This started as a blog about training together as a family, in part to inspire other women & families to get involved. As female participation in jiu jitsu has increased, as we have grown as athletes and as we learned that families training together aren’t such an anomaly, the blog has evolved. Jen gets personal with posts on ambition, challenges & achievements in BJJ, CrossFit & with nutrition, while Tom's posts are more educational, informative and analytical in regards to training. On occasion you may hear from the kids.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Respect the Bar. Respect the Submission.

by Jen

Annie Thorisdottir, one of my heroes

Time and time again I hear people say that they don’t want to try CrossFit or jiu jitsu because they are too old, too overweight or are afraid that they will get hurt.  While I understand that neither sport may be right for everyone, none of these reasons are good ones to stay away.  A few years and twenty-five pounds ago I probably would have said the same thing.  But somehow I stumbled upon both and now I cannot imagine life without them.

Remember that no one, absolutely no one, is in their comfort zone in the first few days, even months, of training.  The ones that are powering through the WODS and rolls have most likely been doing this, or something similar, for years.  They too were once new and they understand how it feels.  Know that the better athletes continue to push themselves out of their comfort zone. So while they may be lifting heavier than you, or rolling better than you, they are focused on their own challenges.

In the early days of jiu jitsu I would sit against the wall with my eyes down when it was time to roll.  “Don’t pick me, don’t pick me,” I’d think.  I felt like I was back in school and the teacher was reviewing the assignment that I didn't read.  

In CrossFit I’d get butterflies in my stomach before each WOD because it was filled with skills and lifts that I was not comfortable with. 

To prevent injury my advice is 1) listen to your body 2) train with quality coaches and 3) respect the bars in CrossFit and the submission in jiu jitsu.  Don’t let your ego get the best of you. 

I’ve had only a few pretty minor injuries in my 3 years of bjj and 2 years of CrossFit.  Most of which were due to stupid mistakes of letting my ego get the best of me and not listening to a pain in my body.  If you know you can’t lift the bar safely, drop the weight down.  Who are you trying to impress anyway? 

Focus on your form.  I cannot stress this enough. Do this whether the bar seems light or heavy.  (Recently I strained my back because I took the light weight of the bar for granted and got sloppy. My fault.  Lesson learned).  It is better to finish slower without injury then power through a WOD and be injured for weeks.

On the mat, if you are caught in a submission – just tap. It’s only practice after all.  Instead of worrying about the tap, think about how you got into that situation and how to avoid it the next time. If you can’t figure it out, ask your partner or ask your coach.

Happy and safe training!


  1. From "Please don't pick me" to a photograph of you with a chunk of gold around your neck, standing at the TOP of a podium. You rock!...;}}


  2. Thanks Dag. I feel the same way about you!