Monthly Archives: February 2013

Training exhaustion, engineering, and eye-buprofen

Tonight is the first blog that I linked to Facebook.  So to all my Facebook friends, welcome to the blog.  If you don’t like it – ignore it.  Fine.  Be that way.

What a way to begin the week!  I’ll start with the bottom line up front: tonight’s training was awesome.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you how I really feel: tonight’s training was utterly exhausting!

And in my exhausted state, as I sat under a super hot shower to get the evening’s grime off of me, I had a brilliant thought.  I need to modify my shower so I can keep a beer in the shower with me, but keep it cold.  A “cold cubby” if you will.  A recessed shelf that’s big enough to fit a Lager or IPA, but features a wall of cold air separating it and the shower’s steam.  That’s my gift to society tonight – some engineering nerd should feel free to patent and market the Shower Cold Cubby.  I’m happy to test your prototypes.

Krav Maga was awesome.  We had 48 students tonight, so the place was packed.  This, I don’t mind.  One of the tenets of Krav Maga is to remain aware of your surroundings.  What better training is there than practicing your techniques amidst a washing machine of elbows, knees, and feet?  Phil and Chasity did great – good basics of striking, excellent ‘front choke with a push’, and everybody stayed safe.  The place was hot and steamy, and the hour passed before I knew it.

Side note: Our Level II test is coming up, and I’ve been training barefoot pretty much the entire time.  Since we must test with wrestling shoes, Kevin and I need to take a trip to the local sports store to get some.  I’d like to have a few classes wearing shoes, rather than going right into the test with new gear.  Hopefully, that will be on tomorrow night’s agenda.

On to BJJ.  Tonight was a grinder for me, plain and simple.  Since my body was still a little worn out from last week’s ‘near-cold’, I’m not sure I am 100%.  Of course, I didn’t eat enough today. Yogurt and granola for breakfast, a salad w/ grilled chicken and a cup of fruit for lunch, and a toasted bagel w/ peanut butter before class.  Maybe 2 gallons of coffee mixed in there.  Not enough to sustain me for 2.5 hours at 6’5″, 235.  Lesson learned.

Would you listen to me?  I sound like the UFC fighters who get their ass handed to them, then start the blame game during the ringside interview  “Well, you see, I had stomach flu 2 weeks ago, and I broke my finger at the start of training camp.  My dog died, and I ate some really bad calamari the other night.  I watched the Notebook, and it really made me sad….and to top it off, my girlfriend doesn’t like my WordPress Blog.  So I wasn’t 100% for tonight.

I really hate when they make excuses.  Just say, “That guy beat the snot out of me tonight, as you can see from my swollen face.  I need to rest my broken spleen, and get back to training soon.  Thank you (insert city) for being such a great crowd!

So no excuses.  The guys I rolled with tonight just wore me out.  Ahmad, Kevin, and two guys who (I’m very sorry) I can’t remember their names right now. Anyway, the young guns are strong.  The old guys were worn out.  So tonight, I’ll score: Young Guns – 1, Old Guys – 0.

That’s ok.  At least I don’t get carded when I order a beer at a bar/restaurant.  (Take THAT, youth and vigor!)

The real score:  Fantastic training all around.  Awesome instructors (Prof. Ivan, Phil, Chasity).  Great camaraderie and sportsmanship.  Calories burned (TONS of calories burned).  Ego in check.  One ice-cold Sam Adams enjoyed (post shower, due to lack of Shower Cold Cubby)…along with approximately 4,350 mg of ibuprofen.

That’s what being on the mats is all about.

Take care of one another!  Cheers.

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The first rule about fight club is…

…you do not talk about fight club.

