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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Knowing When to Tap Out (a final farewell)

Tapping out in an inevitability. When you're a white belt, you learn (rather quickly) that you can get caught in some bad spots, and you need to tap before something bad happens. Tapping is admitting defeat. Some people will have a hard time with that, but those people are usually the ones who don't last. It's a mark on your pride, to be sure. But tapping out gives you the opportunity to start over--the trick is knowing when it's time to tap, and when it's okay to keep fighting.

Getting caught in any submission is not the end of the road. In most cases, you may be able to hang on for a little while before you're able to fight your way out, or be forced to give in and tap out. Personally, that is one of my favorite parts of this martial art--having to make that decision.  Stick around longer than a week and you'll be sure to hear "tap today and train tomorrow", or some variation there of; and that's true. More than just being true, it's good advice. No one wants to get hurt. It's sometimes silly to try and fight your way out of some submissions; but often times as a white belt you tap too soon without knowing your limitations. Just because a submission is applied does not mean that the game is over.  There are escapes that you could implement, or MAYBE (strong "maybe" here) the submission isn't applied all that well, and you can weather the storm. It's a fine line to dance on, for sure, but one that is a part of the game. It's also one that you need to do for yourself to know your thresholds. The trick/game is to not be so stupid that you get hurt trying to get out of something. Knowing when to tap out is a skill.

...A Final Farewell
Having said that, I started WBS two years ago with the mindset of being a fresh blue belt with my level of experience still so close to being a while belt that I could be useful in giving advice. A lot of higher ranks are/were so far removed from being a white belt that today's white belt just isn't the same as it used to be. There are, of course, some constants in BJJ that will always be true to all white belts--spazzing, etc--but chances are, back when your local black belt started training there wasn't as much resources out there as there is today. With all due respect, I felt like I  had a unique opportunity to plug into today's various multimedia outlets with my perspective to help deliver a "survival guide" to being a white belt.

I never wanted to show technique (despite so many requests ("How do I get out of side control")) because I wasn't qualified. But what I was qualified to do was to enlighten readers to theory and advice. I likened WBS to asking someone for directions who has recently been to a destination versus someone who hasn't been there in some time--chances are some things have changed. Since I was just a while belt like two seconds ago I felt like my perspective was unique in its freshness since I was just where you, the white belt, was. I tried to combine that with a honest delivery, and sense of humor, that I think went over well with all of you--and I thank you for that. But it's time to tap out.

WBS started out as a no name blog from a no name blue belt, and it grew to more than I imagined. I hoped that if I could help a few people, then it would all be worth it. As it turned out, I helped a lot of people. When I'd get Tweets from someone with pictures of them with their new blue belt saying "thanks", it was--and always will be--a special thing for me. Sponsorship became a thing, people were getting involved, podcasts were podcasted, and it was all great. But as I said, it's time to move on. Generally speaking, it will take about two years to go from white belt to blue; and here is two years worth of "Survival Strategy" to get you through it. So I felt like now is a good time to walk away before I start putting out useless material just for the sake of putting out a new post. All killer, no filler here, y'all. So here on the two year anniversary of WBS, it's time to tap out, and move on to more projects. 

Thank you all for making these two years more than amazing. Thank you for caring. Thank you for sharing WBS with people, and following me on the various social media platforms, and for being fans. All of that truly means a lot to me, and that always will. 

But there's a special thank you out there to my family who encouraged me through all of this; my wife and daughter are truly amazing women--thank you. Thank you to all of the podcasts out there that took a chance on me, and had me on as a guest. Never did I think I'd make it to all the big ones. Raf & Kev from Verbal Tap along with Cam & Kyle from Expanded Perspectives, though, you guys were always my favorites. 

Thank you to Gregg King and the gang at VVV Fight Co, Bill Thomas at Q5 Sports Nutrition, Guy Sako from Defense Soap for believing in me with your friendship and sponsorship. That stuff will never be lost on me, or forgotten. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you to my instructor, Sonny Achille, all of the staff and my training partners at Steel City Martial Arts. Thanks to all of the friends I've made online, and in person because of this thing. All of you mean a lot to me. Thank you for you friendship and support. 

