About Me

I’m a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Tim Mannon (Renzo Gracie black belt). I started in April 2008. I got my blue belt on Sept 8, 2009 (17 months), and my purple in Oct 2014. I’m 36 years old, 5’2″, and ~125 lbs (~57kgs).

I started BJJ because I’d done a little bit with a friend (who had trained with Tim), and it seemed fun. I went to a class, got my butt kicked, and decided that it was even more fun than I’d even thought, and so I haven’t stopped going back.

Hi πŸ™‚

I’m a writer, an editor, a business analyst, and a software tester. I’m occasionally a bit OCD and somewhat of a perfectionist, so I may update things, move things around, etc. I love to write, and I write about everything, always have. (This is why I have so many extra pages that sprout up. I can’t stop writing! Also, I’m a procrastinator — if I’m working on this blog, you can be sure I’m avoiding something else.) I’ve always been an introvert and a loner, so actually interacting with so many people on a near-daily basis is a new experience for me, and I’m still learning how it goes.


The first time you comment, that comment has to be approved. And as long as you’re not an obvious autobot spammer, it will be as soon as I see it. After that, sign your comment with the same name & email and it will be automatically published. (Multiple links might get a comment flagged by the WordPress spam filters, but I’ll let it out as soon as I see it.) Also, I no longer go through the spam folder, so if your comment never gets published, it’s probably in there.

I do try to respond to all comments, but I have a bad habit of composing responses in my head and never actually writing them out because my brain thinks I’ve already answered. (I do this on other people’s sites, too!)

Contact Me

You can leave a comment (I like comments), or you can email me at bjjgrrl at the gmail.

You can also find me on Facebook (same email). If you do, please mention that you know me from my blog (else I may not accept).

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Based on a work at https://bjjgrrl.wordpress.com.

That means you can copy what you find here and can even adapt it so long as you tell everyone where you got it, you do not take credit for the work, and you don’t make any money off it. If you put it up somewhere, you agree to let other people copy and change it, using a similar license.

64 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi,

    Great blog, thank you for reading my message. I have just started bjj, and was wondering if u have any tips for a newcomer, and someone interested in eventually competiting. thank you for your time ~Alicia

  2. Hi, Alicia. Congrats on starting BJJ!

    As a beginner, I think the most important thing is to be patient with yourself; you’re trying to do something that’s completely different and not always intuitive. Seven months in, and I’m still working on this!

    Also, don’t worry about how many times you have to tap during sparring. It’s just practice, so work on getting in to and out of positions. You will get better, even though you might be last person to notice. =P

    I haven’t competed yet, though I’d also like to, so I don’t have much advice for that. I do know that most (all?) tournaments start on the feet, while most in-class work starts on the ground to minimize injury (well, at least at my school, it does). So if your school doesn’t work a lot of takedowns, you may want to ask an instructor or advanced belt for extra work on takedowns before a tournament.

  3. Hi, I just found your blog and am working my way through your archives. Is it possible we were separated at birth? πŸ™‚ I too am a female writer/editor who loves the martial arts. I’m currently taking a combination of jujitsu and karate, and would love to take BJJ someday. I’ve done stand-up karate for a while and love the ground stuff.

  4. Hey, Thanks for joining the forum! Hope to see you on it soon, You should definitely come down to newbreed in CA to train. Let us know how you are doing! Thanks


  5. Hi Leslie. I wondered if in your internet travels you’ve run across other great blogs by women in BJJ or other martial arts that write about the issues of training women? I’d appreciate a heads up if you have any favorites.

  6. @Tom: it’s the theme I’m using — it has several built-in headers and different colors for the highlights (currently orange). I like it because I can change it up when I’m bored without having to redo all the widgets and such.

  7. Great blog. My girlfriend is a regular reader of your blog as am I. I am posting a blog tomorrow on my site where I interview her about her experiences and thoughts on being a female in the sport of Bjj.She is also a blue belt. We both would love to hear your thoughts and welcome your comments. Thanks for your time! http://www.jitsujourney.com

  8. Leslie,

    I stumbled across your blog from another bjj blog and wanted to let you know I am really enjoying it. I trained with Tim and received my blue belt under him so it is nice to read about the classes. I am now in Richmond and train at Top Game Academy. Next time you are in Richmond please stop in and train with us.

  9. Hello from CA,

    While recovering from an injury I recently started my own blog to cure boredom and remain connected to JJ – before I started I Googled a few to see what’s already out there and came across your blog– I really like the content, writing style, and perspective. great stuff! looking forward to future posts,


  10. @Dave: Hiya πŸ™‚ See how crazy jiu-jitsu makes us? When we aren’t doing BJJ, we’re thinking about it, writing about it, reading about it… πŸ˜›

  11. Leslie, I’ve told Tim to put me on notice when the new academy has it’s grand opening but I feel like that punk will forget me. Would you keep me updated via blog or something? I want to come up and be there if at all possible. Have already cleared it with the wife if I have enough notice.

