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

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE: BJJ WORLD

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

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE: CHOPRA

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?

DRINK LOTS OF WATER

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.

DON’T LET YOURSELF GET HUNGRY

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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Here’s How BJJ Strengthens Both Your Body And Mind

Here’s How BJJ Strengthens Both Your Body And Mind

Original Article: Evolve Daily

Martial arts is both physical and mental. In fact, there is almost an equal importance between the two when training to become a martial artist. The way the body moves fluidly to execute techniques, it requires great coordination and presence. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in particular, serves as a prime example of this concept.

Referred to by many as ‘the gentle art’, BJJ focuses on grappling and ground techniques. It basically promotes the concept that anyone of any size can defend themselves against bigger, heavier opponents by utilizing sound technique and leverage.

It is a martial art that requires not only a lot of physical strength but also the mental capacity to make quick decisions in given situations. Because it requires a lot of intelligence to practice, some say BJJ is the closest martial arts gets to chess.

BJJ is such a great physical and mental workout. Practicing the discipline every day will quickly enhance both areas. For those looking to train both the mind and the body, BJJ is a great system to practice.

There are loads of benefits that you can pick up from training in BJJ. Today, Evolve Daily shares four ways Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is good for the mind and body.

1. It Fortifies the Mind

BJJ is about performing techniques intelligently and strategically, adapting to situations and making transitions depending on how opponents respond. It’s comparison to chess in this regard is truly warranted. Sometimes opponents are able to swing the advantage in their favor, so your next move needs to be executed with intelligence.

You might initiate the grappling exchange by attempting a sweep and transitioning into a leg switch, but if your opponent anticipates it and instead puts you on defense, you’re going to have to adjust and change strategy. BJJ forces you to think several moves ahead, but also challenges you to keep your strategy flexible because anything can happen.

This constant strategizing and plotting exercises the mind immensely. By engaging the mind to deal quickly with the fast-changing tide and momentum of scrambles, it trains our mental strength. With a mind that grows stronger every day, techniques become easier to execute and we are soon able to be more creative with how we use them.

2. It Strengthens the Body

While training and sharpening the mind is one of the most important aspects of BJJ, there is no doubt about the fact that you must also strengthen and train the body. It may not appear so on the surface, but BJJ is one of the most intense workouts you will ever experience.

A prevalent theme in BJJ is that the smaller and weaker man will gain the ability to overpower a larger opponent by executing proper techniques and using leverage. Performing sweeps and locks utilize leverage and technique to overpower larger foes. In this case, it is usually the quicker thinker that gains the advantage.

However, when two practitioners are equally intelligent, then it will come down to who is stronger. The bottom line is that strength isn’t the most important thing in BJJ, but when it comes down to it, sometimes strength will come in handy. Which is why physical development and strength training are both crucial when it comes to practicing BJJ.

3. Improves Flexibility

One of the most significant ways BJJ affects the physicality of a practitioner is that it improves flexibility. Flexibility, of course, is an important trait in martial arts, especially in grappling where one must be limber for the body to adapt to any situation.

Although matches begin standing up, BJJ always ends up on the mat the majority of the time. While all martial arts require practitioners to be flexible, your success in BJJ is dependent on it. By performing many drills, stretches, and exercises in BJJ, you are able to train your body to become more flexible and limber.

Basically the more you are able to stretch, the more techniques and combinations you can execute.

Improving flexibility also makes you a better athlete. This will greatly impact your performance in other martial arts disciplines such as boxing or Muay Thai. Enhanced flexibility is important in any physical sport.

4. Enhances Problem-Solving Skills

Last but certainly not the least, BJJ enhances problem-solving skills.

Because BJJ puts practitioners in many situations where they have to overcome mental and physical obstacles, at times it resembles a very tricky puzzle. How to maneuver opponents and put them in certain positions so that you can take advantage of them, this is what often goes through your mind when rolling.

BJJ definitely makes people better problem solvers. This permeates in real life, as it trains us to think multiple steps ahead of situations in order to find viable solutions. Problem-solving is a major component in BJJ and training this skill surely improves the mind overall.

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5 Things We Learned From 2018 IBJJF World Master

5 Things We Learned From 2018 IBJJF World Master

Original Article: Hywel Teague/FloGrappling

The 2018 IBJJF World Master Jiu-Jitsu Championship has come and gone, and now the dust has settled it’s time to reflect on an intense four days of grappling action.

1. Masters Worlds is really, really tough

Forget the “Master” and focus on the “World” in the title. This championship is no joke. People come from all over the planet to compete at this tournament, and they take it very, very seriously. The competitors will train for months on end– even all year long– with this event in mind.

First off, the divisions are HUGE. Black belt Master 1 and Master 2 middleweight both had a massive 59 entrants. Even at Master 3 (40 years of age and above) there were four divisions with over 40 competitors. That means a lot of matches to win gold.

At the black belt Master 1 there were elite level competitors such as Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa, Osvaldo “Queixinho”, Vitor Oliveira and DJ Jackson. At Master 2, Roberto ‘Cyborg’, Gustavo Campos, Josh Hinger and more signed up, making these some of the toughest Master divisions we’ve ever seen.

2. It’s big– and it’s going to get bigger

With 21 mats running (and another 6 in a separate area for the Las Vegas Open, which runs concurrently) the World Master Jiu-Jitsu Championship is the biggest IBJJF tournament of the year. Along with the Brazilian Nationals, it’s one of the largest (if not the biggest) jiu-jitsu event in the world.

The continued success of the event, coupled with the continued international growth of jiu-jitsu, means that the IBJJF are considering scaling up for 2019. More news as to the exact plans as we learn of them.

3. Legends are surprisingly down to earth

There were so many big names at Masters Worlds it was hard to keep track. Every few steps you’d bump into a current World champion like Buchecha or Leandro Lo. Holding court at seminars and booths were great figures such as Cobrinha, Leo Vieira, Saulo Ribeiro, Kyra Gracie and many more.

The ceremony which honored every black belt absolute World champ with special rings brought together great champions past and present, such as Amaury Bitetti and Mario Sperry (who even competed in the Masters 5 division, winning gold).

One thing I noticed again and again was the presence of retired MMA fighters. There were even UFC title challengers like Travis Lutter (who fought Anderson Silva in 2007) and Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Elvis Sinosic, who fought Chuck Liddell in 2006 and Tito Ortiz in 2001 respectively.

All of the above were more than happy to stop, talk to and take photos with the fans, of which there were many!

4. There were more women registered than ever

After a few years of disappointingly low numbers, that all changed in 2018. The World Masters saw more competitors than ever, especially at black belt. There was a total of 58 women registered at black belt Master 1 and 2. Karen Antunes stole the show by winning gold just months after winning Pans and Worlds earlier this year. Don’t forget the new mother had her first baby just last year. Just incredible.

The story of Betty Broadhurst had a happy ending. A 61-year-old purple belt, she put out a national call to try and find an opponent with the likes of Gordon Ryan advocating on her behalf. Thankfully the call was answered and she managed to compete. Heartwarming.

5. The jiu-jitsu was old-school, and that’s not a bad thing

Don’t confuse “old school” for ineffective– quite the opposite, in fact. There was a distinct absence of 50-50 guard and lapel trickery. Many joke about the difference between modern jiu-jitsu and the old school, but we really did see a lot of takedowns, guard passing and submissions from every angle.

The strategies were different due to the length of the matches, which were five or six minutes long depending on the age division. People tended to come out fast and score or submit early, probably due to the awareness that it’s tough keeping up an intense pace as you get older.

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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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