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Jacks Journey: Gracie Barra Alicante

Gracie Barra Alicante

meTraining with GB Alicante was an extremely great experience; training in 30 degree heat was a new one for me. I had a 6 mile round trip from my hotel to the club, and the mountains and ocean scenery made it a worthwhile trip.

They made me feel so welcome, to the point of which it felt like I was just rocking up to training as normal; they greeted me like they knew me well, when of course they didn’t.

The heat was phenomenal and the gym was small, however it didn’t lack in character, especially when around 30+ students turned up with a great gender ratio.

The Warm Up

The warm up was intense, it was military style and drill focused, incorporating all kinds of warm up exercises, there was a very different variation of a butt scoot I had never done before, so that was fun for everyone to watch the British blue belt falling over himself. The warm up lasted around 20 minutes; I was gassed already, and dying in the heat!

The Technique

We drilled techniques for over an hour, how seriously cool is that? It was only a couple of techniques as well, I was partnered up with a really friendly guy who spoke a good level of English, and we drilled the Estima Lock and some great sweeps. We stopped every 10 mins for some feedback from the head coach.

Sparring

An amazing experience, and one that seemed to last an extreme amount of time! I must have rolled with over 10 people during this time, from white to purple belts. The atmosphere was seriously amazing, and had a strong competition like atmosphere. At any given moment, there was around 20 students watching the rolling, and each and every one of them were so engaged with the sparring matches, cheering people on and chanting. It was great to see people staying so focused, even though it was their time to rest. They cheered every transition, and applauded every submission.

I had some great rolls, I remember rolling with their 4 tab Purple belt coach and catching him with a straight foot-lock, the crowd were fantastic, and he was an extremely respectful and humble coach.

Conclusion

When the session was over, they all hugged me individually and clapped me out, I miss it, it was an amazing session, with some amazing people. I can’t wait to return to the amazing town in the south of Spain, and more importantly, train at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club I simply fell in love with.ali

Is BJJ taking a turn for the worse?

A Facebook post has been making the rounds, it involves a 16 year old kid receiving his 7th stripe on his black belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu.  I touched on a similar scenario briefly on the Big Jiujitsu podcast, where I got the opportunity to roll with a teenager who was a Red Belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu.  The teenager did explain that he stopped going to Pittman’s academy because he moved, but he was close to his black belt.  After rolling with the teenager it was apparent that he was no where near the level he should have been.  It was tragic to me because he was really into Brazilian Jiujitsu, and it may have been a rude awakening to him that his skills were not up to par.

There have been numerous issues with people wearing black belts they didn’t earn, giving out belts.  James Paredes comes to mind as one of the more recent examples.  The thing that bothers me the most about this incident is that it is coming from a legit Black Belt, and was backed by Carlos Machado.  The reasoning behind it, is that there needed to be more belts for adults and children to keep up their motivation.  Motivation is hard to come by sometimes, but having 12 different belts and charging for them seems to be an additional source of income instead of a motivation tool, especially when a child is allowed to earn a black belt.  It’s a huge disservice to the students there, especially since most people caught in a situation like that don’t know any better.

I don’t think that it’s a sign of the end of times in the Jiujitsu community, but it does show a trend that could be hazardous to the community.  That is one of the things that affected Taekwondo and Karate in the 90s, multiple schools popping up and being more concerned with promoting students instead of training them to succeed.  Watering down an art makes it lose its meaning, and I don’t want to see BJJ fall victim to major commercialization since it helped changed my life as well as countless others.

Is there a steroid problem in BJJ?

Steroid use.  It’s the giant elephant in the room, the giant jacked up elephant that can deadlift a metric ton.

It seems that in the past few weeks there has been a lot of focus on steroid use in mma.  It does carry over to BJJ as well, and the reasons for the uses seem to be the same for both groups. Let’s take a look at the most recent example of steroid use, Anderson SIlva. It was pretty upsetting to see one of my MMA heroes test positive, especially after a long and hard recovery. I started thinking a good bit about why he may have done it, there was a lot riding on his come back. It was a year and a half comeback from injury to fight, and it’s very possible that he was willing to risk his career just to get an extra edge against Diaz. A lot of sponsorship money and future revenue was on the line, and I don’t blame him for his thought process.

