Test Your BJJ Political Affiliation! Which are you?

 

Uncle_SamBJJ

 

The Republican:

– Believes that BJJ is more for self-defense rather than sport.

– Is more of a pressure passer than a guard player; feels uncomfortable on their back.

– Will only wear a white gi with plenty of corporate patches.

– Is proficient with takedowns.

– Never lends out their athletic tape, thinks everyone should have their own.

– Always wears a rashguard.

 

The Democrat:

– Practices BJJ more for sport, rather than for self-defense.

– Is more of a guard player rather than a passer, comfortable on their back.

– Will wear any color gi, sometimes mixing pant and jacket colors. Patches may have messages intended to provoke others.

– Not so good with takedowns; will generally pull guard and work off of their back.

– Believes that the gym should charge extra to supply water and athletic tape to everyone in class.

– Tend to wear funny rashguards and/or graphic tees under the gi.

 

The Libertarian:

– Practices BJJ simply because they are free to do so.

– Lets the other person choose whether to play guard, or take the top.

– Wears white, black, blue or more particularly; a camouflaged gi. Doesn’t like many patches, if any.

– Will pull guard or go for the takedown; so long as no one forces them to do either.

– Has a solid base of fundamentals, enhanced by YouTube.

– Never wears a rashguard (men).

 

The Anarchist:

– Thinks you should mind your business about why they do Jiu Jitsu.

– Always ends up in crazy positions, broadly forsaking fundamentals.

– Wears outrageously colored gis; namely red and green, and early batch shoyoroll gis.

– Likes to go for judo throws that they have never practiced before.

– Never attempts the techniques that Professor taught in class.

– Creates new techniques; and gives old techniques new names.

 

Which category do you mostly fall under? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, IG, Tumblr, Flickr, Google+, Vine, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Kik or Tinder! Oops wait. We aren’t on Tinder.

 

me

Tony Peranio WBBJJ

 

“An EMS Worker’s Jiu Jitsu Journey” – by Bob Ross

 

bobross1

(Photo Courtesy of Bob Ross)

 

“An EMS Worker’s Jiu Jitsu Journey”

by Bob Ross

 

Why oh why did I have to get bitten by the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu bug so hard? It’s not as if there’s nothing else to do. I love to fish for crying out loud and I do have friends outside of the gym. Sometimes they try to get me to try my hand at golf and sometimes that doesn’t sound so bad. I hear that’s good exercise too and I’m quite sure the scenery is nicer. But no I politely decline, extend another invitation to come check out a class and go collect my gi.

 

The question in my mind is why? I’m not a world class competitor and I never will be. Even considering the few local tournaments I’ve competed in, my record could only be considered perhaps average, at best. I’m no Gracie by any means. I’m a 37 year old respiratory therapist with stiff shoulders and a questionable right knee. There are times even now as a (I think) well accepted member of my team that I find myself wondering what the hell I’m doing there. Well I’m hoping to answer that question for myself and hopefully I’ll be able to strike a ring of truth with a few of you as well. After all, though we all started at different times in different places for different reasons, we’re all on the same journey now.

 

These days I hardly ever talk about Jiu-Jitsu outside of the gym unless someone else brings it up. Has anyone else noticed the myriad of responses you get when someone finds out you practice BJJ for the first time? It can range anywhere from genuine interest (or feigned interest at least as often) to ridicule, to some dude automatically assuming you consider yourself a badass. That last one is my favorite. It’s actually quite comical to me when people think I consider myself a tough guy. I know you will understand when I tell you there is no more humbling experience than the first time you square up with a guy (or in many cases, worse: a female) half your size and get absolutely taken to school. I think that might actually be the unofficial lesson #1 of BJJ: You are not a badass. Coincidentally, lesson #2 is that you never will be. But if you stick around long enough and suffer through enough maulings, eventually you’ll be able to hold your own to some degree. Not because you got tougher on the outside but because you were tough enough on the inside to go home, nurse the wounds of your bruised ego and still come back to endure it again. And again. And again.

 

bobross3

(Photo Courtesy of Bob Ross)

 

I wasn’t athletic in my younger years by the way. Not that it matters, just some background about myself: I’ve never considered myself a jock. As a matter of fact in high school I was the burnout that hated jocks. That’s ok though, were cool now. You’re some tough dudes. I like tough people, sissies have always disgusted me.

