Category Archives: Uncategorized

How does a pescetarian survive a backyard cookout?

This is the question my wife and I have to answer every time we head to a community event.  The most recent example?  UFC 200 watch party at our gym.

Great event.  Great group of people.  Great socializing.  Nothing for someone who is basically a vegetarian to sustain themselves on.  To complicate matters, all of the sides were potluck which invariably ends up producing a smorgasbord of carb laden options such as chips, potato salad, candies of all types and more deserts than my 14 year old could even consume.

We learned a long time ago that if we are going to be able to stick to our dietary guns, we need to bring a couple dishes on the side to sustain us, especially Joy.  Enter…..

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail!!!

Not sure why this was the dish we both had a craving for but we both did.  We get this dish all the time as an appetizer at one of our favorite local restaurants and I have been trying to emulate it for months now.  I think I have finally gotten it where it needs to be!!

It is great because it easily keeps in a cooler, tastes great cold, you can make it ahead of time and you can make it in relative bulk with easy to find and prep ingredients.  In fact, this version is basically no prep at all!!

So the next time you are invited to an event but are not necessarily excited about hot dogs and brats, consider taking this instead.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (serves 4 as an entree, 8 as an appetizer)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Shelled, de-veined, boiled or steamed shrimp (I use 31/40 and previously fozen works just fine)
  • 1/2 of English cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 cup of diced jicama (don’t skip this one!!!  The crunch it provides is crucial!!)
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (you can either make your own or use store bought)
  • 2 Tbsps cocktail sauce (I prefer the hot cocktail sauce)
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1/2 medium avocado (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro

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Directions:

  1. Place pico, cocktail sauce and tequila in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. To the mixture add the cucumber, jicama and shrimp.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can go longer and the flavors tend to marry more but expect more fluid if longer).
  4. Immediately prior to serving add diced avocado and mix.
  5. Top with cilantro.
  6. Enjoy over chips, tortillas or just out of the bowl!!

Special note for those who are on eating per the 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme, you can also make this recipe without the tequila and the avocado and it is great.  This brings your container count to 1 red and 1/2 green depending on your serving size.

Stop calling it Mixed Martial Arts…..

This week was supposed to be the biggest fight card in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history.  UFC 200 was stacked with an unbelievable level of talent and 3 championship belts were to be awarded.  And for the first time in a very long time, no one was hurt and pulling out of their bout at the last minute.

But wait….we are not there yet!!

Enter the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and their pesky out of competition drug testing.  Seems that the preeminent favorite to reunite in the Light Heavyweight Division Title, Jon “Bones” Jones, tested positive for two different banned substances (as of the time of this writing those substances had not been publicly disclosed).   Three weeks before the bout of his life and he is caught (presumably) taking PEDs.  Unbelievable.

jon jones

Philippians 4:13 “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

                Well, evidently that and the right “supplement” regimen.

Oh, and it gets better.  The fighter they replaced Jon Jones with?  Anderson “the Spider” Silva.  Former Middleweight Champion and the fighter who many believe to be the GOAT.  Oh yeah, and also a proven PED user.  Could we not have found another fighter who has not also popped for PEDs?  Perhaps they should have chosen Belfort instead (nope), Machida (PED), Sonnen (still suspended for PED)…….well crap!!

Stop calling it MMA – It’s Cage Fighting!!

The problem is that this has become common place in Cage Fighting.  Yes, I called it cage fighting.  That is what it is.  I don’t mean it derogatorily but rather descriptively.  I completely understand why Dana White and the Fertitas have fought hard to move away from that description and the connotation it carries.

However nothing about the current state of UFC or other cage fighting organizations reflects anything I have ever learned about the “Art” in martial art. 

And until it does, I won’t use it as a describer for what I watch on a regular basis.

Honesty     Humility     Integrity    Perseverance    Self-Control

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In every martial art I am aware of, there are a set of Black Belt Principles that are taught along with the physical skills of the fighting style.  My black belt is in American Karate and the principals that guide us are Honest, Humility, Integrity, Perseverance and Self-Control.

