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No.141 (1)One of the most important things when you start training bjj, is to make sure that you stay as injury free as possible. It is a contact sport so there is always that potential. But, their are precautions you can take to lower your chances of sustaining an injury. Here are 5 ways to stay injury free whilst training bjj:

Make sure you warm up.
It is important to ensure that your body is ready for what you are about to it through when you start a class. If you are a younger learner you may be able to get away with a shorter warm up. But in reality your muscles and joints need easing into the intense movements you are going to but them through. Making sure you warm up helps avoid those easy to avoid injuries. Pulled and torn muscles can take a while to heal and have a big impact on not only your training, but also your day to day life. If you are one of those people that don’t really like traditional warm ups, try doing some light drilling before starting class. It will help wake your muscles up, increase blood flow and improve your technique.

Choose your opponents wisely.
This is a very important choice when you are rolling in the club. The people who you choose to roll with needs to reflect how you are feeling that day. If you have had a bad day at work and your focus is a little off, you are probably better rolling with a higher belt. This may seem counter intuitive, but they are not going to do anything dangerous. Plus their control of you will keep you safe. Way better than the 200lbs white belt that has just starting rolling. There may be days when you could handle that guy, but you need to be aware of how you are feeling for your own safety.

Stay in control.
With this I mean stay in control of yourself. It is too easy to get caught up and break a toe or a finger, I know it has happened to me. If you have something caught in the gi let your partner know. If your toes or fingers are getting bent, tap re adjust to get them out of danger and restart. This is training and you want to be back tomorrow. So be sensible and look after your fingers and toes.

Keep focused
If you are drilling stay focussed on what you are doing. If your mind wanders or you are looking across the mat watching someone else, then you might get caught be surprise. It’s the surprise that causes the injury. This also applies to throwing something else into the drill too. If your coach has showed you a drill or ABC, don’t throw D in without letting your partner know. Once again it’s the surprise that can cause the injury.

Off the mat
Every Brazilian jiu jitsu athlete needs to devote some time to corrective exercise and strength training:

  • Keeping your muscles strong helps protect your joints. Having strong muscles keeps your joints moving correctly any good S&S Coach will confirm that.
  • If your muscles are stiff they are not going to work properly and will injure easily. Get a massage or use a foam roller or anything to get rid of those knots.
  • If something doesn’t feel right for a while, giving it a little longer isn’t going to help. See a professional with any persistent niggles. Yes it will cost money, but far less now than when the injury actually happens.

These are just a few tips to help you avoid injuries. Your goal is to train for years and enjoy your training, but to do this you have to be smart. Taking a few necessary steps to avoid future injuries by assessing your lifestyle and training will help you to stay on the mats for a long time to come.

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I am fortunate that I have been able to attend quite a number of great seminars. Besides meeting some great jiu jitsu practioners, I have learned some great ideas for improving my game. I think seminars are a great opportunity to be shown different perspectives on techniques, but also giving you an insight into jiu jitsu. I have come up with 5 tips on how to get the most out of a BJJ seminar:

Respect the host gym.
I have attended seminars at my own club and a number of other clubs. It goes without saying always respect the host gym. Introduce yourself to the host coach and any training partners you work with. Be especially respectful of the mat, so make sure you wear shoes to the toilet and don’t step on the mat in your shoes. No one likes that!
Take a notebook and pen
There are two perspectives on using a notebook at a seminar. One thought is that whilst you are taking notes you can be missing out out on some of the instruction. It is a valid point, I however think that taking notes during the seminar can be helpful remembering the instruction afterwards. Trying to remember some techniques without having notes can be tough. Even if you just write a few lines, it will help jog your memory later.
Taking photos
Some seminars might not like you taking photos or videos during the instruction. It might be better for you than taking notes, but some guys don’t like it so check before you do it. Once again its a respect thing. However at the end of the seminar, getting a picture with the guest instructor or the host and your training partner is great fun. Plus it’s a great way to make your friends jealous on Facebook.
Ask questions
During the instruction part of the seminar, ask questions. Just like in a normal class, if you’re not getting it don’t be afraid to ask. I have never come across one seminar instructor who wasn’t more than willing to help me understand. Usually the seminar instructor will have a questions and answers time at the end of the seminar. This is a really good time to get some great insights, so don’t be embarrassed to ask a question.
Don’t forget to thank the seminar instructor and the host
Once again this is another good way of showing respect. Hosting a seminar is a lot of work and takes a lot of organizing and time. So thanking the host shows your appreciation of the work they have put in. With the seminar instructor they will always appreciate gratitude for the time and effort they have just shared with you.

