Archives for posts with tag: The Fightworks Podcast

Andre Galvao and Tim Sledd, from Tim's site

Today, my interview with Brazilian Jiujitsu brown belt and owner of a school that has become the first Atos affiliate in the US, Tim Sledd, is available at The Fightworks Podcast.  (You can find the interview here or via the ITunes store as a free podcast.)  We discuss what is a sensitive and controversial subject in jiujitsu – affiliation.  Tim takes you through the ins and outs of the process, including:

  • what factors to weigh as a school owner or coach in evaluating different associations;
  • the benefits and pitfalls of affiliation;
  • the requirements and obligations an affiliation bring might bring;
  • how to determine if it might be time to sever ties with your existing association;
  • and, much more.

If you are curious about the behind-the-scenes process, especially if you are seeking formal guidance in the art but are not near high level instruction, this interview is for you!

As always, big thanks to Caleb for allowing me to contribute to the show.


My friend Tony Tao running his first marathon in 2007.


Last year, Martin Rooney, renowned strength and conditioning coach, was interviewed on The Fightworks Podcast on the topic of fitness resolutions for the coming year.   He shared a framework for how to approach goal-setting that I found extremely valuable and that I’d like to share and expound upon here.   I would also suggest (re)listening to that segment because Martin’s energy and enthusiasm help ignite fire.


Martin’s framework is encapsulated in the acronym M.A.T., which stands for Measurable, Attainable, and Timeframe.   Let’s break these down.

Measurable: A goal that is not concrete and measurable is a goal that is doomed to fail because of ambiguity.  The only way to know if you hit a target is to have a defined target in the first place.  Many of us begin with a resolution, or what I will call an “intention.”  This is a very important seed, and since it often emerges from a deeply emotional and spiritual place within us, it is often amorphous.  The key to converting that from amorphous intention into reality, though, is to make it into something actionable.

In The Four Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss illustrates how to take an intention and transform it into an action item.  One of his examples follows:

Become fluent in Chinese —–> Hold a 5-minute conversation with a Chinese co-worker.

I’ll share a personal example as it applies to BJJ.  My “intention” for this year is to improve my jiujitsu so that I am on a purple belt level.  The personal target that brings that into reality is: Submit three purple belts in one sparring session.

Be on purple belt level —-> Submit three purple belts in one sparring session.

Attainable: If your goal is simply out of reach, it is booby-trapped for failure.  When goal setting, be ambitious but sensible.  The ambition part is important, as the audacity of the goal serves as inspiration especially when the inevitable hurdles appear.   However, to shoot for something that is simply not possible is a great way to create excuses for inaction.

Timeframe: You must hold yourself accountable, and a great way to do that is by setting a deadline.   However, a timeframe is not just about accountability.  In my professional endeavors, especially as a 5th grade teacher in the South Bronx and as a Recruitment Director for Teach for America, having a deadline in the future allowed me to plan backwards from the end point and define milestone markers to track progress.  At these regular checkpoints, I knew if I was on track to reaching my goal or if I wasn’t.  And, knowing the latter ahead of time allowed for real-time adjustments.

Other Thoughts:

1.  Less is more. – Busy doesn’t always mean purposeful.  Focus on just two or three goals that will have a transformational impact on your jiujitsu (or on your life.)  Your goal could be to tap someone with a low-percentage submission.  Or, your goal could be to realize that smoking is inhibiting your full potential on the mats (and in life) and thus seek the help of a medical professional to implement a plan to stop all smoking in 4 months time.

2.  Publicly share your goals.  (Or don’t.) – I’m of the school of thought that sharing your goals publicly with influential stakeholders who will hold you to them (your coach, a spouse, etc.) increases your chances of achieving said goal.  However, I recently listened to a fascinating TED talk that actually argued the opposite.  (see video below) Ultimately, do what you think best sets you up for success.

Apply the Technique

Consumption is human, creation is divine.  Don’t just read this post, but apply Martin’s formula and my tips to a couple of goals that will move you forward, whether on the mats or in some other area in your life.  If you want to share them publicly, please post in the comments below.

Odds & Ends

Gracie Diet Phase-in // Week 3 (no two starches)

I am now in the third week of the Gracie Diet phase-in plan.  Now, in addition to waiting at least 4.5 hours between meals, and avoiding desserts and sodas, I now have to ensure that none of my meals has more than one starch as a component.  This meant that I ditched the buns to my sliders so I could eat the yucca fries last night.  It meant reaching for the whole wheat bread instead of the multi-grain loaf this morning.

So far, I’m not seeing significant change in energy levels, though it’s still early.  I can say, though, that thanks to the diet, I am realizing that I consumed more food previously that I really needed.  I’ll keep you posted on how this week goes.

The CrossFit crash course continues.


5 kipping pull-ups, 10 pushups to lockout, 15 squats // as many rounds as possible in 20 mins / to maximize work, stay in one spot under the pull-up bar

My result: 10 rounds + 2 pullups before time expired.  When I asked Coach Max how my performance was, he replied matter-of-factly: “Not bad, I guess, for a beginner.”

This workout was very challenging.  Physically, it taxed my wind and muscles.  My hands were calloused and bleeding from the punishment of the pull-up bar.  Mentally, I had to work on turning down the noise in my mind and letting my body go on auto-pilot.  From a cognitive stand point, the literal thought of another pull-up or another squat at certain points during the workout created a tremendous road block.  The only way to keep going was to turn the volume down and just go!

It was also challenging from a technical perspective, as there were new things to keep in mind and Coach Max is cleaning up what I’m coming to realize is sloppy technical performance of very basic movements.

A great example is the kipping pull-up, which CrossFit uses in its workouts.  Hanging still from the bar, you hip forward, hip back, and then explode upwards, aiming to have your chest touch the bar.  At first glance, the motion looks like cheating.  But, the larger objective is to teach a motion that will translate over to gymnastic rings, specifically, the muscle up.    And I guarantee you – it does NOT feel like you’re cutting corners.

The pushups were standard pushups, but with a strong emphasis on perfect form, getting your chest all the way to the floor and locking out at the top before it would count as a rep.

The air squat also needed tweaking.  With feet slightly wider than hip width and knees out (not collapsing inward), you crease at the waist, butt down all the way so that your thighs break the parallel plane, and then push back up all the way, keeping everything smooth and continuous.  A key point here is to keep your chest up and out for the entire motion and keeping your head level.  This extra focus results in better posture, but also requires a bit more energy and attention.

The video below has some good footage of the kipping pullup, as well as of modifications made for users at different ability levels.

Try it, and leave your results in the comments below.


The No-Gi Worlds, broadcast by, was a great event!  Caleb and Shawn are improving as a commentating duo each time out, with Shawn keeping viewers engaged on the technical aspects of matches and Caleb providing data points and color commentary.

Some thoughts:

  • I love that they won’t let competitors just sit to guard outright.  It is incumbent on all of us a jiujitsukas to work on our throws and takedowns.
  • Kevin Howell is working on a new book with none other than Terere!  Woah!
  • It was fascinating to hear Shawn talk about cycles in BJJ.  Deep half guard was the “Vitor Shailon Guard” back in the day.  X-guard was being used frequently by Fredson Alves back in ’98.
  • The female competitors were absolutely amazing to watch.  Incredibly technical, aggressive, and submission-oriented.
  • Emily Kwok, who I got the pleasure to interview for The Fightworks Podcast, won gold in her division.  Very inspiring to see her hard work pay off.