I Want To Quit Jiu Jitsu*


My brain is an asshole sometimes, and by sometimes I mean almost every time I roll.

“How did I get stuck in side control again? This guy is half my size and I can’t seem to do anything. I could be at home right now watching Netflix instead of feeling like this! Oh shit he’s got my back, I can’t tap to this guy, maybe I’ll fake an asthma attack. The instructor is watching and I’m looking terrible. I’ve been training for almost a decade, why do I still feel like a white belt so much? Maybe I’m not made for this.  I want to quit Jiu Jitsu!” -my brain’s typical assholery   

The truth is, it’s not just me who feels this way when things aren’t going well on the mats. It’s common for these negative thoughts to plague most of us. What I’ve come to realize however is that these doubts, not my opponents, are the REAL HURDLES of the Jiu Jitsu journey. They’re the very same thoughts that cause a large percentage of practitioners to hang up their belts, sometimes after only a few weeks. Many people, especially beginners, just can’t deal with it. I mean what other sport or activity do you experience this much personal negative feedback in such a short amount of time? It’s deflating and can be quite humiliating. (Ever make that gargling sound just before tapping to a choke?)

The Good News:

I’ve learned that no matter how severe these voices are, you just shake it off and get back on that wild horse, even though you’re sure to get bucked off again and again. I recall getting heel hooked 12 times in one open gym session. Bam, another one….tap! Clap hands, go again. Tap, shit! Clap hands, TAP…Son of a bitch!!! (I wasn’t swearing out loud, just to myself.;) I left class with two thoughts: 1. I suck at heel hook defense and 2. but I never gave up. Never giving up meant that the next time he and I rolled I was able to stave off a few of his attacks because I had figured out a fraction of his game. That’s often the exchange, great personal shame for a fraction of knowledge. My training parters are a great example of this philosophy too. They roll, they all tap, and at the end of class they shake hands, smile and move on with their day only to come back to the next class and do it all again. The ones who keep coming back are beginning to tap less and less. It’s both motivating and terrifying for me to see. (Terrifying because I have to face these monsters)

So yes, your brain is going to do its best to trip you up but just remember to always tack on that little asterisk at the end of a negative statement declaring: “*but I will come back again and again until I finally overcome!” You can thank me when you get your black belt, hopefully I’ll have mine by then too. 🙂


Cycling For Better Jits


Alright, what do you do when you have a month off of work and all the time in the world to do whatever? Besides more Jiu Jitsu (of course) I picked up on an old/new hobby, biking! Cycling? Not sure which is right but riding around on two wheels has taught me some amazing things that directly affected my grappling game. Of course you benefit from pedaling with stronger legs, that much I expected, but I also noticed two other unexpected benefits.

First off, I learned how my body manages breathing during active states. I used to think the key was controlling my breath and making sure I took measured ins and outs. I gave this a try during one of my early rides and noticed how winded I became, almost gasping for air in a short time. It then occurred to me that my body is intelligent enough to know how much air it needs at any given moment and that by trying to control it myself I was adding a “middle-man” to the equation. It’s not needed, at least in my case. Now if you have a habit of holding your breath during rolls I do suggest you take note and learn to let go, but don’t do any more than that. Try it and see, you’ll notice your breathing will take over for you and you can get back to worrying about everything else, like getting choked slammed by the white belt. 😉

Take it from a guy who has had maybe three cross collar choke submissions in 8 years, it is NOT one of my main weapons. However, in the last two open gyms I had a total that matched my 8-year-high. Yep, three cross collar chokes in two sessions. Could holding onto handlebar grips really increase hand and wrist strength that much? Apparently, and surprisingly so! My bike has the normal grips but also some vertical handles that I use half the time. I’m sure using both have been beneficial in some way. Again, I didn’t consciously try and exercise my grips while riding, I just rode the bike and it happened on its own.

And before I end this short blog (I gotta get back to my X-Files marathon) I WILL talk about leg strength, you just have to when it comes to biking. My legs are far from resembling the tree trunks possessed by Marcelo Garcia, but my leg endurance has gotten insane. I’m able to defend guard, threaten submissions, and squat during guard passing, with much less leg exhaustion. There’s nothing I dislike more than going for a triangle only to have the opponent escape, leaving me with two lactic acid-filled dead weights dangling from my torso. It’s an ongoing struggle but I can already tell, after only a month into this biking experiment, that my game has improved from it. Please leave a comment on how biking has helped, or hasn’t helped, your game. I’m interested in everyone’s results. See ya!