Monday, September 22, 2008

Taking a Vacation from My Dojo

For the past week, I've been away from Vancouver on vacation. I went down to the San Francisco area to be a bride's maid at an old friend's wedding. Being the head of a dojo, it's hard for me to leave my dojo for an entire week. I wouldn't do it if I were forced to cancel classes (unless they were already being cancelled due to holidays). The reason I was able to do it was because I have people I can rely on, for which I am very grateful.

I had to miss 3 classes so I got two of my more senior belts to each take over a class. I also got my MMA coach along with one of the boxing instructors he works with to take over a class, teaching grappling and boxing skills. I'm sure that was interesting as they run a very different style class from the kind I teach.

I am very appreciative that all these different people were willing to step in to help me, otherwise it would be very difficult for me to go on vacation. I hope that the students who attended these classes enjoyed them and were able to benefit from the different instructors. I'm very interested to hear how it all went when I get home tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why Attend Martial Arts Organization Events

My Jiu-jitsu dojo, West Coast Jiu-jitsu, is a member of the Jiu-jitsu BC Society. This is a non-invasive organization that does not dictate training curricula, nor how dojo owners should run their clubs. It is simply an organization for mutual support and learning of traditional self-defense oriented Jiu-jitsu dojos in the province of BC. It also provides schools with injury and liability insurance for their members.

Every quarter, the JJBC society holds a technical seminar at which 2 or more instructors from the various member clubs teach members of the organization about a specific topic from their own individual style of Jiu-jitsu. If you have the opportunity to participate in these kinds of seminars they are a fantastic way to diversify and learn new things from instructors with styles different from your own. It's also a great opportunity to have fun and meet new people with similar interests.

Every time I go to a JJBC seminar, whether I'm teaching or training, I always have a great time and come away having learned something new. I encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities when they arise.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Benefits of a Non-Macho Martial Arts School

Yesterday I taught an impromptu grappling class for my students. Submission grappling doesn't make an appearance in my curriculum until the senior belt levels, focusing more on 'no rules' ground defense (i.e. do whatever you have to to get off the ground and away from your attacker) at the early belt levels. That being said, I do teach submission grappling to my white and yellow belts once in a while as a change of pace.

In the past, I've trained at MMA and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu schools and I found my enjoyment of the class varied quite widely, depending on who I partnered with. I found that some guys were very macho and if I was doing well against them they would use their strength against me often in a dangerous way. On the other hand, when I trained with less macho, more experienced students, they focused more on developing their technique when they rolled with me, staying relaxed, fluidly transitioning from position to position, often ending in a seamless submission.

When I run grappling classes, my students seem to enjoy themselves, no matter who they're partnered up with, big or small, experienced or not. It's because my students share a mutual respect for each other and a positive, non-macho attitude towards their training.

I've been very lucky when it comes to the types of students my Vancouver Jiu-jitsu dojo has attracted. I think that because I'm a woman instructor, and my dojo's focus is self-defense rather than competition, I tend to attract more open-minded, non-macho students who aren't constantly struggling with fragile egos, which usually results in unpleasant, dangerous training practices.

I consider myself one lucky Sensei. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another Neck Saved by Breakfalls

One of my students came to me before class to let me know that Jiu-jitsu saved his neck over the weekend. Unsurprisingly, it was a breakfall that saved him from injury.

The student had been on top of a tall truck, loading it up for a move. He was in the process of pulling a holding strap tight when he lost his balance and fell straight back off the truck onto the pavement. He landed in what he described as a perfect back breakfall, with his chin tucked down, arms slamming the ground to distribute the shock as his back hit the ground.

It always pleases me to hear that breakfalls are serving to prevent serious injuries in my students. In a previous blog post about breakfalls, I wrote of another student who saved herself with a side fall, as well as my own story of having breakfallen my way out of an end-over on my bike.