Sunday, July 31, 2011

Advice for Beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Training with Hurt Fingers and Toes

It's pretty common for people who practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to jam or sprain--or even break--fingers and toes. Most of us don't stop training when we injure these small joints, but they hurt like a beast and can really impede your ability to grip and post.

So far in the two years since I started BJJ, I have broken one toe and two fingers. All of them were minor enough that I could continue training, but they were really a pain in the butt.

As with everything, you know your own body and know how badly it is injured. Fingers and toes are small, but if they're injured seriously and not treated, those injuries can lead to bigger problems down the road that require surgery. Still, most of the finger and toe injuries I've seen--and unfortunately experienced--are minor and can be worked around.

If you do decide to keep training through a finger or toe injury, there are things you can do to help prevent further injury. First and foremost, consider taking just a few days off to ice it and rest it. I never follow the resting part of that advice, but wiser people do. ;)

Another option is to not use the hand with the hurt finger while you are grappling. At our school, it is fairly common to for people who have hurt a finger or something to tuck the offending arm into their belt and grapple one-armed. It is actually a cool experience because you have to move differently, be much more focused on keeping your base because you have one less post and learn to use your head more to grip the person's body and limbs.

If you feel like you can't stand not to use that hand, you can also tape your fingers--or toes if that is the injury--to give them extra support. I saw this video on taping up fingers on the Women Representing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu page on Facebook and thought it would be helpful.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Advice for Beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Soreness and Bruising

I am no expert on Jiu-jitsu. Half the people at Fabio's have forgotten more about Jiu-Jitsu than I've even had the chance to see so far. Still, having the opportunity to see a lot of people come and go in the last two years, I have learned some things that might be helpful for beginners in the sport to understand.

One thing that I remember vividly was how sore I was in the first month after starting BJJ. Everything hurt. My muscles, my joints; I was sore in places I didn't know could get sore. I was 27 at the time and I remember asking one of my instructors, Mario, if I was too old to start training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The class I was attending at the time consisted of me, Stephanie, a bunch teenage boys and a one other adult man. I genuinely thought that maybe my body was past the point of getting good at Jiu-Jitsu. Mario threw back his head and laughed. He told me I absolutely was not too old. There are quite a few people at Fabio's who are in their forties and fifties and train hard like everyone else and do well.

How long did the soreness last? I would say around a month. As I kept training, it got to be less and less. I still get sore every now and then if we drill something I'm not used to. But for the most part, my body has gotten used to it.

What can you do for muscle soreness? Ice always my go-to solution. I have heard that taking a bath in Epson salt also helps. I've also been told that Ibuprofen will help decrease inflammation. Stretching helped me as well. You don't have to miss class for soreness. Eventually, your muscles will adapt just like they would from starting to lift weights or jogging.

If you have an actual injury--like a torn muscle or a popped joint--that is a different story. Rest from training is probably a good idea then. :)

The other thing that I remember questioning was how many bruises I used to get. A lot of times I was spotted up like a leopard, especially on my legs. If you are new to jiu-jitsu and you are wondering if you are always going to get bruised up, the answer is...yes.

I will tell you that you will get less bruises as you get better in technique and learn how to move in a way that protects you and your partner better, but you are always going to get bumped and scratched every now and then. That is just part of the sport. I usually have one or two good bruises somewhere on my arms or legs at any given time. I've got a nice bruise on my eyebrow at the moment. But the amount of bruises you get will go down as you learn to move more smoothly.

From all you veterans out there, what are your solutions for sore muscles?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Victory Motivational Speech

Stephanie and I have agreed that if we ever win another gold medal at a tournament, we will stand up on the podium and give this motivational speech at the top of our lungs. I am pretty sure we would get a standing O.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Allergy Attack While Grappling

I have a severe allergy to dogs. If I am around dogs for too long, I break out in hives, my eyes swell and my throat swells shut. It is most of the time accompanied by fits of sneezing. I HATE being allergic to dogs because I love animals.

Did I mention I have a pack of puppies living in my back yard right now?

I think it is a crime against my person that I am not able to cuddle these adorable creatures. If I pick them up and at all I have to immediately go take a shower, or else the hives and the sneezing start. It sucks.

