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.

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.

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.