Monday, June 26, 2006

Talk is Cheap

You have to do the work. ;)


Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Next Level

I stand at the shore overlooking an ocean of possibilities. It has been just under a year since I started studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I can say that I am finally scraping the surface of what this is all about. Of course seeing is different than doing and that is different than saying, but for myself, the picture that I am drawing is undeniable. I am starting to understand.

After 6 years of Karate around the time I received my invitation to grade for Shodan, that was the time I started to "get it". And things were clearer after the year and a half of intense preparation to achieve my Black Belt. It has been years since I earned that belt and I buried those teachings. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is un-earthing the core of those learnings.

The only problem with an ocean of possibilities is you first need a boat. And that boat needs to be constantly worked on and improved in order to float in a sometimes calm or a sometimes choppy ocean. The better you take care of that boat, the better it will work for you.

The challenge after the boat is in good working order is how to steer it. You can go forward, left, right, circle around, stop, and reverse. A captain can adapt to the conditions of the ocean and with more time spent on the water, can anticipate conditions and go with the flow. If the captain makes a mistake, the boat could get damaged and sink. And that happens. But the boat can be rebuilt and the captain should know better for the next time.

Now that the boat is in good working order and the captain has some skill in controlling the boat it is time for the navigator or pilot to take charge. Because the ocean is so large, the pilot has the tough duty of leading the captain in the right direction. The direction depends on the destination. The tough part is figuring out the destination. And that is the place where I am at.

My boat (body) is in pretty good condition. My captain (techniques and rolling skills) are improving in every class. My navigator (game plan) has not yet been developed to a place where it is functional.

At a white belt level, where I am happy to be, I must go with the flow. And that is a lot of fun when training because I do not know what to expect. But I understand that the next level is putting together a plan of action in every roll for every position in order to move myself forward. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but when I actually started to do this, I found out exactly how much I know about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

My three options from each position. What do I try first or based on my opponent's position. If that fails, what next. If that works, what next. Knowing what I need to have myself in the proper position for what I want to do. The plan falls apart, how can I adapt to get back to a place I need to be to work my plan.

Once the plan is established, it must be practiced until second nature. It is a matter of applying the plan faster and faster with more accuracy. It all starts with writing it down from memory. If you can do that without looking at notes, you know it sits in your mind as a functional extention of what is possible or that you can actually do. Then memorize the plan and work on every element until it you have it consistently. All plans can be modified and improved as needed. But everyone must start somewhere.

As I said in the beginning; seeing is different than doing and that is different than saying. I may not have mastered all the techniques I have learned over the past year. But I know what I like and I think I can tie them all together to really build my base; my next step in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Masahiko Kimura

A Saturday Full of BJJ

I woke up this morning bright and early to take my wife to work; a Saturday call in at her government job. Today I would be responsible for my son all day, as I usually am because he is my priority. The only challenge for me is I had planned to spend the day at a pretty big BJJ Tournament; the Bravado Open Tournament followed by the Ontario Invitationals. I made the decision, rather than visit the Zoo for the day like last weekend, to bring my son the tournament. My son is 17 months old, which pretty qualifies me for a job in the cat herding sector.

We, my son Aiden and I, showed up at the tournament around 1:00 in the afternoon. We were welcomed by the school gym full of the humid heat of competition and my Professor smiling and waving me over. As I sat with teammate Timmy, we instantly got to enjoy some of my teammates fight; Victor was very impressive in his second match victory. And Oscar had a great fight a few minutes later in another win for our team. There were many other great matches in all four rings.

That was pretty much it for the first half of the tournament; good fights and some unmentionable drama. The next part of the tourney was the Invitational where we would get to see some of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters in our area put on a show.

The team all showed for this part because Jonathan Lee, was invited to fight another tough 125lbs fighter from Joslin's, Greg Chadd. But Jonathan was not the only one of our team to fight; Sam Osman was also fighting for the intermediate open weight title.

Let's start with Sam. He is by far one of my favourite fighters and not because of his size or skill. I have never met someone with his spirit. You see, Sam takes BJJ and competition very seriously, a seriousness that one does not often see in people. Some people find it intimidating, I find it utterly refreshing and to put it bluntly, kick ass. His fight was with a another fighter who cleaned out their division to make it to the open weight division final. Sam had a tough fight against his very mobile opponent and won on points, 5 to 0 I think. It was a fun fight to watch because I role with Sam often and picked up some ideas. Hear that Sam... ;)

Now for Jonathan. He was one of the main reasons I attended today. Jonathan was born August 30th, 1986 making him a full 10 years younger than me... I was born August 31, 1976 :). I know, a useless factoid. Anyway, he was invited to fight in this tournament against a pretty tough fighter from Joslin's as I mentioned before. I was expecting a long game of chess but it turned out to be a 2 move checkmate. Jonathan went for the Triangle and then transitioned to a foot lock. 26 seconds after beginning, the fight was over. He won convincingly.