 

Pretty early out of high school I became a Paramedic. Emergency Medical Services was a career that at best gave me twice the pain and frustration that it did satisfaction.  Along with that came extensive and continuing education, fierce periods of physical exertion and an intense feeling of camaraderie. Is this starting to sound familiar? Physically and mentally I could no longer handle that job. Not to get overly dramatic but quite literally, I believe it was killing me. Once while I was getting off duty I had a dizzy spell so bad I asked my partner to sit with me while we waited for my blood pressure to come down just so I could walk across the parking lot to my car, much less drive home. Call me weak if you want but the national average of an EMS career is about 5 years. I lasted damn near 15. With the kind of stress that comes with that job comes intense periods of anxiety that sometimes can only be relieved by interacting with others going through similar experiences. With that comes a bond. It’s a bond that can’t possibly be formed with anyone else on earth because no one else will ever get it.

 

bobross2

(Photo Courtesy of Bob Ross)

 

In EMS there is a constant struggle. Between disgustingly low pay , incompetent managers, some hopeless coworkers and quite a few patients that really aren’t sick, just refuse to care for  themselves (much less walk their own fat asses down the stairs) eventually you become the picture of the stroke victim you’re expected to save. Throw in a real person, really dying here and there and you can see where this is one of those things that reading about it just isn’t enough. You can never know it until you’ve lived it. That’s where your friends come in. Sometimes you wind up drinking and laughing with a guy you thought you hated just a few hours ago just because of a shared experience and people who should be close to you become outsiders. They just haven’t been there; no one else gets the struggle. That’s a strange place to be: when your loved ones become strangers, not due to any fault of their own but because they can’t even fathom the demons in your head, much less help you cope with them. In short, at one time not all that long ago my head became a very dark and strange place to be.

 

So where does Jiu-Jitsu tie into all this? I can’t do EMS anymore. It’s too much both physically and mentally and the pressure was threatening to break me.  Let me say that I am very fortunate to have moved on to other areas of the medical field and am very thankful to have met some very high caliber people there too. But something’s missing and it has been ever since I traded my medic badge for hospital scrubs. I truly love what I do now and I love the people I do it with but there was a bond in EMS that just isn’t able to be replicated. I intensely missed being accepted by a group of people all from totally different backgrounds yet united by a common goal. Where was the camaraderie? Where was the brother (and sister) hood? What about the strange need to feel the world closing in around you? The feelings of intense pressure and impending doom that I had learned to thrive on? I never expected to miss that aspect of my life but apparently after so many years, it had become my home.

 

Jiu-Jitsu. That’s where Jiu-jitsu comes in for me. EMS fulfilled me in ways I can never fully explain except to those who have had their hands in the same blood that I did; but at the same time it was constantly trying to kill me, to make me another body on the pile. Jiu-Jitsu challenges me in very similar but in much healthier ways. Believe it or not there are quite a few similarities as well. Problem solving in real time for instance. I have to think on my feet (or on my back as the case may be). When I was a new medic and started getting nervous, sometimes I would have to consciously slow my breathing in order to not panic and retain the ability to effectively care for my patient. I have to focus on my breathing now too. Sometimes it’s from exhaustion, sometimes it’s the weight of one of my larger sparring partners “making waffles” as one of them likes to say. Other times it’s the weight of my sensei’s brutal knee on belly pressure. The point is that it’s an absolute necessity for me. Another absolute necessity that crosses lines is the ability to solve problems in real time while the world is seemingly crashing around you. I think one of the primary reasons I love our art so much is the sense of pressure, the feeling that the world is closing fast and you need to keep your head, not panic and decide a way out. Now.  Notice I didn’t say think of a way out. There’s no time for that bullshit when a 260 lb monster is threatening a kimura, you just better move your ass. The same went on the streets: bad scene, blood, lights and the sounds of sirens, diesel engines, incoming helicopters and screaming family members. All the while you have a patient trying to meet their maker. Don’t think. Move. Your movements had better be automatic. What was it Saulo Ribeiro said?  “If you think you are late. If you’re late, you muscle. If you muscle you tire. If you tire, you die.” Or someone else dies… same-same.

 

I’ve found other similarities in Jiu-Jitsu that mirror unwritten rules we had back then in EMS. I’m sure some of these will sound familiar:

 

Look out for each other.

 

Work together and not against each other.

 

Your ego is your enemy; a little humility goes a long way.

 

Always be ready to listen and learn.

 

Be willing to teach but only when the time is right.

