Advice to My White Belt Self

 

It took me over 10 years to get my black belt in Jiu Jitsu. During that time, I learned a lot of lessons. In the hopes that it will help some of you on your journey, here is some advice I wish I had been given when I was a white belt:

Consistency is Key

Prioritize consistent training over hard training. I would rather see you roll 4-5 days a week consistently, than 1-2 hard days. The problem with rolling hard every class is that the next day, you are beat up and exhausted, with little to no motivation to go back and train. If you do go back and train, you get run down and your motivation starts to take a hit. Instead of this approach, train consistently, without the pressure of training hard every day. Some days you should just drill, other days roll only with lower belts, other days roll lightly as best you can. Whatever you need to do to continue showing up multiple times a week and stay consistent.

Get Involved and Stay Committed to Other Arts

Do not quit the other arts. I trained judo, wrestling, and striking briefly when I was a white belt. My advice to myself then would be to keep up with these arts and incorporate them into my training. Whether that means once a week, once a month, or once every couple of months, I know that it would have significantly improved my jiu jitsu journey. If anything, I would have also been a black belt in judo by this time. Whether that means wrestling clubs at schools or in the community, anything you can do to get involved. If a competition is available in these arts, even better! Do it.

Create Healthy Diet and Recovery Habits

Habits take a long time to build, and I wish I had started prioritizing a healthy diet and lifestyle when I was a white belt. When you are young, you can get away with eating any food you want or getting little sleep, and showing up the next day ready to train. As you make your way to black belt, the years inevitably tick away. Getting older means you need to be watching what you are eating and your lifestyle habits. My advice would be to create habits now that will benefit your older (black belt) self in the future.

Do Not Stop Lifting Weights

A stronger version of you is a better version of you. Lifting weights improves jiu jitsu and also prevents injury in jiu jitsu, which means you can be more consistent. I lifted weights during the early years of my jiu jitsu career, but stopped on and off throughout the decade. My advice would be to keep lifting, and consider it a part of your training. It will benefit you in the future.

Learn How to Study Jiu Jitsu

It’s boring, and no one wants to sit in front of a computer when they can actually roll with friends, but it has to be done. Studying jiu jitsu online is one of the best ways to improve quickly and develop a greater understanding of how and why jiu jitsu works. Like the healthy diet and lifestyle, my advice would be to start learning how to study jiu jitsu as a white belt. Push yourself to incorporate this into your routine. I would tell myself that it is helpful and worth the time.

Travel When Possible to Learn from Others

I traveled a lot to compete, but sometimes I wish I had used those resources to go to seminars of world class black belts and learn different styles. Of course you learn a lot from tournaments, but every now and then, choose a seminar over a tournament to get a taste of different styles and improve your game outside of your home gym’s instruction.

Jiu Jitsu Can Be Your Career

For almost the entire decade that I trained, I was told by family members and friends that jiu jitsu was just a hobby, a past-time. I was told that I needed to focus on my career. I am proud of myself for going to university and getting my undergraduate and masters, but I wish I had been told that jiu jitsu could be more than a hobby. I always believed it for myself, but it was hard to stay motivated with outside pressure pushing me to be “successful” in society’s eyes. For a while, I was in denial of following my path. I would tell myself as a white belt that it is okay to commit to jiu jitsu. Don’t hold yourself back because of what other people expect or want from you. If you know it’s your path, then follow it.


Most of all, enjoy the journey. I hope that this advice is helpful. I would love to hear what advice you would tell yourself as a white belt, or even just as your younger self. Let me know in the comments on Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook: Tony Casarez
Instagram: @tonycasarez

Stop Trying to Fix Your Cardio & Do This Instead

The biggest misconception in the Jiu Jitsu community is that you need to improve your cardio in order to keep up with your opponent.

The problem with this philosophy is:

Training cardio outside of Jiu Jitsu makes you more tired and less recovered for your cardio training during Jiu Jitsu.

