Tag Archives: jiu jitsu

The Peaks and Valleys of the Greatest Martial Art on Earth

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is tough.  Real tough.  As I get older, it certainly is not getting easier on my body.  But my body has done well to adapt to the enormous physical pressures that BJJ thrusts upon it.  Just ask any salesperson that I try to buy a dress shirt from.  I am not a tall guy, and so having a 19 inch neck really does not help the procurement process where dress shirts are concerned.  I wish I had 4 foot long arms.  Or a smaller neck, but I digress…

We all feel it when we get home and our metabolisms start to mellow out.  We all deal with the bumps and bruises and soreness that comes with it.  In fact, to dedicate your life to jiu jitsu means that you develop an awesome ‘sickness’ of sorts where you embrace the pain and discomfort that a good workout brings with it.  It is part of the lifestyle.  You can’t just train here and there.  Jiu jitsu either becomes you or it does not.  This is precisely why it is such an effective art.  It takes you over and you become obsessed with learning and battling and succeeding/failing, each and every time that you step on the mat.  Wrestlers have a saying that says ‘Embrace the Grind’.  It applies to BJJ – the message does, not necessarily the grind part.

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But here is the thing:  The hardest part of BJJ is not the physical.  It is the mental.  I have dealt with it myself and counsel my students in the same:   The hardest part about BJJ are the mental peaks and valleys that come with it.  In how many other activities can you study hard for years, yet come away some days thinking that you know absolutely nothing?  Other days you are firing on all cylinders and you walk out off the mat practically beating your chest.  There are highs and lows in your jiu jitsu journey and the lows anyway, are compounded by the inherent difficulty of the jiu jitsu learning curve. Not only is it hard to get smashed for much of your white belt stage, but it is hard to grasp all of what you learn.  This never really goes away.  The mental stress is multiplied by the fact that not only do you need to study and scrutinize basic techniques to master them, but these techniques themselves are constantly evolving, thus adding to the long list of stuff that you need to know, or that you think you need to know.

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This is what defeats so many new BJJ practitioners.  This is what contributes to the extremely high drop out rate – the daunting feeling of thinking that you have to learn it all and learn it now.  It is a tall mountain to climb.  I had a white belt student almost quit on me the other day.  He is a dedicated student and a thinker.  I had to talk him off the ledge and I did by reminding him that at his level, all he needs to focus on is defense.  All he needs to do is to show up and train and it will all fall into line.  I was able to help him ascend his deep, deep valley.  You know, sometimes I think the YouTube revolution is both the best and worst thing to come to the world of BJJ.  On one hand, it is great to see techniques on line and to watch competitions.  On the other hand, it can be destructive for a new student to want to learn what he sees when he does not have the foundation or understanding to attempt a game that is above his or her level.

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The bottom line here is that you have to embrace the complexities of BJJ.  You have to embrace the fact that even at black belt, you are still a student who does not know it all.  You have to find your path.  BJJ is personal.  Find your game, show up to class, put your time in on the mat and above all, understand that peaks and valleys are natural.  Just ride the wave, or flow with the go as someone once said  😉

Gi Review: Do or Die Hyperfly

Over the ~20 years that I have been practicing BJJ, I have worn literally dozens of types of kimonos.  I have always felt the need to always get a different gi when I need a new one.  I always want to test the waters and see what is out there and what is new and exciting.  After wearing my Hyperfly, Im pretty sure I know why I kept on searching….I think I was looking for a Hyperfly.

Before I get too into it, it should be noted that I am about 5’9″ and 190 lbs.  I am in shape, very wide across the upper back/arms/shoulders.  Its important to note this because different kimonos fit differently proportioned people well, differently.   But suffice it to say, I have worn Atama, Vitamins & Minerals, Toraki, Keiko Raca, Various GJJ Academy models, and others.  Atama I have always loved but recently their quality and customer service has shrunken, while their pricing has skyrocketted.  No thanks, Atama.  But the Hyperfly impressed me.  Its important to note that after only a dozen or so wearings, I cannot attest to the durability or longevity of this gi, I can only speak to its fit and performance.

