Update Update

Gracie Humaita Austin has had a visiting instructor for the past few weeks. His name is Andris Brunovskis, and he is one of the best brown belts in the world. Here’s a quick sampling of what he has to offer.

Or there’s this one:

Or this match with one of the other best brown belts in the world:

Although you can’t tell from the videos above, his game isn’t as flashy as all that. Andris is also one of the best brown belts with whom I’ve ever trained.1 I am not one to take either loss or spankings lightly; and by god, I’m not even sure when it last was that I was so effortlessly beaten (while wearing a gi). Stranger still is to watch my friends – who are good at jiu-jitsu – get just-as-effortlessly beaten.

Coleman's Dead!


(For those of you who refuse to click the link above:

Forrest Gump: Lieutenant Dan, Coleman’s dead!

Lieutenant Dan: I know he’s dead! My whole goddamn platoon is wiped out!)


Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. I’ve been super busy lately since I picked up a second job – moving furniture, of all things. I move rich people’s furniture. It is one of the weirdest jobs I’ve ever had in my entire life. And of course, I’ve still been pretty goddamn butthurt about losing in the first round of the Pan Ams.2

And I’ve had the conversation below with a lot of people:


“Yo-you’re still Justin.”

I used to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and, as I was brushing my teeth, wonder why my reflection was still standing there, looking at me funny – like why the hell is that bastard still here? But I think I’m snapping out of it now. Tuesday’s hard training was a good one. I think I’m back, or at least am on the path to being back.




1. I just couldn’t end the sentence with ‘with.’

2. Admittedly a little crass.

I Lost At The Pan Ams pt. II

March 20

Gracie Humaitá Austin Student #1: On Thursday, our very own Justin will be competing at the Pam Ams and even though we cannot be in the stands we can be with him in spirit. Wishing you good jiu-jitsu – be first, be focused and be sharp!

Gracie Humaitá Austin: Justin Baize will represent with the patch on his back, the fire in his heart, and the team by his side. No better representative to have in battle than JB. Impose your will. Don’t give your opponents an inch, and never let them get started with their game. This is how you win championships. It’s not who has the better game. It’s who forces the match to their best game.

March 21

My Instructor: Let’s all align our hearts and minds with Justin today as he prepares to step on the mat for the Pan Ams today. He and Darren Branch will be repping our family at the tournament this weekend. Today for Justin, Saturday for our man Keebler.


[Time passes]

GHA Student #2: Getting pumped for Justin to represent Gracie Humaitá Austin on the mat!!!

[Time passes]

GHA: Justin Baize is up

My Match

GHA: Hard fought match by our monster aka Justin Baize, today he came up a just a bit short but, we all know that he will come back stronger. One Team. One Family. One Legacy.

My Instructor: Congrats to Justin for stepping up. I guarantee you that after his training for the tournament, the Justin of today would kick the crap out of the Justin from a month ago. And that’s the point.

GHA Student #3: It takes great courage, complete dedication and countless hours of work just to get out there and compete at that level. Thank you Justin for giving it your all and going out there to represent!

GHA Student #1: You fought hard and I’m very proud of you.

GHA Student #4: You’re a warrior Justin! You’re an excellent role model & prime example of the jiu jitsu practitioner I want to be. Props for flying out & laying it all on the line.

March 22nd

from:  A Close Friend Who Trains
to:  Justin
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 10:40 AM
subject:  Texted it to you but your phone is prob off

Hey brother I just wanted to send you a msg, which doesn’t need a reply at all. I know the pain of loss and I’m sorry it didn’t go as planned. I am not even going to attempt trying to say something to easy that. Just don’t let it get in the way of enjoying your vacation. You will have countless hours to replay it in your head later – no need to do it now. If you need anything, I can be available for your any request. I love bro.

from: Close Friend #II Who Trains
to:  Justin
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM
subject:  No Worries

I thought I would drop you a quick line via email (as requested), while also promising to keep the sappiness/sympathetic [Insert Last Name]-ness to a minimum (I also tried to write this as eloquently as you come off on paper, but failed miserably). I just wanted to say that the tiredness you experienced is probably completely separate from your actual cardio state going into that match. Even if you were not consciously shitting bricks (which 99.9% of the human populace would be doing exactly that), nerves will completely mess up your breathing, etc. I’ve read stories about Mark Kerr spending the first half of his gas tank throwing up in the bathroom for an hour before every fight. Look at GSP vs Matt Serra 1… The nerves of defending his belt for the first time did that to GSP, I promise you it wasn’t his lack of athleticism. I’m just saying, don’t be hard on yourself man. It’s a game of inches, and you lost by 1, and it could have gone the other way around the other 9 out of 10 times. So go party it up, forget about Jiu Jitsu for a few days, get some sun, stare at beautiful women, and just take a deep breath because you more than earned it.

