Monday, January 30, 2012

Faixa Marrom

Promoted tonight. Still a little overwhelmed.
Good long roll with the professor.
A good night.

Monday, January 23, 2012

On Pareto and Jiu-jitsu.

I don't really like to blog about BJJ mostly because as a purple belt I don't feel that I've earned the right to have a definitive opinion on the more technical aspects of BJJ (yes I used to write about BJJ. That was to force me to articulate jiu-jitsu as I was learning it.) There have been a lot of talk around two blog posts (Aesopian and BJJ Lab) that contrast Pareto's 80/20 principle and BJJ techniques. In my opinion (only a purple belt, so that and 3 bucks will get you a cup of coffee) they're both wrong.. kind of.. and I want to take the time to articulate my thoughts on the subject.
The idea isn't wrong, just the application. The focus of both of the blog posts is on techniques. This focus is flawed. There are too many factors in technique: size, strength, length, flexibility, injury history, philosophy, aggression, etc etc. Case in point, from my guard I rarely armbar. A fundamental technique for most players, but with my injury history it's rarely appropriate. I know a number of players with similar prohibitions on seemingly foundational techniques.
The principal works just fine if you take the focus off of moves and put them on movements. It's the bridge not the upa. It's the hip movement, not the armbar from guard. In my hierarchy of BJJ there are Principals, strategies, tactics, and then techniques. Pareto fits nicely in there. If you have the principals of base, control, posture, pressure, movement and leverage (and probably a few more). Then you can implement strategies (gain position to get the submission/break posture in guard/regain posture to pass). Which lead you to specific tactics (sweep from guard/break posture in sagittal plane/ post hands and put your spine in line) Which allow you to finish individual techniques (flower sweep/grip lapels and pull with hands and hips/ hand to the sternum, other hand to the hip, hide both elbows) . If the fundamental 20% are sound then the other 80% will sort itself.
The reason people don't see this, is it's incredibly difficult to teach this way. Expressing a principal of BJJ is hard, we know when it's gone wrong, but it's hard to express what it looks like when it is right. So we teach from the bottom of the pyramid instead of from the top. Techniques allow us to build tactics, which we assemble into strategies from which we extrapolate (either intuitively or explicitly) principals. Because we learn this way, we lose the forest for the individual trees.
I don't doubt that David and 'Aesop' are smart guys. Very well could be smarter than me, probably better on the mats. I have had the benefit of having this discussion of Pareto before as it is applied to strength and conditioning, was fortunate to find Matt Thornton's blog very early in my jiu-jitsu life, and am just kind of a quirky dude who thinks this way about a lot of things. This is how I see it, and this is how it applies to my game, and it does allow the principles and data points they've outlined, and explains the outliers.. which to me seems more correct. This is a discussion of philosophy. Your mileage may vary.
However, there is no way to statistically analyze youtube/adcc/the mundials and get the "right moves." There isn't an answer here, only more questions.
Every time I learn a technique, I think what are the underlying principals? How does this fit in my strategy? How can I string it together with other techniques to create a tactical sequence? That thought process allows me adopt techniques earlier and break down people's games (including my own). It's helped me be a better training partner and coach. I don't know if it's made my game any better because frankly I can't divorce this mindset from my own abilities.
Please feel free to disagree with me in the comments.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Movement matters.

This is important, so I'll say it again: movement matters.
The biggest place people overlook movement is in the very place they should be looking at it most closely: in their warm-up.
One of the things I love about training people in racing sports is that they tend to have very consistent measurable metrics for success. I am working with a woman right now who is a master's rower. We'll call her Karin (mostly because that's her name).
I took her through an assessment and found (quite predictably for a rower) that she lacked T-spine extension and posterior activation (glutes and hamstrings). She sits. She sits at work, she sits at home, and she sits in the boat.
Just for demonstrative purposes I had her warm-up as she normally would, sit down on the ergometer and pull a 20 stroke start sequence. I asked her to pull a start and try to get as much 'distance' as she could in those 20 strokes. I kept it short because I didn't want fatigue to be a factor. I flipped the monitor back so that she couldn't see her stroke rate, her splits, watts. I was trying to isolate distance per stroke as best as possible. Then I showed her some T-spine extension drills. We did some reach roll and lifts. We did some work to activate her backside. Then we repeated the test. Same erg, same number of strokes and same sequence.
the results:
Standard warm-up: 251m
good dynamic warm-up: 303m
That's a 17% increase in distance just by warming-up properly.. once!
This is not after several weeks of corrective exercise, this is 3-4 exercises demonstrated and done for 2-3 sets, and hop back on the erg and go.
This is not a study. The plural of anecdote is not data, but it should be enough to give you pause. Where would a 17% increase in performance put you? On the podium? At the top of the podium?
Movement matters, work on yours.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA badness.

