Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu And Muay Thai Change A Person’s Perception Of You?

“Does Your Hobby Make You Memorable?”
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The benefits of training Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai are vast and they are varied. For some of us, it is the thrill of competition that keeps us coming back; for others it’s the endorphins. One of the seldom discussed benefits of martial arts, especially for practitioners of the female variety, is the fact that you always have a great conversation starter. All it takes is one mention of MMA, BJJ, or Muay Thai from a woman and people are enthralled.

I have been in classrooms, job interviews, and seminars where the mere mention of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu garners so much excitement that my first impression leaves an indelible mark. For instance, in my volunteer position I have met several people that hear my name and immediately ask, “The fighter?” My reputation proceeds me, in spite of the fact that I am not actually a fighter, and I have never made that claim. I’m not saying it is a forgettable fact when men divulge their martial arts hobby, but it is especially unforgettable for most people when they meet a woman who trains.

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My admission that I train Muay Thai is usually met with questions of, “Do you spar?,” and “Do you train with the guys?” The fascination seems to be less about the sport itself, and more about the fact that I’m a woman in the sport. I’m not offended by this line of questions. In fact, I love answering them, it gives me the opportunity to evangelize about the sport, and brag about Absolute MMA. These questions are just one more perk from training, because after all of my blood, sweat, and tears, why wouldn’t I want some recognition off of the mat?

Written by Chelsea Kilpack

Your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.

So you’re going to your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and you don’t know what to expect. That’s not uncommon, it’s new, it’s unfamiliar, it’s to be expected that you won’t know what to expect. We’re going to talk about a few things that, hopefully, will set your mind at ease.

Let’s talk a little about your motivations for going to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class in the first place. There are many reasons a person decides to take up BJJ. There are those of us who are looking for an unconventional (and highly effective) way to get or stay in shape. Maybe we live in a rough part of town and want to learn to defend ourselves. Perhaps you have the hopes and aspirations of being a cage fighter. There are many reasons and all are valid. There’s one underlying goal which ties them all together: Learning. We’re all there to learn. It should be our priority and if you ask anyone who’s practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for any length of time, they’ll tell you it’s inevitable. You WILL learn regardless of whether you’re in the right mind-set or not. But it’s important, to get the most out of your experience, to be in the right mind-set.

You’ve made your way to the gym, it’s your first day, you have your Gi on… or maybe you don’t, that’s okay. Someone has shown you how to tie your belt and class is about to start. (If the students have not already introduced themselves to you, introduce yourself to them. They don’t bite). You get through the warm-ups, you’re already starting to sweat; breathe heavily and are wondering if you’re going to be able to make it.

“How do these guys bend their bodies this way? Did that guy just do a somersault??? I’ve never moved my body this way in my life! Who knew my head was this heavy?!”

The instructor begins to teach the technique(s) for the day. The instructor, in most cases, is a professor of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; a black belt. In some cases the instructor may be a lower ranking belt designated by the Professor to teach for the day. In other cases a lower-than-black-belt instructor is all that’s available in the area. That’s okay, too. They will more than likely be able to teach you quite a bit. The instructor will demonstrate a few techniques and allow each of the students to practice them on each other in break-out sessions. They will bring the group back together occasionally adding details and perfecting the movements to complete the techniques. They will also be available to answer questions in-between instruction. Don’t be afraid to ask.

“What is an armbar? D’arce? Guillotine? Triangle Choke? Wait… Choke? No one said anything about chokes… I didn’t sign up for this!”

After the instructor… well… instructs, it’s time to put into practice what you know. (If this is your first class, then it is very little, if any. Which is okay). We call this “rolling”. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is unique in that we can practice our sport with 100% resistance from our opponent with a reasonable expectation of not getting hurt. Which is unlike boxing, or other striking arts where if you sparred with your partner at 100% someone is going to end up getting hurt. In a lot of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools, beginners don’t take part in “rolling” on their first day. A lot of times, they don’t even roll until they’ve learned the basics: Guard, Mount, Half-Guard, Back-mount, Side-mount, Half-mount; basic grips, holds, movements; submission defenses, etc.. It is always up to you to decide when you’re ready to jump in during rolling time. Don’t be afraid jump in and get going but don’t hesitate to say: “I’m not quite ready” if you don’t feel quite up to it.

