A Time When I Thought I Broke My Neck, As Illustrated by MS Paint.

A couple of days ago I thought I almost broke my neck.  In reality it probably wasn’t even close, BUT I LOVE DRAMA and want to make it seem like I almost got hurt when actually this is a complete non-story.

I was thrown by a drop seoi nage by someone much, much shorter than me.  Not a child or a midget, but still pretty short.  If you don’t know, a  Drop Seoi Nage looks like this:

It looks cool, and the fall is surprisingly easy to take.  But like I said, my partner was much shorter than me (about a 18 inches) so things go complicated.  Let’s unleash the power of MS Paint. and break it down.

Figure 1

FIGURE 1: The Start. As this shows, my partner has entered in and is underneath me, starting the throw. Both of us are upright, with the arrows showing the orientations of our heads, and the dotted lines to show our trajectory. But as you may notice, the diameter of my opponent is muuuuuch smaller than mine, effectively shortening their turning/throwing radius. This will become important.

Figure 2

Figure 2: My head is now parallel to the ground, and I am being pulled up and over by my opponent. We have yet to enter into the crashing awkwardly phase. But that’s going to happen soon.

Figure 3

Figure 3: This is where things get tricky. My opponent’s tiny body allows them to start torquing me over sharply. However, I’m turning like a gentle wave breaking upon the shores of dreamland. My head is now at a forty five degree angle to the ground as my opponent begins the end game of trying to tuck their elbows in and accelerate me down to the mat.

Figure 4

Figure 4: Unfortunately for me, my gentle arc is cut short by the earth. If I was a little shorter, (or my opponent a little taller) our trajectories would be a little more simpatico and I would completely rotate through the throw into a nice gentle roll over my shoulder. Unfortunately, my partner is finishing up, while I’m still only about 75% done rotating. Thus landing right on my forehead. If I was smart I’d try to figure out the physics of how much force was exerted on my skull, but this is America and science isn’t important or relevant anymore. To put it in modern terms, “Shit hurt real bad and I thought I was fucked up.”

Figure 5

Figure 5: This part never actually happened. But if I died, would you come to my funeral? Do you ever think about who would come to YOUR funeral if you died? Sometimes I want to fake my own death just to find out.





My greatest fear in Jiu Jitsu?

Shitting my pants at practice or a tournament.  Either scenario has its pros and cons. Accidentally shitting yourself in practice means you’ll be forever known to your team mates as the guy who shit himself.  But paradoxically you’d be surrounded by people who would ostensibly support you through your ordeal.  Maybe they’d never bring it up again.  But it would always be lurking in the corner of your mind, a wet turd rotting away at the foundation of your confidence.

If it went down at a tournament, you could take comfort in the fact that you’ll probably never see most of those people again.  But only if you actively avoided competitions for the rest of your life.   Also, it’s a virtually certainty that it was captured on film somehow.  And there’s probably no way to kill that person who filmed it before they upload it to their tumblr, so that’s another mondo bummer.  You’d probably have to wear a wig to avoid getting stopped on the street after that shit winds up on Tosh.0.

I’ve never shit myself in either in those circumstances.  Knock on wood.  Maybe in an alternate universe I shit myself in my first class and never came back.  Maybe in another it happens every day and I’ve learned to deal with it.   I feel like I’ve pulled the best universe when it comes to not defecating all over myself and others in Jiu Jitsu.  So in that respect  I guess I should be thankful.


A po-wem, bjj

All My Old Gis (Are Sad and Lonely)

My closet is  Golgotha
A garden of old gis
in a sad forgotten pile
in a too small Rubbermaid bin.

I’m sorry I don’t wear you anymore.
And I’m sorry my cat pissed on a few of you
But you stink too much
And you are too frayed.

So you sit in the dark,
like a pack of cranky hobos
abandoned by the world
and huddled around a flaming barrel.

Do you dream gi dreams?
Of  swimming in the washing machine?
Or is too dark and lonely,
In my spare bedroom where I play video games.

But you were too big on me, white Michado.
And I couldn’t get the smell out of you,
Kimono Fighter and Blue Atama.
So I’ll see  you all in hell, someday.

Until then, sit in my closet.
Your ruined palace of cotton,
Waterloo of canvas pants,
and dream of better days.


