The Last of My Golden Days.

Now that the summer is ending I have decided to pretty much summarize how things have gone and my thoughts on it. Coming into my last highschool summer, I decided to try and take advantage of this by doing what I love the most. With a car and a job at the gym nothing could keep me from training day in and day out. My schedule pretty much looked like this: mon/wed/fri-noon class bjj and evening bjj, tues/thurs-bjj then judo, sat-bjj.
In the beginning I lost close to 10 pounds because of all the training, but with the bad nutrition came bad training. I remedied this by pigging out as much as I can to keep a steady balance. This summer, I enjoyed it like a 17 year old should, no care for nutrition, no care for drama, no summer classes to deal with, just me, my friends, and Jiu-Jitsu. Did I mention I have a CAR!? The best feeling in the world is waking up, not having to worry about catching the bus or riding my bike and just rolling up to the gym “like a boss”. It is the ultimate freedom, somedays I wonder what I would do with out it, then I realize that I would be riding my bike and catching the bus like last summer.

For most of the summer we have been working on mainly butterfly guard, since I usually only pull guard anyway I really enjoyed this. I now think that my butterfly guard is my best postion and the elevator sweep is my best sweep. Towards the beginning of the summer my instructor told me to stop going to deep half guard (probably because I’ve been submitted from deep half at almost every tournament I lose). Heartbroken, I had lost my go-to; I was just an empty soul trudging down a dark alleyway with no where to go. It seemed as if the butterfly guard came at the perfect time, brought me into its house and made me a cup of tea. Me and the butterfly guard are inseperable now, I’m doing things with my hooks that I never thought imaginable. It seems like this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
butterfly

I have been woring the morning shift at my gym before the noon class which was pretty brutal (5 am to 12 pm), but I mean what other job has hours around jiu jitsu? I had all the money I could have wanted but there were no tournaments for me to spend it on! In my other blog post I already explained what happened at Diamond State Games, and the only other tournament I competed in this summer was in the Us Grappling Maryland Championships. This one being the weekend after my moms birthday, my funds were pretty depleted so I could only enter one division, I decided to enter the only division I have never won which was the white belt absolute division. Not too much to talk about in this one though, I had two matches with guys that seemed to be doing their first tournaments. I don’t want to sound conceited; but I wish I could have rolled for more than a total of 4 minutes with someone who was pushing me harder. Either way US Grappling put on another great tournament and I wish every tournament was run like theirs! I know they can’t control who pansies out for the absolute division. Anyway, I came out with the gold! I also finally hit a (sloppy) drop seio-nage! This was one of my goals in competition.

The reality still hasn’t set in that this is my last summer to really train hard at my home school with no worries. In a couple months I’ll be 18 and by next year I’ll be shipping off to college (for which I am currently looking for). I’m really looking foward to the future though, next summer I plan to train in Brazil for a couple months and to compete in the Rio Open, right before I go off to florida for college. The main thing that troubles me about going to college is leaving my school, I know I can go back and train durring the summer and winters. But thats like giving you a whole new family and in three years they are just ripped away from you. I did a lot of growing up at Dave Trader Jiu Jitsu and I plan to do a lot more in the next year. After I get done with college I will be back to continue on my path to win mundials at blackbelt.

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Keep your head up, you’ll be in this for a long time.

