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?

 

One of the most highly debated items in the Jiu Jitsu community relates to its purpose or why people commit to training. The argument has divided most people into the self defense or competition/sport camp. Of course there are people who enjoy both aspects, but in the end even they prefer one over the other. Today, it dawned on me that most people are overlooking one aspect which I would argue could be the most important, community. The recent success of events such as Cosmic Rolling, the Martial Arts Sparring Club of Md, and now Grapple in The Park 1 and 2 are a clear sign that people are interested in more than paying for comps or drilling self defense scenarios. They enjoy the sense of community and the people who come together to train Jiu Jitsu.

Some quick atmospherics from Grapple in the Park 2 to support this theory – At least 60 attendees and that’s a swag because people arrived and left as needed. Over 11 academies represented from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, some from over an hour away, again a swag based only on people I personally rolled with. Representation from every belt level actively participating, instructing and rolling not just “gracing folks with their presence”. Men, women, teens, and below. No incidences of “ego overload” on the mats and no injuries. Add in free drinks and free wings and what more could you ask for?

After a few unsuccessful attempts I finally grabbed Zach Davis and asked him a few questions about Grapple in The Park. Zach has been extremely busy running the event and answering questions from the local news reporters all in between rolling and answering technique questions from attendees. I wanted to know where he came up with the idea for Grapple in The Park and where he saw it going in the future.

First, why a park and why not a gym? The key here is the independent nature of a public park. The park is a community space designed for recreation in nature. By utilizing a non affiliated space it opens the event up to everyone and does not indicate any bias or affiliation with a particular gym. This turns out to be a great idea considering the unfortunate partiality that still exists in the Jiu Jitsu competition based community.

The “Why” of Grapple in The Park is pretty straightforward. To create a place for people who may never compete / have no desire to compete to roll, meet, and learn from different people in a fun, safe environment. Of course, there are active competitors there as well, but they are also just trying to relax and have a good time.

As most people know, Jiu Jitsu can be pretty insular, especially at the strict competition schools, and it’s interesting to note the number of people who have only trained at their home academy or one of it affiliates. I personally think this is quite unfortunate. I understand a professional basketball player wouldn’t just go play pick up at the city park so I get it for the elite grapplers or the people who only train with focus on their next event. I just don’t understand why someone would not want to experience everything Jiu Jitsu has to offer on and off the mats. Some of these people are more comfortable being big fishes in small ponds or are simply attempting to hide their lack of skill behind their schools name / reputation, because every IG post shows “the best class with straight killers”. Either way they are missing out on a great opportunity to make new friends and enjoy a great time.

So what does it all mean? I guess I have no idea. All I know is that events such as these are great for building the Jiu Jitsu community and building relationships. I know I will fully support them as often as I can and I recommend you check them out. I think Zach may have mentioned the next event will be around January and held indoors. Don’t worry about being cold and don’t worry about snow they have those covered. Pack your gear and come on out. You’ll have a great time and meet some great people.

Until next time, Keep Grinding.

One point of wisdom often doled out to those new to Jiu Jitsu is “Don’t worry about stripes, don’t focus on promotion. Just show up and train.” While I wholeheartedly agree with the intent behind this comment, it’s just not true. Admit it or not, everyone has thought about promotion at some point, stripe or belt, and when or why the have /have not been promoted. Just look around during you next round of “impromptu” promotions (or look in the mirror) you’ll notice some pretty salty looks.

In my opinion, promotions are a sign that you have been consistently training and that you are absorbing and learning techniques. Promotions show dedication and commitment and hopefully require a little character building as well.

Today I had the pleasure of training with a few guys who were up for stripe promotions and I’ll admit, we put them through the wringer. The guys were put in the pressure cooker and forced to demonstrate their proficiency under pressure against all belt levels. I personally like this approach because the people being “tested” recognize everyone is coming at them hard and they have the opportunity to mentally validate their skills. At the end of the day they feel like they earned their stripes or they know they need to step their game up. It’s not only about time and showing up it’s also about demonstrating skill “at combat speed”. Additionally, it quickly becomes apparent when a competition “one trick pony” or “сant take the pressure guy” can’t make it through the session.

Congratulations to all who earned their promotion today. You earned it. Don’t quit now, keep grinding.

Recently I had the privilege of being the guest instructor at Kogen Dojo in Severna Park, Maryland. I made some new friends, caught up with some guys I hadn’t seen in a while, and of course got to train and have fun on the mats. The visit coincides with the start of my “expedition series” so it was perfect timing. I highly recommend you the visit the academy and check it out or at least drop by the website and see what they have to offer.

Kogen Dojo: Gracie Jiu Jitsu, May Thai, & Taikyoku Budo

Below is a little interview that I did with Rob prior to class. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos so I do not have any to post. All that means is that the next time you see an advertisement for a me guest instructing at Kogen Dojo you just have come out and see for yourself. But if you have the opportunity don’t wait for me, visit the school any day of the week they are open and take a class with their staff. The gym is very easy to locate and has everything you look for in an academy; clean, bright, and friendly people.

If you don’t already, follow Kogen Dojo on Facebook so you can keep up with the schedule of guest instructors. They do a really great job of advertising and you’ll have plenty of time to clear your schedule. You not regret that you made the trip.

The only question that remains is “Where to next?”

