Hi and welcome to the gentle art of fighting!

My name is Kimberlj, I’m a blue belt in brazilian jiu jitsu and I train at the Pound for Pound Academy in Munich / Germany under Sergio “Canudo” Zimmermann.

I’m a true fan of martial arts including bjj, mma, boxing, muy thai and many more.
Of course I’m still in the beginning of my journey but there will be always someone who starts today and why shouldn’t you speed-up your progress and benefit from the experience of someone like-minded. At my gym we always help and support each other to improve our jiu jitsu and we are very thankful for that kind of learning process.

I will share with you all of my experience about training, coaching and competing. I will leave you some reviews about techniques & seminars and I will give you some useful hints about nutrition and a long-time healthy training lifestyle.

Since Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a global and continuously growing sport, I decided to write my blog in English. Even if my English is far away from perfect, I will take the challenge to reach all of you passioned people out there, no matter where you’re from! I will write in a very simple structure that everybody can understand the topics and the content of my posts.

If you have specific questions about some articles, if you’ ld like me to write about a specific theme or if you would like to post a bjj related article on my blog, feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts with us or contact me.

Osss….

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ALWAYS CONNECTED

IBJJF International Zurich Open 2017
&
UAEJJF Zagreb International Pro Championships 2017

There exist a well-known proverb about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and its positive affect on social relationships that says „bjj connects people“.
This May our team fought on different fronts in different countries at the same time so we couldn’t stay all together physically, but we fought with the force of our team connected in our minds and hearts. Team spirit has no boundary, so we all stepped on the battlefield with the united power of our Pound for Pound family.

Of course everyone of us went into the fight with his or her individual goals, but we walked the walk together, striving in the same direction to give our best, have fun and enjoy the moment.

In overall we came back home with 3 medals from Zurich and one medal from Zagreb as well, plus one of our brothers won the ticket to the Grand Slam Tournament in London next year. All of us fought good fights, some won and some lost, mostly very close by points. But it`s not all about the medals. A gold medal is a beautiful thing, but if you`re not enough without it, you will be never enough with it.

The real fight was fought every day in the preparation and our toughest opponents were the people we saw every day in the mirror. The effort is between you and you, coming to the gym every day sweating your ass off, no matter if you had a hard day at work, dealing with pressure or adversity, no matter if you`re sick, injured or tired. A true champion wins in his mind first, it is a decision, a commitment you make and the actions will follow your thoughts.

Yes, sometimes a small mistake costs you a fight, but the knowledge and the experience you win are priceless. In bjj there is no losing, you either win or learn and you will never stop learning. If you ever think you know all about it, it will jump on you and hit you as hard as life. Sometimes you have to get worse before you improve, sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward, nothing is tougher than facing your weaknesses and start working on them and this is exactly what we do – together, always connected!

bittersweet chocolate – how it tastes to win or lose

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and belongs to the places with the highest standard of living worldwide. The term standard of living is the general well-being of individuals and societies, outlining negative and positive features of life.
Individuals – those with individual passions and peculiarities, which leads us to the topic: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – a special individuality that flows through our veins, connect us deeply within and one another and for which we take emotional and physical hurdles again and again – because we love to do it!

On May 9th and 10th, 2016 the annual „IBJJF Zurich Open“ took place and the „Pound For Pound“ – Team went there with 15 fighters. For some it was the very first tournament, a few others extended their first experience in a new belt division, some of us fought in a totally new weight class and had to face opponents with different size and therefore new physics.
Seen overall we all strove for the same objectives: exceed limits, control our thoughts, overcome fear, bring the best possible performance, test our skills, have fun, keep together and never give up!

The most notable motivation for all of us was definitely our professor, Sergio ‘Canudo’ Zimmermann, who due to an injury had to accept a loss after being undefeated for several years. Despite strong pain he fought for our team until the last second of the match. He made the 2nd place in his division, but he stepped off the mat as a winner. Most people would give up at this point, which brings us back to the remarkable individuals – it didn`t take long until he stepped again on the mat with a mission in mind and how could it be otherwise, he made the first place and won gold in the Open Class!

