A Visit to 10th Planet

I’m finally back after a three and a half month hiatus to wander the wild west. My 20th anniversary trip with the hubby turned into quite the adventure across Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona. I had initially thought it would be a sort of tour of southwestern jiujitsu gyms, but due to off timing and a few viral snafus, I didn’t get to roll in a new gym until our last couple of weeks on the road.

Honestly, I was more than a little nervous about rolling with people I didn’t know. Suddenly, the night before I was going to go to class the next morning, I started trying to talk myself out of going. What business does a middle-aged, chubby white belt have poking her head into a strange gym? Surely they would at best treat me as if I didn’t exist, at worst sneer and make me feel as if I were back in 8th grade again. At worst, they would validate the feelings I had about myself. I’ve never been one to let fear or anxiety stop me, though, so off I went the next morning.

As usual, I was so glad that I did. The folks at 10th Planet Las Vegas in Henderson were a warm, wonderful group of people. I had called the day before to make sure that my coming to the Monday morning class would be okay. Casey Halstead asked if I had trained before, and after getting a confirmation that I had, said he looked forward to meeting me the next day. Like at our gym, preclass prep included a lot of catching up about the preceding weekend and checking in with each other for the regulars. No one but Casey and a couple others really introduced themselves at that point, but with time more people said hello and helped show me how they did things there. For instance, they have a couple of pairs of Crocs in front of the bathrooms for people to where in so that people don’t walk into the bathroom then track back out onto the mats. When I started past the Crocs to the bathrooms, I was politely redirected. By the end of class when we rolled, I felt like part of the family there. I didn’t sit out a single round during the rolling after class even though there was only one other gal there. I got some pointers and some compliments and lots of “hope you come backs.” I even met a fellow who grew up just down the road from where I live now, 1600 miles away.

I’ll be much more likely to check out new gyms as I travel, now, thanks to the great folks at  10th Planet Las Vegas, and I’ll definitely be back there next time I’m in Sin City. Don’t talk yourself out of a great experience by being worried about the possibility of a bad one.

And because everything is better with pictures:




Old School Magic

I know I just did a post about hygiene, but I’m going to do another one anyway.  Skin infections are a valid concern for jiu jitsu fighers, wrestlers, and anyone who rubs up against another athlete on a regular basis. To combat these, the best approach is to go old school.

The skin is the largest organ, and along with the hair on its surface, it is your system’s only defense against the world waiting to assault it. A few simple things will help you help it along.

Support your bacterial flora. Yep, that’s right. A few billion bacteria keep your body ticking along as it should, both inside and out. These good bacteria are key to fending off the pesky bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi trying to mess up your world. They not only function to directly improve your body’s cellular defenses, they also are direct combatants.  You can show them some love by not using antibacterial soaps that use alcohols or other lab produced chemicals, by taking a probiotic supplement regularly, by avoiding antibiotics except when they are absolutely necessary, and by eating well. Harsh antibacterial soaps and antibiotics are non-discrimatory and will kill the good bacteria with the bad. Also, the antibacterial soaps are not antifungal, so using them will not address the real risk of fungal skin infections. Taking a probiotic supplement and/or eating fermented foods regularly will help replenish your good gut bacteria, so they can boost your immune system thus allowing it to fight off all manner of nastiness with greater ease. Eating well is important for a bajillion reasons, but here it applies because the more varied your fiber intake, the healthier your gut biome will be. The different types of bacteria thrive from different types of fiber. Variety is good. Oh, and sugar? Yeah, the bad bacteria like it. Curb your intake to discourage the bad guys from growing. (The bacteria in your gut are truly amazing, and medicine is slowly beginning to understand that they are key to mental health, immune health, and so much more!)