  12. @Bray: They were supposed to be moving everything Thursday, today, and tomorrow. With all the snow & sleet, though, I don’t know how that’s going. I should be able to go on Monday. If I hear anything, I’ll be sure to post about it.

  13. I was reading your blog and couldnt help but notice how similar our bjj experiances are. I agree completly that the best wasy to get more women training in bjj is to have more women training at the gym, unfortunatly its very easy to say that and next to impossible to get the women in there. im also almost 30, and awating an mri on my knee LOL, but i havent been sitting out, i’ve just been doing statick drills and working very lightly, with modifications to avoid overusing the knee. Its so great to see other chicks out there geting down on the mats. i fully belive that bjj is AWSOME for girls because of escapes, and being comfortable defending ones self from positions that most attacks on women boil down to, KWIM. any way good luck with the knee! arin

  14. Hi Leslie! Just popping by to say thank you for what you said on Clumsy Ninja – “Losing isn’t losing. You have to try new things and β€œlose” to learn. Most people are too scared to do this; everyone wants to win.” I was looking for the right words for a fellow student who put his head above the parapet and entered his first BJJ comp today – looked through all my martial arts books and what you said beat what they all had to say! πŸ™‚ And at the very least, he’s now inspired me to take my BJJ more seriously and put myself in the same learning situation next year … πŸ™‚

  15. Hello Special ladies. Its great to see so many ladies into self defense. We are in Costa Rica training 5 days a week, and know its aa special thing to have you on the mat. Come train while on vacation, go surfing, or just see the sights while eating totally healthy and breathing FRESH air. our students give instant respect to women who train, as they have all tapped out to our “girl”!!!!!!!
    JUNGLE GYM San Ramon costa rica

  16. Hey Leslie,
    I was googling “LCL jiu-jitusu” and came across your blog. Rolling last night, my partner rolled out of my omo plata and I came right up into a bicep cutter. Done it a million times, but this time may angle was funky and there was a huge pop in my leg. The whole gym went quiet — everybody heard it. So now I’m praying it’s LCL and partial tear and not ACL. Wondering how you approached your rehab and any tips you might have. I’m still in the RICE stage. And just for background, I’m a blue belt, writer/editor who works for a tech Web site, been training four years. I can’t stand to think about sitting out!! Hope you’re 100 percent now. Best, j

  17. @Jody: Ouch! Sorry to hear about your knee 😦

    Have you gone to a doctor yet? If there’s one thing I would change about the way I handled my knee, it’s that I would have gone to the doctor within the first week or two when it wasn’t getting better. They may only tell you to wait & see, but then you at least have a documented visit close to the time of the injury (which insurance wants).

    If they want to send you to physical therapy, go for it. Be sure to explain to the PT what level of movement/strength you need to get back to. (I told them I needed to wrestle 200-lb men!) You actually need to go further than the “no pain when I walk” level that most people would be content with, so you may need to stay in PT a little longer than civilians. Also, do the exercises the PT gives you! They may seem silly or light, but they somehow do work.

    For the first few weeks while I was RICEing and hardly able to walk, I went to class less and just watched. It was pretty much torture — I even missed doing the warmup! πŸ˜› But I watched the techniques (and even wrote them down) and made myself watch the higher belts roll with each other and tried to learn from those.

    Nights when I skipped going to class, I got books from the library or watched Netflix to keep my mind occupied and from turning to thinking about all the jiu-jitsu I was missing. (It also helped that I had a huge project at work that required overtime right around then and that the weather was horrible, so there were some nights I couldn’t have made it to class anyway. The knee was just one more thing.)

    My knee is close to 100% now. I’m still a little bit cautious on side-to-side drills when leading with that leg, and I’m not back to trying shots on that side (it’s my back leg and stupid side, anyway). And I take extra time to warm it — and all my joints — up before class now. Occasional twinges, but no pain.

    Coincidentally, I was reading a forum post by Hillary Williams the other day, and she says her LCL has been torn for 3 years!

  18. Thanks, Leslie. Good info, eminently sensible advice! Unfortunately, I’m seriously doctor-phobic, claustrophobic (no MRI, pleeeeeeeeeeeez!), and scared of being pressured to have surgery. But of course if the alternative is never healing enough to train w/ confidence, I’ll have to face those demons. GAK.

