Close the Gap

All common sense and decency has left our society and what we have left is a division without compromise or empathy and a close mindedness unwilling to give on anything regardless of the greater good. 

I have always been a strong supporter of law enforcement (almost to a fault at times) and tried to become a police officer but due to poor decisions when I was younger was unable to make that happen. Throughout my martial arts career I have trained many law enforcement members from the local level up to the federal level. With all this being said I will not hesitate to call out any law enforcement officer who crosses the line from enforcing the law to abuse of power and/or flat out breaking the laws they pledge to uphold. I believe the overwhelming majority of the law enforcement community are good people who chose this career for all the right reasons and I would never condemn the entire community based on the actions of a small percentage of bad actors within it.

For all the progress we have made it seems we have stepped back to a time where people are tired of being treated differently for the color of their skin, their religion, or anything else that makes them different from the majority. I constantly hear about the change that Dr Martin Luther King Jr was able bring and believe he has, however here we are 52 years after his death with many of the same issues. 

Now in small towns and major cities throughout the United States we have protest and marches pretty much daily with the intention of bringing attention and ultimately change and full equality for all people. Unfortunately with protest comes the opportunist who will take advantage of a situation with bad intentions which cast a dark cloud on an entire movement. As descent people who care and empathize with the struggles some go through just for the skin color they were born with or the conditions they were born into or a variety of other situations and reasons we should support these protest and also want and fight for these changes for the good of our society as a whole. 

Just like in the law enforcement community where the percentage of bad actors is small, the overwhelming majority of protesters fighting for equality for all are peaceful and they should not be grouped in with the bad actors. Protest needs to make people uncomfortable in order to effectively bring about change, while this may inconvenience some it’s not destructive or violent yet is often portrayed as so and in some cases met with force and violence. 

All everyone wants is to be treated fairly regardless of race, gender, financial status, and whatever other categories we are separated by to keep the division. Im not really sure why this is such a hard concept for so many to grasp yet there are still so many who feel superior based on these classifications and continue to look down upon, suppress, and vilify those they feel are inferior, or think differently than they do.      

Just like you don’t want to be grouped and/or categorized you shouldn’t group and/or categorize others. If you are going to call out someone you oppose, you should be willing to call out someone you support for the same offenses. It really doesn’t matter which side of the political isle you stand in, human decency should be paramount and people should come before politics. I would never condemn anyone for supporting a specific politician or party or ideology but if you venomously attack any who oppose you thats a different thing. We all have our own beliefs and values and this is good, however we all need to be respectful of each other and accept our differences. 

It’s really quite simple: Be who you are and let others be who they are, and treat everyone the way you like to be treated. 

Oh and by the way, you cant be a silent majority if you never shut the fuck up…..

Be nice

Peace 

Getting Older in Jiu Jitsu

As an older, not old (53) jiu jitsu practitioner/instructor I can easily admit that my physical abilities are weening. After a lifetime of physical abuse to my body by way of sports and martial arts training resulting is several surgeries my body just doesn’t do everything I ask of it with the same efficiency it once did. I’ll continue to roll as often as I can but, my focus has shifted.

On the other hand my knowledge continues to accumulate and my ability to pass that knowledge as a coach/instructor continues to expand daily and at this point in my life my main goal is to the best possible instructor I can be.

The best coaches are not always the best competitors and the best competitors do not always make great coaches.

I feel that as a coach/instructor I have far more to contribute to the growth of our martial art/sport then I could ever contribute as a competitor and at this point in my life I feel good about this.

Why Does Press 1 Bother You So Much?

I really don’t care which tribal label you give yourself, whether you’re republican, democrat, libertarian, socialist, green, communist, or team Renzo. I don’t care if you’re black, white, red, or yellow. I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, SIS (I don’t even understand what that means), gender fluid, trans, gay, straight, bi, or still confused where you fit in. I don’t care if you’re  a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or carnivore. I don’t care if you’re Christian, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist. I don’t care if you like rock, country, blues, disco, jazz, classical, electronic, R&B, or even opera for that matter. I don’t care if you like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, or White Sox, Go Pirates. I don’t care if you like baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer. Merry Christmas, happy holidays; who really cares, someone is wishing you well why do you care how they say it. On, and on, and on. Sorry if I excluded your tribe. 

While I agree far too many are looking for reasons to be offended, far to many are also going out of their way to intentionally be offensive.

