Ask the Nail

Ask the Nail

“The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”

-Renzo Gracie


Ask the Nail

Hello Insiders,

I want to start off with a quick update to the question about smelly GIs. I was talking to a training partner who is a graduate student in Biology who said that sometimes a GI can smell bad because of diet. If a person is trying to cut weight and is eating a low carb, no sugar, high protein diet their body will start breaking down protein for fuel instead of carbohydrates and sugars. This is a very efficient method of fueling the body, but will make their sweat smell. As the protein is broken down the amino acids that make up the proteins are broken down as well. The byproducts are sweated out during Jiu-Jitsu with a very strong ammonia smell. Some have described this as smelling like cat piss. I have had two training partners who have done this and I can confirm that it smells terrible. According to the grad student the cure is to simply eat a piece of fruit and drink a glass of water before training. This will add enough sugar to have that burn off instead of the protein.

As always if you have a question send it to us HERE.

Thanks for reading and here are the new questions.

The Nail


Hello,

I have been thinking about competing a lot lately. Everyone has been telling me I should give it a shot because they say I am a natural, especially with my body type. Thinking about competing makes me nervous though and I don’t really want to do it because it seems like it would be really stressful and not that much fun. I know myself and I know that I would be freaking out for the weeks leading up to the tournament. I don’t really think competing is for me, but a training partner keeps raving about how much it has helped improve his game. Should I compete?

Thanks,

Richard

 

Hi Richard,

I want to start off by saying that competing changes my game every single time. I have never just walked through a tournament and come out thinking that I did everything perfect. I always discover something new to work on and it forces my game to evolve. Competing is like a defibrillation shock to the heart of my game. It sucks and it  hurts, but in the end it was worth it.

Now I know that competing isn’t for everybody, but since your main complaint is nervousness I think that can be addressed. I also want to say that when you are starting out winning is not as important as improving your game. If nervousness is your problem then simply facing that dragon will be the benefit. Don’t worry and stress about winning. You are training to win, but if it doesn’t happen be proud that you did it and look for ways to improve.

If you are the kind of person who trains all the time and is always lifting or doing cardio on your own just because you like to stay in really good shape than I think the thing to do would be to decide last minute that you want to compete. If a tournament is coming up just decide a week out that you want to do it, then do it. Pick a weight class where you don’t have to cut weight because that will cut down on you nervousness. Also, do a small, local tournament, don’t do Pan Ams or Worlds on your first try. Will you get nervous? Yes, but you will have faced the dragon and gained valuable experience.

Now if you are not the person who always trains and loves to stay in shape than you need to do the tournament right. You need to block off 4-6 weeks out of the tournament and prepare with cardio training, hard rolls, and game plan training. This is the opposite strategy and I suspect that this kind of longterm intense preparation is what makes you nervous the most. My philosophy is that there is no point competing if you are not going to do it right and preparation is where half the work (and half the benefit) comes into play. To reduce your nerves tell yourself that you are putting in the hard work now and doing things the right way. Something my coach told me was that every time I had a negative thought, tell myself two positive thoughts. Everyone gets nervous when they compete and that is a good thing. The best competitors use that to help them stay sharp. My worst tournament experience was when I calmed myself down so much that I was dominated as my opponent ran over me. I was too relaxed. Now, when I feel that nervousness in my gut, I build it into an intensity that keeps my game sharp. It also helps to train with your team a lot and get other people to help you prepare. Other people will make it fun and take your mind off the nervousness. Despite all this you will still get nervous, just remember that everyone gets nervous and nerves are not the enemy.

Facing the dragon is always worth it.

The Nail


Nail,

My name is Dave and I’m a purple belt. I don’t have kids myself but I have several friends who do. A few times they have asked me if Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is good for kids. I’m sure it is but I could use some tips on telling my friends the positive benefits for kids training BJJ?

Thanks,

Dave

 

Hi Dave,

As with any kid’s activity there are downsides. You have to drive the kids over there and they don’t always want to go and it can be a struggle. Of course BJJ is expensive as well. Also I think that BJJ training as a kid isn’t going to automatically turn someone into a world beater. I think that two or three years training as an adult is way more valuable than even ten years training as a kid, because adults bring a level of focus and critical thinking to their hobbies that kids haven’t developed yet.

This means that what makes BJJ valuable for kids are going to be social and developmental. What this means is that parents need to go check out a school’s kids program before they sign up their kids to make sure that the class is going to be right for them, otherwise it will be just like any other kids sport. BJJ is not a miracle wonder drug that provides all these benefits automatically. If a kid’s program is well run they will focus on helping the kids improve their ability to pay attention without being distracted, improve their confidence, help them become comfortable with their bodies, and help them make friends and interact with their peers appropriately, all while teaching them how to stay safe in the real world.

Good luck Dave,

The Nail


Nail,

I’d like to stay anonymous but here’s my question. I feel like I’m ready to be promoted to blue belt but my instructor hasn’t given any indication that he thinks I’m ready. One of my partners who started after me was promoted recently and I feel like I’m better than him. I’m happy for my partner but I’m not sure why I haven’t been promoted. I’ve been training for 1 year and 3 months. I want to ask my instructor about it but I’m afraid that it’s a taboo subject. What should I do?

Best,

Anonymous

 

Hello,

There could be a variety of reasons for this. This is purely speculation, but your instructor may feel that you only have a top game while your partner has a more rounded top and bottom game. Alternately, he may feel that you are just ok everywhere while your partner has one aspect of his game that is really developing, like his guard. That is just speculation though and without all the information there really is no way to know. At my school our black belt likes to promote people to blue who roll smoothly and don’t spazz out. If you are spazzing out every single roll you might be “winning” could be based on you muscling your way to victory. If your partner is winning with smooth technique he is ready to be promoted. Your partner may not ever “win” a roll, but could be demonstrating growing skills in defense and escapes.

Your quote, “I feel like I’m better than him” indicates to me that you are focused on competing with him. He is your training partner not your opponent and you should be focused on ways to improve your game. Competing is for opponents, training is for training partners. Once you do this your instructor will definitely notice. If you are planning on competing soon your instructor may be waiting until after the competition to promote you. He also may be waiting for a big seminar to promote you with everyone in attendance or a famous black belt there. In which case being behind by a few weeks won’t make any difference in the long run. The path to black belt is a marathon, not a sprint. Stick with it, focus on improving your game and the promotions will come.

The last bit of speculation that I have is that maybe you are really good and aren’t being promoted for whatever reason. If that is the case would you rather have everyone say how good a white belt you are and should get blue any day now, or would you prefer everyone brag about how they dominated you, the new blue belt who has obvious holes in his game? If this is the case try to keep training business as usual. Don’t try to show off or beat up training partners who got promoted before you. It always makes you look bad. As an example, when I was four stripe blue a training partner of mine got his purple belt. I felt that I was way more technical than him and that he could only submit me because of his strength. To prove it I did twenty pull ups right before I rolled with him. Predictably, he passed my guard and submitted me with an americana. Don’t do it, it isn’t worth it.

Finally, I don’t think you should talk to your instructor about this. It will be awkward and weird. If you do feel compelled to talk to him about it, try and approach it like this. “I know I am getting close to blue, what can I work on that would push me over the top?” The thing about getting your blue belt is that you will no longer be an anonymous guy in your school. The purples will notice, the blues will notice, and the whites will definitely notice.

I hope your’e ready,

The Nail


					

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