”Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.” – Muhammad Ali

Champions are born from within and no obstacles stand in their way.  Adversity shapes the character of who we are.

In a sport where sensation, motion and feeling is so important, it’s incredible to see how people can adapt and make Jiu-Jitsu their own (seen here by a visually impaired competitor at the European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2013).

Find your inner champion

Ottawa BJJ Women champion

Size doesn’t matter

Size doesn’t matter

It can be very overwhelming being a woman in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Everyone seems bigger and stronger.  All the techniques are hard to do and it feels like fighting against a brick wall.  I only have one piece of advice: stick to it.  The learning curve for women is usually steeper than the men’s.  We can’t rely on our muscular strength as much as they do; we have to rely on the pure technical mechanics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (this is a good thing).  Learning the basics is essential in BJJ, but also in self-defense: We learn how to use our body to get optimal leverage. Knowing how to stay calm and how to move on the ground can save your life.  RCJ Machado Ottawa BJJ will teach you those skills.

If you stick to it, you will be able to control, lift, sweep and even submit bigger opponents.  And the reason why? You did it right.

Ottawa BJJ Women If size matters

I am a woman and I don’t know what to wear under my gi?

If you have been grappling or doing martial arts for a long time, this might seem like a pointless question.

I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at 25 years old and had absolutely no clue what to wear under my gi (uniform).   Do I wear underwear? What kind of bra? Do I wear a t-shirt or a tank top? Should I wear shorts?  What is expected of me to wear? These were all question going through my head, days and days before my first bjj class. I wasn’t nervous about my first class, I was nervous of what to wear under my gi.   I didn’t know anyone in the sport that could give me pointers or ideas of what to wear under my gi.

My first gi did not fit my body very well, which didn’t help (Gi specific for women will be addressed in another blog). The pants and top were too big and I knew the pants would fall off and my belt would not keep the top closed.  Women of different sizes and/or shape might have a different opinions of what works for them but I think we will all agree that being comfortable is the number one priority.  Wear clothes that you can easily move in.

Bottom:  I personally don’t like wearing only underwear for multiple reasons. The first, I usually lose my pants when I am rolling. Second, it will definitely give me a wedgy and that with a combo of losing my pants can be a disaster.  I wear boogie shorts or compression shorts.  It is good to invest in a good pair of these shorts, trust me its worth it.  I can move as freely as I want, not get a wedgy or be afraid of losing my gi pants.

I buy my boogie shorts from Lululemon but there are other good sport clothing companies that you can try.  I found that Lululemon is worth the investment.  I have a couple of their shorts for the last three years and they are still in perfect conditions.  Make sure there are no zippers on them.  I have a small pocket in my shorts where I can store my mouth guard during competition.

Ottawa BJJ Womens Bottoms









FYI in the female division, in most tournaments, the use of thong-type undergarments is not permitted.  In the gym, tight from boogie, knee or full-length shorts or pants is always preferable.

Top:   I find the top is the hardest of what to wear with a gi.  Depending on your body type and the size of your gi, different things will work for you.

  • FIRST:  Invest in a good sports bra.  I can’t tell you how important this is. You want your girls to be snugged, comfortable and not bouncing out of your top.  This way you can prevent any mishaps but also prevent any injuries or pain.   For grappling, I prefer high chested sports bra with solid straps.

Ottawa BJJ Womens i.e. Sports bra for grappling


T-shirts are good options but I find that they will rise up, get tangled with my gi or stretch.  Like any cotton clothing, its stretch easily, retain odor and is very slow to dry.  Rashguards are good because they stick to your body, they dry fast and they don’t stretch but they can rise up depending on the quality and the fit.  When your rashguard is way to tight, it has more chance of rising up (which can be very annoying).  Your rashguard should be fitted but not so tight it is cutting your circulation.  K2 Martial Arts & Fitness have very good quality short and long sleeve RCJ Machado rashguards.


