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Tips on how to accomplish your goals

1. Set a goal that is attainable and post it where you can see it every day. Doing so will help you keep on track. Not visually seeing your goals can lead to forgetting about it. Think “Out of sight, out of mind.” Don’t lose sight.

write down goals

2. Tell people about it. If you tell people, it will help you keep focused and if you have any discipline, it will keep you accountable. Real friends will give you a hard time if you stray off the path of reaching those goals.

3. Do a little every day. Some goals are harder to achieve than others. In this case, try your best daily to work towards those goals, even if you can do a little every day. It may seem insignificant, but before you know it, it will be done! For example, if your goal is to master the triangle from guard, drill the move as many times as it takes you for it to become cognitive behavior. If you are limited on time, drill the triangle with a partner before or after class for as many days as it takes for it become a reaction without thought. Many black belts don’t think about moves/techniques when training. They react to the actions of their training partners. They “just do it” because they have drilled situations thousands of times!

4. Set a date. Tell yourself, “I want to be proficient at this specific technique/submission by this date.”

goal time

5. Reward yourself at the end. Don’t be counterproductive. Many want to train with a passion until they reach the highest levels in jiu-jitsu. Then they get promoted to blue belt and they feel accomplished for getting a step closer. They think this is the time to take time off. This defeats the purpose of setting goals in the first place. It will prolong reaching the highest levels, and those friends you could submit on your way to the blue belt will be submitting you with certainty upon your return (depending on how long you take time off). Reward yourself by getting yourself that nice BJJ Gi or rash guard you saw online a while back and continue your journey.

One thing is certain, if you do not have goals, you are not living to your full potential. Set those goals and get to work. If you do have goals, good job, get to work.

Coach Ben

What motivates you?

Coach Ben asked the question “What motivates you?” and like many of you, it got me thinking. I know what motivates me personally, and why I train, but watching Red River BJJ over the last few years I’ve seen people come and go. Many of them not even reaching a third stripe on their white belt. I’ve seen many posts on social media explaining the BJJ pyramid and why the amount of people that start (white belts) don’t reach the top (black belt). We all have different goals in life, some of us would like to be a black belt one day, others would like to be very important business people, others want to make sure their kids have good role models, lose weight, get healthy, live a longer life, win at tournaments, and so on and so on. So take a minute and think about what it is in your life that motivates you. This is what Coach Ben wrote to students on what motivates him:

There are a few things that motivate me… On a professional level, I can pinpoint an experience I had in Basic Training at Lackland, Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. It was January 1998, graduation day and we were all prepared to move onto the next phase of our Air Force careers. Our Technical Instructor sat us all down for our final briefing of Basic Training. He gave us advice, most of which I already forgot. The one thing he said that sticks to me to this day was something along these lines, “Some of you have made it through Basic Training, and we got rid of some. Those we got rid of, they didn’t belong, and some of you still don’t belong. I know we couldn’t get to some of you, but I know the Air Force will get rid of you in due time.” These words have stuck with me through the years and have motivated me to continue serving for you. Let’s get something straight, I love the United States and what the US Flag stands for but as silly as it sounds, I am motivated to serve until I can retire from the Air Force on my terms. This experience was a motivating factor in my professional career much like an experience I had the first time I went to a BJJ gym.
In the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I remember one of my first experiences with my first Professor Ted Stickel at Gracie Barra in Anchorage, Alaska. It was July 2005 and I took my son Leo who was five and a half years old for his first BJJ class. After my son’s first class, I got up and told Professor Ted, “I want to join this class as well and I want to learn BJJ.” He looked at me, laughed a loud laugh and walked away saying, “Okay…” as he shook his head. It took me years to understand why he responded that way, but after I opened Red River BJJ, I realized it was probably because he had heard it hundreds of times. I’ve heard it hundreds of times from people who don’t understand what real commitment means. I stood there looking at Professor Ted with a “What just happened?” look on my face. I vowed to myself, I will show him. That motivated me to start and continue my journey in BJJ. Since then, I have had many other experiences with friends on the mats that continue to motivate me. These days, what motivates me the most is helping others grow in the art of BJJ. I enjoy watching them go from not understanding what a shrimp or basic arm bar from the guard is to being on the mats with them when I visit and having them put me in danger of submitting me. That motivates me to continue providing the best instruction for you at the best training facility in Wichita Falls, TX. I enjoy looking back like I do with your Coaches Carlos “D” Avila and Coach Meese and tell them, “I remember your first day on the mats with me. I used to play with you like a baby. Now I have to be careful you don’t hurt me!” Training with the very team that started with me motivates me to raise the bar in my own training.
On an intimate, personal level, I am motivated to set a good example for my two sons, Leo and Edy. I have to show them commitment to my job, to my training, and to their mother. If I quit in either of these, what kind of message would I be sending them? How could I push them to try their best and never quit if I can’t show that commitment of myself? Once they are both grown up and on their own, perhaps I’ll consider quitting BJJ. Then again, that will go against my goals of being scraped off the mats at 97 years old.