from:  Girlfriend
to:  Justin
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:08 PM
subject:  Re: I Lost My Very First Match

Oh lover, you have made me so proud. I will not invalidate your feelings by disputing them but I will say that you’re a strong, brave man for whom I have much respect and adoration.  I’ll provide my lap, a movie, a couple of arms and two cheeseburgers whenever you decide you’re ready for company.

from:  My Sponsor
to:  Justin
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 5:54 PM
subject:  Re: I Lost My Very First Match

Dude–its fine. I know this sounds cliche, but its true: There is only winning and learning. When you understand that, I bet you’ll never lose to another inferior opponent again.

March 24th

“You are the inspired application of motion in jiu-jitsu. Become it’s logic.”

-An inscription I found on the whiteboard in my room.

I Lost

I lost, I lost, I lost. And I take loss very personally. Yes, I lost. I lost, then I went on vacation in San Diego from Thursday evening to Monday afternoon. In that time, I turned off my phone and wrote a few emails to my close friends and everybody who helped me train.


from:  Justin
to:  My Mom
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 12:06 AM
subject:  I lost
mailed-by:  gmail.com

I lost my first match 0-3.  Something felt off today, but I don’t know what.  I think I tried to lose too much weight.  I’d call but, IF I turned on my phone, I’d have to read all the goddamn condolences from all my friends.  And I really, really, really don’t want to.

I love you.  I guess I’m on vacation in San Diego now.  I’ll call you in a few days.  Love you, love you, love you.



from:  Justin
to: Redacted (My girlfriend)
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 12:14 AM
subject:  I Lost My Very First Match
mailed-by:  gmail.com

[Insert Female Name Here],

I lost my very first match.  0-3.  It was a very, very pathetic display.  All my dearest friends were watching from home, too.  Why I couldn’t find the energy to muster even the slightest fight is, at least partially, elusive.  I just quit sometime during my match, and I can’t understand why that happened.  I’m a fucking loser — that’s the only answer I’ve got on such short notice.

Anyway.  I said I’d text you about it, but I’ve turned off my phone.  The last fucking thing I want to do is read all the goddamn condolence-type messages (And have condolence-type conversations) with my dear friends — lesser still with my acquaintances.  I miss you.  More than anything, I wish I was in your arms.  Or my head resting on your lap, watching a movie.  Possibly with a cheeseburger in my mouth.  Two.  I want at least two of those three things.

I hope you are doing well.  I’ll stop hating myself in a few days, probably.  I’ll shoot you a text once my phone is back online.



from:  Justin Baize <jjbaize@gmail.com>
to:  The 18 people on the team who helped me prepare for this competition.
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 5:04 AM
subject:  Helllooo My Friends
mailed-by:  gmail.com

“My Team, My Family,

I’m writing to thank you all for your continued support throughout my camp these past five weeks. While I did not perform to the standard of which I <i>believe</i> myself capable, I know my performance today would have been all the poorer without your investments of both time and energy. For those things, those various things you have invested in me, I thank you, my friends.

If you did not catch my match earlier today, let me say that you did not miss very much. To digress briefly, I THOUGHT it was Napoleon who said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” but apparently (according to the Internet) it was the much less regal Vince Lombardi. I don’t know why I was so tired. It probably had to do with the cut, if I had to guess. But for me at least, no excuse will really suffice. Nothing disgusts me more than cowardice on the mat; and all the fucking more when I’M the one being the coward. I expect nothing less from myself than to perform up to the standard set before us by Donald, Paulo, and The Legacy. I just do.

But I did not perform up to the standard. Not by a long shot.

So I write primarily to thank you so much for your help. I really could not have come as prepared as I did without your help. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you guys.

