With thousands of existing techniques that can be studied, there’s no denying that Jiu Jitsu is a game of knowledge.
A Jiu Jitsu practitioner who has been training for just 2 months can easily out maneuver and control someone who has zero self-defense knowledge...
… And generally speaking, the practitioner who is exposed to more positions, and has spent more time on the mats will have a greater chance of winning.
But there’s a smarter way to becoming good at Jiu Jitsu without drilling every technique under Helio Gracie’s red belt.
A wise man once said, “You don’t need to be good in a hundred moves - you have to be good in 10”.
This wise man happens to be a young relative of Helio’s.
He’s also conquered 10 IBJJF World Championship titles as a black belt with a staggering 82% submission rate out of all the matches that he won.
Earning him the GOAT (greatest of all time) status in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
This man (if you can call him that) is Roger Gracie.
In the video below, Roger explains why it’s better to focus on a selected few techniques and how to master them.
When it comes down to taking your Jiu Jitsu to the next level, it’s not about how many black belts you train with, how many instructionals you’ve watched, or trying to find the one hidden move that you’ll catch someone with.
Don’t get me wrong - all those things come in handy and will assist with your progression BUT only to a certain point.
You will reach a point where you’ve been exposed to all the common positions and submissions but how will you make them work?
That’s the beauty of Jiu Jitsu. There are countless ways to achieve the same outcome.
It’s just a big puzzle and we need to find the right pieces that fit for us.
How many different ways are there to take someone to the ground?
Double legs, single legs, foot sweeps, duck under, arm drag, ankle pick, Judo throws, and the list goes on…
What about getting the Kimura submission?
You can get it from literally anywhere… standing, diving, top and bottom half guard, full guard, back, side control, turtle… not to mention the different variations to finish - Tarikoplata, Monoplata, one-handed, rear-naked grip etc.
It’s open to your creativity since different techniques work for different people based on their personality, style, and body type.
Take what you like from Roger’s wisdom and apply it to your own learning.
Identify a few moves that work really well for you in each position, and double down on them.
You’ll slowly develop a deeper understanding of those moves and begin to pick up on the small details that only come through experimentation and repetition.
Here’s a thought: If you never serviced your car, how much sooner would it break down compared to if you did?
The human body isn’t much different.
It’s a complex machine that needs to be cared for and requires maintenance.
When you train hard, you’re causing micro-tears in your muscle fibres; when you rest and recover, the body’s response is to heal and rebuild the muscle so that it can handle more stress in the future.
Your engine (nervous system), gears and tyres (muscle and joints) need adequate maintenance and recovery in order for adaptation to occur.
The thing is, muscles can become physically shortened and lose its length through repetitive physical stress and overuse. This can happen from everyday activities such as sitting at a desk, laborious work, sleeping in uncomfortable positions, and exercise.
Muscles get tight, joints lose mobility, there’s less range of motion...
And then more serious problems arise…
Poor posture, muscle imbalances, injuries... cramping up in the middle of a submission.
Or worst of all…
… Getting your guard passed in 10 seconds (by a white belt) 😶
All jokes aside, due to the dynamic and physical nature of BJJ, these are all real consequences that can happen sooner or later if we don’t do the “maintenance work”.
That’s why it’s important to take a preventative approach by being proactive in building a healthy and resilient body to minimise the risk of injury, and train for longevity.
Of course, there are many ways to keep our body functioning optimally (such as eating right, getting enough rest, exercising, reducing inflammation etc.) but in this article, I’ll cover mobility for performance and injury prevention in BJJ.
Mobility vs. Stretching
One thing to keep in mind about mobility training is that it’s not the same as flexibility training.
Mobility refers to the joint’s ability to move actively through a range of motion, and how far the joint moves within the joint capsule. Whereas flexibility refers to the muscle’s ability to lengthen passively through a range of motion.
Mobility training is more effective than traditional “stretching” because it’s based on movement and motor control. Your central nervous system will limit your mobility based on how much control you have as a way to keep the joint and musculature safe.
You can spend all day stretching to achieve the splits, but if you can’t actively get into that position, consider your split only temporary. You must develop the strength and stability in order to maintain this new found range of motion.
Considering all other things equal, the Jiu Jitsu player who has stronger muscles and tendons, yet mobile and stable through their joints, will have a physical advantage over the other.
