What Do You Want To Be

What do you want to be? This is a question often asked to children as they grow up and progress through their school years and life experiences. The question is usually asked as what do you want to be (when you grow up)?

A few questions immediately come to mind when I hear this question, first how would a 10 year old have an idea of what he or she wants to be “when they grow up” when they don’t really even know what is available to them. My second question is how many “grown ups” really know what they want to be? 

Here’s the bigger question, why is this usually defined by the job people decide to pursue? If you chose to be a doctor, lawyer, police officer, teacher, custodian, or burger flipper is that really who you are, or is it just what you do?

One more question, why do we not ask this question to adults? Do you know what you want to be? Do you define what you are by what you do to earn money? Does what someone does for a wage define what they are, or does someones character and value set define what they are. Is the person who decided to be a doctor more valuable than the person who decided to be cashier? What you decided to do is not what you are, it does not define your value versus what someone else decided to be.

So what do I want to be? Honest, reliable, kind, healthy, a good father, boyfriend, and friend. In short a good human being who cares about others.

What do I want to do? Now thats a whole other question.

Stay Human 

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.

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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Phish Adventure & the Days That Followed Part 2

Part 2

Before me and Jason split up at the Phish show I told him I need to bring Tara’s car in to his shop for a service. He told me Monday or Tuesday morning would be good, I said I would bring it on Monday at 9:00 am but that didn’t happen, I don’t remember why but I called him and said I would be coming in on Tuesday instead. 

I woke up on Tuesday 2 July 2019 prepared and ate my breakfast then headed to Lodi to Jason’s shop with Tara’s car. I got there right around 9:00 am and pulled the car right onto the lift (with Jasons guidance). Jason raised the car and did the oil change and tire rotation while I just walked around the shop and talked with him and John just like hundreds of times before. When the service was finished Jason lowered the car and pulled it out of the shop and parked it in the driveway and we went into the office, Jason printed up a bill for the service and we talked for a little bit about the typical shit we talked about every day specifically the concert from the weekend. A few minutes later a customer pulled in for a wheel alignment. Jason and I  walked outside to the car and before he got in the car to pull it into the shop I said Tara will be back later today and I’ll stop back in tomorrow to take care of the bill. He said whatever dude no rush, we shook hands, I said see you tomorrow. Jason got in the car and pulled onto the lift, I got into Tara’s car and split.

When I left the shop I drove home to drop off Tara’s car at my house and get my car and head to the gym to lift. While I was working out my phone rang (Eye of the Tiger ring tone), I glanced at it and it was Tony, I couldn’t answer but because Tony rarely calls me I called back right away. I figured he was in the area and wanted to stop over. Tony answered the phone and said Abe called him and said Jason had an accident at the shop and got hurt. I stated I just left the shop and everything was okay but Tony seemed really concerned so I decided to go right back to the shop. 

As I was driving back to the shop I figured maybe he hurt his hand trying to loosen a bolt or maybe something fell onto his foot or something stupid along those lines. As I crossed over Harrison Ave and the shop came into my sight horror set in as the entire corner was taped off with yellow police tape, there were a couple Lodi police cars and the Bergen County investigation truck all parked along the road. I quickly parked my car in front of the county truck and jumped out. One of the Lodi police officers was a friend so I called him over and asked what happened. He wouldn’t tell me much except that a car came off the lift and pinned Jason and it wasn’t good. He also told me that they took Jason to Hackensack University Medical Center. I jumped into my car and quickly started to drive to the hospital. As I was driving down Westervelt I decided to call Kevin (Jason’s brother). Kevin answered the phone with 2 words “he’s gone”. I had to pull over at this point. My phone call back to Tony was a difficult call to make. I didn’t want to say the words. 

I still can’t comprehend that about 30 minutes after I left the shop Jason left us. I’m so grateful for the friendship I had with Jason, and that I was with him for a while on that day. Jason was one of the best people there ever was. 

We had a great time at the Phish show and he owes me a Slipknot concert so Im sure he’ll be there with me. 

Like many others I spoke to Jason every day and stopped in the shop at least 1 time a week.  There’s a huge hole that can never be filled.IMG_8997-2

Phish Adventure & the Days that Followed

 On Saturday 29 June 2019 I drove to Camden New Jersey to meet with Jason and Mike for my first Phish concert. I got there very early and if you know me you know I do everything early. I drove around a little to try and find parking for less than $40; bad idea, I finally parked and paid $30 about six blocks from the venue. If you’re familiar with Camden you know I should’ve just paid the $40 across the street from the amphitheater. Although it was extremely early I figured why don’t I just walk to the river and chill while I wait for Jason and Mike to come over on the ferry from Philly. 

