Friday, September 29, 2006


Our club is clear of Staph infections and has been for months now. But watching TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) over the past few weeks was a sad reminder of what happened at our club funnily enough, as it was happening during filming of the show. First of all, Staph infections suck. I had it really bad and so did some, but not all, of my classmates. If you have been reading Got Jits for a while now, you may remember my time doing the Master Cleanse. Well, 2 days into my cleanse, the first red "pimple" like mark showed up on my left forearm. Here is my story...

At first, Staph or Impetigo, shows up as a little dot or pimple. And then becomes 2 or 3 pimple like lesions as the first starts to grow. Then all 3 grow and the area gets red and itchy. As the entire reddened area continues to grow, the center of the break out starts to open up, showing a deep and wet honey colored moisture as the top layer of skin recedes.

By the time you are aware that something is not right, maybe 3 or 4 days later, you get an itch on your jaw. A little bump has appeared where you shave. You attribute it to acne because you have never heard of Staph. Your arm starts to throb and you put Polysporin or maybe even Tea Tree Oil on it. It is time to see a doctor.

By the time you see the doctor, the bumps are all over your neck, where your beard would grow if you let it. The doctor informs you that you have a Staphylococcal infection and that your shaving has caused it to spread from your chin to your neck, in some places bleeding out. Not only that, it may get worse before it gets better. Your arm throbs. Your neck feels dry, but is constantly wet with discharge. And you are no longer allowed to shave. Not even a 1980s turtle neck will save you from the looks of disgust from the people around you.

That was my experience with Staph infection. It really sucked. My pain and suffering was amplified because I thought it was a product of my 3oo calorie a day intake during the Master Cleanse. At this point, I will share my treatment and the expert care in which my Professor sought to quell the outbreak at our club.

Firstly, my doctor put me on a systemic anti-biotic called Flucloxacillin, ingested every day for 6 days. I was also given an Anti-Inflammatory called Hydrocortisone to apply twice daily; this was supposed to weaken the skin, break it down so the wounds would heal faster. After doing a lot of research on Staph, I also added a Triple Antibiotic Ointment to my array of tools to kill the infection. It took around 10 days for the treatment to take effect. 30 days for the wounds to heal. And it has been months since my ordeal and I still have slight discoloration on my arm but my neck shows no trace of the Staph Infection. That is how I dealt with my personal situation.

My Professor, once identifying the beginning of the outbreak immediately took action to protect the un-infected students. He called everyone and asked them if they felt like they had something. If yes, it was time to take a break from training and watch some TV, as well as to go and see a doctor of course. His quick action saved a lot of guys from getting hit and in a few weeks things were back to normal. Our club is also kept very clean which helped keep this incident under a firm control.

The reason I was so descriptive in the beginning of this post was to make sure that if you think you have something to get checked out. Because if you think you have something like Staph, you could easily spread it around. And really, who likes bleeding from the neck? I would have written about this earlier, but the pain was still to close to my heart. Just Kidding. I am posting now because of a quick note in the forum from "FarmBoy", which brought back my entire ordeal. If you got it, good luck. If not, I hope you never get it.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fourth Stripe Grading

Everyone starts at the bottom. Everyone must work hard to progress. Nothing is free.

I have given much thought to my last post regarding BJJ gradings. To sum up, I was under the impression that building a game from the ground up, based on situations experienced, would lead to a better game. Organic Jiu Jitsu. Of course, if you are constantly getting caught in triangle, you will learn the defense. And that was the basis of my perspective last week.

I spent some time discussing that perspective with my Professor and he, as with everything in the realm of BJJ, improved my vision. There were two specific discussions that I want to share, as presented by someone who has been there and done that. These two "Perspectives from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt" should be important for everyone who trains in BJJ.

