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

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

Original Article: Princeton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Never Give Up: 10 Ways to Keep Your Gas Tank Full for Jiu-Jitsu

Never Give Up: 10 Ways to Keep Your Gas Tank Full for Jiu-Jitsu

Never Give Up: 10 Ways to Keep Your Gas Tank Full for Jiu-Jitsu

Original article courtesy of GracieMag by Ivan Trindade

Let’s just hope Marcelo Garcia doesn’t hear us, but here are ten awesome off-the-mat activities to keep your gas tank full.

We went after some of the best in the business and they shared with us how they complement their routine of training.

Here is the list:

1. Swimming: Put that bathing suit on and jump in. Swimming is great to increase your cardio and also one of the best all-body activities. Another great feature is the virtual no impact environment provided by the water.

2. Jumping: Exercises that include jumping are great for the cardio aspect of your training and also increases the muscular strength of your legs and you know there’s no guard without strong legs.

3. Gi bars: What about strengthening your upper body and also making your grips stronger at the same time? That’s the package offered by the gi bars. Use different grips to the gi and practice actual fight situations.

4. Rope climbing: Again, work your grip strength, but also your cardio and core. If you keep your legs perpendicular to your upper body, you will also work your abdomen muscles.

5. Running on the sand: The soft and irregular surface increases the effort of each step, which is great for the cardio. Also, the reduced impact puts less stress on your joints and muscles. Mix short and fast runs with resistance exercises where a partner holds you back as you move forward.

6. Stairs: A classic among Jiu-Jitsu competitors, climbing stairs is one of the best cardio efforts you can add to your routine. Breath right, find your rhythm and rest properly between climbs to have an even better performance.

7. Leg press: Making your legs stronger is vital for a strong guard game. When you are able to mix great technique with the strength of your legs, you’ll be able to create a lot more problems for the passer. So, don’t skip leg day.

8. Boxing pads: The classic boxing training method will increase your speed and improve your reflex, while also working on a better cardio. Remember that if you react faster, you’ll be able to use less energy to defend and attack.

9. Rubber bands: A simple tool with multiple uses. The rubber band is ideal for resistance exercises even when you are not in the gym.

10. Chains: As you lift a chain from the ground it gets heavier. This increase in effort will help you deal with those moments in a fight when there’s no rest in sight and giving up is not an option.

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