 

Speaking of teaching I guess that’s another missing link BJJ has recently filled for me. I loved teaching new medics. As much as I wanted out of EMS at that time, I found sincere satisfaction working with the newbies right up until the end. I don’t mean instructing in a classroom either (I tried instructing CPR classes once. Let’s not talk about how that went, ok?) No, I mean real-world, hands on teaching. That I could actually do effectively. Toward the end of my EMS career it was one of the few things I had left that actually let me not hate being there. It’s funny to me that I never really even realized I missed the teaching aspect of the whole thing until the first time I was asked to run a Jiu-Jitsu class. I can’t claim to be the best to learn from, and by no means do I consider myself anything but a student. However teaching that class made me remember that there had been some things about the job back then that I didn’t completely despise.

 

bobross4

(Photo Courtesy of Bob Ross)

 

So that’s where BJJ ties into my life. It fills a void. Or at least that’s how it works in my train-wrecked mind. I’m not a huge guy nor do I consider my ground game to be stellar. I’m in ok shape but I’m not naturally athletic. I have to work hard at it and that’s ok because it’s not about being the swiftest guy on the mat. As a matter of fact it’s not about you at all, cupcake and it never was. At the end of the day it’s just about showing up, if not for yourself then for your partners. That guy struggling to breathe because your knee is digging into his sternum, you’re there for him. Push him harder. The guy working his ass off to catch you in that choke, you’re there for him, dig deeper. Work your ass off and make him earn that tap. Because rule number one is simple: You don’t bail on your partner. Not ever.

 

 

-Bob Ross

“The Four Pillars of a BJJ White Belt” by Mike Bidwell

 

mikebidwell2

(Photo Credit: Richard Mossotti)

 

“The Four Pillars of a BJJ White Belt”

by Mike Bidwell

 

Everyone starts at white belt but quickly forgets exactly how that feels.  It’s an amazing time where every class brings new information and what seems like a constant stream of “ah ha” moments.  Along with all the excitement comes endless frustration and confusion.  Why is BJJ so challenging at the beginning levels?  Part of it is that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is just a tough martial art: physically and mentally.  It’s not like other martial arts where you can sort of trick yourself into thinking you are better than you really are.  Here’s a good example:  If two adults take a striking class they will hit pads, throw kicks and punches in the air and maybe even spar with a partner.  (In most cases, people don’t spar 100%.)  Why because of injuries, safety concerns, etc.  But in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu you can actually “spar” or grapple at 100%.  Why?  Because the “tap” gives you the “out” when you need it.  In other words, you can grapple your partner at 100% effort and resistance and when you get into “trouble” you can tap and exit the match safely.  If you were doing standup sparring at 100% the only real measurement of absolute success is an actual knock out.  Now of course you can spar 100% and see what happens…but that probably isn’t the safest way to train!  So my point here is that BJJ gives you instant, 100% feedback.  You grapple someone and they catch you in a submission and you tap out.  Immediately you know that you lost.  There’s no question or debate or “what if” scenarios…you lost period!

 

When you are a white belt you will more than likely tap out way more than you will ever tap out others.  For the most part this is as it should be.  If you’ve never wrestled or grappled before your expectation shouldn’t be that you would be good right away.  Nobody is ever good at anything at first.  Have you ever tried snowboarding?  You will spend more time on your ass than a Miyao brother (I actually like them a lot that’s a compliment really).  Snowboarding like BJJ, it is very difficult at first.  Like most things in life, you have to suck at it before you can be pretty good and you have to be pretty good before you are good… and so on it goes.  In order to progress on your journey in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu you will need to build a solid base early on in your training if you are to survive.   In this blog I will cover what I believe are four pillars that are vital to a beginner BJJ student.

 

mikebidwell1

(Photo Credit: Richard Mossotti)

 

Pillar I:  Tell your narrative and stay committed to it.

Why are you starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and what do you expect to get out of it?  These are very important questions that will act as your guide and beacon throughout your first year of training.  Your narrative is your story.  What do you want your story to look like?  Sit down with a notebook and write (in the present tense) what you expect to gain from your first year of training.  Start it like this…”Now that I’ve been training BJJ for one year I have lost thirty pounds, got two stripes on my white belt, competed in my first tournament…” This will help you clarify your goals and objectives regarding your training.  Take your time and be as specific and detailed as possible.   Why one year?  You can’t start BJJ thinking that you might quit.  Make a commitment with yourself that no matter what you will stick with it for one year!  This gives you time to create real momentum.  Remember, unless you’re seriously sick or injured, you have to stay committed to your original goal to train for a minimum of one year.

