Category Archives: Mastering Jiu Jitsu

Praying to the porcelain god.

Too much of anything is not good.

patron_silver_tequila_76309On my last birthday, I received a beautiful bottle of Patron Tequila (Thx Ang!!)

As it proudly sits on my shelf, every time I look at it, it reminds me of that one time in college when Lisa and I were actually awarded the title….The Tequila Shielas!  …oh boy……..  (sorry about your car George 😦 )

I’ve taken a short break from writing because well, I was over-saturating my brain with Jiu Jitsu.  Reading blogs and articles, watching video after video, the mats constantly on my mind, thoughts on what to write next – my mind was in such a state of overload – I was beginning to get bored with it all.  I swear if I was in today’s younger generation, I’d be diagnosed with ADHD.  As a matter of fact, I’m sure of it.toilet

Slow and steady might have ended that wretched night on a different note (then again, it was tequila;  at least we didn’t end up in jail).

I never touched tequila again….until now…..years later, and only sip it.

Jumping into Jiu Jitsu full on and letting it take over my every thought has made it very difficult to enjoy other things in my life.  One gentleman posted in one of the Facebook groups the question, ‘how many times a week do you train Jiu Jitsu?’  The responses left me speechless.  People are training 8-9 times a week, plus extra gym, yoga, weights, etc….one person actually commented on if you are ‘not’ training this much, then you must ‘not’ be serious. 😳

It made me wonder how much time do they dedicate to their loved ones, their jobs and other interests.  Does anyone vacuum their own floors, do their own laundry,  home cook meals or care for their offspring?!  I must be a terrible person at time management because I am pretty sure I could not put in those kinds of hours on the mat without it affecting some part or other of my life.

I don’t want Jiu Jitsu to absorb my life.

I want it to compliment it.

Quitting Jiu Jitsu all together is not an option for me as I too have noticed that I take deeper breaths when something or someone has set my emotions off.  For the first time, I actually miss the mat after not being on it for a few days.  When  I started back in September, once a week was more than plenty (my body didn’t allow for more)….now that I have been going twice a week for a couple of months, I think I might like to try going three times.  Maybe I am getting stronger?  My fellow Jiujitieros are telling me my sweeps are getting a little more flow to them, that must be a good thing.


The point is that there are so many other beautiful things to enjoy too. (A short trip to Ripley’s Aquarium with my baby girl, resulted in these amazing photos.)

We need to find a balance in life.


We need to rest our minds to reset and affirm our goals.

There is nothing wrong with solitude.

It helps build character.

Call a pal, hang out, go dancing.  The AGO has a wonderful exhibit of Monet, Van Gogh and other’s art.  Grab your mini-clones and take them to the movies – Moana is awesome for all ages…. Rogue One – Star Wars is still in the theatres.

img_2112Make paper air planes while waiting for that Babewatch Hamburger from The Works… delicious!!  Giggle non-stop with your loved ones…watch a tele-novela – Jane the Virgin (who was accidentally artificially inseminated!!!)

Then get back on the mat, read another article, respond to a fellow grappler’s post….watch yet one more video on how to successfully roll without separating your shoulder.

But try, try, try… keep a balance in your life…


So next time we grab the tequila, remember…


…it’s all about balance..

..while having fun…

…but not too much fun….cause that could result in the calling of the gods.


PREV:  Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes..         NEXT: The student becomes the teacher.


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David & Goliath

As I look around my classroom, I am not unsympathetic to the anxiety that teens nowadays experience.  What I do have is an issue with how many expect things handed to them on a silver platter.  Few are willing to work for success anymore.

In a time where instant gratification is the norm, it is also difficult as an adult to learn patience, let alone perseverance and determination to not give up simply because something is difficult.  It is so much easier to walk away when we don’t obtain what we want in the time frame that we want.

We find excuses.

We say we are smaller, bigger, missing limbs, not missing limbs, older in age, younger in age, out of shape, too much in shape – whatever our reason is –  we consider ourselves defeated.

We give up…

But we shouldn’t because when that one moment…the ‘aha’ moment, where all of a sudden all that hard work, the anxiety, the sore muscles (and joints for this old gal) when you know it was all worth it.

