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Ask a Panda: How to Deal with “Let’s Just Go Light” Guy/Gal

Question

I am a male blue belt, 5’10” and 165lbs. I’m not small, but I’m also not the largest person in my gym. I try to be a good training partner, and I want to keep myself safe during training too.

I’m sure you’ve heard my question before: How do you deal with people who say want to go light during live training but then come at you super hard? It gets frustrating, and I’m worried I might get injured.

Answer

“Let’s Just Go Light” guy or gal is one of the most long-standing jiu-jitsu archetypes, though not one of the most beloved. In the typical situation, one person asks a partner to “just go light,” but then comes out of the gate like he or she is in a steel-cage death match. Some people probably do this to get the jump on the other person, but I am willing to bet that most genuinely have no idea that they are doing anything other than going as gently as a summer breeze. They are like those memes that show a .gif of a high-level judoka effortlessly tossing an opponent next to a .gif of a baby elephant trying to knock down a post with the captions “What I think I look like when doing takedowns” and “What I actually look like when doing takedowns.”

Instructors may not spend as much time as we probably should explaining how to “go light” or to flow roll, so the first thing to do is establish what it means. There are tons of ways to describe what is supposed to be happening during a flow roll or a warm-up round, but let us get straight to the heart of the matter. When we go light, it is each person’s job to strategically give up position. Let me say that again: When we go light, it is each person’s job to strategically give up position.

Think about it: Does it take more energy to refuse a sweep or to allow it to happen when your partner has executed correctly? The answer is probably obvious. When we allow a sweep to happen, then, we are, by definition, going lighter than when we defend. Logically, it makes sense that we would want to let the sweep happen, at least sometimes, if we are doing right by our partners in a “go light” situation.

However, logic and ego do not necessarily work hand in hand. Grapplers as a species often neglect to connect the fact that while allowing a sweep, for instance, also results in our partner “getting the better of us” in some way, this is the goal of going light. If both people are doing it right, then both partners stand to benefit from a flow roll because both partners are allowing each other to get the better of them at different times.

Everyone gets this intellectually. When we square off and feel ourselves losing position, though, we tend to go bananas and to throw our best collaborative intentions out the window. This results in a zero-sum game rather than a joint effort toward helping both people gain ground.

The thing is, we cannot really control what our partners do, only what we do. In this situation, you are the “lucky” one, because you have been given the gift of awareness. There was probably a time in your jiu-jitsu career when you were the person you are now concerned about, because you did not have the presence of mind you do now. But with power comes responsibility, so the suggestions I have are for how you can monitor and modify your own behavior. This may not be what you were hoping for, but with patience and thoughtfulness, they can help you AND help you pay it forward to your overly energetic flow rolling partners.

The first thing to do when going light with someone else is to set your own intention to do so—you do not want to be the person in the pair who takes unfair advantage. Many people accompany the fist bump that precedes most rounds with a verbalized wish for good training. Take that moment and that wish seriously, and decide you are going to work with your partner collaboratively. Try to stay relaxed, and if you find your entire body tensing like a rubber band, take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

The second thing to do is to pay attention during the round. Often when we train, we let our bodies do the work and give our minds over to the meditative aspects of training. When we are first learning to go light, though, we may need to focus more on how we are moving, how tense we are, and how determined we are to maintain dominance. Just like we cannot relegate specific sequences to our muscle memory until our muscles remember how to do them, we cannot expect to flow roll well if we do not concentrate on doing so, at least at first. So, breathe deeply. Check the tension of your muscles. Try to be like water. If you feel yourself straining or breathing rapidly, slow down.

Another thing to try when you feel you are staying calm and relaxed but feel the force of a wind tunnel coming at you is to stop moving. Your partner will eventually notice, and sometimes that can serve as a non-verbal reminder to them that they need to relax a little. At the very least, it will make them stop and take notice for a second. If necessary, you can say something like, “I was getting a little bit tense, so I wanted to take a breath.” (I understand that you may not actually be the person who is getting tense, but this is where ego control comes in handy.) Repeat as needed. Note that this also has the added benefit of giving you something reasonable to say and do if your partner happens to outrank you; many of us at all belt levels need to work on just going light, not just beginners.

