Back to Back Tournaments

This past weekend was a busy one! The team competed at two local back to back tournaments, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. In total, 12 students competed this weekend.

Newbreed Charlotte

On Saturday, six students represented Team Casarez at the Newbreed Charlotte tournament in Concord, North Carolina. Newbreed comes to the area approximately 2-4 times a year, and it is a great tournament for students looking to compete for the first time! It is a well organized event, which always makes the day more manageable.

Of the six students competing, it was the first time for three of the students. In total, the team brought home 7 medals – 5 gold and 2 silver.

Trinity, Ellie, Jenn, Megan, Turner, and David all did a great job!

Ellie earned 2nd in the No Gi and Gold in the Gi. In the Gi, she won her match by armbar. She recently placed gold at the Good Fight Tournament, also submitting both of her opponents by armbars.

Jenn competed in No Gi and decisively won her first match, ending the fight in an Americana. She advanced to the finals round, where she lost to a Kimura. This was her first time competing as a blue belt, and she earned 2nd in the division!

Megan competed in the No Gi division as well, and this was her first competition ever. She started off strong, initially winning her first match, but lost in the end due to points. Although she didn’t place, we are proud of her for going out and competing. Jiu Jitsu is a whole family sport for Megan, her husband, and their son, Theo!

Turner also competed for the first time this past weekend. He showcased a lot of the techniques and concepts that we have been working on in the fundamentals class. He swept his opponent, reversed multiple times, and almost got the back. However, he fell short on points in the end and was eliminated from his division.

David wrapped up the day with his matches, which he won by points after landing some strong takedowns. He earned double gold in his division!

FUJI Raleigh

The next day, another round of students competed at the FUJI Raleigh Spring Championship. There were 3 kids, Rowen, Silas, Arthur, and 3 adults, Kevin, Austin, and Mike.

Rowen, Silas, and Arthur began the day early with the kids division. Rowen and Silas had some tough matches, but kept a very strong attitude. This is impressive to see in such young competitors! Arthur won 2 of his matches, and earned

Kevin competed and had some great matches that earned him gold in the Gi. In No Gi, he got third place.

Austin competed in his weight class and lost the first match. He decided to compete in the weight class above him, and ended up winning all of his matches to get gold in the Gi.

Mike competed in the Gi division for his weight class and won gold. He executed a game plan that the team has been studying for the past couple weeks in class. He got an armbar submission in one of his matches as well.

All twelve of the students who competed this weekend did a great job, and we are very proud of them.

Looking ahead, the next event will be Toro Cup 20 on April 30. We have two competitors that will be fighting. This event will also be livestreamed by FloGrappling.


IBJJF Pan Ams 2022

One of the biggest international Jiu Jitsu competitions of the year, IBJJF Pan Ams,  took place in Kissimmee, Florida April 5-10. In years past, Professor Tony Casarez has traveled by himself or with one other student to compete. This year was the first time that Team Casarez sent a team of 5 competitors to the tournament.

Professor Tony Casarez competed in the Masters 2 Black Belt division. Milo and Ferny represented the team in the adult purple belt division. Riya competed in the juvenile blue belt division, and Caike competed in the juvenile white belt division. For three of the competitors, it was their first time experiencing a major Jiu Jitsu competition.

Competitors from all over the world come together to compete in this Gi tournament, from white to black belt. Because of this, it is a multi-day competition. Professor Tony, Ferny, and Milo competed on the Friday of the competition.

Competition Results

The day started with Ferny, who won his first match 2-0 after scoring a beautiful sweep. In his second match, he didn’t pull guard the way that he had planned to, which threw him off and cost him the match. Since it is such a big tournament, all brackets are single elimination.

The next competitor was Milo. This was his first tournament in a couple months after a knee injury early in the year. Nevertheless, he came out very strong, stuck to the game plan, and won his first two matches by submission. He won by kimura and then rear-naked choke. He advanced to the quarterfinals, where he lost by an armbar.

At the same time, Professor Tony was getting ready to compete on the other side of the mats. This was his third weekend in a row after competing in the IBJJF Charleston and then the ADCC in Las Vegas. For this tournament, he competed in the Masters 2 division. His match was going perfectly according to the game plan, with a clean guard pull and a textbook sweep. He was up 2-0, and in the middle of the match went for a suma gaeshi that was not successful and unfortunately gave up a sweep. The score was tied 2-2, and the ref awarded an advantage to his opponent in the final seconds for the pressure from half guard.

