Feb 282013
 

I read a lot about commitment on BJJ posts.  I see a lot of inspiring posts and posters suggesting that excellence is about prioritizing and that if you want to be successful, you figure out a way to make it happen.

I’m not going to lie.  That makes me feel kind of bad, because over the last several months (really, over a year), I’ve had a terrible time getting things together.  Many weeks, it’s just the three kids and me at home, as my wife travels frequently for work.  Two kids in high school and a pre-schooler keeps me on my toes.  My older kids are great.  They would be more than happy watching their younger sister for me while I go to class.   And the truth is, I don’t want to be THAT guy… the guy that comes to mind when people think about committing to training.  Or the guy who comes to mind when people talk about how many people disappear before they get to black belt.

But here’s what goes through my mind.  It’s very practical.  First, what’s for dinner?  My kids can cook, but that doesn’t mean that they will, and Lily will end up eating Mac n’Cheese or something like that for dinner.  The second, is the home work done?  Finally, after many other questions I get to the meat of the issue, which is where the parental guilt thing kicks in.  I don’t like the idea of my older kids raising my youngest.  It’s not their job, and I don’t think it’s fair.  This isn’t to say that I don’t leave them in charge.  I do, often.  It’s that, once it’s institutionalized, it’s becomes a primary role, instead of support.  If that makes any sense at all.

All of that said, Coach Bing said, “Bring Lily down to the school.  She’ll be fine.”  And I think we’re going to give that a shot.  I miss training regularly and I enjoy it when I go.  But, man, juggling my other obligations is rough.  I actually had every intention of packing Lily in the car and heading to class Wednesday, but found out after I got home that my son had a band concert that night.  He’s a great communicator, like all teenage boys.  So, class starts at 5:30 pm and I found out at about 4:45 pm that he had to be at the school in his tuxedo at 6:30 pm.  And he hadn’t eaten dinner, nor had he done his homework.

So, Friday…  the goal will be to pack Lily in the car and head to class.  We’ll see if I can make that happen.  I think I can… I think I can.

Other news:  Smoothie for today:

  • 1 1/2 bananas (Lily ate the other half)
  • 1 pear
  • 1 cup (about) of frozen fruit (strawberries/blueberries/blackberries)
  • 1 tbsp Hemp Protein
  • 1 tbsp flax seed
  • about 2 cups of broccoli
  • 2 hands full of spinach and arugula
  • almond milk (unsweetened and unflavored)

Turned out great.  The berries turned it from a bright green to a kind of purple color, but the taste is good.  The arugula actually gives it a kind of butter flavor which I like, but might be a matter of taste.

Feb 272013
 

Anyone own a blender/juicer?  If so, give me some recipes.  A few months ago, for my 42nd birthday, I got a blender.  I wanted the Vitamix, but it was out of my price range at the time, so we ended  up getting a Ninja Kitchen System from Costco, which is about 1/3rd the price.

The Ninja system worked just fine for most kinds of smoothies and shakes, but there were limitations.  Most of had to do with texture.  I would try and add broccoli, for example, to a smoothie and it just wouldn’t get smooth.  The little tips would feel like fish roe as I drank it.  Yuck!  So, I didn’t do any more broccoli.  I ran into several similar problems.  Mostly, it worked great… but man, I just wanted my shake liquified.  That’s the look I was going for.

So, a few weeks ago, I picked up a Vitamix and it hasn’t disappointed.  I’ll do a side by side review soon, so that those who are on the fence can make an informed decision.

Really, I’m just interested in how you guys who already have blenders use them.  Do you make a smoothie every day?  Meal replacement?  Post workout shakes?

I’ve really found the mixer great for work days.  I make a big jug of what I’ve just started calling “sludge,” which I drink pretty much all day long.  I have a smaller lunch and then am not hungry until dinner time.  I haven’t really given thought to how many calories or other nutritional stats the sludge has, but I’m pretty sure it’s good for me based on the ingredients.  If anything, the sugar from the fruit is something I could back off on a little.

Typically, my sludge is made like this:

  • 1/2 cup or so of Coconut Water
  • 1/2 cup of Almond Milk (unsweetened and unflavored)
  • Small handfull of green grapes
  • half of a banana
  • a spoonful of flax seed
  • a heaping spoonful of Hemp protein
  • 2 big hands full of spinach or some other green
  • an apple
  • a cup or so of frozen fruit, usually a  Strawberry / Mango / Papaya / Pineapple mix from Costco

Blend that sucker until it’s smooth and drink it all day.

I will sometimes add tomatoes or some other veggie that is in danger of going to waste.

So, any tips?  Any recipes?  Help a guy out.

