Martial artist leaves ego at door, suffers identity crisis


“People are walking all over me,” Orlando Johnson admitted, standing at a crowded coffee shop where he couldn’t seem to get to the front of the line. “It’s like I don’t even exist anymore.” Orlando who claims he got stuck at a four-way intersection for twenty-five minutes yesterday afternoon, said he’ll be relieved to collect his ego when his dojo opens Monday evening. “I spent last night watching Eat, Pray, Love with this girl I like.” the once confident martial artist said, dropping his head. “Now I’m gonna get friend-zoned for sure.” Read the rest of this entry »

Three-stripe white belt forgets Steven Seagal is 6’3” and 300 pounds–teeth “badly chipped”

The real Steven Seagal149 pound Greg Hustle, a twenty-three-year-old, three-stripe white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, says he was humbled to learn that size does matter. Hustle says he was inspired to drop his Kung Fu classes for BJJ after a young woman with whom he was “just having some fun on the dance floor” choked him unconscious over what he deemed “an innocent misunderstanding.” Citing pending litigation, he refused to elaborate further, but stated that the woman in question is a purple belt, no slouch on the tournament circuit, and said that he thinks the two of them have “mad chemistry.” The woman, who wishes to remain unnamed, refused to comment–though a public records search did turn up a restraining order against Hustle. “Let’s just say we’ve been working on opposite sides of the gym,” Hustle said when presented with a copy of the document, “but I see her vibing me.” When asked to elaborate he said, “It’s all part of the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Systema expert in serious but stable condition after attacker refuses to move in slow motion


falafelThe Russian Systema expert Vladimir Ishnabakov was hospitalized in serious but stable condition last night after a knife-wielding assailant refused to attack him in slow motion.  “It was not the proper way to attack,” said Ishnabakov from his hospital bed. Though in visible pain, the celebrated Systema expert was recovering today from multiple deep puncture wounds that his physician described as “non-life-threatening.” The hospital is holding Ishnabakov for further testing unrelated to the incident.

According to a police source, Isnnabakov sustained the wounds to his abdomen after an argument with a falafel vendor turned violent late last night. When asked what instigated the argument that led to the attack, Ishnabakov was reflective. “The world is not as it used to be,” he said. “The system is breaking down.” Read the rest of this entry »

It Wasn’t that Kind of Tap

kyusho-jitsu-cycle-de-destructionKyusho practitioner eliminated from grappling competition: 

“It wasn’t that kind of tap!”

Sifu Oliver Young says it was all a big mistake.  “I had him right where I wanted him,” he shouted, after he’d been thoroughly revived from the triangle choke that ended the match, “It wasn’t that kind of tap!”

Young was heard continuing his diatribe with a few onlookers just outside the spectator’s gates.  “I was letting him do all the work,” he said.  “That was part of my plan.” When several of the crowd that had gathered out of concern began to disperse, he shouted after them,  “They made me compete at white belt,” he said, “With a more skilled competitor it never would have taken thirty or forty seconds to get myself into that triangle.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wrong Turn (On the Road to Good Jiu Jitsu)

truck_1One of the errors that’s always plagued me, both in life and in my Jiu Jitsu, is my gut level reaction to the first wrong turn.  I’m not talking about the casual Sunday drive when you’re out for the scenery and the wind in your hair and you welcome the opportunity to get a little bit lost. I’m talking about I left late for the interview, got off at the wrong exit, and kept moving forward–an instant Columbus on a mission to find a shortcut to the Indies. An intelligent man would embrace the wonderful thing about the wrong turn–realizing he made a mistake, he’d pull a u-ey and be right back on track. Not me. I don’t like admitting mistakes. Instead, I use the opportunity to express my resourceful nature. I look up at the sky and start making my navigation by the sun. Then when I scream into the parking lot with thirty seconds to spare, sweating bullets and on the verge of an anxiety attack, I at least have the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t make a mistake, I just traveled the road less taken. Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing for the Fall; The Sport Psychology of the Samurai

–The first thing that is taught is how to fall down without being hurt, that alone is worth the price of admission and ought to be taught in all our gyms.

