BJJ Strength Seminar – July 20, 2019 Increase Power. Prevent Injuries. Smash Opponents.

Partner Rotation

“When technical ability is similar, the stronger, better conditioned athlete will win.”                                                                                                                        – Arlo Gagestein

We all know that technique beats strength. That is why many people begin BJJ in the first place. However, we’ve all also likely been crushed under a big, strong lower level guy while waiting for the right time for technique to turn the tables. You know, the guys you have no doubt you’ll submit, but you will probably feel like a train wreck tomorrow? Oh, and those big, strong guys with 8-10 years of Jiu-Jitsu under their belts? Nightmares.

How would you like to be the one stepping onto the mat with the strength advantage?

From 9am-1pm on Saturday, July 20, Competitive Edge Fitness and Super Human Performance join forces as performance specialists Arlo Gagestein and Brandon Talbot present their Jiu-Jitsu specific strength training seminar at Competitive Edge in Ogden, UT. This will be a hands-on seminar covering among other things:

1) Weight Training for BJJ

2) Partner Strength Drills

3) Lift-Jitsu

4) Grip Training

5) Recovery and Injury Prevention

The Lair

Besides being long-time accomplished strength coaches, Arlo and Brandon are both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belts with years of training and competition experience. They are excited to bring you both conventional and unconventional training strategies that will revolutionize the way you train!

Contact Arlo Gagestein for more details and to register: 801-920-4106

The Joy of Jiu-Jitsu

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You have to love auto-correct. Usually it is frustrating to attempt a text and have my phone come up with something I never would have said. However, there are certain times my phone does things that just make me smile.

My phone has never done Jiu-Jitsu (intentionally – there was that one time I was suckered into a plain-clothes nogi match, that I jumped in without emptying my pockets), so it makes sense that it wouldn’t understand it. For some reason, as much as I type it, my phone immediately wants to replace Jiu with Joy. Rather than being frustrated, I’m always amused! My phone is either NOT SMART, or is somehow delving deep into my subconscious with uncanny accuracy. I cannot deny it, Jiu-Jitsu brings me joy.

If I am texting you about Jiu-Jitsu, we are likely pretty good friends. There are few things in life that I would rather be doing than training Jiu-Jitsu with friends. Jiu-Jitsu elevates my mood. Some of my closest friends are those I share mat time with. It is fun – joyful really – spending time with these friends on or off the mat. Training is also a joy regardless of who I’m with, as the bond of Jiu-Jitsu is quickly formed. Training with my closest friends is the best of both worlds.

Welcome to Joy-Jitsu. Let’s train.

Journey to Black Belt – Reflections by Dane Barlow

I first met Dane at as a blue belt at a submission only tournament in Utah. He is a genuinely nice guy and a fierce competitor. I’ve enjoyed following his career and admiring his successes over the past years, but never knew his background or his story. This weekend, unsuspecting, he was awarded his black belt. His words in response to receiving his belt are beyond inspiring! You NEED to read this!

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By Dane Barlow

Ok, I have processed this amazing event in my life. I made big plans for a return to competition next year at brown belt but Mitch and the Knights of the Round Table had a different plan. When I started training Jiu-Jitsu I had just lost everything in the home building collapse. My son wanted to train and I had to find a place. I met Mitch Coats in his small academy (Alliance Jiu-Jitsu, Boise, Idaho). And I watched the Jiu-Jitsu art. It was like ballet except fighting. I had never seen something so fluid yet both offense and defense were being played. I signed us both up that night and a week later I told Mitch I didn’t know how long I could afford to train but that I would go till I ran out of money.

I had barely reached the point living in the attic of my sister Noel’s garage with my wife and kids- that I could constantly provide food and basic needs consistently. The pipes froze that winter and we had space heaters and blankets to keep warm. At two months I felt like I either had to go all in or quit. You see maybe my story begins when my step dad told me in high school that I was no one’s hero. I should give up on dreams and plan on a regular job right out of high school. I wanted to be the hero of my own story. I wanted to leave the disparity of my failure behind.

Jiu Jitsu and Mitch gave me the confidence to take back my life and mental attitude. I set a goal to save 10,000 dollars and change my life. This was impossible but I set the goal anyways. I also told Mitch I wanted to be the best white belt. I began to restructure my life with discipline and tapping out and restarting daily if needed. I was on a journey. I told Mitch I wanted to be somebody at Jiu Jitsu. I won countless medals in white belt tournaments all over and shortly after my blue belt promotion travelled to Brazil to compete in Rio at the master international championship. I won a silver medal after a tough finals match I lost by points. With that I came home and changed my life.