Okay, you’ve eaten your kimchi and banished the antibacterial dial from the shower. What next? Remember my recommendation to wash that gi and belt regularly and shower before and after class? That. Occasionally throw a cup of vinegar in the wash, too. It’s an antifungal. Consider adding Defense soap into your routine as well. It has tea tree oil and


eucalyptus. The tea tree oil has both antifungal and antibacterial properties though the research is limited (I’ll save you my conspiracy theorist leanings here). Granted, Defense doesn’t smell the greatest, but it works well. What limited studies there are even indicate that it is effective against Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccoccus Aureus (MRSA, also known as “staph”).  If you follow the link, you’ll see these simple bars of soap are a little pricey, but I’ve found that buying it in the five pack from Amazon isn’t too bad. I only use it surrounding jiu jitsu class, so I don’t finish a bar as quickly as a regular bar of soap. It comes in a liquid and a container of wipes, too, if you’re interested in that. I have super sensitive skin, and so far it hasn’t caused me to have a reaction, in case you were wondering about that.

If all of your valiant efforts fail, and you find yourself with a big, disproportionately painful pimple, please don’t come to class. Any drainage from that is super contagious, and your buddies don’t want your funk.

Mani/Pedi Issues

Your days of long, elegant fingernails and intricate pedis are over. Or they should be. Do yourself and your grappling buddies a favor and keep a set of nail clippers in your gym bag. Finding yourself in the half guard of someone with an impressive set of talons is no fun at all, and getting a fingernail bent backward when you’re trying to get a good grip of a gi isn’t either. In my humble opinion, closely trimmed nails should be a rule of the mat.

Be A Good Buddy


Technically jiujitsu isn’t a team sport. Whether you’re competing in a tournament, fighting in the ring, or defending yourself on the street, you’re going it alone. One of the most valuable keys to learning jiujitsu, though, is having a great buddy with whom to learn, and to get a good buddy, you need to be a good buddy.

First and foremost, don’t be the stinky kid. Take a shower as close to class as possible. Wash your gi after EVERY class. (Even if you don’t sweat that much, you spend the class rolling around with other people who might or might not be sweaty on mats where people have walked and sweated.) And brush your teeth…regularly. You might even consider chewing gum during class.

Over time, you’ll notice some people in class who have a knack for smelling great all the time. I think maybe Shower-to-Shower has something to do with that, but I’m not sure exactly. You’ll also notice some people are always stinky, and it’s usually the people who wear the same rash guard and gi to every class. I suspect a fair number of these folks don’t wash their gear but once a week or so. One thing to understand, though, is that sweaty stink accumulates, especially in synthetic cloths. If you let it sit, it just builds up.  Washing after each wear, though, prolongs the amount of unstinky time you have with that garment.

Over time, people have developed some tricks to combat sport stink. Some people add a cup of white vinegar to the wash. Others use a bit of Simple Green and let the garments soak. If you have a good scuba shop nearby, they just might carry a product called “Sink the Stink” which gets rid of the pee smell in sour wet suits, so stinky gis are small game for it. And drying your gear outside in the sun helps some since the sunlight has an antibacterial effect.

Use care when drying your gi in the dryer. They have a tendency to shrink.

Smelling good is a great start, but it’s only one factor in the “good buddy” equation. Next comes having a great attitude. Pay attention to the instructor and be ready to drill. Your partner might have missed some nuances, and you can help her along with the details. In jiujitsu, the details make all the difference. And when you drill, be willing to drill, and drill and drill some more. I like doing three or four reps then switching places and doing that over and over, but not everyone likes to do that. For me, it allows acquisition of some details and muscle memory before breaking the rhythm of the drill. Be sure everyone is getting equal time running the move, though.

As you’re going through those moves, be sure to try to find that balance between going easy and drilling seriously enough that when you roll, you know how to apply the technique. Every person has a speed and pressure they’re comfortable with. As you practice with different people, you’ll get more accustomed to their preferences.

Some people like to gradually advance their techniques as they practice in class, slowly getting some resistance from their partners. I happen to be one of these people, but you’ll have to try it for yourself.  Everyone likes a different level of aggression in the drills, but remember to always use care. Hurting your training buddy rarely wins you any friends and has a way of running people off.

Finally, be grateful and show it. The quality of your learning is dependent upon others who graciously allow you to contort and abuse them for your edification. Remember to say thank you and show them some love.