 

Pillar #2:  Have an accountability partner

Not knowing anyone in your BJJ class can be very intimidating and for some people a path to quitting.  Your accountability partner can be anyone who you train with that helps you adhere to your goals… and you do the same for them.  How do you find an accountability partner?  It can be something as simple as recruiting a friend or family member to attend class with or maybe you befriend someone from class. Having someone to share your BJJ excitement with is very important.  It gives you someone to train with outside of class, someone to share rides with and most importantly someone to help you stay committed to your goals.  If you can get your significant other to train with you then kudos!  That alone will prevent future arguments over your “insane addiction” to BJJ!

 

Pillar #3:  Take copious notes

Go and buy a notebook for your BJJ notes.  Bring your notebook to class with you and take notes during class.  By taking notes you will extend your attention span, recall information more effectively later, and allows you to be a more active learner.  If you were taking a college course taught by an important speaker you would take notes right?  BJJ isn’t cheap and you are learning one of the most complicated martial arts on the planet from someone who is an expert…why wouldn’t you take notes?  In addition to taking notes in class it is also important to take notes after randori (live sparring).  Ask yourself two important questions:  What did I do right? And what did I do wrong?  This will help you set goals and benchmarks.  In addition, take specific notes on specific partners.  Your grappling partners are your truest benchmarks.  Write down how you think you did?  What is working and what’s not working?  This will help you mark your progress and record your first year of training.  Which will also be valuable later on in your training when you look back and reflect on your time as a beginner.

 

Pillar #4:  Ask for help!

Remember, your instructors are there to be your guide.  You have to always trust that they have your best interests in mind.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Also don’t be afraid to trust their judgment! You never ask; “when am I getting my next stripe?” Let your instructor be your instructor.  Other than that, your instructors are more than happy to answer your questions.  Of course don’t take advantage of their time. If you have a lot of questions or just need some help with your training, schedule a private lesson.  Private lessons are a great way to get some extra guidance from your teacher.  If you cannot afford private lessons, ask some of the upper belts in your school.  Most decent blue belts can answer most “white belt” questions.  Blue belts are also great because they just spent a great deal of time not too long ago as a white belt.  Take advantage of this excellent resource.

 

mikebidwell3

(Photo Credit: Richard Mossotti)

 

Additional Tips:

  • The more you train, the more you’ll get out of it! You can either “dip your toes” or “jump in headfirst”.  BJJ is a very complicated martial art.  You will never “get it” by training once a week.  Make a commitment to train a minimum of 2-3 times per week.  Like the saying goes, the more you put in the more you get out of it!  How deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go?

 

  • If you’re over 40 or coming off an injury etc. Be smart with your training partners.  Don’t grapple with the crazy 20-year old that tries to rip everyone’s head off!  If you’re attending an open mat then pick safe, trusted partners you feel comfortable with.   You’ll quickly figure out who the crazy ones are and who are the safest students.  Don’t be afraid to ask the upper belts to grapple with you (especially brown and black belts).

 

  • Attend Open Mat. Don’t be afraid to attend open mats.  Some of your most valuable lessons will take place in live training.  Plus this is where you will develop and hone your grappling skills, improve your cardio and really experience the most exciting part of BJJ training!

 

Check out this crazy technique video from Mike!

 

Mike Bidwell is a BJJ Black belt by day and aspiring Ninja by night.  Mike is a Black Belt under Ken Kronenberg (Team Tai-Kai / Balance).  Mike competes regularly in the masters divisions and also runs the popular www.BJJAfter40.com website.  In addition, Mike’s 8-year old daughter Valencia runs the www.TheGiProject.com website where she collects and sends new and used gi’s to “at risk” and underprivileged kids throughout the world so they can participate in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

 

RE: Five Types of Jiu Jitsu People

 

RE: Five Types of Jiu Jitsu People

by Tony Peranio

 

IMG_4979

 

Last week an article came out called, “Five Types of Jiu Jitsu People”. After reading the article I thought the author seemed a bit jaded, but I understood that the article was intended to entertain, and not to denigrate all of the practitioners of Jiu Jitsu. I found that the article would make for an interesting read among our audience, so I posted it to our various social media outlets. The article reached more than 20,000 people on Facebook alone. It was “liked” and “shared” more than other articles generally are, and the comments were varied and bountiful.

 

The purpose of this article is to give our response to the original article, as well as to address the comments that we received after posting it.

 

To begin, there were in actuality 6 types of Jiu Jitsu practitioner listed, when the article touted that there would only be 5. This was not a problem for me to look past. I doubt that the original blogger was paid for their work. Most bloggers spend their time writing to help others, and because of their love of our sport. That being said, a simple error or two isn’t going to invoke a “fire and brimstone” reaction from myself. We all make mistakes.

