Semi-Charmed Life


Must Be The Feeling

I had such a great training session last night. I definitely feel like the last competition helped improve my game. I am making much quicker decisions at the onset of the matches in training of whether I want to play a guard game or if I want to play a passing top game, depending on what looks my partner gives me. I've noticed that in training, many people like to hand or grip fight lackadaisically without any clear indication of whether they want to start with a guard game or if they want to initiate a guard pass. Last night, my goal was to be the one to make the first decision of where I want the match to take place. Competing has helped me realize that I much prefer to be the one passing than the one playing guard, and if I am playing a guard game then I prefer a cross collar foot on hip type of open guard.

Even though I haven't been having much tournament success, it's nice to see that I am actually learning from my experiences. I felt pretty good about last night's training session, despite taking an errant knee to the mouth and getting a fat lip.

Anyway, I've been playing this dubstep jam all morning:

This one too!

Mishal Moore - It Ain't Over (Document One Remix)


Self-absorbed Training Entry

Today in training I decided to partner up with some fresh faces because I have been feeling very stagnant lately in my training. I've been getting crushed in training by my usual training partners for some time now, so it felt like I needed a change. In training, it's very easy to get comfortable with a handful of people who you like to train with.

It's not that I cherry pick people in order for easier training, because most of the guys I like to train with range from being competitive with me, to outright crushing me. It's because I know they train safe and that they can go hard without being hazardous to my health.

But today, I needed someone who didn't know my game but who I thought would be around my level. I ended up pairing up with two blue belts who are probably recent blue belts. One was bigger than me and the other one was significantly bigger than me. When it came time to roll, I was amazed at all the passes, transitions and submissions I was able to hit. I RARELY get a submission in training.

Anybody who trains will probably read this and be like psshh look at this loser, so excited about some gym "wins."

It's not about winning. It's about knowing that my jiu jitsu works. A lot of times I think that I've trained for 3 and a half years but my jiu jitsu is just meh, so it's nice to have some type of confirmation that hey, it wasn't all for nothing. I'm actually getting better.

So with this in mind, I need to find a way to balance my training out more. I need to train with fresh faces more often. There is usually 40+ people in class, so a shortage of bodies isn't the problem. A lot of times, what happens is that somebody asks me if I want to pair up. It doesn't feel right to say no, especially when it's somebody who I enjoy training with. But many times I want to work on a new position or a new move and my usual partners are just too good for me to experiment with. I end up being on the defensive the whole time. I swear, the worst compliment to hear from somebody is "great defense man."

I need to be more proactive in asking people who I don't train with regularly to pair up in addition to training with the guys that I like training with.


Homebody Fridays

Had a fantastic training day today. It's nice to have one of those days where you can see the culmination of your efforts finally amount to some success. I train with a regular group guys who are all pretty tough, more experienced and higher ranked than  me. I have so much trouble with these guys who beat me down on a regular basis and a lot of times I find myself demoralized.

However, today I trained with some fresh faces that I don't normally train with and I felt great. All of them were bigger than me and I was able to dominate and control them for the most part. This one guy who I was performing well against did succeed in catching me with a footlock from under my mount, but this guy has some insanely uncanny flexibility and escapes my mount in such an unorthodox manner. But other than that weird setback, I crushed it on the mats today.

Anyway, I decided to be a homebody today and went home after training. I started watching Vampire Diaries so I'm catching up from season 1. All I have to say is, Nina Dobrev is SO CUTE.


Random Jiu Jitsu Thoughts


I think I would suck as a missionary, because my conversion rate for bringing my friends over in into the jiu-jitsu faith is 0%. Usually if somebody is half-way interested, money will be the big factor. NYC prices are pretty high, and people are in shock when they hear that prices can range from 180-250 in the big apple. I'm not sure how much gyms are in the outer boroughs, but I doubt it's much cheaper than $180. They do a mental comparison to other gyms and think to themselves "well let's see, I'm paying $70 a month for NYSC and you're asking me to pay 2-3 times that amount for your gym?"

People usually think you have to be loaded to train at a jiu jitsu gym that costs that much, but that's far from the case. Training is a lifestyle. I spend 3-5 days training at the gym, where I receive specialized instruction from highly credentialed instructors. The monthly price tag is easily offset by cutting back on a few nights of drinking and partying. I'm replacing bad habits with good ones, and the cost of those bad habits are probably about the same.

Another objection I've come across is that people will tell me that they feel uncomfortable being in close contact with other men. Honestly, I don't know how to address that concern because I've never felt there was anything sexual about it. Two individuals are engaged in an activity where the ultimate goal is to force you to submit by choking you unconscious or breaking your limbs. I know it can probably look a little awkward, but trust me when I say that your survival instincts will kick in and negate whatever homophobic weirdness you might have.


I hate it when I pair up with an uncooperative partner when we drill in training, especially during the standup portion. Like, hey buddy, how am I supposed to rep this move out if you stand there completely planted with a strong base? The point is to allow me to work in some reps when we are drilling, not to try and simulate a live situation and prevent me from working in my reps.

And speaking of drilling, it seems like the majority of people I encounter do not enjoy drilling. I went to an open mat at my friend's gym yesterday and I asked a few guys if they wanted to drill or if they were just there to roll (roll = wrestle, train live, or however you want to put it). None of them wanted to drill. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to drill some moves I've been trying to work on. I think drilling is crucial to success, so it's a shame that most folks that train don't put much weight in it.


Final thought of the morning: Marcelo Garcia is doing something totally revolutionary in jiu jitsu with his website, Every lesson he teaches is posted up, and a lot of his training sessions are recorded. The way everything is systematically broken down and categorized is amazing, and the delivery format is exceptional. You can even use it on your smartphone. I have so much more to say about the website but long story short, if you have the money to spare and the time to actually use the website, it's worth every penny.


Training Woes

Brazilian jiu jitsu is simultaneously one of the most rewarding yet frustrating things I have ever done. I love grappling so much and try so hard to improve all the time, yet there are some days where I just get so angry at myself because I feel like these past 3 and a half years have amounted to nothing. Those are the times when nothing goes right in training. Last night was one of those nights.

There's such a fine line between being positive and having an objective outlook on things. I have below average athleticism and coordination, which I'm sure many of my friends can attest to. My reflexes are poor, I'm slow to grasp concepts and pick up on things, and I have the body of Ghandi. I don't want to come off like I tell myself these things all the time to justify why I do poorly in training sometimes, but this is what I see when I try to analyze myself objectively.

I haul my ass to the gym all the time and I never make excuses while I'm there, but sometimes I have to question if this whole "if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything" is just positive bullshit that we feed ourselves to get us going.

Are these kinds of thoughts a form of self-limiting behavior? 

Maybe, but I still try my best at the gym. I still show several times a week to take those beatings. On rare occasions I'll have a good training session where I'm able to impose my game and my will, but it seems like a lot of times I'm on the other side of that. When people tell me "great defense," I never take that as a compliment. Barely surviving is not something to be proud of. Still, I thank them for the round of training and move on to the next guy and do my best. Aside from appreciation of the art (or sport, whatever you want to call it), the only thing that keeps me going is this belief that if I keep on training, I will be better. But then I get those nights like last night that make me question that faith. Will I get better?

Every time I train I am humbled, and I have to reach deep within to pick myself back up and tell myself that this is my own journey and that even though other folks are farther along on their journies, if I keep going I'll eventually get there. And then I'll find out there was never any "there" to begin with, and it was the journey that mattered all along and I'll reach some enlightened zen like Buddha state. This is getting too meta.

I need a beer ASAP.