Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rest for better Krav Maga / BJJ

And then there was rest…

As much as I hate skipping a training session, I stayed home yesterday – for a few different reasons: (1) I was very worn from a hard Mon & Wed training session.  (2) My second toe on my right foot is still a little bruised and swollen from getting caught between the mats.  (3) Most importantly, I just wanted to sit around in my  PJs and drink coffee.

Ok, I did end up doing a P90X workout Saturday afternoon (chest & back…one of my favorite P90X workouts), but that 45-50 mins is no where near the level of intensity of a good hour and fifteen min BJJ class.  Or an hour Krav Maga class, for that matter.  It is good for me, however…my long arms have always hindered my pushups.  Even in ROTC back in 1990-1994, I was always ‘just ok’ at pushups.  In ROTC, we were regularly tested on the Physical Fitness Test…the PFT.  This consisted of: as many pull-ups in 2 mins, as many situps in 2 mins, as many pushups in 2 mins, a standing broad jump, and a 660 yard run.  Five events, one after the other, with 100 points possible in each event.  Then we did a 1.5 mile run for time.  Your total PFT score, as well as your 1.5 mile time, was the measure of your fitness.  As I type it out, it looks like the precursor to an AMRRAP CrossFit workout?  Who knew Air Force ROTC was so progressive!  HA.

Anyway, I was always a 375-400 kind of guy and my 1.5 mi time always hovered around 9-9:30.  I broke 400 maybe once in my whole college career, but I NEVER got below 9 mins.  Matter of fact, I remember 9:02 being my 1.5 PR that still stands today.

My strategy was always knowing how many comfortable reps I could do for each exercise, and stopping at that point.  (So NOT the CrossFit way, eh?)  I always stopped at ~10 pull-ups.  I always stopped at 70 pushup.  This left me with energy to max the sit-ups (88?) and max the broad jump (6′-something).  Don’t ask me to recall my 660 time – I just remember it being a horribly awkward distance.  You had to sprint…but it was too long for a traditional sprint, so you wanted to die at the end.

So that’s more than you ever wanted to know about the Air Force PFT.  I wonder if it’s still the same today, 20+ years later?  Does anyone still do the standing broad jump?

I was watching a YouTube workout video of Rich Froning – who is the 2011 and 2012 CrossFit champ.  He used the word ‘athletes’ when referring to the students in his class.  And I wondered – am I an athlete right now?  The dictionary says an athlete is, “a person trained in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport or game requiring physical skill.”

The internet has spoken: I am an athlete. And if you read it on the internet, it MUST be true!

So, this 40-yr old athlete is going to enjoy another day of rest.  And tomorrow, I’ll tape up my cry-baby toe, and get out on the mats for some Krav Maga and BJJ.

And hopefully, I’ll be a better person for it.

Take care of each other.  Cheers!

My “rest day” drink of choice.  Who am I kidding, coffee is ALWAYS my drink of choice.


Krav Maga/BJJ Recovery?

This week was an interesting lesson in recovery.  Or my lack thereof.

So I posted earlier this week on Monday’s training session, and how it left me utterly exhausted.  Tuesday was, as expected, a slow moving day for me, followed by much of the same on Wednesday.  More so than any other training session in the past several months – Monday really did me in.

So Wednesday’s session – which was excellent training – just added to the fact that I wasn’t fully recovered from Monday.

We had a very large Krav Maga class…many people on the mats, which made for a lot of static work.  Still covering the basics, which is great.  However, I’m emotionally, and maybe physically, ready for the Level II class.  So I’m keeping a sharp eye on my fundamentals, as I know they will be tested in the March timeframe.

A word on shadowboxing: I suck at it.  Well, at least I think I suck at it.  When I watch YouTube videos of accomplished boxers and MMA fighters shadowboxing, it looks so fluid, so easy, so effortless.  When I do it, I feel like a hot mess of flailing arms and two left feet.  Ok, maybe not THAT bad, but I want to get better.  My favorite instructor’s advice?  Shadowbox everywhere.  Shadowbox as you’re walking up the stairs.  Shadowbox in the grocery store.  Shadowbox in the shower.  HAHA.  Ok, maybe that’s a little too much.  But the fact remains – I need to improve my shadowboxing.

So on to BJJ.  A fun no-gi class!  Since I’m 6’5″, and ~235, I usually get paired with the biggest guy on the mat.  My partner last night outweighed me by a good 30-40 lbs.  And the rule is: the person you drill with is your first dance partner come rolling time.  So needless to say, I was worn out after drill, and the first roll.  I still had a little energy left, so I figured I would roll with our Professor next; if I waited to the end of class, it would have been much worse.  Since my energy level was still down, I played a good deal of defense the rest of the night, and only went for submissions if I got a clean sweep and mounted someone.  Other than that, I worked positions, and worked on keeping some semblance of control keeping someone in half/deep-half guard.

