Thursday, December 20, 2007

Workout #111

50 of each
Pullups
Pushups
Situps
Squats

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Workout #134

21-15-9
Box Jumps
Double Kettlebell Clean and Press
Kettlebell Swings
Pullups

Monday, December 17, 2007

NOW IT CAN BE TOLD!!!!!

UPDATE:
I competed this last Saturday and took the silver at the No Gi Mundials. It was the first time that this tournament has been held. I'm glad it's the last tournament for the year and I have some time to rest.
Since late September, I had a cold and then some strange symptoms that never went away in addition to being tired all the time. I was finally diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus after Thanksgiving.
For those that don't know (which included me until I got it), almost everyone has it. I've read between 70 and 95% of the population has it. If you have ever had "MONO", you have the virus. Most people get it as a kid. But not everyone that has EBV gets Mono. Just most. The main "symptom" of EBV is Mono. The virus never goes away. It just goes dormant. For some people, they will have Mono once and never have to deal with it again. For others, it can be a long and (literally) exhausting journey. (DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor. If you want more info, google it) I'm hoping mine will be the former and that it will just be a part of the end of the year 2007.
So, I think it definitely affected my performance this weekend. I was not able to get to where I wanted to be in the weeks prior with my conditioning and that had a huge effect on my performance both mentally and physically. I usually taper off and rest for a couple of days before competition to give my body a chance to recover from the hard training. When you are in great condition, you can go as hard as you want and not worry about gassing. This time, I didn't get to train as hard leading up because of the exhaustion and yet the muscles were even more tired than if I had trained hard!!!
On top of that, I had to make weight, which again, is never usually much of a problem if I can train the way I want and know. But this time it was a struggle.
There are always things that need attention and can make you lose focus. Hopefully, the distraction can be made into a positive distraction or be used re-focus in a better way prior to competition.
I tried to stay as close as I could to my usual gameplan and made adjustments when necessary. I made weight and went in and fought. My body had some unusual reactions to the stress of competition. It was difficult and I hadn't experienced it before. Even now, two days later, some parts of my body are in a lot of pain...like having done the worst workout of my life and having no energy on top of it. It feels like every ounce of life or energy has been sucked out of me.
Would it have been wiser to not have competed because of my condition (or lack of condition)? (pun intended) Who knows? I guess that takes us back to the question of why someone competes. That question always rears it's head.
But now I will rest a bit and maybe do more relaxation and meditation. I've noticed that my body has been carrying a lot more tension in the past few months. I try to notice it and relax but it keeps sneaking up on me.
And more research on EBV...
If you have had experience with EBV and want to share, please do!
felicia@feliciaoh.com

Monday, December 10, 2007

WORKOUT #118

3 rounds of:
50 squats
30 pushups
20 shuttle runs
20 burpees

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Workout #125

As many sets as possible in 10 minutes
2 Kettlebell 1/2 turn burpees
5 box jumps

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Workout #144

1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5
Double KB press
Double KB squat
Pullups

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Workout #143

Thursday and Saturday

3 rounds

10 pullups
10 parkour jumps
10 double kb press
10 single kb squats

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FRAN

21-15-9
Thrusters (standard men 95lbs/standard women 65)
Pullups

Moderate workout:
Adjust Thruster weight
Jumping pullups or jump hold pullups

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Workout #140

Full workout: 5 rounds for time
Moderate workout: 3 rounds for time

10 Turkish Get Ups (5L/5R)
10 Pullups
20 Pushups

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WORKOUT #133

3 rounds for time
400m run
20 Kettlebell swings (men 20 or 24 kg/women 12 or 16kg)
10 Wall ball (men 15lb/women 12lb)
5 Pullups

MODERATE Workout Substitutions
Adjusted kettlebell weight
15 jumping pullups

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Like a new born baby all over again....

Going back and beginning somthing new is always good. When you do something for a while, you will get better at it. You will improve. You will become comfortable in your world. You may eventually become the best and fastest widget maker this side of the Mississippi! There is something refreshing and terrifying in the experience of starting something brand spankin' new...where you have no idea what you are doing. It can be difficult to put yourself in the position of being a pure novice. Remember your first day of jiu-jitsu? I had no idea what I was getting into or doing. It was a bit unnerving getting into strange and somewhat intimate positions with strangers. Even moreso with acquaintances. When new students join the class, it reminds me of how awkward "the guard" can be for a beginner ;)
There is a very different kind of pressure in starting something new. It is a different kind of challenge. It can be difficult and produce a lot of anxiety but eventually you find that every chunk of learning is a huge new discovery that opens doors to new and unknown worlds. How refreshing!

woops...

If I fall behind on the workouts, you can find them and more here: http://crossfitvalencia.com/wordpress/

I will try to keep updated here too...as well as my occasional somewhat philosopical musings on life and grappling.
This should keep you busy for a while though.... :

11/05/07 (Mon) 8:30PM Class
WORKOUT #130
30 kettlebell swings
15/15 ketttlebell press (l/r)
Kettlebell lunges (down width of mat)
150 single jumpropes
Kettlebell lunges (back width of mat)
3 rounds for time


11/06/07 (Tues) 8:30PM Class
WORKOUT #105
3 rounds for time
400m run
21 burpees
12 pullups


11/07/07 (Wed) 8:30PM Class
Workout #118
3 rounds for time
50 air squats
30 pushups
20 shuttle runs
20 burpees

Saturday, November 3, 2007

#129

Murph

LITE
600m run
25 pullups
50 pushups
100 squats
600m run

MEDIUM

800m run
50 pullups
100 pushups
150 squats
800m run

FULL
1 mile run
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 pullups
1 mile run

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Workout #127

Workout #127
21-15-9
Double KB squat press (16 or 20kg men/ 12kg women), pullups
(It is a squat, then a press. There is no momentum from the squat transferring into the press. There is no pushing or jerking into the press.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday's workout #126

Advanced workout: 3 sets 30-20-10 for time
Moderate workout: 3 sets 20-10-5 for time

Kettlebell Straight pulls
Shuttle runs
Burpees

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Workout

400m run
21 kb swings (24kg/16kg)
12 pull ups
3 rounds for time

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Crossfit classes and Schedule Changes

•NEW CLASSES!!!
Next week I will begin offering Crossfit classes at Big John McCarthy's Ultimate Training Academy five times a week.
Class times are:
Monday 8:30 - 9:30 PM
Tuesday 8:30 - 9:30 PM
Wednesday 8:30 - 9:30 PM
Thursday 8:30 - 9:30 PM
Saturday 9:30-10:30AM

I will try and post the daily workouts on this blog.

•CLASS TIME CHANGE!!!
Women's BJJ and Women's Grappling class times will be one hour earlier...now starting at 7:30 PM.

•ANOTHER NEW CLASS!!!!
And I'm adding a new experimental BJJ/Grappling class for Couples! Several people have requested a class where they can learn techniques, practice and train with their significant other. This class is also a great way to bring in a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend that hasn't had any training or may be a bit apprehensive about getting on the mat.

