Tag Archives: bjj

“Work Harder” – Gary Vanyerchuk

Have you ever heard a speaker, read a line in a book, listened to an interview or a podcast where someone said something that actually hit you square between the eyes?   Yeah, I figured you had.

This past weekend I got to hear Gary Vanyerchuk speak at conference for Beachbody Coaches.  If you don’t know who he is, Google him because his story is awesome but to summarize, he is on the cutting edge of social media branding.  The way he analyzes each platform for its strengths is right up my alley.

Once you know their strengths – play to their strengths.                              

In general his strategy is to make your content work as smart as possible.  It is not just about throwing content out there, it is throwing the right content that is designed to work on that specific platform.

Now with that background out there, what he said that punched me in the face had nothing to do with content, branding or social media.  His message could be boiled down to two words…….

Work Harder!!!!

C’mon??  Really??  I just finished reading 2 of your books and you are going to give me “Work Harder”!?!?.

Then he followed up those two words with this gem;

“It is actually against my best interest for each of you to succeed.  The more of you that put what I tell you into practice, the more expensive my ads become.  So why am I willing to tell you all my secrets?  Because 90% of you will never actually work harder!!”   – Gary Vanyerchuk

The thing is, he’s right.  The vast majority of the 25,000 or so people who heard that message will not put it into place.

“You don’t know how hard I work.  I already work really hard!!  How can I really work any harder?”

I lost track of how many times I heard this over the last 24 hours from conference attendees.

Honestly for me, I knew I could not push back against that line of reasoning.  I can work harder.  Harder on my relationships.  Harder on my fitness.  Harder on my diet.  Harder in my work.  Harder in my business.

I think what most people miss when they hear “Work Harder” is that the message is not necessarily “Work More”.  So what else can it mean?

Work Focused:

Be honest, how many times do you take out your phone to do something specific and end up perusing your Facebook news feed.  Or your Twitter feed?  Or Instagram?  There is a reason I put this one on the top of the list for me, I need to improve here.

Work Efficiently:

I want you to do something for me.  For the next week, keep track of how many times you are distracted from the task you are looking to accomplish and then track what is pulling you away?  Then ask some hard questions:

Am I setting myself up for this?

Is the environment conducive to getting stuff done or distracting?

Am I looking for distractions?

Am I trying to put tasks together that are polar opposites?

Mix it up:

Just like you may use Yoga as a way to practice active recovery on your “rest day” from working out, use things like personal development as a way to “take a break” from work.  I have been in the habit of doing my own personal development in the mornings.  I am going to experiment with splitting it and doing half in the afternoon/evening as a way to recharge.

Work with a sense of priority:

Here is something I am going to try in my daily life – just like I rank tasks A/B/C as to their priority in needing to get done, I am going to rank them in my desire for doing them.  I am not sure what it will look like just yet but my plan is to mix the tasks I like in with those I don’t so I can keep motivation going throughout the day.

So what does your “Work Harder” look like?  What area of your life would you change if you had a magic wand?   Guess what, you do.  It is called effort and it is the only thing you get to control in this life.

Have Gi – Will Travel: Greensboro Combat Sports

So let me start this post by saying the martial arts community in Greensboro, NC is not what I expected it to be.  For the first time on this National journey, I felt really limited by my choices to train at.  A quick Google search came up with 3 options……THREE!!!

Gym A:  Just posted a letter announcing ownership change and that everything will be just fine……nope.

Gym B:  No website.  No reviews.  No Facebook page……..nope.

Gym C:  Greensboro Combat Sports/Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu……we have a winner!!!

To summarize, the instruction was good and detailed and the instructor made sure to work with all students in the room.  As with most schools I visit, the number of beginning students by far outweighed those with significant experience but the diversity in the room of body styles, gender and age was great to see.  All in all, worth the mat fee and very glad I took the time to go check it out.