Yesterday was our Krav Maga workshop.  The purpose of the workshop was to make sure students are prepared to take the Krav Maga Worldwide Level II test.  I’m not going to reveal what happened during those fun-filled 2.5 hours – that is not my place.  If you are interested, then I encourage you to find a local Krav Maga school and enroll.  You won’t be disappointed!   So without breaking Tyler Durden’s rules, I do want to say a few things about yesterday:

  1. Those who entered the workshop confident in their abilities, likely came away feeling more confident.  Those who were unsure, probably left feeling more unsure.
  2. I showed up like Maya Angelou says, “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”  This served me well, because the workshop was exactly what I expected.
  3. What was unexpected was how sore I was when I woke up this morning!  This could be because I ran out of my BCAA w/ Glutamine, which I usually take in a protein shake right after any Krav Maga or BJJ training.  Yes, I’ve been out for a few days…I’m just lazy, and haven’t gone to the store for more.
  4. After a full year, I’m still surprised at how simple Krav Maga techniques are, and how effective they would be in a real-world self defense situation.  However, simple does NOT equal easy.  There are still some techniques that I get wrong…even though I’ve done them a million times.
  5. There are a few weeks until the actual test.  I need to dedicate that time to practice, practice, cardio, cardio, and more practice.
  6. I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that I do NOT get injured in BJJ between now and the Level II test.  The last thing I need is to have to sit out of the test because of a broken toe/finger, pulled something-or-other, or a tweaked hip/knee/shoulder.

So this week was light on BJJ, and heavy on Krav Maga.  The two are perfectly complimentary, and yet there’s a different mindset that I have when I reflect on both.  When I think BJJ, I think technique, I think of my teammates, I think of improving myself and learning new things.  When I think of Krav Maga, I think (when standing in line at Starbucks), “What am I going to do if a guy/girl comes through the door and starts shooting?”  Hit the deck.  Primary entrance likely blocked.  Kitchen always has a back door….crawl to kitchen and escape.  If I’m most near him/her when they enter, how close am I?  Can I maybe grab for the gun in the chaos?

Or will I just freeze, and be a victim?

What happens if I am forced to fight – like an attacker on the street scenario?  Is it just drunken bravado and I can simply run away?  What if a skilled fighter grabs me, or takes a swing at me? Assess the situation, react accordingly.

So as I went through the workshop yesterday, I realized something. I need not be concerned about performing the technique…I’m comfortable in my (limited) techniques, and the most basic ones come naturally I think.  The hard part will be getting through the initial adrenaline dump, clear the fog of uncertainty, and be ready to react appropriately.  So I mentally prepare myself for this by thinking just one thing: take a deep breath, and get into an active Krav Maga stance.  The nature of an active stance is both offensive and defensive.  The body language says, “get away, I don’t want to fight”, but the mechanics allow you to react if necessary.  I think that just by getting into a position and taking a deep breath is enough to switch the mind to think more clearly…it may be enough to let all this training take over.  Maybe.  I hope I never have to find out.

Fight Club Narrator: “You had to give it to him. He had a plan. And it started to make sense in a Tyler sort of way. No fear, no distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”

Take care of each other!  Cheers.

Near-cold, Skyfall, and Krav Maga

Over the weekend I picked up a little cold.  Sunday morning I woke up with some sandpaper in my throat, which bugged me and my sinuses for the next 2 days.  The bad thing about having a ‘near cold’ on Monday is that I didn’t want to pass anything to my teammates…so no training.  The good thing about not training is that you can watch James Bond’s Skyfall.

Ok – to be honest, we watched Quantum of Solace on Saturday, and Skyfall on Sunday night…but why not watch it again?  Most people know I’m a huge James Bond fan.  I am on a campaign to read all of the original Ian Fleming novels (just finished Dr. No – Goldfinger is next).  So I enjoyed the classic Bond movies throughout my life….until Daniel Craig came along.  This may generate a little debate – but just as Christian Bale gave us the Batman we always wanted but never really knew it…Daniel Craig gives us the James Bond we always wanted but never really knew it.  A little brooding, fights with his hands and feet rather than exploding pens or grappling-hook watches, and has all the ego and unresolved childhood issues that one would expect of Bond.  He falls and bleeds and gets his $2,300 Tom Ford suit torn.  But in the end, he’s much more ‘real’ than the other Bond portrayals.  (Wait, you don’t have a $2,300 Tom Ford suit, or a $6000 Omega watch??)

