Cutting weight, the good, the bad and the ugly

Cutting weight, the good, the bad and the ugly

In fighting sports, where fighters are separated per weight categories, everyone is looking for the bigger edge on their opponent.  People are looking to be at the top of their weight category and be physically stronger then their opponents.  In a sport as technical as bjj, strength isn’t everything, there are many factors contributing to the success of a fighter; technique, health, cardio, hydration, psychology and physical.

Picking your weight category as a white belt can be very hard.  Should I drop weight? Should I bulk up? Will losing my water weight give me an advantage against my opponents?   The more you compete, the more you will identify yourself with the appropriate weight category for you.

For women, this decision is even harder, it is harder for us to lose weight fast and I DO NOT recommend this tactic at all.  If you Google weight loss, you will have pages and pages of different ways to lose weight.  Most of these searches are unhealthy, dangerous and are NOT beneficial.  There is NO fast healthy way to lose a lot of weight.  There is absolutely no reason why you should wear a garbage bag to lose that extra 5-10lb of water weight the day before the competition.  You will fight tired, dehydrated and weak (the contrary effect of what you want to be).  If you do things right, you should be at your strongest the day of.

Our bodies are different then men, our hormones fluctuate during monthly cycles and there is always a time during the month where we retain more water (we all know what I am talking about…..the bloating sensation).  We have to respect our body and if you are planning on cutting weight, be sure to have a very long slow cut (I am talking months).  You have to let your body adjust; you need to keep your muscles and strength strong.

What people don’t understand, competition isn’t just about the weight cut.  You will naturally get stronger, leaner, faster, better cardio and naturally lose the weight while you train BJJ.  BJJ in itself will help you lose weight.  If you are a competitor, you are the first one to show up, and the last one to leave.  You drill as hard as you can and roll as much as people let you (or until they turn off the lights on you ;)).

As a white belt, I competed in the light division (under 141.5lbs), and as I got fitter I naturally fell in the feather weight division (under 129 lbs).  As I took competition more seriously as a blue belt, I started training specifically for BJJ competitions and eating right (never a diet), it takes me 2 month to gradually lose 5lbs to be comfortable and strong in the light feather division (under 118 lbs).  This means, no alcohol, no fast food, no cookies, cakes, candy and I am very careful not to eat too much potatoes and bread.  At times, this can be hard I absolutely LOVE cookies .

Carbs are good, your body needs carbs, have it before and after training, your muscles need this. Don’t have a carb over load at night.  Eat very green, salad and vegetables are good for you at any time during the day.  Chicken, fish and meat are good source of protein. Beware of salt content, salt is absolutely everywhere and we get a overload of salt.  Salt is what will make you retain water and get that bloated sensation.  I have some eating tips in my post eat well, stay strong.

The important message here is you do not need to cut weight to win and if you are cutting, do it right, talk to your instructor if they have experience in this domain, I am lucky enough that my instructors are very good at this.  Most of the time, you should NOT go on a diet or water diet to cut weight.   You just need to be careful of what you put in your body and train as hard as you can.

Here is a terrific post about the pressure of competition and fitness and what harm you can do to yourself if you push to hard the fitness life style, by Shelsea Montes, IFBB bikini pro (Click Here).  It is different then competitive BJJ but the outcome can be the same.

BJJ is about being healthy, strong and confident. There is no million dollar bonus attached to any of the gold medals, don’t ever compromise your health for it :) Competition is the perfect place to learn and become a better jiu jitsu practitioner and show off your skills. Also it is a great place to identify all the holes in your game, it is an awesome learning tool.

Motivation

Everyone will lack or has lacked motivation at some point during their training; this is completely natural.  What you have to watch out for is that inner voice rationalizing why the lack of motivation is a good thing.   Losing your motivation can lead to guilt (guilt of missing training), which can then lead into even less motivation, creating a dangerous downward spiral.  The secret is to break that spiral by showing up to class.  Make a commitment to yourself that you will attend ‘‘X’’ amount of classes in a given week. I can promise you, you might not want to train on a given day but when you do arrive to class, you will forget all the negative thoughts that you had related to training.  The repercussions of doing this are staggering: You will feel better and forget all the reasons and excuses that you had to avoid training, creating an uphill spiral (wanting to train more). I am strictly speaking of a motivational aspect and not other legitimate reasons preventing someone from training :). If you can make it, train as hard as you can :)

Looking forward to see everyone in class this week.

Ottawa-BJJ-Women-motivation-no-one-can-defeat-you

Why women make awesome BJJ partners

Why women make awesome BJJ partners

Open rolling can often feel like you are at a high school dance. Feeling too shy to ask a partner to roll, in fear of being rejected.  The feeling is intensified when you’re a handful of girls (if not the only one) in a massive sea of guys.  We sometimes only stick to our usual rolling partners or only roll with other women.  Guys, don’t be shy, ask a girl to roll with you, she will likely say yes (unless she has had a bad experience with you).  Take this opportunity to shape your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game for the better.  Women have a lot of skills to offer that you can take advantage of.   You can work on your technique and speed, instead of focusing on strength and muscles.   If there are no women that want to roll with you, it’s most likely because you use too much strength and muscles.  If that’s the case, you’re not learning anything and she probably feels overwhelmed and frustrated.

Here are a few reasons as to why women make awesome BJJ partners:

  1. We are super technical; we have to be to survive against bigger and stronger opponents.
  2. We listen to suggestions when we roll
  3. When dealing with bigger opponents, we use a lot of movement; we don’t try and pin people down.  As a bigger opponent, use this moment to work on your own movement and speed. No one learns anything if you use all your might and weight to pin us down.
  4. We definitely smell a lot nicer 😉
  5. We (most of us!) also sweat less and are less likely to drip sweat into your face when we have a top position.
  6. We are also lots of fun; there could even be occasional giggling.

You need to train smartly and respect your partner, whether man or woman.  Leave your ego at the door.  There is no shame in trying new techniques and getting caught. That’s how you learn. There is no shame in tapping.

Thinking of trying out BJJ? There’s a place for you at RCJ Machado Ottawa BJJ, where men and women come together to train for the sport and the self-defense aspects of martial arts.

Ottawa BJJ Why women make awesome bjj partners

Check out this video of Cindy Omatsu Female Black Belt in BJJ

I found this awesome video demonstrating some basic mount techniques.   The video demonstrator is no other then the brilliant black belt Cindy Omatsu. She was the first woman outside Brazil to be promoted to the rank of black belt in BJJ under master Rigan Machado and Lekka Viera.  She is presently an instructor at the Machado Academy in California.

Check it out.

Cindy Omatsu

 

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