For instance, when you have to re-guard against someone attempting to pass your guard.
The more mobile your hips are, the more technical and easier your guard play will be. Lacking hip mobility means you have to spend more energy and commit to larger movements when trying to avoid getting passed, which can lead to you gassing out.
Having good mobility and stability through your joints gives you a ‘built in protection’ from injury as the joint is able to move through a larger range of motion.
“Motion is lotion.”
Mobility work can be done multiple times a day, at any time of the day, however, it’s best done before exercise. Movement will lubricate the joints, allowing you to achieve greater ranges of motion more easily, as well as strengthening the connective tissue in the area so the effects will be more lasting.
Mobility training tips:
Examples of mobility exercises to develop balance, strength and stability for each area:
In order to get the full experience out of Jiu Jitsu, it requires us to consistently show up because many of the benefits come later in the journey - when it becomes a lifestyle. However, to remain consistent, we need to pay as much attention to caring for the body as much as training it. Following a mobility routine will greatly compliment your Jiu Jitsu practice, help fortify your body against injuries, and take your Jiu Jitsu to the next level.
Rather than winging it, and taking each class as it comes, get an edge over other white belts by knowing what skills to focus on developing first as a beginner.
This article will highlight key concepts to prioritise so you can get better, faster (and spend less time being stuck in bottom position).
Develop Bear Grylls level of Survival
The first challenge most beginners face in Jiu Jitsu (and is a constant challenge throughout everyone’s journey in the sport) - is the challenge of overcoming inferior position.
Jiu Jitsu is not fun when you’re constantly finding yourself stuck underneath someone and unable to set up your attacks.
Fundamental skill development should begin with mastering SURVIVAL and ESCAPES before getting good at more complex and flashy moves.
Only when you’re defensively sound will you be able to assert your offense.
By survival, I don’t just mean not getting submitted. There’s more to it.
Survival is about remaining composed while in a bad position, and having the correct defensive posture that makes your opponent feel uncomfortable even though they’re in a more ‘dominant’ position.
It’s about changing the situation to favour the defensive player as you create a situation where your opponent’s actions become more predictable as there are only certain movements they can make.
Having strong survival then makes escaping out of an inferior position much easier as you’re in an advantageous defensive position compared to your opponent’s awkward position.
Become an Escape Artist
As most beginners naturally end up in bottom position when starting out, it’s the perfect stage in your journey to learn how to escape.
Survival and escapes are the foundations to an offensive Jiu Jitsu game. If you’re confident in your ability to not get submitted, this translates into confidence to pursue your own attacks without any doubt or hesitation.
There are four primary pin positions: the Mount, Back, Side Control, and Knee on Belly. You must be capable of escaping these positions because if you don’t, they lead to bigger problems.
When it comes to becoming a great escape artist, there’s a sense of timing and ‘feeling’ that goes with the techniques.
For example, if you’re in Mount Survival Posture, your opponent only has so many options. When they respond by transitioning to a new position, OR attempts to muscle on a choke, there is a small window of opportunity where as they’re making their move, you can off-balance them and make your escape.
If you get caught in a submission that you didn’t expect, be sure to replicate the attack in a drill so that your body develops the ‘feeling’ to anticipate it next time.
You may have heard the old cliche that “drillers are killers”. The same notion applies when it comes to improving your escape skills alongside any other Jiu Jitsu technique for that matter.
Have you been following MMA and find Jiu Jitsu intriguing?
Maybe you’re curious about learning martial arts but not sure which one to pick…
Or you know you want to start training but keep putting it off…
If any of the above resonates with you, this is the article for you.
Everyone I know who trains BJJ will tell you “I wish I started earlier…”
It’s the most frequently heard lament from Jiu Jitsu practitioners.
It’s a phenomenon that you’ll understand only when you start training yourself.
Until then, let me share the top 3 reasons why everyone wishes they started BJJ sooner.
1. Build character and values through hard work and discipline
Many who initially pick up BJJ don’t realise that pursuing this journey will positively impact their life in so many different ways.
To learn one of the most effective self-defense systems in the world is just the tip of the iceberg for what Jiu Jitsu has to offer.
There are many subsequent benefits that one can take out of Jiu Jitsu if they trust in the process, and trust in their professors.
