Sunday, May 15, 2011

Father Daughter Activity = Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Part 1 of 2

I was brought to BJJ by my 9 year old daughter.  I wanted to find a sport that we could both get involved in, both for the getting-in-shape and the something-to-do-together aspects.  We started with Tae Kwon Do after she attended a TKD presentation at school.  TKD had some benefits (exercise, memorization, discipline), which also created negatives (mindless following of directions, memorizing unrealistic "forms," less-than-intense physicality).  After a year, we quit.

I was then looking for another sport to try together with my daughter.  I sought Muay Thai, since she was half Thai, that would also give her the cultural aspect to learn.  However, I could not find a Thai instructor within driving distance. So, BJJ seemed to be a good idea to me, as I wrestled in yesteryear.

For my daughter, BJJ wasn't really her sweet spot,  She was a more girly girl type into fashion and drawing, but still liked boy stuff (shooter games, ziplining, roller coasters). Jiu Jitsu required focus and seriousness.  Two things she needed some work on.  These two things showed little improvement in the beginning.  However, she wanted to go to class half the time, since she made some friends with the son and daughter of Arturo Ayala, the Muay Thai instructor and a BJJ team mate.

I then had rotator cuff injury and elbow surgery that basically had me out of BJJ training for 6 months.  I took her inconsistently to class during that time.  After being lazy for another 3 months to get started again in BJJ, we both started taking class consistently at the beginning of this year.

I resolved at this time that I would not force and nag her to go to class, which was the case about half the time before the hiatus.  I told her that if she blew off class too much (like twice in a row), I would cancel her BJJ training.  She has actually not required a lot of coaxing since then.  I think that it is partly because she is getting older and she has friends in the class, but it is also definitely a component of the head instructor Michelle Welti.  She is amazingly patient and not everyone is that way with my daughter, who is a chatterbox.  She also looks up to Michelle, who is a successful BJJ competitor, but my daughter's admiration is more on the personal level.

Assistant instructor Andrew Babeu does a great job too, be her connection to Michelle has the "its a girl thing" component.  Andrew, I know sometimes you may roll like a girl, but you are just going to have to dig deeper into your inner girly to really connect with the girls on the team.

My daughter's liking the class has also helped me be consistent in going to class, as I had to justify any class skipages with more than just my easy-to-accept-an-excuse self.

I believe that we have also passed another milestone in BJJ with having done our first competitions.  After my getting a gold medal at the New York Open, my daughter was really excited.  She wore the medal around the house and told her friends at school.  She said that her one friend thought she was lying.  I asked why.  She said, "he's seen you're fat."  Rotten kids.

This weekend was the Copa Nova tournament in Ashburn, VA.  I had planned on competing, but started to get sick the night before.  It was really hard to get out of bed to go to the tournament, but she really wanted to compete, and her not making it would have really bummed her out.  She was very excited, a little scared.  All the emotions that I had before the NY Open.  This was something that we discussed and it was great to share in that experience with her.

I was surprised that she was so adamant on competing.  She never really took class very seriously and retained limited knowledge of technique.  Michelle and Andrew had to prep her for the tournament, by getting her to not make noises when she sparred (a family trait).  I first signed her up for only the Gi division, but she wanted to also be in No Gi.

Although she lost her 3 matches (they gave her 1 extra match for practice), she progressively improved her performance. She got a bronze in the No Gi.  That made her happy and proud.  She was very disappointed that she lost.  The next day, she was in a great mood.  The roller coaster ride of emotions that competition brings on is apparently the same, young or old.

Will this experience at competition drive her to take BJJ more seriously?  I hope so.  That's why this is a two part blog.  Once I know that answer, I will write Part 2.  Whatever the answer is, BJJ has been a great experience for both of us.  Who would have ever thought a sport that is typically relegated to the domain of sweaty dudes wrestling would be a good fit for a Father Daughter activity?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Arthritis and Joint Pain in BJJ

"My arthritic shoulder is killing me from driving it into his face for so long."  Does this ever happen to you?  If so, you are old.
I think everybody has some problems with joint pain and training.  It must just be that us old people feel more pain.

I have been using the following remedies and snake oils:
  • Ibuprofen - easy and effective
  • Hot tub - effectiveness is not important
  • Ice packs - only when its severe or with other issues
  • Tiger balm - my wife hates the smell, saying I smell like an old man...go figure
  • Cherries, juice, extract - I don't know if it does anything, but tastes good
  • Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM - like the cherries, the 2 week delay until they start working makes it harder to judge its effectiveness when combined with other therapies
  • SAM-E - also helps with mental instability
The Mammoth has a great blog post on nutrition to reduce joint inflammation and other problems.

Arthritis and joint pain seem to flare up and subside these days, never really going away.  When I started BJJ, it was a much more of a constant problem or that I am just now more accustomed to having to deal with it.  Now, it is just an inconvenience and annoyance to deal with.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thankful for BJJ

A more serious blog for once...

It doesn't really matter that I am not the ripe age for a BJJ noob.  I may never be the greatest at it, but BJJ provides an experience that is very much needed in my life at this age and most other ages.  Here is my list of reasons for thanks, not in any order:
  • Feeling good physically
  • Belonging to a team, a group of people that I respect (most of the time)
  • Adrenaline rush of competition
  • Feeling of accomplishment for what I have done; something that nobody else can take the credit for, unlike other things in life
  • Laughing at funny BJJ stuff and team member antics
Here would be a list of things that I hate about BJJ, but that list would be obvious to anyone that loves the sport.  BJJ is complicated, difficult and sucks in so many ways that make it a great experience in life.


Team Dave Trader JJ had 3 competitors at the IBJJF New York Open, which all won medals.