Ottawa BJJ Women RCJ Machado Rashguards Delphie & Christine

Don’t forget to take off your jewelry; you can seriously injure yourself or others (rings, ear rings, necklaces, and face and body piercings)

Lessons in Personal Injuries Part II (Prevention)

Injuries can be very frustrating and discouraging.  You can learn from understanding why and how you got injured.  For me, it changed my whole perspective of sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and also helps me understand on a self-defense aspect.  I didn’t concentrate on technique per se but on the concept of moving and getting out of the way (technique will follow).

Both men and women athletes can be very susceptible to injuries especially during hard competition training.  This is especially true for woman in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Most time, our training partners are guys who can be stronger and/or bigger then we and can leads to unfortunate injuries.  There is ways of preventing injuries and staying healthy.

Know yourself:  You are more susceptible to injuries if you are tired, know your body and know when you have to hold back.  You don’t have to stop training all together, but you can use this time to focus on techniques or slow down your game.

Rest: As hard as you train, you should match it with equal amount of rest.  Give your body time to recover.

Strength: If you plan on rolling hard and you want to compete.  You need to increase your physical strength.  Don’t go from zero to 100%, build up your intensity and the strength will follow.

Nutrition and water: Increase consumption of carbohydrate during periods of heavy training and pay attention to your state of hydration, meaning, drink lots of water.

Before and after: Allow time to warm up, injuries are very common if you skip the warm up.  Don’t forget to cool down and stretch.

Be honest with your partner: If you are injured, let your partner know.  They can’t know you’re injured if you don’t tell them. ;).

Let your coach know, they can build an alternative training program and help you through the injury recovery period.  Depending on the severity and type of injury, you don’t have to lose time on the mat but you need to address the injury and let the people around you know.  In my case, I kept my rib muscle healthy by getting out of the way 😉

Ottawa Women BJJ




Lessons in Injuries Part I (Personal) 

When I first started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I got injured in my first two months of training.  Because I was so small, just having people put their weight on my chest was enough to strain my rib cage muscles.  It got so bad; I couldn’t breath without awful pain or even use my right arm to open a car door.  I took time off, to let my body heal. However, every time I would try and come back, my injury would return.  I was seriously considering that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was not the sport for me.  It got me thinking, women grapplers that are smaller then me can train hard without getting hurt.  How did they do that? How could they sustain other people’s weight? I realized they moved in an away to prevent other people to actually put their weight on them (shrimping, framing, never stop moving).   I was just letting people put their weight down without a fight.  My rib cage muscles were not strong enough to sustain that kind of weight.  When I consciously made an effort to prevent my partner dropping their weight on my chest, I got significantly better at my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu escapes and also stayed injury free. With time, my rib cage muscles have become strong enough to sustain people’s weight (I try and not let that happen 😉  ).

Ottawa BJJ Women

Ottawa BJJ Women


The right attitude

The right attitude

 At K2 Martial and Fitness in Ottawa, the women have invaded the mats and are here to stay.  Grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, train every day as hard as they can, leaving everything on the mats.  We see these strong women in the future of martial arts kids program, in kickboxing, cage fitness, adult martial arts and RCJ Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program.   Each and every one of these women is courageous, determined and powerful.  They have become role models within the gym but also within the community.  This attitude is contagious and has recruited more women from all professions of life to share their love of the Martial Arts.

Ottawa Women BJJ attitude is contagious

Eat well, stay strong

I know cutting weight can be very hard, however, if its done right it should be a walk in the park 😉

I start regulating my food at least 1-2 month before the competition. This way, I have a healthy gradual decrease in my weight and keep my muscles strong.

I cut all fast food, sugar (especially artificial) and bring down my carb intact.  I take a lot of protein, vegetable and fruit.   I also watch out for salt.  Pretty much, all process food is out the door.  If I make it, I know exactly what I eat (that’s actually the key)

Here our some food tricks that works very well for me:

I start my day with a double shot of espresso in a chocolate protein shake. Lol this might not be for everyone but it sure works for me.

I love spaghetti but noodles are very high on carbohydrates.  I replace the noodles by spaghetti squash or zucchinis.

