Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Euuuwwwww....What's That Smell?!?!?

What is it that is so fun and enjoyable about spending time in a stinky room breathing sticky, smelly air saturated with the moisture of human sweat? What is it that we love about rolling around on the ground with people trying to incapacitate each other? Is this the closest we can come to a primal force and to experience the (relatively safe) struggle for survival? Or is it a regression to the playful innocence of free movement that we see in nature like tiger and bear cubs playing. Who hasn't heard the analogy of a new jiu-jitsu parent comparing their new baby's movement to the movements and positions of grappling? Is this stuff we all knew once before but have forgotten in our "development" or "growing up"?
What is the comraderie that comes out of this communal primordial ooze? What is the bond that happens between people that voluntarily and repeatedly put themselves through the physical and mental struggle of learning and in and day out, year in and year out? What makes one person stop coming in and another keep returning? What makes a person come back after taking several years off? What does this activity provide that even with all the injuries, pains, sweat and infections keeps us going back?
Is it about escapism? It's a place where you have to be so focused on your own survival that you don't have the luxury of thinking about what happened with your boss at your job or the fight you just had with your wife/husband, boyfriend/girlfriend. It's a place where the rest of the world melts away and ceases to exist. All that exists is what is in front of you...or behind you or around your neck or pulling forcefully on your arm...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get ready for the big TEST!

In my lineage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are no big tests. It's not about your performance during one roll or one training session. It's not about how you perform over the course of one week or even one competition. It's more about how you do every day that you go in and train...every day is a test. Every day is different. Some days you're on; others your totally out of it. That's how it goes. How do you handle things when your are faced with adversity? How do you treat your fellow students and training partners? It's easy when things are going well. What happens when they aren't going well? How do you deal with others when they are having a bad day? One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that jiu-jitsu will bring you a lot of ups and downs. How do you respond? What do you do?
Don't focus on the carrot, the next belt or the end of the journey. Focus on taking the next step; putting one foot in front of the other. That's all there is. That is life. Try to do it for the sake of just getting better. There is no final destination. It is truly about the journey. There is always something more to learn, someplace further to go, someone else to roll with and beat up or get beat up by. Just keep moving forward.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Self Preservation

No matter who you are, there are always going to be times where you have to be aware of your own self-preservation. For some, it will be something you have to deal with more often than others. Perhaps you're a smaller guy, or a woman, or a bit older...but even a big, strong guy coming back from an injury. or getting ready for a tournament and you're pushing extra hard and you're extra tired (which can make you more prone to injury)...there will be times where you have to become aware of your own self preservation or risk injury.
Sometimes it can be a struggle with your ego. You're caught in a bad position and you're fighting it and you get to the point where you have to decide: do I tap and go again or does the ego tell me I'm okay, I can go farther and I don't tap, get injured and sit out for two weeks.
Sometimes self preservation means not rolling with certain people.
There are many different types of people that come in to train. For me, sometimes self preservation can mean that I don't roll/break in the newbie 220lb. white belt. It's not his fault. He's a big guy just starting in the sport so he probably doesn't have the control (over his body and/or ego) to roll with a small female.
There's the guy who always goes 110 percent. He can be a great training partner if someone's getting ready to compete or do mma, but maybe not for someone coming back from an injury.
Maybe you've had an extra exhausting day and you haven't had a good night's sleep in several days so you're not quite "on"...maybe you take it a bit easier and are a little more careful about who you roll with.
How long do you see yourself doing the sport? Keep in mind the larger picture, your safety and longevity. Jiu-jitsu is not about one roll. It's not about one training session. Jiu-jitsu is a tough sport. There are no kata's. Injuries WILL happen. That is inevitable. So, how do you continue to train and last in such a tough sport? Trying to minimize unnecessary injuries can help.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Videos Up!!!!

I was at the Fit Expo a few weekends ago and managed to get some fighters to talk to me on camera. Check them out!

