martial art


Training While Chronically Ill 2

Training with a chronic illness can be a challenge, a challenge I am familiar with. I live with two chronic illnesses — endometriosis and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).  Both of these illnesses make training BJJ hard at times. Neither of them are curable. There are treatments that make both […]


Not Your Competition

  It all began with the new girl. She showed up a few months into my BJJ journey, slightly bigger than me and somehow already wearing a matching set of colorful rashguard and spats. I pictured myself patiently teaching her the one move I had learned, giggling at how awkward […]


Transforming Pain into Passion and Purpose

  For many Jiu Jitsu is a sanctuary to escape the trials and tribulations of our day to day lives. It is a place for us to put our worries and stresses on hold. For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt Elena Stowell it became a pathway through grief after unexpectedly […]


Supporting Survivors on the Mats

If you participate in any of female grappling groups on social media, you’ve no doubt seen the stories about coaches or teammates who have been accused of inappropriate behavior, domestic violence and/or sexual assault.  While many of these posts have to be labeled with the word alleged, it’s no secret […]


The Road Back to Competition

  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the “gentle art,” you say? Ask anyone who has trained for a bit and they probably have an injury story to tell you.  What happens after that injury? How do you get back in the saddle after getting sidelined? While I’m no expert, I’ve learned […]


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 […]


Navigating unspoken rules in BJJ

  Recently, a teammate and I spoke about one of her first BJJ classes where she felt that she’d done something wrong, but didn’t know what.  After hearing her story and then giving my take, her jaw dropped.  “I wish I’d known that when I first started!” she exclaimed. So […]


It’s Our Journey

  “A black belt only covers two inches of your a$$– you have to cover the rest,” said best by Royce Gracie. And it is true. A black belt is that, just a belt. It is what that belt represents that matters: the countless hours of training, the blood, sweat, […]


I Am Your Rest Round 2

I was texting with my friend after class the other day about how all the rounds with the women at our gym are super tough. I jokingly said, “I wonder if that means we’re the rest rounds since every other round is challenging???” To which she quickly replied, “I know […]