My favourite favourite meal is BBQ chicken, on a bed of vegetable salad.  I also add wild rice to the salad. I pretty much add any meat or fish to a salad; I can eat that every day.

Natural peanut butter on apples or unsalted almonds in Greek yogurt usually does the trick to stump on those bad sugar or salt cravings.

Don’t forget to drink a lot of water, not drinking enough water during the day will have the negative effect on your weight cutting and you will increase your predisposition to retain water.

If you have any tricks or awesome receipt, please share.

Life lessons in competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Life lessons in competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The start of a new year also means the start of a new competition season.   If you compete or intend to compete, this blog will address lessons you might face or feel in regards to competition.   Ski racer, Olympian and World Cup medalist Kelly Venderbeek inspired this blog, “Life lessons from the hill”.  I simply adapted it specifically for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  It doesn’t matter which sport you practice, the lessons and the heart of a competitor stays the same.

 Sometimes, you will lose.  Don’t blame the ref, your coaches, the clock, or the situation.  Be gracious in defeat and learn from your mistakes, that’s the true sign of a winning attitude.  It doesn’t mean you have to accept or be happy about a loss however, take responsibility and learn from it.

 Healing. Take care of your body; training hard for competition can be exhausting for your body.  Don’t let a little injury become a big injury.  Address every injury.

 Diet. Starving yourself does not make you stronger for competition. Do it smart; choose your weight category wisely. In most competition, you weigh in with your gi and then you fight (imagine going five rounds starved and dehydrated).

 Patience. Kelly Venderbeek…”Just because you’ve worked hard doesn’t mean you’re going to win. Success takes patience, hard work at the right things, learning from others, and picking yourself back up again, and again, and again, and again…(Life lessons from the hill)”.

 Discipline. You need to stay focus, and put smart training time on the mats.

 Be a good partner and accept feedback.  Know whom you can train hard with and whom you can’t.  Your training partners are essential for your competition training.  Respect them and treat them with dignity.  Listen to your coaches.

 Self-direction.  When it comes down to it, it’s only you and your opponent on the mat.  Remember you’re coaches feedback, and you’re game plan but you will have to stand on your own.

 Talent isn’t enough. It takes years and years to become a black belt in BJJ.  No one is born a black belt champion, you need to work hard and train hard.

 Toughness.   Be ready to be covered in bruises.

 Tap. Know when you’re a defeated; don’t take the chance of being injured because of pride or stubbornness.  There is always a next competition to redeem one’s self  (it takes more time if you have broken arm or knee).

 You don’t have to compete to apply these lessons.  Sports, like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, teach us valuable life skills.   You might experience more confidence, determination and respect on a daily basis.  If you believe that these are good qualities, come and try out one of many Martial Arts programs at K2 Martial Arts & Fitness.

Ottawa women BJJ Grapplers quest 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone.

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing holidays.  I know I am getting very antsy in getting back into training and I have missed everyone at the dojo. I hope this year is as phenomenal or even better then the last.

Every January, people makes a list of new year resolution and try to implement these resolutions.  First, I don’t think we need to wait every January to make a list of resolutions, if you want to change something, change it, don’t wait, do it.  It sounds simple, but change can be hard, that’s why it is better to change one thing at a time, do it well and build from there.

If your resolution is getting into shape, well, well, I do have a simple answer for you…..try out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at K2 Martial Arts. This goes for everyone but for a women its even more powerful. You will learn how to use your body to get leverage on a bigger opponent.  At the same time, you will become stronger, faster and more confident then you will ever be.

Click here to see me grappling with 9 time UFC Champ Matt Huges

Delphie with Renish Scott

Delphie with Renish Scott

The world of women in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is exploding right now, there are all female seminars, camps, groups and even competitions.  It doesn’t matter, who you are or where you come from, Brazilian Jiu Jistu have linked all women who love and practice this sport together.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has changed my life for the better :).  I can’t wait to see everyone back on the mats this week and I look forward to seeing some new faces too! :)

Delphie :)