“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.

 

(Advice) “So You Want To Be a BJJ Fighter” by Kristian Woodmansee

So you want to be a BJJ Fighter?

by Kristian Woodmansee

 

 

So you want to be a BJJ Fighter?  Let me guess. You wish that you could live the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle? You want to train all day, maybe teach a class or two, and compete, and have all of it support you financially. You see guys like Buchecha and Cyborg and want what they have, the best life you could imagine! But how? Many Jiu Jitsu practitioners want nothing more than to get paid to train and compete. However there is a side to this lifestyle that you might not be so familiar with, and it could very well change your mind.

 

 

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(Photo Courtesy of Mike Calimbas Photography)

 

There is a reason why only 3% of all students reach the level of black belt. Now imagine how many of those are able to call him or herself a world champion. It takes a particular mindset to hit that kind of level of success in any subject, but all of these athletes have something in common that can’t be bought or acquired. Now you don’t have to be a world champion to turn Jiu Jitsu into a career, but you do have to have the same attributes that it takes to become one. Fail does not exist in the dictionary of success. Hard work and persistence will always pay off. I can promise you that. The problem that remains is that day in and day out, there are many life situations that will either make you, or break you.

 

The weak minded tend to be easily discouraged.

 

I won’t lie, there were plenty of times I questioned everything, including myself! I am sure that’s only natural. You will always hear that Jiu Jitsu is a “hills and valleys” type of journey, but no one told me how those hills and valleys would make me feel. That was the hardest thing to deal with. That in itself can be incredibly discouraging and I have witnessed its effect on people. A decent amount of people quit Jiu Jitsu all together.

 

The struggle exists. The manner of which, is unique to its owner. Some will starve because they can’t afford to eat and compete at an upcoming tournament. Some will lose their most valued relationships in exchange for pursuing their dream. Some will go to multiple tournaments and lose every match, but not continue to put it on the line day in and day out. Some are in their room watching BJJ videos and taking notes, while everyone else is out drinking having a good time. Try going out with a bunch of friends to a restaurant, on a special occasion, and everyone is stuffing themselves with unhealthy food and you have to stay true to your diet in order to make weight for a competition.

 

Now here is the kicker. None of this is difficult, if it is what you want. This is a job. You have to treat it like one and if you want to be successful, then nothing will get in your way. I promise you this, I have never drank a beer, tasted a piece of food, had a night out with friends, or slept in late and missed a training session, that felt more rewarding then actual success, but that’s just me.

 

 

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Kristian Woodmansee

 

 

Let me get to the point of all this, and I know this may be cliché, but I feel that a quote here will make more sense then my own words. “Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me, alright? You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” – Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness. If this is what you want then nothing and no one can get in between you and it. Actions express priorities, and if it is important to you, you will find a way. The only person that can stop you from accomplishing what you want, is you.

 

I am not rich financially, and I don’t have a nice car or expensive clothes, but I have acquired things that I am proud of; things that can only be acquired through hard work. I could not be happier with what I have, and not a single day goes by that I wish I were doing something else.

 

One day I will own my own academy, and have multiple instructional DVDs, and conduct huge seminar tours that I can support a family with. All the while loving every second of it! I never thought 6 years ago when I took my first BJJ class, that I would one day travel to Europe to compete and teach seminars, and my passion for Jiu Jitsu made that happen. I have met amazing people all over the world, and my passion for Jiu Jitsu also made that happen. In the end, all that you need is passion. Passion is the main ingredient for success.

 

“If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”

 

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.

 

FENOM Pearl Weave Gi Review by Lauren LaCourse

 

FENOM Pearl Weave Gi Review

by Lauren LaCourse

 

I needed an inexpensive gi,  but not a cheap one. I teach and train anywhere from 4 to 6 days a week, a couple hours each day. That being said, any gi of mine, would have to be durable.   I came across FENOM Kimonos after reading about them in a post from Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner. She’s kind of a BAMF. She trains at ATOS, and is responsible for my all-time favorite BJJ blog (http://leaahh.com/). I figured what is good for the goose, is good for the gander. She had made mention of the FENOM Pearl Weave gi, so I decided to go ahead and order one.

 

I am 5’7, and weigh anywhere from 140 lbs to 147 lbs, so I purchased the A2 White FENOM. I worried that since the gi was on the larger end of the sizing scale, that it might be too big. When it arrived, it certainly felt that way. Keep in mind, I’ve been rolling around in, and washing the only gi I’ve ever had, nearly every day.

