Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rolling Pic

About time for a picture? I like this one because it looks like I'm contemplating the world on the other side of the glass. I am in fact using all of my strength to keep my opponent in this thing that looks like a choke. It didn't ultimately pan out.

3 Reasons I love BJJ

As I was driving home from open mat today, this question crossed my mind; "why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?" There are so many types of martial arts that date back centuries and are firmly established in the American psyche. BJJ is essentially the new kid on the block. Of course, it's rooted in Jiu Jitsu, which has been around for a while as far as I know...but that's not the point.

The point is, when I finally had the health, time, and money to pursue a martial art, why was there no alternative in my mind? I'm not positive, but I think if there had been no BJJ gym accessible, I simply would not have trained in anything.

All of the following reasons are 100% subjective. Because other martial arts lack some of these elements does not mean I think they're pointless...but simply that I do not find them as appealing.

So, here are my top 3 reasons for loving BJJ:

1) Because it is so raw. You may (or may not) wear a gi and a mouthguard (and a cup if you're smart, dudes), but other than that there is no padding, protection, shin guards, gloves, helmets...nothing. I LOVE THAT. When, at any other point in our day to day lives are we so unprotected? The risk of injury is never far away and anyone in the sport will admit that it will eventually leave marks that will never fully heal. The beautiful thing about that is that I never feel more alive than when I'm that close to perceived danger.

2) It allow me to be aggressive. Many martial arts are solely defense-based. People ask me this all the time, "so are you doing this for exercise or self-defense?" My answer, "neither." I do it for many reasons but one of the main ones is that I am allowed to show aggression and it is perfectly acceptable. Human beings are meant to be able to fight if need be, and I think the more our society crushes that instinct the lesser we become. This goes for women too. Parents, allow your little ones to express this instinct in a controlled environment, it is an essential part of our humanity.

3) It is so darn practical. There are no 'forms' or pretty rituals. If some creep jumps me in an alley, I am not going to say, "hey can you hold on for a sec? I've got this great sequence to show you." If I can't hightail my way out of there, I'm at the very least going to attempt some defense and, if possible, a good triangle or kimura. Newbies: check out this Kimura from the guard position. To me, punching and kicking just don't seem like they would be all that useful. Remember though, subjective.

So there are my top three, though I could go on and on. And on.

If you've managed to get this far, leave a comment about why you love BJJ!

Thanks everyone,

AS :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Roller's High

This is of course an illusion to the famous 'runner's high' that we've all heard about. Turns out that runner's high is due in large part to a dose of the stress hormone cortisol as a result of putting your body through so much stress...but I'll leave that for another writer to take care of :)

In this case, I'm talking about the feeling I get after pushing through the "I'm tired let's blow this joint" phase that inevitably hits me after the initial hour of class. On Monday and Wednesday nights we have Foundations class that lasts for about an hour. It's a warm up and then basic drills. It shouldn't be tiring but it is. Then there's Training, a higher caliber time of more intense drilling that culminates in a lot of rolling.

Inevitably after the first hour of class I have a little internal discussion with myself that goes something like this:

Wuss Abigail: "Hey, I made it to class and didn't do too bad. I'm pretty tired though, been cleaning all day. Why don't we just go home and get some rest?"

Drill Instructor Abigail: "Are you kidding? We've paid for a month of classes and we're going to make it worth it! You know if we can stay for the next 5 minutes that we'll get our second wind."

Wuss Abigail: "Yeah but we have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow. Isn't sleep more important than rolling around getting sweaty and beat up?"

Drill Instructor Abigail: "Well yeah, but not nearly as much fun."

I admit that Wuss Abigail has won a few times, but I'm starting to get in so much better shape that the "I'm tired" excuse doesn't actually work as well any more and I've been having much shorter conversations with myself recently.  

The ending of this nice little story is that every time I do in fact stay and (literally) sweat it out, I always end up meeting someone cool, learning something new, getting a new injury to show off, or pulling off some neat move that will keep me grinning for the next 24 hours.

It has NEVER been not worth staying. And in case double negatives freak you out, let me say it another way; it has ALWAYS been worth staying for the Training class, without exception.

As someone in class told me a couple of weeks ago, "It doesn't matter what's going on in my life; money, work, all goes away when I'm in this room. I leave everything outside when I walk through those doors."

Pretty neat, eh?

Thanks for reading everyone :)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who knew?

