I felt really exhausted last Wednesday after a long day of work. I thought about relaxing and staying in instead of going to the gym and hitting the bag, then I heard a voice in my head.
It doesn’t matter whether you worked a 16 hour day or you sat on your ass all day eating potato chips. You either worked out or you didn’t.
After I heard those words, I got my ass and went to the gym. I was extremely exhausted to the point where I was about to fall asleep during my workout, but I pushed through it. I refuse to be one of those people who let excuses explain their lack of taking care of themselves physically.
My friend, Lewis Friedlander, is a father of two, a Hall of Fame karate black belt, and an owner of a plastic surgery practice in Atlanta, GA who finds time to grab a workout on most days. We were discussing life in general, and then he said some inspiring words to me.
I own my own practice. I raise a family. I workout. I fight. I travel. I do what I want. If you’re strong, you’ll find a way.
No excuses. I’m back doing jiu-jitsu again at Roberto Traven’s place. If you really want something, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse. What are you going to do?
My neck has been bothering me on and off since March of this year, and I wanted to nip it in the bud. Throughout the year, I have gone to chiropractors, an acupuncturist, massage therapists, and even seen a medical doctor friend of mine. Unfortunately, none of these specialists were able to solve my problem. I decided to shell out the cash and go in for a MRI. A few days later, I went to see a physiatrist who was referred to me by my general practitioner.
The diagnosis was not good. I have a herniated disk that is pinching a nerver pushing into my spinal cord. A couple of days ago, I received an epidural injection into the herniated disk in hopes of reducing the inflammation. I will be taking a couple of months off. Over the last few days, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what has happened.
The thought of me never grappling again is a hard pill to swallow. I have been active in some combat sport since I was 19 years old. If you count my high school wrestling, then I have been active in combat sports since I was 15 years old.
BJJ, boxing, and MMA have been a big part of most of my adult life. It was what turned me from an introvert to a more outgoing person. It gave me something to look forward to as I don’t like drinking beers that much or smoking marijuana, crack, or heroin for fun. I don’t like going to bars or robbing houses or people either. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and made a lot of friends throughout the years by being involved in those sports. You can’t understand it unless you’ve participated in these sports yourself. You establish connections like no other sport.
I’m likely done with competing in MMA and boxing, but like I said before, the thought of never grappling again is a hard pill to swallow. I had a scare like this back in 2001 and 2002, and I contemplated stopping back then. Miraculously, the condition just disappeared over the next few months, and I went on to fight pro boxing and MMA fights over the next six years. Those are some memories that I can cherish for the rest of my life.
I’ve heard some feedback from a few of my friends telling me that I am no spring chicken anymore. I hear that I can’t keep grappling anymore because I’m not a young man. It saddens me to think that I am getting old and cannot do this anymore. I want to get a black belt in BJJ. That is a bucket list goal of mine. I would like to be a man of my word and finish my journey. I know there comes a time where I must stop. Is that time now? George Bernard Shaw says we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
Last Saturday, I walked in to the biggest Jiu-Jitsu class I have ever seen in my life. It looked like there was 100 people. I could feel my heart thumping from all of the excitement. The class was so large that everybody couldn’t grapple at the same time. Some people had to sit out and wait for their turn to grapple. It was a great experience.
I’m digging the team environment at Roberto Traven’s. He doesn’t care what type of status you have or how much money you have. You are going to follow his rules. If you disobey them, you may be kicked off the team. Last week, someone walked out of class because the training got too tough for him. Traven will not let this person come back to class until he apologizes on the phone and in person to everybody who was in class that day. I have already received my phone call from that person.
Today is my rest day. I tried my balls to the wall approach in last Saturday’s BJJ Practice. It went ok. I found myself thinking about the Atlanta Open a little too much, and I started to get a little too excited about the tournament. I brought myself back down to earth by reminding myself that I’m only doing this for fun and not for a living.
I’m looking to continue with the hard training up until the tournament. My stamina is picking up, and I’m feeling good in practice. I’ve supplemented my training with watching some video instructionals from accomplished grapplers. I’m happy to be living in a day and age where so much information is available at your fingertips.