In closing, I'm going to shift my focus back on training hard, and working to the goal. I'll still be writing in other various platforms, but that will all mostly be in the fiction world. Maybe I'll be back to the non-fiction world, and writing about BJJ again, but if so, it won't be for sometime. In the meantime, though, don't be afraid to keep sharing WBS, stop by Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh to come train with me/us, and keep taking chances out there on the mat. But, for now, it's time to tap out. 

Warmest Regards,


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Sunday, May 22, 2016

TAKEDOWNS & why you should use them

So there's two schools of thought on starting your BJJ match: Going for the takedown or pulling guard. Takedowns are--in my mind--the most important part of your game that is widely overlooked and neglected. Sure, it is easy to just pull guard and start to work off of your back to sweep or submit someone, but let's entertain the notion of takedowns and why you need to work them into your game and drill them more,

Greco-Roman Wrestling suplex
AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

Let's just put this out there: most people shy away from the takedown because it's scary and they're afraid; and that's fair. Takedowns are serious business. Getting takendown is scary. You could end up on the bad end of a Greco-Roman suplex like in the picture above, your mom could be watching, and your professor will (undoubtedly) turn to see your match just in that moment, and you could have to live in that world of embarrassment and shame. That could happen. Actually, that will happen if you don't start training takedowns because part of learning them is also learning how to defend against them. Think about it in a jiu jitsu sense where you're training guard passing with your training partner. When they're passing,you're able to sense--and feel--when your partner applies pressure, how they move into the technique, and, in drilling it, you pick up some defense to it. Takedowns are not any different. ("If you know the way broadly, you see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi)

So the first step in "not being embarrassingly slammed to the mat" is learning how to embarrassingly slam someone into the mat. That doesn't necessarily mean good ol' fashioned American Wrestling--or Greco-Roman--but judo and sambo work, too!

Another great thing about takedowns is that you get points for them in competition; two points to be specific. EVERY match starts standing. You will need to get the fight to the ground. You may as well get it there with two points in your back pocket and let the match start from a dominate position, right? If you're a guard player, and like working off of your back, why not still get the takedown and transition to guard? Sure it might be difficult, but you still have your two points. And no kidding, one time I saw a "guard guy" get the takedown, score the points, then bail out on the top position just to pull guard when the guy got up. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but the point here is that there's a good advantage to getting the takedown and moving into the match with points on the board.

My favorite aspect of takedowns is the psychological toll it takes on your competitor. To revisit the previous scenario, if you secure a takedown on your opponent (hypothetically a Greco-Roman belly to back suplex (see #WWEBJJ and listen to Verbal Tap Podcast for more fun on that front)) now they're the ones dealing with their professor and mom being disappointed, being embarrassed and down two points. I'm not saying that we all need to get out there and embarrass our worthy opponents, but instead putting all of the discomfort that takedowns give you onto them. Psychologically, that's a lot to rebound from. Obviously competitors do it, it can be done. But in the wild and wonderful world of White Belt BJJ, it might be (could be) asking a lot from an unseasoned competitor. Don't put yourself at that disadvantage. Get that takedown, get those two points, put your opponent's back against the proverbial wall and the literal mat.

Determining what takedown will work best for you can sometimes be a rough choice. Some people like the wrestling approach--because of its straight-forward nature and effectiveness--while others prefer judo throws and other "non-wrestling" things. I think the only way to decide is to try it all. Develop your game in a way that whatever takedown you work in will play well to the ground game you're already using. There's not a great reason to belly-to-back suplex someone if you stink off the back, ya dig? So maybe look for a takedown where you may land in side control, or mount--or whatever other dominate position you might favor more for your own individual jiu jitsu game.

Georges St. Pierre might be the master of the modern day takedown. While that statement is arguable, what isn't arguable is that GSP dominated his competition by taking them to the ground, at will, and keeping them there while scoring offensive points (in MMA)  to win, re-win, and retain his UFC championship in a fashion that made people hate him. Sure, GSP was the king of being a "wet blanket" to opponents, but no one could stop it. The highlight reel above (credit to whomever) is a great illustration of how amazing he was. Keep in mind a couple of things when you watch this: GSP didn't wrestle in high school, watch how GSP doesn't give up on the takedown when the initial shot doesn't work, and finally, GSP was an amazing athlete; so let's not get delusional and think that all of what he does is possible as you venture into takedowns. But it's not impossible to get that good; and that's part of what all of this is about--getting better.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Instructional BJJ DVDs