The next day, Riya and Caike took to the mats to compete for the first time at the IBJJF Pan Ams.

Riya competed first, and after scoring double gold at the IBJJF Charleston, she was ranked the #1 seed. She won her first match by points, scoring 10 on her opponent and having 0 scored against her. She passed twice and then was in mount for the rest of the match. She moved on to the finals match, where she fought Mia Funegra of AOJ. A second of hesitation to execute the guard pull game plan cost her the match, and she got 2nd place in the Juvenile Blue Belt division.

Caike closed out the day with his match. He executed the game plan and fought hard, but ultimately lost via points in the last couple seconds of the match.

Road to Gold… Only the Beginning

For Riya, Caike, and Ferny, this was their first IBJJF Pan Ams. In total, 5 competitors represented Team Casarez. This is exciting because it is the most competitors the team has ever brought to Pan Ams. While we did not get the gold medals that we wanted, we are building a competitive team that is driven and determined to return year after year, building on every performance as we go.

We expect the competition team at Team Casarez to continue growing year after year. The more we compete, the more experience we have to learn and grow. Gold medals are always the goal, so we will continue to build and show up again next year.

To get an inside look at the weight cuts, traveling, meal prep, and warm ups that take place in competition, check out the vlog on the YouTube Channel:

IBJJF Charleston Open 2022

On the weekend of March 26 and 27, IBJJF hosted the Charleston Open in South Carolina. We took a total of 4 competitors to this tournament, Professor Tony, Ferny, Riya, and Troy. There were also three students from the school who chose to travel to Charleston just to watch and support their teammates, Henry, Devin, and Anna. This was a 5 hour drive, so we especially appreciate their support!

Also, as a part of Alliance, our association was awarded 1st place of all the teams at the tournament!

Competition Results

Riya competed in the Juvenile Blue Belt Gi division, and after winning her weight class, she decided to also compete in the open class. She won the open class as well, ultimately bringing home 2 gold medals. She got two submissions, a kimura and an armbar. Riya trains almost everyday in the evening classes, she helps out with the kids classes, and she studies Jiu Jitsu outside of training. She now has her eyes on Pan Ams 2022, where she will compete next week!

Ferny competed in the Adult Purple belt division against some of the toughest purple belts in the world. This is his 3rd IBJJF as a purple belt, and he competed in both the Gi and No Gi divisions for his weight class. In the Gi division, he was calm and used his pressure to get in good positions. When he was utilizing his guard, he was able to trap his opponents shoulder and secure a triangle and then lock up an arm bar.In the semi finals, he lost to the champion (an Alliance teammate and great friend of the academy) by armbar, but fought hard throughout.In the no-Gi division, he won by 31 points. He didn’t get the submission, but he was hunting for the submission the entire time. He didn’t get scored on at all. In the finals, he was up 2-0 from a sweep he set up. He then got caught by a triangle from the closed guard. Ultimately, Ferny fought his way to 3rd in the Gi Division and 2nd in the No Gi Division.

Troy competed in the Blue Belt Adult Division for the first time, and put on some great performances! In the Gi, he had a tough match against the champion (a member of Alliance and great friend of the academy). In the match, he showed heart and technique, with a very strong passing game in the beginning, but got caught by a bow and arrow in the end. In the no-Gi, his only opponent didn’t make weight. So he automatically won the division. With the hunger for battle, he went into the open class and fought an opponent over 30 pounds heavier. He was able to sweep and score points, but then lost by armbar to his opponent who medaled at the open class division. Troy has a bright and exciting future ahead of him in competition, since he is always positive, hardworking, and composed!

Professor Tony competed in both Gi and No Gi. With eyes on Pan Ams, he wanted to test his cardio in the most fast paced and technical division in the tournament – Adult Black Belt. Although the matches did not go his way, his performances were strong and he showcased techniques he teaches everyday at the school. His cardio was tested, and he took notes on what he wants to improve for the upcoming competitions! There will also be a breakdown of his No Gi matches on the YouTube Channel soon.

[Coming Soon]

Day In The Life

To see an inside look at the tournament, check out this vlog created by one of our students that shows a Day In The Life of competition Jiu Jitsu!