I know it’s been a long time since I posted on this thing. It’s just that the last couple months haven’t gone the best, and it seemed like eveytime tried to write a new post; I just couldn’t come up with anything. So let’s start with the spring copa nova, I had already been training for about 2 days a week since my mom was limiting my training time. I competed in my first no gi intermediate division and only got third, considering it was a large division I wasn’t too disappointed. In my white belt division I was tooled by an extremely strong wrestler because I didn’t keep my elbows in, in deep half. I was caught in the same submission in the semi finals of the beginner absolute division at grapplersquest beast of the east. Not only was I knocked out on the first round of my weight division, I was literally knocked out cold by a headbutt in the absolute division. So now fast foward to U.S Grappling’s Diamonds State Games. Since I didn’t do horribly in the intermediate division at copa nova I decided to do the same at diamond state games, even though the cut off for experience was 2 years when I had only been training for a year and a half. I had cut quite a bit of weight the day before and wasn’t really feeling up to par. My first division was the no gi intermediate and I was a sloppy mess, half assed attempts for deep half, half assed back escapes. The first match went not so well losing 4 to zero with a lot of advantages for almost sweeps and passes. The second match wasn’t much better, I got the takedown and fumbled around in his half guard collecting advantages for 5 minutes until I won by two points in the end.  Once again; I took third, the guy that beat me also beat me by an advantage point in the absolute division. He ended up winning both divisions. On to my teen divisions in with I usually do well. My first match was a against a very experienced four stripe blue belt that had been grappling since he was twelve. I pulled deep half and was armbarred almost instantly. Once again because I didn’t keep my elbows in. In the gi, the same kid put me to sleep after my drop seio nage attempt with a nasty bow and arrow choke. In my white belt division I submitted everyone in my division by sloppy half assed  submissions. Now came the absolute division, I was pretty excited because I really thought I was going to win it this time. My first match was against a smaller spazzing guy, I got a nice harai goshi on him followed by a sloppy and quick shoulder lock.  My second match was against a wrestler, of course I’m taken down and I am shooting for deep half, as usual my arm is just hanging out there and I am shoulder locked….. For the third time from deep half….
Then for my third place match I won on position, 15 to 0. 

For the past few months in training, I have been trying to be as technical as I can be. I always try to use only technique and no strength when I’m rolling but I’m always told the same thing, I am sloppy and I need to be tighter. As hard as I have been trying  it seems as if nothing is changing.  I have been pretty down and in a bad mood in general lately because of it. Now that I think about it though, there is no reason to be down on my self for a few month span of hard times because I know that I’m going to be here for the long haul. So whatever is happening now will pass eventually and I’m sure will comeback again another time in between now and when I reach my goal. I think the only reason I get so down on myself is because I’m trying to rush to my goal. I know that these things can’t be rushed but I just have so much of an anticipation. Before Jiu-Jitsu I had no goals, no ambitions, just flowing through life,  basically waiting to die. Now that I have this goal, I am fully engaged in reaching it, I finally have something to live for. At this point all I want is to become a world champion at black belt. I want it more than anything I have ever wanted in my life. I don’t know why, I just do. I have vivid dreams about the day it will happen, its all I can think about .

Now that the summer is here I am taking  11 classes a week and working early mornings at the gym. My life has been revolving around Jiu-Jitsu and I love it. One thing I have been working on is my ego and trying to stay humble, which hasn’t been too hard in the past few months. But I try to check myself every once in a while because I know its easy for me to get a big head. I used to hate it when people would fake an injury every time I am about to sweep them. I also used to hate it when people would brag in the locker rooms about sweeping or passing the guard of a blue belt or a purple belt. I am now trying to focus my energy on  my self and making myself better, because that is all I should be worrying about.  I know this is all pretty disorganized and not as neatly written as some of my other posts, but I’m just trying to get everything that I’m thinking onto the page. The only advice I have for anyone in my situation is to keep your head up because you’ll be in this for a long time.

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How Important is Your Training? Finding the time. Losing the weight. Letting go of the excuses. Part 2.

So in my last post I talked about mainly stuff that only a teen would understand.  Now its time for the stuff we can all relate to, like weight loss. In Jiu-Jitsu, I believe that technique can carry you far more than any physical attributes. But for a lot of the techniques in Jiu-Jitsu , it helps to be fit and somewhat flexible.  I learned this pretty quickly as I decided to get more and more serious about Jiu-Jitsu.

