Mar 232011
 

Script Frenzy Banner

First, Pan Ams, baby!  Coming up.  I’m going to figure out a way to hook my computer up to my projector and will be watching the matches on a 110″ screen.  Does it get better?  Yeah, but not much.

I write that just after I knock back another sudafed and wonder exactly how long this sinus cold is going to stick with me.  I have had it since the Revolution Tournament two weeks ago.  I just can’t shake it.  I feel better and then the next day, I feel like crud again.

But that’s enough of the pity party.  I heard about an online challenge: Scriptfrenzy.

A lot of writers are familiar with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing month. In that challenge, the idea is to write at 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s right. Sounds daunting.  Fifty friggin thousand words.

Well, I’m not doing that.

But I am doing something similar. In a related challenge (in fact, many NaNo veterans are taking part), I’m going to write a complete movie screenplay of at least 100 pages all in the month of April.

I’m going to keep it as simple as I can, since the goal isn’t to write a masterpiece. It’s to FINISH a script. So, I’ll be borrowing heavily from what I know. And, yes, BJJ will be a central theme.

The story I have in mind is about a guy who trained in BJJ as a younger man, but stopped about the time he got divorced. Fast forward 10 years later and he’s struggling to stay connected to his teenage son. His ex uses him as free daycare, and because he got screwed in the divorce, he has no say in the matter.  She holds all the cards, and holds access to the son over him like a brick.  At the same time, his son is the only bright spot in his life, nevermind that they don’t get along.

The central theme of the movie is that he’s an incomplete man.  He can’t take care of his son if he’s not taking care of himself.  Or said another way, if you don’t respect yourself, how can anyone else respect you?

So, the story is one of redemption, and will really pivot around the relationship between a father and his son.  Over the course of the script, he begins training again, eventually gets his son into it.  The school owner will be a badass female who ends up being a love interest, and in the end, he goes down to the Mundials and wins a gold.

Formula movie?  Yeah.  But I don’t care.  It will be a lot of fun to write it, and I’m hoping I have the chops to tell a good story, even if it is a little trite.

 Posted by at 6:35 pm
Mar 062011
 

Just sayin’.  I realized that this blog is more about personal accountability and keeping my own commitment to make time for training than anything else.  While I still train, my attendance has dropped.

So, I intend to start posting regularly again, even if it is a simple post to acknowledge classes attended.  Posting from a phone is cumbersome but better than nothing.

Sep 292010
 

contest

Alright guys.  I did my part and now it’s time for you to do yours.  Go to the Tatami Fightwear facebook page and vote for your favorite.  There are three categories.  All you have to do is “like” the ones you like the best in each of three categories:  Ultimate (the Gi you think is so awesome it should be made), Funny (the Gi that made you snort liquid out of your nose and onto the keyboard), and Crazy (the Gi that, even though it would be pretty much impossible to manufacture, is just awesome).

The other judges and I have whittled the field from over 300 to just under 20 finalists. You have until October 12th.  The contest will end at that time.  I promise you that the winner will not raise your taxes. 

 

For more information, check it out here at the Contest blog

 Posted by at 8:09 pm
Jul 142010
 

I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon to head out to my wife’s 20th High School reunion.  Woohoo!  I love my wife, and I’m looking forward to a roadtrip with her, but at the same time, I don’t know any of her friends from high school.  We’ll see how this goes.  

Good luck to all of the Lotus Club jitsuka competing this weekend.  You’re all an inspiration and I wish I were able to be there to cheer you on!

In other news, I’m finishing up a gi review that I hope to post soon, so stay tuned for that.  I’m also anxiously awaiting a Tatami Zero G gi that I ordered from the UK.  I’m pretty excited to see this one.  If it’s as good as I’ve heard, it’s a terrific deal, even accounting for shipping from the Uk.  In the meantime, go check out Meerkatsu’s AWESOME gi reviews. He reviewed the Zero G, but I’ll post one in American…  dude’s all centimeters this and kilograms that.  Who uses those funky measurements anyway? 