So, did you think about what motivates you? If you are still having trouble I found a few areas on where people get motivation and they are not necessarily solely based on jiu-jitsu.

Others doubt in you? When Prof Ted laughed at Coach Ben after he told him he wanted to train, Coach Ben got this motivation in him. He felt the need to show him that he was serious so he showed up to class and continued to show up. He said there were days where he wanted to give up, but he kept it up with that goal in mind (“I’ll show him I can”). Most of us have had some episode in our lives where somebody laughed at us or thought we were crazy. For example, when I was a junior in high school, an Air Force recruiter called me and he talked about the Air Force and what it would be like if I joined. We talked for hours! I was very interested and so excited about my new plans that I decided to share the news with my friends. I think subconsciously I was looking for their approval or their encouragement before I broke the news to my parents. All of them said “You’re crazy!” “They’re going to send you to war!” “You can’t go out on your own!” That was my motivation because two days later I convinced my parents and they signed me up (I wasn’t 18 yet). It’s been over 18 years, I’m still active duty and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. In BJJ we have tournaments and guess what? Some of them you win, some of them you lose, and those tournaments that you lose can give you the motivation to work on your weak areas and come back stronger.

Mastery? We all want to be masters at a skill right? The problem is that most of us don’t want to put the work that goes into it or we don’t have time. In order to master a skill (no matter what it is), there has to be some kind of effort and time put into it. It’s hard, but in due time, it will arrive. Coach Ben once told me that he didn’t really think about getting his black belt, he just showed up to class week after week, month after month and years later he got his black belt. Well, easy right? Not really, but you get the point? Show up and keep showing up.
Sense of belonging? Face it, we all want to feel a sense of belonging. It can be anywhere from church, to a band or simply by being the fan of a football team. What happens when you wear your team’s jersey and you’re walking down the street and see somebody else wearing your team’s jersey? You might not know each other but you can start a conversation about tonight’s game right off the bat as if you two knew each other! Well, same goes with BJJ. Every time you put that Gi on, you feel that sense of belonging. When you see somebody wearing a BJJ T-shirt you can’t help but talk to them or give them a nod of approval. At Red River BJJ all the students are considered part of the family, you feel like you’re part of the family and you are treated like family.
What derails people from BJJ? Why do they quit?

