Lex Fridman podcast

Lex Fridman podcast: While in Austin I had the opportunity to have a fascinating conversation with the brilliant Artificial Intelligence researcher, Lex Fridman. In addition to his outstanding work in AI, Mr Fridman is an avid practitioner of Jiu jitsu and combat sports. He asked many extremely interesting and insightful questions about Jiu jitsu and life with some of the most important being those that came from his unique perspective in AI research and robotics and how this pertains to training in JiuJitsu. I’m not certain when it will be released but I believe it will be some time early next week - if you’re interested I am sure @lexfridman will notify it’s release. Squad juniors Nicky Ryan and Ethan Crelinsten both had very tough matches against excellent opponents last night. Mr Ryan won a very close victory against PJ Barch in a match that pitted Mr Barch’s excellent D1 wrestling skills vs Mr Ryan’s ability to scrimmage up from guard position to his takedowns. Mr Crelinsten lost to the extremely talented Cade Ruatolo who showed excellent pace control and a beautifully applied Darce strangle to take a fine victory. Now it’s off to Boston to find an upcoming video as part of the NEW WAVE JIU JITSU series and then back to Puerto Rico to get everyone ready for future events - thank you to Mr Fridman for a fascinating conversation!


Every fighter has his favorite weapons

Every fighter has his favorite weapons - but keep in mind that the single greatest weapon a fighter can have is the ability to deceive an opponent as to his true intentions, for the application of all the other weapons, including your most cherished, will depend on this one.


When the work is done

When the work is done: One of the clearest signs that you have a sustainable training environment is the clarity of the division between work time and playtime in the training. When it’s go time everyone has to be all in. No bullshit, all focus - you’re there to be the best athlete you can. But when it’s done there has to be some clown time to make it an enjoyable part of your day. If it’s all seriousness and suffering even the most disciplined people will eventual tire of it and find another way to live. If it’s all spring break then nothing gets done. Finding the right compromise between beneficial suffering and delayed gratification versus happiness and play is the key to longevity in the sport. We take a stance of hard work time but very relaxed playtime afterwards with lots of poking fun at each other and off limits humor - the best antidote to the biggest problem of long term development - burnout. Everyone has their own correct balance - somewhere you have to find yours


First workout in Puerto Rico

First workout in Puerto Rico: It was great to be back on the mats in a new land here today. We drove into San Juan with friends to work out with Nicky Ryan, Ethan Crelinsten, Oliver Taza and teenage standout Big Dan Manasoiu to work out with our Puerto Rican friends and get things started. It’s great to get acclimated and active early and show people our Jiu jitsu philosophy and technique. Soon the rest of the squad will arrive and we will get to work opening a training facility and getting everyone to their Jiu Jitsu potential. Adelante y hacia arriba!!


Driving

Driving: An odd thing about my life is that I have not driven a car in thirty years! When I moved to NYC in 1991 I opted never to buy a car since they are not only unnecessary but a real burden in Manhattan. When I traveled For events I was driven everywhere, in Manhattan I mostly used subway and taxis for special occasions. My old Californian license expired more than two decades ago Not only have I not driven in thirty years, but cars themselves have changed enormously since that time. I learned to drive in a pathetic old British car in New Zealand with an anemic 47 horsepower engine! When I drove in California it was in my brothers Chevy Camaro which had an engine with slightly more than 200 horsepower - impressive for that time - to me it seemed like a rocket ship compared to what I was used to Nowadays it seems just about every car has more than 200 horsepower and weighs half what that old Camaro weighed. And many have three times that horsepower!! Re- learning to drive is going to be interesting!! Here I am playing around with an electric Moke - popular here in the Caribbean Islands. Looking forward to my Puerto Rican drivers license test!! Wish me luck - I think I’m going to need it!! Especially with Gordon Ryan as my driving coach!!


New York

New York: My life is probably a lot like yours. It’s been filled with moments of success followed by failure, of joy following sadness. Cycles of up and down, good and bad. Through all of that there was one constant in my life - New York City. Whenever I traveled around the country and the globe there was always a special feeling of happiness when I returned and saw that unmistakable skyline. Washington may be America’s capital, but New York is the WORLD’S capital. It attracts the best and most driven people from around the globe into a concentrated mess of industry, innovation, eclecticism and evolution. It either builds you up or smashes you down. This was reflected in the many incredible teachers and students I had here in New York over quarter of a century. I had many great teachers and many great friends, but in the end, New York was the greatest teacher and friend of them all. It taught me the power of motivation allied with diversity of inputs funneled into a common purpose toughened and refined by open competition. The city has changed a lot in my time here - I’ve changed a lot too - but my changes aren’t complete yet - there are some projects ahead - and they won’t be done in New York City. No change is permanent, the future is always uncertain, plans can change in the face of changing circumstances and you can always come back from where you’re going, but for now it’s time to move on in order to move forward. I will soon be moving with some of my students to Puerto Rico to try a new philosophy of teaching and refining our beloved art that I hope can widen our reach and contribute something significant to the continued growth of Jiu jitsu.


