being diagnosed with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression, but eventually all my symptoms disappeared. For 8 years I was completely symptom-free, but the last two months have brought my struggles back with a vengeance.

My identity had in some respects been constructed around the fact that I had “recovered” from my mental issues, I felt invincible at times, immune to anxiety and depression. I would later learn that relapses are quite common and unpredictable, the weird thing about anxiety is the symptoms aren’t always the same and this is how my descent into a mental health crisis began.

The last year has been quite stressful for me. There were some issues in my personal life and I went self-employed to launch and I felt like I was handling myself well. No matter how stressed I was I could always find solace on the mats and I used jiu-jitsu as a distraction for what was going on in my mind.

It all started with a niggling neck pain. A sore neck is nothing out of the ordinary in BJJ, so I just continued to train through it. Eventually, the pain worsened and it was joined by some intense vertigo and dizziness. One night I had to leave the gym mid-session and quite honestly I was certain I was about to die.

I ended up in A&E and was diagnosed with Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, given some medicine and I was happy enough to know that this illness would only be temporary. Over the next few days, the symptoms got worse. I ended up in A & E twice more, on the final occasion I was violently sick and I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand. I was sure that I had a brain tumor, a heart condition, or something that was imminently going to kill me.

After all my tests came back negative, my doctor told me that she thought it was anxiety. I was shocked, I have been symptom-free for years, trained a lot and competed without any anxiety, so I couldn’t and wouldn’t believe the diagnosis. I spent the next few weeks trying to ease myself back into BJJ and take the anti-vertigo medicine I had previously been prescribed, but it seemed like every time I got onto the mats the symptoms got worse.

Eventually, I realized that my symptoms were all being caused by the fight or flight response. My neck muscles were seizing up due to stress and that was competing a vicious cycle of anxiety reinforcing my physical symptoms and me becoming hyper-aware of every bodily sensation to the point of obsession.

Explaining anxiety to someone who has never suffered it is difficult. For me its a dark specter that lingers in the periphery and feeds off every vulnerability I have. Anxiety catches every doubt I have and before I can dismiss them, it exasperates it.

The hardest part of my mental health crisis was not being able to train as much, or as hard as I would like and when your only form of income is writing about something you love, but can’t do it gets hard. I am pleased to say I am over the worst of this episode, but I know I’m not alone 1-2 percent of the population suffer from panic attacks and I hope I can give you some advice on how I have gotten better.

The first thing my gp did was offer me an antidepressant, but I declined. I have previous experience with them and I’ve honestly never found them helpful and there is some debate about how effective they are for treating anxiety. The gold standard of treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy and while the waiting lists are long in the UK, the beautiful thing is that its effective to do it yourself. I found this book really helpful for helping me to understand/implement CBT principles.

At the time of my mental health crisis I was also consuming a lot of caffeine and by a lot, I mean A LOT. On an average day I was probably having two Monster Zeros and a coffee or two. In hindsight I can see how I was priming myself for an anxiety attack. I have cut caffeine out completely and while I miss coffee dearly, it isn’t worth the anxiety.

I have become a supplement nerd. I always dabbled in supplements, but since this episode I have really invested time and research into sorting out a good stack to help my body and mind. I tried CBD oil, but it made my anxiety worse, I’m guessing my endocannabinoid system just doesn’t work right as I know others who swear by it. My life saver has been Ashwagandha which has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety.

Annoyingly doctors will likely push you to try anti depressants instead of cleaning up your diet and telling you to exercise more. I will say that during my crisis diazepam was a life saver and helped to turn off my nervous system when it was in complete free fall. It gave me the room to start working on myself without dealing with constant panic.

Getting back into jiu jitsu helped and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the understanding of my coaches and my teammates. If you are struggling talk to your teammates and you’ll be surprised by how many struggle too, or those who will just support you anyway.

Recovery from a mental health crisis isn’t linear and you will struggle at times, but it is completely doable. The prognosis for anxiety disorders is incredibly high and you are not alone in going through it.

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White to Blue Belt, the most important step



Original Article: BJJFanatics

We all know that bjj is one of the most difficult martial arts and that the learning curve is extremely high. Bjj has the highest dropout rate of any martial art and this is not very surprising. There is no preconceived notion of how to grapple, but almost everyone has a preconceived notion of how to punch and kick.

That being said, learning bjj is like learning how to swim. The most important belt in bjj is white, and the biggest step is getting to your blue belt. Why is this? When you’re a white belt, for the most part, you have no idea what to do, so all the information you are receiving is new. You have to build a foundation, learn what bjj is, and you will get in shape as you struggle and tap out.

Building a Foundation

White to blue belt is the biggest step because this is the time where you will learn the fundamentals and build a foundation to grow upon. Since most of us who start bjj have no prior grappling experience, everything we learn is laying down a foundation to build on.

