Anyone who has ever served in the Armed Forces is familiar with the challenge coin and the general rules when challenged. This Veterans Day we are running our own version of a coin challenge, open to all, any branch of service, active duty, retired etc. We are not telling what the prize is just yet, but let’s just say that it will match the theme of this challenge (not a coin).

I am holding 1 coin in each one of my hands. If you post a photo with two coins that equal more than the total of my two coins you will be entered into the drawing. If you are the only person whose coins equal more than mine, you win. If no-one has a total higher than mine we will accept the highest total as the winner. To be entered you must post a photo on any of the following; this thread, Facebook or Instagram pages, and then tag us in the photo. The Rank / Grade of the awarder of the coin must be visible in the photo.

So what do we mean by total? Pretty simple.

A coin awarded by an 0-6 and a coin awarded by an O-4 = 10 points. A coin awarded by an E-9 will granted a score of 5. E-8 and below or O-1 and O-2 coins will be deducted points however, we will give you an “E” for effort.

The contest will run from today until December 7th. Winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Invite your friends, spread the word and good luck.

Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service.

This morning I came across a YouTube post and I wanted to share. I met Mike last summer at a two day personal defense trainers course and as is usually the case for people with similar military backgrounds, we instantly became friends. The two of us and Jordan, another veteran small business owner, spent the weekend bonding over shared experiences and our ideas for the future. This was the point where I realized the power of community, the power of sharing, and the power we have to save our friends through presence, connection, and commitment.

Despite spending the weekend discussing our backgrounds to include triumphs and setbacks I don’t think that I truly understood Mike’s story as well as I did after watching this video. “Let the cold into our bones” conveys the powerful stoic concept of acceptance. I like to say “the only thing we control is our psychological response.” Learn from the experience, share your lessons learned with your community and move forward with a positive outlook.

I encourage you to watch this video and contemplate how you can contribute to community. Nelson Mandela said “If you talk to a man in the language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Our experiences can only truly be understood by us. We speak to the heart.

Our mission is to connect and build that community through shared experiences and we invite everyone to join us, military, law enforcement, first responders, anyone in need.

Subscribe to our website. We will be sharing more experiences as well as announcing our future events here.

If you need to contact us directly please reach out to WPOAllInFoundation@gmail.com

Trust the Process.

When I first starting training Jiu Jitsu my focus was on self defense, competition, and wining everyday. I didn’t take one second to think about the benefits that Jiu Jitsu as a lifestyle could have, not only on one individual but on a community. Fast forward about 10 years and for me Jiu Jitsu has become something completely different and something much more impactful than a confidence builder and the ability to defend myself.

Physical health, mental health, social interaction, cognitive training are all interwoven into the fabric of Jiu Jitsu. In just a few sessions you meet people from all walks of life, with all different struggles and you bond. I like to say you build a community. As Jiu Jitsu continues to grow and become more mainstream a simple road trip can expand your network across the country and take you places you thought you would never travel. To me, this is the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle.

Remember, we are there to forget our stressors, and to be better than the version of ourselves from the previous day. Do what brings you happiness and helps you fight your battles. Our mission is to help you find that balance, surround ourselves with like minded individuals and to build a support network. Join the community and help us build the team beyond the mats.

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.

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.