A third thing to do is tap. As with ceasing your movement, tapping can give you an opportunity to reset. Oftentimes we can escalate each other’s energy without meaning to, and if you feel your shared energy getting too animated, you can say something like, “I feel like we are a bit more intense than we want to be, so I figured we could just reset.”

In short, the best thing you can do is model appropriate behavior, react calmly when the behavior is less than appropriate (e.g., stop moving or tap to energy rather than a finish), and be supportive as your partner learns a bit more every day about how to control his/her energy. If all else fails, mentally categorize that person as someone you will go hard with for now; if they ask you go to light, find a reason to say no. You have a responsibility to help your teammates, but you also have a responsibility to keep yourself safe.

How do others help your partners get the hang of flow rolling? Post your suggestions in the comments section.

Have a question? Get an answer from Val!

About Valerie Worthington

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that define me: parents who are psychologists, a childhood spent in the New Jersey suburbs except for a year my family spent in Germany, studying English literature and learning theory, always trying for the funny--not matter how self-deprecating, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art I have been training for almost 20 years. I travel a lot and enjoy snacks just as much. I am reasonably intelligent, but this is undercut by my love of irreverence and childish humor. I am also the author of Training Wheels: How a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Road Trip Jump-Started My Search for a Fulfilling Life.

 

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Ask a Panda: Dealing with the Jiu-Jitsu Blahs

Question: I am a brown belt, and I love jiu-jitsu. I am in it for the long haul—there is no question about that—but sometimes I find myself feeling ambivalent. I look at some of my teammates, particularly ones who have not been training for as long as I have, and they seem so excited. I know I used to feel that way, but nowadays it feels more like a slog. Lately I go to class, get in my reps and my rounds, and am out the door at the end while some people are still tinkering and asking questions, or even just chatting. These are all things I used to do, but no more. I do not feel enthusiastic or inspired, though I know I am still committed.

My question is: What do I do? I know I will always train, but how do I get through this slump? How do I get back the excitement I used to feel about training?

Answer: I suspect all of us ask this question of ourselves at different points in our lives, regardless of whether we train. Even the most exciting times in our lives eventually end or even out. This is not always bad. In fact, a heart-stopping level of excitement is usually unsustainable for the long haul. Consider the feelings people often have for a new crush. That person may permeate all their thoughts and disrupt their normal functioning—they cannot eat, they cannot sleep, they cannot concentrate, all because they are consumed with thoughts of this special someone. Eventually, though, if this ardor is to be sustainable, it must mellow out; otherwise it is impossible to see to the rest of life’s demands.

A longstanding couple may not always feel that giddy, crush-y feeling for each other, but in the best-case scenario, that feeling becomes more of an accent to a deeper, stronger connection. It sounds like you might have the same kind of relationship with jiu-jitsu: it started out like a wildfire and morphed into a steady blaze, but sometimes it feels that blaze is in danger of dwindling to an ember. Read on for some suggestions for feeding the flames.

Ask some teammates what excites them about jiu-jitsu. People who have not been training for as long as you are more likely to demonstrate youthful exuberance because they are less likely to have accumulated injuries and experienced the cumulative physical and mental effects of years of the jiu-jitsu grind. Ask some of them what excites them; you might awaken some reminders of your own early enthusiasm that have become muted by years of dedication.

Switch up your game. After years of training, sometimes our worldview narrows. We invest time and effort in certain sequences and go-to moves, and/or we find ourselves in similar situations roll after roll. This can certainly become repetitive at times. One cure for this is to branch out. Got a teammate who leglocks everyone? Looking to try more smash-pass tactics? Rusty on the feet? Find someone whose game incorporates these aspects of jiu-jitsu and become a new student all over again. You may experience the wonder of learning something new, and you will have the added benefit of being able to learn more quickly than your white belt self, thanks to your years of training.

Teach. Another way to combat the blahs in your training is to teach. Most teachers, of jiu-jitsu or of other things, will tell you that being a teacher requires an orientation to a subject matter that is different from that of a student. As a simple experiment, think about one of your favorite sequences to execute during training. Now, think about how you would explain to a novice how you do it and how they could do it. Extend the experiment by delivering your explanation to someone, and think about how your focus and energy compare to those of your student perspective. By teaching, you can develop an even more sophisticated understanding of techniques in your arsenal, and you also get to experience the satisfaction of helping someone else achieve a goal. If you like the feeling, talk to your instructor about opportunities to teach a class here and there.