But usually, my allergy to dogs doesn't get in the way of me grappling. Lots of people at my school have dogs that live in the house with them and I have never gotten ichy eyes or sneezing from touching them. It usually takes more than that for me to have a reaction. For the first time ever, last night, I had a problem.

I noticed it after my last grapple. My eyes started itching pretty bad. We were doing cool downs, so I didn't go to the bathroom to wash my hands and face. It didn't even occur to me that it was some kind of allergic reaction. I was honestly worried that I was getting some kind of gross mat funk, fast acting pink eye. LOL

Then my throat started itching. I started thinking, "Oh crap. Who in here has a dog?" Only one girl that I grappled had a dog and it was the girl I had grappled last. I got through cool downs and went to the bathroom. My eyes were already swelling shut.

(The fact that I am putting this horrible picture on the internet proves my love for you guys! lol)

There is a point of no return for me with dog allergies. If my eyes are a little itchy, I can usually just wash them out and wash my hands and I'm ok. But one my throat starts closing up, I have reached the point of no return and HAVE to take medicine because it will continue to get worse from there on. The only thing that really works for me once I start having an allergy problem is Benedryl. I always keep some with me. So I ran out to the car and took one. As we shut down the school and got ready to leave, though, my throat got worse. Me and a few of the other girls had planned to grab a bite to eat so we went on our way.

I had to take another Benedryl almost as soon as we got to the restaurant. It took about 30 minutes for my throat to open up and for some of the swelling in my eyes to go down. I am thankful I had the Benedryl or else I might have had to go to the hospital.

It surprised me that I had this problem at all. I have never had issues with allergies from grappling someone before. And the person who had dogs was even wearing one of MY extra gis over their clothes, so I know it wasn't the gi.

Other than the strange allergic episode, class went really well. We had 8 girls and we worked on taking the back from half guard as well as a sweep from guard. I LOVE seeing the girls starting to put the pieces together during grappling. It is so fun!

This week in my training I have had a blast. I learned and re-learned some things that I absolutely LOVE

1. A heel hook to knee bar transition.

2. A bait and sweep move from open guard (Ben and Fabio have shown me this at least a thousand times but I am just now being able to use it)

3. A half guard sweep tailored for small people where you basically use your whole body against one of the person's legs...and it works really well on people both big and small. (Thanks PP!)

Good week, minus the dog/face explosion.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Passing the Guard

This afternoon, I grappled one of the blue belts at our school, Salsa John, twice. Whenever I grapple him, he generally makes me work to pass his guard and he tries out different sweeps and different things to defend his guard. He is a very mobile grappler in whatever position he is in, and it is no different in guard, so I make very little progress actually passing.

I really get a lot out of my grapples with him because:

1. He forces me to constantly watch my base. If my hips get too high, I am going over.

2. Having to grapple someone with a really solid guard means that I have to look at it like a puzzle. If I try something and it doesn't work, I need to either figure out what I am doing wrong or try something else. Also, it makes me try a number of different kinds of passes and try out new things I haven't tried before.

3. I get to see what details I have been messing up. I have said it before, but most of my teammates are willing to show me where something is off and how to correct it.

4. I get really good cardio! LOL Spending five minutes moving, moving, moving and trying to pass means that my heart is pumping when time is called. Love it.

Tuesday night we had eleven people at the girls class, including me, Steph and Joyce. Two ladies came to just watch, but I think they want to try it out now that they have seen what goes on. I was wondering the entire class what they were thinking when they were watching people grapple. Were they excited to try it? Or scared by the close, intense nature of what was going on? I guess we'll find out if they come back or not! lol

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Second Women's Self Defense/BJJ Class

Tonight was so fun! I am really exhausted, but I wanted to share this picture of us girls after class. We worked on break falls, on what to do when someone grabs you from behind and on hipping out from under mount. The new girls are picking things up really fast and they seem to be having fun. Yay!!

