Jan 102012

Bing Crook opened up Phantom BJJ, his Foster BJJ affiliate school, in Maple Valley a few months ago and it’s been excellent training consistently again.  As of right now, he only has two classes per week, but he’s working on adding a third, which would be AWESOME.

As it stands, technically, I’m starting to get my groove back… a little.  I was pretty much out for an entire year, from October 2010 to October 2011.   As I said, I didn’t exactly drop out completely, but I was extremely sporadic and as a result, I surely slipped somewhat in technique and definitely took several steps back with regards to conditioning.

The cold, hard truth is that I’m once again overweight.  A year of beer and Pick Quick burgers (best in the area and, sorry guys, but better than In and Out) and I was a solid 210 lbs in October.   The good news is that, while my cardio is still terrible and I’m making slow progress there, exercise and diet go hand in hand.  What I mean is that when I’m active, I want to eat better because I want to be able to exercise more.  It’s a positive cycle, and as of this morning, I weighed 201.5 lbs.  I’m going to work hard over the next few months to get back to my relatively stable weight of 180 – 185 lbs.  I felt good when I was there, and that’s where I need to be.   I’m on track to lose a healthy 3 or so lbs per month, which is great.

James Foster came out to the school yesterday and trained with us.  It was really good to see him, and I”m going to try and get down to Kent at least one day each week.  I’d like to get back to training 3 or 4 days per week.

Jan 042012

Back to class this evening and man, Bingo really took it to us. Warmups included all kinds of torture. After 30 minutes of huffing and puffing and doing my best not to have a heart attack, we started stretching. Between my proud Norwegian heritage and my complete lack of cardio, I think I looked pretty overdone.

I’m not going to lie. When I started training in BJJ, I was in terrible shape and it’s a little daunting to be… not quite starting over, but pretty close. It took 3 months before I felt like I was going to make it. After 6 months, I’d lost quite a bit of weight and was starting to work on progressing. And that’s about where I’m at now. Realistically, I’m looking at 3 or 4 months before my conditioning will be back.

All of that said, there’s no doubt I’ll get there. I’m enjoying class and looking forward to training. The group that Bing’s putting together is a good one. The guys all have terrific attitudes and there’s no ego. Everyone’s there to learn, work hard and have fun.

I’m looking forward to next week, when Coach Foster will be coming out. Bing wasn’t sure if it would be Monday or Wednesday, but either way it’ll be good to see him again.

 Posted by at 10:01 pm  Tagged with:
Apr 292011

Got held up at work today, so I wasn’t able to make it to class. Still, looking forward to helping out tomorrow at a small, inter-school tournament. Hoping to get some work in reffing.

Saw this on the internet and think it’s great. Walter Reed VA Hospital has wounded soldiers training BJJ to help them reduce stress, build strength and regain dexterity after injuries, even to include loss of limb. Check it out.

Finally, on the Scriptfrenzy front, like Charlie Sheen, I have tiger’s blood in me and I am a WINNER! I got to 106 pages last night. I’m going to finish up the story tonight and then work on a revision. I have a couple of volunteers to give me some critique and I fully intend to take you up on it.

 Posted by at 7:12 pm
Jun 222010

charleebluebelt First thing’s first, congratulations to Charlee on her blue belt.  She’s been training off and on for about 3 years, but has really kicked it into high gear lately and it shows.

And check out this video that Matt Hickney put together for Rick.  Very cool:

BJJ training is moving right along.  I’ve been training regularly again for a while, and that’s been terrific.  Being physically able to go to class three or four times in a week is a downright luxury for me.  My back is feeling pretty good, in no small part thanks to Dr. Sean’s attention.  My cardio is getting better every class.  I’m getting my butt kicked all over the place, but that’s okay by me.

I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s a period of time after every… episode with my back where I just don’t trust it.  Have you guys all read the article that’s floated around periodically about the archetypes found in a gym?   If not, take a few minutes to read them.  It’s hilarious!

But at the same time, if you’re like me, you read those and think to yourself, "Okay… damn.  I did that once.  Crap.  I’ve done that, too."   We all have a blind spot.  One of the hardest things to do is see ourselves as we’re seen by others.  While BJJ is pretty hard on the ego, I don’t think anyone would like to see any of those negative stereotypes applied to themselves.  And yet, they’re funny because we DO know those people.  Now, I don’t know about you, but to me this suggests that there are a lot of us who embody, at least in part, these negative stereotypes, but don’t know it… don’t see it in our actions.

