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!

bjj, competition

Biting in BJJ. Yes Please.

Should biting be allowed in Jiu Jitsu?  Of course.  You’re not a moron and realize that the rules should be changed to allow for biting.  Effective midnight, May 1, 2013, the following rules go into effect regarding biting at all IBJJF tournaments:

  • Athletes may bite the following areas on the opponent’s body without penalty: fingers, toes, hair/head; nose; throat; butt cheeks; inner thighs; forearms; and stomach.
  • Any bite to the above areas is a legal submission attempt and any match ended through biting will be considered a victory.
  • If an athlete draws blood through biting but does not achieve a submission, an advantage will be awarded to the biter.
  • Any brown or black belts submitting to a bite attack will be ritualistically consumed by the referee and table crew. The heart shall be preserved and offered as sacrifice to ensure next year’s crops and fertility of the women.
  • Biting to the neck is allowable only if the following conditions are met:  the bite appears to a playful nibble; there is chemistry between the two opponents; small laughs and/or breathy sighs are emitted from the defending party.  The referee reserves the right to allow love to be made on the mat post tournament.
  • When two opponents achieve mutual biting positions and no progress is made the referee reserves the right to assess each opponent  a lack of aggression warning.
  • Any person competing who is deemed by IBJJF tournament as “having the hunger” and craving the taste of flesh will be summarily disqualified.

So there you have it! Have fun and be safe.

bjj, competition

Tournaments in Crazy Town

This weekend, I refereed a bjj tournament that ran as part of  the MMA & Sports Expo in Atlantic City.  It was a great chance for white and blue belts to get some matches in.  John, who runs our club, organized the tournament, and it was a well run, organized experience.

With that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about the expo. When I think of mixed martial arts (MMA) I think of judo, muay thai, bjj, stupid t-shirts, and testosterone smoothies. Apparently, my definition of MMA is different from those who organized the expo.  Strong man contests, arm wrestling, washed up professional wrestlers, and Rex Kwan Do types were what we got.

Now, I think it would be unfair and reductionist to label a lot of the people in attendance as “fringe types”.  But watching a dude with a huge potbelly and an American flag karate belt show a toothless woman how to disarm a person holding a pistol, it’s hard not to. There was a person demonstrating the “Dim Mak” for Christ’s sake.

Now…do people see BJJ as a “fringe” sport?  From out outsider’s perspective, I guess it may be.  If you were to walk into the expo yesterday, and checked off what you saw, it would be easy to lump in a group of people wearing karate type uniforms and wrestling around with each other with everything else going on there.  I wonder if I’m too close to BJJ to really see how other people see it.

When I got home, I went over my neighbor’s house to drink some beers sit by the fire pit. I would describe my neighbors as “hip and aesthetically sophisticated”.  They’re awesome.  But sometimes I get the feeling when I talk about my involvement in bjj, they imagine me karate chopping a sheet of ice, or mystically weaving my hands in the air.

I mean, ultimately I don’t really care.  But I would like to see the sport grow, reaching out to a broad audience of folks.  I wonder if the very nature of martial arts and the associations with it are naturally limiting.

As a final note, arm wrestling is not nearly as fun to watch as it is portrayed in Over the Top.