Positives to Training With Your Significant Other

11:51 PM Moo 0 Comments

Recently read a post about the Negatives to Training With Your Significant Other and thought I'd take a look at the positives.

1. It's an excuse to spend quality time together, even if it is beating each other up. You don't have to worry about a significant other who thinks you're training too much. I understand his obsession and he loves that I train as well.

2. It makes you closer: sweat in your eyes, in your mouth, in your nose- everywhere. Awww how sweet. But seriously, jiu jitsu has helped to make us a great team when we work together.

3. You have a constant jiu jitsu dummy to test your moves on around the house. Mike can expect to wake up to some glorious shoulder pressure in the morning.This can also fit under the negative, but all in all I see it as a positive.

4. Hugs turn into battles for under hooks and that's just pretty awesome.

5. You have consistent training partner with your best needs in mind. I spend most classes working with someone else, but whenever I work with him I know he's got my back.

6. It builds trust. My boyfriend has put me in a headlock, guillotine, arm bar, triangle chocke, s mount, anything uncomfortable- you name it. When your boyfriend spends a significant amount of time putting you in vulnerable positions, but never injures you, there is a level of comfort and trust that develops.

7. Mutual benefits from our different styles. When he rolls with me he uses very little strength, and I, in turn, am also forced to focus on my technique. I love open guard and Mike is much more diverse in his approach, so he has been invaluable in helping me develop like I have.

8. Supporting and seeing your partner thrive.Watching Mike train has given me an appreciation for how skilled and talented he really is. When I watch him compete, I find myself in awe of him. He is the person I want in my corner and the one person who's advice I always take to heart. He is also my greatest supporter at tournaments and one of the only people who can keep me focused and grounded.

9. Understanding your partners frustrations/injuries. Training gives you perspective on the frustrations that many practitioners face, even if you do not face them yourself. When Mike is tired and has a back injury, I'm less likely to be upset that he doesn't want to make a 50000000 mile journey on a camel with a packet of jerky and a backpack full of stones! Honestly, It makes you more patient and  epsom salt baths with mutual complaining sessions are a plus!

10. Three Words: Jiu Jitsu Vacation! Much easier to convince a significant other who trains, than a friend who doesn't, that you should pack your bags and go train in some tropical place!

Guam- Purebred
Guam- Figo

Laying on the beach is hard work.....


You Can't Stop The Wave: Onda BJJ Interview

12:02 PM Moo 0 Comments

Onda is a Kimono company that was founded  by Jessy and Matty Printz in 2012, both purple belts under Tony Passos in Sterling,Virginia. They are husband and wife, self described serial entrepreneurs who both love the beach and draw inspiration from it. Jessy was born in Hawaii and her earliest memories are there, watching her mom surf with the locals on the North Shore.  Together, they have made it their goal to visit as many beautiful beaches as possible and soak in the sun and the sound of the waves. 

What does Onda Mean?

In the most literal translation, Onda is Portuguese for “wave.”  Our motto, “you cannot stop the wave but you can learn to surf,” is an extension of the flow with the go mentality to which many jiu jitsu practitioners subscribe.  The tide goes in and the tide goes out, everything in balance.  Instead of fighting the current, move through it with grace.  Live life in the moment.

What’s the inspiration behind your kimonos?
our inspiration is 100% born on the beach.  We’ve never met an island we didn’t love :) Couple that vibe with our desire to capture comfort, durability, and quality workmanship that can take a beating on the mat,  and you’ve you got yourself an ONDA kimono.

Yours are the most unique Gi’s I have ever owned. What do you think makes Onda Unique or different from other gi manufacturers?
There is truly a story behind every single model that we produce, nothing willy nilly or trendy for the sake of what someone says might sell.  The Kaimu? Named for the black lava beaches in Hawaii where Jessy was born.  Recife?  Beloved Brazilian beach hometown of our professor Tony Passos.  The Guana and Jost Van Dyke models were inspired by our incredible, life changing catamaran sail around the British Virgin Islands last year.  Not just the place but the story and the feeling behind it – it’s almost like writing a song for us to capture those moments in time.  The colors of the Guana were inspired by three kayaks we spotted under a palm while snorkeling on the island of Guana, BVI.  The other models have similar stories and inspirations as well.

Any exciting new products?

 We are going to be offering “long” size models moving forward and, after much demand, KID sized gis starting with the Jeju!   We have a host of new t-shirts, rash guards and hoodies planned and a couple of other unique ideas up our sleeve that we are working on as well. 

