Sunday, July 29, 2012

Strength and Conditioning

One thing I've been adding to my training repertoire lately has been strength and conditioning.  I had never really done strength and conditioning outside of just training before winter of this year.  I saw many of the higher level belts at the school doing pull ups, sandbag exercises, and other lifts/exercises to help increase their strength for BJJ.

For a long time, I thought that just rolling a lot would help me develop BJJ-applicable strength.  However, most competitors are on some type of regimen.  I don't have access to a gym, so I've been working on developing my own setup without the use of a gym.  I thought about posting all the exercises here, BUT I am not a health/fitness professional and therefore don't feel comfortable posting my regimen in case it isn't the best one you can do.  I have, however, been using a bulgarian bag, which I've found VERY useful.  It makes you utilize your core to stay upright and you can work pretty much any and every muscle in your body using all the exercises.  I received mine as a present and it came with a DVD, so I've been working from that.

If you're interested in starting a strength and conditioning regimen, it's probably best to talk to your coach, as he/she has better knowledge about where to go, especially if he/she was/is a big competitor. I received most of my knowledge from my training partners, and have been satisfied with the results so far.  And as always, be very careful when starting a new exercise regimen, as taking it up too high too fast can cause injuries!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Since I've stopped training at Shaolin's, I've noticed I'm much more prone to try out new moves and work on my weaknesses.  A friend pointed it out to me and it kind of confused me.  Shaolin is a great coach and I love the atmosphere at his school.  So why am I suddenly more calm, patient, and willing to try out new techniques?

I realized that during my time at Shaolin's, I was putting too much pressure on myself.  I wanted so bad to so well that I took every failed sweep and submission quite personally.  I got crushed A LOT at Shaolin's.  I would leave class distressed but with no plan on how to improve.  I was focusing more on the fact that I was getting crushed than the fact that I needed to  improve.  I had no process in place for fixing my mistakes, not a good one at least.  So why did my attitude change just from training elsewhere?

**I'd like to note that this is NOT a knock on Shaolin's school.  I enjoy training with his students, I like learning from Shaolin, and I'd recommend it to anyone.  The problem here lies within myself**

At Shaolin's school, there are beginner classes for white belts and advanced classes for blue belts and up.  Jason just has a mixed class, but will sometimes assign different drills for white belts.  Since I often pair up with the other girl in class who is a white belt and am more likely to be paired up with someone who is of my experience or a lower rank, I can work on similar weaknesses and am not thinking "oh my goodness, I'm going to get owned AGAIN".  Now don't get me wrong, Jason also has students that can crush me like a bug, but there is a larger gradient of experience available in any given class.  Whenever I roll with white belts, I'm more likely to work on my weaknesses, as you don't get much out of imposing your "A" game on someone who doesn't have the same experience you do.

I know my mindset shouldn't be limited to who I pair up with, so I've been working on just remaining calm during drilling and rolling.  I can't let a class format dictate how I act.  What I may consider doing is taking a couple of private lessons to really work on my weaknesses.

If I get a job in NYC, I will return to Shaolin's with a new and better attitude regarding my training.  And if I end up staying in NJ or moving anywhere else, I plan on carrying around this new attitude with me!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Transitional Drilling

As I posted previously, the grant for my job in NYC ended, so I've been training at Jason Scully's school until I can find another job.  Jason's a great teacher and incorporated a really cool drill this past week that I'd like to keep doing.

He didn't have a name for the drill, but it consisted of each person doing two different movements against the other person and alternating back and forth.  For example, if two people start from the knees, one person might grab the collar (one) and then grab the pants leg (two).  The person would respond by kicking their leg out to break the grip (one) and try to get an underhook (two).  If you fail to break/establish a grip or position, it still counts as one movement.  It's a good way to see how you do your transitions.  I know that personally when I roll, it's tough for me to remember why I was swept or what led to me being submitted.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to find someone else who is interested in doing this drill at Jason's or Shaolin's open mat.

Additionally Jason had us roll for 45 minutes straight yesterday.  He said that if at any point you got tired you could take a quick sip of water and come back, but for the most part it should just be straight rolling.  Each person stayed with the same person the entire time.  I was paired up with a 6-month white belt girl, and to my knowledge, is the only other girl who trains at Jason's school.  I like training with her because everything she does is somewhat calculated; there's no random pushing, flailing, or movement without any thought behind it.  Even when she makes a mistake it's not a frustrated and tense attempt to get out of something.  Additionally, we have similar competition games so it's nice that we work on the same weaknesses and have similar strengths. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more cover letters to write, the GRE to study for, and a personal statement to write. AHH!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quit Hating!

June 29th was the last day at my job.  It was grant-funded so it only lasted until the end of June, and I am currently looking for another job.  Hopefully in NYC so I can continue to train with Shaolin; they have a good number of girls and smaller guys who train so it's a great training atmosphere for me.

Having time off work has given me a lot of time to think.  I've had a decent amount of changes in my personal and professional life since work has ended has also given me a lot to think about.  One big thing I think that has been holding me back is how I view my opponents and those around me.  And please note that this entry isn't targeted at any one person- I've met people like this at tournaments, at gyms I've trained at, and through friends.

I think some people just enjoy talking smack about other people.  Whenever I'm talking smack, it's fairly obvious that I'm joking around.  However, I constantly hear others put down other teams as well as individuals on those teams.  How can you BLAME someone for winning? Because they're lanky? Flexible? Or my personal favorite "just naturally talented".  Even sandbagging; I understand that sandbagging does occur, but I bet if the same person was promoted after winning, the same people would claim that the instructor promotes too fast!  And then the infamous "oh no, he switched teams! what a traitor!".

Well guess what.  Your complaining does nothing for you, it does nothing for your opponent, and does nothing for your progress.  Your best bet is to focus your own skillset and body type to craft a certain type of game you'll use in competition.  Try working as hard, if not harder, than your competition.  See how difficult it is to advance the position and avoid stalling when you go against a really great competitor.  And regarding switching teams, some people do it for a better training environment, some have tensions between their instructor, and some people just move far away!

I've been accused of giving my opponents too much respect, and that's absolutely been true in the past.  I'd see a big team name attached to them and get intimidated.  I'd assume they trained more than me, that they did extra training and had more time than me to work out and roll.   Now I just see my opponent as someone in my weight class who has the same belt around my waist that I do.  I don't care if they're taller and lanky, short and stocky, or where they train.  Their habits are irrelevant to my progress.  If they beat me, I give them credit for exploiting my weaknesses, but I try and remember what I need to improve on from the match.

But I don't walk around calling those who beat me one trick ponies, stallers, or sandbaggers.  They're people that train jiu jitsu just like I do.  They probably have the same goals as me, like winning at the highest level they can achieve.  I'm not saying I'm trying to be friends with someone I compete against, but there is no point wasting negative energy on someone else when I can be putting that energy towards my own progress.

Anyway, that's my rant for today.  I'm hoping this upset stomach goes away so I can get back to training ASAP!  Since I'm so far from Shaolin's gym (I'd have to pay for a 400 dollar train pass plus the monthly fee to train there), I'll be training with Jason Scully unless another job opportunity in NYC or elsewhere comes my way.  Even so, my training is going to be much more sporadic because of studying and job hunting.