Upcoming Events:

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez

Yoga for Jiu Jitsu Athletes

The human body is designed to adapt to the positions and activities that it encounters most often. In Jiu Jitsu, the body experiences a constant contraction and compression of muscles. Whether it’s knees to your chest or elbows to your side, we all know that keeping our limbs close to our centerline is the best way to not get submitted in Jiu Jitsu. Over time, the body becomes accustomed to this consistent contraction and muscles and joints can become tight. This is the precursor to injury and soreness.  We want Jiu Jitsu to be a lifelong sport, which means that we need to take care of our muscles and joints as best as we can.

So, what can you do to counteract the contractions that the body experiences during Jiu Jitsu practice?

One of the best known practices to open up the muscles and joints of the body is yoga.

Yoga is an ancient practice that involves the connection of breath to movement. It is composed of specific asanas (or postures) that are sequenced together into a vinyasa (or flow). Yoga asanas are intended to lengthen and open the body, which helps to balance us out from the constant contraction we experience during Jiu Jitsu.

Jiu Jitsu athletes most commonly have very tight hips, backs, and shoulders. This is because the body has adapted to the common demand of contraction and compression. Lengthening and opening the body through yoga is a great way to balance out the body.

Here are some common yoga postures to practice at home to open up the back, shoulders, chest and hips:

Back/Low Back: Downward Facing Dog

This posture is a full-body posture, but you can use it to really focus on opening up and creating a long, open spine.

In this posture, start on your hands and knees and tuck the toes under.

Then, on your next inhale, push into all ten fingers as you send the hips up and back. Focus on opening up through your low back by pushing your hips up toward the sky. You can bend your knees as much as you need to in this posture to feel the release in your low back. At the same time, press through your shoulders to feel an opening in the upper back as well.


Shoulders: Puppy Pose

There are many postures that you can practice to open up the shoulders.

One of my favorites is puppy pose. You can move into this pose from downward facing dog by setting your knees on the ground, align your hips over knees, and then walk your hands forward. Send your chest towards the floor (it’s okay if it doesn’t reach) and rest your forehead on that mat if you can. This posture opens up the shoulders and the chest. You can counter this posture with a child’s pose, arms by the side. Send your hips back to your heels and let your arms rest by your side.


Hips: Supine Figure 4 or Pigeon Pose

This posture targets the outside hips, which can get very tight in Jiu Jitsu when opponents crush our legs to one side or we use our hips and knees to defend from getting passed.

Lay down on your back, bring one sole of the feet to the ground behind your hip, and extend the other leg high. From there, cross the extended leg ankle over the other leg’s knee. You can push the bent knee away, or pull the hamstring of the other leg toward you to deepen the stretch. If you don’t feel the stretch here, you can move into pigeon pose (pictured left). 

Chest: Cobra pose

Rounding of the upper back and shoulders is very common in Jiu Jitsu.

To counter this, you can do cobra pose. Lay on your stomach and bring your hands underneath your shoulders.

As you inhale, begin to pull your chest forward and up off of the ground. Avoid using your leg muscles, and instead use your back muscles to smile through your collar bones and shine your chest forward. Keep your gaze down.




These are just a couple of poses that you can use to open and lengthen the body. If possible, you can do these once a day, even for just 10 minutes, after class or when you get home from training.

Here are some important notes to keep in mind when practicing yoga:

  • Use the breath to deepen the posture. If you don’t feel the stretch, try breathing deeply through your nose and out your nose to see if you can feel it.
  • Do not push yourself past your limits (you do plenty of that in Jiu Jitsu!) Yoga is a time to listen to your body, and rest where it feels comfortable and where you can breathe.

Take a Yoga Class

If you are interested, Team Casarez is also offering yoga flows at the gym. Come try out a class to learn the postures and sequences so that you can ask questions and practice at home!

These classes are free and open to the public until March 26, 2022, so bring a friend or a family member who you think could benefit from yoga as well.

Wednesdays @ 10:30am – Mobility Flow (create more flexibility in the joints)
Fridays @ 1:30pm – Restorative Flow (rest and restore sore and tight muscles)
Saturdays @ 9:30am – Power Flow (create strength in the muscles to avoid injury)

If you have questions about yoga for Jiu Jitsu, send an email to and Mary Ketterhagen or Catherine Holland, the yoga instructors, can answer your questions.

