Notice: JiuJiuBJJ to appear on Dirty White Belt Radio this Sunday, 3/12/17

I’m doing a thing! This Sunday I’ll be a guest on Dirty White Belt Radio! We’ll be chatting about a variety of things. I’ve never been on a podcast, so this is a first for me!

Join us on Dirty White Belt Radio this Sunday, or thereafter wherever fine podcasts are sold! You can listen live at 10 a.m. EST this Sunday on, or you can check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or whatever podcatcher you like thereafter. All the podcasts are also archived at

No one from Dover, NH was harmed during the making of this podcast.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: If you listen, let me know what you thought!!

How is your training coming?

I want to check in with you guys! I have been keeping my head down, training hard. I have hit my goals for the past two months! In January I trained 10 days out of 31, and I went to one Friday class, and one Sunday open mat. In February I made it 11 days out of 28. I went to two Friday classes and two Sunday open mats. The open mats are amazing because I get to roll with black belts, purple belts, and different women.


My Bullet Journal for jiu jitsu!

I’m preparing for a tournament in July, so I have less than 4 months to go! Training is amped up, quality of training is amped up, and I’m starting to develop a game plan for what I want to do, and I’m starting to focus.

Plus, my teacher said he was proud of me. Awwww. My body HURTS. I’m TIRED. I’m SORE. But I am a lot more dedicated than I was only 2 months ago, and I’m proud of myself.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: What are you training for? How is this year looking for you so far? Two months down, 10 to go! Are you meeting your goals? If not, what is gumming up the works?

BJJ: Transgender Athletes – No Way to Win

Today I read about Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old transgender boy, who recently won the Texas state girls’ wrestling title.

The family of Mack Beggs has said he would rather be wrestling boys, but state policy calls for students to wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates. So Beggs, a junior from Euless Trinity, beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 in the 110-pound weight class to improve to 56-0 and earn the championship.

First, a huge congratulations to Mack. This kid spent a lot of time and energy practicing, perfecting his craft, and working hard toward his goals. He is a winner. That’s not something that is handed to you, it is earned, and it is a wonderfully big deal.

What was so rough about this is how much controversy this is stirring up. Mack is clearly an athlete. Mack is receiving testosterone treatments, but “Beggs’s school district determined his testosterone was “well below the allowed level.” He wanted to compete against other boys, but the University Interscholastic League required he compete against other girls because they have a birth certificate policy, which “declare a student’s birth certificate is to be used when determining gender.”

I hate that this gifted athlete has his wins emotionally taken away from him. He is accused of cheating because he receives testosterone. Other female athletes have forfeited rather than wrestle him. Remember, this boy WANTED to wrestle other boys. The policy did not allow for it.

It is hard not to draw similarities to Fallon Fox, who is a trans woman MMA fighter. Fox competes against women, and her wins are criticized because “She has a man’s body” along with the muscle density, frame, etc, despite being on hormone therapy.

My heart goes out to these athletes. I don’t think there are any easy answers here. It really just sucks that any win they have comes under extreme scrutiny.

Jiu Jiu’s Questions: I invite thoughtful, polite comments here. Any trans-phobic, insensitive comments will be deleted, so just don’t go there. What thoughts or insights would you add here? What supportive comments do you have for trans athletes? 

BJJ: Competition, Attitude, and Insecurities

I have decided I will compete. My instructor bullied me into it. Here was our conversation:

The "Do you wanna improve" comment was made while looking at the 4 stripes on my blue belt.

The “Do you wanna improve” comment was made while looking at the 4 stripes on my blue belt.

Jiu Jiu’s note: I showed Diego the picture to make sure he was okay with me posting it. He responded by saying: The point is not that competition just makes you improve; it’s that it makes you improve fast. It makes you have better technique, be more aggressive, and you make sure things are working better, and you are doing the technique right. People who compete improve faster than people who don’t. But it’s not a rule.

So I will be doing NAGA in Hampton, VA on July 1, 2017. I agreed to this on a Sunday. Monday night I sat down with my brown belt coach and had a heart to heart.

I’ve been doing jiu jitsu for 6.5 years. I resigned myself to be terrible, and I learned to be happy about jiu jitsu in most situations, regardless of how I was doing. This was an important coping mechanism for me because I started fat, unathletic, uncoordinated, and mid-30s. Literally stepping into the gym was a win for me. Actual improvement was mind-blowing for me because it was unexpected.

Signing up to compete, and actually TRYING to win opened up a door in my brain and heart that was hiding more insecurities than I was proud to admit.

When the door is closed, everything looks perfect.

When the door is closed, everything looks perfect.

There was some messy emotional stuff packed into my closet because I wasn’t prepared to deal with it. I now share it with you.


