Why train JiuJitsu?

I remember when I first started Jiujitsu. I remember the brown belts, black belts and even the purple belts seeming to be on such a high level, an almost unattainable skill level, that it seemed like it would take forever to get there, I knew I would get there eventually because I’m stubborn and if I’m going to do something I’m going to do it all the way, but the Jiujitsu journey seemed like a very long road. 

 I remember thinking “oh man when I get my black belt it’s gonna be awesome, I’m gonna be such a badass, There will be nothing more to learn” how far from the truth I was. Now I realize it’s not really about the belts, the belts are cool, but we can never stop learning, the more I learn the more I realize how little I know and how much more there is to learn. And it’s not the belts that make us better, we don’t make big improvements or huge jumps in skill level over night. What makes us better in jujitsu and everything in life, (whether it’s getting in shape, physical training, spiritual training, mental training) whatever it is, it is the little improvements, the little decisions, the little choices every day, the little choices that add up day in and day out overtime that make the big difference. The little decisions and choices of whether I’m going to play video games, or go practice jujitsu, or drinking that tasty Coke with potato chips, or a glass of sparkling water with salad and steak. 

 In jujitsu it’s the little improvements on the basics, a little more pressure put on the jaw of somebody from side control, or the slight adjustment of the hips to sweep someone. Jujitsu helps teach us to be persistent and dedicated and never give up, keep trying struggling day in and day out little by little and overtime we look back and see how far we’ve come. 

 One of the biggest reasons I like jujitsu is because it teaches us an honest assessment of ourselves, that’s what humility is, its an honest assessment of ourselves, humility doesn’t mean that we have to always bow our head down and think of ourselves as a loser. No to the contrary, it means that we see our accomplishments, but we also see how far we still have to go. 

 Jiu Jitsu gives us a healthy confidence. Before I did jujitsu I remember thinking, if I get good at martial arts I’ll be able to fight 10 people and be untouchable. Now after getting hammered and pounded over and over again, I realize that that is not true, but JiuJitsu dose give us a calm confidence, so that if we do get in a situation or confrontation with somebody, we will probably be alright, unless the person is twice our size and a good martial artist or something like that, but even then we won’t have that crippling fear of the unknown, and we wont freeze up , we realize that we might get beat up, but we will probably be alright, we will probably survive.

 We don’t do jujitsu because we like to fight, we do jujitsu so that we don’t have to fight. “Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.” “if you want peace, prepare for war” – Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus.

 Jujitsu is a lot like life, it’s tough, but it teaches us perseverance, dedication,determination, humility and confidence. 

 Stay strong in mind, body and spirit. 

                                                              Dominic.


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Staying in the present, is the best motivation.

In our pursuit of excellence, I think that dedication, determination, patience, persistence and perseverance are all more important than big New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting.

Too often we get all excited about setting new goals and resolutions instead of staying present and doing the best that we can at this very moment.

When we stay in the moment we don’t get depressed about yesterday’s failures, when we stay in the moment and do the best that we can right now, we don’t get anxious about whether were going to be able to keep our resolve for tomorrow.

Goals and resolutions are great if they provide some motivation, but if we can’t maintain that motivation, then it’s useless.

Real changes and transformations don’t happen overnight, they happen little by little, day in and day out, two steps forward one step back, but always pushing forward.

One of the most powerful things that we can do, is to be grateful every day for the little improvements, because if we’re grateful for the little improvements, they will add up and reward us with big changes.

One danger that we should steer clear of, is comparing ourselves to others.

When we compare ourselves to others and their achievements or failures, it can hurt us by making us discouraged or overly proud of our accomplishments.

By taking an honest assessment and look at ourselves, we can see how far we have come, where we are now, and how far we still have to go.

If we focus on just ourselves and doing the best that we can right now, we will have an honest assessment of ourselves and be grateful for what we have.

When we make progress this way, it doesn’t feel like we’re doing much, but when we look back a year later we see how far we have truly come, just by staying present and in the moment, one little step at a time.

So, let’s try to make a change right now, not tomorrow not next weekend not next year but right now in just a little way.