While I don’t spend too much time worrying about how I’m viewed, I think we would all like to be respected and well liked in our circles.  More importantly, these archetypes highlight more than some common personalities.  They highlight a lot of common excuses that we make.  So, when I’m sparring, I spend a lot of time assessing my back and how I feel.  Every time someone asks me how I am, I consider whether I want to tell them the truth, which is usually that it hurts to some degree or another, or to gloss it over.  I’m concerned about developing a reputation for being the perpetually injured guy.  I don’t want to be that guy.

Does anyone else struggle with a chronic injury or limitation in your training?  I’m not talking about something that heals.  I’m talking about nagging, persistent pain or limitation.  A bad back? Pinched nerve?  Maybe some kind of persistent joint issues or hip problems… the sort of thing that you don’t really ever come back from. 

How do you handle it?  Or if you know someone or train with someone, does their persistent limitation affect your view of them?

 Posted by at 6:33 pm
May 262010

Great jiu jitsu weekend. On Saturday, I got to try my hand at refereeing. It was… well, harder than I thought it would be. With a gimpy back, but a desire to participate in the sport and support the growing BJJ/Sub Grappling community in the Pacific NorthWest, I help Jeff of Liberty Events as much I can with his thrice annual tournaments. I’m beginning to realize that any opportunities to compete are going to be rare and unexpected, but I can contribute in other ways. Jeff is an awesome guy who loves the sport and I honestly believe that it’s the least I can do.

And it’s not like I don’t have a great time doing it. In the past, I’ve managed the mats for him, trying my best to make sure that things are running as well as possible. While that’s fun to do, I’ve always been interested in refereeing. So, thanks to Jeff B. and Rodrigo Lopes, the host of Gracie Barra Seattle’s in school tournament last Saturday, I was able to referee a ton of matches.

Once again, it’s harder than it looks. I have a new found respect for those guys, bad calls and all. By the end of the day, I was drained, in spite of the simplified IBJJF ruleset that Jeff uses (ie, no advantages/no penalty points). Refereeing is a mental workout, as you are focused on what the athletes are doing, tracking who’s doing what, watching not only for the obvious such as passing guard, but for the more subtle calls as well. For example, under Jeff’s rules, if someone pull guard before making physical contact, they’re ceding a takedown and it’s 2 points to the opponent. If they make contact and pull guard, no points. But if they pull guard, and the opponent is controlling the leg of the guy pulling guard, that can be a takedown. Confusing? I know!

Add to this being on the lookout for stalling, illegal grips, illegal techniques (white belts! No wristlocks for you!) and trying to decide whether or when to stop the action when the athletes get too close to the edge, and there’s just a lot going on.

So, needless to say, I had a terrific time. I made more than my share of mistakes, but this was the perfect environment for my first step into refereeing. The tournament was free for the athletes, no medals were being awarded and it was really just a chance for the Gracie Barra and Foster guys to get together and tune up. There were guys tuning up for the Mundials, some white belts were rolling for the first time against people from outside their school, and some were just getting some scored, reffed matches in against people they don’t roll with every day.

Some highlights from the tournament were a terrific fireman’s carry from Albert, a white belt in our school. It was BY FAR the best takedown of the day, executed perfectly. I also got to meet the author of Side Control, a BJJ blog written by a Gracie Barra Seattle purple belt. Also, seeing all of the kids (I think about twice as many as had been registered) and how Cindy Hales handled them was terrific. When she told them (paraphrasing) “Okay guys. Try not to cry. There’s gonna be some tears, I know. And it’s okay if it happens… but try not to.” That was really funny. She is so good with the kids, and it’s great fun to watch them roll.

My staph infection has healed well. I’m off the antibiotics and am largely healed up. I went back to class on Monday for the first time in weeks and felt pretty good. I got a lot of mat time and it felt good to work out again. When I say “largely healed up” I really just mean that the hole is filled up and I have skin where I should. The skin is new and I’m just being very cautious, so I’m keeping it covered at class until it’s totally invisible.

 Posted by at 3:21 pm
May 092010

I posted this on Facebook already, so for my Facebook buddies, this is a repeat.

I got bit by a bug or something on my left elbow… noticed it on Monday. By Wednesday, it was clearly becoming a problem, so I went to the doctor and was prescribed an antibiotic. She didn’t seem overly concerned, so even though it hurt like hell, I wasn’t concerned either. I kept it well covered and pressed on.

By Friday, it was clear that it was abscessing and looking really bad. Doctor told me that it’s likely I picked up the infection from leaning on a counter. While I’m diligent about washing my hands, I have to admit that I pretty much only wash my elbows in the shower, so it’s a good bet that she’s right on target.