Loss/defeat At the beginning we all tap constantly. We are the rag dolls of the more advanced students and it might seem as though we aren’t learning anything. It’s frustrating. But, soon you realize that your defense is getting good! You start to finally learn some submissions and apply them. Then you make blue belt and you are the brand new blue belt that all other blue belts are tapping easily. Bummer! “Maybe I’ll skip class today.” Next day, “I don’t feel very well, so I’ll skip class today too.” Next thing you know, it’s been weeks and you haven’t stepped on the mat. Now you are far behind your peers so the easy thing to do is quit.
People getting promoted faster than you: Yes, it happens, it sucks, but why quit? This is when you should put your faith in your coach. When you watch a UFC fight, I’m pretty sure those contenders put their full faith in their coaches to let them know if they are ready or not. Coach knows best, it would be a disservice to you if you get promoted before you are truly ready. Everybody learns at different speeds. If you put two people side by side, same age, same weight class, same body build and teach them the same technique. Person #1 drills it every day for 2 months. Person #2 drilled the move only the day it was taught, and might have pulled it off during a couple live rolls. Person #1 can set it up anytime he baits his opponent and is successful 85% of the time with that move. Person #1 also drills every move he is taught the same way. Who do you think will get promoted faster?

Life We all know very well, plans and goals get derailed due to other priorities in life. We all prioritize our lives, our families, our finances and our goals. Many times our goals get thrown out the window in order to take care of what we consider are more important things. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, we all have our priorities, but in order to take care of those priorities, we need to take care of ourselves first. In the book The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson stated “People who feel good about themselves produce good results.” I don’t believe that is only in a business setting, that can be applied to everyday life, whether you are a successful business executive, a stay at home parent, or a college student. For me, Jiu-jitsu makes me feel good about myself because it helps me stay in shape, allows me to relieve stress while learning self-defense. I believe that jiu-jitsu has helped me be a better person on and off the mats. I feel ready to tackle a day with my stress, health and weight in check (according to my own expectations).

How do I stay on track?
There is one very simple answer to that question: show up and train

Regardless of what motivates you, I personally believe that we all have to set aside a few minutes to take care of ourselves. If we can’t take care of ourselves how are we expected to take care of others? Training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in a family friendly place where my kids can train too is my motivation. Continuing to show up to class no matter what life brings has kept me on track. What is your motivation?

Vanessa Lozano

Your First Time at Red River Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (RRBJJ)? This is what you should know…

Trying something new can be very intimidating and maybe a little scary. I’d like to put you at ease and assure you that this is a family oriented environment and very friendly. Jiu-jitsu is a gentle sport that was created for the smaller, weaker opponent. So, no, you will not get beat-up in our gym, no, you will not get punched in the face and no, you will not get kicked. Jiu-jitsu teaches a person to grapple using their own weight and technique to submit an opponent. I guarantee that you will be so hooked with RR BJJ that you will be upset at yourself for not coming in earlier. The benefits of Jiu-jitsu are endless. People join for many reasons, some want to lose weight, others want to learn self-defense, others want to one day fight in MMA. Whatever your reason is, you will have a lot of fun!

Now, first give us a call at (940)257-1301 to set up a date and time, OR simply fill out the contact form at the top of this page.
So for your first time at Red River BJJ, here are some things you should and shouldn’t bring to class.

What should I bring?

  1. Yourself at least 10 minutes early.
  2. Bring an ID if you’re an adult or your parent with an ID if you’re a minor.
    a.  If you are a minor (17 yrs or less) bring your parent, they have to sign a waiver for you.
  3. Comfortable clothing that you can move in
    a.  Preferred: T-shirt, sweats, board shorts, biker shorts, spatz etc.
    b.  Ladies, in BJJ there’s a lot of movement which can make our clothing move in odd ways, so wear biker shorts under your shorts and sport bra under your shirts to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. Yoga pants work well also.Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Reuters 2004
  4. Water/water bottle
    a. It’s important to stay hydrated. If you don’t like water fountain water, bring your own.
  5. No shoes on the mat, so bring flip flops or shoes that are easy to take off and put back on.
    a. We literally roll on the mats, so if you get off the mats and go to the restroom, we expect you to wear shoes so you won’t bring the funk onto the mats.
  6. Hair ties
    a. If you have long hair, it gets annoying to fight with your or your partner’s hair during practice, tie it up.

What should I keep at home?

