Sometimes I have a hard time staying focused. In jiu-jitsu it’s not a problem to stay focused—don’t get tapped, and try to tap your opponent—basically that’s it, simple really. If you’re not focused on the mat, you get tapped, but off the mat, an unfocused life is a hard life; it’s a life of circles, of starting and restarting; it’s a waste of time.
Being a public high school teacher I am fortunate enough to have summers off. In my mind I have set goals for this summer, I have made plans (a list even), but I haven’t done much. For me focus involves discipline which I lack at times. I need to find my focus. I think, for me, I have to start with organization and being a messy, unorganized person, maybe I’ll start with straightening things up.
I guess a lot of people, before they attempt to do anything important, anything spiritual or life changing, they cleanse they’re body, they fast or something to that effect to prepare themselves. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to fast but I’m going to start with cleaning, the house, the school, my desk. That’s where we’ll start.
I remember when I first started jiu-jitsu. I questioned everything, maybe not verbally, maybe not to my instructor, but in my mind I was a skeptic. I was always trying to change techniques so that they made sense to me. Instead of accepting what I was being shown; I wanted it to make sense so much that I would change it—change a grip or my leg placement, something, anything for the sake of change, for some reason I couldn’t just accept the information. I think I was trying to be smarter than jiu-jitsu.
What I‘ve come to realize is that I have to trust my instructors. Professor Pedro Sauer’s (Gracie) jiu-jitsu is awesome. It’s taken me many years to learn how to accept the information. Sometimes a particular movement in a technique doesn’t seem important. Why should the thumb be in the collar instead of the fingers? I like my fingers in better. So you do the move with your fingers in and later you get wrist locked and you think to yourself, that’s why you do it with your thumb in. This has happened to me more than once. So many times in fact, that I don’t really question techniques anymore, I trust my instructors and if it’s proven wrong on the mat (which it rarely is) then I’ll modify it.
Believe in Jiu-Jitsu.
I was fortunate enough to meet and train with a man named “Hog,” “Hog” Bear if you want the whole thing. He’s a jiu-jitsu man, a Creek/Winnebago/Sioux, a Heyoka, a sacred clown and a man on a mission. He has a dream to introduce jiu-jitsu to his native peoples; he thinks there are people who can benefit from it. I think he’s on to something.
Right now, Thunder Nation Jiu-Jitsu is only a dream, but “Hog” has already designed the back patch of this dream (one of which I actually have, thanks, Hog). This whole thing just reminds me of the power of jiu-jitsu, of how jiu-jitsu helps us, and it gives us a way to help other people. It’s actually pretty amazing. Good luck Brother Bear and if the Thunder Nation needs me, I’ll be there.
An Open Letter to a Theif:
I’m not sure you actually exist, I hope not, but if you do, this letter is to you. You stole a phone from someone at the academy tonight and although you may have gotten a phone, you have lost a school, you have lost a place to train, you have lost both trust and respect and you are no longer welcome at the academy. I know you are an opportunist; when the opportunity to take something presents itself, you take, so let me take this opportunity to let you know that you can never return.
I don’t know who you are, but thieves do stupid things, untrustworthy things and sooner or later you will be caught, and you will be blamed for things you probably didn’t even do, and when the topic of “low-lifes” comes up, your name will surely be mentioned.
There’s a chance you’re a child, and children do stupid things, that’s what parents and ass whippings are for. Children can be forgiven, but if you’re and adult, your proverbial bed has been made. Enjoy your new phone; it’s cost you more than you know.
Mark J. Johnson
I’m super excited about this fight. I like the idea of dedicating yourself to jiu-jitsu and obviously these guys have done that. When you start seeing the world through the art of jiu-jitsu, it’s over for you, there is no going back. What I really like about this video is how Kron talks about balance, about how going to the ocean specifically helps bring him balance (balance is important).
What always seems peculiar to me is the idea of respecting someone so much that you want to fight them. It’s actually a beautiful thing, really. It’s a good example of balance in that you both admire someone and you want to make them submit at the same time. I guess it would be similar to what happens at the academy. I have respect for the guys I train with and yet I want to beat them if I can. I appreciate them and care about them, but I want to submit them, or at least not let them submit me. I guess it’s the challenge of it and I think jiu-jitsu helps us take the emotionality out of it; it makes it less personal. It becomes more about our jiu-jisu and less about our ego.
We often hear the phrase “He’s strong,” after someone has trained with an opponent that they had a difficult time with, but what does it really mean? The statement “he’s strong,” in some jiu-jitsu circles is kind of an insult, meaning he has no technique, he muscles everything, he’s stubborn, or a brute. It’s a comment about your opponent and it’s not necessarily a positive one.
I equate it to the statement I often here, “He’s big,” and yes I’m big, but I didn’t tap you with my size alone, if nothing else I used the knowledge of how to use my size and I hate to hurt your ego, but I also shut down your technique with my technique.
When I hear someone say something like, “he’s a strong guy,” what I really hear is, “I couldn’t tap him,” or “I had a hard time tapping him.” That’s what it really means. It also means that you need to keep working on your techniques because in this circumstance they didn’t work, or they weren’t as efficient as they are on certain people.
Some people don’t see it that way, I guess. To some it’s a compliment, I suppose, but if you think about the tenet of using very little strength in jiu-jitsu, about conserving energy and being efficient, we wouldn’t call a technical practitioner “strong or big” we’d call them “technical,” or “smooth,” or “slick.” I guess calling a guy “Big” or “strong” or “fast” is a way to protect our ego, a way to shield us from holes in our technique, but we have to be technical no matter who we face, whether he or she is big, strong, fast or all of the above.
