(Advice) “Awkward Pt. 2” by Lauren LaCourse

 

“Awkward Pt. 2”

by Lauren LaCourse (Blogger, WBBJJ.com)

 

Recently I wrote a blog, aptly named Awkward, about the “intimacies” involved in rolling with members of the opposite sex. Most of that blog was written from a completely feminine point of view.  I talked about what it was like for us BJJ ladies to roll with you strapping BJJ lads, and some of the struggles (the awkward ones anyway) that my become involved.  I should have taken into consideration how difficult and uncomfortable it might be for you guys to roll with us girls.  I realized this when I received an email from one of our WBBJJ.com readers named Joe.

 

Joe wrote:

“Hey Lauren! Just read your article on White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I am happy to know that women like you are out there who understand that things like that happen with dudes.  It was quite encouraging to me.

Some guys try to show off or show dominance when rolling with a girl.  I dislike this attitude and thoroughly try to avoid it.  I consider myself pretty good about it (rolling with girls).  My instructors usually get me to work with girls because I cut myself off from this [attitude].

However, and I’d hope I can get your perspective on this, when doing techniques that require you to place hands on the chest, is there a way to go about it so it doesn’t seem like I’m groping the lady I am rolling with without compromising learning the technique?”

 

After reading Joe’s email, I realized how difficult it must be sometimes for you men to effectively roll with us ladies, and still maintain the sense of decency expected from any courteous and respectful adult.  I was, after this epiphany, instantly grateful for those men that I roll with on a daily basis and those men rolling with and helping us women along on our BJJ journey.

 

As a “Thank You”, I promise to answer any questions you may have about rolling with us women, and to offer my advice for those situations where you have been wondering what it is exactly that you should do.  Joe’s question is a perfect one to start.

 

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I discussed this question with a few of my female rolling partners and I have finally settled on an answer that should help you guys out. So you’re wondering, “Where the heck am I supposed to put my hands when I’m told to place them in a place that is normally inappropriate, such as when drilling armbars from the mount?” I remember the first time my instructor called out those instructions.  I looked over to my male partner, who could hardly look me in the eye, and braced myself for an awkward drilling session.  And boy, it was awkward. However I soon found an answer, and after going over it with my female confidante’s, I was finally able to put it in terms that should make things a bit easier.  I must ask you in advance to forgive me for my candidness.

 

A female’s chest is divided into three parts that for our purposes here we will term them, “top boob, actual boob and bottom boob.”

 

Top Boob – the flat area of a female’s chest between the clavicle line and the top of the boobs. 

Actual Boob – that one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Bottom Boob – the area from the bottom of the boobs to the end of the rib cage.

 

When your instructor says to place your hands on the chest, when it comes to us ladies, your safest bet is to place your hands on the “top boob”. The “top boob” is actually not boob at all.  The sturdiest part of a woman’s chest is where her ribs are coming together at the sternum. This will keep her from any pain that would come if you pressed down onto her “actual boob”, and it will provide you with the strongest base that you are going to find in that region.

 

Now you might be wondering, well why not the “ol’ bottom boob”?  The thing about the “bottom boob” is this, if your hands were to slip up or forward, this would result in the accidental “boob scoop”; which is painful as well as awkward.  Trust me.

 

Like I said, “top boob” is your friend.  It is your safety zone and mine.

 

We females are just as uncomfortable and worried about accidental groping as you men are.  We slip up too!  So if it does happen, as long as your partner is understanding and it wasn’t on purpose, this should not be any problem at all.

 

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BJJ is a sport that demands close physical contact.  This is the nature of the art, and most women understand that when they sign up.

 

I hope articles like these will help.  I appreciate that there are men out there not only supporting us women and treating us like equals, but also being understanding and considerate when our differences become apparent.  This goes for you ladies out there rolling with the guys too.  It isn’t always an easy thing to do, but I’m grateful that we all continue to practice together in spite of those brief uncomfortable situations.

 

As promised, if any of you ever have any questions at all, feel free to contact me through Facebook, Email, or Twitter. I will follow up with you as soon as possible. I appreciate you all!  Good luck, and keep on rollin’.

