As the summer approaches some of you might be thinking about taking a BJJ holiday. Combining visiting a new country with training somewhere new. I have had a couple of trips like this myself and these are my top 10 BJJ holiday tips.
This week I want to talk about one of the things that makes Jiu Jitsu so beautiful as an art and sport. If you look at many other martial arts and other sports throughout history, you will see much of the same thing just applied in a better or more athletic way, however this is not the case in Jiu Jitsu. We don’t even have to look that far back and we can see how much our art has changed in the many years. If you watch some highlights from the 2005 worlds (ten years ago); you will see very little 50-50 (if any) and zero berimbolo’s which are now two common positions in high level Jiu Jitsu. If you look back 20 years you will see a completely different game more based on control and self-defense. My point is that what makes Jiu Jitsu beautiful is that it is always changing and evolving. We constantly add more and more positions to the physical Rubiks cube that is Jiu Jitsu and no two people will share the exact same game. So I want to now discuss three modern technics that any competitor should be aware of and learn either for themselves or simply to be aware of how the moves are applied. (Disclaimer I will not attempt to describe how to implement or stop the technique).
So you are considering your first competition. But for some reason when you think about it you very nervous. Is there anything you can do to stop the nerves? Realistically no there isn’t. The nerves are in built, you can thank your old hairy ape ancestors the old fight or flight feeling. But you can prepare yourself so you don’t have to deal with other issues on the day as well as your nerves. These are a few things to consider when preparing for your first competition.
BOOM! NEW SPATS!
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OK Kimonos has added some pretty slick-looking spats to their arsenal, and after a few weeks testing ours on the mats… we love ‘em. The orange & camo colorway looks great, every detail fully sublimated into the fibers of the stretch fabric. OK uses a soft, high-end polyester/spandex blend that stretches easily with your body’s movements, without compromising their overall compression around your legs.
The tapered fit ensures the bottom cuff openings don’t loosen up or stretch out after some wear ‘n tear, while the waist is equipped with a wide elastic core for the sort of steady fit you need with spats. Also equipped with an internal drawstring for easy adjustments.
S: 130-145 lbs
M: 145-165 lbs
L: 160-190 lbs
XL: 190-215 lbs
2XL: 210-240 lbs
Let’s face it, jiu jitsu is addictive and with that comes costs. Jiu jitsu is expensive when you start to think about it. Academy fees, seminar fees, new gis and training gear, workout supplements, and if you like to compete, tournament and travel fees. These things can start to add up, but here are a few ideas to help you budget and get your jiu jitsu fix.
If you are like most serious Jiu Jitsu competitors or fans in general let’s face it you had a lot of long night this last week. You were most likely up watching the live stream of the World Pro . The world Pro as many know is a competition you have to earn your way into via the Trials all over the world. This Tournament is the closest thing to a “Jiu Jitsu Olympics” that we have. As a result there is generally a lot of very interesting matches as only the elite make it in. I want to talk about three of what I consider some over the most interesting matches and upsets in the black-belt division.
A lot of people will say it’s all about time on the mat when it comes to improving. But it this really true? Will turning up to class and training really make you better? Or do you have to really be there in mind, as well as body when you train, to really get the benefits and improvements? This may sound like a strange statement, but if you think about it, this situation can occur.
There are a few situations that could arise that really can affect you. The first one is the real life impact. Situations happen in your life that take your focus away from the class. Even though you are there watching and listening it just simply isn’t going into the brain box. Your brain is somewhere else, the work deadline, stuff that needs doing at home or family worries. We can all accept that bjj is a very technical activity, having your focus elsewhere means you are not taking it on board. If you are able to drill, you won’t be able to feel the technique you’ll just be performing movements. Even though you are there you are not absorbing the information.
Another way this can happen is when your training buddy turns up. The problem here is that the training session then turns into a social event instead of training. While the coach is showing the techniques you still take notice, but when you are expected to drill you have a few half hearted attempts whilst chatting. It even might end up with one of you showing something cool you saw on You Tube.