First and foremost: Your training partners are not trying to hurt you. They’re there to learn just as much as you’re there to learn. If you do feel like your partner is trying to hurt you, tell someone. It’s likely they’re newer to the sport as well, and don’t realize they’re being potentially harmful. Your safety is important and you have the right to request a different, more experienced partner to train with if you feel your safety is at risk. Conversely, you are not there to hurt your partner either. It’s important to remember, especially when training with a more experienced partner, that they’re going to match your speed/intensity/strength/etc.. That is to say: they’re going to go just as hard as you… or just as light. If they feel that you’re trying to hurt them, they’re going to do something to prevent that and it will more than likely not end in your favor… which leads me to my next point.

You are going to get submitted. You will tap. You will say “uncle”. This is not a bad thing. It is, in fact, a good thing. You and your training partner are each working on different parts of your respective games. In this case your partner is working on their submissions and you are working on recognizing the submission and tapping early. Tapping early to inform your partner that the hold/lock/choke/etc. has been applied effectively and that you’re “submitting”. That’s right: Tapping. Early. Don’t try to see how long you can hold out before tapping. As soon as you recognize you may be in trouble, tap. Tap your hand, at least twice, on your partner’s body (anywhere). If you’re unable to move your hands, say: “tap” loud enough for your partner to hear. Sometimes we have to use our feet to tap, but those are rare cases. Tapping is something we should do a lot of and, as I said earlier, a good thing. Try to see every tap as an opportunity to learn. Learning happens on both ends: your partner learns what is and isn’t an effective way to apply that submission and you learn how to recognize the submission in order to avoid it next time. Whatever you take away from each tap is up to you. Whether it be “I’m not going to get submitted that way again”, or “What did I let happen in order for that submission to be applied?”. Take these questions to your instructor, ask that your partner repeat what just happened and break it down for you, then ask how you could have prevented it. What you take away from it will depend heavily on your mental attitude. “Man, I SUCK!”, “I can’t believe this LITTLE GUY is submitting me AGAIN”, or “I lift weights, I should be able to SMASH this guy!” will more than likely hinder your progress toward preventing it from happening again and learning Jiu Jitsu in general. That being said, if you are ever uncomfortable for any reason, tap. If you can’t breathe, tap. If you feel like you’re going to vomit, tap. If you’re panicking for any reason whatsoever, tap. Our training partners have been conditioned to stop whatever they’re doing and give us space to recover when they feel someone tap on them. There’s no wrong reason to tap.

Breathe! This cannot be emphasized enough. We need oxygen for our minds and muscles to work properly. If you’re not getting enough (because you’re holding your breath) then neither of the two will be working right. It’s easier said than done, we know. Try to be mindful of when you’re grunting and holding your breath when exerting yourself. It happens a lot when we try to push someone off of us or try an explosive move. We hold our breath and strain against whatever it is we’re trying to move (ourselves, someone else… or both!). Holding our breath while exerting ourselves can cause injury, let alone makes it significantly more difficult to accomplish the movement we’re attempting. Everyone who has never grappled, or doesn’t continue to grapple on a regular basis is out of shape for BJJ. There’s no two ways about it. You cannot be in shape for your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class before you get to your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Expect to wear yourself out and prepare for it. You will sweat a LOT, especially if you’re wearing a Gi. Bring water. Drink water all day leading up to class. Be hydrated beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it while you’re in class. Sip water if you need to, to maintain your hydration, but you should already be hydrated by the time you get there.

While all of this is happening, while you’re sweating and breathing heavy, while you’re tapping and getting smashed, tossed, rolled-up, flipped and flopped, learning and having fun is of paramount importance. I’ve heard a Grand Master say: “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong”. Have fun and learn. All the while accomplishing the goal you set out to attain. Whatever it may be.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a very dynamic and effective martial art, with some potentially harmful locks and holds. When practiced in a controlled and constructive environment it is 100% safe and can be applied without injury. Now, that’s not to say that accidents don’t happen. You run the risk of stubbing your toe every time you get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. Understanding these risks is key to preventing them. Application of the things mentioned in this post can minimize risk, but that’s not to say there aren’t more things we can do to ensure our safety and the safety of our training partners. Use your head for more than just keeping your ears apart.

So, let’s recap:
No one is trying to hurt you. Don’t try to hurt them.
You will get submitted. Tap. Early.
Ask questions.
Breathe!
Drink water.
Have fun :)
Most importantly: Learn!!!

Once you get past your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, these things will get easier. Just take it one class at a time.

Salt Lake City Muay Thai | Ramon Dekkers | Absolute MMA | 801-255-1166

Ramon “The Diamond” Dekkers. If you know anything about Muay Thai, you know his name. Ramon fought for 20 years and had almost 200 fights with 175 wins, 90 by KO. He is an 8 time World Champion in Kick Boxing and Thai Boxing. He was voted Thai boxer of the year in 1992 in Thailand.