Do you have any athletes you sponsor?
Kris Kim (Seoul, SK) and Tony Passos (Sterling, VA)
While we are grateful to sponsor such talented Athletes such as Tony Passos, Kris Kim, and a host of other black belts and competitors, we genuinely enjoy forming relationships with budding, hardworking, dedicated athletes who are working their way up the ranks as well.  To us, there is great joy in working with someone from their foundations and then it just so happens that they’re wearing an ONDA gi when they're standing on an IBJJF medal podium, versus actively seeking out an athlete who is already at the top of their game for the sole purpose of our kimono being on the podium.  

Sarah McMann rocking the Jost Van Dyke

Describe ONDA in three words 
(I’m cheating and need to use phrases!)
-“Jiu jitsu’s a beach”
-“Live life in the moment, on and off the mat”
-“Allow the flow”

Thanks for your time! :)

Onda makes my favorite Gi's.The Bavaro (left) is a clean, classic  550 GRM pearl weave with updated silver and grey accent and embroidary. Honestly, it's simple, comfortable and rolls like a dream!

The Guana (right) is singe handedly my favorite gi I own....and believe me, I have plenty! Inspired by the Guana British Islands, it's a very lightweight, competition friendly and extremely durable gi. On more than one occasion I have caught someone in a compromising position only to have them stop and admire my gi. "Wow, clean lines. This is beautiful" a training partner said before promptly being guillotined. 

These really are fantastic gis, made by a brilliant new company with a sincere love for what they do. You can find them here on facebook or checkout their online store.


There's No Crying in Jiu Jitsu....Right?

1:30 PM Moo 0 Comments

I received an email recently from a girl who *gasp* started crying during training. It said:

I've trained for 8 months. The first gym I was at had lots of female training partners, but now I am one of the only women. I don't mind rolling with men and I'm really a strong girl but recently I cannot deal. I don't want people to baby me but sometimes they roll me too hard. Last training I rolled with a guy who slammed me, not enough that the blackbelt saw but enough that it really shook me and it was obvious he didn't know his own strength. Then he rolled me into a wall and seems to target me every time we roll. I walked off of the mat crying and that's not normally something I do. There are a few guys who go really hard on me and I have cried a couple of times. It seems like once I started crying I couldn't stop. I really am serious about jiu jitsu and I swear I'm not a pussy, but it's stressful. Have you cried? Is that normal?  I don't want people to not take me seriously or my professor to think I'm a baby.

First, let me say you are not a baby because you are crying.  We have strong emotions about things that we really care about. Sometimes the things that I love the most are also the things that frustrate me the most. That being said, I have cried, actually in a very similar situation. There was a man I used to roll with, who would shove me all over the place- he'd throw me, roll extra hard and one day I just left the room and cried...and I felt really stupid. I had to step back, re-evaluate the situation and realize, he was going so hard because maybe he saw me as a threat. I was good enough that his ego felt  fragile and threatened and for me that was very powerful. Now whether this was true or not, I'll really never know, but it helped me keep calm when I rolled with him, assured me that my ability was where it needed to be, made me focus on the skills I did have and allowed me to do more than just survive the roll.

Second. What is your relationship like with your professor? Is it someone you are close with? Is this person a problem only for you? Is it all of the time? Ask your professor to keep an eye on the roll and he or she can probably give you their insight on the situation.

Next, if you are rolling with someone who constantly makes you feel unsafe-simple- stop rolling with them. You can usually tell the difference between a person who is a little spastic and nervous and a person who is spastic, out of control and likely to injure you. There is a good possibility that you are not the only person who feels that way. There is no shame in stopping a roll if a person has no control. Ever heard the saying "you are not the most important person on the mat, your training partner is?" Maybe he has forgotten this. If he is constantly  injuring or making you feel unsafe feel free to tell your professor you'd prefer not to roll with him.

Also, I cried a few times when I felt I reached a plateau. In fact, around 8 or 9 months I felt like I was constantly peaking and plateauing and then I stayed stagnant for a long time. This created tons of frustration which manifested itself in different ways- one was being a cry baby (although I made sure to leave the mat because honestly no one wants to be the crying kid. HAHA!) If it happens occasionally don't worry about it, Jiu Jitsu is hard. It is designed to make you quit, but there is a reason that you have not. Focus on your strengths and develop on your weaknesses. A friend and training partner of mine, Jes, suggested writing down 2-3 things you want to improve on monthly.Figure out new ways to do things. If it were easy everyone would do it. Take comfort in that. I would say you are just passionate about what you're doing. You will figure it out. You will roll and you won't lose, you'll only learn.