Awesome/Weird Places To Test Your Jiu Jitsu

Awesome: On top of a snow covered mountain, while the rest of your nomadic tribe watches.

Weird:  a gym that uses the world’s biggest Heath Bar as a mat.

Awesome:  A wizard’s lair.

Weird: Some intradimensional portal, fighting hideous pig men streaming into our reality.

Awesome: Hustler magazine’s secret underground fight club.

Weird:  Rolling atop the world’s largest mozzarella stick.

Awesome:  A No Escape style futuristic island prison, earning the respect of Ray Liotta and the other islander inmates.

Weird:  Al Yankovitch’s private fight club.

Awesome: Jesus (strong white guy carpenter version) any time, any place.

and Weird:  A time machine where you fight your dad on your 16th birthday, and realize he’s kind of a pussy.



Obvtavio Sousa

Otavio Sousa was let go as the instructor from Gracie Barra.

Apparently it was over money and Sousa’s alleged unwillingness to stick to a schedule. Outrage ensued.

So let me get this straight…a hot shot Brazilian champion turning out not to be a great instructor along with money issues causes friction in the BJJ community?

Also, in other, less predictable news, the sky is blue, bears are dangerous, cake is good, cigarettes are bad for you, one day you will die, sky scrapers are tall, kittens are cute, grass is green, airline service sucks, shit smells, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are catty, Ferraris go fast, the Pope wears a funny hat, the cup cake fad is rapidly ending, the  Shawshank Redemption makes grown man cry, roses are red, Jews run international banking, the Atomic weight of Colbalt is 58.9, the ocean is salty, turtles are slow, Jamie Curtis is a hermaphridite, beer gets you drunk, and the sun is bright.



Zen Lotion

I take public transportation to get to work with the rest of the dirty, howling masses. A couple of days ago, something interesting happened on the way there.

I take the express train to get me to the office.  On the stop I hop on, the express train usually pauses for about ten minutes, so there’s a bit of a wait after I inevitably rush to get on.  I’m sitting on a bench, and across the from me sits down a beefy middle aged white guy in a crew cut and passe’ little square sunglasses.  His boots have tiny little chains on them for more traction on ice and snow.

He’s drinking a Dunkin Donuts iced tea with lemon, and he puts the drink down on the seat next to him and takes off his parka.  He’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt three sizes too small.  Which is weird because it’s a 15 degree snowy day in Philadelphia.  He takes out a travel sized bottle of Cocoa Butter and proceeds to slowly, lovingly lotion his arms, neck, face, hands, and shins for the next 15 minutes.  He did it in a very deliberate precise manner that seems to indicate he does this often.

All the while, I’m focused on his iced tea, afraid that if the train started, his tea would tip over and spill everywhere; making a big fucking mess for everybody. But this guy doesn’t care.  His sole focus is a thorough application of scented lotion to fight the winter itch.  I have to admire his singular focus and mindfulness.

“One thing at a time,” his bizarre behavior tells the world.  He’s gonna do it right the first time.

I think we can all learn a lot from the weirdo’s we encounter on trains.


Learnin’, Burnin’, and Turnin’

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is hard, both mentally and physically.

No doy.

Anyone who has ever stepped on a mat knows this. You get your ass kicked repeatedly with extreme prejudice, and your coordination sucks. Mostly because you simply don’t know what do, and how to process the conceptual framework of bjj.  My observation has been that most people struggle through the end of their white belts until they begin to realize that bjj is a system of movements, and that each submission, sweep, pass, etc. are all based on only a handful of core principles. Once those principles are grasped, learning becomes much more facile.  That’s why a brown/black belt can pick up new moves faster that beginners.  Simply because they realize that what they are learning are simply variations on a theme.

To use another example, it’s like learning how to have sex.  Sure, I was really bad at it when I started, but after a few years, by the time I was nine I really had the swing of things, and by 12 I had pretty much had the entire Kama Sutra at my disposal and command. All by discovering and applying the rules of eroticism. It’s just a matter of practice and mindset.

Now I don’t know if I’m a world class lover/ok bjj player because I understand these concepts, or that I understand these concepts because I’m a world class lover/ok bjj fighter.  I recommend you don’t think about that too hard because it’s a chicken/egg question and the metaphor doesn’t extend that far.

Hey man, I’m just throwing ideas out there. If you want sound logic go read Socrates.