Workout #125

400 single jump rope (feet together)
Kettlebell swings
Pullups
3 sets - 21-15-9

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Workout #123

100 jumprope (single bounce)
10 kettlebell swings (to overhead lock out) 24 kg men/16kg women
10 sets for time

The Rules

In any field, in any endeavor, in any microcosmic world, you have to learn the rules before you can break them. You have to have an understanding of what you are dealing with. Once you understand the boundaries, the limitations, the edges, then you can (dare I say it) push the envelope or (better yet) break out of the box. LOL!!!! But seriously, when you start your training, you have to learn how the game is played. You have to learn how to move your body in ways that your body is not used to moving. Sometimes students will try a move for the first time and say "It doesn't feel right!" I always wonder how they know what "right" feels like if they've never done it before. Once you train your body to move the correct way and likewise, to respond in the correct way, then you can start to experiment and try out different things. You have to learn the basics first. I'm sure you've heard it a million times...learn fundamentals. Learn basics. Master those first...then you can push envelopes or break out of boxes or mix whatever metaphor you would like.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Workout

Time is passing by so quickly...it's been a while since I've posted...again. I apologize. I've been doing a lot of teaching and some training here and there. Held tryouts for Big John McCarthy's Ultimate Training Academy MMA fight team today.
Here is one of the workouts they did if you want to try it out.

50 air squats
30 pushups
20 shuttle runs
20 burpees
3 rounds for time


or if you want something that includes a kettlebell exercise, try the Crossfit Kettlebell workout from class today:

air squats
kettlebell cleans (left/right)
pullups
21-15-9

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Life Shifts

Have you ever felt like your life is a tv show or movie (i.e. The Matrix, The Truman Show, many episodes of Star Trek whatever generation, the 4400, etc) where they steal your consciousness and you think you are living your life, but it's really all made up? Usually something will betray the illusion with some sort of clue and you (or the character) eventually find your way back to your reality which would be something like laying in some medical lounge chair with wires and electrodes hooked up to you with a bunch of doctors and scientists huddled around taking notes. No? Well, given the large amount of books, movies and tv shows that deal with these experiences, I think there's something universal about it. Okay...so the point here is that as a result of some life changing experience (good or bad), your world and all future experiences are now significantly changed or seen in a different way. The "looking glass" through which you see the world has been permanently altered. These are the times in life that I love AND I hate. We get lulled into a false sense of security (usually when it's a bad thing that happens) or complacency (when it's time for change and you know it but haven't been able to do anything until it is pushed upon you). It's about change...and the challenge of that change is to use it for growth. It is not usually something you are aware of as the chain of events are happening. Only in retrospect is this seen. But more like an unexpected volcanic explosion forever changing your personal landscape. Maybe it's the death of a parent, discovering you have cancer, a divorce, surviving an experience that challenged to you to go beyond your previously thought limits or the birth of a child. Perhaps it is a major injury. How we can wish it hadn't happened...but eventually accept that it has. So do the work, do the recovery...make the adjustments and use it to grow and move forward. I tore my ACL in 2002 about a month before going to Brazil to compete in the Mundials. The doctor said I couldn't train and certainly I couldn't compete. Well, I had been training and argued with him until he acquiesed and said I could go. I had surgery schedule for the day after I returned. Then I received a call for a freelance job that would start the day after I was supposed to get off of crutches. Well, that was perfect! I needed to make some money and I wasn't going to be able to set foot on a mat for at least 3 months which was, coincidentally, the length of the job, and sitting at a desk on a computer was pretty much the only thing I was going to be able to do. On top of that, the building where the job was had a gym equipped with exactly what I needed for my rehab! Of course, I wish I hadn't torn my ACL in the first place but it did change my jiu-jitsu and made me reconsider a lot of movements I had taken for granted. By the way, has anyone ever seen "Wintuition" on the Game Show Network (GSN)?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eat meat again???

I haven't eaten meat* for 27 years. That's 2/3 of my life. Recently I've decided to eat meat again. It's now been about a week that I've been actively putting meat back into my diet and trying things I haven't had for a long time or ever had the opportunity to try.
I discovered that pepperoni pizza is yummy.
Sausage on pizza is okay, but vegetarian sausage is better.
Chicken only tastes as good as the sauce or seasoning that's put on it (how is this any different than tofu?...oh yah, tofu doesn't have the nasty smell of chicken that needs to be hidden).
But shredded chicken in a Wana Iguana enchilada could be passed off as crab meat, tastes good and makes me feel like I'm eating an expensive meal.
Beef jerky tastes good. Or maybe it's the sodium that's good.
Meat is hard and takes a lot of effort to chew. My jaw has been sore and I think it's the additional chewing demands of the meat that is causing it. Sure vegetables take time to chew, but they are softer.
I'll let you know how it goes...

*I ate fish, eggs and dairy but no red meat, chicken, etc.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life Happens...

For most people, jiu-jitsu is something you do. It is a part of your life. When things in life happen, it can make it difficult to get to class. So many things are demanding your time, attention and energy and some days, you just can't make it in to train. Sometimes it's a class, or a week of training, or maybe even a month or two. Maybe you get married, have a baby, change jobs, need time to recover from an injury or any other myriad of things that comprises what we would call "our life". Everybody has priorities and sometimes one area has to suffer. For our own sanity and survival, something has to give and many times that may be your training. Then you resolve things, adjust to your new schedule or your new family or whatever the case may be and you get yourself back on track and training again. After a bit of pain, you find yourself moving forward and progressing. In my case, this blog is one of the things that had to give. So now, back on track and moving forward...


p.s. the RSS feed should now be working. Thanks Matt!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Pain of Progress?!?!?

Some days you feel great! Your mind and body are in synch...everything flows and all is well with the world. Other days, it's just a matter of survival...trying to just hold off the attacks...trying to hold off the growing frustration...trying to figure out where you are and what you are doing. Each training session is different. Each roll it different. Everyone has ups and downs...good days and bad. Sometimes it can be several days or several weeks of frustration. It can be an uncomfortable time...but eventually it turns around. You have ups and downs. Both are necessary in life and in jiu-jitsu. The downs only mean that you or your world is changing, trying different things...or maybe it's making you realize that you have to try different things....either way, it is about progress and evolution and leads you toward the next step in the journey of jiu-jitsu and/or life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And now, a moment with the author....

How fancy can a blog be??? I used different colors....pink...purple...red.....
Suggestions???

If you have questions or suggestions for issues, topics, entries, etc. please let me know. You can always e-mail me: felicia@feliciaoh.com

If you leave a question for me in the comments and want a reply, I'll need your e-mail address. You can e-mail if you don't want to post it.

Can anyone tell me how to easily do the RSS thing??? E-mail me or post in comments. Thanks!



And now back to our regularly scheduled programming....*static*

Relaaaaxxxxxx.....

