Thomas Williams

Thomas Williams

We know, you're an experienced grappler and you like to roll a lot. You think warm ups are stupid because instead of running around the mat you would rather be drilling live or rolling, right?

Wrong. Muscle activation is a real thing, that helps in many ways to strengthen and correct muscular imbalances. But wait, you want to roll forever right? Longevity is as much of an art as the pajama scramble, and it only comes to those who take the extra time to ensure it.

Back injuries are the most common problem in our sport, caused by poor posture during the day, and the absence of the proper muscles doing their share of the work. Our posture in jiu jitsu can compound this problem, especially if your dominantly a guard player or love the berimbolo or rubber guard or just get stacked a lot.

Jiu jitsu creates a vehicle for success through personal ownership and a growth mindset. To achieve skill in jiu jitsu, one must stop making the same mistakes and instead grow to create new answers for problems that had once been impossible. This concept of self-reflection, followed by redirection and the will to do better, will carry over easily from inside to outside the dojo.

1. Get your damn phone out of your face.

2. Don't sit with your back to the room.

3. If a situation feels potentially dangerous, leave.

Lunch should be simple and effective, just like a well-executed grappling technique. I use a few key ingredients that have a lot of variety and versatility. I don’t want to get bored, but I still need to receive the same cornerstone nutrients no matter the organization of the meal.

My favorite meal to make for lunch is a salad. Now I know what you’re thinking; salads are for chicks and vegans, right? Well that’s true, but as performance athletes we need them too. The salads I make are are tasty, versatile, and full of all the nutrients I need.

The ability to defend oneself is everyone’s right. The problem is that not all of us are born with the same abilities or strengths. Luckily for us, information is the great equalizer. jiu jitsu is an excellent tool to utilize for self-defense because it’s as much science as it is an art.

There are thousands of self-defense styles, and I’m sure many of them are effective and useful in their own right. However, jiu jitsu answers the questions of “What if I’m smaller than my attacker?” or “What if I get knocked to the ground?" and "what do I do if the attacker gets on top of me?” These are the worst case scenarios that have been tested through jiu jitsu and have the track record to honor its merit.

I’m writing this to give insight to what my diet is like and how it improves my Jiu JItsu experience and why it’s necessary. I have been a performance athlete since I can remember, and I wish I’d known then what I know now. When I began my Jiu Jitsu journey my diet wasn’t terrible compared to the average household, but it was nowhere near what I needed and didn’t change until I was a few years into college.

At this time I was training Jiu Jitsu every day, and like most, completely addicted. My teammates were a mix of hobbyist and pro- fighters, with a handful of guys like me. It was a breeding ground for competition, and everybody was interested in what the others were eating and what supplements they were taking. This was my first experience in which nutrition sounded like it mattered. Coincidently I was writing a paper for school about the food industry; the information I was exposed to influenced and inspired me to look at my own diet and see where I could make improvements. The diet I have now, 10 years later, has worked well to supply me with the necessary fuel to improve and then maintain my performance level. Not only that, but helps secure my place on the mat for years to come.

Let’s be honest, jiu jitsu is challenging, sometimes frustrating, but that’s probably why you’re attracted to it. The guard pass is the most dynamic movement we practice, with the greatest number of variables of reactions and outcomes. It sucks when you've been working for a guard pass over and over until you finally clear the legs, then try to secure side control only to have your opponent shrimp out and pop a knee in between the two of you. Damn, back to square one.

How can you stop it? Here’s a few things I do that I’ve learned over the years:

1. Lack of flexibility

I know I’m not the most flexible guy in the gym, but I used to be much worse. I usually shied from rubber guard, and when I didn’t I’d have to compensate space for lack of flexibility. I would always cringe at the idea of being stacked, and when it happened, I was at a loss for whatever submission I had been attempting. Not only was it limiting my jiu jitsu performance but it was also injuring me. Then I met a yoga instructor (who is now my wife). I had no idea how important the mobility aspect was or how much more enjoyable doing yoga would make BJJ for me.

The best thing I took away from it was when I hurt my lower back. My hips, like those of many other jiu jitsu practitioners, are overworked. Because of this my back went out and I bulged a disc. To fix it, I followed a series of stretches for the hips and my back healed right up. I still use those stretches to maintain hip flexibility and increase mobility. If it wasn’t for those stretches, I doubt I would have been able to continue with BJJ. I highly recommend a good yoga program. The type I take is called Hatha yoga and its focus is restorative. Because I already do jiu jitsu, which is very fast and athletic, I don’t want a yoga style that mirrors this. Yoga being so different from a combat art it gives me a very satisfying sense of balance.

There are several reasons to learn jiu jitsu. While almost any reason is a good one, here are Thomas’ top 3 reasons:

  • 1. Mental toughness:
    • Jiu Jitsu helps to develop a number of skills and attributes that increase a person’s character. Mental toughness is one of my favorites that transfers to everyday life. I see it all the time in Jiu Jitsu, people’s perseverance shines through whether it be at work or at home. In my classes I put my students in what we call “worst case scenario.” This usually involves a student starting in a dominant position and the other student has to remain calm, trust what they’ve learned and see the technique through until they escape. This style of teaching makes for a great self-defense drill but is also a good reference for when things seem impossible outside of the academy.

Check out this short video and see how our new conditioning class can help you restore mobility in your shoulders after tough practices.

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