Technique, Thoughts

YouTube: Not just a place for cat videos

I started jiu-jitsu in 2004 when the internet was still young.  And I’m not just being facetious when I say that.

  • Instagram, founded 2010.
  • Twitter, founded 2006.
  • YouTube, founded 2005.
  • Facebook, founded 2004.

That third bullet point is the one worth squinting at.  Let me reiterate: when I started jiu-jitsu YouTube did not exist.

So where did we go for mindless entertainment?  How did we learn elaborate moves that are as stylish as they are impractical?

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Medical Advice in BJJ: An Anecdotal Account

Quick, name a contact sport where you don’t have any risk of injury.  Stumped?  Ok, what about a non-contact sport with no chance of injury?

Tough isn’t it?  Even the emerging field e-sports comes with its own set of injuries that its practitioners face.  The reality is that sports carry a risk of injury and BJJ is no exception.

While BJJ is not unique in its risks, the BJJ community does anecdotally seem to be more willing to espouse training while injured, unproven medical treatments, and has a reluctance to seek professional medical opinion.

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Grappz – a replacement to finger tape?

If you play jiu-jitsu long enough you’ll probably encounter some finger pain.  Whether it come from over-gripping, aggressive grip fighting, grip-intensive techniques like spider guard, or just accidentally getting a finger caught in the gi, jiu-jitsu will find a way to make your fingers ache.

Traditionally there have been two ways to deal with finger pain.  The first way is to just treat it like every other jiu-jitsu related injury and ignore it.  The second way is to tape your fingers.  Neither way is particularly desirable…the ignore it method of injury management – despite widespread use – is not particularly efficacious.  Tape definitely helps cut down on the pain and can protect fingers from further injury – but to properly apply it takes practice, time, and patience.  I’d rather spend my time on the mat instead of sitting next to it – and thus Grappz were a product I was excited to try out when they came on the market last summer.

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Women and Community in Jiu Jitsu

Community and the jiu jitsu lifestyle are discussed a lot.  But does this community extend to women in jiu jitsu?

In my experience – yes.  Meeting another woman who does jiu jitsu is like making an instant friend.  Even though I have been a part of my new school for less than a year (and have only been able to train for six of those months) I feel like I have a bunch of friends there – men and women.

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The Difference between Stretching and Yoga – For Jiu Jitsu!

I was talking to a fellow teammate and his wife at a party and was part of this conversation (its paraphrased because this happened a couple of weeks ago).

Teammate: I’ve been doing yoga recently to increase my flexibility for jiu jitsu!

Teammate’s wife: You haven’t been doing yoga, you’ve been stretching.  They’re different.

Teammate: What?  How are they different?  I’m using a yoga mat.

Teammate’s wife: Just because you’re using a yoga mat does not make it yoga.  Yoga involves more, like specific poses and breathing exercises.

Teammate: I breathe while stretching.

I don’t think my teammate left the conversation with any greater understanding of the difference between stretching and yoga.  But what is the difference?  And does the difference matter?

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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”


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.

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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.

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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.

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