Joy and Lyzz: A Tale of Two Tall Ladies

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We bring you a story about two best friends, Joy and Lyzz, who go by the name of HoesNKimonos on Instagram. Lyzz is a brown belt and Joy is a purple belt and they have a pretty unique relationship. These two ladies are a ton of fun, so we decided to do a joint interview and also individual stories on both of them. Here we go with Part 1.

Tell us a bit about HoesNKimonos. Where did the name come from?

We were driving to the Worlds in 2015 and discussing Ralek Gracie’s comments about women in jiu-jitsu and his music video “G in a Gi”. It is a very long car ride from Sacramento to Long Beach and somewhere along the road we decided we should make a rebuttal song “Hoes N Kimonos”. We had a lot of fun coming up with our own rap lyrics (neither of us rap, just to be clear) and even though the song remains unfinished, the spirit of the idea remains and we have been the HoesNKimonos ever since.

Do you train together?

Joy: Yes, as much as possible. We met each other on my first day of BJJ class. Lyzz was super friendly and asked if I would be back to train. Lyzz was elated to have another female in class (especially one the same weight class) and always made a point to partner up with me, make me feel welcome, and help me along with the techniques. Lyzz had been training for about 6 months before I started and had a lot of other previous martial arts experience so she was always a step ahead and able to help me along, and make me feel less dumb when I didn’t understand something. Today we continue to partner up in class, drill outside of class, help each other prepare for tournaments, travel, and compete together. Lyzz has always been my main Hoe!

Lyzz: Oh Joy! You’re MY main Hoe! Hoes that train together, stick together! Through thick and thin, sweat and chokes, giggles and guillotines.

How would you describe your personal relationship? Tell us something great about each other.

Joy: Lyzz and I are pretty much doppelgänger, grapple twins, etc. We are so much alike in so many ways it’s very surprising. Lots of people assume we are sisters and even people we know will still call us by the wrong name sometimes or get us mixed up. One of my favorite things about Lyzz is that she is a really bad texter like me so I never have to feel bad if I forget to text her back. We are both pretty scatter-brained and cut each other a lot of slack in that area. It is great to have someone who understands. She is also a really reliable secret-keeper and I can tell her all my dirt. Lyzz, your turn!

Lyzz: Thanks Girl! To echo Joy, we both love grappling and we are both trained in working with insects. Sisters from another mister. One of Joy’s greatest attributes is how friendly she is to everyone at the gym. She believes in the best of people and is the gym’s supplier of honey. Sweet both inside and out!

Who is a better cook of the two of you?

That is really tough because we are both pretty good cooks. We have our own specialty dishes. Lyzz makes amazing sushi and Joy makes some bomb carrot cake. Since Lyzz has a rad husband from Croatia who makes really cool Croatian food, we think Lyzz takes this one.

Would you participate in a beauty pageant if someone asked you to?

Of course! We both love to dress up and show it off. Participating in a beauty pageant would be super fun and now we really hope we get asked (hint hint)!

You both have great hair. Jiu-jitsu women complain about hair loss and breakage during training. How do you keep your hair so fabulous?

Thank you! We both keep it pretty simple for training hair-styles. We do ponytails, simple braids, buns, etc. I think lots of conditioner is key along with a healthy diet that includes lots of collagen. We both rarely use a hairdryer because we think letting it air dry after class is a bit gentler.

Who would make a great President? Lyzz or Joy? Vice President?

Joy may be the slightly more organizer/decision-maker type so Joy will take the President role and Lyzz will be there to back her up when people get sick of her bossiness and impeach her.

If you could choose two black belts to be your parents temporarily, who would you choose?

We think King Gordon Ryan would be the world’s most fun dad so we will go with him as our pops. Hopefully he would dress us up as his royal princesses and we would follow him all over NY trolling other black belts and eating tons of pizza.

To balance it out, we would need a really solid, responsible mom like Bia Mesquita to keep us grounded and make sure we are not missing too much training. She would make sure we get signed up for all the big tournaments plus Leticia Ribeiro would now be our BJJ grandma!

Being tall ladies, you are perfect A2Tall models for Fenom sizing. What do you want gi companies to improve in tall sizes? What is the most important thing in a gi?