Rolling in Jiu Jitsu is aerobic exercise in itself. In other words, by showing up to Jiu Jitsu and rolling, you are training and improving your cardiovascular system. There is no need to push yourself on a 5 mile run or spend an hour on an elliptical to improve your Jiu Jitsu. If anything, training aerobic exercise outside of Jiu jitsu will hinder your training because you will have already taxed your nervous system before you even step on the mat. The best way to train your cardio for Jiu Jitsu is to train Jiu Jitsu, so you do not need to be doing cardio exercises outside of Jiu Jitsu.

If you are tired of feeling tired, and training cardio is NOT helping, then keep reading to find out what you should do instead.

Learn when and how to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

At the seminar, Gui Mendes said:

“What separates lower belts from high belts is not cardio. It’s knowing when [and how] to breathe.”

While cardio is important, learning when and how to breathe in Jiu Jitsu is what will make the difference between you and an opponent who has similar, or possibly even better, cardio.

With a strong breath, you can learn to reduce fatigue and improve your focus, both of which are essential when rolling.

How to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

Inhale and Exhale through your nose for as long as you can during a roll. This type of breathing is known to allow more oxygen to get to active tissues, which is essential for muscle energy and endurance. If you want to learn more about nose breathing, I encourage you to listen to this podcast:

Eventually, you will find it very difficult to continue breathing through your nose in the roll. This is a sign to focus on your breathing once again. Focus on inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Relax your mind. Decide how you want to proceed.

If you are interested in this topic and would like to know more, I encourage you to listen to this podcast:

When to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

It’s tempting to work your way to closed guard, side control, mount, etc. and rest once you get there. Avoid this.

Why? Because you have just secured a dominant position and should capitalize on this position before you allow your opponent to recompose themselves and their breath.

The when to breathe in Jiu Jitsu is in the time after you have just tried a submission, sweep, or pass and it did not work, or right before you are about to pass, sweep, take the back, or go to mount.

Improve your endurance with strength training

If you are going to spend time at the gym outside of Jiu Jitsu, then you should be focusing on strength training. Lifting weights with long periods of rest in between sets.

You are already training your cardio by showing up to Jiu Jitsu. What you should focus on improving is your strength. When the muscles are stronger, they are more efficient in the energy that they use.

By giving yourself more time in between sets, you allow your muscles to recover for the next set so that you focus on strength over cardio.

If you want to improve your strength training routine, I encourage you to research kettlebell workouts and programs. I especially would recommend Strong as Hec Programming: Kettle Bell Workouts .

I will also be uploading a Youtube video that outlines my strength training routine. As always, if you have any questions about strength training, feel free to ask me at the gym.

How to Create a Routine for Rest and Recovery in Jiu Jitsu

The truth is, most of us already know that we need to eat well after a training session, or that we need to make sure we are getting sufficient sleep in order to recover properly.

And yet, we don’t always do it.

It is easy to get distracted by other priorities, to get lazy in our recovery routines, or just be inconsistent depending on our mood.

This is a reminder to prioritize your recovery routine just as much as you do your training sessions.

Here are some tips I have found that will make a consistent recovery routine more likely to happen:


Make your post-training recovery drink readily available

What does this mean?

After training, you are exhausted. If you do not have a go-to product or already made drink, the chances that you are going to stop at a store or make a smoothie as soon as you make it home are pretty unlikely. And if you are a student that likes to chat after class, the 30 minute window to recover has probably already closed.

My advice would be to purchase a recovery drink in bulk for the week, and bring one to every class so that it is ready to drink on the way home. If you prefer a powder recovery, then bring the powder to class and make the drink before you leave so that you can drink it on the way home.

The key here is to come up with a routine that will help you be more consistent in how you refuel your body after training.


Relax your nervous system before you leave the gym/before you sleep

Again, we all know we need more sleep. Sometimes that’s just not possible with families, work, and other responsibilities. I’m not here to tell you that you need to start getting 10 hours of sleep a night. For most people, that’s just not going to happen and frankly, not helpful, you already know you need more sleep.

What I will say is that training jiu jitsu is taxing on the nervous system. Your muscles are being activated, your cardio is being pushed, and your brain is under the impression that this is a fight or flight situation.