I think that wherever you fit in we all have the same goals and that’s to be happy, healthy, and loved. If everyone put it a little effort it would really be quite easy. Let me be me while you be you. 

Be Kind

If everyone would just be kind to others this trip would be way easy. 

Peace

Basic Anatomy of a Jiu Jitsu Class

 

Okay so what makes up a BJJ class? In my opinion there are 3 basic parts to a complete BJJ class. This can be interpreted in a few ways but here is how I break it down. I’ve also included the issues that typically come with each part.

  1. Warm-up/stretch
  2. Drill 
  3. Roll (spar)

The class should start with a light warm-up and stretch. I combine these 2 components together because they should both be light and the stretch should be an active stretch and both the warm-up and stretch should be specific to the class to follow and the fundamental movements of Brazilian jiu jitsu. Far to often I see pre-class warm-up sequences that rival a full blown HIIT work-out and the students are spent before the actual jiu jitsu starts, or the warm up is just skipped all together. 

The second part of the class is where we learn the techniques and drill, drill, drill them. It’s also the part where the students like to talk more than the drill, do the technique 1 time and start looking to debunk its validity by resisting a partner who doesn’t even know the move yet. It’s also the most important part of the class because in addition to learning the technique whether it’s a transition, a sub, or a control technique, etc you should also be learning the theory behind the move, (when and why). 

Finally the rolling portion (sparing) of the class, the part everyone wants to skip straight too. This is the most fun part of the class and the part most people understand least. At the end of class when we roll each student should have a specific goal and that goal should be the same for each student. That goal is to try and apply the technique you just learned in class to a resisting partner who is trying to do the same to you. The thing I hear most when I tell this to students is “Yeah, but we just did this he’s going to be expecting it,” yeah, no shit and what better way to work the technique and develop a better understanding of both sides of that specific technique. 

This is also the part of the class that turns into a world championship fight to the death for some students, this serves no purpose other than the potential of injury and loss of students, it also causes students to not want to train with specific students for the above reason. Everyone should understand that the academy is a team with the end goal of improvement for all in a fun safe team environment. 

This anatomy of a BJJ class can be further broken down to subsections depending on the training atmosphere, for example is it a class or a seminar, length of the class, and if the class is training for a specific goal (upcoming competition). 

Have fun, train hard, train smart, and have fun 🙂

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But What Do I Know

Just a couple things on my mind.

  1. When training in Brazilian jiu jitsu (most any martial art I guess) during the drilling part of the class let your partner perform the move you are learning. If you apply immediate resistance neither you nor you partner will learn anything. You are in the process of learning a new move and if you don’t fully know how to perform the move yet how can you possibly do this with resistance? You can’t.. Be a good partner and everyone involved learns, and you instructor will be much happier.
  2. You get what you give. This applies to everything from training to every day life. Every wonder why you have so many issues with people? You want this to change? Start with yourself. Generally speaking people are good, however there are some real jackasses out there..
  3. Everyone should learn jiu jitsu, ESPECIALLY WOMEN..
  4. New beginnings; I start Judo on Monday… (story to follow)

You get what you put in and people get what they deserve…

Bio-Logic 2

So when I received the Ancestry DNA test results in addition to biological nationality they also showed a large number of biological relatives; there were 2 at the top of the list of interest to me. Both were from opposite side of the parental DNA and indicated possibly 2 sisters, a short while later a third hit popped up also indicated close family. Since I had the adoption info I immediately knew who 2 of the matches were, the third I wasn’t quite sure; I am know. 

So it turns out I have 3 biological sisters and 2 biological brothers oh yeah and theres also twins I’m not sure of anything about them, (5 sibling on bio-father side, 2 on bio-mother side).  I started talking with my sister and aunt on my biological mothers side and we hit it off from the start. Tara took a ride with me out to Long Island to meet them for dinner one Sunday, I wasn’t sure what to expect and while I wasn’t nervous there was a weird feeling about it. Within seconds of walking through Michelle’s front door I felt 100% comfortable, like I’ve know her my entire life, there was never a second of awkwardness, it felt like home.

When we left that night to drive home I started to feel a little resentment, kinda like I was robbed of 47 years of having a relationship with Michelle. Tara who always has the right perspective talked me down, she said now that we have finally found each other I should embrace this and I should look to the future of our relationship and she’s 100% right. Since that initial meeting we talk often and Im looking forward to good times to come. 