Instructor:  

GCS - Blayne

The class (and school) was lead by a purple belt, Blayne Turnmire (pictured above winning double gold at a recent tournament).  Now before you run off saying “The school is run by a purple belt!!”- as near as I could tell, yes, it is.   Based on my research though, he is also one of the highest ranking people in the Triad area and definitely in Greensboro.  His teaching style was a bit laid back compared to other instructors I have had but it did not lack in detail.  We worked several stand up self defenses (loved it – I don’t do this enough) and then worked on knee-on-belly.

After drilling for 30-minutes or so, we rolled.  Good skill level in the room and a few guys were going hard.  Several of them were competing in a sub-only tournament the following weekend so they were getting after it.  From what I could see on Facebook, looks like they did well and that was not surprising based on my experience with them on the mat.

Attitude towards outsiders:

From what I could gather from Mindy (she really runs the place), the gym regularly has RoadWarriors like myself dropping in for training.  She was quick to respond to my inquiry (and I inquired very much last minute) and commented a couple of times of how she is always surprised how often it happens.  In fact, I was not the only traveling visitor that day.  They had another regular who comes down from Columbus, OH on a regular basis.

As I mentioned before, the class felt less formal than some that I have experienced but when I think back on it, there was definite structure to it.  We bowed in and then went straight into warm ups.  There were no pleasantries between the students (lots between the instructor and the students), it was pretty much straight to work.   Nothing rude or exclusionary mind you, just not a lot of chit chat and welcoming (go back up and see that diversity comment again).

I want to make sure I am painting this picture correctly, I never felt unwanted, shunned, second class or any other form of being boxed out as an outsider.  However unlike other gyms I have dropped in on, I think I would have to reintroduce myself to everyone there.

Facilities:

Located just West of downtown Greensboro, the gym is in a converted warehouse building, it has a HUGE mat space that is separate from an additional mat for stand-up training.  It also boasted full weight training equipment scattered around the gym.

One warning, it is not the CrossFit gym……the one that happens to be next door.  You can guess how I know they are separate facilities.

Overall Experience:

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I really enjoyed my time at Greensboro Combat Sports.  I actually took part in a fight fit class before rolling so got to experience a couple of different types of training.  The technique instruction was exactly what I have been trying to work on so it fit with my training perfectly.  And while the atmosphere was a bit more lax than what I have experienced elsewhere, the jujitsu was on point.

So if you find yourself in the Greensboro area and are looking for a place to train, look no further than Greensboro Combat Sports.  It is proof that just because you don’t have much of a selection doesn’t mean that you don’t have the opportunity to get some great training in!!

See you on the road!!

 

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.

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.

So you are thinking about starting martial arts? 10 things I wish I had known earlier in my journey.

So you (or maybe your spouse) are considering studying a martial art, congratulations!!  I can honestly say that the first day I bowed on to a mat legitimately changed my life and put me on a path I never expected to embark upon.

After more than a decade of training in multiple martial arts,  there are a few lessons that I’ve learned that would have been good to know before going all in.   If you are just getting started or considering a martial art, here are my top 10 things to expect that might not be so obvious.  If you are an experienced martial artist, I hope you agree and feel free to add-on in the comments.

Soap

1) This is not Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club may have been to never talk about Fight Club but if you really get bit by the martial arts bug, you will not be able to shut up about it.  My poor wife has heard more stories about spinning hook kicks, slip step-under counter hooks and triangle chokes than she knows what to do with.  Be sure to keep that in mind before you jump headlong into another story about how so and so did what and what.

do you want to do a workout

2) You will want to train – all the time.

I would train or teach all day every day if I could.  Perfection is impossible but the pursuit of perfection is available to all.  You’ll find yourself looking to attend multiple classes each week, participating in ‘open mat’ and looking for others to help you improve.   Trust me, it is completely addicting in all the right ways.

CT BB

3) Martial arts is a small, tight knit and supportive family.