It all started in Buffalo Wild Wings on the night of UFC 114.  This is where my Dave Trader Jiu-Jitsu teammates and I always used to go to watch the UFC events.  The place is usually packed, so some teammates and I had decided to get there early to reserve some seats for ourselves and the rest of our team.  At some point in the conversation, my 6′ 7″ 400+ lb former powerlifting/strongman champion teammate Big Josh asked me how I thought I was going to do in the adult ultra-heavy weight division with him at the next Copa Nova.  At that time I was at about 258 pounds (I had lost about 7 pounds since starting Jiu-Jitsu, but had a long way to go) it never occurred to me who I would be going against when I started competing in the adult divisions. That is the exact moment that I decided to get serious about losing weight. With Big Josh being a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, and Bill Nagle being a super technical blue belt and having lost over 50 lbs since starting Jiu-Jitsu, I asked them where to start. They gave me all types of basic diet advice – eating 5 meals a day to keep hunger at bay & blood sugar constant, protein shakes or meal replacement shakes instead of high calories meals or snacks, more salads, fruits, vegetables and leans meats instead of empty carbs, and the main one STOP EATING OUT ALL THE TIME and if you do eat out, eat something reasonable like a caesar salad.  The words of Bill will always stick with me, ” Losing weight shouldn’t be easy, it sucks. There is no magic diet that can do it for you, you’re gonna have to work for it.” With all of this new encouragement I told them I would start my diet on Monday. They both shook their heads, next time the waitress came by Josh told the waitress, he will be having the chicken caesar. And so my diet began.

In the end I realized that losing weight isn’t so hard if you truly put your mind to it. The number one thing I learned was that if you want to lose weight, make it a priority. I have been trying to lose weight for most of my life and the only reason I lost it during Jiu Jitsu is by making sure I never cheated and that I made it my priority to eat on time and eat the right things. Not to mention the riding of my teammates everytime I wanted to eat something unhealthy.

Last but not least, if you are not the “gung-ho” mma fighter or BJJ competitor, how far up is BJJ on your totem pole of extrcurricular activities? If you have the choice between going out on that hot date on friday night or to go train for 2 1/2 hours, what would you do? How about going out drinking with your old buddy that never left high school? How dedicated are you to training? Personally I’m more of the “gung-ho” type, and I’m seeing more and more of my teammates become the same way. I feel like training is probably more productive than what I would probably be doing on a friday night anyway. So think about it, when you are not training, is what you are doing more productive than what you would be doing on the mats?

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How Important is Your Training? Finding the time. Losing the weight. Letting go of the excuses. Part 1.

So now that you all know vaguely of who I am, its time to get to business. If you are a teenager who is serious about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you will fully understand what I am about to tell you; if you are a parent, you should really try to.

First off I am going to start with the big one – having the time to train. I have heard from so many individuals that, “oh I wish I was your age so I could train whenever I wanted”. The reason many of you can’t train is because Jiu Jitsu is not a top priority; which is fine, but I don’t want to hear about how you can never train, that it’s always so easy for me to train, if you were my age it would be so easy, etc. It is a common misconception that every teen can train whenever they want and however long they want. The truth is , contrary to popular belief, we have some responsibilities too like school, jobs, demands of family, friends and in many cases (although never mine) a girlfriend. I know that may not measure up to the responsibilities of many or most adults, but they can be significant. On the other hand, we don’t have the freedom, privileges, and benefits that come with being an adult either.

Obviously if you are married and have kids, you should care more about them than any sport. Not to sound too harsh about it, but that was a choice you made. You get some great benefits from that choice, but you have to trade some freedom for those benefits. Just don’t be angry with me about it. Speaking of choices, I choose not to party, I choose (I use “choose” loosely) not to have a girlfriend, and I choose to neglect other responsibilities; is it the smartest decision? Maybe not. Is it my decision? Yes, and I will be the one to deal with any consequences.

Mom scolding kid.Unlike an adult, there are certain times when I do not have the power to choose. As my mom has made a point to remind me, teenagers in America I have to obey the demands of their legal guardians; which means when my mom says I can not train, then I do not have a choice. If I choose to ignore her, she has the option to, and certainly will, involve the police. And, for some reason, my mom never lets me train. I guess she knows that it is the one thing that I really care about. In her eyes, that makes it the most effective punishment, but I’m too hard headed for that to work.

