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



disgusting, fat people, improvement, matchups, rulon gardener, Uncategorized

private fatbody, reporting for duty sir.

Have you ever thought about the super obese, and how they got there?  When you’ve been trapped in your bed for the last six years, weighing 790 lbs, I imagine your universe is tiny.  It consists of your feeding room, and the people keeping you alive.  Literally, it’s a giant waste of potential.  Scientifically, it’s a huge furnace of a body, pumping in calories.  Like a sun made of fat, pulling people and things into its orbit.

For me, two questions arise:  How did this happen to these folks?  And can it happen to me?  If you can arrive at the first answer, it will lead you to the second.

Suppose you are a man of falstaffian appetites, but tempered by excercise.  What happens if you get hurt, and you can’t exercise?  A life time habit of overconsumption doesn’t just dissappear overnight.  So you keep eating how you ate.  Next thing you know, you’re fifty pounds in the hole, and pre diabetic.  The slope only gets more slippery. 

Some people live paycheck to paycheck, standing on the edge of a cliff.  All it takes is one disaster to push you over that edge, and you’re out on the street.  For some, it is the same with their health and waistline.  One injury or disaster, and three years later you’ve gone too seed.  As the pounds pack on, you get stuck in a feedback loop.  Too fat to exercise.  And getting fatter.  Along with the attendent health problems of the obese compounding the interest.  In my head it just seems so easy.

So can it happen to me?  Terrifyingly, yes it can.  Now, I’m sure that my wife and my general sense of fitness would never let me into the say, 500+ club, but I can see myself in the year 2025, stepping out of my hover car, in my size xxxxl radiation cloak.  Weighing 425lbs and rocking diabetic hosery.  All because of some knee injury and a refusal to change my eating habits.

And I’ll tell you what.  I was just in big and tall shop, and I refuse to wear those clothes.  I got to stay fresh, y’all.

I guess I wrote this to verbalize my fears.  To put a road map up to becoming morbidly obese, and then take a giant red pen to it, scrawing “NO” across it. 

But on the other hand, being really fat could get me on tv…so its a toss up.

bjj, matchups

People and Things I’d Like to Fight Right Now

The more I write about jiu-jitsu, the more I realize I lack the warrior spirit that successful fighters have.  That doesn’t mean there are things that don’t get me spittin’ mad.

If I saw the following things across the street from me, they better start running, because I’m coming after them.  You heard it here first.

The Final Episode of the Killing.  I wish I knew a warlock who could cast a spell to bring the final episode of this show to life, so I could murder it, if it doesn’t get lynched first by the thousands of people who wasted their sunday nights watching it. The fight would start out good, then get reaaaaaaaaaallly boring, and be full of obvious red herrings and plot holes about who actually wins. Someone’s fiance’ will show up, but be totally irrelavent to the plot, too.  I if I DO win, and wind up murdering the show, I’ll never get caught.  Because with Linden and Holder couldn’t detect their way out of a Walmart. Fuck you Linden. Fuck your turtleneck sweaters too.

2. My Wife’s Cat, Scrabble. I don’t promote violence against animals. But at night I look into Scrabble’s eyes, and I send him telepathic messages that I hope he somehow instinctually understands.  They go a little something like this…”You may have her fooled, but not me, you son of a bitch.  You may hear me say to Beth that I wish you wouldn’t pee on my stuff or bite me in the middle of the night, but the truth is, I want you to.  Everytime you pull your little bullshit antics is another step you take to winding up in the dryer by accident. So please, keep it up.” Zip your lip and fly straight Scrabs, or its off to the High Kill Shelter while mommy is at BJ’s.


Home Depot Tool Rental Department. I may have bit off more than I can chew here.  If taken literally, this may mean that the tools in the department combine to form some sort of fighting machine.  If this is the case, my apologies, sentient tool almalgamation.  I want to rage out at the concept of renting a tool that requires three trips back just to get it to work.  If that concept was incorprate itself in human form, it would look like a bored college drop out named Dale.  Dale, if I see you, you’re mine. Do you hear me?  Pray some ancient magic doesn’t will you into existence.

You’re mine, Dale.

competition, Inspirational Monday, matchups, strategy

Office Fist Fights!!!

Like most people I go through periods of hating my job.  Lately things have been rough at the cubicle farm, and we only know one way to buck things up around here.

The office atmosphere, thick with tension, breathes a collective sigh of relief when the memo comes down from management. Its time to arrange the cubical walls in a circle, and have bare knuckle fights between staffers. Everybody loves it, and everybody has a good time. Old scores are settled, new ones are made, and its just good clean American fun.