Upcoming Events

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez


Wrestling for Jiu Jitsu

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to learn from former D1 Wrestler and Head Coach, Joey Boardwine. Joey Boardwine, with Boardwine Grappling, is an instructor and professional head coach who has been grappling for 40 years.

He started training Jiu Jitsu in 2015 with Team Casarez and earned his blue belt with Professor Tony in 2017. He continued his journey with gyms throughout the United States as he traveled work, and eventually moved to California where he earned his purple belt with ATOS. He is a highly skilled wrestler and a great Jiu Jitsu athlete, having earned 3 IBJJF No-Gi World Championships.

Wrestling for Jiu Jitsu Immersion Day at Team Casarez

Hosting Coach Joey Boardwine for a Wrestling Seminar at the school was an honor. Approximately 40 students, and some students from other schools in the area, showed up ready to learn. We had a morning Gi session from 9am-11am and an afternoon No-Gi session from 12pm-2pm.

Coach Joey Boardwine began each session with an extensive warm up, emphasizing the importance of warm ups and how to integrate wrestling drills into warm ups. Following the warm ups, Coach Joey showed a series of wrestling techniques. Each technique taught students either how to take down an opponent, or how to defend a takedown, with multiple variations included. Between techniques, students had the opportunity to ask questions, and Coach Joey elaborated and clarified any areas of confusion. Even more importantly, Joey shared key concepts and tools that the students can apply to all areas of their stand up game.


The Importance of Wrestling in Jiu Jitsu

Wrestling for Jiu Jitsu is becoming more and more popular as Jiu Jitsu evolves. Coach John Danaher, one of the most recognized Jiu Jitsu coaches in the world, posted recently about the importance of integrating wrestling into Jiu Jitsu. As the sport evolves, it is important to become familiar with the knowledge and concepts of other grappling sports (in this case, wrestling especially) so as to make Jiu Jitsu the best and most effective grappling sport that it can be.

We will be including Coach Joey’s warm up drills and wrestling techniques into our training in future weeks so that we can build off of the progress made during the Wrestling Seminar.

You can also check out our Youtube Channel for  his techniques:


Connect with Coach Joey Boardwine

For any students interested in working directly with Coach Joey, you can read more about his academy at Joey is not only a phenomenal coach, but also an outstanding individual at heart who truly enjoys helping students in their Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu journey. He will be more than happy to speak with you about working with him to improve your wrestling game.

You can also follow him on Instagram:

Thank you again to Joey Boardwine for the amazing seminar. Thank you also to all of the students who showed up ready to learn!

We hope to have Coach Joey Boardwine back again soon.

Here are some of the upcoming events at the gym:

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez

Taking Notes for Jiu Jitsu

I have always encouraged students to take notes during class. Why? Because I cover details that are directly linked to the belt exams that they are required to take (if they do not compete regularly) in order to get promoted.

I also want students to get the most out of each training session.

However, I realized that the problem with taking notes during class is that students will scribble details, and then never look at the notes again. This is not beneficial for memory retention.

In fact, research shows that recalling information after the fact is better for memory retention than passively writing details down as you hear them.

So, I have started to send out a weekly technique review to all of my students through email. It lists the drills and names of the techniques that we discussed, but it does not include any of the details of the technique.

My hope is that students will see the list in the weekly review, and then fill in the details themselves. This requires students to think back to the class and what was taught. They will need to ask themselves, “what do I remember about this technique?”

By practicing memory recall and writing down what they remember after the fact, they are more likely to retain the information and remember it for when they are rolling.

Example of How to Use the Weekly Technique Review

Here is an example of what a student’s notes might look like after this week’s review:

  • Pass: Walk Back to Headquarters to Back Step
    • Headquarters: squat position with one of opponent’s leg in between your legs. Pull on their outside right knee with your left hand to walk back to headquarters (from knee cut for example). Once in headquarters, grip opponent’s left outside knee with right hand, and use left hand to reach for opponent’s collar or cross face. Backstep to the right. Drop hip and head to stomach at the same time.
  • Pass: Drop Elbow to Knee Cut
    • From headquarters, drop elbow to the inside of opponent’s leg to block the knee shield and go for knee cut. Knee cut: elbow stays low to prevent knee shield, opp arm reaches for near side collar, outside leg stays far away to avoid getting underhooked by opponent, head and shoulder low, strong base.
  • Pass: Pin Top Knee Shield with Grip on Sleeve and Point Knee Towards Elbow to Back Step
    • From knee cut (to your left) when opponent has a knee shield, right hand grabs their sleeve and right elbow pins their knee down. Knee points to the other direction and backstep to the right. Keep walking back in backstep until you have passed.

