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 askheavytraining@gmail.com.

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!

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

 

 

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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.

Growth

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.

TOTAL OLD WHITE MEN RATING: 5

five white guys

ACCESSIBILITY

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

UNITY

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.

old-man-n-white-mustache-2

INNOVATION

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

CONCLUSION

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.

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Fears

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.

#BLESSED

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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.

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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 www.3rdward.com. I’d love to see you there.

 

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Let’s Get Motivated!

Do you remember that one time that you got really fucked up and had to spend the night at your buddy’s house? And do you remember that moment when you came to, and had no idea where you were, or how you got there?

That has basically been my life since September. Sort of just not really paying attention to shit. Not training hard, not writing (at least not on this blog) and couldn’t really give a poop about work.

Another universal flashback. Do you remember those two years you spent living in your mom’s basement, smoking weed and watching Star Trek Deep Space 9? And then one day your step dad Rick came down and told you that if you didn’t shape up you had to leave? You went out and got that part time job at the dry cleaners and things really started to turn around for you.

I need to be Rick. I need to be my own step dad. I will become Rick. And I will tell myself that although I love me, my current situation is not ideal, and would a little effort hurt me?

So I promise to try harder, train more, write about bjj more, and take a more “give a shit” attitude in my life.

Thanks Rick. Even though you never existed, I love you Bruh. Treat my Mom right, you son of a bitch.

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