With most seminars you will probably not remember everything, or maybe you may not want to use everything you are shown. But if you can come away with a few key things you will have your money’s worth. You will have been the recipient of some top instruction, got some world class techniques to add to your game and plus had a great day out.

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3 Reasons to Stretch

BUSINESSNearly every BJJ class begins very similar, although some of the warm ups change, they generally are very similar. First, we bow in, and next, we run. Running can take many different forms and use many different exercises. Afterwards, most gyms usually have a light stretch.  The stretch in my opinion is the most important part of the warm up. We all know stretching is good for us but many opt out of the stretch for various reasons. This is a big mistake. Whether before a class, open mat or competition stretching is a must.

Reduce Injuries/Soreness

  The first thing stretching can do to help you is increase your blood circulation. This in return lets your body deliver nutrients and blood to your muscles quicker and making injury less likely. Because your blood is already blowing well before beginning to train you are also less likely to be sore as your muscles are being fueled during even the beginning of your training session.

Increase Flexibility

  Another great benefit to stretching for BJJ Athletes is the increase in flexibility. When we begin to do certain stretches we begin to see our own limits on where our body can go. However as you stretch your muscle tissue is literally pulled apart and becomes longer allowing for greater flexibility. As we have all seen flexibility can be just as dangerous as any other advantage. Imagine for much easier it would be to recover guard, play inverted or berimbolo with much more flexible limbs.

Relieve Pain

  The third area I think stretching helps the most in is pain relief. We have all shown up to class feeling tired, beat and very ,very sore. Some of us have has serious injuries to our limbs or back and feel this pain daily. When we stretch our muscles we are literally breaking them down in a similar way to resistance training. This strengthens the muscles and also warms them up which can relieve current pain and prevent future pain and injuries.

These three areas are the pillars of why I will always start my train with a light stretch when I’m sore or about to train hard. If we can continue to prevent soreness, injury, increase flexibility and relive pain through proper stretching we can continue to further our self in our own BJJ journey. I have always believed it’s important to do the things that will benefit us in the long run and not just here and now.  So lets stretch and stay on the mats until we are old and grey with smiles on our faces.  – Peace :) Kris Reid

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MotivatedMost of us aren’t fortunate enough to be able to train full time. We have day jobs and families that we have to put energy and effort into. This can make it hard to maintain consistency with your training. This, then has a knock on effect with improvements in your jiu jitsu, making it harder for you to push yourself to train. I have struggled with motivation myself, so I have come up with 5 ways to stay motivated to keep training. Hopefully one or two of these will keep you getting on those mats regularly and seeing improvements.

1. Set yourself a short term goal or rule – This is one that I use myself. I set myself the rule that for 28 days I would train 4 times a week. I thought this was a reasonable amount. Having a short term achievable target like this, can be a great motivator for you. For me, it also meant I would schedule my days of rest around when I knew I was going to have a hard day at work. Once I achieved the 28 days I felt good about hitting my goal, plus I had found a way that I knew worked to ensure consistency in my training.

2. Stay positive throughout the day – It is really easy to start telling yourself that due to whatever you are going through you are not going to make training. Whether it was an urgent job that needed doing, or someone annoying you at work. Stay focussed and positive that you will get on the mats. If you get the job done in time, you get to go training and your boss is impressed with how way you handle urgent work. It’s a win win situation. If someone annoys you, don’t let them also take away your fun time.

3. Go to training straight from work – This may not be an option for some people, who may have to do this. But going to the gym via home can be really hard work. It is so easy to be tempted by the home comforts and family that will quickly sap your motivation. Going straight to the gym will keep you focused and ready.

4. Change perspective – Sometimes you can tell yourself that you have to go training. This can almost take away the fun aspect of your training. Your training always needs to be fun, even the hardest of sessions. You want to go training to meet friends and have fun. So, if you think you must or have to go training, rethink this and tell yourself you want to go. The gym is where you want to be.