When I signed up, my thought was “I’m not good and all this is going to do is prove how shitty I am.” I felt like I was going to just confirm my worst suspicions. This is NOT an attitude I share with people. This is NOT an attitude I share with my coaches. It’s the small voice that I shove in the closet that this opened up.

Surprisingly, when I shared this fear with my brown belt coach, he complimented me, and not in a “naw, I’m trying to make you feel better” way. He shared some specific points that I couldn’t or didn’t want to see, or that I had dismissed.

Sharing this helped me realize concretely that I my FEELINGS are NOT the best judge of my abilities. They are subjective and emotional and I need to trust my coaches.


I came to make friends, to exercise, to not be a crazy cat-lady, to just move my body, to have a community, but my goals didn’t include winning. This meant that when I was rolling, I was in the “learning mindset.” I never pushed to win. That wasn’t me. Practically speaking, this meant that in a battle of wills, I lost. If you and I are scrambling, you’ll win.

As an analogy, if you taking away my better position is akin to stealing my money from my wallet, I had the wallet open and was handing you the money. You want full mount? Okay, here it is. Diego keeps saying to me: SAY NO. DON’T GIVE IT TO THEM. SAY NO. They want to pass your guard? NO! They want to get the mount? NO!

This realization helped me recognize that I need to push for what’s important to me.

I was like this except I came to chew bubblegum and make friends.

I was like this except I came to chew bubblegum and make friends.


I am an expert game player. I can engage in all the shit-talk you want. I love it. I absolutely can aggressively win and NOT feel like a shithead (well, against most people). In life, I know how to set boundaries without being a jerk. When it comes to jiu jitsu, however, I don’t know how to be aggressive without feeling like I’m being an asshole or being a bully.

This also is related to the “I’m her to chew gum and make friends” above, and PROBABLY also related to me being a nerd and not a very physical person when I was younger. Someone physically dominating you doesn’t feel like you’re losing a game, it feels more like you’re being bullied. It is something that feels very fundamental to who I am. It is HARD for me to be aggressive in jiu jitsu. I’m very much used to the lazy, coffee-shop style rolls. Being aggressive feels like I’m screaming at people with my body. I came to this realization a long time ago, but it was more intellectual, and now I’m actually trying to work on it.

I have started working on this by “warning” some partners ahead of time that I am training for a competition and will be trying to WIN. HOPEFULLY that feeling-bad will stop at some point. 🙁 Hmmm. Note to self: What if I instead just asked them to help me train for the competition by asking THEM to up the intensity.


This one made me feel saddest on the inside. Every tournament I’ve gone to, in no way did I actually believe I could win. I would hope for the best, or I would just do my best, but I never honestly expected to win. I didn’t realize that until this month when Diego said to me “You CAN win. You CAN win. Say it!” Have you ever been grateful that you were so sweaty that people couldn’t tell you were crying? Yeah. That was me. It’s even possible that I squeaked out “No I can’t.” That suuuuucks to admit. It sucks to be convinced you can’t when you’re surrounded by winners. 🙁

I need to convince myself that I can win. I need to do those daily thoughts and aspirations.

A big thanks to for this!

A big thanks to for this!




Jiu Jiu’s Question: What has been hiding in your emotional closet that you decided to address? How did you address them? What recommendation would you give to someone struggling with those same negative feelings?

BJJ: Identity vs Activity

About a month ago, there was a survey circulating called “Women in Gaming, 2016.” I am a gamer, and I passed it along to the gamer women. A friend of a friend remarked that she didn’t feel she was a gamer.

I think there is a strong parallel to any kind of hobby or sport that we do: is it an activity you do, or is it part of your identity? At what point do you decide or declare this? I remember feeling that way about jiu jitsu when I started, but I absolutely waited to claim it as part of my identity until I got my blue belt. It’s so common for folks to start out with all the enthusiasm and good intention, then die off quickly due to schedule or money or whatever. A gal dropped by the gym and stated she’d come to every single class. I brought a gi for her to borrow, but didn’t hold my breath. She never returned. I wasn’t surprised.

Other folks keep jiu jitsu as simply an activity that they do. For sure, an activity they enjoy, but it isn’t something they claim as part of their identity. Consider the following:

  • Musician vs someone who plays music
  • Chef vs someone who likes cooking
  • Poet vs someone who enjoys writing poems
  • Weight lifter vs someone who lifts
  • Hiker vs someone who hikes


Some of the identity tags in my own life: jiu jitsuka, cross-stitcher, Trekkie, teacher, blogger, and gamer. Some things I enjoy as activities but do not identify with: cosplayer, weight lifter, drawing, and camping.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: is BJJ (or whatever activity you do) part of your identity or simply an activity you do? What is the difference to you? Please share your list of your identity vs activities you love!