Learn how to relax while you grapple. Relaxing doesn't mean letting the other guy "win". Watch boxers or basketball players or any top level athletes. They are relaxed. Even though jiu-jitsu is a "combat sport", you still have to relax. It is still an athletic endeavor and you have to relaxt to perform.
But how can I relax if I have to fight someone? Relaxing doesn't mean not fighting. It doesn't mean not trying to execute your techniques.
If someone is attacking you and you're in a bad position maybe getting smothered or feeling clastraphobic...protect yourself (of course) and just relax. Are you in danger? No. Okay....just breathe and relax there. Talk yourself through it...relax. Then think about what your next step is. Keep protecting yourself. Then move and do what you need to. Stay relaxed.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Smart Muscles

Your muscles are smart. We've all heard the term "muscle memory". If you've been training jiu-jitsu for a while, you've probably had the experience of your body getting to a certain position and then without thinking, it just reacts and suddenly you find yourself with an armbar (or anything else). It wasn't something you thought about doing step by step, it just happened.
When your body learns enough movements, it will start to find it's own way. Sometimes you won't even consciously know what you did...just that is was probably pretty cool and it worked...and if someone saw it and asked you what you did, you might not be able to answer them. Your body learns how to move...how to react. Training teaches your body what to do. Your muscles are smart and really do have memory.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

How I did it! Now it can be told! How to get your Black Belt in 4.5 years!!!!

Well, I actually HAVE been telling you. I have no secret. I have no special pill. Many of the things I have written in this blog are things that I realized I did or observations I have made up to this point in my jiu jitsu journey. It's not an easy or short journey and it hasn't ended. Each entry in this blog is another piece of my puzzle...something that I'm reflecting on, adjusting, or commenting on when I see others get stuck or caught up with. I write my ideas, opinions and thoughts that make sense to me at the time...as well as reserving the right to change my mind...because the truth I tell you today may not be true for me tomorrow. Such is life... So, off the top of my head...these are (some of) the main things that I now realized I did or now understand to have helped me in my progressing in jiu-jitsu thus far...sort of like a David Letterman's Top 10 list. And while 4.5 years may seem fast, it's still never fast enough. I, too, wonder if there's a secret pill to help me learn faster. If I find one, I'll let you know.

And now for (notice the very abbreviated title, heh heh heh)...
Felicia Oh's Top 10 List of Things That Helped Her To Progress Quickly in Jiu Jitsu or
About 10 Things I Think Are Important...there are more and when I think of them, I'll let you know.

Now, in no particular order...

10. Go to class on a regular basis. Set your schedule and don't make excuses. Don't got because you do or don't feel like going. Just go. Pretend it is your job. Of course, things happen and you can't always make it, but don't NOT go because you don't feel like it and you'd rather watch tv and eat ice cream on the couch.

9. Pay attention when the instructor is teaching.

8. Take responsibility for your own learning. If you can't see what the teacher is showing, get up and move to a place so you can.

7. Ask questions. Don't be inappropriate and ask things at the wrong time or be an attention hog. If you don't understand what the teacher explained to the class, ask for help or clarification. Either ask the teacher or a (most likely) more advanced student for help. Don't just do the move incorrectly.

6. Be balanced. Don't do only technique and not roll or come late to class so you miss the technique and just go to roll. You need both sides of the training. You need to learn and refine new moves and you need to practice moves in a live situation. Make sure you do both.

5. Be a good partner. Don't be a jerk. Be sensitive to your partners needs ;) When doing technique, if your partner is having trouble understanding a move, help him. As your partner starts to execute the move properly, apply progressive resistance. Each time he does it easily, increase the resistance. Don't start by resisting 100% to show how good your defense to the move is. It's drilling....not a street fight. When rolling, gauge how hard to go based on who your partner is and the situation. For example, if your partner is preparing for a tournament, he might want you to roll harder. If you're going to go hard, make sure you both know. What goes around comes around and if you break the toys, you won't have anything to play with.

4. Focus on using technique rather than forcing things with strength. Once you have the technique, you can add strength on top of it if you're in a competition or training hard with someone of equal size/ability or larger/stronger than you.

3. Don't focus on winning or losing in competition or in class. Just try to improve and get better.

2. Don't wait until you fell ready to compete. You will rarely ever feel ready.

1. Don't be afraid to lose. Put yourself in bad positions and see what they feel like. Make your worst position your best position.

Monday, June 25, 2007

PSA,Ad, etc.

I've added some more classes at Big John McCarthy's Ultimate Training Academy.

No-gi grappling for women:
Mondays 11AM - 12PM
Tuesday eves 8:30PM - 9:30PM
Thursday eves 8:30 - 9:30PM

The Saturday 8:30 Women's Gi class has been replaced by a 10:30AM competition class. Men, Women, gi and no-gi are all welcome. I'll be teaching the class with Brian Peterson (competitor and head referee for Grappling Games, GQ referee and USA Wrestling referee) and focus on preparing students to compete in tournaments. Even if you're not sure that you want to compete, come check it out and explore another aspect of the game!

There's will also be a new 30 minute Kettlebell class on Mondays from 12:00 - 12:30.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Starting Over

There is a process that will continually bring us to the point of starting over...again and again. When you get a belt promotion, it's an acknowledgment of the many, many, many small steps that you have taken. It's a chance to look back to see where you came from and how far you have gone. In taking so many small steps, sometimes you lose site of your progress but now the belt shows the culmination of all your hard work. The belt also brings you back to the beginning...the beginning of the next level. I never felt more like a whilte belt than after I got my black belt! This process can also happen within your personal game and understanding of jiu-jitsu. You learn a move and start to get it in training. After a while, people start to catch on and start to counter your move. Now you have to go back and work on a new move or a counter to the counter. It's going back and regrouping, re-evaluating...but now you have more information, more knowledge and experience plus the ability to execute more moves. There is a continual process of growing and expanding your game...and part of that process includes starting over.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Learning

Imagine teaching a first grader calculus. A first grader isn't ready to learn calculus until he learns all the other basic foundations of mathamatics. You can tell him every detail about calculus, but there isn't going to be any learning or understanding.
I remember learning basic techniques as a white and blue belt. Then as I progressed, I would watch as it was taught again. Each time I learned more and I noticed that the teacher had included some new details to the technique. Details that he hadn't mentioned before and only now, after having needed that information so many times in rolling, was he sharing that new information. After I noticed this happening several times, I finally realized that it wasn't him neglecting details, but me not hearing or understanding the details. I was not ready for it. He may or may not have mentioned them, but what it was is that I wasn't ready to understand and utilize the information. When you start out, you learn a large movement, the basic mechanics, the big concept...i.e. what an armbar is - where to hold, where to put your foot, how to push and turn, swing the leg over, etc. As you progress, you add more and more details to make it better, tighter, more successful. You learn how to deal with more and different responses/defenses. And while I have heard that there are some instructors that leave out stuff on purpose, my experience has been that either I wasn't ready and didn't hear it or the instructor, only being human, may have forgotten something. At the higher levels, it's about details and there are a lot them. Which detail is important to you is an individual thing. For one person, a specific detail may be the difference between a submission and a escape while for another person, they may automatically do it without even thinking.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Transitions

