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.
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.
I know I’m a day late but gotta get my mat crush Monday post out to the public. Nope, this is not a male – female post or reference to any physical attraction. This post goes out to all of those grapplers who feel their heart start to race when their favorite training partner walks through the door. That guy or gal that consistently pushes you, challenges you, or gives you that roll that makes you go straight to YouTube to figure out how to beat that f*cker. We all have one, some of us are more polygamous but either way it’s pretty much a blah training session if that special someone or few people doesn’t show up to train.
While my mat crush is more along the lines of a “nemesis,” that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for everyone. I enjoy being pushed and I prefer to leave the gym trying to figure out what’s not working and what to focus on next but that’s just me. Some people approach their training as a bit of a social event so their “relationship” is more casual. They drill with their crush, probably own one or two of the same gi’s, spats, or rashguards as their crush, and you’re definitely not rolling with their crush before they do. Just think back on if you’ve ever noticed giggling or laughter during live sparring and thought, “What the hell are they doing?” Or maybe you actually saw it happen and someone was just swepted or submitted with a technique they probably saw coming from a mile away or have been hit with millions of times. That’s the tell tale sign of a mat crush or a budding mat crush. No ego, no animosity about it, just “you got me again man, damn, good shit ha ha” and back to rolling. They just chill out and have the most fun rolls possible, technique may slip at times but who cares. You may witness a bunch of cartwheel passes, berimbolos, or flying submissions those are definitely telltale signs of two people in a “relationship”.
No matter what and all judgment aside, we all need this type of teammate. They push you when required, provide assistance when we hit plateaus, and add humor to something we all take pretty seriously. If you know what I’m talking about then the next time you train thank your mat crush. No, I don’t mean verbally, I mean a solid fist bump before sparring, choke the sh*t out of them, laugh, and then get back to rolling.
That’s what they’d want you to do anyway. Anything more than that or different would just be awkward.
*This is not my man crush btw. I happen to like the pic. Justin is a cool dude tho. LOL
Those of you familiar with my background know that I travel quite frequently. Oftentimes I can link travel to opportunities to train at new locations and these are the trips I look forward to taking. Then there are the other trips…… Overworked and no time to train or just being stuck out in the middle of nowhere and there just isn’t any place to train.
Side note -when I say no time to train I’m not referring to an inability to manage my time wisely but I’m referring to an inability to break free during gym hours.
When Jiu Jitsu is such a big part of ones routine, failing to train can have a significant negative impact on your overall demeanor and this can become problem. We’re not even talking about skill degradation or not getting credit for training (for those who focus on class requirements for promotion) but missing out on the general sense of camaraderie and the “leave your cares behind” feeling that we all get from our academies, friendships, and time on the mats. I feel that you have to find a way to fill this void not only for your own sanity but for the safety of your coworkers as well (or family if the lay-off is due to a vacation or something).
My initial thought is to just say “f*ck it” and rest up and feed my depression. The rest and recovery are always good for my body but the guilt that comes with it is bad for the mind. I also have that thought in the back of my mind that 1. I’m going to get crushed when I get back to the mats and 2. All of those injuries will come back the first day of training anyway. On the plus side, there’s no better feeling than surprising all of the people who thought they were going to crush you because you weren’t training. Little did they know that you found other ways to stay on top of your game.
I’ve found that lifting and METCONS are pretty much the perfect way to go and it’s usually pretty easy to get access to 24 hour globogym. METCONS assist with maintaining cardio levels and you can never go wrong working the beach muscles. One added bonus with METCONS is that if you hit them hard enough you don’t truly need to workout everyday and you can skip a day and have dinner with your coworkers / teammates. It’s never a good look to be that antisocial guy.
Yoga and recovery stretching days are a good plan as well. All you need is a computer or laptop and you’re all set. Your cardio might take a hit but flexibility and core strength are critical to longevity and safety for a Jiu Jitsu practitioners.
I’m sure the options are endless and everyone has a preference or a routine they use to overcome training interruptions. Keep in mind I’m talking about 1-2 weeks max of not training NOT an injury lay-off or 3 month trip. If that’s the scenario you have to at least find some way to train (solo drilling maybe) even if that means beating up your friends that don’t train.
I would love to hear what you think or how you deal with road trips interrupting your training. I might incorporate some of your techniques into my routine. I invite you to comment below or to visit the Work Play Obsession Facebook page.
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.
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.