Are they pervasive and common through every marital art?   No.

Does every martial art have some sort of code of conduct/honor surrounding it?  Yes.

If there are no principals, your are not studying a martial art, you are studying a fighting style.  There is nothing wrong with that but let’s stop calling anyone who is willing to walk into a cage a martial artist.  Fighters who are looking to illegal pharmaceuticals to improve their performance are not martial artists.  You cannot exhibit honesty, integrity or self-control if you knowingly and willingly looking to gain an unfair advantage against your opponent.

Helio Gracie

Helio Gracie suggested that you immediately drink a glass of water upon waking because you are dehydrated and should always be ready.  He did not suggest that water should be washing down the latest compound to crank your metabolism.

Guchin

Gichin Funakoshi said to “Be constantly mindful, diligent and resourceful in your pursuit of the Way.”  Not “find the best doctor who will prescribe or acquire HGH for you”

Now I give a great deal of credit to the UFC for bringing in USADA and attempting to clean up the sport.  I think Jeff Novitski has one of the hardest jobs in the organization (he looked absolutely defeated as he was announcing the Jones’ removal from the card).  They realized that removing doping from their sport is way more important than in any other.  A pharmaceutical advantage in fighting can literally lead to the death of your opponent.  These men and women are going into a cage with bad intentions towards each other.  The mat has to be a level playing field.  Fighter’s lives depend on it.

So fighters, I am calling on you to bring the Martial Arts back into cage fighting.  Bring the honor, honesty and integrity back into the competition.  You are the only ones who can actually do it.

Coaches can’t make it happen.

Fans can’t make it happen.

The UFC organization can’t make it happen.

Dana can’t make it happen.

Will I continue to watch UFC, Belator, Glory and others?  Yes.

Will I continue to support fighters?  Yes.

Will I continue to make it a family affair with my boys?  Yes.

But until we see consistency in fighters at all levels testing clean, it will not be mixed martial arts to me, it is cage fighting.  I have two boys who need to understand the difference between winning and honor.

Have Gi – Will Travel : North Broadway JiuJitsu, Bryan Guidry Fitness Training

In researching for a trip to St. Louis, all of the opinions, reviews and most importantly for me, operating hours (they were open later than all the rest) were pointing me to North Broadway Jiu Jitsu – Bryan Guidry Training.

I happened to attend on a day that the focus was No-Gi so I should probably call this one “No-Gi : Will Travel”.   I also had the good fortune to be able to attend on a night when both traditional class and all rank sparring sessions were being held so I got to roll with folks of all belt ranks and experience a great deal of what NBJJ has to offer.

To summarize, the instruction was great.  Although the group was a bit slow to warm up to the outsiders in the room (they were never cold), once we started going, the atmosphere was one of encouragement and support.  The rolling was strong and intense but without ego or intent to harm.  All in all, I had a great experience.

Instructor:  

Bryan Guidry

Professor Bryan was one of the best teachers I have experienced in a while.   My first class was all about technique and drills.  We were specifically working on sweeps from Butterfly Guard.   He was detailed in his explanations, clear in his demonstrations and then most importantly, followed up with specific instructions/corrections to each of us as he observed us working the techniques.  This last step is one that I have seen several instructors skip.  Even with the outsiders, Professor Bryan was observing and providing the feedback necessary to get the technique right.

I was also fortunate enough to get to roll with him in the sparring class.  Like any good instructor, he would let me get in trouble, attempt to work out of it and then show me that everything I was doing was futile.  Six minutes of attempted survival.

Attitude towards outsiders:

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Bryan Guidry has developed a reputation as the place to train in St. Louis.  With this reputation comes a lot of folks that are in just for a session or a week.  In fact, on the evening I visited there was another guy who was in from upstate Missouri looking for a place to train when he is in St. Louis 3-4 days a week.  All this to say, this group is very used to visitors.

