Tag Archives: T+

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!


Ki Ken Tai Ichi and hurt fingers

Before I found Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I studied Kendo – The Way of the Sword.

In all honesty, I was never any good at it.  At 6’5″, and an 80″ reach in UFC fighter’s parlance, I had awesome reach when fully extended for a men strike…but I was always much bigger and SLOWER than my opponents.  But regardless of my skill level, Kendo taught me a great deal about martial arts.

Me after Kendo training

Me after a Kendo training session.

First, Kendo taught me the essence of breathing during combat.  When I first started training Kendo, I would be winded within 5 minutes of warmup.  By the end of training, I would be a sweaty mess in need of gatorade, and sometimes an automatic external defibrillator.  But one instructor in particular continued to drill into my head – “Kris, you gotta breath when doing keiko (practice).”  This is one thing that transitioned with me when I started Krav Maga…and then BJJ.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I knew exactly how to breath when drilling knees in the carry position, and BJJ took breathing to a whole new level.  But the essence of  breathing while in combat stuck with me.  And now, after nearly two years of BJJ training, I get it.

Second, and more importantly, Kendo taught me the concept of Ki-Ken-Tai-Ichi.  Broken down into their parts: (1) ki-energy, or spirit; (2) ken-the sword; (3) tai-one’s body.  Ichi is “1”…meaning all three must be present in the same moment.  So ki-ken-kai-ichi is when your warrior spirit, the cut of your sword, and the proper position of your body must all be present to culminate in a proper and valid sword strike.

So how does my limited Kendo experience relate to BJJ?  Well…first, you have to breath.  Obviously, if you roll while continuously grunting or straining, you won’t survive for long.  Breath!! But what about ki-ken-tai-ichi?

Ki (spirit).  We all sometimes bring ego into our jiu jitsu.  You have a bad day, you’re frustrated, you’re trying to impress someone.  What better for a lowly white belt like me to tap one of our blue belts with a choke?  Ahh…that would make up for my boss giving me crap about that late suspense, right?  Wrong.  When rolling, one of my goals is to rid myself of ego.  The new guy just tapped me?  Great.  I learned that I can’t be lazy and leave my arms hanging all over the place.

Ken (sword).  We don’t carry a sword, but we have a technique, which is our weapon.  Sometimes I find an arm or a neck exposed, and I’ll jump on it.  But once I get it…wait, is it monkey grip or human grip?  Do I grab my bicep or his lapel?  Do I trap the arm before securing my legs, or secure my legs before trapping the arm?  You see…I need to take time to learn the technique so I can execute properly and without hesitation when the opportunity presents itself.

Tai (body).  “Posture up, Kris……POSTURE UP!”  (even though Professor is yelling it, I sometimes don’t hear….then I get guillotine’d).  When I first started BJJ, I was all about the submission.  Either I was trying one, or I was defending one – even though I knew how to do neither.  But as I settled down, I now know it’s about position.  Position before submission, right?  So now I’m focusing on improving my position.  Keith tells me all the time when we roll…”constantly look to improve your position”.  If the arm or neck is out there AND I’m in the proper position – then I’ll attempt the submission.  And for goodness sake, Kris, POSTURE UP!

Ichi (1).  All of these things need to be working in unison for good BJJ.

However – ki ken tai ichi won’t help me with hurt fingers!  Lately, all of my finger joints, and a few toes, have been really achy.  Once I’m warmed up and rolling, the aches go away somewhat…but my left hand is still not quite right from the broken finger last year.  My left hand grips suck – and worse that I’m a lefty…that should be my strong hand!  To that end – does anyone have suggestions on what I can do?  All you BJJ, Judo, and Muay Thai masters out there – where’s the special concoction of oils and herbs and octopus mucus that I can rub on my hands to make the ache disappear?  If you come across anything, please let me know.  🙂

Finally – a word on T+, my favorite Superman watermelon drink.  I know I told everyone that I’d re-do my testosterone levels after I finished the last order.  But alas, I’m very busy and a little lazy, and I failed you.  But, I just started a new 30-day supply (on day 4 actually), and I promise to get my T-levels rechecked, and post both my pre-T+ and post-T+ numbers.  That way, my subjective “this stuff makes me feel super energized, and I recover from training much faster” will be accompanied by the more objective “t-levels were XXX, and now are YYY“.  But…subjectively, I can tell you: the stuff makes me feel super energized, and I recover from hard training sessions much faster.

Until next time, keep your ki-ken-tai-ichi in harmony.

And take care of each other.  Cheers!

Superman watermelon drink…

A few posts ago, I gave a rave review of a product called T+ from Onnit labs (Onnit.com).

Well, after a way-too-long break – caused by my poor planning – the FedEx gods have seen fit to deliver my second container of watermelon flavored, endogenous testosterone elevating superman drink.