What’s that?  Most of the world?  Oh…  well… 

Have a great weekend all.  I expect a full report when I come back.

 Posted by at 9:47 pm
Jul 052010
 

Two things to throw out to the group.  The first is a concern and the second is a genuine point of confusion.

A couple days ago, I posted about how chasing rank can cause problems.  Actually, the gist of the article was that worrying about rank at all can really be problematic.  Well, yesterday, I ran into a  guy who used to train with us.  I’m not sure what kind of terms he left under, but he’s a nice guy, so while I’m pretty sure the school he trains at isn’t very popular round our parts, I’d doubt this particular kid burned any bridges. 

He’s been training for about three years and is a blue belt, which isn’t at all surprising to me.  We talked a little, and I asked him about his angry ear that looks like a purple potsticker.  He seemed pleased that I noticed.  At some point, he mentioned really wanting his purple belt.  He’s a young kid… I’d put him in his early 20’s, although he may not even be that old, so I wasn’t really all that surprised.  It’s human nature, after all.  What really gave me pause, though, is that he equated purple belt with opening his own school.  I genuinely don’t get it.  In BJJ, it’s not… uncommon for a purple belt to run a school, but it’s becoming increasingly less so as more black belts exist.  This was a situation that arose out of necessity, where at one time a purple belt or even an experienced blue were quite literally the only guys around competent to teach. 

I wouldn’t want to do it.  So, when he seriously suggested that he really wanted his purple belt because it specifically (in his mind) equated to being able to legitimately “do [his] own thing,” I had to work hard to keep the shock off my face.  What makes this even scarier is that HIS instructor is a purple belt who has been training for about 4 years total. 

There is a depth of knowledge that a school owner needs to have in order to run a good school. Regardless of how skilled at purple belt the instructor is, he is a purple belt.  There are just things he or she won’t know… and what’s scary is that he or she might not even know it.  So, what happens when a purple belt trains another guy up to purple belt (whether graded by a black belt who visits once or twice a year, or not) that lack of depth compounds. 

Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t rolled with any of these guys in a long time.  They may completely rock.  But I just don’t know.  My spidey sense is tingling.

Okay, the next one has to do with women in BJJ, and this might get me flamed.  But before I go on, I want to be clear that I’m really just asking for clarification.  I have a genuine respect and admiration for the women who train in BJJ.  But that leads to the question:  Do women want to be treated like training partners or treated like female training partners?

What I mean by that question is, I’ve always found it pretty easy to ignore gender and roll with women just like I would any other training partner.  What that means to me is that I adjust my game and intensity as much as I can so that it’s appropriate for my partner.  I roll with new guys (“guys” in the generic, non-gender specific way)  differently than I roll with experienced guys.   I roll with heavier guys differently than I roll with lighter guys.  And everything in between.  So, a tough blue belt who is lighter than me is simply that, regardless of gender. 

Up until now, I’ve been under two impressions.  First, that this is appropriate in that lighter guys don’t gain technique if they’re not given opportunities to work technique.  Second, that this is appreciated and even desirable for women because they’re not there to be girl jiu-jitiero… they’re just there to be jiu-jitiero. 

I’m beginning to think I have it all wrong, so I’m looking for some help.  Georgette’s posts got things started.  But it’s Leslie’s post on the discussions had at a girl’s grappling mini camp that really threw me for a loop.  I can understand women’s classes and the like.  I get that.  But this post has me baffled.  At one point, Leslie wrote, “Val also mentioned that it sometimes might actually be good for the guys to see that what they’re doing is reducing you to tears, especially if you already have the reputation as a “tough chick,” because if what they’re doing is too much for you, then it’s too much. Maybe nothing else will get through to them.”

I genuinely don’t know how to react to this.  What are you trying to convey by crying?  What needs to get through to them?  After reading that, I immediately thought about how bad I’d feel if I ever made a girl cry on the mat.  Then I began wondering if I had and just don’t know it because they cried in the bathroom.  Then I thought, “would a dude ever cry?”  And THAT led me to wonder, “What the hell is going on here?”  My brain is broken.  What’s too much?  If it’s too much for you, why wouldn’t it be too much for a little dude, too?  Or the other way, if it’s not too much for a little guy, why is it too much for women? 

