Everyone runs into different challenges in when training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Paying attention to technique and coming to class consistently is extremely important in helping your game progress, but most of the time there are questions or problems in your game that cannot always be addressed in class right when you need them. Maybe you are having a problem with a certain position, wondering how you can use your body type to your advantage, or are being challenged by a specific person or strategy in rolling. Private lessons are an amazingly effective way to quickly solve some of those issues!
Black belt James Peterson not only has a great list of credentials, but has years of experience successfully helping people with their games and has coached multiple people to IBJJF World and Regional Champions. He is right here at home in Appleton and offering hour-long private lessons for as low as $40 when you split it with a partner. Call or text him directly at 920-740-6005 to schedule yours!
Martial arts can be a powerful tool for women. Martial arts can not only give women the skills to protect themselves, but can be an effective way to develop self-confidence, determination, focus, and self-respect. The martial arts can also be a great way to relieve stress, a part of a healthy lifestyle, and a way to create a supportive network of friends and mentors!
Team FVGC’s Women’s Class teaches a combination of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, and self-defense skills in a safe, supportive, and empowering environment. It is designed for women with a variety of experience levels; we welcome women with absolutely no experience as well as our more advanced martial artists. This is a class that can be taken by itself or in conjunction with another martial arts program at FVGC.
Our Women’s program is taught by Alexandra Peterson, who has been training in the martial arts for over 20 years and is one of the highest ranking female Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in Wisconsin. She has many years of teaching experience both in striking and grappling and is the founder of Rebel Girls BJJ, a non-profit organization that promotes women’s jiu-jitsu and its community in Wisconsin.
As with all the programs at Team FVGC, you get 7 DAYS FREE to try out the class (Learn more about getting started HERE
Team FVGC is proud to support women in martial arts. This past Sunday (April 19th), FVGC hosted the Rebel Girls BJJ Training Event, a free 3 hour training event for female BJJ practitioners. The event drew 40 women from all over Wisconsin and Illinois.
Rebel Girls BJJ is an organization that strives to empower women and inspire female camaraderie within the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community by creating free and accessible events in which women, regardless of experience level or team affiliation, can come together to learn, train, and celebrate the tenacity and righteousness that they bring to the gym every day. To find out more, you can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rebelgirlsbjj
By Coach James Peterson
Do you ever wonder why you feel so good after a training session? Have you ever thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t go in to practice tonight” and gone anyway, only to realize you feel great afterward? I am sure you have probably even tried to surmise why this happens. Maybe you think it is the endorphins. Maybe you think it is the simple act of “blowing off steam”. I am sure many of us have realized, whether we have been in BJJ for a short time or having been training for years, that while we are in the midst of it, it brings us true happiness.
I run my own gym and, in the past, have had several people return from vacations and tell me that they just have to get back in and roll. As I watched a TED Talk by Matt Killingsworth, it dawned on me as to what REALLY contributes to that feeling of such a great contentment and overall happiness a person gets from doing BJJ. You can watch it HERE.
It has to do with something he terms “Mind Wandering”. The general idea of Mind Wandering is that when people allow their minds to stray away from their present situation, they tend to be less happy. This holds true even if the individual’s thoughts are on something more positive than their current situation.
Luckily, while doing jiu-jitsu, you can only really focus on jiu-jitsu. I don’t know if I have ever thought, during a rolling session, what I would eat later or what plans I had for the weekend. When a person is doing BJJ, unless they want to get their ass completely handed to them, they can only focus on what is happening right at that moment. If you want to survive and thrive in BJJ, you MUST be in the moment. You have no choice. This is one of the key beauties of the art; complete focus on the now.
The side effects of training jiu-jitsu like increased fitness, the ability to endure difficult situations, better self-confidence and the bonds made with teammates are great, but I think, what brings true happiness is the absolute dedication to the present which is necessary to do jiu-jitsu.
Think about this AFTER your next rolling session.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to come train BJJ with us in Appleton, here is a sneak peak of some great technique from black belt James Peterson:
BJJ Technique of the Week: Rolling Armbar from Turtle Position
If you want to see more from the Fox Valley Grappling Club, you can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. Happy training!
