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.

FUJI Raleigh Tournament October 2021

The FUJI Raleigh Jiu Jitsu tournament was hosted on October 24, 2020, and we had 13 students that competed and represented Team Casarez. For many of the students, it was the first time competing. It is always exciting watching students compete for the first time because there are a lot of emotions that come with competition.

Managing the emotions that come with a jiu-jitsu match at competition pace is challenging. There is excitement, but there are also nerves and fear. This is normal, and I encourage my students to compete if they can because it is a way to face these nerves and fears that we have. These weekends always leave me so proud of the students as they take on these emotions head first.

The 13 competitors brought home a total of 17 medals, with the following results:

Kids:

Silas – 3rd
Valentina – 3rd
Cristalia – 3rd
Gabriel – 2nd, 2nd, 3rd
Caike – 1st, 2nd

Adults:
Caike – 3rd
Noah – 1st
Xavier – 3rd
Shawn – 3rd
Brian B – 2nd
Andrew – 1st, 2nd
Brian – 2nd

Arthur and Henry also competed, and while they did not medal, they fought hard and showed true understanding of technique as they competed. This is important to me because it shows that the students are learning and improving, and are able to retain this information even under a stressful situation.

I would also like to shout out Andrew, who competed for the first time in the purple belt division. He earned his purple belt only 2 weeks before the competition, and won his division in Gi and got 2nd in No Gi. It was also his birthday, and it says a lot that he chose to spend the whole day competing! We are very proud of him.

We also had students who were not competing come out to support, including Sarah and Trinity. It is always a good feeling to have teammates cheering you on as you compete, so we appreciate students who take the time out of their weekend to be there for their teammates.

Every competition, we learn more about what we need to improve and focus on, and we take these details into the gym, and eventually into the next tournament.

Congratulations to the whole team for an amazing and exciting weekend!

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!

3 Takeaways from the Tap Cancer Out Tournament 2021

On September 11, we took 21 students to the Tap Cancer Out tournament. The event was full of exciting matches and team camaraderie. From the tournament, there are 3 clear takeaways that I want to discuss.

1. Fundamentals are Key!

The first takeaway is that I noticed that our students had a different particular style compared to the other competitors. Because we are under Lucas Lepri and Alliance, our students tended to play a more controlled game with a good, steady pace. For example, there were a lot of fundamentals, such as knee cut passing to side control to basic finishes. Our students played both open and closed guard. They also demonstrated knowledge of basic takedowns from our curriculum which focuses on basic judo and wrestling influenced techniques that are part of our style.

Out of the 21 students who competed from our school, 17 medaled. Out of those 17, 8 got gold. And out of the total competitors, only 1 was a full time competitor who happened to snag a gold. This means that the 16 students who competed and medaled are all hobbyists who train only a few times a week. They have families, full-time school or jobs, or businesses of their own. Their success further proved the system we practice is effective. This was a local tournament but it was still interesting to see this dynamic played out through statistical data.

I learned that our students who practice consistently even just a few times a week can still build the fundamental framework needed to do well in a jiu jitsu tournament. Afterall, fundamentals are key.

2. We Are Family

The second takeaway I noticed at the tournament was that our team relied on each other as family. Since many students were competing at one time, it was hard to coach every single one of them.

Students stepped up, and were able to help each other: from coaching to helping with warm ups to taking videos and pictures of the matches. Our school culture is very important to us as it displays lots of brotherhood and sisterhood that is supportive and encouraging, regardless of results.

Our head of our association, Lucas Lepri, always preaches “we never walk alone,” and this past Saturday was a great example of this. Win or lose, we fight together. And the incredible support from the family and friends radiated and showed us that we are not only a team; we are family.

3. Winning Isn’t Everything

Finally, the 3rd takeaway from the tournament is that this was a great learning experience for everyone. A lot of our students learned from their mistakes. Being humbled is undoubtedly one of the best things that can happen to a person. Everyone wants to win, but winning isn’t everything. As cliche as it sounds, you learn so much from losing. Our team was able to pick the pieces up and rebuild from any losses they experienced. Those who were defeated at the tournament were back on the mats the Monday following.

Where they go from here is really up to them. I am proud of them for all they did not only at the tournament but also the preparation that was involved. As I mentioned before, the majority of these students have full-time lives outside of jiu jitsu. Yet, they made time to prepare mentally and physically. Now, they all know what it feels like to compete. And they know what to change or continue as they move forward.

I’m also really grateful for even the students who didn’t compete because they were there helping out. If they weren’t, they were there in spirit with support. They also helped to prepare these competitors with training at the gym beforehand. In jiu-jitsu, the beautiful thing is you can’t get better by yourself. You lose as a team; you win as a team; you fight as a team.

 

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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.