Archive for March, 2013

​​I have been a lifelong martial artist. I have trained and competed, and trained some more. I have lived and breathed martial arts. I ran my own school for almost 15 years. I put in tons of hours training fighters, watching video, and studying fighters. Now this is not a bad thing, but it does become a perdominant part of your life. When something saturates your whole being like this you want to tell everyone about it. You want to talk about with your friends, your parents, your coworkers, and of course your spouse. Whatever you do, do not do this. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. My life was so concentrated on martial arts, mixed martial arts particularly. I wanted to tell everyone especially my wife. I bombarded her with conversation about this fighter or this event. I dragged her to MMA shows. I constantly watched MMA on TV. I even ran my own amateur MMA promotion for seven years. MMA at our house was bread and butter. You could not escape it. I noticed after awhile our conversations started to wane. We were not talking as much. I was so focused on MMA I didn’t know what to talk to my best friend about. We have been together over seven years , not nearly enough time to run out of things to discuss. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t like we weren’t speaking, I just had my focus to narrow. I learned the hard way, that she supported me, but did not love it like I did. She was just tired of hearing about it. She was tired of watching it, and tired of living and breathing it. I have finally closed my school and my MMA promotion. This was probably one of the happiest moments of my life. The stress that was lifted from me was incredible. It also meant that MMA was not the main focus in my life anymore. I still train BJJ and MMA occasionally. I have a gym at my house and go to BJJ class a couple a nights a week. I have learned to have normal husband and wife conversations again. The best thing you can do is never talk about your hobbies with your spouse unless they start the conversation. Know when to keep your mouth shut. One more thing, talk to your spouse. Let them know how you feel. Especially if you are the one on the other side of the conversation. Communicate, everyday.

I noticed something with my son this year during wrestling season. He was just not as strong as the other kids his size. I first chalked it up to him taking a year off from wrestling. Then I started to realize it just wasn’t the lay off from wrestling. It was his lay off of just about all sports and activities, since playing baseball at the beginning of last summer. To take it even further it was his new obsession with a video game called Minecraft and a couple of others. Which I understand the video game obsession I spent many a night hunting bad guys on, insert popular fps of the time. As much as I understand his video game obsession, I know too that he spends way too much time playing it. With school, homework, chores, and then videogames, he has stopped being physical. He stopped going outside and playing. As a parent I feel like I didn’t do my job and make him turn the game off and go out and play. I am not with his mother so he lives about 45 minutes away. This has made parenting so much more difficult. I don’t know if this is why I missed this or I just could hear my parents telling me turn off my Nintendo and go outside.
Now that I know what one of the issues is, I want to correct it. I don’t want to be one of those crazy parents that you see on some horrible reality show, pushing their kids to beyond reason, but I want to make a change for the better. Now how do I get my son to be competitive without enrolling him in boot camp. Time to start with some stealth parenting.
Here are some stealth ways to disconnect your kid from the TV, Xbox, or computer.
1. Get them out of the house. How you say. Take them to the park. I can’t tell you how good of a workout you can get by playing on a jungle gym. Climbing, running, jumping is about as athletic as you can get.
2. Play a sport with your kids. Get outside and play ball. It does not matter what sport with a ball. Baseball, football, basketball, it does not matter.
3. Go bike riding. This is one of our favorite things to do with the kids. I have mentioned my eleven year, but I have a three year old also who absolutely loves to ride on the back of a bike.
4. Go for a hike. Find a good nature trail and plan a day. Picnic, hike, have fun. Most state conservation websites give you all the info you need to find a great nature outing.
5. Go to the beach, a lake, or river. Swimming is a great exercise. See number 2. Play ball at the beach.

