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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Refractive Eye Surgery – (Part 2 of 2): Sympathy for Oedipus

On the day of the surgery, upon walking into the luxurious Beverly Hills office, I was handed two Xanax and a blue shower hat. Before long, I was ushered into the surgery room, and instructed to lie down on my back.  People in blue hospital uniforms and surgical masks were scurrying around all over the cramped room, and everyone was a little tense.  The vibe reminded me of being in a locker room before a big game.  It was go time.  Someone asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to during the procedure.  I thought about saying “Eye of the Tiger,” but it was no time for joking.

“Classic rock,” I said lazily, my head a little cloudy from the sedatives.

Somewhere in the background, Sting began playing softly from the speakers.  My doctor was staring into my eyes at the time, and when he heard Sting, he was, in all seriousness, visibly upset, and mocked the medical assistant, saying to me, “You ask for classic rock and they give you this [shit.  What a fucking moron.  I am about to reconstruct your myopic cornea with a combination of skill and art, technique and practice, with such precision as to provide significantly better outcomes than 90 fucking percent of eye surgeons west of the mother-fucking Mississippi, I am a pioneer of my field, I am the eye surgeon to the stars, and some ASSHOLE thinks that NEW AGE CROONER STING IS CLASSIC ROCK!]” (I am paraphrasing because Dr. Assil, a consummate professional, would never lose his cool like that)

“What group?” the medical assistant (or doctor or male nurse or whoever he was – he could have their full time DJ for all I knew) asked, his voice coming from God knows where.  People were walking by and squirting liquid into my eyes.

“The STOOOONES” I yelled, a bit too loudly, and the good Doctor approved.  I could sense a smile under his surgical mask.

I was told virtually nothing about the surgery itself.  I was fully conscious, but also blithely unaware of what exactly was happening.  A device was attached to my eyelids to hold them open like in a Clockwork Orange.  Drops were applied and reapplied to my eyes.  I was told to stare at a blinking light, and to let the good doctor know when the blinking stopped, but I sensed it was an exercise to ensure I was staring at the blinking light.  And something was peeled from my eye, I believe the eye’s outer layer, known clinically as “eyeskin.”  And the good doctor was using a small brush to wipe down my eyeball, which was surreal because I did not feel anything as I watched the tiny brush-like object scrape over my eyes like a squeegee on a windshield.  And he started to tell me an anecdote in between eyes, briefly pausing for five minutes to do the work that took his total concentration*, and finished the anecdote when his total concentration was no longer required.  He was as good as his medical outcomes suggested.

After the procedure, he dripped near-freezing water into my eye balls, which was by far, the most painful part of the procedure.  The cold water felt like it was seeping into my brain creating a massive brain freeze.  I asked him about the water, and he told me it was a “homeopathic” method used for pain management.  At the moment, the cure felt worse than the disease.

After the water torture, he sat me up, and everyone clapped to welcome me into the perfect vision club  He was clearly high on the successful surgery, endorphins were flowing, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if he pumped his fist, yelled “Fuck yeah!” and started running victory laps around the room.  

Immediately following the surgery, I could see slightly better than I could without my contacts.  On the way home, we picked up my prescription for a dangerous narcotic (recently recalled for putting "patients at risk for potentially serious or even fatal heart rhythm abnormalities") just in time for the pain.  For three miserable days, it felt like someone was constantly poking me in the eyes.  This irritating feeling made them water damned near constantly.  Before going to bed, I had to tape shields over my eyes.  Four hours into sleeping, I would wake up with buckets of tears that splashed across my face when I turned over.  I couldn’t read a computer screen or watch TV.  It took about two weeks for my vision to gradually improve to the point where I saw with 20-20 vision, which is normal, but a bit frustrating.

Three weeks after my procedure, I started training again.  On my first day back, Mandachuva looked me up and down, and was a bit disgsuted with me upon noticing I had gained a little weight.  It's good to be back.

Coming soon - Monstro will be posting the 2010 Pulling The Line Brazilian Jiu Jitsu awards. 

*  The anecdote the good doctor told me:  “Many years ago, I was working in St. Louis and used to get rural cases from hundreds of miles away.  I fixed the vision of a 102 year old woman.  She was still mentally with it.  After a follow up visit, she thanked me for restoring her vision, and told me she would pray for me as she was being wheeled out of the room on her wheelchair.  I had just broken up with my fiancé, and was feeling a little cynical, and muttered underneath my breath, “Ask for a tall blonde.”  She was several feet away and I assumed she couldn’t hear me.  With her back to me, as she was being wheeled out the door, she shouted over her shoulder, ‘Male or female?’”

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Refractive Eye Surgery – (Part 1 of 2): Getting My Eyes Did

I am going stir crazy.  I have not trained in more than a week in what has been my longest break from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the Best Damned Sport in The World ™, in several years.  Until recently, I suffered from the debilitating disease of myopia.  Blame it on poor genetics.  Blame it on reading too much in dimly lit rooms.  Blame it on doing what little boys do.  Hell, blame it on Cain.  I had poor eyesight, and I was sick of wearing contact lenses. 

Thankfully, I do not live in the Paleolithic era, and was not cast into the wilderness to die a horrible and lonely death because I could no longer provide for my tribe.  In these modern times, we have options, that is, glasses, contact lenses, and radically invasive surgery into our corneas. 