There comes a time in your jiu jitsu life that you're going to want to start to explore more deeply into an individual's game--like maybe you're super-into Rafael Lovato Jr. and want to mimic his game--or perhaps you're wanting to learn more about a certain position, or technique, and are considering buying a DVD to help supplement your training. First of all, congratulations; you've officially entered into a new stage of addiction and are well on your way to becoming the BJJ nerd you've always desired to be. I love instructional DVDs and setting aside time in my life to plug in to rabbit holes of knowledge. To me it's like the scene in Lord of the Rings where Gandalf runs to the library at Minas Tirith to dive deep into scrolls (see below if you're not a nerd). Is that a little overkill? Sure, but let's not make too light of the subject of studying and efforts to learn something. Just buying a DVD and watching it isn't going to be enough to have you mastering triangles like Ryan Hall. You're going to have to 'Gandalf-the-sh*t out of this' for it to pay off.

First thing is first: if you're wanting to expand your game, and knowledge, beyond your class time then let me first point out a few things to consider. 

1) Where do I want to improve?
- Perhaps you're thinking: 'that should be "Where should I improve"', but, buddy, those should be synonymous with you by now. Buying anything for BJJ is a serious notion; and an instructional should be no different. Just because the berimbolo is the new flavor of the week doesn't mean you should drop your hard-earned cash on the 'Berimbolo 101 DVD' from whatever well known BJJ player, unless you know it fits your game. But I think we can all admit that there are probably other--more important--areas in your game that need attention first. So if you're wanting to start to build on your game with instructionals, concentrate on where your game is soft. Or, go the opposite route and build on what you're doing well with. Maybe you've got a pretty good guard, why not make it great? 

2) Who's doing this instructional?
-Not that anyone doing an instruction isn't qualified, but you should consider the person demonstrating because their game is the way it is because that works for them. More specifically, should I be learning triangles from Ryan Hall (who's 5'7" 145 pounds) or someone much larger like Neil Melanson. Not everyone's body type will translate to what techniques are being offered.

3) Do I have the money for this?
-Hey, heads-up, BJJ stuff isn't cheap. Shocker, right? I agree that everything in BJJ is expensive, but worth it. Instructional DVDs are no exception to that. Just take a look at what Budo Video has going on sale right now. Of course, there are some (less popular) instructional DVDs that sell for a lower price; for various reasons. But for the most part, you're looking to spend around $50 USD--which, really, is worth it if it helps. But for sure make sure you consider the last two bullet points before we confirm "everything in BJJ is expensive, but worth it."

Now that you've figured out what you'd like to improve about your game, who you'd like to learn it from, and I assume you've saved enough money to pay for it, here's how to make the most of your investment: ONE. STEP. AT. A. TIME.

Seems stupid and slow; and well, it is. But that's what's great about owning the DVD--you can progress slowly, surly, and not have to worry about missing details. A great tip to help with that is taking notes. It's a throwback to the original WBS post but it's still a great way to remember what's being taught. Writing things down is proven to improve your recollection of what it is you're trying to remember (the science is out there, you know how to Google), so implement that to your new DVD. Take notes, make it a point to jot down things that seem important and things the demonstrator emphasizes are important. Even if that one thing is obvious, write it down. Of course you can always go back to get the details later, but you really should capitalize on  what you can here and really learn. Additionally, it's nice to go back to your notes when you're on the mat; and most likely don't have your laptop with you to watch the DVD. Notes are handy and easy. 

"But, Jesse, what about YouTube??" Yeah, man, YouTube is great--for a lot of reasons. But don't lost sight that BJJ is a sneaky man's sport (also for a lot of reasons). The greats don't give out the good stuff for free. Like any good hustler, you get sucked in first. That's not to say, or imply, what you/we get on YouTube is essentially worthless; because it's not. What I mean is that you're really only getting appetizers instead of the full course. I'm sure there are some exceptions out there, but "the game is to be sold, not to be told." Hence why we pay monthly membership dues, why seminars aren't (usually) free, and why YouTube clips are (usually) 5-8 minutes and touch on concepts and why the DVD is hours of detail and costs money. 