 

That gi knows me.

 

Putting on a fresh, never rolled in, crunchy, stiff, new gi was a disappointment to say the least. Recently I have come to terms with the fact that new gis are absolutely awful, especially after having the same effect when putting on my current Atama gi. Nevertheless, I risked washing and drying it a couple of times and headed to the gym. The first roll was terrible. It was scratchy, the stiff collar felt like it had been wrapped in sandpaper as it slid across my neck. If I didn’t forcibly hold my arms down, they may have very well stood straight out the entire night. However, I kept rolling, and kept washing.

 

 

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(Photo Property of Lauren LaCourse)

 

 

After the initial three washes (hot wash/hot dry), the gi didn’t shrink very much. Eventually, it shrank to a perfect fit after a few more of those washes, and I’m now able to wash and dry it after every use!   Now, my final synopsis. After a couple months of rolling, I absolutely, 100 percent, LOVE this gi! It is so soft. It fits perfectly, and I would recommend it to any girl on a budget looking for a quality kimono.   This gi comes in many colors (I’m secretly planning to buy one in every shade). If white is not your thing, you can opt for blue, navy blue, or black. The sizes are specifically contoured for women, with “curvy” options for many of the styles. FENOM is also quick to return emails for customer service, as I first tossed around the idea of returning my initial purchase for a smaller size; to which they promptly replied with an, “of course!”   I am too impatient to wait for a new gi to arrive, so I opted instead to wash and dry my current one until it fit perfectly, and fit perfectly it did.

 

This FENOM pearl weave gi is so wonderful that I really only have a single complaint. It does tend to pick up a lot of lint. If you are like me, you wash your gi after every roll, so lint should not be an issue. Aside from some lint, this gi is da BOMB. Made for women, by women, and you can certainly tell. I love the way it looks, and I like the way it feels when I teach and roll.

 

Material – B+
Fit (after shrinking) – A+
Customer Service – A
Durability – A 
Looks – B 
Cost – A+

 

As always, good luck and keep on rollin’. -Lauren

 

If you would like Lauren to review your product please contact her via these links:

 

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook

Twitter: @LaurenLaCourse

Lauren

 

(Advice) “Making the Technique Your Own: The BJJ Notebook” by Aiseop

 

“Making the Technique Your Own: The BJJ Notebook”

by Aiseop

 

The best lectures I give my university students are on how to take notes.  Not because they are magnificently inspiring, but rather because learning how to take notes is the best thing a young scholar can do for their academic career.  I tell my students first that a notebook is different than a voice-recorder or a diary or a journal.  That’s obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many students attempt to write word-for-word what a professor says.

 

A notebook is a blank document in which you write down your thoughts and notes on what you are hearing, reading, watching, or the thing inspired by the touch of a muse.  A notebook is a first draft, a brainstorming document, and an uncensored space where you follow the trails of your thoughts.  A notebook is meant to produce subsequent original texts by you.

 

In literature classes, the thing to be produced is an essay.  This essay is an original work by the student. If the notebook’s task was rote memorization, then essentially what the student is preparing for is a game of trivial pursuit.  However, the skills college attempts to impart is to create original critical thinkers, people who are able to receive some form of data and make it their own by saying something about it.

 

If the goal of jiu-jitsu was rote memorization, then all we would be performing are katas until our brains withered away in boredom.  But kata is not the thing; the thing is the game, the in-the-moment application of ways of doing techniques. The thing to be produced is your game.  Before I go further, let me say that there is nothing wrong with having a “technique book,” one in which you write down technique details.  There is nothing wrong with a technique journal or a training diary.  However, a notebook is qualitatively different.

 

A notebook is the intervention of your mind onto the things you are learning.  The techniques are “worked” upon as they are being annotated in the notebook.  Notebooks look toward the future; diaries and journals look to the past.

 

A notebook’s entries would look something like this:

 

Professor X showed us the swivel sweep from closed guard today.  I like it because it seems to be a low risk move.  I’m not sure, though, if I’ll have to modify it as I am one of the smallest in the academy. It seems the move is based on both timing but with a bit of umph. I’ll need to ask him what modifications would be good for me. Next class, I’ll work with John the Giant to drill it.

