Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A modest proposal for the jiu jitsu community.

I, as a jiu jitsu black belt and member of the community, am sick to death of hearing that a black belt instructor, one who should be a role model and paragon of our community, has raped, abused, and/or sexually assaulted someone. I cannot overstate how pissed off I am at the general shrug of the shoulders from the community and deafening silence coming from our supposed leadership. Its nauseating. I want it to stop.
I have a solution:
If a black belt is indicted of any sexual crime or domestic abuse that individual loses their rank. Not only does that individual lose their black belt, but whomever they received their belt from ALSO loses their rank. So too does everyone either of those individuals have given rank. All IBJJF timelines for promotion apply beginning from the date of indictment. All individuals who have been specifically "de-ranked" are no longer allowed to compete at any rank. Individuals who have lost their rank because their instructors have been stripped of their belt are not allowed to compete until they once again climb the belt ladder to their previous rank.
So if Ze da Silva ranks John Doe to black belt. John starts his own academy ranks Dana and Joe to purple belt, and Steve to black belt. Meanwhile Ze ranks Mike to black belt. Mike then ranks Sue and Jane to brown and blue belts respectively. If John gets indicted for sexual assault, EVERYONE becomes and instant white belt. And because the IBJJF has time standards at each belt even Jane and Joe have several years in purgatory before they can compete again. Ze and John can never compete. If Ze has an affiliation it's functionally dissolute.
If this policy were in place folks would be much more careful about whom they accept belts from and who they give them to. No one wants to end up an instant white belt and spend the next 5 or so years climbing back up the ladder again (assuming they can find someone to give them the belts in question).
The only legitimate concern I would have about a policy like this is that it would create a culture of "shut up or we'll all lose our belts" but truthfully the culture in jiu jitsu right now is such that it couldn't get much more repressive of victims. So that objection is functionally moot.
Lets not mince words, this is absolutely a nuclear option. Total scorched earth policy. I have no delusions that the IBJJF or anyone else will ever implement this, but my question is: why not? If you find yourself uncomfortable with this idea, what are you afraid of? If you have given or received a belt from someone you are not 100% sure might not rape, assault, or molest someone, why are you training with that person? If you are teaching people and awarding the rank of black belt someone you suspect could be a rapist why are you teaching them to more effectively hold someone to the ground?

If you found out your instructor, or one of your peers raped, molested, assaulted someone would you feel that same pride in your belt? I am 2-3 degrees removed from an instance where an instructor raped a young girl. It makes me ill to see my association in the same article as rape. I didn't want to train for months. I got depressed every time I trained. If it were someone in the same school I'm sure no one would have to take my belt away.
Maybe this is too much, too far, but something needs to be done. We need leadership. People to stand up and say "This is not OK!" So far the silence is deafening. Maybe we should all act as if this policy were already in place. We should level a degree of scrutiny on each other. We should stop promoting evil scumbags to the highest rank in our sport. What could possibly go wrong? Comment and let me know, because I can't think of a single thing.


PS: Ze da Silva is the equivalent to John Doe in Portuguese and is not a reference to anyone.. so says Wikipedia any way. I'm sure if I'm wrong I'll hear about it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Newer gear, better performance and an error in judgement.

The Alpine archery bow I have been shooting was too short. I kind of knew that, but as I got more practiced I started missing shots as my overly bent lead arm began to 'jerk' after the release. I have been struggling a bit too with snapping the trigger pull, and wanted to change from a wrist strap release to a four finger release (more on that later) but I was worried that would make the problem even worse. So I started trolling archery-talk and craigslist for a new(er) bow with at least a 30" draw, and much to my surprise and joy, I found one. A Mathews z7 xtreme. Super cool bow, very fast, very quiet, all of the reviews on this bow are exemplary, and what's more I got it for cheap.
The gentleman who was selling it didn't have a paypal account, couldn't use google wallet, and wanted a check delivered via post before he would ship the bow. This could have set me up to get ripped off, but a couple things are in my favor: 1) I have friends that live within driving distance of his house. 2) I looked his house up on google maps (nice place, new(ish) vehicles in the driveway. 3) When I offered to have my brother pay him in cash and pick it up, he didn't balk. So I took a risk and sent the check. I don't regret it for a second.
I got the bow and saw immediate improvement in my shooting. I had no idea how much I was compensating for the shorter bow. It was terrible.
new release on top, old on bottom
From there I decided to go ahead with switching my release. I had confidence that I was shooting well, and decided to change my release as well. This gets a bit convoluted. When I started this debacle I had no idea what releases really were available. I simply took the advice of the archery shop on what to use. Most hunters use a release that straps to your wrist, then two small jaws clamp on to a loop that hooks on your string. You pull back on the wrist strap, settle in, and pull the trigger with your index finger. The good things about this are you are completely connected to your string, the release can't be lost because it is hooked to you. The downside is your index finger is connected to your hand. It can be hard to move your finger without moving your hand, I have a problem with it.
The four finger release is a small hand held grip that has a hook that sticks between your index and middle fingers. with a button for your thumb to release the arrow. I have found that with a four finger release I am considerably more accurate. This is not true for everyone. I have seen experienced archers who could not use the four finger to even draw their bow. It is very different, but for me, it is better. The down side to the four finger is that if it slips out of your hand you have just released an aluminum projectile into the heart of your bow.. which happened to me. There is a safety strap that goes around your wrist, but in my hubris I didn't use it. I got lucky. My new bow (one that I cannot afford to replace) was fine, but the rest was broken.What could have been a catastrophic mistake ended up being a $30 lesson. It did ruin my day though.
the up side is I'm shooting really well with the new rig.
 the picture is right side up, I have the target upside down to try and get some of the filling in the top to compress a bit. 5 arrows from 20 yards good tight groups. I'm super happy with that (it's not Olympic caliber archery, but it's progress) I've got some new arrows on order for two reasons. 1) I'm selling my old bow and if I include a few arrows it'll be more likely to sell, and 2) The arrows I have are cut a bit too short. They work, but it is a little dangerous to shoot a broadhead with a short arrow.
Once I get them wrapped and fletched I'll talk you through the process.