So, I did what a lot of guys would do. I sterilized a needle and lanced it, getting as much of the infection out as I could stand. It was really gross, but from past experience, I knew that if the infection was abscessed, the antibiotics don’t have a chance to work. What worried me is that, even after squeezing out a bunch of green/white nackiness, there wasn’t any blood.

My wife saw my handiwork and… let’s just say she wasn’t impressed.

So, off we go to the Urgent Care down the street. The doctor wasn’t impressed, either… but I’ll say this. She didn’t end up trying to get any more out. Parting instructions included, “Next time, if it starts to swell up again, don’t do this yourself. Come down here and let us do it.”

I heard, “Good job. You got all the crud out on your own but we can make sure that the tools are sterile.”

My wife heard, “Your husband is an idiot and he’s lucky he didn’t make it worse.”

I like my version better.

Anyway, official diagnosis is staff infection with cellulitis, but I caught it early enough that there’s no hole or any of that. She took a culture and I’ll know tomorrow hopefully whether it’s MRSA.

In the meantime, I’m actually on two antibiotics now, because she’s not sure which is the best until the culture comes back. The swelling and redness isn’t getting better, which is worrisome. But it’s not getting worse either, which I’m taking as a good sign that the antibiotics are doing their job, and the pain is loads better.

Either way, I’m out of class for at least two weeks.

 Posted by at 10:22 am
Feb 082010

Not THAT kind of swing… sheesh. This blog is strictly PG, for Pete’s sake. I mean East Coast Swing. For Christmas, I signed my wife and I up for dance lessons. I have always wanted to do this, but have never taken the plunge because of my chronic back pain. For years, even at times when I would characterize my back pain as being “mild,” standing was bad. Standing up for long periods of time, walking, running, that sort of thing would make my back ache. So, now that my back is feeling really good, I figured it was time to give it a shot.

It’s terrific. I am really enjoying have regular time to spend with my wife. That’s been great. I’m also have a lot of fun with the dancing itself, and it turns out that I don’t completely suck at it. We’ve been learning lots of moves, and I think that East Coast Swing was the perfect dance for us to start with, although my wife drug me to a Cha Cha seminar and that was pretty fun, too.

I know that some other BJJ addicts out there also dance. I’d be interested in any tips or tricks you have for me. I’m a total dance noob.

On the BJJ front, though, I’ve been training sporadically over the last month or so. It started with ringworm. Yuck. I had it on my arm, took a couple weeks off to defungalize, then went back to training and ended up getting it again, this time on my throat. Double YUCK!

I’m not sure where I got it or from whom, but I definitely don’t want to do unto others as had been done unto me… if that makes sense. I stayed away from the school until I could be damned sure it wasn’t going to come back. Add to this a spouse who’s travelling quite a bit for work, a volatile toddler with strong opinions about things, a 12 year old daughter who wants to bake cakes, cookies, breads or and a son who’s in the midst of daily wrestling practices and it’s been a challenge to get to class more than once or twice per week. I’m really hoping to change that after we get back from DisneyWorld in a few weeks.

Still, on that front, I have been working on recovering guard from turtle, and have also been working on some deep half guard stuff that Coach introduced into class. I’ve been having some success getting to the deep half guard position and overall am liking it for reversal/sweeps. I’ll need to take a look at the Jeff Glover instructionals to pick up some more tips and techniques.

That said, anybody out there like deep half guard? Let me know if you’ve run into any details that helped you with it (or to counter it).

Jan 172010

I’ve written about Crusher on my blog in the past. He’s the guy that made me seriously question whether I was right for BJJ. I saw him and thought, “Oh crap. I’m in the wrong place!” As is the case with most BJJ guys, though, Crusher is a very cool guy.

When I began training in 2006, he was a brown belt, Coach Foster’s first student to reach that rank (and until recently, his only student). Crusher is a former power lifter… think world’s strongest man. He was built like that, like an oak tree. He was immune to being choked because his neck was only 2″ long and was as big around as my waist.

In the first month or so of training, I paired up with Crusher in sparring. Coach said to him, “He’s new, so teach him some stuff.” So, he promptly rolled me into mount (yes, he pulled mount on me… how demoralizing!), let me work for a bit, then reversed me and passed my guard. Remembering that he’s supposed to be teaching me “some stuff” he says as an afterthought, “Okay. Right here… you’re losing.” :)

Crusher’s real name is Jason McKissack, and until about a year ago, he was a police officer on the Seattle PD. As he tried to break up a fight, he was jumped by the group, including both parties in the fight. Here’s a link to the original article:


The brain damage he sustained has left his equilibrium completely out of whack. Well, now, because he’s no longer able to serve on the PD, they’re cutting his medical coverage. Since he is no longer a police officer, the only way his family could continue to get medical coverage is if he were killed.