This can result in the release of the hormones norepinephrine, adrenaline and cortisol. These are helpful in the moment because they work to increase your heart rate and enhance focus.

However, if you do not properly relax your nervous system before you leave and especially before you sleep, you will carry these hormones into your nightly routine. This will disrupt the quality of your sleep.

The next time you end a training session, take a minimum of 2 minutes to close your eyes and take deep breaths. This will help ‘reset’ the body temperature, calm the central nervous system and bring your breathing rhythm back to normal. You can also think of this as a time to soak in all that you learned on the mats. You can do this in the gym just sitting against the wall, or while you are stretching. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this in the gym, you can do it in your car before you leave for home. At the very least, do it right before you go to sleep at night. This will help to prepare your body for a restful night’s sleep.

If you are looking for more of a guided meditation or breathing exercise, there are many online and hundreds of free ones to choose from on an app called Insight Timer.


Support Your Recovery with Magnesium & Zinc

If your recovery drink does not have Magnesium or Zinc, I highly suggest taking these supplements before you go to sleep. Magnesium supports the body’s metabolism, muscle recovery, and improves sleep by naturally helping to calm and regulate the nervous system. Zinc supports the muscles in recovery and protein synthesis. It also improves your body’s immune system response.

These supplements will be what help you to make it to the end of the week without feeling run down, congested, or sick. They will help you to show up better the next day for training.

EVL’s Sleep and Recovery Complex is a great place to start if looking to add these supplements to your nightly routine.

You can find more information about this supplement for men here. 


These are just some of the tips that I would suggest to students who are struggling to commit to a consistent recovery routine. By making recovery as convenient as possible, we are more likely to remember and commit to doing it, even on the days we are exhausted, burnt out, or unmotivated. Consistency is key, so come up with a routine that best compliments your lifestyle and personality, and stick to it. Notice how your body feels when you implement a consistent and healthy recovery routine.

Jiu Jitsu Concepts: Gui Mendes Seminar

As Lucas Lepri affiliates, all of our students were invited to attend the seminar hosted by the Lepri Headquarters on October 16. The seminar featured Gui Mendes, a 4X World Champion and current professor at Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy in Costa Mesa, California.

For the students who were not able to attend the seminar, I wanted to share some of the key takeaways that were discussed. I would also encourage you to watch some of Gui Mendes’ competition matches so that you can get an understanding of his style.

Concepts in Jiu Jitsu

Gui Mendes began the seminar by stressing the importance of concepts in jiu jitsu. In particular, he focused on concepts that involve passing the guard. His belief is that concepts are fundamental to learning jiu jitsu, and help students to tie techniques together.

The concept that he shared first was the idea of varying degrees of distances that are used when passing the guard. These distances were:

  1. Far distance
  2. Middle distance
  3. Near distance

Far distance includes any time when an opponent has control of the arms or collar, but your legs are kept far away so that the opponent cannot control them. Far distance, for example, would be when the opponent has spider guard.

Middle distance is when an opponent has control of one leg, and a sleeve or collar. This would be when an opponent has de la riva, for example. Finally, near distance is when there is little to no space between the opponent and yourself when passing the guard, and this would be headquarter position or half guard, for example. He showed examples of passes for all of these guards.

When passing far distance (spider guard), for example, he shared a three step process:

  1. Create distance
  2. Open the gap
  3. Attack

Creating the distance involves constant movement, or “a flow”, as he described. He encouraged students to always stay moving so as to keep the opponent active and adjusting. As an opponent is adjusting, this is when the gap is open. He described a 1-3 second window of opportunity for attack that involves the time when an opponent is adjusting to recompose their guard.

Techniques to Pass the Guard

The other techniques that he showed were guard passes from middle distance and near distance. The middle distance pass was a de la riva pass when the opponent also has the underhook on the leg. Because the leg is underhooked, you cannot remove the de la riva and slide your shin over. You have to also address the underhook. His approach was to move the de la riva leg up to the hip, and then grab their collar and pressure in. This traps their leg, so that you are then able to initiate passing. This technique is difficult to describe in a blog post, so if you are stuck on passing de la riva, come talk to me either in person or through DMs, and I will share it with you.

There were a lot of great concepts and techniques shared by Gui Mendes that it would be impossible to share all of them. Some of the concepts can be found on this video: How to Control the Distance to Pass ANY Guard In Jiu Jitsu by Guilherme Mendes.

How to Study these Jiu Jitsu Concepts

If you are interested, the entire seminar will also be posted on Lucas’ Online Training Program. I highly suggest purchasing the program if these concepts and techniques spark your interest. The Online Training Program also has hundreds of Lucas’ techniques and other videos such as training footage and guest instructors.

Finally, Gui Mendes also has BJJ Fanatics instructional collections on Understanding the Distance on Top.

We will also be reviewing these concepts in class over the next few weeks!

BJJ Safety With The Coronavirus

In light of the growing public-health concern about coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to share what we know about this illness so far, and what Team Casarez has been doing to prioritize your health and wellness. With that in mind, I specifically want to cover the following topics:

The most up-to-date information about coronavirus and its overall impact to date.

What you can do to help prevent illness and stay healthy.

What Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been doing to help keep members safe.

1. What We Know About Coronavirus

The coronavirus is a novel respiratory disease that has been spreading globally since late 2019. It presents a threat due to its newness, its contagiousness, and the lack of a vaccine or a clear treatment plan. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Public Health Agency of Canada, and local health officials are the trusted sources for the most accurate information, as well as updates on the status of vaccines and treatments (which are in development).

The coronavirus’s health risk to date appears to be comparable to that of influenza, which many of us have experienced. The CDC provides the following data about the preliminary burden estimates of influenza for the 2019–2020 season in the United States (October 1, 2019–February 22, 2020), which are contrasted with current burden estimates of coronavirus globally:

Unfortunately, coronavirus may live on certain surfaces at room temperature for several days. This, along with its rate of contagiousness, makes it unlikely that the virus can be contained. And because its symptoms are similar to those of influenza, it initially may be hard to know if they are indicative of coronavirus or another illness.

2. What We All Can Do

Stay informed. It’s important to process the considerable information we’re all receiving in a balanced and thoughtful way. With that in mind, worrying or panicking in response to the overwhelming amount of information can create stress in the body, which is known to compromise immunity. The CDC provides a comprehensive overview of

“What You Should Know.”

Boost your immune system. Now more than ever, it’s essential to prioritize our health and well-being, and do all you can to boost your immune system so you’re as healthy as possible, in the event you encounter this virus. Research shows that sustaining healthy habits supports immunity and can help prepare our bodies to better fight and recover from illnesses, including coronavirus.

These include:

  • Stick to a nutrient-dense, toxin-free diet, including known immune-supportive foods like garlic and ginger. Avoid foods that tend to weaken the immune system, such as sugar, refined grains, industrial vegetable oils, and processed and refined foods, as much as you can.
  • Get plenty of sleep, ideally seven to eight hours a night. This is your body’s time to perform preventive maintenance, which bolsters the immune system. Research shows that repeatedly short-changing sleep by even an hour or two can negatively affect immunity.
  • Get plenty of sunshine and supplemental vitamin D + K2. High levels of vitamin D have long been linked to lower rates of illness.
  • Consider taking additional vitamins, micronutrients, and supplements to support immunity, such as a high-quality multivitamin, magnesium, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin C, elderberry, and digestive enzymes. Probiotics and powdered greens have also been shown to support immune and gut health.
  • Get at least 20 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity exercise a day to prime the immune system. This movement results in the production of more white blood cells, which combat bacteria and viruses, and promotes improved circulation.

Practice good hygiene

These habits include:

Wash your hands frequently, and for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water to protect yourself and others from germs.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Keep your hands away from your face, because germs routinely spread when a person touches something contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you begin to develop cold- and flu-like symptoms or become ill, take care of yourself and minimize the spread to others by staying home. If you think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, call your healthcare provider immediately.

BJJ Specific:

Take a shower as soon as possible after training.

Be aware of how you are feeling prior to training not to stress your immune system.

Clean all your items after you train and wash your mouth guards out with hot soap and water post-training

Clean your gym bag if you have one after each training session with disinfectant.