Taking the liberty on a quote by the illustrious Thomas Paine, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of [Gracie Humaitá Austin] must, like men, bear the fatigues of supporting it.” The sentiment of that quotation is precisely what motivates me to do what I do for the academy, be it instruction, competition, on the mats, or off. I wholeheartedly believe it — in fact, I can feel it…I can feel it in my plums…:

Still, one can only take so public a beating, only display so cowardly a loss before retreating to the privacy of his guest bedroom just two sunny blocks from the beautiful California ocean. ::clicks heels:: I got some goddamn donuts, now I’m on vacation! I’ll be back in town on Monday night, and probably back on the mats by the middle of end of next week.

When I return, I’m going to take a look at the copious amount of notes/data I took during this camp, retool, and, hopefully, return all the stronger and wiser. Thank you guys again and again and again for the continued support. I really, really couldn’t have done this without you all! Aaand I hope to see you, my family, soon!

Much Brotherly Love,

P.S.- If you’d like to reply to this email, please do NOT do it here. Drop me a line at [redacted], instead. I’m not really in the right kind of mood to read a condolence/encouragement-filled FB thread, earnest though I know it will be when written by you guys — and god knows I love you guys and think the world of you all too, by the way. This is also why, as I’m sure some of you have noticed, I turned off my phone. I’ll turn it back on in a few days. Thanks!


from:  Justin
to:  Redacted (My sponsor)
date:  Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM
subject:  I Lost My Very First Match
mailed-by:  gmail.com

I lost my very first fucking match 0-3.  Five weeks of two-a-days and three-a-days for one of the most pathetic displays of my life.  Possibly the most pathetic seven-minute span in my life.  All my friends from the academy were watching, too.  Why I could not muster the energy to fight is, at least partially, elusive — though I’m sure it’s related to the weight cut.  Whatever the final reason, I feel really fucking lame right now.

Thank you for sponsoring the trip.  I don’t think I would have been able to afford going without your help.  Maybe next time I’ll be able to muster courage enough to do more than just take an ass-beating in public from a profoundly mediocre opponent.  Hopefully.  I’m going to try to do some writing in these few weeks off from BJJ.  Thanks, thanks, thanks again.



Thanks for reading. I’ll be back next Wed.


The Day Before The Pan Ams

I am about a pound overweight, sitting in a guest bedroom in San Diego. On average though, I lose two pounds in my sleep; so I’ll be okay. I am full of energy, because I have hardly done any exercise at all in the past three days. My last tough workout was Sunday afternoon.

I’m really just ready for this whole fucking thing to be over with, finally. My training camp started 5 weeks ago, or thereabouts. In fact, it’s been longer then that still. My training camp for the Pro-Trials was a month long. I took two weeks off after the tournament, then immediately jumped into camp for the Pan Ams.

Training two and three times a day is a grind. Doing supplemental exercises after class are a grind. Controlling my diet – eating chicken breast with roasted broccoli or steak and salad or eggs and bacon for breakfast every single day – is a grind. Looking at my poor pinky, mangled and beaten, middle knuckle now preposterously large, then taping it up so I can train and mangle it up a little bit more is a grind. I guess I’m just tired. I’m just being cranky. I just want to tape my pinkie closed so it doesn’t lose mobility, the way my ring finger did on my right hand. And I just want to eat some goddamn pizza without worrying myself bald(er) about whether that is going to drastically affect my weight.

That’s enough of this ‘putting my complaints to paper’ business. Besides, I compete at 5:25PM on Thursday in Irvine. Pretty soon, I won’t have any more complaints. And it’s all really over already. All the investments in time and energy have been made. The dice are already crafted. Tomorrow, we all make our bets and then collectively throw them.

The time difference is annoying, especially with all this extra energy. I usually go to bed dead-tired. Tomorrow, I’m probably going to be up before the sun. If so, I’m going to walk two blocks to the beach and watch the sunrise – but I’m going to weigh myself before. This ends Thursday.

Thanks for reading.

Two Jiu-Jitsu Complaints

Colton Smith put a beating on me yesterday, the likes of which I had not received in some time. Just when you think you’re near the top of the pecking order, you get reminded that there’s ALWAYS someone better. Jesus, I literally cannot imagine what it would be like if I had to worry about being struck. I’ll tell you this: there’d be a lot of blood – a lot of blood and a lot of crying, and probably a few screams. I woke up this morning feeling like I was involved in car crash.1

You're going to die up there

By ‘up there,’ Reagan actually meant ‘underneath him.’ I’d die as surely as the rest of the people on this season’s The Ultimate Fighter.