Fenom has always been one of our favorite gi brands. In fact, almost every gi we have ever bought has been Fenom gi. Other companies could take a page from your book and realize that not all tall ladies are thick ladies. The A2Tall Fenom makes is suited for the tall and slender type but is cut roomy enough for some hips and butt. It is important that the gi keeps its shape and doesn’t shrink too much over time especially when we are crunched for time and throw it in the dryer. We think the most important thing in a gi overall is the fit. If it is not comfortable, you will avoid wearing it. We want a gi we can look forward to throwing on.

Do you think people who quit BJJ are losers?

Joy: No, not at all. BJJ is a special hobby and it is not meant for everyone. If jiu-jitsu does not fit with your lifestyle and you do not enjoy it, there is no point in continuing other than to know some basic self-defense. There are many other martial arts to try or other active hobbies in general that are good for your health and well-being.

Lyzz: Hardly! Don’t call it quitting; call it taking a break. I have heard great success stories of those who have taken breaks for 8-25 years and eventually made it back to the mats! I believe there is hope in everyone to start or come back to BJJ. They just need the right people and the will to learn #OneOfUs, #WeArentACultYouAre.

What is something you are really bad at?

Joy: I am really bad at the jump rope. We jump rope to warm up for boxing class and no matter how much I practice, I trip and fall like I have never done it before.

Lyzz: Despite being one with water on the mats, I do not know how to survive with water surrounding me. I am like a sad wet cat trying to paw paddle my way back to safety.

In a tandem bike, who would be in the front and why?

Joy: Lyzz would be in the front because I am afraid of cars and would be terrified to bike through Sacramento. My eyes would be firmly shut in the back the whole time and I would be only good for peddling. Lyzz knows all the good spots around Sacramento so she would navigate us to a nice place to eat or a quiet park, so I could open my eyes.

Lyzz: Most days I think I would be in front so Joy can navigate without having to look at the road. Joy has difficulties multitasking with electronics and I fear we may crash at the helm of Joy.

Cats, dogs or babies? Who would you watch if asked?

Cats, especially really fluffy cats who purr a lot. Babies are too loud and dogs need too much attention. Cats are nice and chill and would not mind when we are gone training for a while.

What makes you really happy?

Jiu-jitsu of course! We both do this sport for the love of it and the friends we make. There is no better way to decompress at the end of a long day and reconnect with people. Other than that, we like to be fed, dress up, go dancing, or just laze around and talk. Sometimes the simple things are the best things!

Judoka Chiharu “Gigi” Davis

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We had the pleasure of interviewing judo black belt Gigi Davis. She is USA JUDO certified judo coach in Texas, Registered Nurse, and Japanese-English medical interpreter. According to Gigi she wasn’t athletic, hated exercising and had no interest in judo initially. She started training in high-school and joined the school team just to hang out with her good friend. She ended up becoming a judo black belt, a competitor and an instructor! Gigi lived for over a decade in the United States but two years ago moved back to her homeland, Japan. We wanted to learn more about her international family, training, and life in two very different countries.

How did you find your way to the United States and why did you move back to Japan after so many years here?

I had been dreaming of working abroad since I was a high school student but had no chance to make it happen until I was in my 30s. In 2004, a huge tsunami devastated Indonesia and I had the opportunity to join DMAT to go to Banda Ache, Indonesia as a tsunami task force. I was quite confident to complete the mission because I had been learning English in a tutor school and thought I would have no problems there.

However, I was totally shocked because I could not understand international medical teams conversation in the medical team meetings. I realized my English skill was not good enough to complete tasks and work globally. After I completed the DMAT mission, I decided to go to the United States to improve my English. I set my final goal in the U.S. to obtain my RN license. In fall 2005, I went to the States as an international student and started learning English and strategies to pass NCLEX test.

The reason we moved back to Japan is for our children. They have two heritages, Japan and American. They have right to keep both cultures and receive education in Japanese and English. My son and daughter attended Japanese school in Dallas every Saturday but it is quite hard to maintain basic Japanese. Besides, both my husband and I are Registered Nurses and saw the dark side of the U.S. My husband is a psychiatric nurse and he took care of so many people suffering from drug abuse, domestic violence, and severe depression. I was a RN working in the recovery room and I saw a lot of gun violence victims. Well, we have some of the same issues in Japan except for gun shootings. In addition, my hometown is in the countryside and have plentiful nature. Children can walk by themselves, have more freedom, and there is less crime. Therefore, we thought raising our children in my hometown would be much less stressful.

