Assume

I didn’t live in Japan for very long, just under a year and a half, so I can’t really claim to have all this worldly insight from my time there. It was really good for me, and it opened my eyes to the world at large, but most times when I reflect on it, it seems like a reeeaaalllly long vacation. But, over a dozen years later, it’s funny to see what things stuck with which have changed the way I think or do things. Mostly its just a bunch of little things rather than a profound experience. The one that comes up the most is etiquette during queuing situations, like on an escalator or elevator.

“Did the beauty and depth of the 1,500 year old temples have much impact on you?” “Nope, I mostly remember how people lined up for stuff.”

I never experienced the “white glove treatment”, but notice how tidy the queue is and it’s relation to the door.

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Dose

I’m honestly pretty impressed with people who are able to write/blog regularly while leading a “normal” life (i.e. they don’t write for a living). I’ve had the best of intentions but free time tends to get allocated pretty quickly.  Regardless, I’ve mentioned that writing about stuff is nice because it provides some perspective, and that’s something that everyone could use a little more of, especially me. I think that committing a thought to paper (pixels?) and knowing that it’s out there in the world for people to read makes you look at the position of perspective you’re holding a little differently, like a little dose of self-therapy.

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PFD & ship building

Waaaaay back at the end of April we had our semi-annual (but a first for us) grading and seminar. The Master of the BJJ lineage we train under, Mater Sylvio Behring, comes to town a couple times a year, and at those times he oversees the grading for stripes and the belt demonstrations as well as puts on a few seminars. This was a weekend of firsts for us; we were “testing” for a stripe on our white belts as well as attending his seminar the next day. Continue reading


Retreat

Except that instead of the subject being a German-Turkish crime lord, Verbal Kint is talking about my ability to get to (or write about) BJJ regularly. Lots has happened since April (!), mostly just typical stuff that comes with the territory for a middle-aged professional with two kids: work got busy, vacations came and went, U5 soccer started and other general life administration rolled on.

But, in that time there was some cool/fun stuff that happened:

The biggest impediment to getting to BJJ over the course of May and June has been my boy’s soccer. Last year it was once, for 45 minutes, and on the weekend. This year its twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday… which typically were the days I was going to BJJ. So, with the women’s class only available on Wednesday and Friday, that’s a pretty large constraint on both of us attending BJJ with any regularity. We’re going to have to take a hard look at our scheduling going forward from here, because we were caught off guard by the hectic-ness of soccer season… and our youngest hasn’t even started anything yet. (*this paragraph is meant to be read whilst listening to sorrowful violin music to fully appreciate the gravity of my first world problems*)

So, I’m going to write some short-ish posts about the notes above, plus some thoughts about how my jiu-jitsu is going. Not because my worldwide audience of three (hi mom!) is demanding it, but writing about it is somewhat helpful in making sense of how things are going. A different perspective, y’know?


June Women’s Open Mat and ‘Free The Girls’

June Women’s Open Mat and ‘Free The Girls’.


Why combatives?

I found Kelly Starrett’s blog about a year ago when I started to get back into strength training and I was having some anterior hip issues. Long story short, his blog is a gold mine for those that are interested increasing their mobility, preventing injury and, in general, learning about how and why the body moves the way it does. Every second month or so I fall into the MWod rabbit hole for a few hours, watching video after video. Most times it’s because I have a stiff shoulder or wonky ankle that I’m looking for ways to rehab, but after the first couple of videos, I’m generally just watching because 1) I find anatomy and bio-mechanics interesting, and 2) I like listening to people who are experts in their field speak about their areas of expertise. Most of his stuff is crossfit centered, but there are a few that talk about MMA specific issues. Until recently, I hadn’t seen him specifically talk about combative sport in any great detail. Continue reading


Progressive

Unbelievably, we’re coming up on the 6 month mark since starting BJJ. It’s funny to think that at this point last year, BJJ was nowhere near our radar, but now it’s become a pretty central organizing principle in our lives. Oldest son starts soccer soon? How can we still get to train twice a week. Maui vacation coming up? Are there any schools we can get a training session in at while there. Thinking about moving closer to downtown to reduce the commute times? Must also factor in commute to BJJ school. From the technical growth aspect, well… I can at least say that I’m certainly “better” than when I started. But, there is so much to learn and so far to go in every position and/or situation that each class feels like a new undertaking. We’re also coming up on grading, which means there’s some traditional curriculum that we’re working through.
Continue reading


