Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

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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Fight to Win Pro

I attended my first Fight to Win Pro event in Cleveland last night, Fight to Win Pro 69. I went to support my team who had a competitor in the tournament (he won his match by Kimura). Fight to Pro Win fights are unlike other Jiu Jitsu tournaments, in that there is only 1 fight going on at a time. All eyes are on the fighters. The event has a UFC type atmosphere, complete with walk out music, flashing lights, and announcers. I was impressed with how well organized the whole event was. Every match started on time and they got the fighters on and off the stage like clock work. The matches were all exciting to watch, every competitor did a top notch job and really gave it their all. We saw some nice takedowns, great submissions, good sportsmanship, and some interesting no-gi apparel.

I’m looking forward to attending the next F2W tournament in Pittsburgh.

Fight To Win Pro 69

Fight to Win Promotions

Master Ken gives Conor McGregor the Ameri-Do-Te Treatment

We’ve all heard by now that Conor McGregor went on a rampage at a UFC media event at the Barclay Center last Thursday. It appears that McGregor did enough damage to cause the cancellation of 3 matches for UFC 223. But there’s a bright side: we get a video from Master Ken giving Conor some advice on how to properly use a Dolly!

Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple and Sinister

Pavel Simple and SinisterI’ve tried various workout routines to improve my jiu jitsu over the past couple of years. I was a big fan of the Strong Lifts 5×5’s, and was doing that routine for a while, and though I got stronger it didn’t seem to transfer to the mat that well for me. I was trying to get in a few days of weight training, and a few days of jiu jitsu every week, but the 5×5’s were leaving me too tired to train that hard in jiu jitsu. I also didn’t feel that the type of strength I was getting from 5×5’s was what I needed to improve my jiu jitsu game. It occurred to me that what I was really looking for was muscular endurance rather than adding more weight to my max reps. A friend at the jiu jitsu school I attend suggested I try Pavel’s Simple and Sinister program (among other Kettlebell exercises). I tried it and found that it was exactly what I needed. I’ve modified the routine somewhat, but doing this workout has dramatically improved my endurance during jiu jitsu rounds, and the best part is that it doesn’t leave me too spent the next day so that I can actually train jiu jitsu without dealing with DOMS. Here’s what I’m currently doing:

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How to Build a Grappling Dummy

When I first started Jiu Jitsu I was looking for any advantage I could gain to speed up my progress. I found that too often life got in the way of me getting to the mats more than a few days a week. I would sometimes make it to open mat and find someone willing to do a little drilling, but as we all know, drilling quickly turns into full out rolls.

I wanted to find a way to drill at home by myself. I learned some solo drills (check out Henry Akins solo drills for some good ideas for drilling at home: Henry Akins Solo BJJ Drills), and these helped some, but I really wanted to get a grappling dummy to practice my moves on. The grappling dummies I found online were pretty pricey (if you’re interested in checking those out, here’s a link: Grappling Dummies on Amazon), so I thought it might be fun to try to build one myself and save a little cash.

In doing so, I tried to document as well as I could my process in building the grappling dummy. I created a website and YouTube video which shows the steps I took to build it. You can find it here: Build a Grappling Dummy

I used this dummy a lot as a white belt. I don’t use it as much now, but it does still come in useful when I want to solidify a confusing move that I had learned in class. I think for the amount of money that I spent building this grappling dummy it has served it’s purpose well. If you decide to build one I hope it works out well for you too.

Jiu-Jitsu as Meditation

One of the main skills I’m trying to acquire in my life is the ability to disengage from the endless internal chatter that my mind perpetually generates. This chatter tends to be a non-stop feedback loop of repeated ideas which at best revolve around mundane day to day tasks that need to be completed and at worst focus on any negative thoughts I may have about myself, others or situations. That inner critic can be crippling, and the more I can dissociate with it, the more clear minded and emotionally centered I tend to get.

I do practice meditation, though I haven’t been practicing it for long, and certainly not as consistently as I probably should be. It helps, quite a bit, but I often find myself slipping into “auto-mode”, where hours can go by without me really being in control of my own thoughts. Gurdjieff talked about waking up from this robotic existence by continuously focusing your attention on a small body part (such as your right hand pinky). Doing so forced your brain into the moment, and practicing doing this was supposed to cultivate the same mind-state that meditation does.

What I’ve discovered is that Jiu-Jitsu has the same affect on me.

In Jiu-Jitsu our class is typically divided into 3 sections: warm-up, instruction, and sparring. After a long day at work I’m usually wanting to go home and lay down. The last thing I want to do is get entangled in a difficult workout. But I always force myself to go. At first during the warm-up the thoughts that usually come up in my mind are along the lines of: “I’m tired, too tired to be doing something so difficult”, “I had a really rough day at work, I should be home trying to enjoy myself”, or “I should really be spending my evenings trying pursue the new career that I want”.

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