I want to be able to perform at my absolute best for the IBJJF Atlanta Open tournament. There are going to be some studs at the tournament. Luckily, my training partners at Unit 2 Fitness are extremely tough.
A couple of days ago, I watched Marcos Avellan’s video on training your mind for battle. Before I go in to what the video was about, let me give you a brief history on Marcos Avellan and his brother, David Avellan. Marcos and David started learning how to submission grapple out of their garage at the start of the millenium. They started entering tournaments AND WINNING against some of the best grapplers in the world. Both David and Marcos have been to the ADCC Championships which is the Superbowl of Submission Grappling. Only the best grapplers in the world get invited. Marcos has won some tournaments, and David has placed 3rd in the ADCC Championships.
Today, they own a fantastic gym in Miami, Florida called the Freestyle Fighting Academy. It’s the only 24/7 gym with MMA, BJJ, and Muay Thai kickboxing classes. They have a 30 day free trial and a 60 day money back guarantee. If you are in South Florida, I recommend you check them out.
Back to the subject, in the video Marcos talks about writing positive affirmations down on paper before training. Marcos and David have been doing this for years now, and that is one of the key reasons for their success. They use the affirmations for their business, athletic, and personal life and it has paid off dividends for them. If it worked for them, then it was worth a shot. I wrote 50 affirmations down saying, “I can sweep everybody, pass everybody’s guard, and submit everybody like I would a 5 year old boy.”
I’m also subscribed to Marcos’ newsletter, and I remember reading an email from him talking about pushing yourself even harder when you get tired. I don’t remember his exact words, but he said to completely exhaust yourself in training. He mentioned that feeling tired was mental, and you’ll find out that you have more energy than you think you do. I didn’t have anything to lose in training, so why not give it a shot?
What happened last night was f***ing amazing! I came in to practice pumped up. I kept telling myself that I had an endless amount of energy. I did start to feel myself getting tired with my second grappling partner, so I kicked it into high gear. I was amazed at the amount of energy I had. I never thought about saving energy throughout the whole practice. I was screaming lyrics from a new song I liked when everybody else was exhausted. It was an amazing feeling! I left practice feeling pumped and even had a hard time sleeping. I’m going to keep writing the affirmations and wear myself down to the nub after each practice.
Kevin Brooks has fought more fights than most people in Georgia. I met Kevin for the first time at the old Obake Fight School back in 1999. At the time, he had fought in 16 toughman matches.
Today, Kevin has had around 70-80 fights which include those toughman matches along with MMA, Boxing, and Muay Thai matches. Kevin has a goal of reaching 100 fights, and he has an upcoming boxing match in September.
He asked me to come down to Independent MMA in McDonough to give him some work and I obliged. We ended up doing six rounds of technical sparring. Neither one us were looking to knock each other out, but we wanted to connect our punches and take as few shots as possible.
It was a good break from doing the Gi BJJ although I will be going back to it tonight. I’m looking to make a good showing at the Atlanta Open next month, and I’m fired up.
This morning, I signed up for the tournament. This year has been a lot less active than the last. Last year, I did six tournaments, and so far this year, I have only done one. I’ve spent a lot of time working on my main gig which is freelance web design in the Metro Atlanta area. I want to give my best performance, so I will be picking up the training. I grappled four times this week with three of those times being with the gi. Over the next few weeks, I plan on going to Roberto Traven’s Jiu-Jitsu Class four times a week. The Atlanta Open is on September 15th.
The training I’m getting with Roberto Traven at Unit 2 Fitness has been extremely tough. I’m not sure if I’ve said it before, but Traven’s Jiu-Jitsu classes are the hardest ones I’ve ever been through. I’m not sure if I would even call them classes. They are like hard wrestling practices. I have been getting my ass kicked on a constant basis since I’ve been with Traven. Almost every person that I grapple with either beats me or is competitive with me. Today, every person I grappled with tapped me. That’s ok because if I’m not tapping, then I’m not learning.