This foundation will also help you develop the skills necessary to learn self-defense. As Joe Rogan says, in bjj “A blue belt is a dangerous person on the street and knows more than 99% of the people in the world.” Building a foundation is going to allow you to progress in your future bjj journey. Check out this article on escapes here to help you build upon your escapes.

Learning what BJJ is

An enormous part of white to blue is learning what bjj is . What do we mean by this? When you start bjj, most of us assume there will be punches and kicks, but we soon find out that the sparring, for the most part, doesn’t incorporate punches or kicks. We also find out that a lot of academies start sparring from the knees and the objectives are either to pass, sweep, or submit your opponent.

This is why white to blue is so important, we learn the way bjj classes function, how sparring works, and what your objectives should be. Starting bjj is always intimidating, that’s why so many people stop. It is extremely difficult and can discourage people.

Getting in Shape and Tapping Out

Getting in shape and tapping out are perhaps the most important parts of the journey from white to blue belt. Rolling as a white belt and being at the bottom of the food chain is when you will exert massive amounts of energy rolling. This is because you won’t know what to do so you will put 100% effort into everything you do.

You will also tap out more than ever and learn from it. You will get beat up, hurt, and tired beyond belief but it will grow you and help you progress in your bjj journey. The more you tap the more you learn. Check out this article on the importance of grips to help you build a foundation.

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Helio Vs. Carlos Gracie – Gracie Jiu-Jitsu History And Politics











The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu history is as complicated as the founding family itself, if not more. Brothers Helio and Carlos Gracie did a lot to create and promote the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, they also had personal differences which slowly formed two distinctive currents in Jiu-Jitsu.

Believe it or not, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu started off as a family affair. Originally it was a couple of brothers from Brazil that got things going. As everyone who has siblings knows, competitiveness is never far away. Helio and Carlos Gracie were no different. Granted, they were only two and got along great in the beginning. But when you add in offspring that starts to act in the name of their lineage, things get messy. So, as all family affairs, Jiu-Jitsu got messy. To understand what really happened we need to turn to the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu history for some facts and some hear-say.

As a matter of fact, both brothers contributed massively to what we know today as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So, before we dig into this complicated Gracie Jiu-Jitsu history, let’s give them the recognition they deserve. Whether you find yourself supporting one school of thought or the other, be sure to show respect for both of them. Because, without one or the other, there would be no Jiu-Jitsu as we know it.

A Family Affair: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu History

When BJJ came to be, the two main culprits behind it were Carlos Gracie Sr. and his brother, Helio. Before it got really complicated it was actually quite simple. Carlos Gracie was the one that founded BJJ. He successfully modified the Judo techniques he learned from Maeda and came up with a style of his own. His brother, Helio learned Jiu-Jitsu from Carlos himself. Back then they worked together towards the development of the art. So far, Gracie BJJ history is simple.

Gracie Bjj History and PoliticsAfter a while, Carlos took up a different role to that of a teacher. His mindset was different from Helio’s which was reflected in his work. Carlos went on to become a business-oriented visionary. He ran everything, from telling Helio what to teach to promoting the art and organizing fights. Carlos at that time was more focused on spreading Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, creating the Gracie diet etc, than teaching. Helio was the embodiment of everything Carlos did, he followed the diet, taught classes and fought. As such, Carlos was prone to change in order to spread the art as far as possible. Helio, on the other hand, was fiercely loyal to the original teachings that they had developed and continued to teach as he originally did under the tutelage of his brother. This is where the first differences appear to have begun, albeit everything was kept friendly competitive.


The 12 Commandments Of Carlos Gracie

Carlos Gracie was arguably the most important person in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu History. The firstborn son of Gestao Gracie, Carlos was a small but lively kid. His relentless energy resulted in Gestao introducing young Carlos Gracie to Mitsuo Maeda. the rest, as they say, is history.

Maeda quickly grew fond of the young Carlos Gracie and dedicated a lot of time to his student. Carlos spent three years under the tutelage of Maeda, before moving to another town. Later in life, Carlos Gracie met up with an old friend from the Maeda school and slowly started working towards the creation of Jiu-Jitsu. Before handing teaching duties off to his younger brother Helio Gracie, Carlos came up with the 12 commandments of Jiu-Jitsu that still hold true to this day:

1. To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

2. Speak to every one of happiness, health, and prosperity.

3. Give all your friends the feeling that they are valuable.

4. Always look at events from a positive point of view, and turn positivity into a reality in life.

5. Think always in the best, work solely for the best and expect always the best.

6. Always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

7. Forget about past mistakes and concentrate your energies on the victories ahead.

8. Always keep your fellow men joyful and have a pleasant attitude to all that address you.

9. Spend all the time you need in perfecting yourself but leave no time to criticise the others.

10. Become too big to feel unrest, too noble to feel anger, too strong to feel fear and too happy to tumble in adversity.