Ok these are just a few of the things you can do to get your kid in shape. The plus, if your are out there doing these things, you will also get the added bonus of getting in better shape. Now these all seem like warm weather activities, and yes for the most part they are. You just have to be more creative when the weather is bad. Locally we have a place with a warehouse full of bounce houses. Two or three hours and your kids will crash out as soon as they get home. You just have to find things that are fun and physical.
The biggest advice I can give, if you want to get your kids that edge in competition, is get out and play with them. Disconnect them from the Xbox and yourself from the TV or computer. Get outside and play, don’t just watch them. Play with them. If you don’t they will end up right back playing computer legos, while the other kids get stronger. Go play with your kids. I know I will be. Stealth is the key.

A glimpse into being a dad

Posted: March 15, 2013 in Kids
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    I get to do one of the things I enjoy the most in the world. I get to help coach my son’s wrestling team. This is one of the best and hardest things about being a dad. The thrill to help and guide one of your children is priceless. But it does come with a price tag. Instead of being able to twist in your seat from the bleachers, you now have a literal ringside seat. You don’t have any control on the outcome and you can now see it with a brutal closeness. The winning is great, but if he loses that is heartbreaking.

            My son has been a pretty good wrestler and just a pretty good athlete since he started playing pee wee sports. I have always been there to support him but never push him into any sport that he did not want to do. I was super excited when told me he wanted to wrestle again this year. He took last year off from wrestling. He is now eleven and had started wrestling at 5 years old. I was disappointed last year, but I understood. Wrestling is a hard sport. You have a team, but they don’t go on the mat with you. I have always thought wrestling is one of those sports that really teaches you good life lessons. It teaches you discipline how to handle adversity, respect, humility, and sportsmanship.  There is a level of comrade in wrestling unlike most sports. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “He who sheds his blood with me shall become my brother.” This is my all time favorite quote from Henry V.  Besides my son’s natural aptitude for the sport, I was glad he was a part of it just for those lessons. My son is a typical 11 year old; if he happens to lose a match it is the end of the world.  I always tell him two things anytime this happens. The first is no excuses. It happened, let’s learn from it and move on. The second I always ask, did he try his hardest? If he says he did I am just as proud as if he went out and pinned his guy.  The lessons are hammered in with the adversity. You always learn more from a loss than a win, and eventually everyone loses.

            I remember when I was growing up doing the same things my son is now doing. My dad was always there helping coach. Those are my fondest memories growing up. My dad always there for me win or lose. These are the things I want my son to have. I want him to grow up to be a good man, with a childhood of fond memories. I want him to look back and feel the love for me as I do for my dad. I never gave it much thought as I kid because I never knew it any other way, but my dad spending all that time right there was worth its weight in gold.  This is the advice I give to any dad, be apart of your kids activities. I remember my dad helping coach one of my little league soccer teams. He never even kicked a soccer ball before that, but I remember him studying soccer how to books so he would know.  That is something to be admired, now that I am a father. I understand the importance of those simple acts. I hope to give this to my son. To teach him to be a better man and be a great father someday.  I know I would not be where I am today if it hadn’t been for my dad to taking the time to be a part of it all.

Professionalism in MMA or just life

Posted: March 11, 2013 in MMA
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I have to get this out of my head. It is the lack of professionalism in MMA. I just found out an ex student of mine was supposed to have had a pro fight this past weekend. Ok it is awesome to know guys I have coached are fighting at the pro level.  Here is where I start to want to pull my hair out. He weighed in eleven pounds over the contracted weight.  That in my opinion is one of the most unprofessional things a profighter can do. You know the weight you have to weigh, you agree to the weight, and you are expected to be that weight. I understand that you might miss it by 1/2 a pound. Just the difference in scales will let that happen. But eleven pounds come on. That is just riddiculous. Part of being a profighter is making a weight class. That is just part of it. Oh it isn’t over. Usually when a fighter doesn’t make the weight he loses part of his purse to the other fighter. I have seen everthing from 10% to half a fighter’s show purse to take the fight.  Fighters usually get x amount of dollars to show up and x amount of dollars to win. So if you lose part of your show money  and lose the fight, thats alot of work for a small amount of money. Weight issues are one of the first things that are really supposed to distinguish the amatuers from the pros.
  Here is the next really sad part of this story.  Most pro promotions are doing mandatory drug testing at the shows. So instead of not passing the drug test he just walked out on the promoter. No word no nothing just left the building.  I don’t make any judgements about drug use, but being a profighter you know the commissions drug test. So if you can’t be drug free for at least a period of time don’t try to be a fighter. Don’t waste the promoters time. As a promoter myself nothing is more aggrevating than dealing with fighters who do not act at least at little professional.  Fighters can be some of the most winey little girls. If you are a profighter or plan to be one act like a professional. Have some pride in being a profighter. Do the things a professional are supposed to do. If you were a lawyer you wouldn’t show up to court in flips flops and shorts. You would be professional. Take pride in being a professional. People will actually respect you for it.