Go to a tournament. Even if you do not compete and have no interest in competing, the energy at a jiu-jitsu tournament is a marked departure from what you are likely to experience at your academy. Take it all in: the matches, of course, but also the comments and reactions of the spectators, the activity in the bullpen, the commands of the referees and coaches. Observe the preparation of the competitors and their intensity in competition. Even check out the interactions at the snack bars and gear tables. Do some serious people-watching. All of this spectacle is part of the world you have chosen to participate in, and perhaps by watching a competition you will be inspired by techniques you see or the camaraderie of teammates. Go and observe. See what moves you.

Visit a different academy. Experiencing the environment at a different academy can be a shot in the arm in much the same way going to a tournament can. Everything from the way instructors run warm-ups to the kinds of techniques the students tend to go for can provide different stimuli. So, whether you are traveling for business or taking a field trip, investigate how the other half lives. Just make sure to clear it with your instructor first.

Take some time off. Sometimes lethargy and ambivalence are a sign of burnout. If it has been a while since you have taken an extended period of time off (we’re talking days or weeks, not hours, people), consider unplugging. Yes, I know, you may fear that on one of the days you are gone your instructor will divulge the one simple trick that will make you a jiu-jitsu master the likes of which the world has not seen since <insert name of person you believe is the GOAT>. But if you are burned out, you will be no good to anyone anyway. Rest is a vital part of training, and if you do not schedule breaks into your training, then you are not training as effectively as you could.

Embrace a new normal—for now. You are a brown belt, which means you have likely been training for upwards of six or eight years. Chances are that when you started jiu-jitsu, your life circumstances were different. Perhaps back then you did not have children and now you do. Perhaps you have a more demanding job. Perhaps you have acquired additional interests, which is allowed. It simply means you will need to allocate your available time differently.

It sounds like you still enjoy training. Perhaps you simply do not have time to linger anymore because you have other things to get to. This could be your new normal—for now. You come to class, get your work done, and go on your way, because right now that is what your life demands. Then the cycle will continue, and perhaps you will find you have a bit more free time. Such is life, and variety is one of the characteristics that keeps it from becoming too blah, which is where we started in the first place.

You are bound to experience the blahs if you train long enough. If you find yourself struggling a bit with motivation or inspiration, try one of the tactics described above to jump start your energy. Good luck, and thank you for the question!

Have a question for Val? Submit it here!

Photo credit: CAM Photos & Design

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Ask a Panda: Purple Belt Purgatory

Part I: Knowing Is Half the Battle and Most of the Problem

Question: I recently heard someone call purple belt “purple purgatory,” and it seems to fit. When you were a purple belt, did you start to question everything you do? Now that I'm teaching more, I'm really starting to question everything and sometimes I feel that I was a more confident teacher at blue belt. Is that something you experienced? Do you feel that purple belt is a trying period in jiu-jitsu?

Answer: I see two questions here. The first relates to whether purple belt seems to be a challenge—a purgatory—in general. The second relates specifically to how, at purple belt, the writer has started to question everything that used to feel like a given, particularly regarding teaching jiu-jitsu. In this response, I address the second question and will address the first in a future response.

We grapplers must be a special kind of crazy to stay in jiu-jitsu, given all the Sturm und Drang it causes in our lives. Or maybe we are a special kind of intrepid for being willing to go to that place time and again. Probably equal parts of each.

You mention you are questioning everything, particularly your teaching. Now that you are a purple belt, you are becoming an older-timer, someone who has shown staying power and gained some wisdom and experience. As such, you can be more of a resource for others, and more is expected of you in terms of mat maturity. For instance, it is never acceptable to refuse to tap because of ego or demonstrate unsportsmanlike behavior, but by the time we reach purple belt, we should be far more likely to be policing these crimes than committing them.

More is expected of purple belts than lower belts in terms of responsibility to others in the academy, but at the same time you may also notice the world of jiu-jitsu is opening to you in unprecedented ways. Your hard-won wisdom and experience have enabled you to make technical progress. You have more cognitive capacity for mastering more of the nuances in your game and for adding onto or even transforming it. You can help less experienced students with technical details. You know the ins and outs of your academy’s environment, the structure of classes, the kinds of training you will get with each teammate. You see more possibilities leading from a single sequence than you could earlier: you recognize that along with Plan A, there usually must be a Plan B, C, D, and on and on, depending on your partner’s reactions.