To get to the point, you get what you pay for in jiu jitsu; plain and simple. There will always be the exceptions, but those are exactly that--exceptions. Explore your game and where you want to improve. Explore jiu jitsu and see who does that facet best/better and see if that they do would work for you. YouTube that sh*t! See if they have something out there that you can try it before you buy it and then if you're having some success, then maybe buying the full DVD is a great option for you. BJJ DVDs are a great way to supplement your game and make you a better jiu jitsu player, for sure, but if you're not careful you might end up paying $100 for something you can't, won't, and shouldn't use. 

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Training Frequency and You

There's going to be a point in your early BJJ life when you're going to wonder how frequently you should be training. How much is too much and how much is too little? The key to solving that problem is finding your own personal sweet spot of training. Your own personal sweet spot if going to be predicated by the amount of free time you have, your physical ability, how many classes your school offers, and your financial ability to pay for them. 

If your school maybe only offers a couple of days of Jiu Jitsu a week, well then you're handcuffed. But that's not to say that you're not stuck with this problem. If you're fortunate enough to have a school that offers classes daily, then this problem becomes a little more present. So let's take a look at this common issue one symptom at a time.

Assuming your school offers classes daily, let's first look at your availability. Home life can be a real detractor from BJJ. I know that sounds harsh--because it is--but that doesn't make it any less true. If you're a family man there are going to be days when your family will need you at home. Aside from the task-oriented "need," you don't want to be an absentee parent/spouse even if you're not out doing something stupid--sometimes you just need to be there. 

That aside there are going to be the times when events pop up that will cause you to have to miss class. Obviously those are going to be random, but if you're going to be in this for the long run, you're going to need to account for them.

If you're not a "family person" and you basically have all the time in the world to give to training (e.g. the youngster with a day job) then not only are you the envy of the 30+ crowd at your gym, but you can take advantage of that and train often. Getting in frequent training is going to be a dance of measuring quality and quantity. It does not have to be one or the other, but if you're starting to burn yourself out by constant grinding it out on the mats then you're going to lose some of that quality. That becomes even more true if you're among the older crowd and might not necessarily be tied down to home obligations. So if you have the option to train as much as you want, keep in mind that you're going to want to be at your mental and physical best while you're there--for your sake and for that of your training partners'--because if you're just getting on the mat and only getting quantity time and not quality time, you're only doing damage to your body and frustrating your training partners. 

 That leads us to the next point: Physical Ability. If you're young and able, you're not going to feel the pains that someone maybe even just 5 years older than you does (and will). But your youthful physical ability needs to be kept in mind and cared for. Just because you can train for 9 days in a row doesn't mean the 10th day is on the schedule. I love seeing young guns out there on the mats every day (so please do take advantage of that while you can, you should be doing that, that's part of being young), but rest days are important. Even if you don't feel like you need one, take a day off here and there and take care of your body. Yes, seriously, take care of your body. Even if you're just taking an Epsom salt bath on your days off to soak, that will serve you so well later on; plus there are a lot of physical benefits to Epsom salt that everyone at any age should be taking advantage of.

If you're a little on the older side, I think you already know when to pick your of days. But if you don't, your body will start to let you know; though, you probably don't want to let it get to that point. I'm on the cusp of 33 years old, and while I know that's not old, but after 30, things just don't heal as fast as they used to (see the picture above when I had a busted mouth for like 2 weeks). So, for me I don't look at training in calendar weeks--I look at it in hunks of days together. I try to take a day off after 4 days of consecutive training. There are (of course) times when I push it, but I do keep in mind the quality and quantity cocktail that we touched on earlier. So a large part of how often you should be training is going to depend on you age and physical ability. Like pushing through injuries can be one of those things that can just ruin you for much longer than the injury could've. When it comes to physical ability, just be smart about it. Jiu Jitsu can be a life-long journey if you play your cards right.

