Sunday, January 29, 2012

Women's Open Mat: South Florida...spread the word!!

I don't see a lot of these down this way, so I'm definitely heading down to this.

This is an all female bjj open mat, please feel free to invite anyone that might be interested! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012


5400 N University DrLauderhill, FL 33351

Friday, January 27, 2012

2011: Some failures

I don't tend to compound the good/bad in my life into blocks of time, but I was talking to a friend about the weight I've gained over the last year and she replied " had a rough 2011".

I didn't really think about it, but between being worried over my brother experiencing, then fleeing from the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, a facial infection that sent me to the ER for the first time in my life, 2 months off training after having my foot torn up in a sweep, my grandmother passing away, and upsets at my gym, I can see why it wasn't the easiest year for me to stay on track with one of my biggest vices.

No excuses, but I know my triggers and I'm almost proud (almost) that I didn't gain more than the 30lbs I've put back on. When I saw the number at the doctor, I was shocked and shamed. I braced for a good admonition on losing some weight or changing my diet, but it didn't come. From cardiologist to Chinese medicine doctor, I haven't gotten that in years, my 200+ lbs normally brushed off as "still normal for my height and frame". All my vitals are normal and my body fat % are higher than I'd like, but still in a healthy range. Vanity pounds though they may be, they need to go.

I spent a good part of last year coming up with all kinds of new commitments and eating strategies to take fat off and ignored what worked for me the first go 'round...Tae Bo in the mornings, a supplement regimen that included biotin and something I call The Food Snob Diet.

So today, having skipped yet another class because of crazy times at work, I popped in a disc of Billy Blanks and got to it. 20 min in and I was done...I've turned into pure puff-ball and I felt shamed. As a practitioner of jiu jitsu, I was beyond mere fitness DVDs. Clearly I was deluded. The DVD had beaten me once again. BUT...afterward, I didn't feel tired at all, which before, I'd feel drained. So I have to start cutting back on nigh time Adult Swim (I do so love Aqua Teen Hunger Force) so I can get some sleep, get up early, and spend some quality time with Billy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Business in BJJ: Teachers, Competitors and Economic Success

Still mulling over this teacher/competitor/starting a school deal.

After reading more posts on people looking to train, compete, win a whole bushel of medals and then start their own schools, it seems that there is a common line of thought that the skills needed to start and run a school come along with more training and education in jiu jitsu. I very much believe that starting a school puts an instructor back at the white belt level in new areas of practice (contract negotiation, hiring/firing, customer service, law, recruiting, marketing, all that good stuff).

So...I decided to play around with the BCG growth-share matrix and put a bit of a twist on it. It really could apply to language teachers, music instructors, dance, cupcakery...any area where the general public is paying for instruction and has full choice in instructor (as opposed to say, a school/university).

I borrowed a couple of terms from Georgette. who explains them beautifully...

"Hobbyists are the ones who are interested in jits for personal fulfillment, physical fitness, and the enjoyment of the sport but are content to come to class, train, and go home-- maybe 2-3 times a week, no seminars, no privates, no obsession. 

Drivers are the ones who go above and beyond-- they take seminars, privates, travel to train, travel to compete. They watch instructionals and youtube and are always trying to add more to their game. They bring in occasional new techniques and force their teammates to step up their games in response. 

You can be a driver at any belt level. Neither hobbyists nor drivers are "better" than each other."

The original version was and is used to analyze corporate departments and product lines. I think though, it is also useful in looking at an instructor who's starting a new school, or honestly even already in business and is looking to to improve/draw more business. I don't believe anyone is stuck in any particular box and that you can grow out of one or get lazy and fall into another.

Some factors that have a large impact on maintaining a successful school that aren't taken into account in the diagram...
  • Business skill and application...VITAL at any level.  Business skills can make a Dog or sink a Star in a heartbeat.  I think the application of business skills is the big difference between a Roy Dean and a John Danaher...I'd put them both under the Sage/Cashcow category, but Roy Dean has a much stronger application of his business skills, and therefore, a bigger name, though I would consider them both successful in their chosen areas. 
  • Personality...big deal in making a good first impression. Jerks might have a harder time keeping students (though I think that's more true on the right side of the graph)
  • Price...depending on the income of an area, competitors' pricing and economic factors, this can turn everything on its head.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Business in BJJ: What keeps a gym open--The Paula Deen Effect

Or maybe the Rachel Ray effect...or Bill Gates...or Gary Vaynerchuk...maybe even Tim Ferris.

So I saw a guy on a forum yesterday, debating if he should move forward with his desk-y career or compete in the Pan Ams this year (mutually exclusive for his situation). He wants to open up his own school one day and was looking toward placing in the competition as a step in building a solid foundation to start a school. Makes sense.


The industry of jiu jitsu is growing in strange ways right now and there's a lot of opportunity out there, just like there is in any highly fragmented market...breeding opportunity is just what fragmented markets do. It's about to grow from a niche art that only the bravest of MMA fans would attempt, peppered with a few oddballs like me and general martial arts enthusiasts. In other words, it's likely about to go mainstream. From MMA gaining more exposure through the UFC airing on Fox, to the increase in school bullying feeding kids' programs, there are a lot of factors feeding the machine.