If I chose surgery, no longer would I have to, mid sparring session, blink out my contact, put it into my mouth, and finish delivering an ass-kicking prior to walking over to the mirror and replacing my lens.  No longer would I have to stumble into the bathroom to purge myself in the middle of the night, and wake up the next morning wondering why the guest towels were covered in vomit.  No longer would vision prevent me from joining up with the Navy SEALS, rather, my inexplicable sensitivity to cold water would disqualify me, a malady to which no surgery yet exists.

I am prone to risk-taking, and decided to lay my current vision on the line for the potential of super vision.  I was not promised any specific results or vision improvement, however, I could read between the lines of the legalize, and was assuming that, barring any problems, I would be able to see 360 degrees, in high definition, in pitch black, predator style, and quite possibly, into the future.  I would see with X-ray vision the envy of the most twisted of TSA agents.  I would experience visual beauty with a crystal clarity that would leave me in a state of ecstasy.  I would see even the most emotionally charged events with complete objectivity.  I would see it coming.  I would see right through you.  I would see everything.  I would be omniscient. 

Or my eyes could get totally fucked, but gambling money, pride, and physical pain was losing its luster.  It was time to gamble one of my five senses.  I had already allocated a great deal of pre-tax income into a flex spending account for this purpose.  It was time to get my eyes did.

I shopped around for eye surgeons and settled on “Dr. Assil,” eye surgeon to the stars whose luxurious Beverly Hills office was filled with pictures of famous people thanking him for the gift of (better) sight.  He’s the official eye surgeon for the Los Angeles Lakers, whatever that means, but I imagine it involves a hefty retainer, locker room access, and input into the starting lineup. 

The good doctor and I discussed my options:

1)      Pussy-Lasik (aka Lasik) using wave front technology.  Virtually pain free.  I would most likely have 20-20 vision the next day, along with a flap on my eye that takes up to a year to fully heal, but will require a month off of BJJ.

2)      Man-Lasik (aka Epi Lasik).  Burning awful painful recovery that will seem endless, will make me doubt the surgery did any good, and might drive me insane.  Vision will improves post surgery whenever my eyes decide to heal, and will alternate between getting better and worse, but will eventually stabilize after a few months.  No corneal flap.  Less cornea removed.  I could train again in a week or so.

Bottom line, Man-Lasik is the wise choice for martial artists.  With Lasik, though unlikely, an eye poke could turn nasty if flap damage occurs.  For those of us with corneas on the thin side, it's good to have some extra cornea because it could come in handy down the line, which reminds me of a joke I made up while recovering:

What do you get when you have an eye surgeon with a bad sense of humor?  Someone who makes cornea jokes.

Corny-a jokes...heh heh.

Next week, I’ll discuss the operation and recovery process in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Refractive Eye Surgery – (Part 2 of 2):  Sympathy for Oedipus.

Campeonato Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu Sem Kimono (No Gi Mundials)

Campeonato Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu Sem Kimono

Here we go again!  On Sunday, November 7th, stars of the BJJ world will descend on the Long Beach pyramid, sans Kimonos, for the 4th installment of the IBJJF No Gi Mundials.  Though not as large as its cloth-wearing brother, this sibling still offers a lot of excitement.

(Disclaimer:  My predictions are based off of the athletes list as of Friday morning 9:32 AM.  Brackets are not yet out, but as always, Monstro will be handicapping the black belts and providing insight, and KingofCrazy will be fixing grammar and making juvenile jokes.)

Black Adult Masculino Galo (Rooserweight - 126.5 lbs)

There are two, virtually anonymous competitors in this division:  Brandon Mullins from Gracie Barra and Joseph Capizzi representing Renzo Gracie.  The only thing I know about either of these guys is that Mullins placed third in the 2009 Mundials.  After flipping a coin, I can say with 50% certainty that the winner will be Brandon Mullins.

Black Adult Masculino Pluma (Light Featherweight - 141 lbs)

My two favorites in this division, Caio Terra and Samir Chantre, both represent team Gracie Fighter.  If the brackets work out, these two should meet in the finals.  The only competitor I can see upsetting a Gracie Fighter close out is Rafael Freitas of Gracie Barra.  To my knowledge, I do not think Freitas has ever beaten Caio Terra in competition, at least not at the black belt level, so if he ends up on Chantre's side of the brackets, this division could get interesting.

(Also, Milton Bastos is a potential dark horse who recently received his black belt.)

Black Adult Masculino Pena (Featherweight - 154 lbs)

Last year’s champion, Baret Yoshida, will be back to defend his title.  Otherwise, the front runners will be Carlos “Esquisito” Hollanda and Renan Borges.  Carlos got a huge win earlier in the year against Caio Terra at the Gi Pan Ams, but his game has been slipping ever since, so let’s hope he performs up to his potential.

Justin Rader, another intriguing competitor to watch, is Rafael Lovato’s first black belt.  Rader was promoted a couple of months ago, and I believe this is his first tournament at black belt.  The no gi game seems to suit his style better based on his wrestling background that began at the ripe old age of 4 years old (T.O.D.N.W.)

Black Adult Masculino Leve (Lightweight 167.5 lbs)

I predict a repeat of last year’s finals between Lucas Lepri and JT Torres.  Last year, Lucas won, but Torres definately has a shot at winning.  Since JT’s arrival at black belt, these two have been doing battle like Ryu vs. Blanka.  Lucas won the first few matches, however, JT was able to submit Lucas with a back choke at this year's nationals, and JT is rumored to have learned the fireball throw technique.

