Month: May 2013

Do you live or do BJJ?

I love listening to the Open Mat Radio podcasts. They have interesting guests and I get some interesting insights from the best in BJJ. One thing that does keep reoccurring in discussion with guests is that Jiu Jitsu is not something you do it’s something you live. Well on my drive to work, this actually got me thinking, which one would apply to me?

My shoulder surgery, my change in fitness training, my change in diet and even this blog have all been motivated by participation in BJJ.

A large number of the positive changes that have happened in my life over the past few years have been initiated to improve my BJJ. So there is no denying the impact that BJJ has on my life in such a very short period. But the original question is “do I do or do I live BJJ?” I am not sure if I could say to someone at this stage, as part of a conversation that “I live BJJ” without feeling a little pretentious, despite everything I have gotten out of it.

The actual reality of this was highlighted to me recently when discussing why I had started yoga with a girl at the class. I started the explanation with “I do BJJ…” as part of what motivated me to start yoga. After the class on my way home, I starting thinking about the conversation in relation to the podcast and the questions it raised for me. Despite the impact BJJ has had so far I feel in myself that to truly say that “I live BJJ” I would have to had spent more time on the mat. Otherwise it would feel I am being dishonest to myself and to the person I am talking to.

I could not honestly say right now when I would be comfortable saying “I live BJJ”.  When I’m a black belt maybe, but that then associates it with rank and to be honest I’m not that bothered about the belt.  Its the learning experience and what goes with it.  The path not the destination, to sound almost spiritual.  It’s another one of those situations of when the time is right I’ll know.

I really hope this randomness makes sense.

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Balancing is fun…..

I have previously written about having “play” in your life and how important this is. I have started to get my life back together after the surgery and do the stuff that I enjoy.  At weekend I actually got to use my balance board.  I bought it whilst I was off with my first shoulder surgery after reading the Andre Galvao book Drill to Win. In the book Andre recommends an Indo Board Balance Trainer.  However I can’t afford one of those guys so I looked for a slightly cheaper alternative

 I successfully found with a Groundswell Balance Board It was well made and for the price, far more justifiable than the Indo Board version.

I finally decided I couple of days ago to start using this.  Partly for the fun of it and partly for the co ordination and balance benefits it will give my jiu jitsu.  I have to say it was great fun.  At little frustrating at first, as I spent more time as a see saw than balancing.  I did start to get the hang of it pretty quickly, which then led to the fun. How long I could balance, how I could move my feet to maintain my balance.  All really useful stuff, but hugely entertaining. It was pretty challenging but really made me laugh and was very enjoyable. I was forced to put it away by Mrs Munki who actually wanted to leave the house that day.  I had been on it for nearly an hour and hadn’t realised it.  I am so pleased I bought it all those months ago, as I had not realised how much fun it was going to be.  It’s something I can do at home whilst Mrs Munki is watching Glee, Vampire Diaries or something similarly inspiring.  If you can get something similar cheap enough I would so recommend it!

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Rate your heart – 10 out of 10

Another step in my recovery is my strengthening and conditioning programme as I have already mentioned. I am getting to much of an Old Munki to be flogging my self to death in a gym. So it’s time to train smart and not just hard. To this effect I am working a targeted weight lifting programme, but my main focus for this post is my conditioning programme.

My conditioning basically revolves around High Intensity Interval Training. I start with a couple of rounds of longer intervals, finishing off with a few rounds of Tabata protocol. Just in case you don’t know what the Tabata Protocol is,Izumi Tabata, its inventor, is a Japanese professor and pioneer of sports science whose research in the mid-1990s showed that high-intensity exercise in 20-second bursts separated by 10-second rests achieves more in four minutes than an hour-long slog on an exercise bike. Which obviously fits great into my Old Munki ethos of not spending a lot of time in the gym. The scientific research stuff for those of you that like that sort of thing is here. Now for this to work you have to do it at a suitable level of intensity. To achieve the appropriate level I use my heart rate as a basis. I had tried a heart rate monitor before, but it wasn’t a great one, so I just junked it.

