“Spend more time in a squat position throughout the day. Just doing that will improve your digestion, your knee health, your hips, and it will start to move things in the right direction. Another is hanging, which is so beneficial for shoulders.” – Ido Portal
Squatting has actually improved the mobility of my legs and knees. I had stopped doing them or positions in yoga like child’s pose and after a few years realized I couldn’t kneel any more or put all of my weight done in a kneeling position when I started jiu-jitsu.
But after months of simple squatting I regained that ability.
Yoga is also a great way to improve your balance as there are many single leg positions to do.
I have been doing some squats as an exercise too, but starting tomorrow I will add some single leg squats in there as those are supposed to be better in that they add variable resistance and balance into the mix.
Those things will supposedly make your bones stronger. And when your bones are stronger your muscles can get stronger according to this video.
Listen to the last few minutes starting at (55:09) of this podcast to get some ideas on how to improve your bone density.
Funny, while watching the above video and listening to the guy talk about bone density and some exercise one of the things I thought of were burpees.
He said something about Tony Robbins jumping on a mini trampoline probably helps his muscles and tendons, but maybe not his bones because of the give in a trampoline. That’s when I thought of doing burpees.
That’s when you combine a push up, squat and jump in one quick exercise. If you do a bunch of them fast in a row you’ll get a good work out.
Before I kinda wondered if they were bad for your knees jumping. But here is some evidence that jumping is good.
How to do burpees
Raise your arms to the sky
When you land jump back or step back into a plank position
Do a push-up or if you can’t just hold the plank for an instant then…
Jump forward so your arms are outside of your feet
Stand and jump up with your arms raised
When I first did these I would be out of breath after 10, however with time they get easier. It’s a good exercise as you are using a lot of different muscles too as well as making your bones denser.
If burpees are too difficult you could try jumping jacks or even box jumping.
This video is of my 3rd jiu-jitsu competition at CCSF on Friday Aug. 21, 2017. This one we started on our knees as some of the students didn’t have much training with falling.
There were a few divisions based on weight and then one division he called blue belt which is the one that I completed in. There were maybe 5 other people in that division that included white belts like myself with quite a bit of experience, 2 judo brown belts and one jiu-jitsu blue belt.
Matches were 3 minutes long. I had one match that finished with a tie and then we went like another 4 minutes until I got a submission.
This took place at CCSF city college in San Francisco.
I won three by submission: collar choke, armbar from guard and kimura. I lost 2 by points. Sensei said I lost my last match because I didn’t attack… I played defense.
When I watched the video I look pretty half there. Friends said I looked pretty gased out.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to compete in this one as sensei asked on wednesday if I would ref. I also tweaked my back and thought it might be wise to rest, but then come Friday sensei said Robert would ref and I should compete.
So I did.
It seemed long. I did 5 matches and one lasted nearly 7 minutes.
I edited this video to make it short and just focused on some of the techniques being done.
Wondering how long it will take you to get a blue belt in jiu-jitsu? Funny I was thinking of writing this article “the road to blue belt” about a week or so ago and then I got one.
I remember when I first started I had a goal where I wanted to get a white belt in a year. I wrote it on my wall. I was kinda destination driven. Then there was a bump in the road that knocked me out for 6 months or so.
I hurt my knee. But I got back into it. As time progressed and when the year started to come to a close I started to think I wasn’t a blue belt and I scratched the goal out and replaced it with something like “have fun learning jiu-jitsu”.
That became my goal. Sure I still wanted to get promoted, but it wasn’t the main thing. I thought I’d rather be a good white belt than a bad blue belt.
I had learned that intrinsic rewards were better than extrinsic ones too. In other words you should do something because you enjoy it not because you want the carrot, paycheck, black belt or whatever.
The road to blue belt in jiu-jitsu was a pretty long one for me. I looked back over my history and added up the time that I spent on the mat practicing jiu-jitsu.
I practiced in 3 different schools. Here’s my technical answer to how long it took me to get a blue belt in jiu-jitsu…
About 35 months of training on the mat
14 months with Romulo Melo
4 months CCSF Aug-Dec 2015
4 months CCSF Jan-May 2016
2.5 months Caesar Gracie May-July 2016
4 months CCSF August-December 2016
1 month Romelo Melo December-Jan 2017
4 months CCSF Jan-May 2017
1.5 months CCSF June-July 2017
Normally I practiced 4 days a week. That translates to 16 days a month x 35 months = 560 days. There were times when I managed 5 and others when I did 3. Over the recent summer session at CCSF I did 2 days. But again normally I did 4 days a week.
