Nutrition for the BJJ athlete by Monte Denehie (posted 6/17/2016)
No one understands the need for patience, discipline, consistency and determination better than the jiu-jitsu practitioner. Gains are measured in the smallest of increments; gains sometimes seem to be lost… The need for patience and perseverance are shown through the high wash-out rate of the blue and white belts and further exemplified by the exceptionally small percentage of people who actually achieve their Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Anyone who has trained for more than a few months recognizes there is no short cut to the top. There is no way to speed along the process. You can’t pick up a book, read through the moves and expect to compete two belts above your level. It just doesn’t happen. So I often equate the journey of better fitness and nutrition to the process of jiu-jitsu progression. There are thousands of books available on Amazon that purport to offer you the “easiest”, “fastest” way to better health through nutrition, and/or better fitness through some new workout craze, etc. The problem with most of these books, written by “experts”, is that A) they are often looking for the quick-fix, fast results, longevity be damned method so they can sell more books, and B) they can be completely overwhelming, especially to the novice reader who has spent their entire life living on the traditional American diet, killing themselves with long cardio, and otherwise following the basic food pyramid of eating. What I would like to propose is a jiu-jitsu approach to overall health, that encompasses a better way of looking at nutrition, and a jiu-jitsu specific approach to conditioning (off the mats). I plan to accomplish this through a series of articles, that steps the reader through a phased approach, so as not to get overwhelmed. I will follow the levels of the jiu-jitsu belt as you move through the process with patience, discipline and consistency; steadily building on the foundations of overall good health (white belt), through the more “advanced” aspect of nutrition, and finally conditioning (black belt). Much, if not all of the things I have to say will go completely against conventional wisdom. It will require, at certain levels, a drastic departure from what you are accustomed to. Some of it will sound down right crazy to the person whose normal diet consists of fast food, packaged microwave dinners, and a six pack of beer to wash it all down. This progression will surely challenge you. Much like the challenge you face daily to get to the academy, put on your gi, and face off with that monster brown belt, you will be uncomfortable at times, and will question what you are doing. But I promise you, if you show the same level of discipline for this program that you do for jiu-jitsu, you will start noticing dramatic changes in the way you look, feel, and perform almost immediately.
Disclaimer (of course there is a disclaimer): I am not a doctor. I am not an expert. I am simply passionate about improved performance and have spent a life time studying, exploring, self-testing (and often failing) various methods of eating and working out. I don’t claim to have any original ideas, but what I do have is a vast bank of knowledge gathered from people who are experts in their field; a collation of multiple thought leaders that have provided me, at the age of 44, with the ability to consistently train and compete in one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports of the modern era. I am NOT a doctor. As with anything else you undertake, especially keeping in mind current or past physical/emotional ailments you may have, consult with your doctor before beginning any program. I am here to provide you with information that can help you be better at jiu-jitsu, but in no way I am giving medical advice.
“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging” – Will Rogers.
Most of us have been digging a nutritional hole for the majority of our lives. The foundational step of improving our overall health is to first stop digging. What is this hole? It is our gut health. Significant damage occurs in the gut when we eat certain processed products, take anti-biotics, expose ourselves to chemicals, and most importantly when we introduce items not naturally intended to be ingested according to our ancestral evolution. I have found the single most important change a person can make (to stop digging) is to eliminate gluten from their diet. Completely. 100%. What is gluten? Quite simply it is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, including barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids. Now the hard part; where is gluten? Unfortunately, it is everywhere. The obvious culprits are generally the easy ones; breads, pastas, beers, etc. But gluten is used in SO many other manufactured products that the majority of items in your pantry probably contain it. The one that most shocked and disappointed me was soy sauce. Why does soy sauce need gluten?? Gluten containing products (especially wheat/wheat flour) are used for various reasons a predominate one being a thickening agent for things like sauces and dressings. At first glance the prospect of eliminating gluten is so overwhelming that people would rather die a slow death (from poor gut health) than try to figure out what to eat and more importantly what not to eat. But I am here to tell you that once you start down this path, it becomes very easy very quickly to get this stuff out of your diet. And the markets have come a long way in the past several years to help you along. Here are the steps you can take, at least initially as you get into the swing of being gluten free, to ensure you’re not accidently taking the stuff in.
- For the first few weeks of this program, become a label freak. You’re looking for the obvious thing: wheat/wheat flour. Look at everything. You’ll be shocked where you find gluten lurking.