It’s funny how labels can limit us. The ways we define ourselves can actually prevent us from experiencing new things, and it’s totally our own fault. For example, I’ll take the limiting labels of “gi guy,” and “no-gi guy.” I’m not talking about how other people label us; I’m talking about how we label ourselves. Sometimes we miss out on things because we don’t allow ourselves to see ourselves as more than our self-labels.
In the past I have considered myself a “gi-guy.” I love the gi and if I have a choice I rather train with one than without, but now I’m very careful not to label myself as a gi guy—I’m a jiu-jitsu guy, but even that is limiting. Maybe I should be a grappler, or even more inclusive, a martial artist, or just a man, or even broader, a human being. Yep, a human being, that enjoys Jiu-jitsu, but is open to everything.
If we bring it back to jiu-jitsu, it doesn’t matter if you do gi or no-gi, it’s all jiu-jitsu, and it doesn’t matter if it’s jiu-jitsu or wrestling; it’s all grappling; it’s all combat, religion, fun and life.
Every year I lose a ton of kids to summer, here’s a letter I sent to parents:
Dragging your Kid to Jiu-Jitsu in the Summer
Well, sometimes it’s hard to get your kid to jiu-jitsu in the summer. Many kids think of jiu-jitsu like they do school, they want a break in the summer time. They rather be at home playing video games or at the pool or with their friends and family doing things other than jiu-jitsu. I don’t blame them, it is summer time after all, but I would suggest keeping them in jiu-jitsu during the summer for the following reasons:
1) It keeps me from going out of business (Haha, I had to put that, sorry)
2) It keeps them up on the skills that they’ve already learned.
3) It keeps them used to a consistent schedule.
4) It gives them some physical and mental exercise.
5) It can be a lesson in commitment.
I know how hard it is to bring your kids to class when they rather not go. My own children wanted to quit Kids’ Crossfit (a workout class for kids). Every time it was close to leaving for the class my son and daughter would complain (sometimes cry). “ I hate Crossfit,” “Why do we have to go? I’m not fat,” “Dad, I want to do something else, anything but Crossfit,” these were the things I would hear before taking them to class. It was a battle, and frankly some days I almost gave in, but I didn’t. I felt they needed Crossfit even though they complained about it before the class, they felt good about it when they were done.
Then one day my daughter asked me if we were going to Crossfit today. I said, yes, waiting for her to give me a reason why she didn’t want to go, but she didn’t. She said she was looking forward to it. To make a long story short, she actually loves Crossfit now. Something happened along the way and now she loves it. My son too, although he complains once in a while about going, so I made a deal with him, I gave him two “passes.” I told him that for three months he could skip Crossfit twice. He didn’t have to give me a reason; if he didn’t want to go he could use a “pass,” but after the passes were gone, he couldn’t complain about going. It’s been six months and he just barely used his second pass (Crossfit’s three times a week).I think the idea of having some say in when they have to go, or even go at all, really helps kids stick with a program.
Well, the bottom line is that I don’t want to lose any students in the summer. Sometimes it happens and I understand it, but I will try my best to keep classes engaging and fun enough to keep the kids wanting to come. I appreciate your help in dragging them here in the summer.
This week in jiu-jitsu class I wanted to introduce the concept of control, of controlling one’s opponent. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and these are some of the things that I think help us control the movement of our opponents:
grips (holding the gi)
These are the things we use to help us dictate the pace. It’s what we use to try and control the movement of our opponents. It’s not only a matter of how we try to control movement, but where we try and control movement. The hips and the head seem to work the best; if we can control our opponent’s hips or head we definitely have an advantage. The hips, it seems, are the center of the universe when it comes to movement and the head seems to lead the way for the rest of the body to follow. If we can control one of them, we can definitely decide how fast the ride goes.
Framing the face, pressure on the hips or shoulder pressure to control the head, trapping a leg, gripping the lapel or pant leg, hooking a thigh or arm, these are all ways to control movement. These are things that we can use in any technique, universal things to help us control an opponent.
Tomorrow’s my first official day of summer, and for a teacher, that’s big. Actually having a chance to rejuvenate is nice. Let’s see, what time should I wake up tomorrow? The answer is simply, whenever I damn well please. This attitude seems to piss some people off, and I am hated by most of my friends in the summer, but I can handle it. “Haters gonna’ hate,” as the saying goes.
I usually start my summer off by making a huge to do list (which I can never complete). I’m going to make a summer-to-do-list strictly about jiu-jitsu. These lists are more of a “wish” list, so although I’ll try to get all this stuff done, I’m not making any promises. Since my divorce, I no longer have Honey-do-lists now I have I-Wanna-do-lists—it’s nice, and these are some of the things I wanna’ do this summer:
1. Go to Virginia to visit Master Sauer and attend the Rickson Gracie seminar (or if I can’t make that, at least go to three seminars this summer).
2. Start and finish my Tapoetry book (a kids book with poems and illustrations about jiu-jitsu)
3. Train some aspect of jiu-jitsu everyday (or at least six days a week)
4. Start the outline of my book Beneath the Surface: Principles and Concepts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
5. Order and wear an actual jiu-jitsu gi (not a judo gi).
6. Print some dope jiu-jitsu shirts
7. Elevate my jiu-jitsu classes with both fun and rigor
8. Keep promoting the idea of DYTWE? (Did you train with everyone?)
9. Ride my bike to jiu-jitsu
10. Do at least three self-defense seminars during the summer (one a month)
11. Get my Tap or Die merchandise website up
12. Get some jiu-jitshoes made
13. Get some Pit Grip Gi sleeves made
14. Write everyday on my Tap or Die blog
I’m pretty sure I won’t get all of this stuff done, but I’m sure going to try. I better set my alarm clock early for tomorrow.keep looking »