BJJ Gifs: The Struggle Will FOREVER Be Real

2:11 AM Moo 0 Comments

When I see two new white belts fighting to the death.....

When I'm rolling with my professor and I try to stand up with him....

My face when someone tries to give me advice about a move they've been doing wrong...

When I tap after someone starts pulling my hair during a choke...

When someone tries to break my guard by digging their elbows into my thighs....

Talking to the new students about rolling with the purple belts

 My boyfriends reaction after I do a move wrong for the 1000000th time

Me when the professor says were working on X Guard/ De La Riva or Spider...

When I look up at the clock while rolling with someone who just smothers me.....


Where has all the Judo gone?

11:39 PM Moo 0 Comments

I read an article today about a new decision the IJF has made prohibiting ranked Judo athletes from competing in BJJ and other similar grappling tournaments. I have long debated Black belt Judokas, competing at white belt levels in tournaments where they clearly have an unfair advantage, but never considered what would happen if restrictions were placed on ranked Judokas as a whole.

This week the IJF sent an official email to schools worldwide saying their ranked athletes may not compete in these other tournaments. My initial feeling, is that this is not a positive move and in the end will really damage IJF and Judo as a whole.

It sounds as if it is an attempt to revive Judo by encouraging and promoting Judo as a spectator sport on the same level as Jiu Jitsu. Martial arts forums are full of speculation that this is to eliminate the spectacle of defeat of high level Judo practitioners by Wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes. Is it an attempt to save face?  It is an argument I hear often "Bjj is better than Judo because...." or "Judo is superior because...." These need not be thought of strictly as competition but rather as two sides of the same coin, two facets of martial arts. One only need look at the success of top performing athletes in other areas like MMA (ie Ronda Rousey) to see that cross discipline training is highly successful.

What are the possible outcomes?

1. Discouraging cross training and the study of judo under IJF at a high level. The most exciting matches I watch in BJJ are often those where the fighter is skilled in more than one discipline. I look forward to seeing a Judoka take on someone with an excellent ground game or a wrestling background etc.. Will this official rule lead to a shortage of developed, ranked Judo athletes?  This move is not likely to eliminate everyone with Judo background from competing but will it make an already sparse pool even thinner? Will the focus become Olympic Judo?

On the opposite end of the spectrum....

2. A mass migration of very high level Judo athletes into IBJJF tournaments. It's no secret that IJF certainly doesn't have the same popularity or pay ability that IBJJF currently has. A friend of mine and a Judo practitioner himself, suggested that we may be seeing more high level Judo coming into BJJ tournaments and honestly why not? The reward is greater as well as the base. Will this create new champions? Shift the rankings? Force high level BJJ competitors to focus more on their stand up? All of these prospects sound exciting, but it begs the question... what happens to Judo?

Does it become watered down? Will the changes to Judo Ne Waza tournaments make Judo a more popular, spectator friendly sport? You decide. What do you think of the new rules?


Setting Goals: Maggie Moo vs Cupcakes

11:18 PM Moo 0 Comments

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.- Jim Rohn

I found a great post on BJJ Today  about goal setting, which got me thinking. What do I want to accomplish? With the Blue belt test coming up in January and a sense of apathy setting in, I thought it was only appropriate to set a few goals outside of "not wrist locking myself" and "making sure my belt stays tied."

1. Maintain my clean eating regime. No sodas or large quantities of cupcakes :( I recently started a Clean Eats section to keep track of my nutrition and recipes I love!

2. Train at least 5 days a week when I can't do two a days.

3. Get down to 135-138  for my next competition so I can compete in the 141 and under.

4. Drill guard passing at every training.

5. Expand my open guard. After losing weight my open guard became pretty legit as I was no longer constantly going to the mount, but it could definitely use some fine tuning.

6. Become more comfortable attempting throws...did I mention I hate throws? Yeah, the Judo struggle is real!

7. Ankle picks, double legs, ankle picks, double legs! You get the point. Take downs are a crucial aspect of Jiu Jitsu. Coming from a  rugby background, this is an area where should I excel but it's also one I often forget about in competition.

8. Focus on two techniques monthly that I want to consistently work into my game.

9. Be First. Often I allow other people to initiate grips or take downs because I think I respond well, working from my back, but I would like to push the pace and be the person to get there first.

10. Start No-Gi, again. Our school has just added a No-Gi class and I am both excited and horrified to test my cardio.

What about you guys? What do you focus on in your BJJ game?