 

Below are some of the comments we received about the original article:

 

“Well…that was actually 6 and not 5…and there must be other types, because these are all negative, and I have met alot of cool people on the mats who are nothing like any of these “types” 🙂 Oss!” – Jared O.

 

“Not funny. Where are the descriptions of people who inspire and motivate us? Or the great teachers, the people overcoming physical or mental handicaps? I’d be ashamed to put my name on this piece.” – AJ M.

 

“Disappointing article, especially for such a positive account to post. So much good and good people in Jiu  Jitsu, is this what you really want to share as a portrayal?” – Alexander H.

 

Another important fact is that the original blogger did not say that this was an all-encompassing list. Many were ready to pound the drums of war and unleash the hounds of hell because they read the title of the composition wrong. The title insinuates that these are 5 (or 6) different types of Jiu Jitsu practitioner that exist among the totality of practitioners. So let us all bring it down a notch in terms of assuming that the original blogger was saying that we all fit into one or more of the 6 stated categories.

 

Now I am going to respond to the article in the way that I feel many of you would.

 

1. The Meathead –

I personally feel cheated if I think someone is taking it easy on me. It’s ok to go with the flow sometimes, but I always want 100% force. I feel I learn a lot from the guys who act with strong force. It becomes my duty to control them, tire them out, then submit them. I would much rather spar with the Meathead, than the lackadaisical.

I doubt anyone uses more force when rolling with children or women. What gym, or gym members would tolerate seeing that happen?

 

2. The Teacher –

Again the original blogger mentions “sparring with too much force”. Clearly the original blogger has had too many run ins with forceful sparring partners. To me that sounds like poor gym management.

The original blogger shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss people’s advice. Granted, some of it might not be the best advice, but if you make it a habit to be dismissive you may one day miss out on a piece of advice that could have changed your entire game.

If the person is a “Teacher” they more than likely appreciate white belts joining the gym, so that they can help them along in Jiu Jitsu. Some people actually enjoy helping other people. Not all Teachers are crossbred with the Meatheads.

 

3. The JIUJITSU4LIFE Guy –

So the original blogger doesn’t like to see people who are just as enthusiastic as they were when they themselves started Jiu Jitsu?

I don’t know anyone that has every Gi you can imagine. Could it be that the JIUJITSU4LIFE Guy is simply not trying to be “The Gross Guy” mentioned below? It appears that the original blogger does not like stinky Gi’s or new smelling Gi’s. Is there perhaps a smell somewhere in the middle that would be pleasing?

I love reading my friend’s posts about Jiu Jitsu! Some of what my friends post, becomes content for this blog. Why be such a downer because of people’s enthusiasm? Would you like to keep Jiu Jitsu all to yourself? Does the enthusiasm of others threaten your own perhaps?

 

4. The Gross Guy – 

If you think other humans are gross, Jiu Jitsu could be the worst sport for you. You should be thinking about technique, not superfluous superficialities. We are not all supermodels and movie stars. If someone stinks to you, or is gross, simply avoid them.

 

5. The Just For Show Guy –

Some people have families to attend to. Some people are injured. There are many reason why friends of the gym show up but do not train. It is not because they want to be seen at a gym. It is because they love our sport and more than likely have a relationship of some sort with people at the gym. Perhaps their bond with the gym was established before you showed up there.

You are angry that they fake injuries to avoid rolling hard, but when people roll hard they fall into “The Meathead” or “The Teacher” categories. Which is it? Roll hard? or do not?

 

6. The Flirty-Flirt –

Saying that girls who come to the gym to flirt with guys is like saying every guy that goes to Yoga smelling good and looking good, is there to pick up girls.

Societal pressure applies a force upon women to always look their best. So now a cute, “made-up” girl comes to the gym and wants to make a desirable impression by not being “The Gross Girl”, and she is in the wrong? Or could this be a classic case of jealousy?

 

In Conclusion –

This article was in no way, shape or form intended to offend anyone. The audience of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu demanded a response to the original post. When I wrote this article I tried to put myself in our audiences shoes to speak their unified voice. I’m in no way offended by the original blogger, nor the original blog. More power to all of you I say.

On a personal level, I don’t care about the different types of people in Jiu Jitsu. I welcome them.

 

I hope you all enjoyed the read!

 

meTony Peranio WBBJJ

 

“Meditation and Competition” by Lauren LaCourse

 

“Meditation and Competition”

by Lauren LaCourse

 

This last weekend I traveled to Chicago to compete in a tournament put on by the North American Grappling Association. I lost all of my matches and left fairly disappointed in my performance.

