How To Turn Your Fear Of Competing Into Your Strength


by Brooke George


Jumping up and down, pacing the mats, and trying not to throw up is what you would have witnessed at my first Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Nerves or competition anxiety as some people call it, is something that I’ve had to overcome as a competitive athlete.


Adrenaline is something I get every time I’m near the mats for a competition. During my first tournament I quickly learned that mental preparation is just as important as physical. If your body is physically able, but you psych yourself out you aren’t going to be able to do as well as you might if your whole body was working together. The adrenaline rush is something that won’t go away, but turning that adrenaline from nerves to excitement is something I’ve had to work on.


One way I’ve learned to mentally prepare myself during a tournament is by mentally focusing on goals. You have to set goals for what you’re about to go do. This doesn’t just mean saying that you’re going to win although that is a great place to start!


I have learned not to put the pressure on myself to win, but to improve. I want to learn something from every tournament and every match I have. Improving my takedowns, remaining in control, or working on actually finishing my opponent are just a couple of possible goals. For the matches that don’t go my way there are still things I can set out to improve on. Things like not getting winded, escaping from a position, or improving your defense and not getting submitted. When you switch your mind set from wanting to win, to wanting to get better, you take off pressure and the nervousness lessens.


Another way I mentally prepare myself is to remind myself that it’s still Jiu-Jitsu. I’m going out doing the same techniques and the same things that I do at class three days per week. I’m simply in a different place, going against different people.


Believing in yourself and believing in your game is all going to help keep nerves at bay and help you to perform to the best of your ability!


Now when I go to tournaments, I can enjoy myself. I don’t have to pace constantly. I can warm up, get stretched out, and watch the matches before mine without the fear of throwing up! Channeling adrenaline from nerves into excitement makes competing even more fun!





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How Can You Prepare For Your First Sparring Session With A BJJ Black Belt?


by Daniel, The Dad Blogger


Quick answer: you can’t.


As a white belt, you are fairly clueless. Sure, you may have watched some YouTube videos and tried to memorize some basic moves. Perhaps you have some childhood experience in Judo or another throwing martial art. Can you count on your fitness, your age or anything to give you even a glimpse of advantage? Ultimately all that is going to disappear as soon as you hit the mat.


“Everybody has a plan until they get hit” – Mike Tyson


The truth is, as a black belt your instructor would have committed to hundreds of hours on the mat and to qualify for a black belt they must have sparred with their peers and higher belts repeatedly. So, they have seen and done it all. No matter what simple submission you aim for, they are two or more steps ahead of you and can change the play of the game in an instant. My advice is to enjoy it. Smile and ask for feedback. Your instructor will not injure you and will give you enough time to tap without applying any pressure. Let’s face it, if you end up in an arm bar, you are not getting out of it.


If there is one thing to take away from this, it is that the experience counts more than defeat. Thinks of it as a springboard, reflect on how your instructor moved, could you have done some things differently. You may never defeat him or her but you will defeat others as you learn and grow as a practitioner.


Daniel The Dad Blogger




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I Do Not Have A Fear Of Being Attacked


by Brooke George


“I could take you in a fight”, or “Come on, just fight me!” are both things I commonly have people say to me in the hallway at school or in other social settings. Other kids know that I train in Jiu-Jitsu and they automatically assume I want to fight them. When they say those things, I just smile and keep walking.


Being in Jiu-Jitsu has given me confidence in many areas of my life. Confidence in being able to protect myself, confidence in myself; it has changed me.


As I run alone I don’t have to fear being attacked.


As I run the trails I don’t have to grip pepper spray in fear, because the techniques I have learned in Jiu-Jitsu. I know I can protect myself. As I leave a sporting event at night I don’t have to clutch my keys between my fingers as a makeshift weapon as I walk to my car either. That doesn’t mean I go down the dark alley at night while I’m running, or park next to the windowless van, just because I think I’ll be fine. Being aware of your surroundings is always important! That’s another important element I have learned from BJJ and from helping with women’s Jiu-Jitsu self-defense seminars.


Self-confidence is another thing I have gained from doing Jiu-Jitsu. As the quote goes, “Jiu-Jitsu teaches men that their strength doesn’t mean as much as they thought it did, and it teaches women they are stronger than they think.”


It is so true.


I never realized my body was as strong as it is, nor did I realize all of the things that it could do. From holding my own at class against men (that are quite literally double my size) to competing at tournaments and getting my hand raised. Jiu-Jitsu has definitely raised my level of self-confidence.


I wasn’t joking when I said I get people asking me to fight them all the time, but Jiu-Jitsu has given me the confidence to be able to just smile and walk away. Because of this sport I don’t need to prove my strength or self worth to anyone else. I don’t except when people ask me to fight, and I definitely don’t go out looking for them.


I know what I can do and I have nothing to prove to them.





