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. 😉 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. 😉 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. 😉 -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? 😉

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!” 😉

(below) This is not me. 😉

“Reaping’ The Benefits

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 4.39.15 PMSo I made a few changes, some of them jiu jitsu related and some not, in the last few weeks.  I took a look at all my habits and asked which ones were just there to make me comfortable (or slightly unconscious), and which were beneficial.  So I decided to get rid of four things: Facebook, coffee, hot showers, and alcohol.  In its place I added cardio/circuit training every other night as well as yoga in between.  (Of course when I have Jiu Jitsu training I skip these for my off days)

Facebook: Doesn’t seem like a big deal but I realized that FB was taking up too much of my mental energy.  If you think about it, the FB wall is basically information overload.  You think you’re just casually reading about others but really your mind retains everything in one way or another.  I realized I was devoting too much of my energy reading, commenting, and absorbing information and it was starting to zombify me, so that was the first thing I avoided.  I noticed after the first day I was much calmer mentally which allowed me to have more energy to use for other things….like a crap ton of exercises.

Coffee:  The reviews are always mixed on the benefits of coffee.  I tend to lean towards it being pretty good for you at low quantities but I thought I’d experiment and see how getting rid of it affected me.  So far I notice more constant energy as opposed to ups and down throughout the day.  Sure I replaced it with Earl Grey but I believe there’s just something in coffee that drives me a little nuts.  Like it causes a bit of mental confusion as well as a sort of sinking feeling a few hours after ingestion.  A week away from the black juice and I’m convinced I made the right choice.  Between ditching FB and coffee I have to say my inner state has never been calmer.

Hot Showers:  It’s only been 2 days without the comfort of a hot shower.  Why give it up?  Well I read a little about the benefits of cold showers and it convinced me enough to at least turn the hot water knob down a few degrees.  What I realized when I thought about it is that there really is no HOT water in nature.  If you live in the woods the best you’d get is a lukewarm lake bath.  I also realized that my skin problems that I’ve had since childhood always flare up after my showers and no wonder, I was practically scalding myself.  Now I notice no more itching, my hair feels better, and my complexion overall is looking younger.  How does this help my Jiu Jitsu?  Having a cold shower after class has improved my healing and I’m way less sore in less time.

Alcohol:  Tried to give it up completely but then had a country gig and that went out the window.  It’s really hard to play Garth Brooks sober.  Anyhow I’ll have to try again one day when I’m country-free.

Most importantly for jiu jitsu, I added a cardio circuit to my training and it has already shown me benefits on the mat.  I rolled with my friend who is both better and heavier than I am.  I usually find myself trapped underneath him with little or no energy to escape but last night I found I always had an extra tank.  Sure I still tapped like crazy but when we reset I was always energized and ready to do battle again.  I’ve never felt that good on the mat which is crazy because it’s only been about one week of this new routine.  Adding to that is the fact that I just bought some kettle bells and designed an even better routine involving my grappling dummy and heavy bag and it makes me very optimistic about training.  I can’t wait to hit the mats again Friday to see the results on an even higher level.  Very exciting stuff.  That’s all I have for ya for now.