Category Archives: classes

Mouth guards… and other protective gear.

Class was side mount escapes to guard and an arm bar attack. It was actually a lot of fun, but I realized during the warmup that my cardio’s dropped off the map again and I was pretty gassed by the time we moved on to positional training. FAIL! All my hard work the past few months seems to have really tapered off. I’m a little disappointed in my own progress.

Regardless, I still had a great class yesterday. I paired up with S since we’re the same experience level, and only 20 lbs heavier than me. He’s considerably stronger than I am, and it was only really noticeable after the 4’th time he swept me from side control. It was frustrating to say the least, but I learned a great deal about playing to my advantages, and using my (lack of) weight to a better advantage than my current strategy. Apparently my instructor says I’m trying to be heavy, and I’m really not. :( I’m at least on-par with some of the guys in class, but tend to be lighter than most.

Still fighting off a little whiplash from the O-soto gari class we did earlier in the week and wasn’t sure how hard I was ready to go, but it didn’t matter once we started. We had a few good rounds, and managed to drill the side control escape pretty well. I was on top during one round and caught S’s knee under my chin as he tried to bring it through to get into guard. I heard a pretty loud crack in my mouth and even though all my teeth were intact, my brain was still a little rattled and I’m more than thankful that I didn’t have my tongue between my teeth at that point. I think it’s definitely time to get a mouth guard…

In retrospect, most of the people I train with in class don’t wear mouth guards, at least not until they start to roll. In fact, I think most guys don’t even wear cups – which is kind of to their disadvantage when I’m trying to pass the guard leading with my knee. I feel horrible, but I’ve clipped a few good friends and can’t imagine why wearing a soft cup wouldn’t help. Maybe they just like the pain?!

In other news, Grappler’s Quest is coming to UFC Fan Expo at the end of the month, and R might be competing! Super excited to watch my own coach compete at his level. The provincials we saw a couple weeks ago were pretty amazing, but this should be even more impressive! I’ll definitely be attending and cheering on our team! The most exciting part is getting take home a set of Zebra mats after Grapplers Quest. I finally placed the pre-order in a few weeks ago, and should have a set of mats ready for my place by the first week of May! R and I are throwing a bit of a combined birthday celebration since our birthdays are almost exactly a month apart. We’re having random friends come over and grapple at my place to break in the new mats! I can’t wait… we might even have a playful showdown of my gym vs. his gym. ;)

Full-time training

It’s back to work for me, but I just took a week off to train, eat, sleep and enjoy a bit of a mini vacation at home.

Between training sessions at the gym, I cooked healthy delicious meals, slept in every morning and took afternoon naps when I could. I had originally planned to train twice a day (mornings and evenings) but after developing mat burn on Day 2 of the training regiment, I knew I had to take it a little easier. I purchased a set of wrestling knee pads online, and since they I don’t have them yet I’m not sacrificing the skin on my knees any longer.

Classes have been steady and seeing the classes for the third time, I’m feeling more confident. I’m picking up more than 75% of the class and I really appreciate the constructive criticism on the finer points of my movements. 

With a competition in NYC under two months away, I’m desperately working on my cardio and easing out 0f my hypertrophy phase. It’s time to lean down and start cutting weight. May isn’t going to be pretty as I try to drop 8lbs to make weight at 130lbs.

R’s hurt his knee a few weeks ago so we haven’t spent any time training. He attended an open mat session on the Wednesday and it was fun just flow-rolling for practice. More training sessions are planned for the following week. More on that to come.

That familiar feeling.

Finally headed back to the gym this morning after taking almost an entire week off due to my back injury. I’m probably 90% fully recovered, but since it’s a sensitive issue like my back I’m not taking any chances.

It was great to get started and see the regulars at the gym again. We stretched and chatted a bit before class began. It just felt so good to get back into my gi and tumble around. There were a few new kids in class, but nobody I recognized so I stuck with my friends.

Today’s class was a bear hug escape and mount escapes. I tripled up with A and another white belt I’m unfamiliar with, but he looked huge! I hung around A since he’s much closer to my size and I wasn’t going to try to stress my back by lifting anyone heavy. Another blue belt came in late, so once the numbers were even again, A and I paired up for the remainder of the mount escapes. Our general consensus about mount: it’s probably our least favourite advantageous position. Because I’m usually lighter than my opponent, I feel extremely unstable in mount. Whether my opponent is bridging, or attempting a sweep or escape, my instinct is to hop over into side control instead. It’s something I know I need work on, and perhaps might drill it with R later on this week when I have more time to dedicate to it. After the technique drills, I sat out for the positional training as I didn’t want to risk my back on my first day back.