Jiu Jitsu is a vehicle for developing human potential, a journey that builds character and values through discipline, hard work, and respect.
And when you consistently take action and challenge yourself… it’s inevitable that you will experience personal growth on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
In the BJJ world, we have an adage about beginner practitioners: “The white belt is about learning to survive.”
As a white belt, you may not have the skills to beat higher belts. So the first step, and most important thing is to be patient, and learn to stay calm while under pressure.
Through facing your fears, insecurities and crushing pressure of your training partner, you will develop the confidence, fortitude and peace to endure stressful times. Your new found ability to deal with pressure and emotions on the mats will transfer to every aspect of life.
2. To embrace challenges and learn to improve from failure.
What makes Jiu Jitsu so unique and admirable is the long and challenging journey with many ups and downs, and many lessons to be learned along the way.
The in depth, problem solving nature of the martial art involves techniques that focus on body positioning, the use of leverage and strategic movements that allow a smaller but more knowledgeable person to out grapple a much larger opponent.
There are other nuanced skills such as balance, timing, and having a ‘feel’ for your opponent that can only be developed over time through practice.
This means that no matter your age, gender, profession, body type or athleticism, BJJ creates an even foundation where anybody can beat anybody.
A common analogy is that Jiu Jitsu much resembles life itself - where you’re facing reality each day on the mats.
You’re confronted with problems that you have to solve while under pressure. This creates a realistic, live situation where you get to practice techniques in a safe and controlled environment.
You learn new techniques.
Test it against training partners.
You learn from your failures and get better.
That’s the beauty of this martial art. It teaches you to let go of your ego, be grateful for your training partners, and to accept failure as part of the learning process.
By confronting failure on a regular basis, your mentality and outlook on challenging situations will shift.
You begin to embrace them as an opportunity to learn and test yourself.
Once you begin to embrace the process, the experience will be so much more rewarding when you know you’ve put in the work and earnt your achievements.
“Nothing is given, everything is earnt”.
3. Create meaningful friendships with people from all walks of life.
There’s a special bond and sense of comradery that’s forged when you go through adversity and hardship with your training partners.
You’ll meet individuals from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, everyone is equal on the mats.
Week by week, year by year, you stretch together, warm up together, you learn and train together.
Not only are you sharing the mats, but you share the experiences and stories created on those mats.
When you feel tired, your team will push you on.
When you get stuck on a technique, your team will teach you.
Your team will keep you accountable and support you to step into your next level self.
No matter what your reason for starting Jiu Jitsu or what your goals are, what you take away is something that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Whether that be self defense skills, life skills, friendships or better wellbeing… you will take out what you put in.
No matter your age, athletic background or martial arts experience, there’s no escaping the difficult nature of starting something new, especially Jiu Jitsu.
When attending your first class you may feel out of place and not know what to expect… So here's 5 things to know ahead of time to make your first Jiu Jitsu class the start of an amazing journey ahead.
1. Come with an open-mind, no ego and student mentality.
No matter what your reason for starting Jiu Jitsu or what your goals are, what you take away from this discipline is something that you carry with you for the rest of your life. Whether that be life skills, self defense skills, friendships or fitness and wellbeing… you will take out what you put in.
But like anything in life, before you can reap the benefits, you need to put in the time and energy.
I’ll be straight up and let you know that Jiu Jitsu much resembles life itself. It’s a long-haul commitment with many ups and downs. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Some days you’ll feel like you’re doing great and making good progress (you probably are), and other days you’re reminded that there are many more techniques to learn, positions to understand, and levels to unlock.
Truth of the matter is, everyone sucks at Jiu Jitsu when they first start out.
When you look around the room and spot that purple or brown belt with a faded Gi and frayed belt, it’s hard to imagine them as anything other than a total beast.
But remember, that same rugged grappler was a brand-new white belt, just like you, and had to go through the exact same process of feeling like a fish-out-of-water when starting Jiu Jitsu.
Those who accept this reality and adopt an open-minded, student mentality with no ego, will take more away from the martial art and have a far better experience.
2. Personal Hygiene
Jiu Jitsu is a full contact sport, so it’s extremely important for everyone to take responsibility for their own hygiene.
At Ribeiro we make it a top priority to clean our mats every day to ensure everyone has a safe and pleasant training experience.