    I’ve had enough injuries to know how easy it is to get overeager, jump back in, and turn a relatively short rehab into a long-term chronic frustration — definitely not a smart move. In one case, I was out for several months, but I went to class faithfully, took notes, tried to stay positive… boy did THAT suck!

    Sounds like you’ve done all the right things — soon, you’ll get to the end of a class and realize you didn’t even think about your knee at all, I bet! Thanks again for your advice. If you’re ever in Southern Indiana, look us up — like you, I train w/ awesome guys!

  19. @Jody: LOL, I, too, avoid doctor-types whenever possible. (I don’t know why, as I have really nice doctors and I genuinely like them as people… just not as doctors, lol.) It took me a month before I went to mine this time. And I usually go years between dentist and eye doctor appointments!

    You said you heard a “pop!”, though, and that’s what really makes me think you need to see a doctor. Mine didn’t make any noise or feel like anything until it suddenly started hurting several days later. Immediate pain and noise might mean it’s more serious. 😦

    My doctor told me that most minor — and even some more major — knee injuries can be treated with just physical therapy anymore, that they’ve found that surgery isn’t always the best fix and so try to avoid it. So hopefully your injury isn’t seriously enough to warrant surgery, and some TLC and PT can take care of it.

    Hope you get better soon!

  20. I think for girls it is extremely hard to get into jiu jitsu so well done. Its just there are so many academies where there are only guys, you have a really hard time. and competitions are also male-dominated

    My academy for instance is full of guys that have done freestyle wrestling or sambo for many years and they often give most new guys a really hard time, sparring aggressively etc we only had one girl two years ago and it was really strange, some of the guys did not want to train with her and the academy itself is not really female friendly because there are only male facilities (changing room & showers)

    great blog by the way!

  21. I’ve been training for 18 months now. I’m a 39 year old female – not your typical student. I fought NAGA this weekend, and the young guy who weighed me in apologized for having to write my age down. My response “No need to apologize me. I’m proud to say that I’m an almost 40 year old woman who can compete this weekend.” I was thrilled to see so many woman compete, but we still have a long way to go. I train with my husband and children -it’s provided a great bonding experience for my family. Unfortunately, the rest of my family and friends just don’t understand my fascination with the sport, and tend to just ignore it and hope it goes away. I’m fortunate to train with a wonderful instructor and accepting and suppotive teammates – http://www.novauniaosouthflorida.com.

  22. @John: Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

    I’ve said elsewhere that the best way to get women into BJJ is to have women in BJJ… Someone has to be the first stubborn girl who sticks around anyway and earns the guys’ respect.

    @Jen: LOL, totally understand the confused family & family. And that’s awesome that your own immediate family is training.

  23. Leslie!
    i am so happy that i found (stumbled upon) your blog! it is very exciting to know that there are more ladies like me out there in the world. i am a lonely jiu jitsu gal in Idaho. i have my purple belt under Pedro Sauer and i am the proud owner of my own Pedro Sauer academy. BUT there are so few women that train in my area, that i don’t have any other perspective. I am glad that (from what i have read already) i am not alone and that some of my feelings about training and jiu jitsu are not unique to me. i have been validated! ha ha

    I think i will be reading your archives instead of working today. i hope that this will turn out to be a lovely, long distance friendship. πŸ™‚


  24. @Jessica: Glad you found me/us (there’s a lot of people commenting around here, too). The funny thing is that I write what I do so that I can find out for myself that I’m not alone. πŸ˜›

  25. I was debating whether or not to try out BJJ, and the information on your site helped me take the plunge. I’m a 40-year-old woman with no martial arts background. I am giving BJJ a 4-month trial. I have no other female support in my area, so I thought I’d look for some on-line.

  26. hey sharkgirl
    join me on facebook. there is a group called women representing brazilian ji jitsu. its a great group of bjj ladies and we all support eachother. good luck with your experiment.
    P.S. give it a 6 month trial… it will take atleat 3 just to get to the point where your nt killing yourself every class!!

  27. Do any of you face the problem of finding drilling partners for outside of class (for example, no other women in your class and guys not comfortable doing this)? How do you resolve this or compensate for it?

    Also, do you have a specific out-of-class that you follow, and for those of you who cannot afford a gym membership, what do you do in lieu of this (most females training MA seem to have gym memberships)? No, no YWCA where I am. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for any ideas.

    1. I’m blessed to be able to train 8x/week at my academy, so when I’m out of class, I focus on recovering! The most “training” I’ll do is watch videos or do pull-ups on the bar in my bedroom door.

      Could you go to class early or stay later and get some extra drilling in? If one guy alone is a little skittish about doing it, try to recruit a few to come together.