Do or Die Hyperfly Gi – White

The fit for me, is unlike any other.  It is quite snug but I like it.  I feel I don’t know, sleeker, more mobile, more elusive.  I know its all in my head but due to my build, I’ve gotten used to baggier fitting tops.  But the A2 fits me perfectly.  I had to get used to the very tight and high skirt on this gi.  Its almost as if it is going to come unraveled, but it doesn’t.  It’s just a snug fitting top that sits quite perfectly on the body.  The weave is light and functional.  My only gripe is the silk screening of sayings inside the skirt of the top.  I know, I know, I’m nitpicking, but I’m old!  I like simplicity and understatement.  I’m really not into others speaking for me with messages either, but I get what they are trying to do here so I guess its a fine trade off.

Yes that black belt is getting shredded, but please, let’s focus on the gi! It is the star of the show for this blog entry 😉

The pants are really, really wonderful.  In an age wear ripstop garbage is plaguing gi sellers and buyers everywhere, a nice super soft cotton pant is like a breath of fresh air.  Fresh, sweaty, pungent dojo air  🙂      The (for lack of better term) crotch area has Hyperfly signature stretchy lycra feeling patch.  I’m not sure if this is useful to me or not – I’m not the most flexible guy, but maybe that is the point.  You dont realize that there is something different in the crotch.  Actually, now that I come to think of it, it reminds me when I was young and worked as a ball boy on the pro tennis circuit.  Our instructors told us that a good ballboy is never noticed.  I think a good kimono is never noticed during training.

Ready for its crotch close up!

So  to recap, I am very impressed with this gi.  Time will tell if it stands the peril of the tatame, but I hope and think it will endure just fine.

How To Not Learn From Your Mistakes

It seems that my jiu jitsu attention is disproportionately being funneled to the Metamoris events and activities surrounding it.  Maybe it’s because I see this event as important to giving some of us an alternative to the IBJJF. Maybe it’s because I am having trouble coming to grips with the pile of shit that was presented to us in Metamoris 2, but I digress…

Metamoris announced today that Benson Henderson is thinking about “testing himself” at M3.  Hmmm….To me this translates into: “Its pretty much a done deal and we are putting out feelers in the community on this, which we will ultimately ignore if the feedback is negative…”

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Here is the problem as I see it, with how Metamoris is looking to gain market share:  You need to run before you can walk.  What I mean by this is quite simple:  Without the dedicated and hardcore grappling/bjj community, your event is doomed to fail.  Not even the multitudes of mouth breathing American UFC fans (who boo within seconds of a clinch or a fight going to the ground) can assist if the grappling community is not on board.  Without the educated and passionate grapplers, no one will buy your PPV stream.

So no matter how stupid Ryron Gracie thinks that I am personally (after all, despite my lifelong pursuit of a BJJ education I am only an ignorant and filthy spectator), I want to see amazing grapplers do amazing things in this amazingly structured event.  

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What I do not want or need is another UFC sideshow.  No more Schaubs.  No more running.  No more excuses.  The connection here bothers me.  Just like the nepotistic decision to include Gracie Academy student and good ole buddy Schaub (who has subsequently earned a position in the annals of  Urban Dictionary History with his epic bed-shit in M2), Benson Henderson is a student of a past Gracie Academy instructor program graduate.  The connection (no pun intended, Rickson) is ominous.

If Metamoris is going to realize its potential, it has to stop letting down its bread and butter.  Its base; its nucleus.  It’s us – the stupid moron spectators who are going to give this franchise a pulse.  In our infinite ignorance we plead to the Gracie brothers to learn these lessons and grow from them.  I think it’s official:  My disdain for the IBJJF rules trumps my aversion to being personally insulted by people whose names start with a silent R.  Oh well, you cant win em all….