The biggest question in my mind is what do you guys (and this time, “guys” actually means women) want?  Is it important to remember that you’re women?  Or would you rather be a training partner first? 

So, no conclusions here.  I’m asking for help.  I want to get it.  I’m not challenging you guys on this.  I’m just trying to understand, because I just don’t.

 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Jul 012010
 

Georgette’s recent posts have really got me thinking again. Ranks and promotions. Skill, anxiety and self doubt. Goals and expectations, too. I’ve written probably 5 or 6 comments on her blog that I haven’t submitted. I write them out, then think about them, then delete them, and not because I don’t have a reaction or thought on the subjects. Rather, I have almost too many, and they’re a little jumbled up. So, I thought I’d take a few minutes to try and organize them.

First, if you haven’t read these two articles over on Georgette’s blog, along with the comments, do that now. I’ll wait.

What we’re learning here isn’t easy to do. It’s hard. It’s hard physically. It’s hard mentally, and it’s hard emotionally. I’m not as gifted athletically as some. I’m older, and less fit than others. And some people just get it. Bingo and Josh, two guys I mention frequently, recently got their brown belts. They’ve been training only a little longer than I have if you look only at a calendar. But if you consider the amount of time they’ve put on the mats, there’s really no comparison. After rolling with them sometimes, it’s pretty easy to get down on yourself.

I mentioned in the comments section on Georgette’s blog that I sometimes sit there on the mat thinking through the entire match. What’s often frustrating is that I believe I did things correctly. I just got out techniqued (if that makes sense). It wasn’t that I did anything really wrong. I just didn’t do things… I don’t know… right enough.  Strategic and tactical domination.  So, I sit there on the mat for a moment, shaking my head at every transition. Then I’ll look up and Bing’s smiling and saying, “What’s up? Thanks for the roll. You did good.” Really? Cause from my seat, things didn’t go so well.

But that’s when I’m right there… nice and close to it. After some time and distance, I try to take something away from my rolls with Bing, and it goes along with something he said.

Lesson 1: While we all train together, our journey is ours alone.

My path to blue belt was my own, as is my journey to purple, brown and black belt. They are mine alone. I hope they’re ones I can complete. I can drive myself crazy worrying about why I was given my 4th stripe or my blue belt when so and so is so much better, or because x and y white belts catch me all the time. I can give myself ulcers wonderying why I’m not a purple belt yet when I dominate so and so who is a 3 stripe purple belt (not that this has ever happened… but it could!). I can waste energy worrying about where I am relative to my peers, but that’s all it is: a waste of energy. My path is my own.

Without going into any details, I’ve seen how destructive placing too much importance on belts and ranking can be. It leads to insecurity, an unnecessary amount of angst and eventually causes friends to alienate each other (to put it nicely).

Lesson 2: The person least competent to judge my own progress is me.

Or in other words, “Shut up and train.” 

I have an idea in my head of what I expect from a blue belt, purple belt and brown belt. I also know what I think of as Black Belt level BJJ. I have opinions and I think that they’re usually pretty close to on target. I’m seldom surprised by a promotion at my school. But the person least able to give a rational, objective analysis of my progress in BJJ is me. Ultimately, any significant time I spend thinking in abstract terms about where I “fit in” on the BJJ scale is completely wasted.

I was very unsure of myself after receiving my blue belt. I was adrift for at least a couple of months (probably longer). I didn’t know where I fit in. I was constantly second guessing myself, rolled timidly and was a little embarrassed to put on the belt. It took a while, but I really began progressing again once I understood this lesson.

Lesson 3: We can try deceiving ourselves, but it doesn’t really work.

I can’t control what other people think. If I want to roll light or sit out a round, I can’t worry about what someone else might think. A few days ago I wrote about the archetypes that exist in a gym. I mentioned that most of those stereotypes are funny because they’re familiar. We can all think of people that fit these types at least in part. Most of them are also negative. So… chances are some of us represent a negative archetype to other people in the school.

