Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Getting to Choose

I question the timing in writing this post as I feel pretty exhausted after class. But, as with the lesson I am about to share, all it takes sometimes is a willing brain; even if it needs a little coaxing.

I did not feel good enough to attend class today, but I would have felt even worse if I missed it. The past two weeks has taken a lot out of me caring for my son and the lack of sleep and stress that came with it. It all came to a head around 1:30 this afternoon. As I continued my duties as father, I take every Wednesday off to have father son day, I tried to pace myself to get ready for the prospect of attending class.

When I am in class, I do not like to do things half assed, because the results for my development would be half assed. But I admit today after the warm up and technical portion of the class, I was ready to pack it up, go home, and sulk. I told my Professor that I wanted to sit out for the roll and he said "alright". So I sat down for about 3 seconds until he called the Blue Belt line up. I stood up and told him to put me in the rotation. He even let me choose my partner so I chose one of the two toughest fighters around my size in the class today. I got the second in my second roll... ;)

I fought and I suffered and I loved it. After class, I told professor that I felt like death. He said he would not let that happen and said that the feeling was only going to push the bar just a little farther. I regret saying that because I have been in worse physical situations. I wish someone would kick the drama out of me sometimes, because there is no place for it as I progress. None.

So that brings me to what I had to re-learn tonight, a reminder. I do not have to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I get to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If I feel ill, it would most likely be ego that stopped me from rolling, not the illness itself. If I get tapped, big deal, I still learn something. If I can stand on the mat, I should do everything I can to complete class because as Professor said, I will not die. And that is the best invitation to push the bar higher and higher. The best part is we get to choose to train!


P.S. Although I feel like crap, my mind feels good. And that outweighs the physical pain! Time to sleep.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The BJJ Outlet

My son took really ill after we came back from our little vacation South. And it was torturous to watch my 18 month fight a battle like that; he has since recovered but must still put on more weight. One thing that helped me save my sanity from sleepless nights and a sense of loss of control was hitting the mat.

After class, I feel fantastic; like a weight has been lifted. I can come home again feeling refreshed and ready to take care of family business. Sometimes we all need a change of pace and BJJ is certainly a pretty big change of pace. Just another simple reason I like training and how it helps me improve my life...


P.S. Stretching and ice has saved my arm yet again. It was just a muscle pull, I think. Anyway I am good to go for my next class. 99%!

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Pre" or "Self" Submission

Ever feel intimidated when fighting a larger, senior, or superior opponent? Does that intimidation lead you to hold back in hopes that your taking it easy will elicit the same response from your opponent? I have come to learn that this "pre-submissive" approach will earn you no quarter when rolling, especially when at an uncontrollable disadvantage.

I consider this "pre-submissive" fighting mind set to be different than "non-committal" in certain situations where experience is an issue; attempting take downs when fighting "stand-up" for the first time for example. Solving the "non-committal" mind set comes with time, as I am finding when gathering more experience and applying knowledge. Practice, practice, practice is the key to confidence of making commitments.

But "pre" or "self" submission has more to do with expectations of getting your ass whooped or being a victim. I have done a lot of thinking about this as I progress in BJJ and have figured out that this personal mental opponent can be conquered.

There are three specific things that I do before each match I fight where I think I may be out-matched.

  1. Think of one thing I need, not want to, need to accomplish against the opponent. Sometimes, for me, it is not a submission but to score and hold a dominant position or to escape a position I found myself in the last time I rolled with the opponent. A small achievable goal...

  2. When I bow and shake hands, the mutual respect shown means that I will most likely not die in the fight, so I should not be afraid to fight. Drop the emotion from the game. It is a mental, physical, and technical game of chess.

  3. Be the thorn. I may not win, but I sure want my opponent to know they were in a fight. This means, even though I may not have a lot of skill yet, I will bring what I got and be quick to seize opportunity.
Much like when I wrote about the defensive mind set a few months ago, "pre" or "self" submissive mind sets can be equally detrimental to improvement in BJJ. I may not be able to control my opponent, but I can control myself. I suppose it all comes down to dropping the emotion and "given'er" when rolling. Small personal victories build up to real and measurable results in technical, mental, and physical BJJ development.


