Brains & Brawns

  If you’re in the Miami-Dade area of Florida, you just may have already heard of Olivia Shand. Residing in South Florida, Olivia Shand is a mathematics professor, judo orange belt,  BJJ black belt, competitor, IBJJF and NAGA referee, fitness enthusiast, and head of Jiu Jitsu Gypsies (a women’s BJJ […]


Nerves: A Gift Or Curse?

  The only thing I remember from my first competition is the referee saying, “Combate” (fight) and everything in my mind freezing – with everything I’d learned trapped within that ice. Nearly every competition since then has featured a struggle with that nervousness-induced ice.  It wasn’t until I started to […]


How Do I Even Train After Having A Baby?

  I decided to start training BJJ again after a four-year-long hiatus, at ten weeks postpartum. I was seven months pregnant when I started teaching yoga at the gym where I used to train, so staying after class for BJJ wasn’t really an option.  However, I found myself longing for […]


We Are All In This Together

  The sisterhood.  The brotherhood.  Our mat family.  Any way you put it, jiu jitsu is all about community.  Sure, we talk about armbars and triangles and that sick takedown that our professor taught us last week.  But when you ask your average jiu jitsu athlete what keeps her coming […]


Step by Step: The Only Way to Get to the Top 2

  When I heard the name Laurence Cousin Fouillat, the first image that popped into my mind was of her, standing at the top of a podium with a gold medal around her neck. While I wanted to know more about her life as a world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor, I […]


Back to Training, But…

  There is comfort in the return to routine: the rash guard in my bag, the braids in my hair. There is joy in the dull ache in my arms and in the sweat dripping off of my face. There is joy in all of it, from fist bump to […]


Owning it

  Female black belts are still a rarity in our sport, and it is even more extraordinary to find a woman who is the owner and head instructor of her own BJJ academy. Juliana Fontoura gave me a peek into the rewards of instructing and gym ownership, as well as […]


A Healthy Approach to Increasing Your BJJ Training

  In my early years as a blue belt, I was content with training just twice a week.  Further in, however, I started to feel a prick of jealousy seeing other folks progressing faster than me.  I tried not to compare myself, but I couldn’t help but notice that one […]


Four Tips for Achieving Your Goals

  If you’re a fan of self-help books, you may be familiar with popular goal-setting strategies like starting small, having accountability, and setting up rewards.  However, even with these things in place, after a couple months, you may find yourself frustratingly off-track and no closer to your goals than when […]


A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

Have you ever wished you could shut your brain off and quiet the racing thoughts? Or could experience peace in the midst of any circumstance? Or easily tap into your inner strength at any moment?  When faced with obstacles, it’s easy to think the best way forward is to simply […]