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Do Any Other MMA Academy Staff Members Notice The Prevalence Of ADHD In Kids?


I sure have.


First off, let me start by saying that I am neither parent, nor doctor. What I am is an MMA academy membership consultant in an academy with a thriving kids program.


What I have been noticing far too frequently, is that when discussing our program with the parents, they will at some point become visibly distraught and lower their voices to tell me that their child has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).


I could understand it being a one time thing, or even a relatively infrequent anomaly. It is almost getting to the point where I feel the need to break the ice with nervous parents by saying:

“Martial arts are great for children with ADHD”.

After finding out their children have this “disorder” they will then tell me that their child is being medicated for it.


This blows my mind.


I hope I am not making any parents who may have ADHD diagnosed children feel uncomfortable, especially due to my ignorance; but children do not want to pay attention to that which is “boring” to them. A pill isn’t going to change that, and if it can, that should be troublesome.


Children are also “hyperactive”. Just because some decline into lazy people, does not mean that those who have a zest and thrill for life (children), should be subjected to medications to destroy their youthful energy.


So what in the world is really going on here?


In 2011, the CDC reported that the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children ages 4 to 17 years was 11%, with 6.4 million children diagnosed with ADHD and 4.2 million taking psychostimulants.(1)



These findings represent a dramatic increase from more than 30 years ago, when the rate of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was estimated at between 3% and 5%.(2)


What is more concerning is that the prevalence of ADHD increased by about 35% just from 2003 to 2011, and there is no indication that this increase leveling out. More than 20% of high school-aged boys have been told they have ADHD!(3)


So we have a real problem here. Medicine isn’t slowing the epidemic rate and someone is making a lot of money selling these drugs. In my opinion, I would rather err on the side of caution that my kids will grow up just fine, practicing martial arts, rather than subjecting them to psychostimulants for perhaps the rest of their lives.


I again admit that this is an unqualified opinion.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): data & statistics. New data: medication and behavior treatment. Available at: Accessed July 28, 2015.

2. Miller RG, Palkes HS, Stewart MA. Hyperactive children in suburban elementary schools. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 1973;4(2):121-127.

3. Visser SN, Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, et al. Trends in the parent-report of health care provider-diagnosed and medicated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: United States, 2003-2011. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014;53(1):34-46.



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It Is Important To Balance Jiu-Jitsu And Life’s Responsibilities


by Brooke George


“We are often at war with ourselves. You have to find that balance between your heart and your mind.” (author unknown) Finding balance in every aspect of your life is something a lot of people struggle with, including myself.


As my favorite sport, and ultimately what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, Jiu-Jitsu takes up a lot of my time. While still being a student, and planning to attend college in the near future, school also takes up a lot of my time. The struggle to find balance between doing what I love, Jiu-Jitsu, and doing what I have to, school, is hard and often stressful at times.


It’s always a battle in my head when I have to miss out on time I could be spending on the mats. When I miss BJJ, it’s usually something school related; band concerts, Business Professionals of America events, National Honors Society meetings and let’s not forget homework. If you include blogging, being a student athletic trainer, and worship band at church, I’m even busier. All of those things combined make me who I am, but that doesn’t make it any easier. My priority is ultimately Jiu-Jitsu, but my priority is also to create the future that I want to live.


I have my heart set on spending the rest of my life doing Jiu-Jitsu; competing, teaching, and ultimately opening my own academy. But I can’t prepare myself for that just by being at the gym. I have to get an education and prepare myself for college in order to continue my education and prepare myself for the rest of my life. That is how I find the balance between my head and heart.


I know that the things I’m doing off the mat now are going to help me be able to spend even more time on the mat in the future. To any student athlete out there struggling to find balance, remember that everything you are doing now, on and off the mat, is helping you to reach all of your future goals. Live for the present, but prepare for the future.





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Families That Train Jiu-Jitsu Together Are Happier Together


by Brooke George


Every Jiu-Jitsu practitioner knows that it’s a time consuming sport. Whether you are a student athlete trying to balance school with Jiu-Jitsu, someone trying to balance a career, or your are a full time athlete, Jiu-Jitsu is a lot of time.


As a teenager, my time is also my family’s time. Whether it’s going to class, seminars, or weekends away for tournaments; it’s together. It’s especially a lot of time when you consider that my dad trains with me! When I started out my parents had to drive me to and from class because I didn’t have my license yet. With my gym being 20 minutes away, it didn’t make sense for them to drop me off and come back. So, during class my dad would sit and watch. Just as I did, he fell in love with it and quickly started joining me on the mat.


After that, BJJ quickly became a family affair. Even my mom, who was very wary at first, has gotten immersed into the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle. It may not be training and competing, but it’s all the runs she goes on with me while dropping weight for tournaments and the meal prep she helps with. It’s also all the times she goes to class to watch and be a part of it.