3. Beginner Class
Expect your first class to be like none other activity you’ve participated in. Jiu Jitsu is heavily based on technique so if you’ve never done any form of grappling, you’ll probably have no idea what is going on.
At Ribeiro, our philosophy of learning Jiu Jitsu focuses on starting from the ground up. This means learning the fundamentals, particularly survival and escapes before focusing on flashy moves.
The stronger your foundation, and the more confident you are at escaping bad positions, the more opportunity you will have at hitting more advanced techniques.
Our Beginner Classes are designed to give beginners a seamless transition into the martial art. You will learn your basic warm-up exercises, stretching routines, self-defense skills, and you will be given a foundation to build upon for the rest of your Jiu-Jitsu journey.
4. Proper Etiquette
Jiu Jitsu is becoming more modernised and many of the traditional unwritten rules are fading, however these are a few that our School upholds as a practice of discipline and respect.
Belt rank: The belt system in Jiu Jitsu is based on traditional Japanese martial arts.
Higher belts usually have right of way when rolling. For example, when lower belts come into close quarters of higher belts during a sparring round, the lower belts should stop and give way to the higher belts.
Bow when entering and leaving the mat area: Bowing is considered an expression of respect and gratitude for the opportunity to refine your understanding of the art. It is customary to bow when entering/exiting the threshold to the mat area.
Respect your training partner’s age and size: There’s no need to go full intensity against older training partners, even if they are more skilled than you. Feel out the intensity that your partner is giving you and flow with it.
Ego: Losing is a part of the learning process in Jiu Jitsu. When you accept this, your whole experience will become easier as you focus less on the outcome and more on what it takes to learn and progress one day at a time. When you get submitted or dominated in a sparring round, let go of your pride and accept the learnings that come from it. Tap early, tap often, and don’t be a sore loser. Remember, rolling is just practice and everyone is here to help each other get better.
No jumping/flying attacks: Not only are flying attacks banned for white belts, but the majority of catastrophic injuries occur from attacks where someone throws their entire body weight onto their partner in an attempt of an attack or takedown. You can practice these moves in your own time or under guided supervision from an experienced practitioner, but it is banned during class times.
5. Have fun
The most important thing I can tell you about your first Jiu Jitsu class is to have fun. The in-depth, problem solving nature of the art is what makes Jiu Jitsu one of the most exciting and rewarding martial arts to participate in.
You’re confronted with problems that you have to solve while under pressure, applying what you’ve learnt to achieve a goal - and if you make a mistake, you pay for them. But that’s okay. Because failure is part of the process and it’s necessary for your growth. Accept those mistakes, learn from them, and improve for next time.
At Ribeiro, we take pride in building a school of individuals from all walks of life, no matter their age, ability, or goals, everyone is the same on the mats.
To us, the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle means to be surrounded by good people who care, work hard, pass the art off, get better everyday, be healthy and happy. We accomplish this by adhering to the values of the 6 Blades: Family, Loyalty, Respect, Honor, Discipline, and Attitude.
If you’re looking to try something different, challenge yourself and learn a new skill while you’re at it, Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Perth is offering a FREE trial class to get you started on your journey. We provide you with everything you need for the first session including uniform. All you need to do is to book your session and show up!
Can I start off with a serious question?
How empowered would you feel knowing that you can stand your own against someone double your size - regardless of their sex?
I bring this up because I came across a few alarming statistics.
It can be a sensitive topic but it’s a widespread problem that needs to be brought to attention.
A 2016 survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that a staggering 1 in 5 women since the age of 15, have experience sexual violence, 1 in 6 have experienced stalking, and 1 in 2 have been sexually harrassed (1).
Of course, violence against women is an extremely complex issue which requires a collective effort to change on a social, political and economic level - especially addressing beliefs and behaviours that reflect disrespect and gender inequality towards women.
However, what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) can offer is great confidence and empowerment to stand against abuse and victimisation.
Discover New Capabilities and Shatter Women Stereotypes
What makes BJJ hugely applicable for women is that it shatters any preconceived ability and stereotype of ANY individual.
No matter your age, gender, profession, body type or athleticism, BJJ creates an even foundation where anybody can beat anybody.
Unlike striking martial arts, BJJ is all about ground fighting techniques to restrain, control and submit your opponent - so you don’t have to worry about getting hit in the face or getting accidentally knocked out.
