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




BJJ Lifestyle

I haven’t been to class in two weeks, so I really can’t claim I’ve been living the BJJ lifestyle (whatever that means).  Here is a list of the lifestyle’s I HAVE been living.

-BBQ Lifestyle
-BBW Lfestyle-
-M4W Lifestyle
-NWA Lifestyle
-TLC Lifestyle (the band)
-NWA Lifestlye
-DAD Lifestyle
-MWD Lifestyle
-XXX Lifestyle
-JPG Lifestyle
-OMG Lifestyle
-GMO Lifestyle

I’ve been busy.  So don’t judge!


Golden age

Are we in the golden age? No, of course not.  We’re living in a dystopian hell scape.  This is very obvious.  Nobody has a job and everyone’s sad all the time.  If anything, we are in some kind of neo-feudal iron age. Pretty soon we’ll be feasting on human bones.

But the question I want to ask is, “Are We In The Golden Age of Jiu Jitsu?”

If you are a classicist, you would know that the Greeks define the Golden Age of peace, harmony, stability, prosperity.  Since we are not in a parlor discussing the minor works of Virgil,  I’ll define the Modern Golden Age with these four characteristics

  • Growth
  • Accessibility
  • Unity
  • Innovation

So let’s take a a philosophical stroll and talk about each of the aspects of Jiu Jitsu.  We’re gonna answer this question, together. We will rate each aspect on a  scale from one to five old white men. Because nobody loves talking about how great things used to be than an old white guy.


This one is a no brainer.  Have you been to a NAGA lately?  It’s like a cross between an ant farm and Moroccan Souk.  Pure chaos.

There has been explosive growth in the sport over the last 25 years, with the sport truly hitting mainstream attention within the last few years.  While BJJ may have been shown to be the most practical in the first UFC (1993),  MMA was still seen as human cockfighting until 2005. It was only post Stephan Bonnar/Forrest Griffin, where ironically, they beat the shit out of each other, that UFC and BJJ in general became mainstreamed. Which is weird.  It took the ultimate human cockfight for people to recognize the legitimacy of human cockfighting. Life can be funny sometimes.

But as to Jiu Jitsu specifically, in 1996, the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation hosted a total of four competitions.  In 2005, eight, and in 2013, 41 events. That is a fivefold increase from less than ten years ago, and over a ten fold increase from 20 years ago.

Another fun fact: Over 400 black belts registered for the World’s this year.  Believe it.  This sport is huge. Full points awarded.


five white guys


Accessibility should walk hand and hand with growth. It follows that the more gyms that open the more accessible Jiu Jitsu becomes.  But the real question is, who can train in these gyms.  The answer is: Certainly not everyone.

Let’s use my home town as an example:

In Philadelphia, the average cost of a BJJ membership is $189.45 based on a sampling of five major clubs in the area.  That’s just about $2,270 a year, just in membership costs.  The median income in Philadelphia County over the last four years was $37,016.  (Like I said, we already live in a dystopian hellscape).  That’s 6% of a person’s total income for the year.  Doesn’t seem so bad, right?  Until you factor in rent (15,060, yearly) and utilities ($1,910, yearly), and transportation (1,098).  It begins hard to justify a membership at these prices. Plus most humans need food. At least the weak ones do.

Oh, and for cable/internet it’s $2,000 a year.  BECAUSE HAVING WE TV IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.

Then there are the gis.  Jesus Christ the fucking gis.  Sure, you can get a crappy $99 dollar gi, but you can also get the limited-edition-goldweave-thatfeaturesbigtittedjapanesegirlssewnintotheinsideseams-andtheyonlymake30everydecade-andyouhavetobuythemfrominsideavolcanoduringahalfmoon gis.  And they can run you a pretty penny. Like diamond rings, there all no ceilings on these things.  Well over $300 if you’re high as shit and  enjoy wasting your money.

But costs aside, Jiu Jitsu is becoming more accessible.  Women’s participation has never been higher, and the sport has become somewhat less focused on the competition aspects of BJJ (for better or worse).  You don’t have to walk into a gym and have expectations placed on you to train to be a champion.  Some people just want to make friends and wrassle, like Andre the Giant.