What do we learn from that? Nothing is impossible, we can overcome everything, we just have to make the decision to do it.

“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under Those lights.” Muhammad Ali

 

Winning – how does it taste?

Some of us eked out a place on the podium – we came with 15 fighters and left with 15 medals. But how to describe an indescribable feeling ?

Overwhelming power coupled with absolute exhaustion, relief, lightheartedness, happiness and gratitude. You want to cry and laugh at the same time. But what`s next, hold on to it and rest on the victory? Impossible!

“Champions are not made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -. A desire, a dream, a vision” Muhammad Ali

We proudly look back on the achievements of all of our fighters because winning does not always have something to do with capturing a victory. Each time we fight we gain experience, perception, motivation and get to know more about ourselves.

 

Losing – how does it taste?

The realization, where do I stay with my game? Your own self-perception burst in seconds, disappointment and doubts are spreading and too many questions are going through your mind. The first moment hurts, there’s no question.

But why do we take the risk again and again?

Because we only grow when we cross borders.
Because we only get stronger if we are brave.
Because we only learn when we make mistakes.

The result of it – we can`t lose!
It is worth fighting for all we learn and discover due to this process.


“Bjj is not about medals“
– Sergio ‘Canudo’ Zimmermann

Tastes are different. Tastes are changing.
We stay hungry!

The day I met the Grand Master

The first lesson I took from the grand master is:
„I love myself, I have to take care of myself“
Whether it`s about what you eat, how you train or how you live. You are responsible for your body, your health and your mind. How you treat your body is how your body will treat you, you get what you give. You have to love yourself first to lead yourself to success. Find your balance in life and you will find your balance in Jiu Jitsu!

Jiu Jitsu is life! Keep your mind open and you can find it in every little thing…

The snake
The snake has no arms, no legs and is one of the fastest animals on the planet, it kills his victim with only one bite. How?
Because the snake won´t stop when it starts to attack. The snake feels so comfortable in what its doing, it waits for the right moment, for the right distance, and then moves forward until it`s done, no way to stop! If you start to attack, you have to go for it, don`t hesitate, don`t stop!

The poor dog
One day the dog ran outside the garden across the street and got hit by a car. Luckily the dog survived, but sadly he lost one of his front legs. Now he had to learn walking with only 3 legs. The first day the dog went to the park after recovering, he saw another dog lifting one leg up to start to pee. The dog tried to do the same, lifted his leg up and we all know what happened… the dog felt to his site because he didn`t had any balance – poor dog!
You need minimum 3 supports to have balance!

The king of the jungle
What is the biggest and strongest animal of the jungle? Yes, the elephant. But why isn`t the biggest and strongest automatically the king?
Jiu Jitsu is based on techniques that don´t require a certain physique to have success!
The lion is very smart and uses all of his natural senses. He can exactly calculate his and it´s victims cardio. He gets focused, calculates the distance, figures out the wind direction to avoid to get smelled and then he waits. Only if all elements fit together he starts to attack.
Your opponent isn`t stupid, he trains the same art as you do. If you have him in your closed guard and start putting your foot there and taking the arm here, he will know that you go for an arm bar. It`s easy to defend if you know whats coming. You have to attack several times until your opponent is getting busy to defend because then he starts loosing his game, his comfort zone. People who fight with ego can get angry at this time. If your competitor gets angry, he will loose his vision and this is the moment you lead him to loose his balance and make that one mistake that leads to the loss, like in chess. You have to set up a few attacks to go into the mind of your opponent, make him lose his strategy until he has no answer to the next step which will lead him to be one step behind you.

Life-Quote:
You need 3 things in life, a good friend you can trust, believe in yourself and beach ball – if you throw a good ball, you will receive a good ball back, you have to give something good to receive something good, action and reaction!

In the end it´s all about finding your balance, whether it`s life, jiu jitsu or any other martial art.