I was looking for a way to express my disdain for SOPA and PIPA.. I couldn't do it adequately. I'm too emotionally vested and it kept coming out along the lines of "ARE YOU KIDDING?!!? THIS HAS TO BE A (censored) JOKE!!CAPSLOCK ARRRGGHGHHHRRRR!!!"
Fortunately The Oatmeal is a little cooler headed.. and he did what he does (see the gif below)
Yes, it's crass and silly.. maybe more than a little bit wrong.. but so is this legislation. Write, call, email your congressmen and tell them not to be dumb.

more info here
Back to your regularly scheduled meat-headedness tomorrow.

Friday, January 13, 2012

More meat.

I bought 150lbs of meat (that is hanging weight, so the actual is slightly less). It's still a lot (see the picture.. the gallon of anti-freeze gives you an idea of scale)
The total cost (including delivery/pick-up at a park-n-ride near my house) was around $600. It came to about $4.50/lb by the time it was all said and done. Which is an excellent value. Out here grass fed ground is $5.99-6.99/lb. The package included both ground, and scrap cuts ("cube steak" and "stew meat") but also roasts, and luxury cuts (which can go for upwards of $20/lb). I've only eaten the ground beef so far, but it's great! I will let you know if the rest is not of equal quality.
I bought it from a farm in central Washington. It's everything food should be: local, no hormones, no antibiotics, no middlemen. From the pasture, to the butcher, to me. This type of commerce can save small farms and small farming practices. If you are going to eat beef, investigate this type of meat procurement.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Braised meat.

I like braised meat.
It's a good way to get quality protein in on the cheap, it's a one pot meal and it's meat.. and stuff!

Here's how I do it: (feeds One meathead and his lovely wife)
2-3 lbs roast (I like lamb shanks, or beef chuck). Heavily salted. Cut the stupid string off. Preheat oven to 325.
Very hot pan/pot (cast iron if possible, never non-stick) with a little bit of oil (olive or coconut) sear till brown and crusty (not black and charcoal) on all sides.
Turn down the burner.
Pull out the roast, add onions/garlic/leeks .. whatever onion type aromatics you like. Add fresh mushrooms here if you like them.
Chopped in small pieces: dice, julienne, brunoise, grated with a box grater.. don’t care just make the oniony bits and or mushrooms medium little and uniform.
Lightly salt and use them to scrape the brown ‘fond’ (stuck on meat bits) off the bottom of the pan.
Put the roast back and make sure there is contact with the bottom of the pan.
You can add some sort of root veg here if you like them mushy.
Add dried mushrooms or celery if you like them.
Herbs go in now, dried just go in, fresh should be tied in a bouquet garni (which is fancy French talk for tying them into a bundle)
Put in some sort of flavorful liquid: tomato puree, wine, beer, hard cider, stock, water, or some combination thereof (use what you have) till it comes ½ to 2/3 of the way up the meat.
Bring it just to a boil. Then cover and put it in the oven.
After 90 minutes turn the roast over, and add root veg if you want them a bit firmer.
After 150 minutes (total) in the oven grab the roast with tongs or a fork and see if you can easily pull off a piece.
If not wait 20-30 minutes and try again.
If you can, great, you’re done.

For the worlds easiest gravy: fish out the roast and the vegetables you want to eat intact and throw in a small blob of butter (extra bonus points for adding a splash of wine or brandy here). Hit the remaining liquid with the ole stick blender (might need a little salt too, but you'll have to taste it to find out).
That's dinner. It took 4 hours but you only spent 15 minutes in the kitchen. If you can fry an egg you can braise a roast.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Could be the last year of humanity.. probably not.
I will refrain from posting the "That'll freak somebody out some day" cartoon that seems to be de rigueur for all the most fashion forward blogs this year.. I have never been accused of being fashionable. Hell, I don't even make Resolutions for the new year. I don't need to: I make changes all the time.
I don't hesitate. When I see a weakness, or a deficiency, I make a change. Right then and there. Who needs to throw out a calendar in order to make changes?
Changes are far more pragmatic than resolutions. A change becomes part of me. When I resolve to do something.. that's far more malleable. Your resolve waxes and wanes. You are constant. If you change, then you are changed. There is no discussion. It already has. Conversely changes allow you to try different methods to go after your goals. When people make resolutions they tend to get stuck on one path, and feel it has to completely come of the rails before they can change the route. Successful people are more nimble, it may take several successive changes to get me to where I want to go, conversely I may get there in a few weeks, then what? Take the rest of the year off? Hell no, I have more stuff to do.
My life is a giant science experiment. I'm constantly tinkering with the amounts and methods of recovery, training, food, education and entertainment that are a part of my life. Within that I have to provide for, and spend time with my family and get some time to myself. I am never at 100%. I'm not a specialist I have considerable conflicting interests, so sometimes I don't go very far but that's what makes life fun.
Have fun this year, go after what you want.