Bad Boy Shorts sale
Bad Boy Brazil Fight Shorts for $25.
Whether you love jiu jitsu or are celebrating Anderson Silva’s beatdown of Chael Sonnen, at $25, these shorts are a steal.
Took a stab at Tie Dye today for a friend. Turned out a little sloppy, but the spiral on the back came through pretty well. Tie Dying a gi is definitely a different breed of animal than tie dying a t-shirt. The collar presents some challenges, as does the weight of the fabric.
I did this one gratis for a friend, who was gracious enough to allow me to experiment on his gi.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been rolling around on the floor with my friends like a bunch of kids for five years now. I started off knowing nothing and now, well, I guess I’ve picked up a few things, but am amazed by how much I don’t know.
I went back to my 1 year anniversary post, where I posted six things I’d learned over the course of that year. I remember distinctly thinking that I would go back and read the post and laugh at how naive I was. While there’s definitely some of that, I’m happy that the things I posted are things I still believe to be true. That’s particularly true for washing your gi. You know who you are, Stinky.
Over the last year in particular, some different things have become more important to me and my training. What follows are some general thoughts. They’re a little all over the board, but it’s been a long year. So, at the risk of once again creating an awkward source of future embarrassment, here goes:
1: Keep it fun.
I blog because I enjoy it. I train in BJJ because I enjoy it. It’s not work. Work is something I do because I have to. Jiu Jitsu is something I do because I want to. And for a while, it became work, and as a result, I pretty much stopped doing it. I still loved Jiu Jitsu, but I didn’t love training anymore. If that makes sense. So, remember. It’s fun. It’s not work. And do whatever you need to do to keep it fun. I didn’t realize how true this was for me until I started training regularly again a few months ago.
For me, that has a lot to do with the next point.
2: Don’t take yourself too seriously
I began to worry. I got promoted to purple belt and for a short time I was overwhelmed by how heavy it felt to me. I’m humbled by guys like Bing, Jeff, Josh, Ethan and countless others, with whom I train. They study technique. They are absorbing strategy. They pick up on nuance that, frankly, I don’t see. It’s like a dog whistle, where they can hear stuff I don’t. But what I realize now is that it’s all good. We’re all on a different path.
3: It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Training regularly is more important than anything else. I’ve often regretted choosing to skip a class, but I’ve never regretted going to class. When I’m tired or worn out, and I’m thinking about staying home I try to remember this.
4: Technique DVDs are worthless to me
I get 1000 times more from watching competition footage than I do from technique videos and DVDs. This might just be me, but I can drink 5 red bulls back to back, put in a technique DVD and struggle to stay awake after 10 minutes. I can’t do it. But I can watch hours of competition footage and it helps me to see how the elite athletes in our sport roll. So, anyone looking to… you know… buy me something. Ahem. Anyway.
5: Leave the ego at the door
Do we ever really learn this? On an academic level, this gets tossed around quite a bit. Of course, leave the ego at the door. But do we ever really do this? I think we do… mostly, but it’s easy to slip. This video is hilarious and articulates what I’m trying to say very well:
BJJ was good last night. I am SO out of shape, but we started with light rolling to get warmed up and Ethan showed us a couple of sweeps from half-guard, for when the opponent switches his hips and is facing back towards the legs.
I was pretty exhausted. I felt like I rolled well, technically, but man, I was gassed fast.
On the screenplay front, the project is marching right along. I’m at 82 pages now, and working on winding down Act 2. The story is pacing pretty well, in that my protagonist is crashing hard. The world is falling apart on him, and he’s rapidly reaching the point where he’s at his most defeated. It’s from here that he begins the climb to the climax of the movie in Act 3.
I got home from class last night, ate a piece of pizza and got to writing. I was so into the dialogue that I realized after the fact that I’d written something about one of the characters which was a complete surprise to me. I had to laugh, because it wasn’t in my head, but after I started writing out the scene it just made complete sense. And it’s going to work really well in the context of the story.