11. Always have a positive opinion about yourself and tell it to the world, not through words of vanity but through benevolence.

12. Have the strong belief that the world is beside you if you keep true to what is best within you.


Helio Gracie Vs. Carlos Gracie

To sum Gracie Jiu-Jitsu history, Carlos Gracie represents the sports side of Jiu-Jitsu, while Helio represents the self-defense side. The latter is the traditional side of the art. Now, in the beginning, it all worked quite well, despite these differences.

It must be noted that the Gracies are a huge family. Both Carlos and Helio had many children, which is where things actually got complicated. It was the offspring of the original brothers that took the views of their respective predecessor to extreme lengths. While Carlos was still alive, the family worked in unison, as he managed to keep everyone together. After his death, the family’s split opinions can into the spotlight. From there, Jiu-Jitsu went in two separate ways – one geared towards sport (today’s BJJ) and the second towards self-defense (GJJ).

Helio’s side of the family, represented by his sons, stayed true to the traditional self-defense spirit of the art. Rorion, Relson, Rickson, Royce, Rolker and Royce Gracie were all representatives of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ). To this day, they remain fierce believers in this philosophy and teach their Jiu-Jitsu accordingly. They didn’t compete in sports Jiu-Jitsu and placed heavy emphasis on practical techniques. Even those that did, like Rickson’s son Kron, are famous for disregarding the point system and going for the finish when they did compete. Kron has an astonishing record of almost a hundred wins by submission, most of which while he was behind on points.


True Fathers’ Sons

As mentioned, both brother’s offspring took their fathers’ views out of proportion in the name of loyalty. In one such example, most of Carlos Gracie’s sons, Carlson, Robson, Reylson, Carley etc. claimed to have been trained by their father, rather than by their uncle, Helio. In contrast, one of Carlos’ eldest sons, Reyson claimed that Helio taught everyone.

Helio Gracie was known as a hard man to deal with. He was stubborn and strict and was not beyond demonstrating clear favoritism. He always claimed that his sons were invincible, which obviously didn’t go down well with his nephews. This is just one more complicated reason why the family is divided by such a huge rift today.

A curious and fascinating story coming out of the family is the one of Rolls Gracie. Rolls is biologically the son of Carlos Gracie. However, he was an illegitimate son that Carlos gave to Helio for adoption. Helio didn’t have any children at the time, so Rolls is technically his eldest son. However, not soon after, Helio go his first biological son, Rorion. Not shy about displaying favoritism Helio gave more attention to his biological son than his adopted nephew. This led to Rolls fighting for his attention, which molded him into the formidable fighter he later became.

Carlos and Helio didn’t help the matter by often betting on which of their heirs is better and matching them up. This was a very serious matter for each of the brothers’ descendants, deepening the modern rift. For example, Helio organized a match between Jean Jacques Machado (Carlos’ nephew) and his son Royler, which Machado won.


Gracie Barra And The IBJJF

Perhaps the most famous modern-day descendent of Carlos Gracie is his son Carlos Gracie Jr. He is the biggest promoter of the sport and the business side of Jiu-Jitsu. He founded Gracie Barra, the biggest organization in BJJ today. It is a network of academies all over the world, often more than one in a city. They all work in accordance with the same curriculum and the principles that Carlos Gracie Sr. established. They operate as a corporation and are the people behind another huge organization in BJJ – the IBJJF.

The IBJJF is the largest competitive organization in Jiu-Jitsu. It is a federation that reigns supreme on the tournament scene. it is also the premier governing body of BJJ, determining a lot of essential aspects of the sport. One such example is the belt system, and in particular, the kids’ belt rankings. Originally, kids had to go through white, yellow, orange and green before adopting the adult rankings. Today there are not only more belts, but also combinations of colors that make little sense. It is the modern business side of BJJ.

Gracie Bjj History Another example is the rules of competition. A much-debated subject, IBJJF’s rules are a clear representation of the sports side of BJJ. As in Judo, an IBJJF match has to have a winner. In Judo, the best way to win is by Ippon or a complete point. In BJJ, the Ippon’s counterpart is the submission. If there’s no clear ippon, Judo has a system of half and quarter points. In BJJ there is also a point system, as well as the notorious advantages. Ultimately, even a referee might decide who wins, with all things square. Furthermore, there are lots of “illegal” techniques such as slams or neck cranks. It is a long way from the traditional Jiu-Jitsu.