- All grocery stores now have a vast array of gluten free options; from breads, dressings, snack and deserts, they are clearly labeled. Using services like Peapod also make it easy for you, allowing you to filter by “gluten free” and then only showing you items that work for you. Some grocery stores have a better selection than others. The more specialized a store is (the more they cater to a healthier clientele), the better the selection. For instance, Kroger has a small “health food” section, while Whole Foods contains gluten free options throughout the store. Caution – (this is a huge pitfall to overall health) Just because an item says gluten free, it does NOT mean that it is the healthiest thing you can be eating. If you start your day with gluten free pancakes and syrup, lunch is peanut butter and jelly sandwich on gluten free bread with a gluten free cupcake for desert, etc., etc. you are not going to see any long term benefits. Think of these items as temporary replacements, and/or crutches to help you get into the swing of being gluten free.
- Eating out at restaurants was nearly impossible for me not too long ago. Wheat was used to thicken marinades, it was in the salad dressing, it was in the soup. It was even lurking in the deep fryer used to cook up the chicken strips and pepper poppers causing cross contamination (yep, that’s a real thing) with other normally gluten free items like sweet potato fries. Now there are hundreds of restaurants who recognize the need for gluten free items. Many have gone so far as to create a dedicated gluten free menu and will even prepare the food at a separate work station from the rest of the kitchen. Others have at least marked their menu with gluten free options. If you find yourself somewhere without these menus, often just asking the server about gluten free options will suffice as they are becoming very accustomed to this question. If all else fails you can usually find at least a couple of items that should be safe like a burger without the bun (don’t forget the bacon!) and a vegetable on the side.
Now that we have at least slowed the digging of the hole we’re in, I want to talk about a few ways to start repairing the damage that has been caused by the years of abuse. Not only does our poor eating damage the gut lining, sometimes causing so much damage that food is able to penetrate the gut and enter into our blood stream (known as leaky gut), but it also tears down the natural, healthy environment within our digestive system wreaking havoc on many of our bodily processes. Within the gut is the microbiome. Without going to deep into this explanation, suffice it to say that this the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space and provide various functions including food digestion, nutrient uptake, immune function and many, many others. To truly heal our gut, we must repair the damage to the gut lining, while at the same time repopulating to healthy bacteria that is so crucial to our lives. Here’s the top ways to do this:
- Fermented/cultured foods. There is a wide range of these foods starting with your basic sauerkrauts and yogurts, to more palette pleasing kimchi’s, kefirs, and beyond. Even some basic staples like pickles (Bubbies brand is my favorite) can be found with live cultures. Play with as many as you can to find the ones you’ll want to eat most.
- Probiotic. Generally taken in pill form, probiotics can provide billions (with a B!) of healthy bacteria and yeast to repopulate and nourish your gut biome. These can be purchased at most health food stores. I vary the brands I use to ensure I’m getting a good range of bacteria from different sources.
- Kambucha. This is a fermented tea that has come a LONG way recently to become a very tasty drink with a wide variety of flavors to include your basics (mango, cranberry, strawberry, etc.) to some more adventurous one that contain ginger, chia, and other healthy additives. Again, play around with the different types and see what you’re most likely to continue consuming for the long hall.
- Bone broth. This is crucial to the repairing of the damaged gut lining. Be careful to not just purchase a standard cooking broth or bullion. Make sure it’s a high quality bone broth, or even better, make your own! It’s actually very easy and you can sip it like a soup daily.
This is the start; the beginning. This is your white belt road map to completely changing your health, fitness, and ultimately your jiu-jitsu game. I know for some, even this initial, base level step to changing your nutrition is overwhelming, and that is why I want to slowly, deliberately phase you into this process. If you follow these steps and commit to the next 30 days of implementation, you will begin to see a drastic change in the way you feel, and will be even more motivated to move on to the blue belt level of fitness and nutrition. Thirty days of jiu-jitsu like determination is the first step to drastically changing your life.
Good Luck! Monte Denehie.
13th Hoosier Open (posted 4/15/2016)
Indianapolis Jiu Jitsu is proud to host it's 13th tournament in the Indianapolis area on Saturday, June 4th. Our first event was held back in 2004, and we have grown in size and popularity ever since. Unlike many other jiu-jitsu tournaments the Hoosier Open is a double elimination format, guaranteeing each competitor at least 2 matches. For that reason obviously it takes longer to run an event, and therefore we don't include absolute or no gi divisions. With the double elimination format, and utilizing a tournament schedule starting divisions different times of the day the tournament experience is much more pleasurable for the competitors by not having to sit in a gym all day waiting to compete. Our tournament partners are Master Caique and the Caique Jiu-Jitsu Academy who helps organize and put on the event, and our friends at Warrior Way, a Caique affiliate in Michigan, who also hosts the Michigan Open each year. Visit our the tournament website at www.usabjjtournaments.com, and come check us out on June 4th.