Check out Tips To Stay On The Mats During Cold Season Blog Post

 

3. What Team Casarez Is Doing

While there is still more to learn about coronavirus, our intent in sharing this is to provide current and accurate information about the situation and to offer pragmatic steps we all can take to keep ourselves, our family and friends, and our communities healthy and safe, while minimizing panic.

We all have a responsibility to do our part to limit the spread of this virus and other illnesses, especially to those at a higher risk due to age, compromised immunity, or pre-existing conditions. Additionally, by doing as much as we can to stay healthy ourselves, we support the healthcare providers who will be caring for those in greater need when it becomes necessary.

We will be intensifying our cleaning routine and encouraging everyone to utilize the Sanitizer or Wash Station pre and post-practice.

 

Taping Your Fingers for BJJ

Taping Your Fingers for BJJ

Some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners almost never end up using tape and others live by it. I personally think it comes down to the type of BJJ style you like to play. For example, if you are doing NoGi, then needing to tape your fingers outside of an injury is most likely never going to happen, but if you are a big fan of spider guard, then tape on your fingers will probably be in your future. Here at Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC, we practice all the various types of guards in our adult BJJ and kids’ BJJ classes. When you start learning variations of the open guard, the tape is probably a smart practice.

What Type Of Tape To Use?

Some might say tape is tape: just use what you have and it will be fine. But others have a brand they live by.

Sport Tape

Normally found at any big store and sports stores especially. A good tool to have in your BJJ bag for both minor injuries and to tape fingers. “Tip: if you choose to go with this, take a piece and rip it in half. Then, use the smaller pieces to wrap your individual fingers.”

BJJ Specific Tape

This type of tape has a bit more adhesive that will help it stay on your fingers better and is already at a width ready to go. This type of tape can be best found on either a grappling network site or Amazon. The fun thing is that you can get “grappling tape” in various colors and from a number of different brands.

My Finger Tape Benefit Theory

Sometimes it is best to prevent injuries before they happen, well actually it’s always a good idea to do so. As we evolve in BJJ, there are styles that we will lean towards because they suit our body types and overall techniques better. Taping your fingers due to the fact that having sleeve and collar control helps you stabilize your position. Also, time wears on us in this sport, so why not give some aid to the fingers and prevent them from moving too much in one direction, getting squashed or damaged?

Finger Exercises and Conditioning Help Too!

Depending on just tape is not a great idea but instead starting a finger exercise regimen to go along with the tape will help keep your fingers and their joints in tip-top shape. Some ideas are below:

  • Getting a thick rubber band and spreading your fingers out repeatedly
  • Using a tennis ball or racquetball and squeezing it (more grip but still)
  • A hand soak in ice water after a hard session where grips were a primary use
  • Rope or rock climbing work (This will toughen up the fingers but may also stress them)

That was a sidetrack from the actual taping of this article, but I think it is still beneficial to keeping the fingers in good shape.

How To Tape The Fingers

or

Now, this may depend on your background or preference. There are a number of videos out there as well with great instruction to go step by step in completing this. I am going to give just general advice for accomplishing this to give a general overview.

The support method:

I like to think of this as similar support that you may have on a larger area of the body like the arm or knee. Starting with the base of the finger with a wrap then crossing over the bottom of the middle joint. From there wrapping the top of the finger to X the tape causing a limited motion / full support style of taping.

The wrap only method:

This is how I started taping my fingers at first but due to a recovering injury, I ended up going with the “full support method” to aid in the healing. I think that if you are in a hurry or just find that you do not have too much soreness, this will work. Simply tape in between each joint which will reduce the range of motion allowed to the fingers. This will provide a level of protection from overextension or in some cases, smaller jams that may occur.

To Tape Or Not To Tape

Now, this is totally up to you as the practitioner, but I wanted to write this up as many people that just start out end up asking someone, “why do you use tape?” As stated in the first part of the write-up, I think it depends on the type of game you play and how much wear and tear you have on your fingers. I hope this helps anyone out there who has been on the fence to wear tape or not. I will say that my grips have been keeping my opponents in my control better which means a fresh batch of tape just came in the mail.

