I’ve hit a plateau.

Every sparring session so far at Prof. Rocha’s gym has been demoralizing.  All of my training partners have exhibited great generosity of spirit and there are no meat-heads whatsoever.  But, every person feels stronger, faster, and more athletic.  It doesn’t help that my work life is playing havoc with a regular training schedule.

After some reflection, I’ve come to two conclusions.  The first is conventional – basics, basics, basics.  It’s amazing that after so many years, my subconscious mind still doesn’t recognize sparring situations quickly enough to apply what I’ve learned.  Hence, I’m always playing catch up.   The solution to this is more sparring, but even more effective I believe, it’s more drilling of the basics.  It’s a bit frustrating that Prof. Rocha has asked me to attend the advanced classes.  I understand that he doesn’t want me sandbagging in the beginner’s class, and he wants me to begin adapting to the rigors of superior technique and grueling workouts.  But, I wouldn’t hire me to teach a beginner’s class, and until I feel that I would, I want to master the basics.  So, to address this, I have already set aside funds for privates that will only focus on the basics.

The second conclusion I’ve reached is more unconventional.  I’m going to do less jiujitsu to get better at jiujitsu.  Let me explain.

As much as jiujitsu is not about strength and athleticism, it is about strength and athleticism.  That is to say, those factors play a more pronounced role on the mats where everyone knows jiujitsu.

As a result, I’ve joined CrossFit EastBay. I know the CrossFit community is a controversial one, with equally vocal advocates and detractors.  However, I’ve seen CrossFit help my friend, Tony Tao, get into better shape while also improving his marathon time.  Additionally, I’ve been flirting with the program and trying some of the workouts since the early 2000’s, when I first came across the website.  I like that the workouts are varied, intense, and short.  This last part is key.  I need my workouts to be functional but they also need to play well with my already busy schedule.  I do not earn my living from working out and I don’t need to behave like I do.  I want to be healthy, look good with my shirt off, and see results on the mat.

I had my first personal training session with CrossFit certified coach, Max Lewin, last Friday.  It was part introduction into the CrossFit system, part tutorial on the fundamentals of our first workout, and then… Fight Gone Bad.  What is Fight Gone Bad?  It is what it sounds like.  It was developed for an early-career BJ Penn by CrossFit founder, Greg Glassman.  After the workout, Mr. Glassman asked BJ for his thoughts.  BJ reportedly replied, It felt like a fight gone bad.

How did it go?  It was the hardest 15 minutes of exercise I’ve EVER done.  I won’t describe the workout here.  Rather, I’ll let you take a look below.  But, to know I could go to that edge and be ok was a confidence booster.

My plan is to get the core CrossFit curriculum under my belt and use the facilities at CrossFit EastBay to take two classes a week as a supplement to my jiujitsu training.  Periodically, I’ll update you on my progress, both in the gym and on the mats.  I’ll also check-in after three months and see if I’ve observed any difference.  This is all an experiment, after all.