Monday, July 25, 2011

Animals Being Dicks

Animals are dicks...

And the pièce de résistance

Being a White Belt Is Hard

Being a white belt, especially in an art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is very difficult. It is very easy to get discouraged, to become disillusioned, and to give up.
When you face people who have been at class just a couple of months, or even days, longer than you, and you come up short ever time, the thought of just packing it in is very attractive.
You feel that the upper belts are picking on you, that everyone picks up the movements faster than you, and, worst of all, you can not do all of the exercises in the warm up.

My advice... relax, and take a deep breath. Remember your place and your job in class. What is that? To learn. To ask questions. To participate.
Because I am just a helpful guy I have a few things that you should concentrate on in every class.

  • EVERYBODY has been where you are at.  Even Roger Gracie started with a white belt around his waist and a blue belt smashing him in side control.  This time of struggle and hardship binds you in the fellowship of the art.  It also will cement your friendships with those you train with.  Look to your fellow white belts for a sense of solidarity.  I guarantee you if there is a blue belt that smashes you, or a purple who always catches you in the same submission, the other white belts have experienced the same.   Find out what they did to counter or escape!
  • I have yet to meet a person of any rank not to want to talk about the submission or sweep that they just pulled off.  If you are the one being submitted or swept, ask the submitter or sweeper what was it that they did, and why they were able to pull it off.  Chances are you will find a trend in the answers and be able to improve on another aspect of your game.
  • Your main job in class is to ask questions.  Ask so many questions that the instructor tells you to shut up, be quiet for just a couple of moments, then ask some more.  I have watched the basic guard pass being demonstrated perhaps 100 times.  I find something new each time I see it, and every question reveals a different point of view on the pass.  Have no fear of looking or sounding stupid.  You are a white belt, and are supposed to be looking and sounding stupid.  Might as well perpetuate the stereotype.  Ask the question.
  • The reason that you are getting swept, smashed, submitted, etc is because you are doing something wrong.  Most of the time it is because there is something wrong with your base.  Concentrate on your base.  When you do techniques in class watch carefully the base of the instructor as he/she demonstrates the movements.  Notice how low they keep their hips, or that they always have at least three points of base when executing a movement.   Notice how they remove their opponent's base to pull off the technique.  It is all about base.  
  • There is no magic bullet.  Sorry.  I wish there was.  However, perfect technique is the closest thing you can get.  Try to lean the techniques and their details, so you can pull them off.  The best example of this is the escape from side control.  Getting out of this position is one of the more difficult things there is.  The more experienced the guy is on top, the more difficult it is to escape.  The heavier the guy is on top, the more difficult it is to escape.  Only technique can save you.  So pay attention in class, and learn the ways to escape.  Ask questions!
  • You are going to get smashed.  You are going to get submitted.  You are going to get swept.  Accept this as part of your training, and try to figure out what happened before the smash, submission, or sweep to figure out how to avoid it in the future.  Part of being a white belt is learning humility.  It is learning how to leave your ego at the door. 
  • Above all, your time as a white belt will teach you about overcoming adversity, and it will teach you about yourself.  There will come a time when you are being smashed, you can't escape, you can't breathe, you will be as helpless as you have ever been in your life.  What you do in that moment will reveal your innermost character flaws, and teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible.  If you don't like what you found there, you will have opportunities to improve, and to become the person that you want to be.
  • Your general fitness will improve the more you come to class.  You will eventually be able to do all of the warm exercises.  You will eventually be able to roll for the entire time.  You will eventually be able to compete, physically, with the other students in the class.  Your body will improve itself according to the stress put upon it on a continual basis.   You will be surprised how your cardio and your strength will improve.  BUT it will only improve if you consistently show up for class.  That means at least 3 times a week.  Most guys you see improving by leaps and bounds are showing up 5 or more times a week.  Mat time maters!
Being a white belt is hard, it is also one of the best times in your progression.  There are few expectations on you.  No one is looking to roll through you or submit you as a notch on their bed.  No one is looking to you to have the answers.  No one is surprised when you make a silly mistake.  
Have fun, and try hard.  Participate!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don't Be A Dick

In the video "Jeremy" was open carrying an unloaded firearm. This is 100% legal in the state of California. The Police officer, one of the awesome ones by the way, knew the law and was well within his rights as a Police officer to ensure that the man open carrying his pistol was complying with the law.

Here is the problem that I had with "Jeremy." The cop new the law. Jeremy did not. The cop, wanting to cut what was obviously a guy looking to make a cool YouTube video loose, let Jeremy go without incident, but could have lit Jeremy up with multiple charges. Here is why.