Ok – superman drink might be a bit much.  But, T+ definitely delivers a powerful effect of all-day energy, excellent post-training recovery, and overall bad-assery for those who no longer get carded when ordering a Sam Adams at the local watering hole (and instead, get a ‘coming right up, Sir‘).  I’m glad to be back on this supplement, and promised myself that I would order a replacement in time to enjoy the recommended two-week break, then get right back to it.

I also decided to try another product, Alpha Brain.  This is a nootropic…aka, brain vitamins…designed to optimize mental drive and focus.  I’ve only been taking this for a few days now, so I won’t boast any benefits just yet.  This is in no way a ‘Limitless’ pill enjoyed by Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper…a cool movie if you ask me)…but over the past few days I’ve felt pretty focused while at work.  More to follow on this…I want to make sure this isn’t just me being excited about a new product…

Ok, enough product placement – on to training.

After an 11 day break due to business travel, last night was a great class.  Warmups, as always, make me sweaty.  I always laugh at myself after warmups, because I’m the only one wiping my forehead with the sleeve of my gi.  After warmups, we drilled cross-collar chokes (three variations)…and worked kimura from guard.  I’ve worked kimura from the guard several times before, but last night it seemed to click a bit.  “Ahhhh, if I keep squeezing my knees together while I post up, my partner won’t back out as I reach for the arm.”  … “If I can lock my heels together after securing the arm, and I give a little stretch by lifting my hips, it sinks the lock in tighter.”

We then had our two ~15 min rolls.  My first dance partner was a young Army officer who is no doubt trained to kill people with his bare thumb.  He’s fast, strong, and has endurance for, well, ever.  We had a great roll – lots of sweeps, a few submission attempts only when in good position, and plenty of good defense.  He’s pretty tall too, so we took up about 1000 square feet of mat space – nearly rolling on top of a pair next to us…hitting the muai thai pads stacked in the corner, and back across the mat and up against the wall.  Good stuff.

My second roll was with Emil, our senior BJJ student, and one of the lead Krav Maga instructors.  Yeah, what can I say?  I survived.  Lots of scrambling around after just barely defending against a number of his arm submissions.  Oh, and his guard is ROCK SOLID…might as well tie a chain around your hips.  Thanks for taking it easy on me, Emil!

So…an 11 day break.  Much to my surprise, I didn’t forget how to tie my belt.  I didn’t puke.  I didn’t get injured (thankfully).  All good.

After class, I thumbed through the folder of Krav Maga promotion certificates to find my Level I (Yellow Belt) promotion certificate.  What a shame!  Ever since ‘leveling up’, I haven’t been able to work my schedule to attend a Level II class.  While my BJJ has been consistent (weeknight class starts at 8pm), my Krav Maga has been lacking.  That’s next on the list – figure out how to get back to Krav Maga on a more regular basis.

It will take YEARS for me to climb the BJJ ranks…but, I have this goal to reach a point in my Krav Maga experience where I might be able to teach the Level I class.  Is that possible in the next two+ years?

Ok, hydration and bed time.  No-gi class tomorrow – that’s always harder for me.

Take care of one another.  Cheers.

Supplement Review: T+

This is a first-of-a-kind post from me, because I’m going to make an attempt to provide a product review on a supplement I recently found…and I’d love to share my thoughts with other like-aged BJJ and Krav Maga enthusiasts.

Caveats – I’m sure there must be some.  (1) Dammit Jim, I’m a paper-pusher, not a doctor!  (2) My views are my own, although I’m easily persuadable. (3) I’m receiving nothing from Onnit Labs for this review – although if they want to give me that million-dollar endorsement and let me be the face of 40 yr old BJJ/Krav Maga students around the world, I’m happy to do it.  I’d even go as low as $750K.  (or even a free can of T+?  what about a $5-off coupon?)

So first, a word about testosterone.  You hear about it daily in UFC news: this athlete is on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), or human growth hormone, or something-or-other metabolites, or deer antler bone marrow ninja powder.  Whatever the reason, men (and athletes) realize that this is the good stuff.  More might be better?  Not too much … few want to fly into a hulk-like trance and trash their office in a fit of testosterone-fueled rage.  But to support your athleticism, your energy, your body composition, and all other things manly, you certainly want healthy testosterone levels.

So when I turned 40, I had my levels checked.  Let me paraphrase what my doctor said: “Healthy testosterone level range between 200 and 800.  You are at 310….so you’re perfectly normal.”  Ok, umm.  Well, I’m no mathematician, but the halfway point between 200 and 800 is 500, right?  Which means 310 seems like it’s on the low-end of normal.  Then, he and his colleagues lectured me on how taking a daily multi-vitamin is dangerous to my health.  Ok – time to exit this crazy train.  (Note: I already said I’m no doctor…but really?  Multi’s are dangerous?).  Future post: finding a new doctor.  But I digress….

