The Weekly Fix: The Path to Black belt requires a map
Welcome to the Weekly Fix! The Newsletter that helps give you the insights to have a better BJJ life. This week is about how a simple, daily action can keep you on the path to blackbelt. Plus extra OSS to help you have a better BJJ week!
  1. The Path to Blackbelt requires a Map : The secret to staying on the path
  2. Video of the week :Balancing BJJ and Strength Training .(Click image.)
  3. Community Spotlight : Australia's very own Koala Jiu-jitsu.
  4. Tip of the Week:Get Bitter to get Leaner

The Path to Black belt requires a Map!

When we first start Brazilian jiu-jitsu the sheer excitement, exhaustion and mental challenge gets you hooked. Once you have passed your early days of BJJ froth then comes the confronting thought,
How do I actually get better at this crazy thing?
The path to black belt is a long and winding road littered with many pitfalls, injuries, distractions and plateaus where your progress will stall. How can you go from where you are now to where you want to be?
You are going to need a map! But here is the catch, you are going to have to write the map yourself.
How quickly you master techniques will be a unique process that no one can accurately predict. Even though you may have a great coach/guide, more time on the path does not equal progress in the right direction.
In order to plot your path to Black belt you are going to have to be a keen observer of your teammates, the environment you are in and the feedback you receive each time you train. Then write it down and reflect on it.
We humans do not learn from experience alone but from our ability to reflect on that experience and draw conclusions. To make sure you do not repeat the mistakes of yesterday and take advantage previous successes we have to stop, record the results from each BJJ class/adventure and work through what helped us and what hindered us. Journaling will help inform you as to what needs to happen next class so you can make some forward progress.
As you improve and make progress down this rocky path you will see your teammates: over take you, fall off, get lost and generally get stuck. At various stages you may join them on the sidelines due to injury or some other mishap. But how long you stay there is determined by the attention and energy you bring to fixing mistakes and developing new habits to get you back on the path.
Your coach can definitely help you avoid some mistakes and point you in the right direction but mistakes are an important part of the learning process, provided you can see where you went wrong and adapt your approach. Getting feed back is key.
Without reflection, journaling and planning you are more than likely to repeat the same action. You do not want to spend 10 years on your white belt.
The myth that a Black belt is just a white belt who never gave up is nonsense. In order to make progress on this path it takes a level of dedication and attention to detail that no white belt starts with. Just like growing up, growth and progress is a culmination of improved vision, problem solving and intense experimentation that happens over time.
Below is a simple framework you can use for your own training journal so you can develop your own map quickly and effectively.
  • 3 Wins for the day
  • 3 Things I could do differently
  • The Biggest thing I learned today



Rank: Black Belt
Academy: Vanguard BJJ (Vic)
Started BJJ: April 2010
I used to teach yoga in a building on the third floor at Little Bourke St building in Melbourne. It overlooked a BJJ gym across the laneway, also on the 3rd floor so I was eye level to it. Every time my students were in downward dog I was looking across the laneway at that room full of dudes bashing each other. And I wanted to do that more than I wanted to do my own yoga, which was inconvenient because it was a major part of my career and life at the time.
I was a Krav Maga instructor prior to BJJ. I was also a yoga instructor. They sound like opposites but they really were pretty logical to be focused on together as a spectrum kind of thing. I was always being told, and I felt, I needed the yoga to balance the extreme intensity of Krav Maga and that practicing both would find me some kind of happy middle. When I found BJJ I realised I did not have to have my love for flow and love for pretend murder housed under seperate roofs. BJJ feels like the Venn diagram of control Krav and letting go yoga, which I was pursuing separately until I realised I could combine them.
Any serious injuries and mishaps on the path to black belt?
Yeah sure, a few. But I do not love focusing on or glamourising the accidents that happen. They are accidents. And shit happens. They certainly do not and will not define me or hold me back.
What I would say though is, I roll hard. Anyone that trains with me understands what I am saying. And I have done so for over 11 years, full time. Rarely any breaks in that time. That means 11 years of 5 to 6 sessions, per week adding up to 10 to 12 hours of full contact sport with and against men, as a relatively small woman, then over 30, now over 40, with that kind of volume and hours involved  and impact and intensity involved, its a much more interesting question to look at how LITTLE injuries I have amassed over the years and the hours I’ve put in. Add in a massive competition career that was both national and International (twice yearly overseas for 6 years straight) and add in all the camps I did to prepare for those high level competitions PLUS the competitions themselves (of which there was well in excess of 50) all things considered its pretty astounding that my few mishaps have been as few as they have been.
I one hundred percent attribute that to how much and how regularly I lift and how much I prioritise and focus on rehab and rest as a part of my training.
Proudest moment in your BJJ life as an athlete, making it to worlds gi & no-gi as a black belt was a goal I set when I first started and was proud to achieve before age retired me. Medalling that year in the gi in Abu Dhabi and in no-gi at Worlds were my proudest shiny things/history making moments. As a person, creating and maintaining Australian Girls In Gi has been the proudest life time achievement and proudest act of service. Seeing the positive impact it has had on the culture and community of BJJ in Australia makes me immensely proud. As a coach, seeing my students land a technique I taught them is pure pride on the daily. As a friend and mentor seeing the women around me earn and grow into their black belts and take up space in our community (and the world) is making me prouder than I can put to words.
I speak very openly about my journey with Bulletproof for BJJ. I post non stop about these guys because I truly completely believe in their program. I am the absolute living proof. I cannot overstate it either.
I am 41 and I am moving better than a lot of people 20 years younger. I am stronger than most people my size. I am fit and able to enjoy other sports as a result. I do not hurt all the time. I am able to train as much as I like and am not held back by pain, limitations or injuries. I have the strength and mobility and trust in my function so that I can try new takedowns or entries. I can do that wrestling class without thinking something might explode. Thats pretty much goals as someone that wants to train BJJ. Especially when you are over 35.
My current program is about keeping me staunch and able to roll at the capacity I enjoy - hard & lots of it. My first program with Bulletproof earned me my first and Australia first black belt medal at Abu Dhabi. What I love about that is that the programs are clearly adaptable and appropriate for whatever your goals may be.I am proof that the programs work, wether you are a retired dojo hero or a podium seeking obsessive.
I swear by strength training to support my BJJ but it needs to be done smart. My leaning is to go and lift in the same way I train BJJ  all or nothing full HAM full porrrrrrada, which is not the way forward if you want to remain injury free. The Bulletproof program takes the/my ego out of my lifting programming and I find it is the smart way to approach lifting as a SUPPORT to BJJ rather than just a second competitive sport added to my weekly roster. Bulletproof also gets your ass doing mobility work, which is the homework we all need but usually try to avoid. By working it in to your program, you finally get it done and its always, always worth it. Its stuff you know you will leave out if you program your own lifting. But its essential to extending your life on the mats.


Ladies and gentlemen we are not referring to changing your out look on life just changing your metabolism with a bit of bitter medicine. What is this wonder drug I hear you ask? Well it's quite simple...


Studies have shown that consuming 30ml of Apple cider Vinegar diluted in 150ml of water prior to a meal slows the absorption of carbohydrates reducing the bodies insulin response. This means your blood sugar levels stay stable and your fat metabolism remains ticking over without interruption. Combine this with a lower/ lower GI carbohydrate diet followed consistently in conjunction with cardiovascular activity ( BJJ) and weight training (Bulletproof for BJJ) you will be on the path to lean-ville.
How you like them apples? Much love Bulletproof fam.
JT & Joey