 

 

 

Aug 012012
 

origin-storiesA passing comment by a friend on Facebook reminded me of how I found BJJ.  I’m a superhero fan and have been for as long as I can remember.  I read comic books, watched the cartoons and loved the Christopher Reeves Superman movies almost as much as I loved Star Wars.  All of this means two things:  first, I microwaved spiders when I was little in the hopes that one would survive and become an irradiated spider which would then bite me and give me super powers… AND I love a good origin story.  In my defense, I was little and microwaves were a new invention.

I particularly enjoy the origins stories for the non-athletes with whom we all train.  BJJ is as diverse a group as I can imagine.  There are athletes and non-athletes, and it’s common to see people training from literally all walks of life.  I’ve trained with doctors, lawyers, a medical examiner, construction workers, cable guys, online web editors, teachers, and professional, full time MMA fighters.  And every one of them found BJJ in a different way.

So, what’s your origin story?  I’d love to hear it, and in return, I’ll share mine below for anyone who might be interested.

My story starts back in 1998 when I quit smoking after 14 years of the pack a day habit.  While that was undoubtedly good for me, I replaced the habit of smoking with an equally bad habit of eating, and ended up gaining a lot of weight.  This peaked in 2003, where I was somewhere in the range of 27 or 28% body fat, carrying a large gut, had high cholesterol, chronic back pain and was pre-diabetic.  In other words, I was pretty much like most of the other 32 year old guys in America.

When my kids showed a passing interest in martial arts, I thought it was great and we found our way into a small martial arts school in Kent, WA.  I trained for about three years at this school which was a mishmash of martial arts styles.  The owner of the school was a black belt in a martial arts style called Aam-Ka-Jutsu, but liked to mix in some grappling (and honestly, anything else he felt like teaching, whether he was qualified to do so or not).  I won’t go much into this school, which has long since closed.  The end result was that, in 2006, I was now 35, still grossly overweight, still had high cholesterol, still had chronic back pain and was, that’s right, still pre-diabetic.

For me, the turning point was when my kids did what kids are prone to do; they lost interest.  Fine with me.  Actually, I have to be honest.  The actual turning point for me was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever willingly done.  One of the last classes I attended at this school, the instructor had a small TV set up off to the side of the training area with the fight scene from the Matrix (video below).  It was the scene where Neo was being tested by Seraph.  Yeah.  So, I’m sure you know what happened next.  Our “martial arts” class went through and reconstructed the fight choreography.  I was embarrassed to be a part of this. We’d done some crazy stuff before, like “awareness” exercises where we would put on blind folds and throw bean bags at each other… but this was far and away the silliest.

The infamous “fight” scene from the Matrix.

 

So, the kids turned their attention to other things, and I was now liberated to find something that would suit me better.  But what?  At this school, my favorite part of the training was the grappling classes.  I had no idea what other styles were out there.  So, I cracked a beer one evening and did what anyone in 2006 would do.  I googled martial arts and started doing some research on the internet.  I started by looking for a Judo club in my area.  I knew just a little about Judo, and thought that this would fit the bill.  Truthfully, it probably would have.  I’ve never trained in Judo specifically, but I have a lot of respect for the art.

But that’s when I stumbled upon Bullshido.com in June, 2006.  Now, Bullshido is almost like barely controlled chaos.  I was fascinated.  I learned new vocabulary words, like “McDojo.”  More importantly, I learned that EVERY SINGLE problem I had with my previous school was common.  The mandatory belt testings, the fees, the questionable practices, the entire thing.  I also discovered that there was a style of martial arts that was all about grappling, and that it was everything that my previous school wasn’t.  No belt testings, no additional fees… no shenanigans.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I read through that site for most of the night and then I started looking for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school in my area.

I found Foster Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which was just a few minutes from my house, and actually vetted the school on Bullshido.  I won’t lie.  I had to work up some courage.  This was way outside my comfort zone.  It took months for me to actually go into the school and check it out.  Like most things, the concerns were completely baseless.  James was huge, but friendly and soft spoken and I ended up starting my training just a few days later, in November, 2006.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  I started this blog just a few weeks later, and have found that whenever I need some inspiration, I can go back and read some of my early posts.  I won’t ever be a world champion (or a superhero), but I have come a long way.  I’m not the same person I was in 2006, and I owe a lot of that to Coach Foster, all of the quality upper belts he’s trained (and who have in turn trained me) and the sport/art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Fast forward to present day, where I train primarily with Bing Crook, a brown belt under James Foster, but I remain a part of the Foster BJJ family at Phantom BJJ in Covington, WA.

