Category Archives: Mind

More Than Just a Name, Keep Calm and Roll On

I’ve written several blogs now and even started up a short video blog as well. However one important thing I never really spoke about was the name, Keep Calm and Roll On. We heard tons of Keep Calm and (something else) phrases and quotes and Keep Calm and Roll On is the easiest and best way I can describe my philosophy not only in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but also in my personal life.

Reaching the end of 2012, I hit a very unfamiliar place. This is aside from the normal daily stress you get from work and whatever else life brings your way. I didn’t feel like me. Just to give you some history on my personal life, I’ve always been the outgoing, free spirited, break the mold kinda guy. Since I was young, I knew I wanted and I had to do something people don’t normally do. Live my life how I wanted and not what was drawn out for me. The more I felt trapped and suffocated by what I felt society and even friends and family expected of me, the more I wanted to rebel. The more I wanted to dare the odds. I never felt as if I was missing something or even someone from myself as I did then. I had many regrets in my life that held me back for years and kicking off 2013, I wanted to assure myself that this year was going to be the year of me. Meaning that I want and need every bit of me to be whole and when my birthday passed in February, I had a reality check and a deep conversation with myself like no other.

People say within the years, they have seen me grow and change and this year was the biggest. I sat down with myself each private moment I had on the couch, shower, bed, outside and even restaurants. I asked myself one very important question that changed my life so rapidly and dramatically. If I was on my deathbed today, can I say I’m ready to die? The answer was scary and not as simple as you may think. It was a hell no! I reassessed my life, who I was, where I was going, where I wanted to go and most importantly what I wanted from myself. Try asking yourself the questions most valuable to you and genuinely and HONESTLY answer them. If you felt the same as I did when I answered them, which was deeply sad, angry and regretful, then you answered your questions truthfully. Now the next step is to pursue it.

The time life exists in is short. Meaning that even when we feel as if our day is passing so slowly, once our day is finally over, we tend to forget what we did during that day. See how fast time really goes by? Also after my grandmother’s death, which is still hard for me to say, I realize you CAN’T put a timeline on people and on your own life. You don’t know when your time is up! So make the most out of it and LIVE it to the fullest of your potential in WHAT you want to do in life. I refer to that as the road of life, which is long therefore, allowing you to try, explore and experience as many things as possible. I didn’t want to waste MY life’s time and drive on someone else’s life’s road. That’s when I made my decision.

I decided it was time for me to commit and dedicate myself to something that means a lot to me and that I received many benefits from, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I couldn’t stick it out in college and I enjoyed working and making money. Then at work, I’d get tired of doing the same thing over and over again. I started to also miss spending time with friends and family. I got caught up surrounding myself with work, 50 plus hours a week shifts and missing out on so much. I was killing myself for other people’s best interest and dreams and completely side lined my own. I missed the last months and days when my grandmother was alive for a fucking check I can’t even remember where it went! But what hit me worst was not being able to remember when was the last time I sat and had a conversation with her and I’ll never get the chance to now. The person that everyone used to see me as, the cocky, materialistic, high maintenance and money hungry person died the same day she did and all I want to do now is make her proud. I look to only have her see me from above, living my life for others and not only for myself. That’s what Jiu Jitsu taught me. That’s what the lifestyle of Jiu Jitsu has given me.

From the philosophy to the training, I want to dedicate my life to all the aspect BJJ brings to the table. BJJ has shown me to live in the moment and to take my time. If something doesn’t seem to work out and doesn’t go my way, it’s okay, keep moving forward. It taught me to let go and accept the things I cannot change and only concern myself with what I can. I find peace and balance with myself and my surrounds through its teachings, that’s why I practice yoga and surfing because aside from all the other physical exercise needed in BJJ, a calm, clear and balanced mental state is just as if not MORE important. Yoga and surfing challenges the mind to practice patience and calmness and without the two I’d be the same person as I was before. Helping others improve their Jiu Jitsu helps me become a better person by making a connection with the individual. They realize that their game has improved not just by force but also with balance and harmony and to see another person feel that is more gratitude I can get in life than anything else. I will continue to learn, inspire and motivate because that what I get from Jiu Jitsu and all I want is to pay it forward.

