bjj, competition, improvement, matchups

Mail Day!

It’s Mail Day! Let’s answer some questions.  As always, if you have any questions you want answered, write me at

Greg from Albany writes:

What is your favorite Mythological Creature and why?

Thanks for writing Greg.  I’m going with Minotaur. Six pack abs, natural sense of rage; it’s the perfect combination of power and sexual charisma.  Here’s a ranking of my top players in the mythological game, from first to worst:

  1. Minotaur
  2. Centaur
  3. Genies
  4. Unicorn
  5. Medusa
  6. Jesus
  7. Pegasus
  8. Bigfoot
  9. Hydra
  10. Giant

Jeff, from West Chester asks:

Two part question. If Hitler’s preserved brain was transfered into a grizzly bear, would you volunteer to fight him to the death?  Do you think you would win?

Thanks for writing, Jeff!  My question to you is when, temporally speaking, would this fight take place?  If it was 1937 I think I would step up to the plate.  In 2014 Hitler’s just fighting for pride, which makes him more dangerous.  I like to think that this fight would take place in 2099 AD, where me and Hitler-Grizzly are fighting to amuse our corporate overlords at their Christmas party.

Anyway, I think I would have a fighting chance.  Because Hitler has the mind of a man, in the body of a bear.  He wouldn’t know how to use the patented bear moves (mauling, biting,  rearing up to terrifying heights, etc) that makes bears so dangerous.  He wouldn’t maximize his built in advantages as a bear.  Conversely, if you put a bear’s mind in Hitler’s body, he’d flail around, not knowing how to use a man’s body.

I think I could conceivably get behind him, take his back and choke him out before he could figure out how to shake me off.  Then it’s bear steaks for everybody.

Troy from Hoboken NJ writes:

My girlfriend says I spend too much time at Jiu Jitsu.  It’s becoming a larger issue than it should be, leaking into other aspects of our relationship.  I’d like to strike up a compromise with her, without losing any mat time.  What should I do.

Thanks for writing Troy.  Troy!  What a name.  Anyway, you’ve got a real problem on your hands.  You can save it though! Here are a few techniques:

Basic:Most arguments in relationships, especially boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, are invisible struggles to seize and maintain the moral high ground.  You’ve already seized this position because your girlfriend is asking you to change something about yourself. All you have to do is hold down the fort. The most basic defense that you can muster is that she should love you for you, and that trying to change you into something you’re not, or  to make you do something you don’t want to do, would violate the most basic of all relationship principals.  Say something to that effect and watch the waves of guilt crash down all around her!

Intermediate:  To try something a little more advanced, let her know that the time spent at the gym is a wholesome, bettering, activity, and it’s not like you are spending your nights and weekends drinking and fucking around with your friends and other women.  You’re an athlete, god damn it.  This really only works if A) you are not currently spending your nights and weekends drinking and fucking around with other women and B) your girlfriend values fitness and comraderie.  If she genuinely wants you around so you can watch her while she watches her 5th episode of Chopped, I would stick to the basics.

Advanced:  Compromise, skip a bunch of classes, and be miserable.  So miserable that she “allows” you to go back to your normal schedule.  This is a shrewd high risk strategy.  It involves you seemingly conceding your moral position to her, only for your girlfriend to realize later that she’s the one who’s wrong.  It’s like a double switch ending to a movie where it turns out she’s Kaiser Soze where all along she thought she was Katherine Heigle in 27 dresses.

The risk is that your girlfriend may not care you’re miserable and it turns out you’re dating a monster.  Or you act too insufferable and she breaks up with you because she thinks you’re a monster.  Or maybe you’re just meant for each other because you are both awful people!  Good luck!


That’s everything in the mail bag!  If you have a question you want answered, send it in at



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.



Top Chef Challenge

I watch Top Chef with some regularity.  I consider it the emminence gris of reality televsion.  Chefs, at the top of their game, fighting like snow leopards on top of a mountain for their very survival.  What lessons can we learn from them, and carry over into BJJ?  Here’s just a few:

Knives make things intersting.  Perhaps in the middle of a match, the ref can throw a simple kitchen knife on the mat, just to spice things up (pun intended.)

