An Alphabet of BJJ · General

K Is For Kimono: An Alphabet of BJJ

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Okay, so most people don’t actually call it a Kimono, but I already used the letter ‘G’ so Kimono will have to suffice. So, this article will be talking about the gi, or rather discussing the two sides of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; gi vs no-gi.  There are a lot of articles out there regarding the subject, and the (supposedly) manifold differences between the two. I disagree that they are totally at odds with each other. Quelle surprise.

I mean sure, there are differences between BJJ when done in the gi and when done without, but to hear some people talk about it would almost be to suggest that it was two different sports. This is something that has always been denied at Kaizen Academy. This is due to the fact that the style of teaching is principal based, rather than technique based. Therefore, whether or not you’ve got a jacket and pants on simply adds different nuances to the principal, rather than completely changing the game. There is a gi culture growing a bit at Kaizen, mostly thanks to Michael’s efforts. When the gi classes first started about five people would show up, now there’s at least fifteen to twenty regulars who don the pyjamas.

Some practitioners won’t practice in the gi, and others won’t ever take it off, saying that they “don’t do” that side of the sport. This doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me. They’re two halves of a whole. I mean, sure, have a preference if you must, but to completely disregard one side seems nonsensical. To me it seems like a split in the road, but the two paths run parallel to each other; you can see one path from the other, and they both lead to the same destination. You can cross between them at will, but one might offer slightly different scenery in points than the other. There are some people who train BJJ who go as far to say that if you don’t train in the gi then you shouldn’t be allowed to level up (in terms of belts). To me that is utter trash. Some of the best practitioners I know rarely train in the gi (although I have seen it from time to time), and I’m always blown away by their jiu-jitsu and their approach to the sport.

This post could be immensely long – discussing the fact that there are different guards that have strengths and weaknesses in gi and no-gi, and all the nuances therein. That’s not the point of this post and I would be ill equipped to discuss most of it anyway seeing as I have just dipped my toe into the world of jiu-jitsu.

I’ll admit, when I first started BJJ, the idea of putting on a gi seemed a long way off for me. I came from a more MMA based/grappling style of training, so therefore (other than a brief foray into Judo) had never worn the gi to train in before. I avoided it at first, doing the odd class here and there, but not really taking it seriously. I wore my old Judo gi to train in, but the sleeves were too short and the material too thick to be properly appropriate for BJJ. Eventually I bought my own gi; the honey badger black one from Tatami, and started to take gi training more seriously. I found that actually I quite enjoyed it, and that contrary to my earlier beliefs, it wasn’t so different from what I’d already been doing. The main downside was (and still is) the fact that it gets so hot!

As a smaller person there are some advantages (I’ve found so far) to training in the gi which you don’t necessarily get without. One is that I can hold onto my partner. Obviously this is one of the biggest differences between the two. I hear so much talk about grips that I think I have the word imprinted on my brain. Don’t get me wrong, grips are useful (especially when your opponent is trying a sneaky backstep from half guard!), but they’re not the be all and end all. Some practitioners get so freaked out if they don’t have their grips that the rest of their technique goes out the window. Our coach is damn good at addressing grips, so if someone rolling with him thinks grips > technique they quickly get corrected!

I will continue to train both, and enjoy both, and probably switch from having a slight preference in one or the other depending on what I’m doing at the time. At the moment my preference is lying with no gi because I’m making strides in that recently. In a couple of weeks I’ll probably be raving at a new thing I was doing in the gi. Who knows? I tend to do better in competition in no gi as well, and have been competing without the gi for longer. I fully intend to do both as often as I can next year though.

So, which do you prefer? Or do you approach them both with the same attitude?

Until next time,

B

x

An Alphabet of BJJ · General

J is for Jiu-Jitsu (A History): An Alphabet of BJJ (Part One) 

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Reading this title you might be thinking… well, duh, isn’t that what this whole blog is about? And yes, you would be right, but this post isn’t just about jiu-jitsu in general. It’s about the history of jiu-jitsu (in two parts). I’d already done ‘H’ so I had to be shufty about it. If we want to get picky here it should technically be spelt ju-jutsu, but the more modern form “jiu-jitsu” is more commonly recognise, and therefore will be the one which I utilise throughout.