The guys were obviously tight knit with a great deal of pre-class conversation around who was rolling in the upcoming submission only tournament, how people’s jobs were progressing, etc.  There was not a lot of pleasantries with the two ‘newbies’ before class but once Professor Guidry got class going, the group was warm and welcoming.  Truth be told, this may also be my introverted nature coming through as well.

Once we got rolling, the guys were great.  No egos, lots of diverse styles and a great willingness to help each other.  Great culture.

Facilities:

OK, this is a gym you are going to want to map out to get to.  If Professor Bryan ever has someone say they were ‘just driving by’ – they are full of it.  It is off the beaten path however the facility itself is definitely put together to train.  Located in a converted warehouse building, it has a large mat space (there were close 20 of us rolling at any one time), a full weight/cardio room and sauna.

Both men’s and women’s locker rooms and showers are available.  Bonus was the ”member lounge” that doubled as a spot for the kids of those rolling to hang out in.  Only downfall to the space was the pillars in the middle of the mat.  Completely avoidable as you roll but could get in the way when Professor was demonstrating a technique.

Overall Experience:

I really enjoyed my time at North Broadway Jiu Jitsu.  I have definitely been to better facilities but the skill of Professor Bryan both on the mat and more importantly, as an instructor, as well as the guys who were rolling make up for any short comings that the facility may present.  My only regret was I was not able to train in the Gi but that was all about timing, besides, Professor Bryan has a whole series on the internet so I can study with him while I am at home or on the road.

One final note, you will notice I didn’t mention anything about the kids program or women on the mat.  I am 100% sure this was just due to the timing of my visit but I did not see either while at NBJJ.  The only reason I mention it here is it is normally a big part of my assessment of a gym.  In this case, there were no kids classes offered on the Tuesday I had the opportunity to roll.  As for women, none showed for the classes I took but one scroll through their Facebook page clearly shows that women regularly attend (at least) Gi classes.

So if you are in the market for a training facility in St. Louis, North Broadway Jiu Jitsu is worth the visit.

Happy Freedom Day!! – Time for carb-less chips!!

The Fourth of July!  Independence Day!  (Treason Day if you are from the UK as one of my good who does hail from Britain proclaimed on Facebook this morning).

It is a day for celebrating, fun in the sun, fireworks and backyard BBQs!  A time for  sweet creamy desserts and salty sides.  But as someone who is currently watching and limiting every carb he takes in, how can I partake in the fun and not be a total Debbie Downer to everyone else?  Enter Carb-less Chips!!

So this morning in prep for our family BBQ, I was making Cloud Bread and decided to experiment on a smaller scale – what about chips?  They turned awesome and you are beneficiary.  Seriously, enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1/2 Tbsp of Water
  • 1/2 tsp of Chipotle Pepper
  1. Pre-heat over to 400 degrees.
  2. imageCombine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
    1. Note:  I use Chipotle Pepper for the spice in this because I like it spicy, feel free to play with the spices that speak to you)
  3. imageSpoon mixture into a cupcake pan (I prefer the mini-cupcake pans but whatever will do) until the bottom of each cupcake is just covered by the mixture.
    1. Note:  You are going to be tempted to overfill, don’t!!  They will come out much crispier the thinner you pour your batter.
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes checking to make sure they do not burn.
  5. Remove and eat immediately.
    1. Note:  You can also immediately spray with coconut oil and salt if desired.

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Now you have a way to battle the bowl of chips on the picnic table that everyone else is diving into.  Enjoy!!

The Art of Aging Gracefully……Screw That!!!

I am going kicking and screaming all the way……just being real.

I agree with Tony Horton who recently proclaimed to CNBC that Aging is for Idiots .  I see no reason to allow Father Time to have his way without the fight of his life.

Now with that said, I have had some recent reminders that I am not the young guy I used to be anymore.  For example, just a couple of weeks ago I heard the following statement while visiting a BJJ gym in LA:

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“Yeah, you’ve got that ‘Old Man Strength’”

What!?!?!  Old Man Strength!?!??!!  How about just ‘strength’? Then I took a long hard look around the mat and realized, I was the oldest on the mat by at least 5 years (OK, maybe 10).  That lead to the realization that I could count on two hands how many folks I had rolled with this year that have me beat in age.  How did this happen?  How am I suddenly the ‘old guy’?

