BJJ Grrl

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What would you do, #2

on June 13, 2013

This comment was originally posted on an earlier post, but I thought I’d bring it out here for everyone to comment on:

Yusuf Bobat says:
hey guys i wonder if you could help me, im 16. and i love bjj. ive been doing it for almost two years. my parents only let me train jits once a week,and obviously once a week is not enough, at all. if i had my way i’d be doing it every single day. i have like 3 really really good grapplers at my school, sometimes we roll. i have no brothers:( and i cant roll with my dad hes too busy, i do solo drills as much as i can. do you have any advice?

This may not be an answer you like, but, since you’re a minor in your parents’ house, they make the rules. If they say you can only train once a week, then that’s what you get. You didn’t mention what their rational is for this restriction, but they probably have at least a reason beyond “because we said so.”

Still, I’m all for making a case of “Hey, Parents, I really like training BJJ, and I would like to train more often. Is there anything I can do to make that happen?” Chores around the house, good grades, a part-time job to pay for training (and/or for a car to drive yourself, if that’s an option, or to afford other transportation), arranging alternate transportation — whatever the roadblock to training more is, is there anything you can do to remove or alleviate that? If the issue is the cost of training, is there anything at the academy that you can do to offset that? But be prepared for them to hold their ground. And if they do, also be prepared to have a good attitude about it, even if you don’t agree with their decision.

When you are in the academy, have a plan for any time that isn’t class time. Have something that you want to drill, questions you want answered, or a situational sparring scenario to work on. Drill with the idea of making every rep count. Ask questions when you have them. When you do roll live, again, have a purpose: work on what you drilled, work on the answers you were given, don’t just roll to roll. You don’t have time to waste, so don’t waste any time.

When you’re not at the academy, in addition to solo drilling, you should read about BJJ or watch BJJ videos, again with a purpose: this activity outside of class should fuel your questions & techniques in class. Watch and break down tournament footage, instructional series, and videos of specific techniques (e.g., check YouTube for a specific technique, and then watch how all the high-level guys do it. Each will have something slightly different.). Definitely definitely keep some sort of journal/notebook to write things down & remember them, and consider asking to record things in class, so you can review when you’re home.

Is there any other activity that you can do frequently that will help your BJJ? Wrestling and judo are the ones that come immediately to mind, but even other sports will help keep you in a “training” frame of mind and will help with body awareness & movement. Also, yoga.

And, if all else fails and you’re stuck with one day/week of BJJ training and can’t do much outside of class until you can make your own decisions about how & where you spend your time, then just remember that the mats will still be there. They won’t go anywhere, and BJJ will be around for a long, long time. When you can train as full-time as you like, BJJ will be waiting there with open mats and plenty of clock chokes.

What advice does everyone else have?


13 responses to “What would you do, #2

  1. trainingbjj says:

    That all sounds like solid advice to me.

    Another thing on the parent front is that many are uneducated about the benefits of martial arts, both physical and mental, so that is something you could bring up when discussing the issue with them. Many parents look at something like BJJ as more of a hobby that contributes nothing to your life, when it in fact can. Do some research on Google and pull up some articles. I found several papers from doctors who say that training is something good for anyone at any age.

    I also whole-heartedly agree with watching footage. One of the things that has really peaked my learning has been watching competition footage. There’s a fantastic website where you can watch tons of matches and it’s called ( So, check that out!

    And lastly, a grappling dummy might be really helpful to you. We have one in the academy I attend and it’s really tightened up my armlocks. I’m hoping to eventually get one or make one. They’re fairly expensive, but it’s something you could ask for for a birthday or Christmas. You can even make your own, which is much cheaper, and instead of getting a present, you could ask for funding to help you make your own. There are several websites with instructions on how to construct one.

    Hopefully some of that was helpful.

  2. alexk1073 says:

    I would ask for a subscription to that way you can at least watch techniques and run through them in your mind. I would communicate how much BJJ means to you then ask them what you need to do in order to be able to train more. If you are that dedicated then you should be willing to clean your room, take out the garbage, and wash behind your ears in order to train. Ask what you need to do then get it done!

  3. Yusuf Bobat says:

    thanks for the advice. yes once i get a car things will be better. my mate asked me the other day if i want to come with him for open mats at another academy, called novagen. my coach is also a teacher there so he wont mind. I always watch tons and tons of youtube and try to practise them as much as i can. another question i wanted to ask is that as i said im 16(turning 17) im tall and lanky, not much muscle. and yesterday at training everyone was bigger than me, there were two brown belts(very high level) two purple belts, one know it all guy and two white belts(although my technique is way better than them). i was easily the youngest and lightest in the class, i weigh 61 kg, it was very frustrating because every time off my back i got position for a triangle, or a armbar but since everybody has a whole load of weight advantage on me they were all simply sitting up and powering out of the submission, even if i have a full rear naked locked in theyre just way stronger and they pull my arm off. i go to a gym and im trying to bulk up but whay else do you suggest i do to improve my grappling against the bigger guys, i asked one of the purple belts about it he said hes going to show me a few techniques.

