Holiday BJJ Gift Guide

Holiday BJJ Gift Guide

With the holidays coming up, we wanted to share a Holiday BJJ Gift Guide that could be shared with family members or used to purchase some great gifts for your fellow Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. At Casarez BJJ in Cary NC, we have all types of students but one common factor is they all do BJJ. Go figure. These recommended gifts are not only for adult BJJ practitioners but also for kids BJJ as well. Below you will find some great gift ideas and also reasons why any grappler would enjoy them.

Finger Tape:

Not all people need or even want finger tape, but jamming a finger or just having some when another student needs it can make or break a training session. There are many different types of finger tape out there. You can get between both width and thickness. As we do not have a direct sponsor, here is a link for BJJ finger tape so you can check out some.

Mouthguard:

This is more of a personal preference and if you are purchasing one for someone it may be odd to ask what the mouth size or color to get the right fit. But this is a great gift idea to also send to a family member that keeps asking you what you want. A mouthguard that I personally like with no affiliation is SISU (Easy to talk, drink, and breath with)   click here .

Water Bottle:

There are many different types of water bottles you can get someone, but when it comes to BJJ, having water is crucial to a good training session. I normally go with a glass water bottle with a protective wrap to prevent breaking, but when training I want to make sure that no way glass is breaking, so I go with a Nalgene or a steel one.

Rash Guards:

I always first recommend checking with your academy to make sure they do not mind you wearing any type of rashguard, and if not, then picking a site like https://www.bjjhq.com/ , Amazon , and of course your academy’s website as you always want to be representing your team on the mats.

After Training Soap:

There is a solid fact when you are training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you must wash and wash well after training. Choosing a quality soap is important, and this company literally put it on the branding (no affiliation) Armbar Soap . I personally use Castile Bar Soap but either way this as a gift for a grappler is not a bad idea.

Quick Dry Sport Towel:

These are always in my gym bag, and although many people may not even use one or want to use one, the gesture for a gift is perfect. When you train BJJ, you sweat and having this as a go-to after class or in between rolls makes training better in my opinion. You can check out some here.

Personal First Aid Kit:

Now all gyms have a first aid area, but it is nice to have some essentials on hand if you encounter a small cut or injury that can be fixed quickly. I wrote a blog a while back about hygiene on the mats and had the perfect section for this exact kit here . But instead of building out an entire personal first aid kit for someone, a basic pre-built one from the store would be a great gift.

BJJ Shirts:

As we want to always be ready on the mats, it’s also nice to be just as prepared off the mats. BJJ themed shirts are fun to wear after training and just out and about. Some companies I have really enjoyed getting shirts from are OSSPOP and TORO BJJ. This makes a great gift to your fellow grapplers because we all know that BJJ puns make everyone smile.

GI maybe:

First, the maybe comes into play in terms of both your academy and also personal preference. I will say though that if you have been eyeing a new GI that just came out at your academy what better time to ask for it than the holidays. Also buying GI’s is a process that you want to make sure if you are a person wearing it, you are involved in the purchase process for size, material, etc. So do not hesitate to send a link with the exact fit you are looking for to someone that insists on buying you “something” and you could be hitting the mats in the new year with a fresh GI.

I hoped you liked my personal Holiday BJJ Gift Guide. This time of the year always excites me because within a month you normally see people sporting some fresh gear and new toys that in the end allow us all to Train MORE! On the last note, I always like to mention that supporting our BJJ community is huge too so if there is a local company that has products that you like, be sure to put those on your list.

What To Focus On As A New White Belt In BJJ

What To Focus On As A New White Belt In BJJ

When you first start training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the excitement is almost unbearable, but there are a few things to focus on as a new white belt In BJJ. Here at Casarez Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a Lucas Lepri Affiliate, in Cary, NC we have students of all kinds come and start the journey into the gentle art. Each person has their own journey, but I wanted to write about some of the things that I personally have found to be helpful as reminders even to myself. 

The Mission Is Not Always Submission

When you learn a new move and then go and try it and wonder why it does not work, normally this comes down to placement, leverage, and also applied force at the right moment. The problem is when you are new to BJJ; it just comes across as it just is not working. To avoid this, simply realizing that getting into a position can be just as effective as actually pulling off the desired submission. Eventually, with the right technique and body placement, you will start seeing these submissions starting to land more and more. Your partners will also appreciate the tactics you are using to position yourself just right before you spring into that triangle or armbar because that can be when injuries happen.

Drill More and Roll Less on Your Off Time

As a new white belt, all you want to do is get your sparring in. Those opportunities to do so on an open mat, for example, could be better spent on drilling the new techniques you have been learning or even asking higher ranking belts questions you may have about techniques. A simple guard break to a pass may seem boring or something you do in class, but doing that 1000 times over the course of a few months creates a guard breaking passing machine of a BJJ practitioner.