Modern Day Evolution

If anyone is really into going deep in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu history, there is a great source to read from. Roger Gracie’s mother, Reila Gracie has a book on the family’s history. It took her an upward of ten years to put “Carlos Gracie: Creator of a Fighting Dynasty” together. There, you will find everything that might interest you regarding the history of Jiu-Jitsu’s most complicated family.

Once again, I’m going to highlight the fact that both streams of thought were essential to the creation of modern-day BJJ. You might be more inclined towards one of them because of lineage or personal opinion. However, both Carlos and Helio deserve recognition and respect. Furthermore, all their hard work should result in a unified community instead of a divided one.

Rickson’s federation, JJGF represents an attempt to merge Helios traditional approach with modern sports elements. This is a great example of how Gracie Jiu-Jitsu history can be respected while it is modified to fit the modern age.

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6 Tips to Master Your Internal Dialogue

internal dialogue


Perhaps you’re familiar with the expression, you create your reality. It’s a popular and catchy phrase frequently used in the Human Potential Movement that refers to the way our mind, through attention and intention, structures our experiences and perceives our reality. Dr. David Simon once said, “Reality is a selective act of attention and interpretation.” According to this view, our attention is what we put our mental focus on—but it is during the interpretation that the intellect analyzes and derives meaning. This interpretation takes place in the form of internal dialogue.

But just what is internal dialogue? Put simply, internal dialogue is the conversation our ego is having with itself. It’s the sub-textual voice that applies logic, reasoning, and beliefs to situations, people, and events. It also serves as a filter for those experiences and colors the way in which we see the world. As such, the internal dialogue plays a vital role in deriving meaning from our life and reality. When our internal dialogue is dark, negative, and dismal, we see a world filtered through those qualities. Conversely, when we have positive, uplifting, and optimistic internal dialogue, we perceive those states as the backdrop of our life.

What follows are six steps that can help you to master your internal dialogue and shape your life into one of happiness and fulfillment.

1. Spend Time in Silence

Meditation is one of the first and most fundamental steps in mastering our internal dialogue. We typically have anywhere between 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts each day and quieting our turbulent mental environment creates the blank canvas upon which to paint a positive internal conversation. When the mind is still it becomes a fertile field that is receptive to the seeds we plant there.

In addition, meditation cultivates our witnessing awareness and helps us pay attention to our mental commentary and its contents. Until we have the clarity of mind brought on by meditation, it becomes very difficult to override our tendency for rote intellectual repetition with positive internal dialogue.

2. Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful mental state that causes a palpable transformation in our internal landscape. When we put our attention on those things we can be grateful for, it automatically shifts us out of a negative mentality. Just by simply repeating the statement, I am so grateful for _____, we create positive momentum in our internal dialogue. Focusing on what’s good or uplifting in your life also conditions you to stay vigilant in looking for more of the same gratitude-worthy experiences to come into your life—or as the saying goes, where attention goes, energy flows.

3. Actively Avoid Negativity

There’s no doubt that negativity is widespread in our modern world. Wherever we look, there seems to be no end to it. This, in part, is due to our brain’s negativity bias—an actual tendency to notice negative situations and events more easily than positive ones. We inherited this neurological artifact from our ancient ancestors who, due to their constant survival mentality, had to always be on the lookout for danger or anything that would put their lives at risk. A beautiful sunset or a good meal was overshadowed by the more pressing needs of safety and shelter. We still carry this tendency within our nervous system and it often inhibits our ability to see the good in the world, even when it’s right in front of us. Therefore, we have to commit ourselves to turning away from negativity as often as we can.

Negative energy can be contagious and pollute the internal dialogue with fear, anger, and other dense mental states. While we can’t avoid all negativity, being consciously aware of refocusing our attention away from the negative and toward the good can have a powerful effect on our internal dialogue.

4. Harness the Power of Affirmations

“’I AM’ are two of the most powerful words, for what you put after them shapes your reality.” – Unknown

Affirmations are strong, positive self-talk statements that can help to reprogram your subconscious mind and internal dialogue toward a more constructive mental environment. To “affirm” means to make firm that which you wish to be true or experience. Affirmations help us replace our old, stale, or obsolete mental commentary with new and more inspiring ideas. With regular practice, affirmations can help to focus your internal dialogue upon your intentions and keep your attention on what you want rather than what you don’t.


5. Practice Impeccable Speech and Behavior

Your speech and behavior are natural outcroppings of your internal dialogue. In a similar way, your actions and speech reinforce your internal dialogue. Therefore, when you consciously choose to practice impeccable speech and behavior, your internal dialogue will automatically become more positive and refined. Being impeccable means behaving in accordance with the highest standards of propriety. In essence, it means being unimpeachable and without fault. This can be a tall order and while none of us are perfect, we can continually aspire to carry the spirit of impeccability within us, refraining from anything that could be potentially considered hurtful to others.