 

I’d like to point out a few things about this hypothetical entry.  The first is the necessary memory cue. That is, something to remind you of the event you are annotating. In the above, it is “Professor X,” “swivel sweep”, and “today.”  These three things stamp the entry with a person, a category, and a date.  After this, there is no need to write the details of the technique. If there is something crucial, by all means; however, you are writing about the swivel sweep because there is something about that technique that you found important.  In this day and age, to write the details of the move would be redundant. There are a quite a few free videos online about it, all with different variations.  The point of the notebook is for you to do “added” work upon what you’ve been exposed to.  To think about it more in depth. To take time with it in your mind. To give yourself cues as to when and against whom you think it would work against, and to plan for the future to drill it with various body types.  Moreover, if one is a bit more advanced, one might be able to see connections between that move and follow ups.

 

For example, “I wonder if I fake a scissor sweep to the opposite side, I can further unbalance my partner, thereby easing the swivel sweep?”

 

Or, “I notice that my partner can block the sweep with his other arm by posting on the mat, I think I can get an arm-bar from there, but how do I climb high enough to wrap both legs around and behind his elbow?  Must ask Professor if this is viable.”

 

A notebook merely creates further engagement with your training.  It extends your physical training into the cognitive realm. Football players are notorious for cognitive training, even during the middle of games. You always see various position players with a photograph print out of previous possessions, analyzing formations, talking to coaches, and then instructing their unit on how they will adjust.  They are not memorizing anything about the previous play but rather thinking of future plays.

 

Ideally, in jiu-jitsu a notebook gets created after class.  After going home, showering.  I don’t recommend “note-taking” or “technique writing” during class.  It feels clunky, and you take valuable time away from yourself and partner of practicing the techniques when you are writing.  Moreover, I find that those notes are generally incomplete and useless.

 

So, what does one do during class? Here are some practical tips for in-class work that will help you retain the technique but also prime your mind for a notebook entry.

 

 

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(Record the details you love, in your BJJ notebook)

 

 

1. Look at the technique.  Start by simply looking at the technique, the shape of both people, how the two bodies are placed on the mat. Linger for a moment to look at the starting position and absorb this placement. Often times, when we are rolling, we need a visual cue, how our bodies are placed, to realize we are in the “first” position to do the technique.

 

2. Do it straight through. Do the technique the first time all the way through without thinking. Get a feel without worrying about what you don’t know or understand.

 

3. Slow down and redo. Slow down the next time so you can begin to feel the various shifts in weight and positions of the technique. Do it a few times. Focus on something different each time you go through it.

 

4. Do it aloud.  Sometimes you need to speak to yourself as you are applying the technique. An auditory memory cue can often help you organize and expose details that you aren’t conscious of.

 

5. Feel what you can’t do when applied to you.  When your partner or instructor does the technique to you, note the things you cannot do.  Notice whether you can move your hips, or that your right shoulder is pinned, or that your chin is pressed really tightly against his shoulder.  A technique has two sides to it. What you feel and do when you are applying it, and what you feel and cannot do when it’s applied to you.

 

6. Notice the parts. Sometimes a technique can be divided into “sentences,” meaning that there are pauses between one part of the technique and another. A sweep might ask you to switch grips and hip position, pause, and then move your leg or hands to execute the sweep. If you can notice these pauses, you can cognitively begin to see the constituent parts of the whole move.

 

7. Ask questions.  You can, of course, ask, “what if my opponent does x?”  However, a more useful starting question might be, “what is my right foot supposed to be doing right now? Am I on the balls of my feet or heels? Is all my weight on it, or fifty percent, or is it supposed to be light?” I’ve found instructors appreciate questions that show you are interested in the details of the techniques they are showing, as opposed to questions that ask them to possibly show a second or third or fourth technique to cover your hypothetical of a counter to a technique you haven’t even learned yet.

 

8. Let the technique be itself.  Begin by trusting the literalness of the technique itself. Slow down the rush to apply it to the streets or the doubts that may arise because you are too big and don’t feel comfortable inverting or too small and don’t like being in mount and rather be in knee-on-belly because you get toppled over easily.  The technique does not need to be translated nor does it need to be given contingencies.  It is what it is, do it, try it, experiment with it.

 

At home, you can then begin the task of letting your mind process what is has experienced. For some, a notebook is that final step in accelerating learning.  If you’re like every other jiu-jiteiro addicted to the art, you are thinking of it anyway. All the time. A notebook is a place where you can store some of the more important and interesting thoughts you have had.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

This blog post was written by Aiseop

Twitter: @edrik17

Blog: www.throughjiujitsu.com

Aiseop has been practicing jiu-jitsu and judo for 7.5 years. He holds a rank of brown belt under Luigi Mondelli of American Top Team. He lives in Connecticut with his two boys, aka future grappling buddies. He is proud to join the WBBJJ team as a blogger.