All of this, the increased responsibility and the increased capacity for learning and leading, is natural and good, though it usually feels anything but. This is because this process represents a sea change in your orientation to jiu-jitsu: Like Skynet, you are becoming aware.

Unlike Skynet, you do not plan to initiate a nuclear holocaust (I hope), though you may feel like something of that magnitude is happening. This is because awareness can be painful. We say “ignorance is bliss” with good reason. As a purple belt, you may become more aware of the options and paths available to you in your jiu-jitsu. However, increased awareness of those options and paths also increases your awareness of how much—or little—you know about them. You become more aware of how little you really know relative to how much it is possible to know.

This is daunting enough as it relates to your own training, but as you mention, now you are also more aware of how you come across when you try to impart jiu-jitsu knowledge to others. As a purple belt, you say you feel less comfortable teaching than you did when you were a blue belt, and the fact that your understanding of jiu-jitsu is broader than it was when you were a blue belt is no coincidence. These feelings are reflective of the stage of skill acquisition known as conscious incompetence. People in this stage are not as adept at a given skill as they will be someday. Worse, they know it.

Conscious incompetence is the second stage in the 4 States of Competence learning model, which describes “the psychological states that are involved in transforming skill incompetence to competence or outright mastery.”1

When we are white and low blue belts, we are mostly in the first stage, known as unconscious incompetence, where we are not as good a teacher or practitioner as we will be someday, but we do not realize it. How many upper belts have been “corrected” during drilling by cheerfully confident lower belt partners who did not actually know what they were talking about? I know I cringe when I look back on those times in my white and blue belt days when I drilled a technique 5 times and thought, “Ok, got this. What’s next?” I was not embarrassed by this behavior at the time because I was not yet aware there was anything problematic about it.

Your teaching ability when you were a blue belt was probably fine—commensurate with the ability of a blue belt. Of course, there is room for improvement because you are still working your way up the ranks, and even when you get to black belt, if you choose to grow and transform for as long as you train and teach, that will require that you put yourself in this stage of skill acquisition time and time again.

The plus side to your questioning of everything and the fact that you are uncomfortable about it, then, is that it means you are maturing. The conscious incompetence stage of the model is considered the stage that causes the most discomfort, precisely because it is in this stage that we realize how little we know.

Eventually you will move to the third and fourth stages of the model. In fact, you may already experience them here and there in various training and teaching situations, and the proportion will continue to shift. The third stage is conscious competence, where you know things and you are aware you know them—you can perform well, but you must still concentrate to do so. In this stage, you may prepare for teaching by writing down a list of the technique details you want to go over to make sure you do not forget any. In your training, you may recognize the opportunity for a sweep a split second after it presents itself, and depending on the skill and timing of your partner, you may or may not pull it off.

At times, you probably even experience unconscious competence, the fourth stage, which is when you can perform a task so well that you can do it without thinking about it. For instance, at this point in your jiu-jitsu career, how much thought do you give to tying your belt? Not much, I bet. You are unconsciously competent at this task.

Do not let your discomfort derail you. The reason you are questioning everything you thought you knew is because you care about teaching well and training effectively. If you did not care, you would not feel uncomfortable. The fact that you do will help you progress through the skill acquisition stages in your own teaching and training, and it will also help you when you start the cycle again, whether because you must teach something you have never taught before or because you have decided to work on a part of your game that you think needs improvement.

This is how jiu-jitsu goes. If you want to continue to grow, you will continue to experience the stages of skill acquisition. What WILL change, though, is that you will become more skilled at handling the uncertainty and discomfort of the conscious incompetence stage, because now you know how it works. Good luck and thank you for writing!

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Ask a Panda: How Do you Cope with the Ups and Downs of BJJ?

Val Worthington is taking questions about jiu-jitsu and life. Submit yours here and it could be featured in the next installment!

Question: Can you please discuss how you deal with the peaks and valleys of passion with BJJ? I don't think I have lost my passion but for a few months I have noticed that the mats are not my happy place. Changes in the school, life challenges, new students...all may be reasons. I am not giving up but I am fearful at times, unhappy sometimes, and not sure how much I am learning. Thanks!!!

