Archive for March, 2017

Archive for March, 2017

Progress – Keeping it in perspective

“I feel like I’m not getting better, like nothing I’m doing is right”. A sentiment echoed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms across the globe. Day in and day out practitioners toil, exerting maximum effort to achieve even the most miniscule gain-because they all know that progress is the goal rather than perfection. But after the continuous exhausting work some people are still left feeling dissatisfied. Whether it’s their performance relative to their teammates’ or merely against a mental image of themselves that they have, it can be frustrating not seeing the progress you desire and work so hard for.

And yet…because people are often so focused on the NOW aspect of their respective abilities, it can be easy for them to forget where they started and just how far they’ve actually come. To help visualize this fact, think back to when you first started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, back to when you first donned your Gi and were still fumbling with how to properly tie your belt. In those days, the bane of many beginners’ around you were the warmup drills. The running, the jumping, the pushups and other bodyweight exercises definitely humbled quite a few individuals. So much so that it became common place to notice people begin coming into class late hoping to avoid the warmup (yes, we noticed you all!). Back in those days when people would think to themselves, “ok this is more than enough running, lets just roll”! However, after only a few weeks of these seemingly torturous exercises something began to happen, their bodies started to adapt and their minds no longer told them to quit-that they really couldn’t do it.

But you kept at it and something happened-almost as if by magic. You went from needing to stop and catch your breath after nearly every lap to being able to keep up with your teammates. At first you thought perhaps the running had slowed. But then you noticed that you were actually able to keep up during the pushups and situps drill as well…you couldn’t understand it. In your mind you didn’t look any differently, and you certainly didn’t feel any differently. So when you catch yourself questioning your ability, doubting yourself and your efforts-stop and think about it, you are getting better, everyone who trains is. Stop looking for the HUGE jump and start noticing the small steps. Similar to building the foundation of a strong house; brick-by-brick, your Jiu jitsu is built by multiple small improvements. When looked at individually they may seem small and insignificant, but when viewed at a distance it is easy to see the new you being formed.


By: Kenneth Page

Stretching – The Most Basic Part of Injury Prevention

Bumps and bruises, they’re not a matter of “if” but rather “when”. Seeking relief, many practitioners seek relief from various creams-rubs-and tapes, but often overlook one of the most effective (and cheapest) methods of relieving pain…stretching. Not only can stretching actually improve your performance during workouts, it can indeed preclude many injuries that occur thru strenuous activities. However, not just any kind of stretching will do. Between the two main types of stretching; Static and Dynamic, there are specific benefits to each and specific conditions under which each should be used.

Static Stretching is by far the most commonly well known and widely used type of stretching, it involves long, slow and constant movement with the end position being held. The ease of this movement to both demonstrate and execute has led to it being taught to even children in primary school(s). One of the main benefits of Static stretching is its ability to increase flexibility in individuals. The problem occurs however, when people attempt to use Static stretching as a means of warming up before a workout. Think of your muscles as a rubber band, now put that rubber band in the refrigerator for a few hours. When you take it out, it’s pretty stiff and hard to stretch right? The same principle applies to your muscles, they need to be warm before they can stretch and contract like you want. The best time to utilize Static stretching is AFTER a workout, when your muscles are mostly in need relaxation. Your high body temperature coupled with warm and pliable tissue make a perfect environment to increase flexibility, in addition to decreasing lactic acid build up in your muscles. Static stretching allows your muscles to relax, while also fighting off cramps due to dehydration and sweat loss.

Standing in direct contrast is Dynamic Stretching. Dynamic stretching is a great precursor to an intense workout, as the movement involved actually primes the body for activity. Rather than the “sit and hold” base that comprises Static stretching, Dynamic stretching is done through movement and momentum. Arm rotations forward and backward, karaoke, leg swings…basically the warmup movements in a typical Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. Beyond raising your heart rate and increasing circulation, these movements serve to increase pliability in major muscle groups. Remember the rubber band? Now imagine that you take it out of the freezer and slowly begin stretching it out and releasing it. Before long it’s just as stretchable as it ever was, and is none the worse for wear. The movement in Dynamic stretching serves to help loosen muscle and tendon alike, leading to both longer workouts and less injuries. Prior to activity it’s hard to beat Dynamic stretching, the many benefits it offer make it a staple for the avid grappler.


By: Kenneth Page

Athlete of the Month: World Champion Monique Elias

Monique Elias is one of the most  successful athletes of Alliance, having won the gold medal at IBJJF Worlds in all belts ranks since blue. Although her credentials are impressive, Monique is more than just her gold medals.  On and off the mats she is an inspiration and example to all female jiu jitsu practitioners. Monique Elias was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil and start training Jiu-jitsu in 2012 after meeting her future husband and professor Mário Reis. After falling in love with the gentle art she made the tough decision to give up her career in modeling.  Since then she has been a role model for all girls who train Jiu-Jitsu as well as a great example to all girls who want to become a competitive  Jiu-Jitsu athlete.
We asked Monique a few questions about her life, career and training. Keep reading to learn more about this impressive woman.

What was it like switching from a casual jiu jitsu practitioner to a competitor and what motivated you to dedicate yourself to the competitions?

When I started in jiu jitsu I already had decided in my mind to compete. I believe it was a seed planted by my teacher and husband. I remember accompanying the team to the CBJJE World Championship before I began training seriously. I watched Mario win his weight division and then the absolute division. I saw everything he felt, the gleam of happiness in his eyes after achieving such a feat. I told myself that I wanted to feel that too. It was that day that I knew where I wanted my jiu jitsu journey to go.

What is your training routine during the competition season and which championships will you compete in this year?

My preparation for the championships includes two jiu jitsu training sessions and one conditioning session per day, averaging about four hours total training.
As soon as the doctor releases me I will fight in everything that I can! Staying away for a while has really motivated me to come back stronger!

Do you think that social networks like Instagram and Facebook are contributing to the growth of the sport?

No doubt! And I would also include youtube. Everything ends up gaining more visibility.  I think the sport has even more to gain from the usage of social media outlets.

In comparison to men, lower payouts ​​are offered to women with the notion that there is a stronger male presence at championships.  In your opinion, is there something in academies that can be improved so that more women have the confidence and desire to compete?
As a woman I know that we still face this problem in many aspects. In addition to lower payouts, we also have lower salaries from our sponsors. The excuse is always the same: Women do not gain as much attention and visibility that men do. This is extremely relative. We can influence all genders.  I receive messages every day from fans of all ages and genders. My audience is mostly men. Many comment and tag their girlfriends on my social media accounts to show them how much Jiu-jitsu can be for women as well.
It is difficult for me to give an opinion on academies because I have trained in only a few different places in my life.  In our gym we have a strong female presence.  I think that when a girl comes to the academy and sees the many women training it makes her feel more comfortable to give it a try. Having a good teacher who knows how to understand and teach women is a big help.  Some seek to be competitive, others want to get in shape and some want a new place to make friends.  Understanding the goals of each woman is helpful in keeping them on the mats and training.  For example, the competition  training that is good for me might not be ideal for a girl who is just there to have fun and get in shape.  This also applies to the males at the gym as well. As for confidence for competition? I think that we will never feel 100 percent ready and confident, not even the day of.  Confidence is an eternal quest. The secret to sucess is to make the journey fun. When you fall, learn to get back up!  Always enjoy and make the best of your time on the mats for they will become some of your most cherished memories!

Thank you Monique for your responses!  We wish you a fast healing process and hope to see you at the tournaments soon!


By: Paulo Roberto Santana