Complaint Number One:  I got beaten up yesterday.

What else, what else, what else?

The most important thing on my plate right now is training for the Pan-Ams. I’ve been exercising two or three times a day for the past ten days or so. I’ll release my training regimen after the tournament, but suffice it to say that it’s rigorous and I’m fucking exhausted all the time. I have to go running after this damn entry is finished.

I also purchased a fancy digital scale, one with the ability to measure my body fat percentage, total body water, muscle mass, bone mass. There are some problems associated with using an electric current (called Bio-Electrical Impedance Analysis, or BIA for short) to measure the aforementioned statistics, so I take measurements first thing in the morning to avoid the majority of them. They all cannot be avoided, of course. So I expect something along the order of 3-4% margin of error.2

What’s the verdict? 16.2% body fat (±~0.65%). At best, 15.55% body fat. At worst, 16.85%.

What does that look like?


Complaint Number Two:  I’m fat.

Yes, I’m ever-so-slightly fatter than the bastard at 15%. But I’m coming down. I have about ten pounds to lose before I’m on weight for the Pan Ams, and most of it is going to be fat. What’s the plan? To look like fucking Hercules when I step on the mats. Whether or not I succeed, I think, is a matter of grit and determination. Thank you, my audience. See you next Wednesday.


1. I’ve never been in a car crash before, but, from what I hear, it leaves you very sore. I have been in a bicycle crash! I feel like I was in a bicycle crash! Seriously. I’ve been walking around like a goddamn mummy all day.

My Matches from The Pro-Trials 2013


The final bits of stretching before my first match.

Here are all three of my matches.  I’ll post my thoughts, which are substantial, about them some other time. For now, enjoy!

Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials 2013 – Match 1 (Under 183 lbs)

Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials 2013 – Match 2 (Under 183 lbs)

Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials 2013 – Match 1 (Heavy Absolute)

Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials San Antonio 2013

This past Saturday, I went and competed in the Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials in San Antonio, Texas. How did it go? After all the long hours of exercise, the two-a-days, controlling my diet in such a way that I lost twenty pounds, dislocating two of my fingers and still training anyway, how did it go? Uhm, not as well as I hoped.

First, the long and short of it. I won my first match in dominant fashion. This qualified me for the absolute. I lost my second match in the last ~10 seconds. This disheartened me greatly. Then, I lost my first match in the absolute in abysmal fashion – something on the order of 19-4. How did that happen? I have no goddamn clue.

Second. I have all my matches on tape. As soon as I get my hands on the tape, I’m going to post them (of course).

Third. I left it all on the mats. I trained and trained and trained for this goddamn tournament, knowing that the competition was going to be among the best, the best not just in Texas but in the United States. And as much as loss fills me with self-loathing and a hissing, seething, near-psychopathic-fucking anger, I am hard-pressed to imagine – given both my own abilities and the resources available to me – a way in which I could have been more prepared. Of course, I could ALWAYS in principle be more prepared. But in practice, it’s not that simple. I trained HARD for this tournament. For my first two matches, I fought HARD. Despite all that, my second opponent found a way to beat me. Where the margin between victory and loss was measured in seconds and inches, he found a way to win where I could not. It’s that simple.

Perhaps for the first time in my jiu-jitsu career, the reason I lost was not explicitly due to some deficiency on my end. I did not ‘get tired.’ I did not ‘not know how to escape.’ He didn’t ‘catch me.’ He didn’t ‘muscle me around.’ Nor was I ‘screwed over by the refs.’ The guy just trained harder. The guy trained longer. In that sense, he wanted it more.

Given the facts as I understand them, I now believe this to be true. It’s an interesting proposition, really. The guy beat me at my best, or very nearly so. This loss has put me face-to-face with what could very well be my own limitations in the competition portion of our Gentle Art. Maybe this is as good as I’m going to get. While perilously close to Daniel Dennett’s definition of a ‘deepity,’ I was always deeply unsettled by the fact that 50% of competitors lose their first match.1

Justin Abu Dhabi 2013

“Why him and not me?” I always incessantly wonder.2

In a way, I am reminded of the days when I was a physics major at university. Sitting in quantum mechanics, I used to honestly suspect whether or not I was capable of understanding what was being taught. Not because we as a species evolved on the African savannah and are not wired to understand quantum behavior because it would’ve had zero survival value for my ancestors.3 Although true, I did not mean it in that sense. What I mean is that those lessons genuinely felt beyond my capacity to understand, beyond my ability as a student. I remember sitting in class doing calculations for the orbitals of the hydrogen atom and thinking (a) the conflict between ‘common sense’ and the findings of quantum mechanics was deeply disturbing, and (b) the mathematical formalism feels genuinely beyond my capacity to understand.