Jiu Jitsu is life, life is fighting, you have to fight every day at your job, doing things you don`t like just to pay your rent, fight for your family, fight with the pain of your body during training, fight against your mind that tells you, go to sleep your tired, fight against haters, fight to come over losses… But the biggest opponent in life you have to fight is yourself!
There is no magic, you decide the direction of your life, you decide how life reacts to you, the key to success and achieving your dreams goes hand in hand with a balanced mind!

What really touched my heart was the moment the grand master started to talk about the day he will die. He knows that he will not leave us because of an accident or any disease, he will die one day during training, in the dojo, on the mats, smelling that special odor of the heated walls and sweaty mats for the last time, that smell only we can love because it gives us that unique feeling of home and peace.
This man dedicated his life to the art of Jiu Jitsu, truly lived it`s principles, filled his heart with it and teached over 20.000 students to find their love for Jiu Jitsu and get their lifes in the right direction.
To support so many people requires a huge heart.
Thank you for living your life to teach us how to make our lifes better!

dedicated to the one and only Grand Master Fransico Mansor
Osss

The importance of posture

Every jiu jitsu fighter who ever fought at a tournament can remember his or her couch standing on the line and yelling posture, posture!

Posture already describes itself, in bjj most of you relate it with a specific position from the closed guard you learn in the beginning which means keeping your head up high, your shoulders back, one hand on the chest and the other one on the hip of your opponent, but it is so much more than that.

To explain the correct posture we have to start with your spine mechanics. Nowadays our bodies have to deal with many negative influences. Not only the unusual neck takes or body smashes in bjj, but also sitting in front of a computer the whole day will negatively affect your body health. The spine consists of three segments, the cervical, thoracic, and the lumbar spine. To improve your posture all of them must work together. Every single joint in your body has a purpose, a stiffed and restricted thoracic spine also affect the areas above and below and is the most common reason for shoulder pain. Your lumbar spine needs to be stable and your thoracic spine needs to be mobile. This is the key to build up a strong base you need in every position weather you start a takedown and have to avoid the Guillotine or to open and pass the guard. Even more important is the fact that when you have a correct posture, you are not attackable at all, it keeps you safe!

For me personally it also plays a very important role for my confidence and attitude during tournaments. I mean, no champion ever won a fight with his chin down, burrowed into his imaginary shell.

If you ever rolled with a higher ranked belt you may remember situations where you got swept or landed in a bad armbar or triangle attack you tried to defend, you`re muscles were already tired and your lungs were pumping as hell and you look into the face of your opponent and he is breathing calm and not sweating at all. Mostly it is because higher belts are reacting more sensitive to your body, using the momentum and capitalize every little imbalance or mistake you are doing, they don`t need any power for that because you`re helping them without recognizing it.
The most common mistakes you should avoid if you are in someones closed guard are keeping your head down, your weight displaced to much ahead, your hand on the ground, your elbow across the center line and one arm under your opponents leg which will end up in an uncomfortable triangle position.

The good thing is that you don`t have to spend hours in the gym to fix it, just make sure that you correct your position during training as often you can, if you`re rolling and getting attacked don`t hurry, be patient and think about the basics of a correct posture and how you could implement them in your current position. This, plus a workout of 15 minutes every other day would be enough to improve your posture for bjj and your overall body health. There are a lot of workouts you could do at home or include in your regular warm up as shoulder rolls, chest release, squats and chair poses. Furthermore you can find a lot of yoga movements which are already bjj oriented.

You could also ask your trainings partner to help you by starting in the closed guard. Your partner will try to break your posture and and start attacking you in different ways. You have to focus on your correct posture and will recognize how easy it sometimes will be to defend the attacks and get more confident in that position which allows you also to perform better at a tournament.

Even if it`s one of the first things you learn when you start bjj, for some it will take a lot of hard work and endurance to implement it in your body movement but if it would be easy everyone could do it – stay motivated and enjoy every little step of improvement on your journey!