So that’s it.  That’s my origin story.  Not quite the Amazing Spider Man (although I’m still holding out hope that I’ll stumble upon an irradiated spider some day).  That’s how an overweight, out of shape, 30-something year old who had never really participated in any organized sport in his life found his way into the combat sport of BJJ.

Apr 042012
 

Still training regularly and having fun.  I watched the Pan Ams this weekend and it was great.  As you can see below, I went a little nuts and watched it on the 110” screen. 

panams

I have to hand it to Budovideos.com.  They did a great job and really held nothing back.  They had an HD feed with commentary, along with dedicated feeds to all 12 mats.

I was switching back and forth, but even the "non-HD’” feeds looked okay on the big screen.  I mean, there was a little artifacting and pixellation, but nothing major.  Kudos to them.

The only suggestions I’d make is, if possible, throw lower-third CGs on the screen to show the names of the competitors and where they’re from.  I realize that this might not be possible for every feed, but for at least the main/commentator feed it would up the game somewhat.  Also, and I don’t know if this is possible, but either position the cameras or in some other way add the scores to the feeds.  It’s great to see the action, but there were several times when the fight was close and I wasn’t sure if the ref awarded an advantage or what.  

Class is going well.  I have to say that having watched the Pan Ams, I’m truly humbled by how effing good everyone looked.  Technical at every level. 

Oh, and I’m really working to eliminate animal protein from my diet.  I have no problem eating meat on an ethical level, although I have long tried to ensure that I’m eating meat that was raised in a somewhat natural state.  I’ll try to keep you guys apprised of how I’m doing. 

And finally, I’m still dying gis.  I have a ShoYoRoll Count to dye grey.  I didn’t get to it last weekend because of the Pan Ams, but it’s definitely on my list of things to do this weekend.

Mar 282012
 

Good times lately. I’ve been watching several food documentaries, and while I’m sure that people have their opinions on food, I’ve decided to give a vegetarian diet a try for a while. I don’t have any real moral compunction about eating animals. I like steak and chicken and don’t overthink our place at the top of the food chain. That said, I do try to buy food where it’s pretty clear that the only real bad day the animals had was their last one. Free range just seems to me to be healthier all the way around.

But I’m game, and it seems as though there are many fellow Jiu Jitsu practitioners who are vegan or vegetarian, so I’m looking forward to getting information and recipes. I’ve already received several great leads on websites, from the happyherbivore.com to information on the Dolce diet, which is a lot of vegetarian/vegan stuff.

Training regularly and feeling pretty good. I’m going to try and amp things up a little bit and compete at the Revolution in November. That’s the goal, but in order to do that I’ll need to drop a few pounds. To be clear, the diet stuff above isn’t about losing weight, but hopefully that’s a by product.

20120328-200415.jpg

Moving on. That’s the crew from Phantom BJJ. Great bunch of guys. We took a couple pictures, and that’s the hamming it up one. If you look carefully… okay, not too carefully… you’ll see a few of the gis I’ve dyed over the years. The one I’m wearing is one of my favorite gis, and the second one I ever dyed. It’s holding up really well. The orange one and the light green one are two others I’ve done.

I’ve also been pretty busy recently, doing a chocolate brown Gameness for Rhino and a Fire Red Hayabusa for Brandon. I’ve got a couple projects on tap, as well. I picked up one of the Prana “flow” gis and dyed it Mist Grey. I’m going to do a ShoYoRoll “The Count”, as well. Also Mist Grey.

One last thing. I’m going to do ScriptFrenzy again this year. 100 pages or more in one month. Write that screenplay that you’ve been dreaming of. Who’s with me? Last year, I wrote a first draft of a full length screenplay about, what else? BJJ. The goal this year is to push myself a little and write something with a little more dramatic heft. I don’t know if I’ve got the emotional gas tank to make that work, but I guess there’s no way to find out without trying.

Feb 082012
 

Had a great time at class on Monday. I made it through the entire class, but took it a little easy during sparring. While I’m over the pneumonia for the most part, there’s a lingering cough that the doc said might last for up to a month. And while my wind just isn’t there, the thing that’s killing me is this persistent fatigue. It’s like I’m tired all the time. But better every day. Don’t get me wrong. Every day I wake up, I feel better than the day before. I’d say I’m at about 80% now, which is awesome. I’m ready to get back in and train at least three days per week again.

But I felt really good after class, and am looking forward to getting back on the mats tonight. Woke up yesterday sore, but ready to go.

One of our old buddies, Owen, showed up yesterday. He’s been out of the State for work for the last several months, but was up just for the day. Got to roll with him and remembered just how big he was. At one point, he passed my guard and was just grinding with shoulder pressure in side control. He’s a big dude… like Thor. I could totally see him jumping over the side of a Viking long ship with axe in hand, ready to plunder and pillage some small village off the coast of Ireland. Or maybe not.