Jiu Jitsu has 4 basic positions. Mount, guard, back, side. Then from these there is open guard, butterfly guard, 1/2 guard, spider guard etc. Then you can get more esoteric and break it down further and into more specialized positions like 50/50 guard, turtle guard, upside down guard, 1/4 guard, DeLaRiva guard, etc. Some of these positions are controlled points in a transition...where if there was no control, it would be a transtion or a scramble.
You can find opportunities in transitions that weren't there before. You can see openings and submissions that weren't available before. You may have positions that you want to get to and the transition can give you the opportunity to get there.
It is in these transitions that there are numerous possibilities to alter the direction of the game. Anything can happen in these moments and in the blink of an eye, everything can completely change.


p.s. Sorry for the long break in blog postings. I'm trying to figure out the RSS feed so you'll know when I've put up a new post. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How did I get here?

It's all still just starting to sink in. This last weekend I was in Trenton, New Jersey to compete in the ADCC World Submission Fighting Championships. It's all still pretty surreal. In the first round I beat Leticia Ribiero (mulit-time BJJ World Champion) by points. In the semi-finals, I tapped Megumi Fuji (Japanese fighting superstar) with a rear choke. And in the finals, I lost a close match to Sayaka (also from Japan and Megumi's student).
So many people have helped me and given so freely of themselves. Even something that may be a small, little thing...each and every thing brings something, means something and adds to something greater. Something as simple as a confident look and reassuring nod at the right time when it was needed...something that small makes a difference.
I have a great team. They have given me so much and we went to the finals of ADCC!
Thank you!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Approaching competition

Training is training. You're in the academy, you learn techniques and then you roll and try to execute the techniques you've learned against your teammates who're (generally) trying NOT to let you do the techniques because they're trying to execute their techniques on you! For some people, this is where they live. They go to the academy and train and look forward to the familiarity of their training partners and their respective games. For other people, they are looking for something else. They might be looking to test themself in a different environment against different, unfamiliar opponents. They might be looking for a different competitive experience. Neither is better than the other. They are just two different things. One can be a great academy grappler but that doesn't necessarily mean that the same grappler will have the same experience in a tournament. There are different skills that are needed to compete successfully in a competitive environment. As with jiu-jitsu or anything, some people will have more natural abilities in certain areas than others. In either case, those abilities can be practiced, developed and improved on.
Competing brings with it several different components than academy grappling. When you first start out, you'll most likely be facing someone you don't know or know nothing about. Of course, if you chose to continue to compete, you will become more familiar with the other people in your division and will likely encounter them again in your jiu-jitsu journey. But until you do it regularly, everyone will be new to you.
Almost all tournaments will have time limits or point limits. You will only have a limited amount of time to finish your opponent or get ahead on points. You can't just go another round or wait until you're in a better mood tomorrow. And unless it's double elimination, if you lose, you're done for that tournament (not counting any Open division).
There is a referee involved. You are not only fighting your opponent, you are fighting the referee too! Referees are like your parents. You have to make sure they notice when you do something good so you get rewarded for it. Sure people always say "Submit everyone so you don't leave it to the ref". Well, if it were that easy..... I don't know if anyone tries to NOT win. I think most people try as hard as they can. If they don't, then they need to work on that skill.
Conditioning for a tournament is different than academy rolling. Some people can roll for an extended amount of time at the academy. Competition brings a whole different level of adrenaline, anxiety, anticipation, excitement and exhaustion! The adrenaline dump you get from competition is different than anything you will ever feel at the academy. The anticipation of competing extended over an unknown period of time (typically lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 4-6 hours) is very different than getting to class, warming up, learning techniques and then rolling. Trying to stay warm and prepared with no idea of when your turn will be is akin to some sort of Geneva Convention-breaking torture.
Mental conditioning is the least addressed part of competition training. Sport psychologists are used by many high level athletes. As this sport continues to grow, so will the importance of mental conditioning.
If you're just starting out on your competition journey, the first thing to do is to just go do it. See how it feels. Establish a baseline of what you experience and how you handle it. Now you'll have a starting point. Then each time, you'll develop and refine your process, your preparation and your execution. And as for your gameplan, just go do what you do. Afterall, that's what you do best!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mutants?

Has the human body changed? What has happened to us? How can Randy Couture, at 43 years of age, be the UFC Heavyweight Champion? Isn't 43 old? I know I thought it was when I was growing up but now it looks like 43 is PRIME! I remember when I was in 4th grade, my school was starting a new sports team...it was called Cross Country Running. I went to the first practice and my mom even joined me. We ran a mile!!! I remember the great feeling of accomplishment that I had from running a WHOLE mile. It was not something I had ever conceived of myself doing. Oh, and my mom did it too!!! That was amazing to me...my mom running a mile?!?!?!?! How could she do that? After all, she was old!!! She was my MOM and I had NEVER seen her run or do anything athletic! Well, I think that was the end of athletic endeavors for her unless you count chasing after my 4-year old nephew. Two years later, a friend and I entered and ran a 10K. What a feat that was! The school newspaper even wrote an article about it. That was 6.2 miles!!!!! Amazing!!!! Back then, a marathon seemed like it was a rare and impossible feat! Today, ANYONE can do a marathon. Triathalons are a dime-a-dozen. Eco-Challenge and Adventure Racing is even common. How far can we push the human body? Is it diet and nutrition? Is it science and technology? Of course technology has helped the progression of almost every sport. Everything from equipment to shoes to accessories to clothing and even food and recovery drinks. How have sports changed as a result of technology? Think of running, rock climbing, golf and tennis just to start. But I don't think it's just technology...I think it goes beyond that. Is it human self-perception?
As a kid, I remember seeing the Peking Acrobats (before it was changed to Beijing) on tv. They were amazing to watch. And martial arts films, those were amazing. Even watching Jackie Chan a few years ago...what he could do was such an amazing feat and a rarity. But now, do a video search on "free running" or "parkour" and you'll see amazing feats that many people are doing. Suddenly it seems like anyone can do it...and why not? Has the human body changed? Or what has changed that has allowed people to be able to push their bodies and their minds to these greater and greater extremes?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Okay...So You Can't ALWAYS Just Go Do It.

