On Weight Cutting

You train however many times a week at a weight that you carry every day, a weight that you probably have carried for a long time.  Your weight is managed by the output from your training and the input from whatever dietary habits you possess.  This regular weight may fluctuate a few pounds here and there, but in general it stays within a certain weight class.

Then a competition comes around.  You immediately make your first mistake and cruise the weight classes to see which one you can drop too.  You theorize (aka lie) to yourself  that if you will be disciplined with eating clean and avoiding pizza and beer, you can have a competitive advantage in a lower weight class.  All you have to do is rehydrate, and you will be bigger and stronger than all of your opponents  (you forget, which is part of the lie, that your opponents are thinking and planning the same thing you are).

But, as you train and prepare for the comp, you procrastinate with your eating habits.  You give yourself silly deadlines – this is the last weekend for wings and nachos –  but it isn’t.  As you train harder, you get hungrier and continue to eat normally.  You just continue to lie to yourself that you can put the diet off a little bit longer.

Now it is a week (or two) before the event, and you realize that its too late to “eat clean” so you make drastic changes.  You go buy 5 gallons of distilled water and start peeing out all of your essential minerals.  You eat broccoli and lettuce for 6 days and on the 7th, you get a treat of boiled chicken.  You fast, or you bloat, or you Dolce.  Regardless, you have just sent you body and mind into complete turmoil.  You start to obsess over food.  You become an asshole (those Snickers commercials are very accurate). You do silly math like a pound of sushi equals a pound of bodyweight, so I can afford to down 1.37 lbs of Tuna this week.  Or you get the flu or a cold and actually think that will help lose a pound or two since you the illness has curbed your appetite.

Then the day arrives when you have to layer with sweats or garbage bags and go run off the last few pounds.  Maybe you have the luxury of a sauna or you do the salts bath.  You spit, piss, and shit every last remaining ounce that you possibly can.  All on the sole premise, the belief, the lie,  that when you make the weight and you eat again, you will magically get all the powers you had at your original weight back instantaneously.

Here is the ball buster:  After you have made weight and eaten that banana, or new fad energy shake, or Denny’s Grand Slam (which is no small shock to your body that now has to divert energy to your digestive system that has to take care of the crap you just ingested.  Energy that is probably better suited to be used towards something else, say grappling),  the organizers realize there aren’t enough competitors in your division.  So, they place you in the weight class with competitors that weighed what you did two weeks ago during your peak of health.  Sucks.  For.  You.

Or bigger ball buster:   The comp you were prepping for has same day weigh ins.  You invest a good amount of money to go.  You even bought a new Gi thinking that its light weight will help you make that lower class.  Then you are called to weigh in just before you go onto the mat for your first match.  But you miscalculated and you fail to make weight.  No second chance to lose it.  You are disqualified.

Leave the weight cutting to professionals.  They are getting paid to do what they do.  For the amateur, eat and train to compete at your natural weight.   Don’t endure the misery for something that very likely has no advantage for you even if you believe that it does.

Unexpected Discoveries

I began Jiu Jitsu because I needed something real.  My martial arts practice prior to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu had been disappointing.

In my formative years of Jiu Jitsu training,  I wanted medals.  I wanted the rush of standing on the podium above all others.

When I returned to Ohio, all I wanted was a Jiu Jitsu academy.  I wanted to share what I knew, grow a team from scratch and develop the toughest training room around.

All these things are done.   Now,  I will search for the perfect roll.   I will flow without interruption, without time, without purpose.  I will discover the unexpected.  I will feel what has never been felt before.  I will discard outcomes.  I will move without effort, without concern, without value.

I will return to Jiu Jitsu.

Learn To Play In The Fire

Growth can only come from discomfort.

My instructor, Jorge Popovitch,  eluded to this 11 years ago while we were training privately.  Jorge often implored the use of metaphors to explain Jiu Jitsu.  They were often grandiose and exaggerated largely because of his limited english.  But they were deceptively effective for getting his point across.

One day, he and I were training privately.  We were training only one move, over and over.  The move was not easy and it was taking its toll.   He saw how the session was affecting me, paused for a moment and said  “for Jiu Jitsu, you have to learn to play in the fire.”

He was telling me that, regardless of the success or failure of the move we were training (or any move for that matter), I had to be tolerant of the chaos of the move itself.   In order to grow, beyond the move, I had to relish the discomfort of the move.

Jiu Jitsu is chaos.  It is uncomfortable.  It is painful.  But Jiu Jitsu is exhilaration.  It is aliveness.   To cross from the one to the other, to evolve, you must build your comfort with the uncomfortable.

To grow,  you must always play in the fire.


Convergence will lead to failure

I have seen the following scenario play out many times over the years:

A new student begins training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.    Additionally, the student also decides to do one or more of the following:  create a weightlifting program or join Crossfit, decide on a running or sprinting regime, start or continue another martial art, or change the way they eat with the newest MMA weight cutting program.  This is a student who wants everything and whats it now.  Then, around that 30 to 60 day mark, they quit never to return.

This student begins their multiple programs with good intentions and is very energetic (in the beginning) and enthusiastic about learning and training.  But what they do not know is that they have unrealistic expectations.   The beginner has enough to focus on alone with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.   Add more programs that require intense physical exertion and discipline, and the deck is now stacked against the student.  As time goes on, issues start to appear in class.  The student appears sick or fatigued.  Maybe they have an emotional outburst here and there.  They start to complain about something or start making excuses for poor performance.  They start to avoid training or class altogether.  Then finally, the injuries come. Now all the energy, discipline, and enthusiasm that the new student once had is now replaced with frustration, anxiety, and disappointment.  They want desperately to continue everything that they started but fear that failure is imminent.  Then, predictably, a tipping point happens and one of their plans completely fails.  Then, they all fail.

Just like the first lesson,  here is another valuable piece of advice for beginners:  focus on your Jiu Jitsu.  The body and the mind cannot support the convergence of multiple activities at once.   The mind has a finite amount of willpower.   Commit to training 2 to 3 days a week and immerse yourself in the instruction of the art.  Don’t worry about lifting, running, or other physical regime.  The best way to get in shape for Jiu Jitsu is to do Jiu Jitsu.  And for God’s Sake,  EAT!  Restricting the way you eat at the same time that you are increasing your physical output will make you into an intolerable asshole.  You need to eat in order to pay attention to the complexity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.   Cleaning up your diet,  strength and conditioning, additional martial arts can all come later AFTER you have developed the proper baseline of comfort in Jiu Jitsu.   But, here is the rub:  the proper baseline of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can take years to establish.  The good news, by that time, is that  you realize you never needed the other stuff in the first place.