However, the rules are there for a reason and there are a lot of good reasons why they exist. First of all, an organization is supposed to have the athlete’s well-being in mind.  An athlete who is using steroids is putting themselves at risk, regardless of how little or regulated a person uses them. Secondly, almost along the same line of thought, the other competitors are at risk as well. What if that extra bit of strength is enough to snap an arm, or dislocate a knee? That’s someone’s career and livelihood that may be put at risk. Third, it puts everyone on the same playing field. It all boils down to who is willing to put in the work and who wants to win more.

Hopefully we don’t see too much bleed over into BJJ, I know that there has been testing in the past with certain organizations and people have been tripped of titles. Hopefully BJJ competitors are avoiding the use of PEDs altogether and are looking to advance on their own merits.

Do you think there could be a PED issue rise in BJJ? Let us know in the comments below! 

1 Year of Planet BJJ

One year ago we had a vision, a vision of which to create the fastest growing brazilian jiu jitsu website on the Planet. Well, it happened. It’s been a fantastic year! Below is a graphic which tells our story so far!

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"My wife won’t let me roll with women".

I tumbled out of bed in the dark of the morning to get to BJJ before I had to be at work today. It was not a familiar crowd for me as I rarely attend that particular class. Naturally it was mostly new faces, and I was the only woman—not unexpected in the least.

I immediately liked the teacher, a brown belt, who gave clear, basic instructions. The drills were high rep, which I appreciate as a white-belt. A nice gentleman blue-belt, who I know from zombie roll, partnered with me and kindly allowed me to sweep him far more times than was necessary so that I could be sure I knew the move.

The last half hour of the ninety-minute class was appropriately reserved for rolling. There were a number of other white belts, so I was uninhibited and excited to try my moves on the variety of body types and sizes.

My last partner curiously turned his back to me as I approached him. Was he offended by the head gear I insist upon wearing? Had word of horrific halitosis reached him?

My teacher alerted him to my presence: “It’s your turn to roll with the lady.”

“I don’t roll with women.”

How curious, I thought, somewhat surprised.

“What? She’ll kick your ass,” my teacher defended me.

“Oh no. It’s not that. My wife won’t let me roll with women.”

I wasn’t offended by this event, but it was the first time I had encountered anyone at my academy not wanting to roll with me. It’s been a thought provoking experience, and I simply wanted to share.

I posted my encounter to a Girls in Gis forum in which I participate. The overall response was that most women have been presented with such a refusal in their jiu jitsu training. More female jiu jitsu practitioners were refused a roll based on a male partner’s wife/girlfriend’s restrictions than any other reason.

This made me think of my own husband (not a jiu jitsu player), who has been nothing but supportive of my training. He’s completely aware that I am rolling around with dudes and the peculiar positions in which we find ourselves. So, I turned the tables. Would I be jealous of him rolling with women? Complicated answer because we have a pretty non-traditional marriage. Short answer: no. I would never restrict him in such a way. But that’s just us and our relationship.

The conversation on Girls in Gis brought up a good point about cultural and religious backgrounds of practitioners, which is completely valid. Another woman brought up the fact that her husband struggles with his feelings about her rolling with men. So, it can be a two way street.

And of course there were the obligatory jokes about men just not wanting to get tapped by women.

The next issue I processed was the question of whom would be taking advantage of whom in the girl-guy roll. Is the assumption that I would be taking advantage of him and presenting myself sexually to him? Or is the fear that he would be coming on to me or becoming attracted to me? I’ve never considered sexual attraction in jiu jitsu before because when I roll my attention is squarely focused on getting out of the guy’s guard or getting my head out of the RNC I repeatedly find myself in.