A.N – I am in no way an expert of East Asian religion or history. I have pieced together this information from various sources and apologise if anything is wildly inaccurate!

There are differing starting points when discussing the history of jiu-jitsu, as with most things with continuous development, it is extremely difficult to pin point exactly where jiu-jitsu “started”. Some say Kodokan Judo, other disagree and say that it was when the Gracie family became involved and began to be disseminated through their extended family. These, in the span of human history, are extremely recent. Martial arts, and ideas about martial arts have been around for a lot longer than that.

Tradition dictates that some form of ground grappling that would eventually become jiu-jitsu began in India, where Buddhist monks were concerned with learning about self-defence. Buddhism became a major religion in India in about 260BC, having started in Nepal some four hundred years earlier. The form of jiu-jitsu these monks were practising would have been different to what we recognise today, but it is still linked and based on the same ideas and principals. The monks were especially concerned about negating the use of a persons strength or body mass, and so therefore were interested in techniques that manipulated leverage and balance. This was so a smaller, weaker man might gain advantage of someone twice his size.

Throughout the next eight hundred years or so Buddhism spread across east and south-east Asia, through Burma, Sri Lanka, China before finally arriving in Japan. The official starting date for Buddhism in Japan is 552AD, as listed in the Nihon Shoki, when it was introduced from Baekje, Korea. The relatively rapid and comprehensive spread of Buddhism across these areas was almost certainly due to the development of the Silk Road, which ran from the South China Sea right across to the Mediterranean Sea.

Side note: If you haven’t watched this history of japan video and you’ve got nine minutes to spare, do it. I cried laughing. It’s so funny. Do it. 

In Japan, jiu-jitsu developed in earnest as way of defending against Samurai attacks if one was unarmed, or armed with only a short weapon. Slight side track; the first recorded use of the name Jiu-Jitsu actually appears in 1532, when Hisamori Tenenuchi established the first Jiu-Jitsu school in Japan.

Striking was considered ineffective against an armoured opponent, so a system of throws, locks and pins became more and more developed and utilised (known as Nihon koryū jūjutsu). This tradition differs from Chinese martial arts where a lot of the practice centres around forms of striking. In this sense jiu-jitsu was an art originally developed for deployment on the battlefield, rather than in the dojo.

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A Samurai Battle – end of the feudal period

The development of the art continued into the seventeenth century, after the capital had moved from Yamato to Edo (later renamed Tokyo) under the Tokugawa shogunate. The Tokugawa shogun had gained power after coming out on top during the civil war which had fractured Japan for many decades previously.

Under this shogunate, strict new laws were imposed, war was reduced, guns were banned (for everyone except the Shogun), and Chinese social philosophy of Neo-Confucianism spread. Under this ideology, weapons were used less and less and became decorative items. This meant that the development of hand-to-hand combat flourished as the art shifted. Previously it had been used to confront and defeat an armed opponent. Now, with the likelihood of an unarmed opponent being the adversary, the art was developed to consider how one might defeat an unarmed opponent.

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Edo era Jiu-Jitsu

For a brief period striking was introduced, but it quickly became disfavoured due to the need for immense energy to execute. Instead it was used as a quick set up to a lock, throw or pin. It was in this environment that the tradition of Randori developed – to create spaces and practice where practitioners of the art could challenge each other without breaking the law, and without the intention of killing their opponent.

In this sense there was already a split within jiu-jitsu; the form which was developed to defend against an armed opponent, and one for an unarmed assailant. It was from this split and further developments to make the tradition more appropriate for the practice room that the sports were might today recognise as Judo and Jiu-Jitsu appeared in the late 1800s.

The spread of Jiu-Jitsu to the West and it’s forms in the modern world will be explored in Part Two

Until next time,

B

An Alphabet of BJJ · Training

I Is For Intelligent Training: An Alphabet of BJJ

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Okay so I struggled to come up with one for ‘I’, and this is what I could think of. If you guys have a better suggestion that you’d like to see me tackle, please leave a comment and I’ll give it a shot!

