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.
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
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?
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
Expedition series #2 took me to 2nd Gear Jiu-Jitsu in Laurel Maryland for Ken Brown’s Sunday open mat. Some people may look at the schedule and notice that it states “advanced practice” and not open mat BUT the very thing that makes it look weird on the schedule is exactly what makes this open mat so special. I know, I know, this really isn’t an “expedition” for me because I go here kind of often but seeing as its not my everyday academy and it is a weekend “open mat”, I wanted to show the love during the expedition series.
So back to the open mat thing, so while it’s not an “open mat” in name it is an “open mat” in the sense that its free and that there are people from multiple academies. What makes it different is that the practice is directed / guided to include drills and scenarios that honestly, most people don’t spend enough time doing. The actual techniques applied are left up to the individual but the drills are provided, maybe something like take down for take down or sweep for sweep, for example. So its kind of a directed open mat for people who need a little direction or who don’t want to feel awkward asking a stranger to drill for 5 minutes when most people at an open mat just want to conduct sparring rounds. Of course there is rolling at the end as well but thats really the sort of cherry of top.
I love this setup, in fact its one of my favorite practices to attend. This practice provides a great opportunity to rep out the new techniques you may have learned that week or to really get quality reps on things you like. I’ve been to open mats where maybe you only know one or two folks, you roll once or twice then get stuck sitting on the wall trying to get someone to roll with you.I have witnessed this being the case with the white belt nobody wants to risk being by or the advance purple / brown belt that people are afraid to roll with. Its strange that everyone wants to roll with blue belts and of course black belts??????
So yeah, week #2 down, 2nd Gear Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Laurel Md, Sundays 10:00-12:00. Its two hours of legit work with good people.
Next stop is Grapple in the Park #2 Frederick, Maryland. Heard they have free wings, so I’m there! Hope you see you there too. If not, more wings for me suckas.
Side note- If you know of any academies in the Virginia area close to Fort Belvoir please hit me up. I’m trying to scout some locales for the military men and women who train at the Fight House during the week. I’m open to travel Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I’d love to swing through, train, and spread the word about your academy. No matter what it’s free advertising for your academy. How could you lose there?
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.