Burnout is real. Overtraining is real. Sometimes you can get really into training and you train 5, 6, 7 days a week or two times a day and then you might wake up and feel like you hate training. You CAN burnout on training. You can't train hard every day all the time. Most sports have seasons. And with seasons comes the off season. Time when athletes can relax, do other things, work on specific weaknesses without the pressure of games or competition. Jiu Jitsu doesn't seem to have a real "season". There are some tournaments that are usually around the same time of year, each year...but there isn't really an "off season" to speak of. And training does not necessarily revolve around competition for a lot of people. So, how do you train hard and not burn out? If you train say, 3 times a week regularly and decide that you're so motivated that you want to increase your training, don't suddenly start training 7 times a week! Just add one day a week. Do this for a few weeks and give your body a chance to adjust. Then when that feels good, add another day, etc. If you suddenly jump up your training and your body isn't used to it, it will rebel. Then you'll probably have to take some time off. Try to make it a gradual change....for your mind and your body.
If you're already training a lot, like 6 days a week, it's good to take an extra day off every once in a while. Not only to catch up in other areas of your life (like going out on a date, spending time with your loved ones, etc.) but to also give your mind and body a chance to relax, rest and recover. An extra day of rest can do more good for your body and mind than your fear of missing one class because it might be the class where the teacher shows the "secret" move. But if that's the case (assuming that there is a secret move), maybe your teacher was just waiting for the day that you weren't there so he COULD show the move! LOL.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Getting In Touch...

You learn more from losing, but winning feels a lot better :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Euuuwwwww....What's That Smell?!?!?

What is it that is so fun and enjoyable about spending time in a stinky room breathing sticky, smelly air saturated with the moisture of human sweat? What is it that we love about rolling around on the ground with people trying to incapacitate each other? Is this the closest we can come to a primal force and to experience the (relatively safe) struggle for survival? Or is it a regression to the playful innocence of free movement that we see in nature like tiger and bear cubs playing. Who hasn't heard the analogy of a new jiu-jitsu parent comparing their new baby's movement to the movements and positions of grappling? Is this stuff we all knew once before but have forgotten in our "development" or "growing up"?
What is the comraderie that comes out of this communal primordial ooze? What is the bond that happens between people that voluntarily and repeatedly put themselves through the physical and mental struggle of learning and survival...day in and day out, year in and year out? What makes one person stop coming in and another keep returning? What makes a person come back after taking several years off? What does this activity provide that even with all the injuries, pains, sweat and infections keeps us going back?
Is it about escapism? It's a place where you have to be so focused on your own survival that you don't have the luxury of thinking about what happened with your boss at your job or the fight you just had with your wife/husband, boyfriend/girlfriend. It's a place where the rest of the world melts away and ceases to exist. All that exists is what is in front of you...or behind you or around your neck or pulling forcefully on your arm...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get ready for the big TEST!

In my lineage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are no big tests. It's not about your performance during one roll or one training session. It's not about how you perform over the course of one week or even one competition. It's more about how you do every day that you go in and train...every day is a test. Every day is different. Some days you're on; others your totally out of it. That's how it goes. How do you handle things when your are faced with adversity? How do you treat your fellow students and training partners? It's easy when things are going well. What happens when they aren't going well? How do you deal with others when they are having a bad day? One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that jiu-jitsu will bring you a lot of ups and downs. How do you respond? What do you do?
Don't focus on the carrot, the next belt or the end of the journey. Focus on taking the next step; putting one foot in front of the other. That's all there is. That is life. Try to do it for the sake of just getting better. There is no final destination. It is truly about the journey. There is always something more to learn, someplace further to go, someone else to roll with and beat up or get beat up by. Just keep moving forward.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Self Preservation

No matter who you are, there are always going to be times where you have to be aware of your own self-preservation. For some, it will be something you have to deal with more often than others. Perhaps you're a smaller guy, or a woman, or a bit older...but even a big, strong guy coming back from an injury. or getting ready for a tournament and you're pushing extra hard and you're extra tired (which can make you more prone to injury)...there will be times where you have to become aware of your own self preservation or risk injury.
Sometimes it can be a struggle with your ego. You're caught in a bad position and you're fighting it and you get to the point where you have to decide: do I tap and go again or does the ego tell me I'm okay, I can go farther and I don't tap, get injured and sit out for two weeks.
Sometimes self preservation means not rolling with certain people.
There are many different types of people that come in to train. For me, sometimes self preservation can mean that I don't roll/break in the newbie 220lb. white belt. It's not his fault. He's a big guy just starting in the sport so he probably doesn't have the control (over his body and/or ego) to roll with a small female.
There's the guy who always goes 110 percent. He can be a great training partner if someone's getting ready to compete or do mma, but maybe not for someone coming back from an injury.
Maybe you've had an extra exhausting day and you haven't had a good night's sleep in several days so you're not quite "on"...maybe you take it a bit easier and are a little more careful about who you roll with.
How long do you see yourself doing the sport? Keep in mind the larger picture, your safety and longevity. Jiu-jitsu is not about one roll. It's not about one training session. Jiu-jitsu is a tough sport. There are no kata's. Injuries WILL happen. That is inevitable. So, how do you continue to train and last in such a tough sport? Trying to minimize unnecessary injuries can help.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Videos Up!!!!

I was at the Fit Expo a few weekends ago and managed to get some fighters to talk to me on camera. Check them out!

Jeff Monson talks about his career, his political views, favorite dessert and what would happen if he went on "Survivor"!!!!
Jeff Monson @ Fit Expo Interview

Javier Vasquez talks about his return to MMA, upcoming plans and life with his new family.
Javier Vasquez @ Fit Expo Interview

IFL Sabre Antonio McKee talks about how he got into MMA and the IFL.
IFL Sabre Antonio McKee @ Fit Expo Interview

Savant Young explains the benefits for fighters in a league like the IFL and the history of the Sabres' team.
IFL Sabre Savant Young @ Fit Expo Interview

Newcomer Jesse Juarez tells us about his experience with the IFL Sabres.
IFL Sabre Jesse Juarez @ Fit Expo Interview

Friday, March 9, 2007

Patience

Why can't I learn jiu-jitsu faster? Why can't I absorb more information? Why can't I remember more techniques? Why do I think of a move after the opportunity has passed? Why doesn't this injury heal faster? Grrrrrrrr.... Sometimes jiu-jitsu can be really discouraging and frustrating. Sometimes you look for things to make you better faster. It's like anything else...the more you practice, the better you will get. There are no big secrets or quick fix answers. Sometimes people will tell you things but you're not ready to hear them. Then one day you're ready, someone tells you and you hear it. Was this person a genius who finally shared the most secret of secrets with you? Or is it something you may have been told before and just never got? (Or maybe there IS a big secret!!!) Everyone has their own speed of learning. Every person is different. Some people won't understand things for a while and then one day something clicks. This is not only in jiu-jitsu. This is life. Why can't a baby be an adult? A baby has to grow and learn and experience...and it's the sum of those experiences that forms the adult. Jiu-jitsu is no different. Someone can tell you a hundred times not to leave one arm in, but until you get triangled a bunch of times, you won't understand it. You have to experience it. Experience takes time. It's not a bad thing to try to find ways to get better, but remember that you sometimes you have to have patience. Patience with yourself. Patience for your body to catch up to your mind. Patience for your mind to catch up to your desire (to improve). Patience for your experience to catch up to your desired ability.
Then take time to see your progress...look back and see how far you've come. Maybe it's that you just kept going to class and didn't quit. Maybe you're defense is getting better and you're fighting off attacks more than you were able to in the past. Maybe you're rolling more fluidly. If you keep going, you will get better.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bow Down