Finally you could just end up with the training partner who isn’t there and it can affect you. There not feeding you the technique correctly or they are not being realistic with weight or movement. You can feel the technique is not working and could potentially be put off trying it at all. The frustration this causes takes your mind away from the learning and focussing more on the perceived negativity of the situation.
Each of these type of situations puts you a class behind all the other attendees. I am sure you will have experienced other similar situations yourself. So effectively this time on the mats isn’t helping you progress. Each time you turn up to class you really owe it to yourself to really be there, especially if you’re a beginner. Being truly there at each jiu jitsu class you attend not just helps your jiu jitsu, each can help you mentally. Giving yourself a chance to relax about whatever is bothering you in real life and focus on something else for a while. If someone isn’t being a good partner don’t let that stop your learning. Focus on remembering the parts of the technique and drill what you can. Then at the end of class or before one the next time you are there, grab a friend and run through the actions quickly with someone who will be helpful. You can even run through the actions as a visualisation until the next time you can physically do them. The remedies to all these situations are within your control.
You need to do than just turn up to make your time on the mats effective and beneficial. A quote from Bruce Lee summarizes this appropriately
“To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.”
It’s the day of the competition and your alarm goes off. You shower and get ready to head out. What do you put in your competition bag? Everyone has their own BJJ essentials, but if you’re not bringing these 5 things you are cutting yourself short. There are certain things that some people like to bring that others choose not to, but with these 5 essentials you will be ready to compete at your best .
1st and probably the most common is the music device and head phones. Whatever you have, from your phone to a Ipod or tablet just bring something that will allow you to listen to music. Music is beneficial in a lot of ways. Music allows you to find your zone whether you need to calm down or amp up you can find the right track. Often times we are left with long waits between matches and music can keep you focused in an often chaotic scene.
Next is very basic, water. Lots of water. While you don’t want to drink too much you definitely need to be hydrated after weigh-ins and between matches. Competition drains you a lot quicker than rounds in the gym and thus you may need to consume more fluids.
You also should bring an extra gi. Sometimes during gi checks we find out things that aren’t allowed (Patch Placement, too short, etc.) . This is one very good reason to bring an extra gi . Another reason is in case your gi tears during a match. While this is very unlikely, it can and does happen on occasion.
Warm Up Gear
Warm up gear is also vital. This can vary from person to person, but I like jump ropes and foam rollers for your back. Jumping rope is a great warm up to get loose and pump yourself up and stretching your back is definitely great before putting it all on the line. You want to go out there with a slightly elevated blood flow and warmed up muscles in order to prevent injury.
Lastly, and I think this is often overlooked is who you bring in as your “coach”. While it is great to have your real coach in your corner I think there is a way to improve this system. When you look for someone to corner you it should be someone who understands your “game”. It is extremely unbeneficial when your coach or whoever is acting as your coach has no idea of what your game is. They may scream moves you don’t prefer or escapes you’re not proficient with. It is much better to have a purple belt who can guide you to victory using your own strategy than a brown or black belt who never really works directly with you.
These tips can help you go from good to great in no time. I hope this has been of some help – Kris Reid
As a beginner learning jiu jitsu, it can be difficult to relax when rolling. One of the side effects of this is over gripping. More experienced practitioners will release grips to prevent injury and maintain endurance in competition. But as a beginner the temptation is to over grip so you burn out your forearms and potentially end up with sore or damaged knuckles. Besides learning to relax, one option to help with this is to tape your fingers. There are actually a few different ways to tape your fingers for jiu jitsu.
1. Single joint control
This is the simplest way of taping your finger joints and the one I use the most. Quite simply you put a ring of tape on either side of the joint. The tape needs to be reasonably tight, but not too tight as this could affect your blood flow to your fingers. This seems to help with preventing me from closing my fist too tight and applying a death grip when going for those lapels.