I won’t spoil any plot lines of Skyfall for those of you (crazy people) who haven’t yet indulged…but I will talk about my favorite scene – and how it relates to Krav Maga.  M reads a poem, Tennyson’s Ulysses.  

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Of course, as she’s reading this, Bond is running to save the day.

After the third time watching Skyfall (we saw it when it came to the theater, of course!), I listened to the poem more carefully.  And cast against the theme of Skyfall,  and perhaps the nature of the Bond character himself, I realize that this poem is for every ‘older’ guy or gal who engages in Krav Maga.  “We are not now that strength, which in the old days moved earth and heaven…”  This is true.  I’m not what I used to be in terms of my strength, my flexibility, my ability to recover from a hard training session.  “One equal temper of heroic hearts…”  See my previous post – At peace with one’s inner lion.  This is not to say I want to be a hero…but the desire to defend yourself, and more importantly, defend those around you, comes from a heroic heart.  “Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will…”  This is the part I like the most.  While my 40 year old body might be a little weaker – my will is a whole lot stronger.  My resolve is greater in most areas of my life.  (But I WILL tap in class…that’s not a problem for me).

So while I’m no James Bond…or Daniel Craig for that matter…the Tennyson poem scene resonates very well with me and my journey in Krav Maga and BJJ.  And for this, I’ll thank my near-cold, and my scratchy throat, for it gave me time to lay on the couch under blankets, sucking on cough drops, and realize that there’s a little bit of James Bond in all of us.

Tonight’s training session was fantastic.  In Krav Maga, we worked on the target mits, low cross to the kidney, and did three killer rounds of “10 low punches, to 10 pushups, to 10 situps, to 10 air squats.  We ended the class with pushing front choke.  Screw in the lightbulb, elbow down to clear the channel, elbow to the face, then layer your combatives.  I love this technique.  Kinda makes me want a coworker to grab my neck tomorrow.  (Just joking…there’s no physical violence in the office….instead, we use our words, and our betrayal, and our emotional oppression…)

BJJ was a hot, sweaty mess.  We drilled sweeps from half guard.  This was a complicated move for me, but after a few minutes of paying close attention to the details, I started to get the concept.   We drilled for a good 40 mins before rolling.  Tonight’s rolls were fun (yep..they always are, even when they’re not).

I rolled with Amhad – which is always a challenge for me.  Half my age, twice my strength, and even though he’s working through a possible knee injury, is still a slippery son of a gun.  We usually fight for position the entire round…although tonight he did get my back and tap me with a rear naked choke.  I wasn’t worried at first…I can usually roll and defend…but when his choke came on, it came on HARD, and I didn’t want to be the guy sleeping through the next few minutes of class because of my inflated ego.  He and I talked a few weeks ago … he’s also a Krav Maga student, and has wicked-strong punches.  I asked him if he ever considered fighting Mixed Martial Arts…he definitely has the strength and technique.  Now, he just needs to wear a gi so I can grab hold of him!

I ended the night rolling with Kevin.  I’ve known Kevin for 11 years now…and let me tell you, he’s taken to BJJ like a monkey on a banana.  He is relentless…he doesn’t rest.  He works for the submissions he knows.  And he’s always moving to improve his position.  Always moving.  Luckily, he’s in a gi, so I can grab the crap out of him.  And, he’s usually wearing clothes when we are out having beers, so I can grab his jacket for a collar choke at any time, really.

By 9:15, we were both spent.  2 hours and 15 minutes of fighting: sweat streaked clothes, tired muscles, aching back, sore knees.  Feeling old.

Then we remember Tennyson…..but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Take care of each other!  Cheers.

Kris and Kevin after Krav Maga and BJJ.

Kris and Kevin after Krav Maga and BJJ.

BJJ Humility

Those who know me well, know I am not an ego-maniac.  I consider myself to be very confident and comfortable with my current (limited) BJJ skillsets.

Today, however, poked at my ego a bit.