Like the samurai, we should strive to go to bed just a little bit stronger, mentally, physically and spiritually then when we got up that morning..

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Life style change – nutrition.

To truly reach our full potential in our pursuit of excellence we must learn how to properly fuel ourselves with good nutrition. This can sometimes seem very confusing, and almost a daunting task.

But really we can boil it down to three things: Quality of nutrients, quantity of nutrients, and timing of when and how we take in those nutrients.

Our body is a super complex high performance machine, and if we want the best performance possible from that machine, then we should give it the highest quality fuel available. If you have a Ferrari, you put premium gas in it; if you have a race horse you don’t give him cheap straw and expect him to run his fastest. I once used this logic in a conversation and the person said “yeah but the Ferrari will still run on regular gas” and yes maybe it will for a while, but we are not interested in just scraping by.

If you are not striving for excellence than move on and don’t waste your time with this subject. if however, you want to truly thrive at your highest possible potential, use only the highest quality fuel. The fuels that I like best are meats, vegetables and fats. My favorite sources of protein are rib eye steak, chicken thighs, sea bass, calf liver and pork chops. Of course there are many other good protein sources, these are just my typical choices. My favorite vegetables are zucchini, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, red and yellow peppers, garlic and onions. Pretty much you can’t get enough vegetables. For fat I like coconut oil, fat from meats, butter, olive oil and nuts.

Let’s go back to the analogy of our body being a high performance machine. If we have a limited amount of fuel that we can fit into our gas tank, then we will want to make sure that we put the best fuel into our tank. It wouldn’t make sense to fill ourselves up on empty calories and then leave no room for essential nutrients, if we push our bodies hard and then fill up on macaroni and cheese, we can’t expect to perform at our best. But if we fill up on nutrient dense foods like a steak, broccoli and butter then we will truly be able to thrive.

Now let’s move onto quantity. Our bodies need a certain amount of fuel to perform a certain amount of work. If we don’t put in enough good fuel, we won’t be able to perform high levels of work. And if we put in too much fuel, it will spill over into excess fat stores. Think about when you’re fueling up your car at the gas station. When the gas tank is full the gas automatically shuts off, if it didn’t, then it would spill out all over the ground. We also have a limited amount of space in our gas tank, so it doesn’t make sense to fill that space with empty calories and junk. If we want the best results from ourselves mentally physically and spiritually we need to fuel ourselves with the most nutrient dense foods possible.

Something that helps maintain the balance in the quantity of nutrients we consume, and a great tool to maintain health is, intermittent fasting. When I’m talking to someone about nutrition and eating lifestyle, and I mention the word “fasting”, a look of depression and dread comes over their face, like I just started talking about the end of the world or a dying aunt or something. To many, the word fasting, brings up unpleasant thoughts and ideas and images of suffering and misery, like a half starved hermit living in a cave eating grasshoppers and locusts. Or Angelina Jolie nibbling on a rice cake. But what I’m really talking about when I mention intermittent fasting is an empowering healthy vibrant way of eating that allows us to have a higher clarity of mind and an awakening of the body and mind to a level where we can truly thrive. What people don’t understand about fasting is that it allows you to have greater freedom to really enjoy your meals when you do eat. Fasting also allows us to really enjoy the feeling of being alive when we’re not eating.

The way that I like to implement intermittent fasting is as followes: I fast from my last meal the night before until morning, then I have a coffee with a good amount of healthy fats coming from coconut oil, heavy cream or some quality butter, then I continue without eating anything until about 2 o’clock, after which I have a smallish snack of either nuts eggs or meat. I like to go low glycemic for my first meal of the day, that way I keep my body in a steady state of fat burn without spiking insulin. After my snack around two, I don’t usually eat anything until my main meal in the evening about nine or 10 o’clock, I try to really relax and feast. My evening meal consists of a big portion of protein coming from meat, and a large quantity of vegetables. I eat as much as I need, until I am thirstier than hungry, then I drink some water and relax for about 20 minutes. If I’m still hungry have something else to eat, maybe some yogurt and fruit as a dessert with some dark chocolate.