 

edrik

(Aiseop and son)

 

(Advice) “The Jiu Jitsu Gods Above” by Aiseop

 

The Jiu-Jitsu Gods Above

by Aiseop

 

I do not know the reason why this particular image of when I was a white belt has stuck with me.  I do remember, though, the feelings associated with it.  I felt awe. I felt small. I felt the desire to be as powerful as that towering blue belt across the mat.  His name was Lionel Perez, and Lionel had what seemed to me to be a perfect-form knee-on-belly on someone.  Lionel nearly upright, above us, but you could feel the knee driving into the torso of his poor partner.  I was a few feet away.  I was rolling with someone else, but, for a brief second, I caught site of what I wanted to be in jiu-jitsu but felt so far from being. Then, I probably got tapped out.

 

Currently, I hold a brown belt at an American Top Team school in Connecticut.  Lionel has since received a black belt from Relson Gracie.  The image of Lionel stuck with me even after I stopped training for awhile because I moved across the country for a Ph.D. program at Berkeley.  I resumed training in jiu-jitsu when I came back to the east coast.

 

The image recently resurfaced a few weeks ago.  I was rolling with someone, and there was a white belt who is older than me sitting off to the side, resting.  I chained a few moves and attacks to tap my partner with a bow-n-arrow, and I heard an emphatic “damn, that was smooth.  I wanna be like Aiseop when I grow up,” followed by chuckles at the joke.  I laughed, too, and was grateful, but what I was thinking about were the errors I made.  I rushed through the mount. Someone like my friend Steve, who’s incredibly good at recovering guard, would have put me in his half; and my other friend, Travis, would have escaped that choke because my initial grip was too low.  What they saw versus what I experienced couldn’t have been further apart.  Yet, I understood for that one moment, I was Lionel to that white belt.

 

As a white belt, you may feel like I felt: that blue belts are awesome; purple belts are lethal; brown belts are gods; and black belts are the Titans, the beings that were here before gods existed.

 

As a blue belt, you may feel that white belts are lucky to be white belts; that purple belts are awesome but have some holes; that brown belts are incredible; and black belts are gods.

 

As a purple belt, you may feel that white belts are spazzes; that blue belts are the best belt because you can still make mistakes; that brown belts are incredible but sometimes slip up; and black belts are still gods.

 

As a brown belt, whites are the best belt; blues are the best belt; purples are the best belt; brown is the worst belt, and black belts are still gods above, and you fear any promotion consideration for another ten years, because you need to work out the massive holes in your stupid brown belt game.

 

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I won’t try to imagine what black belts feel. That’s sacrilege or something.  Think about how someone like red-belt Grandmaster Relson Gracie thinks of all the belts. I dared not put a “coral” or “red belts” slot because I cannot even fathom a language for them. They are the Watchers, outside history and place.

 

Granting a more-than-human aura to those above us in skill and experience is obviously something not limited to jiu-jitsu.  Freshmen students see seniors as kings of the campus.  As an intern at a corporation, you may imagine the manager as a noble of some sort.  Jiu-jitsu borrows from this key error in human perception.  Time is forgotten when comparing two persons.  Then, powers are superimposed on the greater skilled whose origins are mysterious.  Yet, truly, the only real thing that separates the ranks is simply time.  Sure skill and talent and genetics may have a role, but nothing really works like time on the mat, especially with something so intricate as Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  There are no shortcuts and there are no superpowers.

 

In Spanish, there’s a pertinent saying: más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo. Translation: The devil knows more because he’s old than because he is the devil.  Age and experience are the simple ingredients that grant us superpowers.  With the proliferation of information, the idea of a sacred scroll containing a secret martial art technique seems a remnants of a by-gone era.  I remember when I first started training how difficult it was to get information about techniques outside of your school’s curriculum. The best objects were books and all you could do was hope Barnes & Nobles was carrying them.  Today, one can subscribe to Marcelo Garcia’s or Andre Galvao’s website and become a virtual student of their jiu-jitsu a minute after reading this article.  Has this significantly and magically improved anyone’s game overnight?  I doubt it. You still have to get on the mat. You still have to roll.  You still have to put your time in. And in time, you may even hold someone under a knee-on-belly and be that singed, early iconic, image of the power jiu-jitsu holds for a new jiu-jiteiro watching you.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

This blog post was written by Aiseop

Twitter: @edrik17

Blog: www.throughjiujitsu.com

Aiseop has been practicing jiu-jitsu and judo for 7.5 years. He holds a rank of brown belt under Luigi Mondelli of American Top Team. He lives in Connecticut with his two boys, aka future grappling buddies. He is proud to join the WBBJJ team as a blogger.