You Must Be This Tall Sign

By way of analogy, I feel like for the first time ever I might have brushed up against my limits in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This feeling I have marked as ‘tentatively true.’ I need more evidence to better decide. I’m going to the Pan Ams this year – that should provide me with all the evidence I need. I’ll have my matches up for you, my audience, as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.


1. “The term refers to a statement that is apparently profound but actually asserts a triviality on one level and something meaningless on another. Generally, a deepity has (at least) two meanings; one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless and would be “earth-shattering” if true.” –http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Deepity

This is why my eyes want to roll into the back of my skull when I hear someone say “It is what it is.”

2. This is perhaps a type of survivor’s guilt brought about by obviously less traumatic circumstances?

3. That much is obviously true; and no human really ‘understands’ quantum behavior intuitively.

On Dislocated Fingers

Last Tuesday, after a night of really hard rolls, I noticed my ring finger on my left hand was a little tender. In the morning I woke up and discovered my middle knuckle was as large as a quarter. This. Sign. I know this sign. My right hand has a ring finger that won’t straighten anymore, and whose knuckle remains to this day as large as a nickel (where it was once as large as a quarter). My left ring finger must’ve gotten at least partially dislocated somewhere in one of my rolls without me noticing.

Then Thursday (I believe it was), I felt my hand get caught in someone’s gi as they were passing. As he established his position in side mount, I noticed some strange and hard-to-describe pain – something along the lines of a dull, radiating type of pain that you’d feel in your joint. I yanked my hand from where it was awkwardly caught, and took a gander. Behold! What did I see?

Dislocated Finger

My goddamn pinkie! My goddamn pinkie was bent in a way that it should not bend.

I verbally tapped.1 Then I took a big-boy breath, grabbed my pinkie with my right hand, prepared for a 10 out of 10 on the This Is Going To Fucking Hurt Scale, and pulled my dislocated digit away from my body to realign everything, then gently lowered it back in place. Let me just say, putting my finger back in place hurt a lot less than I initially imagined. And that managed to take the awkward bend out of it, as in everything appears to be in working order (albeit more than slightly beat up and exceedingly swollen right now).

For those of you who don’t know, finger rehabilitation is painful. It is really preposterously painful. After a good dislocation, the ligaments in your finger tighten and, as a result, you lose some range of motion with respect to extension and retraction. Well, to get all the degrees of extension and retraction back, you have to make your finger bend. You have to slowly, forcibly straighten your crooked finger. Then you have to slowly, forcibly retract/bend your straight finger. With the tournament on Saturday, all things being equal, I’d really like to use my fingers while grappling AND so I’m on the veritable goddamn Finger Rehab Express. In the evenings after training (since this pinkie business), my apartment has likely sounded like the innermost torture chamber of a Gestapo prison, what with all the pain I am forced to vocalize.2 My friends sit around on the couch playing video games, and I want to wail away like the black lady in “The Great Gig In The Sky” as I force my pinkie to bend.

The Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials is this Saturday. I’ve trained like a madman, and am as ready as any man can be.  I’ll be sure to tape my matches, and plan to have a write-up finished by the Wednesday after. Thanks.


1. And for those of you who know me, I NEVER verbally tap. There’s just something innately horrible about seeing one’s own body contorted in ways we know it shouldn’t.

2. I’m reading The Diary of Anne Frank right now.

The Tournament Diet

I woke up this morning and everything hurt. I guess I’m about two weeks into my training for this upcoming tournament. Good lord I am ridiculously sore. My wrist hurts. My back hurts. I’m also training everyday, and wake up exhausted – regardless of how much sleep I get. Sunday, I stuck my face into someone’s chest while performing a double-leg, and now I have a rub burn on my forehead. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a wreck right now, and am complaining aloud right now. Sorry.

Diet Considerations.