Last night we learned different mount techniques.  It is referred to as the King of all positions but what I learned the most was how to modify the positioning davidbased on my size.

Time to begin practicing the technique, I scan the room and see the men quickly scrambling to find their partners.  I wasn’t quite sure why they were scrambling so quickly until my eyes laid upon my partner (6’2″ – 230lbs – all muscle) ….–> –> –> Gulp!!

I got this….I tighten my belt (which is starting to actually look half decent these days), pray that my pants don’t fall off – and an extra little prayer that I don’t end up being squashed..

Getting into position and I can’t stop laughing.  The main objective is to get my knees both on the mat, while straddling his chest….both of them…at the same time….ya, that’s not happening.

harbour_sealStraightening my jacket, taking a deep breath, I try.  Nope. Impossible.

Let me think.   Jiu Jitsu is about learning techniques to defend yourself in real life situations.  I need to learn how to position myself so that one knee is on the mat and my other foot is helping me find balance (thank you Coach Matt for the extra lesson).  Feeling secure with my stance, I place my knee under his arm…ok, maybe it was a little more emphatic than that, I accidently kneed his ribs (he is really really tall).. poor guy, I’m pretty sure I was about to see that cheesecake he was boasting about eating just prior to class – cherry cheesecake for those who really need to know.  (My brand new Gi was potentially going to be the victim of a full on projectile if I wasn’t careful with my knee placement)

After a few very awkward moments, I’m starting to get the hang of this.  Grab his arm, pull down (long arms resulted in my head getting smacked – keep going Yolanda, you can flip him), lock my leg around his ankle (where the heck is his ankle???!! Seriously?  How am I supposed to flip if I can’t even reach?)



My head is spinning, I’m not sure where my hands are supposed to be that don’t cause my embarassment to the max…when this giant of a man now on his back says, “That was all you.”


I request clarification….fullhouse-thumb-290x238-255433

Did I actually flip him without his help?

YESSSSS!!!!!  Success..

With every part of my body spasming due to my flipping this Goliath, I smile…because now I feel like Superwoman.

And now…again…keep practicing.  Flip. Flip. Roll. Spasm. Ignore. Flip…can’t breath….need water.

The class continues, he keeps picking me as a partner- drilling and sparing.  Change partners, do it all over, again and again….it’s all about developing muscle memory….

Until I can no longer feel my muscles.  (I am pretty sure I just learned what gassing out feels like.)

superwoman_234_by_rogelioroman_by_the_darcsyde-d5wq80fOne thing I experienced for sure, these gentlemen warriors made me feel like I was on top of the world.  That I can do this…the first stripe on my belt might actually be obtainable before I turn 80 years old.

Thank you so much Eric, Chris and Sebastian along with the rest of the male folk this evening at Pura Atos Hamilton for making me work for it, teaching me perseverance and that yes, there are good men out there who are willing to teach a woman how to fight back in a real life survival situation while not being egotistical about it.

You guys rock!

PREV:  Yoga and Jiu Jitsu – oh dear..                   NEXT: Sharing is Caring


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Yoga and Jiu Jitsu – oh dear..

buddha-faceBefore I started Jiu Jitsu, I tried my hand at Yoga.

Big mistake.

I know that there are many people out there that swear by Yoga and I did hope that it might be able to help me deal with losing mom. (#cancerblows)

My fellow dance moms being the amazing supporters that they are….laughed when they heard I was going to give it a go.  Many a smirky comment flew around the room (not that I would expect anything less from a Spaniard’s sense of humor 🙂 ).  Truth is, I simply do not have the personality required to be serious at yoga and they know it.

Still, one of them joined me on my little test case.  We purchase a 5-session intro pack, grab our mats (dad had already purchased one for me years back when he attemdownloadpted to get me into Yoga) – water bottle in hand, hair tied back and off we go! (Did you know pedicures
are must in Yoga too?!! There was no way I was taking my socks off today!!

It begins as Monste is driving us to the Yoga studio near Jane and Dundas in Toronto.  Have you ever driven in Toronto on a Saturday?!  It’s crazy!!  She calmly tells me to keep an eye out for a parking spot.  Car after car whizzing by me.  I get dizzy and my eyes begin to tear from extreme lack of blinking caused by being on the lookout.  dear-urban-diplomat_street-parking-spot-hogging-neighbours

Finally!!  A Spot!