–The great educator, John Dewey, on observing the training methods of Jigoro Kano;

From his, Letters from China and Japan

–Fukuda’s training method consisted mostly of the student taking fall after fall for the teacher or senior student until he began to understand the mechanics of the technique.

–of Fukuda Hachinosuke, Jigoro Kano’s instructor of Jiu Jitsu

From Wikipedia

At Study

Long before the practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stole my heart and placed me on solid ground, I was an Aikidoist. It was the soaring blue skirts that caught my eye and got me hooked–the elegance of hakama fluttering and snapping through the air like indigo stunt kites spinning in the wind. The ukemi–the sophisticated art of falling that followed a well executed throw–appealed to some inner acrobat that I had known since childhood, and even if I doubted I would ever have the ability to throw people with effortless arm circles, I knew I could learn to take a fall.

My early interest in ukemi served me well.  When, after five years of refining my ability to hit the mat, I began studying with the esteemed Shihan, Hiroshi Ikeda, I became one of his favorite throwing dummies. Ikeda Sensei, like Jigoro Kano, and Fukuda Hachinosuke before him, believed that in order to learn to throw hard, one first had to learn to fall hard.  A student with good ukemi provided the advanced student or teacher the opportunity to work with powerful attacks.  In turn, the confidence given the beginner by his well practiced ukemi opened him up to experience the mechanics of high level throws. In the state of relaxation and sensory awareness brought on by his trained survival instinct, the student was believed to be able to “steal” his teacher’s technique. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pitfalls of Pop-positive Thinking


The Facebook post took a strong stance on an inflammatory issue and followed with a challenge:

De-friend me if you disagree.

I imagine we will see a lot of this sort of post. The reason (You will say it’s unlikely and I will swear by it.): pop-positive thinking. De-friend me if you disagree… But please, just first hear me out.

I have two teenage daughters, and for 10 years I was married to a designer of women’s fashion. The magazines littered the house, just waiting for idle hands. This is my excuse for knowing more than any man should about the divorce and ensuing tabloid drama of TomKat. Through that drama and the interest in the cultish practices of Scientology it spawned I learned more than I desired about The Church of Scientology’s practices of excommunication. Scientology has a similar policy to the person who posted on Facebook. People who challenge or refute The Church’s beliefs are declared “suppressive persons,” and devotees are required to break all ties to these people or risk being declared suppressive themselves. It doesn’t matter if the “suppressive person” is a wife, mother, son, daughter. The rule is simple: de-friend them if they disagree. Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of Flow Rolling

Ng-Mui-crane-snake-artJim Wing wrote a fairly thoughtful  article on “flow rolling” a few months ago to which I intended to respond… as soon as I got around to reading it.  Why didn’t I read it at first?  Well, I saw the first few sentences appear on my Facebook news feed, and I was already pretty sure I knew where the post was going.  I don’t mean that in a dismissive way. I knew where it was going because, like Jim, I’ve been around the Jiu Jitsu block a few times, and I know that accepting an invitation to  “flow roll” often ends in frustration and–somewhat ironically–injury. This is because when beginners ask to “flow” they are generally asking their seniors to give them a little space to work their game–to attack, maybe play on top a little bit. This can be done in a way I will elaborate on later, but if it’s done without caution and control it can sour one on the whole experience of “flow rolling.” Increasing the irony of injurious “flow rolling” is the fact that the more skilled practitioner is usually on the receiving end of “flow rolling” injuries. This is because the less experienced practitioner often, like a growing puppy given too much leash, can’t resist transforming the gracious gift of uncontrolled space into an irritating, if not dangerous, velocity. I can’t count the times I’ve been elbowed, kneed, head butted, fallen on top of, just because I was trying to give a frustrated student or classmate a little room to move.

So now I have to admit that in my school, which I named Flow (for reasons I’ll go into later), I have taken to answering the “can we just flow roll” question much like Professor Wing.  I say, “let’s just roll.”  Sometimes, answering the implicit question, I append it with, “I’ll keep it light.”  Sometimes when I’m working through an injury a well meaning student will ask me sympathetically if I want to “just flow,” and then I preface my previous statement with an involuntary laugh and I don’t add the postscript about going easy, because the more ragged I feel, the tighter I like to keep the reins. Read the rest of this entry »