The day was a little nostalgic since I recall this particular class fairly clearly. I think it was the first BJJ class I *ever* attended at the gym, and it was with the same instructor too! It feels like I’ve been at the gym forever, when really it’s only been around 4 months at least consistently. I still tell people I started in January because I think I attended a total of 3 classes in December. In any case, in a short time I’ve made some great friends and worked hard! It’s going to be a good week in class. I can feel it.

A new gym, a new start.

First: A quick re-cap of last week’s training. I hit class 5 times last week, including a special 2 hr class with R at his gym, which always leaves me shaking at the end. I had the chance to roll with some really experienced grapplers and learned to put more of the puzzle together. It’s always a huge win to walk out of class feeling like you finally ‘got’ something. I even put in an extra 2km swim at the pool early on in the week to try to increase my cardio. I dug my ‘Fitness Swimming’ book out of my bookshelf and skimmed a few workouts I’m going to add into my training schedule. We’ll see how well I do with swimming twice a week this week, and class 6x/week with a training session with R squeezed in somewhere. I haven’t really had the chance to lift weights at all this week, but hopefully the new gym (squee!) will be stocked soon.


It’s always exciting to be apart of something new, but even more so when you’re right in the middle of a transitioning phase.

Our gym recently moved into it’s new home, and classes officially move in starting today! With three times the original space we were borrowing, it’s pretty amazing to have the chance to really sprint down the mats and slam down on the mats with nothing in your way. We had an open seminar session/open house event today. Even though I was only there for one no-gi class, it was amazing to see all the friends I’ve made in this short amount of time and have the chance to celebrate with them!

For the instructors and administration staff, it was clearly amazing to watch them beam with pride as our new school officially opens to the public. There were so many new people, I lost track of how many people I tried to introduce myself to this afternoon.

I’m totally stoked because along with the new space, the new schedule came out! There’s additional morning and noon classes! This means that I can finally squeeze in once a day training (at the very least) with a really flexible schedule. I was going around trying to convince my regular lunch class goers to attend the first week of 6:45am classes with me! Some of them honestly didn’t look too impressed/convinced that it would be a good idea, but I’m sure I can coerce them into it. :D

There’s so much to look forward to, including a new fitness/weight lifting area, kids BJJ classes (I’m totally bringing my nephews!), and hopefully some women’s classes in the near future!

Another slow start

March has been a really slow start thus far. I had to miss out on training the whole week last week because I was working night shifts. There’s nothing that puts a damper on my mood than being sleep deprived, and being deprived of a sport I’m learning to love.

R made up for a lacklustre week in training by putting me through my paces twice last week. We trained on Thursday and threw another quick workout yesterday (Sunday). In addition, I also had the chance to roll with some friends at a big grappling event on Saturday night. So, I did get my grappling fix in this past weekend!

I had a bit of a discouraging morning on Sunday though. I came out of the shower and was slightly puzzled by the image in the mirror. I can’t say that I’m happy with the rate of improvement thus far. I haven’t lost any weight (still at a steady 130lbs) but the fat isn’t being converted to muscle fast enough. I think I over-estimate the amount of caloric intake my body really needs. I’ve been training consistently for about two months now and June is approaching faster than I anticipated. I’m not particularly vain about my looks, and I’m feeling pretty well-rested and healthy these days. It helps when I’m sleeping consistently of course, but the occasional naps are still a fairly regular occurrence. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I have to stop everything I’m doing and lie down for 15-30min in the mid afternoon every day just to keep at a healthy functioning level well into the evenings.

There’s stripe testing at the new gym at the end of the month, so that’s even more incentive to get going on the increased fitness regime. I’ve upped the cardio by putting in at least 1km swims in the mornings three times a week before BJJ class on days that there aren’t two classes back-to-back. I went this morning with a good friend who lives in my building and practically felt like dying after the first 700 meters. It’s really quite sad considering I swam competitively for 7 years of my life.  But nobody needs to know that… right? :P

When push comes to shove…


Being a rather ‘emotionless’ person – as my familiy would probably describe me as, I don’t frequently experience anger. In fact, I can’t recall a time I’ve ever been truly angry during an athletic pursuit. That being said, most of my past competitive sports have been individual sports. Competitive swimming, dragonboat racing and even rowing are all competitive sports where even though there may be other teams racing against you, your greatest opponent is yourself.

Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has taught me about the human condition, about how people change, and express themselves particularly on the mat, or traditionally – dojo.

I had a rather interesting experience that really threw me into a contemplative mood last Friday.

I was at the afternoon class, one of my favourites, as the instructor doesn’t try to kill us during the warmup. He’s actually a big proponent of active stretching which is great right before a bjj class.

My friend, K was in class and being the only two girls we naturally paired up. I remember my first few classes when I first started training were with K. She taught me some valuable lessons about body positioning and staying active. I loved rolling with her because she was a little more aggressive and wasn’t afraid to bring up the intensity with me.

We were working on escapes from side mount and at one point, she had managed to pin one of my arms between our chests. I made a deliberate effort to pull my arm out, elbow first. Unfortunately I actually managed to pretty strong elbow straight to her jaw. She bit her tongue and although there wasn’t much blood, I could tell from her facial expression that it probably hurt quite a bit. I apologized immediately, as it really was an accident.

We set up for another round and she went at 100% intensity on me. She likely outweighs me by at least 30-40lbs, and is much taller and stronger than I am and I’m still unsure whether or not she took an elbow to my head deliberately or accidentally in that round. I shrugged it off and tried not to let it bother me.

She left right after class, and I didn’t get a chance to apologize again, and I’m unsure when I’ll see her in class again.

Perhaps I’m just reading into it, but was she really angry at me? And why was I so bothered by it?

I had spoken to a few friends about it, but in reality I think there’s something about pain that triggers an emotional response. I’ll admit, I don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation (yet?) It’s frustrating to think that people lash out in anger when training. I mean, that defeats the purpose of training. Learning to express and manage your emotions when you’re upset during training should be fundamental to a physical sport such as submission grappling.


The Rant.

I dragged myself back to class last night even though I was still feeling my workout from Monday night.

I hadn’t eaten all day since my bowl of oatmeal that morning for breakfast since I was pretty swamped at work. I decided to take a quick nap at home instead of eating (bad idea in retrospect) and ran off to the gym.

It was the gi class first, and I was surprised to see all the new people in class on an early Wednesday night. Actually, I think more than 40% of the class was new – which is awesome! I took a quick glance into the class and spotted B – and made my way over to line up with her. We were the only two girls in the class, and seeing as she’s an experienced Japanese Jiu Jitsu practitioner, I love rolling with her. She kicks my butt on a pretty regular basis and I learn a lot every single time I get a chance to roll with her. Our instructor, K took us through our warmup and drills and I was feeling pretty good. We focused on bear hug escapes and attacking from mount. We both had done the class before, so it was a good review while we joked around after the class.

K was teaching the second no-gi class and our class size instantly doubled! Drats. Space is still a bit of an issue until we move into our new gym (hopefully) in March! Same warmup, same drills, and this time I was pretty gassed. I was breathing hard and chugging water by the second round, and since B had stayed for the second class too, I went to pair up with her again…

 Since the class was larger, and we still had the same amount of new students, K decided it would be a good idea to split up the more experienced students with the new students. There were quite a few more girls, and since we were an uneven number, I was sent to pair up with a relatively new guy, around my size. Oh boy.


Someone should explain this to everyone who comes in. I may be new, but just because you’re some hot shot who thinks it *might* be embarrassing to be tapped out by a girl DOES NOT give you permission to try to muscle me around the mats. We started off by pummeling, and honestly it was me trying to gain underhooks while he shoved me around the mat. I was frustrated, irritated and just didn’t have the patience for his shit.

Look, I work hard in the gym because I love the feeling it gives me. I’m stronger than most girls, but I’m here to learn, not to prove myself that I can handle rolling with the guys. I’m not afraid to learn from you guys because I know you’re naturally better athletes than us females. Still, I deserve respect for coming and working my ass off in class, just as hard as you do, and not have to put up with you going 110% on every single drill. Next time you pull stupid shit like that, I’m going to choke your ass out.


I knew that my skill wouldn’t hold up to the fact that I was pretty tired already. So, while K was going over the takedown we were about to drill, I tapped B and asked her if I could switch partners with her. I figured: “Fine, if you want to be taught a lesson about what it’s like to roll with a girl, you can deal with B, she’ll show you.” I didn’t swap to ‘hide’ behind my friend, I knew that I wasn’t a good partner for this hot-headed kid, and it would likely end in some sort of injury.

From what I heard from B was that she barely worked up a sweat to defend against the less experienced kid. She told him that she could easily use both her experience in skill and her strength and it wouldn’t help either of them to leran anything in class. He instantly dialed down the intensity after that. Hopefully he’ll approach rolling with a girl in a different manner next time he shows up in class. 