 

Mulling through every detail on the car-ride home, I came away with only one proud accomplishment: I had conquered the fabled “adrenaline dump”. Not a single time during or after one of my matches did I feel completely spent and upon this realization I turned to my boyfriend sitting next to me and proclaimed, “I didn’t even break a sweat!”

 

As he turned to look back at me I noticed his expression wasn’t nearly as amused as mine was. His brow furrowed as if to say, “And you’re happy about that?”

 

Which got me thinking, is this something I should be happy about?

 

1450168_10100958415669516_888513715401041424_n

 

Rewind a few months ago, I’m watching a documentary on Keenan Cornelius that Stuart Cooper had just released. As the camera closes in on Keenan, he describes one of the key components necessary to unlock in order to become a good competitor: the mind.

 

“Technical mistakes are fine ’cause you can fix those, you know? It’s when you beat yourself that it’s a problem. That’s hard to fix. Your mind is much harder to fix than a technical error.” – Keenan Cornelius

 

And that’s when I knew what I had to work on. In previous competitions, I certainly had the physicality down. But my mind was desperate. In fact, in training so hard and putting so much pressure on myself before those competitions, I had lost a lot of love for jiu jitsu and for myself. So I took a break from competing and decided to focus on training my mentality. I started meditating, I started making an effort to talk positively to myself and others, and I started having fun with jiu jitsu again. So when it came to sign up for the tournament November 1st, I felt my mind was finally ready to compete.

 

The night before the tournament, I slept like a baby. The day of, I meditated before each match and experienced little to no anxiety. I walked onto the mat in peace and walked off of the mat in peace, even after getting armbarred, kimura’d, and guillotine choked. As disappointed as I was in my physical performance, my mind held strong that I was there to learn and have fun. And so I did.

 

What I didn’t do, was win any of my matches.

 

But I thought I had finally figured out the formula?! Shaolin monks are always meditating! I had remained calm and centered and kept focused! My mind was right! I should be a champion now shouldn’t I?!?

 

No. No I wasn’t. Not even close.

 

chillin

 

So where did I go wrong?? Turns out, there’s actually a biological answer.

 

All of us humans have something called a central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is divided into two sub-systems: the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the somatic nervous system (SNS). The autonomic nervous system controls all of our involuntary functions (i.e. heart rate, digestion, etc.) and is also further subdivided into the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system.

 

nerve_system_chart_654px

(If you’re a picture person like myself)

 

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for controlling homeostasis in the body. It decreases the heart rate and enacts a state of calm so that the body can rest, relax, and recover.

 

The sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response in our bodies. It tenses up the muscles and makes the person more alert and aware. It also is responsible for the increase of adrenaline and helps muscles convert energy more quickly.

 

Both sound great, and both are absolutely necessary, but looking at the two, it’s pretty easy to pick which one you’d rather have working for you in any sort of exercise, training, or competitive situation. And since the two do not work at the same time, you essentially DO have to pick.

 

So if you’re looking to throw down BJJ style, you don’t want to grapple with the parasympathetic system as your wing man. Sympathetic for the win!

 

Literally…

 

Now, what I did by meditating before each match only worked to deactivate my sympathetic nervous system response. This in turn, allowed me to avoid the “adrenaline dump” and remain calm, but sacrificed my heightened awareness and muscular endurance, which kept me from performing at my prime.

 

That’s not to say that the parasympathetic nervous system (or meditation) has no place at a competition. In fact, it’s as necessary as its opposite. If our sympathetic nervous ran on high at all times, our body would not be able to recover. Being able to engage the parasympathetic nervous system after each match or competition helps to ensure that we are able restore our body and its ability to perform at an optimal level every time we step on the mats. Research shows that meditation helps engage the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore can help with recovery.

 

So, whether you meditate or not, being aware of the systems that control our bodies can be a huge help and offer a significant advantage as you approach the stresses of competition and the stresses of life, working to make sure you perform your best at all times.

 

With much love — as always, Good luck and keep on rollin’.

 

– Lauren

 

Email: Lauren.LaC[email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Twitter: @LaurenLaCourse

This, and other blogs from Lauren on her Live Journal page.

Lauren

 

Female BJJ Bloggers Directory

 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more and more becoming a sport that women are participating in. It is no longer a sport just for the guys. BJJ is a system of self defense that allows women to feel confident and safe. It is also a tremendously fun and competitive sport that appeals to women and men alike.

I recall an interview with Claudia Gadelha (womens MMA and BJJ Fighter) where she stated that when she was growing up, girls were not allowed to train BJJ where she lived in Brazil. These days women are coming to the sport in droves!

