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.

 

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

 

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.

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

Advice to My White Belt Self

 

It took me over 10 years to get my black belt in Jiu Jitsu. During that time, I learned a lot of lessons. In the hopes that it will help some of you on your journey, here is some advice I wish I had been given when I was a white belt:

Consistency is Key

Prioritize consistent training over hard training. I would rather see you roll 4-5 days a week consistently, than 1-2 hard days. The problem with rolling hard every class is that the next day, you are beat up and exhausted, with little to no motivation to go back and train. If you do go back and train, you get run down and your motivation starts to take a hit. Instead of this approach, train consistently, without the pressure of training hard every day. Some days you should just drill, other days roll only with lower belts, other days roll lightly as best you can. Whatever you need to do to continue showing up multiple times a week and stay consistent.

Get Involved and Stay Committed to Other Arts

Do not quit the other arts. I trained judo, wrestling, and striking briefly when I was a white belt. My advice to myself then would be to keep up with these arts and incorporate them into my training. Whether that means once a week, once a month, or once every couple of months, I know that it would have significantly improved my jiu jitsu journey. If anything, I would have also been a black belt in judo by this time. Whether that means wrestling clubs at schools or in the community, anything you can do to get involved. If a competition is available in these arts, even better! Do it.

Create Healthy Diet and Recovery Habits

Habits take a long time to build, and I wish I had started prioritizing a healthy diet and lifestyle when I was a white belt. When you are young, you can get away with eating any food you want or getting little sleep, and showing up the next day ready to train. As you make your way to black belt, the years inevitably tick away. Getting older means you need to be watching what you are eating and your lifestyle habits. My advice would be to create habits now that will benefit your older (black belt) self in the future.

Do Not Stop Lifting Weights

A stronger version of you is a better version of you. Lifting weights improves jiu jitsu and also prevents injury in jiu jitsu, which means you can be more consistent. I lifted weights during the early years of my jiu jitsu career, but stopped on and off throughout the decade. My advice would be to keep lifting, and consider it a part of your training. It will benefit you in the future.

Learn How to Study Jiu Jitsu

It’s boring, and no one wants to sit in front of a computer when they can actually roll with friends, but it has to be done. Studying jiu jitsu online is one of the best ways to improve quickly and develop a greater understanding of how and why jiu jitsu works. Like the healthy diet and lifestyle, my advice would be to start learning how to study jiu jitsu as a white belt. Push yourself to incorporate this into your routine. I would tell myself that it is helpful and worth the time.

Travel When Possible to Learn from Others

I traveled a lot to compete, but sometimes I wish I had used those resources to go to seminars of world class black belts and learn different styles. Of course you learn a lot from tournaments, but every now and then, choose a seminar over a tournament to get a taste of different styles and improve your game outside of your home gym’s instruction.

Jiu Jitsu Can Be Your Career

For almost the entire decade that I trained, I was told by family members and friends that jiu jitsu was just a hobby, a past-time. I was told that I needed to focus on my career. I am proud of myself for going to university and getting my undergraduate and masters, but I wish I had been told that jiu jitsu could be more than a hobby. I always believed it for myself, but it was hard to stay motivated with outside pressure pushing me to be “successful” in society’s eyes. For a while, I was in denial of following my path. I would tell myself as a white belt that it is okay to commit to jiu jitsu. Don’t hold yourself back because of what other people expect or want from you. If you know it’s your path, then follow it.


Most of all, enjoy the journey. I hope that this advice is helpful. I would love to hear what advice you would tell yourself as a white belt, or even just as your younger self. Let me know in the comments on Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook: Tony Casarez
Instagram: @tonycasarez

Stop Trying to Fix Your Cardio & Do This Instead

The biggest misconception in the Jiu Jitsu community is that you need to improve your cardio in order to keep up with your opponent.

The problem with this philosophy is:

Training cardio outside of Jiu Jitsu makes you more tired and less recovered for your cardio training during Jiu Jitsu.

Rolling in Jiu Jitsu is aerobic exercise in itself. In other words, by showing up to Jiu Jitsu and rolling, you are training and improving your cardiovascular system. There is no need to push yourself on a 5 mile run or spend an hour on an elliptical to improve your Jiu Jitsu. If anything, training aerobic exercise outside of Jiu jitsu will hinder your training because you will have already taxed your nervous system before you even step on the mat. The best way to train your cardio for Jiu Jitsu is to train Jiu Jitsu, so you do not need to be doing cardio exercises outside of Jiu Jitsu.

If you are tired of feeling tired, and training cardio is NOT helping, then keep reading to find out what you should do instead.

Learn when and how to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

At the seminar, Gui Mendes said:

“What separates lower belts from high belts is not cardio. It’s knowing when [and how] to breathe.”