When I’m feasting on my large meal, I try to adapt the methods of doctor Ori Hofmlecker and the warrior diet, where he talks about eating until you are more thirsty than hungry, then stop and drink a glass of water, Wait 20 minutes, and then if you’re still hungry eat some more. I also like to adapt what Mark Sisson(author of the primal blueprint) says, enjoy every bite, but ask yourself before you take the next bite am I hungry for this bite?

I really enjoy fasting because it gives the body a chance to clean out toxins and go to fat for fuel. I believe, that we are meant to thrive on a cycle of under eating and over eating, or feast and famine. One of the biggest reasons I like intermittent fasting, is that it allows the body to maintain healthy levels of hormones. Fasting kicks your body’s production of growth hormones and testosterone up. I would recommend someone interested in learning more about how the body’s hormones play into all of health, fitness and well-being to look up a friend of mine and hormone optimization specialist Mike Mahler, He has an in-depth understanding of hormone production in our bodies. Another benefit of fasting, is that it keeps your mind sharp and gives you a feeling of being awake and excited about life.

Fasting also gives us more control of ourselves and the ability to handle missing a meal with no problem. I can remember how I used to be if I missed a meal, my blood sugar would be off, and I would get grouchy and irritable until I could eat. Now, when I don’t eat, my body automatically goes to fat stores for fuel and I can maintain a high level of activity and focus.

On top of all of the scientific facts and explanations, fasting just makes sense to me on a human level. When we look at the history of humans, there were not many times that we had a large quantity of food available. Usually there were times when food was plentiful, and times when food was scarce. In hunter gatherer times, we would eat a lot after a successful hunt, or seasonally during times when fruit or vegetables were available and then go through times of fasting, when food was not plentiful. Our bodies are set up to function and thrive best on a cycle of over eating and under eating. During times when food is plentiful, our bodies gain fat as fuel stores easily. And if our system is functioning properly, our bodies easily go to fat stores for fuel to maintain activity and focus, fat is a very efficient source of energy.

Think about a lion, the king of the jungle, a lion doesn’t snack all the time, or eat six meals a day. A lion only hunts and eats when he’s hungry, then he eats a large amount until he’s full, then doesn’t eat again until he’s hungry.

Something that I’ve been implementing and have seen great results from also, is some simple food combining I learned from Steve Maxwell, don’t combine proteins with starches, when we consume a starch and a protein together it creates inflammation in our body, because we produce one type of enzyme to break down starches and a different enzyme to break down proteins, when we combine the two, it creates a toxic environment in our digestive system. I try to only combined proteins with a leafy salad or cooked vegetables, or a starch with leafy salad or cooked vegetables. Another benefit to not combining proteins and starches, is that it helps simplify our meals. We have a tendency to over complicate our eating. When we over complicate a meal, and have many different types of food it becomes too easy to over eat. It is not easy to over eat when we just have a couple different ingredients in a meal. For example, try over eating a salad and a ribeye steak.

This all seems like a lot to take in and complicated. But really it boils down very simply:

1. Implement some fasting to give our bodies a chance to clean, detoxify, optimize hormones, and go to fat for fuel.

2. Make sure that we keep the quality of our nutrients high, and cut out the sugars and processed junk.

3. Keep our meal simple and tasty. Don’t combine starches and proteins. And don’t keep eating if we’re not hungry.

I want to leave you with a quote that a good friend of mine Eric Keyes is always saying, “moderation in all things, including moderation”.

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Tune into your body

Sometimes when I ask somebody how they feel and what they feel like doing for there workout, they look at me like I’m crazy, and I know they are thinking”isn’t that your job”, well the answer is yes and no, yes because I know what they need at that point and time to help them progress toward there goals, and no because nobody really knows what you need at that moment better than you.

I am the only one in my body, only I know if I am feeling tired or powerful, only I know if I’m completely focused and in the moment or distracted by worries, only I know myself completely.