Oh, and then there is work……

family

“I can’t believe you have a child that is driving!”

Not quite sure how to react to this one.  Is it because you can’t believe I could be old enough to have a 16 year old child?  Or is it because you cannot believe that my gene pool would be able to produce an offspring with the mental capacity to control a motor vehicle effectively?  I really hope it is the prior although the later certainly is in question.

And then there is Facebook….

wife

“When I grow up I want to be like you and your wife!”

This coming from a thirty-something fitness enthusiast.  You see, Joy and were both presented with the opportunity to audition for the next Beachbody Infomercial for The 21 Day Fix Extreme program by Autumn Calabrese, an opportunity we both jumped at.  So just us and 11,000 other Beachbody super fans are a part of a Facebook group where we regularly post specific assignments and encouragement.   Looking at the feed in this group is inspiring, motivational and humbling as well as a gut check.  You see in this group, I am definitely raising the median age (my wife however is ageless so she is having no affect ).

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because while aging chronologically is inevitable, how you age physically is absolutely a choice.  Not much is within our control any more; politics, economics, job stability, Brexit and the thoughts of others affect us daily but we have zero control over them.  What do you have control over?

  • What you feed your body – are you giving it whole foods in the right portions?
  • What you feed your mind – are you reading regularly? Does the subject matter challenge you?
  • Moving your body – You know the First Law of motion…..a body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Be in motion – whatever that looks like for you.
  • Effort – Are you giving it everything you can?
  • Consistency – see that whole First Law of Motion thing above

So yeah, we all grow older but how we grow older is a choice.  I choose to embrace Old Man Strength and to control what I can and not place undue worry on what I can’t.  Now if I can just find someone to help me with my old man wardrobe…….

Carrot Tortillas

In my house, tacos are considered a gift from God.  My wife is pretty much convinced that the manna that God provided the Hebrews had to have been collected and then pan baked into nice round shapes.  Seriously….tacos are a big thing in this house.

However, so is the consumption of refined carbs….or better stated, the lack there of.

So what is a family to do?  We love spicy goodness wrapped in an edible delivery system (ponder on the genius of that for a few moments…..pause….pause….pause…..).

Enter:  The Carrot Tortilla!!!

I know what you are thinking.  I was too but trust me on this one, these are the best we have tried yet.  Don’t believe me?  Watch the taste off here:

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So here is how you make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Grated Carrot
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flower
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Wash, peel & grate carrots – OR – buy the shredded carrots from the grocery store and give them a rough cut like I do.
  2. Place the carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add water (recipe is 1/2 cup but you are really looking to get them covered in the bowl, the amount really doesn’t matter).  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.DSC_0287
  3. Drain and dry the carrots.  Use a dishtowel or cheese cloth to squeeze extra water out.  The drier you can get these the better they will turn out.
  4. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Tip: just use your hands and get dirty.  It is by far the best way to get the ingredients incorporated.DSC_0293
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  6. Spread carrot mixture into approximately 6 inch round ‘tortillas’ that are approximately 1/4 inch think (Note: these don’t rise or spread at all during cooking so however you spread them is pretty much how they will come out).
  7. Bake for 12 minutes, flip them once and bake for another 12 minutes.
  8. At this point you can eat them right away, lay them over a rack to allow them cool into the shape of a hard taco or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  If you store in the fridge, I highly suggest heating them up again in a small frying pan to get them warm and a bit crunchy again.

So there you have it, our solution to not being able to eat tacos without all the refined carbs!!

What others won’t tell you about living a life on the road

I always love having conversations with people who do not spend much time on the road, especially when they are on the road themselves.  And having just come off of the largest conference of the year for the apartment industry where literally thousands of folks who never travel have just spent the last week in City by the Bay, I have had a lot of those conversations recently.  Want to guess what the most common question/comment I heard in my various conversations was?

