Jiu-Jitsu and Aspirin Don’t Mix

I’m covered in bruises from Jiu-Jitsu.  They go from my ankles to my shoulders.  I have bruises on my bruises.  At first I thought it was just my poor BJJ technique.  But over time I notices bruises on my wrists.  How could that be poor technique?  I found out aspirin was the culprit.  I am talking aspirin for my niacin therapy.  It helps stop the flushing.  I was taking 325mg (one regular pill) each night.  Aspirin helps stop clotting.  That is why I was getting such huge and nasty bruises.  I’ve stopped taking it this week.  Tonight is the first night without it.  It should be interesting if I bruise.  A friend has told me it might be a blood disorder and I should get tested if I keep bruising after dropping the aspirin.  He had a similar case in his school or dojo.

Blue to Purple Belt – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

So you got your blue belt, Congratulations!  If you are feeling like me you are excited.  The thrill of achievement has you thinking, “what do I need to do now to get my purple belt”.  The simple answer is time and practice.  This isn’t exactly what you wanted to hear but what you expected, isn’t it?  After asking my instructor and other basic research the average blue belt takes 3 years to get a purple belt.  But you are pumped up right now.  You say to yourself, as I do, “but I’m not average”.  The fact that you are out looking for what the requirements are and trying to start working towards your purple belt helps reinforce that.  After all the average time for a white belt to blue belt is 1.5 years and you did it in less, didn’t you?  So you will achieve your purple belt sooner then 3 years.  This is how I plan to do it.  I hope my ideas inspire and help you to pass your purple belt test early.

  1. Keep a Jiu-Jitsu Journal.
  2. Learn the purple belt techniques. (Pedro Sauer Purple Belt Test)
  3. Create a daily drill routine.
  4. Research the greats. (My favorites Roger Gracie, Saulo Ribeiro, and Andre Galvao)
  5. Attend Another Dojo, School, or Academy
  6. Mentor a white belt.
  7. Set Goals.

By clicking on any one of these you will go to the article that gives specifics on what I’ve planned for myself.

Please feel free to add your comments or ask me questions.

Mentoring to Improve your Jiu-Jitsu

Do you want to accelerate your learning when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu?  Do you want to become more proficient in your technique?  Then start mentoring a white belt or belt below you.  Why? 

  1. When you teach someone else it helps you retain what you have learned.
  2. As you think through how to teach the technique or concept you find new points that you hadn’t noticed before.
  3. It gives you a chance to increase your own muscle memory by repetition.

There are other pluses too.  There is nothing like helping someone through something that was very difficult that you wish you had help on.  It create camaraderie in your school, dojo, or academy.

Mentor a white belt today.  Its a win-win situation.

Please tell me about some one who mentored you in BJJ.

Improve your Jiu-Jitsu through Exposure at other Dojos, Schools, or Academies

When I took my blue belt test I tested at Unified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Pedro Sauer Team.  I hadn’t to that point attended or trained at any other academy, school, or dojo.  I got to spend some time before the test with a class.  I realized right off that it was good to get a larger perspective on my chosen martial art.  In the half hour I was there for the class and the two for the test I was exposed to new ways of doing things and different approaches to training.  I think my present Jiu-Jitsu instructor summed it up best in his post Fred Ettish was a Frog.  To summarize it, if you isolate yourself to only one group your skills and technique are limited by that group.  You need to get out and experience new challenges and different situations.

I think the idea configuration is that you should have a primary instructor and two secondary instructors.  They should not be closely associated with each other.  Your primary is the one you attend on a regular basis and test with.  The secondary’s you attend only on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.  I think this will help to reduce the “frog in the well” trouble talked about with Fred Ettish.

Once again the goal is to improve your Jiu-Jitsu and have fun doing it.  Not to mention that you will make new friends and get tapped out in new ways.  I hope this help you accelerate your training and enjoyment of Jiu-Jitsu.

Please share with me your experiences.

Improve Muscle Memory with a Solo Daily Drill Routine – Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

A big part of Jiu-Jitsu is muscle memory.  If you play basketball you shoot hoops over and over to improve your shot.  Its no different with Jiu-Jitsu.  It is just a little harder given you don’t always have a partner.  So what can you do to improve muscle memory?  Most of the books in, My Bookshelf, have drills in them.  You can find drill routines on YouTube.com

Here are some I like on YouTube:

When it comes down to it you need a routine tailored for your own needs that you can do anytime. 

Here is a example:

  1. Basic Warm up.
  2. Basic Survival Techniques from Jiu-Jitsu University
    1. Solo Side Control Guard Recovery Drill x 20
    2. Solo Mount Survival Drill x 20
    3. Solo Mount Elbow Escape Drill x 20
    4. Solo Knee-On-Belly Prevention Drill x 20
    5. . . .
  3. Escapes
  4. Submissions

You get the idea?  I love Saulo Ribeiro’s book, Jiu-Jitsu University.  It has some really good solo drills.  I would recommend you get it and see what I mean.

