Blue Belt promotions

My First Blue Belts!

Blue Belt promotions
Hard Earned Blue Belts

I’m proud to say that I promoted my first belts.; Jackie and Gabi (Brawly) on April 20th.

When I rebooted the women’s BJJ program 2 years ago; Jackie was the only student and basically had a lot of private lessons as a result. On the one hand; she received a lot of instruction, on the other, the when you out are considerably bigger you have to get creative (185>110).

Don’t misunderstand, it does not mean that training gets easier for them, but when someone new is learning and there is a large weight and size difference you have to adjust so that they learn correct positions, movement and progressively build up to  to dealing with with larger opponent.

We had few ladies come try the class. Some stayed longer than others and then Brawly (well earned nickname for her assertive style) showed up one day.

Being honest; at the time, when a new student started in the women’s class I’m always happy (since I truly believe that all women should do Jiu-Jitsu); however, I am always expecting them not to show up for the next class as the program has been difficult to get started.

Brawly not only kept coming, she joined Jackie and I prior to class for extra time as well as staying for the all levels class after. Having another student and closer in size was helpful. After months of being consistent and seeing their progress I thought it would be fun to set a personal goal of trying to get them to a solid Blue Belt level in a years time (I did not tell them about it though). However; as they improved and I gave them fair warning of when the intensity level would go up as they got better.

I made whatever time possible available to them; before classes and Saturday mornings, any seminars I taught or field trips to other gyms. Sometimes for my Saturday morning 7 am training session and the cool part is they would show up ready to go!

BJJ is an art that tests you in ways you don’t expect; both physical and mental.  First Jackie broke her foot and was unable to train, so she came to watch so as to stay engaged and not miss out. As soon as she had a boot on and crutches; we worked around them and using them, when the crutches were gone and boot was left her training was adjusted to keep her working and drilling what she could. By the time she tested boot had been off for a while but it turns out it never fully healed and she had been training with a broken foot.

Gabi had been on a roll; lots of training and mat time. We had our first affiliation get together and when rolling with a purple belt from another gym, she had her hand jammed and severely sprained her fingers. So much so that had to work through physical therapy to get them going again and then months of rehab, tape and ibuprofen. All the while, she kept training. She adjusted what she could do and watched out for her hand ( and no Spider Guard).

Being able to stay involved when injured takes serious discipline and mental fortitude as it’s much easier to stay home and watch tv than to sit on the sidelines and watch class.

While I was on the training for my black belt and being on the injury list; everyone helped out, time drilling, rolling and being available on off times as well. It’s always great to see how an academy pulls together to help each other improve. we also had female BJJ guests come in to help train with that were closer in size to get a good feel for students closer to their weight.

Come test day, they were there about an hour and a half early; nervously drilling the techniques (it probably didn’t help that they didn’t know the format and I’d been purposely evasive on questions regarding the test.)  As class started all the white belts were on lined up on one side of the mats and the colored belts on the other and they were center stage. As this was my first promotion for belt ranking I thought I’d try a different approach than static demonstrations and to chain techniques together that would involve bother partners, like guard passing to establish positions and submissions, then working the escapes or recovery of various positions. This not only help to show their technical skills, but that they could transition between them, knowing where to go and what options to use that worked best for them. That was the first part.

The second part of the test was live rolling; and it was a little more gauntlet style, and though I’m not a fan of big beat downs, I am a huge fan of hard work and determination. The live roll portion consisted of 10 3 minute rounds with only 30 seconds rest in between, just enough time for their sparring partners to leave and the fresh one to come in. The could only roll with blue belts and above and I brought in special blue belt BJJ girls from X2 Fitness and Next Level Combat. And they worked, hard. they were pushed, but were able to show how much they’ve learned and grown and that they deserved to step up to the next level in their Jiu-Jitsu Journey.

Proud Coach 🙂

Group photo
Blue Belt Test

July 20th Women’s BJJ Class, Triangle choke for more than sport.

July 20th Women’s BJJ Class

Monday night class was an introduction to the triangle choke; Did basic drills then the technique, but for the women’s class I usually try to spend some time talking about how it’s applicable in a fight/self defense situation. We went over the difference between and sport and fight; how to control the opponents arm when someone is striking you as well as finding the openings to strike back using hammer fists and elbows and eye gouging. The goal isn’t to finish with the strikes (though not going to complain if they do knock out their assailant) , but to survive long enough to finish the choke. “You can fight of you’re arm is broken, you can’t fight when you’re asleep.”

We included the Triangle Armbar as well, not because we want them to tap out, but to go for the break, to cause enough pain and damage that it allows you to create an opening in order to readjust for the choke.  On the mat; for sport you go for the win, you get the tap and shake hands and it’s done. For survival, you need to keep fighting, give it everything you’ve got in order to be able to survive and escape that situation.

I love the sport of BJJ, but sometimes we forget the fight aspect, get caught up in the fun of competition, the points, the challenges of competing against other players the shiny medals. You have to remember that no matter what the reason is that you train; health, fun, exercise, competition or whatever is that if you are learning Jiu-Jitsu you are learning to fight and somewhere in the back of your mind that thought should always be there.

Next weeks class is all sport!



July is up.

This July we are looking forward to some great classes and seminars. We have:

Women’s only Introduction to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for Self Defense and Sport (two sessions)

  • Drop by this  July 11th at Wasceca Crossfit. From 10 am to 12 pm for a fun, supportive but thorough introduction to this great sport and martial art. Work out and learn how to defend yourself.Cost: $25
  • Our open Jiu-Jitsu Class is  on July 11th also at Wasceca Crossfit. From 1pm to 3pm
  • And come to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Seminar: At  Minnesota Kali Group International
    215 N Central Ave, Duluth, MN 55807
    Time 11 am to 1 pm.

Seminars, Women’s Seminars, Video Classes and Private Lessons


I am available to teach seminars, from introductory for the beginning groups, as well as for the more advanced students.

I also teach Women’s only seminars as an introduction to Brazilian Jiu-Jistu and self defense as well as for all levels to show the importance for women to learn how to survive possible assault situations.  The focus of these seminars is to show the two sides of training  and about transitioning from one to the other in hopes of inspiring to take the time to learn the full art of Jiu-Jitsu.


I will also be offering remote video seminars and private lessons.


These seminars and private lessons are a great way to add to  your skills, work on your goals or explore new techniques.