Also since the initial meeting I have had contact with the 3rd close family DNA hit on Ancestry. This contact would be a bio-logical sister on my bio-farther side, and we have been talking a bit lately. She has another sister and had a brother (who passed a few years back) with my bio-father. He also has twins from a different marriage who I know nothing about. 

A lot of info has come in a short time and it can be a bit overwhelming but, I’m really happy to be finding all this info and talking with bio-logical siblings I never knew of. Being adopted has always left me with lots of questions, I now have some answers. 

Most likely To Be Continued……..

Here’s a picture of a strawberry for no particular reason 🙂

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Jiu jitsu in St Barthélemy 3

Now back to the part about eating horrible for the entire trip. Let’s get this straight, for most people I ate really well but, by my standard it was a disaster. Every morning we had bread (French, and Italian) delivered from a local bakery and it was awesome, best Italian bread I’ve had in a bit and I ate a lot. Breakfast and lunch for 8 days straight consisted of peanut butter and banana on Italian bread. 

For dinner each night we went to some local restaurants and because I eat a plant-based diet most of my dinners turned out to be pasta with mixed vegetables. 1 night we had burgers delivered so I had a veg burger with fries and we got pizza twice. I can honestly say that I ate more bread and pasta in 9 days than the past 6 months combined and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. Did I mention I lost 3.2 pounds over the course of this trip? Oh and the pizza was awesome, I expected the worst and it turned out to be some of the best.

So on the last day of the camp we had a boat trip during the day and the camp beach party at night. For the boat trip we had 3 catamarans and we sailed to a remote cove dropped anchor and just had a blast. Between diving from the boats and swimming boat to boat and boat to shore not to mention the sun beating down this adventure wiped me out. Swimming truly is one of the greatest forms of exercise available and I need to figure a way to work swimming into my workout program. 

The end of camp beach party was a cool relaxing way to put and end to a great week of jiu jitsu and fun. We had entertainment while we ate and just chilled on the beach. After the beach I headed back to the hostel with a bunch of others while the rest of the camp participants went to a local club. 

 

Generally speaking the island of St Barthelemy is a beautiful place with perfect weather, the most beautiful beaches and the water is simply amazing. The jiu jitsu is quality, the people were friendly and I can’t wait to go back…

Peace

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Jiu Jitsu in St Barthélemy – 1

Question – What’s better than a vacation in the French West Indies? 

Answer – A jiu jitsu vacation in the French West Indies. 

So this was the 6th BJJ camp I’ve been to and although I love them all for different reasons this one I believe to be my favorite to date. More on the reason for this thought later. 

The trip started with a flight to St. Maarten. After getting through customs I jumped into a cab to Philipsburg so I could catch a ferry to St. Barthélemy. When I got there I had a couple of hours to walk around town and grab some lunch. The biggest thing I noticed in Philipsburg is that they have yet to recover from hurricane Irma. The city seemed pretty run down and although there is rebuilding in progress it seems some areas are forgotten and it’s going to take quite some time. I did sit in a small bar/restaurant for lunch (I don’t remember the name but the wifi code is buybeer). The place is what I pictured as a stereotypical Caribbean bar and while I don’t drink I was hungry and the place looked really cool so I felt compelled to get lunch there. My lunch; an awesome vegetable wrap and fries.

Did I mention I ate like shit for the past 9 days? 

*Side note – left Saddle Brook 10 Feb 174.8 pounds, this morning 19 Feb 171.6.. Scratches head…..

Ok, the ferry from St Maarten to St. Barthélemy, where do I start? Do not, and I mean do not under any circumstances sit outside in the last row on the left side of the boat unless you dig the smell of diesel fuel and like being soaked with salt water, by the time we docked it looked like I swam there however, I was in St. Barthélemy and about to begin a week of surfing, jiu jitsu, and all around fun with a group of awesome people.

Now I need to address what’s makes this camp so special,  besides the prefect weather and island life of course. Most of the camps I’ve attended have anywhere from 100 to 200 participants so training partners of all size and skill levels are readily available however, it’s hard to meet everyone and people tend to group off. This camp has about 35 to 40 people in attendance so it was easy to meet everyone and actually get to know them. We ate dinner together ever night, went to the beaches together, trained together and just had a great time hanging out and playing games, one night after dinner I witnessed one of the most intense games of pick up sticks ever played. 

