BJJ Friendly Care Products

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Sally Hansen’s Cuticle Massage Cream
It keeps your cuticles soft so they won’t tear as bad when you train in the gi. It also helps repair the damaged cuticles when they peel.

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Tresemme Split Remedy Shampoo & Conditioner

This shampoo and conditioner helps repair your damaged hair when it is constantly being pulled back & tossed around when you are rolling. It keeps it looking healthy & preventing split ends. (I also use Garnier Fructis Length & Strength shampoo & conditioner)

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Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape

This helps if you have a cut and are wearing a band-aid.  This is absolutely waterproof/sweatproof, just wrap around the band-aid & arm, finger, leg, etc. I would wrap it a couple times & it sticks to itself, so it stays put.

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I also use Gi-Soap Tea Tree Oil Body Wash!
It keeps me clean & gets all the nasty off after hard training days & leaves me feeling refreshed!
If you have any products that help you live the BJJ lifestyle more efficiently, please comment & post!!

Women’s Only MMA Seminar

Recently, a link to a men’s only gym was floating around on the interwebz. At first, I was taken aback by the nature of the article, and thought it was silly for them to only be welcoming men. I still think it’s silly, but Kristina Barlaan made some great points in her blog about it. 

http://bjjaoyama.com/wordpress/184

http://kbjiujitsu.com/post/72751796298/on-men-only-academy-in-japan

 

Since then, I have also heard people, ladies included, saying women’s only classes/events/gyms aren’t cool either. That they’re statements saying we, as women, need special treatment. If anything, I think it’s the complete opposite. I think we’re making a statement saying “We are women. We are strong. We are technical. We are fighters. We’re here too.” Think about it. Martial arts is a male dominated atmosphere, so holding women’s only classes/events are ways to bring women together. To show others that we can do martial arts too. It’s not that we can’t handle training with guys, but women’s only classes should be gateways to eventually training with guys.  Sometimes, women can get shut out and their progress is hindered without you consciously being aware.

True Story. Example:

Holiday seminar at our headquarters: Gi, Boxing, Muay Thai. Each session taught by a different person. Muay Thai session starts out with basics, but the class is obviously divided between guys (all whom are fighters) and ladies. The instructor of the class proceeds to lead the guys into the cage, and as I try to follow, the instructor stops me and tells me he’s going to show us something different. Granted the guys were all fighters, but what about the ladies who want to train to be a fighter? We immediately got shut out and not even given the opportunity to try.

So, I asked my head instructor if he would hold a Women’s Only MMA Seminar for us. It was small and only meant for the No Limit/Killer Bee ladies, so that way people would have prior training in BJJ or Kickboxing and it would be easier for my instructor to teach techniques without being so basic. The outcome was great, and the ladies were more motivated than ever. I think maybe next time we will open it up to more ladies :).

 

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The gi class was booming with ladies that day. 

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Becks was very patient with us.

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Come at me bro.

 

A New Year-Promotions

Happy 2014, everyone!!

This year looks to be a promising one. After having the opportunity to cross train with many people the month of December, I feel better about the new color around my waist (Like you don’t question yourself at times?!).

I live in a college town, so during the holidays our mats get somewhat empty. So, I was very excited about having my ladies back! After much deliberation with my instructor and head instructor, I was given the green light to give out some of my student’s first, second, and third stripes!! I was too excited and could barely keep my mouth shut. I have watched these ladies come in with an eagerness to learn, to better themselves, and grow as a person and as a BJJ practitioner.
They were all too excited when they received their stripes. I always get a little emotional, too, at promotions, because you train these people and you watch them grow and get better and you’re just so proud!!
Jiu Jitsu is hard. People don’t tell you that when you first start. They tell you that it’s a little different from karate, that it’s kind of awkward, but they don’t tell you how mentally challenging it is. You find that out on your own, and you end up getting addicted to overcoming that challenge and then it ends up being a life long journey.
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Cross Training

One of my favorite aspects about jiu jitsu is the community! I have had the opportunity to meet many BJJ practitioners via Twitter, Facebook, Open Mats, and Tournaments. You make these connections and develop relationships through talking about training, the highs and lows, and everything in between, and then you walk into a tournament and it’s almost like a family reunion. And through developing these friendships, you’re likely to meet people from all over the place, and if you travel, it means you always have a place to train. 🙂

This past week was filled with different rolls. We had a good friend of ours come back from Kansas to our gym in Starkville to visit us for a week, a brazilian Clau, who is a purple belt who trains with Nova Unaio. We had another good friend, AJ Pappas (an amazing graphic designer & blue belt that trains out of Fight Clinic), come visit from Southaven (Memphis, TN area) and bring two of his training partners as well. Friday, we went to visit a gym I sent one of my students to because I knew one of the ladies that trained there. I had competed against her in the Dallas Open. And just yesterday, one of my best friends who is like a big brother to me, David Close, came to visit. He is a brown belt under Rafael Santos with Alliance.
So, needless to say I have learned a lot this past week and have had many dynamic rolls. (And not to mention the Sophia Drysdale camp I attended too)
I think cross training is a great way to stay in competition shape and a great way to meet new people. Those who are opposed to cross training may have a different point of view, but to me you are always welcomed at my gym.