Below is a list of Female BJJ practitioners who blog about their journeys in Jiu Jitsu. I am a man but I still enjoy reading the female perspective of BJJ. Hopefully this list will lead you to some sources of inspiration that you were previously unaware of!

BJJ Grrl

Georgette Oden

Skirt on the Mat

Julia Johansen

Lauren LaCourse

Meg Smitely

Shark Girl BJJ

Shakia Harris

Megan

Grappling Girl

Crawl Atop Me And Meet Your Doom

The Last Ronin

Jodie Bear’s Journey

A Grappler’s Heart

Liv Jiu Jitsu

 

If there is a female BJJ blogger that you want to have added to this list please contact us!

 

“Hope Looks Like a Fifteen Year-Old” by Lauren LaCourse

 

“Hope Looks Like a Fifteen Year-Old”

by Lauren LaCourse

 

For a long time now I’ve wanted to write a blog to empower women. I’ve sat down probably too many times to count, and wrote pages devoted to encouraging and supporting the ladies not only practicing Jiu Jitsu or MMA, but those being challenged in other ways as well. Much to my despair though, as I would look over my finished work, I was left with nothing but paragraphs tinged with misandry and articles carrying a “poor me” undertone. So, I never published them and after a while I digressed. I went about my typical business (sticking to blogs about life as a BJJ wannabe) and my desire to write an empowering blog slowly subsided.

 

That is, until I met a girl named Autumn Gordon.

 

e1

(Photo courtesy of Katie J)

 

I stumbled upon Autumn at the American Grappling Challenge, hosted by the Ohio Combat Sports Academy. I had traveled there with a few of my teammates to compete in their submission-only Jiu Jitsu competition.

 

When my eyes first settled on Autumn my immediate thought was, “Wow, she’s tiny.” Even in her gi, you could tell that underneath was a girl no more than five feet tall, who couldn’t have weighed more than 110 lbs. My second thought was how fierce she still seemed, even at that stature. She had earbuds in and was practicing her wrestling shots to warm up before she competed. Pretty damn good wrestling shots too.

 

Luckily I had the opportunity to watch the gi competition, as I had only signed up to compete in no-gi that day. Autumn walked onto the mat unfazed, against a 2-time IBJJF world champion, and armbarred her.

 

I’m pretty sure I drooled a little.

 

I watched her compete against the rest of the gi division. She won silver. Then I got to compete against her in the no-gi division. After about five minutes, she armbarred me as well.

 

Yep. That was definitely drool. Can I get a rag please?!

 

After we rolled I was able to sit and talk with her.

 

I think what I love the most about competition, is the opportunity to meet like minded women (and men) and hear their stories. That day Autumn told me some of her story.

 

She was fifteen years old and had been training for four years. She practiced multiple arts at multiple facilities and had traveled and competed many times before. Her instructors moved her up to compete in the adult divisions to challenge her and develop her technique. It was working. As a teenager she already had some awesome credentials.

 

But it wasn’t her credentials that impressed me. It was her.

 

As we sat and chatted I was affected by her bright smile and beaming personality. She talked about her hopes and dreams and how much she loved competing and training. She said that she was aspiring to be the next Ronda Rousey (shoot, she had the armbar down). Her passion was instantly contagious but not overwhelming. She was both humble and inspiring. There was something about her that just absolutely shined.

 

e2

(Photo courtesy of Katie J)

 

It was the first time since I started training that I was starstruck. After rolling with Mackenzie Dern and meeting amazing women in BJJ, it was the fifteen year-old girl with already mad skills that left me in awe. And we only knew each other for a single day.

 

Why?

 

Because I realized that it’s girls like Autumn Gordon that this world needs more of. In an age of hashtag battles crying about feminism, girls like Autumn give me hope. Girls like Autumn are the ones who are empowering.

 

Articles, blogs and “#YesALLWomen”‘s that demonize our masculine society won’t make things better; and certainly won’t be the cure of it. The cure will be the telling of our stories, the telling of Autumn’s story, and the telling of stories similar to hers. Because with up-and-coming role models like her, we have hope that what’s coming down the road are girls who love themselves, who challenge the status quo, and who inspire other women to do the same.

 

So, go on ladies (and inspired men). Tell YOUR story.

 

e3

(Briana Coubrough, Autumn Gordon, Me)

 

With much love — as always, Good luck and keep on rollin’.

