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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 grapplinginsider.com 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

gracie-bjj

 

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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6 Tips to Master Your Internal Dialogue

internal dialogue

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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