Since posting that, I’ve decided that it doesn’t really matter. I mean, we should all strive to be a positive influence, but I can’t ultimately manage someone else’s internal dialogue. If I choose to sit out, I have no control over whether someone else decides that I’m lazy. If I’m injured and want to roll light, I can’t control whether someone else thinks I’m milking it.

But, and this is the big one, I should be honest with myself. If I sit out a round because I’m feeling lazy, I shouldn’t try to convince myself otherwise.

Another example of this came up ust a couple days ago.  I rolled with Rhino, a 4 stripe white belt. I didn’t do very well. He passed my guard to side control, moved to mount and maintained very solid, positional control. Rhino deserves his nickname. He’s a big guy, very strong and athletic. It would be very easy to just write the match off and feel better because he’s bigger and stronger. But he’s also very technical and his game is tight. He didn’t outmuscle me. He outgrappled me. In order for this to be productive training, I have to acknowledge that first. Only then can I begin to break it down and look for successes and areas to improve.  

As a quick aside, writing it off as just his strength and/or size diminishes his own accomplishments.  I hate it when someone begins making excuses for a loss or poor performance because it undermines someone else’s accomplishments.  I really try to give credit where due, and being honest with myself is integral to this. 

Lesson 4: Learn from mistakes, but focus on successes.

Very early on in writing this blog, I made a conscious decision to try and focus on what I did right more than what I did wrong. I don’t try to pretend that I don’t make mistakes. Not at all. What I’m talking about is acknowledging the mistake in an effort to avoid making it again, but really zeroing in on what I did well.

There’s a lot of support for the idea in learning that spending any significant time discussing mistakes can actually lead to repitition of that mistake. For example, I’ve been in situations where something goes poorly and a meeting is called so that we can all debrief on what went wrong. These are excruciating meetings in which we are expected to painstakingly relive every mistake we made. From a training perspective, this can include spending undue time discussing the wrong way to do things: Don’t do this… avoid this… this is wrong…. this is bad.

It’s much better to focus on the right way to do things. All of the time spent reinforcing the wrong way could be spent reinforcing the right way, instead.

Lesson 5: This is fun. Jiu Jitsu is fun.

It’s easy to forget that sometimes. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Reading the posts lately on the blogosphere, I truly believe that we all need to cut ourselves some slack.

In conclusion, I’ll just add that these are, once again, only my own thoughts. I’ve got four stripes on my blue belt. At some point I, like everyone else, will get my purple belt. I have no idea whether that will be tomorrow, 6 months or 6 years from now, but it’s bound to happen if I keep training. I LOVE where I’m at right now as an experienced blue belt because I’ve been around long enough that I know what I’m doing, but there’s no expectation of perfection. I truly don’t feel that I’m ready for a purple belt. Of course, as I’ve said, I’m incompetent to judge myself. So, I will instead not worry about it. It will come when it does. And when it does, I’ll start that chapter of my journey to black belt.

 Posted by at 3:30 pm
Dec 182009
 

dev

I raced home from work to pick up the baby and called my other kids on my way back so that they would be waiting for me when I got home.  They took the baby inside and I was outta there, fifteen minutes to get to my chiropractic appointment.

Sidebar here: it’s GREAT having older kids with the baby.  I strongly recommend that anyone having a baby adopt a couple of 10 to 12 year olds first.  Seriously.  I couldn’t be prouder of my two older kids.  They help so much around the house and with the baby, I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I do if they weren’t there to pick up my slack.

Okay, back to the action, I’m racing down the street to the chiropractor.  I’m cutting off old ladies and tailgating student drivers.  I have places to go!  Maybe not quite like that, but I was feeling a sense of urgency.  My new chiropractor adjusted me once again.  Looks like I’m going to see him twice a week for a couple of weeks, and then back off to about every 3 or so weeks.  On a positive note, my flexible spending account should help me pay for these visits.  On the negative side, my insurance copay is higher than the cash amount.  Let me say that again.  My chiropractor saves enough by avoiding the billing/insurance process that he can offer a modest discount for cash, and a few dollars more off if you prepay.  So, if I pay cash, the price is less than my ridiculous copay.  Anyone who is against a public option or some kind of meaningful health care reform is nuts. 