So while I toil away three times a week rolling with men 10-15 years younger (sure, some of our more experienced students are my age…but they got me beat on technique), I wanted to find something that might help me recover better.  Basically, I want to wake up the morning after training NOT feeling like I was in a car accident.

Research on (legal) testosterone supplements was frustrating.  Every review was from a 23 yr old athlete who claimed that their T levels skyrocketed after taking produce XYZ, and they blasted through that last set of squats.  Well, I’m not sure that’s how it works – that sounds more of a pre-workout thing.  And who needs extra testosterone at 23??  Your body, young whippersnapper, is cranking out testosterone like it’s your full-time job.  So I can’t really go by what you say.

Another fear of mine was the fact that most products introduce something into your system to ‘act like’ testosterone.  But as I read on, it appears that your body will sense this, and decrease your natural testosterone production….likely resulting in a net loss.  Ok, I don’t need that.

So the boys and girls at Onnit Labs came out with T+.  You’re welcome to go to the website (onnit.com/t-plus) to read all the technical stuff about Macuna Puriens, Eurycoma Longifolia, and Stinging Nettle Root.  Basically, this formula claims to, “…focuses on well-researched ingredients designed to help the body increase its own levels of free Testosterone, while assisting with minimizing excess estrogen production. In addition, we included a blend to help the body further fuel athletic performance and recovery, making T+ a healthy way to help your body maximize your virility.”

So it’s not introducing testosterone-like things into your body…it’s introducing ingredients that support and energize your own body’s production of the good stuff.  Ok, I’m in!

I took my first dose of T+ on May 17.  One canister lasts for 30 days, after which you take a two-week break.  You take it preferably 30 mins before training – but still consume daily to maintain levels in your body.  As I sit and type out this post (non-training day), I’m drinking my last T+ serving.  Yep, I didn’t get quite 30 servings from the canister, but pretty close.  Tomorrow I begin my 2-weeks off…which will give me time to order another can.

The taste was ok – many reviews of T+ original formula spoke quite ill of the taste.  This new formula improved the taste.  It’s watermelon-y.  It’s an acquired taste, but after a few days, you barely notice it.  It mixes well in 16-20 oz of water – I use my protein blender bottle.  The first few days I didn’t really feel anything.  I didn’t really expect to – this isn’t magic.  About day 6, I felt for the first time that ‘tingle’ Onnit CEO Aubrey Marcus talked about during the product intro video (also on the website).  Somewhere during week two, I noticed that I wasn’t as drained the morning after a heavy training session.  By week three, my energy levels were much higher (both training and non-training days)…my recovery from training seemed much quicker…and (girls, close your ears) all the claims of supporting a ‘healthy libido’ seemed fairly accurate.

As I drain the last of my crazy watermelon drink, I guess the crowning achievement of this (nearly) month’s worth of T+ was felt this morning.

Yesterday was a double-dose of BJJ.  We had our normal hour-long Saturday morning session (no-gi).  I felt fine during that session, and went home to prepare for our longer gi session with a sister school across town.  This school is filled with higher-level blue and purple belts.  Walking out on the mats with my two-striped white belt was a little like wading into shark infested waters….you can see it in their eyes.  HA!  Bring it.

So we rolled hard for 90 mins.  I left feeling happy, humbled, beat up, and quite pleased with the day.  After eating everything in sight last night, I went to bed thinking to myself, “oh boy, tomorrow is going to be bad…my poor body is going to be really sore/tight.”  I slept in a bit…but actually woke up feeling great!  No muscle soreness, with the exception of a few tweaks that I’ve felt for weeks.  A few weeks ago, yesterday would have put me down for a bit…I would have been recovering for two days.  But alas, I attribute my much-improved recovery and energy levels to T+.  It’s the only thing I’ve done differently.

So there you go – my enthusiastic endorsement of Onnit’s T+.  If you are a 23 yr old beast who can lift a SmartCar, or a girl for that matter, please, do NOT venture into testosterone supplements.  But if you are 40…and need a little oomph in your recovery and energy levels, I highly recommend researching and investigating T+ to see if it’s right for you.  (Another caveat: if you take T+ and suddenly grown horns, an eyeball falls out, or you transform into a mutant worthy of a cameo in the next Avengers movie, I will not be held responsible. I’m just talking about my experience.  After all, this blog is all about me…not you.)  I hope to get my T levels checked again during this 2-week layoff.  I’ll report whatever I find.

Until then – happy testosterone-ing.  And while you’re at it, train hard, and let’s take care of one another.  Cheers.

T+.  Snapshot taken from onnit.com

T+. Snapshot taken from onnit.com

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