 

This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse

Email:[email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Lauren

 

“Diaries of a White Belt Pt. 2” by Isabella Farley

 

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Isabella Farley (center)

 

Diaries of a White Belt Pt. 2

Written by: Isabella Farley

Edited by: Samantha Montague

 

My hands are sweaty and my heart is racing, but I remain calm. My focus is evident. Every takedown, every submission, every guard pass, and every escape is replaying in my head. I am visualizing the details of every technique that would allow me to dominate. I have spent many hours training for this moment, sweating on the mats, and being tapped out repeatedly. I am prepared. The pain of many chokes has caused me to improve my skills. We drill the same positions hundreds of times and start it all over again the next day. During every movement, I must be as flawless as possible, because one mistake can end it all. I believe in myself and in the effort that I have put forward. I am the end result of my blood, sweat and tears.

 

My headphones are blaring in my ears. I jog in place to the beat of the music to warm my muscles up. My pulse beats faster and faster as I wait for my name to be called. There I stand, alone. My thoughts are on my victory. I will succeed. I will stand on that podium. I have proven countless times than I am a champion. I shall succeed yet again because I was born to do this. With every breath I take, I can feel my dreams getting closer.

 

Suddenly I hear my name called. It is finally my turn. I bow in respect as I step onto the mats. I shake my opponent’s hand and then the referee’s. I feel alone however I am in a crowded room, with just my opponent. Our eyes meet as we anticipate each other’s attack. I try to stay focused on the many months of preparation, and all of the injuries, that have led me to this moment in time. The ruckus in the background does not prevent me from hearing my coach’s guidance. The sound of his voice keeps me calm as I prepare to battle for the win.

 

The moment the match begins I see my opening. Without hesitation I go for the take down. She is caught off guard by my quick movement and is fighting to keep her balance. With my adrenaline pumping, I go in for the kill. I achieve full mount after a minute of grappling on the ground. I make sure to stay still for three seconds to get my points. My coach tells me to “get to work” (this being the code to submit my opponent and attain my victory). My coach never calls out the submissions that I am to carry out. My opponent is given no opportunity to anticipate my next moves. We will not assist her in preparing her defense.

 

My prowess is witnessed upon her face when I attack her neck. She reacts by freeing up an arm, to stop me from deepening my choke upon her. The choke however, is a well-constructed and rehearsed distraction that allows me to grab her arm. This strategy comes naturally to me because we have rehearsed it so often. Firmly isolating her arm and head, I can now safely grab her wrist. I squeeze my elbow in the groove of her neck to prevent her head from moving. The submission is mine. I submit her with my favorite technique, the Americana. I feel her hand feverishly tapping on my thigh and a great wave of happiness comes over me.

 

I am a champion. I am on the podium.

 

Thank you very much for reading! Hope that you enjoyed! – WBBJJ.com

 

You can follow Isabella via her Facebook page.

 

(Advice) How Nicolas Gregoriades got his BJJ Black Belt in 4 years!

 

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Nicolas Gregoriades is Roger Gracie’s first BJJ Black Belt. As we all know, it takes an average of ten years, and approximately $100,000 to earn a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt (when you calculate academy fees, seminars, tournaments, apparel, etc). Click here to download Nicolas’ eBook to find out all of the details on how he was able to master BJJ in 4 years!

 

Roger Gracie is one of the most dominant Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champions ever! He is not going to promote someone unless they absolutely have what it takes!

 

“Nic is my first black belt and for a good reason. His book shows his deep involvement and dedication to my family’s art.” – Roger Gracie, 10x world champion

 

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Nicolas Gregoriades

 

“Very few Jiu Jitsu black belts on the planet have traversed the globe to learn the secrets of Jiu Jitsu like Nic has, he’s the Indiana Jones of BJJ” – Eddie Bravo, founder of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu

 

This 8-part guide is over 170 pages long and features more than 100 full-color images, plus embedded links to relevant videos and further training resources. The book covers all the aspects of your BJJ experience and includes sections on conditioning, competing, yoga, and training in Brazil. Get your copy now!