For a long time I had the picture above from my son’s black belt test as the wallpaper on my computer.  He is landing a beautiful spinning hook kick and stopping his partner cold.  Now with my job, I am all over the country doing presentations and projecting my computer on big screens in multiple offices every week.  As soon as any martial artist saw the picture, there was an immediate connection.  Questions would immediately turn to his training, my training, rank, passion, training methods and goals.  Heck, I have even spared with some of my clients as I have traveled to their offices.

4) Your Laundry will never be in balance again.

Seriously people, this is an issue I was not anticipating and one my wife hates.   Think about it.  Gis are made from really thick cotton to avoid rips, tears, etc.  It is like having 3 towels in the wash that have to be on the same side of the washer.  Now imagine that in our house with 3 of us (14, 16 & 43) all actively training multiple sessions a week.  It just never stops and the washing machine continually sounds like a jackhammer.

5) There is a reason that martial artists say they “study” and “train”.

If you come across someone who says they  ‘do’ Jujitsu or karate or whatever, you have come across someone who really hasn’t evolved into a martial artist yet (and your belt rank has nothing to do with whether or not you are a martial artist).  To be successful in the martial arts, you really do have to study and train.  You have to study the techniques to understand their effectiveness and when to apply them.  You have to train your body to react to the opportunity without thinking.  I have spent hours on YouTube learning the principals of a technique (study) followed by hours on a mat applying them in an actual situation (train).  I stopped ‘doing’ karate a long time ago.

6) You will always be ‘hurt’.

I don’t remember the last day I was not sore somewhere.  Now please understand, I am not talking about being injured.  That happens pretty rarely in a well-run school environment – there is a difference between martial arts and fighting.  However being sore is routine and an important part of the martial arts lifestyle.  In fact, I have never been as sore as I was the day after my first Jujitsu session.  Soreness indicated weakness and weaknesses can be strengthened through studying and training.

triangle

7) You learn to embrace the suck.

Real progress is made when you put yourself in positions that are challenging to you and you work to improve.  I refer to this process as “suck training”.  As a beginner that may be continually letting your partner jab at you until you can slip the jab.  On the ground, let someone take your back and sink a choke in and then work your way out (this is not for your first day however).  You will fail a lot in these situations but that is the point.  Fail less tomorrow than you did today and fail in different ways than you failed previously.

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8) People love black eyes – just not receiving them.

I get a black eye or two every year.  Even as a black belt, I occasionally forget to keep my hands up and my partner slips in a great technique or I simply fall the wrong way.  It is simply a part of the beautiful dance we are performing.  What cracks me up is how people outside of martial arts react.  They either want to know every detail and are fascinated by my participation or they are scared to death to ask anything and assume I have some type of sorted past or had a run in with the wrong kind of crowd.  I find both reactions hilarious.

9) Higher level belts practice offense by destroying lower level belts – just slowly.

A really good black belt can execute her techniques at full speed without hurting her partner.  She can also slow it down so that their partner can learn to feel what is going on without losing technique.  As a black belt, when I am sparing a lower belt, I am typically picking a single technique to focus on and do so in a way that will also teach them something (like keep your hands up!!)  Lesson here for beginners – you want to spar the black belts!!!

10) Lower level belts learn defense (aka survival) by being destroyed by higher level belts.

I will never forget the first time I countered a superman punch effectively.  I had been getting caught for weeks with the technique and it was driving me nuts.  In the round it happened in, I was clearly ‘losing’ the round but in my mind, I had won because my goal was to slip the superman punch and I had accomplished it.  If I had been sparing another brown belt at the time, they would not even be throwing that technique.  Lesson here for beginners – you want to spar the black belts!!

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11) Bonus for families that train together – what happens on the mat does not stay on the mat.

Nothing makes my wife more frustrated than when random grappling matches break out in the living room.  Or when someone ends up in a kimura on the couch.  Or when turning a corner someone eats a round kick to the face.  Our house is a virtual mine field of martial arts techniques and I absolutely love it.

I hope the list above gives you a little more insight into the journey you are embarking upon and welcome to the martial arts family.  The destination is absolutely worth the journey.  Oss!!