As you can see, the notes are not perfect. They are just what comes to mind when you try to remember what we drilled in class.

Focus on What Makes Sense to You

I also want to emphasize that there will be some techniques that just did not click for you, and others that make sense.

Really focus on the ones that make sense, and do not stress too much about the ones that left you confused. I show a handful of variations because I know that some people will prefer one technique to another, and that it differs from student to student.

Focus and pay attention to the techniques that make sense and feel comfortable to you. These are the ones you will be more likely to use in a roll anyways.

Try recalling details for the techniques in the Weekly Review for at least a month, and see how it improves your jiu jitsu!

As a reminder, here are some of the upcoming events at the gym:

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez


Toro Cup 19 and FUJI Raleigh



This weekend was a busy one for Jiu Jitsu in Raleigh!

Between the Toro Cup 19 on Saturday and the FUJI Raleigh Winter Championship on Sunday, our students and coaches spent the whole weekend on or around the mats.

We had four students compete in superfights for the Toro Cup 19. These superfights are highly competitive and exciting. They require intense physical and mental preparation.

For this Toro Cup specifically, our students were encouraged to focus on their mental game. The four competitors were asked to read the book, “With Winning In Mind”. It covers techniques and strategies to master the mental game before a match. The mental game is often overlooked, but 90% of performance is dependent on the mental game.

Troy and Ferny made their Toro Cup debut, competing for the first time in the superfight event.

Troy submitted his opponent only a few short minutes into the match via Triangle Choke.

Ferny executed his game plan perfectly, initiating the fight with multiple takedowns and avoiding leg locks from his opponent by long stepping and passing guard. He won by points in the end.

Mike and Kevin had both competed in the Toro Cup previously, both coming off of wins in the last event. Mike had a great performance this go around, but had a tactical error in the end that cost him to lose by points. Kevin also lost his match to his opponent.

As we say at Team Casarez, “we win together, we lose together”. We learn from these losses and will go back to the lab as a team to make adjustments and improvements for future matches.

The Toro Cup 19 was very exciting and entertaining, featuring fights from seasoned competitors such as Gabriel Sousa and Deandre Corbe. At the end of the event, Professor Tony Casarez had the opportunity to interview Gabriel Sousa on his preparation, performance, and plans for the future.

The next morning, some of our other students were on the mats as they competed in the FUJI Raleigh Winter Championship. We had 8 competitors total at this event, 3 of which were in the kids divisions.

Gabriel, from our kids program, had a very successful day. He won many of his matches by submission, and brought home 2 gold medals.

We are proud of all of the students who competed this weekend, and are thankful to all of the students who came out to support and help coach.

Professor Tony Casarez reviewed the main takeaways and concepts that we need to work on after watching the matches this past weekend with the 50 students who showed up to the Monday night class. We will continue to review and practice these concepts throughout this week.

Looking ahead, here are some of the upcoming events at the gym:

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez

Newbreed Charlotte 2022

Congratulations to the students who not only braved the snow and ice this past weekend, but also showed up and dominated at the Newbreed Charlotte tournament on January 22. We had a total of nine students representing Team Casarez on the mats. As a gym, we earned 5 gold medals, 6 silver medals, and 4 bronze medals.

For three of the students, this was their first tournament. Two of the students, Sarah and Trinity, joined the gym together approximately 6 months ago. After training consistently and putting in a lot of hard work, they entered the tournament and both were very successful. Sarah won gold and silver, and Trinity won gold and bronze!

Joe is another student who competed for the first time. He won his matches, and brought home a gold and bronze medal.

This was Riya’s first tournament as a blue belt, and she competed in the No-Gi division for her age group. She won all of her matches by submission, and brought home her first gold medal as a blue belt.

Three of the other students were from our kids’ program, and each of them showcased incredible technique and discipline for such young ages! Between the three of them (all siblings), they earned 6 silver medals.