Kogen Dojo Interview on YouTube

Use the link, do not click on the photo

Our mission statement clearly focuses on bridging the gap between competitive, sport jiu jitsu and Combatives / Defensive Tactics for Military and Law Enforcement professionals.  The focus of training for these groups are not mutually exclusive and should be synchronized to create a well rounded training program. The fault lies in academies that focus solely on one focus area at the expense of the other, most often in the name of advertising. School X wants to be the best at “Street self defense” and minimizes competition techniques while, school Y wants to have the most medals (for advertising) training mostly for competition rulesets. Either way both academies limit their students abilities while restricted their mental perspective to their ruleset.

This is where combative programs must different if they wish to be successful. Successful here does not mean monetarily rather, building confident, effective officers and soldiers. Think about that brand new first week student that begins to spar with experienced grapplers. I’ve seen people get frustrated and sometimes lose their cool because the new guy is labeled as bat shit crazy.  No, the guy is untrained and guess what? That guy on the street is more than likely untrained as well and definitely will be bat shit crazy. When shit hits the fan there won’t be any time to “keeping it playful.” Front time to time you should make an effort to grab the newer, inexperienced guy and try playing only from closed guard or focus on techniques that are more applicable to the streets.

Combatives programs must train for the unexpected; guns, knives, multiple attackers, confined spaces (elevator, car), limited mobility, and the list goes on and on. However, just because combatives and defensive tactics programs are designed for military and law enforcement personnel the mindset and training scenarios are extremely beneficial for the civilian as well. Everyone who trains is not only training for the confidence to protect themselves but also to protect their family, their neighbors, and even strangers under certain conditions. Mass shootings and random acts of violence are increasingly on the rise and possessing the skills to be an asset during one of these scenarios is invaluable.

Attempt to identify gaps in your training and address them in order to become more well rounded. Reach out to your instructors and question your teammates. You are the customer and your voice should be heard. Fact – people who train in martial arts are not shy about letting people know. Fact – people are inherently like sheep. This means that because you train Jiu Jitsu you are the sheepdog, like it or not. When something goes bad you will be the one people will turn to for safety and they don’t want to hear that you have only trained for IBJJF or submission only tournaments or are a guard puller. Ask for your training partners to assist you and walk through different what if scenarios. Sure we can’t be prepared for everything or the unknown but by expanding your mind the area of the unknown become smaller.

Keep Grinding

 

New-shirts

Shirts for sale!! Shirts for sale!!

Yes thats me channeling my inner Billy Mays (R.I.P), advertising for the new Work Play Obsession t-shirts.  As the first batch of shirts hit the streets I’m taking the opportunity to express the meaning of the name Work Play Obsession and the “why” of the WPO logo. I’m not saying this is what the meaning needs to 100% be for you because it can be slightly different for everyone, but thats the beauty of it. I’m simply helping to guide the conversation in the event you get approached about the meaning of the colors and the design.

Work Play Obsession, Life and Jiu Jitsu.

Work – Many people know that I was introduced to Jiu Jitsu through work, the United States Army, 1st Armored Division to be exact, Old Ironsides. Back then I did not enjoy going to combatives to train, it was WORK and if you’ve ever served then you know that nobody likes mandatory physical training. Warrior ethos, meaning the willingness to close with the enemy, essential attributes for military and law enforcement personnel, mandatory when you put your ass on the line and expect to get home safely. It was not fun, it was gritty, but it was effective and those early lessons stay with me to this day. Note the similarities between the 1st AD patch, http://www.bliss.army.mil/1AD/, and the WPO logo shape and color, this was done intentionally. The triangle in the 1st AD insignia (a pile reversed for you heraldry buffs) carries over as the triangle that is represented in many Jiu Jitsu logos, the three sides representing mind, body, and spirit and the fact that the triangle is always stable regardless of which side is the base.

Play – Jiu Jitsu is fun, plain and simple. Many people refer to it as the game of human chess and often focus on improving their “game”. For most people Jiu Jitsu is also a hobby, something to PLAY when they need to let go of the responsibilities of the real world and seek refuge on the mats. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, once you begin to work techniques and styles that are not compatible with street self defense you’re playing a game. Embrace it and have fun while you’re doing it.

Obsession – This could be looked at from multiple perspectives and is the area with the widest variance in meaning . My obsession is not necessarily related to the need to train, the endless selfies or the sweaty group photos. Nor is it throwing up the shaka, downing acai bowls or replying “Oss” to almost everything. Obsession for me is bridging the gap between self defense / modern Jiu Jitsu and Defensive Tactics / Combatives because education and training will ultimately lead to lives saved.  Lives saved for those who protect this country and our streets as well as citizens lives saved during routine traffic stops that go south or questioning during a presence patrol that spirals out of control. Obsession however, can also be driven by the desire to live a healthy lifestyle, the confidence to stand up to a bully, or as an outlet to break our youth free from electronics and the SAD that leads to obesity.

Notice how the colors increase blue, red, yellow? Blue – infantry / law enforcement = work, Red – play the game and break out and explore new styles – fun, exciting, joy, beauty, and Yellow – the largest color and the “final stage” when Jiu Jitsu becomes a lifestyle, an element engrained your daily life. Some will call this obsession, you’ll have to explain to them your true meaning.

Work, Play, Obsession, Life and Jiu Jitsu. I would love to hear your thoughts.