Thank you for this question, though I am sorry to hear you need to ask it. I can guarantee that you are not alone in feeling this way, because I know many grapplers who have had these experiences, myself included. I hope it helps a little to know there are others who can relate, but I also know that this on its own does not solve the problem. So let’s discuss a few things I do to help me ride out the stormy times.

The longer I train, the more similarities I notice between my relationship with jiu-jitsu and my relationships with people, almost like jiu-jitsu is a sentient being with needs and preferences that I must balance against my own. One of the biggest similarities is the cyclical nature of my feelings about these relationships. My friendships, love relationships, and family connections go through phases where I feel very in sync with the people I care about, followed by phases where I feel neutral or even disconnected or dissatisfied. These latter times may bring the relationship to an end or prompt me to do what I can to reconnect, including being patient and trusting that no bad time or situation is permanent.

I am not recommending that you “break up” with jiu-jitsu. Rather, I am pointing out a reality that you noticed yourself: Your feelings about jiu-jitsu, just like your feelings about a significant person in your life, are likely to be cyclical. So many factors influence our jiu-jitsu experiences that it stands to reason some of these might be out of alignment at times. Here is what I do when I am feeling out of sorts and like jiu-jitsu just doesn’t understand.

First, I reaffirm my basic relationship with jiu-jitsu. Some relationships are intimate and enduring. Others are more fleeting and casual. Still others are everywhere in between. No type is better or worse, but awareness of this can help us determine how many resources—emotional and otherwise—we want to invest. After 18 years of training, I know I am with jiu-jitsu for the long haul. I am not going anywhere, and neither is it. During those times when I wish it could be a teeny bit less demanding, like Scrabble, and a teeny bit more supportive, like my family, I make a point of reminding myself that jiu-jitsu and I are just going through a phase.

Keep in mind, though, that it is perfectly okay, when you go to reaffirm your relationship with jiu-jitsu, to discover that you and it are not committed to each other for the long haul, or to discover that you need a break.

This leads to the second thing I do when I am feeling out of sorts with my jiu-jitsu relationship, which is confirm that my training-to-life ratio is optimal. When I first started training, I wanted to do it all the time, and I allowed other relationships and responsibilities to suffer, kind of like you do when you are in the early, crush phase of a romantic relationship. I still want to train, just like I still want to spend time with the people I care about, but I have found that the ardor of those early days of a relationship—any relationship—is unsustainable for the long haul. Either it burns itself out or it must deepen into something mellower and built to last.

For me, this has meant less training (e.g., no more two-a-days) and modifications in how I expend the energy I do have available for training (my own training, teaching others, writing about jiu-jitsu). It turns out that sometimes when I feel anxious about my training it is because something is getting short shrift, either it or another priority in my life, or maybe I just need some time to myself to do something else. Then I find I can go back feeling revitalized and eager again. For this to happen, I must inventory my priorities and my time, to make sure I am doing all I can to keep myself on the track I have identified as being important to me.

This brings us to the third and most difficult thing I do when I am feeling stressed out or anxious about my training: Own what I can and let go of the rest. You mentioned that the mat is not always your happy place these days and that you are feeling anxious about some of the changes your academy is experiencing. Changes can be particularly nerve-wracking when we feel we have little or no control over them, but one thing we can always control is our own actions and reactions. If you are nervous about training with people who are unknown quantities, consider holding off until you get to know them a little and making a point to approach them to facilitate the getting-to-know-you process. If you are sensing negative energy in the academy, smile even though you might not feel like it. If you feel like you are not learning, go back to basics. Ask for help from the instructors and teammates you trust.

There is no easy answer to the question of how to navigate the ups and downs of a jiu-jitsu life, but there is a simple one: Know thyself, be willing to do what you can to meet your own needs, and trust that this too, shall pass.

Best of luck, and thank you for the question!

About Valerie Worthington

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that define me: parents who are psychologists, a childhood spent in the New Jersey suburbs except for a year my family spent in Germany, studying English literature and learning theory, always trying for the funny--not matter how self-deprecating, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art I have been training for almost 20 years. I travel a lot and enjoy snacks just as much. I am reasonably intelligent, but this is undercut by my love of irreverence and childish humor. I am also the author of Training Wheels: How a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Road Trip Jump-Started My Search for a Fulfilling Life.

Photo by CAM Photos & Design.