I had saved $20,000. I spent $4,000 to take my wife with me to Brazil. And I called a man up and offered to work for free to learn to make teeth! Within six months he handed me a porcelain brush and taught me everything he knew. Six month later under stress of life and bad decisions he had to sell the business. I took the reigns of my life again and told him I would find investors to buy the business. I told Mitch I would be somebody at Jiu Jitsu then do the same thing with my career. I did find investors and I promised to pay everyone back in one year. My mentor told me it was impossible to do and that I was silly and making a mistake by setting impossible goals.

Well I did it. And I won the Pan American championship and a #1 world rank at the same time. Kristi Barlow, my wife, took care of me. Supported me. Went to many matches or took care of the kids so I could leave and have these journeys against myself. I met so many competitors I consider fellow travelers on this journey. All over the place. Too many names to list. Guys who fought so hard to beat me and I them. Thanks guys! You all know who you are. You guys honored me with battles.

I spent the next year paying off my debt and equipment. I spent $250,000 in two years to get the business and equipment leases paid off. I redid countless smiles for charity with Doctor Huff. I sacrificed more money to charity than I took in income for two years to prove it could be done. Kristi let me do it. We bought dinners for thanks giving and dinners for Christmas for countless families because when we had nothing someone did the same for us. Sitting in our little attic with a 1-foot tall Christmas tree Jessica Brennan bought us we ate food some mystery family left at our garage door. I had to return the favor.

At the brown belt level I won several tournaments and a bronze at masters worlds. Then Mitch pulled me aside and said, “Quit competing and go do what you said. Become somebody at your profession.” I wrote magazine articles and shook hands with everyone. I shared information with anyone I could trying to help others and I also helped myself become better. I was spotted by Dan Boskocevic with GC America and he told me he wanted me to share myself with his customers. I lectured internationally in Mexico first I did the entire lecture in Spanish. I met Von Grow and he introduced me to a whole new world of sharing information about teeth. Later I would be elected to become a member of the dental technicians guild. One of 150 in the world to serve and share information to help build up our industry with passion handmade teeth. I would go on to lecture and teach all over as well as speaking at the Chicago winter meeting. A big deal for our industry. And then I made plans for my return to competition. I was promoted on a weekend in which I also donated a new smile to a woman and finished the last implant crown for Johnny Goforth. A black belt. A new beginning. And a full circle of giving back.

Jiu Jitsu and Mitch Coats changed my life and along the way I have had the honor of changing other people’s lives. I did nothing on my own. My team was there the whole time. Countless to name individually I love you all. My brothers and sisters in the battle of life. We were not born perfect. I do not have a perfect life. I fail. But I tap often and start again. I drive to be better. I challenge myself. And you all join with me. We can’t help the past, but we can change our stars by the choices and goals we make today. Thank you all my friends. Each one of you who read this to the end was most likely someone so special to the reformation of my life. You are all special to me.

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Summit and Submit II – The Events

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Summit and Submit II is rapidly approaching. In addition to grappling, there will also be other events that will count for points toward becoming tournament champion. Most events will be scored 3 points for 1st place, 2 points for 2nd place, and 1 point for 3rd place. At the end of the weekend, the person with the most points wins! Here are the events:

Mat Carry – Most carries over 10 miles scores 3 points, second scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

*Barbell Carry – Most carries scores 6 points, 2nd scores 4, and 3rd scores 2 points.

*Jiu-Jitsu Tournament – 1st place scores 6 points, 2nd scores 4, and 3rd scores 2 points.

Spinning 65 lb. Barbell Throw – Furthest scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

Freestyle 45 lb. Barbell Throw – Furthest scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

Barbell Man Crank – Fastest time for 1 round (24 squat, 24 lunges, 24 split squat jumps, 24 squat jumps) scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2, 3rd scores 1 point.

Backpack Push-up – Most reps scores 3 points, 2nd scores 2,  and 3rd scores 1 point

*These two events will be the hardest of the weekend, so are worth double points.

Bonus Points – 10 pound weight plate carry (the entire distance) scores 2 bonus points, heaviest backpack at truck scores 2 bonus points. In both instances, if someone has to carry some of your load on the way back, you lose the bonus points.