What really kills me about competing is controlling my diet. Since I started lifting weights about 9 months ago, every three or four weeks or so, I have been gaining a pound. So instead of walking around in the mid to high 190’s, I discovered one horrific morning on January 3rd that I weighed 205 pounds. What. The. Hell.

Absolutely horrified – I had not weighed this much since I lived on campus (with free access to food almost all day) my sophomore year of college – I immediately jumped onto a very strict diet. As of this morning, January 17th (two weeks after starting my diet), I now weigh 190.8 pounds. My weight class for this competition is going to be ‘Under 183 lbs,’ sooo I’m almost there, still with a good two weeks and change before the tournament.

In principle, I could cut the remaining weight in a day IFI HAD TO, but the damn tournament was so hard last year that I’m reticent to exhaust myself the day before for weigh-ins. Each one of my matches was super difficult. I didn’t sub any of my opponents; and all the matches were close. This time, I’m going for a more conservative, smarter approach.

What am I eating? Essentially, I have four different meals that I allow myself to eat. What I feel like eating at the moment will determine what I cook.

The Mighty Four Meals:

  1. 48 Almonds and black, plain coffee
  2. Chicken breast (cooked on a cast-iron skillet) marinated with lemon juice, garlic, and maybe a pepper or two.1 A ½ spring-mix, ½ spinach salad big enough to cover the other half of my plate (about three cups worth), sprinkled with a nut/seed mix, and dried cranberries. A tablespoon of olive oil for dressing, but I can eat it plain too.
  3. Three eggs and 4 slices of bacon.
  4. A cup of oatmeal, plain.

Usually, diet considerations are not a matter of increase but decrease. For most people – this is certainly true for me – it’s more important to cut out the superfluous shit everybody eats every day. No more burgers. No more eating preposterously large portions, when portions that would sate most human beings would do just fine. No more sodas. No more pizza. No more goddamn carbs – damn do I miss bread sometimes, though.

Once a week, I give myself a cheat meal. Last week’s was a double-cheeseburger. This week, I cheated with Indian food. My small daily indulgence is fruit juice. If I had a rigorous workout before the meal – the kind of workout that makes your hands and legs shake, that takes you to that dark head-space where you begin to have thoughts like, “This guy is going to have to kill me to beat me,” or “If I do one more squat, I’m going to fucking keel-over and faint (and I hope this shyster-bastard weight kills me when I fall face-first2) BUT I am going to do it anyway. Because fuck it. Because death before dishonor. Because I don’t love winning so much as I HATE losing – then I pour myself a modest glass of cranberry juice (or grapefruit juice) to enjoy with the meal.

Of course, to lose all this weight, I’m also doing an assload of exercise. But really, the exercise is to prepare myself for the tournament, not to lose the weight. I’d be doing as much exercise if I was already on weight. It’s a matter of earning some competitive advantage against your opponents; and exercise is part of that game.

Just thought I’d post an update about the tournament training, now that I’m ~12 pounds lighter than I was two weeks ago. Thanks for reading.


I spent the first hour of my morning debunking various pieces of the “Sandy Hook is a Hoax” insanity. I swear to god people are dumb enough to believe anything. Claims like these about a coverup, government conspiracy come from the same people who say that government is overly bureaucratic and inefficient. I wish they cared enough or were intelligent enough to recognize they held contradictory beliefs on the ability of our government. People need to be more skeptical.


1. I used tilapia for 4 meals or so, but I could not quite figure out how to cook it correctly. Occasionally, I switch out the chicken breast with beef of some kind. I’m looking forward to trying it with some cut of pork in the near future.

2. I really did have these series of thoughts on the 17th rep of a 20-rep set of Super Squats. It’s hard to explain, as I’m a perfectly rational human being. When you trap someone into a corner – by making them desperately tired, for example – there is a whole new set of thoughts which crop up. Close, competitive matches that bring you to the brink of your physical limitations force spontaneous eruptions of…insanity, of a kind of competitive insanity.

A very gentle, soft-spoken teammate of mine had me in a choke yesterday. It was not secured properly, but he tried to secure it as tight and awkwardly as he could. Exhausted and considering tapping, my damn lapel was covering my mouth, forcing me to breathe through my nose. Our match had been high-intensity too. Knowing I could not stay there indefinitely eating this choke, I burst from the position, fought for the top, secured and finished a triangle during our scramble. Later, he and I laughed about it after picking up the mats. “I knew the choke was not in there, but I said to myself ‘Hey, I never get here with Justin. I’m going to try to cut his chin off with his own lapel; I might as well try.’” ← His actual words.