  1. No jewelry to include piercings of any sort.
    a. Torn earlobes are not fun, and cleaning up blood isn’t either. Better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Tank tops on no-gi days
    a. Please be cognizant of others. Sweaty armpits are nasty, keep them covered please.BenStiller
  3. And the most important thing: Your Ego
    a. At one point or another we all get tapped by a smaller and what we thought as a weaker opponent. Don’t underestimate the power of Red River BJJ, and don’t take it personal. You will be there one day remembering your first day. Always stay humble.

See you soon!

Women’s Self-Defense

My husband, Coach Ben first started to train when we were stationed in Anchorage Alaska in 2004. He found a Gracie Barra (pronounced Ba-ha) school on the opposite side of the city. He began training and that was all he would talk about. Growing up, I trained Wah-Lum and Shaolin Kung fu, so martial arts have always had a special place in my heart. So the day he asked me to join Gracie Barra, I didn’t object. I had absolutely no clue what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was, so I decided to go check it out. On a cold Alaskan evening, I walked in Gracie Barra and see about 8 sweaty men rolling on the mat in pairs, no girls.  A pair of guys stopped grappling (rolling), discussed the moves and started again. Before they began, one of them lays on his back, opens his legs and tells the other “come here”. The other guy kneels between his partner’s legs, while the guy laying down on the mat, wraps his legs around his waist. (this is what you call the guard position) From there they proceeded roll with each other or grapple…did I mention they were sweaty? At that moment I thought to myself “there’s absolutely NO WAY I will try this with a bunch of sweaty and stinky guys!” I did a 360 and went back out the door. Ben continued to practice BJJ, and eventually earned his purple belt. We moved to Wichita Falls Texas in 2009, and he began to teach on base. After a year, of hard work, we decided to open a school off-base, so in Feb 2011, we opened Red River BJJ. During that time, I deployed and had to attend 30 days of training at Ft Dix, New Jersey. One of the prerequisites was to complete an Army Combatives class. Every girl in my class was as apprehensive as I was years ago. The army obviously gave us no choice and after a grueling Army style “warm-up”, they showed us a few basic positions, chokes, and how to defend them. The army instructors made it a point to pair males with females, since they believe that if a female is attacked, more than likely it would be a by a man. One of the girls had a nervous breakdown (she had been attacked before) and at that moment I realized how important Jiu-Jitsu can be for a woman. If being attacked, what position does the man want to get to? In her guard (see the picture)


If the woman is a BJJ expert, what position does she want him to get to? In her guard! Why?  Well, in BJJ there are a handful of positions that are the dominant positions.  The guard is one of them.  From the guard, you can control the person with your legs and from there many submissions (attacks) are possible.  In RRBJJ we drill self-defense techniques that include compromising positions during a struggle like the guard, mount, what to do if you are stuck on the bottom, if somebody takes your back, etc. Many of these positions might be uncomfortable at first, but are very crucial to a woman’s (or anybody’s) self-defense. Plus, drilling them will become second nature. Recently, a female navy sailor proved this by defending herself from an attacker during a deployment using Jiu-Jitsu. Click on the link below to read more about it.

If you or a loved one would like to learn more on self-defense, call us now to schedule your free intro class!


Vanessa Lozano

Preventing Injuries in Jiu-jitsu

I have learned that when you don’t prepare yourself before you get on the mat, like taping your fingers, wearing a cup, taking jewelry off, etc. could result in injury to you or your training partner (s). I have also learned that a lot of injuries in jiu-jitsu happen when the practitioners go too fast and become sloppy with their technique. Unfortunately, in jiu-jitsu, you have to be fast and agile when transitioning between movements in order to get the advantage. But we don’t get there miraculously, we have to practice a lot and most of us are sloppy at the beginning. We have to start somewhere, right? So, how do we prevent injuries in jiu-jitsu? Here are few tips that could help.