Under the umbrella of Intelligent Training there can be lots of different aspects. Whether it’s about taking care of your body, listening to it when it needs to rest, or whether it’s about the way you approach the time you spend on the mats, it’s important that you approach your training in a logical way.

Know what you’re going to do

This one might sound fairly obvious, but you should at least have a vague idea of what you want to achieve before you step onto the mats for the days training. If you’re going to class, clearly your instructor will have something planned for the lesson. If you know what this is before hand then great – figure out what you want to focus on from that lesson. If you don’t know what it is, then focus on a general part of your game that can be applied to all different lessons. This can be things like improving your basing, working on not getting swept, working on gaining and maintaining the underhook, perhaps hunting for a particular type of submission. Only you (and your coach) know what specific part of your game needs to work.

Keep tabs on what you’ve done

My blog is the way that I do it! Clearly this isn’t going to work for everyone. So whatever floats your boat on keeping tabs on your training is the way forward. Whether this making notes, taking photos (with your training partners permission ofc), or whatever else you can think of, it’s good to keep track of what you’ve been doing so you can go back over what you’ve done before. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of material that your coach covers in class, but by keeping tabs, you can always revisit something that you didn’t quite catch the first time around.

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Training with N.

If you’re injured know what you can and can’t do

We’re not invincible, even if we like to think we are. Sometimes are bodies just give up on us. Hopefully not in a way that will have a long lasting impact, but it can still affect your training and your game in the short term. It’s important to take a break when you need to, but also not to push something that doesn’t need to be pushed. I’m am nowhere near suggesting that I can give any medical advice. But it’s pretty damn obvious that when you’ve pulled a muscle in your leg, you shouldn’t be doing strenuous exercise on it, otherwise you’re probably going to hurt it more.

If you’ve got a training partner then team up

I think this applies more to me, as a female BJJ player, than some of my male teammates. The reason for this is that whilst there’s a lot of guys who are probably around the same weight, finding a BJJ girl who wants to compete who is a similar weight can be like finding a needle in a haystack. I’m lucky in that there are a lot of girls at Kaizen, but not all of them are interested in competing. I do have several excellent training partners though, and we try and coordinate our training hours so that our open mat time coincides. Michael suggests that this is the best way to get better for competition. Just roll, roll and roll some more.

I suppose that most of you will probably have your own training regimes and little things that you do which will keep you happy when you’re on the mat. These are just some of the things I keep in mind when I’m approaching my next class or open mat session.

Until next time,

B

An Alphabet of BJJ · General · Training

H Is For Holiday: An Alphabet of BJJ

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By holiday I don’t mean time off the mats for injury, or to let your body recuperate from overtraining. I had one of those the other week after doing a handful of competitions in a short space of time. I mean the full on I’m-away-from-my-home-gym for an extended period kind of holiday. I am currently in Spain, and am here for the next three weeks. The moment I realised I was going to be away for such a long time I started looking for gyms at which to train whilst here. I would miss BJJ too much if I didn’t! Furthermore, I have a competition the week after I get back, so I knew I couldn’t just take three-nearly-four weeks off and then bounce straight back to a competition and expect to get very far. I do have a week at Kaizen after I get back before the comp, which I will use to it’s full potential, but I still didn’t want such a large break.

Finding a gym wasn’t an easy task. I couldn’t find any purely BJJ gyms in the town I’m staying in, but I did manage to find an MMA/Grappling gym. I contacted them and found out their opening hours and prices, so I’m going to go and train there a few times whilst here.

Finding a dedicated BJJ gym was more of a challenge. I’m going to have to travel to find what I want. In the event, I managed to find two different gyms about an hour away from me, and accessible by bus. One is a Rilion Gracie gym, the other a Roger Gracie Academy. Both are clearly gi dominated; something that if you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m relatively new to. I’m interested and excited to see what they have to offer. Both gyms also have black belt instructors, and hopefully I’ll get to roll with them. I’ve never actually rolled with a black belt since starting my BJJ training in earnest, so it’ll be an interesting experience. Even if I don’t, getting a chance to roll with some new training partners will be an invaluable experience.