Milton Vieira, Augusto Mendes, and Philippe Della Monica could cause some problems, but if JT and Lucas are at the top of their games on Sunday, we should see another instant YouTube classic.

Black Adult Masculino Medio (Middleweight - 181 lbs)

As usual, Medio division is the most competitive and populated bracket.   Favorites include:  Gilbert “Durinho” Burns”, Tiago Alves, Lucas Leite (returning champion), Victor Estima, Fabricio Camoes, and of course, Bill “The Grill” Cooper.

Any one them could win the gold as there is no clear cut favorite.  Durinho is coming fresh from winning the Deep 6 grappling competition in Japan.  Last week, Tiago Alves won the Brazilian No Gi Nationals.  Fabricio Camoes has been concentrating on MMA for the past few years so you know he has been training a lot of No Gi.  Lucas Leite proved last year that he is capable of winning in this stacked division while Victor Estima surprised a lot of people.  Not much has been heard from this Estima brother in awhile.  If memory serves me correctly, his last major event was the 2009 Gi Mundials.  Estima has had a lot of success in the kimono and we shall see if can translate that into no gi. 

And then there's Wild Bill Cooper (not his official nickname), who recently won a super fight vs grappling legend Nino "Elvis” Schembri.  Two days prior, he won an MMA fight via rear naked choke.  Two days before that, he probably did something badass like trading roundhouse kicks with Chuck Norris.  This king-among-men is always putting it on the line, and I think could win the division this year.  Needless to say, I will not be in line at the churrasco stand when Wild Bill takes the mat.

Black Adult Masculino Meio-Pesado (Medium Heavy 194.5 lbs)

Whil there are several strong contenders in this division, I think the favorite has to be Pablo Popovitch.  If he wins both his division and the absolute, I think that it would be safe to say Pablo is the most successful current No gi competitor living in the world today.  His fights aren’t always exciting, but he does what it takes to win.  After finally beating Marcelo Garcia at last year’s ADCC, he has been on a heck of a wins streak, beating Lucas Lepri in a super fight along the way.

Other names to keep an eye on:  Marcello Salazar & Kleber Olieveira (winner of the Brazilian No Gi last week).

Black Adult Masculino Pesado (Heavyweight 207.5 lbs)

Three names stick out to me in this division.  First, we have two Gracie Barra heavyweights with Flavio Almeida and Roberto “Tussa” Alencar.  They both have more than enough talent to win this outright.  This means that one of them will have to meet Rafael Lovato in an earlier round.  Rafael and Flavio fought twice at the Las Vegas Open/American No Gi Nationals two months ago, with Flavio winning both times.  I would like to see Lovato on Tussa’s side of the bracket with a possible final of Almeida vs Lovato.

Black Adult Masculino Super-Pesado (Super Heavyweight 221 lbs)

The names that stand out to me in this bracket are Joao Assis (above), Marcus “Bochecha” Oliviera, and Bruno Bastos.

Joao and Bocheca are both rising stars from Checkmat.  Joao is coming off a huge win last weekend over grappling great Saulo Ribeiro.  He not only beat Saulo this year, but also beat Saulo’s younger brother Xande at the final of the “World’s Best Grapplers Tournament” held earlier this year.  The word on the street is that after taking the gold at worlds, Joao plans on taking on Saulo's sister, and if necessary, mother.

Bochecha is a very fresh black belt.  He received his belt from Rodrigo Cavaca at this year’s Gi Mundials after steamrolling the competition at both weight and absolute.  As a black belt, Bochecha has not lost, and even beat Daniel Moraes a month ago.

I am going to go with either one of these guys to win the division.  Bruno Bastos will be the thorn in one of these guy’s brackets.  Bruno likes to play a half guard game where he sweeps and stalls on top.  This is a great competition strategy and if he can implement his game, then he definitely has a strong chance of winning.

Black Adult Masculino Pesadissimo (Ultra Heavyweight - No Weight Limit)

There are only two competitors in this bracket making the match up a no brainer even for an IBJJF referee.  Leo Santos,  representing Ribiero Jiu Jitsu, and Roberto "Cyborg” Abreu of The Avengers.

The clear favorite is Cyborg.  The Tornado Guard innovator has been on a tear this year.  In my view, he had one of the best matches at this year’s Gi Mundials, when after being down significantly on points, he caught Braga Neto with a triangle in the waning moments of the match.  Leo Santos is a physical specimen (Monstro - what exactly do you mean by this?  - KingofCrazy) and a competitor, but I just don’t see him beating Cyborg.

Last but not least…

The four competitors we will be watching with the most interest on Sunday will be Jeremy "Geaga (Black Senior 1 Pena), Captain Caveman (Black Master Pena), Florentino “Nanico” Morales (Blue Midget Division), and Jason “La Bestia” Parry (Brown Super Pesado).  These teammates of ours have put in a lot of time and hard work preparing for this tournament, and we wish them the best of luck. 

Food for thought…

At the 2009 No Gi Worlds, we were treated with an influx of non BJJ martial artists.  These competitors were unranked in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the most noteworthy example was mixed martial artist Josh Barnett (Highlight comes at 2:50), who actually won the Pesadissimo Black Belt bracket last year, essentially foot locking everyone in his path.  