I'm having so much fun with this blogging...thing. A quick shout out to those reading in countries I could barely pinpoint on a map :) (I'm talking to you, Latvia).

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chugga Chugga

That's my impression of a choo choo train, which is what I feel like right about now!

The season of everything being new and unfamiliar is over and I feel like I've entered a new phase. I'm seeing dots (which is an improvement), but I can't connect them all to form a picture quite yet. Every once in a while I manage to connect one or two, but then am stopped by a gulf so wide I wonder if I'll ever be able to connect them all!

That's where the train comes in. I know just enough now to know how much is left to learn. The landscape can be totally overwhelming, but I have to just 'stay on track' and trust that eventually I'll be able to get to the next stop. In my mind, that means a breakthrough. Breakthroughs are great because they give you just enough fuel to make it to the next stop.

Okay, enough with the word pictures.

Thanks everyone!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I have begun my fouth month as a BJJ student. The longer I study this beautiful martial art the more I see interesting parallels between it and a good relationship. In this case I'm thinking of my husband, but it could be anyone that you are close with.

For instance, in order to be successful at all in BJJ you have to be willing to be completely vulnerable. Every time I walk onto the mat I expect to end up hurt and beaten. That is not negative thinking, that is just plain ol' realism. Of course, these beatings are occasionally followed by brief moments of joy when I magically (or accidentally) perform an armbar or kimora; but these moments are few and far between. I have essentially developed an expectation of failure, and yet for some reason I and many others continue to give everything we've got on the mat and experience that failure over and over again. Is that all that different from being vulnerable to your friends, family, or spouse? I submit to you (pun intended) that it is impossible to love anyone without becoming vulnerable to them. Yet we do so anyway, because the rewards of a healthy and vibrant relationship are TOTALLY WORTH IT. And this is true of BJJ as well. The rewards of allowing myself to become vulnerable on the mat are worth every bruise, scrape, headache, backache, neckache, and sleepless night. Rewards that include a sense of pride unmatched by anything else I have accomplished,  a sense of strength that goes beyond the physical and permiates into the deepest parts of my soul and spirit, and a sense of belonging that I have experienced in no other avenue.

Another parallel you might draw between BJJ and a good relationship is that it exposes both the strongest and the weakest parts of your personality. Even starting this venture highlights one of my strengths, and that is that I refuse to be intimidated by something unkown or seemingly dangerous...and/or stupid. Walking into a gym full of buff dudes who looked like they could crush me with their little finger was hard, but I did it, and I keep doing it. On the other side of that optomistic coin, it has also shown me in sharper detail a definite weakness that I have struggled with my entire life, and that is an unwillingness to FINISH things. When I get tired from rolling I tend to just, stop. I've never had to push myself really hard to finish anything. Even growing up, having not been involved with any team sports or any thing like that, I didn't learn how to be accountable to other people. If I am only accountable to myself it is easy to justify any decision. Like, "I'm going to leave 10 minutes early tonight so I can have time to wind down and get a good night's sleep". Well, yes, that is very reasonable. However, it requires leaving class 10 minutes early and it's a convenient little way of avoiding the pain of pushing to the end. Obviously I have identified this particular weakness and am currently working on some strategies to strengthen that area.

And like any good relationship, the better you get, the further you realize you have to go. There is no 'end'. There is always, always, always going to be someone better than me in this sport. Always. But that's no reason to quit!

Let's keep on keepin' on, folks!

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 30, 2011


I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. No, scratch that. I am in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In fact, I am passionately in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Like any new lover, I find it hard to stop talking about it, thinking about it, and wanting to learn all there is to know about it.

I find myself apologizing to my very patient husband for enthusiastically showing off every bruise and every raw patch of skin on my feet. Yesterday, when someone casually asked me about it I told them, "oh please don't ask, I will not shut up". And then proceeded to lovingly describe the history of BJJ and when, how, and why I became interested.

When someone asked me how my Judo was coming along, I smiled and said, "I wouldn't know, I don't train in Judo," and felt as if they had accused me of cheating.

I started this blog because I want everyone to know HOW MUCH I LOVE BJJ. It is my equivalent of shouting it off a rooftop.

When will the honeymoon be over? Never, I hope. For like any good lover, I just hope that it gets better and better. And better.

What do you love? What are you passionate about? What makes you feel like you would do ANYthing to accomplish a goal? What gets you up in the morning? Please leave a comment, I want to know.

Thanks for reading, folks!