Start to build your drill routine by identifying where you want to improve.  I personally know I want to be strongest in my survival and escapes.  After that comes sweeps and submissions.

Some considerations you might want to take into account as you build varied drill routines.

  1. How much space to I have to work with?
  2. How long can I take on a routine?
  3. How often should I do my drills?
  4. How will I know I am progressing and need to change my drills?
  5. Are my drills effective or am I just making a fool of myself?

These are the questions I am asking myself as I build my drills.  I have already begun to notice changes in my game.  The techniques I’ve been drilling at are becoming automatic.  I do them without thought.  This has forced my opponents to change tactics and now I have a whole new set of techniques I need to better understand so that I can survive or escape.  This means I need to create new drill centered around them or include the techniques I need to improve on in my present routine.

Please share with me your drills that have helped you improve your Jiu-Jitsu.

How to Keep a Journal for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, MMA, . . .

Keeping a journal for you BJJ, Judo, MMA, or any martial art is a great way to improve your technique, document your progress,  and understand your art.  I’ll talk a little about each of the 3 and give some hopefully helpful ideas to help you start or improve on your own journal. But first some basics on journal writing.

Your journal can be a note book, a digital text file, a blog, or anything you feel the most comfortable with.  Just make sure it is something that you can keep a copy of or that is durable in some fashion.  Why?  Lets say you just received your black belt.  For years you have compiled your knowledge and history of your labors.  It would be a crying shame to lose it all to a hard drive failure or because you left somewhere and it disappeared.

Figure out a recording style you like.  This for you only, after all, so experiment until you are satisfied.  Don’t get discourage when you don’t feel its not formatted correctly.  Try different formats.  In time you will work out a style or system that is pleasing to your thoughts and eyes.

Now what should I write in my journal?  As you start working on it your journal will be come rich with information.  You will start to have ideas and see how you could record information you would like to keep.  Read over your journal often to help you get the big picture.  Don’t be to critical of previous entries, use them in a constructive manner to create a better style in future entries.  Your skills will not only increase in your martial art but in your journaling.

According to a poll conducted on, The Fight Works Podcast,  52% of the 273 people who responded to the poll said they keep a notebook, diary, or journal for Jiu-Jitsu.

Improving Your Technique

The old saying “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” still rings true.  The mistakes you made at your last tournament or in your last class need to be recorded so you can set goal to correct them.  You don’t want to keep repeating them.

We can also alter the saying to be “Those who forget the technique may never repeat it”.  In other words, if you went to that great seminar by Andre Galvao but didn’t journal about the new things you learned you might as well have never gone.  You won’t remember that sweet submission, escape, or sweep unless you record it in your journal and ponder on it.

Knowing your history helps you direct the future.

Document Your Progress

My Jiu-Jitsu instructor wrote a excellent post that applies to documenting your progress.  I will summarize it for you and you can read the full post later called “The Dip and Jiu-Jitsu”.  What it boils down to is you have to go through a learning curve on anything.  While you are in the “dip” or learning you become depressed or unhappy about your progress.  When you reach the top you have learned and now you feel like you are on top of the world.  By documenting your progress you understand when you’re in the dip, you can also look back on other times when you were in the dip and remember what it was like to get out of it.  This will help give you strength to go on and succeed.

Seeing your success over time drives you onward to new heights.

Understanding Your Art

Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, MMA, or what ever it may be isn’t just a series of moves to be memorized.  I’ve often heard people say “Jiu-Jitsu is life.  Life is Jiu-Jitsu”.  The philosophy of your chosen art can change your outlook on life as it did for a friend of mine.  He explains it in his post “My name is Miles and I am a meat head”.  Write in your journal what impresses you and how you feel it changes you as you assimilate it into your life.  When you go back and read your journal you might be surprised how over time you have evolved.

Internalizing correct concepts creates a greater whole.

When all is said and done the point of a journal or diary is to help you as a person and practitioner of your chosen martial art to grow, progress, and enjoy it along the way.  I know it does.  That is why I created my blog JiuJitsuMap.com and why I keep a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) journal.

Please share with me your success stories.

My Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt Testing Experience

Saturday, July 11th 2009 I passed my blue belt test at Unified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Pedro Sauer Team.  The test lasted 3 hours in the heat of July.  Shawn Weaver and James Gardner, black belts, conducted the test.  There were 12 of us taking the test that day.  The test consisted of 88 techniques.  We divided up into 2 lines of 6, each with a partner.  Shawn would then ask us to do a technique from the list.  He would demonstrate the starting position of the technique with James.  We would all then begin doing the technique we thought he wanted.  He and James would then walk around observing and in some cases instructing.  He would then stop all of us and demonstrate the technique on James that he expected to have seen.  He would point out the finer points and the street application of the technique.  After the test was finished we paid our testing fee of $50 and waited for the results.  Shawn and James came out with belts and we lined up.  The belts were awarded for those who passed and each was given a congratulatory throw.  All 12 of us passed.  Shawn spoke to the group after the test and said he had been looking at our “movements”.  That is how he decided if we understood enough to pass.

My Tips for a successful test:

  1. Have your testing fee in cash.  Waiting after a long hot test for someone to write a check can be aggravating.
  2. Come and warm up ahead of time.  I came a 1/2 early and was invited to join the class in progress.  I took the time to warm up and get ready for the test.
  3. Try to be towards the front of the class during the test.  You don’t want to keep repeating the technique over and over.  You want them to see you right off and “check you off”.
  4. Know the names of the techniques on the test.  It shows you have studied them.  It is impressive when you are the first and only one to know what you are doing right off while the others mill around unsure.  Even if you do a different variation of what they wanted it still says you are skilled and ready to pass as you show them you can do both.
  5. Don’t show off.  Just do what they ask and ask questions only as needed.  Your knowledge and skill will show forth in your technique.
  6. Relax and let your muscles do what you have trained them for. Don’t think just do what you have been doing.

 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Beginners Books

I’m a beginner to Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I started Nov. 2008.  I was swamped with the many names of moves, techniques, holds, bars, chokes, sweeps, and the like.  I got a list of what was required for belt advancement or testing.  I then began to map them to pages in common books put out by Renzo Gracie and Royler Gracie.  The most common one that I use is:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu series)

As I am taught a new hold, arm bar, or technique I look it up on the belt testing list I have and then I find it in my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique book.  I add the page number to the list.  Its making it easier to remember what I’ve done and what the name is that goes with it.  I try to walk through the list now and again to help refresh myself.  I feel it is helping me advance faster.

Sprawl Rash Guard vs Under Armour HeatGear Shirts

Sprawl wins hands down and here is why.  I bought both the Sprawl Rash Guard long sleeve shirt and the Under Armour HeatGear compression long sleeve shirt for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I found that the Under Armor shirt was thin and tended to ride up.  Because it is a compression top it just stayed up.  I also felt like a sausage.  Whats worse is when I was in a crunch or being smothered having any constriction around my chest didn’t help.  I didn’t notice that much change when it came to “moisture transport” as I wear a heavy cotton gi.  Also the “bolstering of muscle support” didn’t seem to matter.  It did provide good abrasion-resistant.  That was its one redeeming quality.  Sprawl Rash Guard was thicker and I feel would last longer especially with its double stitching.  It has a loose fit and falls down if it gets pushed or rolled up.  It has a very pleasant silky feeling and doesn’t compress your already struggling lungs in a good match.  It provide the same level of abrasion-resistant as the Under Armour did.  I knew I’d be staying with the Sprawl Rash Guard when I realized it hadn’t been washed from my last practice and I would have to wear the Under Armour HeatGear shirt.  Sprawl’s Rash Guard taps out Under Armour which really was never made for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

A Rash Guard, I wouldn’t do Jiu-Jitsu without it

What’s a rash guard? It is a shirt or leggings that are made of a spandex type of slick material.  They are used to reduce skin abrasion and bruises in grappling.  I started like most beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (a.k.a. BJJ) with just a t-shirt and sweats.  I came home each time bruised like a Dalmatian.  I soon got my Gi, the traditional uniform in most martial arts.  As anyone who works with their hands knows a good pair of work gloves keeps you from getting blisters.  When it come to BJJ, a Gi is the equivalent of work gloves.  But I found I was still getting  some bruises.  I noticed that some of the others had shinny shirts.  That is how I found out about Rash Guards.  When you wear a rash guard it gives you added protection by decreasing the friction between you and what ever comes in contact with you.  With my new rash guard I stopped being bruised.  Yes, some of the bruising was due to inexperience in grappling but after I got the Gi and rash guard my bruises all but went away.  It also helps protect you again the dreaded ring worm that come from grappling the “unclean”.  A rash guard in my opinion is a must.

What brand of rash guard is best?  I stared with Under Armour.  Their Heat Gear line is what is sold all over the web in MMA, Mixed Martial Art, sites.  I use a compression long sleeve top.  I understand that a loser fitting shirt can be better as the compression tops tend to roll up in grappling.  I am waiting on a lose fitting long sleeve top from Sprawl to see if it works any better.  I also have ordered a pair of their shorts to see if their claims at being the best are true.