Afterwards, the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) implemented a black belt registration program requiring black belts competing in IBJJF tournament to be officially certified.  They charged money for the honor which brought them one step closer to:

1)  Killing the golden goose, thereby opening the doors for a rival BJJ organization

2)  Turning BJJ into another worthless martial art

Josh is an amazing grappler, and finally found a sport that doesn't test for steriods, but has no belt in BJJ, and I don't think he has any interest in getting one.  Is it a coincidence that the IBJJF started mandating black belt certifications after last year’s tournament?  Will this new process be known as the “Josh Barnett Rule"?  Is the IBJJF interested in having the best grapplers compete, or are they too busy lighting cigars with R$100 bills and chuckling manically? 

Top Ten Reasons Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Is The Best Damned Sport In The World

After playing hockey all my life through college, I kept in shape by running, biking, and swimming.  I look back on those years with regret.  What a waste of time!  I am not one to denigrate other sports, but if you are a runner, biker, or swimmer, you fall into one of three categories:

a)  You have never been introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the best damned sport in the world, and I feel sorry for you.
b)  You are too soft to participate in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the best damned sport in the world, and I pity you.
c)  You are a loser, and deserve to die in a fire.  (Also, I can beat you up)

Top Ten Reasons Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Is The Best Damned Sport In The World

1)  BJJ Will Get, and Keep You in Great Shape:  I was going to make a joke about how fit and muscular I have become since training BJJ, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been fit and muscular since infancy, in small part due to my mother’s insistence on nursing me with protein shakes.  Now that I’m in my 30s, I have a low heart rate, great cardio, and have functional (rather than vanity) muscles.  I am staying in shape doing something I love rather than running on a treadmill counting down the minutes until I can quit.

2)  BJJ is Mentally Engaging:  It is my personal philosophy that genuine fulfillment in life comes from complexity of experience.  Trying new things, meeting new people, working in different capacities, learning, going places, etc.  The more deeply we fall into a rut of pattern, the more the doors of our perception are slammed shut, and we end up sleep walking through this short life on earth. 

Endurance sports and weight lifting are like playing tic-tac-toe compared to the chess that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  It’s not just the fact that there is so much to learn that it takes 8-10 years to get a black belt, it’s that those who earn their black belts are still learning.  “Mastery” is subjective, but is so elusive that only a small percentage of practitioners will attain it.

3)  BJJ is Fulfilling on a Primal Level:  We are hard wired as human beings to be active, rather than sitting around all day staring at glowing rectangles, yet this is what constitutes a majority of our time awake.  Under that outfit of business casual and social mores lies an animal that wants to inflict damage on another human being.  Unfortunately, in order to maintain social order, we cannot routinely punch people in the face that we do not like.  We can, however, pit ourselves against each other in a forum that limits the potential of injury, yet enables some of that inner animal to express itself.

4)  BJJ is a Brother/Sister Hood – This sport is a great way to meet interesting people from all walks of life.  At a recent tournament, I asked someone from my academy what he did for a living.  Paparazzi.  Imagine that!  He sneaks around and takes pictures of famous people!  I’ve trained with pilots, dentists, actors, mechanics, professors, entrepreneurs, deadbeats scraping by on grant money, engineers, bankers, science teachers, writers, High school through College students, Canadians, criminals, chefs, military dudes, and (unfortunately) lawyers.  I’ve trained with people of different ethnic groups, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, and political philosophies.  I would not rub shoulders with many of these types of people were it not for this sport that brings us together.        

5)  BJJ is Competitive – We all learned from the box office smash, “Red Belt” that “Competition weakens a fighter,” and the lessons of Red Belt should not be taken lightly, particularly the importance of intellectual copyrights, and the rarely used, by highly effective back flip counter to defend the rear naked choke. 

Red Belt wisdom aside, competition motivate people to become better, clarifies who is better, and enables one to recognize holes in one’s game.  Competitions suck.  The nerves, Brazilian refs, dieting, sobriety, time and energy, not wearing your athletic supporter, burning out your grip, getting gouged on obscenely high competition fees, losing, letting people down, sitting on bleachers until your ass is more sore than your burned out grips, driving long distances, competing two hours past your scheduled time, and that feeling you get after watching endless white belt matches that makes you want to go home, take a shower, and wash the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu off of you.  On the flip side, winning is fun, and there is usually a shiny object awarded.

6)  BJJ Enables You to Roll Around on Mats, Wearing Pajamas, With (Primarily) Sweaty Men – Name one other sport in which I can bury my face in another man’s crotch, and it is considered a legitimate technique.  (Feel free to email if you know of one)

7)  BJJ is Better Than Any Other Martial Art – See UFC 1-4.

8)  BJJ is Combat/Self Defense –  Just as it is good to have a game plan going into a competition, it is also good to be prepared for a physical altercation with a fellow citizen on the street..  I’m not looking for a fight, but if I got into one, I would double-leg to heel hook until the poor citizen’s knee was destroyed beyond repair, and then I would run away before the cops arrived.

9)  BJJ is From Brazil – Thank God BJJ was invented in Brazil rather than, say, Somalia or Chechnya.  There are so many fascinating and wonderful things about Brazilian culture.  Did you know, for example, that Brazilians hate Argentineans because Argentina is filled with Nazi sympathizers and other deceitful troglodytes? 