While cardio is important, learning when and how to breathe in Jiu Jitsu is what will make the difference between you and an opponent who has similar, or possibly even better, cardio.

With a strong breath, you can learn to reduce fatigue and improve your focus, both of which are essential when rolling.

How to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

Inhale and Exhale through your nose for as long as you can during a roll. This type of breathing is known to allow more oxygen to get to active tissues, which is essential for muscle energy and endurance. If you want to learn more about nose breathing, I encourage you to listen to this podcast:

Eventually, you will find it very difficult to continue breathing through your nose in the roll. This is a sign to focus on your breathing once again. Focus on inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Relax your mind. Decide how you want to proceed.

If you are interested in this topic and would like to know more, I encourage you to listen to this podcast:

When to breathe in Jiu Jitsu

It’s tempting to work your way to closed guard, side control, mount, etc. and rest once you get there. Avoid this.

Why? Because you have just secured a dominant position and should capitalize on this position before you allow your opponent to recompose themselves and their breath.

The when to breathe in Jiu Jitsu is in the time after you have just tried a submission, sweep, or pass and it did not work, or right before you are about to pass, sweep, take the back, or go to mount.

Improve your endurance with strength training

If you are going to spend time at the gym outside of Jiu Jitsu, then you should be focusing on strength training. Lifting weights with long periods of rest in between sets.

You are already training your cardio by showing up to Jiu Jitsu. What you should focus on improving is your strength. When the muscles are stronger, they are more efficient in the energy that they use.

By giving yourself more time in between sets, you allow your muscles to recover for the next set so that you focus on strength over cardio.

If you want to improve your strength training routine, I encourage you to research kettlebell workouts and programs. I especially would recommend Strong as Hec Programming: Kettle Bell Workouts .

I will also be uploading a Youtube video that outlines my strength training routine. As always, if you have any questions about strength training, feel free to ask me at the gym.

How to Create a Routine for Rest and Recovery in Jiu Jitsu

The truth is, most of us already know that we need to eat well after a training session, or that we need to make sure we are getting sufficient sleep in order to recover properly.

And yet, we don’t always do it.

It is easy to get distracted by other priorities, to get lazy in our recovery routines, or just be inconsistent depending on our mood.

This is a reminder to prioritize your recovery routine just as much as you do your training sessions.

Here are some tips I have found that will make a consistent recovery routine more likely to happen:


Make your post-training recovery drink readily available

What does this mean?

After training, you are exhausted. If you do not have a go-to product or already made drink, the chances that you are going to stop at a store or make a smoothie as soon as you make it home are pretty unlikely. And if you are a student that likes to chat after class, the 30 minute window to recover has probably already closed.

My advice would be to purchase a recovery drink in bulk for the week, and bring one to every class so that it is ready to drink on the way home. If you prefer a powder recovery, then bring the powder to class and make the drink before you leave so that you can drink it on the way home.

The key here is to come up with a routine that will help you be more consistent in how you refuel your body after training.


Relax your nervous system before you leave the gym/before you sleep

Again, we all know we need more sleep. Sometimes that’s just not possible with families, work, and other responsibilities. I’m not here to tell you that you need to start getting 10 hours of sleep a night. For most people, that’s just not going to happen and frankly, not helpful, you already know you need more sleep.

What I will say is that training jiu jitsu is taxing on the nervous system. Your muscles are being activated, your cardio is being pushed, and your brain is under the impression that this is a fight or flight situation.

This can result in the release of the hormones norepinephrine, adrenaline and cortisol. These are helpful in the moment because they work to increase your heart rate and enhance focus.

However, if you do not properly relax your nervous system before you leave and especially before you sleep, you will carry these hormones into your nightly routine. This will disrupt the quality of your sleep.

The next time you end a training session, take a minimum of 2 minutes to close your eyes and take deep breaths. This will help ‘reset’ the body temperature, calm the central nervous system and bring your breathing rhythm back to normal. You can also think of this as a time to soak in all that you learned on the mats. You can do this in the gym just sitting against the wall, or while you are stretching. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this in the gym, you can do it in your car before you leave for home. At the very least, do it right before you go to sleep at night. This will help to prepare your body for a restful night’s sleep.

If you are looking for more of a guided meditation or breathing exercise, there are many online and hundreds of free ones to choose from on an app called Insight Timer.


Support Your Recovery with Magnesium & Zinc

If your recovery drink does not have Magnesium or Zinc, I highly suggest taking these supplements before you go to sleep. Magnesium supports the body’s metabolism, muscle recovery, and improves sleep by naturally helping to calm and regulate the nervous system. Zinc supports the muscles in recovery and protein synthesis. It also improves your body’s immune system response.

These supplements will be what help you to make it to the end of the week without feeling run down, congested, or sick. They will help you to show up better the next day for training.

EVL’s Sleep and Recovery Complex is a great place to start if looking to add these supplements to your nightly routine.

