Archive for April, 2011

Passion, planning, and organization

April 27, 2011

John Wooden was famous for spending 2 hours with assistant coaches planning 90 minute practices.  These practices were designed meticulously down to the minute with team managers given 3×5 cards of what they needed to be doing and where they needed to be at a given point in time.

Wooden made it clear to his staff that these planning sessions were not to be interrupted except in an emergency basis.

People who attended these practices (most were closed) likened them to a symphony orchestra with Wooden the conductor.

My thought today is the look on Wooden’s face if you told him you loved BJJ, before proceeding to tell him you usually practice whatever comes to mind on a given day.

Impulsiveness and intentionality are opposite ends of a spectrum.


Searching for the perfect wave…

April 23, 2011

Maybe it was Garrett’s video post and comment with Rob Machado (training moves versus positions) that inspired the idea of effortlessness.

At least part of the reason why BJJ has become so moved based is competition.  You get the same amount of points for a sweep you force so how you get there is pushed in the background.

This is now something I really look at now when I watch people roll:

How much effort a person is using, and are they flowing or forsaking one position for everything else?  Is there also any giving going on?  Because you gotta help your training partners’ flow.  If one person is doing all the tapping during the course of a training session at least one of you is likely traveling the same old routes, reinforcing habitual grooves.

Searching for the perfect wave is space you come from.  It might come in the simple form of an effortless posture transistion from cross-sides bottom, and is certianly not limited to what might garner tournament points.  Heck for some people the perfect wave might even be remembering to take a deep breath.

The idea that a deep breath when you need it is infinitely more killer than a cool looking guard pass, submission, or tournament win is the starting point for where DJ Q-Bert talks about not being sure if you are playing the universe or the universe is playing you.  Not so much that there is an answer here, but rather the holy moment experience itself…

A word I can’t stand, and another book passage.

April 17, 2011

I can’t stand the word ‘talent.’

For one it totally discredits years of hard work and discipline one has put into honing a skill.  Acheivement is a passive thing dictated by chance, reserved for a lucky few.   It would seem focus and drive over thousands upon thousands of hours in the face of inevitable adversities aren’t much of a factor.

I do believe in innate strengths, but you still have to work to develop those strengths, especially at the level of professional athletics where competition is feirce and millions of dollars are on the line.

Here is a passage from the book ‘Choke’ by Sian Beilock about Michael Jordan’s baseball experience.  Keep in mind that Jordan often worked until his hands were bloody in batting practice during the season in question:

“It’s easy to find anecdotal support for the importance of practice.  Just think about basketball great Micheal Jordan.  The way he flew through the air to dunk a ball on the court gave the impression that he was endowed with extraordinary athletic abilities that he could use generally in other sports.  But Jordan’s failed stint as a professional baseball player told a different story.  Jordan spent 1994, the year after his first retirement from professional basketball, pursuing a childhood dream of being a professional baseball player.  Jordan landed on a Chicago White Sox farm team, the Birmingham Barons AA club, and had a nonstellar baseball season, ending with a mediocre batting average of .202.  Jordan couldn’t hit a curveball with an ironing board.  If Jordan’s biologically endowed motor abilities drove him to success on the hoops court, why would they fail him on the baseball diamond?  After all, quick reactions, agility, coordination, and power are needed to excel in both sports.  But practice seems to have honed Jordan’s basketball skills and a lack of practice seems to have limited his baseball success.”

I leave you with footage of Marcelo Garcia (shaved head) losing a brown belt match in Brazil to a relatively unknown american grappler.  He was training BJJ full-time at the time with no other job, 4 times a day (even heavy practice doesn’t guarantee success).  3 years later Garcia lost a match to represent Brazil at the Abu Dhabi brazilian trials before getting a last minute invitation as an alternate in the 2003 ADCC World Championships where he became an ‘overnight’ sensation:

Mind-states and Jiu-Jitsu

April 15, 2011

A bad habit I’ve noticed in my game is trying to beat some one to a position, the unsaid message being that I’m in a race and behind.

I can usually win such races because of an experience advantage, but it’s not the intellegent thing to do.  I’m trying, reacting, powering, speeding, and doing all things non-flowing.

The zen thing of course would be to accept and use as energy as it’s presented in real-time.

I think this is a very tough thing to accomplish if you aren’t in a neutral space mentally.


Training positions versus moves

April 11, 2011

My friend Garrett brought up a good point the other day in saying he tried isolating moves during sparring before figuring out it didn’t work that well.  He has since settled in on isolating positions with much more success.

The reason why moves such as ‘taking the back, or ‘armlocks’ don’t fly well in practice is your coming from the mentality of forcing positions.

Against a big, strong, powerful opponent this mindset will wear you out quickly; and the people with skill-books will scoop the main course off your plate because your too focused on the desert tray.

Jiu-jitsu is about directing and funneling energy.

Think about how an engineer would approach getting the maximum amount of hydro-electricity out a river…

He isn’t going to think in terms of what he wants to do, his favorite ways of approaching things, and/or what comes naturally to him.  All his focus is on the river and how he can most effectively make it work towards the objective.

Getting lost in the romance of moves, positions, styles, instructors, teams, associations, and lineages might feel good, but in the end this doesn’t have anything to do with  jiu-jitsu.

Great passage on Principles

April 8, 2011

From the book ‘The Enlightened Garndener’ by Sydney Banks:

“…She (Mrs. Horner) taught algebra with an unyielding belief that none of her students should ever try to memorize her lectures, saying that her students should be trying to understand the principles behind what she was trying to convey.  Throughout the entire semester, she would say with a very gracious manner, ‘Memorizing this material may get you through your exam, but you will soon forget it.  Do you know why?  Because you won’t understand the very foundation of algebra.’  Then she would say, ‘Only if you try to understand the fundamental principles will you understand my words; only then will the logic of algebra remain with you for the rest of your life.'”

Soul Jiu-Jitsu

April 4, 2011

My young friend Katie passed away this weekend, and this post is dedicated and inspired by her:

‘Soul’ in the context of a passion is doing something for no other reason than because you love it.

It completely speaks for itself.

From a broader perspective, it’s about living for the sake of loving life.

Again, you can talk or write about this, but it’s the space where no words are needed.

Integrity, authenticity, and ‘being real’ are not conditional or macho concepts.

Some ‘soul’ for Katie!: