adversity, bjj

Independance Day

I work for a very large school district in a major East Coast city.  I go to schools and see things that alternate between gut busting hilarity and heart breaking sadness, and often the two mix together to the point where you can hardly tell the difference.  Which sees to be par for the course when you’re dealing with inner city education.

A couple of days ago I was in school that was hosting  a summer program for high needs special education kids.  I’m sitting at a table auditing payroll when an enormous 350 pound autistic kid rumbles into the bathroom across the hall with his teacher/handler in tow.  Ten minutes later his teacher comes out, with a stricken look on his face.  The kind of look that says “my student shit himself and then smeared fecal matter everywhere.”  While the teacher is talking to the principal and the facilities staff, the kid bolts from the bathroom, covered in his own shit.  He’s non verbal, so what ever he’s trying to communicate comes out as a grunt and he jogs down the hall.  Eventually staff corale him and put him back in the bathroom, because there is no where else to put him.

Of course, there are no spare pants in the building that would fit him, and his guardians didn’t pack a spare set.  Which is surprising because I’m sure this isn’t a rare incident.  So they keep this kid in the bath room, where he would occaisionally burst out of, naked from the waist down, gesturing to no one, or everyone.  Who knows? Staff would gently push him back into the bathroom.

At some point a pair of burgundy lady’s stirrup pants were found that would fit him.  The day continued without incident.


Sometimes I worry that I don’t go to the gym enough.  Or that I don’t have the time or the passion to reach the goals I set for myself or that others set for me.  It’s easy for me to get caught up in self doubt.

But then I think about that kid.  Shunted off into a bathroom, covered in shit. Stuffed into a pair of stirrup pants. His mind seemingly not his own.  What’s worse is that his every move seems to require supervision from a qualified adult.  A handler, if you will; like some sort of circus bear.  Absolutely zero independence.

It’s certainly a cliche and more than a little reductive to use this kid as a reminder of what’s good in my life, and conversely, what’s bad about his.  But even so, it’s important to remember that I’m a healthy individual who has complete freedom to pursue whatever I choose to do, and not worry about the bull shit.

I’ma let my freak flag fly.

adversity, bjj, disgusting, fat people

A Brazilian Ways to Die

Here’s a helpful hint-

Just because you do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, do not go to the Brazilian BBQ food cart in South Philadelphia and think your stomach can handle it.  It can’t.  Maybe if you are some kind of hyper intelligent goat who can read, then yes, go ahead and eat at the cart, goat.

But if you are human, take a hard pass.

If this was a role playing game, by consuming “CONSUMING BRAZILIAN BBQ FROM A CART” your character would gain the following attributes:

  • -10 going to work
  • +5 Doo Doo
  • +5 writhing skill
  • -20 Charisma
  • +3 Weird Stomach Noises.
  • +1 Parasites that last the remainder of the game.

I guess I can chalk it up as a cultural experience.



adversity, bjj, fat people

Mail Day!

Hey! Let’s answer some reader emails.  If you have a question, write me at

Troy, from Chicago Illinois writes:

What is the acceptable protocol for farting in class?

That’s a great question.  Since you’re from Chicago you probably eat at least a meter of keilbasa before class;it  it may even be part of your warm up.  So I can see why you have farts on the brain.  Usually, I just say let ’em rip and let God sort it out.  We’re all friends here.  Everyone will either ignore it or have a good laugh, so it’s no big deal.

If you really feel some kind of way about it excuse yourself and find a quiet place to air your shame.  But if you’re like me,  your farts come to you like a lightening bolt from the clear blue sky and strike without warning.

So just roll the dice!

Thanks for asking!

-Jenn, from Montana asks:

I think I have a crush on a boy at the gym.  We train a lot together and seem to have really great chemistry.  I’d love to ask him out but I’m afraid if it didn’t work we’d ruin our friendship and make things awkward.  What should I do?

I think you should follow your heart.  Fuck that stupid brain of yours.  Just keep this one rule in mind.  YOU DO NOT LIVE IN A ROMANTIC COMEDY.  Avoid zany shenanigans at all costs.  Most people think about the meet cute that happens in the middle of the movie, not the humiliating failures arising from misunderstandings that happen in the first act.

Just be straight forward and ask him out.  I’m not too sure about how old your are, but you sound young (I GO BY FEEL).  Men (and boys) are idiots and need to be led by the hand point by point.  When it comes to relationships most men would rather just have somebody peel their orange for them.  Women on the other hand turn these things into giant Rube Goldberg machines we’re everything needs to be JUST RIGHT. So skip all that. Say what you feel and don’t make it weird.

But you’re from Montana, so there’s probably only three other eligible men within 4 hours of you, so if things go south, be prepared to move.  Keep a go bag in your Silverado at all times.

Good luck, and thanks for asking!

-Bill, from Tom’s River NJ asks:

What’s the best gi?

Atama Gold Weave. DUUOOOOOOOOOOY.  It is the Platonic Ideal of Gi Quality. Everything else is just faking.

Thanks for asking.

-Jim, from Lancaster Pennsylvania writes:

I started Jiu Jitsu about two months ago, and I don’t think I like it very much.  Is it ok to quit?

Sure.  I quit things all the time.  Marriages, jobs, meals I don’t like, etc.  I HATED Jiu Jitsu because it was so hard, but not because I didn’t like it. Even now after eight years and a brown belt, I have cagey feelings about the sport. But  If you don’t like the instructor, or the contact, or if you got a staff infection on your asshole, then sure, don’t go anymore.

But if you don’t like it because it’s hard, or you feel too tired afterwards, then stick with it.  It’s sort of like when you watch the first month of The Biggest Loser.  It’s not that these 500lb people can’t work out; it’s more that they are so far out of their comfort zone they don’t know which end is up and they panic.  PUSH THROUGH IT FATBODY.

So take some time to really figure out what it is you don’t like, and decide if you can live with it or not.  Just like a marriage.

Thanks for asking!

Got a question?  Ask me at



adversity, bjj, triumph

Plateaus In Jiu Jitsu: What Gives?

One of the toughest things in BJJ is the dreaded plateau.  As anyone who has trained for long enough knows, plateaus are frustrating because they are so hard to break out of.  To break a slump, the first thing you need to do is gain insight as to why you’re stuck.

I took some time to reflect on my own plateau.  They can seem so unknowable, why your progress and attitude can flatten out for unknown reasons.  So I closed my eyes, and let my brain float up to the top the reasons for my plateau. I then took these issues and made a literal plateau pictogram. I found it to be really therapeutic and insightful. DESTROYING MY DEMONS THROUGH THE UNSTOPPABLE POWER OF MS PAINT.

Observe Figure 1:

I hope you found this enjoyable, and my wish for those out there struggling with their own plateaus is for you find the same astounding courage I did in overcoming your own fears.

adversity, bjj, competition, strategy, triumph


Let’s just take a five minute break from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and talk about my second favorite thing: Reality Television. While it’s not my favorite, the Bachelor is definitely the show that provokes the strongest reactions from me.  It simultaneously captivates and enrages, which is a rare quality in anything.

And like any competition, you have to know the rules.  If you ever get shanghaied onto The Bachelor, stick to these rules and you’ll be fine.  Who knows, you may just win and find yourself in a contractually obligated marriage! So please, accept this rose.


Let’s just keep it real and talk about race.  If ABC could cast walking clumps of cream cheese it would. They don’t even bother hiding it anymore.  I wish we could take racism, put it on a rocket ship and shoot it into space, but I can’t do that.  “But current bachelor Juan Pablo is Hispanic,” people say.  Juan Pablo has blond hair, blue eyes, and is about as ethnically threatening as a Chi Chi’s Restaurant.  Worse than descriminating against minorities, The Bachelor ignores or minimizes any thing non-white or mainstream.  OH IT MAKES ME SO MAD BUT I LOVE IT ANYWAY. 


If you are cast to be on the Bachelor, take a moment and write down all the positive feminist ideals you can think on a note pad.  Then slowly cross them out with lipstick.  And then light them on fire.  Then bury them in the ground, salt the earth, and sell your house to bunch of bikers who’ll cook crank in your kitchen.

Because nothing kills the Bachelor’s boner faster than feminism.


This is the most important rule. You have to  love the bachelor immediately, but not really know him.  And you have to convince him, and all of the women in the house its love at first site. All of this accomplished through a series of contrived encounters and interactions, in front of your bitter rivals.  Like a cross between Downtown Abbey and a North Korean Propaganda event. And if at any moment you falter in the illusion the other contestants will turn on you and be devoured. They will smell your fear.  

Its like some sort of group delusion everyone has to buy into, lest the curtain falls and all are forced to be witness to the hideous beast.  Are you prepared for that?  I’m not. Are you?