“Monste!  Quick!!  There is one!!”

She frantically spins the steering wheel and masterfully swings the car into a beautiful spot just beside the building.

All smiles, we enter the building.  Walk up 5 flights of stairs….i couldn’t catch a breath by the time we were upstairs – and I am still expected to follow through with yoga?  Seriously?!

Onwards march…we pay for our intro pack…get the mini-tour…and now we are on the mat.  Apparently what we signed up for was Vinyasa – where there is no down time between poses, they make your heart beat at a steady pace and something about breathing in beat of the …..

That I didn’t understand.  Each time the instructor told me to hold a pose for 8, I could not for the life of me figure out what that meant.

So there I am, butt in the air, hoping to the good lord that the man in front of me did not have kidney beans for dinner last night – and I am holding for 8.  But exactly what 8?

8 minutes?styles-and-types-of-yoga

8 songs?

8 weeks?

Someone in the room should really stop smoking.  Their breathing is very, very heavy…

Wait a minute….the whole room is taking deep breaths!  The music has a voice over of breaths!  I got it! I got it!!  Hold for 8 BREATHS!!

I am obviously doing waaaay too much thinking throughout this whole session.  Did I mention it was 90 minutes long??  I really should read the fine print when I get myself into these situations.  Geez…

Now I am watching the clock because a) my body is really starting to ache; b) the hot flashes have started and I am pretty sure based on all the condensation on the windows, it’s about 200C in the room and c) we have to go pick up the girls from dance.

I am panicking.  Monste is also watching the clock now.bus-chronicles-part-6

Time’s up! We run out of the studio to grab the girls, only to find out there is a parking ticket on the window!!  Now we are late for pick up, the girls are frantically texting us – their instructors want to go home too!!

Long story, short….needless to say signing up long term was not in the cards – the stress of going to Yoga was too much.

And what is with the ‘OoooooooHhhhhhMmmmmmm’ at the end of the sessions?!?!  I simply could not keep it together any longer, my snickering got louder each time I heard it.

Fast forward into Jiu Jitsu…

As I begin to advance, I am learning you need to supplement other forms of exercise or stretching with Jiu Jitsu.  You need it to improve upon your game.

Maybe that specific yoga class was not for me, as long as I know some of the stretches that I can incorporate it into my warm-up routine at Jiu Jitsu, I’ll be ok.  Plus the days in between my training, it feelsimages good to pull the kinks out of my body in the privacy of my own home.
Don’t get me wrong.  I am not dissing yoga and its benefits.  As with everything else I do, I have to go through a trial and error process.  My first exposure to it wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t the worst either.  My personality requires a little more tumbling than zenning.

Here are a few websites that show how to incorporate Yoga into Jiu Jitsu and you can do them at home.

Top 13 Yoga Poses for Jiu Jitsu

5 Yoga Poses that will improve your Jiu Jitsu

Yoga workout for Jiu Jitsu with Prof. Flavio Almeida With Fightmaster Yoga

PREV:  Try not to vomit on the mat                     NEXT: David & Goliath


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What exactly is a Gi?

My friends are such sweethearts.  They have been reading along through my posts and when they come over, they see my Gi (pronounced Gee ) on the drying rack, the list of techniques on my fridge door and they smile.  “You have really taken to Jiu Jitsu, haven’t you Yolanda?”

My soul brightens up a little more….responding with a very calm and serene…Yes.

My students, my friends – they have noticed a change in me.  Some have gone so far as to say that they have noticed a small weight loss (my scale says otherwise unfortunately) but most have told me the same thing.  How much calmer I am these days.

So now my friends are curious showing additional support in my journey and they want to learn more.  Hence the current question and one that inspired me to write an entire post on…what exactly is a Gi?

I know I had no idea the first time I heard that I had to wear one if I wanted to get into Jiu Jitsu more seriously.

My first thought was whether or not they had a size big enough for me – would it even fit in all the right places?!?

I remember how nervous with excitement I was when I purchased it.  I was actually shaking.  There were some men in the room, all wearing theirs, they looked like they had just finished a training session.