I rolled with a beast.  A 25 yr old monster who could easily transition into bodybuilding if he wanted…but instead, he uses his muscle to regularly beat up on me (and others) in Krav Maga.  Only this morning, he came to BJJ.  I had the great fortune to roll with him twice.

Let me preface this with the fact that I rolled with Emil – who kicks my ass for 5 minutes straight.  He reminds me of an interview I read years ago from an NFL wide receiver talking about Neon Deon Sanders.  The receiver (who I can’t remember right now) told the story of running a route against Sanders.  Walking back to their respective huddle, Sanders gave the young receiver pointers on how to move his hips, and how to move his head, in order to fake the cornerback out.  Well, a few plays later, he did everything Sanders told him…but Sanders was still able to stay one step ahead and intercept the ball.  This is what it’s like to roll with Emil.  He coaches me in the middle of a roll, only for me to realize that it will work on someone else….not him.  Then I tap.  HAHA.

Ok, so after my round with Emil, I was breathing hard.  (Nice way of saying he wore me out).  So I get with Mr. 6′ Tree Trunk, and he proceeds to man-handle me at will.  Now, he’s new to BJJ, so I was able to defend and sweep ‘OK’…but if he grabbed my arm or neck, I was in trouble.

On to the ego poke.  I had him in my guard, and he wrapped his Arnold Schwarzeneggar arms around the back of my neck, and dug his shoulder under my chin.  No problem.  Tuck my chin.  He’ll squeeze, but he won’t be able to neck-crank me from my guard, I’ll just take a few deep breaths and let him wear himself……OH CRAP, HE’S GONNA NECK CRANK ME FROM MY OWN GUARD!!  I tapped….nothing I could do about it.  Professor saw this, which of course is unacceptable…so he reset us in the same position and had me work through it.  Don’t hug him, stupid.  Create space.  Forearms on his neck and push hard.  Don’t let him tap you when he’s in your guard for goodness sakes…

So I sit at my computer…sipping some coffee as I roll my head and shoulders around….and remind myself that we are in a fight.  So I have a new mantra to add to my ‘rolling mantras’:  Fight relaxed….don’t relax during a fight.

As I close, I’m reminded of a Joe Rogan podcast many months ago.  Many of you may know that Joe Rogan is a BJJ Black Belt, and knows the grappling game very well from years training, as well as commentating with UFC.  He said something that really stuck with me.  (Paraphrase) “When you tap, you are conceding to the fact that your opponent could kill you if he wanted.”  That crossed my mind today.  As I had this guy in my guard, and he was cranking my neck, he played by the rules of our social contract: I tap, you stop.  However, if he did not play by those rules, he probably could have broken my neck.  Rogan was absolutely correct.  My tap (and all the countless others I’ve done during training) was me telling my opponent that “yes, you could easily kill me right now…and I sincerely appreciate if you would NOT….and we can reset and start all over again.

Here’s to not being killed in Saturday morning BJJ class by neck crank while in my guard.

Take care of each other!  Cheers.

State of the Body Address

“…He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” — Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

Oops.  Ok, I’m not teaching political science any more.  Instead, how about a topic that is very important to me…and will likely bore the rest of you to tears.  It’s time for the First Annual State of the Body Address.

My last post reflected on my 1-year anniversary at Krav Maga Northern Virginia. That’s one full year of Krav Maga training, and just over 10 months of BJJ training. I think it appropriate, at this time, to give a short snapshot on what Krav Maga and BJJ has done for me.

State of Height: Ok, neither Krav Maga nor BJJ has done anything for my height. I’m 6’5″. I’ll likely be 6’5″ for a while longer.