Sure, I’ve got some skills.  Big and strong, with a thousand yard stare that turns thugs into butter.  But the competition is fierce.  Let me tell you a little bit about the people I work with to illustrate my point.

When I started my job in 2006, there was a fire alarm on my first day.  Half the staff didn’t even give a shit, and sat there, ignoring the federally mandated rules that govern fire saftey in government facilities.  The other half shuffled out of the office, and when they reached the outside, shuddered and winced at the sun, like they have never seen it before, and were bucking at the fresh air and vitamin D they were getting.  In other words, many of my coworkers have become like the creatures of the movie The Descent, once proud human workers, but morphed by their environment to become Morlockian killers.

As you can see, there’s some tough hombres in my office.  Let’s see how this plays out.

Quarter Finals. Opponent: Ray Ray.  Position: Mail Room.  Strengths: Not afraid to head butt. Possible mental handicap leading to enhanced strength.

Ray Ray is anywhere between 30 and 60 years old. He works in the mail room, listens to crunchy hippy rock, and smells like ferrets and patchuli.  Since our names are picked randomly, I couldn’t help but feel that I got an easy matchup for my first fight.  That is until we climb into the cubtetagon together, and Ray Ray come after me like a junk yard dog.  He strikes me with a vicious head butt, sprawling me backwards, falling over.  Ray Ray, quick as a  cheetah, jumps on top of me, and wraps his hands around my throat.  Grinning, choking, he leans in, face to face to finshing me off.

Has it come to this? Is Ray Ray going to finish me, pathetically, in the first round?  Not today, Ray Ray.  Ray Ray has leaned in so close, it gives me an opportunity.  I buck him forward, and open my mouth wide, bringing down over his nose.  Then I bite his nose off.

Then I spit it back in Ray Ray’s face, and struggle to my feet.  He’s still down on his knees, so it’s just a quick kick in the chest to send him sprawling, and me high fiving my lunch buddies of the walls of the cubetagon.

Winner of Round One: Jason

Semi Finals: Opponent: Albert.  Position: Unknown.  Strengths:  Makes a good pot of coffee.

Albert is an institution.  He has been here since 1972, and does not plan to retire any time soon.  Albert doesn’t have a computer, and his sole job seems to be to hang around the breakroom, making coffee.

Albert climbs into the cubetagon gingerly.  Again, I think I have an easy second round.  Albert barely defeated the intern to get to the semis, so I fully expect to make it in to the finals.  He strips down to the waist, revealing a huge cobra tattoo on his stomach, and suprisingly bulging muscles, in that ropey way that only old men seem to have.

Turns out Albert is a sandbagging son of a bitch. Turns out Albert was the two time all Navy boxing champ.  He immediately starts stinging me with jabs and body blows, and I find myself against the side of the cubetagon, covering up my face and kidneys.  The blows seem to be losing intensity…has Albert punched himself out?  I sneak a look and I see his red, sweaty face, and heaving chest.  I push off the cubetagon wall and shove him hard away.  I motion to my intern the prearranged signal (devil horns) and he reaches over the walls to hand me an flat screen computer monitor.  One step, crow hop, and BAM! In a flat arc, I connect with the side of Al’s skull.  Bonelessly, he collapses on the shag carpeting, his legs spastically kicking like a dreaming puppy.

I lean over Albert.  “First rule about me, Al. FUCK ALL THE RULES!”

Onto my coffee break and the finals.

Finals. Oppenent: Terry. Position: Regional Manager.  Strengths: Cold blooded, ruthless.

This is it.  This is for all the marbles.  Fate has decided to make it truly epic by allowing me to fight my boss in the final round. The fights have grown from simple bloodsport into a blunt manifestation of class and economic warfare.  But casting aside symbolism and analysis, I was just happy I got a chance to beat up my boss.

We climb in the cubetag0n, eyeing each other warily.  She circles, I circle.  Grim determination set on our faces.  Both of us made up our minds before getting in the ring that only one person is walking out of the cubetagon.  Neither side is willing to make the first move, the first mistake, knowing their skilled opponent will seize at any opportunity and strike.  Strike like an ancient cobra, possessed by an Oriental Demon seeking only to destroy.

Unfortunately, five PM rolls around, and due to our union contract, all work ceases.  We drop our guards, punch out for the day, with the understanding it’s back to business as usual the next day.

I’m not one to leave business unfinished, so I wait behind by bosse’s BMW with a sock full of nickels and subway tokens.  When she goes to get in her car, I ambush her with the sock, knocking her right eye out.











Inspirational Monday, matchups, Uncategorized

Possum Fight, 2173

Your name is Richard, and you’re a possum.  But not just any possum.  You’re a proud fighting possum, plucked from your burrow to entertain the masses of post apocalyptic South Jersey.