One of the things I love most about Brazilians is their unique combination of jokiness/machismo, and their ubiquitous thumbs up.  Brazil is not, however, without its problems.  Most people have heard of the notorious favelas, but what many people are not aware of is that it is next to impossible to find decent sushi in Rio, which is a sad commentary on this emerging nation.

10)  BJJ Mitigates Existential Angst– At a certain point in our lives, we have to come to grips with the inherent meaningless of existence.  It falls on each of our shoulders to defiantly pursue a life of meaning in this world of emptiness and isolation.  Perhaps your meaning is found contemplating the beauty of the natural environment:  A waterfall.  A young doe munching on clover.  A night so clear you can see the dustiness of the Milky Way.  Perhaps your meaning is found playing Pogs™ for keeps.  But I find meaning in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the best damned sport in the world.

IBJJF Brazilian Jiu Jitsu American Nationals 2010 - KingofCrazy's Story - Part 3 - "Competing"

Reverse Cup Check
I arrived at Dominguez Hills around 11:00am, assuming I had plenty of time to warm up prior to my bracket being called.  All masters purple belts were scheduled for 11:20am, so I figured Middle weight wouldn’t be competing until roughly 11:45am.  My theory was shot to hell when, at 11:15am, they announced my name.  I hadn’t warmed up at all, aside from throwing my legs over my head a few times, but felt mentally ready to go.  I weighed in at 180lbs, a full pound underweight, and during the gi check, I was forced to remove my athletic supporter

(This is a pet peeve of mine.  There is a very real possibility that I could leave the mat no longer able to carry on the species.  No toe holds for purple belts, God forbid, but let your junk swing freely, competitors, and defend the hook sweep at all costs.  This is to say nothing of the twisted incentive it creates to give your opponent a nudge in the swim suit area.  I would never think of doing such a thing, but I am not Brazilian, and for some reason, our sport is crawling with those Samba-dancing, soccer-playing, thong-wearing, South American lunatics whose idea of cheering someone on is to yell “Jism!” (Porra!) every time they score a point, which I believe is just a subtle reminder to target the groin.  I understand the athletic supporter creates a fulcrum for arm bars, and makes for an uncomfortable bottom back mount, however, these small advantages are minor in comparison to the grand Darwinian scheme of things in which the true gold medalists are those who pass their genes onto the next generation.)

I walked over to mat six, and was surprised how many of my teammates came to watch, as I was the only one competing from my academy that day.  I assumed that, being an asshole, people wouldn’t go out of their way to watch me compete, but that wasn’t the case at all!  Now, I feel liberated in being an asshole, and imagine this will translate into acting out (e.g. Victory laps upon knee-baring featherweights [see below]) a bit more these days.

Match #1
I got an unlucky draw in the brackets.  There were five competitors in my age/weight/belt division which meant three competitors received bis into the quarter finals, and two of us had to compete to make it into the quarter finals.  I am VERY pro-bi, and was upset I didn’t receive one as it made me feel like I was being labeled small minded and old fashioned.  (If they only knew what I fan I am of Frida Kahlo!) 

Furthermore, my first match was against the Las Vegas open winner, who apparently had one hell of a triangle based on my pre competition scouting report (conducted by myself, alone, at my computer the night before).  He pulled guard right away, and I attempted the bullfighter pass a few times before passing one knee and diving into his half guard.  While on top, my opponent felt extremely light, and comparatively weak, and I probably outweighed him by quite a bit.  I flattened him out for an advantage point, and figured, as I was up one (advantage) point, I would play conservative, and only attempt to pass into side control if he unlocked his half guard, and respectfully asked me to, pretty please, pass my guard.  He eventually worked his way back to open guard, with really tight grips, and threatened the triangle and sweeps for three minutes before time ran out.  I felt relieved.  The first match is always a huge adrenaline dump, and I had built this guy up in my head with his recent competition win, his Brazilian heritage, and the clear edge he had over everyone in hotness.

Match #2
The second match was much more intense, against a competitor featured in Gracie Mag.  For three minutes, we played standup, with neither of us coming close to a takedown.  My opponent was a lot more active, but never shot in.  I was expecting the shot, and was preparing to sprawl, and immediately attempt a back take, so I was really surprised when he pulled guard, and not only pulled guard, but pulled closed guard with my posture broken.  That being said, I was relieved to have the match on the ground.

I took my time regaining my posture while fending off choke attempts, and was able to open his guard and attempt to work for a pass.  This guy had really tight grips as well, and was attacking pretty consistently until the last thirty seconds or so in which I attempted to isolate his leg and come around the side for a guard pass.  I was lacking in technique, and my opponent was super flexible, and was blocking my way with his leg. 

I kept trying to turn the corner around the damn near doublejointed leg, but was never able to pass and time ran out.  I believe the ref gave me the win for attempting to pass, but I wouldn’t have been upset (or surprised) in the least bit had the ref awarded it to my opponent, as I feel like it could have gone either way.  (Thankfully, my opponent wasn't Brazilian).