I leave Traven’s practices completely exhausted, and I’m glad that they are over. The level at the place is high. Purple belts over there can beat black belts in some places. A black belt at Traven’s is a significant accomplishment. I want to be a legitimate black belt.
I’m also watching grappling video instructionals to learn all that I can. They have helped my grappling game. I just wish I could drill more. Next week, I’ll be kicking up the grappling, but I’ll be taking the time to spar with Kevin Brooks, a seasoned fighter, to help him get ready for his upcoming boxing match. I still have to find some time to pump iron. Pumping iron is a must since it keeps my joints healthy and prevents injuries.
Life isn’t easy for anybody. It definitely has its ups and downs. I’m sure everybody has encountered a time in their life when they felt that the going has gotten too rough.
So, what does the indoor rock climbing photo have to do with my blog post? About two years ago, I went indoor rock climbing with a friend at the Stone Summit Climbing & Fitness Center. Even the easiest course looked intimidating to me. It actually looked impossible to me, but I was going to try it anyway.
I started having difficulty after the first few pegs. I looked up and saw that I still had a long way to go. I was discouraged and almost started going back down, but my friend, Brutus, point to the next peg for me to grab on to. It wasn’t easy to get to the next peg, but I did. I kept going. Every peg that I grabbed a hold of was felt like it was just barely within my reach. I started to make way up the course, one peg at a time.
What seemed impossible in the beginning was now possible. I could see the top of the course. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, I grabbed the top peg and started to make my way down. I had climbed to the top!
That day will stick out in my mind forever. I realized that life is like that indoor rock climbing course. You may have a problem that may seem unsurmountable, but life will throw you little pegs to help you travel in right direction towards solving your problem. I’ve experienced this numerous times as I’m sure you have as well.
One of my friends, Dana King, fought this past Saturday. He asked me last week to work his corner for his final MMA fight since he’s getting up there in age (36 years old). There comes a time when every fighter has to leave the sport. It takes a toll on the body. This fight meant a lot to him, so I agreed to be his main cornerman.
Dana had been working really hard on his conditioning, but he didn’t really have anybody to train with for this fight until he called me, so I worked with him for a couple of days with some light standup and some ground and pound. Even though we were going light, Dana still gave me a nice shiner on my left eye. Although Dana did not get much sparring or grappling in before the fight, he looked to be in great shape. He had lost 20+ pounds for this fight. Dana let me know that he planned to leave it all in the ring in his farewell MMA fight.
He did just that. Dana did exactly what he said he was going to do. He stood with guy and banged with him for most of the fight, and when he took him down, he grounded and pounded him. His opponent, Josh Lenning, was a very durable guy. He could take a great punch and could give one of his own. Dana’s eye was cut and swollen shut from the middle of round one. By the final round, it looked like hamburger. Thank God we had the best referee in the business, Blake Grice, working the fight. He let us know that he was not going to be stopping the fight because of the cut. Blake informed us that as long as Dana was fighting back and the doctors were ok with the cut, he would keep the fight going. Although Dana was cut, he was never out of the fight and fought to win until the very end of the fight.
Dana ended up losing a judges decision (29-28), but that’s ok. He left it all in the ring, and gave it everything he had. That is something to be proud of. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your effort, and Dana gave it his all. As I’m typing this, I feel proud to have worked his corner in his farewell to MMA.
The last few months haven’t been so kind to me. Since my last grappling tournament, I’ve been suffering from neck pain. I also had an infection in my leg for a couple of weeks. The infection in my leg is gone, but the neck pain is still there. The neck pain started out as a small tingling in my arm. I figured I would see a local chiropractor and that would knock it out. Unfortunately, my condition got worse.
I decided to go see my old chiropractor in Marietta, GA, Dr. Jason Weeks. I know Dr. Weeks from my old gym I used to train at in Marietta. Over the next few weeks, he laid me on his spinal decompression table and did some electrical stimulation to my neck. About a week ago, I felt like my neck condition was almost healed until I was stacked on my neck during BJJ training. I re-aggravated the injury, and now I’m going to have to go back for more therapy.
I’m hoping I’ll take care of my condition once and for all this time. Stay tuned.