If you read my last post you will see I competed in the Missouri State BJJ tournament this past weekend. I wanted to talk about something that has been very crippling in my life at times. It is dealing with anxiety.  By no means am I qualified to give advice on dealing with anxiety and mental disorders, I just wanted to discuss some of my feelings.

            I have known for maybe the last 3 or 4 years I was developing more and more anxiety, when it came to dealing with stressful situations. Competition being one of those. Competition is not something that was new to me. I grew up playing every sport known to man. I competed in wrestling tournaments, martial arts tournaments, football, baseball, basketball, track, and a few others I can’t remember at the moment. I have searched and searched my memories for any feelings of anxiety competing when I was younger. I cannot think of one time growing up that I truly got really nervous competing. As I got a little older I began competing in MMA matches and submission grappling tournaments, still no memory of any real anxiety with competitions.

            The first time I really remember having any real anxiety for a competition was in 2009. I was scheduled for a pro MMA fight. I worked hard. I was in great shape. My training camp peaked at the right time. My weight cut was pretty rough on me, but I made it thru it. I was relatively healthy. I weighed in the night before at 186 on the dot. My opponent weighed in. We signed all our paperwork and I thought we were good to go. I got a call early the next morning that my opponent’s blood work had not come in like it was supposed to. So the fight was in jeopardy of not going on. For some reason, this came down on me like a ton of bricks. I remember the feeling in my stomach like someone just kept kicking me and kicking me.  I also remember thinking screw this. Why am I doing this to myself?  I didn’t get the yes or no for sure until I got to the building for the fight. It was a relief to be released from the stress. I did not have a big team around me in my fight career at the end. I was always the coach. I tried to alleviate this type of stress in the guys I trained; I just did not know how to do it for myself.  My pro MMA career never took off and I suffered a career ending injury just a little over a year later.

            The one thing that did stick around was the anxiety. I noticed that it crept into my life a little more and a little more.  I was completely out of martial arts for about a year and a half. Then I made the decision to get back to it. I started to rebuild my team with a focus on jiu jitsu instead of MMA. This also meant getting back into competitions.  I had a good group of students and was getting back into the swing of things again until that nasty monkey I had found in 09 started to sink his hooks in and choke my competitive spirit. I had planned on going to a few tournaments, and even went as far as printing out the directions and packed my gi. But each time I talked myself out of going. I would tell myself all kinds of things, like I didn’t have the money, or I didn’t want to leave my family for the day. Now I have always had the support of my wife and kids with pretty much any venture that I had my heart set on. I would talk myself right out of going. At the time my school was very new and granted I had supportive students, they just weren’t ready to compete. So I would’ve gone to them by myself.  I wouldn’t violate one important rule of marriage and jiu jitsu, if your significant other is not a jiu jitsu competitor don’t drag them to tournaments.  So this meant I would have to go alone, with no team. I started to see a pattern with my anxiety. I kept teaching and in a few months I had a couple of students who were ready to compete. I did my normal night before routine. Printed my directions, packed my gi, and got a good nights rest. The day of the tournament was here. We went up, competed, and it was a very good day. I took a first in a second in gi and nogi. One of my students took a gold medal and the other put in some good matches.  I did not even notice one bit of anxiety. I went, it was a good time, and was ready for the next one.