Why did you decide to train jiu-jitsu in addition to judo?

Since I started coaching judo in the United States, I realized that more than half of children lost their match by newaza (groundwork when both competitors are on the ground after a throw or attempted throw). I understood the reason. Children cannot throw a perfect Ippon most of the time because of their immaturity of throwing techniques and the match is decided on the ground. If a child does not know ground technique well enough, they instantly lose the match. This is why I started BJJ with my kids. Today so many judo athletes have both judo and BJJ black belt. If we would like to go to a world level championship tournament, we better learn BJJ and judo.

Your whole family trains judo. Is it hard or easy when everyone has the same hobby?

It is fun to practice judo and BJJ with all the family members. Nothing is hard except coaching. Coaching my own children is challenging because I see my children as athletes on tatami but they see me as “mother” all the time. I mean they would like to think I am their mother no matter where they are. Therefore, I sometimes do not coach my kids on tatami and ask someone else to do it.

How much does it cost in average to take judo classes and jiu-jitsu classes in Japan?

It is extremely cheap to take judo lessons in Japan. Our team charges children only $19 per month per child. This is average cost to learn judo. Jiu-jitsu is a bit higher. I have been paying $40 per month for myself and my kids train for free. It looks great financially but we face several problems. All coaches are volunteers and they do not receive any pay or reward from their team. On top of that almost every week they have to work as a volunteer at tournaments. The coaches have too many responsibilities for their judo team and receive no compensation.

What do you think is harder, jiu-jitsu or judo training?

I love both judo and BJJ. I don’t feel neither is hard. Jiu-jitsu is more difficult than judo for me at this time because I am a white belt in BJJ instead of a black belt in judo.

What is the biggest difference between Japan and the United States in general?

I love Japan because most people are really polite, honest, and kind. Safe environment allows us to let our kids go outside freely. No gun violence (only in Yakuza – Japanese criminal organization) makes all parents comfortable letting kids go to school without being concerned about gun shootings. However, Japan still needs some improvement. People prefer using cash instead of credit or debit cards. We still need to work on making our country more foreigner-friendly. I see lots of issues that still need to be resolved but I also love Japan as it is now. Japanese people respect their culture and try to maintain it.

I also love the United States. People are very funny and respect individuality. People are free and living their individual life. I like that a lot. I am just happy to have the opportunity to live in both countries.

If someone wants to visit Japan, what is the one place they should visit for sure and why?

I truly recommend to visit rural areas of Japan like my hometown. Most foreigners like to visit urban cities like Tokyo and Osaka or they visit historical cities like Kyoto and Nara. However, rural Japan has numerous sight-seeing spots. People are really nice. Please visit my hometown, Yamaguchi prefecture, it is really beautiful! People can enjoy historical areas, our beautiful ocean, and nature as well. You will like it!

Do you have any other hobbies?

Yes, I do. I used to love all kinds of board sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, and surfing. Today I love fishing, climbing, and hot yoga!

11. Tell us something most people don’t know about you!

I was a judo champion in my hometown when I was 17. It is equivalent to a state champion in the U.S. I got first place in -52kg division and went to All Japan Judo Championship. I won my first match but lost the second one. I made it to the top 24 in Japan.

#socksforanna

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Jiu-jitsu community has lost a wonderful, vibrant young lady, Anna Paige Burdette Cooper. Anna lost her battle to cancer on February 25th at the age of 32. She was a brown belt, a huge advocate for women’s jiu-jitsu, and a successful competitor. She was Fenom sponsored athlete in 2015 and we enjoyed our partnership with Anna greatly. Her smile and energy were contagious and she will be missed dearly. To celebrate Anna’s life please wear a pair of colorful, crazy socks this Saturday. Rest in peace, Anna.

Anna’s celebration will be at the Milan Puskar Stadium Touchdown Terrace, 1 Ira Errett Rodgers Drive, Morgantown, starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, with a reception followed by the time of the celebratory service beginning at 3:45 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Anna’s memory to WVU Cancer Institute, 44 Medical Center Drive, PO Box 9300, Morgantown, WV 26506 – 9300. Make your check payable to the WVU Foundation, and in the memo line, include “IMO Anna Burdette Cooper”.