 

 

This eBook has been all of the rage in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community! Click here to find out why!!

 

I hope you all enjoyed the read!

 

meTony Peranio WBBJJ

 

(Advice) “Reservations” by Lauren LaCourse

 

“Reservations” by Lauren LaCourse

 

I am pretty nervous about my upcoming competition.

 

I am competing at a NAGA tournament on May 10th, which means I’ve got only another month to prepare. Funny. That sounds like such a long time, especially since I have been begging my professor to let me compete for the past six months. However to me, here and now, it doesn’t seem like such a long time.

 

Two weeks ago I went to an all female open mat. I also attended an all female seminar on Sunday. The more I train outside of my gym, the more I realize how far I have to go. It sort of feels like I have been training under a rock.

 

bjj michigan

(Photo Credit – Zachary Holston)

 

At my academy there are two other women that I train with. As for the rest of my time on the mats, it’s been spent having to deal with guys quicker than I am, bigger and stronger than I am, or better than I am (sometimes it’s a mixture of those things). Therefore when I attend Jiu Jitsu functions with other women, it is like the blinders are taken off, and my contentment comes to a screeching halt.

 

I have no tangible way to gauge where I am at in my training, as it relates to competition, since the type of people I would compete against (female, white belts, my size) aren’t readily available for me to train with at my gym.

 

It is frustrating.

 

Regardless of how prepared I think I am, I  have absolutely no way to be sure of how prepared I actually am.

 

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(Photo Credit – Yogi Studios – Becky Gibbons)

 

I suppose the only thing I am sure of, is that I’m scared. All of the people who say that “it’s a learning experience” and “it’s only your first competition”, have yet to make me feel more assured.

 

What if I am terrible? What if all of the work that I have put in wasn’t enough? How would I deal with failure? Will I be a coward? Will I shrug my shoulders and say “I gave it my best shot”, and never try again? Will I stay determined? Will I use a potential loss as fuel to become better?

 

As I write this, I am beginning to realize why I am so afraid. This competition will reveal which characteristic I have more of; cowardice or determination. And also, I will know firsthand if the adage is true, “You can’t lie in Jiu Jitsu”.

 

The question remains, will I be happy when I finally learn the truth?

 

This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse of WBBJJ.com

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Lauren

 

(Advice) “BJJ and Harry Potter” by Jim Barrett

 

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Jim Barrett

 

As I’m winding down and about to go to bed the night before a tournament, I go to put something on my computer to watch. I have to make a decision.  Should I watch something that will put my thoughts on BJJ, or something that will distract me?  Throughout my competition career I’ve gone through a number phases on how I direct my racing thoughts and jitters.

 

Originally I watched BJJ content.  I would watch matches of my coach, Rodrigo “Comprido”, and other competitors that would get my heart pumping; like Felipe Costa or Demian Maia.  I thought that this stress may better prepare me for the dump of adrenaline I would get the next day.  I fell out of this habit because I think it would just keep me up all night, my mind living out everything that may happen the next day.

 

Later, I got into watching videos that were more about training and not competition.  My favorite of this type is the Arte Suave series, which is a Jiu Jitsu “video magazine” that features insight on high level fighter’s training and their inspirational stories.  Other titles in this vein include, A Day in the Zen which follows the training camp of Mario Sperry, and Choke with Rickson Gracie.

 

For a time I moved away from all material about Jiu Jitsu and tried to find something to just put me to sleep.   What I find best for pure sleep is watching foreign language films. I wouldn’t watch a good foreign movie like City of God or Pan’s Labynith, but something more on the “B movie” level, possibly something produced by Telemundo. For a while you will try to stay awake, trying to figure out what’s going on, but eventually sleepiness overcomes you and you give up on following the movie.