There you have it! Remember to let me know ASAP if you are planning to come so that we can be planning!

Courage in the Face of Complacency

by Jeff Moore, ‘The Ginja Ninja’

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Most people think of cowardice as being the opposite of courage.  Those people might share an example of the heroic fireman blasting past the trembling bystander in to a building engulfed in flames as a contrast between courage and cowardice.

This certainly still applies in my estimation, but Rickson Gracie said something on Rogan’s podcast that got my attention.  I’m paraphrasing, but Rickson said something to the effect of, “In modern society, the opposite of courage is not cowardice.  It’s complacency.”  While looking in to this topic, I found that Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”  Rickson and Mandela… good enough for Killer J.

In our somewhat civilized society, most people aren’t faced with fending off hordes of marauders, launching spears in to charging rhinos, or Tarzan’ing from a jungle vine and rescuing a baby from the clutches of a crocodile.  That stuff happens, just not all that often.

Most of us are faced with less imminently severe stressors, but in the long term, our modern day stress can be crippling and is kept in place by complacency.  Do you have a job you don’t like, but fear quitting and doing your own thing?  That’s complacency.  Are you trapped in a bad relationship, but you won’t leave because you fear being alone?  That’s complacency.  If you’re a jiujitsu player, do you find yourself not progressing because you stick to your “A” game at all times while sparring because you fear trying out a new technique and failing?  Complacency.

I know I have fallen in to the complacency trap multiple times in my life with various things, so don’t take this post as being preachy.  I’ve let fear best me plenty of times, and the comfort of the mundane and predictable has been alluring enough to freeze me up for periods of time.  I need to remember to have the courage to take that leap, and not let fear bind me anymore.  Neither should you!

Drysdale Jiu-Jitsu Belt Test

by Arlo Gagestein

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I had the honor of spending last Saturday at Drysdale Jiu-Jitsu in Las Vegas for a belt test and promotion ceremony. Several of my teammates were testing and a handful of us from Utah went out for the festivities. Witnessing the test brought back a flood of memories from my last promotion a couple years ago. After successfully demonstrating proficiency on a wide range of techniques, each person being promoted has to roll for an hour straight.

Now for those of us who frequently roll and hour or more, this might not sound too bad. The catch however is that you get ZERO rest, and every two minutes a new opponent jumps on you with the primary goal of breaking you down and wearing you out. If you notice the number of people in the above photo, it should be no surprise that there were plenty of fresh, well-rested opponents to keep those testing fighting to catch their breath.

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As I jumped from one body to the next, I remembered the despair of being 30-40 minutes into my test with a seemingly unending supply of energetic teammates attacking me over and over again. You are exhausted, it hurts to breath, your limbs are useless, and you are repeatedly being beat by people with years less experience than you have. Let’s start you fighting for your life against the black, brown, and purple belts, then let every blue and white belt in the gym kick you while you are down. Welcome to purple. It doesn’t take long to begin questioning, “What am I doing here?” “Do I really want to continue suffering through this?” “How bad do I want this belt?”

There is a Rickson Gracie quote that I absolutely love and that defines Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for me.

Where there’s discomfort, there’s fear, in these very tough positions, you’re in a little piece of hell. And through this daily suffering, you learn to survive in these situations. You have to find comfort in uncomfortable situations. You have to be able to live in your worst nightmare. Jiu-jitsu puts you completely in the moment where you must have complete focus on finding a solution to the problem. This trains the mind to build that focus, to increase your awareness, your capacity to solve problems. Sometimes, you don’t have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing.”

“Sometimes, you don’t have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing.” In the helpless, hopelessness of a belt test; 40 minutes in with 20 minutes of hell to go, you learn what this promotion means to you. You have dedicated yourself to the art, to the endless pursuit of progress, chasing a destination that never arrives. In this moment, survival is everything. Everyone in this hour thinks about quitting. Everyone questions themselves, but I’ve never seen anyone give up. I’ve never seen someone in the dark tunnel, chasing the colored belt, quit. The rougher the ride, the more abuse they take, the more satisfying the victory of completion.

My hat goes off to everyone who was promoted last Saturday. I know you suffered worse than anything I can remember. You too have probably already forgotten just how bad it was. The sweetness of promotion erases a multitude of beatings. Beatings we are programmed to forget, so that in a couple years,  when the time has come, we’ll once again silently wait in the mat’s center, ready to battle all who approach.

