Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I went to a different sort of seminar this weekend. Cristiane Barobosa-Timoteo and Giulio Timoteo came to Fabio's to teach us about training to prevent injuries and to recover from them as well. Before I get into the seminar, here are a couple of videos about what Physiotraining is about:

Cris spent most of the seminar focusing on how to rehab and strengthen shoulders and the lower back. I have had problems with my shoulder and I can tell you that already, only a few days after starting rehabbing it with the exercises she taught us, I can see that it is going to really help me.

One of the things she brought up that I haven't paid much attention to is the importance of having a strong core. My strength needs to come from my core, just from the muscles in my arms or legs. This is especially true for bjj, which is a sport that involves the whole body at once. She said a lot of injuries are the result of people straining themselves because they lack core strength.

At the seminar, she showed us exercises for strengthening our core and I have to admit I was sore after doing them!

She is going to come back--I hope!--and do another seminar focusing on other common areas where bjj practitioners suffer injuries. I hope she does one on the knees. Anyway, if you are in Florida and live near Miami, check them out. Giulio, Cris's husband, is also a black belt in BJJ and has a school there as well. Great people. Really enjoyed learning from them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is the Goal of BJJ?

Today, a friend of mine and I were getting coffee and she said she wanted to try out bjj with me. Of course, I was excited. So my friend asks me, "So what is the goal of jiu-jitsu?"

Simple question, but one that is hard to explain to someone who has never tried bjj.

"Do you try to pin the other person?"

That gave me a jumping off point. "No. BJJ is different than wrestling because, instead of trying to pin someone by relying on superior strength and speed, your goal is to learn to use technique, leverage and momentum to get into a dominant position so that you can do a submission -- a joint lock, choke or muscle lock. It's not about getting into a position and holding it. It's about being mobile and learning to use the other person's movements and positions against them."

Then, I started trying to explain what you do in a grapple. I could see from her facial expressions that she was trying to understand, but had a hard time picturing what I was saying. So I invited her to come over to my barn so I could show her. To my great pleasure, she did.

Stephanie came over too and we spent an hour or so showing her some of the basic positions and submissions -- mount, side control and taking the back and a kimura, an armbar from mount and an rnc. She was on overload by that time. So Stephanie and I grappled--just a relaxed flow roll--to show her a little bit of what bjj looked like in action.

She liked it and is coming with me to class tomorrow. Yay!

The thing that struck me, though, is that I had forgotten about how overwhelming bjj is in the beginning. It's fast, in close quarters, scary at times and there are so many details that you are aware that you aren't going to remember even a quarter of what you are seeing and hearing. I look at this as the first hurdle--getting over that fear of the unknown. The second big hurdle, in my opinion, is learning to deal with the progressive, trial and error, long term nature of bjj.

But as we were walking out of the barn, my friend said, "I'm glad I did this with you guys here first. If I had gone in there not knowing what to expect it would have caught me way off guard."

I hope she ends up enjoying tomorrow's class!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New York, Rhode Island and Words of Wisdom

I'm back from my crazy New England adventure! My husband JJ and I left last Wednesday, went to New York for a day, then spent the rest of the week and weekend in Rhode Island for one of my best friend's wedding. I had never been to New York or Rhode Island before, so this trip was definitely an awesome experience for me.
Me looking windblown and tired in Central Park. ;)
I won't spend much time talking about the trip here except to say that the wedding was beautiful, as was Rhode Island. I didn't get to see much of New York. We only were able to look around for one day and one night. But I LOVED exploring the city and want to go back again when I can.

Here's me with some of my closest and oldest friends from growing up. Robin was the bride. She looked amazing!

Some of the beautiful scenery from Rhode Island. I love Florida beaches, but some of these stretched of rocky beach were breath-taking.

We visited Newport Island and got to see some of the enormous mansions around there. It was crazy! Some of them looked like castles!

Anyway, onto the actual jiu-jitsu talk on my jiu-jitsu blog. Training has been a lot about problem solving for me right now. I can see some of the many gaps in my technique and I have been doing a lot of trial and error to figure out how to handle them. Most of it has to do with transitioning in defense. I know I should be going a certain way but am not sure how to get there.

For example, I've been getting stuck in turtle. I go to turtle a lot when my guard will be passed and I can't invert. Once I get there, I try to either roll out, catch a leg and drive or return to my guard--or attack a leg if I am feeling brave--but usually the person squashes the crap out of me from the top and I have to work really hard to return to my guard or whatever.

I was asking Paul, one of the black belts at our school, for some advice on how to handle some specific problems and he gave me some technical tips for defending my guard differently. But he had some other advice for me about the mental aspect of game that really hit home.

We were talking about having confidence in the techniques I have learned. Yes, there are gaps in my knowledge. But I need to go into each grapple and each move expecting it to work. If I am hesitant, or go into a move half-hearted, expecting it to fail, I have already defeated myself before I even try. I have to admit that this happens sometimes with me. I either don't try something because I am afraid of the risk, or I try it half way. Doesn't work.

Another thing he said was that I need to work on letting my trails and errors just be experiments and not take them personally when they don't work. Basically, I shouldn't judge my grappling ability based off of whether or not a move works every time. If it doesn't work, it doesn't mean that "I suck". It means I need to keep trying and tweak some things. Eventually, I'll figure it out.

He went on to say that letting those negative emotions like anger or frustration take over during a grapple not only defeat me mentally, but they wear me out physically. My adrenaline gets pumping and then I try something and fail, and have this huge energy dump. Then I am feeling defeated AND exhausted. I have had this happen to me several times before.

I tried to keep those things in mind today and it definitely helped.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Post on Belt Promotions

I read a great post by BJJ Cailin morning about belt promotions and McDojos. Hopefully, schools that use belts as marketing tools won't spread in BJJ like they have in the other martial arts.

Handing out belts before students have earned them is not only dishonest, but it robs the student of one of the greatest benefits of BJJ: learning to face yourself--and keep going--when you hit the wall. I think that actually having to EARN a belt helps you grow not only in bjj as a self defense art, but it also helps you grow as a person. Sometimes it takes months or years to get past a snag in your learning process. It forces you to be lose your pride and be humble, to think critically about the techniques and to adapt.

Also, handing out unmerited belts waters down the sport. It certainly won't help the student if they want to compete. They will get trounced at tournaments.

I know it is not my place to judge how other schools do things. But if a school is handing out belts based on time spent practicing BJJ, that sounds illegitimate to me. As Jenn said in her blog, different people develop at different paces. Six months in training will put some students farther than others. Automatically handing out a stripe or a belt to someone based on time devalues the belt system. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tip For Beginners

If you are new to BJJ, here is a tip that will save you some time and energy: Don't try to gi choke someone while you are inside their guard.

Twice today, someone tried to gi choke me from inside my guard. What they did was try to stack me from inside my guard and then use pressure to keep me pinned and try to gi choke me.

It didn't work. Why? For a number of reasons:

1) Their arms are outstretched, in my guard, just asking to be arm-bared. Because their weight is forward, my hips are mobile and, even when you are trying to smash the ever loving crap out of me, I can maneuver around to get an armbar from guard.

2) Because their weight is forward, they are in prime position to be swept, with me ending up in mount.

3) When you are in someone else's guard, your primary objective should be to pass. Any submission you try on the person's upper body will only be exposing your arms and neck for submissions.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest... :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

30 Before 30

Stephanie made me do it!!

Steph is doing a bucket list to be completed before she turns 30. I decided to do one to.

Here it be!

Hey, if I'm going to get old, I might as well have a little fun doing it, right? ;)