 

Nowadays, the night before a tournament, I like to watch an inspirational fictional movie like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.  I like a good movie where the underdog comes out of nowhere and saves the world because, in all honesty, we all see ourselves as the hero going up against the odds.  Like Luke Skywalker, I’m the farmboy no one heard of, who brings down the empire.  Watching these types of movies gets me in the positive mindset that every good competitor should learn to adopt. I am a lifelong fan of Frodo and Luke, however recently I’ve been gaining inspiration from the third Harry Potter film, “The Prisoner of Azkaban”. The underlying message of this movie, helps me lay out my mental game plan for BJJ competitions.

 

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Harry Potter and the “Prisoner of Azkaban” teaches the prerequisite of fighting and wizardry alike; the management of fear.  You may be naturally talented and learn every move the first time you see it.  You may be a gym rat that trains ten times per week and gets kicked out of your facility nightly.  You may be a cross fit monster that never tires in training.  You could be like me and hit everyone with your spider guard sweeps.  All those skills you have built are just in the gym.  All your training can’t make you any less vulnerable to the crippling effects of fear as your opponent stands in front of you.  That is unless your “Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor” taught you the Patronus spell.

 

In this movie, Rowling introduces a new premise to the series with the creation of the Dementors; hope draining monsters that use fear to control their victims.  The first time Harry is confronted with a Dementor he is overwhelmed with fear and he is crippled despite his talent and training.

 

“They feed on every good feeling, every happy memory until a person is left with nothing but his worst experiences” Professor Lupin explains to Harry.

 

Before my first tournament everyone told me I was going to win easily. I felt good in the days leading up to the event. The night before I watched “Arte Suave 2” and imagined how I was going to crush like Andre Galvao the next day.  I made weight and felt ok but when I got called to the mat something else happened.  Across the ring was a heavily tattooed representative of Miletich fighting systems, a camp known for their aggressive fighters.  As my heart began to pump I was overcome by visions of all the different ways that my opponent was going to hurt me.  I thought my talent and passion would carry me through, but the next thing I can remember after shaking hands is him on top of me, forcing my own shin into my throat with an improvised self-gogoplata, causing a woman in the crowd to scream.  There was no chance of initiating my spider guard attack I worked so hard on at the gym.  I blacked out for much of the rest of the match as my adrenaline rush shunted blood away from my hippocampus to more vital systems.  Needless to say, I lost my first match.

 

After Harry learns how helpless he is to the dread inducing capabilities of the Dementors, he finds help from a seasoned wizard, Professor Lupin.  He teaches that the only way to overcome a Dementor is to utilize the Patronus spell which can only be accomplished by maintaining a certain state of mind.  A wizard must block out the interference of the dementor and remember their happiest memory.  It is a mindset that decides victory or defeat.  Harry eventually learns to control his fear and throughout the rest of the series he stands up to the negative feelings driven by the Dementors.

 

What  allowed me to get closer to my potential in BJJ is when I learned that confidence is like a magic trick.  There is no such thing as real confidence, it is all an act we play to convince ourselves that we are not afraid.  It is acting as if you are confident when you don’t want to fight, and would rather run.  It is a highly subjective mental battle to keep this state of mind in the face of conflicting thoughts.  It is a magic trick that you cast upon yourself.

 

In the “Prisoner of Azkaban” we never learn what memory Harry uses when he drives away the dementors (and save the day at the end of the story).  Maybe Rowling didn’t want us to know because the battle against fear is in ourselves and not seen by anybody else.  All the world sees is what comes out on the mat, but inside each of us know that we have won, if we controlled our fear.

 

Before every match I still want to curl up in a ball and cry when I see a scary looking opponent across the mat.  I summon my greatest memories of when I was strong, when I was alert, when I was happy and I pretend to be all those things. In the Harry Potter books a successful Patronus spell is indicated by the emergence of an animal form from the wizard’s wand.  When my magic spell succeeds, and my confidence takes control of my fear, you may see the emergence of a spider (a totem of my spider guard).