Drilling in bjj – neccessary or not

Everyone heard about the common discussions whether drilling can help to improve your bjj skills and how much time you should spend on sparring compared to technique training.

Since at least the well known bjj black belt Kit Dale started arguing against drilling and repeating techniques as much as possible and opened up a public discussion with Gianni Grippo, also a multiple times World and Pan American champion who drills 2-3 times a day, it is still an issue in which opinions separate.

You can find more details about the discussion here:
http://www.graciemag.com/2014/07/to-drill-or-not-to-drill-kit-dale-vs-gianni-grippo-in-a-technical-match-over-the-best-training-methods/

Kit Dale: “I also saw that the most important thing in a movement is not the technique, but the timing.“

Keyword timing:
To have the right timing, in my opinion there are two important points that count.
First, you have to recognize the right moment to apply a technique.
Second, you have to react at the same time and use the momentum.
To implement this on the mat, you have to count on your body reaction and your sensual reaction. There is not always the time to “think” about the next move.

As Saulo Ribeiro said: “If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength you get tired. And if you get tired, you die! ”

In what I agree with Kit Dayle, is that it`s important to improvise with keeping the basic principles in mind, that is something I learned to implement since I`m a bluebelt and I generally use it when I sparr. Of course the most efficient way to figure out what kind of techniques work best for you and in which situations you can adapt them is during sparring. But if you have to think about what has to be done next to finish the armbar you will loose the arm before you have the chance to continue.

A lot of bjj athletes don’t take the time to drill or spend enough attention on the technical part, they get excited to roll and try to get the technical part done fast. Some even skip the first part of class and just come for the sparring sessions, but drilling is one of the best ways to improve not only your technical skills, but also the important timing we already talked about in the beginning. No matter if you like to drill the techniques you currently learn in class or if you want to work on your weak areas.

Due to consistent repetition your whole body and muscles are getting used to the movements you practice. Drilling is a perfect way to get used to the often unusual movements in bjj which also gives you a feeling of safeness. Furthermore if you already feel comfortable with a specific drill, you can evolve it as you speed up a little bit and do something for your cardio as well.

A very important hint from AnnMaria De Mars (first American Judo World Championship gold medalist) you should always have in mind when you drill: during the drill, the goal is not to do as many repetition as possible badly in a short period. The goal is to make improvements each repetition. You have to make sure that every repetition is done correctly to not acquire wrong movements and end every drilling session better than you started.

Simple example: It is more like an automatic process. As a baby you have to practice walking in little steps, you will fall on the floor and stand up again, walk 3 steps, fall down and stand up again…you have to repeat this movements a million times until you`re able to start running and make it an automatic and naturally process.

What kind of moves or techniques currently work the best for you?
Now think about how often you practiced them in training compared to techniques that don´t work as good. Got it? It´s obvious that the techniques you practiced the most work better for you than others, especially when it comes to competition and you are under pressure.

As Aristoteles said: „We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence than is not an act but a habit.“

I found a very interesting article written by Andrew Johnson, a brown belt in Gracie Barra Lexington, that explains how it works in detail:
http://www.bjjee.com/articles/drill-to-kill-science-backs-up-effectiveness-of-drilling-for-jiu-jitsu/

It`s hard to say whether this or that is the best recipe to improve your bjj, in my opinion it is the combination of all components, drilling, technical training and sparring.
The more you practice something, no matter in which way, the more comfortable you will feel when you do it the next time. You know the feeling of confidence you have reached when you`re able to say “I can do it blind” which means that you don`t have to think about it while doing it because it`s “natural”.

„ I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.“
Bruce Lee

And this is for a reason….!

