Tag Archives: Joe Rogan

Creativity at 35,000ft

It has been an awfully long time since I’ve written anything for this blog. An awfully long time since I’ve written anything, for that matter. Life is hard, as you know, and when times are hard, sometimes the most enjoyable things fall to the wayside.

I’m sitting on an airplane right now, somewhere over Colorado or New Mexico or anytown USA – I’m not really sure. Because I travel a lot, I was fortunate to get an upgrade to first class. So I’m looking out at this impossibly blue sky over a bed of pristine clouds…listening to Dave Matthews Band in my Bose noise canceling headphones (borrowed from a dear friend – yes, the airplane did disappear when I flipped the switch)…and I’m sipping on a second (or third?) smallish glass of no-name red wine. Yes, this is how the other half travels I presume. And as I look out of the window thinking of writing, and creativity, and doing the things you love…my mind goes to Jiu Jitsu.

Yesterday morning we had a wonderful hour-long training session. Several of our teammates are preparing for a tournament next weekend, so the intensity has increased ever so slightly. Truth be told, we are a ‘rolling’ gym. Yes, we drill. But in a 90 minute class, we drill for maybe 30-40 minutes…then we set the round timer and roll for as many 5 minute rounds as we can until 9:15pm. And I leave sweaty, sometimes battered, and always high on endorphins that keep me up until way past midnight.

Sorry – back to the story.

So we start with some flow rolling. Now, I’m not great at flow rolling…but I get the point and do my best to be a good flow roll partner. But yesterday morning, I realize that I have my regular training partner in my guard…and I’m waiting. For what?? I don’t know. You see, my creativity was non-existent. And I’m not sure if it was because of my work, or maybe because I didn’t drink any coffee before training. But I just sat there. And for a moment, I was really bummed about that.

To me, Jiu Jitsu is a mental and emotional tunnel of sorts. You enter the gym – you exit the gym. In between, there are different sights, sounds, and always a great flurry of activity around you. The round timer goes off…it’s just you and your partner. You obey the rules of the road. And most importantly, you simply and blissfully exist – free of the burden of the world outside the tunnel. It’s a place where you cannot worry about your worries. Work. Money. The hedges in the front yard that need trimming. Gotta pick up a gallon of milk. Nope, none of that in the tunnel. You just drive. The radio of life seems to blend into a soft white noise.

And in those moments, which are SO rare in life, your brain focuses on the matter at hand. Your opponent and teammate reaching for that cross-collar choke. Maintaining a good grip for open guard. Squeeze your knees together for that armbar. In these blissful moments your mind can just ‘be’. And that’s when you tap into this special place inside that is so hard to achieve in everyday life.

I work in a place that does not appreciate creativity. And during the last few weeks, which were particularly challenging, I think my brain seized like an old Volkswagen engine. And that was apparent during Saturday’s training session. Sure, I got with the program. I managed to have a few decent rolls. But the point is this: I sometimes let the stress of life sap my creativity, and it becomes evident (like all strengths and weaknesses) on the mats as I train in this this perfect sport and self-defense art called Jiu Jitsu.

As a closing note, I was reading an article from Carlos Gracie Jr., titled, ‘Benefits of Jiu Jitsu for Working Professionals’. Buried in the text was a great quote from my favorite Podcaster, UFC Commentator, BJJ black belt, and seemingly really cool guy (I don’t know him personally, but I’d love to hang out and have a beer with him!), Joe Rogan:

“Jiu-Jitsu is incredibly difficult to get good at. To be successful, one has to become a mentally strong individual. It also helps develop humility, a trait many argue is lacking in todays society. I think Joe Rogan said it best, “When you get good at something as difficult as Jiu-Jitsu, it makes everything in your life better.”

Indeed – everything in life is better with Jiu Jitsu. Confidence earned from hard work on the mats. Humility gained from rolling with lions and lionesses every training session.

Ok, one final closing note. A few weekends ago, I stopped by Starbucks for a mid-day pickmeup. As I doctored up my Grande Pike, in walks one of my teammates who has been battling an injury and hasn’t been to the gym in a month or two. And as we were catching up with the crowd walking by us, it was clear that this camaraderie existed between us that can only be forged because we beat each other up several times….because we both gave/give our fair share of sweat and a little blood to the mats.