Jiu Jitsu Manic Meme Monday

2:20 AM Moo 0 Comments

When you show up at a new gym and the other white belts are like "fresh meat"

When I pull off a move during rolls that I just learned in the lesson

When someone asks me what I'm doing on a day when I don't have jiu jitsu

When I tell my friends I'll miss class and go out with them but change my mind at the last minute...

When the professor shows a north/south drill that involves someones butt in my face...

When I'm not planning on staying for the 2nd class then the professor says were doing spider guard 

When someone says "I told ya so" after I don't take their advice during a roll...

When I have to go to a formal event but I'm covered in bruises from Jiu Jitsu

When class starts late so warm ups are skipped!!

When a guy says "ooh a female fighter, could you kick my ass?"


A Letter For My First Jiu Jitsu Team

9:14 AM Moo 0 Comments

Where do I begin? My first Jiu Jitsu team is the best team in the world. Do I sound a little biased? It's very rare to meet a community as tight knit as the rugby community and I have been both surprised and humbled by the love and support I received from my Jiu Jitsu team. I've just recently returned to the US and started to reflect on all of the things that I learned while working with Kris Kim and UFBJJ. Things I learned not only about Jiu Jitsu but also life.

1. I learned humility and how important it is to be continually humbled.

2. How to remain extremely calm under stress and in some cases (heavy) pressure.

3.To remember that I am continually learning and that even when I think I plateau and peak I still have so much to learn.

4.Real confidence.

5. The importance of health and my own well being.

6. I have really learned how to put differences a side and interact with people who I am miles removed from politically, culturally and otherwise.

7. The definition of finesse. I learned that my strength wasn't necessarily being physically strong and trusting my technique makes me more powerful.

8. To be creative and realize that there is always more than one solution to to a problem.

9.I learned that Jiu Jitsu is so much more than just a hobby or a sport and now I get it when people say it is a lifestyle. It is definitely one of the best life choices I've ever made.

I feel like I have become a much better person than I used to be and I know I have my team to thank for that! There is so much I wanted to say while I was getting my final stripe but I am not always so good at thinking on the fly...so I thought I'd write it down. Thank you:

Natalie for getting me involved in Jiu Jitsu and for continually putting the pressure on until I decided to stop being stupid and try it....you were right...as you always are! I am going to miss our Jiu Jitsu vacations. You have been the best part of my Jiu Jitsu journey and having you with me in my first tournament was the best feeling in the world!  Jes for working with me, being patient and teaching me things repeatedly even when I am a little slow on the uptake. Brittany and Ting for being amazing training partners and even better friends!  All of the Shindo's for being a fantastic extended family to me! Anna for being such an amazing advocate for women in the sport. Michelle and Jessica  for giving me a taste of my own medicine with Spider guard! Ryu, Brandon, Tyler and Dad (Kevin) you have been invaluable in helping to improve my Jiu Jitsu game, your patience, kindness and knowledge is inspiring, the things you've taught me I am so grateful for and I hope to be the type of mentor you all have been when I become a blue belt. George for always keeping it playful but also offering guidance when I had no idea what I was doing. Chapa  for the Hippity Harmbar and making training so comfortable!  Joe for the reggae tunes and for kicking my ass and teaching me little tricks that I can use, in turn, to kick someone else's ass! Jeremiah for genuinely being one of the best friends and training partners I could ever ask for...in addition to supporting and encouraging my cupcake addiction.  Jason for your massive encouragement, eagerness to teach me and pep talks before the tournament.Juan and Jose for realizing that Pico De Gallo is actually just Chunky fresh salsa! Terence for teaching me about passes as it was damn near impossible to pass your guard! Bill for being my favorite person to roll with! Ivan for never going easy on me. Jerry for beating me up until I got it right, I really think you are the reason my open guard developed so quickly! Joselo for keeping me humble with your crazy pressure game. Matt, Kaleo & Enrique for being amazingly supportive at the tournaments and helping me to get comfortable competing. Shane for teaching me how to roll like a little person. Jeff D for your infinite wisdom  Orlando for encouraging me to stick it out and being the type of training partner I would like to be Jason B for making me drill things until I couldn't do them wrong. Kaha for helping me out with my arm bars and always having such positive energy and of course my cauli -earred boyfriend, Mike, for never being afraid to be honest when I could use improvement.

Last and certainly not least, thank you Kris Kim for genuinely being the best teacher I have ever had in any sport or class in my entire life. My progress and my learning curve is a direct result of your brilliance. You truly teach and lead by example and I am so proud to have been part of a team that represents someone like you. Thank you for being more patient with me than I deserved and for helping me more than you know!