Of course we have to learn how to listen to our body to know if we are actually fatigued or just feeling a little sluggish and lazy, to determine wether we should take it easy for the day or if we need to just warm up and get ourselves right mentally.

This listening to the body, is easy in theory but hard in execution, especially when we take injuries and all the different factors like heart rate, sleep quality, work load, stress and a bunch of other factors into the equation.

But I think the most important thing is to be aware of listing to our body’s and to start trying to be in tune with ourselves, just being aware is a big step in learning to be in tune.

I like to ask how someone feels and what they want to do for a few reasons,

1. to help them begin to learn how to tune into themselves.
2. to get them motivated and into the workout to get them to feel like they have a say in there training and not just there like a slave with a whip cracking over there head.
3. I believe that we get better results when we are doing exercises that get us fired up and excited than we do by just getting through a workout, more like the feeling of excelling at something compared to just grinding through it.
4. I believe that the highest form of being a good coach is teaching somebody how to do it on there own if they want or need to, teaching them how to have a lifestyle change. When the student becomes the teacher, then the teacher has completed his task, like the old proverb ,give a child a fish and feed him for a day, teach a child to fish and you feed him for life, I think the same way applies, if you teach somebody how to exercise, eat, sleep and live a healthy lifestyle, than they can be healthy for life.
5. I think a workout should have flexibility. I don’t think it’s good to be ridged with a workout. I believe the best way is to have a workout plan but don’t be too stuck on executing it exactly, don’t fret about the reps or sets or weight or even the exercises. I like to have a good workout planed but still be able to be flexible and roll with the punches and adjust as we go, to just be in the moment and don’t give ourselves too hard a time if we have to back it down a notch or step it up a bit.

Ultimately the best scenario is that I and the person I’m working with form a perfect team where I provide a plan, then take the information that you give me by tuning in and listening to what your body tells, and putting the two together to create an awesome empowering workout.

Stay in the moment.
Dominic.

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Age is just a number.

I recently responded to a great letter from a friend concerning age related fitness and the problems with conventional gyms and training methods, this brought up some good points so I thought I would share it with you all. Thanks for the letter.

“I’m glad you found me and found out about kettlebells, kettlebells are an amazing training weapon. I like to mix kettlebells with an assortment of other things to make a powerful combination to aid us in our fight to be in top shape and to make us hardened warriors and warrior princesses.

You say that you feel like your “racing against the clock” and that your 41(like that’s old). I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be like that and I don’t believe in age being a limiting factor, age is just a number until we make it into something more (positive or negative).

I train a couple that are in there 50s and most people think they are in there 30s this same guy told me he wishes he would have known about this kind of training along time ago.

Another warrior I train is also in his 50s and was quite a bit out of shape and borderline diabetic, he is now 130lbs lighter and is getting younger on the inside and out every day, to the amazement of his doctor who said he could count the number of people who had done what he did on one hand.

Bob, a friend of mine who is in his late 70s started training kettlebells with me and is stronger and in better shape than most 30 year old’s.

Helio Gracie was doing jiujitsu into his 90s.

Randy Couture was the MMA (the most challenging sport in the word) World champion in his 40s.

Steve Maxwell (a mentor of mine) is 57 and looks better than anybody I know and consistently outperforms everybody including athletes at his seminars.

If I went overboard on that its because I believe people limit themselves more than age limits them, not that your doing that, obviously because your trying to find an alternative, but Iv seen it over again and again, and nothing makes me more upset than when someone limits themselves, because if they wont give themselves a chance then how can I help them.

You are definitely right about the same old routines not seeming to work, there not working for anyone, just look around you or even look around at the gym, everywhere, people are geting in worse and worse shape despite the hundreds of dollars spent on fitness and supplements and hours and hours spent on a treadmill at the gym.
The reason for this (especially as we mature) is the type of workouts we do and our toxin and synthetic high diets with an over supply of sugars and processed carbohydrates.

Workouts need to be short, intense and work the body as a whole emphasizing strength, endurance, cardio and mobility but most importantly intensity, in order to shock the body and activate the fight or flight instincts.

