Book Excerpt – Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

Hagakure - The Book of the Samurai“One should be careful and not say things that are likely to cause trouble at the time. When some difficulty arises in this world, people get excited, and before one knows it the matter is on everyone’s lips. This is useless. If worse comes to worst, you may become the subject of gossip, or at least you will have made enemies by saying something unnecessary and will have created ill will. It is said that at such a time it is better to stay at home and think of poetry”Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.

I was re-reading Hagakure last night, and this passage struck me as being especially relevant for the times that we live in. I was thinking that with the internet being such an integrated part of our lives, and with social media consuming most of the attention on the internet, it is easy to become lost in the  negativity that is so prevalent online.

Of course this applies to “real life” as well. Gossip around work, family disagreements, neighborly conflict, all these scenarios can easily consume one’s thoughts and dictate one’s mood.

It is interesting to me that many older texts written by philosophers in regard to how to live as a martial artist tend to put a premium on distancing yourself from conflict. It might be that training in violence removes the veneer of glamour that most of us associate with fighting. With this enlightenment comes an understanding that the best way to win a conflict is to avoid it all together.

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The 80/20 Principle for Jiu Jitsu – Review

80 20 PrincipleI recently finished reading “The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less” by Richard Koch, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I can apply that principle to my daily routine. In the book Koch posits that the 80/20 principle (first put forth by Vilfredo Pareto to describe the distribution of wealth in society) can actually be applied across many different domains in life. Essentially the maxim indicates that 80% of value is produced by 20% of the effort you put in. What this boils down to is that apparently we all tend to waste a lot of time on minutiae of detail but could achieve more by paying attention to the correct pieces of detail, and end up with more free time as a bonus.

As time management is one of my greatest challenges (I’m sure I’m not alone in this), I’m very interested in finding out if the 80/20 principle properly applied can bring me more free time. If I think about how this applies to jiu jitsu I can break it down by determining what techniques or principles would lead to the greatest results, in the quickest amount of time.

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Jiu Jitsu University – Review

Jiu Jitsu UniversityIf you’re anything like me (and approximately 100% of other jiu jitsu practitioners) you’re always on the lookout for details to improve your game. YouTube is a great place to go, but I also like to do a deep dive through reading, and Jiu Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro offers a lot to learn.

Saulo Ribeiro has a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, Judo and has fought (and won) in MMA. He has won the World Jiu Jitsu Championship five times, and competed in Metamoris 4, where his match against Rodrigo Medeiros ended in a draw. He is co-owner (with his brother Xande Ribeiro) and instructor at The University of Jiu Jitsu which boasts over 50 affiliates world-wide.

Ribeiro’s book “Jiu Jitsu University” divides techniques by belt rank.  He spends some time in the introduction describing what he believes to be the goal of each of the belts in jiu jitsu. I found this insight to be very helpful, understanding what a seasoned black belt thinks the focus of a particular belt should be serves to construct a road map in my mind of what to work on in my particular rank.

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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai – Review

Hagakure - The Book of the SamuraiI was first introduced to Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai via the movie Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (one of my favorite flicks). In that movie, the main character “Ghost Dog” (played by Forest Whitaker) carries around the book Hagakure, and the movie is interspersed with passages from the book read by Ghost Dog as narrator. The book is a collection of thoughts by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, compiled after the death of his master, and Tsunetomo had retired to the mountains. In this book he expresses a lifetime of thinking on the nature of what it means to be a warrior, and how to live in a truthful manner (aka, following “The Way”). As martial artists we look for truth in action, and Tsunetomo sought to also find truth in life, indicating that this is how a warrior should strive to live. Continue reading “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai – Review”

Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings – Review

Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings is a classic text on Japanese Swordsmanship and martial arts philosophy.  Musashi was a swordsman, philosopher and ronin who lived in 16th century Japan and was the founder of the Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship. He had an undefeated record of 61 duels.

Musashi’s Book of Five Rings details his strategy on fighting, but as with many martial arts philosophical texts, the ideas can be applied to everyday life.

The book is divided into 5 parts as the title would suggest:

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Gracie Jiu Jitsu Master Text – Review

graciemastertextLong known as the torch bearers of the modern martial arts world, the Gracie family revolutionized the sport of fighting, and are largely responsible for the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts today. To re-hash a commonly known history, Gracie Jiu Jitsu had it’s beginnings when a frail young man named Helio Gracie began teaching Judo at his brother Carlos’s academy. Helio found himself in a position to conduct his first class when Carlos Gracie himself was running late to teach. Carlos’s student, Mario Brandt, was waiting for his lesson, and rather than have him wait, Helio took over for his brother in his absence.

From that first lesson Mario asked if he could continue lessons with Helio, and Carlos agreed. The rest, as they  say, is history.

Carlos, being a small man, and ill of health, realized that the athleticism needed to be effective in the Judo/Jiu Jitsu currently being taught would need to be modified if it were to work for a person with his physical traits. From that came many years of experimentation, which gave birth to Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

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