Jiu Jiu's BJJ Blog http://jiujiubjj.com Discussion based BJJ blogging, minus the vitriol! Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:54:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.7 54644365 Ignite Boulder http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/ignite-boulder/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/ignite-boulder/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 19:54:54 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4552 This last week I attended Ignite: Boulder 33.

Hello from Boulder!

Hello from Boulder, Colorado!

It was a series of 5 minute presentations, each one featuring 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. It’s similar to Pecha Kucha presentations, which I had seen at educational seminars. At Ignite, there were around 20 or so presenters, with subjects ranging from why robots would never take your job, to pursuing your dreams, to the war in Syria, to an intersexed person addressing the pope about marriage. It was all over the map, and I started to think: what would I want to do a presentation on?

Jiu Jitsu, of course. But what subtopic? It got me thinking about different ideas, and I came up with a few that I thought would be interesting to non-jiu jitsu people, as well as be visually interesting:

In any case, it was an interesting thought experiment, and one I will be developing throughout the year. I like the idea of fully fleshing out a few ideas for presentations and putting them on here, maybe even recording them on YouTube, or even presenting one at the next Ignite!

The presentation by the Intersexed person really inspired me and reminded me of why I started my blog. To paraphrase Cecelia McDonald, when we are brave enough to share who we are, it emboldens other people to share who they are. It reminded me so much of this For Better or for Worse comic strip:

Used with permission from www.fborfw.com . THANK YOU!

Used with permission from www.fborfw.com . THANK YOU!

I saw that comic back in 1990 when it was first published. I adopted it as a core belief system and drew heavily on it when I started in jiu jitsu.  I knew that if other people saw an overweight, older, foreign woman doing jiu jitsu, they would probably feel a lot better about themselves, and it was a role I was absolutely fine taking. By sharing my experiences, I help encourage others to share.

I was inspired by Ignite Boulder. Watching that presentation reminded me of why I started this blog. It reminded me that this is important to me, and I don’t want it to die. To that end, I have enlisted my accountability partner, Jayne Fury. My aim is to publish every Monday. She and I will chat on Tuesdays, and check in one more time at the end of the week, then Monday morning it goes up. I do very well with accountability partners, and I’m excited to start putting back into the blog.

Jiu Jiu’s Questions: If YOU were to do a five minute presentation on jiu jitsu (or whatever your sport is), what you YOU focus on? What do you think would be interesting to listen to? What are some topics you’d be interested in hearing/seeing me do a presentation on? If you’ve been to an Ignite presentation, what inspired you?

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BJJ: My Win and My Purple Promotion! http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-my-win-and-my-purple-promotion/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-my-win-and-my-purple-promotion/#comments Mon, 03 Jul 2017 12:03:54 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4531 This weekend was a bit emotional for me. Two things I felt were out of my grasp came to me. I won a match at a tournament due to my own actions, and I was promoted to purple!

I'm a purple belt now!

I’m a purple belt now! Diego Bispo on the left, and my brown belt coach Brandon on the right.


I was at Naga this weekend in Virginia. I signed up for one category: older female blue belts between 139.9 – 159.8 lbs.

I had prepared so hard for this tournament. Last year, I was a fairly lazy grappler. I’d MAYBE show up to two classes per week, I’d pick easy or new partners, and I’d just have fun. After I decided to sign up, I set goals. I developed a game plan. I started getting very selfish in choosing my partners. I put in the time and effort.

That last number should be 11, not 10.

That last number should be 11, not 10.

I did my best to go to every class at my gym, and in June, I made it a point to drive all the way to Virginia Beach to train. My regular gym – only 15 minutes away. VB – between 45 minutes and 2 hours, depending on traffic. The two weeks leading up to the tournament – I trained in VB 5 times. I was a teeeeeensy bit exhausted, but I was determined.

My official weight was 154. I had one match. I was a few years older and about 15 lbs heavier. Our match was 4 minutes. (I’m the one in black)

I felt myself get put in the cross collar choke. I’ve tapped to that before in a tournament, and I had a horrible flashback, but I decided NO! I held on and she let go. I won! Then I cried like my cat died.

A very long wait, and an emotional end - I won!

A very long wait, and an emotional end – I won! That “stunned grief” look is my victory face.

It was the first time I’d literally had someone in my corner. No one had really pushed me in this way before – to sign up for a competition, to work for it, and then sit in my corner and watch me and help me. It was the first time I won of my own accord. It was the first time I was emotionally wrapped up in the outcome. It was a huge emotional relief afterward.


Our team promotions were the following day. I wondered if I was getting promoted. I didn’t want to want it too hard in case it didn’t happen, and I also knew that if it didn’t happen that day, it would be another 2 years until it did happen, so I was hoping.