Cliff Hanger…..

To be continued……..

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Pulling Guard

 

Let’s get this straight right from the start, sitting down after the fist bump isn’t pulling guard; it’s sitting down. Pulling guard is getting controlling grips on your opponent and pulling them into your guard with control and setting up your attack/sweep, and to be 100% honest with you I’d rather see someone properly pull guard to get a match started than watch two people do nothing standing because neither can score a takedown or a throw.

So; if you do pull guard make sure you have a strong guard game. Pulling guard and then getting passed immediately, or worse yet spending 6 minutes doing nothing but holding guard while your opponent tries to open your guard, is just wrong.

This being said; learn takedowns and throws, practice takedowns and throws, and when you roll in class start standing more often and practice takedown sparring.

In Summary:
Learn Takedowns
Learn Throws
Practice Takedowns
Practice Throws
Start Standing more often
Develop a strong guard game

Develop a complete Jiu Jitsu Skill set……

Train Hard
Train often

Peace

 

Fall Camp, Heidelberg Germany

 

Fall Camp Heidelberg Germany

I guess to start by saying the camp was awesome would just be redundant as all the camps are awesome. This was my third BJJ Globetrotters camp and the best to date. As always I met and made friends with great people from all around the world, but this time, for the first time, I taught a class at camp. My fear was an empty mat, the reality was just over eighty participants, how awesome is that. My class was on passing the butterfly guard and I taught with my typical combination of technical instruction and sarcastic wit. I received a lot of positive feedback from many of the students and some great feedback from a couple of the other instructors. I would say my first class teaching (of hopefully many more) for the BJJ Globetrotters was successful.

The second reason this camp was so important to me was because just like the first globetrotters camp I attended it helped my overcome an anxiety trigger. The prospect of sharing a cabin with 9 others and sharing a bathroom was a total nightmare; however, I decided I needed to do this to overcome one aspect of my social anxiety and I did. The trigger to overcome this time was to travel outside the United States; yes, in my 51 years this is the first time I left the US, you would think as close as I live to Canada I would’ve made that trip at least once by now but; I have, well had this thing about leaving the states. Anxiety trigger 2 conquered.

The camp itself is an amazing experience. You get to meet and train with others who share the same passion for Brazilian jiu jitsu that you have. These other campers come from around the globe and bring their style of BJJ with them. Although we all train the same art it is a very personal and unique experience for every participant due to all the variables that come from everyone’s individuality. Seeing other people’s little variances on techniques is a great way to improve your training by opening previously overlooked options.

Heidelberg, Germany was an excellent choice for a camp location. The sports complex was quite large and the mat space easily accommodated 200 plus globetrotters. Classes transitioned smoothly from one instructor to the next and the open mat periods flowed nicely. The sports hall also had clean locker rooms equipped with showers and a great cafeteria that offered inexpensive food options for those who did not participate in the food plan.

I wasn’t sure what it would be like staying in a hostel but even that turned out to be a pleasant experience. We were 4 to a room and we had a private bathroom and it was clean with comfortable bunks.

The city of Heidelberg may be the coolest place I’ve ever visited. The old part of the city with its narrow cobble stone roads and small homes was like traveling back in time. In the city center the streets were lined with small shops, bars, and restaurants were you can get any type of food you could possibly want. Then there’s the castle overlooking the city, a nice climb to go in the back way, or you can drive up to the main entrance, a great experience regardless of your choice with breath-taking views out over the city and the Neckar River.

Speaking of the Neckar River, there’s a really cool park on the riverside that has beach volleyball courts, and outdoor bar, and music playing continuously, a great place to hang out and just relax and soak it all in. There is also a bike/walking path that extends for miles on the riverside.

The other thing that struck me about Heidelberg was that a large percentage of the residents ride bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. They have a rent a bike system in place with pickup/drop off points all over the city and virtually every place you go there are bike racks, also there are bike lanes on almost every road and they even have traffic lights specific to bicycles.

The one negative in the entire trip was the lack of internet access. Heidelberg has free wi-fi in the city which I was able to access however there was no internet access. The only 2 places I was able to get online were the cafeteria in the sports center and the hostel lobby.. Oh, hold on a second, that’s actually a good thing too. Never mind it was 100% positive.

All in all this was an amazing trip with great Brazilian jiu jitsu, great people, great food, and I cant wait to do it all again…

 

Peace