If you haven’t had the chance, read this by – She kicks ass and pretty much addresses all the major issues of Do’s and Don’t’s for beginners to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu! Including a great section about ‘Rolling with Girls’. Enjoy!

The Gun Show

“It must be the addiction, the madness of consummation…”

I swung by  a neighboring BJJ gym in Toronto today and was burned for 2 hours. I don’t recall the last time my hands were shaking so hard from a workout – but the best part was that I was high as a kite for 3 hours afterwards! Here’s a brief synopsis of my visit.

It’s actually a much larger gym than it appears from the outside. In fact, I lived around the corner from this particular gym for a year before I moved to the other end of the city. The women’s change-room was clean, and had shower stalls, benches and lockers that were neat and tidy. I can’t imagine how cramped the male change room is, considering our mid-day class had about 35 people, of which 2 were females (myself and another girl). I suppose there’s always a little apprehension about attending a new class and I was seriously thankful that many of the drills I had done with R in the past.

I still had to laugh a little when the head instructor came up to me during the drills, and told me it was okay to do pushups on my knees… I wasn’t doing the Hindu pushups (rotator cuff issues) and did my standard wide stance pushups, on my feet/hands.

After the drills and warmup, we worked on passing the half-guard. I naturally went to pair up with the other female and we jumped right into it. She was smaller and faster than I was, which was great practice for me! I felt bad that she had trouble passing my half-guard, but I’m still learning to dial down/up the force accordingly depending on my partner. We sparred a bit afterwards and I managed to take an arm bar submission for one of our rounds. I finally feel like I’m picking up on working on trigger drills with R. It’s a small victory, but it means that putting in this extra training is working!

I got to roll with R, and we’ve finally figured out a way to roll that helps me think on my feet, figuratively. He coaches me while we actively roll, to help me be aware of openings and gaps. I’m feel like I’m gaining a little more confidence, and a little less hesitant when I want to attack. I also had the chance to roll with a senior blue belt from the club. He was great at giving pointers, and I really appreciated the way he rolled with me as a complete beginner. Afterwards, I found out that he joked my arms were bigger than his, and he was surprised at my strength… which I suppose is a compliment? I’ve always had a larger upper-body, and put weight on my back/shoulders/chest fairly easily. I blame all the years of competitive swimming and dragonboat racing!

By my third or fourth match, I was having trouble opening my water bottle, so I took a break to watch R roll with some of the senior belts in the class. It was – for lack of a better word – inspiring!

I jumped in for a couple more matches before we called it quits to the class. I was thankful to change, get home, eat and shower! My heart was still racing when we left. Even though I was wearing a tank top under my down jacket – I was sweating the whole way home!

I was so pumped on endorphins the entire way home, I was still bouncing around the loft during my meal. In fact, I was so high.. I went back for more. I went to my evening no-gi class at my gym! Call it an ‘obsession’ if you will, but there’s something about getting my heart rate up and the anticipation of getting on the mats. I couldn’t resist the opportunity for more practice in the evening.

We worked on taking the back from guard, and one of my favourite partners – N was there, so we naturally paired up. She’s smaller than I am, but faster and a little more advanced. As fun as the class was, I could really feel the effects of the earlier class on me. I was wiped after the first few drills and powered through the rest of class, even though my form was sloppy. It was one of the more entertaining instructors (who likes to play reggae music while we roll!) So, it made for a pretty fun class!

What a crazy day. I’m wiped. Time for bed!

A (De-)Motivational Tool

I remember the first time I was ever yelled at by a coach. I was training  with our club’s swim team at the pool, and was probably around age 7 or 8. I had been swimming almost before I could walk, and my grade school routine included swimming twice a day. Once before school, and once after. 

I distinctly remember hanging on the edge, trying to catch my breath, and thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore’ as they we watched the pace clock’s colourful arrows tell us when the next swimmer was to start. My coach’s booming voice (though he was just a senior in high school) yelled across the pool: “You’re not tired, keep going!”

I shook my head vehemently as I clung to the side of the pool. He came over, picked me up by my armpits and planted me on my feet as I barely registered being pulled out of the water. Standing on the deck, I stared at my feet, embarassed that I was singled out amongst the other kids.

“Do you want to be here?” He asked.

I nodded quickly.

“Then get in and swim.”

And with that comment he picked me back up and dropped me in the pool.