To my teammates from Mori Training Center, thank you. Your determination and dedication to the art makes me better. I admire and value your friendship and support more than you will ever know. Together we suffer, and together we grow.

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Jiu-Jitsu, Cops, and Schemas

Written by Jeff Moore, ‘The Ginja Ninja’

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I’ve written about the psychology concept of schemas before.  They’re basically shortcuts our mind creates to make life easier so we don’t have to think out every single action we do every single time we do them.  As we regularly complete a complex series of tasks over and over, our mind does us a huge favor  and simplifies the complex task in to a “prepackaged” simple action, i.e. a baby learning to walk.

I hadn’t considered the application of schemas to jiujitsu until a cop buddy of mine was prefacing a series of techniques with a schema-related concept prior to teaching how some techniques flow in to other techniques, e.g. the armlock from guard transitions to the triangle choke, and the triangle transitions to the omoplata, and back again.

To illustrate the concept, he began describing a situation in which an aggressive suspect made a move to attack.  He told me he instantaneously and instinctively drew his firearm and leveled it at the attacking suspect a half beat before his conscious mind realized he’d done so.  His swift action caused the suspect to stand down, and no lethal force was used.

Years of repetition had enabled John to instantaneously perceive a threat, perceive it as potentially deadly and in need of potentially lethal force, remove his pistol from his holster, properly aim the pistol at the threat, and then pause before squeezing off a round to reassess the threat.  If he had to think through each of those steps, his actions would have been significantly slower and his life and subsequently the suspect’s life could have gone very different paths.  His schema, based off countless training scenarios and real world application, worked well.

Well, it works the same in jiujitsu, but with obviously much less dire consequences.  The reason people get really good at jiujitsu has everything to do with schemas!  A lot of factors go in to making a jiujitsu technique work against a resisting opponent.  Awareness is huge, as two people grappling certainly can create a fairly tangled, confusing web of limbs.

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For instance, to pull off an arm lock against a resisting opponent, I have to consider what my left arm is doing, what my right arm is doing, where my left leg is, and where my right leg is.  I also have to consider where each of my opponent’s respective limbs are.  Furthermore, I have to consider where my opponent’s limbs are in respect to my own limbs at any given moment.  Body positioning, weight distribution, and body angles all have to be considered.  Timing of technique, knowing when to apply the technique, knowing when to not apply the technique, and knowing how to even get in the position to execute the technique are all factors.  Finally, doing all of these things instantaneously while simultaneously being aware of your opponent’s attempts at defending as well as possibly what your opponent is trying to do to you in return makes a seemingly simple technique infinitely complex to a beginner.

Through years of drilling, practice, and live application, the complex series of tasks necessary to arm lock somebody gets prepackaged in to a nice little schema.  It becomes automatic.  It is my “Arm Lock Schema.”  Put in a slightly different situation, I have a “Triangle Schema,” and then a slightly different situation from the previous, and my “Omoplata” schema activates.

John was just teaching us to loop those schemas together, ultimately leading to the real life ninja shit of the Arm Lock/Triangle/Omoplata Schema. 

Resolving to be More Functionally Unfunctional

by Arlo Gagestein

With the coming of the new year, many lives are filled with often fitness related resolutions. I too have some gym goals for the year (see, even fitness professionals do it!). Like most resolutions, time quickly erases them from our memories, and next year we find ourselves re-evaluating and either recommitting, or deciding the goal wasn’t worth the effort and we should pursue something new.

Last year I hit some goals and missed some goals. I did finally run a trail marathon in September, so check that one off the list. However, running is on my New Year’s list again this year. Everyone who knows how much I despise running will be very proud to know I have thus far stuck with my goal with unwavering resolve this year. On January 1st I ran 40 seconds on the treadmill, and yesterday I hit 45 seconds.

The only thing more shocking than running on my list is my second and infinitely more important goal for 2016. I am going to do more biceps curls. Depending how well you know me, this may or may not seem like a big deal. Let me put it in perspective by disclosing that in the 11 years I have owned my own gym, I have done bicep curls less than a dozen times. Part of it stems from my belief that doing exercises for aesthetic reasons only is silly. I have always been a firm believer that if I train for performance, my sex appeal should remain sufficient without adding “curls for the girls” (besides, I’m happily married already). Also, until now, I have believed that biceps curls were far from functional. Complex, multi-joint movements are more similar to actions our body does in real life and will do much more to improve athletic performance. If I’m doing chin-ups, pull-ups, and rows, my biceps shouldn’t need extra attention. Even some complex movements such as the bench press, the supposed “king of upper body exercises”  haven’t seemed particularly functional. When in sports will a person lay on their back and push something off of themselves?