Tips for training abroad/at another gym

  1. Message ahead of time – I spoke to all three of the gyms I hope to train at, either via Facebook or email, finding out if it was okay for me to go along. This was definitely a better way of doing it, due to the fact of a language barrier, I didn’t want to struggle once I got there. It’s also the polite thing to do rather than just showing up! A few things did occasionally get lost in translation, but I managed to get all of the information I needed. 
  2. Ask which class is suitable – You might be able to hang in the advanced class at your own gym, but at a different gym they might have set rules about what you can and can’t do. I’m a white belt, but I am allowed to go to the “advanced” classes at my gym. A new gym might say only purple belts and above can do so. It’s always worth checking and asking. I’ve been invited to a certain class at these gyms, one which they clearly think is appropriate for me. 
  3. Find out prices and regulations – I’ve asked all three gyms about mat fees/class prices, but they haven’t mentioned anything specific. I will, of course, take along enough money to cover the fees. Again this is a politeness thing; if you’re going to an open mat, offer a mat fee. Each gym might have a different way of going about charging one off visitors. As for regulations, I’m mainly talking about uniform standards. If you’re lucky enough to train at the gym of the Mendes brothers for example, they have a strict white gi only policy (as seen on their AOJ Instagram), so it is worth checking before showing up to avoid any potential embarrassment or issues.
  4. Be discreet and polite – Hopefully most of you would do this anyway! I’m sure all of my readers are polite and lovely BJJ practitioners. By this I mean don’t offer your opinion on a technique being taught, don’t roll as if you’re in the world champs, watch how other students behave – towards the instructors, how the behave in the dojo etc., and always ask before you take photos. Most places will be okay with you taking photos, but it is always worth just double checking. There might also be things that you’re not used to. For example, Kaizen doesn’t have a line up before class, other gyms might. Just watch other students and imitate. Most of these are just common sense etiquette things, which I’m sure you all know already. Also, show up early for your class so they can show you the gym and the facilities. It saves them stress of having to induct the newbie when they’re hoping to get started.
  5. Integrate – At the same time as being discreet you need to integrate! I think this is something I might struggle with a bit because I’m actually (believe it or not) quite shy around new people. Particularly with a language barrier in the way. My spoken Spanish is extremely poor, with a my comprehension being little better. Hopefully, what with jiu-jitsu itself being a universal language, it’ll help me find friends on the mat. I hope to have great fun at all the gyms (I’m sure I will!), and I will report back after I’ve trained there.

 

Until next time,

B

 

 

An Alphabet of BJJ · General · Training

G Is For Guard: An Alphabet of BJJ

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There was a myriad of things I could have put for this letter; “Girls”or “Gi” are the two that immediately spring to mind. In the end, however, I chose to plump for guard, a term that encompasses an awful lot when it comes to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a sport.

The easiest way to describe guard as a catch all term would be a position in ground grappling where the bottom combatant is trying to control the other person with their legs. Hence, when the top person has “passed the guard”, they have passed the persons legs and are therefore in a much more advantageous position. In IBJJF rules passing the guard is worth 3 points. There is something of a misconception that side-control is worth 3 points. This isn’t the case. It’s just that most guard passes tend to end up in side control, and therefore this urban myth developed. If you take someone down, and end up in side control, you only get 2 points for the take down, rather than 5 for the take down + side control. This is because your opponent never had you in a guard, so therefore you never passed it. There are lots of nuances in the rules that I am just learning and getting used to it! Having said all that, it isn’t the case that playing guard is a continuously defensive position. In BJJ there are many attacks and submissions that can be achieved from guard, and some of the top ranked players in the world prefer to play guard.