I remember the frustration, the heat in my face, but most of all, the renewed vigour with which I swam that morning.

I can’t say that it was probably the best way to treat a child, or that the experience didn’t change me. However, I know that every athlete, every individual has their own ways of being motivated by their coaches. There was something about the tone of disappointment, and the way you were spoken to, that they believed you could do better  – that was what motivated me.

Some things never change.

I went to my first beginner wrestling class this morning after all the ‘hype’ I had heard from rest of my team. The wrestling instructor had an impressive resume, and his style of teaching was tough, brash, and you could always count on him for a good workout.

I had come off a night shift and hadn’t slept yet, since class was fairly early on a Sunday morning.  I figured I could use the extra workout and even hit the morning BJJ class right before wrestling. In retrospect, going to back-to-back classes on no sleep and no food (I don’t eat on night shifts, since my stomach is sensitive.) wasn’t really a good idea.

The BJJ class was good, it was a review of back control and back escapes with RNC and collar chokes we had worked on the previous week. I saw one of the regular girls in class, and headed towards her when I noticed we had a new girl in (her first week – yay!) and grabbed us as a group of three. I even had a chance to roll with one of the larger guys in class, and worked on positional sparring near the end of class. This was great because it provided a real challenge to a few things I had been practicing.  Note to self: Guys vs. Girls post for the future.

T hen, on to beginner wrestling. I ran back to the change room to pull off my gi and get into a rash guard and some shorts. When I got back, we had already started pummeling. I was paired with the new girl and I did my best to try to explain some of the drills (but what do I know?! I’m a total newb too.) I loved the format of the class, it was pretty much the same way ‘R’ worked me over in our one-on-one classes. Lots of positional drilling interspersed with circuit training of push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, sprawls…anything to get our heart rates up.  

I know better than to take things personally in-class. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. But even with that mantra, it wears me down when everything I do is insulted, over and over again. The whole class felt like a series of  ‘this is how you F#$@!’d up.’  I attempted to pay close attention to one thing, and quickly forgot everything else. Hell, I couldn’t even sprawl correctly. I had to reset my brain, and quickly pushed out one circuit of pushups and situps, grabbed a drink of water and thought to myself: “How badly do I want to be here right now?'”

R works me way harder when we train, and tells me I can do better, so why do I feel like shit? Oh right, I haven’t eaten or slept, suck it up and stick through it. I wasn’t looking for an excuse to leave, I was looking for reasons to stay.

So, I did.

I had a moment of self-pity afterwards, though the best thing I heard from R all day was “Don’t worry, when I’m done with you, you won’t need sleep to beat the boys.”

That’s right, I’m gonna be a fighting machine. ;)

On rolling.

I had to practically drag myself off the couch from my nap to get to class last night. I’ve been feeling really tired lately, and taking afternoon naps have been my guilty pleasure.

I finally made it to the gym and met up with B, who’s become my evening training partner. She’s an experienced Japanese Jiu Jitsu practitioner, but only slightly more advanced than I when it comes to BJJ. We’re similar in body size, so we’re ideal partners. That, and I like her, cause she’s not afraid to use some force and make me work during class.

This week’s classes focus on headlock escapes, and the entire class went fairly smoothly. We practiced and drilled until the movements became second nature. I’m finally able to string together similarities in previous escapes we’ve learned and put it all together. My mind’s still going a mile a minute trying to work-in all the little details of every step to the escape, but I realize the real test comes when it’s time to roll.


I’m coming to realize that while I’m in class, I can consciously think about what I’m supposed to do, and where to move. The minute I’m on the mat rolling around, my brain seems to blank out. This particularly happens when I think too much. It’s like, information overload – and next thing you know, they’ve passed my guard and I’ve lost my advantageous position. If I don’t consciously choose my moves a few steps in advance, I lose whatever mental game I had prepared ahead of time.

Rolling with R makes me even more frustrated since I know he takes it easy on me. He purposefully makes mistakes to give me opportunities to attack, to move, to gain positions I’ve been working on. I feel the way I roll with him is similar to the way an anaconda plays with its food before eating. (Bear with my analogy here, I seriously don’t even know if snakes ‘play’ with their food.) I’m always hesitant because I know in some way or another, he’s testing what I’ve learned and I’m awaiting the inevitable.. being eaten…tapping out to another submission. So, instead of attacking, I naturally move to defensive positions and wait.

We’re training on Friday again. I’ve got a week’s worth of classes to up my game. No more rolling over trying to defend myself… I’m going to try to go for the kill.


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