By the end of the night – wow.  Done.  My body was tired and a bit beat up.  My right hip was achy, and I got a toe on my right foot caught between mats at one point, so that started hurting as well.  My middle finger on my left hand (see previous post on broken finger), while healed, still hurts if someone rolls on it at a weird angle, or grabs it accidentally.  I limped home (both figuratively and literally), and enjoyed an extra-long hot shower.

So this brings me to my first blog question, for anyone following or reading: how do you recover?  I can certainly improve my conditioning – but the problem isn’t during class, it’s afterwards…the next day…when my body politely reminds me how much fun we had the previous night on the mats.  I’ve upped my protein by having a post-workout shake.  Also, I’ve incorporate some Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) and glutamine in said shake.  I do need to get a little more sleep – I’m sure that could help.  Anyway, I’m interested in hearing what you guys do to recover.  Suggestions??

As I wrap up this diatribe, I know it’s not all the time.  It’s actually a bit odd, because as I’ve said already, these past few months of training have been wonderful.

I just wish I recovered now like I did when I was 20 (or 30…).

So I say to myself, “Self….protein, BCAA, and vitamin up (along with eating well, of course)….Saturday is a gi class, followed by Krav Maga, and your sorry behind will be out there training with the rest of your teammates!”

Take care of each other.  Cheers!

BJJ Exhaustion

For the past several weeks, doubling up with Krav Maga and BJJ have left me energized and full of endorphins as I drive home.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been tired like crazy – but I left the mats with a little left in the tank.

That was NOT the case tonight.

Krav Maga was awesome.  With a year under my belt, my buddy and I are about 2 months away from Level II testing.  So the techniques we are learning in the Level I class are not easy – per se – but I understand what’s going on, and I am comfortable enough with the drills that our instructors sometimes use me as a demonstration partner. Tonight was basic hammer fists, basic front kicks, and defense from a side headlock (a form of a choke, but more like giving your partner a noogie – which apparently happens all the time in street fights).  When class was over, I hustled into my gi for BJJ.

This is where the wheels started falling off the 40-yr old wagon.

We drilled sprawls.  We drilled sprawls for 25 minutes.  A sprawl is what you see the MMA guys do when someone shoots in for their legs in an attempt to get their opponent on the ground…usually on their back.  To defend against this, you plant your forearms on the tops of their shoulders (near the neck), and fling your legs out behind you – effectively moving your legs out of their reach.  From there, you can move to improve your position, usually by taking their back.

So for 20 minutes.  Sprawl, sprawl, shoot, shoot.  Two for two, as they say.  I shoot.  I shoot.  I sprawl.  I sprawl.  Tiring to say the least!

Then we did our 30-35 minutes of live rolling.  This, I love.  Unlike Krav Maga – where you obviously can’t elbow and punch your partner in the face repeatedly and at full speed/strength – you can roll with 100% of your manhood (or womanhood, as the case may be), and still come out uninjured.  But after 2-3 5-minute rounds, I was spent.  I spent the last 3-4 rounds trying unsuccessfully to improve my position; mostly, I spent the time on my back trying to keep people from mounting me.  When class was over, after we bowed out and did our respectful round of shaking hands, I limped my 40 yr old bag of bones to my gear bag, and just laid on the mats for a moment.

Something about laying in a puddle of your own sweat and humility puts things into perspective.

Once I’m home, the routine is always the same: protein shake with a little BCAA w/ glutamine added.  Hot shower.  No, hotter.  Maybe some stretching of my lower back.  Crawl into bed.  Drink water.  Fall asleep in 4.8 seconds.  (Ok, so I snuck on here for a few minutes to tell the world of my exhaustion).

All in all – another successful day on the mats.

Take care of one another.  Cheers!


Black eye, oh my!

I can’t in good conscious talk about my broken finger (see recent posts) and not address the black eye.

Why, you ask?  It’s not to get attention – although people going “awwww, poor guy” is pretty nice.  It’s more to point out Hollywood versus reality.

In any of my favorite actions movies, the hero will fight the bad guy for hours.  435 punches right to the face.  723 kicks to the skull.  Add in a few smashed 2×4’s for good measure.  When the foe is defeated, our hero wipes a trickle of blood off his lip, and moves on.