Match #3

The third match was against a big, unsmiling Brazilian with a shaved head.  We shook hands, and I was immediately suspicious of his extremely rigid stand up posture.  He didn’t appear interested in engaging or pulling guard, and his lead leg was nakedly exposed for a take down, and then, I swear, the lead leg began talking to me in a cooing voice, telling me to shoot for a single leg.  So I did, reaching with my arms rather than closing the distance with my body, and he sprawled out of bounds and we restarted.  Again, the lead led spoke to me, whispering “I’m right here for you.  Take me!  Take me, now!”  I started second guessing myself.  In retrospect, I don’t think this guy had a very well developed standup game, however, after my first lousy shot, followed by voices emanating from his leg made me think that he was baiting me for something, which is stupid, but in the moment seemed logical.

Eventually, he pulled butterfly guard, I passed into half-guard, and we spent a lot of the match with me attempting a gi wrap to flatten him out for an advantage point with virtually no offense on his part.  I had his back on the ground a couple of times, which I thought earned me an advantage point, but it turned out that wasn’t the case when I looked at the scoreboard after the match had ended.  0-0, 0-0.  But the ref raised my hand, and I was the American Nationals Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gold Medalist for Masters Purple Belt Medio (Middle weight) division 2010, and 6-0 in my two American National's competitions.  It was not pretty.  It was not a great performance.  But I have to admit it felt great to win.

An exclusive after-party featured copious amounts of dark ale and rediculously unhealthy food.  Thankfully, Applebees has no restrictions on athletic supporters (or calories for that matter) and my dining companions had no problem with me shoveling food into my mouth with both hands.

IBJJF Brazilian Jiu Jitsu American Nationals 2010 - KingofCrazy's Story - Part 2 - Training

So I cleaned up my diet and amped up my training.  I limited my carb intake to one serving a day.  I ate a healthy breakfast every morning of a banana, apple, and hard boiled egg.  I ate salads for lunch consisting of spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, cheese, bell peppers, and either chicken or tuna.  I made four or five of these salads on Sunday night, and they stayed fresh throughout the work week (I've found that if my diet requires any more than a minimal effort, I can never stick with it.)  For dinner after training, I drank Whole Foods ™ vanilla protein powder and water, which did not taste all that great, but I got used to it.  I stopped drinking the delicious nectar that is Fat Tire Amber Ale.  I trained four or five times a week, often for two classes, and before long I lost 15 pounds which was enough to drop me down to the Medio (Middle) weight division.  Physically, I was in really good shape, and sometimes after two hours of training, I wasn’t as tired as I thought I should be, so I did pushups and sit ups until exhaustion after class.  I was sort of like Rocky preparing to fight the Russian, only I was not training half way around the world in a rural cabin, and was competing in a completely different sport, and other minor differences that it would be pointless to go into because they do not further my narrative, which is admittedly, going down a rabbit hole.

Then I hurt my knee, which set back my cardio significantly.  Without that extra endurance, and with the weight loss, I felt like I was regressing because I couldn’t throw my flab into sweeps, and use my fat ass as an advantage.  As my knee gradually improved, I stepped up my training to the point of overtraining.  I felt even weaker, but tapered in the last week leading up to the U.S. Nationals Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament.  Captain Caveman worked with me on takedowns on Tuesday, and when I got back home, and the adrenaline had worn off from the session, my left leg felt as though someone was stabbing a hot poker into the back of my upper calf that was radiating down to my feet and up to my hamstrings.  I don’t remember how I did it, but somehow I managed to badly pull the upper calf muscle.  I tried to train on it on Wednesday, but was simply unable due to the pain.

I consulted a Medical Doctor, iced, elevated, wrapped the leg, and chewed Advil™ like gummy bears.  (Advil™ has a candy coating that, in comparison to protein mix and water shake, tastes sublime.)  I was hovering right around my target weight, but I couldn’t train, and therefore, couldn’t eat.  I was 50-50, and hoping I hadn’t just dropped $85 for a T-shirt and Gracie Mag, and felt sort of silly starving myself for possibly no reason.

I was injured enough to head over to my local Scientology center to detox my body from thetans.  Once the thetans were removed from my system, me knee felt significantly better.  For those of you that think Scientology is a joke, I urge you to take a simple personality test.  Tom Cruise, perhaps the most successful man in America, is a Scientologist therefore it logically follows that Scientology is legit.  Now you might not agree with some of the more fantastic claims of this religion, but that lack of understanding is born of thetans, my friend, and you are better off without them.

I starved myself Thursday, Friday, and Saturday so that I could carbo-load Saturday night, and eat a good breakfast Sunday morning (Otmeal, Banana, Fist full of Advil).  On the way to California State University, Dominguez Hills, I listened to AMG’s Bitch Betta Have My Money on eleven, a song that can be questioned for its misogyny, but not for its ability to motivate my Jiu Jitsu game.

When I walked in the door, the Advil ™ had kicked in, and I didn’t feel my pulled muscle at all.  I slept well the night before, and wouldn’t have any excuses for not performing at my peak.

Next - IBJJF Brazilian Jiu Jitsu American Nationals 2010 - KingofCrazy's Story - Part 3 -"Competing"

IBJJF Brazilian Jiu Jitsu American Nationals 2010 - KingofCrazy's Story - Part 1 - A Cautionary Tale

On Sunday, September 26th, 2010, I won the adult medio (middle weight) masters purple belt division at the American Nationals Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament spectacular.  I won three matches by the slimmest of margins, in fact, it would have been difficult to have won with a more underwhelming performance.  I did not perform a single technique.  There were no guard passes, mounts, sweeps, back takes, takedowns, throws, guard pulls, and certainly no submissions.  If there was an open division for lamest gold medal performance spanning all divisions, I would have beaten out even the competitors with nobody else in their brackets.  My matches were video taped, but I plan on destroying the evidence as quickly as possible.  I managed to win, and yet feel great shame in victory.  Sure, my name is emboldened in ibjjf.org’s crappy web site, however, I am crossing my fingers that only a few people saw me compete.  If Helio were alive today, he would be on his way from Brazil to kick my ass. 

