The Long and Winding Road Back


Quick update. I’ve been away from BJJ for over half a year now, going to class a few times in between but not enough to start the momentum back up. Jiu Jitsu seems to be all about momentum. Luckily I’ve done it so long that when I do go back it’s not like I’m starting from scratch. All the instincts are there only not nearly as sharp, and my cardio is dog shit.

So now that I’m almost healed (knee is probably 97% better, still can’t contract it all the way without pressure and still gets a bit achey when overworked), and my music school has been relocated (our lease ended June 1st), I’m ready to give a serious push to going back to class and getting back on track.

You know how you’re always in a constant state of soreness when you train? Well I found that to be much more tolerable than being stagnant, and I’ve actually injured myself MORE being out of BJJ than when I trained semi-regularly. Yes while training I popped my rib out of place, had my ankles crack, suffered countless bruises and mat burns, and most recently had my knee severely twist, but I noticed that when your body’s not taking part in a regular workout routine other things slowly go wrong. It’s like when you’re training your body knows it’s in constant healing mode so things fix themselves much quicker.

While being out due to injury I bought this Segway scooter thing that you stand on and it zips you around like a hoverboard. Well as soon as MN stopped surprising us with late season blizzards I was finally able to take the thing out for a spin. So I travelled about 10 miles the first night. In order to engage the motor you have to lean slightly forward to propel yourself and to turn you use the inside of your knees. Well this was a brand new motion for my body and the next morning my lower back felt like I had been suplexed by Andre the Giant. This sharp, numbing, pain lasted about a month. In over a decade of BJJ I never felt that sort of pain in my back. Since I wasn’t in that constant healing mode that BJJ offers it took way longer to feel 100%. That freaked me out, I basically injured myself STANDING. :O

I wasn’t completely sedentary though my healing time, I try to get in the occasional workout and as soon as I was able to, I began running (up to 5 or 6 miles some nights). Knowing that I’d be returning to the mats keeps a certain fire burning that rarely lets you avoid physical activity altogether. It also became clear that without some sort of physical exertion, it’s easy to have your mindset begin to alter itself. My thinking became a bit more cloudy, it was easy to fall into lazy patterns, and my mood felt about 20% gloomier. Choking people is sure therapeutic. ūüėČ

So starting a few days ago I began my serious road back to the mats starting with some P90X Chest and Back. Then last night I ran about 3 miles outside in the muggy summer air doing my best to avoid the frogs that like to hang out on the trails. Tonight I’ll mix in a little Insanity hoping to get through more than just the warmup and soon I hope to finish the majority of P90X and Insanity workouts without taking too many breaks. Once that’s a reality and once I can trust my body again I’ll be going back to BJJ class on the reg. I’ll keep updating this site as a form of motivation for myself and anyone else who may have taken an extended break from their chosen endeavor. Thanks for reading. -Mike


I Quit BJJ….For 1 Day

This isn't easy for me to write.

Everyone says that on your journey to black belt you will probably experience at least one major injury. This is the injury that will not only test your body, but will test your spirit. I know that sounds a bit grandiose but I'm realizing how true it is.

Two months ago I had my knee go out during a pretty routine exchange. I had just stood up to avoid my instructor's dangerous butterfly guard when my knee popped 3 times during a knee reap. That's when the opponent, in this case from the ground, whips their leg over yours in order to collapses you back to the ground. This is countered either by removing their reaping leg, spinning out in the direction of their reap, or pointing your knee out and standing strong to avoid the inevitable heel hook opportunity. Well I opted for the 3rd option. Feeling good about the strength of my body, I had been doing P90X and have never felt stronger, I stood my ground and drove my knee outward while driving my foot to the ground insuring he couldn't get a hold of my heel to get the tap, the submission. There was so much force just from the reap that when he was able to rock my foot off the ground my knee (the weakest part of the structure) twisted and I felt 3 pops as I fell to the ground. He immediately released the hold and came to my aid while the sound of my knee made those around us stop their own grappling to see what happened. I felt a cold shiver fill me and strangely a hot flash too as I knew something major had just happened. I leapt up to me feet pretending to be okay, actually I didn't feel much pain since my adrenaline was pumping so much, but I could feel the frightening sensation of instability in my right knee as I struggled to stay upright. I walked it off and my instructor laid on the mat trying to shake off the unsettling feeling of actually feeling the full effectiveness of BJJ. I tried to ease his mind by making light of the situation but inside I was trembling thinking of all the rehab and time off I was now facing.