About two blocks into my walk it started to rain a little, knowing the previous nights storm I figured it was a good idea to go to the overhang at the building I was walking past and see how the rain would turn out. Within a few minutes of me taking cover the sky opened up in the wind kicked in and I was trapped at the front door of the Camden charter high school. The rain and wind was so intense I could barely see the building across the street maybe 50 yards from where I was standing. I called Jason from my shelter to see if him and Mike were on the ferry yet, luckily they were not; they were planning on coming over a little bit later. 

After about 10 minutes or so there was a break in the storm, I figured this was my best chance to get back to my car so I made a break for it. When I got back to my car it was completely surrounded by water so I had to get into my car without getting my feet completely soaked since I only had the sneakers and socks I was wearing, luckily I managed to pull it off. When I finally got back into my car I figure it’s probably a good idea to move it to a different section of the parking lot where maybe its a little bit higher and dry, and not currently flooded.

My logic was if it wasn’t flooded at this point it most likely wouldn’t flood if the rain started up again. So I moved my car to a different location and just hung out for about a half hour until the rain finally stopped for good. 

It was at this point where I decided I would walk back to the venue and find a bite to eat before meeting up with Jason and Mike at the ferry. As I got closer to the venue there was a food cart with a dude selling hot dogs which I don’t eat, but he also had pretzels so I grabbed a pretzel and for three dollars I got the biggest pretzel I ever saw my life and it was pretty damn good. As I was eating my pretzel I walked down towards the water to check out the battleship New Jersey which is docked next to the concert venue in Camden.  I also just looked across the river into Philly where the submarine USS Bacuna is berthed at Penn’s Landing right next to a Ship from WW1 and is part of the Independence Seaport Museum. A few years back we filmed a short on the sub so this brought back some pretty cool memories for me. 

A short while later the ferry was docking so I walked over to meet with Jason and Mike. When we finally got inside Jason and Mike wanted to stop at the beer stand. While we were waiting they bumped into a friend who said she had a great spot on the lawn with other friends so we all headed in.

Shortly after the concert started I could no longer stand in the middle of that crowd so I let Jay know I was running to the bathroom to take a leak and I would not be coming back to the spot. (I don’t fair to well in the middle of crowds like that). He said he would take the walk and hang out with me and just head back to the group later. We finally settled into a spot at the top of the lawn area that was open and had a great view of the stage (this was much more enjoyable for me). 

After the first set I decided to go for a walk and told Jay I would be leaving early and not staying for the entire second set so at that point we separated, Jason went back down by Mike and their group of friends and I just walked around a little bit and eventually split. 

In between Phish sets down by the river there was a fireworks show which was really cool. I tried to get some photos but didn’t have a clear view so the pics sucked.

My first Phish show was very enjoyable, I had a great time and me and Jason made a deal that since I’m not a big Phish fan but went to the show with him that he (not being a Slipknot fan) would come to see Slipknot with me. By the way I can now call myself a Phish fan. 

To be continued………….

 

From the show we went to

The Path

When I took my first jiu jitsu class in 2002 I never imagined the path I would eventually follow. At the time I was already well into my martial arts lifestyle and jiu jitsu was just another tool to compliment my overall skill set. Jiu jitsu started off as a once per week class (Saturday) with one day of review during the week to go over what we learned and prepare for the next weeks class. Little by little my personal martial arts curriculum started a shift, Muay Thai and the self-defense art that were once priority slowly moved into the back seat and jiu jitsu jumped behind the wheel. 

Due to a lack of resources I started teaching jiu jitsu very early into my jiu jitsu training which forced me to really break down the technique and understand every little detail so I could explain how and why the technique worked and was effective. I was already teaching a self-defense art at the time and I believe this helped me with understanding and breaking down technique but, with jiu jitsu I took it to a whole new level. I’ve always felt that I was good at teaching and I’ve always received very positive feedback on my classes, however I feel jiu jitsu help me raise the bar on my own skills and ability to pass them to others.