I’m sure the three people that read this web site are dying of curiosity.  They are thinking, “KingOfCrazy, how did you manage to win/bore everyone to tears with your unique brand of sloth-jitsu?  Why didn’t you let us know that you were planning on competing ahead of time?  Why don't you know how to tie your belt?”

OK, fine.  I will tell you, but only as a cautionary tale.

About four or five months ago, I knew that the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2010 National Championships were coming up.  I had won the blue belt masters division in 2008, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t competed in almost two years. 

Back then, I was eating a lot, and drinking like a seaman on shore leave.  I weighed 190 pounds, a good portion of which was bacon grease and arterial plaque.  I became friends with the drive thru workers at Carl Jr’s, who knew me from my order of #8 bacon avocado cheeseburger with an Oreo Cookie Milkshake.  Yes, I would like some ketchup, thank you, and how was Ricky’s first day of school?  I was drinking copious amounts of ale.  I was fat and happy.  I was smoking cigarettes.  I was abusing prescription medication.  In retrospect, those were damned good times.

But I knew that if I wanted to compete at Nationals, I would have to get my (increasing fat) ass into shape.  I was training a lot, but the last thing I wanted was to show up at the tourney, and not look as hot as possible.  I knew I would be competing (so to speak) against a teammate who played a topless jeans model on TV's Cougartown, so I had a lot of work to do...

IBJJF's 2010 American National Tournament - Monstro's Picks

Monstro has returned!  I must apologize for my absence as my life outside of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has gotten in the way.  But enough about me and my "dark place"...

This weekend brings us the IBJJF’s 2010 American National Gi Tournament!  As always, Monstro will be watching from the stands as, once again, Southern California is invaded with worlds class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Then again, every day out here is filled with top notch BJJ as So Cal can more accurately be described as “Little Rio.”

What follows is my analysis based on the competitor list from the IBJJF website as of 9:17 PM September 23rd, 2010, T-1.5 days 'till the fun starts.  (As a side note to IBJJF.org - Seriously, bros, you need to revamp your web site!  Are you trying to confuse and thwart would-be competitors?)

Brown Belt:

Medio

I can't wait for this division!  My favorite to win, Tim Peterson (see above), placed 3rd this year at Pan Am's losing only to the eventual winner, Zak Maxwell, who incidentally is making his debut at black belt.  Aside from Tim, another contender will be Sean Roberts.  Sean is a brand new Ralph Gracie Brown belt, but has had a meteoric rise in the BJJ world.  I believe he has been only training for 3 – 4 years in which time he has medaled at essentially every event, and came in 3rd in his division at this year’s World Championships.

Medio Pesado

I have Erik Anderson winning as he has been on a roll as of late, winning two medals at this year’s World’s, and beating Ian McPherson, one of the best brown belts, during the semi’s.

Super Pesado

James Puopolo will win as this Rafael Lovato prodigy has time and again proven to be a game competitor.

Pesadissimo

Jarrod Bunch should be the favorite here, and possible contender to win the absolute.  Yes, this is the same Jarrod Bunch who played fullback for Michigan, and eventually for the NY Giants, and yes he is over 40 years old!

Black Belt:

Pluma:

Caio Terra!  Caio Terra!  Caio Terra!  I am huge fan of his game.   Caio is extremely dynamic, always moving, and ALWAYS looking for the submission.  I am sure that Caio is still disappointed about this year’s Mundial Finals where he lost a very controversial match to Bruno Malfacine.  Finals prediction is Caio vs. Laercio Fernandes – who is coming off a 3rd place finish at this year’s World’s.

Pena:

We at Pullingtheline.com will be watching this division intently.  A good friend, and former teacher, Gustavo Carpio will be competing.  Gustavo was promoted to black belt at the beginning of the year, and has already thrown himself to the wolves with fights against Cobrinha at the Pan’s and Rafa Mendes at the World’s.   This is going to be a stacked division as there are several fighters with equal chances of winning this group.  There is the eternal competitor in Wellington “Megaton” Dias who competes at every single tournament in the Adult division, in spite of the fact that he is in his Mid 40’s!  Johnny Ramirez, Samir Chantre, and Baret Yoshida could win this one as well.  While there are only six fighters in this division, every match is going to be a championship-caliber fight.

Leve

The three names I will be watching are Zak Maxwell, Phillipe “Furao” Della Monica, and Jonatas Gurgel.  I'll wager several kilos of oreos (double-stuff) on anyone who feels that one of these three will not be standing on the top step with a faux gold, and very square object around his neck. 

Medio

There are only four competitors in this division, and each one has a shot at winning.  The teammates Clark Gracie and Ryan Beauregard are both newly minted black belts as of this year, and will be on opposite ends of the bracket.  They face some very tough competition in Marcelo “Lapela” Mafra and Rodrigo Texiera.  I remember Rodrigo from the U.S. Nationals two years ago when he pulled off the massive upset against beat Bill “The Grill” Cooper  (who, by the way, has a super fight with Nino Schembri in October.)  I have to think experience will win in this one out, and we'll see Lapela vs. Texeira in the final with Marcelo taking the win.