The techniques focus on body positioning, the use of leverage and strategic movements that allow a smaller but more knowledgeable person to effectively defend against a much larger opponent.
It’s not uncommon that a seemingly weaker and smaller person is able to out maneuver and control a larger opponent through technique alone. We see this happen everyday on the mats, and it’s been shown in high-level competitions time and time again.
“Always assume that your opponent is going to be bigger, stronger and faster than you; so that you can rely on technique, timing and leverage rather than brute strength.” - Grand Master Helio Gracie (Co-founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu)
Learning the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will give women the confidence and peace of mind that they possess a powerful tool to serve them in any situation if they need to stand up for themselves.
Introductory 4 Week Women Empowerment Course
With the guidance of globally recognised legends, Xande and Saulo Ribeiro (Co-Founders of Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu), Sensei Davi (Head Coach of Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Perth) has put together a 4 week women’s only introductory course that covers the “must-knows” to common self-defense situations.
This program is the perfect starting point for mothers, daughters, sisters and friends of any fitness level and experience to begin their empowerment journey in a safe and supportive environment, under the guidance of experienced coaches.
What to expect:
Not only will you be engaging in fun and practical movements that get you fit, the biggest asset you’ll gain is new found confidence. You’ll shatter any old beliefs you had about what you can and cannot do, and discover who you really are.
All it takes is the courage to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. See you on the mats!
Throughout life, we are confronted with problems and challenges everyday.
For the most part, we’re able to quickly overcome them without much trouble.
We either come up with a quick solution, or use a strategy that’s worked in the past.
Problems become more difficult when there’s no obvious solution or if you’ve never encountered the situation before.
These problems can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety, and in some cases alter the course of one’s life.
Consider the following scenarios:
Let me ask you - if you were the person in any of these situations, how confident are you in your ability to handle the situation?
Reflecting upon your values and moral code, would you stand up for yourself/victim or helplessly be victimised?
Of course, ideally, you would try to avoid/prevent the situation from happening in the first place…
But in life, there are things that are just inevitable or out of our control.
What We CAN Control
With all the problems that we can encounter in life, no matter how big or small, or how life-threatening, it’s our self-confidence in the ability to defuse, control or nullify the problem that separates the “strong” from the “weak”.
> A confident person will voice their opinion despite the possibility of disagreement or being disliked.
> A confident child is less likely to be bullied if they stand up for themselves and carry themselves in a way that’s difficult to put down.
Those who possess self-defense knowledge have a powerful tool to serve them and others in any life situation.
However, to earn this superpower, you must first shed your fear of failure.
And there’s no platform in the world that does this better than Jiu-Jitsu.
Jiu-Jitsu is not only proven to be one of the most effective self-defense systems in the world, it also holds many subsequent benefits which can be deemed as a real life superpower. We explain why in our other blog post here.
In a nutshell, Jiu-Jitsu focuses on bringing your opponent to the ground which holds many advantages to those who know the game.
Techniques used in Jiu-Jitsu heavily focus on body positioning, the use of leverage and strategic movements that allow a smaller but more knowledgeable person to effectively defend against a much larger opponent - and in many cases, without the need to impose significant harm.
“Between strength and technique, technique wins. If strength and technique are the same, the Spirit wins.” - Miyamoto Musashi.
Embracing Fear and Failure
The nature of the martial art is an individual sport that requires training partners to practice against. This creates a realistic, live situation where you get to practice techniques in a safe and controlled environment.
You learn new techniques.
You practice it.
You test it against training partners.
You learn from your failures and get better.
By confronting failure on a daily basis, your mentality towards life shifts.
It changes your outlook on challenges and difficult situations.
You begin to let go of the fear of failure and embrace it as a learning opportunity, and accept it as part of the process.
This consistent cycle of try, fail and success unlocks unshakable confidence and empowerment to advocate for yourself in ANY situation or relationship on OR off the mats.
On Monday, January 18th, Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Perth celebrated the relocation to our new home. A journey that started as a small team in 2016, to officially becoming a School in 2018, and now grown to what has become a wholesome extended family.
It was time to expand our venue and continue our mission to empower others to be the best version of themselves.