You can find more information about this supplement for men here. 


These are just some of the tips that I would suggest to students who are struggling to commit to a consistent recovery routine. By making recovery as convenient as possible, we are more likely to remember and commit to doing it, even on the days we are exhausted, burnt out, or unmotivated. Consistency is key, so come up with a routine that best compliments your lifestyle and personality, and stick to it. Notice how your body feels when you implement a consistent and healthy recovery routine.

Jiu Jitsu Concepts: Gui Mendes Seminar

As Lucas Lepri affiliates, all of our students were invited to attend the seminar hosted by the Lepri Headquarters on October 16. The seminar featured Gui Mendes, a 4X World Champion and current professor at Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy in Costa Mesa, California.

For the students who were not able to attend the seminar, I wanted to share some of the key takeaways that were discussed. I would also encourage you to watch some of Gui Mendes’ competition matches so that you can get an understanding of his style.

Concepts in Jiu Jitsu

Gui Mendes began the seminar by stressing the importance of concepts in jiu jitsu. In particular, he focused on concepts that involve passing the guard. His belief is that concepts are fundamental to learning jiu jitsu, and help students to tie techniques together.

The concept that he shared first was the idea of varying degrees of distances that are used when passing the guard. These distances were:

  1. Far distance
  2. Middle distance
  3. Near distance

Far distance includes any time when an opponent has control of the arms or collar, but your legs are kept far away so that the opponent cannot control them. Far distance, for example, would be when the opponent has spider guard.

Middle distance is when an opponent has control of one leg, and a sleeve or collar. This would be when an opponent has de la riva, for example. Finally, near distance is when there is little to no space between the opponent and yourself when passing the guard, and this would be headquarter position or half guard, for example. He showed examples of passes for all of these guards.

When passing far distance (spider guard), for example, he shared a three step process:

  1. Create distance
  2. Open the gap
  3. Attack

Creating the distance involves constant movement, or “a flow”, as he described. He encouraged students to always stay moving so as to keep the opponent active and adjusting. As an opponent is adjusting, this is when the gap is open. He described a 1-3 second window of opportunity for attack that involves the time when an opponent is adjusting to recompose their guard.

Techniques to Pass the Guard

The other techniques that he showed were guard passes from middle distance and near distance. The middle distance pass was a de la riva pass when the opponent also has the underhook on the leg. Because the leg is underhooked, you cannot remove the de la riva and slide your shin over. You have to also address the underhook. His approach was to move the de la riva leg up to the hip, and then grab their collar and pressure in. This traps their leg, so that you are then able to initiate passing. This technique is difficult to describe in a blog post, so if you are stuck on passing de la riva, come talk to me either in person or through DMs, and I will share it with you.

There were a lot of great concepts and techniques shared by Gui Mendes that it would be impossible to share all of them. Some of the concepts can be found on this video: How to Control the Distance to Pass ANY Guard In Jiu Jitsu by Guilherme Mendes.

How to Study these Jiu Jitsu Concepts

If you are interested, the entire seminar will also be posted on Lucas’ Online Training Program. I highly suggest purchasing the program if these concepts and techniques spark your interest. The Online Training Program also has hundreds of Lucas’ techniques and other videos such as training footage and guest instructors.

Finally, Gui Mendes also has BJJ Fanatics instructional collections on Understanding the Distance on Top.

We will also be reviewing these concepts in class over the next few weeks!

Holiday BJJ Gift Guide

Holiday BJJ Gift Guide

With the holidays coming up, we wanted to share a Holiday BJJ Gift Guide that could be shared with family members or used to purchase some great gifts for your fellow Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. At Casarez BJJ in Cary NC, we have all types of students but one common factor is they all do BJJ. Go figure. These recommended gifts are not only for adult BJJ practitioners but also for kids BJJ as well. Below you will find some great gift ideas and also reasons why any grappler would enjoy them.

Finger Tape:

Not all people need or even want finger tape, but jamming a finger or just having some when another student needs it can make or break a training session. There are many different types of finger tape out there. You can get between both width and thickness. As we do not have a direct sponsor, here is a link for BJJ finger tape so you can check out some.

Mouthguard:

This is more of a personal preference and if you are purchasing one for someone it may be odd to ask what the mouth size or color to get the right fit. But this is a great gift idea to also send to a family member that keeps asking you what you want. A mouthguard that I personally like with no affiliation is SISU (Easy to talk, drink, and breath with)   click here .

Water Bottle:

There are many different types of water bottles you can get someone, but when it comes to BJJ, having water is crucial to a good training session. I normally go with a glass water bottle with a protective wrap to prevent breaking, but when training I want to make sure that no way glass is breaking, so I go with a Nalgene or a steel one.