My sister has also been a huge support in my Jiu-Jitsu journey. She has been at every tournament cheering me on and documenting it for me. For my last tournament she chose to skip out on her annual President’s Ball in order to come home from college and surprise me by tagging along for the tournament.


With my family all somehow involved with the sport it comes up a lot at my house. We will sit down for dinner and some way or another Jiu-Jitsu will come up. Whether it’s talking about a new technique learned at class, a tournament coming up, or the latest EBI, it all gets discussed around our dinner table.


Grappling doesn’t stay at the gym either. We shortly put in a home gym with mats after we couldn’t get enough time at the gym. But let’s face it, Jiu-Jitsu matches quickly break out in the kitchen any time minor disagreements come up at my house. I guess its just a part of living the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle, you can’t get away from it!


From the editor: This story is a prime example of how Jiu-Jitsu can bring families together as well as strengthen their bond. BJJ is a great tool to connect with teens who might otherwise experience a disconnect when approaching adulthood. If you have kids who do Jiu-Jitsu, jump in one day and try out an adult class. If you do Jiu-Jitsu, bring in your kids or your loved one! The potential rewards are limitless and invaluable!



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7 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Jiu-Jitsu At Home


The advice below assumes you are training at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school, but have extra time at home you want to use too. Nothing can replace regular attendance at a real BJJ academy with a qualified instructor. You can’t really learn BJJ practicing it on your own or with a few friends who don’t know what they’re doing either.


Here’s what you can do with extra time away at home to keep improving your BJJ:


Study BJJ instructionals. You can learn a lot from watching videos. There has never been more material available on DVD or streaming online. But don’t get lost in hours of mindless cool moves or collecting techniques you’ll never use. Every technique you want to really learn needs to be backed up with hands-on drilling and sparring.


Analyze BJJ tournament footage. Footage of competition matches is at an all time high too. YouTube and Budovideos On-Demand has hundreds of hours. You can look up matches from the most recent events, or study a specific fighter’s gameplan across events. To get the most out of it, try to figure out what the key moments and techniques were.


Do strength and conditioning training. I’m not here to be your fitness guru, but with a little research you can put together good workout routines to do at home. My main advice is to not get too fancy or silly like trying to do inverted guard spins against a heavy bag. Stick to classic exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, sprints, etc. As with BJJ, I recommend getting real instruction before doing any workouts where bad form or simple mistakes could harm you.


Stretch and improve your mobility. Learn stretches you can do at home to gain flexibility and correct any posture problems you have from BJJ and your normal life (like sitting at a desk all day). These are especially valuable if you’re also working on your S&C. You could benefit from going to yoga classes to pick up stretches and poses.


Eat healthy. You don’t need to do anything extreme to eat healthier. Eat more fruits and vegetables, don’t eat too much sugar, salt and fat, and make sure you’re getting all your vitamins and minerals. Avoid fad and cure-all diets.


Get good sleep. The important things are often the simple things. Get to bed on time and make sure you’re comfy enough to put in a night’s worth of restful sleep. Your body needs this time to rest and recover.


Build a home gym and have friends come over to train. Convert your garage or basement into a mini-gym. You can buy roll-out mats to put in your garage, or research how to construct your own grappling mats. I’ll leave it up to you to make friends at the academy who want to show up at your place and put in extra reps. Make sure your homeowner’s insurance will cover you in the event of an unfortunate accident!





How To Keep Your BJJ Mouthguard Clean And Prolong It’s Life


Regardless of the art, most martial arts have one piece of equipment in common – the mouthguard.


Over the last twelve years I have trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, Muay Thai and Karate. Despite the different philosophies, rule sets and training environments one thing was constant: there was always a significant risk of my teeth being knocked out.


No matter how skillful you are or how safe you train, when sparring is involved, there is a risk that an elbow, head, fist, knee or foot will strike your face with enough force to cause permanent damage. I have both seen and (un-intentionally) caused this to happen. It is because of this risk that I am religious with wearing my mouthguard.


Any mouthguard will do, however typically the custom fit – dentist made ones are best. Whilst there will be some cost (often not if you have private health cover), it will be worth paying if the guard helps you to avoid chipped or broken teeth. The pain, hassle and cost of fixing that problem is something that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.


Once you have a mouthguard, it is important that you maintain it and keep it clean.


After each training session, make sure to rinse it in cold running water and shake it dry. To avoid build-up of grit on the guard, you can brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste once per week.


Make sure that you have an aerated storage container that is in a separate part of your bag to where your dirty training gear is stored for the trip home – you wouldn’t want any sweat dripping into the container and festering.


Remember, your mouth-guard is something that you are putting in your mouth on a daily basis. Proper maintenance will help to ensure that you stay healthy.


Keep training,
Zachary Phillips – Zimmah Muscle Therapy