      For any conditioning-type training you want to do, again, what about going early/staying late at your academy? We’ve done After Practice Conditioning, an optional & student-led workout blast (usually Crossfit-inspired: that is, short but intense). And we have a couple guys who sometimes come early and purposely wear themselves out before class starts.

      For out-of-gym workouts, there’s sandbags and Crossfit. Sandbags are relatively inexpensive to make, and Crossfit has non- or minimal equipment workouts.

  28. The academy is a room in a building with a lot of mats, it is not really an academy “as we know it”. It is informal. They close the building before and after classes 2x a week. They are doing the best they can with what they have, and the teacher is a great person, the guys are also great (though almost all MMA types), but women are not sticking with this too much here where I am, it’s still like in the early 90s in the States. Fishing around for buddies or female fellow joiners has elicited responses along the lines of, “you’re gay, creepy, crazy or guy-shopping”. (LOL!)

    The men are especially kind about helping me out near the end of class when they are tired out and less likely to injure me (I am very much a beginner). Most of them prefer the no-gi style.,.so buying a gi was probably an expense I shouldn’t have actually even put out for, with my limited resources.

    A sandbag would be a good cheap option for strength training, along with the Prison Workout. Teacher recommended isometrics. One favorite so far is the animals drill I found last night, which seems to target flexibility. I’m determined to stick with it for 6 months at least, as Arin suggested above, but without being “openly discouraging”, the teacher is trying to politely tell me that women tend not to be able to stick with it, for purely practical reasons.

    I’m designing myself a 6-month survival plan anyway. πŸ˜€ Thanks for your advice!

    1. Lol@ the instructor saying “Women don’t stick with it, so you should quit.” Circular logic, that one! (Actually, not so much “Lol” as “smack-upside-the-head”. Duh!)

      Stick with it. The best way to get girls to stick around is to have girls training. Circular logic again, but this time it makes sense πŸ˜‰

      Good luck!

  29. Oh, he is not discouraging me at all, in fact he is very encouraging and inclusive, he was just warning me about the statistics and conditions…I am sticking with it anyway. πŸ˜€

  30. When I started doing BJJ in December, I was the only woman @ my gym. Now there are three others and one more trying it out. The other night in class there were 5 women and 5 men! I don’t think they would have joined had I not been there.

  31. Hi Leslie, I’ve been following your blog for the past couple of months now and have really enjoyed reading it. I get it sent to my gmail account so I get the occasional update at work which breaks up an otherwise non Bjj related (in other words, boring) day. You also seem to train A LOT which I find myself very jealous about. I wish there were a class open as much as yours seems to be in my area (Weston, Uk). Any keep up the good work. I’m following.

    Cheers \m/

    1. Thanks!

      I’m blessed right now to have an academy that’s open for 9 training sessions a week (every weeknight, 3 weekday mornings, and Saturday morning) and a life that lets me train at 8 of those sessions.

  32. Hi, it is truly great to read your blog. i’m a newbie in Jiu jitsu and i already know that this sport is prone to injuries, especially knee injuries. I would like to ask for your opinion if it is ok to wear knee support during training or is it only for the ones who are recovering from knee injuries and would like to get back rolling. I just want to lessen the chance of accident especially on my knee because i dont think we can afford it financially if such accident happened. Thank you so much in advance!

    1. It is quite okay to wear whatever safety and other equipment that you need to. We have people who wear headgear even though they’ve never had cauliflower (and just want to prevent it); we have people who wear knee and ankle braces because they’re recovering or because they’ve had injuries in the past & don’t want to repeat them. What will get you laughed at (at least a little) is wearing wrestling shoes. πŸ™‚

      However, my major MCL injury happened when my knee was in a neutral position — just POP! I don’t think having a knee brace on would have prevented that. From what I’ve seen, knee injuries come in two varieties: flagrant misconduct by one or both people and random bad luck. Mine was of the random bad luck variety, as were several of the other knee injuries in my gym; these just seem to happen for no good reason. But I do know we’ve had two knee injuries that were the result of bad behavior, one on the part of the guy who was injured (he spazzes and goes 200% all the time) and one on the part of the partner, who was being reckless.

      So sure, put a brace on it, but also be aware of behaviors that cause damage. Also, be willing to tap early if something seems to be putting undue pressure on your knees.

  33. I love that I found your blog. I usually don’t post on blogs, just read them. This one I truly enjoy reading and look forward to finding new information on a daily basis. I just recently received a comment back from you about myself being a white belt (today is my 5th month in to the journey of BJJ) & the frustrations I am having with training with my husband of 20 years. Thank you for your response back. I appreciate all that you had said. Keep up the good work. ~Deeanna~

  34. Thank you for writing such a great blog! I’ve just started, about a month ago, and your blog has been a wonderful source of information and inspiration.

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