For the past year I have not asked to go to one high school party, I barely have hung out with any of my high school friends, all I wanted to do was do Jiu Jitsu. Also for the past year my grades haven’t been the greatest, and even though training every night or not training at all does not have an effect on whether my grades are high or low; my mom seems to feel like she is handling the situation by limiting the days that I can train.  Knowing that the sport has pretty much saved my life has no effect on her decision to let me train, so I train when I can which is only three days a week. Bleh, makes me sick thinking about it. So when you tell me how great i’ve got it and that your wife won’t let you train one night and I just laugh, it’s because you aren’t the one that’s legally bound not to train.  Yeah, your wife might make you sleep on the couch, but my mom will call the cops and let me sleep in a cell (and i’m not exaggerating here).

Note: If you have a family to take care of, please do not take this post as an insult. I commend you for taking care of your business. If you still train seriously while having a family, I commend you for doing so also (and yes it is possible, I have a couple teammates that do it). My point is that everything isn’t so easy in the life of a teen, there are reasons that we can not train, and there are serious things we have to sacrifice to be able to train.

Me in 23 yearsFrom the younger single guys, I hear the excuse, “I have a girlfriend and she won’t let me train”. Honestly, I don’t care, dump her, go buy a bottle of Jergens, and find a girl who will let you train. I’ve lived without a girlfiend for 17 years and expect to continue this trend. If your girlfriend really loves you, she will support you in what you really want to do.

Another thing many teens will understand but many of you “others” won’t. Transportation. As a 16 year old who didn’t have his licence and relied on his mom (who isn’t the most supportive in the first place) to give him rides, its hard to train as much as you would like to. When I realized that training meant so much to me that nothing would stop me, I decided to finally listen to my instructor Dave Trader and start riding my bike to the gym.

bike crashSo I pitched the idea to my mom that I would ride my bike to the gym after school and that she could just pick me up at night so it would be easier on her. She said it was cool as long as I wore a helmet (I looked pretty bad ass with my huffy helmet, but I was safe). The gym was ten miles from my house so it was way too long to bike the whole way – especially at 260 lbs.  So I would catch the bus about a half mile from my house and take the bike onto the bus, then get dropped off about 2 miles from the gym. Then came the hard part, the menacing ride down route 234 to get to the gym. I can recall busting open my toe while crashing my bike in the middle of the road as a trucker laughed and pointed at me to his passenger. I can also recall the back of my bike wheel being hit by some idiot trying to beat a red light.  But…..if I could go back and do it all over again I would do the same thing – training every day took my game to new levels.

There are so many more excuses that I can totally debunk and in Part 2 I will do so to most of them.

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tubebjj’s photostream

Finals No Gi Beginner Absolute US Grappling RVAAfter Beginner Absolute Copa NovaKimura attempt at US Grappling Submission Only NVAKimura at Submission OnlySao Paulo Pass at Sub Onlymenzeb
Open guard at submission onlyFinals at USG RVAWorking my open guard in the 53 minute matchGot third at Grapplersquest Beast of the East not too happy..Not happy one bit..Me warming up before my match
Belt and Medals i won at Grapplersquest World Series of Grapplingbeltgold medal-best medals in grapplingCertificate from beast of the east Marcelo Garcia at the NY Openduplicate
Copa Nova About to get the finish at the end of a 53 minute match.Teen Heavyweight Advanced Us Grappling RVA-Championthe team at US nationals last yearThe team after Fall Copa NovaMy First Gi match ever

