Thoughts

Women’s Experiences in Jiu Jitsu

Starting this blog has helped me realize that there is no one experience for women in jiu jitsu.  This may sound pretty dumb because I knew before that there was no one experience for men in jiu jitsu.  But the way jiu jitsu is approached for women makes it seem like there is only one possible experience.

I have had the opportunity to experience jiu jitsu in many different ways – and I’m actually grateful I took so much time off because it gave me that opportunity.  Looking back at my own experiences and reflecting on my partners’ experiences has made me appreciate how different the jiu jitsu journey can be. Continue reading “Women’s Experiences in Jiu Jitsu”

Self-Defense

Why Jiu-Jitsu Works, or Why waste your time doing something else?

Jiu-jitsu, Karate, Krav-Maga, Taekwondo…they are all basically the same thing right?  A group of people get together wearing robe-like pajamas and break boards.  Usually someone is a “black belt,” and you refer to them as sensei or master or some other possibly Asian sounding term of respect.

If you’re nodding along you’ve probably found this website prior to embarking upon your jiu-jitsu journey.  Or, if you’re nodding along you may be a jiu-jitsu player who has encountered these assumptions from family and friends.

Well, jiu-jitsu is more than just another martial art, and not all martial arts are the same…or even equal.

Continue reading “Why Jiu-Jitsu Works, or Why waste your time doing something else?”

Uncategorized

How BJJ is like Chess: Rock Paper Scissors Edition

Jiu-jitsu is an athletic endeavor – but it is one that requires a great deal of thought in order to be good at it.  As I pointed out in my earlier How BJJ is like Chess article this leads to comparisons between jiu-jitsu and chess – sometimes reasonable comparisons…sometimes less reasonable.

One facet of jiu-jitsu that feels comparable to chess is the tit for tat nature of moves.  If someone is mounted on you, you can try the upa escape.  If they are able to post their leg to prevent themselves from being rolled you can take advantage of that space to do the shrimp escape.  If they pinch their knees tightly to prevent the shrimp escape their base is narrow and thus more easily toppled over with an upa escape.

So…does this sequence show that jiu-jitsu is like chess?  Or is it really just complicated rock paper scissors?

Continue reading “How BJJ is like Chess: Rock Paper Scissors Edition”

Thoughts

Help! What kind of yoga should I do for bjj?

A lot of people say that yoga is great for cross training with jiu jitsu.  It builds flexibility, teaches you to breathe, and isn’t too hard on your body (jiu jitsu is hard enough).  But where do you start?  There are so many kinds of yoga it can seem overwhelming.

What kind of yoga is best depends on your goals, preferences, and flexibility.  What kind of yoga you can actually practice depends on what’s available in your area or what online resources you’re willing to pay for.

Continue reading “Help! What kind of yoga should I do for bjj?”

Technique, Thoughts

The Circuitous Path to Learning a New Guard

When you first start out all guards are new.  Nothing will work great, but some will work better than others.  Over time, this is the guard you will spend most of your time using.  This is partially because it will be the most rewarding, but also because it will be the guard you are best able to get to and maintain.  The process becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophesy: you’re good at the guard you’re good at because you’re good at it!

This is how I developed my guard game until very recently.  My closed guard and a sort of bastardized collar and sleeve open guard represented about 90% of my guard skill.  But then I saw shin to shin and I knew I wanted more from my guard.

Continue reading “The Circuitous Path to Learning a New Guard”

Theory

The Importance of Friends in BJJ

In a recent podcast with Grappling Central, my coach, Sam, mentioned that if you aren’t enjoying your jiu jitsu school or if you’re thinking about trying a new school – try changing your social group at your current school first.  While I’m pretty happy with my jiu jitsu friends right now, I have experienced a few different social groups in jiu jitsu.  Also, our jiu jitsu holiday party was last night, which got me thinking about the importance of jiu jitsu friends.

Continue reading “The Importance of Friends in BJJ”

Technique

Finding moves in negative spaces

When you are first learning moves in jiu-jitsu you often are taught how to exploit bad habits.  From the mount you are taught the spinning armbar in response to your partner trying to bench you off.  From the guard you are taught how to kimura or bump-sweep when your partner puts their hands on the mat.  These techniques share a common thread: you are assuming your partner is doing something wrong.

Jiu-Jitsu is often compared to chess, and this is one of those times where the comparison is apt.  Beginners are more likely to make mistakes and so the person who gets a submission is most likely the person capitalizing on their partner’s mistakes.  But, just like in chess, as time goes on you’ll find your partners less likely to make mistakes.  The rolls become more and more about finding the perfect timing, misdirection – and if mistakes do happen jumping at the chance to exploit them because they might not come again.

Ok – so whats the point?  Well, if as a beginner your instruction begins with “an unskilled person will do X” then as an advanced practitioner you’ll start to hear “a really good player will do Y.”  When your instructor says these words your ears better perk up and you need to start paying attention!

Continue reading “Finding moves in negative spaces”

Technique

How to Actually Roll with Bigger People

I don’t like to criticize other people’s articles.  I know its hard to write and it takes courage to publicly say what you think.  But “Which BJJ Techniques Work and Don’t Work w/ a Small Man Against a Big Man” really got me fired up.  The title assumes gender for no real reason, the size difference is never specified, I don’t agree with the suggested techniques, and the grammar is terrible.

Rather than tell you everything wrong with the BJJEE article – I would like to explore what techniques work for smaller jiu jitsu players from an actual small jiu jitsu player’s point of view (I’m 5’2″, 115lbs).

Continue reading “How to Actually Roll with Bigger People”

Technique

Combinations from the Closed Guard

One of my teammates was preparing for a competition last week (he double medaled!) and he mentioned that he wanted to learn more combination attacks.  He has been working on his closed guard recently, which is my favorite position.

Depending on how you choose to play the closed guard your partner may feel completely trapped or under constant attack (or ideally both).  Currently, I focus on keeping my partner trapped when I using my guard because it is a position I feel safe in with a larger partner.  But I would like to incorporate more combinations so my guard can feel both vicious and suffocating.

Continue reading “Combinations from the Closed Guard”

Thoughts

Belt Jealousy and the Jiu Jitsu Journey

My husband was promoted to purple belt a week ago!  I am very excited and proud of him.  I know how hard he works on and off the mat to be the best he can at jiu jitsu and be a great teammate.  He has always been willing to roll with me and help me with my game even though I’m a lot smaller than him and not as good as him.  I could not have made it this far in jiu jitsu without him.

I also found out that our training partner and friend from seven years ago earned his black belt.  I’m very happy for him as well.  He trained hard and was always thinking about how to improve his game.  He was Evan’s primary training throughout his blue belt and I spent most of my time as a white belt either training with Evan or our now-black-belt friend.

Despite being happy for both of them – I have to admit I’m a little jealous.  I know I shouldn’t be.  They both have been training for years longer than I have.  And their rank has nothing to do with me.  But I feel like I missed out on so much by taking time off.  Yet when I step back I realize that I wouldn’t trade the time off for being a higher rank now.

Continue reading “Belt Jealousy and the Jiu Jitsu Journey”