Professor PJ handed mine from the back room, I didn’t even get to choose my own.  Coach Joel told me to quickly try it on, you can read about that whole experience if you wish.

Not having had a chance to wash it prior to training, I put it on right out of the bag.  BIG MISTAKE!  I couldn’t stand the smell of it.  I felt sooooo uncomfortable, it was stiff, the belt would not keep looped….all in all, I hated it.

But I had to wear it…3 weeks later, I love it.  It has become a garment that makes me feel empowered.




But what is it about this garment that we have to wear them? Let’s see what my research brings up:

According to Wikipedia: Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi I can wear a patch so long as it is in the designated areas – just not sure if it can be a cancer ribbon or if it must be something directly related to BJJ.

Why is it called a Gi and not a Kimono?  – “The word “gi” derives from “keikogi” which means training gear.”

The JiuJitsuBrotherhood web site offers this article to help you choose your next Gi.

A Gi is not cheap – they range anywhere from $100 -$200 depending on the fabric type and the quality of the material.  So be sure to take care of your Gi.

A beginners guide is offered by BJJSports.  I learned by experience why you need to wear a Gi and/or rash gear – when I ended up with about a 3-inch bruise on my arm.  I didn’t even get hit, it simply happened because I was sweating and my opponent’s finger slide off my arm.  Gotta say though, I was pretty proud of my very first bruise.  I think I showed every one of my friends thereby solidifying their thoughts that I may be entering senility.  

I have learned that there is a training etiquette – which I see in play on the mat but I didn’t quite understand.

The holy grail!!!  I think I have just come across one extremely informative website for White Belts!!

Hands with teacupOk…I see I have a lot of reading ahead of me now….

Hopefully I have provided at least one thing that you can learn from, if I did, then it was worth waking up this morning.  If not, read on – I’m sure you will find something.

PREV:  I am a Bad Mom!                                        NEXT: Women empowering women…


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5th Dimension…extending my comfort zone


Today I had the opportunity to visit a new gym, 5th Dimension Academy.   It is my first time venturing outside of my own school, so my anxiety was pretty high.  But I can d15740770_10210014992185918_7412693430275727502_no this.

Again with the stairwells…why do these trigger me so badly? As I stood at the reception desk speaking with owner JJ, we discussed how he has taught self defense classes for women in sheltered homes, so although he personally doesn’t understand the anxiety that these stairwells can cause a gal, he pointed out how he learned that anything can be a trigger for anyone regardless of their circumstances.

I met Danni – 9 year old Jiu Jitsu girl – who showed me how to tie her belt.  I told her I am a brand new white belt and that I just can’t get the hang of doing it.  She instantly obliged with a grin from ear to ear.  I loved how she wanted to roll with JJ but he and I were speaking.  She was told to wait 5 minutes, which she respectfully did, but boy did I absolutely get a kick out of watching the spunk in her when she very openly told him that the 5 minutes were up and he had to hold his promise to roll with her.  I graciously stepped aside of this mini-female warrior in training.

As I stood there, I realized yet again, I was the only woman (apart from the young girls).  I was prepared to put on my Gi and practice my frontward rolls but got to enjoying watching the others grapple.  I find the more I watch, the more I am able to catch the different techniques.  Where at one time it was just all arms and legs flailing, now I see Americanas and Kimuras.

I also met Esther.  She is one of the academy’s poster ladies.  She showed up as I was standing borderline in the doorway.  Instantly I felt drawn to her friendliness.  We chatted about what she does here – Mauy Thai – definitely not for me, but I will for sure go watch her in a match or two.

All in all, I felt the inclusivity that the Jiu Jitsu online community talks about.  5th Dimension Academy, like Pura Atos, also harbours a family environment.  So if you have a significant other, Jiu Jitsu is definitely a place where you can both hang out and share a common interest.

It’s also a place that welcomes you individually.  I love that I can find places like these that allow me to grow as a person.

Thank you Coach JJ for making me feel so welcome at your academy.  I’ll definitely take you up on your offer and return one day soon.

PREV: Taking Jiu Jitsu shopping with me…on Boxing Day              NEXT: Mani, Pedi and Ponytail Injuries


Mi casa es su casa.
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The little engine that could…
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Mom’s Recipes – Recreated with Love