Mike C., brown belt, competed and won gold in the Gi, submitting his opponent by choke, and bronze in the No-Gi.


We are very proud of the students who competed in the tournament. Many students and other competitors were not able to make it to the tournament because of weather conditions. Despite the unpredictable weekend, our nine students not only showed up, but really took to heart the techniques and concepts we have been discussing in class and applied them to live matches. We are excited to continue watching each of these students’ Jiu Jitsu journeys unfold.

Our next event will be the Toro Cup tournament on February 5, 2022. We have 5 students competing in Super Fights at this event.

The FUJI Tournament in Raleigh will take place on February 6, 2022 and we have a handful of students competing in this tournament as well.

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Jiu Jitsu Goals for 2022

Welcome to 2022! It’s a new year, which means new  Jiu Jitsu goals for 2022!

Goals in Jiu Jitsu are so important. If you have not yet created a list of goals for yourself, go ahead and do that now. Goals will help you to measure progress, stay motivated, and continue improving.

I’m not here to tell you what goals to create for yourself. Everyone is going to be different when it comes to their goals in Jiu Jitsu. Some students want to win tournaments, others want to lose weight, some want to make friends and improve their mental health. This is where you need to take time to get to know yourself on the mat and what you want to achieve. If you are a white belt, here are some common themes to focus on to get you started with your goals. 

What I can provide you with is 3 of the most common mistakes that are made when creating goals for Jiu Jitsu and how to avoid them. This will help you create goals that are productive and effective in your Jiu Jitsu journey.

Mistakes to avoid in your Jiu Jitsu goals for 2022:

1. Goals that you can’t control

The most common mistake that students make when creating their Jiu Jitsu goals is creating goals that they cannot control. What does this mean?

Goals that you cannot control include goals that involve outside variables and factors. For example, if you commit to the goal “end every roll with a submission”, then you are bound to be disappointed.

Why? Because you cannot control the technique, intensity, or experience of your opponent. Your opponent is the external factor that you cannot control, and so if your opponent has great defense and you are unable to submit them, you will become disappointed, demotivated, and ultimately give up on your goal.

Reframe this goal to: “Begin every roll with a submission in mind”. This goal involves only factors that you can control – your mindset before a roll. You can control the conscious thoughts that you engage in before a roll, and no matter the external factor, you can always begin every roll with a submission in mind. This is a goal that will improve your Jiu Jitsu, without causing frustration and disappointment. Some other examples of goals that you can’t control and how to reframe them include:

  • Never get my guard passedNever accept a pass (meaning don’t get discouraged when you are about to get passed or if you get passed, and always be looking for a way to recover)
  • Roll 8 times every class (there may be days where the instructor does not alot time for 8 rolls)focus on my breathing during every roll
  • Don’t tap (inevitable…this is jiu jitsu, hopefully you tap! Otherwise you’ll get put to sleep, arm broken or leg snapped off)Take notes after I get tapped out, and focus on learning rather than getting discouraged

2. Goals that are outcome oriented

Not only do I hear this all of the time, but I myself have made this mistake. Outcome oriented goals are the infamous “I am going to win 5 tournaments this year”, “I am going to win the Worlds”, “My goal is to get my purple belt before December”.

Instead of writing goals that are outcome oriented, focus on writing goals that are process specific.

For example, instead of “I am going to win an IBJJF this year”, your goal should be “I am going to follow this training plan with no exceptions, read books on champion psychology, and lift at least 4 times a week”

These goals are process specific, so they set a clear path forward. By following this goal, you enter the competition feeling motivated, prepared, and confident. The next step is to simply trust the process that you created for yourself, and let the outcome speak for itself.

Ironically, goals that are process specific as opposed to goal oriented are more likely to help you reach your goals.

  • I am going to get my purple belt by DecemberI am going to train at least 3 times a week and study at least once a week

3. Goals with no foundation

The final most common mistake students make is creating goals because that’s what they were told to do and that’s what everyone else is doing, but they take no time to understand why they are creating the goals.

The truth about goals is that they take time, and time inevitably involves bad days, curve balls, contingencies, and other roadblocks we cannot predict.

Whatever goals you create, you want to expect and plan for the inner voice that will tell you, “you don’t really need to do this”, “do you really even want this?”, “no one cares if you make this goal or not”. You have to plan for the days when you are sick, when you are tired, when you receive bad news or are feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed.