State of Weight: When I started at Krav Maga Northern Virginia on February 11, 2012, I weighed in at an impressive 257. So let’s just say 260 for conversation’s sake. Being 6’5″ and 260lbs is fine….if you are professional MMA fighter Alistair Overeem:

Alistair Overeem

Alistair Overeem

Not fine if you are professional bureaucrat sitting at a desk 35 hours a day.  So the day after my 1-year anniversary training session, I stepped on the very scale that showed me 257.  As of February 12, 2013, I weighed in at 235.  That’s just over 20 lbs!  That’s a win that both Democrats and Republicans (and Tea Party, and Green Party, and Libertarians, etc) can agree on.  My goal is to get to 220.  Why 220?  I don’t know…just seems like a ‘fit’ number.  Maybe if I lose an additional 15 lbs of fat, I can have a 6-pack?  We’ll see.  Once I get down to 220, I’ll pick out my Walkout Song.  Something from Eminem, I’m certain.

State of Muscularity: I’m in no jeopardy of making Dorian Yates feel puny.  But, I feel that I have more functional strength.  When I started BJJ, I felt weak.  I still feel weak, but just not AS weak as last year.  I’m still guaranteed to be humbled a few times each class by someone who is simply 1000 times stronger than me.

State of Flexibility:  My core – because I went from a size 42 pants to a size 38 – is definitely stronger, and doesn’t get in the way as much when doing BJJ.  I, for the first time, felt a little agile.  I feel like I can move around better…but there’s still much work to do in this regard.  My hips are very flexible…I’m happy about that.  My shoulders are pretty flexible, although being double-jointed in my left shoulder gives me a freaky range of motion when someone tries for a kimura armlock.  My hamstrings.  Well, lets just say that my hamstrings need work.  I have negative flexibility in my hammies.

State of Injury:  Aside from the still-healing broken finger, and the 90% healed left knee minor sprain…things are good.  My right hip has been really sore lately, but that’s from age more than anything.  Once I’m warmed up, I barely notice my hip or my knee.

State of Mind:  I love BJJ, and I love Krav Maga.  There is nothing like doubling up classes in the evening, and leaving the mats feeling exhausted, and at the same time feeling that you’ve done good work.  I’ve had many hobbies over the last 20 years since college: cycling, triathlon, marathon, Aikido, etc…but none have made me feel like BJJ and Krav Maga.   This is a big win…

In the end, dear reader, I am humbled and honored and thankful that I found BJJ and Krav Maga – and my one regret is that I didn’t find it earlier in life.

40 and fighting.  That’s fine by me.

Tune in next year for the Second Annual State of the Body Address

Take care of one another!  Cheers.

Back on the mats, and my 1 year anniversary!

After a two week layoff for business travel, it felt great to be back with the team. Monday evening’s training sessions were fantastic.

When I arrive at the gym, I’m always on the lookout for who’s instructing. You can see the previous class working hard as you walk up to the door, and you can certainly see which instructor is torturing the poor souls. Last night’s instructor is known for his energetic style, and his…shall we say ‘vigorous’ warmups. You are guaranteed to be a puddle of sweat after his class.

He did not disappoint.

What I love (or is it hate?) most is the drill where we “punch repeatedly until I yell ‘go’, then drop and do 5 pushups…then get back up and punch repeatedly until I say ‘go’ again.” We do this 4-5 times. After that, it’s “kick repeatedly until I yell ‘go’, then do 10 air squats…then get back into fighting position and kick repeatedly until I say ‘go’ again.” Again, 4-5 cycles. Both of these might take 8-10 mins for the entire class to complete, but when you’re done, you feel it!! Let’s not even mention burpees. If someone even thinks of the word burpee, the instructors will psychically pick up on it, and we’ll all be doing burpees.

We ended our session with basic/static front choke. I paired with Kevin, who takes to heart the instructor’s demand to “really choke hard…make them feel what it’s like!” At one point, I think Kevin was actually choking my spinal cord.

My transition to BJJ was a sweaty one. Putting on a rashguard and gi when you’re already dripping with sweat is always fun…because you just know you’re gonna sweat a LOT more during BJJ.

We worked two drills – both fundamental: break someone’s guard by standing up (and passing their guard), and kimura armlock when your opponent is turtled on his side. I enjoyed re-learning the finer points of both moves. The importance of having your head like ‘this‘ rather than ‘that‘. Having your hand here, rather than there. I’d rather learn 10 techniques perfectly, than 100 techniques half-assed.