After going on a site 8 Weeks Out I realised how useful a heart rate monitor could be if you got a decent one.  He has even put up a nice little video about how to use your heart rate monitor properly.

So by using the heart rate monitor I am able to make sure I am in the optimal target training zone whilst training.  So I can get the most out of my 30 – 40 minutes in the gym.  Plus the intervals work in well with my rolling rounds.  So keeping it sport specific and relevant to my BJJ training. Obviously it generally keeps me fit and healthy, but is relevant to my BJJ a lot easier and quicker than a long slow run. Plus it fits well into my periodised programme.

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Something to think on…..meditation

So I have been listening to a great podcast this week from Open Mat Radio about Nic Gregoriades.  This guy is a Roger Gracie black belt and has a really interesting and resource rich website the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood.

On the podcast he talks about how meditation plays an important part in centring him and creating focus, that helped in his jiu jitsu.  I had spent a couple of years when I was younger attending a Zen Dojo practising meditation so I was aware of the benefits it had previously had. Listening to the interview reminded me of how it helped clear and focus my mind so I decided to go for it again.

I know how hard it is to start meditation, so I wasn’t setting myself any major targets.  I decided on 10 minutes as a good starting point.  To fit it in  and to start a positive new habit I decided to do it at lunchtime at work.  So all week I have been secreting myself somewhere quiet and having 10 minutes of meditation.  The first few days I could not manage the full 10 minutes.  At about 7 minutes my mind started to take over and started to notice some discomfort and thinking about work and I could not let these thoughts go.  But after these first few days, I managed to got for the full 10 minutes.

I have actually started to notice some benefits after only one week.  I have been more focused in the afternoons and I have felt less weary when leaving work.  So I am really pleased with the current effects and I am hoping my mental focus will get even better with continuing practice.

I am hoping that the practise will also calm my brain when I’m drilling and rolling.  I hope I’m not just the only who’s brain starts threshing when you either have a complex technique to drill and you have to contextualise it.  Or that point when you have a guy full of testosterone poisoning trying to take you out.  I hoping the meditation will lead me to a quiet mind that can focus.

Just another aspect of my life that has improved thanks to taking up BJJ, as I honestly don’t think I would have gone back to meditation without this reason.

As part of my research for this I found a good article on meditation for BJJ is here at the BJJ Way.

This is also an interesting article on the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood on how Jiu Jitsu is Meditation

I also found an article here that shows over thinking is bad for sports performance

Listen while you learn…..

Yes I am still unable to hit the mats, but I ‘m now back at work. This unfortunate “real life” issue limits the time I have to do the things I enjoy. So I have started to plan how I will use my time more effectively to do the things I enjoy and not just the stuff that turns my Old Munki brain to mush.

Old Skool – Happy planning book

I have started an old skool paper “happy book” to work out what I enjoy doing and how to work it all, in the time I have around work. Some of the stuff is supportive of my training. So using the meta training thing I have mentioned in a previous post I have started looking at how I will study. One thing that I really liked when I trained, was my coach would play classical music whilst we rolled. I found this actually really good and enjoyed the music. I had heard previously that classical music does help you learn. So I have looked into this some further.

“Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” –Ludwig van Beethoven.

In the 1960’s, Dr. Georgi Lozanov and Evelyna Gateva researched ways to increase memory abilities including the use of music in the classroom. A couple of ways for using music, were developed through Lozanov’s methods. Using classical music, specifically Baroque, activates the learning process mentally, physically and/or emotionally. This process is geared to place you in a relaxed alpha brain wave state and stabilize your mental, physical and emotional rhythms to increase information absorption. The music allows you to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned.

Baroque music, such as that composed by Bach, Handel or Telemann, that is 50 to 80 beats per minute creates an atmosphere of focus that leads you into deep concentration in the alpha brain wave state. Reading to this music is highly effective. On the other hand.

An example of the type of music is here

So I have tried this out while working from home and report writing and it did actually help with my focus. So I have downloaded even more to help when reading, reviewing and drilling (eventually)!

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