Welcome to our inaugural episode of Breaking Muscle Radio! In this episode our hosts, Managing Editor Becca Borawski Jenkins and Coach Chet Morjaria, interview Valerie Worthington. Val is one of the few people we know who is highly ranked in both education and BJJ (she has a PhD in one and a black belt in the other). Press play to listen!


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Valerie Worthington has been training Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) since 1998 and was given her black belt by Johnny Ramirez and John Ouano of New Breed Academy in Santa Fe Springs, California. BJJ has had a profoundly positive impact on Valerie's life. It has enabled her to learn technique and strategy from myriad elite and world champion athletes, travel to far corners of the world, and learn important truths about herself, jiu jitsu, and life in general.


  • 00:26 - Introduction to Valerie Worthington
  • 01:15 – When Val started with BJJ and why it stuck
  • 03:53 – Balancing the mind and the body within BJJ
  • 05:21 – Getting off the corporate grid, doing what you love
  • 08:58 – Advice for those wanting to transition into doing what you love
  • 12:26 – Getting started in BJJ and making mistakes
  • 16:51 – One piece of advice to new BJJ students
  • 19:02 – The role of emotion in competitive BJJ
  • 22:35 – The difference in emotion between women and men in BJJ
  • 24:08 – How to handle emotional students as a coach
  • 26:53 – Val’s background in learning theory and how it helps as a coach
  • 29:11 – The sports psychology topics with most impact on Val’s BJJ and coaching
  • 30:54 – The evolution of personal boundaries within BJJ.
  • 33:30 – The original intention of Groundswell Grappling Concepts
  • 37:45 – Channelling your passion and being a positive influence
  • 39:22 - Quick-fire questions related to BJJ
  • 44:00 – Val’s upcoming camps and events
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Valerie is co-head instructor for Women’s Grappling Camp, which gives women who train BJJ the opportunity to learn together, given that BJJ is still a male-dominated sport, and to help them optimize their training with both men and women. She is also one of the founders of the camp's parent company, Groundswell Grappling Concepts, which supports men and women, and believes the mental, physical, and psychological demands of BJJ and grappling, when properly channeled, have the power to transform lives.


Valerie earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Dartmouth College and her doctorate in educational psychology from Michigan State University. She teaches college and doctoral level courses for several universities.


Click Here to Read Articles by Valerie Worthington