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.

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

#keepgrinding

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?

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

In this episode I interview Jiu Jitsu black belt Marysia Malyjasiak (yes I butcher her name on the podcast) on behalf of Trapp BJJ. Marysia is the newest Trapp BJJ instructor and second instructor to sit down with me for an interview. For those who may not have accessed Trapp BJJ, the app and website provide detailed Jiu Jitsu tutorials  and is available on all Apple and Android devices.

During the podcast we discuss a host of items from the beginning of her training in Poland to her plans for the future. In particular,  I don’t want you to miss the discussion we have on the key components to success in competition and the little things that will make a huge difference. Marysia describes it as “the triangle” and you’d be surprised about one of the key components which technically has nothing to do with training.

I’ll wrap it up there because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Competitor, coach, parent, or mentor it’s definitely worth the listen. IBJJF DC and New York Open are right around the corner, this could be the key ingredient to your success.

Anyway guys, until next time, KEEP GRINDING

We’re back from a short hiatus and preparing to release several new podcasts and photo sessions of all of the Jiu Jitsu happenings in the DMV. Our first project is our “Why we compete” series which I’m super excited about. I will be visiting / training / photographing academies and competitors throughout the DMV as they prepare for the upcoming IBJJF DC Spring Open. The goal is to try to answer the most commonly asked questions asked by people who don’t train, “WHY do you do it” and “Whats the point?”

This weekend I will be at Standard Jiu Jitsu in Rockville https://www.standardjiujitsu.com  (Saturday) and Ground Control Columbia http://columbia.groundcontrolusa.com (Sunday). If your academy has competitors or you yourself are competing send me a message! I’m looking for men, women, young, and old who want to be heard.

I have a lot of questions lined up that I am sure the listeners want to hear.  Is it a requirement at your academy? Do you want to be a world champion? Is it simply a personal challenge to test your courage or face your fears? Or maybe its to test your skills against someone who doesn’t know your “game” and to pressure test  how you can handle yourself under stress.

If you don’t know why you compete, maybe this series will give you a few reasons to pass on to your family and friends so you don’t just look like some deranged lunatic who likes to torture your body.

As a bonus, for those who do not or have not competed, this series may motivate you to step up your training, join your teammates and finally take the plunge into competition.

DC Spring open is April 7/8. Plenty of time to sign up and grind out some tough training and preparation. http://ibjjf.com/championship/washington-dc-spring-international-open-jiu-jitsu/

Until next time, train safely and Keep Grinding