Slidey, I haven’t forgotten about you. What I’m going to do is finish this rough draft and then get one rewrite in. There are some obvious things that I need to address before I have what I’d consider a working first draft. If that makes sense. Having read your writing, I would really appreciate any feedback you have, so I’ll definitely forward you a copy. Look for it in the first week of May (if not sooner.)
This is also an open invitation to anyone else. If you’re interested in helping me out, drop me a line in the comments.
52 pages as of today. While works been crazy and some minor medical stuff has been going on at home, I have, amazingly reached the halfway point in my script.
I’ve promised myself NOT to edit the script until the first draft is complete, but I’m making notes of places to rework and ideas to flesh out characters who are, as yet, very flat.
But I am still really happy with the story. I have no idea if it’s a “good” script, but it’s definitely shaping up to be something I’m proud of. And I’m looking forward to finishing the first draft and then going back to tighten it up.
So far, the hardest part is not editing. No editing.
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?
That’s right. Today, I bought my black belt in BJJ right off the interweb. It was SO easy.
Okay, okay. April fool’s day or not, I can’t bring myself to fake it. Instead, check this article out on Cracked.com. It’s all about 7 guys who tried to fake it and got busted. It’s an article by a guy named “Seanbaby” called 7 Fighters Who Lied Their Way to Legendary.
Enjoy. With sites like Bullshido out there, and guys like Seanbaby, I can’t believe anyone would train with a charlatan… but it still happens. Hope everyone had a good day and enjoyed their Plenta Americanos at Starbucks (If you don’t know what I mean, you’d better Topeka it).
Reading Dev’s latest post really got me thinking again about competition. I wrote a rather longwinded article on this very subject almost two years ago (holy crap! I’ve been blogging for THAT LONG???). In that article, I gave five reasons that I believe competition is important to one’s BJJ training, even if I hate doing it:
1: Competing forces me to address my conditioning. I had three matches in February and was more gassed than I have ever been. The pace is higher, and the adrenaline and anxiety cause fatigue. I have to be in shape.
2: Competing forces me to address my diet. In competition, there are weight classes. While I walk around at 184 lbs and compete at around that same weight, I want to be healthy and have enough energy to get me through. Others drop weight, and there are good and bad ways to do that. Either way, competition forces my hand. I don’t drink as much beer in the weeks leading to a competition. I try to eat less sugar and am just more mindful of my diet.
3: I learned more about myself in one day on the mats, and in watching my videos from those matches, than I had in the 3 months prior. I saw gaping holes in my game, areas that were exploited. Areas to improve.
4: I also saw things that I do well. Who knew?
5: I gained confidence in my training and my ability. BJJ is so hard on the ego. So much of our time is spent on the wrong side of a submission. So many reps before a technique works. So much time being stacked up, passed, choked or hyperextended. Add to this that as we get better, our classmates are also improving. That blue belt who kicks your butt will likely continue to do so. As you improve, he does as well. Granted, we all learn at different rates, but this phenomenon can obscure our own development. In a competition, you roll with people who don’t know your game. The difference is like Night and Day.
Since I posted this list above, I’ve gained a slightly different perspective. I still believe that all of these points are true, and Dev also articulates very well the points in favor of competition. I did, however, immediately react to Dev’s comment that, “… in thinking about this[article], I started by listing the reasons you WOULDN’T do tournaments. And I got nowhere. Aside from the dreaded PRINCIPLE, I can’t think of a really good reason to not give it the old college try, at least once.” Why not, indeed? Like Dev, I mulled over why one might opt not to compete and came up with a short list of reasons. While they’re all simply my opinion, some are legit reasons not to compete at all. Some are reasons why one might choose not to compete regularly.
1: I’m putting this first because this is what I consider to be the best reason to not compete: it negatively impacts your training in any way. Whether mental or physical, legitimate or not, if you get so worked up at the idea of competing that you begin to actually NOT want to go to class, you shouldn’t compete. I’ve actually seen this happen.
I’ve said many times that I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not concerned with getting good at BJJ quickly. Hell, if I’m being honest, I’d LIKE to get better, but I’m not all that concerned with getting good at BJJ at all. My number one concern is to be training in BJJ when I’m 60 or even 70. THAT’S my number one goal. This isn’t a sprint for me; it’s a marathon.
So, if you are like me, and competition adversely affects the training in some way, I don’t see it as being necessary. Bottom line for me is this: if I had to choose now between being a Mundial champ but have to quit training at 45 or still be a blue belt while training at 65, the choice would be very easy. I’d much rather be a crappy, 65 year old blue belt still training three times each week.
2: Professional considerations. Simply put, I think the most obvious reason to avoid competing has to do with income. If I get injured and will be forced to miss work, I’m lucky enough to have medical leave. Not everyone can say the same. There are many people who work on an hourly rate and will stand to lose income if they miss work. BJJ being what it is, there is always the possibility of injury. In class, however, this is less likely than in competition. At class, I know my training partners and, if necessary, can avoid rolling with Spazzy McEyeGouge, the 210 lbs wrecking ball.
3: Insurance. This is related to the second point, but not everyone has medical insurance, at least not here in the States. While I’ve seen many tournaments that went without any serious injury, I’ve also been to some where I’ve seen some pretty serious stuff. I’ve seen a broken forearm occur when someone tried to catch himself on a takedown. I’ve seen dislocated shoulders, blown out knees and all sorts of stuff that just make me cringe. While I presume that grappling tournaments are insured, I honestly don’t know. Until writing this, it hadn’t occurred to me to ask.
4: Other Medical Considerations: I know that my back can be unpredictable. I feel great for a while and then I can barely walk for a week. While I’m doing everything I can to mitigate this, I can easily foresee a time when I’m going to realize that the increased pace of competition just does more harm than good. I know I’m not alone.
Of course, competition is optional, but I largely agree with Dev. Most people really should try it once. But it’s up to you.
I think it’s critical is that every school have an active competition team. On a more macro level, the competitions help keep things consistent, and if your school participates, you will all know that the belt rankings are roughly on par with those in other regional schools.
On a personal level, though, competition is really just one aspect of a much larger sport. Ultimately, if competing diminishes this for you in some way, I completely understand not doing it.
Ryan picked up a Teko gi that was slightly used. It’s in great shape, but was a little dingy. No big deal. I washed it with vinegar and it brightened back up very well. If you want to know why I swear by vinegar, check out my article on Washing the Gi.
Any discoloration came right out. But Ryan said that I could play around with it. I’ve really been holding off dying this gi until I had one of my own, but that hasn’t happened. I do have a new Warrior One gi I’m going to dye, but I’m not quite ready to batik it yet, so instead of waiting any longer, I figured I’d better get Ryan his gi back.
When I ordered Bing’s orange dye (that I’m going to probably do next), I picked up another color as well: Wedgewood Blue. I really wasn’t sure what it would look like. My concern was that it would come out too light. You know, not manly enough. That’s when I remembered that Ryan didn’t care what color I dyed his gi. I threatened to dye it pink several times and he was okay with it. So, I figured this was my opportunity to try out this color.
Overall, I think it’s a very cool color. It’s lighter than the standard blue, but came out very evenly colored. As usual, the patches and dye failed to take the color, which gives it a nice, finished look.
Jiu Jitsu is a lot like Shrek. Layers. Lots of layers. Ogres have layers. Jiu Jitsu has layers. I’ve been working on deep half guard, along with a specific technique or two from each position. Bullfighter pass here, deep half guard there, yada, yada. Also in the form of disclaimer, these are my blue belt level ramblings, so take them for what they are. Whenever I try to articulate these things, I can’t help but think that in 5 or 10 years I’ll be embarrassed. But whatever. It’s a blog. Right?
We’re always working on something. Whether it’s a guard pass or a position. You ask anyone in jits what they’re working on and they’ll probably tell you something without any hesitation. “Oh yeah. I’m working on X, Y and Z.” But in the background, I’ve been mulling over the larger issue of pressure. In Jiu Jitsu, it seems to me that pressure is one of the keys to good Jiu Jitsu. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about 300 lbs gorrillas smashing the little guy. That’s pressure, for sure, but in my opinion, that’s the least important form of pressure. Pressure, in some form or another, creates opportunities. If I’m controlling pressure, I have the advantage. If I’m not controlling pressure, I’m ceding advantage to my opponent. Productive, controllable pressure comes in many forms.