 

– Lauren

 

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Twitter: @LaurenLaCourse

Lauren

 

“The Creonte”

 

creonte

 

 

Some are familiar with the term. Others that are not as deeply involved in the art, may not be aware of the expression. I honestly never even heard the word until someone addressed me as one. Apparently in the ancient times of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (which some still choose to live in) students who left an academy they were training at, to train at another, were labeled as traitors; or “Creontes”. Their reasons for leaving, did not matter.

 

Jiu Jitsu then, is not what Jiu Jitsu is now. It has evolved, and is more than just a martial art. In today’s world BJJ has become a business for those who choose to open their own academy, a career for those who have what it takes to make it as an athlete, and it has become modernized.

 

This means that a lot of BJJ practitioners with modern mindsets, are now involved in a martial art, that still has ancient minded people pointing fingers.

 

What makes someone a traitor exactly? Is there a BJJ Bible somewhere that has an exact definition of “creonte” in it? Where are the lines drawn in terms of being labeled a traitor? Do certain situations exist that make switching academies okay? If I leave one academy to train at another, because I think I will advance myself more at the new one, does that make me a creonte? Think. What if it were the exact same situation, except the roles were reversed? I have an instructor say to me, “Hey, you will only be held back here. I think if you want to achieve great things, you should train at a better academy.” If I choose to leave now, am I a creonte?

 

CRENTEJES

 

At the end of the day everyone will have an opinion, and there will be people standing behind their beliefs on both sides of the topic.

 

In most common cases, people that switch academies, do so for a handful of different reasons. More specifically, these people that switch, are not involved in the politics of Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu isn’t their career (for all intensive purposes, this article is not referring to the casual, lower belt, BJJ practitioner). When the topic is addressed these days, it is because the athletes switching, are mainly switching for causes that never existed until now. Now, BJJ is possible to be made into a career.

 

I have seen people switch academies for many reasons. To list a few common ones; belt promotions, money (which breaks down into a thousand other related reasons), and training partners. Is someone who trains and competes for a living, considered a creonte if they leave? Regardless of the reasoning, an athlete is going to go wherever they feel will best serve their career. Those who understand and respect that, know that one must do what they have to do, in order to accomplish great things. I humbly set forth that this should not make one considered to be a traitor. In fact, in my personal experience, most of the people that I have discussed this with were incredibly supportive. White belts to black, regular practitioners to world class athletes, generally all showed support.

 

I recently made the biggest decision of my career thus far. I decided to switch over from one well-respected team, to another, at a time that was very questionable. I was at an academy for just under 3 years and became heavily involved in helping them out in multiple areas. Many would say that I was in an ideal situation. I was teaching full time, winning major championships, and training all in one place. So why the change? In my time at Drysdale Jiu Jitsu, I truly grew a lot. I would go so far as to say that I was a completely different person the day that I left, in comparison to the day that I showed up.

 

I wanted different things. I had new goals and needed bigger hurdles to jump in order to accomplish them. What I wanted didn’t exist in the world I had created for myself in Las Vegas. I began wanting to teach less and to train more. I wanted to travel the world competing, and teaching seminars, but more importantly I wanted to the best in the world at my weight class. Being the competitor that I am, I make sure to celebrate every accomplishment by setting the bar higher for the next goal; and this instance, the formula for doing so was to be found somewhere else. Once I realized this, the decision was made, and the necessary steps were taken.

 

Shortly after I relocated from Las Vegas to San Diego, and proudly joined Andre Galvao’s team, Atos.

 

I quickly discovered those who were my supporters, and who were not. Nothing can make a more clearer distinction of who supports you, and who doesn’t, then making a purely selfish decision such as leaving one team for another. It is always nice to have people say kind things to you about your decisions. However it was more enjoyable to see who was there for me, and who wasn’t when the time came. I had a student of mine ask me, “Coach, you won all of these great tournaments and have all of your students here supporting you. Why leave?” I am not sure if he understood it when I explained to him, or if he will later, but I told him the truth. Its not about what I had, it was about what I wanted. Indeed I could have stayed. I would have eventually been promoted, and maybe won a few tournaments, but I knew I would never reach my potential. That is what made it such an easy decision to make.

 

For me it wasn’t about the color of a belt around my waist, money, or anything else that some may think. It was about my future. I needed to be in an environment that I could thrive in, and make a name for myself in the sport.

 

I want to tell my kids one day, “You have to let go of the good, if you want to reach out and grab the great in life.”

 

-The Creonte

 

Kristian Woodmansee is World, Pan American and European Champion. He is currently the #1 ranked No Gi Brown Belt in the World. You can reach him via Facebook.