Over the past couple years, everything I though I knew about sports performance has been destroyed. My world has been shattered. I have been both enlightened and confused to the point of tears that my sport of choice, and in my opinion the MOST FUNCTIONAL martial art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is from a training standpoint, largely UN-FUNCTIONAL! It all started with the bench press. When would I ever lay on my back and push something off of me? Oh wait…that’s Jiu-Jitsu. The stupid leg curl machine (FYI, hip extension is a much more important function of the hamstring than knee flexion)…? Hmm, resisting kneebars, finishing triangles and armbars, keeping a closed guard…yeah, again, Jiu-Jitsu. Bicep curls, the most un-functional single joint exercise known to man? Resisting armbars and finishing chokes. Yep, Jiu-Jitsu. Joint by joint, exercise by exercise, a fellow Meathead Jiu-Jitsu (if you haven’t heard of that style you will) practitioner and I went through the functional uses of non-functional exercises. I buried the knowledge deep within, content to fake ignorance and continue on in my functional training ways.

Then, I made two startling discoveries that will change the direction of my life forever.

1.  While doing chin-ups recently, I realized my biceps fatigued much faster than my back and were actually substantially limiting the number of chin-ups I could do. While this should give me plenty of reason to work biceps, it alone might not have been enough. Reason #2 however, made me realize what a desperate situation I’m in!

2.  In October, my physical therapist pointed out that I have horrible elbow range of motion. Unfortunately it is a bony restriction rather than tight muscles (or restricted fascia for those in the know), so it’s not going to be an easy fix.  For 6 years now I have been struggling to finish guillotine chokes and suddenly it all made sense. I knew I didn’t have the mobility to front squat worth beans, but didn’t make the connection to my Jiu-Jitsu game. Compare these pictures, the traditional selfie pose (1st photo) and me trying as hard as I can to bend my elbow (2nd photo):

 

My traditional selfie pose.

Straining for all I'm worth to bend my elbow.

I know, it’s the same, right. Now it’s about to get crazy. Check out these pictures of the guy who routinely catches me in a North South Choke:

The selfie pose.

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Now, several things should be blatantly obvious. 1) He has much bigger biceps than I do. 2) My wrist is daintier though. 3) If my neck is wedged between his biceps and his forearm, I will go to sleep much faster than he will if his neck is loosely fitted between my biceps and forearm.

Now, not only is it a tighter fit, while caught in a particular choke last week  I thought I was okay until the above pictured arm flexed and I immediately had to tap. It was uncanny how much tighter the choke got when the muscle contracted. So, back to my resolution. Putting two and two together I immediately knew what has to happen. I need bigger biceps. Without full range of motion at the elbow joint, I need a giant mass of muscle to close the gap to effectively choke people out.

So, there it is. My main motivation for my most important New Year’s resolution to choke people. Is that wrong? Who cares, I’m gonna go work the GUNZ!!

 

Fighting For 1st – Lessons from Jason South

I am blessed to be surrounded daily by brilliant ninjas. I consider myself to be a respectable purple belt, but am humbled by at least one of my training partners nearly every time I step on the mat. I’m blessed with the opportunity to roll frequently with brown and black belts, super technical purple belts and some of the most talented blue belts I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I feel like I have the best team and training partners anyone could ask for. Every time I step on the mat, there is something to learn from my opponent.

While I learn volumes on the mat, occasionally, a simple comment off the mat changes everything I know about Jiu-Jitsu. One of these moments came in April 2011 where I had made the heavyweight no-gi finals of a local submission only grappling tournament. One of my teammates, Jake South asked when I was up next. I excitedly replied, “I’m fighting for 1st or 2nd right now!” Jake’s brother, Jason, quickly responded, “No. You are fighting for 1st.”

I had lost perspective. Subconsciously, I had already accepted that I might not win. Without realizing it, I doubted myself. I eventually did lose in a 20-minute battle, but the lesson will stick with me forever. I am always fighting for 1st.

Thank you Jason South.