“This person has been training for like 12 years, and she didn’t care about competing, she just wanted to make friends.” My instructor introduced me that way. I knew it was me. He said how proud he was of me – he said he got me to sign up, and he didn’t care how I did – win or lose, but I won and he was so proud. Then he pulled out the purple belt.

My purple belt promotion! July 2, 2017.

My purple belt promotion! July 2, 2017.

I started doing jiu jitsu in June 2010. I was a white belt one year, and a blue belt for 6 years. I feel like I’ve clawed and scratched my way to where I am through really hard work, not innate ability. I’m really proud to have my purple belt be connected with Diego – he is such a caring and wonderful coach, and exactly what I needed when I needed it. Heck, I’m tearing up writing this.


This is my last month in Virginia. We are moving to Colorado Springs. I’m going to go back to school to become a respiratory therapist. This means that right now it’s uncertain where I’ll train and how often. I’ve never walked into a new gym as a purple belt, so I’m also excited and nervous about that.

This has been a very emotional month so far. Thank you for sharing my journey!

Jiu Jiu’s Question: What is something exciting and emotional that’s happened to you recently? Please share an accomplishment of your own as well! Let’s all celebrate together! Bonus question: if you are in Colorado (Colorado Springs or Denver), let me know where you train! 

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BJJ: Improving When You’re a Solid Intermediate http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-improving-when-youre-a-solid-intermediate/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-improving-when-youre-a-solid-intermediate/#comments Thu, 04 May 2017 11:00:35 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4524 Note: I started teaching 1st grade and it has me completely exhausted. I’m also doing a lot more jiu jitsu a lot more consistently. This is my current excuse for not posting more. :/

As a language teacher and student, I observed that the most improvements were made at the beginner stage. You go from zero to 1 and you’re already MILES above where you were. The language opens up opportunities, conversation trees, and possibilities. Where a lot of the frustration comes in is in the intermediate level. The gains are all of a sudden much smaller and less noticeable. As you improve, this gets more and more true.

The same is true in jiu jitsu. I’m now nearing my 7 year anniversary! (woot!) I’m a solid intermediate, and I don’t see daily gains or even monthly gains. HOWEVER, since I decided to compete in July, I have seen some big differences that are helping me, a solid intermediate, improve:


I now run to choose the best-for-me training partner. I don’t wait in the wings. I put my training above that brand new person’s experience and grab the highest belt I can, or the most athletic partner I can. One of my favorite training partners is a guy I’d avoid in the past. He is a wrestler, athletic, 22, and very competitive. As a lazy grappler, he was a nightmare partner. As someone trying to compete, he’s perfect – he has the stamina and energy and raw athleticism and I know I’ll get a lot out of doing reps with him. More so than if I’m having to explain a lot to a new person, or if I’m working with another lazy grappler. I also grab grapplers I think will be helpful or a challenge to grapple with.


Today I really noticed this. We had only one other person in class – a different wrestler, and the black belt instructor. We were doing an activity where you spar until a person scores one point – this way we get more familiar with the rules of competition. I noticed I was not at all timid in approaching them, even when standing. Before, I was fairly nervous about doing ANY kind of standup, and nervous about wrestling with new people.


I can’t say I’m not lazy – this is simply not true. But I actively seek submissions now. I attack more. I go for takedowns. I am on the offensive more. I FIGHT for positions, whereas before I would mostly open up my wallet and hand them my pocket change.

I was the cat.

I was the cat. “This is my life meow.”

These are by no means BIG gains, but I do think they’re important and substantial small gains. I also think they come from changing SOMETHING up and not simply doing the same thing half-assedly. You have to WHOLE-ass it.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: Assuming you are an intermediate or advanced in (insert activity here), what have you been doing to improve? Where have you personally seen gains? What did you change to start seeing some results?

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BJJ: Communication in Combat Sports http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-communication-in-combat-sports/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-communication-in-combat-sports/#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:31:36 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4516 Today’s article is a guest post by Joshua Burgess, a new white belt. 

Communication is the fundamental way we humans interact with each other in meaningful ways. We express our thoughts, feeling, needs and wants through both verbal and nonverbal cues. When we reduce our communication, we are reducing the effectiveness of the very thing we are trying to improve upon because our jiu-jitsu training is directly tied to others. Although on the surface it may seem like an individual sport, it is absolutely a team sport because we can only get better through each other.

I remember when I first started going to jiu-jitsu class at TCB Fight Factory just outside where I live in Springfield, MO. I wouldn’t say much if I didn’t understand something that was being demonstrated. I felt like I didn’t want to be the guy holding everyone back. Moreover, if I was in too much pain during drills, I wouldn’t say anything and just tough it out. What I began to learn is that there is no judgment on the jiu-jitsu mat. I also learned that the only way we are going to learn is if we understand what is being taught and our bodies are healthy enough to consistently make it in to practice. Once I started to get to know the rest of my teammates better, it became apparent that the things that I had been withholding were the same issues others had. They may have not understood a move but felt like everyone else way understanding so they should just go along with it. Or that they were nursing an injury or needed to do easy rolling or no rolling that day, but felt like they had to tough it out and go 100%.

