Thoughts about Jiu-Jitsu and the Universe

Last night, during gi class, it suddenly dawned on me how we trap someone’s appendage or their head and neck (so they can’t escape) before we actually attempt to submit them. I’ve never really thought about it before, but we trap the thing that we are going to apply a technique to. Think about it, before we do a guillotine, we trap the head; before we do an arm bar, we trap both the shoulder and the arm; we prevent escape; before we triangle, we trap the arm, head and shoulder; heel hook, we trap the foot and the leg. We immobilize part of the body before we attack it.

It reminds me of a spider, they catch their prey, typically in a web, where the poor thing can’t move, then the badass spider injects some paralytic/digestive goop into its prey, then it consumes it. That’s what we do in jiu-jitsu. We catch someone in our web, we make it so they can’t escape, then we select a certain part of the body and “paralyze” it, then we consume it; we submit them. I don’t know, maybe I think too much about these sorts of things. I do like the idea of trapping, paralyzing, then eating. That’s pretty much what we do. We’re like bad ass spiders.

This is my first official day of summer, and it usually consists of the writing of a list—a summer “to do” list if you will. I write this list with high hopes, but I never really accomplish a lot of it, and some things I do aren’t even on the list, they’re things that just happen. I like those things the best, the things that the universe lays on your doorstep. Last year, I had “Go to a Rickson seminar” on my list and I did that. That was cool. This year, with coaxing from my friend Carl Sims, I’m going to teach a small local jiu-jitsu seminar. It will be my first. I’m excited about it.

Summer for me is mostly about hanging out with my family and jiu-jitsu, and it would be awesome to make that my life, but today it only exists in the summer. I’m not complaining, just dreaming. I will make my summer list today and although I realize I will probably only accomplish a small percent of the list, it’s fun to dream.

There’s an old catalpa tree on the corner of my girlfriend’s block, and in the trunk of that tree is a hive of honey bees. If you’re quiet, you can hear them. They’re busy. I wonder if honey bees ever slack off. Do they ever say, “Screw this shit, man, I’m taking a break”? Do they get tired of doing the same thing every day? I think honey bees would be excellent jiu-jitsu practitioners. Imagine working all day at jiu-jitsu. Your jiu-jitsu would be pretty sweet (like honey).

Earlier this year I tried to do something jiu-jitsuey every day, eh, it didn’t really work out too well. It started off pretty good, but things came up, and, well, maybe I let them come up. I did lose about 30 pounds in two months though (haven’t gained it back either). Maybe that’s why bees aren’t fat; they work every day. I’m going to try it again. I’m going to make an attempt to do something jiu-jitsuey every day for a year. This time, however, I need to plan it out a little better, to schedule at least the week’s training ahead of time, planning is a must, my brain is not like a bee’s. I need to ponder (I’m just guessing that bees don’t ponder, but they might).

I wonder if honey bees plan. Do they make goals about honey and pollination and working every day in the hive? Are they committed to their goal of making honey? Do they ever quit and start again? We can learn a lot form honey bees; I like their work ethic and the fact that they toil with a group, like jiu-jitsu people.

It’s time to train jiu-jitsu every day, to hit the hive like a honey bee.

Relax

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The concept of relaxing has always interested me. It’s a difficult thing to do—to relax. It’s damn near impossible sometimes, like when you’re twelve years old and you’re watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time. Jiu-jitsu teaches us a lot of things, a lot of wonderful things about ourselves and life in general and one of the best things that I’ve learned from the art of jiu-jitsu is how to relax.

It wasn’t easy of course, and there are times on the mat and in life that I am far from relaxed, but overall I feel at ease. I feel very calm. I think calmness comes from a lack of fear, maybe not the absence of fear, but not being emotionally invested in it, not letting fear manifest itself in your physical reaction. In the early days of our jiu-jitsu training, we are usually tense, we’re rigid, we go hard and fast, mostly because we’re afraid, we’re nervous; we are in an environment that is foreign to us and that translates into tension, and tension usually equals an ass whipping, at least on the mat, at least in my experience.

The first step in becoming calm is to realize when you are not, to sense when you are becoming tense, when your muscles are rigid, when you are forcing things, when you are holding your breath, when your mind has seized up, or you’re panicked, or you realize you are afraid. We have to be sensitive to those things before we can calm ourselves; we have to recognize them before we can quell them; we have to be in tune with ourselves.

I’m going to be writing about the concept of relaxing on-and-off over the next few months or years (or however long it takes), and other concepts and principles that I think are important to jiu-jitsu. I still believe that jiu-jitsu holds universal truths; in it are the secrets of the universe and insight into our selves. We can find understanding on the mat.

During the recent move of my jiu-jitsu academy, I have decided to just focus on the art of jiu-jitsu, no more muay Thai or MMA (even though we still have one class of MMA), and even though I think both muay Thai and MMA are valuable classes to have and take. I want to focus on jiu-jitsu, gi and no-gi; I want to specialize. This may be a mistake as a business, but I’m way passed the idea of money dictating my direction. West Side Jiu-Jitsu Academy is just that, a jiu-jitsu academy. We do jiu-jitsu.

I think a lot of schools have a variety of things that they teach–great and valuable things. The more things you teach, the more potential students you have. I think that is very intelligent, but I don’t want to expand what we offer at West Side; I want to tighten the classes that we have now and cut the ones that we cannot be the best at. I want to make those jiu-jitsu classes great, the best.

So, basically, I’m just putting it out there, we do jiu-jitsu at West Side.

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I really like this sentiment from Eddie Bravo, mostly because I agree with it, but I think it may go a long way in closing the gap between all the jiu-jitsu factions around today. It’s all jiu-jitsu.

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I just watched Metamoris 3 and was impressed with how Eddie Bravo imposed his will on Royler Gracie, but there was weakness in Bravo’s game. Despite the fact that Bravo controlled the fight, he could not finish Royler, not only could he not finish him, he could not hurt him. Most of Bravo’s moves were pain compliance moves, yeah, I’m sure they hurt, but a tough opponent won’t tap to them. If you’re really fighting, pain compliance may be useless when one’s ass is really on the line. My point is simple, we shouldn’t rely on moves that just hurt; they should also either do physical damage or cause unconsciousness, an effective finishing technique, in my opinion, must debilitate or at least have the capability of debilitating your opponent. Every submission should have the capability of causing damage or unconsciousness.

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I read somewhere that Carlos Gracei Jr. makes sure he gets eight hours of sleep and since I respect the man, I’m going to bed. Goodnight and sweet jiu-jitsu dreams

After watching this young lady, Taylor Guerra, and many other young ladies in the jiu-jitsu world, straight up dominate a lot of their male peers, I can’t help but think that these young men will be much better off knowing that a girl can and has whipped their ass. It’s hard to be sexist when you’ve been beaten, and that lessen is a valuable one. Jiu-jitsu has many wonderful things about it, this is just one more.

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I read something on Facebook, a meme or something, that said (I’m paraphrasing) rejection is redirection. It was one of those things about human relationships, but of course to me it was really about jiu-jitsu. Think about it for a second. We try to put a move on someone (much like trying to apply a technique) and if we’re rejected or thwarted or denied we find a different route, we try something or someone else. We may try a few times, but then we move on.

The same applies to jiu-jitsu. I try to triangle someone and it’s “rejected” or defended, then I redirect my energies to something else like and arm lock from the bottom, if that’s rejected maybe I go for an omoplata. We don’t shutdown because something didn’t work, we redirect our energies, we try something else and that’s the beauty of good jiu-jitsu—When our technique is rejected, we redirect.

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