            I hadn’t started to figure out what was causing some of my problems at the time. I can look back now and see some of the holes I left exposed in myself.  I do know that stress and anxiety will kill you. It will make you old and miserable way before your time.  I remember making the decision to close my MMA promotion down and then close my school down, hoping to alleviate a good deal of stress from my life, and in turn anxiety that was building in other parts.  I knew my anxiety was putting stress on my life, but I had only truly felt it when I was doing something difficult like fighting in a MMA fight or competing in a grappling tournament. These things were like matches ready to light my fuse.

            Let’s fast forward a few more months. I have had the chance to do something I have never truly been able to do. I have joined a jiu jitsu family. I now have a great BJJ instructor and have become an official part of the Gracie Humaita family.  Although I have not been able to train as much as I would like to lately I had started to put together one of the missing pieces that I personally need to not feel so anxious. I was part of a team.

            I did my normal ritual again of packing and getting ready. I did not feel 100% anxiety free, but I did feel relieved that there were people counting on me, that there were people looking forward for me to be there.  I am really for the first time in years putting this anxiety in perspective. I can see where it put strains on my life, my wife, and my family.  There are a couple of things that have given me the insight to be able to do this. First this blog. It was given me an outlet. Second, my family, without there love and support I would not be able to do the this or the last thing to give me the insight into myself. That would be jiu jitsu.

            I look back now with a new insight into why all of those competitions growing up and early in MMA career were anxiety free. I always had a great team and family support.  That is the one thing a good jiu jitsu family can do for you. Just like it has started to do for me again, it can sweep that monkey off your back, mount him and choke him unconscious.

            If I can offer one major piece of advice, find a jiu jitsu family. Find that support you only get from a family.  I may never get rid of all my anxiety, but I know I will always have people there to help me thru it.

           

Thank you Brian my instructor, JW my Professor, all my Cape BJJ teammates, Colby and Kael my boys, and my beautiful wife, for helping me be free from that monkey and letting me do and be a part of something I love so dearly.

First I have to say another great tournament from JW Wright and the crew from Midwest Grappler. They seem to get better and better. This was a very large tournament and was run very smooth.
I competed today in the Blue belt masters division. It ended up with just me and one other in the division. I have to say I did not come out on the winning end. After some last second excitement I was unable to establish my mounted position and lost 2-0 to an early sweep.
I will post the next blog very soon. I wanted to talk about the anxiety of competing.
Check out midwestgrappler.com for all the upcoming events.

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Philosophy is more than just thought. It is the application of those thoughts. As I walk further down my path of martial arts, I seem to reflect on it more and more often.  My chosen art is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I have found it to be one of the most honest martial arts I have ever trained in.  The BS has been trimmed out and the art has been streamlined in the last decades. Is it the most complete martial art in the world? No. There is no such thing. That is not the point of practicing an art. It has its blind spots and holes just like every martial art. That does not affect what it means to me. Jiu jitsu is philosophy in motion.  It is higher consciousness through harder combat. If you get on the mat and spar and roll with an open mind so many things become clear. Like tonight I rolled with a younger guy about 21. He was strong, fast, and very skilled. I feel like the old scarred lion every now and then. This was one of those nights. The saying in jiu jitsu is don’t get behind.  Well tonight I was behind. What that means is things are going your opponent’s way and not yours.  He was getting the grips, the positions, and the sweeps. Pretty much winning the exchanges. I wasn’t destroyed by any means, but this clicked something in my mind. Here is the essence of martial arts. Here is my chance to better myself. Here is my chance to learn.  After a discussion with my instructor, some of my mistakes became so blatantly evident, I could not believe I was making them or not compensating for them.  This is the application of knowledge in a context of harder combat.  This is the philosophy of jiu jitsu. It is the application of conscious thought.  We rolled a few more times with each time me trying to dissect my mistakes. I did better correcting a few of the mistakes when I could. So what I’m saying sometimes I guess you have to get behind to get ahead.