Early on I used to talk about traveling to train at some of the academies run by Brazilian black belts and some of the better known competitors and instructors. At one point I was really into flow drills, I used to put together simple 2 step drills up to very complex drills with as many as 10 steps or more. I would teach these drills in steps which caused the student to learn the individual technique and the transitions between which helps them with the overall understanding and helps the student move seamlessly between technique without pause. At the time I was doing this I had this dream about traveling and teaching seminars based on flow drills, in my mind it was a great idea that couldn’t fail, but also in my mind was I’m a blue belt and who gives a shit what I think so I just kept doing my thing and let the seminar idea go.

In 2015 I heard about a book called The Cauliflower Chronicles about a dude who went to train in Hawaii, it sounded pretty interesting so I went on Amazon to buy the book. In true Amazon fashion when I put the book into my cart they showed my some other books I may be interested in based on my selection. One of the suggestions was a book called The BJJ Globetrotter, it looked pretty cool so I let Amazon get the best of me and bought both books. Jokes on you Amazon, The BJJ Globetrotter ended up have a major impact on my life and opened doors I never dreamed of.  After reading the book I looked up the author Christian Graugart on Facebook and sent him a friend request and joined his Globetrotters Facebook group, I also found the Globetrotters website and joined the community. 

Through this research on the Globetrotters I found that Christian was running jiu jitsu camps. The camps were mostly in Europe but there was a U.S. camp in New Hampshire coming up in September of 2016. I was talking with Tara about this and she noticed the excitement I showed while talking about this whole community Christian was building. Now anyone who knows me can tell you I’m pretty much on the same level no matter the circumstance, I don’t really show excitement.  Tara seeing this bought me a ticket to the BJJ Globetrotters camp New Hampshire 2016. 

I was a brown belt at the time Tara bought me the ticket to the camp, in April 2016 that changed, I earned my black belt and went to my first camp as a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt. I drove up to the camp stopping along the way to pick up one of the instructors Trenton Cooke at the airport. Talking with Trenton on the ride I learned we had common training partner in our jiu jitsu journeys which was pretty cool. So my very first camp class I was Trenton’s assistant which helped me interact with a large number of students immediately. 

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After this camp I felt totally reborn, I emailed Christian and expressed interest in becoming one of his camp instructors and while it didn’t happen by the next U.S. camp at that camp Christian invited my on as an instructor.  The first camp I taught at was in Heidelberg Germany in August 2017. I had never traveled out of the states before and now I was traveling out of the country for the first time in my life and teaching jiu jitsu at a camp with 150+ students from all over the globe. I had this fear that no one would be in my class because well, let’s face it; who the fuck is Rich Sab? Well, the class was 100+ students and other camp instructors and the feedback was awesome.

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I have now been to 6 Globetrotters camps, taught at 4 camps (2 in Maine, 1 each in Germany, Iceland, and St. Barthelemy) and I will be teaching in Maine again this year and just confirmed that I will be going back to teach in Heidelberg Germany this summer. 

So the question is: Where has the jiu jitsu path taken me?

And the answer is: Everywhere…….

Peace

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I’m Back

Re-posting one of my past blog entries yesterday made me realize how long it’s been since I wrote anything new. As the new year came in I made a list of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. This list includes starting a sauerkraut business, being consistent with making soap to grow that biz, release a weekly podcast and several other things I already do but incredibly inconsistently. I just added post a new blog weekly to my list.

This coming Sunday I will be heading to Saint Barthelemy for my 6th BJJ Globetrotters camp (4th time as an instructor). I will be teaching 2 classes at the camp, the 1/2 guard sweeps class I also taught in Iceland last July, and a new class I recently developed on the lasso guard. I’m really looking forward to this camp because it takes me away from the New Jersey winter for a few days even though this has been a mild winter. As much as I’m looking forward to going to the camp I still get an incredible amount of anxiety every time I attend BJJ camps. I think the fact that I’m usually one of the oldest if not the oldest martial artists at the camps contributes to my anxiety, also flying makes me very uncomfortable especially flying over water, however this usually passes quickly one I arrive at the camp.

My BJJ journey has been a long amazing trip and is finally at the junction where I feel like I’m passing knowledge to those who I reach through teaching and training. Although I’m not very old (52), when you spend a lifetime physically beating on your body 52 can sometimes feel like 100. Myself and most of the martial artist I know and train with do a variety of things to keep ourselves in good shape to continue training, teaching, and to keep our bodies strong and healthy. The catch 22 is the things that keep us in that condition can also be the very same thing that break us down. At this point in my life my main goal as a martial artist (BJJ specifically) is to be the best instructor I can possibly be and share my knowledge with as many people as I can. As much as I love to roll (spar) I need to be smart about it and limit myself so I can stay healthy and teach and train for many more years.