To quote Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Remembering this can go a long way in maintaining the impeccability of your internal dialogue.

6. Remember Your True Nature

When we get swept up in the ego’s hype and melodrama, it becomes very easy to lose ourselves and forget our true nature as an unbounded spirit. We feel localized in the heavy, object referral world of positions and possessions, roles and titles. However, this is not who we really are. When we identify with our true selves, pure awareness, or pure consciousness, we have the instant recognition that we are free from limitations, that we have spontaneous knowing, and that we exist in a state of complete fulfilment.

As we are reminded in the Bhagavad Gita: “Fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it, wind cannot dry it, weapons cannot shatter it; it is eternal, it was never born and will never die.” That is our true nature, and when we remember this, our internal dialogue shifts to become a reflection of that knowingness.

The Sanskrit Sutra Sat Chit Ananda as described in Deepak Chopra’s book, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire captures the essence of this idea—truth, consciousness, bliss; my inner dialogue reflects the fire of my soul.

Make an effort to incorporate these tools into your life to keep your internal dialogue positive and uplifting. Practicing them regularly will open the door for you to create the reality you wish to experience.

Discover Deepak Chopra’s practices and tools to help you feel positive and inspired every day at Seduction of Spirit, our six-day meditation and yoga retreat. Learn More.

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Competing: Pros and Cons

Competing: Pros and Cons

Original Article: BJJSTYLE

Competition plays a major role in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Pick up any BJJ magazine or surf the web and you’ll find competitions and successful competitors highlighted.
Walk into almost any BJJ academy and immediately see medals, trophies, and pictures from tournaments on display. There are a number of regional, national and international organizations and tournament circuits now making regular competition accessible and a real option for athletes around the world at all belt levels. These organizations and tournaments are popular in the BJJ community, as they provide points of reference – sometimes even including ranking systems, rallying points for teams and the opportunity for notoriety for both athletes and teams based on positive performances.

Competitions also serve as a platform to display and discover new techniques and strategies to the larger BJJ world outside of the athletes’ individual training circles.

As an instructor, I often use competition footage to make points or bring ‘real world’ perspective to lessons covered on our mat. Due to that practice and the focus of much of the BJJ media on competition, some of my students have asked me for guidance in terms of if or when to compete. To their surprise, I offered advice both encouraging and discouraging competing that I would like to share.

Reasons to compete

One of the main reasons why athletes should compete is the reward of benefitting greatly from the process of preparing for competition. That process includes paying greater attention to technical details during class and in positions, often more mat time over-all, some focus on “areas of weakness” and a self-imposed, over-all “higher personal standard” being applied to training sessions.

These individual benefits would be substantial but – taken as a whole – they provide a compelling argument for competing to improve our BJJ regardless of the results achieved.

Competition expands our BJJ experience. As athletes, we train at our local academies or with our regular training partners. There is a level of comfort there over time as trust is developed and friendships often established. Competition allows us to be exposed to “strangers” who may or may not have similar views, coaching approaches or styles to us. This stimulation can be a positive thing as it can challenge us to think about our own BJJ and grow in our understanding of BJJ. Beyond that, competitions can serve to introduce us to others in the BJJ community that we otherwise would not meet, providing us with the opportunity to make new friends in the community. All in all, tournaments can really help enrich our personal journeys by enlarging our scope and perspective of the community.

Competition helps us develop the skill to process adversity in a positive way. Even Buchecha and Gabi Garcia, the current Mundial open division champions, have lost matches – so it stands to reason that we, if we compete, will lose matches as well. No one is unbeatable, so competing puts us all in the position to deal with losing. Derek Kaivani, black belt and co-owner of Lucas Lepri BJJ and Fitness, says that this opportunity for personal growth is the “most valuable thing we get from competition as it is a life-skill that goes way beyond the mat in its ability to generate success in our lives”. Tournament victories are fantastic and we compete to win, but losses should be valued as well as they can improve us both on the mat and in the game of life if we allow them to. The by-product of honing this skill is that it takes needless anxiety out of competing and that makes us more capable of producing our best in the stressful situations that competitions often represent.

The last reason to consider competing is that it is often FUN! Some consider the actual matches fun, while others enjoy the preparation and yet others savor the “glory” that comes post-competition. Competing also brings teams together in a unique way that helps “jump-start” friendships, which also helps everyone have a good time. When I look back at 20 years of BJJ, most of the BEST times I have had have tournaments center-stage. Whether I was competing at regional or international tournaments or I was coaching/cornering a teammate, I have fond memories of great times full of humor, excitement, and camaraderie. Wherever we find the fun individually, the point remains that tournaments are often a great source of it for everyone involved!