Keep a Journal

You may not see that brown belt in class writing down the moves that everyone is going over, but that does not mean there was a time when he or she was doing so. As a white belt you are learning new information every class and chances are you are forgetting minor details of fundamental moves. You can check our blog post out on the benefits of a journal here.  For me personally, when I am at open mat and not wanting to roll hard, I ask fellow teammates if they would not mind going over some positions or submissions I am having problems with. 

Develop a Routine for Training and Lifestyle

At first, you may want to train every day as hard as you can and be right back the next day. The biggest problem with that is at first you may not be ready for the toll on the body or the massive amount of information. Creating a plan or routine can really ensure you are getting the most out of your BJJ training especially if you stick to it. Many factors come along with good training such as sleep,diet, hygiene, rest, and focus. Even if you are just doing it for fun, incorporating the following will ensure you are ready to roll, pun intended. 

It’s Not a Sprint Enjoy the Belt

The white belt is a special time in the BJJ journey as it is the time you get to really fall in love with the sport and martial art as a whole. This is when you start to build lifelong friendships with training partners. Find out what types of positions you feel comfortable in and learn from those mistakes. I am always excited when a new person is trying BJJ for the first time but even more when they put the GI and belt on and see that look on their face. I am not a coach or professor, just another student, but the vibe and energy are real on the mats. I hope these tips help a new white belt enjoy the journey as much as I have so far.

Why BJJ is a Positive Solution To Bullying

Bullying can come in many different forms and no one deserves to experience them, but the reality is that it does happen. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches ways to limit physical altercations through grappling movements and self-awareness to situations. Why is BJJ a positive solution to bullying? Providing confidence to a person when they are grabbed, pushed, placed in a hold, or even struck. Knowing what to do when one of these happen takes a level of vulnerability away and allows for quick thinking to stay safe.

Bullying Comes in Many Forms

A child or adult may not experience forms of physical bullying, but that does not mean mental or influential bullying is not happening.

  • Name calling
  • Exclusion from others
  • Being spoken down to
  • Peer pressure

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you learn to adapt to all different kinds of situations, and this builds confidence. If you can recognize situations and change the outcome, then why not? Bullying can get out of control quickly, and this can lead to physical altercations, change a person’s behavior out of fear, and even just make common everyday situations uncomfortable for a person.

How a child benefits from using their BJJ to avoid conflict

When a child notices a bullying situation arise with them or someone they know, it is so helpful when there is a confidence in diffusing the situation without fighting. A strong mind can protect a child from comments and actions of others allowing them to stand up for themselves and people they know. BJJ for self-defense is not about fighting, but instead it is about defending yourself from harm and creating opportunities during an attack to get to safety.

The “if it happens, what will my child do”answer

The reality is that if your child is training BJJ and they start to get bullied by someone, it will mean they will be well-prepared. This simply means if someone puts their hands on them, it will be met with swift action, and if another child was to push them when they fall, it will be accompanied by a break fall and a technical stand up to ensure they are not in danger. BJJ brings self-confidence, respect, standing up for others, and self-defense into one mindset. There are many general benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a child, but when it comes to handling bullying, all the pieces of the puzzle come together. Contact us today and enroll your child at Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC.

Recap Of the Latest Events in September

We have had a lot going on this month for Team Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC. This month was filled with some wonderful competitions that our team fought hard in and trained hard for. Before we break down all the events this month, we want to thank the students, competitors, and community that is ever growing here in the Triangle area for Jiu-Jitsu. To train BJJ, it takes dedication and tenacity that can be applied in our everyday life, and to see people all around our community strive to be the best on and off the mats is what makes training this beautiful martial art even more amazing.

Tap Cancer Out

The Tap Cancer Out tournament came to the wonderful city of Raleigh, NC this month to help fundraise for our fight against cancer. Our school raised more than$3500 dollars and helped contribute to our fight against cancer. We also sent 10 students and came back with 9 gold 🥇, 3 silver🥈, and 1 bronze 🥉. We’re proud of our students and parents for always supporting the team. What makes us more proud of them is the great human beings they are on and off the mat. The medals are just a reflection of their hard work and dedication.

IBJJF Pan American no-gi championships in New York

A quote from Professor Tony Casarez who competed:

“No-gi Pan American Silver Medalist! 🥈I wanted the gold today, but I’m just grateful to be doing what I love. Had 3 tough matches. Lost in the finals 2-0 to a tough opponent. Thank you to all my supporters from family, friends, students, sponsors, mentors. I’m here because of you all. Thank you a million times. And thanks to God for giving me this blessing. “

Toro Cup 11

Another tournament for a great cause which raised money to help bring BJJ and MMA to Africa to help improve the lives of those who do not have the chance to experience this wonderful martial art. We had two competitors Jed and Kevin in the invite-only tournament. Jed secured the win with an Ezekiel choke early in the match, and then Kevin had a very hard-fought match that ended in points. Both competitors showed amazing talent and skill on the mats giving their opponents a very tough match. We cannot thank them enough for going out there and representing Team Casarez in the best way while at the same time raising money for such a great cause.