At Romulo Melo I normally did hour long classes. Occasionally I would do an hour and a half. I’d estimate 4.5 hours a week, 18 hours a month for 15 months = 270 hours.
At Caeser Gracie I did a mix of classes that were 1-1.5 hours long. I’d estimate 4.5-5 hours a week. I’ll round down to 4.5, 18 hours a month for 2.5 months = 45 hours.
At CCSF I probably spent more hours a week on the mat. I also took judo classes there a couple hours a week. Jiujitsu classes were 1-2 hours depending on the class. I’d estimate 6 hours a week doing jiu-jitsu, 24 hours a month for a total of about 17 months = 408 hours.
I actually started at CCSF when I was still going to Romelo’s. I didn’t go there much my first semester so I didn’t include it above.
So between the 3 schools that’s about 705 hours of jiu-jitsu.
So that white belt above saw quite a few hours. In fact I replaced two of the stripes that fell off. The only original stripe on it is the really dark and dirty one. Those stripes were from training with Romelo Melo. They were from 2014-2015.
These numbers are just my experience and are kind of arbitrary
For you – if you’re wondering I have no idea how long it will take.
For me I think it took longer because I changed schools and had a few injuries. Had I stayed with Romelo (my first school) I think I would have gotten it a while ago.
I couldn’t afford to keep going there and also I wanted to learn some judo. So I went to CCSF.
Obstacles and pain on the path
I hurt both of my knees (bone bruises and a torn meniscus). They seemed to heal pretty good though. I had a rib that bothered me for a long time.
A couple of armbars. Yes, I tapped, but not fast enough as in both cases the person didn’t let go immediately. Tap hard and tap early. Nothing ever popped, but the joints locked.
The only thing that ever popped was my ankle in a toe hold. I didn’t see that coming and then the next thing I knew I heard and felt a pop. It bugged me for a while, but it’s o.k now.
There were a lot of bruises, jammed toes and fingers and I recently cracked the enamel in my tooth. I wasn’t wearing my mouthpiece when I got kneed in the face…
Funny some say white belts are sometimes the more dangerous ones. They are a bit more unpredictable and spastic as they haven’t learned much technique so they rely more on strength.
As sensei says, “do the technique”.
Fun and friends on the path
I have made a lot of friends through jiu-jitsu. Most of the people that I have met have been pretty cool. And despite the pain I have had a lot of fun.
There’s been ups and downs when you don’t think you’re learning or your getting tapped out, but mostly it’s been fun.
I think jiu-jitsu gives you energy too. There have been times when I went in there not feeling very good and then I’ll leave pumped up.
Jiu-jitsu is scary. Competing is twice as scary. I still get a bit scared before every class. I would get scared of getting hurt. Sometimes it’s scary sparring with new people too.
But I remember and say to myself something sensei Palacio said, “Do the technique”.
I think I also just imagine dark sh*t happening sometimes too. Maybe I have a dark mind. It’s not just jiu-jitsu. Walking over the bridge to the competition the other night I just thought what if I fell of that bridge? And got hit by a car.
But actually what’s really scary is not jiujitsu, but the anticipation of it. When you are doing it all the fear pretty much goes away.
It’s a weird mix of excitement, fun and fear.
How long will it take to get promoted?
Probably longer than you think.
I guess it depends on a number of things, but based on my experience you’re more likely to get promoted if you stick with one school.
Although I think moving around was actually good for me. I got instruction from different teachers, but as far as getting promoted goes it probably didn’t help.
Different schools have different ways of promoting. Guess it’s up to the teacher.
Romelo Melo only did promotions like twice a year or so. During those times he would promote a bunch of people at the same time.
Caeser Gracie seemed to have no formal promotion. I saw Alessandro promote someone at the end of class once.
CCSF doesn’t seem to typically do jiu-jitsu promotions. Since I have been there since 2015 I know of 4 people total who got promoted to blue belt. CCSF is more focused on judo. They do promotions once or twice a semester for judo.
I actually got my blue belt after the recent competition on Friday July 21, 2017. That was unexpected. Funny I got a little choked up too. I don’t know it just kinda seemed like an abstract thing.