Reasons not to compete

The first reason why competition may not be a good idea for us is if there is some physical reason we cannot compete. This may sound like common sense to most of us but it needs to be covered. I am not talking about “discomfort” here but real injury or a physical condition that prohibits us from safely competing. If a doctor says we cannot compete, we should not compete. No prize, medal or amount of prestige is worth potentially risking our health. Once we cross this line, we are taking something that should be positive and making it harmful and negative.

Related to this point is the inability to properly prepare. Reasons can be family obligations, work, an injury, etc that prevent us from training or dieting in a way that will support our reasonable preparation. Also, in this category is competing before having enough mat-time to safely participate. To this end, I tell students to have at least 6 solid months of training before even considering entering a tournament.

While most of us can safely compete in tournaments physically, many of us do not have the skill I eluded to earlier: the skill to process competition in a positive way. I have a saying that I repeat during competitions season, “If you are not ready to lose, you are not ready to compete”. It is NOT a defeatist mentality, it is simply looking realistically at the possible outcomes of competition and making sure we are prepared for the worst. When we push towards the best and yet are prepared to deal with the worst, we free ourselves from allowing the worst to have a fatal impact on us. Every academy has at least one example of the talented BJJer who competed, lost and then was never the same. That person was not prepared for the worst. If the choice is between potentially quitting BJJ and not competing, I will always push that athlete not to compete, at least until they are READY to process any potential outcome in a better way.

Some BJJ athletes simply do not have the desire to compete. This is NOT referring to the athlete who says they do not have the urge to compete BUT they SMASH every training partner they can get their hands on and keep score during all sparring sessions – that person is simply fooling themselves. The person who has no genuine desire to compete does not treat teammates like the enemy and can often be an AWESOME training partner and teammate as there is not any ego involved in their training. This is not to say that they approach training with any less intensity or have any less love for the sport. This athlete simply has a different view of BJJ or different personal goals. BJJ is so much more than the competition so we must be open to those of us who embrace the elements of teamwork, technical growth, and the overall lifestyle in a way that does not manifest itself in a combative way.

All things considered, I believe competition can be a great tool to both improve our BJJ games and to add layers to our BJJ experience. When my students ask me about whether to compete, I encourage them to do so if they can have a genuine desire and are willing to prepare. I also make sure my students understand that tournaments are to be used to help them reach their BJJ goals and not to elevate their standing in my eyes. Competition can help spur growth but is not a REQUIREMENT for advancement. In short, use tournaments to get better and have fun – do not allow tournaments, or anything, to sour you on BJJ or derail your BJJ journey. See you on the mat!

Don’t forget to check out Gracie’s new online instructional website, Roger Gracie TV.

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Your Bjj New Year’s Resolutions

Your Bjj New Year’s Resolutions

Original Article: Gracie Barra

After the holidays have passed – and with it all of the rich foods, Christmas desserts, drinks and sleeping off the big meals on the couch, it is time to think about getting back to bjj training. The media is filled with features on health and diet advice for those who have made a “New Year’s Resolution” to quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol and/or go on the dreaded celery and carrot stick diet.
As practitioners of bjj, we can use the start of the year to embark on some new training goals to add some fresh motivation to our training.

Training Layoffs

If you have been absent from the academy for any reason, this is a good chance to get the kimono out again and get back on the mat. Start back slowly and allow yourself enough time to “get the rust out” and restore some of your previous conditioning before returning to the intensity of training that you may formerly have enjoyed.
One of the biggest sources of frustration for those returning after a layoff is expecting to resume training at the same level and intensity from which they left off.
Attaching an unrealistic time schedule to your return to full speed will likely end in frustration. You have to allow your body to adjust to training again. Go slowly at first and build your intensity and frequency gradually. Before you know it, you will be back rolling at your previous levels.

Check the conditioning blog here!

Concentrated Learning

For those of you who have not been absent from the mats, you can use the start of a new year as a time to begin a new area of study in your jiu-jitsu.

I pose the question:

What area of jiu-jitsu – if concentrated on for the next 8 weeks – would cause the greatest improvement in your bjj game?
I have successfully used this concentrated approach to training to radically improve several different areas of my bjj game. It might be working from a new DVD set that has been released on guard passing, arm triangles, positional escapes or whatever you have identified in your own game.
Over a period of weeks, this becomes my focus in training and I can raise my level in that concentrated area beyond anything that would have been possible by just showing up at the academy and training normally.

This year have decided to focus my bjj New Years resolution on butterfly guard.

I have some techniques that I have employed for years, seen some moves that I would like to try to integrate, and need a new challenge in my game. I would also like to tie the different isolated techniques into more of a system, where one technique flows into another and I develop combinations.
Two months of concentrated drilling and positional sparring, YouTube research and experimentation with your training partners (try to enlist them in your campaign ass well) will stretch my butterfly guard proficiency to previously unreached levels.