Sports Tape—use it

Have you ever been to a BJJ tournament and seen competitors with tape all over their fingers? Well, during Gi training we use lots and lots of grips. We grip each other’s lapels, grip the sleeves, grip the pant legs, our belts, etc. So what happens? Your fingers get raw from the gi material or one of your fingers might get trapped in a gi and…ouch! The tape is used to help alleviate the raw knuckles and able to continue gripping. I have used the tape as well, to remind me not to use the finger that I injured the day prior. When you roll, you will realize how much your adrenaline will pump, and you will not notice things hurt until after you are done. So, prepare before you get on the mat.

Cups – use them

I have been the culprit a few times, of accidentally kneeing, or kicking my training partner in his family jewels. I’m a woman, so I have no clue how bad it hurts, but by the fetal position they curl up in, I am certain it is pretty darn painful. So, if you have a cup, wear it. Not only will you roll more confident especially when we drill things like passing guard or kneebar from open guard, but if you happen to do the north/south position, you might hit your opponent in the forehead with the cup. Ok, that might not get you a tap, but it’s kinda funny and painful—true story.

Mouthguards—get one, or two

Mouthguards can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but let me tell ya, it’s more uncomfortable when you accidentally bite yourself while rolling or get hit on the mouth. Again, like any other sport, accidents happen, so it’s better to be prepared. I have taken a few accidental elbows/knees to the mouth, bitten myself and gotten hit on the jaw. They all hurt. Why? Because I wasn’t wearing a mouthguard! Shame on me! I was told that some dentists actually make custom mouthguards, so I called and asked. Now I have my own custom made mouthguard and it’s not bulky or uncomfortable. If you don’t have insurance or the time to wait on a dentist appointment, you can find all kinds of inexpensive mouthguards at your favorite sports store. They can be molded to your own teeth using hot water. It’s worth the few dollars spent and your dentist will love you for it!

No Jewelry on the mat

Now-a-days, who doesn’t have piercings? Yeah, they look cool and make you look tough, but what if they get caught and ripped off? I bet you will cry like a baby, I would! This is why all body jewelry has to be taken off before getting on the mat. We just don’t want to see a grown adult cry. Piercings include any ear, nose, belly button, face and other piercings or jewelry that is attached to any body part. Same thing with rings, earrings, necklaces, ankle bracelets, toe rings etc. I have heard so many horror stories about wedding rings getting caught and tearing off skin. Don’t be that guy.

Ladies, no metal accessories in your hair

I know we all love to be cute, especially when practicing a man dominated sport like jiu-jitsu, we want to feel pretty, wear cute clothes, nice shoes and do our hair. But on the mat, you only need one thing on your hair, a rubber band or scrunchy to keep your hair off your face. Bobby pins can come off and poke somebody or yourself. We can be cute off the mat, and kick butt on the mat.

Trim those nails

We’ve all been there, you go to grip a lapel and accidentally hit your opponents face, with your claws. And now there’s a scratch on their face, and what’s worse? There’s blood/skin, on you! What if you get scratched by somebody’s toe nail? Gross! Scratches aren’t the only problem with long or untrimmed nails, have you ever bent a nail backwards? Can you say OUCH? You go for a grip, your opponent breaks the grip and as he does, your nail promptly bends backwards also causing a sharp pain to shoot up your arm. Eeeee!! Please trim those nails…all of them, before coming to class.

Calm down, breathe and work the technique properly.

I’ll admit it, I became awesome at defending my neck, my arms etc. That was my BJJ life my first year. I couldn’t get to a submission because I was too busy defending. So when I finally got to an armbar, I got so excited and give it all I got. Unfortunately for my opponent, it wasn’t very pretty. During my excitement, I cranked so hard I overextended their elbow. So the moral of the story is, focus on setting the move first, if you are doing it properly, it will be very difficult for your opponent to move, then go for the submission…crank/pull/extend S-L-O-W-L-Y until you get the tap. There is absolutely not need to crank, especially during drilling! I have a strong belief that getting a tap is not the biggest priority during training if you can’t get there with proper technique. My priority is to set the submission using good technique (distribute your weight properly, position your arms and legs right etc.) and then finish the submission steadily.