How to approach an open mat for BJJ

How to approach an open mat for BJJ

Here at Team Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC, we have a few open mats every week, and that provides time for a student to work on what they have learned, try out some new stuff, or get some sparring with teammates. I have been training at Team Casarez Brazilan Jiu-Jitsu in Cary for a few years now and anytime there is a new student that shows up to an open mat, they will normally just come out and ask “what am I supposed to do?” For this reason, I think that each practitioner will have an opinion on what they do during an open mat session, but this game plan is great for anyone that is wondering how to approach an open mat for bjj.

Have a Plan

Showing up and not having anything in mind is not a bad thing if you are a seasoned student, but this can waste time if you don’t have a focus. A basic plan would be:

  • Work on what you learned that week while it is still fresh in your head and other students are also in that mindset.
  • Focus on your weaker side for passing or submissions.
  • Pre-game a flow or sequence to practice.
  • Write down a set of techniques you have been struggling with.
  • Review your BJJ journal and pick a favorite.

Don’t Always Just Roll

There is no doubt that one of the best parts of doing jiu-jitsu in the first place is the rolling or sparring aspect. A benefit of using an open mat for more than that though is that you have time to work on the things that you don’t have time during the normal class and most of all at your own pace. For example, if you have a hard time getting out of side control you can literally take 10 min, 20 min, or even an hour to work on getting out of it with numerous different people. Also, things like stretching and body awareness are essential to upping your BJJ game so why not do it then.

Ask Others to Drill with You

Drilling or repetitions of movements really turn learning into muscle memory. Finding fun and enjoyable drills that you can do with a partner can make an open mat one of the best learning experiences. An example would be to take 3 armbars you can do from the close guard and get 5 minutes in drilling the technique and also having the other person escape each one. The drill then becomes a fluid memory in your mind and body allowing it to be executed flawlessly when needed.

Don’t be Scared to Ask Higher Belts to Review a Move

We line up in class from highest to lowest and sometimes due to the nature of class, we do not get that time to work with the more seasoned people we train with. There is a difference between a brown belt teaching you a basic move and a blue belt. When you have been doing a move for years, there is probably some tips and tricks to accomplish it with ease. This is not to say that someone with a lower rank does not know the move; just asking higher belts to work with you on something is perfect for an open mat.

Conclusion

I hope that this idea of how to best approach an open mat helps people get the most out of those opportunities. Here at Team Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Cary, NC, we make sure that all the people we train with are equipped with the best knowledge for their BJJ journey. Posts like this and others, such as, what to focus on as a white belt, food choices to help BJJ, and others are written to just assist in knowing what to expect from this beautiful gentle art. We offer adult BJJ, Kids BJJ, and even a tots BJJ program so no matter the size of the family, we are equipped to handle it all.

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.

Food Choices and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Performance

Food choices and brazilian jiu jitsu cary nc

Food plays a big role in our everyday life, but food can also help your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu performance on the mats. No matter your diet choices from vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and others there are some simple guidelines that can assist in keeping you running clean and helping the strain we put on our bodies during training. Now just because you eat right does not mean you do not need to still do drilling or that you will become the hulk come competition time, but what you can expect is faster recovery time and more importantly longevity in the sport. Take these tips and know that food choices and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu performance can go hand in hand.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

When you are sick or have an injury, the key to the healing process is stopping the inflammation, and food can either assist or cause inflammation. This does not mean if you overextend your arm during training, dinner that night will fix it. What it does mean though is that by avoiding foods that provide no benefit and cause inflammation can make an injury stay around longer than anticipated.

Inflammatory Foods To Avoid

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • High amounts of Gluten
  • MSG
  • Fried Foods

Anti Inflammatory Foods

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and organges

This is just an overview of some foods to avoid and others to incorporate into your diet to help with the inflammation process that happens in our bodies when we are fighting an injury, infection, and even a cold.

Fuel For The Mats

When we are training there is one main thing to consider energy to be on the mats and keep it safe when you get tired. With that said, hydration, protein, and a low sugar based foods can assist with just that.