I appreciate so much more in my life since making my decision and I feel the happiest I’ve ever felt. I still have much to do and to go through but with all the steps I’ve taken so far and all the blessings I’ve received, I know I’m on the right path and no one is going to steer me wrong. This is my passion and my goal. I have no money, no “real” job but I have this. I have Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Keep Calm and Roll On is not just to improve your Jiu Jitsu but also to improve and better you as a person. Keep Calm and Roll On is my personal philosophy on life that saved me from a life I never wanted to live in the first place.

Obrigado.

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The Importance of Losing

In life there are many checks and balances and losing is just another one. In order to feel joy, one needs to feels sorrow, in order to experience success, one must taste failure and in order for one to win one needs to lose. All of this is pretty much the same concept. You can’t have one without the other. Experiencing both allows you to know what each feels like and how to prepare for next time. This concept also creates a sense of balance, you can’t have too much of any one thing. That would all be too mundane and you would lack growth and development in many aspects of your life. That’s why challenging yourself is important and sometimes in that challenge you don’t always happen to be the winner.

Monday was a tough day. I’m fighting many battles within my self mentally and physically but I’ll save that for another day. No excuses, my roll today was quite upsetting. We slapped fives and I automatically went into butterfly guard (seated position). I was constantly forcing my way forward to keep my hooks attached. Continuously attempting to play X guard, De La Riva and even deep half. I was quickly looking to utilize sweeps and transitions from the bottom into a more dominant position such as the back. However THAT was my major issue… I was playing the wrong game! This guy was strong and aggressive. So playing off the bottom might’ve been my problem from the start. That was such a lame mistake by me, which cost me to end up flat on my back each time. For all my attempts, he just stuffed it all as if I was no competition. I felt his weight crush my sides, trapped underneath his side control. I had to force my way out every time, giving each upa, each hip escape my every energy leaving me completely drain to start again. It was tap after tap after tap. I honestly felt humiliated, confused, frustrated and angry. I couldn’t wrap my head around this. It wasn’t until time was called as I sat there in disappointment in my performance that it hit me. It wasn’t that I didn’t play my game. I just didn’t play the RIGHT game against him.

I know this guy’s game. He’s strong, aggressive and he just bulldozes his way through. Each time I sat my butt on the mat he kept charging at me like a raged bull. Worst part is I knew this! I tell others that when they roll…”take the position! Stay on top! Don’t play bottom!” and look who doesn’t even listen to their own advice, this guy. I’d grab his lapel and sleeves and he’d just run right through me. I didn’t want to roll with anyone else that day; I only wanted to roll with him. I was not concerned about beating him once, but beating him as many times as he beat me. For every tap, I got right back up and slapped fives again and ended on my back again. All I kept thinking was how? why? And What the F***? I’d get so caught up and frustrated the match wasn’t going my way that everything, my belief, my skill and my calmness went out the window.

I should’ve played for the top from the very beginning. I’ve rolled against him many times and he is a great competitor however, I never had as much trouble with him as I did that night. Looking back now that’s what I realized. Recently I talked much about developing your game but there’s one important thing that I forgot to mention, you need to develop a game from all sorts of scenarios, structures and sizes. Hence in a case like this, the game I’d play with someone equal my weight and size should not necessarily be the same game I’d play for a person bigger and stronger. For someone like him I should’ve forced my way to take a dominant position like side control, mount, the back or even in his half guard. I wasn’t playing aggressive for the top at all. I was clouded by ignorance and frustration. As soon as things fell a part, I panicked and crumbled and only allowed myself to care about the winning than care about what the hell am I doing wrong. Caring and focusing so much on the winning cost me to only lose.