So, what is your bjj New Year’s Resolution?

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Jiu-Jitsu and Holiday Season

Jiu-Jitsu and Holiday Season

Original Article: BJJFanatics

The holiday season is finally upon us.  If you celebrate Thanksgiving, this week will be filled with family, feasts and for some of us, missed training.  As amazing as the anticipation of the holiday season can seem with its lure of time off from work, from school, and from our normal routine, we must be careful that we don’t derail the progress we’ve made by straying too far from the routine and lifestyle we follow throughout the rest of the year.  Here are just a few ways that training jiu-jitsu can help ensure that your holiday season is the best it possibly can be this year!  By applying a few of the aspects of the BJJ lifestyle you follow year-round can make the holidays more festive and healthy for you.

Jiu-Jitsu and Holiday Stress

There are so many causes of stress during the holiday season.  First off, the changing of seasons and the onset of the cooler weather tends to force people to be indoors much more which can lead to periods of relative inactivity compared to the rest of the year.  In addition, the shorter days, especially if you’re in the part of the world where daylight savings time brings utter darkness by dinner time, the lack of sunshine can be very depressing and can actually lead to conditions like Vitamin D deficiency and seasonal depression.

As wonderful as our families may be, the annual social gatherings filled with people you don’t see the rest of the year can be stressful in itself.  Holiday classic films like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and Christmas Vacation come to life for many of us as we spend extra time planning, traveling and visiting with as many family members as we can during this special time.  Even if you enjoy this process, it is still stressful.  It is still a change to your normal routine and can impact your health and well being.

How can jiu-jitsu help us during these hectic festivities?  Science has long shown that physical activity of any kind can help relieve stress by helping to release excess energy and release endorphins.  BJJ can also do so much more because of the community that surrounds you at your academy.  Chances are you have friends and peers who also train.  Being around those folks can help fight off the winter time blues and give you a welcome break from the Aunt Marthas of the world.

With that said, it’s important to try to be as consistent in your training as you possibly can.  Your instructors and coaches have families and responsibilities too, so there is a good chance that your academy may be closed during some of the holiday season more than usual.  Do you best to get in training while the gym is open.  Rearrange your schedule if Thursday (Thanksgiving) is a typical day you plan to train and your gym is closed.  Some academies also offer Open Mats in lieu of regular classes during this time.  This can be a great way to squeeze in an extra hour or so of training when your gym was supposed to be closed.

So what do you do if your gym is closed or you’re traveling for the holiday season?  If you’re planning to travel, it’s always to see if there are other gyms in the area that you might be able to check out.  Most BJJ academies are amazingly hospitable and if they’re having classes or open mats, will welcome you.  But let’s say you’ve tried that and there is no one open in the vicinity where you find yourself.  What can you do?  Anything you want, do another physical activity of any kind to keep yourself moving.  Yoga and BJJ-related body exercises (shrimps, bridges, etc.) are something you can do anytime with limited space.  A short weight training circuit can do wonders for your stress level even if you have to utilize the limited options at a hotel fitness center.  Twenty minutes is all you need to make sure the rest of your day is festive.

Jiu-Jitsu and Holiday Overeating

Coupled with the stress that the holiday season can bring, the prevalence of huge feasts can be a daunting obstacle to your jiu-jitsu goals.  Whether it’s the potluck buffet at work or the holiday dinner with relatives, the chances of overeating are high this time of year.  You just spent 6 hours in the car listening to Christmas Carols on your way to your relative’s house.  What better way to numb your suffering but through a pile of mashed potatoes and half a pumpkin pie.

Sticking as closely to your jiu-jitsu training schedule can help with these holiday binges by helping to burn off some of the calories you may be consuming.  It has also been shown that physical activity can sometimes curb one’s appetite and help minimize the amount that you eat.  If you are lucky enough to be able to train on the morning of Thanksgiving, for instance, there can be a truly satisfying feeling having just rolled for an hour or two before sitting down to dinner.

What are some other things you can do to help control yourself and possibly minimize the damage should you veer off course?


This is one of the main tips that Tom DeBlass gives out when giving someone any type of nutritional advice.  He has stated in the past that he’s seen dozens of people lose upwards of 10 lbs of weight making no changes to their nutritional approach except adding one gallon of water intake to their daily plan.


When you’re rushing around and dealing with the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to skip meals or go long periods without eating.  This makes us prime targets for binge eating and will make even the toughest, most disciplined athlete weak in the face of that cookie and dessert table.  Plan in advance and have plenty of healthy snacks available.  Protein and healthy fats can be some of the best items to snack on.  Eggs, nuts, greek yogurt, and low-fat cheeses can be quick snacks that will give you a few hundred calories to keep you satiated and possibly save you a few thousand calories of mindless binge eating later.