The problem with long “slow burn”(treadmill, jogging,aerobics) workouts is that the body adapts easily and plateaus, making it almost impossible to make progress.

The other type workout, (weight and machine lifting) fails to get us in shape because isolating a few muscles every workout and working them with breaks in between sets dose not put our bodies in a heightened state, dose not work our bodies as a whole(creating a chain with weak links) , dos not work our heart and lungs to the max and again takes to long ,once we work out for more than 45 min our bodies begin to break down and we produce less growth hormone, instead our bodies put out a chemical that breaks down muscle like the muscles of long distance runners, (they look like anorexic skeletons).

We can get a great workout in 15 to 45 min if the intensity is right.

The other big problem is our diet, we eat too much processed high toxin, high sugar foods.

We mix starches and combine food poorly.

And we never give our bodies a chance to catch up clean up and purge out toxic build up because we are constantly eating, piling on more work for our bodies. (fat cells are often just the bodies way of storing toxins because it doesn’t have time to purge them).
So your right”the same old” things don’t work, but the good news is there are other things that do work, and they are allot more fun too!”
Stay Warrior Strong- Dominic

The Weak Link.

The Kettlebell is our best weapon for combat against the weak link because of its ability to force our body into positions were we can not rely on our strengths.

During a kettlebell workout our body is forced to work from many different angles and planes and the center of gravity is continually changing.

Another aspect is the increase and decrees of momentum, during a snatch for example we have to accelerate the chunk of steel using our hips, legs, core, back and whole body while controlling the arch with balance and stabilizer muscles then slow it back down and stop it at the top using core and whole body to control and stabilize then reverse the process and repeat, that’s one rep.

Keep in mind all this twisting, swinging, off-balance, changing of plane and pull of gravity, accelerating, decelerating, bending pulling, pushing, locking and unlocking joints, changing altitude, muscle flexing and relaxing is done with balls of steel with a handle and usually using one hand and side at a time making balance all the more challenging.

The advantage to this is it forces us to use our bodies as a whole instead of  relying on strong bulk muscles to perform a motion of very controlled very limited movement, like the bench press were your body can hide weaknesses by compensating for one side and relying on the bar to keep things together.

Kettlebells also force us to think about the movement, concentrate on the task at hand and stay in the moment.

This “being in the moment” helps us recognize and feel our weaknesses and deficiencies, and as we say, the first step to fixing something is to find it, recognize it, and then we can choke it out!

So let’s get to training so we can find the  link.

Finding the Missing Link.

Our bodies are made to function together as a whole, one piece relying on the other, think of it as a Swiss watch, a Spartan phalanx(the warrior’s shield’s interlocking to protect his brother at his side, moving together as one), or as a chain .

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

OK.

So lets look at a body builder, who is incredibly strong, has huge biceps and chest muscles, but might only pick up heavy metal objects from one position using perfect form and using his legs and biceps.

But what about his stabilizer muscles, muscle endurance and central nerves system?

This applies, not only to a body builder, but to a runner or a cyclist or anyone not doing full body exercises.

The body builder might be very strong in a perfectly controlled environment in which his arms and legs can do there work. But how often are we in a perfect operating environment in our athletic life (Brazilian Jiujitsu, Ice Hockey, Baseball,etc.) or our day to day life?

This is what we hear so often “I’ve been lifting and getting in shape and then yesterday as I was getting out of my car at the grocery store BAM my back popped and now I can barely limp around”.

Why dos this happen?

Well because the body builder’s(and I’m just using body builder as an example)legs, arms and chest make a strong, heavy, titanium chain that’s strong enough to pull up a tree stump, but in that chain somewhere, is a link made out of aluminum foil, and in this case the weak link was the stability and mobility muscles of the back.

Our job’s (mine in particular) is to find that missing or weak link in our bodies.

So like a General in the Spartan Army, we closely inspect each warrior to make sure that their is no weakness in the phalanx, so that we can then operate with strong and balanced harmony, making ourselves almost invincible and bullet proof.

Next we will take a look at the best weapon or tool used to find our week or missing link.

The Kettlebell.