But it’s all good.  I felt great after the adjustment and raced to class where I met Dev for the first time.  For anyone not familiar, Dev has been training and blogging for just over a year now.  He’s a very nice guy and it felt like we’d known each other for a long time.   We even got a roll in, probably at about 50% or so.  It was pretty cool.  Coach Foster rolled out the red carpet, rolling with him for about 30 minutes before turning him loose on several of our upper belts.  It was awesome to see.  Coach really wanted him to get some quality time while he was there.  He was pretty wiped out by the time we got to open mat.  Still, as my son would say, I got pwned.  But I was having enough fun that I didn’t mind.  In the relatively short time Dev’s been training, it’s clear that he’s picked up a solid foundation and I’m looking forward to seeing him again, hopefully down in Irvine in April.

I had a good roll with Thad, always a pleasure.  He’s always good for a little detail or tip that will make a difference for next time.  Josh was his usual, relaxed self.  Not that I could do anything against him.  I also got a roll in with Trevin, who’s about as close to Josh Barnett as I’ll ever get.  I made the mistake of pulling mount… yeah, I said it… and what you think might happen did.  Next time around, I was a little more alert and managed to get around his guard into side control.  His arm was very high, so I switched to the head/arm setup I like, but he blocked it right away, so I moved around for the armbar instead.  He blocked, and I tried the switch to the other side I learned from Thad a few months back, and I could tell it surprised him.  I almost had that armbar, but wasn’t tight enough and left him some space to counter and escape.  Oh well.

Overall, I’m a lot more hopeful about things than I was a few weeks ago.  While my L5 disc will never fully heal, I am optimistic that I’m doing the right thing.  I was 181 lbs this morning and managing to maintain even though I missed over three weeks of class.   The only real lasting problem with my back will be strength through my hips to bridge.  It took months last time to really get back to where I could generate power through my hips and upa, and I’m looking at that long road one more time. 

Oh, one last thing.  I picked up some Foster/Lotus Club back patches and they look really cool.  Can’t wait to get them on a gi.

Oct 142009
 

I’m looking forward to going to class tonight, and as you may or may not see (depending upon whether you’re reading this via the RSS feed or actually on the website), I’m settling into my new virtual home here on WordPress.  There are some details here and there that need to be fixed up.  For example, the graphics haven’t been sized quite right… just sort of thrown in there.  And the “about me” page says nothing at all about me.  Of course, that may be a positive thing.

All that said, there are some little details that I haven’t yet figured out.  First, does anyone have any blogroll tips?  On Blogger, it was relatively easy to tie the blogroll to my RSS subscriptions.  I love that.  Second, are there any plugins you guys think I can’t live without?  I’ve installed a few over the last few days, but I’m sure there are some that I need… I just don’t know it yet.

My back is feeling pretty good right now and better every day.  The birds are chirping.  The sun is… well, shining somewhere.  All in all, I’m feeling pretty good.  Now, in a few hours when the lithium wears off, I might be singing a different tune. 

Just… kidding about the lithium. 

I worked out with my bud, Elena, yesterday.  It’s really been helping me to get some mat time in outside of class.  Elena and I are pretty similar in that we’re both coming into BJJ later in our adult lives.  We’re also both visual learners.  It seems that most people who are naturals at BJJ are kinetic learners.   That is to say that they learn by doing.  I learn by watching.  I have to see something, to be able to recreate it in my mind before my body can figure it out.  Now, this isn’t to say that “hands on” is unimportant to me.  Rather, I get nothing out of the “hands on” UNLESS my brain has first wrapped itself around the technique.  I can do something 100 times, but if I don’t understand it, it gets flushed from the memory banks as soon as I’m done.  Elena is much the same way.  So, we go slow, working through techniques without any pressure to do them quickly.   It seems to help her, because I can answer many of her basic questions, filling in details that she’s forgotten about the fundamentals.  It really helps me because she’s at a point where I can focus on using as little strength as possible and really zero in on clean technique, particularly those techniques that are somewhat new to me. 