#socksforanna

The Mighty Dames

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Big women in jiu-jitsu are a minority and face different set of challenges. One remarkable lady, Torrie O’neil, has decided to provide a platform for the heavy-weight ladies. Torrie is a blue belt training out of Grappling Mastery in Eustis, Florida under Brian Ruscio. She has been training for about four and a half years and is the founder of The Mighty Dames, a jiu-jitsu community centered on representation of female heavys. When she is not on the mats, she is busy at Bookworks, an early literacy program which provides story times and free books to children at low-income child care centers and elementary schools. Torrie answered a few questions about her life, The Dames and big girls’ challenges in BJJ. Enjoy!

You love grappling and reading. How did you discover jiu-jitsu and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I actually was not looking to do jiu-jitsu. I wanted to wrestle. I was a huge WWF fan as a kid and got into freestyle and collegiate wrestling in my late teens. After finishing up grad school, I moved back home and started looking for a wrestling gym. Since Florida isn’t exactly known as a wrestling state, the closest thing I found was my current gym that offers wrestling classes on Fridays. I came in for a wrestling and Muay Thai class and afterward my coach, Brian, showed me a couple of jiu-jitsu moves and I’ve been hooked ever since.

When I’m not reading kids’ books for work, I mostly stick to non-fiction books, such as history, politics and society centered books and older fiction. My favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and I’m currently reading a book called Dancing at Halftime by Carol Spindel about the use of Native Americans as mascots in sports.

How often do you compete? What is the biggest hindrance for you? What is your biggest achievement in competition?

For the most part, I try to compete 3-4 times a year. I did not get into jiu-jitsu with the idea of being a hyper active competitor but I like to test myself from time to time against my peers. My biggest hindrance would have to be the combo of lack of opponents and time. Due to lack of competition in my division at the smaller events, I wait for the IBJJF championships in my area.

Also, I travel a lot for work and various other community groups, so my weekends fill up rather quickly with other obligations. My biggest achievement would have to be winning double gold at Miami Open in the spring of 2018. I had been out of commission for a couple of months due to a knee injury and had some really tough matches.

Are you having a hard time finding gis that fit properly? What do you want gi companies to know and improve about women’s gis for larger ladies?

Absolutely? It can be very discouraging to get into BJJ only to be unable to find a gi that fits and is affordable and be regulated to no-gi as you hunt for one that fits well. 90% of my gis are mix-and-match combo of gi pants and jackets from different companies. With my weight and height proportions I can rarely order a gi as is.

Once I find a pair of pants that fit well, I buy a couple and just rotate jackets that match. I would love if larger companies allowed mix-and-match sizes. For instance, I’m A5 in pants but float between A3 and A4 jacket meaning I have a bunch of pants just collecting dust. Another thing would be taking into account the height for bigger women. A lot of women in The Mighty Dames struggle with finding bigger gis for shorter women. At 6 feet my gis are often too long, I can only imagine the struggle for someone my weight and 5’5”.

Do you feel like larger women are sometimes invisible in BJJ?

Sometimes, yes. It almost feels like we are a niche, inside an already niche sport. That’s the part of the reason why The Mighty Dames came to exist. But it does help to have figures like Tayane Porfirio and others competing at the highest levels.

Why are there so few African American women in BJJ? What do you think should be done to attract more of them to train and compete?

Short answer, exposure. If you really think about it we don’t see many African Americans in other martial arts/combat sport besides boxing or wrestling. It’s simply not a sport traditionally tied to the community. Most of my family still thinks I do Karate. How we improve this? Exposure. Bringing BJJ into communities with more black people or doing events or seminars in public space or just having the sport more visible can all help.

I do think that the higher exposure of MMA helps as well. We are seeing more black athletes competing at the highest levels of MMA giving the younger generations new role models to look up to and want to emulate.

You have said that you prefer training with men over women just because you have more training partners that way. How often do you have a chance to train with women your size? Do you attend women’s open mats?

To be honest, I’m probably one of, if not the biggest person at my gym, man or woman. While I find value in training with all sizes, I need the weight of bigger training partners to keep me honest with my technique and development. I’m really lucky to be a part of the Central Florida BJJ community where we have quite a few big girls who are always down to roll and are great training partners.

