Well, I made it through 6 days of eating (mostly) only meat. I had one cheat about 3 days in, I ate some oatmeal with honey and banana in the afternoon because I was going to have a long session of jiu jitsu training later that evening, and wanted to make sure I had energy to roll. I had another cheat last night, when my family wanted to go out for pizza. Man, I love pizza. That pizza was delicious. The best pizza of my life.
So here I am on day 7, reflecting on the past weeks experiment. One thing I learned a few days in is that I grossly under prepared for the amount of food I was going to need for the week. The meat I bought on Sunday was gone by Tuesday. So back to the store I went, several times. Part of this week-long trial run on the carnivore diet was to learn how to get by day to day in regards to meal prep. I’ve learned that the way I am currently approaching meal prep is EXPENSIVE. I’ve blown my grocery budget for the week, I’m on day 7, and I’m out of meat again. Clearly I need to learn some cost cutting moves if this is to be sustainable over the long haul. I’ve joined a Facebook carnivore group, and have asked questions about how to budget for a carnivore diet, and the general consensus is to eat more ground beef (less steak if money is a concern, after all ground beef is ground steak), and to do some shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club, where meat can be bought in bulk. As for now I’m going to have take a break from a pure carnivore diet, simply because I don’t want to go spend any more money on meat, I’ll just eat what the rest of my family is eating for the remainder of the week.
I recently attended an open mat where all the blue belts had really great open guards. It was extremely frustrating (in the best possible way) to try to pass their guard. The usual pressure passing that I do just didn’t seem to work. They were able to handle the pressure well with their legs, and if I was able to beat their legs, then as I swung around to try to get to side control their far leg somehow made it’s way between me and their torso and I was stuck in open guard again.
I talked to a few people after the open mat to see what their strategy was, and they all said they had played a similar guard, essentially using a knee shield and variations to control me. Being only a blue belt myself I hadn’t really seen the knee shield used to such great effect, but as I understood it the school they belonged to focused heavily on guard all through the white belt curriculum. That was an “ah-ha” moment for me. I had also been focusing on guard heavily for the past year, but to see how effective a good guard game could be so early in a jiujiteiro’s development really solidified my thought that a well developed guard can lead to a more confident offensive game.
The carnivore diet has been flooding my social media feed as of late. Everyone from Joe Rogan to Jordan Peterson, Shawn Baker and a pantheon of athletes are all trying the diet hoping to gain energy, reduce inflammation and improve athletic performance. I had a very good friend of mine who attempted to get me to try the carnivore diet a few years back, but at the time I wasn’t ready to take the leap. He talked about how the switch to eating just meat helped him heal up some gut issues he was having, and as an added benefit he also dropped a significant amount of weight. His story was compelling but I just wasn’t ready to give up all the food that I enjoyed. But as I got further along in my jiu jitsu practice I started to realize that I needed to make some lifestyle changes if I was going to have the energy to roll as often as I wanted to roll. I started by changing my sleeping habits, I became more strict about when I went to bed. I also changed what I ate, and when I ate. Intermittent fasting (along with bullet proof coffee) helped me to have more energy and also helped fix some gut issues I was having. I also became a lot stricter about the quality of my food, really focusing on eating more meat, vegetables and less low quality carbs. All of these changes greatly improved my jiu jitsu.
I have been following Dr. Shawn Baker’s twitter feed for a while, at the recommendation of my friend. Dr. Baker has been exploring the carnivore diet for some time, with amazing results. He is an athlete in his 50’s, who holds many strength records, including 1st place Texas Strongest Man, and 5th place USA Strongest Man. He attributes his athletic prowess to the carnivore diet. This piqued my interest. I’m still trying to dial in my nutrition, and suffering from exhaustion more often than I think I should, and if this diet helped Dr. Baker with his athletic goals, maybe it can help me with mine. One thing I’ve been interested in seeing is his lab work, to see if eating only meat has had any negative effect on his cholesterol or reveal any other potential issues. It’s one thing to see a boost in athletic performance, but if it comes at the cost of causing harm in other aspects of your health then it’s not worth it. Dr. Baker was a guest on Robb Wolf’s podcast, in which they discussed his lab results, and they look pretty good. This has given me the confidence to try this diet myself.
I’m traveling this week on vacation, down in Florida visiting family and friends. Though the week will be spent mostly poolside with a drink in hand, my daughter lives here and trains Jiu Jitsu locally, so I will be spending some time on the mats, working off my gluttony and catching up with her while bonding in the gentle art.