I spent the next 2 months in a sort of depressed haze filling my time and energy drawing and watching Gilmore girls. Don't laugh, it's surprisingly comforting in times of distress. ūüėČ Well after such a long time off I was out of shape but my knee seemed about ready for at least a little bit of testing. So I went to class only to have to pop again during a routine back step during open gym. My knee swelled up and I had to sit out the rest of class. I was devastated and imagined all the time off was for nothing. I had messed my knee up and now I was back to square one. How long would it really take to be back to 100%? Six months said another instructor who had the same injury. I went home crushed realizing that it's probably better if I just quit BJJ for now. Who's was I kidding, I had felt my passion for the art dwindling and now more than ever was the best time for me to hang up the gi. So with a heavy heart, thinking of the 11 years I put into it, I emailed my instructors to tell them the news.

I spent the next day in a strange place. For the first time in 11 years I didn't have the pressure of BJJ on my mind. It's like this constant pull making you want to eat healthy, stay fit and flexible, and thinking of new ways to improve your game. All that was left was this palpable void. Yes for the first time in over a decade I was faced with the same void that haunts us all. I'm going to write a whole piece on 'the void' but for now I'll just say I realized this void is responsible for either destroying or inspiring each and every person. I could see why some people, in order to deal with this void, turn to alcohol, drugs, consumption, Crossfit. ūüėČ Just kidding my Crossfit friends..kind of. In my case it was Jiu Jitsu. Without it I lacked a major driving force in my life. Besides family, friends, students, guitar, yoga, art, and Buffy, Jiu Jitsu/martial arts has been one of my main pillars, one of my main reasons for being alive. Call it cowardice, but I found myself running back to the 'gentle art.' I decided to fight through this damn knee injury and continue my journey to black belt.

To my surprise, after making this decision I woke to find that my knee was already feeling much better. I didn't take three steps back but perhaps only one or two. With a good knee brace and this new determination I believe I can get back to the mats sooner than later. Thanks for reading everyone and thanks to my instructors and girlfriend for putting up with my drama. ūüėČ -Mike

After The Injury

It’s one thing when you’re doing something stupid and you get hurt, but when your knee pops during a usually routine position it can give you pause. My partner had me in butterfly guard and yanked me up causing me to post both arms out. He did the right thing by switching to a leg attack, a heel hook to be specific. Usually from standing I can place my weight on the threatened foot and angle my knee out in a way that makes it impossible for my heel to be reached. For some reason the pressure of the knee reap alone resulted in three quite audible pops as my partner released the hold and I went down in disbelief. The first few moments after an injury is always unsettling. The guys around you stop what they’re doing and pop their concerned heads up gauging by the expression on your face how badly you were hurt. Your blood runs cold and hot somehow at the same time as you wait for the pain response to hit your brain. 

I did the dumbest thing possible and got right up to my feet. Honestly though I felt no pain but could tell something wasn’t quite right. So I tried to “walk it off” the whole time joking about how I used to crack my knees on purpose as a kid and this felt like a similar sensation. My partner laid on his back with his eyes closed obviously feeling both bad for me and probably disgusted at how it felt to actually snap a guy’s knee. He and I both agreed that something like this has never happened to either of us before. A simple knee reap is way more dangerous than I had thought. From now on whenever I’m in that position I’m going to either get their leg off immediately, spin out, or just tap. No more putting all my weight on such a susceptible limb. It’s comparable to holding a long stick on the ground while someone’s leaning on it with all their weight, because there’s no give at the bottom the weakest part of the stick will break first. Now I know.