                “How do you do it?”

The answer is simple, one day at a time.  That is all I can do.

These conversations prompted me to write an article this time that I am not sure I have seen out there.  Everyone likes to point out the positives of travel, I would like to point out the challenges that RoadWarrior’s face so the next time you find yourself staring at a calendar with an upcoming road trip, you are ready.

Reality #1 – Staying fit is hard:

Gyms with broken equipment.  Overtaxed schedules.  Tired muscles and minds.  All of these are a normal part of the RoadWarrior life.   Combine that with the ease of finding food that is horrible for you and the scarcity of the food that will really fuel your body well and you have the perfect recipe for allowing your fitness to suffer.

My solution:  Plan ahead (more on this topic here).  You need to schedule your workouts.  You need to research where and when you are going to eat.  Winging it every once in a while is OK.  Winging it every trip is a recipe for obesity.

Reality #2 – Alcohol is everywhere:

Seriously.  Once you get any level of status on an airline or hotel chain, they are constantly making sure that if you want to be liquored up, you can be.  It becomes incredibly simple to have a cocktail in the lounge before your flight, a couple of glasses of wine on the plane and then again at your next hotel.  I lost count a long time ago of the number of people I have seen over served at the hotel bar.  I am far from saying don’t drink but definitely do so with intent and a consciousness about it.  Too much alcohol has done no one any good….ever.

My solution:  Be conscious about your consumption.  Set limits in advance and choose when/if you are going to consume and where.

Reality #3 – People expect you to work constantly:

This may be just my world and my own personal work ethic but if I am going to be away from my family, I am going to make sure I am as productive as possible (I do so with the intention of protecting my time when I am at home).  Here’s the problem, my coworkers now expect me to be available 24/7 when I am on the road.  You have to protect yourself on this one.  You prioritizing your time is different than others demanding your attention.

My solution – Create and stick to reasonable boundaries.  I turn off my instant chat function on my computer around 9:00.  I stop responding to emails about that time as well.  I don’t send out new emails after that point.  It is when I shut it down (or at least give that impression – truth is I am often working later but scheduling my correspondence to be sent the following morning).

Reality #4 – Reentry is hard:

You just got home from a long trip, your plane was late and it is actually tomorrow when you arrive home.  To top it off, you have been burning the candle at both ends all week and you are both physically and mentally spent.  All you want to do is climb in to bed and never get out.  Unfortunately, your spouse has had the same type of week shuttling around kids, making sure everyone is fed, doing their own professional job and trying to stay fit.  They have been burning the candle at both ends and all they want is to climb into bed and never get out…but thank God you are home to take over, right?

My solution – Suck it up cupcake, especially if you are a regular RoadWarrior!!  Your travel schedule created this dynamic and you need to do everything you can to make the reentry as smooth as possible.  Sorry I don’t have any additional sage wisdom here but sometimes it is what it is.  This is also why I tend to bring gifts…..like San Francisco sourdough bread!!

bread

Reality #5 – A life on the road is a lonely one:

I have written on this topic previously but it is very had to develop relationships on the road and very easy to hide among the masses.  There is a reason fish school to avoid predators, they can become an indistinguishable part of a larger massive organism.  Great for fish…..terrible for humans.

My solution – Be intentional about maintaining the relationships you have that are most important.  If I am not intentionally reaching out to my wife, my kids, my parents, it is easy for me to go days without communicating.  This may just be a me thing but I like to fade into the background (ironically, I am doing so right now in the Admirals Club as literally dozens of industry coworkers buzz around).  Below are some recent shots from a run I made across the Golden Gate with a couple of co-workers.  An hour of intentional interaction.

Reality #6 – It is really easy to get depressed:

Everything above can easily culminate in a feeling of depression.  You stop being active, you feed your body with a depressant, you are working constantly, you know when you get home there is going to be tension and you feel alone.  How could you not get depressed, right?  I would be lying if I did not admit that about once a quarter, I have a trip where it all bears down on me……and I don’t think I am alone in that feeling.  I am always amazed at how utterly alone you can feel in a sea of people.