Jeff Monson talks about his career, his political views, favorite dessert and what would happen if he went on "Survivor"!!!!
Jeff Monson @ Fit Expo Interview

Javier Vasquez talks about his return to MMA, upcoming plans and life with his new family.
Javier Vasquez @ Fit Expo Interview

IFL Sabre Antonio McKee talks about how he got into MMA and the IFL.
IFL Sabre Antonio McKee @ Fit Expo Interview

Savant Young explains the benefits for fighters in a league like the IFL and the history of the Sabres' team.
IFL Sabre Savant Young @ Fit Expo Interview

Newcomer Jesse Juarez tells us about his experience with the IFL Sabres.
IFL Sabre Jesse Juarez @ Fit Expo Interview

Friday, March 9, 2007


Why can't I learn jiu-jitsu faster? Why can't I absorb more information? Why can't I remember more techniques? Why do I think of a move after the opportunity has passed? Why doesn't this injury heal faster? Grrrrrrrr.... Sometimes jiu-jitsu can be really discouraging and frustrating. Sometimes you look for things to make you better faster. It's like anything else...the more you practice, the better you will get. There are no big secrets or quick fix answers. Sometimes people will tell you things but you're not ready to hear them. Then one day you're ready, someone tells you and you hear it. Was this person a genius who finally shared the most secret of secrets with you? Or is it something you may have been told before and just never got? (Or maybe there IS a big secret!!!) Everyone has their own speed of learning. Every person is different. Some people won't understand things for a while and then one day something clicks. This is not only in jiu-jitsu. This is life. Why can't a baby be an adult? A baby has to grow and learn and experience...and it's the sum of those experiences that forms the adult. Jiu-jitsu is no different. Someone can tell you a hundred times not to leave one arm in, but until you get triangled a bunch of times, you won't understand it. You have to experience it. Experience takes time. It's not a bad thing to try to find ways to get better, but remember that you sometimes you have to have patience. Patience with yourself. Patience for your body to catch up to your mind. Patience for your mind to catch up to your desire (to improve). Patience for your experience to catch up to your desired ability.
Then take time to see your progress...look back and see how far you've come. Maybe it's that you just kept going to class and didn't quit. Maybe you're defense is getting better and you're fighting off attacks more than you were able to in the past. Maybe you're rolling more fluidly. If you keep going, you will get better.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bow Down

Why do some guys at the academy think they should be able to tap everyone and get upset when they can't? And when they get tapped, they get angry. I don't mean guys that have been around for years and years...I mean lower level guys who get tapped by higher level guys and then get angry, yell, scream and curse. Why do they get angry? When you're new to a sport, obviously the guys who have been doing it longer will be better at it. I'm not going to go into someone else's sport and get mad because I can't make a basket, run a 4 minute mile or whatever it is without putting in any training or practice. Sometimes I see guys who have been around for a bit of time (well, enough time that they should know better...a year, two years...) and get angry when they get tapped by a purple, brown or black belt. I see this kind of behavior as just being plain disrespectful. It is disrespectful to the time, blood, sweat, tears and injuries that are contributed to the mat every training session that it took to get to that higher level. What would it mean if someone could walk in off the street with no training and tap a purple belt? What would be the worth of that belt and the worth of the time and energy that a person has dedicated to training? For the most part, belts in BJJ are earned. The color of the belt is a representation of a lot of time and work put into improving oneself at something. It should be respected and valued. It should be something that re-inforces the common path that is being traveled and that one is just at a different place on the journey. One should be happy that higher belts with more time are tapping them...and teaching them. There should be value and respect for the belt.

In other news, belts are only belts and are meant to hold your pants up (or the gi closed).

Friday, March 2, 2007

Get in mah bellay!

Learn to breathe and relax. When you're stressed or have to do something that makes you anxious (like a job interview or asking for a raise, etc) just relax. How do you do this? Take a big belly breath. let's start at the beginning. If you don't know how to take belly breaths, start with this exercise. Lie on the floor on your back. Put something on your stomach. Anything you have handy laying around...a mouthpiece, a kettlebell, whatever. Now take a breath. Do not breathe into your chest. Try to inhale into your belly. Are you doing it right? Is the thing on your stomach going up and down? Try to push the thing on your stomach up as a result of your inhalation...down when you exhale. Now you are doing a belly breath. Repeat this a few times. Get used to the feeling. Sit up and do the belly breath. You can put your finger on your stomach and try to push it out as you inhale. At the top of the inhalation, hold your breath and count to 3. Then exhale and let all the tension and anxiety out with the breath. Repeat 3 times.
When you are out of breath, focus on breathing into you belly and relaxing.