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Heal Up or Jump Back In? Getting Back on the Mats After Injury

Val Worthington is taking questions about jiu-jitsu and life. Submit yours here and it could be featured in the next installment!

Question: Hey! I'm a blue belt from New Jersey. Is it better to fully recover from injuries or to scale down my training?

Oh, the injury question. When things go our way during training, we may feel practically invincible. Then we land wrong. Tap too slowly. Get a limb tangled in a gi. We get injured. This, along with death and taxes, is a certainty in the life of a jiu-jiteiro: If we stick with training long enough, we will at some point be sidelined by an injury.

The very first thing I want to do in responding to this question is make it clear that I am not a physician. I am not authorized to give medical advice of any kind, and this response is based on my own experiences and those of my friends and teammates, not on any kind of medical training.

Thus, the very second thing I want to do in responding to this question is encourage anyone who is injured or sick, or who suspects they may be either, to consult a licensed medical professional for advice specific to that injury or illness. Jiu-jitsu practitioners as a group are notoriously reluctant to seek medical help, instead “training around it” or “just shoving it back in its socket and using the other one.” We do not want to miss training, which anyone who trains understands, but sometimes our passion for training clouds our better judgment.

Believe me when I say I know health insurance and medical care are expensive. I know many of us try to get along without them, and I cannot speak for anyone besides myself regarding whether they are a priority, let alone an affordable one. Given what jiu-jitsu requires of us, however, if I had my way, it would be on everyone’s short list of considerations.

This leads to the third thing: Make sure any doctor you consult has some sense of what you do and what your goals are. I have heard many a horror story about doctors who, upon completing their examination of a grappler, make the dastardly pronunciation, “You should probably just stop jiu-jitsu altogether.” I am fortunate to have a physical therapist who understands my passion for jiu-jitsu and an osteopath who himself is a blue belt. Add to this the fact that they are both highly skilled and dedicated, and I know the care I get for injuries is oriented around helping me get back to my regular routine as quickly, safely, and cost-effectively as possible. Do your best to find qualified physicians who have a similar mindset.

Now, the heart of the question—whether it is better to heal completely from an injury or scale back your training as you regain strength, stability, range of motion, or whatever else you lost when you got injured. This will depend on many variables, including the nature and severity of the injury, the types of positions and movements that do and do not aggravate it, whether you will be prescribed physical therapy, and the level and type of physical demands in the rest of your life, to name just a few. You will not be surprised to read that I strongly suggest you work closely with your doctor(s) when considering these variables.

There is another variable, however, over which you have more control, and that is your awareness of your own well-being and personality. In other words, how well do you know your body and mind? Regarding your body awareness, in recent years, a raft of experts has begun to turn athletes’ attention toward improving mobility and being aware of their own bodies’ baseline capabilities. This serves multiple purposes, including helping to maximize performance and prevent injury. It may also increase individuals’ recognition of when they are operating at 100% and when they are not, when they are simply expanding their comfort zones and when they are doing themselves real damage.

Regarding your personality, think about how much you can trust yourself. In other words, are you one of those people who sticks to it when you say, “I am only going to drill, no live training” and “I am going to class, but I will just sit on the edge of the mat and take notes,” or does the voice in your head slowly but surely change its tune to, “I’ll just roll this one round,” and “You know, I’m feeling pretty good, so I’m gonna see how it goes”? Can you trust yourself to listen to your body, common sense, and the best medical advice you can access? Or will you go full-bore against everyone’s better judgment?

I have just used a lot of words to convey a relatively simple message: Know thyself, body and mind, before you get injured. Prioritize finding trustworthy doctors who value your well-being and your training priorities in equal measure and who understand your financial situation. If you do get injured, listen to your doctor and your common sense to put yourself on the fast track to recovery.

Thank you for the question!

About Valerie Worthington

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that define me: parents who are psychologists, a childhood spent in the New Jersey suburbs except for a year my family spent in Germany, studying English literature and learning theory, always trying for the funny--not matter how self-deprecating, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art I have been training for almost 20 years. I travel a lot and enjoy snacks just as much. I am reasonably intelligent, but this is undercut by my love of irreverence and childish humor. I am also the author of Training Wheels: How a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Road Trip Jump-Started My Search for a Fulfilling Life.

Photo by CAM Photos & Design.

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