Post burning, you possums had a pretty sweet thing going.  Mankind was driven fearfully underground, seeking shelter from the terrifying mutants driven mad by comet dust.  Possum-kind spent their days basking in the sun, and by the light of the Earth’s two moons, gorging yourselves on irradiated earthworms the size of garden hoses.

This paradise was soon to come to an end.  Eventually, mankind made his way to the surface, reasserting their dominion over the terrain of South Jersey. Deprived of all forms of entertainment that existed pre-apocalypse, the survivors turned to pitting the wild life of the region against each other to provide a bread and circus type atmosphere for the masses.

Richard, you are at a distinct disadvantage. In the wasteland of South Jersey, the new landscape has given rise to creatures terryfingly well adapted to the environment.  Laser-spiders and exo-squirrels come to mind. But the unseen hand shaping evolution has deemed that possums are already too fucked up and scary looking as-is, and left you the way you are.

And as your handlers release you onto the field of battle (a burnt out minor league baseball stadium in Trenton New New Jersey) to take on the terrifying hypnorabbit, know that deep in your little possum heart beats the unceasing drumming of a warrior anthem. 

So get out there, and give the people what they want!

Play dead, and when he gets close, bite his fucking face off, Richard.

Inspirational Monday, matchups, Uncategorized

Inspirational Tuesday, because Monday was a holiday.

Inspirational Monday!

Ramon Hernandez, catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, you’re about to face the biggest challenge of your professional career.  You’re in the the middle of an epic extra inning game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and the game is dragging on.  It is the 19th inning, and both sides have exhausted their respective bullpens. Things are looking desperate for the Phils, with their last reliever running out of gas in the 18th, and their 2nd baseman Wilson Valdez, pitching an emergency 18th inning.  Miraculously, he did not surrender any hits.

Your pitcher has held on for another frame, and now you are due up second in the 19th.  Wilson Valdez, the Phillie’s emergency pitcher is back out for another inning.  Miguel Cairo, batting in the seventh spot, is due up first.  Valdez serves up a meatball; and he slams a double down the right field line.

“Est muy excellante’,” you think.  With Castro on second, and a desperate man who normally plays infield pitching, all you need to do is slap a cheap single anywhere on the field for the win. But this is where things get weird.

Charlie Manuel, the portly, elderly, and beloved manager for the Phillies is trundling out to the mound, with what appears to a snake in his hands.  He takes the ball from Valdez, pats him on the butt, and sends him off to the dugout, accompanied by well deserved applause.  Ramon, you’re looking around for who could possibly be coming out to pitch relief.  While you’re looking, Charlie begins to walk weirdly around the mound, in a herky jerky stutter step, muttering under his breath.  He is slowly unbuttoning his jersey, stripping to the waist.  You’re surprised to see that his wide, fleshy torso is covered in bizarre sigils and arcane markings.

“KABA SUN GORGUN MEHSHRU SUN EKSHAYEE NEFRU HRAG KIL CUL!” Manual continues to bark out these nonsense syllables for another two minutes, still stomping his crazed circular stutter steps.  Panting and wild eyed, he stops, and hold the snake aloft with two hands, making an outsized victory sign.  Suddenly, Charlie snaps the snake down, biting it in two.  The crowd goes nuts, and blood goes everywhere.  It runs down his mouth, drips from his chin, down the arc of his belly, and onto the infield of Citizen’s Bank Park.

Looks like Charlie Manual has been dabbling in black magic. Possibly voodoo. You decide to respond to this development by playing to your strengths, which is hitting.  So you take a few deep warm up swings, and see how this plays out.

The lights go dim, and from the bullpen, an eerie smoke starts billowing forth, backlit by lasers. Generic heavy metal starts playing, and from the bullpen emerges a golf cart shaped like a batting helmet, bearing an ambulatory Harry Kalas, beloved long time voice of the Phillies.

Two things are strange about this situation.  One is that Harry is wearing a Jersey and glove, and the second his that Harry has been dead for over two years now. It appears that Charlie has raised Harry from the dead to be an emergency reliever.

A few words about Zombie Harry Kalas.  First off, yes, he does crave the flesh of the living.  But don’t hold that against him. Do you hate birds for flying? Or fish for swimming?  Second, he was indeed brought back to life through dark voodoo.  It’s fucked up and he’s not happy about it.  And third, he’s not looking good at all.  Straight up.  He looks like he’s been laying Laurel Hill Cemetery, which he has been for the last two years.