Your psychology goes crazy the days following an injury. I guess you can say I’ve been pretty fortunate that in 10 years of training I’ve really only had 4 mid-level occurrences and a few low-level. Mid-level includes popping a rib, popping my ankle while my partner escaped from my mounted triangle, popping my other ankle from a foot lock, and now this. Lots of popping it seems. They all could have been avoided except for maybe the rib. I exhaled after a long rolling session just as my partner landed full force onto my side. Some thoughts that have passed my mind since the last episode: If that can happen so easily what if something major happens? Do I really want to risk more injuries over something I mostly do as a hobby? Do I still love Jiu Jitsu enough to keep powering through? Will this be ‘the one’ that ends my journey? 

Walking, well limping, around the bookstore the other day I spotted some guy wearing a Gracie Jiu Jitsu shirt. 9 times out of 10 if they’re wearing a Gracie shirt they train, if not they’re usually wearing a Tapout shirt. ūüėČ I casually approached him and noticed two things, he had mega calves for a smaller guy, and he exerted that ‘quiet confidecne’ you only see from someone who’s been through some shit. Turns out it was Greg Nelson from The Academy in MN. He’s a 4th degree BJJ black belt known for training UFC fighters and battling and beating cancer twice. After he introduced himself I took a step back in disbelief like I was meeting a superhero. We talked a bit about training and I mentioned my recent injury. He told me that he’s had his knee issued (as most of us do) and told me that even if I can only train here and there it’s a long journey and staying on the path is really the battle. 

It didn’t hit me until I was walking out to my car that it couldn’t have been just pure chance that I ran into Mr. Nelson. Suddenly my popped knee dwarfed in comparison to him beating cancer twice and going onto continue his martial arts journey. Such a sublime moment and realization. So my doubts about hanging up the purple belt dissolved and even though it may be a while before I’m back rolling on the mats, I’ll be doing all I can during my time away to stay in shape for my return. Thanks for reading and I hope it was somewhat inspiring to anyone going through the same ordeal. -Mike

Technical Difficulties 

Out of frustration I decided to kick my cardio up a few notches so..out came the Insanity DVD’s and pushed aside went my grappling dummy. After two weeks of every-other-day cardio hell I went to class and noticed a vast improvement in my rolling. In fact my friend Mike T and I rolled for 45 minutes straight without a break and I felt just fine. This was a big deal for me because I typically can go all out for 5 minutes and then find myself playing defense a lot in order to recoup my energy, but I was able to play both offense and defense equally the entire time. I continued to work on cardio and came to realize the most important aspect of the training. It wasn’t necessarily the physical work that was paying off but the state of mind I had to put myself in in order to survive such a strenuous circuit. Learning to move your body even when it’s telling you to stop is a great way to separate yourself from your mind’s natural tendency to under-achieve your physical potential. Don’t believe me? Try and do 40 push-ups right now. You’ll see that around the halfway point your body is probably already hinting that you stop, but if you had a gun to your head you know you could bang out the whole 40. It also reinforced the concept of continuous breath focus. As you might know, holding your breath is a cardio-killer. 

Okay so I know I have to keep my cardio up but at the same time it occurred to me to bring out the old grappling dummy and go over some techniques, but this time I’d approach it in a different way. I started in mount and did some fall to the side arm bars. That’s where you place your hands on the opponents chest and end up on their side hopefully with one of their arms secured for the submission. A flash of realization stuck me and I actually started laughing out loud. All these years of practicing this technique and the whole time I’ve been missing one simple principle. (Sure my instructor mentions the small details when teaching the moves but a lot of those go by the wayside until you are mentally ready to adopt them.) By applying this idea I was able to shave, I’d say 15% energy off of the execution of the technique. What other moves have I been “over applying” all these years? So I went to the triangle choke and found a way to knock off a few energy percentage points from that. It might not sound like much but as you know if you train, any time you can use less energy to accomplish your task you go that route; it can allow you to thrive on the mats and possibly save your life one day. 