The reality is this: one morning, about 15 seconds from the end of our last 5-minute roll of the day, my partner accidentally grazed his elbow against the corner of my eye.  It was accidental.  It was grazing.  It was once.


Day 1


Day 2


Day 3


Day 4

Maybe I bruise like a peach.  Maybe my eye is just a ninny-baby.  But this took a good 3 weeks to completely return to normal.

So next time you see your favorite action hero smashing fists (and bottles, and folding chairs) with a villain…remember what he/she might look like the next day.  And don’t do it before Christmas…’cause all your family photos will look like this.



At peace with one’s inner lion

These past few days provided me a few moments to reflect on the following question: why fight at all?

Growing up, I was consistently reminded about how a gentleman was supposed to act.  Honestly, it’s not that different from today’s standards.  You used your words, not your fists.  We don’t resolve problems with violence, we treat others how we want to be treated.  I’m fully on board with this approach to life.  It’s likely why I haven’t been in a real fight since I was in 5th Grade, and engaged in an old-fashioned after-school fight.  I like to think we were the predecessors of Fight Club that day, because I’m pretty sure he hit me in the ear.

We should resolve problems with words…we should treat others how we want to be treated.  To this end, being a “tough guy” was never an element in my decision to take Krav Maga or BJJ.  I never wanted to learn how to fight – effectively – so I could run to my nearest bar and experiment with the #1 elbow.  I never had the urge to seek out a situation where I could rear naked choke someone who just sloshed beer on my retro Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  My decision to train was always to challenge myself….to become a better version of myself.

But these past few days have given me opportunities to reflect on the reality of knowing how to defend oneself.  And how this is (perhaps more importantly) a responsibility to defend those around us as well.

There are situations in everyday life where predators roam about seeking to harm others.  Some use imagery of lambs (innocent and helpless), or sheep (equally helpless) to refer to those who cannot defend themselves against a predator (does ‘wolf’ imagery work well here?).  [Note: I don’t have anything against wolves.  Wolves are pretty darn cool if you ask me.]  This is also a difficult analogy because not everyone attacked in our society is completely defenseless and/or helpless.  For example: A woman being attacked is not helpless…but maybe at that moment is unable to defend herself in that specific situation.  Case in point – we have several women in our Krav Maga school that could reduce most attackers to humble bags of broken bones and bruised spleens.  Believe me…behind the lipstick and ponytails is a torrent of fists and knees that even I steer clear of.  But I digress…

There are wonderful writers out there who have used the wolf-sheep analogy to explain what it means to be a sheepdog.  A defender of the flock.  Someone who’s willing and able to stand firm and protect those who are defenseless.  The sheepdog analogy is good, but I had a sheepdog growing up, and she would happily lead you to my mom’s jewelry if you gave her a milkbone.  For me, I like the Lion analogy:  Social.  Strong.  Loyal.  Fierce.  Brave.  Protective.  Adult male lions have no natural predators.


Lion in Waiting (from Wikimedia Commons).

So as I train in Krav Maga – an utterly efficient and brutal self-defense combat system – I’m reminded that it’s not just ‘self’-defense.  It’s defense.  It’s maintaining awareness and avoiding dangerous situations altogether.  It’s keeping a level head in the face of adversity to avoid violence.  And in that last resort, it’s having the mental and physical tools necessary to protect yourself and those around you from predators.

Those who know me well, know that I’m not a fighter.  Perhaps at 6’5″, and 240lbs, I have very few natural predators (thank you family DNA).  Maybe I’m a good talker, and have effectively talked my way out of most situations that would have turned into violence.  Maybe I’m just lucky.  Honestly, I’ll take any of those reasons to not fight.  But when I hear of stories of defenseless men, women, or children being attacked, I feel that lion deep down inside.

So in the end, I guess being on the mats is much more than learning how to defend against a static choke from behind, or in the case of BJJ, learning how to apply a choke or joint manipulation.  It’s about taking care of one another.  It’s about fiercely defending those you love.  It’s about getting comfortable with the possibility that one day thinking like a lion may not be enough…you might have to act like a lion (or lioness as the case may be).

My life on the mats is preparing me for that (hopefully slim-to-none) possibility.

So remember, dear predators….as my favorite Krav Maga instructor preaches daily….”You didn’t want to fight, but this guy bought the ticket…so now he’s gonna take the ride.”

Let’s take care of one another.  Cheers.

Awesome Krav Maga & BJJ Training Tonight

There are some training sessions that make you question your conditioning.  There are some training sessions that make you question whether or not you have the energy to drive home.  There are some sessions that make you want to puke.  Tonight was none of those.  One word: awesome!