Physically, pressure manifests through superior technique, superior pace/conditioning and strength, usually in the form of pressure being exerted on a person. At the same time, mental pressure has a lot to do with it, as well. Mentally, pressure has a lot to do with perception, coming from within, although even here it can have a lot to do with one’s opponent.
Physically, have you ever rolled with someone who weighs about 160 lbs, but feels much, much heavier? Conversely, there’s the 220 lbs guy who just doesn’t feel all that heavy. That’s all technique, having learned how to maximize the amount of physical pressure being exerted. This kind of technical pressure is just crazy. When I was in California last year to watch the Mundials, we had a chance to drop in and train with one of my Coach’s Coach, Giva Santana. Giva was rolling with Bing and just crushing him.
Because it’s technical, it can be learned. I tend to think of this technical, physical pressure in terms of control rather than of weight. Some things that contribute to the perception of increased pressure are where the pressure is being exerted, and conveying a feeling of being trapped. For example, if I’ve got my opponent in my side control, I can increase the amount of pressure by focusing on driving my shoulder into his face, keeping him from turning in. I can also pin his hips in one of many ways. While I’m not actually putting any more weight on him, the perception is that there is more pressure. I know I’m locked in tight when my opponent can’t turn away and can’t turn in. I’ve got my hips low and while I’m not crushing him with all 180 lbs, I’m pretty sure he’s feeling it.
In a similar way, I’ve had 300 lbs guys go to knee on belly and, sure, it’s uncomfortable. Another guy I train with, his knee on belly is a killer. I swear, he’s about 200lbs and feels like he weighs a ton. It’s crazy how much of a difference there is. Gravity hasn’t changed, so clearly there must be some technique involved.
But beyond this technical pressure, there are guys who create a sense of urgency in their opponents. I roll with some guys and they never settle in. They move from one position to another gracefully and give the sense that they’re always one step ahead (whether they are or not). This is a different kind of pressure, but it’s just as important. New guys lock in. White belts tend to close their guard and hold on for dear life. This is the pressure that you experience when you’re rolling with someone who makes you feel like every move you make is exactly the wrong one.
Related to the last are the pressures that come from pacing and conditioning. This is the kind of pressure that guys can exert by just being energizer bunnies. Always moving, always attacking. What makes this different from the last, is that this is independent of skill really. Instead of creating a sense of urgency in my opponent by staying ahead of them strategically, I’m really just going flat out, balls to the wall crazy. In a white belt, this will often lead to a lot of tapping out. As we get more technique, however, it can create opportunities as long as the technique is sound.
We were doing a guard pass drill one time in Bing’s Wednesday class. “No strength. Work your technique,” we were told. I get grips and pull guard and WHAM! my training partner got grips, worked some mojo and quick as that he was passed my guard. Bing looked over and said, “Speed ain’t strength.” Of course, he’s right. But speed and athleticism can create pressure.
Mentally, we tend to be our own worst enemies. Pressure can come from a perception of inferior physical ability or skill. “I’m not going to try to sweep him. He’s too big.” Or maybe, “I’ll never catch him. He’s a black/brown/purple/blue/whatever belt.” I’m not sure what I can really say about this. I think I’m among the worst around when it comes to dealing with self-derived stress. What do I do to break out of this? Well, I try to compete when I can. I try to spar with guys who I know I don’t match up well against. These are the guys who kill me every time.
This kind of mental pressure can also be cultivated by gaining a reputation with certain techniques or positions. “Oh, man. So and so has a killer half guard game. Get caught in that and it’s over.”
There are guys who are really good at psyching their opponents out. It’s a gift some people have. I’m not sure if it can be taught, but it’s definitely there.
I don’t have many answers yet, but that’s okay. I may never have the answers. But I think that pressure is a key, and whoever wins that battle, exerting more pressure than the opponent, ultimately comes out on top.