So I figure that if I continue to do both cardio and technique refinement practice I should improve vastly in the next few months. As I test my results in open gym I will explain my methods but until then I’ll just have to say, stay tuned. ūüôā -Mike

30 Days of Dedication

Started my 30 days of dedication to BJJ today. I’ve been a bit touch and go lately and I want to get to class and ’embrace the grind.’

Doing a cardio program (Insanity) has really been helping me stay active while rolling. Mix that with yoga and doing submission chains with my grappling dummy and I really feel my game clicking. I have a lot of confidence that I’m hard to tap but there’s still a part of me that dreads the idea of getting dominated during rolls and going into panic mode especially with younger, more energetic partners. Time has come for me to believe in the technique I’ve acquired in almost a decade of BJJ. 

So my plan is to keep my low sugar diet going (I’m down close to 10 pounds and feel much healthier), keep up the Wim Hof breathing and cold shower method, and go to class as much as possible all month. If things go the way I plan I should be in top shape by August and I can give review class a shot. I’ve been a three stripe red for long enough and I finally feel like I can hang in the blue belt realm. 

Today (7-3-16)

Been drinking more water than usual. Trying to do at least a gallon a day. Jug Life! Went to class and worked the bag a bit during stand up class. I paired up with a gold belt and all my moves seemed to work great. I got 4 triangles and escaped side control easily. I even got a tap from doing the Lockdown, I found out how to make it more powerful. One area of failure was when I went to teach a triangle escape by posturing up but I overly strained and over worked my neck and back too much. Instead I should have circled or fell back instead of trying too hard to posture when my head is being held down. I was taught some heel hook escapes and how to utilize the gullotine (arm in) when defending the guard pass. All in all a great open gym. Might be stiff tomorrow but hopefully the cold shower negates much of the pain. ūüėČ

6 Plateau-Busting Reasons To Roll With a Novice


You could say I’ve been at my current belt for an embarrassingly long amount of time. So much so my belt has become a pathetic frayed freak show that gets more and more frail with every washing. I’m hoping to have at least some shred of it left (along with my dignity) to hang on the wall when I get to the next level.¬†I’m pretty¬†sure it’s gonna look like dental floss by then.

An interesting thing happened tonight. A student (two belts lower than me) came up and asked me to teach him some triangle choke details. Afterwards I used the opportunity to ask¬†him to roll a bit.¬†¬†I figured I could use the roll as a¬†warm up before I went against the higher belts. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this ‘warm up roll’ was going to bring some of the most important realizations and breakthroughs into my awareness.

Suddenly everything was working for me. Techniques that I never pull off with the higher belts were finally landing. Submissions came out of nowhere and my timing began to improve. Even Youtube techniques were working! ūüôā I believe I was experiencing¬†what black belts must feel¬†when rolling, that they can experiment/learn during the rolls and not just struggle to survive the whole time.

(Since most people just scroll down till they see a list with bold letters, here ya go!)

Here’s why rolling with a novice practitioner¬†helped me and why I believe it’s going to be a big part of my open gym training from now on:

  1. You can finally relax while rolling. Of course you can do that even with black belts but you’ll probably get crushed and/tapped very quickly. With lower belts you don’t feel as much pressure so you can slow your breathing down and calmly make your moves. It might surprise you how slick your movement can be when you don’t have to constantly struggle.
  2. You can chain moves together. Tonight I went from side control to mount to high mount to cross choke to armbar to triangle and got the tap. It was amazing to feel such control and flow for once. You may ask, “But what good is a chain if higher belts can break them?” Well, how can you improve your chains if you¬†have no starting point of reference? Let’s say you can pull off a cross choke to armbar chain on a lower belt. Well next time you might have a little more trouble with a tougher opponent but because you know it works at one level you can make little adjustments from there. If not, you’re trying to already adapt something that’s doesn’t exist at a basic level. Imagine if you never threw a front kick because high-level kickboxers always block them. You’d have one less tool in the arsenal and you’d never have a base technique in which to tweak. Since I have a snappy¬†front kick, I use it on lower belts all the time. However, if I fail with a front kick I’ve learned how to turn it over for a question mark kick or even a switch kick. The basic techniques become the foundation for¬†your building blocks and though you can still use them you are also able to jump up levels when needed.
  3. You can sharpen your reaction times.¬†After a while I decided to let him go on the offensive¬†so I could work my defense.¬†Since I knew what he wanted to do, I was able to easily escape BEFORE anything became a real threat. The idea of ‘putting out little fires before they grew’ seemed to finally make sense. I¬†now had time, and space, to be one step ahead of my opponent¬†and I know¬†that’s an important concept that I can build on.
  4. You can experiment.¬†I felt a little mean going for Twisters and inverted guard tricks but hey I finally felt free while grappling. I wasn’t constantly fighting for my life worrying about getting passed or choked so why not try a few things? Isn’t this how you develop your own style after all? Chances are you’re not going to experiment with¬†new moves¬†against a 200 pound black belt. So how do you know if it will ever work for you at all? Use this time to take a few chances and you may discover which techniques really resonate with you.
  5. You can let submissions go and study how opponents escape. One time I had side control and reached back to grab his collar. He turned in so I flipped around getting his back while still having the collar grip. I knew I could just tighten the choke and he’d tap but I just held it, right on the edge. Eventually he began to wiggle and as he went for the escape I easily took mount. The segments became crystal clear and opened my eyes on why the high belts make this a big part of their¬†training. Marcelo Garcia explained this in one of his videos as well.
  6. You can finally use their movements against them. When a higher belt pushes you off you can bet they’re going to put a knee between you and escape. However a lower belt usually just pushes and pushes. God it felt so mean but I simply let this guy push me into better and better positions. The reason I felt bad is because I knew exactly how it feels to be in his place. From side control he pushed my chest so I rotated my body and scooped up his arm. Then he pushed me right back and I took mount. Out of frustration he pushed my knee and I took technical mount, and this went on and on. He was doing ALL the work!

Part of me wondered if all this rolling with a less-skilled opponent would affect my game against the higher belts. So at the end of class I went back to the deep end and rolled with two guys who were my rank. What I discovered was that I brought with me a sense of confidence and flow. Since I knew my techniques worked at one level, it gave me reassurance that I would eventually feel that sense of ease in more and more situations, maybe not today or next month but someday soon. I’ll keep you updated on my progress but for now thanks for visiting. -Mike

Need Motivation? Embarrass Yourself.


(Please excuse me while I throw a little pity party up in here.)

Up comes an ambitious-looking lad, one full belt rank below mine. “Hey guys!, anyone feel like rolling with me?” He was practically bursting at the seams of his double-weaved gi to get at the upper belts¬†and I knew he was looking to test his best skills against us.¬†“Go get him!” my friend said half-joking.¬†Right away I could feel that this guy¬†was thirsty for blood. He started on his feet attempting to pass my guard when¬†I mistakenly left my foot out too far. He grabbed it and fell back -I should have had at least one grip on him- and the footlock war was on. I brought my free¬†foot into the party hoping to pry the other out¬†but he grabbed both and somehow crossed them on me. Next thing I knew I felt tremendous pressure on one of my shins so I¬†sat up in a last ditch effort to escape. It was too late, he had it locked in tight. I swear I could sense my belt turning white as I tapped.

What went wrong? First off, I want to say that the kid did everything right and he deserves all the credit for this. His skill was impressive¬†and he moved aggressively yet skillfully,¬†but at the same time I was very upset with my¬†own performance. I know I’m going to tap (a million more times in life) but in my heart I knew that I didn’t do my best in that moment. I also realized that not being in top physical condition was keeping me from going all out when I had to. This became apparent during my next few rolls.

My new rolling partner¬†was the same rank as me but he was flowing and moving without breaking a sweat. He got me twice and I was able to catch him once, but from the physical side you’d think I had just run a marathon and he had just been on the beach sippin’ a mojito.¬†My body felt drained of all energy so it began rebelling. “MOVE LEG!” I would scream in my mind, but it disobeyed me. “GET ON TOP!” but I stayed on bottom. This results in getting dominated a lot¬†and when I do get submissions¬†they’re often what I refer to as “lazy subs” such as heel hooks and footlocks.