Evan Eldred heads back to State (posted 2/17/2016)
Last weekend Westfield High School senior Evan Eldred earned his 3rd trip to the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals. With a season record of 39-1 Evan finished 1st in the Sectionals, Regionals, and Semi-State. Keep it up Evan and go after a coveted state title this coming weekend. Evan has already signed to wrestle for the Indiana Hoosiers next year.
Hamilton County Food Bank (posted 11/1/2015)
Indianapolis Jiu Jitsu is proud to support the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank. The Food bank works to collect food and support for food pantries in the area. A collection barrel will be located at the academy during the month the November. They are in need of peanut butter, canned meats, canned fruit, cereal, and mac and cheese. Thank you for supporting this great organization and helping to feed the hungry in our community. More information about the food bank can be found at hchfoodbank.org.
Picking a place to train (posted 7/1/2015)
With the growing popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu more and more people are giving it a try. But how does one decide which academy is right for you? Where ever you train you need to plan on going to class at least 2 – 3 times per week. Going to a jiu-jitsu academy is not like belonging to a health club, where you show up, use the equipment and leave. It’s an educational and learning environment. So, first and foremost you need to look into the quality of instruction. You should look into the background of the head instructor. You can do some of that homework online. You should sit in on a class to see how a class is ran. Is it a structured class? Does the instructor communicate in an understanding and logical way? Do they have a beginners curriculum? Also, ask students in the class about their experiences there. Most academies have a trial period which is a great way for you get a better feel for the quality of the instruction. So definitely take advantage of a trial period.
Another big thing to consider is what the atmosphere is like. Is everyone friendly to one another? How are people treating each other? Are the students helpful to you and to others. Do the other students seem to be happy there? Is it a place where you seem to belong? You will be spending a lot of time there each week so you want to make sure you are comfortable there and you fit in. Many students make great friendships that extend beyond the walls of the school.
Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that requires a lot of physical contact. So there will be sweat and sometimes blood. Skin infections could occur if academies are not cleaning the mats each day, or if they are letting people train with skin conditions. Take note of the facilities cleanliness. Are they mopping the mats regularly? Are others training with exposed skins conditions? Also, students should be wearing clean uniforms each class. These are some things you should definitely observe when you take some trial classes. Most jiu-jitsu schools should have a hygiene policy.
And finally a word about price. Many people ask about the price before they even visit the school and look into the most important things which are covered in this article. As mentioned before a jiu-jitsu school is an educational institution, so expect pay at least $100 per month or more depending on the market you live in. It doesn’t matter what the price is, if the instruction is bad, the people are unfriendly, and the place is dirty.
If you want to get started on the right path in your search for a place to train consider these facets of a jiu jitsu school before you sign on the dotted line.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (posted 4/2/2015)
The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped at some time in their lives and about every 2 minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Get involved by educating yourself about the issue. There are many online resources and state and local groups and organizations that can provide help. Also, no matter how well you are educated about the topic, nothing can compare to having the self defense training which gives you the skills to escape from an attacker.
Stop the Bullying (posted 3/25/2015)
Bullying is becoming a serious problem in today’s society. Whether it’s mental, verbal, physical, or even cyber bullying, it needs to be stopped. Bullying is more common than we realize. Studies show that between 15 – 25% of all kids up through high school age are bullied, while many bullying incidents go unreported. That’s almost 1 out every 4 kids are bullied. It is estimated that each day 160,000 kids will miss school for fear of being bullied.
Many adults don’t even know that their child is being bullied because many kids are afraid to report it. It’s important to talk to your children and get to know how things are going at school, social events, in the neighborhood, or even sporting activities. Specifically ask your child how are they being treated by other kids. That will help open the dialog, and could expose potential problems your child may be having with others. Even if your child is not encountering bullying problems it’s good to educate them about the topic, and prepare them with the means to deal with it if it happens to them. There are many good resources online for parents and kids to learn about bullying and more importantly to learn about prevention and intervention strategies.
