Monday, May 14, 2012

Paleo Diet: Cortisol and Caffeine

Diet coke no caffeine
I have been reading the book The Paleo Solution lately. I have learned a lot that I didn't already know including some interesting information about hormones.

Cortisol is bad

Cortisol is a hormone that is caused by stress, excessive exercise, not enough sleep and drinking caffeine. It leads to accelerated aging, fat storage, and hair loss. If you are looking to improve our health, you should try to reduce your exposure to cortisol by sleeping more, reducing your stress and avoiding caffeine. Luckily enough, getting more sleep will aid you in reducing your caffine intake

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BJJ: Father-Son Bonding

father son bjjAt my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym there are two fathers who bring their son(s) to class with them. I am really touched by the fact that they are able to share the great sport of Jiu Jitsu with their kids. Both of these fathers have great relationships with their sons, and the sons seem to really look up to them.

 I am jealous of the fact that these kids got the opportunity to get involved in BJJ so early. It will help them learn to be disciplined and help them remain calm under pressure. These kids are well on their way to becoming a man and are leaps and bounds ahead of their pears who are wasting all their time on facebook. Instead they are learning how to defend themselves and getting exercise. In an age where one in three children are overweight or obese, it is important to make sure kids are involved in sports. If you can participate with them and set a good example for them at the same time, even better. When I have children I will follow in these dads' example and take my kids to BJJ class and compete in tournaments.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BJJ Tournament Mental Preparation Strategies

BJJ Tournament Starting Position
One of the hardest things for people to prepare for during a competition is their mental state. Some people are able to stay calm and others freak out and panic. Panicking during a grappling tournament is not good because it will make you breath harder and it will tire you out faster. If you panic it will cause you to tense up which increases your chance of getting injured, so it is in your best interest to figure out how to remain calm. It may seem like some people are naturally good at staying calm but that is not the case. Here is a list of factors which influence whether an individual is likely to be able to stay calm during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament.

Factors for remaining calm during BJJ Tournaments

  1. Experience competing - People who have played sports and done other competitive activities during a lifetime have way more experience remaining calm because they have slowly built up the ability to perform under pressure. The more related the activity to BJJ the more helpful it will be in mentally preparing for a grappling competition. For example the best experience would be a history of competing in wrestling because it is so similar. Tae Kwon Do tournaments would still be pretty helpful but is not as good as wrestling. It is still a one on one, contact sport but does not include grappling. A running race could probably help since it is sport and requires endurance but would be even less related because it is not one on one or contact. If you have no better options, consider signing up for and competing in a 5K race before your competition. It will help your endurance and your nerves.
  2. Confidence - Nothing will help you remain calm like a large dose of confidence. If you think you are better than the other person then you will be more confident and it will allow you to relax and remain calm during the match. This will help you to breath slower and stay lose. I literally just look at the other guy and think to my self "I can take this guy, I am better than him." It doesn't matter if it is true, just tell your self that. Men can increase their confidence by raising their testosterone level.
  3. No worrying about the outcome - People who don't care about the outcome are able to stay relaxed. Just remember that 50% of people lose in the first round, so even if you lose you have done as well as half the tournament competitors.
  4. Have a game plan - If you have no idea what your plan is for a match, when it begins you will panic. Decide on a game plan before hand so you know what to do. It could be to go for a take down, it could be to jump guard, or it could even be to sit down (depending on the tournament rules). Just make sure you know what your first move will be and how you plan to proceed during the match. It helps immensely if have been watching all of your future opponents during their previous matches. One time I watched a guy jump guard in his first two matches, then it was my turn to go against him. I asked my coach for some techniques for combating guard jumps. During the match when he went for the guard jump I stepped back and he fell on his butt which allowed me to step past his guard while he was stunned on the ground and eventually I won the match.
If you are preparing for your first tournament, you should read about what to expect. Talk to your friends who have competed and find out what it was like for them. The more you know the less you have to be surprised by. 

If you haven't practiced in a realistic matter, you will be less prepared. When I did my first triathlon, I had never swam in an open water race in 60 degree weather (which is really cold for swimming), only in ideal pool conditions. When the race began I completely panicked and ended up hyperventilating. I nearly drowned. To prevent this, it would help you to practice rolling hard in a tournament like fashion at your gym a week or two before the tournament. This will allow you to feel what it is like to go 100%. Have a friend ref who knows the rules. Be sure to think about points during this practice roll so you know what it will be like during the real thing.