– Jim Barrett

 

 

Click here for Jim Barrett’s Facebook Page
Click here to subscribe to Jim’s YouTube channel

“Diaries of a White Belt” by Isabella Farley

 

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Isabella Farley (center)

 

Diaries of a White Belt

Written by: Isabella Farley

Edited by: Samantha Montague

 

The world of Jiu-jitsu is quickly changing with an increased number of competitors and spectators. Events are popping up everywhere. The eruption of this sport and the close-knit community seems unstoppable.

 

For the unknowing, a person who has not been sucked into this way of life, you soon realize, after stepping on that mat for the first time, that this has become your life. It is your new obsession. You will google Jiu-jitsu; you will read a copious number of blogs; you will spend hours watching YouTube videos. An attempt will be made to distinguish one competitor’s body from another. There will be a gaggle of limbs and no method to tell them apart.

 

Strangers from all over the world will start adding you to Facebook simply because your profile picture is of you in your Kimono, which we refer to as our Gi. You’ll undoubtedly find it amusing to chat with people for months online after never having actually met them. When you do meet at a tournament, it will feel like you’ve known them your whole life. You will swiftly realize that anyone who does BJJ is unquestionably part of your extended family. You form this incredible bond with your team, which only choking someone on a regular basis could create. We all share an incredible bond that no other sport has: a mutual respect between one another. It is more than just a sport – it is a way of life.

 

Suddenly, your time is dedicated towards Jiujitsu. You start eating healthier; never have you eaten so much salad. You start running so you don’t run out of juice half way through a match. You lift weights so you can be stronger than your opponent. Even though you swore you would never, you now do Yoga. Participating to become more flexible, and watching to see extremely fit and manly guys in an upside down dog position will surely make your day. You stopped drinking, you stopped smoking, you stopped going out of Friday nights with your girls. You will not ever miss a competition class on Saturdays. You’ve even started watching what you say on Facebook; because you wouldn’t want a sponsor to hear you bitch about trivial matters, risk disappointing your coach, and embarrass your team.

 

Your friends will not understand why you’re always busy. When they do finally see you, they will keep making sex jokes about “BJJ” or call it Karate. It will drive you nuts! Before BJJ, you always forgot birthdays but now you will remember the dates, locations, and times for your next 5 tournaments. Your coaches’ opinions will matter more than your parents’ ever did.  You will begin to hate Fridays and Sundays because your gym is closed and all you want to do is Roll.  And dating? You’ll only date someone who rolls, otherwise they would interfere with your training. You’ve stopped buying shoes and clothes, so you can afford a Shoyoroll Gi, because nothing feels as natural on a fighter as a coveted Shoyoroll, the Cadillac of Kimonos.

 

As a female competitor, this demanding sport makes you feel powerful, strong, and unstoppable and it boosts your confidence. It revitalizes you.  It gives you a reason to get up in the morning. It makes you resilient. It drives you. Jiu-jitsu changed my life, and it will change yours, too. For those willing to put the effort forward, you will be rewarded by the gifts Jiu-jitsu will provide and you be adopted into the BJJ family.

 

Thank you very much for reading! Hope that you enjoyed! – WBBJJ.com

 

You can follow Isabella via her Facebook page.

 

BJJ and Sleep by Lauren LaCourse

 

BJJ and Sleep by Lauren LaCourse

 

Me: I don’t sleep like a normal human being anymore.

Coach: Why’s that?

 

Me: Jiu jitsu.

Coach: Yup.

 

Me: I mean it!

Coach: I know.

 

Me: I lie in my bed and for an hour before I fall asleep I’m thinking about jiu jitsu. I go over rolls from training. I imagine my matches for this upcoming competition. I picture myself winning, hugging my teammates.

 

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Coach: That’s good.

Me: And then, when I finally doze off, I do jiu jitsu while I sleep! I don’t just roll over anymore, I shrimp. When I turn to sleep on my stomach, I post on my head and switch my hips. Jiu jitsu is the last thing I think about before bed and the first thing I think about when I wake up. I’m starting to feel crazy.

 

Coach: You should. You kind of have to be crazy to do this. To be good, to get good, you have to be obsessed.

Me: In that case, I’m half way there.