Preparing for a BJJ Competition

Preparing for a BJJ CompetitionWhat is important when preparing for a bjj competition? So many of us, once we start on this beautiful journey of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is often asked: “are you going to compete?” That is a choice that some make and others decide to pass on. There are some fantastic competitions that are available for both Adult and Kids, even divisions for older generations of the sport as well. The goal is to find out how to properly prepare and be ready for a challenging day on the mat.

Diet and Food Choices

This is just based on generally known knowledge and will for sure help those who are getting ready. It is important to keep a healthy diet when training in general and should already be established.

Foods to Eat:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit in moderation
  • Clean protein (chicken, fish, meat, chickpeas, peas)
  • Nuts
  • Clean grains and even pasta in moderation
  • Water and more water

Foods to Avoid:

  • Soda
  • Desserts
  • Fried foods
  • High sodium (canned beans, soups, etc)

The food is the fuel for your body and when you are getting ready for competition, it is not only about making weight but keeping you healthy through the rough preparation period while practicing. The foods to avoid is really about keeping inflammation down in your body and providing as many nutrients as possible if you are going to have to cut weight, keeping carbs low is also a good choice.

Level of Intensity

Your mindset and training will change when you know you are getting ready for a competition.

1st phase:

The first phase is all about the number of rolls you are getting in. This will provide you time to work your game, get used to many different styles of opponents, and build your stamina up.

2nd phase:

The second phase the intensity is going to rise with the amount of energy in each roll being almost at competition level, and most schools will have a set time for this “competition training,” so all that is in class know what to expect.

3rd phase:

About a week out or a little more, it goes down to a much more relaxed approached with a lot of drilling and some light flow rolling to keep your muscles awake and memory sharp with what you have been working on.

What to bring to the competition

Just like when you are packing your bag for class, it is important that on game day you are extra prepared.

  • Water
  • Protein or energy bar
  • Change of clothes
  • Small medical kit
  • Mouthpiece
  • Tape
  • Comfortable shoes (you may be standing a while)
  • Sandals optional but cannot hurt

Final Tips

Some final tips are when you are preparing for a bjj competition. You are breaking your body down, so make sure to give yourself time to heal. A nice ice bath and cold showers can assist with this, and also getting enough sleep are super important to allow your joints, muscles, and overall body to heal. Some people may think starting to lift weights is a good idea. If you do not do it already, don’t start three weeks beforehand, but if you do, then keep the same regime you have and even amp it up in phase one. This is just a little advice from some, and I am sure there are many more pointers from those who dedicate their time in competition. At Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we have many students that compete, but all will tell you it is the entire team of students that drive the competitors to the podium. Last and I would say the most important thing to remeber is to have FUN!

Team Casarez BJJ Getting To Gold

As many people say, there is no “I” in team and though that is true this is a break down of Team Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu latest accomplishment at the IBJJF American Nationals in Las Vegas. Our professor Tony Casarez had some hard fought matches in both GI and No-GI divisions. The competition outcome was that of a Gold medal: American National Champion — after a lot of hard work with the team that has come together at Team Casarez and Lucas Lepri HQ.

From The Words of the Competitor

“I had the honor to compete at the American Nationals. I took Gold in the gi division Masters 1 and silver in the no-gi. Had a tough match in the no-Gi and lost to a ref’s decision to a tough opponent. Met him again in the opening round and was able to win in the Gi (7-0) and redeem my loss. Won in the finals (11-2) and finally felt comfortable in my game.”

The irony of this is not only did a competitor go out and win, but it is the support from all the coaches that assist with the classes and students that help a person get to that level of success. When we win, we win as a team as it is said at Team Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

A special shout was also focused to the amazing people that have helped Tony on this adventure.

“[Professor] @lucaslepri who has been coaching me and guiding me for the past few years now on and off the mat, and my teammates in Charlotte as well like @fredalvessilva, @deanlewjitsu, and @paulosantanabjj and the rest of the crew who always help me with training. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. “

Why A BJJ Journal Can Help

BJJ Journal Casarez BJJ Cary NC
As we are starting off in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it is very easy to get lost in all the techniques being shown, but being able to retain that information will help you elevate your game and help your training partners.