I’m thankful that this is the first time I’ve run into this problem. Being that there are far more men than women where I train, I have to express my gratitude for those men who do roll with me….and to their partners, spouses, girlfriends, etc who allow them to do so.

Please join the discussion in the Facebook comments below! 

Jessica Taylor trains jiu jitsu, judo, and muay thai in Austin, Texas, USA. She is writing her first novel, an MMA romance. She would be utterly enthused if you liked her on Facebook or followed her on Twitter @jessahtaylor.

Dude...get a grip!: The importance of grips in BJJ

No matter what the sport, athletes are taught fundamentals. These skills are a great starting point for building a foundation of understanding for future practice and development. This article is intended to highlight one of the most crucial building blocks for any grappling art – hand fighting.

Specifically, controlling your opponents wrist(s). Regardless of discipline (wrestling, bjj, judo, etc.) or style (gi or no-gi) dominating the hand fight is arguably the most important element from start to finish.

Winning the grip or wrist control allows an individual to do a couple of things:

1. Be on the attack- with control of an opponents hands, a fighter/grappler is
better able to generate offense and create scoring opportunities by pushing
pulling the opponent out of position (whether standing or on the mat).

2. Maintain defensive superiority- an opponent cannot attack without his/her
hands. Controlling hands allows a player to minimize the threat of attack while
providing advantage to immediately counter-attack.

The two ideas above are simply in relation to fundamental use of hands in combat sports. Certainly, the necessity of maintaining control on a limb when applying a technique (armbar, kneebar, heel-hook, etc) is, or at least should be, self evident.

So what’s the point? Just as we incorporate drills and live rolling into our training routines, 15-30 second hand/grip-fighting goes (where the idea is only to obtain the dominant hand control or grip) can be a great addition to any practice schedule. This training can teach athletes to be in control from the beginning of the match until the end and allow them to begin to think offensively. This type of training will also let the athlete see the techniques from steps ahead by understanding the set-ups and gaining the dominant position first, instead of being taken down and having to recover to a position that allows their offense.

5 Reasons you should train BJJ

So Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is taking over the martial arts scene right? It’s a deep matrix with thousands of technical solutions for problems. But why should YOU train in BJJ?

It’s legit
Ok, perhaps a bit blunt, but BJJ actually works. Let’s set the scene here, you’re walking down the street and some thug (wearing denim on denim, its the standard) comes at you with some attitude and decides to cause some trouble, trouble of which you cant prevent with peace making comments. Anyway, you take them to the floor with your new found BJJ skills and make them cry. Let’s face it, no problems were ever solved by chopping a weakened piece of wood with your hand whilst screaming.

Your sex life WILL improve
In order to master brazilian jiu jitsu, you must master the ground, and to master the ground, you must master the movement of your body. Trust me, ask anyone who trains BJJ, you find yourself doing completely wacky positions, not to mention your cardio will improve. Just be sure to always establish a safe word.

The journey never ends
They say all good things come to an end right? Well, the best things last forever! There is no end in Jiu Jitsu, it’s a constant adventure of learning and evolving, the martial art is one of the most complex in the world, and to truly master it, would take more than a lifetime.

Increased problem solving skills
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is just one big problem, a problem of which can only be solved by BJJ itself, kinda like fighting fire with fire. Whilst training, you’ll be asking yourself more questions than ever, like “How do I get out of this”, or “How do I pass the guard”, or “Why the f**k is Kit Dale so sexy?”.

Increased confidence and self worth
You know that feeling when you’re arguing with your partner about something at home and you just drop the BIGGEST burn imaginable which proves them completely wrong, and you’re filled with an enlarged sense of god like power and accomplishment? Well, you’ll feel this all the time training in BJJ, you’re constantly solving problems, some problems of which can last months before you overcome them.

These are just a few reasons why you should be training BJJ. For more information on training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu please visit our ‘maps’ section to find a club near you. And for more information on becoming a UFC Fighter here is a link to the Tapout store.