This is a clear look as to why losing is so important. Losing adds growth and development. Think about all the times great teams like the Bulls and Lakers had to lose before winning. They even lost championship games but came back and at times winning back to back. As an individual think about how many times you have to fail before you can succeed. See, you’ll never know what you’re doing right if you never do something wrong. You have to assess the issue, fix it, train it and then make it yours. If you keep winning, then you’re not going against the right person. How does continuously beating the same person or people make you better? It doesn’t, that’s why you always need to challenge yourself and look for those people that will make you work, that will challenge you and that has the potential to beat you. THAT’S HOW YOU GET BETTER. That’s also how you build your confidence in yourself and your game. It wasn’t that I lacked the strength or the skill; no…it was I folded under pressure and I let my emotions try to play the game for me. I know what I should’ve done but from the start I did everything I tell everyone else not to do. I did everything I tell myself not to do. I did everything besides keeping calm.

That’s the importance of losing.

Back in the Competition Game!

Competition is awesome because you get to see your game and your moves at the fullest and in its rawest form. You’re going against a person you never met. Their style, game and everything may be foreign to you but you get to see your technique shine or even fail. Both are important pieces to add in developing your game which I talked about last blog.

If you win, you get that opportunity for moves and techniques to come natural to you in a live situation, especially against someone who’s skill maybe equal or better than you. If you lose, you learn. Maybe you lost because you missed a small detail, off timing or it might be all mental. You might’ve had problems committing to a move. A lot of these questions can be answered during a competition.

I had my first BJJ competition at white belt and Novice No Gi. Like the beginning of my Jiu Jitsu journey, my first competition was very much like that. I was super nervous and very intimidated. I saw kids younger than me at the time, roll like true BJJ practitioners. Made me feel as if all my progress was just quick excitement of adapting to something new so quick. I even saw some gentlemen who were old enough to be my dad roll in some divisions. I must admit, my first time competing, I think I might’ve second guessed my own skills and siked myself out a little bit and maybe… I wasn’t even ready. Fact of the matter is I would’ve never progressed had this never happened.

When training for competition, you can’t think too much about how your opponent is training and working out. All you need to concern yourself with is doing more than your opponent. This is all part of the mental strength you need to have in any competition. Physical attribution is always necessary however, if you can’t apply it then there’s no use for it. The reason in this particular blog I’m not speaking too much about the physical necessities one should have especially for competition is because that’s a given. You know you need to have the cardiovascular and muscle endurance to last 5-10 minutes straight rolling. You also need strength and power to be able fight with a larger or stronger opponent. They may end up sitting right on top of you. But aside from the obvious, what some people fail to train is the mental attribute.

The mental attribute consist of self confidence, commitment, the will, the drive, dedication and most importantly the “mind over matter”. You need to find the will power, that inner strength for just when you think you can’t and when your body says it won’t, you dig deep! You dig so deep to where you do. That strength only comes from belief and that self confidence you only get from your mind. If you can’t incorporate that workout into your routine, then you already lost at LEAST 80% of the fight. Heck, some would even say 90%! You can be strong and have all the moves in the book but if things don’t happen to go your way, you panic and forget all your moves…then what else? You have to be mentally strong. That comes with controlling your emotions, performing under all sorts of pressure, be able and wanting to do what others can’t or won’t. Your opponent, they made sacrifices. Think about the “normal” life top athletes want to have but can’t because they know in order to always perform top level, they always need to be top ready! They’re hungry, I’m hungry. Welcome to the world of competition.

Up coming East Coast Competition (NYC and NJ area):

July 20th : Grapplers Quest- Morristown, New Jersey

July 27th: The Good Fight- St. James, New York

August 18th: NJBJJF Classic- Cliffwood, New Jersey

 

Again, thank you to all on WordPress and Facebook peeps that liked and followed my blog. Really makes me finally feel like I’m doing something right for once and please continue to do share and spread the love! So, Obrigado e gostar!