Journal Your Training and Journey

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Using Evernote to capture your daily BJJ grind… with free template !

This is an updated version of this article originally written in July of 2015.

I started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu January 4th, the first Monday 2015, and was instantly hooked!  I attend Alvarez Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Arlington, Tx – www.alvarezbjj.com, with 2nd Degree Black Belt, Danny Alvarez.  I had been looking for something for me, since my wife is a runner, and doing marathons and ultra-marathons, and I felt I needing to do something active.  The gym by itself wasn’t doing anything for me, I explored some other striking martial arts, but nothing really grabbed me.  One day I was watching something on YouTube and an Alvarez BJJ video ad popped up and I realized I didn’t know anything about BJJ.

I started searching BJJ on the internet, watching YouTube videos, and then signed up for the academy’s 30-day free trial!  I committed to a full year arrangement during the first week, got my first GI, learned how to tie the belt, and haven’t looked back.  I received my blue belt this September 2016 following earning gold in my division as a white belt at the IBJJF Dallas Open.  I train at the 6am class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I add one or two evening classes a week depending on my work schedule.  Jiu Jitsu is now an integral part of my life.

When I started, Mr. Alvarez Sr. (Danny Alvarez’s father) told me about keeping a journal.  It was a pretty quick mention but it stuck.  I researched the “how” and “what” of keeping this kind of journal and decided to get a classic composition book and started keeping track of every class.  I wrote down the day, date, time of class, who the lead instructor was, what we drilled, what techniques we went over, detailing the moves the best I could, and then an overall thought of the class, roll time, how I felt, or maybe a mention of a new person starting, and names of people so I could remember everyone.  It was a journal!  And I have kept it up since day 1.

Not too long ago I began using Evernote (www.evernote.com) for work, personally keeping track of websites I liked, articles, and meeting notes for work.  Then it dawned on me, why don’t I use Evernote for my journal?  I watched YouTube videos on journaling with Evernote, and read some how-to’s.  I scanned in (with my iPhone) all of my previous entries from my handwritten journal and logged them into Evernote, and now I use Evernote exclusively.  I know there are other journaling apps out there, even specific to BJJ like BJJ Training Journal (www.bjjtrainingjournal.com), a very well organized app.

Here are a few of the benefits I found for using Evernote.

  1. You can access your notes on any device and computer, via a web browser, a downloadable application on your computer, and an app on your smartphone.
  2. Separate notebooks for resources, articles, and your BJJ journal, and can add as many other notebooks as you want, maybe even “Gi’s Researched” if you are learning about Gi brands.
  3. You can save pictures, full articles, clip articles with the Chrome plug in, keep track of receipts, etc.  So, if I get a newsletter from Stephen Kesting for example, and it has an embedded photo I just highlight the email, copy and paste it into a new note in Evernote and it retains the formatting, and I can save it for later use.
  4. You can forward emails to Evernote to keep organized or file with like interests.
  5. Search keywords!  So, I plan on going back and typing in my old handwritten entries someday so I can search keywords and phrases!  This way I can search “armbar” for example, and see all of the entries that I typed armbar, showing me how often we drilled that in class.
  6. You can also tag posts for example.  You can tag posts with “sweeps”, “guards”, “bottom”, “top”, if you are working on those specifically.  It allows you to view all posts tagged with sweeps to review what you were taught at one point, especially, if you are working on picking your 2 techniques to focus on. (Listen to Byron’s audio book, http://bjjbrick.com/your-first-year-of-brazilian-jiu-jitsu/)
  7. If several of you in your academy are using Evernote there is a feature called Work Chat, where in the BJJ environment, students can share techniques with others, and get feedback.  Instructors can use this for planning classes even.

If you are at all like me, you have accounts with many different social networks, apps, programs, emails, and so on, and it can get a little daunting to keep track of.  I have pushed myself to commit to using Evernote as one source for my journaling, work notes, bookmarking links and resources for techniques, and articles I find and want to save or share later.

To make the process of keeping a journal easier to format I created a template, and I am going to share it with you!  This template will allow you to be consistent with your note taking, and keeping track of your drills, techniques, who you rolled with, who tapped who, and plenty of spaces for notes.

You can get the template here: BJJ JOURNAL TEMPLATE (https://goo.gl/17f7AB)

Once you click on the link you will have the option to save it to your Evernote account.  Save this template to a place where you can easily find it again.  Then when you are ready to use it, simply right-click on it and select Duplicate Note.  From here you can change the title, and begin journaling your experience.

Other people will find different benefits of using Evernote.  I wrote this review in Evernote so I could review and edit it on my computer or my iPhone later.  I didn’t realize the benefits of this tool right away, and I am still learning new tricks to maximize my use of Evernote, but I know the act of journaling my classes, general entries about my overall progress, and using it as an outlet and a resource has been amazing and made the process of journaling much more efficient and even inviting.

I have learned journaling is a key training tool, and key to personal development, and Evernote offers a wonderful platform to customize how you want to keep track of your classes and overall Jiu Jitsu journey.

I don’t get any kickback or freebies from Evernote for writing this.  My intent with this review is to explain and provide a great tool for individuals to use in their daily lives, and add to their BJJ routine.

Try it out, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain! https://evernote.com/