5. Get a training buddy – This is a standard one. Having someone that you are going to meet at or take to training is a good motivator to get there. I have a friend that I give a lift to and I really don’t like letting him down, so it makes me turn up if I have to take him too. Meeting someone to do some pre class drilling can also be a good motivator and give you a chance to improve more too.

Consistency is a big aspect in bjj, because it is necessary to ensure improvements and promotions. The key to this is getting your motivation right and the consistency will follow for sure. I hope these ideas will inspire you make it down to your academy more.

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3 Reasons to Thank a White Belt

Thank you!

In Jiu Jitsu or any belted martial art system, we often give much more respect to the higher belted and older students simply because we believe that you need to earn respect in an academy. However, we should also give our respect to the new students and especially the white belt. Yes, I just said especially the white belts.  The white belts are so important to any academy that most people don’t even realize what the white belts do for the academy.

White belts are truly the core of any gym. Normally, there are more white belts than blue and many more whites than purple, brown and black. This naturally attracts new visitors and walk ins as the classes seem bigger and new students can have faith that they are not alone.

   White belts also help the academy grow by word of mouth. Think about it by the time you reach blue or purple most everyone in your life already knows you train. You have told them and even tried to convince them to join. By this point, anyone who you could have recruited has either chose not to or has already joined. However, white belts bring with them a completely new set of friends and family that may also show interest in joining.  A white belt is much more likely to bring a new friend than say a student that has already been training for six years.

One last reason we owe so much to new students is their physical place in the gym. White belts are often the people we get to sharpen our attacks on and practice new set ups and sweeps. Their place as the gym dummy doll is what makes Jiu Jitsu work. Without new partners, we would not be able to practice our moves the same way we can now.

As you by now realize…the white belts are the core of Jiu Jitsu…they grow Jiu Jitsu, and they also allow ourselves to become better. So, go out today shake a white belts hand and say thank you!

 

-Kris Reid

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The True Cost

We all love training BJJ, even though it is a close contact sport. The biggest issue, because of the close contact training partners we have with each other, is that this can allow skin infections to occur. Skin infections are not a regular occurrence by any means, but they can happen, and a few tips to protect yourself can help you reduce the chance of you being exposed to the true cost of bad BJJ hygiene.
Staph and ringworm are probably the two most common infections that yon will hear about in the gym, so these are the ones I’m going to focus on.

Ringworm unlike the name suggests is no an actual worm, but a skin fungus that is really contagious and spreads from contact. You do not have to have had direct contact with someone who is contagious. If someone has ringworm and places the infected area on the mats, or another training surface that you come in contact with, you run the risk of infection. Ringworm will usually develope into a red circular area that itches and begins to lose hair, which if gone untreated will continue to grow in diameter. If you did not already realize, you cannot train with Ringworm! It is really contagious and easily passed on. If you notice a spot on your skin and are not sure if it is ringworm, always ask your instructor! Ringworm, however, can be treated with either an anti fungal cream, tablets or a shampoo.

Staph infections can potentially be more serious than ringworm. The staph virus can live on your skin without you even being aware of it. It only becomes a problem when the bacteria gets into a break or cut in the skin. That is another reason why breaks in your skin should be kept covered. Depending how deep it goes, the impact of the infection will vary. Ultimately you will be either looking at a skin or soft tissue infection such as impetigo or cellulitis. These are serious and can be painful, but not as serious if the bacteria manages to become invasive. Then, it has the potential to become septicaemia (blood poisoning), septic arthritis (joint infection) or endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart)
So yes, these are potentially nasty, life threatening infections to catch.

Besides the actual medical issues that are caused by these infections, there are the day to day issues, too. You will lose training time and potentially money for the lost training fees. It could also effect your family, too. You will have to be careful when holding or hugging partner or children. Along with a lot of linen washing. Plus, if it is a serious enough staph type infection, it could also affect your ability to work!

The steps for preventing these infections are incredibly simple:

1. Shower. I know this sounds like common sense, but showering as soon as you finish practice as possible is the key. Do not go get something to eat, sit on the couch, or go shopping until you’ve had a chance to wash.
2. No open cuts! Even if it is a simple scratch, you need to cover them up. Imagine if someone started to bleed and you had an open wound. Even if you need to use duct tape (which I have done) cover it over completely during training and use disinfectant to clean the wound after practice.
3. Make sure you ‘’body wash’’ is antibacterial. Save the sweet smelling ones for when you want to smell good. After training stick to one that will protect you from infection. There are many of these that include ingredients like tea tree oil, or citrus oils if you don’t like the idea of chemicals.
4. Clean your uniform after each use. The bacteria and fungus can still feed and grow on your dirty training gear, so get it cleaned as soon as possible. If you wash your kit at a low temperature you may also want to consider an antibacterial detergent too.
5. Don’t be selfish and ignore any signs of infection. With staph, ringworm and any other mat nasties they can quickly spread to the entire class if you are not careful. If you notice something and you never had it before, ask your instructor! Getting things checked out as soon as possible will get you back into training as fast as possible. Prevention is always the best option.

Bad BJJ hygiene can easily lead to an infections and the consequences that go with them can be extremely serious. Keep clean, show respect to your tream and keep training.

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Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right

As a beginner and an older athlete, I have come to realize that to make sure I get the most out of my training, I have to make sure that I train with the right partner for what I am trying to achieve. It has taken me a while to realize this, but drilling or rolling may require a different partner for what you want. We all know that rolling with higher belts can be beneficial, dealing with their technical superiority makes you think. But there also other things to consider, depending on your current focus. That is why choosing the right partner for your bjj training is an important decision.

Are you looking to focus on techniques that would deal with someone who is strong. You have the option to work with someone bigger than you so you have to deal with the increase in strength in a more technical way. As out muscling them would not be an option, so relying on improving techniques is the only way to go. Or, do you want to improve your speed so someone strong can’t really settle on you. So you may want to work with someone slightly smaller, or in my case younger who has more of a movement game. This can improve your cardio and reactions.

Sometimes, too, it is worth looking at body sizes. I fight at middleweight and I am 6 feet 3 inches tall. I have fought guys a couple of inches taller and I have fought guys much shorter than me. It is realistic to assume that not all my opponents will be the same size as my, so drilling and sparring with different sizes gives you the opportunity to deal with the issues that these differences can pose.

There may also be new techniques that you want to focus on. So after the drilling, you want to work on it in sparring. It may be beneficial starting with newer guys. They would have less game to react with, but will still give you a reaction to deal with. Then moving up experience level with the technique, gives you more to deal with, especially with the guys that have experienced the technique before and have a standard defence or response.

Working with the bigger guys can also be of benefit in a couple of ways. It can help you get comfortable in horrible situations. If you can allow yourself to relax when you are under the side control of a larger partner, someone your own weight will feel easier. The reverse also applies. Trying to maintain top control on someone bigger guy is a challenge in itself.

Finally and probably most obviously, working with the guys who have specialisms have great benefits. I got beat in a competition with a footlock. I came away and sparred with the guy at the club who was hitting footlocks on everyone. This made my practical footlock defense a lot better and made me very aware of the risk. Same would go with the guys that like playing an inverted game, or like playing from the guard. Knowing who these guys are can be a great benefit.

I am not suggesting you do this all the time, we all have people we like to drill or train with for many different reasons. Enjoying your rolling in this way is important. The other side of this is purposeful training, to work on specifics. To get the most out of this, having an appropriate partner is an important decision.

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3 bjj instructionals (3)

We all spend a lot of time on the mats training and learning. Sometimes, there are moments when we can’t make it down to the academy, or we simply want to add something new to our game. At these times, we may turn to instructional videos. There are a lot of these out there, so I thought I would give you what in my opinion are 3 BJJ instructionals that actually add value.

The first one I would recommend is MG in Action. This is probably one of the most well known online resources. With Marcelo Garcia being one of the best coaches and competitors in the world, the format and structure of the site allows you to select techniques that you want to work on and add them to your own play list. This means you can access them straight away from your account and not have to search them each time you visit. The videos are of actual taught classes, so they are not just Marcelo Garcia, but also Paul Schriener, who is a very technical coach, and champion Bernardo Faria. This instructional can add value in every aspect of your game.

Modern Jiu Jitsu Mendes Bros Online Training Program. Everyone knows who the Mendes brothers are and how inventive they can be. Their site is similar to MG in Action in its structure. They do have specific sections on concepts which may be more beneficial to more advanced players. From what I have seen of these concept aspects, they have some great ideas, that really do make you think. I know that as I have progressed the concept side of things has been something that has really made me think about my jiu jitsu. Plus, you will get some great insight into the coaching of these world class medalists.