Accidents happen, so don’t assume folks did it on purpose

I never assume malicious intent if someone accidentally knees me in the face or something like that because at the end of the day, it’s a contact sport and those kinds of things are going to happen. Whenever I do something I didn’t mean I automatically apologize and ask if they are good to go. If you are a female in a predominately male gym, you may find that a guy ego won’t admit to being hurt by a gal or act extra tough. This can be predominately a problem if either the teammates are new or just don’t know each other well. This is why it’s crucial to build report with your teammates so that you can communicate honestly and leave ego out of it.

We don’t always interpret body language or facial expressions correctly

Last week I went to an evening class that didn’t have too many people at it and noticed one of my teammates feeling his elbow every so often, so I asked him how it was feeling and though he said he was in some pain, he made no indications that we should alter our drilling to account for his nagging injury. This is what I think of as the “tough guy” mentality where your ego protects you from seeming weak. I took it upon myself to tell him that I’d like to do work on the other side of his body so that I didn’t get too one sided and to give that elbow of his a little bit of a rest. I had initially thought that something was going on with his elbow, but had I not further asked about it and offered some other options, I don’t necessarily think that he would have said anything about it.

We can’t actually know how people are thinking.

For me, I find that it’s best to initiate the conversation rather that to just wait until someone brings it up or by just making assumptions. We can also see this from our training partners perspective as well. How well do they know what we are thinking or wanting if we don’t make it known verbally? I personally don’t let any of my teammates make any assumptions.

Communication or misunderstanding can happen on different levels during jiu-jitsu class. Instructor to student, student to instructor, and student to student. When going over technique in class, the instructors need feedback. This can be a head nod if you understand or a simple raising of your hand for clarification. We must remember that none of our jiu-jitsu is perfect, and no student is a master. We all come to learn in an open environment where ideas are exchanged freely and not hindered by our silence. Student to student communication is key because theses are the people we are in direct, close contact with each training session and if we don’t learn to interact in ways that are productive to all parties, we won’t end up making progress in the art of jiu-jitsu.

Guest Post by Joshua Burgess
from TCB Fight Factory in Nixa, MO.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: As someone whose face often lies about how I actually feel, this topic is important to me. I am aware I often look angry or confused, when I might simply be thinking or preoccupied. I am an advocate for direct communication. How are you impacted by this topic? Has this changed over the years? In a combat sport, where your training partners may be beating you up (or vice versa), this seems especially critical. Share your experiences below!

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Jiu Jiu BJJ on Dirty White Belt Radio! http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/jiu-jiu-bjj-on-dirty-white-belt-radio/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/jiu-jiu-bjj-on-dirty-white-belt-radio/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 12:46:35 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4518 I’m so excited to have been part of Dirty White Belt radio! It was my first time being in a radio station. We had a chance to talk about my time in Korea, rash guards, the BJJ blogging community, and more! Please check it out, but be aware – it’s one hour long!

Jiu Jiu’s Question: What did you think? 😀

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Notice: JiuJiuBJJ to appear on Dirty White Belt Radio this Sunday, 3/12/17 http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/notice-jiujiubjj-to-appear-on-dirty-white-belt-radio-this-sunday-31217/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/notice-jiujiubjj-to-appear-on-dirty-white-belt-radio-this-sunday-31217/#comments Sat, 11 Mar 2017 04:49:16 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4512 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 WHUPfm.org, or you can check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or whatever podcatcher you like thereafter. All the podcasts are also archived at dirtywhitebelt.com.

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!!

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How is your training coming? http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/how-is-your-training-coming/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/how-is-your-training-coming/#comments Mon, 06 Mar 2017 20:31:44 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4506 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?

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BJJ: Transgender Athletes – No Way to Win http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-transgender-athletes-no-way-to-win/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-transgender-athletes-no-way-to-win/#comments Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:33:18 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4503 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? 

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BJJ: Competition, Attitude, and Insecurities http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-competition-attitude-and-insecurities/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-competition-attitude-and-insecurities/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 12:00:26 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4491 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 http://casadewhimsy.com for this!

A big thanks to http://casadewhimsy.com 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?

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BJJ: Identity vs Activity http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-identity-vs-activity/ http://jiujiubjj.com/brazilian-jiu-jitsu/bjj-identity-vs-activity/#comments Wed, 01 Feb 2017 16:00:34 +0000 http://jiujiubjj.com/?p=4488 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!

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