Led by Sensei Davi Mattos (trained under Jiu-Jitsu legend and world champion Fredson Alves), RJJ Perth has always been his dream - to create a Martial Arts school that’s accessible to everyone (no matter their age, ability, or goals), that embodies the values and traditions of the “Modern Samurai”.
Developing Skills For Life
What is a Modern Samurai you ask?
Martial art education is not only necessary but vital for the development of a solid society. Jiu Jitsu is a vehicle for developing human potential, where character and values are built through discipline, hard work, and respect.
We believe that the pillars of success on the mats translate to success in life - and transformation occurs when the student embodies and applies these principles.
“Jiu-Jitsu will give confidence in yourself to become a champion not only on the mats but in your life!” - Sensei Davi Mattos
Through the discipline of Jiu Jitsu, you’re faced with reality and challenges every single day.
Although these challenges may seem different from the ones that we deal with at home, school, or work, how we handle these situations is influenced by the same thing.
How you respond to adversity/problems/challenges will determine the outcome.
Do you stay calm and think it through before reacting?
Get emotional and abrupt in anger?
Let it go?
Or do you focus, work hard and take action?
The martial artist who is open-minded, accepting, and humble will learn through the physical, mental and emotional challenges they face in a safe and controlled environment (a Jiu Jitsu School) and carry these valuable lessons into the real world.
For example RJJ’s Biggest Challenge
Despite the milestone of our new facility, 2020 has been a year to remember.
Problems are opportunities to grow.
And every single hardship that our School encountered has made our team stronger. Covid was one of those hardships, and the biggest challenge our School has faced.
Although we were all stuck at home and physical contact training was compromised, our community remained integral to the Ribeiro 6 Blades values: Family, Respect, Honor, Discipline, Attitude, and Loyalty.
We got set up online and ran modified Jiu Jitsu specific classes for drills, stretches, yoga, and conditioning… and through it all, we continued to train, sweat, and laugh our way through the obstacle with great spirit.
A few words from Sensei Davi Mattos:
It’s been humbling to see our School’s evolution and to be part of a journey that’s greater than just myself. Our new School provides a safe and authentic environment for everyone to learn, experience, and grow.
A warm thank you to everyone - our students, parents, and the staff for your ongoing support and helping make this dream come true. The school is yours as much as it is mine so please make use of it and treat it like your home.
Always believe in your dreams.
There will be a lot of people bringing negativity and doubt, but if you really believe and put in the effort, everything is possible.
I believe that growth comes from being open-minded and sharing experiences with others. That’s why everyone is welcome to our School. I encourage our students to bring their friends, even from other Jiu Jitsu schools to train with us.
It’s been a long journey since 2016 when it all started, but this is only the beginning - and the sky’s the limit.
It’s time to show the world the value of Martial Arts education by living through our actions every day and setting good examples at every level of society.
We can all agree that nutrition is one of the bedrock pillars of health, alongside exercise, sleep and stress management.
Nutrition refers to the consumption of food to provide our body with the energy and nutrients it requires to nourish and grow. Its importance lies as one of the largest direct contributors and influencing variables to our health and vitality.
Think of your body as a car. If you put quality petrol in your car, it will run smoother and get better mileage. Similarly, if you fuel your body with healthy foods that are high in nutrients, your engine will be cleaner, have less clogs and function more efficiently.
We hear all the time that we need to “eat plenty of fruit and veggies”, “make sure to get enough protein in”, “count your calories” etc...
But what does all this really mean? And why is it so important?
First, let me address that nutrition is an extremely complex and in-depth topic as it involves the complexities of the human body. Although we’re all the same species, yet physiologically speaking, we’re so uniquely different to one another.
Differences in our genetics, gut bacteria (microbiome), sex, immune system, physical activity levels and physical attributes (age, height, weight) are just some of the factors that affect the different nutritional requirements we need.
There’s more to nutrition than just eating food to get energy and feeling satiated. And there’s too much to cover in this short blog but the purpose of this article is to provide 5 simple steps you can follow to make better and smarter decisions towards your eating habits and diet to improve health, performance and vitality.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is for informational and educational purposes only - and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from your physician or qualified health provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.
1. Identify your health goals
The goal-oriented nature of Humans is what gives us purpose, direction and fulfillment in life. This coupled with the act of goal setting, creates a powerful tool that propels us towards achieving what we want.