 

This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse of WBBJJ.com

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Lauren

Jim Barrett’s Inspirational IBJJF Pans Story

 

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Jim Barrett

 

The 2011 Pan Ams was my first big jiu jitsu tournament and it was one of the best days of my life. To make the experience more authentic my friends and I showed up to the event on Brazilian time, or late. Being a lightweight I was the first of our group to compete and when we got there the feather weights were already underway. The arena was filled with twelve rings of mats all filled with competitors. People shouting, celebrations, crying, the whole world of jiu jitsu was gathered at this spot today. As a blue belt, I had a division with over 120 competitors, meaning it was seven rounds to the finals. It was a huge challenge; this was the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan Am.

 

As soon I had hurriedly put on my gi the announcer was calling my bracket to the warm up area. Inside this fenced off pen gathered all of the guys in my division; mean mugging each other, aggressively doing burpies, and singing along to gangster rap as it blared from head phones. We were all here to send each other home but were first forced into a tiny area with almost no room to do our intended warm ups. After a rush of claustrophobia I sat on the floor, closed my eyes, and meditated on my affirmations. ‘Everyone else here thinks they’re the good guy, so I’ll be the bad guy. I’m like Darth Vader so I wear my black gi. I’m here to ruin someone’s day. I am the bad draw they didn’t want’. I waited so long I began considering that they must have forgotten to call me when I finally heard my name.

 

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As I weighed in and got my gi checked, I realized that my opponent had a strange ID card from another country. He said a few words of his native tongue to his coach and I knew that ‘lispy, whinny Spanish’ meant I drew a Brazilian in the first round. He wouldn’t be here unless he was good. My heart started pumping. I was across the country in this huge tournament, I didn’t know where my friends were and my coach Comprido was away at the UFC in Las Vegas.

 

Standing there in the weight ins, I started to run through my mind all the excuses I could use after I lose this match, when in the corner of my eye I saw Andre Galvao, one of my biggest heroes. “Andre” I yelled, “I’m a big fan” he turned around, looked back at and grabbed me by the shoulder. “Yes” was all he said then walked away but it completely hit a reset button on my train of thought. I’m not here to lose this match, I’m here because I love jiu jitsu. They called us to the mat.

 

In every first match of every tournament I’ve ever done I get hit by what’s called the adrenaline dump. You lose sense of time, your IQ plummets, you have amnesia for much of the experience. All your training at the gym cannot prepare you for when your brain goes out the window and you rely on instinct. About half way through the match I got my bearings together and was no longer so vulnerable. ‘Slow down’ I told myself, ‘breathe, relax your grips’. Once I swept my opponent and got on top I felt him start to panic. This wasn’t supposed to happen to him, but then again he pulled the bad guy in the first round. I used a lot of energy holding him down as he kicked like a wild deer but I eventually passed his guard, winning the match on points. With the first one behind me I returned to the still crowded warm up area with a new comfort and focus. Now it was time to get in the zone.

 

Right away when the next match started I could feel my opponent nervously shaking. He probably got a buy and this was his first match of the day. As the bad guy, I had to use his jitters to my advantage. I kept my cool but pushed the paced on him, quickly sweeping to the top and passing straight in to an armbar, forcing him to tap.

 

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During the third fight I lost points when I got swept and had to use my reserve flexibility to get out of more trouble. I realized that my opponent was one tough guy. While I hung in there, getting smashed on the bottom, I thought about how I tried hard and I won two fights. I could go home and Comprido wouldn’t be that disappointed, this being my first big tournament. Everyone would realize that guy was just better than me. I thought that till out of nowhere, I heard my friend Bruce from the stands ‘One minute left’. That made me move.

 

If only it had been two minutes I would have thought it was too long and quit, but I could push in this last minute and make something happen. The next time he tried to step around my legs, I followed him and rolled upside down. My legs landed right how they needed to be to step up triangle choke but it seemed like he didn’t realized or know the danger. I took a deep breath and unwound, cinching a deep triangle choke. Grabbing my ankle, I squeezed and got the submission from the trick move, narrowly avoiding defeat.

