Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ex-soldiers in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

At our school, we have a few folks that served in the military.  Given that we are in the States, at least two I know where in Iraq.  One guy, was in his late thirties and in the infantry.  He never really said much about it, just that he was there.  After class, I saw him stretching and wincing.  I asked what the problem was and he said his sciatic nerve.  I asked, if it was from kicking the heavy bag.  He nonchalantly said that it was from Iraq, daily patrols with the weight from ill-fitted body armor, a rucksack and the other gear.  Herniated disks and other various maladies are what he contends with after moving on from that job.

That is such a real sacrifice to have made.  I can't imagine doing that work in my late thirties.  I whine about my physical degradations.  Hence, this blog, but I made choice to do the sports or was just born with clumsiness that has caused my few physical impairments.  These ex-soldiers were working, doing their job, got hurt (or worse) and sucked it up to live with the problems later in their lives.  Problems that they got from doing a job in public service. 

So, in respect and tribute to the servicemen and women on this Memorial Day weekend (oh yeah, its Labor Day weekend...uh, who cares, I always get them confused), OMJJ is thankful and gives this truly amazing fireworks salute.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top Ten Signs That BJJ Is More Than Just A Hobby

Here are my Top Ten Signs That BJJ Is More Than Just A Hobby:

10. Your laundry area looks like an MMA store.

9. People at work don't bother asking why you have bruises on your face and limbs or have a slight limp.

8. Your wife gives you a curious look when you turn off a BJJ instructional video just before she enters the room (because the background music sounded like an adult entertainment video).

7. You watch BJJ instructional videos more than movies.

6. You get annoyed when people think BJJ is the same as karate/TKD or that you are "training UFC."

5. When you have time to lay in bed in the morning, you think about BJJ techniques instead of work.

4. You thank people for kicking your butt, as just having a good roll.

3. At times, you are more intimate with your ice bag than your wife.

2. You tell people about your BJJ blog.

1. You see the face of Jesus in a bruise on your arm and he tells you to improve your deep half guard.

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.