Competition brings out the iron reserve in some. It’s interesting to see someone wilt like a hot house rose in the heat of the moment.  All the bullshit and bravado fades away, and you’re left either on the top spot, or with your dick in your hand wondering what just happened.

Teamwork only gets you so far. Being able to play well with others is a skill that should be valued.  But this is America, Jack.  Fuck up my bernaise sauce, or stand in my way, I’ll cut your face. (see point 1)

Tom Coliccio is an excellent kisser. There’s just something about his round, bald head,  and soft lips that makes me think that.  I can imagine him watching me practice, as I grunt and sweat and strain.  And then he meets me afterwards, and we go to a nice italian place that’s out of the way.  We share a few bottles of wine, talk shit on Eric Rippert, and go back to my place for a night cap.  All the while, I keep thinking of of his lips, and his strong hands. 

So, anyone else have anything to add to this discussion? Has tv taught you anything?

bjj, improvement

Blue Lagoonin’

It’s important to leave your comfort zone occasionally,  because that’s where the most fertile soil for growth is.  If you take no chances, play it safe and stick to what you’re good at, you’ll plateau, and then eventually begin a decline.

A good example of leaving your comfort zone?  1980’s The Blue Lagoon. Was it a good movie?  Probably not.  Did it feature a nude, teenage Brooke Shields as somebody who has sex with her cousin on a desert island?  You bet your ass.  And for that it became a classic.

If some suit had said, “Hey, let’s tone it down on Brooke’s titties and not make them relatives (yawn)” the movie would lack the squirmy punch it has.  Instead, they said “fuck it” and got after it.

 The same is true for BJJ.  Don’t be afraid to be weird, try new stuff, and fail.  Get nuts with it.Russia isn’t going to invade if you don’t execute 100% of the time. (Russia will invade because they hate our freedom fyi.)

being an old man, improvement

Tender Sweet Meats

Somethings you can pick up at any point in life, and it’s ok.  Cooking, learning Cantonese, maybe the piano fall into this category.  Other activities you need to get a jump on early in life, such as skiing, boxing, and learning how to talk to girls.  If you start later, as an adult, you’re at a disadvantage, and much more likely to get hurt while participating.  I’ve never been skiing, and I just turned thirty.  When I think of skiing, all I think of now is my body tumbling down the side of a mountain, limp as a rag doll, with my femur sticking out of my leg.

Judo definitely is an activity it pays to start young in.  Jesus.

Our coach John had his start in Judo before beginning BJJ and eventually earning his black belt.   Right now at the club, he’s going through a series of Judo techniques that will supplement our ground game.

With that said, after the last few weeks of judo training, I’m beginning to think that judo is less a sport, than it is a secret cabal started by weird Japanese people to tenderize westerners for their eventual consumption.  I’m not kidding.  I actually believe this. My body feels pounded, as if by an angry ape.

To further the animal metaphor into analogy, if Jiu Jitsu is a snake, sinewy and constricting, Judo is more like a ferocious grizzly bear uprooting a tree, picking up the trunk, and smashing you across the back with it.

If this keeps up, I will be as tender as the most succulent veal.  If I am to be eaten, I would like to be eaten as a nice center cut chop, with a demi glaze of red wine.  Seared in a pan with some roasted peppers, perhaps, over a nice rice pilaf.  Let this be a testament, and be recognized as my living will, and carried out as such in the case of any judo related consumption.






Bally Total Fitness Indian Tracker Escape

You’re time with Bally Total Fitness just didn’t work out.  Unfortunately, their contracts are tough to get out of.  In order to avoid exorbitant penalty fees, you faked your own death, and got away clean.

 “Honey, they don’t have power yoga until 8:00 at night.  I have tv to watch,” you say as you convince your husband to forge a letter to Bally’s corporate office.