There was an article not too long ago posted on the ADCC Facebook wall that discussed the merits or otherwise of ‘pulling guard’. The debate was fairly fierce, with many people suggesting that to pull guard is a weak option, and some even suggesting that there should be a points disadvantage given if a person pulls guard. There are also some fairly disparaging memes out there about pulling guard. It’s probably a product of the school that I am lucky enough to train in, but I think that’s ridiculous. Pulling guard is what I do 95% of the time, because I am not a huge fan of being thrown on my head in a takedown. I will attempt to wrestle somebody if they are either the same weight as me or smaller (which is rare!). I do not have great wrestling skills, and would rather take the match to the ground on my terms, rather than on my opponents. I know that the response from some people would be that I just need to improve my wrestling skills, and whilst this is undeniably true (and something I am looking into), pulling guard is still something I much more comfortable with at this point in my game. There are different ways to pull guard, but the most common is simply to grab hold of your opponent and sit down, physically “pulling” them into some kind of guard of your choosing. Sometimes what’s known as a “double guard pull” will occur, where both players will grab and sit down at the same time. Then the players have thirty seconds for one to achieve top position, or the ref will stand them both up and award penalty points to both of them. This was made a rule to prevent stalling out in a position such as 50/50. If the players end up in 50/50 at any point during a match they equally have thirty seconds to advance their positions, or penalties will be awarded.

So many rules. People sometimes get bored or irritated with the rules; finding them stifling and annoying to their game. I think (for the most part at least) that some of the rules can be useful. If you learn them properly, and know how to play them, then you can make your game a lot stronger.

In terms of how players actually utilise the guard, the most common type of guard at lower levels of BJJ tends to be closed guard, sometimes known as full guard. If any of you read my post on my experience at the Newcastle Open, you’ll know how much I detest closed guard. I find it slow and dull. Especially in no-gi. Perhaps in the gi there are a few more options. I sometimes end up in closed guard bottom if I’ve had to quickly recapture my opponent in some form of guard to prevent them from passing. I never stay there long. I usually immediately open my guard to attempt some form of sweep or submission, and then if that fails, go back to my usual half guard game. Even worse is closed guard top. Trying to break open your opponents legs can be tiring and annoying, especially if you’re behind on points. Many people at white belt level are scared of attempting much from closed guard, because it involves open your guard, thus making you much more vulnerable to a pass. This sometimes means that entire matches can be stalled out in closed guard, making them dull to be in and even duller to watch. Harsh, maybe, but so so true.

There are many other types of guard as well, far too many for me to mention in a single blog post in any type of detail. I will, however, mention a few of my favourites. The one I tend to work from the most is half-guard. I’ve already done two posts about different nuances of half guard that I like and it is a crucial part of my game. I’ve been working on it a lot more in the past month as well, trying to iron out the tiny details and improve upon the issues I had been having. Other guards I particularly like are x-guard and (in the gi) de la Riva. X-guard is amazing if executed correctly. Your opponent, unless they’re extremely good, has very very limited options, and most things they try can be countered into some form of sweep. I also find that I can hang out in x-guard without too many energy problems; your opponent isn’t going anywhere fast, so I use it as a chance to catch my breath for a few seconds. There are also loads of transitions from x-guard; either to single leg x, to various sweeps, to 50/50 and others. On the flip side, de la Riva is particularly powerful in the gi, yet limited in no-gi (reverse de la Riva is much stronger). It is a very long range tool, and yet also provides a relatively large amount of control.

Most BJJ players have a guard that they ‘prefer’, one that they will have worked on more, or one that plays to their strengths. Some BJJ players prefer not to end up on the bottom at all, instead working on top position passes and submissions. The only problem with focusing on this part of your game over guard, is that if you do get swept or taken down, then you might have problems preventing your opponent from executing their game plan. I think that’s the biggest thing about guard for me; it gives me a game plan. I know what I want to do when I step onto the mats, and I try my hardest to work through those steps. It gives me the control, rather than being reactionary to my opponent. Of course, you do have to react to your opponent, that’s part of the fun of it; but in having a game plan it provides a solid base to which to return to, an area of the sport which you are good at. One of my teammates is exceedingly good at deep half guard, and she will doggedly hunt for it when playing guard at all times. I have had to step up my work on deep half guard counters, just to be able to play with her.

Every BJJ player will have their strengths and weaknesses, areas of the game they like and dislike. Most players will train some form of guard on a daily basis (or however often they train), although some will just see it as a method of defence before they can achieve top position again. It varies from player to player. There are so many nuances to the different aspects of BJJ that it’s impossible to be a master at all of them, so most people pick and choose an area that they prefer.