About twice a month I try to make it over to train with Melissa Lohsen at Darkwolf MMA who just earned her black belt in December 2018. She is a fellow super heavy, only about 45 minutes away and her school has a couple other heavys so it works out great. She also runs Pretty Dangerous Women’s Jiu-Jitsu which hosts monthly women’s open mats at rotating gyms in Central Florida.

Larger ladies have been accused of using too much strength (the infamous Gabby Garcia/Mackenzie Dern match brought out the worst in some, calling Gabi a man and other names) in their matches. What is your take on that? If a smaller person is allowed to use their speed and flexibility, why is strength not acceptable?

Let me tell you… I have thoughts on thoughts on thoughts about this topic. I always found this argument a bit hypocritical. Isn’t one of the main selling points of jiu-jitsu learning how to overcome a larger opponent? And what is too much strength? There is no measure for it. I understand that it can be very frustrating to deal with a stronger opponent, but jiu-jitsu is full of frustrating things. It is easy to name call and come up with reasons to bash larger women who compete, to explain away a loss but it is much harder to admit you simply have not devolved a game to handle a larger opponent. Also, these mix matches in size like Gabby Garcia/Mackenzie Dern are in open-weight bracket where the individual signed up knowing that all weight classes are able to enter. If they know the stakes going in, why should it be an issue?

Personally I see it as a cop-out; a preconceived excuse. As long as I or any other heavy isn’t out here trying to seriously harm someone, I see no issue with using my physical attributes to win in a physical contact sport. If the biggest/strongest person always wins, I should be undefeated in competitions. And I’m clearly not. I get outworked and outmaneuvered by smaller opponents all the time; it’s all a part of the game.

According to IBJJF any lady above 175 is a super heavyweight. What’s your opinion on that? Is it fair for women above 175 to have to compete against 20-60+ lbs weight difference while lighter weights get to compete against someone much closer to their weight?

There can be some big weight differences, sometimes 50 – 80 lbs., in the IBJJF super heavy division. Is that ideal? No. In a perfect world, we would have more weight divisions and women to fill their brackets, but we don’t at this time. Organizations are not going to change their model unless they have to and shallow divisions do not provide motivation. We see more and more heavys joining the sport and now we need to get them competing. Once more women show up and prove that another weight class is viable; I’m confident will happen. Look at all the success that older female competitors have had in affecting change in the IBJJF. I think female heavys should follow their example and prove we are more than just talk.

What prompted you to start The Mighty Dames?

The Mighty Dames started on a whim. About two years ago, I wrote a blog post about the “Plight of the Big Girl” where I laid out some of the issues I had come across being a bigger woman in the sport. After receiving a great response from fellow heavys, I wanted to create a space to continue the conversation. I started up the Facebook group “The Mighty Dames: Big Girl BJJ Crew” in May of 2017 with the hope of connecting female heavys from all over the world.

Jiu-jitsu can be daunting for anyone to start, and it can be very discouraging when you are the only woman of your size in a gym. Either you get paired up with men or women, someone who is undersized. It can be awkward and isolating. My hope was that The Mighty Dames would help show some support to all those women, to show them that they are not alone and that there is a whole community behind them willing to help out and encourage their journey.

What are your plans for The Mighty Dames this year?

We have a couple of things coming up for the Dames. We will be celebrating our second year in May with some giveaways and I am working on getting more gear for larger women, rash guards and spats. Mostly we are going to keep doing what we have been doing: providing a platform to represent and connect female heavys and promoting positive, healthy body image.

What is your biggest pet peeve in BJJ?

The gym cult mentality. I just don’t get it.

If you had a chance to train with any black belts, who would they be?

I will be the first to admit I am terrible at watching upper level BJJ. But I would love train with Hillary VanOrnum or Dominyka Obelenyte.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.

Before jiu-jitsu, music was my main obsession. I was a band kid for most of my life, even going to college on a music scholarship. I played tuba and trombone mostly, but I also play four or so other instruments as well. My early 20s was filled with jam sessions and open mic performances with local musicians.

Check out Torrie the Grappler on Facebook, @torriethegrappler and @themightydames on Instagram.

Brag and Win February

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It’s time for February gi giveaway! Tell us something good that you accomplished or something nice that someone else did for you last month for a chance to win a Fenom gi. Good luck!