Options for a BJJ Journal

  • Cloud document like Google drive can be of great assistance as you will have access wherever you go for easy viewing during open mats.
  • A simple notebook from the store, and this is one of my favorites as you can decorate it with stickers, sayings, or even goals.
  • Note cards are an option as well, but you can lose these easily, so I would not 100% recommend these, but they are great for reviewing. For example, 3 guard passes on a card and then 3 escapes on another.

The thought of wanting to get this benefit out there for BJJ practitioners is when you are brand new to the sport technique and repetition is what makes the difference. The problem is missing a simple step can make that technique not work creating frustration.

A Tool For Learning On and Off The Mats

Think of it as a tool of the trade, not a task that you have to do. The best time for me to write this down is right after class while everything is still fresh in my head. Also, if you are a more advanced student this may not seem as important, but I still would recommend it just as a refresher at times when you are working on a new strategy. Having a book of your path through this beautiful journey is also a keepsake that you can cherish for years. Just think you make that long road to black belt and look back at some of your journals and see when you were writing the first time you learned how to do an armbar drill or a Kimura.

At Casarez BJJ, we always strive to find the best way of helping people on their journey of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We are located in Cary, NC and invite all out to try a free week of our Adult BJJ or Kids BJJ classes.

How Kids Can Benefit From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Kids BJJ BenefitsMaking the decision to put your children into BJJ is a great idea and has some amazing benefits. In BJJ your child will learn team work, confidence, discipline along with many other positive influences that any Martial Art provides.

​In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it is a way of life: from those Saturday morning classes with their team that your little one looks forward to or even during the week for the night classes that help them release that energy from the day.

​BJJ Shapes a Child’s Mind

​BJJ teaches problem solving like no other martial arts, and that is why it is associated with chess so much. Keeping calm under pressure and making the right moves helps you win a match with your classmate but also in life.

​BJJ Provides Focus

​Many children sit in school and let their minds wander, but that is not the case in BJJ class. This is the time when learning and fun go hand in hand. From learning how to properly roll, fall without being hurt, or holding a position, all is taught with the mindset to help children remember and retain from the instructor. This comes in games played at the end of class or even little sayings that incorporated during the instruction. The biggest takeaway is that they are learning how to learn and focus.

Kids BJJ classes have even more benefits than the ones mentioned above, and to find out more, check out a free week today. We have students from all over the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Morrisville). Contact Team Casarez BJJ today for more information.

Never Quitting

When I first started training BJJ 12 years ago, I wanted to quit. I think most people do. They never tell you that. Some are ashamed of that, but the truth is almost everyone is tempted with that thought. Jiu-jitsu is not easy and when you see how far you have to go to get a black belt, you want to quit. Heck, even a blue belt is a hard accomplishment.

Last month, my student Mariah Bragg entered the adult division of the 2017 Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. This is one of the biggest and most competitive tournaments in world.

Let’s rewind a year ago. Mariah walked into the mat room unaware of what jiu-jitsu was. she seemed determined and that’s all she really needed. She tried a tournament and did well. she earned second place. But then she challenged herself and competed at the 2016 IBJJF Charlotte Open. She lost in her first round. I am more than sure she was tempted with wanting to quit. But she went back on the following Monday, grabbed her note pad, and dove deep into her BJJ thinking palace. The results: well she trained and drilled everyday for 6 months.

She entered her next tournament and submitted all the girls in one division and won the other. She double golded in the famous US grappling tournament. Then, she got bronze in the Pan Ams. Her match to get to the semi-finals was close. In fact she was losing 3-0. Then, she avoided side control and executed a sweep which ended in a full mount. She ended up winning 6-3. This was all in the last 15 seconds by the way.
It was all the Mental practice of not giving up that taught her to find that will power and come from behind. She lost in the semi-final 2-0 to the girl who won the division. We are so proud of her because of her willingness to always fight and learn.

Here are three things we can all learn from Mariah as we train to get better tomorrow:

    1. Never give up!   As cliche as it is, it’s true! Mariah was down mentally and emotionally after her loss at the Charlotte Open. She could have gone back to her daily routine and been like “BJJ isn’t for me.” But she didn’t. She went back to the drawing board and set a plan to get her training where she needed to be.
    2. Take Risks!   In one of her matches, she was losing, but she took the risk she needed to win. Life is about taking those risks sometimes. Do the same in BJJ and in life.
    3. Stay Focused!   She stayed determined with her goal. She avoided crappy food, beer and alcohol, and trained on some nights when most people were doing something else. Stay focused with whatever you’re doing. That’s the key to getting where you need to be.


​So there. Simple, but not easy. Here’s the great part. This isn’t limited to just Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a blue print to success in the real world.

Hope this helps. If you are interested in asking me a question I can answer, please contact Team Casarez BJJ today.

Oss and happy training!

Sincerely,
T.C.