 

edrik

(Aiseop and son)

 

(Advice) “My First Jiu Jitsu Competition Was Last Weekend” by Lauren LaCourse

 

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“My First Jiu Jitsu Competition Was Last Weekend”

by Lauren LaCourse (Blogger, WBBJJ.com)

 

My coach grabbed my shoulders as I turned to face him. “Okay Lauren, this is it. I want you to keep your hips back and your base low. Remember to keep your head up in the clinch, and fight for your underhooks.” His voice faded away as I looked down at my hands. A giant smile spread across my face as I shook out the nerves. “I should start jumping up and down” I thought. I had seen everyone else doing it before their matches. My feet started to move. “Yeah, that feels good” I said to myself.

 

My coach caught my attention again. He noticed my smile and looked me dead in the eye. “Don’t underestimate these girls Lauren” he said. I shook my head to reassure him, but the smile stayed put.

 

The months of preparation were over. For the first time ever in a Jiu Jitsu competition I heard my name called. I inhaled deeply and stepped out on to the mat. The ref signaled to shake hands. I looked across at my opponent. She had the Batman logo on her rashguard, and a determined look on her face. I was still grinning uncontrollably. “Please let me stop smiling”, I thought, as the ref called us to start.

 

I exhaled.

 

I had been warned of the infamous “adrenaline dump”. I had read and reread the replies to our Facebook post about my competing. Everyone was wishing me luck and offering advice for my first competition. “It will feel surreal” they said. “You may not even hear your coach” they cautioned.

 

During my first match, I was very aware. I remember being very cognizant of my movement and my position. My ears were fine-tuned to my coach’s voice. I remember listening to, and following his directions. I did what I was instructed to do. Next, the referee raised my hand in victory, at the end of my first five minutes of competing BJJ.   However I had almost completely forgot everything that had happened.

 

 

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Here is what I do remember. At the end of the four minute round we were tied, 2-2. An additional minute was then put on the clock. Somehow I ended up in her closed guard long enough to see the score at 4-3 in my opponent’s favor. I saw the seconds tick down as my coach called from the corner, “It’s go time Lauren! Pass! PASS!

 

My hands pressed down on her hips and I arched my back. I felt her guard snap open behind me. I closed my eyes. I kept my elbows tucked to my ribs as I picked my knee up, and cut it across her thigh.

 

When I opened my eyes I was in side control. My weight settled on top of her and the buzzer sounded. I looked to the scoreboard for the results. I had won my first no gi match, my first competition match, by one point. The final score was 5-4. I walked off the mat to stand by my coach, who insisted on making sure I kept moving. “Stay warm,” he warned, “catch your breath.” But I didn’t want to stay warm.

 

I was pretty sure I didn’t ever want to do this again.

 

While I settled on the edge of the mat (and took what felt like my first breath in five minutes) I watched the next match. My coach told me to watch because my next opponent could be one of the two girls rolling. But again, I don’t remember any of it. He was right though, I did compete against the winner of that round.

 

My name was called once more, and I walked out onto the mat. “This is for first and second place”, the ref said as he called me to shake hands with my next opponent. She looked familiar. I had seen her before and wondered if she would be competing that day.  She had been at the Mackenzie Dern seminar I attended the month before, but I had seen her prior to then as well; in a cage fight.  I knew she was a serious MMA competitor and that she traveled competing in Jiu Jitsu as well. To be frank, I felt pretty helpless. As I reached across to shake her hand I saw the muscle ripple under her shoulders. I looked to my coach briefly, who nodded reassuringly in my direction, and the match started.

 

“And when I get there, I will arrive violently. I will rip the heart from my enemy, and leave it bleeding on the ground, because he cannot stop me.”

 

I would love to say that I followed the direction of this encouraging quote (that one of our WBBJJ followers left for me), but if I am to be honest, the only thing violent about that match was my opponent. She ran it on me.