One more subject to cover here.
As most my friends and family know I was adopted from birth. Although I consider myself 100% American and I grew up in an Italian family (Sicily and Bari) I never knew my actual biological background. I do now…
Stay tuned………….

 

Sab-Jits The Podcast Episode 3

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Sab-Jits the Podcast Episode 3

Today I sat and talked with my friend, student, and training partner Oscar Martinez at The Edge Ultimate Martial Arts Academy in Saddle Brook NJ. We talked Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Self Defense….

Musically Irked

I’ve been playing in working bands (both cover and original) since 1985. Over that 30 plus years I’ve seen a lot of change in the music industry and local music scene. My first original release was in a predominant cassette era, then it was CD, now it’s predominant digital download with vinyl making a strong comeback. Also without the backing of a major label it was damn near impossible to achieve success, now you can achieve success with a good recording and an iPhone video through the social platform.

The area of change currently affecting me is the local scene. Back in the day I had an endless stream of gigs, with both my cover and original bands. Back in the day the clubs knew they needed to bring in patrons and it was not the sole responsibility of the band, now; not so much. Yes, it was important for the band to draw to keep gigs, but the burden was not placed on the band alone. Now when I contact clubs the very first question I’m asked is how many people I can bring into the club. Well, how many people will the club be bringing to see me? It should be a mutual effort, no?

Hey club owners I have a question for you, during you hiring process with your bartenders, cooks, dish washers, servers, and security do you ask them how many people they can draw to your bar? Maybe bartenders are asked if they have a following (as many do) but I doubt you rely solely on them to fill your bar.

As a band with a following we are always looking to build our following as we can’t rely on the same people to attend every show. The way to build our following is for the club itself to have a following so we are consistently exposed to a new crowd.

The other area where I find great frustration is with promoters who never return phone calls or messages. This is unacceptable behavior, if you don’t want to book my band simple tell me I’m a big boy and can take it. This lack of response from club owners and promoters especially from clubs where we have an established relationship is simply disrespectful and they should be ashamed of themselves for such poor behavior. You have the right to book or not book anyone you like, but at least have the common courtesy to return a call, not much to ask.

I once had a club promoter tell me he would book a monkey banging on a garbage can every week if people came in to see it, and I get it. But that being said even on nights we had less than stellar turnouts from our fan base, his club was full.

Back in the day Northern New Jersey had a great local music scene, now I have to say it sucks and it’s draining me of the passion I once had as a musician. May be time for a change.

Peace

 

BJJ Tournament Rules

It seems like every week a new grappling federation is popping up and holding tournaments. I think this is both good and bad. Good in the way that our sport is growing in popularity, and bad because with this growth usually comes the watering down of the original intent of the “art”. The original intent of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was self protection, self protection in the way that a smaller person could defend themselves against a lager attacker. The original intent of Tae Kwon Do was self protection, typically meeting force with force with defensive maneuvers and punching and kicking. With the popularity of Tae Kwon Do tournaments the rules slowly began to change. First the punching began to fade then the contact began to fade. When I trained in TKD we fought when we sparred, there was contact and if the fight went to the ground as most fights do you’d better know how to fight there as well. We didn’t go for points for one simple reason; if you get attacked your attacker will not stop attacking because you scored a point.

While I feel that sport martial arts are good it’s the rules that water down the martial art itself. Traditionally speaking, if you got a black belt it meant you could fight and defend yourself, now if you get a black belt in a martial art designed for competition that meaning isn’t necessarily true. A lot of black belts today have a false sense of security due to the sport aspect of the what they are learning.

Now here’s the issue I have with all the grappling tournaments that are popping up every week, each one has a different set of rules, and much like what happened to TKD this is watering down BJJ. More and more schools have a sport based curriculum (if they have a curriculum at all) and this takes the self protection out of the art. While I agree that for children there are certain things that need to be modified in both training and competition for safety, however adults need to train the art as it was meant to be. Therefore as an adult in competition there should not be limits on the moves and submissions that are (or least least should be) part of every adult BJJ academy curriculum. I realize there is no easy answer to this issue, however I feel it needs to be addressed.

 

To be continued…

Peace