Medio Pesado

This is a first for Monstro here at Pullingtheline!  For once, I am only vaguely familiar with the competitors in this division.  Jared Nathanson is ALWAYS competing at the big events, but just as consistently seems to get unlucky draws.  My prediction is Bruno Antunes will win this division, based on him being from Gracie Florianopolis which is in Brazil and this is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition, often with Brazilian judges who, while impeccable in fairness, radiate Brazilian energy at such high levels that Brazilian competitors always seem to do better with Brazilian judges.

Pesado

The lone competitor in this division is Carlos Gomez, who wins assuming he makes weight, cuts his finger and toe nails, wears a higenic gi, and does not kick his opponent's in the groin after the handshake.

Super Pesado

The Nova Uniao stalwart, Bruno Bastos, will take this one with his stellar half guard, and is my favorite to win the absolute if he competes.

Pesadissimo

Stephen Hall vs. Leo Santos, now this will be a very interesting matchup. “Pesadelo Triangulo” as Hall is known travels all over the world to compete - Stephen maybe one of the most active American competitors out there.  Leo Santos is just a beast of a man!  I think that the strength edge here is in his favor, very interested to see how this one goes.

Purple Belt:

Last, but not least, the single most compelling division of the entire U.S. Nationals is (of course) the Purple Master Medio Division.  This division is a no-brainer as Kingof Crazyshit aka “kingofcrazy” will best all comers by his sheer HOTNESS.

New Kids on The Block

New white belts have been cycling into the academy, and a week ago, I was paired with one during the beginner class.  It seemed like he had been attending classes for maybe a month or two, but I didn’t even know his name, and in all seriousness, it’s up to white belts to introduce themselves to me (bearing gifts), and not the other way around.  There’s nothing worse than a petulant white belt.  A note to all you greenhorns out there.  Higher belts (i.e. purple and above) need love, respect, and tokens of grattitude. 
 
I started from bottom side control, and something immediately felt wrong.  This guy was not leaving me any space to move, his weight was solid on top of me, and he was controlling me extremely well.  I felt…pinned.  
 
Who is this guy?” I thought to myself, “I know it feels like I’ve been getting worse these days, but how in the hell is this brand new white belt controlling me so well?”
 
I eventually escaped after a weird scramble (rather than using one of my awesome side control escapes), and then when it was my turn on top, I was doing really well until we got into another weird scramble, and he escaped.
 
Afterwards, I asked him if he had made a pact with the devil, or had trained somewhere else in which everyone is a white belt forever.
 
“Oh, I have a wrestling background,” he said modestly.
 
“High school?  College?”  I asked (hoping that he would say "College")
 
“College.”  He replied.  (Sweet)
 
“D1?  D2?  D3?” I asked.  (Please say D1!  Please say D1!)
 
“D1,” he replied.  (Whew)
 
“Yes,” I thought to myself, “you do indeed have a wrestling background.”

I Suck at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Today, I was completely and totally thrashed by Captain Caveman (see above).  I was submitted in 50 seconds (of a ten minute sparring session) by a cross collar choke.  I was submitted again, and perhaps a third time.  I can’t remember exactly because when I wasn’t tapping the mat, I had a shoulder in my chin, a knee on my stomach, or I was swallowing hair.  I haven’t been spanked like that in a long, long time.  I oughtweigh CC by a lot, but I couldn't move him at all.  I felt massively frustrated, but I think that was just to mask the instinctual reaction to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth.

Most of the time, CC will give me some pointers after the match, but today he withheld comment, perhaps because he didn’t want to give me the advice I really needed, that is, “Stop sucking so much next time.”

In other, completley unrelated news, last week, our lead instructor/owner of the academy, Mandachuva, came back from Brazil with an interesting story.  He only trained a couple of times when he was back at home, including once with his first martial arts instructor, a Judo black belt in Barra De Juca.  Mandachuva went for a kimura from north/south, and wasn’t able to finish it when his opponent grabbed his own gi to defend.  After the match, his instructor reminded him of a move he had learned years ago, but had forgotten.  I guess it would be considered a “forearm slice.”  I don’t ever remember seeing a submission like this, and it’s a pretty cool move when someone defends the kimura...But you have to figure out how to get in top position first, which is a good question to ask someone who doesn't suck at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Update:  I've hit the forearm slice a couple of times, but not against opponent's that really gave a damn about defending it.  (As an aside - I hate when people do not make even a cursory effort to defend a submission before tapping.  Not only are you stunting your own developing as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pracitioner, you are stunting mine as well you big jerk.)  I was going against Hoser this evening and as Hoser has a pair of testicles, he was not about to tap when I was only leveraging moderate pain on his forearm.  Afterwards, I asked Mandachuva what I was doing wrong, and he explained to me that while the first step is to shove your arm through the gap, once you post your hand and switch your hips, you need to pull out your arm a little, and then push your ass against your opponent's face.  I was making the mistake of digging my elbow into Hoser's chest, when I should have pulled back a little.  I think I'm going to ask Monstro for some pictures of this because I really dig this move, but I may or may not wear pants (depending upon who my training partner is).

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