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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

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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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