Start with the end in mind. Identify what you’re trying to achieve and set a specific and realistic goal for it. By ‘specific’ I mean being crystal clear and measurable, and ‘realistic’ refers to something that’s challenging yet attainable.
Let’s use weight loss as an example.
Saying you want to lose weight is too vague and doesn’t give you something specific to strive for. A goal that’s specific and realistic would be to lose X kgs in Y number of days. (note: According to Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, a modest and healthy amount to lose per week is ~ 400-900g depending on your body weight. Anything above 1kg per week is not sustainable and could negatively affect your health).
The metric or benchmark figure you set for your goal is entirely up to you. You know yourself best, so pick a figure that pushes you to challenge your limits but is also attainable! It’s crucial that the goal is realistic and attainable because you must have the self-belief that you can achieve it to be motivated and persevere.
2. Eliminate foods that your body doesn’t agree with
The digestive system is often recognised as the foundation for long-term health and wellbeing.
It involves the digestion and absorption of nutrients required for every bodily function, and provides the building blocks to continuously repair and create each cell of the human body.
Get the most out of your diet by eliminating or significantly reducing the consumption of foods that your body doesn’t agree with.
If you experience or suspect any digestive issues, food sensitivities or intolerances, medical professionals advise that taking Blood Tests and Food Sensitivity & Intolerance Tests can help you gain a better understanding of your body and discover food sensitivities and intolerances that would otherwise be unrecognised.
Food sensitivity and intolerances are sometimes confused with, or mislabeled as food allergies. Food intolerances involve the digestive system (usually an inability to digest food), whilst food allergies involve the immune system (triggers an hyperinflated immune response).
3. Determine your calories
When we eat and drink, we’re putting energy (calories) into our body to use for everyday living. When the energy isn’t used, your body is smart and stores it as fat to be used at a later time. If this continues, over time we will put on weight.
Generally speaking, when we consume more calories than what our body uses, we will gain weight, and vice versa.
How much calories do you need?
The most accurate estimate and common method for calculating your daily caloric requirement is through a calorie calculator.
Use the calculator above and enter your details to calculate how many calories you need to consume each day to maintain, lose, or gain weight.
4. Determine the macronutrients to make up your calories
Now you know how many calories you need to reach your goal, next is to decide on your macronutrient breakdown - how many grams of carbs, proteins and fats to make up those calories.
Every food you consume has a macronutrient profile of the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats it has in grams.
Every gram of carb and protein contains 4 calories. Every gram of fat contains 9 calories. (Alcohol is referred to as a fourth macronutrient - it has 7 calories per gram).
Carbs: 4 calories per 1g
Proteins: 4 calories per 1g
Fats: 9 calories per 1g
As a general rule, the Australian Government’s Ministry of Health recommends that acceptable macronutrient breakdown consists of:
20-35% fats (limit saturated and trans fats)
Depending on your lifestyle, health goals and volume of exercise per day (and many other factors), you would need to adjust macronutrient percentages to your needs.
Current sports nutrition literature summarise individuals who engage in moderate to high volume training need greater amounts of carbs and protein in their diet.
Eliminating the guesswork - eat what you need.
Conveniently keep track of your meals and nutritional goals using a calorie tracking app. There are numerous free apps to pick from. food a free and easy-to-use app called myfitnesspal. Its extensive database of over 11 million foods allows for easy food tracking to help you stay accountable and understand your eating habits. Save meals, recipes, scan barcodes or manually add the product. Download the app onto your smart device, enter your details and goals, and start logging your meals. You’d be surprised to see the calories and macros you’re eating but it’s a valuable insight to have.
5. Choose nutrient dense foods
You may have heard the phrase “you are what you eat”. This expresses the notion that to be fit and healthy, you need to eat ‘good’ food. It expresses the importance of eating predominately quality whole foods as opposed to processed, junk and fatty foods.
So what is considered as ‘good’ food?
There’s no need to overcomplicate things. Sticking with whole foods is generally the safe and simple option because you get more (nutrients) for far less (calories). A better bang for your buck!
Whole foods, typically, are characterised as foods that have not been processed, refined or had ingredients added to them. Think of food that would exist in nature like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat, fish and eggs.
Processed foods on the other hand, have undergone various levels of processing and are usually frozen, canned, dried, baked, or pasteurized - often containing many additional chemicals and ingredients such as preservatives, sugar, salt, fats, artificial flavouring and dyes for the purpose of enhancing shelf life, flavour and colour of the food.