my pics

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How I got here – Part 5

I was so excited, thinking that in only a year that I would be in the UFC kicking butt. A few months down the road I started to realize otherwise. By this time things weren’t going so well for me; my grades were in the drain (as usual) so my mom would only let me train twice a week. I also hadn’t lost any weight since I started, I felt a little bit better but it didn’t show on the scale. Everyone kept telling me I was getting so much better than when I started, I still didn’t see it. After 4 months I still haven’t passed a guard and I still haven’t caught a submission. Guys were coming in for their free week trial and totally dominating me. Then one Thursday night it finally happened, I passed the guard, settled in side control, and got the americana. Even though the person I got it on had been training a month and was about 100 pounds lighter than me, it felt good. That night after bragging to Facebook and everyone else I could tell, I couldn’t even sleep. I couldn’t be more excited to train the next day. The next time I trained we had a guard rotation and I actually passed a guard! It seemed like things were looking up for me. After class I decided to ask Dave when I could start competing. He said I should start training for the spring copy nova because it was local and a good place for beginners. With my grades still in the toilet it was hard to train more than 2 days a week. So I started to actually put forth some effort in my classes, within two months my grades were good enough to do jiu jitsu whenever I wanted. The problem was I could only train 4 days a week because my mom would only give me a ride on those days. The gym was ten miles away so there was no way I could walk or ride my bike. At the time I was only 16 so I didn’t have a licence or a car. So I just dealt with that for the time being. It seemed like I was really enjoying jiu jitsu and things were starting to come together more and more.  I knew I liked jiu jitsu, but little did I know how much I would give up for it.

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How I got here – part 4

The next time I trained at Dave Trader Jiu-Jitsu, the class was taught by one of the schools purple belts, Big Jay Corbitt. As you might have guessed by the name, Big Jay is a big guy and (whether it was his intention or not) the thing I learned in this class was mainly how to use my size to my advantage in Jiu-Jitsu.

For some reason, this turned out to be the day my mom decided to show up early to pick me up. Ever the salesman (and probably because he knew the goofy kid up front wouldnt ask) Big Jay asked my mom if she was ready to sign me up. I’ll give my mom credit. She quickly came up will all of the reasons why she shouldn’t, but she wasn’t prepared when Jay turned the tables on her and said that the instructors there would make sure my grades stayed high and that he could already tell that I would definitely stick with it.

I could see that what Jay said had comforted my mom, yet she still didn’t really say anything that led me to think that she would actually sign me up. On our way home, still with no intention of actually following through, but wanting to see if my mom would humor me; I asked if she would sign me up. She told me that it was way too much money, and that I would just quit in a few months in like I had done with so many other activities. I didn’t feel like arguing so I let it go, I was so tired from class that I didn’t have the energy to talk much.

My mom and I didn’t talk much about Jiu-Jitus until it was time for my next class. I remember she wasn’t terribly happy about giving me a ride to the gym, but I convinced her take me. The class went much of the same way this time around, the technique this time was the hand stand pass in butterfly guard (I remember this primarily because I am one of those people who are apparently incapable of doing a hand stand).

That night, after class, I had asked her once again, but got the same answer as before – it was too expensive and I would just quit. But this time I tried to reason with her explaining that I wouldn’t quit, and how it would help me lose weight. She still said it was too pricey, she wouldn’t pay for it unless my grades were high and she thought that I would stick with it. This type of conversation went on for the next two days, she never broke.

As luck would have it, the last day of my trial was also my birthday. I came to the gym that day with 100 dollars in birthday money in my wallet. After class I was talking to Dave about how my mom wouldn’t sign me up. He seemed sympathetic and he assured me that we would figure something out. I kinda figured he was just humoring me. Iwas sure he had heard this same story before. Every high school kid that comes through the gym door wants to be an MMA fighter, none of them have the money to pay for class, and very few can convince their parents to pay for it.

In a last ditch effort to get my mom to sign me up, I waited inside so she would have to come in and get me. When she came in, I immediately started to bombard her prices. She actually seemed to be ready to sign up until the sales guy told her about the 6 month commitment. She said she wouldn’t do it because I would never train consistently. I tried to assure her that I would, but she didn’t believe me at all. After a long awkward silence, Dave Trader, the head instructor, threw out an idea.

Dave suggested that in order to show that I was serious and would really stick with it, I should pay for the first month. Then if I paid for the first month and trained consistently for that month, my mom could sign me up for my first six months afterwards. My mom liked this idea and nodded her head in agreement. The problem was that I only had 100 dollars and the fee was $140. I told Dave about this but he said it was fine, if I was willing to put up the money myself he was willing take the chance with me. It was hard to hand over all of my birthday money, but it was worth it.

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