Ask a Panda: Significant Others Are People Too

Question: I have been training jiu-jitsu for a while (I am a blue belt), since long before I met my current boyfriend. He is a black belt and runs an academy, and since we have been together, I have taken on an unint...
Valerie Worthington
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Say, Say, Say: Talk It Out

Even after all the time I have spent in the jiu-jitsu world, I still find myself surprised sometimes at the things we do and do not say to our instructors and training partners. Often, we say things that can be unhel...
Valerie Worthington
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BJJ Pet Peeves

Training jiu-jitsu makes me happy, and generally being around jiu-jitsu people makes me happy. Of course, sometimes people do silly things, and jiu-jitsu people (present company included) are no exception. Over the ye...
Valerie Worthington
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Sartorial Choices in Jiu-Jitsu

I have made many changes in my life because of my participation in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I have quit jobs, moved across the U.S. and back, traveled widely, and revised my life priorities. With all this, though, the mos...
Valerie Worthington
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On Suicide in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Community: One of Those Stories I Wish Nobody Had to Write

I know I am not alone in feeling sad when I hear about someone taking his/her own life; indeed, sad is an understatement. It is extra surreal when I find out the person in question trained. It would be nice if the ...
Valerie Worthington
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Ask a Panda: Who Has to Move It, Move It?

Question: I am a purple belt with four stripes. The other day I was rolling with a blue belt when two other purple belts, one with no stripes and one with two, collided with us. I asked them to move, but they said tw...
Valerie Worthington
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Why It’s Good to Be Good at Being Bad at Stuff

A few weeks ago, Princeton BJJ hosted a book discussion group about The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin. In the book, Waitzkin, a chess master and Marcelo Garcia black belt, ...
Valerie Worthington
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Open Communication: What Language Learning and Jiu-Jitsu Have in Common

Every time I turn around, our two beloved Boss Pandas are in yet another far-flung locale, bringing with them good will, jiu-jitsu knowledge, and the latest training gear. This month I am getting to follow suit, at le...
Valerie Worthington
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Please Don’t Make Me Pull Rank

After I had been teaching jiu-jitsu for a while, a twenty-something man started coming to my classes. He had never trained before, but he had somehow decided he knew a lot already—shades of the Dunning-Kruger effect ...
Valerie Worthington
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Impostor Syndrome: Why and How to Neutralize It

Recently I was invited to create a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructional. This was actually the second time I got the invitation. The first was probably about two years ago, and my response to that first invitation was, ...
Valerie Worthington
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Ask a Panda: How do you deal with tapping to a lower belt?

Question: I just received my purple belt a couple of months ago, and I’m starting to feel more pressure to perform well, especially when I roll with lower belts. The other day I had to tap to a white belt. It was ...
Valerie Worthington
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Teaching Grapplers to Teach

If you train jiu-jitsu for long enough, you will likely be called upon to teach jiu-jitsu. Maybe your instructor needs to take a call just as class is starting and asks you to run the warmup. Maybe she or he is unexp...
Valerie Worthington
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