Ryan Howard, the Phil’s affable first baseman, calls out, “Hey Harry, hows the afterlife?” Slowly, so so slowly, he turns to Ryan and weezes out, “nooooo god.”

The ump throws Harry the ball, which he catches with a dusty thump. It’s time for you to step into the box and face Zombie Harry Kalas! 

There isn’t much of a scouting report on Zombie Harry, so Ramon, you’ve gotta play it by ear.

The wind up, and here comes the pitch. It’s a slow fastball right down the middle of the plate.  You sit down on the pitch and crush it deep into the Philadelphia night. You’ve just hit one out of the park! Zombie Harry Kalas hangs his head slack-jawed as you begin your trot around the bases.  Midway between first and second base, Harry jerks back into action, and intercepts you on the base path.  Cold hands wrap around your wrist, and he sinks his teeth deep into your neck. Your carotid artery is ruptured and you collapse with Harry following you down, biting and thrashing.

Pandemonium ensues.  Both benches clear.  The crowd is panicked, order is lost, and the game is called.  But the score stands 6-4, with you, Ramon Hernandez knocking in the winning home run.  Good job dude.  Way to come up in the clutch!

Post Script:

You did manage to get Harry off of you, but of course it was too late.  Within 72 hours, you become a zombie yourself.  At first it’s a major bummer, living the non life of an undead monster, but you follow Harry’s scent into the woods,  and track him down deep in the sylvan landscape of northern Pennsylvania.   Then for the next 27 years you  hang out in the woods, just talkin’ baseball through an intricate series of grunts and wheezes, an idiogloss only the undead can understand. 

Eventually you are captured by the US Government, and are used by the CIA to destabilize banana republics.

bjj, matchups, strategy

Not the pope.

You hear a lot of grandiose statements about bjj.

“Jiu Jitsu is the best self defense art available.”

“Perfect of smaller people to defend themselves”

I am a big proponent of BJJ, and I do believe that the benefits of training are numerous. But there is a segment of the BJJ community that has, I feel, a condescending attitude towards others sports/styles.

Slow your rolls, my dudes.

The concept of Infallibility, applied to BJJ, the roman catholic church, or the unflagging nature of my libido, is hubris of the highest order. There are plenty of situations where you would be required to fight for you life against opponents that render all your training useless.

A few examples:

1. 10,000,000 Butterflies.

You are 36 year old man, going on a nature trip with your step daughter’s third grade class. You and your step daughter are walking through Wharton State Park collecting bark samples, when a cloud of butterflies descends on you. At first it is beautiful, even calming, before you feel the terrifying weight of millions of insectoid bodies on you. You become panicked, and whirl around frantically as if on fire. When you go to scream for help, thousands of butterflies plug your mouth and nose, suffocating you to death. Jiu Jitsu did not save you in this situation.

What would have worked: A can of Raid. A butterfly net.

2. A haunted Christmas Tree.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you just got an email from your only Daughter saying “Sorry Grandmom, the kids and I can’t make it to Seattle for the Holidays this year. This divorce is hard on everyone. ”

You are heartbroken, Grandma, but you make a resolution to make this christmas tree your most beautiful yet. You buy the finest tree you can and set it up. It’s a blank canvas, ready for you to impose your will on. You set about decorating the tree, and when you are finished, your work can only be described as a masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the Christmas tree farm  was located on an Indian burial ground; and your tree carries an awful curse. It slowly makes you go mad. By January you couldn’t stop staring at it. By March you were trying to feed it food and by April you burn down the tree, and your house with you inside. Jiu Jitsu could not save you.

What would have worked: A witch doctor. A greater awareness of the plight of the native American.

3. The executives who want to ruin your independent film.

You are a plucky 20 something Independent filmmaker whose film about a quirky middle-aged woman falling for a 17 year old autistic boy has been picked up by a major studio. While at first it seemed like you hit pay dirt, things have quickly spoiled due to the studio’s demands.

“We should add a roller skating bulldog scene where the couple meets.” and “The autistic boy angle should be replaced with a lovable, but secretly hunky ad exec. We think that would play.” You tell them that they are ruining your vision, and that this isn’t what you signed up for. Eventually a long contractual battle will play out, and the ad execs get their way. “Small City Girl” will be a smash success, and although you reap untold fortunes, you will become filled with disillusion and rancor at the Hollywood machine. You will slide into a life of decadence and debauchery, overdosing on cocaine three years later. Jiu Jitsu could not help you.

What would have worked: More creative flexibility. Putting the system on trial.

So, as this has demonstrated, BJJ cannot help you in every dangerous situation. I just listed three scenarios that could happen to anyone. Bjj has its benefits, but it is not some kind of panacea from the world.

Stay safe, my friends.