The Happy New Year Entry

Happy New Year.

The Abu Dhabi Pro-Trials is coming up February 2nd, 2013. This was the tournament two Thanksgivings ago, the one where I took second place by being strangled unconscious. Some 14 months ago, I have a new belt now. And I’m hoping to have to another excellent showing – preferably WITHOUT the whole “being strangled completely unconscious” thing.

What am I doing for the lead-up to this tournament? Well, lots. Lots, and lots, and lots.

Monday and Wednesday afternoon, I go to Atomic Athlete to lift weights for functional strength. We’re somewhere inside a strength cycle right now…which means I’m sore everywhere all the time. Olympic lifts are as technically demanding as they are exhausting. I can’t make any sense out of it.

If you’ve never done a snatch before, you are probably looking pretty credulously at the (presumed) 95 pounds he’s lifting. But…seriously…it’s really, super fucking hard.

You know, the strangest thing about being stronger (having now been lifting weights for 9 months now) is that I get more tired moving my own bulk around. Too though, I get less tired exerting myself against another person’s bulk, because they are subjectively ‘less heavy’ than they were – now that I’m much stronger. Another person’s bulk (whatever their size) represents less of my total strength than it did 10 months ago. So rolling with someone heavier than me (in particular, getting smashed by heavier, stronger guys) is much, much less exhausting than it used to be. It is also a much less viable way to beat me.

In my opinion, the conclusions which can be drawn about the benefits of weight-lifting for one’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game are more subtle, less straight-forward than the weight-lifting enthusiasts would purport.1

My single greatest take-away lesson from this past tournament was that I was pretty tired during my matches – even though I managed to recover reasonably well in-between the matches themselves. My old standard was “If I have been training regularly AND can run between 3-5 miles in a reasonable time without having a heart-attack, I’m probably up for this tournament.” This last tournament, I was in the kind of shape I normally bring to tournaments, yet I still got tired. Is this because I’m having to move my heavier, now-muscular ass around? Possibly. I’m not sure, but this is currently my pet theory.2

All that to say, I’m also going to implement a regimented running program on Thursdays and Sundays. If my muscles demand more oxygen, I’m going to need more cardiovascular endurance. And as it happens, running is something I know a little bit about. Just spitballing here, I’m going to look to start putting in competitive times for five-mile runs, along with some proportion of intermittent sprinting. We’ll see if that doesn’t sort me out. If not, I would be comfortable in asserting that cardiovascular strength was not the problem in either this past or this upcoming tournament. We shall see.

There are associated dietary changes for upcoming tournaments, along with changes in the way I train. But I’ll talk about that some other time!

Does functional, Olympic-style weight-lifting improve your ability to affect your jiu-jitsu game?

Yes. A yes with footnotes, a few catches, a caveat here and there.


Oh, one last thing. Here is my LOVELY Sam Harris throwing a shoutout to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the middle of his article entitled “FAQ on Violence.” Excerpted below…:

“I do not believe it is irrational to prepare for very low-probability events which, should they occur, would produce the worst suffering imaginable for oneself and those one loves. And, as I pointed out in my essay on self-defense, the actual probability of encountering violence, even in the relative safety in which most of us now live, is not as remote as many people think.

There are also psychological and social benefits to self-defense training, which offer further reasons to engage in it. If I thought, for instance, that practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu made people more fearful and neurotic, I wouldn’t recommend it—or I would tell people to do the absolute minimum to familiarize themselves with the problem of grappling on the ground. But I think BJJ makes people much more confident in the world (and for good reason). The art is extraordinarily useful—in the unlikely event that one needs it—but it also brings many other benefits. Thus, preparing for violence in this way need not be justified by a narrow focus on statistics. Whatever the likelihood of needing to use it for self-defense, BJJ is a good thing to learn.”


1. In particular, the most difficult formulation of this question (in my opinion) goes something along these lines: Would I have performed better at my last tournament if, instead of lifting weights once and then training BJJ, I had ONLY trained BJJ? Instead of cross-training, what if I spent all that extra exercise time on the mats? Training 6 days out of the week (three of those days being two-a-days) SURELY would have had some significant impact on my showing this past tournament.

2. I could also be getting older. I started competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments at 21-years-old, after all.