 Unfortunately for you, Bally is experienced with these things, and sends their best Indian tracker, John Two-Crow to see if your story checks out. Since you work from home (online mystery shopper), you were surprised to look out your window and see a slightly built man in roughspun clothes crouched in your back yard.  You peer at him through your blinds, watching him as he paces around your patio, stooping to look at tracks in the mud.

 The realization dawns that faking your death may have repercussions beyond getting out of your gym contract.  You throw yourself flat on the floor, desperately thinking of your next move. You realize that there is only one option.

 Fifteen minutes later, you have silently crept upstairs, filled up a small bag with essentials, and as much cash from your life insurance settlement you can carry.  You’ll be damned if you’ll allow yourself to get caught by these fascist pigs. You grab the small revolver you keep under your pillow and slip out of the house as quietly as possible.

 The coast seems clear.  You make for your Ford Windstar, key the engine, and peel rubber as you speed out of the driveway.  Racing out of your development you see out of the corner of your eye John Two-Crow on a horse, leaping over fences and hedges hot on your trail. As he closes on an intercept course, you grab your revolver and stick it out of the window, blindly firing until you’re out of ammo.  Two-Crow’s horse goes down with a pathetic whinny, as you drive off and away, free from him and Bally’s.

 Of course with Bally’s, nothing is ever so easy.  You may have shot his horse out, but Two-Crow is still on your tail.  He won’t stop until he brings you in, and for your part, you’ll never stop running until you escape. Over the next 20 years you’ll come to respect Two-Crow, and he’ll come to respect you, his most elusive prey. But you’ll never get caught. Because Bally’s spin class sucks, and you’re never going back, no matter what.

bjj, improvement, Master Blaster, Uncategorized

Training Tips for the End Times

If you watched the Video Music Awards last night it seems pretty clear that the end times probably have already happened, and we’re in the denouement of mankind.  Just a slow gentle descent for all of us.

When the looting and cannibalism starts, it’s all well and good for the street crazies and thugs.  Their lifestyle is well suited for this.  A few natural disasters and these people won’t have a problem wearing necklaces made out of fingers and skull fragments. The big question for us normals is how do we prepare our bodies and our minds for this?

Here’s a few pro tips:

Cultivate Your Aggression: When somebody is trying to gouge your eye out with a spear made out of rebar and a broken bottle, you’ve got to be ready to kill.  Unfortunately, the capacity for unbridled violence and aggression is not like a light switch.  It has to be nurtured like a little baby plant.  Go out there and pick a few fights.  Shove somebody.  This kind of behavior will help you in the long run when you need to fight somebody for that last can of cat food.

Diet is Everything:  Speaking of cat food, you better change your diet right now.  It’s going to be tough to find fresh fruits and vegetables.  Here’s a quick rundown of foods you should get used to eating: rats, spam, nuts, grass, hay, cats, dogs, pigeons, cake mix, MREs, rocks, tears, moss, and boiled water.

Fuel Your Paranoia:  Remember that one time when your uncle showed up at your house at 3 in the morning, all hopped up on meth and your step dad Rick had to chase him off the property?  He was really high on meth, and was sure that the IRS had sent spiders to check his financial records.  That paranoia doesn’t play well right now.  But in 15 months, people will be rioting in the streets for potable water, and the new world order/illuminati shock troops will be keeping order through any means possible.  So yeah, it might pay to be paranoid.

Self Defense!  Sometimes I wonder if all the time I spend working on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is worth it.  Sometimes I think “Hey, I’m a normal dude.  I don’t like to fight, and if I had to defend myself, I’d use words.  Talk out my problem with someone whom I assume is just a reasonable person like me. ”   But then I watch the Video Music Awards and I see the Jersey shore cast paraded in front of the world.  Literally 20 minutes before I watched one of the cast members hit another dude with his own mattress like a club.  And we love it.  I watched an episode of the Bad Girls Club where one woman threw bleach on another.  All that is left is for our culture to burn out like the sun, exploding in a televised supernova of violence.

So, yeah, I think it may be a good idea to learn how to defend myself.