*If you are a sponsored athlete or a brand ambassador for another gi company, you will not be eligible to participate in this giveaway.

Biggest Jiu-Jitsu Myths

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Here are some BJJ myths we have heard over the years. What do you think? Are they myths or truth?

1. You will be friends with everyone in your gym like a big happy family.

There are so many different personalities on the mat so there is a good chance someone will not like you, just like you don’t like certain people for whatever reason. It is normal that you develop stronger bonds with some people and others get a nod and a mumble of a hi, how are you. Same hobby will not guarantee immediate and lasting friendships. You will avoid training with people who have hurt you, give you creepy vibes, don’t click with you or are generally terrible training partners. It is possible that you are the annoying person to someone and they avoid you. There is no need to worry too much about it and go out of your way to make someone like you. If it happens naturally, great. If it does not, don’t force it. Gym, like workplace, will have some conflict and some camaraderie. Some people simply dislike you. You cannot change your personality to please someone, but you can always try to be a good training partner and not roll like a bonehead.

2. People outside of the gym want to hear about your training all the time.

No! Please, no! Not every birthday party, wedding, baby shower or family dinner night wants to hear about your awesome, incredible, amazing omoplata. Yes, we know you train. It’s your hobby. Don’t be that person who has nothing else to talk about at a social event. What was the last interesting article you read? Tried out a new recipe you saw on Instagram? Won a BBQ competition? Please spare other people from your constant BJJ euphoria, we see it daily on your FB page.

3. Everyone will be great at jiu-jitsu.

That’s a tough one. It is a struggle for anyone to admit that they are average or a slow learner. Training can be fun even if you are not a world champion caliber athlete. It’s a hobby, enjoy it. Learn and accept that you are getting better at your own pace. Some people compete, never win anything and it’s fine. Some people never compete and are happy if they can finally do a backward roll. Comparing yourself to someone else on the mat and having unrealistic goals is a guaranteed path to negative thoughts, resentment, frustration, and general dissatisfaction.

4. When you start training you must only wear BJJ related clothing and accessories. Everywhere.

Remember before you started training jiu-jitsu? You had clothing that didn’t have BJJ, jits, jitz printed on them and they weren’t white-blue-purple-brown-black-belt design? Yes, find that clothing again. It is great to wear them every now and then.

5. Black belts in BJJ are also black belts in life, and they are qualified to give advice about everything and anything.

Some BJJ black belts are great motivational speakers with a huge social media following. Some. A lot of black belts are not that great at teaching, finances, relationships or time management. Be careful what advice you are seeking. Again, BJJ black belt does not mean they are black belts in all aspects of life.

6. Expensive gis are the best.

No gi brand that has their gis made in Pakistan or China owns a textile factory or a manufacturing facility. All men’s and women’s gis come from the same source of fabric. All brands have their gis made in a factory that someone else owns. If only we could tell you how many brands are made in the same facility, by the same workers, using the same fabric… but we can’t. If you like the design and the fit of the gi, buy it, but don’t assume automatically that it is better because of the price.

7. You must train a lot, even when injured and observe class by taking notes when not training.

Oh dear, how many times have you seen this? Someone posting online: I broke my wrist last week, and the doctor said to stay off the mat until it heals. Majority of advice given is total opposite to the doctor’s: Oh no, just tape your hand to your chest and roll. I had 5 broken ribs and a dislocated jaw and still went to class 8 days a week. Why would you not listen to your doctor who has spent years in medical school and instead follow a group of strangers’ advice? What’s the rush anyway? Heal the damn injuries. It’s your body, the one and only you have. They are not giving out medals for bravery. Taking notes while injured? Well, if you must. If you have nothing else to do, then by all means, go sit and take notes. You won’t remember any of it later anyway.

8. Every black belt is a great instructor.

Some black belts are great competitors, some are great instructors, some are both and some are none. It doesn’t take much to open a gym these days. As long as you have a small space, mats and sign on the door, you are in business. No teaching experience or certification is required. Warning signs of a not so great instructor: holds back information, punishes students by holding back belt promotions if student has asked about a belt promotion, ridicules students, makes crude jokes, intimidates students who want to leave, is vague or lies about his own black belt lineage, doesn’t allow cross training or going to open mats. You are not married to the gym you start at, you can always change and find an instructor you really enjoy learning from.