In many cases if our kids simply stand up to the bullying they can stop it. But many don’t stand up for themselves because they don’t know what to do, especially when the bullying gets physical. That’s where, as a last stand, we need to arm our kids with a physical means to defend themselves if they are attacked. Statistics show that almost half of all bullying incidents end up in physical violence. If at all possible we want to avoid physical means of self-defense by using other intervention strategies, but sometimes we have no choice. If a child is empowered with self-defense skills, that will give them the confidence to deal with a bully who is using physical aggression against them. More importantly the confidence they gain will help them in other aspects of their lives and increase their overall self-esteem. Generally when kids have higher confidence and self-esteem, they tend to be a lesser target for would be bullies. Don’t wait until it is too late, start empowering your kids today, before they become victimized by bullying.
6th in State (posted 2/21/2015)
Congratulations Evan Eldred for a 6th place finish in the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals in the 132 lb weight class. Great job representing Westfield High School and going 2-2 in the state tournament. Evan is a junior, so has another year to earn a higher spot on the podium. Evan was also named Academic All State Honorable Mention by the Wrestling Coaches Association.
Evan earns 2nd trip to State Finals (posted 2/18/2015)
Evan Eldred will be one of sixteen wrestlers competing this weekend at the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals in the 132lb weight class. This is Evan's second trip to the State Finals in 3 years. Competition begins Friday evening Feb 20th at 6:00 pm at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. If you loose your first match Friday evening you're out of the competition, and the 8 winners move on to Saturday where they will place out to 8th place. Good Luck Evan and we hope to see you on the podium Saturday evening.
Birth of the UFC (posted 2/1/2015)
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 20 years since the first UFC. As a student at the Gracie Academy back then I received this flyer in the mail in early October 1993 promoting the first UFC. I was in the middle of a job relocation at the end of October and was unable to attend. Of course looking back I really wish I would have gone, but instead my wife and I watched on TV from our new apartment in Cincinnati, OH with the other 86,000 pay per view subscribers. Can you imagine $50 ring side seats? I had confidence that Royce was going to be successful that night as I had already been training with the Gracies for 3 years and knew first hand the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. By then I had already witnessed several challenge fights at the academy, which a few are showcased in the “Gracie In Action” video series. I don’t think it was ever intended to be, but UFC 1 was the launch of a new sport which we now call MMA. It did for sure show the world the effectiveness of jiu-jitsu and caused it to be the fastest growing martial art on the planet. Greg Eldred
Jiu Jitsu Global Federation (posted 10/16/2014)
Indianapolis Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is now a member of the new Jiu Jitsu Global Federation headed by Master Rickson Gracie. Master Caique is part of this new Federation and has asked all of his affiliates to become members. To find out more about the new JJGF visit their website at www.jjgf.com
Wrestling All American (posted 7/26/2014)
Congratulations to Evan Eldred (in blue) for placing 7th and earning an All American status in the USA Wrestling Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, ND. Evan wrestled in the Cadet 132lb weight class representing Team Indiana. He is the first All American wrestler from his high school in Westfield. Evan has two more years of high school left and we hope to see many more great things from him. He was one of 5 Cadet and 3 Junior All Americans from Team Indiana. His Cadet team placed 5th overall in the Nationals. His weight class started out with 80 of the best wrestlers in the nation, and Evan managed to work his way to the podium. What a great accomplishment placing 7th in the nation.
Indy BJJ Students win Hoosier Open hardware (posted 6/22/2014)
Congratulations and great job to all Indy BJJ students who competed in the June 7, 2014 Hoosier Open. Special acknowledgements go out to the medal winners:
1st - Jason Thompson (Master Light Blue)
2nd - Ryan Marques (Master Heavy Purple)
2nd - Rudy Guerrero (Master Middle Blue)
2nd - Travis Hawkins (Master Lt/Heavy Blue)
3rd - Caleb Holtz (Adult SuperFeather White)
3rd - Scott White (Master SuperHeavy White)
3rd - Bill Baugh (Senir Middle White)
Indy BJJ medal winners contributed to a 1st Place Team award for Team Caique.
Headed to State (posted 2/19/2014)
Dillon Eldred is headed to the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals. Congratulations on a great senior year season, and by ending your high school career at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Very few wrestlers ever get that opportunity. Dillon heads into the State Finals with a 39-3 record. He's one of 16 wrestlers competing in the 138lb weight class. Dillon has also been named to 1st Team Academic All State with a GPA of 4.19.