Rolling was, as always, a blast. We did two or three rounds starting on our knees…then we cleared the mats and started 5 min rounds with two pairs at a time from a standing position. Starting out standing means someone is getting taken down. It adds a fun element to BJJ – and even though I suck at takedowns, it’s always nice to try a technique and end up on the ground in a good position.

Throughout BJJ, I felt really good about my positions, and about my breathing. I didn’t go for any submissions unless I knew I was in the proper position to do so. I did successfully secure an americana arm lock on a training partner, and as I was doing it, I told myself, “Dude, this is the sloppiest, ugliest americana in the history of jiu jitsu!” But as ugly as it was, I was smiling the entire time.

Class was over before I knew it. I was exhausted. Nobody got injured. A great class indeed!

As I wrapped up my night on the mats, I reflected on the fact that February 11th is Kevin and my one year anniversary at Krav Maga Northern Virginia. One full year of Krav Maga under my belt, and 10.5 months of BJJ (Professor came on board in early April). Kevin and I took a few minutes to congratulate each other on our first year. So much to be thankful for at this gym! We have first-rate instructors who genuinely care about what they teach, and care about their students’ success. Huge thanks to Pete, Ivan, Emil, Phil, Chasity, Shawn, Jeff, Andy, Matt, and Jason. You guys are all rockstars.

I can’t wait to see what year two brings…

Take care of one another! Cheers!

Back to training, and emailing UFC fighters!

After a 10 day layoff, I’ve returned to the land of the bloggers.  And the land of those who train.  That’s right: 10 day business trip = 10 days away from the mats.  I did do a few small-ish workouts during the trip – a 3 mile run, a 45 min plyo-type workout, and a more traditional 30-min weight circuit workout.  But, none of that was as intense as a back-to-back Krav Maga and BJJ session!

So you will get another post-training blog on Monday.  Until then, I’ll share a thought with you on something I did that was pretty stupid, and how I plan on remedying my stupidity.

Last summer, way back in August of 2012, I met the brother of a professional MMA fighter at one of my daughter’s swim meets.  I was walking to the concession tent to get a coffee refill, and noticed a guy wearing an Onnit t-shirt.  I am familiar with Onnit Labs, having taken ShroomTech Sport before.  Quick side note – Onnit’s ShroomTech Sport is awesome.  I had fantastic sustained energy through our 2+hour training sessions, and I regularly left the mats with gas in the tank.  I desperately need a refill!!

Back to the story…

I walked past this guy, and said something witty and intelligent and engaging….”Hey, Onnit….”  He just smiled and said, “yeah, my brother gave me this shirt a week or so ago…he’s always giving me stuff like this.”

“Oh, what does he do that he gets Onnit t-shirts?”

“He’s an MMA fighter.”

Ok, now I’m hooked!  We talked for maybe 3o minutes, exchanged stories about his brother’s fight career.  I told him about one fight I specifically remember from several years ago, where his brother dominated some poor bastard with vicious ground and pound.  I told him how I’ve been a UFC fan since the beginning, and that I was just now getting into BJJ.  He told me that he’d ask his brother (who lives on the west coast) if he would mind getting together and maybe letting me train with him if I’m ever in town.  Then he told me a few more stories over coffee – BBQ at (famous MMA fighter’s) house, hanging out in Las Vegas with (another famous fighter), guest cornering for (another famous fighter).  Wow!  We exchanged email addresses, and went out separate ways.

So what was stupid, you ask?  Well, life got busy, and I never emailed him.  An amazing opportunity to meet and maybe train with some real fighters, and I simply didn’t do it.  So that’s my resolution for this weekend – six months later – and that’s even if he remembers me.  Luckily, his niece is still swimming with my daughter in the summer league.  Just meeting some of these guys at a gym would be amazing.  Having the opportunity to roll with guys I’ve watched on TV for years…how awesome would that be?

Take care of each other.  Cheers!

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