The heating, grinding and cooking process of manufacturing processed foods (i.e. turning a potato into fries or creating chicken strips) leads to a significant loss of the abundant beneficial nutrients the whole food may have such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (that protect us from chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease) while also adding additives and extra ingredients that are harmful to our system.
Long story short, by eating a diet composed of heavily processed foods, we’re getting more for less - more calories and additives, for less nutrients and health benefits. The only benefits for the short term may be convenience and taste - but that’s up to the individual’s preference.
A large profile of vitamins and minerals exist and they all have different functions and benefits to our health. List of micronutrient types, function, benefits and more.
Fruits and vegetables:
Whole foods: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, unsalted nuts.
Processed foods to avoid: Fruit or vegetable juices, canned fruit in heavy syrup, fruit snacks/fruit roll ups, veggie or potato chips.
Whole meats: fresh lean meats, fresh fish/shellfish, eggs
Processed meats to avoid: Bacon, sausage, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, hot dogs, deli meats, potted meats and spam.
The bottom line
In order to get the most out of our diet to live a healthy and vibrant life, first we need to understand what our body NEEDS.
A quick and effective method to find out what’s missing, what the problem is and what can be optimised is by taking Blood Tests and Food Sensitivity & Intolerance tests. You’ll also learn valuable information about your body that may go unrecognised.
Based on the analysis, you can then start to plan, introduce or eliminate foods to suit your needs and goals.
Limit processed foods as much as possible, and enjoy them in moderation, and use common sense. Be sure to make fresh, simple ingredients the focus of your diet.
Just by eliminating the foods that your body doesn’t agree with (has allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to), eating less processed and junk foods and choosing more whole foods, you’ll quickly notice improvements in your energy levels, mood and health.
Humans are emotional creatures, there's no doubt about that.
We would like to think that we are in control of our actions and our thoughts, but many of us are unaware of how much our emotions steer us towards decisions that soothe our ego and beliefs.
Emotions colour both our inner world and the world around us - making us see what we want to see, telling us where to look, what to think about, and what to do next.
Precisely what makes us so promising as creatives, thinkers and doers, what drives us to the top of those fields, could also be our worst enemy and sabotage our success.
This darker side of the psyche is our ego.
Ego is the voice that tells us we’re better than we really are. It’s the unhealthy belief in our importance, the need to be better than, more than, to be recognised for, and what we’re entitled to.
This delusional belief creates a disconnect from reality, making us not confident but arrogant, not self-aware but self-absorbed. It’s the difference between potent and poisonous.
The Ego In Training
In the discipline of Jiu Jitsu, your ego will be challenged daily and unless you’re prepared to keep an open mind and be humble, you will be humbled very quickly. In saying that, there’s no better place to expose your ego than on the mats as it’s done so in a safe and controlled environment.
As Sensei Saulo Ribeiro says “You can’t hide from Jiu-Jitsu, it will show your true colours.”
Jiu Jitsu teaches us to become a student again - not only on the mats but for life. This ‘student for life’ mentality teaches us to recognise that there’s always something that we can learn from everyone; regardless of their age, gender, size, background, profession, and especially belt colour.
We can’t keep learning if we think we already know everything.
So, we let go of our inflated sense of self and take on the role of a beginner. This takes humility. Accepting that you know nothing (not because you’re Jon Snow) but because you desire to be better. Better through making mistakes, learning from your training partners, and keeping an open mind.
The Ego In Competition
Let’s face it, the nature of Jiu Jitsu as a martial art will attract competitive personalities and for sure there is a level of ‘ego’ that comes with that. Putting aside all the other values of competing, the goal is to win after all.
This is when we need to understand how to use ego as a tool to benefit us.
It’s the side of us that desires to win so we’re driven to train hard, be disciplined and do what it takes to achieve that end goal.
But what happens when we finally achieve that goal?
What happens when we win all our matches in great fashion and prove to be the best on that day?
Do you let this accomplishment define you and your worth?
Do you let it tell you to take it easy because you deserve it?
Do you let it tell you that you don’t need to train as hard, or be as disciplined anymore?
These are questions only you can answer for yourself. But by now you should see how arrogance and self-absorption only inhibits growth.