I have three gis ordered and am looking forward to making them different colors. While I’m going to leave the detailed reviews to Meerkatsu, I’ll post a short review of each with some pictures once I get them. I have high hopes for them both.


I’m also working to put together a website for my modest venture into small business ownership. “Dye, Steve. Dye!” is coming together. While I’m still working on getting the gallery put together of my projects and such, you can get more information at http://www.stevebjj.com/store.

Feb 022012
 

kellygreen2I made it to class last night and felt… okay.   Last week, by the time Friday rolled around, I finally admitted to myself that I was getting worse, not better.  I was planning on going to the doctor on Saturday if I didn’t feel better, but Friday morning, when I began coughing up a charming combination of phlegm and blood, I figured I’d probably better get some help.

Sure enough, I was diagnosed with pneumonia, given a stern look or two by the doctor, and a couple of prescriptions.  By Friday evening, I was already feeling better. 

kellygreen1Bing had some personal business to take care of, so we worked some basics. I showed a simple scissor sweep along with a couple of variations, including the elevator sweep. Nothing fancy, but we have several white belts, and I figure that you can’t get enough of the basics. I also talked a little about the “dead angle.”

My energy level remains very low and I’ve still got a cough, but I’m feeling so much better.  I just feel like I’m dragging through the day, but I guess it takes a while to get over pneumonia.  I’m just thankful that I’m on the mend and able to get to class, and I’m looking forward to Friday. 

I was really pleased that Brandon was at class last night.  I was able to give him his newly dyed gi and he really seemed pleased.  In the second picture, I made the mistake of looking directly at it.  While it’s not quite as bright as Bing’s Orange Crush, it’s pretty bright. 

Also, after giving it a lot of thought, I’m going to offer my services if anyone is interested in having a gi dyed by me.  While I think that the process of dying a gi is very accessible, I get there are people who want a unique color, but who aren’t interested in DIY. 

The price is something that I gave a lot of thought to, and I’m going to charge $80 for a single colored gi.  Considering the cost of materials, shipping and the time involved with hand dying each gi, one at a time, I think this is a very fair price. 

I’m in the process of putting some actual policies together on a website so that everything is very clear.  But the way I look at it, I’ll help you with information for free. I have made a lot of information available, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to give it a shot.  But, I’m also available to do it for you, if you’d like to pay for the service.  It’s something I enjoy, and I have done enough of them now that I’m confident that I can make your gi look really good.  I’ll also be working on some hand dyed gi patches and shirts using batik.  More to come on this in the near future. 

Jan 302012
 

Pneumonia_cartoonWill need to take it easy.  While I’m definitely on the mend and the doctor says I’m fine to return to normal activities, I didn’t tell him that normal for me involves sparring.  But he also advised me to listen to my body and don’t overdo things. 

Yes.  I went to the doctor.  Probably about three days later than I should have, but I finally decided that my wife was right and I’m sick enough that I need some help getting better.  The diagnosis is pneumonia, and the antibiotics are helping tremendously.  I’m on day four of five right now, and my energy level is much improved.  My head is clear and I can think again.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling of… mushiness that I had, but I’m sure it’s something we’ve all felt at one time or another.

I’m a little concerned about the cough, still.  The doctor said that the cough could persist for several weeks.  Right now, I cough whenever I take a deep breath, so I suspect that when I do go back to class, I’ll need to stick to warm-ups and technique.  Sparring will depend upon how I’m doing at that point, but if anything, it will be light.

I’m REALLY pumped to get back to class. 

Jan 262012
 

I’m really excited to be training regularly again.  I had been diligently making two classes per week and was looking to bump that up to a routing of three classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Then the Snow Storm came, followed by the freezing rain and down went our power.

And now, after all of that, I have this really nasty cold.  I started feeling bad on Sunday and by Monday morning, I gave up at work and went home to bed.  Now, a few days later, I feel worse, if that’s possible.  My head is pounding and I can’t stop coughing.  I’m chugging Theraflu like it’s fruit punch, and I just can’t wait to feel better.

I’m going to give this through tomorrow, and if I don’t feel better by then, I’m going to go see what the doctor has to say.

In the meantime, I’m really enjoying all of the videos that everyone’s posting.  Jason Scully has been killing YouTube with his terrific “8 minutes or less” videos.  Here’s the latest:

There’s also this one I picked up on Facebook.  It’s a compilation of some pretty damned spectacular takedowns from the Russian Nationals.

Enjoy and I’ll hopefully be feeling better and back on the mats soon.