I didn’t want to fly here and be dependent on the school I was visiting to loan me a Gi for training. I wanted to bring my own, it fits better anyways. I tend to travel light, so I wasn’t too concerned with being able to fit my Gi into a travel bag, but I still researched the best way to fold a Gi. My usual method of balling up the pants and jacket and shoving it into a bag tends to take up a lot of space. I wanted to be able to get it to the smallest size possible so I wouldn’t run out of any room in my duffel bag.
Chris Haueter is a dynamic Jiu Jitsu fighter, instructor, referee and illustrative artist. He is one of the first Americans to earn a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, cementing his place among the BJJ Dirty Dozen under the tutelage of the great Rigan Machado.
Haueter has been an avid competitor for many years, where his aggressive style can be seen on YouTube, and has also worked as a referee for Metamoris. In addition to Jiu Jitsu he has practiced karate, wrestling, Muay Thai, JKD (under Dan Inosanto) and Boxing. He is accredited with coining the term “Combat Base” in reference to the seated, one knee up position used when in someone’s guard, and his Californian school is also called “Combat Base“.
Wim Hof is somewhat of a medical phenomenon. He is an extreme athlete from the Netherlands who holds 26 world records and is best known for his ability to perform well in extreme cold temperatures. He holds the record for the longest ice bath, he has climbed Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing other than shorts and shoes, completed a full marathon above the arctic circle in Finland (again, in shorts), and boasts countless other physical feats in extreme weather conditions.
Wim Hof travels the world giving seminars on his unique method of training for these challenges. Known as the “Wim Hof Method“, it is a combination of cold exposure and breathing exercises aimed at building brown adipose tissue, reducing fat and inflammation, fortifying the immune system and raising oxygen levels for more energy and reduced stress.
Henry Akins is a Jiu Jitsu black belt under Rickson Gracie. He has the distinct honor of being the 3rd American to receive a black belt under Rickson. While training at the Rickson Gracie Academy he worked as a secretary, instructor and even as a training partner for Gracie to help him prepare for his fights in Japan. He earned his black belt in 2004 and was the main instructor at Rickson’s place until a back injury forced him to stop.
In 2010 he founded Dynamix Martial Arts with Antoni Hardonk. Henry maintains an active schedule not only teaching at Dynamix, but also travels the world teaching seminars, and has created an online site of paid video courses at HiddenJiuJitsu.com. A sub section of the Hidden Jiu Jitsu site houses a members only area, the Mind Blown Jiu Jitsu club, which features exclusive content, and gives members access to a Facebook Group where they have direct access to ask Henry questions, and discuss technique with other members of the group. Being a member myself I can attest to the availability of Henry to the members, and of his deep knowledge of jiu jitsu. He has stated that he wants his legacy to be to make Rickson’s style of effective jiu jitsu accessible to everyone, and the content that he is publishing is serving him well to this end.
Lately I’ve been having a lot of aching pain in my right knee. I thought I had injured it, maybe waited too long to tap to a heel hook, or hurt it drilling take downs. It would start aching, I would dial back the intensity on the mats, it would get better, then as soon as I started ramping up the intensity it would start aching again. A few nights back I woke up in the middle of the night with my knee, quad and hip aching so bad that I couldn’t get back to sleep.
I had talked to some guys in class about this, and a couple of them had similar issues at one point in their training. The general consensus was that the issue may not be in the knee, but rather in the IT Band and/or tightness in the hips. Recommendations included using foam rollers and looking up Kelly Starrett mobility videos.
So I looked up some vids, bought a foam roller, took a night off of jiu jitsu and worked on loosening up my hips and quads.
This past weekend I went and visited an open mat at a new school that recently opened in my area. The new school’s owner was a friend and old training partner of one of the guys I regularly train with, and we thought it would be fun to check it out and to show some support for a new local school. Since this was the first week that this school was open we didn’t expect to see too many people, but luckily some guys from other gyms also decided to show up to see the new place. This turned out to be a friendly open mat with a variety of jiu jitsu practitioners from various schools in the area.
I don’t often hit open mats at other schools, so I don’t get a lot of chances to roll with people outside of the circle of athletes that I train with. But at this open mat there were people from at least 3 different schools, and when I rolled with some of these practitioners I got to experience different styles of rolling than I’m used to. The first thing I noticed was how contrasting most of the guys I rolled with were in terms of aggression, which was a little lighter than where I normally train. Our school is a highly competition oriented school, and though we have a tight knit group, all willing to help each other grow, the rolling style tends to be aggressive, with a lot of speed and smashing. At this open mat, however, most of the guys I rolled with had a smooth and fluid style that seemed to be more centered on waiting for you to make a mistake rather than trying to force you into making a mistake. Rolling against this more fluid style was a strange transition, in that I wasn’t sure how to counter some of their moves (or even effectively pass their guard) since the level of resistance I’m used to wasn’t there. I had new puzzles to solve, and that made things challenging and a lot of fun.