The¬†drive home was a mess of self-talk, near tears, and sore legs. Questions often haunt a BJJ practitioner: “Will I ever get great or will it always be a struggle?” “How can I look to get my next belt if I’m getting submitted by lower belts?” “Should I just take up Tai Chi?”¬†Giving¬†up always sounds appealing minutes after you’ve had a bad day at the gym but for us “BJJ lifers” it’s never an option.¬†I hate to admit it but getting embarrassed is quite the motivator for me. Does it work for you too? Let me know. As for now I’ll be ramping up my conditioning, eating better, and spending more time tweaking my technique so this happens less and less. Thanks for checking in. ūüôā -Mike

Wim Hof Update (BJJ/Life)

Just started week 5 of the Wim Hof journey. I had a little breakthrough last night during my meditation. After a rigorous breathing session- 5 rounds of 30 breaths- I attempted some of the newer exercises one of which was a headstand. These are not for me. I realized that it was a bit traumatic for my neck to hold up all 165 pounds of my half-Asian ass. I should have just started light by forward bending and keeping my weight on my hands and feet, but I went all in. This left me with a bit of soreness today.

Jumping in the tub made me a bit nervous because I knew my first 5 minute cold shower was imminent. I did a 2 mintue warm shower and then when my round timer rang I cranked the shower handle all the way to the right. (pure cold) Dancing helped, and so did saying, “Oh fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck!!!” After about a minute I went calm and the water seemed to warm up a bit even though I know it’s just the body adjusting. Five minutes went by without too much distress and I stepped out as soon as the end bell rang. My body felt alive and I felt totally conscious.

Decided to do my own version of a float tank, minus the floating and the tank. I bought some ear plugs and two eye patches and I layed in bed in the complete silence and darkness. After about twenty minutes your body goes to sleep and you are left with nothing but black. Something new happened, I started seeing little dots coming toward me almost as if I was laying on the ground and snowflakes were falling at my face. Not sure what that means but I see it as a breakthrough since I rarely see anything but blue blobs when I meditate. Maybe I went into warp speed? ūüėČ

Rolling today revealed to me the benefits of this method. I’ve also been doing some cardio circuit training ¬†alone in my room. It’s a sad sight but seems to be paying off. My friend Mike and I went for about the whole hour and never felt gassed and I always had an extra gear just waiting for my call. If I can keep this up I should perform better in pressure situations. I’ll be back in a few weeks for another update. “Breathe Motherfuckers!” ūüėČ

(below) This is not me. ūüėČ

Wim Hof Method and BJJ

Hey everyone. Just wanted to share an experiement I’m doing that has to do with breathing and Jiu Jitsu. I discovered a guy named Wim Hof on a few podcasts who is known for extraordinary human feats that range from mainaining normal body temperature while in extreme cold to scaling Mt. Everest shirtless. He has created a method that he claims can help you strengthen yourself from the inside by improving many of your internal systems including respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, etc. Because I have a mild case of asthma and have always suffered in BJJ with limited lung capacity, I have decided to give his method a try. My goal is to keep updating this post week-by-week and let you know how it has affected my game and my life.  (His online method is a 10-week course.)

Week 1: I think I’ve taken in more O2 in the last few days than I have in years. With my body fully oxygenated I took part in an hour long grappling rotation in open gym. Normally I would have taken at least 3 hits off my inhaler but I only had to use it once and I think that was partially out of habit. (Also, my need to use my inhaler outside of BJJ has disappeard since starting his exercises.) Instead of thinking about my next move I simply made sure I was taking consistent breaths breaking it down as: Breathing comes first, Jiu Jitsu follows. I felt strangely great after the session and felt almost giddy during my cold shower that followed, (cold showers are another requirement of the method). By giddy I mean there was a sensation in my body as though all my cells were alive and dancing, for the lack of a better term. I began to notice my breathing throughout the day taking special note of when I’d hold my breath or went a long period of time without inhaling. Seems like it happens when I’m thinking or straining physically. This made a lot of sense why I tend to gass out pretty quickly when in bad positions in BJJ. As an experiement I tried holding my breath while doing burpees and noticed that I could only do about 3 before panic set in. If that happens that quickly with burpees, imagine how fast you’ll tire out when some 200 pound guy is sitting on your chest choking you. Then I repeated the burpees while taking full breaths and I was able to go forever.

