DREAM 2 Video, plus more

Found at Nightmare of Battle, a great place to stop by for up to date Japanese MMA news.

NOB said it was a “great” video. I agree with him (or her?) to a point. It’s good because it has a bunch of famous fighters in it. But man, DREAM is in dire need of Sato Daisuke to step in and show a brother how to edit a promo video. That video had oodles of potential to be gut-bustingly awesomely pumperific. But instead it was flat and uninspiring.

Check out some of Mr. Sato’s work to see how it should be done:

My all-time favourites, the Pride GP 2004 Final Round opening and the promo for Cro Cop vs. Fedor… Brings a tear to the eye, spelling mistakes and all…


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Jiu jitsu in daily life.

I’m not a big believer in “Martial arts makes you a better person”, a theory that many martial artists subscribe to.

Funnily enough, most of the people that espouse this idea are arsehole kung fu nerds who turn out to be two-faced wankers without the faintest idea of what respect and loyalty actually is.

Case in point: “You must respect this guy because he is old and Chinese and he owns the school.”

Me: “Can I train with him?”

Kung fu guy: “Don’t be ridiculous! He doesn’t waste time with beginners.”

I mean, WTF?

At my jiu jitsu dojo, nobody even mentions the word respect, but when the owner of the school rolls with everyone in the room and ties them into knots despite being much lighter than most of them, respect is deserved, and comes easily. I’m reminded of the awesome (but badly punctuated) tattoo Enson Inoue has…

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“Real power, strength, and heart can’t be given…it must be taken.”
Anyway, I’m rambling. Point is, the kind of respect you give someone after they have kicked your ass (in a nice way) is different to the fake respect you give some old kung fu guy just because he fits your image of a kung fu master.
I’m still rambling. The point is… I believe that your priority in learning martial arts should be to learn how to fight. The other aspects, (health benefits, relaxation, enjoyment, social) are secondary. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely the perks of training. But to lose sight of the “martial” part of martial arts is dangerous. Some people want to do martial arts for spiritual nourishment, for relaxation, for health etc… to them I say, go do yoga! Take up golf! Knitting! Anything! But the martial arts are for fighting.
Ah, it has been so long since I’ve spoken on the subject, I’ve forgotten how to do it.
Just go to Bullshido and figure it out yourselves.
So anyway, the actual reason for this post.
BJJ is making me a better person, in many ways, but one way in particular that I’ve been noticing lately.
If you want to get good at BJJ, at some point, you need to start paying attention to detail. You need to do things thoroughly. You need to know the difference between kind of doing a move (and wondering why it doesn’t always work), and doing it completely and thoroughly without leaving any part out or forgetting any part or doing it sloppily.
There are so many different ways to look at even the simplest of moves. The triangle, from basic to detail:
  • Put his head and arm between your legs and squeeze.
  • Put his left arm across your belly, hook your left leg over the right side of his neck, your right leg against his left shoulder, hook your foot under your right knee and squeeze.
  • Put his left arm across your belly, hook your left leg over the right side of his neck making sure you are covering his carotid artery, your right leg against his left shoulder making sure that it is pressing on the artery on the left side of his neck, hook your foot under your right knee as deep as you can, pointing the toes up and squeeze your thighs together.
  • Put his left arm deep across your belly, hook your left leg over the right side of his neck making sure you are covering his carotid artery, turn your body so that you are looking in his earhole, your right leg against his left shoulder making sure that it is pressing on the artery on the left side of his neck, hook your foot under your right knee as deep as you can, pointing the toes up, and squeeze your thighs together but keep your calves in tight, pull down on his head, set up the sweep if you need to…
The list goes on and on.
And the thing is, if you are a sloppy bastard in your daily life, you’ll be a sloppy bastard in jiu jitsu. Right now there is a giant neon arrow pointing at my head as I type this. But lately, I have been making a conscious effort not to be so sloppy. Because it is easier to try to be efficient and do things properly 100% of the time than to turn it on only for jiu jitsu. It’s better (for me anyway) to train myself to just try to be a better person all the time. And it’s my desire to improve in jiu jitsu that is driving me to do this.
The things that I am doing are not major, but they are definitely improving things in my life. When I do a job, I don’t leave it half finished like I used to. I spot a piece of fluff or rubbish on the floor and I don’t leave it for my missus to pick up like I used to. When I wash the dishes I don’t pile them on top of dry dishes and hope that no-one will notice. I don’t leave a single flap of toilet paper on the roll just to get out of changing the roll like I used to. I don’t staple banana skins to the side of the rubbish bag like Homer Simpson to get out of changing the bag, like I used to.
Et cetera et cetera.
Um, the end.