Mustaches vs Cancer is going well.  I want to thank again everyone who’s checked out the website, particularly those of you who have (or who intend to) sponsor my mustache by making a donation to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center pediatric department.

Sep 292009
 


This is a combination post. Last week, I highlighted five blogs that I really enjoy. This week, I thought I’d put the spotlight on a few more blogs I like that you might not know about.

I also want to point out that I’ve reorganized my blogroll a little. My blogroll is linked directly to my Google Reader subscription lists. So, if you see a blog in my blogroll, it means that I’ve subscribed to that feed. Also, it saves me some time updating the blogroll by automating the process. If anyone wants to know how I did that, I’d be happy to post up some instructions.

But back to the point, I unsubscribed to a lot of blogs. Basically, if the blog hasn’t been updated in over a year, or never really got off the ground (meaning less than about 10 or so total posts) I unsubscribed. I also added a section for Women in BJJ, as well as broke out the blogs that are mainly school announcements and such. I hope it helps some people connect to the growing online community of Jits addicts.

We get women training at our school periodically. Elena, my bud, trains regularly and has 2 stripes on her white belt now. We have another female that started not too long ago who seems to have a pretty good attitude. I hope she sticks around. What prompted the revamping of the blogroll is I mentioned to her that there seemed to be a pretty tight online support network for women who train in BJJ. Way back in February, 2008, Valerie Worthington (currently a brown belt) talked with Caleb on Episode 103 of the Fightworks Podcast. In the interview, Valerie talked about some of the challenges that women face in BJJ that had never occurred to me. So, I emailed my new training partner some links to the great blogs kept by women who train.

And with that in mind, I thought I’d highlight a few of those blogs.

Last week, I mentioned Georgette’s blog, but she has to get some mention here, too. It just makes sense. The only thing I don’t like about her blog is that it’s obvious she’s way smarter than me, and that intimidates me a little. But whatever. Don’t psychoanalyze me! Instead, check out her articles on Whitebelt Don’ts and Any Belt Don’ts.

Gringa BJJ is another blog I’ve been reading for a while now. Elyse, the blog owner, is a purple belt in BJJ and trains somewhere over in Virginia. Elyse offers an interesting view of BJJ from the perspective of a younger person (younger than me, at least). Elyse is 23/24 and takes her training pretty seriously. Fun to read.

Another one I’ve been reading for a while now is Fifty/50 BJJ Cailín, a blog kept by Jen who trains with her boyfriend at his BJJ school in Northern Virginia. Jen has written several articles that I’ve liked including one recently on Safe Training Rules for Women.

I’ve only recently stumbled on MegLog, Meg’s BJJ log and equipment review blog. Meg’s over in the UK and has been blogging for a while now. BJJ Excellence through Fearlessness is a good example of the great stuff she’s writing over there. I think, as a newish blue belt, the fear of being tapped by a white belt is at once absurd and unavoidable. We all go through it, and at some point, we all realize it’s just not that big a deal. Meg articulates this well.

Finally, I want to mention Val’s blog again. Prancing and Sucking is a funny name for a BJJ blog, but if I remember correctly, it refers to her original intent with the blog, which was to document her travels for a time prancing around the USA back in 2006 training at various BJJ clubs, and sucking at BJJ while she did it. While, as a brown belt who lives down in California now I don’t think she does a lot of prancing anymore, and as a brown belt who has many medals and accolades under her belt she clearly doesn’t suck at BJJ, her blog is a good read. Check out one of her recent posts, Curve Ball, for a link to a YouTube vid of Valerie putting Ryan Hall to sleep with an arm-in guillotine counter.

And for other great blogs, check out my blogroll. Let me know if you think I’m missing anyone.

 Posted by at 10:30 am