Interview with my good friend Pasha Palanker at The Compound in Silver Spring, Maryland. We discuss our mutual interest in building a community for camaraderie and support to active duty, veterans, LEO, first responders, and survivors of domestic terrorism. Some great introductory discussion about depression, PTSD, and those who are suffering in silence.

Our interview with current IBJJF Black Belt World Champion, Mahamed Aly. Great conversation about Mahamed’s journey from a child in Brazil to the top of the podium and the mindset required to compete at the highest levels of Jiu Jitsu. Don’t miss our interesting discussions about fear management and giving back to your community, Jiu Jitsu’s impact larger than competition.

Hey everyone! Quick update on the direction and future plans for Work Play Obsession.

When I first started out on this journey the focus was solely on training and sharing Jiu Jitsu from the martial arts perspective “bridging the gap between traditional martial arts and defensive tactics for military and law enforcement.”. Along the way I discovered that just like most extracurricular activities, the Jiu Jitsu community has its cliques and its fair share of folks just out for profit and personal gain. The opinions are strong talking street vs sport is worse than politics at the Thanksgiving table. It was quite an eye opening and unfortunate discovery considering how small a community actually exists and it’s sad to see it eating itself from within. Trying to build collaboration I learned, is still seen in many circles as attempting to steal students (read business) or poaching and yes, the creonte poison mindset still exists in some academies. I was not deterred but needed to readjust my approach.

That led me to reevaluate what it was that I was trying to accomplish and naturally I started with “WHY”. I waived off on focus on instruction as there are numerous websites (free and subscription) dedicated to showing Jiu Jitsu / Self defense techniques and plenty of resources for tactical application of force and oh yeah, see the paragraph above. Those areas were interesting but not something that I felt I could throw my heart into. My passion has always been the people, the camaraderie, the shared experience, and the team environment that most military personnel and LEO are accustomed to in their daily lives. This is also the reason that Jiu Jitsu is continuing to draw many veterans who are looking to reconnect.

I want to take up of the charge of connecting these people in an effort to raise awareness, provide outreach, and address various issues faced by our nation’s veterans, active duty military, law enforcement officers, and first providers and this is my why.

Our posts and interviews will be focused on capturing the passions of our guests, presented in their words and deep dive how their lives have been positively impacted by these activities.

Jiu Jitsu, as my passion, will remain a key component of our site, however we will be introducing many new activities prompted by asking our quests “Whats your passion.” Hopefully, we can leverage those passions to connect with other veterans and build a chain of mutual interests that spawns a larger community for the greater good.

So that’s it. Whats your Why? Until next time, Keep Grinding

Happy Veterans Day (observed). Today we had the pleasure of running our first open mat in support of veterans affairs, specifically suicide prevention, depression, and homelessness. About halfway through the event I found myself thinking about one of the beautiful things about this country, our support to our war fighters. We are free to disagree (and often do) about anything we want, health care, immigration, tax codes, Gi, No-Gi, ignoring 50% of the human body, but interestingly, we all agree on our support and commitment to our active duty service members and to our veterans.

In this keyboard warrior era where people feel like pressing “like” on a FB post equates to a meaningful contribution, today proved that there are still causes that motivate people to back up their words with deeds. Today’s effort collected a considerable amount of items, toiletries, coats and jackets that will go to MCVETS in Baltimore and help our veterans get back on their feet. For that I am thankful and truly appreciative of the Jiu Jitsu community. I also want to thank the people who do not train or could not attend but still sent in a donation. Your support will make a difference and it did not go unnoticed.

If stats are your thing, there was anywhere from 35-40 people on the mats, white belt to black belt with representation from at least 5 different academies from the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. A special thank you goes out to Ground Control, Columbia for donating the gym space, and to Wegmans for providing the snacks and beverages. We also appreciate the attendance by two of Trapp BJJ’s Black Belts who came out to train and roll with the group.

My only regret from the event is that I did not have the opportunity to roll with everyone. I guess thats a good problem to have as opposed to only having a few people show up and repeatedly rolling with them mutiple times. I set a priority and made an extra effort to  roll with those who visited from out of state / other academies and I’m already catching heat for “ducking”certain people. If we didn’t get to roll today I’ll see you next time on the mats.

Thanks again for the support and until next time, Keep Grinding

Only 3 days after Halloween and the commercial industry is already cramming Thanksgiving and Christmas down our throats. Decorations, coffee flavors, movies, and music all glorifying “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Whether or not this cold, grey season is the best is debatable but I do think there is no argument that it is the most charitable time and I CAN get down with the that. Whether through guilt or the threat of being on Santa’s naughty list people seem to be more willing to donate during this 2 month window.

I say all of that to remind everyone that this weekend is Veterans Day, November 11, and there is still time to plan to attend one of the multiple events lined up to support and honor our Veterans. These events are perfectly lined up for you to have time to go out and take advantage of the freebie veteran deals while taking a moment of your time to remember those suffering from homelessness, mental illness, depression, suicide.

Ruck and Roll 22 will be held at Mongrel Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Chesterfield, Va. From 2:00 pm on Nov 10 to 12:00 noon on Sunday Nov 11. Whatever your pleasure, they have options. Pick your poison from 22 hours of open mat time, a 22 mile ruck from Northside to Midlothian, or CrossFit style WODs dedicated to fallen first responders and service men and women who died in the line of duty. Shoot, if you’re squirrelly and feeling extra motivated you can hit a WOD, take a short break, and then still hit the mats. This event is free and open to everybody, of course donations are welcome but not required. All donations will go to VAU – Veterans and Athletes United – dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of Veterans of the War on Terrorism. The event will close out with a cookout. If you can’t make it the event you can also donate via the Ruck and Roll 22 Facebook page and help them reach their monetary goal.

Monday, 12 November there will be a Veterans Day Open Mat at Ground Control in Columbia, Md from 11:00 – 1:00. This event is also open to all regardless of academy or affiliation. Veterans and active duty are admitted “for free” while non-military / non-veterans are asked to bring a donation of toiletries or clothing/ coats. Of course all donations are welcome. There will be drinks and snacks and lots of rolling. This is not a competition atmosphere, we will definitely “keep it playful.” All donations from this event will go to The Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training and their effort to treat veterans with homelessness and substance abuse.

If you cannot make either one of these events, please, at a minimum spread the word. For those in need “the most wonderful time of the year” is often the most difficult time to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Hope to see you on the mats.

Veterans Day 2018-3

We’re happy to announce our first open mat event in honor of our nation’s veterans and active duty personnel. The event is free and open to all veterans and active duty personnel, regardless of affiliation or skill level. Non-military / Non-veterans are asked to bring a donation of toiletries, new/used coats, or to bring a veteran along to hang out with fellow veterans, shoot the shit, and tell war stories (more than likely greatly exaggerated).

All donations will go to Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVETS) of Baltimore MCVET.Org.  Through education and training MCVET provides homeless veterans and other veterans in need comprehensive services that enable them to rejoin their communities as productive citizens. As their motto states, “It takes an entire community to help a veteran heal.”

Mark your calendar and spread the word.

Monday, 12 November (Veterans Day observed) from 11:00 – 1:00 @ Ground Control Columbia, 9130 Red Branch Road Suite S, Columbia Md 21045.

Free beverages and snacks to be donated by Wegmans.

If nothing else (besides donating your time to a great cause) what better way to work up an appetite before eating all of those free Veterans Day meals?