Jeremy wanted to flex all of his Constitutional rights in front of the cops and his camera. He wanted the cop to freak out, so that everybody would post "you are a lover of Freedom, Jeremy" comments on YouTube. He handled all of that perfectly until the cop asked Jeremy for his ID. Jeremy remarked that he had no ID on him. This is perfectly fine. You do not need to have your government issued identification on you while walking down the street in California. You don't even need to have your ID on you if you are walking down the street with a holstered unloaded gun in California. HOWEVER, the Supreme Court said in Hibel v. 6th Judicial District Court Of Nevada, Humbolt County that you MUST provide your name to Police officers should the state have legislation that requires it. Guess what? California has legislation that requires it. So, while Jeremy is well within his rights not to have ID on him, by refusing to let the Police officer know what his name is, he is violating the law. Not only is he breaking the law, by carrying a pistol and refusing to identify himself to law enforcement, he is committing a felony. The cop gave Jeremy every opportunity to identify himself, had him caught cold on the felony charge, then decided that the kid simply wanted to be a dick to get a reaction. The cop could have cuffed and stuffed Jeremy right there.

This just gets to the whole point of the open carry thing. While it is your right to carry your pistol openly and in full view, why would you do it?? John and Jane Q Public freak out at the mention of a gun, when they see law abiding civilians carrying it puts them in to overdrive. Why do you want to do this??? It is far better to work for a Shall Issue Concealed Carry law in your state. Best of all worlds, you get to carry your gun, police and public are not freaking out, because they don't know you are carrying, AND you are not the first person shot if a bad guy actually does come up in your grill intending you and others harm.

In my opinion the whole open carry thing is a dick move to get a rise out of people. In getting a rise out of people you only serve to hurt the cause, not to help it. Normal people and the police don't support things that first and foremost make them poop their pants. The last thing the movement needs is an actual direct analogies to the Wild West; because, let's face it, the only place normal people have seen individuals with iron on their hips is in Wild West Movies.

Don't be a dick, take the class and pack concealed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hold Yourself To a Higher Standard

I have not been on a date in a long time. I have been married for over 10 years, so the dating world may as well be Mars for me. I was single at one time though, and I sort of remember it being kind of fun, but filled with a lot of useless power grabbing and mind games. You get tired of that in married life about five or so years in to it, and things go smoother, the power grabbing is just more subtle... maybe you just get better at it, or you learn your partner's moves so that it is more of a dance than a fist fight... I digress.

I was out with a young guy from my gym last night, and we got to talking about his situation with the ladies. He had been seeing a girl for a month, dating here and there, really liked her and asked her to be his girlfriend. The girl says that he is great and all, but she is kind of seeing him and another guy at the same time, and she has feelings for both of them. She wants to keep things as they are right now and see how they play out with both of them. The guy was a little upset by this, but then thought that if he was the better man, she would eventually realize this and choose him.

Being the gentle soul that I am, I told him that he was an idiot, and needed to rid himself of this parasite as soon as humanly possible. As for my reasons... I like myself. I think that I am a good person, despite my many faults. I believe that I am deserving of good things in life, and I am willing to work for these good things. In other words, I am worth "it."
When dating someone, and you are looking for a relationship, you must hold yourself, and the one you are wishing to be with, to a higher standard. This is not to say that you or the other person must be perfect, but, because the relationship is for you, you, and the other person, must be willing to put the time and work in to make the relationship work. Given this example of a woman who has feelings with two guys, and wants to "see how things play out," she is unwilling to put any time or work in to either one of the guys. When things get a little rocky she wants a fallback guy. The question I posed to my young friend is thus: Do you want to be with someone who wants to be with you, or do you want to wait to be the fallback guy?

In my opinion, if you are a person looking for a monogamous relationship, you need to find someone else who is in to monogamous relationships. This will not include people who date lots of people at the same time. This does not mean that it is wrong to date lots of people. Quite the contrary. It is OK to date lots of people, however it is NOT OK to carry on multiple relationships at the same time. That is not someone who is looking to be monogamous, and will only lead you to heartbreak.

The person looking to be in a relationship is one that dates many, but will hold on to a single steady for while as they test what it would be like to be in a relationship. This person will have the opinion that it is far better to break up with someone first before cheating on them.

I had a very similar situation when I was in the dating world. After she said that she wanted to see how things played out, I wished her well, and said that I was sorry she felt that way. It hurt to walk away, but I did just that. I knew that because she was playing the game this way, she had a massive flaw in her character that I wanted no part of. It meant that she was indecisive about her life, that she had no empathy, and that she cared little for my company. I hold myself to a higher standard, and believe that my company is worth much more than she did.
In the end it was not the loss of her that hurt, it was the realization that there are those out there that simply don't care for you as much as you do for them, or for yourself. A good lesson.