And that feeling made me happy.

Don’t let life sap your creativity! Go out there and do what you love. For me…I can’t wait to get back home and go train.

Take care of each other! Cheers.

PS – I just picked up a few batch of Onnit T-Plus and some Earth Grown Nutrients. I’ll post an update on supplements soon!


A guillotine choke and a smile…

After a bit of business travel, I was happy to be back on the mats this past week.

Wednesday’s class was in gi, and I was happy that (1) I remembered where the gym was, (2) I remembered how to tie my belt [even managed Rener Gracie’s ‘hollywood’ variation – ha!], and (3) Keith (blue belt) didn’t smash me too badly.  Ok, Emil (purple belt) did smash me a little…but all in all, it was a good first day back after two weeks of hotels, rental cars, and on-the-run eating.

Saturday morning’s class was no-gi. I might have mentioned this before: I have a love/hate relationship with no-gi.  Before class, all I can think of are the ways my sloppy technique will leave me in horrible positions, countless chokes, and each of my flaws will shine through.  I don’t have this fear with gi…mainly because at 6’5, 225, I have a size advantage over most, and even if I’m in a bad position, I feel  comfortable so long as I have a hold of your sleeve or lapel.  Not so with no-gi.  However, it was a good (albeit, tiring) hour and change.  After warmups and drilling double-leg guard passing for 20 mins, I live rolled (5-min rounds) with Keith, who has solid technique and wicked side control, and a few other 3 & 4 stripe white belts.

Then came Terry.  He is a fellow 4-stripe white belt…who by all accounts should be a blue belt very soon.  Anyway, we scrambled around for 3 full minutes, countering positions and sweeping each other.  During one scramble, he got me in a weird mounted-guillotine-choke-kind-of-thing.  It was tight, but not so tight I felt like I had to tap.  So I worked my hands to gain some space, hoping he’d give up the submission before I actually felt the urge to tap.  It worked…and Terry went back to work, improving his game.  When we were done, we thanked each other for the roll as always.  After class, I had a huge smile on my face as I rubbed my neck.  Yep, I’m gonna feel that in the morning.

So what did we learn yesterday?

  1. Kris’ ego is still alive and well…and still pops up every once in a while to say, “He’s pretty close with this submission, but we’re not going to give it to him…“.
  2. Do not, under any circumstance, give Terry your neck.
  3. When you watch Chael Sonnen tap Shogun Rua with a guillotine choke from his back, you end up thinking, “How did Terry get me in that from mount?”  I wish I had video to see how we ended in that position.

Random aside from last night’s UFC…did anyone else laugh when Chael told Joe Rogan, “I just got done with a world champion. If you don’t think I’ll add a middle-aged comedian just for the goddamn pleasure of it, you better think again”  That that guy is a character!  Now, Sonnen and Rogan are friends…he’s been on Rogan’s podcast before.  Also, I think it would be interesting to see those two go at it.  Maybe not striking, but in a pure BJJ match for sure.  Rogan is a Jean Jacques Machado black belt, and also has a black belt from Eddie Bravo, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.  Ok, enough about Sonnen and Rogan.

After class, a few of us stayed back to talk about the personality of our gym.  Here in Northern VA / DC, we have several schools to choose from.  Leo Dalla is just down the road.  Lloyd Irvin has a few schools in the local area.  Royce Gracie has a school about 15 miles away.  Yamasaki has a school minutes from my house.  Etc., etc.  However, we all decided that you can’t go by name when it comes to a gym.  What is most important in a BJJ school is that it fits your personality.

We are a relatively young school.  Professor Rios started around March-April of 2012.  Our ‘regular’ student cadre consists of two purple belts, 5-6 blue belts, and a dozen or so various-striped white belts.  And of that core group, we never see anyone who wants to prove themselves.  Sure, we roll hard.  But nobody is there to hurt anyone.  Nobody is there to one day become the next UFC champion.  No one is there to play king of the mountain.  Everybody works hard, everybody learns, everybody is respectful, and we all walk away eager to return the next training session.

I’ll take my nearly-successful mounted guillotine choke with a smile.  I’ll learn from it.  Tomorrow night’s training is in gi, and I’ll be looking (hoping) to grab a collar or two.

In the mean time, let’s take care of each other.  Cheers!


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