The First Perspective

Driving back from the Marcelo Garcia seminar a couple weeks ago, my Professor shared some of his insights regarding his game when rolling with me. I was interested in finding out how he was able to take control so easily in almost every situation; the little and almost unnoticable things. His words were simple and profound. He said, "I know what your options are." He knows what my options are is because he taught me what my options are.
The Second Perspective
In a private lesson last week, Professor and I spent the first half hour just talking, specifically regarding my BJJ Gradings post. It was time to defend my perspective to my teacher. The discussion was around curriculum. He said, "Do University students go to class and simply choose to learn what ever they want? No. They follow a curriculum based on someone who knows what is important and what is not. That way success is structured and measurable, and ensures the student leaves with the right tools to be proficient in their profession. In our case, the profession is fighting in BJJ."
Tonight I passed one of the hardest gradings mentally I have had to face so far in BJJ; my fourth stripe. The curriculum was not easy and there was a lot to cover; 2 pages of techniques in my case for the stripe. In order to progress in our BJJ club, you need to really understand your stuff and train hard. Rather than discuss what I did or how I did in the grading, I want to discuss how my Professor's two perspectives came into play in altering my thoughts on BJJ Gradings today.

At this stage in my training, I have been introduced to a lot of techniques that cover almost every basic situation found when rolling. As I continue to train, I will know more and more what my opponent's options are. I will constantly re-discover what works because it comes from someone who has done their homework and shares the secrets. Curriculum gives us the path. Gradings ensure we stay on the path. And I am very lucky to have my Professor as a guide to keep my game, and my mental development in check.


P.S. Thanks Sam for being my training partner for the grading.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

BJJ Gradings

I wish there were more hours in the day. I wish there were more days in a week. And I wish I could train BJJ 5 days a week. For me, it is an addiction like surfing. When you catch that perfect wave or have that "everything goes right" roll; you keep coming back for those moments. Even when you get your ass kicked and know you could have, should have, not rolled over so easy, you want to correct it.

Because of a flurry of personal and professional things (most good, some bad) occurring all at this precise time in my life, I feel that my BJJ mind is getting its ass kicked. I felt useless rolling today, which is rare for me. And in addition to the storms beating down my brain from every direction, I am grading next Wednesday.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the simple thing that holds everything together for me. It is the perfect game to play in order to progress mentally, physically, and for the new age crowd; spiriturally. It is not easy. But it is not difficult either. The challenges can be overcome with time and dedication. The hard part is where to put the focus.

Gradings urgently set the focus on proper curriculum or fundamental study. The general overview of what needs to be achieved to make progress. You have to demonstrate an understanding in front of the class and the Professor. This public display causes the previously mentioned urgency that forces preparation. However, there is a difference between "showing" and "understanding". "Showing" means steps can be demonstrated in a controlled situation and does not speak to proficiency. "Understanding" means that techniques can be implemented in different ways and used as a part of a larger plan in real world situations.

At this point, with the curriculum I need to demonstrate, I may be ready for my next level with some polish of course. In terms of the curriculum I understand, there is no way for me to gauge that with a stripe or a belt. When I roll, it all just sort of happens. Some things come naturally. And some things I must pull out of the mental technique library. And techniques are added that do not reside in the curriculum.

For me, I wish that BJJ was a little more organic and less structured at this point. And I think that this can only be achieved, for me at least, by focusing more on the whys and less on the hows. Because if I understand the whys; the hows will be much easier to apply, even invented.

There is a lot of curriculum to take in and it is extremely difficult to be proficient at everything. Could I even use all of it? Probably not. But over the past 15 months, I have my favourites. Does that mean that everything else is useless? Of course not. But some things are more important for me right now than others.

I look forward to the day where there is no set curriculum and I can focus on just training and adding to my game. Well, I kind of do that right now which may get me in trouble for the upcoming grading. Self discovery, the "oh that works" moments, when rolling have always been of greatest value for my BJJ memory. Holes appear in my game and I do my best to fill them in; I remember these techniques most.