 

It was a scramble I was constantly in defense of. I would get her in my guard. She would go to pass. I would quickly escape so that she couldn’t score her points for passing. She would end up in my guard again, and again she would attempt to pass. At one point she had me in an armbar.  I managed to escape. At another point I made the mistake of trying to pull guard, which she quickly and easily deflected, hulk smashing my legs out of the way. I hung out inverted for a while because it was safe. But as I lingered there I heard my coach yelling toward me. I figured that meant it was time to move so I let my hips swing around into guard, and closed my legs behind her. I knew her next step was going to be to pass (like she had done about a hundred times already) so I let her push down on my hips. I looked to my coach, who was looking at the score. I had 30 seconds and was down 0 to 4. I waited. As the pressure from her arms grew, I slammed one of my hands to her wrist and shot my hips up into what we call “Crooked Guard”. With my other hand, I quickly grabbed my ankle and locked in the best triangle I had ever managed in my life. I could hear my coach screaming from the corner, “Squeeze, Lauren!  SQUEEZE!!!” I reached up and laced my fingers behind my opponents head and pulled down with all the strength I could muster. I watched as her face set in a tight and determined grimace.

 

Then, the buzzer sounded.

 

I unlocked my triangle and the smile once again spread across my face. I looked to the scoreboard and shook my head. My time was up, and she had won 5-1.

 

As I walked toward my coach, whose grin matched mine, I knew I had done well. I will never be sure what might have happened if there had been just ten more seconds on the clock, but I do know that in those four minutes my opponent gave me the most satisfying roll I had ever had. Even though I didn’t win gold, I was reminded of why I love this sport, and the people who practice it.

 

 

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I would like to say that my Gi matches were as exciting, but I was put in against a fresh girl immediately after my ferocious No-Gi battle, and got collar choked like you wouldn’t believe. That was unfortunate. I was dog-tired, sweating and I wondered how anyone competes in both Gi and No-Gi; and does well in both. But as my name was called again I remembered that I had promised myself I would do well in both too. My next match would be for bronze and so I only needed to get through four more minutes to achieve my goal. I could do itI was so close to doing it.

 

In my most boring match of the day I managed to stay on top my opponent’s turtle for quite some time. When I did roll her over, she hooked me in half guard, pinning my ankle between her legs while she was on bottom. The next minute was spent trying to keep my base to avoid being swept (the score was still 0-0) while somehow pulling my foot from her half guard. I hadn’t practiced much half guard, which became apparent as I had struggled with it all day. But as my coach came flying in from cornering another match I heard him shouting, “Get your foot out of there!  Get your foot out of there!” Assuming that meant it was “go time” again, I cut my forearm across her jaw enough to redirect her focus, and pulled my foot into mount position with 20 seconds to spare, making the score 2-0.

 

Like the heavens part for the sun on a cloudy day, I saw it. My arm bar. I had her elbow up, and isolated, in high mount. This was it.  I reached my arm to hook underneath hers and readied myself for the transition I had practiced thousands of times before. Then I heard him yell, “Stay put, Lauren.  Stay put!” I looked to my coach and then to the clock; fifteen more seconds. I locked eyes with my coach again and froze there in mount as the time drew out. I had won.

 

 

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I got my bronze medal and my silver one and I haven’t taken them off since. I called and told my family. I celebrated with my team. All five of us that competed, medalled in our divisions. We had great stories to bring home and great memories from our first tournament. It was truly one of the most significant days of my life despite it being one of my most challenging. Isn’t that how life always goes though? If you wish to have the sea, you must accept it’s mighty roar. The most important lessons that we learn are the hardest, and I learned much that day.

 

I learned that my half guard could use some work. I learned that my coach, with all his screaming and yelling, knows that’s the only way to really get me motivated. I learned that I smile like a fool when I’m nervous, excited, anxious or have any feeling that is adrenaline triggered. I learned that determination, dedication, and hard work are the tools that help you most to achieve your goals. I learned that those qualities, combined with a tremendous amount of passion, can help you accomplish anything you set your mind to. Most importantly, I learned that family comes in all shapes and sizes, whether it is the people you share blood with, or the people you would shed blood for. I also learned that sweat and tears are as thick as blood, and as such become a strong glue to bond people together. I realized that the bulk of the BJJ community realizes this as well. That is why even when we compete against each other, we are committed to supporting and encouraging each other. I realized that sense of family is the reason I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu. It is the reason I will always love Jiu Jitsu.

 

Thank you so much to all those who have supported and encouraged me! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know you, and to talk with you. Thank you for reading about my crazy BJJ antics. Thank you so, so much! I’ll never be able to put into words how much your support means to me.

 

As always, good luck and keep on rollin’.

-Lauren

 

This blog post was written by Lauren LaCourse

Email: [email protected]
Facebook: Lauren’s Facebook Twitter: @LaurenLaCourse

Lauren

 

(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