    • leslie says:

      With very few exceptions, everyone at training has ALWAYS been bigger and stronger than me, and probably always will be. Even most of the other women…

      One thing I learned early on, though, was that trying specifically to beat certain people in the gym — whether it was through getting stronger than them or learning a particular technique that their game was vulnerable to — was actually not a good use of my time and energy. I needed to work on improving my jiu-jitsu as a whole for me, and not on getting “gym wins.” I can’t look at how my training partners are progressing; I can only control how well *I* am progressing.

      Usually the reason a technique “does not work” for me on bigger guys is that I’m doing some fundamental part of it incorrectly. Because I’m smaller and weaker, I have to hit every detail pretty much perfectly for it to work. Sometimes that also means that I need an additional level of control or that I need to “pre-set” the submission, for example:
      * RNC: trap their arms with your legs to keep them out of the picture.
      * Triangle: keep the “locking leg” (the one that will go over the top of the other) posted in their hip while you hold your shin; scoot backwards to stretch them out and further isolate the head & arm (and prevent them from posturing up) before adding the lock. (See Renzo demonstrating here.)
      * Armbar: pull their arm straight or nearly-straight before actually throwing the armbar; that way the elbow is deep enough and it requires less to fully finish because it’s almost done already.
      * Chokes, in general: get the collar grip or choking arm deep before you are even entirely in position to finish. If it’s deep before they’re in real danger, it will be deeper still by the time they are.
      * Sweeps, in general: try to take them one way first; then, when they pressure back, really take them the other way.

      Also, not all techniques work best in all situations. Just because I thought of it and know how to throw it doesn’t mean it’s the best option. And there’s always a counter to their counter. They may defend one submission attempt, they may defend two, or even three, but by four, five, or six, they’re likely to make a fatal mistake. So always have a “Plan B.”

      Another thing to consider is that you are only able to train “live” once a week. This means that your timing on techniques is likely not as solid — I find that if I take too many days off between training sessions that I start hesitating more or just not hitting things as smoothly as I usually do. And likely these other guys train more frequently, so their timing is going to be getting & staying sharper. Your technique could be good, but if your timing is off, things still won’t work well.

      Finally, remember that in a tournament you’ll face guys your own size. If you bulk up, you’ll fight bigger guys. Something to consider.

    • Alex Kennedy says:

      To piggy back on what Leslie is saying here is a really good post on addressing ego on the mats. Yanni says not to consider tapping your opponent as the only win but look for all of the mico-wins that happen when you train.

    • trainingbjj says:

      I’m going to piggyback on Leslie’s comment too and add in a few things. As she stated before, in her original post, keeping a journal is a wonderful idea. Doing so will help you realize holes in your game. It will help you improve yourself. It’s not about getting gym wins and adding techniques that will help you “beat” your partners. It’s about patching up those holes and becoming a well-rounded BJJer.

      A wonderful piece of advice I read somewhere was that you never want to gauge your progress using your training partners. The reason I’m stating this is because if you get focused on gym wins, but then lose a lot you can sometimes get discouraged and feel like you aren’t progressing. The fact of the matter is that some people learn fast and some learn slow. Some are strong and some are small. The best way to actually gauge your progression is to look at yourself. How are you now compared to the first day you stepped on the mat? If the current you had an opportunity to with the “first day of BJJ” you, what would happen?

      Progress gauging that way is much better.

    • leslie says:

      Very true.

      Also, as you are getting better, so are your training partners. So while you’re working on making your submissions better, they’re working on their escapes. And vice versa. So while it feels like you should be able to gauge progress by how you do against your training partners since they’re, you know, sitting right there on the mat, they’re actually *not* the best gauge because there are so many things about them each day that are different, changing, and unmeasurable. And don’t worry — one day a new guy will come in, and you’ll roll with him & realize “Holy moly, I *do* know some jiu-jitsu!”

  4. Alex Kennedy says:

    Check out Emily Kowks dvd set and iphone app, how to defeat stronger opponents. I am a purple belt who is on the bigger stronger side and I found all of her techniques very helpful. I would also not worry so much about bulking up in order to meet strength with strength but really focus on improving you technique. remember technique beats strength 90% of the time! good luck bro

    • leslie says:

      Yes, that’s a great series. I have all 3, though I’ve only watched Emily’s first one. She shows a lot of techniques that I’ve learned through trial-and-error are “best” against bigger opponents. Quite a few of the videos from her and from Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins (DVD #2) are on YouTube, as well.

  5. Yusuf Bobat says:

    did you guys get my last email? i sent two

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