My solution – Beat the depression out of me physically.  Seriously, this is why I work out the way I do on the road.  I will do double workouts – if for no other reason than it keeps me off of the computer.  I will start a blog just to vent about it into the abyss.  For others it may be reading their favorite book, knitting, researching menu plans.  Could be any number of activities but do something you love to focus your energy and attention elsewhere.

So there you go, the 6 realities that no one really wants to talk about a life lived on the road.   If you can be intentional about heading those 6 off before they start, you are in for a good trip.  See you on the road!

The difference between success and quitting is GRIT

Let’s face it, starting anything is easy.  A new workout plan,  a new meal plan, a new book.  We all want the *NEW* thing.  Think about it, anything new has a sense of excitement around it.  There is a sense of adventure and optimism.

A *NEW* iPhone

A *NEW* car

A *NEW*  job

A *NEW*  vacation

The possibilities of a *NEW*  workout plan

Just imagine the possibilities!!! 

This excitement around *NEW* is why:

  • 95% of diets fail over a period of 1-5 years
  • Over 50% of marriages end in divorce
  • Only 6% of Boy Scouts ever reach the rank of Eagle
  • Less than 1% of all those who start a martial art achieve the rank of Black Belt (my own observation on this stat in full disclosure)

The point I am trying to make is that with any endeavor worth doing, at some point the “new smell” is going to wear off and it is going to look a lot like (please forgive me for saying it)……..WORK!!  Nothing can stay *NEW* forever.  Every *NEW* car gets its first scratch.  Every *NEW* career becomes a job.  Every *NEW*  workout hits a plateau.

So if everything new becomes old (and all of it becomes new again), why is it that some are able to achieve great things in these endeavors while the vast majority allow themselves to fall by the wayside?  And more importantly, what can we all do to ensure we are a part of the minority vs. the majority?

The minority decide early they are not quitting:

I cannot over emphasize how important this differentiator is.  If you go into an endeavor with the attitude of “let’s see what happens”, you are giving yourself the out.  There are certainly times that would be appropriate but if you are serious about achieving anything, decide early that you will succeed and never think about it again.

The minority learn to embrace the grind:

This is a term that I stole from Martial Arts and Wrestling training.  Training for these endeavors can be physically and mentally brutal.  I also call it “suck training”.  Suck training is different for every endeavor but learn to make this your favorite training.  You progress more in those times than any other.

The minority identifies the little things but focus on the one big thing:

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins introduces us to the concept of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  A goal so big that it inspires your endure all the little things.  Envision the end goal when you are doing the smaller, seemingly tedious, tasks that need to be completed to get you there.

The minority celebrate the small victories along the way:

If I had waited to celebrate anything along my martial arts journey till I received my black belt, I would have been waiting for nearly a decade.  There were plenty of smaller celebrations, belt colors, tournaments, techniques achieved.  Set small goals that lead to the larger BHAG and celebrate those (just not a Big Mac and ice cream for hitting a weight loss goal)

So there you have it.  My plan for becoming a part of the minority and developing a steadfast resolve.  So what are you trying to accomplish?  What is your BHAG?

I’ll start…..I want to end the trend of obesity in the US.  How is that for a BHAG?

Have Gi – Will Travel: Kaizen BJJ in Detroit, MI

I cannot tell you how excited I am to write this review.  When I first decided to start this series, my biggest fear was that the first review was going to be of a program that was sub-par.  Nothing could be further from sub-par than the experience I had while visiting Kaizen BJJ in Plymouth, MI.  I truly could not have asked for a better experience as a visitor.

Let’s start with the Instructor:  

Ali

For me, the vast majority of whether an experience is going to be good or not lies in the hands of the instructor.  When I visited Kaizen, I took a beginner’s Gi class that was led by a Purple Belt, Ali Makhlouf.  He ran a well-organized class that smoothly went from basic drills, to position specific techniques to rolling with specific intent to sparring.  He was sure to move through the class (about 20 students) to give individual attention and instruction to each student.  Great experience.