Why do some guys at the academy think they should be able to tap everyone and get upset when they can't? And when they get tapped, they get angry. I don't mean guys that have been around for years and years...I mean lower level guys who get tapped by higher level guys and then get angry, yell, scream and curse. Why do they get angry? When you're new to a sport, obviously the guys who have been doing it longer will be better at it. I'm not going to go into someone else's sport and get mad because I can't make a basket, run a 4 minute mile or whatever it is without putting in any training or practice. Sometimes I see guys who have been around for a bit of time (well, enough time that they should know better...a year, two years...) and get angry when they get tapped by a purple, brown or black belt. I see this kind of behavior as just being plain disrespectful. It is disrespectful to the time, blood, sweat, tears and injuries that are contributed to the mat every training session that it took to get to that higher level. What would it mean if someone could walk in off the street with no training and tap a purple belt? What would be the worth of that belt and the worth of the time and energy that a person has dedicated to training? For the most part, belts in BJJ are earned. The color of the belt is a representation of a lot of time and work put into improving oneself at something. It should be respected and valued. It should be something that re-inforces the common path that is being traveled and that one is just at a different place on the journey. One should be happy that higher belts with more time are tapping them...and teaching them. There should be value and respect for the belt.

In other news, belts are only belts and are meant to hold your pants up (or the gi closed).

Friday, March 2, 2007

Get in mah bellay!

Learn to breathe and relax. When you're stressed or have to do something that makes you anxious (like a job interview or asking for a raise, etc) just relax. How do you do this? Take a big belly breath. Okay...so let's start at the beginning. If you don't know how to take belly breaths, start with this exercise. Lie on the floor on your back. Put something on your stomach. Anything you have handy laying around...a mouthpiece, a kettlebell, whatever. Now take a breath. Do not breathe into your chest. Try to inhale into your belly. Are you doing it right? Is the thing on your stomach going up and down? Try to push the thing on your stomach up as a result of your inhalation...down when you exhale. Now you are doing a belly breath. Repeat this a few times. Get used to the feeling. Sit up and do the belly breath. You can put your finger on your stomach and try to push it out as you inhale. At the top of the inhalation, hold your breath and count to 3. Then exhale and let all the tension and anxiety out with the breath. Repeat 3 times.
When you are out of breath, focus on breathing into you belly and relaxing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Train

Why do you train? I don't know. I just do.

Just train. Treat it like a job or an appointment. Whatever your schedule is, the secret to improvement is to just be consistent. Of course, life happens and things happen out of your control and sometimes you won't be able to make it to class because there are some things in life that are more important than your jiu-jitsu training...but don't skip class just because you don't feel like going. Don't skip class because you're lazy and feel down. Go train. Usually you'll feel better after you train. Training can be wonderfully escapist. When you're fighting for your life or just to survive or trying to learn something new, you tend to forget about all the other things that happened during your crappy day. You tend to have a very specific focus when you are being "threatened" or "attacked" (i.e. training). When you are defending against someone trying to choke you or hyperextend your arm, your tend to get very focused and the rest of the world falls away.

Monday, February 12, 2007

If I had 30 days...

There are different roads available to take in life. Each has a different amount of risk. You have to find out what is important to you and how much risk you can afford given your personality, financial situation, familial responsiblities etc. In life as an adult, you have responsiblities to yourself and those around you...so how do you find a way to be happy in your life and fulfill your duties and responsibilies as an adult, husband/wife, parent, (insert other descriptive words that define your identity here). Even with all the "identities" and responsiblities that you accumulate, it is still YOUR life and you are responsible for it.
Ask yourself "If I had 30 days to live, what would I be doing? Would it be different than what I am doing now? Am I happy with my life? Or am I somewhat or completely unhappy?

If you are unhappy and find you need to make a change, how do you do it? You have to be realistic. You have to tend to your responsibilities...family, children, future...you can't just be stupid about it.
A relative of mine was about to get married and had many responsibilities running his family business. His life and future was thrust upon him when his father died and he had to step up to the plate, learn as much as he could as quickly as possible and take the reigns...whether he wanted to or not, it didn't matter. What he wanted to do in his life didn't matter...he was now the head of the family and had business to tend to.
Now he was getting married and adding even more responsibilities to what he already had. He seemed to be drowning, getting lost under all the expectations that were being put upon him. So I asked him what he would do if he had 30 days to live. He rattled off a list of all the different places in the world that he wanted to visit. One of the great things about living in the time that we do is that it's possible to go anywhere in the world quite easily. Of course he can't just shirk all his responsiblities and become a vagabond and start travelling the world. Of course not! But what he could do is write down his list of places. Then each year, he can plan a one or two week vacation and visit one of the places on his list. This makes it possible for him to do something that is important for him to do during his lifetime and yet maintain all of his responsiblities and obligations during the rest of the year. He found a way to make his life one he could be happy living.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ROLLING WITH HIGH LEVEL BELTS (especially Black Belts): #1

#1: You never really know how hard they are going with you or what they are up to. Maybe sometimes they will let you tap them. Maybe they are helping you and letting you practice positions, submissions, etc. by feeding you things. Maybe they are working on getting out of their bad positions. Maybe they just want to work on one specific thing and will keep going back to that position even if that means giving a sweep, a pass, etc.
I heard a story about one very high level guy that for a week, let a lower level guy (well, lower level than the high level guy, but compared to most everyone else, still a high level guy) tap him everytime they rolled. Then on the last day that the high level guy was in town, he D-E-S-T-R-O-Y-E-D the lower level guy!!! During the week, he was just playing around and letting the lower level guy do his thing…play his game…but all the while paying attention and making notes on his game. Then at the end, he put the universe back in order…sort of re-set the system.
Remember to keep your ego in check.
Everyone has good days. Everyone has bad days. BJJ is like the SAT's (or what the SAT's are in theory). It's the accumulation of knowledge over time...training is not just what you do in one day during one roll against one person. Training is not about one tap. It's about reactions to different situations...it's about your progress....which, of course, brings us back to mat time and practice, practice, practice.

Monday, February 5, 2007

To Gi or Not To Gi....