So today I walked home with an exhausted toddler, some new Keiko Raca fight pants, and the joy of watching my team kick some ass. As I close out my long day I sip my cold beer and write this post I think, "Man, I love this BJJ stuff".


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The FightWorks Podcast

For the past two months I have been an avid listener of the FightWorks Podcast. If you do not know what it is, your in luck because I am about to tell you. The FightWorks Podcast is an internet radio show on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu hosted by Caleb from the Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Association school, FightWorks in Sterling, Virginia.

The weekly show covers many cool topics to anyone interested in BJJ with just a hint of MMA. All interviews are informative and in my opinion the best source on what is going on; Caleb does not trawl the Underground for info, he goes right to the source. And by source, I mean the likes of Royce Gracie, Roger Gracie, Relson Gracie, Rich Franklin, Dean Lister, Saulo Ribeiro, and others.

If you love the sport and want to be entertained and informed each week, check out the FightWorks Podcast. Here is the link (You will need iTunes installed): The FightWorks Podcast.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Developing My Game Plan

Like most the people I train with, and those who I speak with regarding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; we all consume vast amounts of subject material. There is no shortage of training videos, articles, step by step pictures, books, etc... You could spend all day, every day checking this stuff out. But how much would sink in? For me a least, not much.

There comes a time when you have to think about YOUR game and not the BJJ Superstars' you see on TV. In our school, we have a curriculum we follow for our development and advancement; I spoke about it in an earlier article. That curriculum provides the techniques for various situations, but as I am continually discovering, it does a whole lot more.

A move is just a move. But when broken down into specific parts, it demonstrates crucial mechanics for many other movements, transitions, and situations. No advanced move can be performed without the solid fundamentals found in the basic move.

So that takes me to the point. There is a lot of stuff out there to consume and a basic curriculum to be followed in class. Now that I am coming to my one year anniversary in BJJ, I am ready to start taking these two things and putting together my own personal game plan. Of course, right now, I have my favourite techniques which I have some success with when rolling. But I think it is time to take it to the next level.

My plan is this; put the plan to paper. I will write down my favourite two or three techiques from each position. I will review these techniques in the "randori" or rolling part of class as best I can. I can then add notes to my successes and failures as I remember them. I can make adjusments as I go and ask my seniors for advice and assistance.

Once I have a better understanding of my base, I can tie everything together for my "game plan". The best part is I can add or subtract and shift around. This way I do not limit myself.

I think this way, I can focus on what is important and not use a shot gun approach and hit everything I see or read about. If I try to catch too many rabbits at one time, I will not catch any.


P.S. I may even put this online so you can see what I am up to.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

10 Day Master Cleanse Completed

I have now been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu every week for just over 11 months and I can only see myself getting better. I have learned what my limits are at this point and know that I can improve dramatically mentally and physically as I continue training. I have just finished a major mental and physical challenge I laid out for myself about two weeks ago; The Master Cleanse.

Basically the Master Cleanse is a 10 day fast that "new age hippies" engage in to empty out and clean their colon as well as detoxify their system. I am in no way new age or hippie, so I will share my 29 year old, beer drinking, Nintendo playing, UFC watching, normal guy opinion of the hell I just put myself through.

Firstly I must say that this cleanse is not for everyone. It is hard to eat no food for 10 days straight; no chewing, no biting, and no flavour other than lemon juice, cayenne, and pure maple syrup. The only exercise my jaw got was from talking.

The main challenge for someone who trains is the lack of nutrition that our healthy conditioned bodies need. I missed the last two classes because of lack of fuel; which sucks for someone who loves training. If you enjoy training consistently, do not do this cleanse because you will have to miss a couple of classes to complete it.

During the cleanse, I had strong days and weak days. Because I cook dinner for my wife and son, this time was the most challenging because I make tasty stuff. Other than that, my discipline was strong. I found that my mind wanted to stay active but my body would not go. In the end, even my mind got tired and my memory was not working at normal levels.

I lost a few pounds of fat and a some by emptying my colon. I used to hover between 168lbs and 171lbs depending on the day. I now weigh in at 162lbs after the cleanse. I plan on doing some strategic re-building of my weight by concentrating on muscle building using protein shakes, and more anaerobic exercise. I think just eating alone will put more air in the balloon anyway.

In hind sight, I probably should not have done this Master Cleanse, but it is now done and over with. I can now get back to the business of training and getting better. Will I do the cleanse again? I do not know. It depends on how much someone is willing to bet me I guess...


P.S. for more info on the Master Cleanse, check out this site:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Copa Pacifica 2006 BJJ Black Belt fight between BJJ Revolution and Joan Silvia. Joan does a jacked up takedown attempt halfway into the fight (7:20 in); you can hear the crowd boo big-time.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why We Train? Matt Thornton

My classmate, David, told me to check out this video from Iceland presented by Matt Thornton. It is a good presentation of the BJJ "why we train" idiology.