MIND GAME – Mental training for competition

‚The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.‘ Muhammad Ali

In my first post I want to talk about one of the most important issues when it comes to competition – the so called ’mind game’. If I’m honest it took a while for me to learn how to step on the mat at tournaments focused and with a opened mind. In my first 3 tournaments I was totally pumped with adrenaline that even my muscles and veins tightened together already after the first of mostly 3 fights. But what really pissed me off was that I got distracted throughout my fights and couldn’t remember any details afterwards such as how it started, how it ends up on the ground, how me or my opponent got points… and so I wasn’t able to learn from my mistakes.
By the way, if you have the chance to get your fights filmed by your teammates, take it! It might seems strange watching yourself fighting because it always looks completely different than it feels, but it can really help you to analyze your strengths and weaknesses.

Of course I’m still very nervous before every fight but this is totally okay. If you wouldn’t be nervous, it wouldn’t mean anything to you. The answer is how to handle and control it at the right moment.

It all started when I recognized the key words ‚mind game‘ and ‚mental toughness‘ more and more through different articles and interviews. In the beginning I was very sceptic about all that ‚hocus-pocus-positiv-thinking-blabla’ but after a while they got my interest and I started some research about it. Then I found a very interesting article called ‚Controlling the Controllables‘ from Brad Jurica, a professional mental trainer from the U.S. and it totally changed my performance to the positive. He gives a very simple instruction about how you can control your thoughts to stay in THE ZONE, before and during the fight. The key is to learn how to focus on internal variables (your effort and attitude) you CAN CONTROL and fading out the external variables as your opponent, the referee or the crowd noise which often results in counterproductive emotions as fear, anger or frustration.

The only thing you have to do, is to remember these five items while you on the mat. To keep it simple and easy to remember, I summarized the major topics for you.

THOUGHTS are the first variable you have total control over.
If you find yourself thinking about future thoughts as the outcome or results, take a deep breath and ask yourself ‚can I control this?‘ If yes, then focus your attention on the internal variables and choose one specific you can control as f.e. your effort and let that be the product of your thoughts. If the answer is no, than choose one of your preferred controllable variables and give 100 % on the mat! Reminder: always keep your thoughts present, positive and simple!

EMOTIONS To control your emotions you have to learn to recognize whether your current emotion is helping or hurting your game. When it comes to competition and you have a lot of time to wait until your weight class is called, many athletes find themselves thinking about past events as losing a dominant position or losing a fight. Thoughts about the past often result in negative emotions such as anger or frustration which can lead to underperformance. To control your emotions, the second question you should ask yourself is ‚where is my mind?‘ The mind is always either in the past, present or future. Future thoughts lead to nervousness or anxiety, past thoughts lead to negative emotions as anger or frustration.
Reminder: recognize where your mind is, evaluate if it helps or hurt your game and modify it to positive present thoughts!


DECISIONS
‚every decision you make either takes you closer or further away from what you want‘ Brad Jurica
You have to figure out what you really want and concentrate on decisions that will help you reach your goals. The decisions you make will lead your thoughts, feelings and actions. Make sure that you set your goals in reachable steps to provide yourself some feelings of success now and then.
Poor-Decision-Making often leads to struggles which take you away from what you want.
Reminder: you have to be more calm, confident and in control!

ATTITUDE is everything!
Your emotions and your attitude are closely related, it often is a combination of your thoughts and feelings. A positive attitude will fasten your progress and success as an athlete.
Reminder: your mind controls your body!

EFFORT
Most athletes compete with the desire to win. Of course you want to have fun, challenge yourself and figure out if you are able to use your technique and skills under pressure, but nobody steps on the mat with the idea of losing the fight.
Reminder: to maximize your potential and perform your best, think positive, believe in your ability and trust your decisions.

I hope that this will help you to improve your game for the next training, tournament, or even in a difficult situation at your job or personal life. For me it really worked, I invested a lot of time in my mind preparation and the first outcome was the gold medal at the German NeWaza Championship.

Try to practice this skills as often as possible to get used to it and tell me your experience on that. I would love to hear your success stories!

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, I can really recommend the book ‚roadmap to the zone‘ by Robert S. Neff and Michael K. Garza. This is a step-by-step introduction how to define your goals, get in the zone and never loose it again, and of course reach your sub-goals, which helped me a lot!

Osss…