Hydration:

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumber
  • Canelope

Protein:

  • Lean meats
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans (beware of bloating)
  • Nuts

Taking this into account can give you the needed energy for a good training. There is nothing like the most delicious Acai bowl to munch on post workout, or having a handful of blueberries in some oats, but the foods you want to watch out for are the same ones everyone should and that is processed sugar in sweets. Other than that, you are fueled up and good to go on the mats.

How Much To Eat?

This all comes down to how much you are training and what for. If you are getting ready for a competition and are around the right weight then feed your body with all the needed good food to keep you healthy, training hard, and maintaining. If you are overweight watch the carb intake, stay hydrated and stick to lean meats and other proteins to safely drop weight. The part to remember is know how much you are burning so nothing is being deprived of nutrients because that is when injury, sickness, and burnout happen. We have recommended in the past of keeping a BJJ journal, but adding in what you are eating on training days is also a great idea as well.

Final Thoughts:

The basis of this post is to shed light on how a good diet and food choices can help your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training for both adults and children. Here at Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Cary, NC, we strive to keep all the students informed and safe on and off the mats. Taking the time to share this knowledge is not coming from a licensed dietitian but more of an approach that many of the competitors and even everyday students of The Gentle Art at our academy take to stay healthy and training. Offering Kids BJJ and Adult BJJ means that with all the athletic training going on here, we want to keep students performing at the best ability.

Safety Tips On The BJJ Mats

Safety Tips On The BJJ Mats

Here we are going to provide some basic safety tips on the BJJ mats to keep you and your team safe. These are all observations of things that have happened or have been avoided. We already deal with everyday soreness and creaks from the body due to the just basic training, so there is no reason to get hurt from things that are avoidable. The professors and instructors can only do so much, so we also as students hold responsibility of keeping ourselfs and others around us safe if possible.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a beautiful gentle art, but if not taken seriously, there are some dangers involved that can, for the most part, be avoided with proper knowledge and precaution. During times of drilling, sparring, throws, and more, you always have to be aware of your surroundings. An example of this would be if you are doing any type of throws or takedowns, be cautious of where you are landing and where others are landing. By simply moving or having everyone face the same direction this can help avoid injury.  Another situation is during a roll to be courteous and cautious of others rolling around you and where you are in terms of mat space. Awareness is the biggest part of safety on the mats, and by not adhering to it simply means you are inviting injuries.


General Rules of Precaution on the Mats


  • Don’t just continue to roll to see if others move.
  • Respect higher belts and take initiative to move if you see they are about to enter your space.
  • Speak up to  your teammates if you see something about to happen.
  • If you are with a lower belt, remind them of technique over strength.
  • Notice your placement if you are getting close to the edge of the mat and just reset.
  • Properly fall and base during rolls to prevent injury.

Be A Good Teammate on the Mats

Showing up to class and being ready to roll is great and a big part of BJJ, but also being a good student of the art means to help your fellow teammates out during rolling when times are right. Always keep an eye out for yourself and the people around you. This means that if you see an aggressive roll going on around you, move or if you are resting, buffer the people rolling to prevent them from rolling into others if needed. Also, the intensity is different for everyone, and you do not know if someone is healing from an injury, has a past injury, or is just at a low level of energy for the day. A pre-roll talk of how hard you want to go is not a bad idea if you feel the need, especially if it is a new student or someone you have not rolled with. Last and for everyone who trains is control of your movements. For example, if you are trying a new move out and during live rolling it involves explosiveness or something that may catch someone off guard do it but do it with control. Slow and steady wins the race but also keeps people safe when practicing BJJ.

Mindful Concepts For BJJ Training

These are just some concepts that I have seen that keep people safe while doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC. I personally have decided to adopt these tactics while rolling to keep myself safe and others. I would say it is common knowledge for many who have been doing this for a while, but anyone new to the sport must realize each gym is different. The biggest takeaway from this post is simply being mindful of your space while on the mats. Having both kids bjj and adult bjj classes that serve the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham, and Cary, keeping students training and safety is our goal here.