The Holiday Season and BJJ Community

The holiday season is predicated on the importance of gathering together with your friends and families and enjoying quality time.  This goes for your jiu-jitsu family as well.  Perhaps your school plans holiday get-togethers.  Do you best to support and get everyone involved in these events.  We cannot be successful without our teammates and this time of year can be a great time to acknowledge them.

Jiu Jitsu can be a life-changing art that can inform your life year round, especially during the holidays.  It will help you stay calm under pressure, burn off some stress and extra calories.  By staying consistent you will eliminate the holiday layoff and the challenging return that can sometimes follow.  You will also get a jump on those New Years resolutions and be way ahead of the competition!

BJJ instructionals can be great gifts for your friends and family members who train or even for yourself.

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Training with a Full-Time Job and a Family…Is it Possible?

Training with a Full-Time Job and a Family…Is it Possible?

Original Article: RollBliss

A HUGE contributing factor towards why people stop doing or participating in whatever hobby or extracurricular activity their currently in to, in my non-scientific and purely anecdotal experience, revolves around commitment issues.

To be more specific: TIME COMMITMENT!

It’s very difficult to fully receive the benefits and/or complete enjoyment of any given activity without putting in some time and dedication. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no different! In fact – time, dedication, devotion, and money are all required (again, in my opinion) by the jiu-jitsu practitioner in order to progress in skill and ability.

As a married man with three young children and a full-time corporate job, I’ll often get asked: “How on Earth do you find the TIME to still train jiu-jitsu?!” It’s a valid question! Anyone who begins training understands that not only is time and commitment required to get better at jiu-jitsu but, also, it’s a very addicting activity that intoxicates the practitioner to the point of obsession where the desire to train isn’t difficult to obtain but finding the time to train sometimes is.

It’s all about balance

For some, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for one to set aside for training BJJ. For others, their training gets in the way between themselves and a functioning social life outside of the mats. I’m definitely not here to judge anyone’s priorities but, again, as a married man and father of 3, I find that there is a way to balance life and jiu-jitsu.

I’m fortunate that I have an understanding wife who is on board with me budgeting time throughout the week towards training BJJ. Ideally, I train 3 nights during the week and then the Saturday morning class offered at the school I’m a member of. Each class is roughly one hour of instruction and then roughly an extra hour of open-mat styled rolling or situational drilling.

You don’t have to be great at math to figure out that I spend a lot of time during the week on the mats!

Personally, I benefit from my school having a training schedule that fits with my life’s schedule. I’m able to make the 7 pm class because my wife and little ones are all getting ready for bed around that time so my wife isn’t too overwhelmed with our kiddos while I’m away training.

During the Saturday morning classes, I’m able to bring my older kiddos with me (if need be) to help give my wife a break and they’re old enough to sit in the waiting area and entertain themselves with technology or playing with the other kids who come with their parents too.

Even though I’m fortunate that my life and training schedule line up reasonably well, I still have to always be mindful of keeping a healthy balance. If my wife and kids require something from me that isn’t part of our “usual” schedule, I  prioritize them over my training. It’s easy for me as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is just a hobby for me and I’m not a professional competitor with no aspirations to become one either!

Balancing work life too

Much like my personal life’s schedule, my work schedule lines up great too with my training schedule. My usual work hours are the standard 8-5 corporate schedule and training for me starts at 7 pm. There are lunch classes offered throughout the week that I’ll sometimes frequent but, more times than not, I stick to the usual evening classes.

Most BJJ schools tend to make a training schedule that fits the “average” person’s life schedule, so you probably benefit from that too at your school! It makes sense as a business to accommodate your members as best as possible so unless you have a really awkward life/work schedule, you’ll probably be able to find a school that offers training during times that you have free.

Since I desire to keep my current position with the company I work for, I always make sure I don’t let my training affect my work life. Aside from the swollen ears, eyes, and fingers, my training rarely mixes with my work (except for the times I may daydream about choking certain coworkers as a means of conflict resolution)!

In a perfect world, training or competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would be my work and I’d get paid to practice, teach, or showcase the beautiful art. Until then, I balance work with my training like I balance my personal life with my training.

Wrap up

I’ll admit though – there have been many times where I’m tempted to neglect a lunchtime conference call because I’ve got the itch to train at a lunch class. I’ve also genuinely considered skipping out on “Meet the Teacher Night” at my children’s school because I’d rather be on the mats with my buddies…  but it all boils down to what I’ve been emphasizing this entire article: life is all about balancing the things you enjoy with the things you’re obligated to do in order to maintain your desired lifestyle!

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