Fall down, get up

Romaji: Nana korobi, ya oki
Literally: Seven falls, eight getting up
Meaning: Fall down seven times, get up eight times. An encouragement to persevere (ganbaru)
Notes: From the verbs korobu and okiru respectively

Source

Basically, fall down seven times, get up eight.

It’s a saying I hear in judo sometimes, and I really like it.

What is it about sayings that are so great? I think it’s that they let you know that whatever you are going through, someone else has been through it. In fact enough people have been through it that there’s a saying about it. A problem shared is a problem halved, they say, so to know that other people have shared your misery makes you feel better.

Lately I’ve been a little disappointed with my circumstances. I fought off a weird stomach bug. But as soon as that cleared up, I came down with a mega cold, as I am wont to do roughly every three weeks. It fucking sucked!

I had really been on a roll in training. Things were coming along nicely. I could handle all the people who usually gave me problems, almost with ease. I was feeling ready for the comp in March.

Now, though, I’ve missed two weeks of jiu jitsu, haven’t done any weights or BWE, and my rythm is all fucked up. I definitely won’t be able to compete, and it has really pissed me off.

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My first ever medal, two years ago… happy days

Luckily I remembered this saying, and decided that I’ve just fallen down, and I need to get back up. So on Saturday morning, when my body is begging me to stay in bed, I’m going to drag myself down to the dojo and get back in the saddle. I’ll be back to square one (or, I don’t know, square ten or something) where I’m having trouble submitting people and squirming around under side control all day long. But I’m sure I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Recognising I’ll never be a world champion

It’s difficult, but it’s true.

Only a very, very small percentage of people will ever be truly, truly great. You and I are most probably not in that percentage.

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about my position in the jiu jitsu world. About how utterly, completely and terribly, abysmally, anonymously low it is.

I see videos of the greats, of the Leo Vieiras, the Naoya Uematsus, the Genki Sudos, the Rickson Gracies, the Andre Galvaos, the Eddie Bravos, the dude in the purple belt test, and it makes me a little sad, because I know I’ll probably never be that good.

Rickson Gracie will never give me a nickname. Marcelo Garcia will never ask to borrow my taping. Royler Gracie will never get my armpit in his face.

Faced with this thought, this idea that I’m 99% guaranteed a jiu jitsu career that involves pottering about at local competitions and clawing my way through each belt, I have three choices.

1) Cry. Give up. Realise it’s all hopeless. Some part of me, when I do something, always wants to be really, really good at it. Not just a little good, but to be really fantastic. I’m like the world’s laziest perfectionist. I’m a half-arsed obsessive compulsive. When I do something, I like to do it the same way every time. But that never actually happens because I’m too lazy and forgetful. When I enter into some field of endeavour, I’d like to do it to the best of my abilities and really make something of it, but that rarely happens because life always gets in the way. And I’m lazy. Sometimes when things are going really good at training, I imagine that I could enter the worlds one far, far off day. Then I get another cold, take a week off training, and return to suckitude.

2) Be a real American hero and yell “Fuck you!” in the face of insurmountable odds. In other words, delude myself that I will be the greatest in the world one day, and train with that lofty goal in mind. Pros: Looking totally awesome while being really aggressive in sparring and grunting a lot when performing moves; pumping my fist in the air while stirring rock music plays; wiping sweat and blood from my brow and taking a deep breath then plunging back into the fray. Cons: Requires too much energy; lifetime of minor disappointments followed by major disappointment when I fail miserably on the world stage and / or never even reach said stage.

3) Accept my lowly status and continue pottering. Now, this is more like it. You could even say it’s zen. Or Krishnamurtian. Or just lazy. But it basically means accepting my place in the grand scheme of things, and just getting on with it.

There’s a very cheesy and over-used saying which I’m going to use here again, with some cheese, delivered in in the form of a commandment.

Thou shalt not compare thyself to thy peers. Thou shall only comparest thyself to thy previous self.

It’s an oldy but a goody. It really is true. You can only compare yourself to how you were yesterday, and if you improved, you’re doing good.

Even the best out there are not the best for long.

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My good friend Theo used to have a saying. “There’s always someone bigger and badder than you out there.” One night we were cruising along and we saw a guy prancing down the street, chest puffed out, looking like Captain I’m a Right Hard Bastard, giving everyone the stink eye. Theo pointed at him and said to me, “There’s always someone bigger and badder than you out there.”