I told my young friend that if he believed that he was worth "it." I needed to find someone else who also believed that they were worth "it." That was the good thing that he needed to wait for, not this person with such a gaping character flaw.
Will he take my advice? Probably not, and this chick will end up ripping his guts out. I will be there to buy him a beer or seven afterward. A bitter pill to swallow, but we all must, at one time, swallow it down in order to grow.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Is Ground Skill So Important for Women?

I love these old school videos. This is a NHB fight that took place in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. The back story is that the guy is a Muay Thai fighter who took the school up on their open challenge. The head of the school said fine, you fight her. Apparently, she is a white belt with about a year's worth of experience.

First things first, the guy completely underestimated her. You can see in the opening seconds that he simply stands there and takes her best shot. He returns with some kicks that nearly knock her off of her feet. This is typical of Man on Woman fights. The man will simply over power the woman. The she gets the take down, and something miraculous happens.

She was getting owned in the stand up game, on the ground she quickly passes the non existent guard, mounts, and starts to mess homeboy up. When the dude is able to reverse position she immediately locks on a triangle choke. Just before the dude is about to go to sleep he power slams his way to an escape. All she had to do at that point was to grab a leg, but she lets him go.

Buster Brown stands there looking nearly dead, and very out of breath. He is also bleeding from his nose and cuts to his melon. Unable to defend, she takes him down, passes, mounts, and easily slaps on the armbar. He taps.

Ground skill is the ONLY way a woman is beating a man in a fight. He is simply too strong. This video shows in graphic detail how a smaller woman can defeat a much larger, and even trained, man in a fight. She had the skills to win. He did not.

Get your womans to the BJJ gym!!! Learn them how to defend themselves!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Easy and Very Effective Sweep From Full Guard!

I found this sweep the other day, and it is simply awesome. Everybody knows the basic sweep from closed guard where you grip under the close leg and kick the guy over. This is a very nice variation on that same sweep, but by grabbing the far leg, the opponent does not necessarily know they are in danger. As always with this type of sweep you have to be sure to have the arm. With out it, no sweepy!!!

Desperately Needed in Today's Society

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Does Casey Anthony Verdict Prove that the System is Broken?

Casey Anthony was vilified, and convicted in the press. She lied at every turn. She was out partying when her daughter was "missing." She got a tattoo saying "Beautiful Life", again, AFTER her daughter was missing. She staged an elaborate cover up with fake jobs, fake child abuse, and fake people. It seemed that her eventual conviction in a court of law was a foregone conclusion. The jury's quick deliberation seemed to be a confirmation of her guilt, and people waited for the hammer to drop on her. Only, the hammer didn't drop. The jury came back not guilty. What?? This is outrageous!!!!! Something must be done!!
Is it outrageous? Does something need to be done?

First is it outrageous? Yes. This woman was obviously involved in her child's death. HOWEVER, it is to the State to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Its case is a theory about what happened. They then must use factual evidence to show that their theory is the correct one beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, what do they need to prove their theory? Typically the magic three things the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, is that the accused must have had motive, means, and opportunity to commit the crime. In order to prove this they must find evidence to support that the accused was in the place when the crime occurred (opportunity). They must determine the cause of death of the victim, so that they can determine what kind of weapon was used, then show that the accused knew how to operate the weapon and that they could use that weapon to commit the crime (means). Finally, they must show that the accused had some reason to do the crime (motive).
No mater what the accused does after a crime is committed, if you can't prove those three things, you can't prove your case. As the State, you can not just shotgun theories about how and why a crime, especially capital murder, is committed. You must determine one sound theory, and prove that theory to the point that no reasonable doubt can be found.

I keep repeating this phrase "no reasonable doubt." This is the highest standard of evidence in law. It means that the jury must be convinced absolutely, with every piece of their decision backed by solid evidence. If there is any doubt, any at all, that the evidence does not explain, the accused can not be declared guilty.

In the Casey Anthony trial, the State said that Anthony's motive for the murder was that she was a party girl and that the baby was cramping her style. However, the jurors said that the State failed to show that wanting to be a party girl was enough of a motive for her to kill her baby.
The jurors also said that the State failed to produce evidence for the cause of death. With out a cause of death, there is no means. With out means, how could the State prove that Anthony killed the baby? How can they prove that the baby was murdered at all?

Now to the second part... Does something need to be done? Well... what are our alternatives? In the United States of America our founding documents grantee the right of the accused a trial by jury. Why? Doesn't this get in the way of justice? No. It gets in the way of the State.