Krav Maga started right in with basics of jab-cross, hammer fist strikes, and basic kick to the…well, you know where.  But it’s ‘ground week’, and we moved right into kicking from our backs.  Then we trained basic front choke from a mounted position.  Yep – someone sitting on your chest and then choking your neck with both hands.  The defense for this is easy enough once you get the hang of it: pluck with a simultaneous bump (think hip thrust upward).  Once their weight goes forward, you trap an arm and sweep them over.  The cool thing is that this move validated our work in BJJ.  In this position, the bump and sweep is a fairly fundamental move.  So all in all, Krav Maga was good tonight.  

Tonight’s BJJ was a no-gi class.  In my humble opinion, no-gi is harder (you have nothing to grab onto), but a little more fun.  We get sweaty, and slippery, and you struggle a little more to gain a position advantage.  But with slippery no-gi rolling, if you secure a good position, or submission, then you know your technique was sound.

We did our usual 10 min warmup, along with a half-hour or so of drilling (tonight: americana from mount and side control; kimura from side control).  

That’s when the awesomeness began.  Professor let me join our 4 most senior students on the mats.  [Quick note: we are a new BJJ school affiliated with the Carlson Gracie system, so we have a seasoned purple belt, two very senior blue belts, and a host of striped and un-striped white belts.  Luckily, Professor brings in senior brown belts to roll with us from time to time, just to get more exposure to high-level BJJ guys.  Plus, we regularly roll with Professor, which is absolutely priceless.]

So I got to be one of the five students on the mats as the remaining students rotated through us in non-stop 2 minute rounds.  Two minutes, a new training partner.  Two minutes, a new training partner.  Etc. Etc.  We did this for 30 mins.

Now, in the past 11 months of Krav Maga and BJJ training, my cardio has improved by like 1435%.  So I was completely happy….thrilled!!…that I made it through all my 2 minute rounds without gassing.  Didn’t get tapped, and actually was able to secure 5-6 submissions.  The best ‘win’ was positioning – I successfully made it through the rounds without anyone mounting me.

So tonight – I will definitely chalk up in the win column.  Excellent training with my fellow Krav Maga and BJJ teammates.  Continued to work on striking (jab-cross, jab-cross, fluid movement, use your hips…float like a butterfly, sting like a bee).  Successfully worked on and executed my BJJ positions.  Successfully defended a few close-call submissions.  Didn’t gas after continuous rolling for 30 minutes.  I ask you: what more can a Level I Krav Maga, and two-stripe BJJ white belt, ask for? 

Except for some ibuprofen.  After all, this 40 yr old body doesn’t recover as quickly as it did when it was 20-something.  

Let’s continue to work hard…get out on the mats!


Thankful for tonight’s training

Well, as I eluded to earlier today – the fact of one of my oldest friends having a heart attack did not make for a good few days.  I knew going to train tonight would make everything much better; but honestly, I didn’t want to go.  I had no energy, and I totally wasn’t feeling it.  Thank you to my wife for kicking me in the rear to get me out of the house, and on the mats.  Even though I’m sure I grumbled quite a bit as I gathered my gear.

Krav Maga was especially tiring tonight.  For the first time in a year, I was actually angry!  Our instructor wanted us to feel what it’s like to fight exhausted, so he wore us out with jumping jacks, squat jumps, pushups…then made us hold a ‘down’ position for 15 seconds or so before bursting up and shadow boxing.  Even thought that only went on for maybe 10 minutes, the whole thing was exhausting.  Then we worked some fundamentals: jab-cross, hammer fists, up-kicks while on your back, and side kicks from the same position.  We finished with good, old fashioned, static front choke.  I got to partner and work with Kevin for this.  He totally blew my composure: during one instance of choking me, before grabbing my throat, he grabbed the loose velcro waistband on my MMA shorts, and tugged at it.  Then he grabbed my throat.  I laughed, and totally didn’t do the pluck and strike.  If he was an attacker, he could have killed me.  And I would have been laughing the whole time.

Then we transitioned in to BJJ. It was a gi class tonight. I’m still experimenting with wearing my rashguard under my gi top.  Tonight was the second time, and I have to admit that I’m starting to like it.  I get way more sweatier, but I don’t feel as discombobulated while rolling.

Oh, and Professor taught me a new way to tie my belt.  I was guaranteed to lose it about half way through our rolling rounds…but this method has kept it snug around my hips the entire class (two in a row!).  Funny how something as simple as tying a belt can make me happy in BJJ.

Sooo, all’s well.  Friend is alive.  I got to sweat a lot with my Krav Maga and BJJ team.  And I’m going to bed happier than when I woke up.  



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