I'm not one to make jokes about anyone's financial situations or ability, but if you're even interested in Jiu Jitsu then you should at least be warned that it's going to be a major force in your life. That being said you're going to have to consider BJJ against your other bills. Your heart may want to roll 7 days a week, but your wallet says that 2 days is more realistic. Let's keep it real, your instructor will love your desire but they have bills too. Don't be one of these guys who pays for 2 classes a week but puppy-dog-eyes your instructor and asks if they can train additional days anyway. If you want to train more days then take a look at your finances and see what you can start to cut out. Personally, I don't know a lot of Jiu Jitsu guys that are going out and partying every weekend. Do you know why? Because we have membership dues, new gis to save for, not to mention not wanting to set back any diet they might be on. Not to poo-poo on your vices, but trust me, if you want to train more but financially you're strapped, I've seen guys make the adjustments to un-restrict funds to put towards more classes, but that's also assuming your school offers more classes to be a part of.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Points or Nah? Sub Only Versus the Points System

This week we're going to take a look into the traditional points system and the increasingly popular "sub only" settings. This little sport of ours is growing; and more and more tournaments are popping up all over the place. Heck, I'm sure some of you WBS readers from small towns have even had something along the lines of a competition not too far from your own town. The only problem with all of these competitions cropping up is that they all have different rule sets and variations on how you can win. Now the rules are one thing, but today we're going to focus more on the difference between winning on points or submission.

There are two kinds of competitions out there today--those that you can win by submission or points, and the others where you can win by submission only. Personally, I don't think that one is better than the other, but the purpose of today's post is to talk about the differences; because as someone new to the sport and/or competition world, you just might not know. Winning by submission is the goal of either one of these competitions. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, by design, is intended to enable you to defeat your opponent and force them to quit by applying a submission. But in competitions that award points, you could also win your match by points.

So most competitions that will utilize a points system will--most likely--mirror the IBJJF set. The IBJJF rules are widely accepted as the standard. Some local competitions can adapt the points system to how they see fit, but in most cases you'll see:

2 Points
Knee on Belly

3 Points
Guard Pass

4 Points
Back Mount
Back Control

Getting awarded points for you efforts is a good thing--don't let anyone tell you any differently. If you're doing everything you can do to try to win, the points will come. However, be aware that there is a phenomenon known as "the point fighter" who will not engage in the traditional sense of BJJ combat, but rather take points here and there and move elusively so as not to give up any points and not get submitted. That sort of thing is legal, and not all that frowned upon, but if you're the kind of competitor that wants to go out there and give it your all and win by any means necessary, the point fighter is now in your Rogues Gallery. Additionally, you might be giving your best against someone who's not a point fighter, be down on points, and have a submission all but finished when time expires and you lose. It's a heart-breaker that I'm all too familiar with; but it's the reality of points in competition. You may have had the sub, but the fact of the matter is the other person did enough before that to prove they were better on the mat. But if you're too busted up about that, enter the new world of "Sub Only."

Photo Credit: EBI Instagram

Submission only is the new hot thing right now and I hope it stays around. Not because of hating point fighters, but it's just a fun alternative. Winning by submission (in any competition) is the point. In most of the big "sub only competitions" like EBI and Polaris, the only way to win is to submit your opponent. Some smaller/regional organizations adopt the larger rule set (like how EBI's Overtime rules if no submission within regulation time) while others give "points" for submission attempts.
e.g. if you throw up a triangle and your opponent gets out, you get a point and could, in theory, win a sub only match by points. (I know).

Now that's not to say that these sub only events will rely on points, but we're still in the infancy of notion so the sport is still ironing out the kinks--though it's hard to beat the EBI rule set . 

So if you're new to grappling and competition there are options out there to suit your style (even if you're a point fighter). Getting out on the mat and competing is fun and we've previously touched on the subject here on WBS a few times already but I hope this one clears up some questions on the differences between traditional competitions and sub only. As always, any questions please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @WBSurvival, and on our Facebook Page you can find here and my personal page Here. But for a better inside look at WBS please go Follow the Instagram (:

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Monday, January 18, 2016

BJJ and My Bank Account

So you started BJJ a few weeks ago and you love it--naturally--but now you're looking at some sticker shock at pricing. Let's keep it real, BJJ isn't cheap; but that's not to say that it isn't affordable. When you stack monthly tuition up against other martial arts, it does seem a bit stupid to be paying so much (I just Google'd "karate lessons" and the top hit (major school in my area) is offering $19.99 a month plus a free uniform). I'm not going to try to drop all kinds of knowledge here on financial advice, but hope to remind you that BJJ is more like an investment than an expense. But if you're reading this then I think we both know that other martial arts out there are mostly rubbish and, to keep with the old adage, you get what you pay for.