Rash Guards:

I always first recommend checking with your academy to make sure they do not mind you wearing any type of rashguard, and if not, then picking a site like https://www.bjjhq.com/ , Amazon , and of course your academy’s website as you always want to be representing your team on the mats.

After Training Soap:

There is a solid fact when you are training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you must wash and wash well after training. Choosing a quality soap is important, and this company literally put it on the branding (no affiliation) Armbar Soap . I personally use Castile Bar Soap but either way this as a gift for a grappler is not a bad idea.

Quick Dry Sport Towel:

These are always in my gym bag, and although many people may not even use one or want to use one, the gesture for a gift is perfect. When you train BJJ, you sweat and having this as a go-to after class or in between rolls makes training better in my opinion. You can check out some here.

Personal First Aid Kit:

Now all gyms have a first aid area, but it is nice to have some essentials on hand if you encounter a small cut or injury that can be fixed quickly. I wrote a blog a while back about hygiene on the mats and had the perfect section for this exact kit here . But instead of building out an entire personal first aid kit for someone, a basic pre-built one from the store would be a great gift.

BJJ Shirts:

As we want to always be ready on the mats, it’s also nice to be just as prepared off the mats. BJJ themed shirts are fun to wear after training and just out and about. Some companies I have really enjoyed getting shirts from are OSSPOP and TORO BJJ. This makes a great gift to your fellow grapplers because we all know that BJJ puns make everyone smile.

GI maybe:

First, the maybe comes into play in terms of both your academy and also personal preference. I will say though that if you have been eyeing a new GI that just came out at your academy what better time to ask for it than the holidays. Also buying GI’s is a process that you want to make sure if you are a person wearing it, you are involved in the purchase process for size, material, etc. So do not hesitate to send a link with the exact fit you are looking for to someone that insists on buying you “something” and you could be hitting the mats in the new year with a fresh GI.

I hoped you liked my personal Holiday BJJ Gift Guide. This time of the year always excites me because within a month you normally see people sporting some fresh gear and new toys that in the end allow us all to Train MORE! On the last note, I always like to mention that supporting our BJJ community is huge too so if there is a local company that has products that you like, be sure to put those on your list.

What To Focus On As A New White Belt In BJJ

What To Focus On As A New White Belt In BJJ

When you first start training Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the excitement is almost unbearable, but there are a few things to focus on as a new white belt In BJJ. Here at Casarez Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a Lucas Lepri Affiliate, in Cary, NC we have students of all kinds come and start the journey into the gentle art. Each person has their own journey, but I wanted to write about some of the things that I personally have found to be helpful as reminders even to myself. 

The Mission Is Not Always Submission

When you learn a new move and then go and try it and wonder why it does not work, normally this comes down to placement, leverage, and also applied force at the right moment. The problem is when you are new to BJJ; it just comes across as it just is not working. To avoid this, simply realizing that getting into a position can be just as effective as actually pulling off the desired submission. Eventually, with the right technique and body placement, you will start seeing these submissions starting to land more and more. Your partners will also appreciate the tactics you are using to position yourself just right before you spring into that triangle or armbar because that can be when injuries happen.

Drill More and Roll Less on Your Off Time

As a new white belt, all you want to do is get your sparring in. Those opportunities to do so on an open mat, for example, could be better spent on drilling the new techniques you have been learning or even asking higher ranking belts questions you may have about techniques. A simple guard break to a pass may seem boring or something you do in class, but doing that 1000 times over the course of a few months creates a guard breaking passing machine of a BJJ practitioner.

Keep a Journal

You may not see that brown belt in class writing down the moves that everyone is going over, but that does not mean there was a time when he or she was doing so. As a white belt you are learning new information every class and chances are you are forgetting minor details of fundamental moves. You can check our blog post out on the benefits of a journal here.  For me personally, when I am at open mat and not wanting to roll hard, I ask fellow teammates if they would not mind going over some positions or submissions I am having problems with. 

Develop a Routine for Training and Lifestyle

At first, you may want to train every day as hard as you can and be right back the next day. The biggest problem with that is at first you may not be ready for the toll on the body or the massive amount of information. Creating a plan or routine can really ensure you are getting the most out of your BJJ training especially if you stick to it. Many factors come along with good training such as sleep,diet, hygiene, rest, and focus. Even if you are just doing it for fun, incorporating the following will ensure you are ready to roll, pun intended. 

It’s Not a Sprint Enjoy the Belt

The white belt is a special time in the BJJ journey as it is the time you get to really fall in love with the sport and martial art as a whole. This is when you start to build lifelong friendships with training partners. Find out what types of positions you feel comfortable in and learn from those mistakes. I am always excited when a new person is trying BJJ for the first time but even more when they put the GI and belt on and see that look on their face. I am not a coach or professor, just another student, but the vibe and energy are real on the mats. I hope these tips help a new white belt enjoy the journey as much as I have so far.