All that really has me wondering...which students keep schools open, and what gets them in the door? I have theories that kids' programs do a lot of the heavy lifting and professionals are the most reliable sources of income, but I need to do some more watching and get some more exposure to find out if that's true. What I do know though, is that what most "inside" and "high level" practitioners respect isn't always what moves the people that pay the bulk of the bills. If it were, none of the people at the beginning of this post would be recognized names.

I feel like I may be hitting on a path to McDojoism, but I don't think this is the same thing. I think it's simply possible for an instructor to attract dedicated, focused, paying students who are more interested in environment, personal health and quality of instruction than competition record...which means I need to back-track on the title. It should have been, the Bela Karolyi effect...because the skills that build a brash, young, focused competition winning monster are very different from the ones that are necessary to build a well-organized gym with quality instruction that stays around for the duration.

Even looking at my own school and the stellar competition records and pedigree of our instructors, I'd be willing to bet that that's what gets less than 50% of the students in the door and an even lower % of overall income...and then there are people like Roy Dean and John Danaher, known more for the quality of their instruction than for their medals.

Just some thoughts.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gina Carano and Haywire

I'm not a big media person...TV, movies, I'm just not the type to sit down and watch. My brother is constantly prodding me to start sitting through entire movies and just watch. He's fighting a losing battle.

Anyway, somehow, the trailer for a new action flick somehow made it past my eyes. Another woman kicking and punching and beating up guys left and right...nothing too new. Immediately, though, I noticed something different. There was something clean and deliberate about the female character's strikes. Something that wouldn't come from a few weeks of personal training.

Lo and behold, it was Gina Carano. I'm not a big watcher of MMA of either gender (though I do have a thing for Vitor Belfort and Alistair Overeem), so I didn't immediately recognize her, but I DID immediately notice the indelicate neck and thickened ankles of a fighter.

I stand by my opinion that action movies take too light a hand when addressing physical confrontation between men and women, but I give this movie credit for not perpetuating the study of Waif-fu and actually allowing the visual reflection of the type of training it would take to hold any kind of ground fighting an adult male. I may actually go and burn some time in a dark theater trying it out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Business in BJJ: Transparency in Gi Marketing

Saw a nice example of it today...

The approach is pretty common on the blog and instructional fronts, but less-so on the apparel side. A video to announce backorders? Why not just a Tweet, FB post and a couple emails?

I remember when the most recent Storm gi went on of the guys at the gym was royally annoyed. Jiu jitsu folk love their equipment and they want it yesterday. I know even finding out a random pair of shoes is going to cost me another month of waiting sets me on edge.

Watching the Datsusara video though, I'd like to think the informal video, (and the fact they took the time to actually make a video just to announce a backorder), took some of the edge off. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

And here I thought I'd been in every awkward BJJ situation possible.

I've grabbed onto handfuls of pretty much everything and been accidentally grabbed pretty much everywhere you can imagine. Some places I wouldn't even mention here. Gas, mystery odors...I thought that at blue belt, I was a seasoned veteran of the awkwardness of jiu jitsu. I thought there was nothing else that could surprise me.

Well tonight, at the behest of my Ryan Hall triangle DVDs, I dove head first into head control. That stuff WORKS. I was thrilled...that is until I stuck my finger up a man's nose. I was stunned. Genuinely stunned. I apologized profusely between laughs.  He took it well. I'm still a little creeped out. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why you're going to fail...

So I've been knee deep in branding and development over the last few months working on a side project that I'm crazy excited about. There's a ton of advice in getting...well...anything out there off the ground, but this is possibly the best piece I've run across.

"Ask people why they think you'd fail."

That's a rough one. In business, training, school, work, the vast majority of people are drunk on the idea of encouragement and support. Not saying these things aren't valuable, rare or even necessary, but they can come cheaply. Honest, invested criticism though, I think is rarer and even more valuable.

When I first heard that advice, I thought of all the BJJ/MMA gyms that have come and gone in my area. South Florida is an MMA Mecca, so there's bound to be a lot of entrants...and outtrants...which makes me sad. (Here's a solid list of the top 10 reasons businesses fail if you're interested) Maybe it comes from being the daughter of a self-employed father, but seeing small businesses close always sends tiny little pangs through my heart. I love the idea of people making a living doing something they enjoy, and I'd like to see more people get that opportunity to do so over the long term. In all honesty though, it's a rare occurrence, and I wonder if that couldn't be changed, even a little, by, instead of asking for Twitter follows and likes on Facebook, people started asking what holes other people see in their idea.

It's a painful process though...painful for both parties and I see why it might be avoided. I've tried it before in my training by asking "what am I bad at?". Whatever the reason (my gender, their politeness, their gender, laziness in not wanting to actually take the time to give an honest answer, apathy, whatever) precious few have been able to be honest enough to do the painful work of genuine help. I've tried it on my project and let me tell hurts. I've had multiple times when I've felt like my idea was completely lame and not worth even continuing with...and I'll probably have more, but I'm thankful for all the people, friends, acquaintances and otherwise, who have been willing to tell the truth in support.

It kind of ties in with a trend I've been seeing in resolutions and self-development. I saw one person (Liam, it may be you, but I'm on FB hiatus and can't check) dedicate all of 2012 to unlearning. Not just pushing ahead toward the positive, but instead cleaning out all the ugly, heavy, hairy things that weigh us down when trying to make progress.

We really don't spend enough time studying failure.