Later that night, a friend of mine was drunk and tried to tackle Theo. Theo is a master ninja, and he stepped out of the way and redirected him into a wall. He split his head right open, so we took him to the hospital. Who did we see getting brought into the emergency room beaten to a bloody pulp? None other than Captain I’m a Right Hard Bastard. No word of a lie. Looks like he ran into someone bigger and badder and suffered the consequences.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes. You suck, the sooner you realise that, the sooner we can get on with our lives.

Ganbarimasu…

I’ve been checking out Adam Adshead’s Conceptual BJJ blog lately, which is a great read. On his “About me” page, he says:

I’m officially the worst person to have ever taken up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (please don’t try and contest this, as you will fail)

Never one to pass up a challenge, I thought I’d have a go.

I am the worst person ever to have taken up BJJ, and here’s why.

  • I am incredibly lazy by nature
  • I have got weak joints
  • I can barely bust out ten full squats
  • My frame is naturally slight
  • I am constantly plagued by coughs, colds and sore throats
  • I hate physical  mental violence
  • Unless I wash immediately after training, I get a rash on my super-sensitive skin
  • If I train more than two days in a row I get agonizing pain in my forearms

Despite all this crap, for some strange reason, I still persist at BJJ. Why? Because I really, really enjoy it, and I really, really want to get good. I want to be an example for myself, for other people, and one day, for my kids, that if you really want to do something, you can do it, even with the odds stacked against you.

When I finally get my black belt (and I will, one day) I want to look back and think, fuck me that was hard, but I didn’t give up. I did it. And you can, too! Then I’ll point at the camera with my fingers pointing as if they were a gun and I’ll make “pow pow” noises and a post-processed gleam will twinkle off my teeth.

For some reason, one thing that I always think about is teaching my kids BJJ (when they arrive.)

It is something I am really, really looking forward to. I want to have a collection of medals and grubby belts that I can show them and inspire them to do something with. I want to be able to say “Look kids! Your Daddy was weak, lazy and injury-prone, but he didn’t give up and came third in the All Japan Brown Belt absolute division!” Or something.

Stuff

Noma Judo

Judo is great. After training the other night, the black belts sat down and gave a speech. This is after we’ve done the communist-style communal exercise complete with ritualistic chanting, and bowing to about ten different places.

One guy, Maraiga-san (who is also a BJJ blue belt) gave an excellent speech about how a kid’s work is to study hard, train judo, and help with his or her parents. About half of the members of this small judo class are kids from about 5 to 14 or so. He then asked them if they had all done their homework, without a hint of comedy or irony.

All the while, one of the other blackbelt’s kids, himself a pretty good judo-er, was choking back sobs. His heart, his spirit, had been so affected by a particularly intense training session in preparation for an upcoming competition that he was spontaneously crying. When you are around people who always talk of spirit, of heart, kokoro, it becomes a very believable and tangible thing. The act of pushing yourself to your physical and mental limits, under the strict, harsh-but-fair guidance of a senior, in a group environment… I’m not surprised the kid was sobbing.

I’m really enjoying the different side, the, dare I say it, more traditional side that judo proudly holds on to. It is a refreshing change from the dudes at jiu jitsu lying around scratching their balls and clipping their toenails (which is also charming, in a different way.)

In other news, I bought some awesome reversal t-shirts, and a new gi from Keiko Raca. I need to buy some patches from the dojo, put a few pennies in my coach’s pocket, and get the missus to sew them on for me.

Jiu jitsu is going well. This year should be a good year, I’m going to shoot for my purple belt.

I plan to compete in March, so I have January to ease myself in, February to train hard and lose a couple of kilos, and March to get my face squished in. Should be great!

I’ve also invested in a gym ball and some latext tubing, and have been doing all kinds of weird and wacky exercises to help build my strength. I’m using this weird, bright-green metal chin-up bar contraption, donated to me by my mother in law, too, and I have actually noticed an increase in strength since I started using it about two months ago.

Lastly, things are looking good on the writing front, but more news on that later.

Pride is Dead. Join me in mourning.

According to Zach Arnold over at Fight Opinion (and he speaks the truth), Pride is dead.

After having been bought by the UFC, we were all looking forward to the Superbowl of MMA, with champions from each organisation fighting each other to discover who was the best in the world.

Unfortunately Pride ended up being rotten to the core, at least in terms of its higher management, and has basically been declared unsalvageable.

The clip below shows why this is such a savage blow for MMA.

I have yet to see an organisation that could rival Pride in terms of production and, basically, sheer fucking pump-up-ness.

The drama, the passion, the emotion, all lifted Pride much higher than just two guys punching each other in the face. It was true escapism, and you could completely lose yourself in it. Having seen Pride live, I can attest to this. Anyway, sit back, press play, and get PUMPED.