This all comes at a great time because my next review class is coming up this Sunday. It’s a way for you to advance belt rank at my school and requires you to roll 15 minutes with 3 or 4 opponents pretty much back-to-back. My biggest fear is exhaustion and/or giving up a tap just to take a break, so I’m changing my goal this time. My goal is to go there to practicing breathing. Everything else   is secondary. If a guy has my back it’s secondary to keeping my air flowing; If I have someone in a triangle choke it doesn’t matter as much as if I’m holding my breath or not. With this focus I know that whether I win or lose I’ll be in total control of my inner systems while doing one of the hardest martial arts in the world. Everything else will seem easy in comparison. ūüėČ Well I’m off to suck some air. See ya!

Week 2: (Update)

10/28/15 Had another open gym marathon roll today and did pretty well. Probably had about 5 five-minute matches, tapped once to an armbar and tapped my opponents four times mostly with heel hooks and one crazy collar choke. The big news is that I didn’t use my inhaler even once this time. I felt the urge at one point but pushed through. Seems the Wim Hof method is beginning to pay off at least with my lungs. Still trying to get used to these cold showers though. 

I Want To Quit Jiu Jitsu*


My brain is an asshole sometimes, and by sometimes I mean almost every time I roll.

“How did I get stuck in side control again? This guy is half my size and I can’t seem to do anything. I could be at home right now watching Netflix instead of feeling like this! Oh shit he’s got my back, I can’t tap¬†to this guy, maybe I’ll fake an asthma attack. The instructor is watching and I’m looking terrible. I’ve been training for almost a decade, why do I still feel like a white belt¬†so much? Maybe I’m not made for this. ¬†I want to quit Jiu Jitsu!”¬†-my brain’s typical¬†assholery¬†¬†¬†

The truth is, it’s not just me who feels this way¬†when things aren’t going well¬†on the mats. It’s common for these negative thoughts to plague most of us. What I’ve come to realize however is that these doubts, not my opponents, are¬†the REAL HURDLES of the¬†Jiu Jitsu journey. They’re the very same thoughts that cause a large percentage of practitioners to hang up their belts, sometimes after only a few weeks. Many people, especially beginners, just can’t deal with it. I mean what other sport or activity do you experience this¬†much personal negative feedback in such a short amount of time? It’s deflating and can be quite humiliating. (Ever make that gargling sound just before tapping to a choke?)

The Good News:

I’ve learned that no matter how severe these voices are, you just shake it off and get back on that wild horse, even though you’re sure to get bucked off again and again. I recall getting heel hooked 12 times in one open gym session. Bam, another one….tap! Clap hands, go again. Tap, shit! Clap hands, TAP…Son of a bitch!!! (I wasn’t swearing out loud, just to myself.;) I left class with two thoughts:¬†1. I suck at heel hook defense and 2. but I never gave up. Never giving up meant that the next time he and I rolled I was able to stave off a few of his attacks because I had figured out a fraction of his game. That’s often the exchange, great personal shame for a fraction of knowledge. My training parters are a great example of this philosophy too. They roll, they all tap, and at the end of class they shake hands, smile and move on with their day only to come back to the next class and do it all again. The ones who keep coming back are beginning to tap less and less. It’s both motivating and terrifying for me to see. (Terrifying because I have to face these monsters)

So yes, your brain is going to do its best to trip you up but just remember to always tack on that little asterisk at the end of a¬†negative statement declaring:¬†“*but I will come back again and again until I finally overcome!” You can thank me when you get your black belt, hopefully I’ll have mine by then too. ūüôā