 

In the warm up pen my friends were waiting. They were all excited for how I was doing while I kept it inside. If I won one more match I would be farther in at a big tournament than any of the Americans on our team had gone. ‘One match at a time’ I told them, trying hard to stay cool. While I waited at the mat for my next fight, I saw my next opponent practice wrestling shots, so I started pretending to practice judo throws were he could see. As soon as the match started I showed my bluff and immediately pulled him into a deep half guard, a place a wrestler type like him would feel confused. After a sweep, I snuck to his back and cranked a bow and arrow choke. My friends cheered from their distant seats in the stands. I was now deep in the no-man’s land of the late tournament that was unknown to everyone I knew; that is everyone except for Comprido.

 

After about an hour break I fought this kid in the quarter finals that had a really similar game to mine. The entire match I felt like I had no control but it was still somehow close. I swept him, he swept me back, he nearly got a couple of submissions on me. My teammates were far from me in stands so there was no one to tell me the score but I knew time was running out. He rolled away as I went passed his guard but I jumped on his back right as the buzzer rang. As the ref lifted my hand I honestly had no idea what the score was. For the first time all day I was tired but there was no time for that as the semi final, and hence the meddling round, was next.

 

I focused on my affirmations. ‘You are meant to be here. You trained hard for this. You were already one of the best in the room before the day began. And you still are.’ I was already in third place no matter what, but no, I could do this.

 

The next guy came out strong, stacking me up on my head after I pulled guard. He had a scary look; a white dude with cornrows just seemed intimidating. He pushed me around on the mat for a bit as I scurried upside down in a ball looking for something with no success. As he tried to stack me up again I got the chance to grab his belt. Using my grip on his belt I closed a triangle around his neck without either of his own arms. He tried hard to posture up for a second but quickly tapped. Afterwards, my opponent asked me what that submission was and I told him I honestly did not know, I had never done it before. I had never done any of this before but I had faked my way this far. But I had to focus; I had a chance to take this whole thing. Luckily the submission was quick and I still had a lot of gas left.

 

jim

 

In the other semi final that would decide my opponent, there was a Brazilian and a young American. After a little back and forth the American got a nasty armbar, the Brazilian flopped around but would not tap and his arm got bent back. I think I may have even yelled for him to tap before the ref stepped in and saved him from further damage. After the match the American’s coach cheered, it was none other the Saulo Ribiero, the former Michael Jordan of Jiu Jitsu. I had studied Saulo’s book on the plane out to California. So great, he has a hall of famer for a coach. But I knew I was always dangerous. Back to my affirmations before the finals ‘Everyone else here looks like a fool. They wear their gi like it’s a Halloween costume and pajamas. I was reborn on a beach in Brazil in this gi. My gi is still covered in blood, sweat, and amniotic fluid. I was born to wear this gi’. They called us to the mat.

 

It was one of the quicker fights of my career. Within ten seconds I was flipped in the air onto my back. Twenty seconds later he picked me up, rolled me, and jumped on my back. After staving off a lapel choke, mounted triangle, and an armbar for several breaths I had to tap to a combination of the above. The kid simply out classed me. If I would have faced him in the first round he would have beat me then too. When I realized he still had braces on his teeth, I asked him how old he was, 17. This was his day, and it turns out it was the first of many others for him. This second place was the best I ever got. I shook his hand and slunk off the mat.

 

I was sitting there on the ground in a daze when Saulo walked up to me. He told me that I fought well and that I had a lot of talent. He knew my name and gave me a lot of respect. He was so humble to even talk to me and I was honored to meet him.

 

Standing on the second step of the podium, one gets the distinct sense that you are almost literally a stepping stone to the champion. There were 120 people at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day there are 119 losers. They cannot all be stepping stones. They all needed to be here for the sake of the art. If no one but two people came to the World championship there would be a champion decided, but that would be a dull champion. We make sure that Jiu Jitsu stays sharp and that if anyone wants that title, I will make damn sure that they are sharper than me. I may not win every tournament I enter, I may never win a match again but I will keep going out there because I’m no stepping stone, I’m a whet stone.