At times I thought maybe I am doomed to be a white belt forever. Self doubt…
Most of the time I just figured I’d get it eventually and just tried to focus on doing it and having fun. I know other people who trained at CCSF who were white belts for a long time. Some even longer than me, like 4 or 5 years+.
At one time I wondered how long it would take.
It might take longer than expected or it could come sooner. So I’d just say enjoy the ride.
It’s kinda scary. You feel those nerves starting to twitch days before the competition whenever you start to think about it. Come the day you start to think why am I doing this? I don’t have to do this.
But you do it. And it’s pretty intense cause the other guy is probably just as scared and is trying to throw you, choke you or get you in a shoulder or arm lock.
Here’s a video of some of the highlights from the competition.
I got 3 submissions (armbars from mount). If you get the guy to tap out by arm/shoulder lock or a choke then you win.
You can also win by points, but they are secondary to a submission. Certain positions are considered more dominate and you can get points from those like mount, back, side control.
Then you can get points from sweeps (going from bottom to top) and guard passes (getting out from between the guys legs).
I just focus on trying to get the submission as I think that is more martial art like versus a sport.
I won 3 and I lost one by points.
The guy I lost to had a wrestling background. He was pretty athletic. He won because he got 4 points for a mount position, but I got out. I had only 2 points from a hip sweep.
My friends said I was only a second away from winning. I just got my leg out but just a hair of a second too slow as the buzzer went off.
I guess losing is not really a loss. For one he didn’t submit me. So losing by points is not like losing from tapping out and avoiding a broken arm. It’s a game.
It’s still not quite as tasty as a win, but there’s something to learn from it. I saw my technique for guard passing towards the end to be pretty sloppy and there were a few things I would do differently.
It’s more intense than practice. You get tired really quickly if you are going 100%.
It’s cool to watch the matches over and over again. You can see what you did wrong and what you can do better next time.
My judo throw
I did do one judo throw called harai goshi and followed it with an armbar. You can see it in the video above at 1:36.
Face your fears
That’s why I did it. That’s what my teacher said was incentive to do it.
It’s a lot more intense than class. It’s more like a real fight with a few rules.
It’s scary, but fun.
I got nervous, but being around your friends makes it fun too. And then after our teacher took a bunch of us out to Chinese. It was a great time.
I have been practicing Jiujitsu for about 20 months or so total on the mat. I have been going about 4 times a week or so and have been going to CCSF for about 2 semesters.
I love it. Jiujitsu is really fun and it’s easy to get totally absorbed with it and just in the moment. They also have some Judo classes there which I have been also taking, but I don’t feel very comfortable standing up yet compared to on the ground.
They have jiujitsu and judo tournaments there every semester. I was going to do the one last semester, but I got hurt. I had a friend at my first school Romelo Melo who said I should do it least once.
I remember I got nervous just watching the one last semester. I was a little nervous come this tournament, but not as nervous as I thought I would be.
For my first tournament I thought I did alright. I won 2 and lost one by points to a take down in “overtime”. Losing by points is not as disappointing as losing by submission. I think a submission only contest would be more interesting.
I wasn’t so sure if I would compete or not, but the thing that made me do it was something my teacher said. I asked him “Why compete?” He basically said to face your fears.
He went on to explain it more, but that was enough for me.
I decided that I would record it so that I could watch it. It’s pretty cool as you can see some things that you could have done differently. You get a different vantage point.
In my first match I wasn’t warmed up. That’s the thing in class you always do some warm-up exercises and drilling before you start to spar (roll). But I guess in tournaments you don’t have that option.
It was pretty sudden and the guy seemed pretty aggressive. I guess I wasn’t very ready as it was my first. He didn’t get close to submitting me once. I did have a couple of triangle choke attempts and cross collar choke, but I didn’t get him.
He won by a single leg take down in overtime. There’s a counter to that which I will do next time. That is with the Judo throw uchi mata. So that’s one thing I learned. So like they say if you lose you learn something.
My second match I did pretty good and won by points. I was adjusting for a triangle armbar when the time ran out. I swept the guy I think a few times and almost got a few submissions.
In my third match I won by triangle choke. It was a good one too. I had my legs in the right positions and I got it from mount and then rolled over to my back. My triangles have been getting better.