 

I unfortunately don’t have many pics from this past week! But here’s some from earlier this year.

ImageMe, Jess, & Ashley. These are two ladies I followed on Twitter and had the honor of watching compete at the NY Summer Open this year. 

ImageAt Mushin MMA in New Orleans for a Women’s Seminar & Open Mat!

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The Women’s BJJ Pow Wow hosted by Lenay Williams taught by Jason Turnage. I met them when I was visiting my cousin and helping out with his band camp. Was in town for a week and they graciously allowed me at their academy. 

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Me and my big bro, David Close!!

 

How to Attract & Retain Women in BJJ (Southern Style)

When I first started BJJ, I googled “Women in BJJ” about 1000 times because I knew there would be something different about a woman being in BJJ. It was there, googling on the interwebz, where I found the Women’s Grappling Camp & received tremendous knowledge on what it was like to be a n00b in the art. Valerie Worthington is one of the blackbelts that is in charge of the camp, now known as Groundwell Grappling Concepts.  Here is a link to her article on Breaking Muscle on “How to Attract & Retain Women”. 
http://breakingmuscle.com/martial-arts/from-the-experts-how-to-attract-and-retain-women-in-bjj

 

What she says is very true, and I would just like to add a few of my own points from other conversations I’ve had with other instructors and ladies. Some repeat from the link above.

  • Nobody wants to feel like a n00b. Nobody wants to come in and feel like they know nothing. A common misconception when I invite someone to my gym is “I don’t want you to beat me up.” or “Y’all are going to beat me up.” And of course, that’s not what we do. A martial arts academy is not where we beat people up, but it’s a learning institution. Learning how to “shrimp” is the first thing I show to beginners, and they often catch on very quickly, which leaves them feeling good.
  • With that being said, make sure it feels like a learning institution. Never let a student (first timer or a regular) leave without learning something new, whether it’s a small concept to a technique they already know, or a new technique all together. This will also keep them coming back for more.
  • Piggy backing on what I just said, never let a first timer roll (IMO). Some may think, “Oh well they need to learn somehow.” I have found that it works to start off simple with showing basics and linking them together. (Side control escape (this shows them the usefulness of the useless looking technique called shrimping) to scissor sweep, etc.)
  • Always make sure the bathroom is clean! If you only have 1 bathroom in your facility, make sure it’s decent. I’m not saying make it smell like roses (though, that would be helpful), but it’s very important for it to be clean and inviting, not a truckstop restroom. 
  • Keep a basket of hair ties. Women who have long hair have all had that terrible experience where they break or you forgot one and had to borrow from your buddy. Keeping a basket of hair ties, as small as it sounds, it means women’s matters are important & you’re just being thoughtful.
  • A women’s only class is a great addition to an academy schedule. With a woman instructor, it can be more inviting and less awkward. A female instructor can often times relate better to the female student.
  • Women, if you want more women to train, be consistent. You’re setting an example and first timers aren’t going to want to come the second day and you not be there.
  • Communicate! Exchange numbers! Befriend them on Facebook! This helps by keeping them accountable for coming to class. The first days, weeks, months, and year of BJJ can be discouraging and scary. And invite them to upcoming seminars and open mats! Traveling together helps create bonds and an inclusive atmosphere.

Feel free to comment and add your own opinion. These are just some off the top of my head.

 

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The most recent seminar I attended. Women’s Only Seminar with Sophia Drysdale at Tennessee Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy.

Taking A Break

Wow, it’s been quite some time since I have posted anything to my blog. I’m so sorry! A quick catch up since Worlds.

After Worlds, I competed a few more times and was kept busy with switching jobs & focusing on my 2nd Women’s Open Mat. I competed in the IBJJF Summer New York (placed 3rd in my division), I competed in NAGA Memphis placing 2nd in both gi and nogi, competed in the Mississippi BJJ State Championships placing 1st in gi, and then placing 1st in the Atlanta Open in my weight class. My women’s open mat was a success. We had almost 30 young ladies that I had the privilege of introducing BJJ to some and networking with others. It was a great event, and I was even promoted to purple belt!!

It was scary, and I truly felt unprepared. But, I was not going to question my instructor’s decision. I have yet to compete at purple belt, and I feel more than ready for 2014.  To be honest, this year has been incredible with ups and downs. NAGA Tennessee was last weekend and I decided not to compete. I went and supported my kids who competed and my teammates who competed. It was a tough decision to make when you have sponsors you want to represent, people who see you as a competitor & tell you that I shouldn’t question it, but it’s tough when you know your battle is no longer physical, but it’s mental.  Heck, that is the majority of the battle.

I won’t go into details, but mentally, I would not have been 100% to compete last weekend. Though, there was lots of female competitors, I would be giving them a disservice if I would have stepped on the mat only being 75% mentally there, 100% physically there. Taking this break made me realize, competing is only a part of this jiu jitsu journey. My journey isn’t based on how many tournaments I do, how far I travel, or how many medals I have won, but it’s about growing as an individual and being better than I was yesterday. Sometimes taking a break gives you the chance to see what is really important.

2014 will be a good year. I have lots of tournaments planned, as well as events. And I will definitely try to update my blog more! I have a few topics I want to discuss. 

Jess

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