For me, I have been focusing on a few things I noticed I had trouble with in the last tournament. I have gotten way too dependent on gi grips and I need to work on no gi grips. That was pretty apparent this afternoon when I was grappling a few of the guys no gi. I have to be a lot closer and tighter in no gi to get anywhere. I can't rely on sleeves and lapels to hang onto and swing around on. lol

Another thing I've been really focused on is escaping bad positions. Turtle and the scarf hold are still my nemesis positions right now, but I am seeing some progress. With all the bad positions I get into, I have been keeping one major goal in mind: Don't stop moving when someone gets me in one of the positions I hate. Keep moving. That has been making a pretty good difference.

Too tired to type anymore. My bed is calling me!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Women's Self-Defense/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Class

We had our first Women's Self Defense Class last night at Fabio's and I think things went pretty well! Including me, there were seven girls. Three of us have been coming regularly to Fabio's, the other four were new to bjj.

I had SO much fun teaching the class. We went through the three basic submissions that are always shown on the first day of class at our school: an armbar from mount, a kimura from mount and an RNC. But, because this is a class focused on defense, I also showed a hip-out mount escape during warm-ups. When they were learning to hip out, I showed them one of the ways the hip out was used--doing your basic hi-out mount escape. I had planned on going over the mount position in more detail, but I cut that because I didn't want to overload them with too much.

Since it was a smallish class, we were able to go over a lot of the details with all the positions and still have enough time for 4 grapples for each person. To my surprise, three of the four girls that I grappled tried to use the hip out escape during grappling. I had barely touched on it during warm-ups because it was not one of the main techniques for the night, but I was happy to see that they were all paying attention. They also went for armbars and the kimura. A few of them went for the rnc as well.

Seeing them trying the things they had just learned during class was great because it means they understood the basic concepts. They were all willing to be the aggressor during the grapples and weren't afraid to try things. One of the guys at Fabio's is calling the girl's class "Bear Trap Class" because all of us girls are nice and sweet and then when we grapple we turn into...well, less sweet versions of ourselves. If the girls from last night continue like they did, our class will live up to the Bear Trap reputation! Well done, girls!!

I also want to give a shout out to Stephanie and Joyce (A.K.A. Mean Joyce!) for coming and helping out. It made big difference to have a few extra people to help explain the techniques and to make the girls' first grappling experiences safer. You guys rock!!

The only downside of the night was that I was having so much fun that I forgot to take pictures! Doh!

I do have a really cool video of Delilah the Lion Killer--known by the few mortals who call him friend as Josh Hagan--being interviewed by the local news stations. Couldn't figure out how to embed the video in here. It's funny because Josh was more nervous to have to talk in front of the camera than he was stopping a carjacker! He did great, though. My ugly mug is in the back ground in a few places. You'll notice that I am getting tooled by Ben, one of Fabio's black belts. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Delilah the Lion Killer

We have a superhero hiding in plain sight at out gym, pretending to be an everyday guy. By day, he is Josh Hagan, an unassuming carpenter and bjj blue belt under Fabio Novaes. By night, he is Delilah the Lion Killer!! ;) We have long called Josh by his superhero name, Delilah, after he made his son cut his flowing locks of hair just before a tournament, leading to his loss! But Delilah decided to use his powers for good this week. Check out this awesome story in our local news paper about how Josh stopped a car jacking using a rear naked choke!! You're my hero, Josh!

Here is an extra tid-bit about the story that Josh told us that didn't end up in the paper. When Josh applied the RNC, the guy woke up after about 45 seconds. Josh knew he would wake up, so he just held onto the choke after the guy went out and when he woke up, Josh said, "I train Brazilian Jiu jitsu and if you try to struggle I will put you out again." The guy did try to struggle a few times and Josh had to tighten the choke again and wait for the guy to calm down. He finally did. But Josh had to sit there holding him until the police came!

In MUCH less exciting news, I competed at the Orlando NAGA this weekend and placed 2nd in No-Gi. My finger was a real problem. I could grip, but any kind of turning to the side of my finger hurt like a beast!! Steph has video, but I don't want to look at it right now because I lost. LOL Maybe tomorrow. As always, I learned a lot from the experience. I may post the video later if I can stand it.

The rest of my team did AWESOME! We had a lot of people show up for this tournament. I don't know what the stats, but every time I turned around someone I knew was getting a medal. Congratulations Team Fabio Novaes!! And thank you to Fabio for being such an amazing coach and friend!!

A few pictures from the tournament. :)