I’m sure many of the points I’ve made here will cause some people to nearly spontaneously combust with anger or outrage. Well, I’d like to hear your opinions on guard playing…

Until next time,

B

 

An Alphabet of BJJ · General · Kaizen · Training

F Is For Family: An Alphabet of BJJ

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So I said before that this piece would be about some of the wonderful people I get the opportunity to train with on the regular, and also about the importance of a tight knit group when training in a martial art. Amongst the girls who I train with, the sport that we do is jokingly known as “competitive cuddling”. Yet, if you think about it, we’re not far wrong.

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Competitive Cuddling

This is a sport in which you do get extremely up close and personal with people. Often at the end of the training session I’ll find myself absolutely covered in sweat, and I’m not entirely sure how much of it is mine and how much is other peoples. It’s fondly known as boy sweat, because girls don’t sweat y’know? Gross, yes, but true. I’ve had other people’s sweat drip on my face, had hair in my mouth, been up close and personal with several people’s armpits. This is not the sport for those who find close physical contact uncomfortable. Due to this, trust is one of the most important factors in this sport. You couldn’t get this physically close to people and not trust them. I think this is common in most martial arts, or maybe it’s just common in sports in general. A team spirit develops, despite the fact that this is an “individual” sport. If any one of my BJJ family was in trouble, I would leap in feet first to help them out. Though, to be fair, if it was any kind of confrontational trouble, I’m fairly sure most of them could take care of themselves!

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Team Awesome chilling at the pub after a comp. 

The team is also crucially important at competition, especially for me. To have my team standing mat side whilst I’m sparring, either shouting encouragement or advice, is crucial for me. Sometimes you can’t necessarily hear exactly what they’re saying (it can all get a bit hectic when in the heat of a match), but just knowing that they’re there is great. Even though it’s just you and your opponent on the mat, knowing that they care that much to come watch you is very encouraging. It’s the same the other way around, whenever any of my team are competing, I’m standing mat side, either chewing my nails down to stubs, or shouting myself hoarse to encourage them. I got told off by a table judge at Manchester for shouting advice at Kasia from mat side. I was told that I had to go to the other side of the barrier if I wanted to coach, so all I did was go to the barrier, lean over it, and shout from there. Watching my team compete is almost worse than doing it myself. I get so unbelievably nervous for them, indignant if their opponent tries something crafty, sad if they happen to lose, and over the moon in victory. Even though this is an individual event, every competition feels like a team effort. I remember when two of our coaches headed of to the European Championships earlier this year, I was glued to my phone, constantly refreshing for the results (Kieran picked up gold in his blue belt division). I feel every victory or defeat of my team more than I do my own, but I am inordinately proud of them whatever the outcome should be, ’cause I know how immensely hard they all work.

One of the best competitions I’ve ever done in terms of team support was down in Hull. About six of us went down to compete, and we were definitely the loudest team there. I ended up picking up a gold at that competition after winning my first match by armbar and my second by rear naked choke. This was mostly achieved by having my corner hollering for me and listening out for advice. I also kept an ear out for what the other girls team were yelling at her, and then doing the exact opposite. Every person from Kaizen who went down that day picked up a medal.

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Hull Comp

On a day-to-day basis, however, I rely on my team both to train with and as my support system. We’re all training together, aiming to get better at every training session we do. Each of us have our different strengths and everyone is happy to share their ideas. Luke Wilding, for example, is really into hunting for leg and foot attacks. We’ve said if he ever does a pro fight he’d have to come out to Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Just for the troll factor. The other day he taught me a nuance to the footlock which meant that I’ve now been hitting them 95% of the time, rather than 50% that I was doing before. This was done by simply sliding my hand further back along the ankle, so the sharp bit of my wrist bone is in the achilles tendon of my opponent. It’s all in the small details. I’ve been working on my half guard and basing with Ze, my deep half guard counters with Cosima (I’m getting there Cos!!), my guard retention with Natalie, darce defences with Neil, arm bar nuances with Michael, wrestling with Amy (we’re both starting from the beginning!), single leg-x and take downs with Kasia. These are just a few of the people I regularly train with and there are many many others who are all uniquely amazing and bring something different to my training game.