Did I just imply that by paying more for martial arts that you get better training and ipso facto can dust more fools in the streets? I mean, yeah--to a point. I usually try to avoid drawing comparisons between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts, but here it will be necessary. Going back to UFC 1, we all learned that BJJ is the most effective martial art against someone trained (or untrained for that matter) in any other martial art. Royce Gracie dismantled a a well-known boxer in Art Jimmerson, then the Shootfighter Ken Shamrock, and then finally a kickboxer, Gerard Gordeau. All of whom were, respectfully, masters in their field. MMA has since evolved and in that area the case can be made for BJJ being enough, or not. To the point: BJJ is at the pinnacle for effective martial arts. It's proven time and time again. Helio Gracie once said that "a knockout is a win on accident," and I've always loved that train of thought. I don't mean to take away from any martial art--because mutual respect--but let's keep in mind that we're paying to learn how A) not to die in a fight and B) how to kill. Any kind of martial arts background is better than none, but BJJ don't get bent out of shape over the price when we consider what an average Blue Belt can do to an average punk.

All that in mind, a lot of school offer tiered memberships over flat rates. For instance, you may be able to find a school around you that offers 1 or 2 classes a week + an open mat for a smaller monthly fee. Or, even with the gaining popularity of BJJ, you may be able to shop around and find a school with a more affordable rates; though I wouldn't expect much of a difference. But you may be able to find a school run by a higher belt (Purple or Brown) that may not charge as much as Black Belt level training. Hey, food for thought anyway; and if you're not a Purple or Brown yourself, then who cares? It's better to be on the mats (somehow) than not.
Buying a gi isn't cheap, either. While no gi BJJ is an option, I highly encourage you to train in the gi--or both. No gi grappling is more popular now with the seamless transition to MMA, but the gi is jiu jitsu. But if you're in a pinch and want to keep training while you work out your expenses and save for a gi, no gi is a great option to keep training. My friends at VVV Fight Co will get you fitted up for both, so go holla!

Also keep in mind that you'll be replacing your time doing something else with time on the mat. Additionally, you're--eventually--going to want to make dietary changes, too. Those are two good opportunities to refine your budget to ensure your monthly tuition isn't an issue. Personally, I stopped going out on weekends as much because I didn't want to waste all the time I put in on the mats and throw away my physical progress on 12 beers and fried food. Keeping it real, a weekend night out is like $50.00 USD--and that's on the low end. Stay home two weekends and you've pretty much doubled your gains right there by investing in BJJ :).

So while I will agree that this life isn't cheap, but we both know it's worth it. Personally, I look at BJJ as my second shot at life. By that I mean that I look at BJJ as my opportunity to do something that I love forever; and maybe one day earn a Black Belt and do it professionally as an instructor. So, for me, BJJ is an investment. Maybe for you it's something else; but for all of us it means bonds of friendship that you can't find just anywhere. Yes BJJ is expensive, but now that you know what's up, can you really afford not to pay for it? Doubt it, homie.

This week's sponsors:

VVV Fight Co.
Gis, no gi shorts, super rad tshirts, and even cooler people.
Top of the line products, I'll guarantee it.
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Left Hand Pass

Left Hand Pass is that new BJJ ish you been hearing about, but didn't know the links--I got you, dawg. My friend, Jake Miclot, and his crew got their new brand of BJJ life by way of a dope BJJ podcast and shirts. Check them out, give them some love.
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Q5 Sports Nutrition

You need supplements, Q5 has the supplements. Why Q5? Because it's for grapplers. Designed for the person grinding on the mats.
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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Grappling with Guys, for Women

The world of fighting is predominately a male world. Traditionally, guys are the ones always going off to battle; or are quick to knuckle-up in at parking lot duster outside of your local watering hole. Now that's not to say that women are excluded, but it is to say that women who fight are the exception. Just check out your garden variety World Star Hip Hop videos, the majority of those fights are going to be guys, but you will find some ladies mixing it up there as well, but again, it is the exception to see females in such an aggressive state. Ironically, though, history is FULL of sweet stories and tales of female warriors. Joan of Arc, Shieldmaidens of Norse mythology, Calamity Jane, just to name a few (way more here).
"Joan of Arc in Battle" by Hermann Anton Stilke

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we do have a lot of great female competitors, and the female brackets are only getting bigger every year. So with that in mind I thought it would be good to revisit one of our most famous topics of rolling with girls, but this time explore it from the female perspective.