Jason South is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt (Unified BJJ – Pedro Sauer Team) under John Carlquist, the current Steelfist MMA Pro Welterweight Champion  (12-2), and training partner to guys like Court McGee and Josh Burkman.

Starting Today

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

*I originally wrote this post on May 6, 2015. I wanted to repost because this past weekend, Richard Call, competed in the No Gi Worlds and came home with the bronze medal! Congrats Richard, I’m proud of you. There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be a world champion!

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I was hit today with an aha moment. Why it took so long, I do not know. I routinely share quotes such as:

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” -Earl Nightingale

and

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese Proverb

So, with even with this “Go For It” attitude, I for some reason intentionally hold myself back from becoming the person that I could be. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t let myself go by any means. I am still on track this year to accomplish the goals I set for myself back in January. They are legitimate, lofty goals and I’m proud of my progress, but I know deep down that I can do more. As a perk of my profession, I stay in reasonably decent shape. I am strong, have good endurance, and am leaner than the vast majority of Americans. I also feel confident that I have a good enough conditioning base that given a dedicated month, I can prepare for just about anything. A big beach volleyball tournament? I can be ready. A big grappling tournament? Just tell me when it is and I’ll get to work. A marathon? Barring injury, I’m confident I can do most anything with a month’s preparation.

I was training a 27 year-old jiu-jitsu athlete this morning whose #1 goal right now is to become a world champion by the time he turns 30. Richard has a goal and he is going for it. He also knows what he needs to do to reach his goal. He has lined up a team of people he believes can get him there. He has top level training partners, an amazing jiu-jitsu instructor, a fantastic professional strength and conditioning coach (like that shameless plug?), and such targeted focus and dedication to his goal that I have no doubt he will eventually reach it (like in the next 3 years).

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Pushing him through the workout today, I started to think about competition. I have competed A LOT, in a number of different sports. I love competition. Whether volleyball, jiu-jitsu, obstacle racing, or our own private, invitation only combination strongman/grappling tournaments, I love the atmosphere, I love the challenge, and I love putting myself against like-minded individuals. The thing is, I eagerly jump in regardless of my preparation. I’m fit enough that I usually do decent just going into competitions “off-the-couch”. Watching Richard train this morning, it dawned on me, “With the work he’s putting in, in very little time, I’m not going to stand a chance against this guy on the mat.” He has only been doing jiu-jitsu a couple of years. I have been training for seven. He is a lower belt than me, but challenges me every time we spar. I’ve been in a rut, deceiving myself to believe I can compete with anyone in my division with a month or so of dedicated work. But it is nonsense. My friends and my competitors alike are going to leave me in the dust because THEY are willing to put in the work NOW. Richard already beats me frequently, and before long it won’t even be close.

Watching him push himself in the gym today i realized I need to up my game. Sure I can be ready physically for a competition in a month, but how far ahead of me will everyone be who have already started and didn’t wait for a deadline. Chances are they will destroy me. I am a huge believer in ALWAYS being ready for competition. I hold myself to a relatively high level of fitness so that I CAN jump into competitions “off-the-couch”. But I am cheating myself. I know I can perform at a higher level. Not just good, but great. I know I my fitness can be better, but I have been avoiding what it takes because it is hard. I have opportunities to push myself daily, but frequently let these opportunities pass by, making excuses that I have business stuff to tend to at the gym, justifying my good, but sub-optimal fitness by consistently doing only the workouts that are getting me closer to my 2015 goals.

After watching Richard work through his first circuit (I was busy doing other “important” things of course), I jumped in for the second circuit. I went through one round and it was hard. The second round was harder. I considered bailing out, shamelessly because I had other stuff to do. In the end, I stuck with it all four rounds, embracing the suck because that is what everything but my body screams at me to do. Everyone I’ve trained with knows I love a challenge, that I do things the hard way, that I thrive on being uncomfortable doing things that suck. Trouble is, even when I put on that facade and suffer alongside my friends and clients, I’m holding myself back. I’m not giving 100%. ICAN give more and I WILL give more. I will no longer put off optimal fitness. I am starting my pre-competition month NOW, without a competition on the horizon. I will no longer avoid the work because it sucks. I’m fit, but I want to be at the highest level I know I can be.

Richard – I’m coming for you! Jeff, Lucus, Tiny – you too.

Jake – it pisses my off that you are so much better than everyone, but have no doubts, my conditioning will be better than yours.  😉