What will carry you through these days is a foundation. A “why” for every goal you create. It will help to write these “why’s” down, because on the low days, it will be very hard for your mind to retrieve them. This will help keep your goals alive, and will avoid them falling to the wayside because “well they’re not that important anyway”.

If it’s something you want, then understand why you want it.

For example…

  • My goal is to train 3 times a weekwhy? Because this will help my mental health and I will be a better father, husband, and employee if my mental health is in check.
  • My goal is to follow my training plan to a tee and hopefully win this next tournament → why? Because I’ve wanted to for a long time and it will make me feel proud of myself. Because I want to set an example for my son and for my students. Because I want to prove to myself that I can.

Any and all of these are sufficient for your “why”. As long as you have your “why”, you are more likely to achieve your goals and overcome the days when you feel like giving up.

Take time now to reflect on the goals you have set for yourself this year, and maybe reframe some of them to avoid these most common mistakes. When you have goals that are intentional and well written, you will be more likely to achieve the goals and grow further in your jiu jitsu journey.

5 Rules for Cross-Training

The question is not necessarily whether cross-training in itself is good or bad, the question is moreso, how can I cross-train respectfully?

There is nothing inherently wrong with cross-training. It can be beneficial to you as a student if you want to get to know other jiu jitsu students in the community and diversify your training.

That being said, if you are going to cross train, you want to make sure that you are respectful to your home gym, your visiting gym, and to all of the members that you meet in the process.

Here are 5 Rules for Cross Training that will help ensure that it is a positive experience for all parties involved:

1. Let your home gym and the visiting gym know that you are cross-training

Inform the head instructors at both gyms that you are cross-training. This shows courtesy and respect to both gym owners, and makes the intention for cross-training very clear. When you make it clear that you are cross-training, the instructor at the visiting gym knows that you are not their student, meaning they are not going to promote you, and you are also not a potential member. By being open and honest about your cross-training, you avoid any confusion about your intention at each gym.

2. Always offer to pay a mat fee

More often than not, a mat fee will be required. However, some gyms will not require a mat fee when you visit them, but I always suggest to my students to at least offer to pay something. By paying a mat fee, you show that you value the training, the facility, and the instruction. You are also showing respect to the members of that gym who are paying monthly dues to train there. If they do not accept your offer, then buy merchandise, help to sweep the mats, or offer to pay for a meal after training. You can get creative, but the point is to always show that you value the school that you are visiting and the training that they offer.

3. Understand what techniques are allowed

If you are going to visit another gym, it is extremely important that you know what techniques are allowed, and for which belts.

At our gym, for example, we do not allow white belts to do heel hooks. This is to avoid unnecessary injury. We will train heel hooks amongst colored belts, but only as long as it is agreed between sparring partners. It is important that all students visiting our school are also aware of this rule.

Always ask the head professor or fellow students if there are any specific rules in regards to which techniques are allowed for which belts.

4. Learn the rules of the school

Different schools have different rules and requirements for training. Always be aware of these rules, including what gis are allowed, or if you are allowed to wear another school’s patch. If the school you are visiting requires a specific gi, and you do not have that gi, rent or buy the gi that they request. Always be respectful of the rules in place. If you do not agree with the rules, then don’t train at that gym.

5. Be aware of poachers, and don’t poach another school’s students

Poaching is unnecessary and disrespectful. The quality of jiu jitsu at a school should speak for itself. If a school owner is trying to get you to leave your school and join theirs, what does that say about their jiu jitsu?

Be aware of students and coaches trying to get you to join their school, and never encourage other students to leave their school and come join yours. The purpose behind cross-training is to enhance your training, never to poach.

When a student from another school visits, I make it very clear that I am not their instructor, they are not my student, and I will not promote them. Students have asked me before if they should train at another school or my school, and I make it clear that that is not my decision. I have also experienced other schools poaching my own students, so I know what that is like, and will never do that to another coach.

My last and final suggestion is to always open a dialogue with your professor if you do decide to leave the gym. Take the time to talk to them, and let them know why you are leaving. Even if it is because you have a problem with your current school, be honest about the issues that are driving you away. This will always be more appreciated than an excuse.

I hope that these rules are helpful to you as you consider cross-training. As always, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on cross-training. Let me know what you think in the comments section of our Youtube Video.

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