Michelle Welti with a silver and bronze in blue belt adult.  She looked really good and dominated except for one nemesis opponent.

Arturo Ayala with a bronze in a tough white belt weight class.  His second opponent wins the tournament's Douche Bag Award by showing up at the podium and saying that he was Arturo and taking his medal.  The the IBJJF did the right thing and gave Arturo another medal.  Can you believe/tolerate that there are such people out there in our sport?

I was very fortunate to win my one match and a gold medal in the white belt senior.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Farting, Sweating on Opponents, and Subjects in BJJ That Are Not to be Discussed

Given that I am planning to start competing in BJJ, I thought that my would-be competitors may think twice, if they only knew somethings about my game and other subjects in BJJ that are not to be discussed.

Such as homosexuality....

Sorry, I will not even go there, but if I did, the first image that comes to mind is Wanderlei Silva in this compromising photo:

Wanderlei Silva had the chance to respond to the photo recently in HDNet's The Voice Versus (@1:07):

Some take it as a point of pride, along the same distorted lines as pride in having cauliflower ear.  Others accept it as a novel, always humorous statement of sorts.  Female BJJ practitioners may find it awkward as the uke receiver or the deliverer, but I would not know, as the token female (kicks-your-ass-blue-belt) at Dave Trader JJ never farts...never...never, because girls don't fart.  Honestly, I should not single her out as she has no context in the subjects of this blog.

For me, making an opponent fart is credited as one of my most momentous achievements in BJJ.  Rolling with Black Belt Master Dave Trader, I made a (failed) attempt at a stack pass and, voila, he had a reverberating pontification from down under (which was now pointing up).  Although in the direct line of fire, I found my ability to force any undesired physical adjustment on Dave to be worthy of laughter, salute, pride...and then he swepped me and submitted me.  But, Dave, you can never belittle my shining moment.  The moment, my imposing will forced you to...

Sweating In Your Opponent's Eyes or Mouth
Now, it is time to get serious.  BJJ practitioners have many unique skillsets that are specific to their individual attributes:
  • The egotist (I will never lose (or be put in a situation that I could not win))
  • The bully (I will spar with my overcoming strength and not care about technique, as I will disappear and take a crap during drills)
  • The happy-go-lucky (I love BJJ, thanks for choking me)
  • The staller (wait, that's me...)
For me, my secret weapon is sweating in my opponent's mouth and/or eyes.  Its a technique that most just don't have the physical attributes and abilities (i.e., fatness).  Although I don't know from the receiving side, I can assume from my uke's responses that there is nothing more disgusting or distractive than having beads of sweat fall in your mouth and eyes when your opponent is on  top of you. It may be a kind of a Chinese water torture, but much much worse.  Just think of how many terrorist attacks would have been averted, if they used sweat instead of mere water in waterboarding.

I sweat so much that I have started to keep a sweat rag with me throughout class.  I keep it tucked into my belt like a football referee.  As my days are numbered as a BJJ practitioner, my sweat rag is well-positioned as a new technique for myself as a BJJ referee....  The flag flies and I bark, "illegal toe lock, advantage red, resume from the guard position." But, the sweat rag flag falls on the face of an innocent wife by-stander at mat-side and I am once again, the pariah of all that is disgusting in BJJ.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Circumsizing the Fat from the Old Man

I wish it was as easy as a religious-based torture to deform defenseless babies where they are most vulnerable.  However, I am finding rapid weight loss at age 43 to be impossible.  I am planning to enter the IBJJF New York Open on April 16.  I started with much fat hovering around 243-246 pounds.  I have been on a strict diet for 3 weeks and now hover around 239-241 pounds.  I need to get down to about 218 to make the 221 class with gi.  In my wrestling days of yesteryear, I could drop 10 pounds by just starting to diet and I had much less fat then.  Now, however, the fat sticks to me better than gum under a counter.  My diet consists of a berry walnut greek yogurt protein powder almond milk smoothie in the morning, which can tend to look like pink/orange chunky baby poo, if strawberries are used and the nuts are not blended fully.  Then, meat, greens, almonds, cottage cheese for the rest of the day.  That's it.

I need a tape worm.  The dieters friend.  Fourteen years ago, I was on Koh Lipe, before it had many tourists and had few boats to the mainland.  I was filtering water from an old mini filter and got tape worm.  I knew it was tapeworm for two reasons.  One, you could see it in your #2s.  Secondly, I understood why my dog would scoot across the floor to scratch its anus.  Yes, it itched like a mother ..........  It turns out that tape worms used to be used as a weight loss treatment back in the days of snake oil.  I lost 20 pounds in three weeks on the island (down to 185).  Just for kicks, after I got back on the mainland, I decided to test my parasitic pet, before I killed it with medicinal poison.  I ate a whole pizza one evening.  Stuffed myself to the gills.  The next morning.  Zero weight gain.  My wormy ate it all up.

I am getting desperate with my diet.  Its time to blame it on my age.  I decided to do some Internet research to find some tips on losing weight for the aged.  Here is what Life Mojo said (and my comments):
  • Take walks in the park... (sweet, I like that)
  • Try using stairs... (aahhh, man, but I love riding my stair chair)
  • If you have arthritis that makes some movements painful, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an excellent way for you to get aerobically fit. (I knew it, BJJ is the cure all)
It turns out that medical research shows that "weight loss in old age may signal dementia."  Good.  That means that I am NOT losing weight AND, thus, I am NOT losing my mind.  Yeah.  This weight loss problem is a good sign.

If need be, I will just enter in the ultra heavy weight "pesadissimo" division and contend with my other fellow walruses.