I’m also uniquely lucky in that there is a large handful of girls at Kaizen Academy, and therefore I get to roll with people who are relatively close to my weight on a regular basis. I weighed in at 50.9kg yesterday, so I don’t want to be rolling with a 85kg guy all the time – it doesn’t give me a good practice for my weight class. And anyway, girls definitely have a different rolling style to guys, regardless of their preferred techniques. I think girls are generally more aggressive than guys, in terms of their pressure placement and their cross-facing. I could technically enter the weight class below the one I do. I currently go for <56.5kg in no-gi, but there is an <51.5kg. I don’t think I’d want to drop to that one, however, because my weight does have a tendency to fluctuate a bit, and I’d rather not be worrying about making weight. Equally Kaizen already has a girl who competes at <51.5 (Kasia) and a girl at <61.5 (Cosima), so I think it’s cool if we could continue to field at least one girl in every category.

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Here come the girls…

Anyway, in a very roundabout way, what I’m trying to say is that I consider myself so so lucky to have this wonderful group of people to train with, each who bring something new and unique to the table and to my game. New people come in, join the group and the dynamic shifts slightly to include what they have to offer. Other people leave, but when they come back and visit they’re welcomed back with open arms.

Thanks for being beyond awesome guys and I hope you’re of proud as me as a team member as I am of all of you,

B

An Alphabet of BJJ · General

E Is For Enjoying Exercise: An Alphabet of BJJ

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I was flicking through the interwebs the other day, as you do when you’ve got nothing better to do, or you’re sitting on the bus etc. etc. and I stumbled across a quote from a Victoria’s Secret model about how she maintains her body. I think it was an in an article from women’s health or something of the like. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of you may hate running, but you gotta do it. It works man. 

I couldn’t help but think; good for you love.

I am one of those people who definitely fall into the category of loathing running. Particularly running outside. I will do it in a gym if I absolutely must, but even then it’s a very big struggle. I just don’t see the point, I struggle to pace myself, I don’t enjoy it, my headphones fall out… urgh. I know some people absolutely love running, and props to them, but I think what got me about the quote was that she was implying she hated it too and yet still did it in order to maintain her body.

Newsflash: Running is not the only thing you can do to have a healthy and/or athletic body.

I wrote a piece about a week ago saying that whilst I had been adequate (at best) at sport at school, it was martial arts that had really brought out the sporty person in me. This sport turned me into someone who looks forward to going to the gym, rather than looking at it with dread, or as a necessity. I had a fair amount of enthusiasm for certain sports at school, as I mentioned in a previous post, including netball and tennis. Others, such as hockey and athletics, I hated with a passion. Mostly because I sucked at them, and my gym  teachers did little to change that.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts has made me love exercise. I guess this is something I should’ve known a lot earlier. I can distinctly remember when I was a lot younger, primary school age, a teacher’s report that said “Bryony is very free with her feet”. This meaning that whenever somebody annoyed me I had a tendency to lash out and attempt to kick them. Maybe if my parents had entertained the idea they would’ve made me do taekwondo or something. Having said that, I don’t think there was anywhere in the near vicinity to where I lived that offered such a sport.

Either way, I had to wait until I got to university to discover this sport, and to discover my passion for it. It’s been just over three years since I started kickboxing, and I’ve never looked back since as I became more and more obsessed. That’s all I’m really trying to say here – there is something out there for everyone (probably!). If you’d have told me when I was fifteen that sport was going to become such a major part of my life, I would’ve laughed at you and thought that such a thing was not possible. Yet, here I am, nearly eight years later(!) and it’s one of my absolute passions, and something I couldn’t imagine going without.

So, whatever you do, don’t think running or cross-training is the only thing you can do. If you want to do something different – go for it! I’ve heard Roller Derby is very fun… unfortunately I don’t have time to try it out, but I would if I could.

Until next time,

B