Escape your Own Head: How to Get the Most out of Jiu Jitsu

You hear a lot in jiu jitsu that you should leave your ego at the door, don’t focus on winning or losing, and avoid negative self talk.  Sure – these are all great advice but how do you do it?  It’s certainly not as easy as packing your gym bag, remembering to leave your ego on the shelf at home, and going to train.  I struggle with negative self talk in all facets of life and I know my life would be easier if I could just be nicer to myself.

So how do you tell your mind to just shut up so you can train?

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Questionable Fashion Choices of BJJ

A lot of hobbies have ‘uniforms’ or clothing associated with them.  And often times these uniforms, while eminently practical, fail to align with modern sensibilities about what is appropriate to wear in public.  Jiu-Jitsu is no exception to this rule.

Here are the fashion mistakes you’ll feel inclined to make if you play jiu-jitsu:

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Why Rolling is Important for Self Defense

In a previous post I discussed the 5 self defense moves I would teach a friend who doesn’t know any jiu jitsu.  Learning techniques is important but I believe rolling can be just as beneficial for learning how to defend oneself.

For example, say Betsy learns a self defense move in a seminar.  She practices it 20 times with an non-resisting partner during the seminar then shows it to a friend when she gets home.  Is Betsy likely going to be able to use that technique in a self defense situation in 6 months?  What about even the next day?  When I’m rolling I usually try to use the move taught in class that day but I’m not usually successful with it right away.

Here are three reasons I think rolling is helpful for self defense.

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Jiu-Jitsu Spark Notes: Or What You Need to Know to Roll

I’ve already done a post on how to get the most out of rolling, and if you are looking for best practices, this isn’t that.  This post is the information that I believe to be the barest minimum necessary to get someone rolling.

Will they be good?  No.  Will they be as safe as they can be?  No.  But, sometimes you just have to work with sub-optimal conditions.  Maybe you’re at party and some friends want to see what this “jiu-jitsu” thing is about.  Maybe you’re at a college level club and someone without any experience shows up to an open mat.

So, when reality gets in the way of ideal, this is a way to stay safe and have fun.

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The Minutiae of Grips: It’s Not Just Where You Grab but How you Grab It

The first time I rolled after a seven year break my forearms burned.  It had been so long since I had fought to hold on to a grip that my arms were exhausted.  But since then I have not had any issues with my grip.  Contrast my experience to my friend’s.  He started in May of this year and is constantly complaining about his fingers hurting and his grip burning out.  He’s much stronger than me so I suspect he has not learned how to relax while gripping.

Some people do experience finger pain in jiu jitsu that seems unavoidable (my husband loves Grappz for this reason).  But holding on the right way is important too.  Sometimes how you grab is as important as where you grab in jiu jitsu.  Ok – that’s a bit of an exaggeration but if you can’t hold on, where you grab doesn’t really matter.

Here are four kinds of grips in jiu jitsu and two tips that apply to all grips.

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The First 5 Self Defense Moves I Would Teach a Friend

I was talking with a couple of friends over dinner and the topic of women’s self defense came up.  My friend (who does not train jiu jitsu) showed the rest of us (who do train jiu jitsu) the self defense move she learned.  She’s a very small woman who is so non-violent that she was reluctant to finish the choke on my husband who outweighs her by 75 pounds and started jiu jitsu when he was 15.

I was a little concerned that the self defense technique was a choke from the back – it just seems like an unlikely situation for her to be in.  If the only self-defense technique she knows is the choke, how will she get into position to finish the choke?  Also, how practical is this move against a larger person?  Sure, if she is able to get and stabilize the position, the choke would be effective.  But with no experience against a resisting opponent this doesn’t seem likely.

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Not Another BJJ for Women Post

I have a predicament.  On the one hand I’m always trying to recruit more women to jiu jitsu and to find ways to make jiu jitsu feel more accessible.  On the other hand, I find endless articles and videos on how to do your hair for jiu jitsu, nutition for women grapplers, and what to wear to class to be a little superficial and demeaning.  Women in jiu jitsu do more than show up and try to get in shape.  We do techniques and roll and have other concerns too damnit.

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Jim B:

Where am I? A Beginner’s Guide to BJJ Positions

If I restarted as a white belt who knew no jiu jitsu, this is information I would hope to be given before my first roll.  Lots of attention is given to techniques, but it can be difficult to see how to use them if you don’t know where you are.  There’s a lot of knowledge out there about each position and its variations.  This is my advice for smaller people and women as a blue belt; I know it will change as I learn more and I will update this to share my new knowledge with you as well.

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