One final excellent resource is the man behind Grapplearts Stephen Kesting. The Stephen Kesting You Tube channel is a really excellent resource made even better because it’s free. It is something both, I and my wife, have recommend to beginners. He has good way of explaining really valuable basics. He does have some DVD’s and apps for sale, but you can still get a lot from his You Tube channel. If you’re a beginner and want some good instructional videos for free, before you start to invest some of your hard earned money, you can’t go wrong with Stephen Kesting.

There are many quality instructionals out there, both on DVD and online. I have a number of them from Rafael Lovato Jr, JT Torres, John Will and many others. I have picked these 3 out, because I thought you would get the most bang for your buck with them, as they are not specific to one thing , you can search out what you want to work on. What I think each of these instructionals give you are great concepts and technical instruction to build your jiu jitsu. From beginner to advanced, the concepts and techniques these guys show will definitely add value to your game.

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The Prep for Competition (2)When preparing for competition, we all have our own methods for strategy or choosing our weight class. We all have a different view on competition and how we approach it. In general, I believe that there are three general areas we need to consider when we decide to compete. If we are able to analyze these three areas from an outside view we can better understand what we need to work on in order to do well.

Physical

  The first I will call the physical aspect of competition. Although we train a martial art where “skill conquers all”, the times have changed. Often times we are so equally matched skill wise that what can make the difference is strength and cardio. Strength and Cardio make up what I consider the physical aspect of BJJ. There are many things that we can do to improve these, but that is better left for another time. I feel it is very important when you decide to compete to analyze how much muscle endurance you have and if your cardio is where you would like it to be.

Technical

  The second area is what I consider the technique aspect. Obviously you can’t compare your technique to your opponents because you haven’t yet faced him/her. However you can focus on your own technique. Are you training as much as you should? Do you drill the situations you favor most? Have you worked on a “gameplan” in class? All of these are very important to BJJ competitors.

Mental

  Last is the aspect most people simply fail to see. This is the mental aspect. This covers everything from nervs to expectations and pressure. Everyone has shown up to a competition only to find their heartbeat racing and their mind full of doubts or “what-ifs”. This is a hard area to tackle because so little has been done in BJJ in this field. However there is no doubt that if you can conquer your own mind and fears your true potential is unlocked. There is one man doing something I believe is great in this area. His Name is Gustavo Dantes and there is a good chance you have already heard of him. He has now started a program giving workshops and speeches on the subject, created a dvd and is doing video blogs as well.  If you want to learn more about mental preparation you can check out The BJJ Mental Coach online.

 

These three areas are what make a truly great competitor. Although these areas can be expanded on, they are a general guideline to follow and consider when you sign the registration form.

Till next time- Kris Reid

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WHY WE SHOULD (1)

Often times in Jiu Jitsu, we find ourselves trying to pick the training partners who will give us the best challenging roll. However,  for upper belts, this sometimes means little to no rolling with the white belts. While it is true, a white belt normally won’t be able to play a smooth technical game with you and probably won’t be able to talk about positioning and exchange ideas as well as upper belts; there are in fact benefits to rolling with white belts. I am not saying only roll with white belts, but that you should just roll with them a little more because it benefits both parties in many ways.

First, this situation is very beneficial to the white belt. You are going to show them the true meaning and power of the art. You will show him/her how technique will beat their strength and mindless aggression. They will be put in new positions and probably ask about it later. You will show them what the etiquette is for rolling in your academy. Almost everything a newbie learns is from the upper belts.

This situation can also benefit the upper belt in so many ways. The higher belt gets to work on his/her teaching skills when asked for help during/after a roll. Just remember we all asked stupid and strange questions when we began…it’s normal, and it is our job to help the next generation as the generation before did for us. We can also work our patience while rolling with white belts. Everyone has certain things that bug them in a training partner, and white belts are generally the ones who exhibit the behavior. This can range from spazzing to uncontrolled explosiveness to improper technique and “illegal”/ frowned on moves. All these things push us to be a better and more patient individual. The white belt can also better prepare us for how someone may react on the street should the fight go to the ground. Most people will be untrained should a street altercation arise and will in many ways be just like a white belt.

As you can see, both parties benefit from training together. So to all my upper belt friends out there, go help a white belt out and roll. They will do the same in return!

-Kris Reid

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