Ease

In the midst of a busy domestic schedule, I staged a heroic BJJ comeback from a life-threatening thumb boo-boo injury. I was worried that this was going to derail any momentum I had built up, but with some creative taping and rapid learning of alternative grips, I was back at it 6 days later. The momentum I mentioned isn’t really so much momentum, it’s more of a feeling that I had reached a point with BJJ where I was more at ease with the learning curve. Techniques and their dozens of details still are a challenge at first, but I think what’s mostly left me is the fear of the unknown. Am I doing some unspoken thing wrong? Should I be learning this faster? What if I don’t do this or that right? I feel like I’ve got a better view of the landscape and even though that landscape is vast and challenging, that knowledge has in a way made my current classes mentally easier. By this I mean, I have so far to go in every conceivable direction that I can even if a class sees me struggle with drilling and getting crushed in rolling, all I need is one lesson learned and I’m better than I was yesterday. Continue reading


BJJ Session # 34 – Opposable

The last couple of days have been a lesson in just how important some things are that we take for granted. Coffee mugs, door knobs, cell phones, frying pans… it’s a long list of things that become very unwieldy when you’re down 50% of your thumbs. One aspect that I’ve liked about BJJ from the start is the relatively low instance of serious injuries from training. Now, accidents happen in any undertaking, but little bumps and strains don’t bother me too much. Up until this week, I’ve avoided any injuries of the more serious nature; the kind that limits your training and starts to affect your daily life. Things like getting your thumb caught during at poor attempt at a balloon sweep. Frustrating and annoying is what it comes down to; I’ve just reached a point where things make more sense and I felt like there was some progress being made.

We had worked through some grip breaking and other self defense standing escapes/counters and were working on a balloon sweep when someone grabs both your lapels. Step back, control the back of their elbows, lift a foot to their hip while you sit down, use their momentum to leverage them up and over. I was too tentative, not because I was worried about hurting myself but because I was worried I was going to dump my partner on his head in a awkward fashion. About three or four reps in, he was going over in a weird way and I adjusted my arm out to…, I don’t know, catch him? Ultimately my fault and my responsibility. It is after all, my thumb that was hanging out there. A lot of his weight landed on my thumb and before I could slip my elbow out from underneath. I heard/felt some gross crunching sounds. Tried to work the next drill, which was top control from mount, but by then my thumb was throbbing and screaming at the slightest brush. Time to take a week off and come back Tuesday (with the thumb taped in a sloth-hand position, I think). The lesson learned: arms in, thumbs in.


BJJ Session # 31, 32 & 33 – Bump

The rest of my life has been really inconsiderate lately and thus I’ve got behind on a few things. I’ve been working out again. Only twice a week, but have a program in place in advance of Maui in May. I’ve managed to get four classes plus an open mat over the last few weeks, but that’s eaten up pretty much all of my spare time remaining. That being said, I’ve felt like I’ve made some progress in BJJ in the last few weeks. I’m much more relaxed during sparring and feel like I can defend myself more consistently than a month ago. One specific way I sense the improvement is I can remember techniques or concepts from drills and instruction and actually attempt them in sparring. Yeah, I know. Crazy. Typically, classes went:

  • warm up (tired by the end),
  • drilling (confusing and awkward but made some sense),
  • then sparring (randomly flail around under a barrage of attacks that seem to be coming from all angles)

Lately, the drilling has made some improvement, but the application of techniques from class during sparring is what has stood out for me. I’ve got a better feel for which positions and angles are dangerous when defending, and have started to see opportunities for attacks or positional advances. I’ve taken people’s back a few times (on purpose!), and tried a few attacks in certain positions that didn’t seem available before. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve got this BJJ thing licked, just… I’m a much better brand of bad than previous.  Continue reading


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