2. X Taping
X taping is a strong way of supporting your finger joints. This method is similar to the joint control version of taping fingers allows you to provide support to your fingers whilst maintaining a good degree of flexibility. This method is better than the joint control method because it is more durable to the stresses of training and less likely to fall off. This is normally done with one long piece of tape. Starting on one side of the knuckle wrap around the a couple of times, then take the tape to the other side of the knuckle. This is done by crossing over the joint on the underside (palm side) of the finger. Once again circle the finger a few times, before crossing back over the joint, to the original starting side. Remember you want it tight, but not too tight so as to impede your circulation.
3. Buddy taping
This would be mainly used if you have a weakness or an injury, with your fingers. Buddy taping is taping two side by side fingers together. For this you would do the same type of taping on both fingers, as for the joint control. Then simply tape two fingers together over the existing tape. This can be useful if you have a weakness in one of your fingers or if you keep catching your fingers in your or partners kimono. I’ve had this happen a few times with my little finger and it can be painful, especially in the heat of rolling or competition.
These variation will help support and protect your fingers. If however you have been over gripping there are a few things that you can do to help recovery. Obviously ibuprofen helps reduce swelling, so could potentially help with the inflammation. An alternative to this would be to put some plasticine or similar in the freezer. If you do get stiffness in your fingers, squeezing the cold plasticine in your fist, will increase blood flow and repair, but the cold will also reduce inflammation. Also using some sort of hand salve will mean you give your fingers a mini massage, helping blood flow and manually improving movement, also repairing you skin
Have you ever been shown a technique in class, that you drill and try in rolling that does not seem to work. Do you then question why this is happening or give up on the technique? There is an old saying about “there are no such things as stupid questions” and no where is this more true than in jiu jitsu. Asking questions in BJJ is important, part of your training.
There will obviously be times when you don’t understand a technique your coach is showing you in class, and you will need him to explain more. But more importantly, there will be times when after that class, you are trying the technique but the outcome is not what was shown. At this point it is easy to say “this doesn’t work for me” and either forget about it after class or possibly stop playing the technique. In reality you should be asking “why is this not working for me?” Then after you have asked yourself this initial question, look to ask someone else. Many jiu jitsu techniques can be broken down in to a smaller number of parts. If you miss out one or more of these parts it can affect the ability of the technique in working. But this does not mean you should give up on the technique.
So who should you ask? The obvious initial answer is your coach. The person who probably taught you the technique in the first place. If you are going to ask your coach don’t do it during class. If your coach is trying to teach a different technique during class, it could be considered a little insulting asking them about something else. However at the end of class you could legitimatley ask if they have 5 minutes to help you with something that has been causing you problems.
You may struggle to get a chance to ask your coach or you may feel uncomfortable asking them, whatever the reason is the other alternative is obviously one of the other higher grades. What would be useful here is considering who you are going to ask. There may be a guy who is a specialist at the particular technique you have been struggling with. Another alternative would be someone who is near your size and weight. If you are a 5 feet 6 inch Rooster weight, asking the 6 feet 6 inch Heavy Weight may not be the best option. I am not saying you won’t get a good response. But you might end up with is a version of the technique that works for the big guys. The same would apply the other way too. Asking the belt that is near your size, will give you a chance of an answer that is more likely to work for you.
One last thing to consider before you give up on a technique, is who you are trying it on. If you are trying it against a higher grade or someone bigger than you, then you may be setting your expectations a little high. You won’t know the technique well enough to make it effective on these people. So before you convince yourself this technique is going in the trash, try it against someone who is roughly your size but with a lower level of experience. They won’t have a technical or physical answer to it, giving you a better opportunity to measure what you know of the technique and guide the focus of your questioning.
Keep drilling these techniques, they become one of your specialist techniques. If not you will still have a good understanding of it and it will be something in your arsenal to focus on later in your jiu jitsu journey. At the very worst if someone tries playing it on you, it will give you an idea of something to answer then with.