P.S. In striking sports, the harder you hit, the harder you would get hit. In BJJ, quickly applying techniques and thinking faster will most likely not result in the same physical retaliation. So why set personal limits on playing your game?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Balancing the Big Three

There are three things that need to be balanced in order to ensure a happy life. Each of the big three need to be maintained at all times and none of them can be neglected. If one slips, everything will most likely suffer. I speak of this because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu plays a most important role in one of these major life elements. Here they are:

  1. Personal development: This is where you take care of yourself and make your self better internally. To improve myself personally, I train in BJJ, exercise, read a lot, play, and work on personal tasks that sharpen my mind intelligently and creatively.

  2. Family/Friends Development: We all need to be supported and need a home base to come back to to share. If my wife or son are unhappy, then you can bet that my unhappiness is sure to follow. And the same goes for friends; those relationships need to be taken care of in the form of hanging out, sharing experiences, and aiding when needed. All this takes as much work as personal development.

  3. Professional Development: This can be literally related to the generation of cash for labor. All focus in professional development should only be aimed at generating wealth. Of course skills must be developed to get more and more, but skills development falls under personal development. The better your skills, the easier it is to put them to work for more wealth. Do I enjoy running my companies? Sure, but not at the expense of my family, friends, or personal development. But, again, there must be a balance because my business allows me time for the other two.
So why the life pep talk? Because if you are reading this right now, you probably train in BJJ and it is important that you understand this. Just like you should never let your training slide, keep an eye on the other things that matter. As you can see by the picture above, in 2001, I weighed in access of 215lbs because I concentrated too much on business, less on family, and very little on personal development. As a result, my life was not so good; I had man boobies for Christ's sake! So I have experienced what can happen if balance is broken and it isn't pretty.

It took a great deal of effort to put everything back in proper order and it is easier now that I understand what is required to maintain the big three. Just do not fall into the life unbalance trap, because it is hard to escape once in it. Personal, Family/Friends, and Professional development. Keep training as well no matter how tired or sore you are, because that is a major element to keeping everything together. Trust me, I know.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back from Vacation

I just got back from my first vacation in almost a year and a half. My wife, son, and I did a road trip to Washington DC and Virginia Beach; a 14 hour journey. I remember trips like this when I was not in shape and hotel beds and long car seat sitting would kill my back, but this marathon was a piece of cake this time round. Here is a quick summary of stuff and random thoughts if you are interested;

  • Food in the US is very bad for you. On the road there is almost nothing nutritional to eat. I am happy to be back in Canada and my healthy food filled fridge.
  • My son climbed every step of the Lincoln Memorial, a feat for most some people and he is only 18 months old. Every step!
  • The best workout I had was the 2 or 3 hours of boogie boarding every day in Virginia Beach. I also enjoyed running in waves.
  • Sports stores in the US kick ass. You can find things there you can not find in Canada. I picked up a Nike Speed Rope and one pound Finger Grip Ball cheap.
  • There is nothing worse than knowing you are turning to meatloaf due to inactivity.
That is it, five things. I picked up SuperFit; the Royce Gracie book on working out for BJJ and will write a review shortly. It had some good things in it, but noting beats training in class. I will be back in class tomorrow and look forward to getting my ass kicked back into shape. But I have to warn every one in my class; I have a skipping rope now and I am not afraid to use it...


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Third Stripe Grading

I just passed my third stripe grading. I would like to say that I feel relieved and I would also like to say that I feel good. But I do not feel relieved or good. I made a mistake that I will not make again and I am happy that I learned it now, early in the game. I tried to catch too many rabbits.

Sticking to the learning of fundamentals must trump all other learning, hype, or pursuit of accolades when concerning growth and development in BJJ. I must start at the beginning, move up step by step, and embrace and nurture fundamentals before moving forward if I truly care about BJJ. Foundation is everything and I lost sight of that for the past few weeks.

My error in this grading was focusing not only on the third stripe curriculum, but trying to tackle the fourth stripe list as well. I have a basic grasp of all of it, third and fourth stripe; a few private lessons with professor go a long way. But rather than turning out a spectacular grading performance, I felt mine was lack luster. I am ashamed and not because of what anyone else saw because it was not that bad visually, but because I hold myself to a standard that I feel I did not meet tonight. I am capable of nailing every single technique but my loss of focus killed that potential. I feel undeserving of my new stripe.

However, the stripe on my belt does not define me, I define the stripe on my belt. And I am pissed off just enough with myself to train harder and focus more on the basics. My new stripe will laugh at me every class and every roll until I set things right. And I can't wait to start all over again... ;)


P.S. If you try to catch too many rabbits, you will not catch any.