That is the perpetual question that always rears it's ugly head. Should I do train gi or no-gi (submission grappling)? Which is better? Aren't they the same? The argument is long and extensive on the internet. Both exhausting and boring and generally leading to personal attacks and so on.....so...
It's two different sports!!! Related with many, many similarities, but different. Different rules, different uniform, different games. But still very similar. Whether one is better than the other is really a matter of personal choice and goals.
So...the question is not always so much which is better but how are they similar and different and then how do I translate from one to the other if I choose to do so. Here are some of the differences that immediately come to mind.
TECHNIQUES: There are many techniques that are based purely on you or your opponent wearing a gi. (i.e. collar chokes, sweeps utilizing the belt to hold on to, etc.) And there are many techniques that work only or better without the gi (i.e. the collar gets in the way and makes it difficult to sink a choke in). Some techniques have equivalents or need slight adjustments to make them work for both games. Others are gold in one game and completely useless in the other. Learning which techniques work for which game comes with time and practice.
HANDLES: The gi gives you handles. You can grab the pants, hold the lapels and sleeves, grab handfuls of gi to help gain control, initiate sweeps, etc. The handles can slow the game down. This can be beneficial for beginners who need to learn at a slower pace and learn the basics...positions, basic techniques...more handles = more controls. Without the gi, there are no handles to hold on to and you have to create other ways to hold on and control. You can use your hands like hooks on the elbows, shoulders, legs, ankles, etc.
ATHLETICISM: Obviously good for both since this IS a sport. But pure athleticism can compensate for lack of technique in no-gi moreso than in gi. Athleticism is also beneficial to the younger, stronger and quicker guys. Of course, the flip side to that is that more injuries can happen as a result. For example, sometimes just using strength to bust your leg out of a certain leg control can result in a knee strain or worse, a torn ACL. Of course, athleticism can be beneficial in both games and injuries are also going to happen in both games.
RULES: Generally in the higher levels of no-gi, heel hooks are allowed. Sometimes bicep locks/slicers are legal as well. No-gi usually doesn't have advantages in scoring or give points for knee on stomach. Of course, every tournament is different so read the rules carefully. Pay attention for different rules for different ability levels.
PROXIMITY/CONTACT: Sometimes you can keep a little more distance with the gi. With no gi, you have to use your body to control instead of relying on the handles to pull in or keep distance so your bodies will have (even) more contact.
TAKEDOWNS: Gi based jiu-jitsu takedowns are generally based more in judo since they share the similarities of the control handles. No-gi is generally more based in wrestling where there is pummeling and tieups and no gi to hold on to.
SWEAT (sometimes called "greasiness"): There's a lot more sweat and bodies get slippery or greasy after rolling for any length of time without the gi. The gi can help absorb a lot of the sweat and provide friction when contact is made. Without the gi, sweat is just slippery and uh...drips. Rashguards can only absorbs so much. Gi's are more like Bounty!

So, depending on what you want to do and what you enjoy, choose which game best suits your needs or just do both!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Information Overload!!!!!

There is SO much information available these days!!!! Books, DVDs, the internet, youtube, online training programs...an endless amount of information. Hilight videos, technique videos, some even promise to tell you the secrets of BJJ, the secrets of strength and conditioning, shortcuts to get better at grappling...some charge money, some are free. There is an awful lot of stuff out there. How do you separate the good information from the bad? What will help you? What won't? What is real stuff and what isn't? Where do you start? Where do you go?
One thing to remember in grappling and BJJ....it is a VERY VERY large buffet! There will be some dishes you like and want to eat all the time. There will be some dishes that you like to have once in a while. There will even be some that are literally crap. But how do you know where to start? How do you know who's advice and techniques to listen to?
I'm actually talking about this on two different levels.
One is a general overview of BJJ. There are tons of techniques. In this case, the only way you'll know what works for you and will become part of your game is to try everything out. Sample the whole buffet. Keep the ones you like, let go of the ones you don't (but only AFTER you really try to do them...just because you don't like them right away or they don't feel "right" the first time doesn't necessarily mean you won't eventually get them after a bit of practice. Or you may come back to them some time later on down the road). Of course, if they don't work or you can't make them work for your body type or style after serious attempts and some drilling, you can let them go...but you won't know any of this unless you try them.
The other level is considering the source of the information. There is a lot of information out there that is just not good. I remember hearing a saying many years ago (MANY years ago and not even related this sport): "consider the source". It's always interesting to read someone's very authoritative post or instruction on an internet forum and then later find out that it's a two month white belt that's posting. Not that there's anything wrong with being a two month white belt because everyone always has a different point of view or a different perspective on things...but it's not quite the same as someone who's grown up doing it their whole life or even someone who's put in their 10 years or whatever of cumulative mat time.

What I am trying to say is:
You have to sample a lot of things to find the things you like and work for you from which you will build your game AND
You also have to be a discriminating consumer and consider what is being given/sold to you.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Belts:

Belts are an indication of a person's progress forward in a specific art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
What does it mean and why does everyone want a black belt?
Is a black belt the end of the line? Do you quit after you get your black belt?
BJ Penn talks about black belts at different levels...white belt black belt...blue belt black belt, etc. Not everyone that gets a black belt is Jacare or Marcelo Garcia...they are the top level of black belts in the world. There are many black belts in the world...not all of them are at the top of the game of BJJ. How could they be? Many are normal guys that have families, jobs, lives out of BJJ. It is not their whole life or livelihood. They don't compete. They go to the academy and train hard. They go home. When someone receives a black belt, it can be an indication of many things in the same way that belt promotions of other colors come for different reasons. Every student is on his or her own path with different abilities, body type, physical attributes, mental attributes and aptitude level. Each person has a particular set of circumstances that affect what their jiu-jitsu is and will become. It it not always a good idea to compare yourself to others in your class...although I think it's pretty much impossible not to from what I've seen and experienced. I suppose it's natural to try and measure yourself and the most obvious measuring stick is the other people in class.
Sometimes I hear "I'm a blue belt (just as an example), and I tap all the blues and most of the purples so I should be purple!". Well, maybe so...but perhaps you are a 23 year old athletic ex-collegiate jock and everyone else is "middle aged" (I don't actually know what that means. Did you know that 50 is the new 30??? Okay, that's for another day's post). Or perhaps your techniques aren't very, uh...technical and you use a lot of strength and energy to force them. Or perhaps you go balls out for the first few minutes and then you're gassed and have nothing left in you...you haven't learned about rest. recovery and relaxation while fighting. Or you have a plan A and when that doesn't work and you end up in a bad position, you aren't able to recover. Maybe you have great offense and no defense. Maybe your character as a person hasn't developed and you're not setting a good example and helping out the newer guys or teaching the lower level guys. Maybe maybe maybe...... There are so many aspects to the game.
MAYBE your belt color has nothing to do with YOUR assessment of your game but only with that of your instructor's assessment. :D
Maybe you just focus on improving each day and the rest will take care of itself...in jiu-jitsu...the same as in life.
Have fun. Train hard. Train smart. And laugh.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Coming Back