In our article, "When Hugs Get Dangerous: Guys Rolling with Women," we looked to help guys in training with women by having a (real live) actual female, Rebecca Reuben, tell us guys that women--essentially--aren't made of glass.  But today we're going to flip the script a little and have another guest post talking to women about rolling with guys, from the female perspective. BJJ Blue Belt Christine Fader weighs in this week. 

Christine and crew from Titans Fitness Academy
My name is Christine Fader.  I have been training BJJ for 3 years and am currently a blue belt at Titans Fitness Academy in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
I started my journey at a different Gym doing Muay Thai.  I used to see all the BJJ guys leaving their class so sweaty, exhausted, and happy--and I knew I wanted to be apart of it.
My initial foray into grappling was not easy.  While I have always loved competing in sports and working out I was not prepared for the all consuming mental and physical exhaustion that takes over from having zero technique and no knowledge of what to do.  I struggled a lot.  My first time rolling at open mat time I cried from frustration and vulnerability; and it wouldn't be my last time.  If I could offer any piece of advice to female white belts out there it is: to keep going.  You will get better--I promise.  Trust in the technique; trust in your instructors, trust in your training partners.    It is hard to go to class, day after day, spend hour after hour practicing techniques only to have your guard passed, get mounted and choked in 5 seconds by your larger, stronger training partner who just learned the choke that hour and the guard pass last week.  It feels as if you are wasting your time; or that you will never get it-until one day you don't get choked on 5 seconds.  The next time it takes much longer for your partner to get that choke; and months down the road, while your guard can still get passed you are surviving a lot longer.
As a female it can be especially frustrating because we are usually at a physical disadvantage, but I promise that the techniques work.  The harder you work, and the more you perfect them, you will see results--it just takes time.  Be stubborn.  Don't give up.
BJJ has brought me many close friendships and experiences I never thought I would have and it's only just begun.  I started at age 32, and if I can do it anyone can.  Just don't give up.
Christine in action

So let's keep some things in mind: as a female (or even some guys, I suppose) you're going to be at a physical disadvantage. Sure, of course, we can argue back and forth on the subject but science supports that males have more muscle and better bone density, thus making male bigger, stronger, and more physically dominate. But Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was designed to defeat that! As Christine points out, it's going to be frustrating. But I want to point out that you're not going to through anything any one else hasn't. 
Actress Kateryn Winnick as Lagertha in History Channel's Vikings

Being a female doesn't mean that you're not ever going to be as good as, or better than, the guys at your gym. I'm pretty sure Mackenzie Dern (love her) will ruin my life if she wanted to and I out weigh her by 100 pounds. Being female does, mean that you might be more fragile. It does mean that the guys you're training with will (probably) be trying to walk the line of technique and strength. So you're going to have to walk that same line, but in a more violent way. Set the pace. If you're looking to train harder with someone, set the pace. If you're more concerned about working technique, speak up, but also set the pace. You're going to train with men, that much is inevitable. So when the time comes don't be afraid to be aggressive, but remember to protect yourself from bad situations too. I know you're going to want to tough some stuff out (and you should) but don't be stupid and try to survive some things and get your ribs compromised by a bigger opponent. Trust me when I tell you: guys will always listen to girls on the mat. So even mid-roll if someone is going too rough--or too soft--speak up, joke about it, make them/us aware, but be ready for what comes.

I'm not suggesting that guys are going to be out there head-hunting or anything, but we're a dumb species and can misread suggestions. Finding a good training partner for yourself is a key. You want someone who's A) Comfortable with you & you with them B) Someone skilled enough that isn't new and thus can help you and C) Someone easy to work with so that you can roll, drill, or work out stuff together. That is a tall bill  to fill--like trying to find the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend--but they're out there. 
-and don't forget some other great sites from some female grapplers out there:

This week's sponsors:
VVV Fight Co.
Hard as nails fightwear but by fighters for fighters.
Gis, no gi shorts, rash guards, tees, everything you need to look good on and off the mats and ALL made with TOP quality.

Q5 Sports Nutrition
All the supplements you need to keep your grappling game at its best. Know how I know? Because it's made by grapplers. Why screw around with something else?