9. You must take private lessons.

If your instructor tells you that he has some secret techniques he only reserves for private lessons, stop and think. Wait a minute, I pay my monthly dues to learn, why is the instructor holding back information, and why is he making me pay extra to learn those special secret techniques? Does it make sense? Not at all. If you want to take private lessons to work out some snags in your game and have one-on-one time with the instructor, that’s fine. But don’t ever be coerced into taking private lessons with the promise of a quicker promotion or a special secret technique. It is shady and fueled by greed.

10. You must roll with everyone.

This is troublesome especially for brand new students who think they have no voice, and must accept any rolling partner no matter what size or shape. They believe they are not allowed to say no. Always remember, it is your training, your body, and you will be paying the medical bills (not the gym, not the person who injures you) when you get hurt. You can and should choose your training partners. A great instructor will never let brand white belts roll with each other anyway. They do more harm to each other than anything else. Be vocal and if you are being forced to roll with people who are reckless, you may want to reconsider if this place really is for you. Lots of injuries, few familiar faces, and a huge turnover of new white belts is a sign of a gym that does not take good care of its students.

11. Women must always be paired up with another woman when there are even number of women on the mat.

Just because you two are both females, doesn’t mean you should be training together. A 120 lb and a 190 lb woman paired up is not a good match. You are better off pairing up with a male of a similar size. You don’t see a rooster and super heavy males paired up for drilling so you should not either. Find someone who benefits your training the most. Training with women is great but don’t let yourself become the “female white belt sitter”. It sucks being paired up with new females all the time while guys are improving their game by rolling with higher belts. Speak up!

12. Quitting is never an option.

This has to be the crown jewel of all BJJ myths. If you promote the slogan that there is no quitting in BJJ, why do so many people quit? Why do we not see a waiting list on the door of each gym because they are at max capacity? Try to remember the names of the people who started training at the same time with you. Look at the gym group pictures from years ago. Ah, there is this dude, I remember him. He always wore a gi one size too small. I wonder what happened to him. Oh, and this girl, she was so good. Right when she got her blue belt, she got married, had a baby and we never saw her again.

Lots and lots of people quit for all sorts of reasons. Quitting is always an option, you can do whatever you want in your life. It is your time, your money, and your body. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone but not everyone will like it. If BJJ no longer interests you, choose something else to do. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad or inferior because you decide to move onto something different.

Congratulations!

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Brag & Win January gi giveaway winner is Courtney P. from Canada, and Jiu-Jitsu Gypsies fourth anniversary open mat raffle winner is Carolyn N. from Florida. Courtney is a black belt and the organizer of WTF-Women Who Fight, a women’s jiu-jitsu group dedicated to the growth of BJJ in Eastern Canada. Carolyn describes herself as a broke college kid, and a brand new white belt who has been using hand-me-down gis. This is her first brand new gi. We are very happy for both ladies and we hope the new gis spark joy!

Fenom Tropical Flowers Gi

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Dallas photographer, Maryna Matorina, captured this fantastic Fenom action shot at IBJJF Austin Open and we absolutely love it. It represents jiu-jitsu at its finest: staying calm and collected while applying a submission in a nerve-wrecking situation. Tournaments are some of the most stressful events for kids and adults alike: butterflies in stomach, adrenaline pumping, teammates and instructor watching, opponent’s team yelling. At times it feels like a total blur; time is frozen and there seems to be serious miscommunication between the brain and the body. The brain goes blank and your game plan that you drilled for months has left the building. Even though it is a popular belief that there is no losing in BJJ, only learning, it feels great to submit your opponent while serene and rocking a gorgeous gi. Congratulations!

Our newest women’s gi jacket is made of premium, pre-shrunk, brushed pearl weave fabric. Pants are made of pre-shrunk, super soft cotton drill fabric. The gi has oversized, immaculate tropical flowers embroidery on the pants, trademark F, and smaller tropical flowers accent on sleeves. If you are in between sizes, we recommend to go with a smaller size; it is not a shrink to fit gi. The gi retails at a very affordable 115.00 dollars, and as always, mix and match in regular, tall, and curvy sizes are available. Enjoy the endless summer vibes, and happy shopping!

www.fenomkimonos.com