We all have those friends and teammates whose mantra seems to be “It’s time for me to get back into shape/get back to training…and I am serious this time!” They start coming to the gym three or four days a week and start making some progress…But the commitment seems to wane quickly and they end up back where they started 3 months ago.
Martial arts and fitness are not in the list of activities that are like riding a bicycle. You can leave your bike in the garage all winter and still ride it in the spring with ease. You stay out of the gym for the winter and you will have more than a little rust to shake off. There are two main reasons for this:
- The loss of physical strength and stamina due to inactivity/inconsistency should be a huge motivator for people with health and fitness or martial arts goals. Studies show that it can take as little as 2 weeks for your conditioning levels to plunge on a number of fronts! A few months of little to no training can undo months and months of prior work. Workout sessions that once seemed easy end up being incredibly challenging and frustrating after just a short period of time off.
- Meanwhile, progression in a sport such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires consistent work and focus to learn, polish, and fix techniques. It takes consistent up-keep of your body control and basics in order to focus on new techniques and positions. Purple belts need to be able to recall white belt and blue belt basics with no problem in order to focus on something more advanced.
So you must ask yourself: Why start over and “start training hard” every 6 months when you can stay at a reasonable and consistent pace, gradually improving all the time? Why worry about getting your wind back when you could be focusing on that new body movement or trying a kettlebell swing with a heavier weight than last week? Why worry about having your body be able to do a perfect basic arm bar because you keep taking time off, when you could be improving your guard game with more advanced sweeps? It seems like a simple answer to me.
NEVER LOOK BACK; MAINTAIN THE BASICS SO YOU CAN ALWAYS BE LOOKING FORWARD! And, if you have been out for awhile, make sure your plan to come back can be maintained over the long-term, not just for a few short months!
As I was teaching our FVGC Advanced kids jiu-jitsu class the other day, I looked around the room as the kids were drilling technique and felt proud! It was a class of 6-12 year olds repping their techniques with beautiful movement and great discipline. They hardly needed any tries to “get it right”. During rolling they stayed controlled and calm, hardly ever relying on size or strength to gain position or get the submission. It occurred to me in that moment that in some ways it was easier to teach this class than the adult white belts, that the adults have a harder time smoothly doing technique and rolling with some flow.
How is this possible? Here are 3 reasons I came up with:
- Kids come in with little to no pre-conceived ideas about BJJ: Usually kids come into class not knowing what jiu-jitsu is or how it should look. So, they come into class and take the instructor’s word for how things should be done and mimic the body movements and style of those that know more than they do. They don’t over-think it; they just DO IT.
- They work with adult instructors: The first time our kids roll, it is with an adult that is much larger than they are; perhaps this gives them the idea that their size and strength cannot be relied on all the time. They are forced to use good technique, as an instructor won’t let them get away with anything else!
- They keep it fun! Ego is much less of a problem in the kids’ classes. Of course, there is always some healthy competition, but the kids take it to heart when an instructor says, “You are going to have bad days rolling. It is okay. It happens to everyone. Everyone makes mistakes, and that is why you keep coming to class”. Even a child that has a rough practice is over it in about 10 minutes and ready to come back for their next class.
So I guess my advice is….Train like a kid! Come to class like a sponge, ready to absorb; roll with people that are bigger or more experienced than you; and, don’t let your ego get in the way of your training. Open your mind, open your heart, and LOVE JIU-JITSU!
Happy Training! :)
I spend a lot of time at the gym both watching and participating in Jiu jitsu classes here in Appleton. During these times, I hear a lot of discussion regarding body type and jiu jitsu. Even the kids in our BJJ program have realized that body type makes a huge difference. Many times the discussion is more of a complaint than anything…
“My legs are too long to fit the hook in”
“I am not strong enough to bump him”
“I am not flexible enough for this move”
“I can’t lock my guard/touch my knees to the floor in mount”
And then, there is the speculation that “That guy has the perfect jiu-jitsu body!”