So there it is, my take on preventing injuries. You are not limited to this list so please use good judgment and if you are in doubt, ask your coach/professor. See you on the mats!!

bjj in wichita falls tx

Top 10 Reasons why you should train at Red River BJJ in Wichita Falls, TX

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Train at Red River BJJ in Wichita Falls, TX

10.) Compete at Tournaments – If you like competition, this is the place to prepare yourself for tournaments.  Join our Competition Team and travel with us to the surrounding areas for Tournaments!  Stop by and check out our walls, they are full of medals and pictures from competitions!! 

9.) Self-Defense – With Red River BJJ we will teach you the tools you will need to defend yourself. If you apply the teachings to your life, BJJ becomes something that can help you if you find yourself in a bad situation.

8.) Lose Weight – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a workout like no other! You will find yourself pushing your body & mind to new heights while learning the techniques and most importantly, by having fun.

7.) Top Notch Instruction – Our instructors and staff are here for you. We are committed to making sure that you learn the fundamentals and techniques that you need to thrive on your journey with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we invite experts from out of town, like Bruno Bastos to teach a few times a year.

6.) Join the Family – As a member of RRBJJ you are not JUST a student. You are FAMILY! From the instructors, to students, to families of students; you are one of us and a member of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community. We are all united under the life principles of the BJJ lifestyle and are here to help support you. We would love to have you join the RRBJJ family.

5.) For ALL ages! – Some may think, “I am too old to start something like this.” Not true. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is something that anyone can do, no matter what your age is. The RRBJJ family is diverse and we range from kids, teens, and adults of all ages.

 4.) Learn MMA style striking and boxing – If you watch UFC, have you noticed that most fighters use Jiu-Jitsu?  One of the styles used by Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion), Georges St-Pierre (Welterweight Champion),  and all the top contenders/top names is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Current undefeated Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey has defeated all her opponents with arm bar submissions!  We can show you different variations of those arm bars!

3.) No Bullies! – All our students learn that Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defense art and is only used as such.  Our students are NOT bullies and will NOT bully others.  We show them safe and easy techniques to stop bullying if this is happening to them.  Arm you children with the secret weapon of BJJ! 

2.) Discipline – Learning the art of BJJ makes you learn more about yourself.  Learning the techniques requires dedication and discipline.  You learn to focus on a goal, drill the moves to perfect them, and achieve those goals when you least expect it!

1.) Friends – Finally, the #1 and most important reason you should join RRBJJ is to learn an effective tool that can be used in life today, tomorrow, or when the need arises!  At Red River BJJ you learn to share your knowledge with other students no matter what belt.  Everybody learns from each other.  Members of RRBJJ are truly passionate and love what they do.

Bonus Reason… It’s called positive peer pressure!  We want you to give our school a try for FREE!  If you or a friend is on the fence about trying a class, go for it!  You will not regret it!  We are confident you will use that positive peer pressure to drag your friends to the next class once you’ve tried it!   

If you are interested in learning more about Red River Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the RRBJJ Family we are here to answer any questions you have. Stop by our school or contact us at:

Red River BJJ, LLC.
2526 Missile Road
Wichita Falls, TX 76306

self defense in witchta falls tx

Self Defense for the entire family

Self-Defense for the Entire Family in Witchita Falls, TX

Have you ever worried about how you can keep your family safe from bad people?

Sure, they might be safe around you, but what happens when they have to go to school, work, or your daughter has her first date?

You can’t stay with them 24/7 to protect them from bullies, perverts, robbers etc.

Well, look no further!  Our coaches at Red River BJJ can arm your loved ones with a secret weapon…Jiu-Jitsu!  Call now to schedule your FREE Intro Class and claim your FREE uniform!  Don’t miss the chance to experience the Best Martial Arts in Wichita Falls, TX!!