Part of the social contract that the governed enters in to with any form of government is that the governed remits to the government the sole ability to deprive an individual with life, liberty, and property. With out this, the State is powerless. See Somalia. Individual warlords rule their area and act with impunity to take life, liberty, and property.
In any other major form of government, there are no checks on the State. If the state believes that you are guilty, off to the headsman you go. The State does what it wants, nothing is in its way.
In the American, and now commonly in the free world, form of justice, a jury of individuals can step in front of the State, with all of its power, and say, "You must provide us with compelling evidence of this person's guilt, or set them free." In the case of Casey Anthony, 12 people stood in front of the power and majesty of the State of Florida, and said, "You did not prove your case. Let this woman go." And the State did just that. Common place for us today, but this form of justice has only been around for 222 years.
In defense for this form of justice, Benjamin Franklin stated " is better one hundred guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer."
If you change the system, and put the State in complete control of justice, the people's rights are trampled. The death of this child is tragic, and Casey Anthony most likely had some very large part in her death. However, the State did not do its job. She must go free.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day Follies

I had a great Independence Day! Earlier last month the Brazilian head instructor at the gym asked what do people do on Independence Day in the US. We said that mostly they do BBQ parties. The instructor thought it would be a great idea to do a special class then do a Brazilian BBQ. The students thought that it was something that would be fun.
So, I went to the gym for the special BJJ class, which was a quick warm up and sparring for two hours. Fun, but it wore me out. After that we had the Brazilian BBQ which was steaks, chicken, and sausages seasoned with Brazilian sea salt. Very tasty. It was a lot of fun to hang out with the other students, wives, and instructors, and get to know everybody as people. Being that there were foreigners there, the inevitable questions came out, with the inevitable wrong answers... I didn't mean to be a know it all, but it seemed that I was with all of the incorrect answers to the basic questions. Eventually, the questions were directed at me from both foreign and domestic sources.
I don't begrudge the Americans or the American school system for their lack of knowledge. Really this kind of stuff is just glossed over in schools, and it really doesn't pertain to anybody's daily life. I am kind of a history buff, so I like to read about these things. Anyway these are some of the myths, misconceptions, and wrong answers that we went over.

July 4th 1776 was when the Revolutionary war ended/began.
Nope. The revolutionary war is typically said to have started April 18th, 1775 with the seizing of munitions at Concord, Massachusetts. Really the war had being going on in Massachusetts since 1773 with several terrorist raids and small skirmishes here and there, but April 18, 1775 was when the open war with two recognizable forces started fighting.

The war ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris (but not ratified by the United States until January of 1774...).
In fact, July 4th was the date when the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Continental Congress, and sent to King George. Many years of war were ahead, and the outcome was far from certain.

The war ended cleanly after the last battle and the troops went home.
Not really. Yes the British troops went home, but a major ally to the British were the Native American tribes, who the British continually supported, and the new United States government had to fight a continuing war with for the next 25 years. Along with this the British continually would set upon American ships, claim them for the crown and press them in to British service. All of these hostilities finally ended (sort of) with the War of 1812 (which ended in 1815...).

George Washington wrote the Declaration of Independence
This one kind of shocked me, but oh well...
The "Committee of Five" officially wrote the Declaration of Independence, with Thomas Jefferson being its primary author. The Committee of Five consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Rodger Sherman, and Robert Livingston.
I must admit to my shame, that I never remember Robert Livingston and Rodger Sherman. Their place in history has been outshone by one of the worlds greatest inventors and authors, and two future Presidents.

In fact George Washington was busy fighting a war, and the only association he had with the Declaration was to urge that it be ratified to garner support from the people for his army. Washington did not sign the Declaration.

The Declaration of Independence is a Christian document
Nope. Jefferson put many references to the Christian god in the document, which Franklin, a deist, rewrote as "Creator." Franklin was very worried that the staunch Christians from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania would press to form the country with Christianity as its official religion. Franklin liked the way that Jefferson had noted that the unalienable rights came not from government, but from someplace else. Using the generic word Creator rather than God, made the document accessible to any religion. To the Jews/Christians, creator meant God. To the Muhammadans (word used at the time for the Muslims) it meant Allah. So on and so forth.

The Americans won because they used unconventional warfare against the British
Not really. The unconventional warfare was mainly used in the south to keep the large British force from uniting their forces and destroying Washington's Army. The war was won by the Americans eventually getting their act together and fighting a war of attrition that they knew they would win especially with the British being so far from home, and fighting another war with France. After Lord Cornwallis was defeated at Yorktown, the British just got tired of the war, ran out of money, cut their losses and ended it.

The Revolutionary War is a fascinating time in history. The men who fought it, the battles, the politics, it is as an exciting time in the past that has ever been.