I do not know why I am so conflicted at grading time. I see the importance. I know the need. But for some reason I am conflicted as to a gradings value to me personally at this point in my training. But this is my conflict as a white belt, with a white belt's understanding. I know when I am a purple, brown, or even black belt and read this, I will then understand the value of providing the general base for future progression thrust upon me by the discomfort of gradings.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Funny how sometimes life jumps up and grabs you when you are hitting a stride. I have missed two classes, one due to family obligation and one due to my son bringing home a bug I did not want to spread around. The side effect, I feel that my body has relaxed and healed up from 2 months of constant training.

I admit that I was starting to feel sluggish when rolling; not crisp. But now I feel relaxed and ready for Wednesday's class.

Sometimes it essential to take step back, whether you want to or not, to get back in the mind set of training more effectively. Because BJJ is becoming more entrenched in my life, it is alright to stand back for a moment and take a look at what it is doing for me.

And with my baby girl due in less than 2 months, I will rely on BJJ more and more to a) keep me sane, and b) prepare to intimidate the hell out of future boyfriends 16 years from now with my mad BJJ skills. ;) I think Professor Schilling does private lessons on stare down and intimidation tactics, I will ask him tomorrow.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Part of His Game

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to go the Marcelo Garcia Gi seminar at the Combat Fitness Gym in Toronto. First I want to say that I have always been blown away by watching Marcelo work his game. It is like some out of this earth turbo jitsu that only conforms to the most basic of bjj elements. The rest of his game is a sort of a counter jiu jitsu that allows him to walk past and step over what other people train over and over. It defies, no, redefines logic.

The seminar only lasted 3 hours and it was done in a progressive style; first do this, practice. Now add this. Practice. Now do this, because this could happen. Practice. This really helped drive home the fundamentals which in my opinion were the "Atari" or "Joystick" grip which he uses to save his fingers from thrashing, a "Leg Control" sweep to awkwardly put an opponent off balance, and the "Arm Drag" to steal an opponent's back.

It was clear that the techniques presented were effective; check out Marcelo's record. But what really surprised me was the simplicity. His game plan is awesome because it is so simple once broken down.

After the seminar I took another look at a video I put up in February, re-posted below, to see if what we learned was present in his matches. The first match I watched in the video was the entire seminar. The arm drag, the "Leg Control" sweep, the taking of the back, and the finish. Awesome!

And as for meeting Marcelo, he is just a happy nice guy. You would never know he was a World Champion from talking to him. And when I found out he is only 23 years old, I was in shock. I suppose age has nothing to do with mastery of an art. Thank you Marcelo!


P.S. If Marcelo Garcia comes to your town, go to the seminar. Do not miss it!

Marcelo Garcia Video

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Game is Not a Game

The past two classes I took a look at how I was rolling from a different point of view. Sure, rolling is fun and challenging and keeping it light helps all of us improve. But I considered for a moment why sometimes rolling must be taken much more seriously.

Sometimes we seek a defensive position to relax and gather strength to escape or recover from an intense play. But I have never been happy at anytime gathering recovering from a weaker position; bottom mount, bottom side control, even close guard (although neutral). I would much rather fight to an offensive position and recover there. Knee on belly, full mount, or side control are much easier places to catch your wind and get your head back in the game.

Here is why this is important for me and should be for everyone.

Imagine for a moment that your opponent could throw punches and drop knees on you. How effective would recovering be from bottom mount with a heavy hitter sitting on top of you. Not very. And just because we train in BJJ should not give us a false sense of confidence in the real world. If it came down to it, getting hit in the face may throw us off our finely tuned grappling game in a real fight.

So from now on, if I am stuck in a bad place, I will imagine that my opponent has the option to hit me. And that will be a good motivation to escape. Unless, of course, I have them tied up. And if I am on top, I will imagine how many times I can drop a bomb on my opponent; without doing so of course. Because I am a nice guy... ;) That, I think, will add a realism and urgency to my game and make me a better fighter.


P.S. Marcelo Garcia seminar this Sunday!!!