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

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.

Preparing for a BJJ Competition

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

Diet and Food Choices

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

Foods to Eat:

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

Foods to Avoid:

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

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

Level of Intensity

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

1st phase:

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

2nd phase:

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

3rd phase:

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

What to bring to the competition

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

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

Final Tips

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