Most people will not be able to use all of these techniques for remaining calm, so chose which ones suite your style best. Over time you will learn to stay calm if you stick with BJJ competitions. Good luck!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Improve your BJJ: Increase your Testosterone

Testosterone is the wonder drug for men. It is responsible for regulating bone density, fat management, promoting muscle strength and mass, production of blood cells, sex drive and sperm production. Higher testosterone also increases a male's attractiveness to women. Every man should strive to increase their testosterone level, it will lead to happiness and a better life.

How to increase your testosterone

Muscles Lift Weights
Lift weights - It has been shown that lifting weights leads to a temporary increase in testosterone level right after lifting. Regular weight lifting will raise testosterone for the long term. The increase in testosterone is proportional to the amount of muscle used during weight lifting. This means that you will increase your testosterone level more by doing lower body weight lifting than upper body because the lower body has more muscle and you can lift heavier weight with your legs. I can bench a little over 300 lbs with my arms but can leg press over 1,000 lbs with my legs.

Improve your diet. Eating broccoli will increase your testosterone. Avoid tofu and soy products, your body perceives soy and tofu as estrogen and will lower testosterone. Don't drink beer, the hops from beer is also seen as estrogen by the body. Eat plenty of meat, especially red meat. Eat saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and colesterol, they are required for testosterone production. Don't eat refined sugar, it has been shown to reduce testosterone.

Avoid cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress. It causes you to metabolize (eat away) your muscle and lowers your testosterone. The best way to lower your cortisol level is to reduce your stress. Get plenty of sleep, don't work too many hours and don't lift weights for more than 45 minutes in a row. Relaxation and meditation has also been shown to reduce cortisol.

Avoid BPA. BPA is a chemical that is in many of the plastics we use. It is seen by our body as estrogen and can lead to fat gain and decreased testosterone. Avoid BPA whenever possible. Make sure any water bottle you use is BPA free and do not cook food in plastic containers, put the food on a plate before you warm it.

Increase Testosterone helps you for BJJ Tournaments and Training

Higher testosterone will allow you to be more aggressive and it will improve your strength. You will feel better and be more confident. It will allow you to put on good weight (muscle) and drop bad weight (fat). This will make you more competitive for your weight class by having a better lean weight percentage. If you have higher testosterone you will be more confident and will allow you to perform better durring BJJ tournaments.

For men, it has been shown that low testosterone in men increases your chance of gaining weight. Being obese or overweight lowers your testosterone. It is like a downward spiral, if you have low testosterone then you will put on more weight which lowers your testosterone causing you to put on even more weight. Instead of getting caught in that trap, consider trying the paleo diet to drop lose some weight.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Using BJJ in Real Life

I have had to use BJJ 3 times in real life. It saved me from people causing problem while also preventing me from seriously injuring other people as I would have if the situation had resulted in a fist fight.

rear naked chokeThe first time I was in my own house and one of my room mates was extremely drunk. We were in the basement and my drunk roommate out of nowhere attacked my friend who was visiting. He was ferociously punching my friend so I came up behind my roommate and did a rear naked choke. Within 5 second my friend was nearly passed out and stopped attacking my friend. I let up on the choke and asked him if he would chill out. He said we would stop so I let him go. To this day I have no idea why he attacked my friend.

The second time I used my jiu jitsu was when a rugby alumni tried to knock over my refrigerator. He was pushing pretty hard so I grabbed him and tried to pull him away. He continued to try to push over my fridge so I put him in a rear naked choke. One of the other rugby alumni tried to choke me to force to stop me to stop choking his buddy but he had no idea about jiu jitsu so it did nothing to me. The alumni pushing over the fridge was forced to give up before I did because he could not breath and no blood was going to his brain. After I let go he told me that I was the first JHU rugby player to stop him from knocking over the fridge.

The last time I used my BJJ skills in a real situation was when the rugby team got in a fight with a campus frat. Five other rugby players and I got in a fight with 15 frat brothers in their house. It was a draw, which I look at as a victory given that we were out numbered. Same as before I used rear naked choke to take combatants out.

I think the moral of my stories is that the rear naked choke is extremely effective against people who don't know how to defend it. I was able to use it 3 times to stop agressive, drunken college students without injuring anyone. I didn't even need to put my hooks in, I was just standing in all of these situations. Only a few people know Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so those of us who know it have a huge advantage in street fights against those who don't know it.