The toughest call a fighter has to make is when to call it a day. In a line of work where one makes an anathema of quitting at just about anything, hanging up the gloves requires a complete shift in mentality. Admitting that it's all over is to swallow the bitterest pill of all. When … Continue reading The bizarre tale of Ma Baogua
“What the fuck is this Irving?! Is this Heroin?! Did you bring fucking HEROIN into my prison?!” His irate voice was like Dave Chappelle’s white guy impersonation. It was a piece of tissue paper they’d given me to clean the ink off my fingers from the third set of prints they’d taken while I was … Continue reading The Meck
The maxim and command: 'leave your ego at the door' is doubtless familiar to anyone who has been through the door of a Jiu-Jitsu academy. It might be considered a sacred commandment of BJJ. Ostensibly it’s very good advice, if somewhat trite, that we must free ourselves to err in order to make progress. The … Continue reading Leave your ego at the door?
Back in 2004/2005, I lived a while in the city of Petropolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. In my privileged position as the one and only gringo, I had the unique right to pass freely around all of Crezio’s associated gyms in the city. One of those was the ‘Academia’ of Crezio’s father, … Continue reading What it takes – In praise of longevity
Hand in hand with toughness, goes it's close relation - 'bottle' . Here in the North-East, that's what we call courage. The intestinal fortitude to see the job through. There are a whole load of Jiu-Jitsu slang words and expressions attributed to Carlson Gracie senior, the trainer of my teacher Crezio de Souza. One of … Continue reading What it takes – Casca Grossa
The pejorative term 'Creonte' is constantly thrown around and discussed in Jiu-Jitsu circles, but is broadly misused and misunderstood. To comprehend the true meaning of the term one must look to it's origin. "Não sou de ficar mandando letrinhas em redes sociais, mas venho ouvindo muito o termo CREONTE, o tempo vem atribuindo significado … Continue reading Creonte
The soreness is starting to set in, but I don’t want the Russians to see that I’m in pain when the promoter summons me. “somebody wants to meet you, come, come” The short, rounded black man at the table eagerly awaits our attention. He and Luke, my cornerman, are as far as I can tell, … Continue reading Moscow
When you imagine being a prizefighter, your mental imagery is probably cribbed from HBO 24/7 boxing montages and UFC all access. Thrilling, action packed moments of excitement and glory. It’s mostly just waiting around though, in varying degrees of discomfort. I can’t move my neck. I’ve had to cradle my head between both hands in … Continue reading Euston
I've had a few folks ask me what the qualities are that make a champion. Every trainer is going to have a different take on what they value most, but for me there's one quality that I value over all others. When I was a kid my old man told me a great story. I … Continue reading What it takes – the coffin nail, king of qualities
It’s a very attractive idea to lay out a universal standard for rank promotion, as in theory that ought to both raise and maintain standards. In reality what generally happens in many martial art systems is that belt criteria gets distilled down to a syllabus- a checklist of techniques known and practiced.