I give accessibility three Old White Men, out of five.

three old guys


Every year all of the heads of each club get together for a rafting trip.  After a couple of miles they stop at a clearing and take huge rips from a bong.  A spectral Smoke Wizard emerges from the pipe and lectures for hours about the importance of cooperation and respect for each other.  Everyone nods their head in profound agreement.  At night they have a barbeque and talk about how much they love each other, and that it would be great to have an agreed upon structure to present a united front to the world. Everybody chips in for Kurt Osiander’s bus fare and they all go home.

This scenario has yet to happen.

In reality, BJJ is a fractured mess.  “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE IBJJF?” you’ll ask.  The IBJJF is only one federation.  It’s not official, but it’s the biggest, thus the defacto leadership.  Many people don’t/won’t recognize their legitimacy. Ever hear of the North American Jiu Jitsu Federation?  No?  Ok.

And how about reaching an accord on a unified rule set?  Not likely, hombre.  You’ll be getting heel hooked at NAGA till the cows come home.

I award unity one Old White Man. I am a cruel mistress, and  not easy to please.



Of the four Criteria, this one is the most slippery.  Unless people start growing a third arm, or extra thumbs, the basic concepts of Jiu Jitsu have been established and explored.  The WormGuard is a modified Lasso.  The Berimbolo?  Inverted De La Riva.

Imagine a tree.  The trunk of which is comprised of the basics of Jiu Jitsu.  Takedowns, armbars, sweeps, side control, etc.  Imagine that each branch consists of a set of techniques, and each twig the specific variations.  At this point, most “innovations” are at the sub twig level.  Hyper specific variations on existing frameworks.

You can make the case that since the sport is so new (comparitively), that the sport has yet to fully develop.  That makes everything an innovation.  I guess.  But I think I need a more compelling argument than that to award full points.  I am not assuaged. I demand more rigor.

I think the real issue is the word “innovation”.  Its hard to pin down exactly what that means.  Does something have to be a quantum leap forward to qualify as an innovation?  Or do small, incremental changes meet the definition? I suspect the answer depends on your world view.  America loves a GRINDER, and hates GLORYBOYS, so I feel that anything that makes it look to easy we shun.  We want our athletes to scrape and claw their way to victory, leaving a bloody snail trail of tears and broken fingernails.

Brazilians, on the other hand, are laid back south American brahs who want to feel like the flow is natural and easy. That’s now how do it up here, son. Brazil, you’re never going to own a Aunti Anne’s Pretzel Franchise with that kind attitude. Get on your grind.

Since I’m a true son of liberty, I’ll run with the American version of innovation.  Slow, dirty, and painful.  Like the subway.

I award four Old White Men.

Four white guys 2


I have awarded 13 out of a maximum 16 points.  I feel that this qualifies as some sort of Lesser Golden Age at best, with marginal room for improvement. At this point the major stumbling block of the BJJ golden age is lack of unity and the (rising) cost considerations that a lot of people face.

Because really, Jiu Jitsu gonna do what it do.  You can’t stop it, it’s always going to be awesome.  It’s the outside shit that can stand in the way.

Take a rip from the wizard bong and think about that, man.

product review

Product Review: Defense Band

Product: The DefenseBand, from SpiderTI.

What Is It? A hidden wrist band that allows you to strangle/restrain victims potential attackers.

Who Should Buy It: Anybody who needs to garrotte a fat Italian guy from the backseat of a 2001 Lincoln Towncar.  Someone interested in the finer legalities of involuntary manslaughter.

Pros: Unobtrusive. Once you show your coworkers your Defenseband, colleagues will leave you alone and give you the solitude and peace you’ve so desperately searched so hard for.

Cons: The smell of whores’ perfume lingers on the nylon. Why do they stink so?  Why are they so filthy?

Where to find them:  On the Spider TI website. Any place were the spirit of America still lives on.  Your local militia.

How to Take it to the Next Level: Watch the instructional video again. Did you notice that in half the scenarios the “defender” was behind the “attacker”?  The Defenseband excels at defending against aggressive confrontations where you may have to sneak up behind your attacker and choke them to death.

How to Take it to the Next Next Level:  Spider TI also sells a belt that conceals zip ties.  Perfect for transporting your attackers across state lines.

Verdict: Get in the van.



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.



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.



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.