There are entirely too many of you to mention all by name but you are all very important to me. Thank you to each and every one of my team mates for the impact you have made on me as a practitioner but also as a person. I can only hope my next team will be as lovely as you all have been!

Thank you! Oss!


What to Look For in a Team

11:09 AM Moo 0 Comments

I got an email last night from a BJJ newbie asking me what to look for in a team.  Location may be the most important factor if you are in an area where there are not many schools to choose from.While everyone has differing views on this, I can offer a little personal insight on some factors that I find important.

1. Atmosphere: It's really important to rely on your gut instinct with this one.Do you get a positive vibe when you walk in the gym? Do people greet you? Is it clean? Most importantly do you feel comfortable learning there? A positive environment is the best type of environment to learn. Your skills will improve faster and you'll worry less.

2. Are there any white belts in the gym? This  may seem like a small thing but I have realized it is a huge red flag. Now of course if you walk into an advanced class you may not see other white belts but it is definitely worth asking about. Were there white belts who attended but were unable to stick it out? Why? What is the training like? Are you dealing with a bunch of upper belt mat bullies? In many instances schools without white belts are like that for a reason and some of them are rotten from the top down: power complexes, the inability to teach vs dominating white belts and an unwelcoming environment. If you see other white belts ask them what they like about the gym?

3. Are there women? Now this wont matter for everyone and some people prefer training with men. Do they promote women in BJJ but just currently lack female practitioners or is the environment hostile and one that makes women feel like they are unwelcome? I am blessed with some beautiful, badass female training partners and lucky enough to have a few upperbelt ladies!

4. Does the professor roll with his students? I am always very weary of professors who talk the talk and don't walk the walk. With injuries as the exception, your professor should  roll with students and want to understand your growth and development and get an understanding of where you are on your jiu jitsu journey. It is important to their personal growth as well as your own.

5. How does the school deal with injury?
Does your professor stress the importance of remaining injury free as well as keeping your partners safe? Of course with any contact sport some injury is inevitable,but is the prevention of injury and general safety an important point within the school. If not, it should be.

6. Partners!! Are these people who can help you grow and develop? Are they kind? Do you enjoy training with them? At my current school my training partners are both my family and my rock. I learn from them daily but I also enjoy spending time off of the mat with them as well. I trust them and that is a key factor in our success as a team.

7. Instructor Skill Level: As a white belt you want to learn as much as you can and with the proper instructor you can retain it. Some people think its more important to train under a black belt from whom you can learn about lineage. I genuinely believe a school (if possible) should have at least one black belt with other instructors of varying belt colors to teach classes dependent on level. That being said, I have attended some fantastic schools led by brown  and occasionally purple belts. Find out more about the instructor as  you want to be proud of your team and lineage, Jiu Jitsu is a small community.

What you should not look for:
1. A Jiu Jitsu Signifigant Other:People who go into gyms with the main goal of finding a jiu jitsu boyfriend/girlfriend are going in for all of the wrong reasons and this will be very apparent. If you happen to meet someone- great, but as the ultimate goal it's pretty weak reasoning.

2. Quick Promotion:If you enter a school or bounce around between academies with the intention of advancing as quickly as you can with minimal work...again, you're in it for the wrong reasons.

3.A way to feed your ego: Going into a school to prove you can dominate everyone there will serve you very little in Jiu Jitsu. You will alienate your own training partners and your performance will suffer as well. Jiu Jitsu is about give and take and if you are there to batter people...you know where this is going.

4. The cheapest school: Now this is a point of contention among practitioners and instructors alike. Yes, you want to pay for quality and get the best bang for your buck. The cheapest school might not necessarily be the best fit for you. You must consider quality as well as quantity. How often can you train? Do you have access to the mats outside of classes, what is the level of instruction like? Remember you aren't just paying for a membership you are paying for a lifestyle change.

What do you think? What other factors influence your decisions to join or not join a school?


Manic Gif Monday: All Aboard the Struggle Bus

8:20 AM Moo 0 Comments

When my professor says something nice about me in front of the class....

When I see someone at a tournament jump a flying arm bar and immediately get the tap....

How I feel putting on a new gi.....

How I feel every time I practice a takedown....

When I try to take the back but forget to get my hooks in right away.....

When I can't decide whether I'm injured or not after doing something stupid....

When my friends ask me if I'm enjoying "Karate"

When my professor shows a technique with more than 3 steps....

The upperbelt ladies (Nat & Jes) when they see someone bullying me on the mat....

        What I hear when my boyfriend gives me constructive criticism on my technique.....

         and after....

After a roll with someone who spent the whole time smothering me....