Ryan

Now the school is owned and run by 4th Degree Black Belt Ryan Fiorenzi, who was at the gym while I was there but not rolling that evening.   He provided me with the experience that impressed me the most while I was at Kaizen.  At one point when we were working butterfly sweeps, he was invested enough in me (an outsider) to call me by name and give me specific feedback that I could apply immediately.  If he shows that much interest in an outsider, who is there for only one class, a class he was not teaching no less….I can only imagine how much he helps his own full time students.

Next – The attitude towards outsiders:

I was not on the mat for more than 2 minutes before I had people coming up and introducing themselves to me.  I have done back to back classes at schools where no one talks to me other than if we are drilling together.  I felt completely welcomed, didn’t sense any animosity at all and really felt like this group was there to get better.  Loved it.

Culture – What am I getting into?

If you look on the www.kaizenbjj.com website, they preach that they train “Leaving your ego at the door”.  I can tell you they practice what they preach.  Remember, I took a white belt class.  During that class I rolled with 2 Blue Belts, a Purple Belt and a Brown Belt.  As the higher belt ranks came in before open mat, they were quick to work with the White Belts.  Not destroy them….work with them.  It was awesome.

Additionally, Kaizen BJJ focuses on real world Jujitsu, not tournament Jujitsu.  Everything they did had a self-defense bent.  Nothing against tournament BJJ but I prefer the more self-defense oriented approach.

Facilities:

The mat was huge, in great shape and clean.  For those interested,  the facility is dual purpose with not only the mat but also a CrossFit gym next door.  The only thing I would improve if they had the opportunity is to have a locker room.  I arrived straight from the airport and changed in the restroom.  Really not a big thing but if I get a magic wand, I am adding a locker room.

Overall Experience:

From my initial contact with the owner Ryan over email, to my arrival, to the training everything was handled with professionalism and efficiency.  I can honestly say that if I was relocated to Detroit, I would make the commute to make this my home gym.

Thanks to Ryan and everyone at Kaizen BJJ for a wonderful experience.  If you are in the Detroit area, I highly recommend you make a trip out there.

Have Gi – Will Travel

Welcome to my new series, Have Gi – Will Travel.   Let me warn you in advance that these posts really are for a very specialized audience.  The traveling martial artist.  More and more as I travel, I am contacting dojos in my destination cities to inquire about training at their facilities.  The good news is you are the beneficiary of my experiences.

This first episode of Have Gi – Will Travel will detail out the rules of the traveling martial artist.

Always disclose your purpose:

Every Martial Arts school that I have ever come in contact with has some type of “Hey – come try us out” special.   My goal is to train every chance I get, not to bilk the system.  If I like a school, you can be sure I will want to come back.  Thus, I will contact all schools in advance and not only ask permission to train but also if there are any appropriate mat fees.

My opinions are always my own:

I am not (currently) sponsored in any way.  I get nothing other than knowledge, comraderie and physical fitness from training with any of these folks.  There is no bias (other than my own) to my reviews.

Every opinion I share here, I also share on social media:

My goal is to promote martial arts and martial artists.  The reality is that reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Trip Adviser, etc. make a real difference in the success of these small businesses.  I am more than happy to share my opinion so they can gain exposure and in the end, more business.

I realize that different schools have different goals:

I lie much more on the martial than the art of martial arts.  With that said, I can learn from both the yin and the yang.  Especially with me, the school should not adjust to the pupil, the pupil should adjust to the master.

I will stay humble and open minded:

It is really easy to fall into the mindset that ‘X’ martial art is the best….or ‘Y’ technique does not work in real life.  While I will certainly focus on the arts that interest me the most (Karate, BJJ and Mui Tai) if I stumble across the occasional Kung Fu or Aikido class, I am not going to shy away.

So come along with me on my journey across the US and the Martial Arts scene.  The first few posts will be of my favorite schools across that country that have been generous enough to let me train with them.  From there, we will experience this journey together.