Ramon taught for almost 3 hours at a very high intensity level. He demonstrated every technique himself. He walked among the participants and gave individual instruction or coaching. He shared his own combinations and techniques without reservation and answered questions directly.

The techniques shared gave a different look at how to do damage and press the attack. It was a direct reflection of Ramon’s own fight style. Hooks followed by more hooks and kicks. Kicks followed by hooks and more kicks. Very powerful combinations, very much inside and in your face.

Rob Handley and Pedro Sierra, coaches at Absolute MMA, attended the seminar on Fathers Day June 16, 2012 by Ramon Dekkers held at Bas Rutten’s Elite MMA in Westlake Village, just outside of Los Angeles, California.  This constant pursuit of knowledge, dedication to improvement, finding coaches and athletes with different perspectives and ultimately staying true to our lifelong pursuit as students of the martial arts and never stop learning is a constant theme with the staff at Absolute MMA.

Utah MMA Gym Sparks Weight Loss.


Ruben Cervantes is one of our student successes. Ruben has been a student here since March of 2011. In that time, he has lost 20 pounds and drastically improved his fitness. Ruben came to us with the goal of losing 30 pounds, going from 185 to 155. As you can see he is well on his way. One of our regulars for the morning class, Ruben trains four days a week, both Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains hard, pushing himself when his body wants to give up and breaking the physical limits he used to have.

Ruben is one of many stories at Absolute MMA that have achieved their goal of weight loss. There are many more on our team that could tell a similar story. The positive attitude and teamwork that is present every day helps us all to better ourselves and each other.

We are proud of Ruben and all our teammates who have made progress with weight loss and improved fitness. We look forward to sharing more success stories with you. See you on the mat!

So you think girls can’t fight?


Here’s Rebecca and Rickey working on their Jiu Jitsu. Absolute MMA teaches Jiu Jitsu to men, women and children. Young and old, no experience needed. You don’t have to want to be a fighter to learn everything the fighters do. Statistics show that women and girls who play sports have higher self-esteem, which leads to more confidence, fewer teen pregnancies, and a host of other positive side effects. Choosing Jiu Jitsu as your sport also increases your ability to defend yourself should the need arise. What are you waiting for?

Far East Fit Tournament Results!

Far East Fit Tournament Results

Adult Divisions!
Light Weight Adv
Denver Merrifield-Nirva 1st
Lance Gorman 2nd
Welter Weight Beg
Dan DeCort 1st
Colton Kynaston 2nd
Aaron Upwall 3rd
Welter Weight Inter
Gavin Allyn 1st
Welter Weight Adv
Chris Kennedy 1st
Steven Sharp 2nd
Middle Weight Inter
Pedro Escalante 1st
Michael Sjodin 2nd
Thanks to everyone who made it out!

Youth
Gannon 1st Place
Tommy 2nd Place
Under 18 Beginning Bantam Weight
Jake White 1st Place
Dakota Zucker 2nd Place
Under 18 Welterweight
Aaron Thomson 1st Place
Austen Symes 2nd Place
Under 18 Intermediate Light Heavyweight
Samuel West Thomson

New Kettlebell class!!!

We are proud to announce that we will be teaching kettlebell class at 9:00 am Saturday mornings, starting May 7th. These classes will be directed towards educating team members on proper technique and form for kettlebell sport lifting. This is a great opportunity to improve your overall fitness, stamina and strength endurance. We will teach basic movements, safety and proper form for all lifts included in the World Kettlebell Club ranking system. Come join us for an opportunity for a great workout and a great learning experience.

Student Spotlight – Ivan

I would like you all to meet Ivan, a newer student at Absolute MMA. Ivan is 50 years old and has been with us for 6 weeks now. He has made some significant life changes in the last little bit and decided to add physical fitness to the list of positives in his life.
Ivan came to us drinking two liters of Dr. Pepper a day! He has since completely removed carbonated drinks from his diet and has started to clean up his diet. Ivan was not in good physical condition when he began his training with us. He could not finish the rounds of Jiu Jitsu without stopping for breaks or sitting out a round. Just yesterday he worked through all four, 5 minute rounds with 15 push ups and 15 sit ups during the break! He has also lost 13 pounds in the 6 weeks since becoming a member!
Ivan always has a positive attitude and an incredible work ethic. He trains four days a week, no matter what. We all know how hard it is to keep working when the soreness and pain of training tells us to quit. We are proud to have Ivan with us at Absolute MMA. He inspires us and motivates the students and staff to give everything we have to improving ourselves and each other.