Promotions and other news

Last month I had my first stripe promotion. It was intense! The experience itself was great, because all of my grappling partners who normally take it ‘easy’ on me now were giving more of their all. I definitely prefer it when the lower belts who are higher up than me (blue, purple, white with several stripes, etc…) really give me a run for my money. (The brown and black belts really focus more on coaching and teaching me, which is ideal for me as well, because if I make a big mistake they let me know!) It was also nerve wracking because I was quite tired that evening. I made it through evaluations, though, and received my first white stripe.

More than actually getting the promotion, it was the feeling of really getting stuck into BJJ and realising that I can actually do this.

I’m also excited because the original founder of the school I go to, Johnny Lee Smith, is coming back into town this month to teach. I’m still fairly new, so I haven’t had the chance to see him yet. It is going to be a great month for training!

And not only that, but Rickson Gracie will be holding a small seminar sometime early next year specifically for Johnny Lee Smith’s school and his students. To actually meet someone that famous in the BJJ world and with that level of skill… how could I not pass that up? It would be an incredible experience, not just for my personal BJJ training, but for myself as a person. It’s probably going to be a few hundred so I’m saving up early. ^_^;

When you start to dream about BJJ…

I’ve had my third or fourth dream about grappling since I started my training. It’s always kind of disappointing when you do really well in your dream, but then wake up and go ‘Aww… back to reality’. In truth, I think it’s my brain’s way to continue processing all of the information I learn when on the mat.

Funny thing is, I’m not actually that into BJJ. It’s something that I take very seriously, and it provides me with so many experiences, but at the end of the day, my main reason for training is to become confident and learn ground techniques in a real life encounter.

I can see how addicting it can be, though. Because of how challenging it is, you have this wonderful sense of accomplishment when you are able to understand something that you have been working on, or have something work as a technique for you in real-time grappling.

In other news, I missed Thursday’s class because I was taking my friend out to laser tag. I felt guilty. D: I’ll be making it up with training at home, though.

First Lessons and Observations in the Dojo and Advice for Other White Belts

To surmise some of the first things I learned being a new student of BJJ, I will write it in a list format.

Lesson 1: If you don’t bother to seek out a training partner, chances are you will be left without one.

Lesson 2: Leave your ego at the door, there will always be people who know things that you do not, and especially when you’re starting out, almost everyone is far better than you. It will stay that way for a while. The faster you accept it, the easier it becomes to accept and love yourself and have fun learning BJJ instead of constantly beating yourself up over your failures.

Lesson 3: You’re going to fail. A lot. It’s normal. Just try to improve, and learn from your mistakes.

Lesson 4: If you have something you’re self-conscious about, remember: it only becomes a disability or disadvantage if you allow yourself to make it a disability or disadvantage. Use what is different about you to your advantage.

Lesson 5: Size, strength, and flexibility aren’t everything, but they sure as hell help. One of the main things I love about BJJ is that you can neutralize the playing field and even use someone’s size to your advantage. But at the end of the day, it’s still far easier to lift someone up who weighs 100 lbs rather than 200 lbs. Good technique is among the most important factors of a grapple, but strength, reach, and size are not irrelevant. Consider those when grappling, and don’t get too discouraged.

Lesson 6: Never underestimate your opponent. That’s a sign of ignorance, and a recipe to get your ass kicked.

Lesson 7: Tapping is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that that particular grappling session ended badly for you and you probably made a mistake. And don’t keep score of taps. Make sure to tap whenever you need to. Or you can, you know, permanently injure yourself and look like a prideful fool. At the end of the day, it’s your choice.

Lesson 8: Stretch before class. It can prevent unnecessary injuries. It also helps me to relax.

Lesson 9: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Questions are good. Just don’t interrupt when someone is speaking.

Lesson 10: Don’t let anyone intimidate you, and keep calm. If you’re up against a blue, purple, brown, or black belt, especially your sensei, think of it as the perfect opportunity to improve your techniques, not as a death sentence. Remember to breathe and don’t panic. They’re not out to hurt you, but they are out to teach you. Let them.

Lesson 11: Seek out the students with colour on their belt. Grapple and train with them as often as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask them what you did wrong or what they did to tap you out after the session. It’s their duty to help the newer students just as much as it is your duty to learn from them.

Lesson 12: If you can’t keep up with the drills, it’s perfectly fine. Just give it your best shot, and keep at it. Again, if you’re not sure you’re doing a drill correctly, ask someone. Don’t develop bad habits. Eventually, you will get better at them and you will be able to keep up with your classmates.

Lesson 13: Practice outside of class time.  Maybe you’re tired after the class, or think that you know what you went over in class by heart. Chances are, you don’t. If you don’t have an accessible training partner, go over the drills or just practice solo and go over what you’ve learned. Practice makes perfect.

Lesson 14: Shower after class. Seriously, go shower. Trust me on this one. And wash your gi, too. Everyone will appreciate it.

And finally…

Lesson 15: You are often the last one to notice how much you’ve improved. Your peers that you’ve been training and grappling with for months might not say it, but they will notice the things that you have improved on. You are often your worst critic. Don’t get discouraged, just keep at it. You will surprise yourself with your strength and determination.

I hope these observations are helpful to anyone new at BJJ or any martial art like I myself am. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment and send me feedback!


I am eighteen-years-old, and have no colour to my belt. I stand tall at 5’5″ and weigh around 116-118 lbs. I also happen to be female.

I have always refused to let any of these qualities discourage me from studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I had been interested in learning self-defence for a few years before becoming a part of a martial arts school. I enrolled at Triad Martial Arts in the February of 2013 and, after participating in both the Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes for one day, I ended up joining the Adult BJJ class. To me, it seemed like more of a challenge because I was going out of my comfort zone. I also went in with the intention of developing skills for both grappling on the ground and striking standing up. I simply chose to learn grappling first, and not try to take two classes at once.

I feel that I made the right choice. In such a short amount of time, BJJ has become a big part of my life. It has given me both confidence and self-consciousness. I have developed my own patience and self-control as well as the more aggressive side of myself. I also have no doubt that I am growing stronger and stronger both mentally and physically.

But are my experiences so different from anyone else’s when they first step onto the mat? There are many things that I’m convinced most people feel unanimously when taking their first steps onto the mat. Anxiety, self-consciousness, excitement… Still, there are experiences that I had and will have that are unique to me. I intend to share that.

This is the beginning of my journey.