Taking time off from training happens to everyone. Life happens. Injuries, family, work, sickness, travel, burnout, etc...all make us occasionally have to take some time off from training. Even if it's just a couple of weeks, it's hard to come back. When you're training regularly, you don't always notice your improvement. You don't notice how your body has become conditioned to training; to the increased pressure on your body, the pain, the strain and the cardio to go multiple rounds or many minutes. When do you notice how far you have progressed? When you try to come back from time off!!! That's when! That's when you are reminded of the first time you trained...you feel the pain of sitting down on the couch and when you try to get up, your body doesn't want to cooperate. You wince at the tired exhaustion your muscles are feeling. You feel the pain in so many parts of your body that you never felt while you were training earlier. You didn't feel it while you were having fun on the mat! But now you are suffering the consequences. It's like what happens when you forget your anniversary. Your body is the neglected, spiteful and resentful partner that must punish you for your mis-deed! You must now suffer for your neglect. It reminds us where we once were...of happier times...when we didn't feel this way. Sometimes it makes me feel old but then I try to reassure myself that it's a normal response by the body for the stress that it was just put through. But the body remembers...the body forgives...the body very quickly acclimates to the (re)new(ed) stresses that you are putting it through. After a few classes, you're back picking up where you left off...your mind and your body in tune once again...a well oiled machine cruising down the road of training.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Work Your Weakness

How do you improve your BJJ/grappling? Practice, practice, practice. Okay...but it's not just practice, it's also WHAT you practice. So, in trying to improve your game, take an objective look at your jiujitsu and try to identify what the weakest part of your game is. A really good way to identify this is competition. Competing with a stranger who doesn't know anything about what you do will highlight your weak points. So, now your goal is to improve this area. Maybe it's sweeping, maybe opening the closed guard, maybe getting out of being side controlled...whatever it is...now your goal is to work on this as often as possible in training. When you are rolling, especially with someone of a lower belt and/or lower skill level, let yourself get into your worst position. You don't need to tell your partner what you are doing. Now practice using your techniques from that position. Ask different people you roll with, especially higher level guys, what they do in that position. You are working to improve that part of your game. Keep working on it...maybe you make it a goal to work on sweeping for the next two months. Now, you won't be doing it all the time because there are always going to be times where you don't have control over the positions you get. Just keep on working on your weakest position and then you will eventually notice that you have an even weaker position...you have now built up the weakest part of your game so that it is no longer the weakest part of your game! And now you have a new weakest part of your game! Congratulations!!! Some people are reluctant to put themselves in vulnerable or weak positions. Okay, this is TRAINING. How will the weak parts of your game improve if you don't practice them and make them stronger? It can be scary putting yourself in these weak positions because you take a greater risk of "losing" or getting tapped. This is TRAINING.
So, after you have done this, take a good look at your game and identify your new weak area. Work on your new weak area for the next couple of months. Continue training and repeating this process and watch your game improve.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Efficiency and Rest

As you progress in BJJ/Grappling, you will find that what you are learning is more about details. You will learn to become more efficient with your movements. You will expend less energy in accomplishing the same thing or even more. You become more efficient in your movements. You will learn to rest for very brief moments to help you recover. You will learn when to explode and when to rest...and not get gassd out. Why do some guys roll hard for 2 minutes and then they are done? Why can't they make it through even one round of sparring? How does someone roll for one or two hours straight? Is it conditioning? Is it technique? Are they super athletes? Part of it is learning how to rest. It's relaxing while you're fighting. Now, a new guy coming into a BJJ academy may find that upon first hearing this, it sounds rather crazy. Uh...it's fighting, right? So, how do you fight and rest or relax? That makes no sense! But slowly you will learn to relax. It takes time, but it comes. Sometimes guys with a background in standup fighting get especially tight and anxious being on the ground. I'll tell them to think about when they are fighting in their comfort zone of the standup world and how they have learned to relax and fight. Then they understand that it's the same thing. Learn to relax. It's about efficiency and rest.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Big John McCarthy gets Black Belt!!!!!

Big John McCarthy was awarded his Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tonight. John is the first Black Belt at Big John McCarthy's Ultimate Training Academy presented by the BJMUTA Council of Black Belts including Mike Ortiz, Lou Salseda, Todd White and Felicia Oh.

CONGRATULATIONS JOHN!!!!!!!!!!!!

visit www.bjmuta.com

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Secret to Getting Better at BJJ/Grappling

What strength and conditioning exercises should I do to get better at BJJ?
What kind of kettlebell workout should I do to get better at BJJ/grappling?

These types of questions seem to be coming up a lot lately. So, here we go.

Okay...so what I'm about to share with you is one of the only secrets of BJJ ;)
*drumroll*

Now, what would you pay for this kind of information. I should be charging for this kind of information and many people have...but today I'm going to give you a special deal...all you have to do is order this special deal. Heh heh heh...okay...look, I'm giving it away for FREE!!! This is IT...this is THE SECRET! I really should be charging for this type of information. Are you ready for it? Okay, okay, enough already....here it is...all for the one low price of....FREE!!!!!!

*Please feel free to send donations and help sponsor my training for the ADCC World Championships. E-mail me @ felicia@feliciaoh.com. Thank you ;)


The only way to get better at BJJ/grappling is by doing BJJ/grappling!!!!!
BJJ is about teaching your body how to move in certain ways and respond to different situations. The only way to teach your body how to do this automatically is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. This is commonly referred to as "mat time". You learn techniques and then you drill them. Then you try to do them against resisting opponents. After many hours of practice, many failures and many successes...what were once "techniques" learned in class start to become "your" automatic responses by your body. You are training muscle memory. You learn that grappling is about body movements. You learn to incorporate your own personal physical attributes (whether it be speed, explosiveness, agility, flexibility, etc. or lack of these...) into the techniques to give you your own personal fighting style which is part of the beauty of jiu-jitsu. It can be tailored for each individual's strengths and weaknesses.
Just getting stronger won't help you get any better at BJJ/grappling. It won't help you learn how to move your hips, where to put your knee, where to place your hand, one inch this way or half an inch that way, adjust the pressure of your hip, turn your head slightly to the left, base more on your right side, put pressure with your right shoulder, shimmee your shoulders forward, wiggle wiggle, base here, base this way a bit more, etc. and then there's the whole other issue of timing. Strength may help you survive in the short term. You might be able to muscle out of bad positions or force submissions. But how do you do a proper escape? How do you do a proper submission? In the long run, if you have not learned proper techniques you will only have the strength you started with. If you're a big guy and regularly dominate everyone at your academy, what happens when you have to face someone your own size? And what if he HAS learned the techniques? If you learn technique and then use strength on top of that, then you will have a combination that is difficult to beat. Strength is easy and can always be added after you develop a good foundation of techniques. Technique comes first and takes time, patience, frustration and lots and lots of practice.
Going back to the origins of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu...Helio Gracie himself had a frail body.
Don't misunderstand because yes, strength and conditioning do play a role in BJJ/Grappling, but one has to have the proper technical foundation to build upon.
Making you stronger will not make you better at BJJ/Grappling.
Making you better at BJJ/Grappling will make you better at BJJ/Grappling.
After you have developed a strong foundation and as you get better at BJJ/Grappling, strength and conditioning will help your BJJ/Grappling be even better, especially if you compete. If all it took was strength, then powerlifters would all be BJJ/Grappling World Champions!