That about covers it.  Three simple rules to love and happiness that fucking moron could follow.

adversity, competition, disgusting, Inspirational Monday, nutrition, strategy

Advice Time

Sometimes people ask me for advice about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Since I’m a post modern semi millenial, I’m going to start a semi-regular advice column where I answer people’s  questions with the unblinking honesty and laser precision they have come to expect.

Have a question you need answered?  Leave it in the comments or email

Without further ado.

Long time reader, first time question!  I’m new to bjj and nervous about competing.  How do I mentally prepare for my first competition?

Good question!  Being nervous is part of the game.  A good way to get in the right headspace and fight those butterlies is to close your eyes and visualize success.  So let’s try it together.  Close your eyes… what do you see?  What you SHOULD be seeing is a flaming skull, floating in the darkness, laughing into the void.  Laughing at all your hopes and dreams and at all the aspirations that came before you and shall come after. You should see this every time you close your eyes, actually.  Just open yourself up to the darkness, man, and those jitters will fade in no time!

What supplements do you take?

Good question!  Just lots of organ meat and diet coke for me!

Hi!  I’m a blue belt who feels like I’ve really plateaued in my training.  The white belts are catching up to me, and the high belts keep smashing me.  How can I break through? 

Good question!  Like any sport, plateaus are inevitable and can be tricky to break out of. Whenever I’m stuck in a plateau there’s a little exercise I like to do.  After my drive home I shut the car off and just sit quietly in the driveway.  I start whispering “what am I doing?  what the fuck am I doing?” again and again under my breath.  After a few times, I  get to a state where I can really have a cathartic experience and weep and weep and weep.


After a few years of this I feel completely blank, an empty vessel ready to learn again and break through my plateau.

If you don’t have a car, doing this in front of a mirror works too!

Love your website! I feel like I’m ready for a belt promotion.  Should I talk to my instructor about it?

Good question!  NO.  Do not do that.  If anyone else gets promoted ahead of you, just stare at him/her sideways with as much sadness as you can muster, and mutter sotto voce “horseshit” every time anyone has any success.  They’ll take notice and give you what you deserve!

I feel like my gym is too dirty, and the instructors won’t enforce any sort of standards.  What should I do?

Good question! I feel like if you have approached your instructor without results, a more indirect approach is called for.  Phase one: Seek out and roll with the dirtiest, scuzziest dudes at your gym. The really filthy pigs who hate detergent.  Once you contract ring worm and god knows what else (and you will),  that’s when phase two starts.  Cultivate your filth.  Sit in a dark, wet, warm room for a couple weeks as still as possible.  Once your body is completely overtaken, show back up at class.  Once class has started take you gi off and make all bear witness to your festering body boiling with fungus and rot. You will be a horror show. They’ll get the picture and clean up their act.  It’s the Jiu Jitsu sanitation protest equivalent of that monk who burned himself alive in demonstration against Vietnam.  Which is fitting, because you and all of your possessions will probably have to be incinerated to protect the public health.


Those are all the questions for now.  Glad to help, and hope to hear from you!

adversity, bjj, improvement

Generic self centered post #23

I got a new job, and I’m pretty excited to start. My old job, which I’m leaving on Tuesday, drapes me in a rich and luxurious cloak of despair. But I’m moving to a start up company, and shit is about to get real. I plan on working a lot more, and training a lot less, and that was really stressing me out, inordinately so. To the point where I couldn’t sleep. So last night I got shit faced and had an epiphany: I tend to turn the things I like to do into obligations, and then I wind up not wanting to do them any more, because they feel like obligations.

It doesn’t help that I’m task oriented, in the worst way possible, meaning that I see activities as things to conquer and then move on from. It’s all part of the very Anglo-Saxon colonize/exploit/destroy/leave mind frame. I’m constantly worried that if I do not put my time in, I won’t “beat” Jiu Jitsu, Obviously you can’t really beat something that is part of a never ending continuum of learning and growing. But somehow I made it my task and my obligation to go to class and improve, where it should be more a gentle goal; a nice glowing light in the horizon to walk towards. Know what I’m saying?

There is no end goal. I’m not stabbing my way through a hallway past trained assassins to win a million dollars. I’m not in a pie eating contest. I can’t “win” in the traditional sense. Which makes me feel a lot better about myself, and my training.

OH! I ALMOST FORGOT. SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT. My new job is at 3rd Ward Philly. It’s a great coworking and skills development space for all people. Check it out at I’d love to see you there.