The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a perfect jiu-jitsu body. Every body type has its advantages. Tall and lean is great for the guard. They may not be big and strong, but small guys can ball up, move fast and fluidly, and take advantage of little spaces. Those that aren’t that naturally flexible tend to take up a strong pressure and passing games. You must use what nature gave you and work with it! Not every move shown in class is going to be perfect for your game or be your #1 move; we all pick and choose. If you like to watch jiu jitsu videos, it may be a good idea to find someone that shares your body type!
That being said, remember that if you are frustrated with a certain technique or training partner, your body type may not be to blame! You may be missing details, a frame here or a hip movement there, or may need to modify your strategy…it’s probably something that your instructor can help you with!
There are a lot of different ways to cross train. One tool that has changed my Brazilian jiu-jitsu game is the exercise ball (also called a stability ball). If you have never seen an exercise ball used for Gracie jiu-jitsu, check out this video (sorry for the weird music…the guy knows how to move, but may need some help with his soundtrack choices):
I love the exercise ball for jiu-jitsu because it teaches a lot of different principles.
1) Balance and flow come from RELAXING the right parts of your body: If you are tense, you will lose your balance. The ball will “sweep” you. You need to relax the majority of your body and make minor adjustments to keep the main balance point. This is also helpful with your jiu-jitsu because it conserves energy and allows you to roll better longer.
2) A lot of CONTROL comes from your HIPS: You control the ball with your hips. You determine the direction it can roll and the places it will stop. This is a great concept for top positions in BJJ: Your hips create pressures and barriers for your opponent when you are rolling!
3) Mistakes happen, but you can MITIGATE the consequences if you FLOW: Tensing up and holding onto a bad position or base will get you swept or subbed. If I relax and counterbalance the mistake I may be able to salvage the position, deter my opponent’s game plan, or go to the next best position. I need to flow instead of panic.
Get started! There are a lot of videos out there to give you some ideas of where to start. You can also just start experimenting on your own, even if it is just starting with basic balancing positions (butt, stomach, knees). Have fun!
The other day I was teaching beginner Brazilian jiu jitsu in our Appleton school. It is a class in which we have a somewhat wide variety of experience levels, especially when you consider what 3 months of classes does for someone just starting out. So, when it comes to open rolling for the class, I keep a careful eye on all the matches for everyone’s safety and to coach the newbies a little bit. When I looked over I saw one of my 140lb. white belt girls battling with a grown man outweighing her by 60lbs and with at least a year of experience on her. She was on the bottom in side mount and then mount, struggling to escape. The guy she was rolling wasn’t being too rough or a jerk, he was just big and holding decent position. She was fighting, fighting, fighting. All of a sudden, her face changed. I could see the frustration and beginning of tears. She got overwhelmed and lost her will and focus; she made mistakes and was submitted.
It is one thing to get your butt kicked in jiu jitsu, to feel like you fought the good fight, to feel like you were just outclassed by your friend that day … but feeling overwhelmed by someone’s size, strength or experience can steal the heart out of your chest. THIS IS HUGE! It is an important thing to pay attention to whether you are in Gracie jiu-jitsu for self-defense or competition because being overwhelmed leads to PANIC. When we panic, we lose our heads, lose our focus, lose our strategy, lose our technique, and lose the fight.
How do we combat the panic we may feel during live roll? We can do it the same way we can combat any other fear, whether it is a fear of competing, a fear of heights, a fear of public speaking, etc. We practice! We immerse ourselves in the situation until it is no big deal…We compete once per month, we climb a rock wall on a regular basis, we do a presentation or announcement in front of our peers every week at work. When we are used to being in what we perceive as a bad situation, our brains and bodies kick in and do the work to protect us, just as they have practiced 1,000 times. So, we need to roll live and put ourselves in tight spots on a regular basis so we feel good while we roll in practice, so we stay calm when we compete, so we don’t panic when someone grabs us and we need to seriously defend ourselves on the street.