Here’s the link to a video of the story and to the article itself that ran a few days ago locally.

We’ve had 6 officers killed in the line of duty within the last few months and that’s a tragedy. But I know that the families of these slain officers have received an overwhelming display of support, financial and emotional, from the entire community. They did their jobs and the community came through when needed. What really pisses me off about this situation is that Jason says in the article that his family would be better off if he had died. That just sucks. That he survived should be celebrated, not penalized. His family should be better off that he survived, not worse.

There’s a house bill being proposed that would insure that officers injured in the line of duty and unable to return to duty would keep their medical benefits. HB1679 would protect first responders by ensuring catastrophic medical care. Take a look. If you’re in WA, consider letting your State Rep know that it’s important to you. As things stand right now, I believe we’re morally obliged to take care of our first responders. It’s the right thing to do, and this bill does that.

Now, all of that aside, besides the personal interest I have in this story, this also brings up other topical points I’m curious about. What do you guys think?

Regardless of your stance on health care (although if we had single payer, this wouldn’t be an issue), what do you think about the reality that, as it stands, in the case of a medical emergency it’s often better for the family if the person dies than if they live but suffer from a permanent, disabling condition? How would you handle the loss of employment, loss of income and often the loss of medical insurance coupled with enormous personal debt and medical debt wreaks havoc on a family? Divorce is very common, bankruptcy also commonplace and homelessness for the disabled individual is a real possibility if everyone he or she thought was there… suddenly isn’t. “Sorry, honey. I just can’t handle it any more. You’re not the person I married.” Is this an issue for you? Important? Do you guys believe the chips fall where they may… just bad luck? What would happen to you and your families if you were in a car accident or something, could no longer work, lose your medical coverage and wrack up six digit medical bills? Are you prepared?

Jan 052010

Christmas was awesome, but… there were a few snags. For some reason, someone gets sick in our house for Christmas. Every year. Sometimes it’s only one person, and sometimes, such as this year, it makes a run through the entire house.

Christmas morning we awoke to the sounds of my oldest puking loudly in the bathroom. It was 4 am and at the time my wife and I weren’t sure if he was REALLY sick or if it was just nerves and lack of sleep. I know he was excited about the presents and so we largely wrote it off. He looked like he was feeling better, so we took it easy for a few hours. The kids opened their presents and everything seemed okay. But by 8 o’clock, Ken was back in bed, where he stayed pretty much all day long. He came out for dinner, but ate very little and then went back to bed.

Fortunately, he was doing much better the next day because I was the next to fall. I ended up losing about 6 or 7 lbs in 12 hours and was beginning to become concerned about dehydration. On the plus side, I broke 180 lbs by the new year, a goal I had set many months ago. I went to bed on Sunday night at 183 lbs and by Monday morning I weighed under 177 lbs. While, of course, this was just water and within a day or so I was back up over 180, I have managed to legitimately keep whittling away at my weight and am now right around 180 and dropping. I was 179 this morning and hope to stay on track.

Monday my wife and older daughter caught the bug. Ken really picked up the slack for us, taking care of the baby and keeping the house under control.

In other health news, my back feels really, really good. Better, in fact, than in a very long time. I’ve been seeing a chiro pretty regularly and have seen some real benefit from it. I’ll keep it up and hope that in addition to everything else I’m doing, adding an adjustment at least every couple of weeks for a while will improve the strength and stability in my lower back.

On the presents front, I was given a Dollamur Flex-Roll mat for my garage. I have one already, a green tatami style that I was given by my brother last year. It’s terrific, but at 5×10, it’s a little small for anything but static drills. To do any real rolling, I need a little more mat space and wanted to get another one to make a 10×10 area. Well, it’s on the way and I can’t wait. Should be a place where I can throwdown with anyone willing to come by. Maybe if my HOA gives me any trouble I’ll issue a challenge and we can settle it using the old Catch Wrestling rules.

Hold on. My wife is telling me that’s a bad idea.

… my attorney is also telling me that’s a bad idea. Okay. So… maybe no challenges to the HOA, but hopefully I can supplement my class time with some work at home.

My goals for the new year are to really hit another leap forward in technical understanding of Jiu Jitsu. I’m looking forward to being healthy and strong, building my cardio and either coming to terms with or overcoming my chronic back issues. I believe that if I can train regularly, this will be a very good year for me. I intend to compete for good or ill as often as I can in 2010, just to get the experience. I would love to go to the Pan Ams in April. That’s a big goal of mine, and one I hope to meet.

I hope you all have a great 2010 whatever your own personal goals might be.

 Posted by at 12:04 pm