 

– Jim Barrett

 

 

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(Advice) “BJJ and Your Skin” by Lauren LaCourse

 

“BJJ and Your Skin”

by Lauren LaCourse (Blogger, WBBJJ.com)

 

impetigo

 

**DISCLAIMER** This article might gross you out, but I feel like it is important to share my latest BJJ mishap with you.

 

As white belts, some of us are starting our Jiu Jitsu journey with no prior experience in grappling.  Because of that, many of us are unaware of the more obscure hazards that can accompany our new found art. Playing the game of Jiu Jitsu entails that we spar, rolling around on mats, in close proximity to other human beings. I was one of the people who were unaware of some of the more obscure hazards of rolling Jiu Jitsu.

 

It started a few days ago.  I noticed a small cluster of two or three bumps on the underside of my chin.  As the day progressed they became itchy.  I had become used to breakouts after a hard week of training, so I didn’t think much of it.  BUT, the next day a crusty, yellowish scab had formed where the cluster had been.

 

impetigo

(My infection)

 

I had heard that skin diseases like ringworm could be contracted with frequent time spent on the mats. Concerned, I mentioned my recent discovery to one of my fellow coaches.  As a high school wrestler, he was aware of the different types of skin diseases that could be spread through grappling, and had a look.  After confirming it was not ringworm, he advised me to take some time off and have a doctor look at it; since there are many other types of bacteria and viruses that could be causing the scab.

 

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the next day.  Naturally, being the curious hypochondriac that I am, I decided to Google the types of skin diseases that commonly affect grapplers.  I came across an article that explains the most common wrestling skin diseases.  According to the article the biggest offenders were ringworm, herpes simplex, impetigo, and staph/MRSA.

 

You can probably imagine my horror reading that diseases like herpes can be spread through the close contact required of BJJ and other grappling arts.  Herpes?!  REALLY?! That entire night was spent without rest, and I tossed and turned over my impending appointment (which felt like it was going to be a death sentence).

 

The next morning I saw my doctor, explained my extracurricular activities, and showed her my symptoms.  She looked over the scab, shrugged her shoulders, and stated that I had contracted “impetigo”.  My heart started to race. I felt myself falling into a panic attack. She then lightheartedly explained that impetigo is common (especially when wrestling season begins) and can be easily cured with an antibiotic.

 

As relief washed over me, I suddenly realized that I could have possibly spread this contagious bacteria to my fellow teammates! Thankfully I had only rolled with my training partner Caitlin that week, so I called and notified her of my recent diagnosis.  I also notified my coaches to warn others at the gym that precautions should be taken.

 

ring-worm

 

If you are like me, at this point you are probably wondering, “What are some precautions I can take, and what can I do, to avoid contracting a skin disease from grappling?”

 

First, and foremost: Practice good hygiene.  This includes showering before as well as after training.  We all carry diseases on our skin.  It is important to wash regularly with soap and water, to minimize the amount of bacteria residing there.  Showering before training will assist this. It is also a good idea to not trust another person’s hygiene. Showering after practice will help keep you protected from any bacteria transferred to you, from those you train with.

 

Second: Be vigilant.  Research the common skin diseases associated with the grappling arts, and regularly check your body for any abnormalities.  If you do see anything amiss, take a break from training until you have had a doctor’s examination. Most importantly, follow your doctor’s orders until the issue is resolved.  Being responsible in this way, will help keep you and others from suffering any further complications.

 

If after reading this, you have become totally grossed out, like I admittedly was. I have some really great news.  Almost all of the skin diseases that can be contracted through grappling can be cured with a simple prescription.  They are not always as scary as they look.  They are not always as gross as you might think (for example; ringworm, isn’t worms).  You are not abnormal if you do happen to get one.

 

The thought of contracting skin diseases should not keep you from practicing BJJ (or other grappling arts). The thought of contracting skin diseases should serve to encourage you to be mindful of your health, and to have body awareness.

 

Good luck! And keep on rollin’.

 

This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse of WBBJJ.com

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Lauren