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.

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.

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?

Pretty excited that we remained focused enough on the podcast and website to hit 25 episodes. We recently pushed out episode 26, there is another episode in the hopper, and on top of that we have multiple interviews lined up for production. As most of you know, this endeavor has mostly been trial and error, or as they say “building and airplane while in flight”. From photography to recording, and the most humbling post production editing. Along the way we interviewed some interesting people who opened our eyes to other efforts that remain mostly unnoticed. This led me to shift my focus a bit in order to capture some of the impacts Jiu Jitsu practitioners have had on the greater community off the mats vice simply wins, losses, techniques, and training.

So a few items that our future efforts will be focused on:

The role Jiu Jitsu or Martial Arts in general play in maintaining work, life, family balance.

Small business owners growing their product lines and how those products or revenue from those products contribute to the growth of Jiu Jitsu or to the community and our youth.

Full time students or employed athletes looking for sponsors, how they get by and why they sustain the grind despite the difficulty.

So yeah, those are just a few of conversations that we will have on the podcast and on the blog going forward. Of course we will still cover local tournaments, seminars, and MMA events because that’s where the fun is, but highlighting the contributions off the mat and telling the story of how Jiu Jitsu positively changes lives is what the community needs. No infighting over gi / No-Gi, IBJJF / everybody else, real school / Mcdojo etc. more unity and focus on what makes Jiu Jitsu great and why Jiu Jitsu is for everyone.

 

Bridging the gap……

Training “modern” Jiu Jitsu styles for sports and competition often create a false sense of security or a state of active rest while in the closed guard. The most common reaction for experienced Jiu Jitsu practitioners is to establish the sleeve and collar grip and to begin to set up sweeps are attacks. This is NOT wrong, however this is the Jiu Jitsu competition mindset not the rule set we face in real world operations / scenarios which incorporate punches and headbutts. The focus in these scenarios should be maintaining your hostiles position up all the way out or in head control all the way down. There are multiple ways to train and practice the basic punch block series from the guard the key is to practice regularly in order to create muscle memory and make the control positions instinctual.

Experience is something you gain shortly after you need it. Seek out the required training before you need it and get home get home safe.