You can always come back to Jiu jitsu

You can always come back to Jiu jitsu: Life is complicated and often it creates times when you have to leave Jiu Jitsu for a time to engage in other priorities. It’s natural to think that the time off will be disastrous and then if you ever tried to return you would have lost all your skills and have to start off at the bottom again. My experience is that this is not the case. That in fact, the skills of Jiu jitsu are difficult to learn - so difficult in fact, that they are hard to forget!! What I find is that you quickly lose that fine sense of timing and pace that comes with constant training, but the deep underlying core of your game remains for a long time just waiting to be reactivated. Your first sessions back you feel slow and out of breath, but the timing and pace control that was lost easily also comes back easily - and then you are right back in the saddle!!Look at the example of one of my early black belts, Steve Williams, from a time long before the squad - he took many years off to engage in other life projects, moved around the country and came back recently to the basement - here he is competing in F2W this weekend in high level competition and looking like he never took a day off! So don’t worry about the pressures of life interrupting your training - that hard won knowledge and skill of yours is buried deep inside - it’s not going anywhere - just look at the example of Mr Williams


The parable of the banker

The parable of the banker: Back in the late 1990’s when I was working as a bouncer in NYC I strangled a couple of thugs unconscious one night during a brawl. When things quietened down an older gentleman with a thick Russian accent approached me and asked if I would be willing to work in his club. Bouncers are always looking for extra gigs in case they get fired or have to lay low for a while at their main gig so A few nights later I went to check it out. It was a strip club way downtown in the financial district by the old World Trade Center. The financial district is a hive of activity in the day time but a ghost town at night, bringing in an odd assortment of powerful suits alongside derelicts. It was a small club of mostly Russian strippers catering to boozy traders and dealers - a very easy gig compared with my normal work. One night I had to toss a fellow out who had gotten a little too touchy feely with one of the ladies and caused a commotion. He went without a fight and I stayed at the door as he lingered in the street outside. We struck up a conversation as he seemed a decent dude and he talked about his work which if his story was true, he was very good at. He said to me, “There is only one skill I need to win in my game - I need to be able to look at a stock and see its true value, as opposed to its publicly agreed upon value. If I can see that most people undervalue it I will buy and I win, since it’s true value is much higher and will be revealed in time.” As he walked off i wondered if a similar line of thought would apply to Jiu jitsu. Are there moves out there that are undervalued by most and whose true value would later be revealed so that anyone who invested in them early would profit? A few years later I started my study of leg locks for exactly this reason - they were priced at that time far below their true value. As you learn you might ask yourself, are there OTHER such moves out there waiting for someone to reveal their true value? Are the reasons why we currently consider some moves unworthy of study sound, or just a reflection of our limited thinking? The banker did very well with this approach - perhaps you can too.


Night shift

Night shift: When I first came to live in America in 1991 and settled in to study and teach at Columbia University in NYC I began working nights as a nightclub/bar bouncer. I lived in two very different worlds. By day the academic life of books and research and by night sex, drugs and rock and roll. It seemed there were two populations to the city - the day shift comprised of responsible, hard working and industrious people who made the city the economic powerhouse of the nation; and the night shift comprised of pleasure seekers, drifters, scam artists and thugs. I remember the words of Travis Bickle often running through my head as I worked the front doors and dance floors of the Apple, “all the animals come out at night...” As time passed I came to see that the city did not have two populations. Rather, it had one population that had two sides to them - the day and the night - and that hard working doctor, lawyer, city employee by day could be a very different person at night. We all have that duality of light and dark inside us and one side needs the other. The night was in a sense a release valve for the pressures of the day. Interestingly, Those people who got consumed by the night life and spent most of their time there used the day as their release valve, since too much time among that crowd created its own pressures. Here I am in my tiny Harlem apartment room in the early nineties...day shift over...night shift about to begin...


Symbols

Symbols: I am often asked why I sometimes present students with a knife or sword after a significant achievement. I believe strongly in the value of symbols in our lives as a means of clarifying, representing and reminding us of ideas that are important, and I believe blades have a good deal of symbolic meaning in martial arts. Bladed tools and weapons were one of the first great instances of technology taking mankind from our primitive beginnings at the bottom of the animal kingdom and taking us out of the common food chain as dominant over other animal species. Naked, we humans are among the most feeble of animals, but with spear in hand, we among the most formidable. Just as Jiu jitsu is a technology that takes us from feeble helplessness in the face of confrontation to a formidable adversary for even much stronger and more aggressive tormentors. Knives, like Jiu Jitsu, are morally neutral. They can be used to perform good deeds, save lives - and they can be used for murder. Like Jiu jitsu they are only as good or bad as the person using them. Steel, the basis of blades, goes through a metamorphosis from clumps of iron ore and through knowledge, refinement and extreme pressure, is forged into beautiful shining steel, just as we begin as unpromising, clumsy white belts and are subjected to pressure and knowledge that transforms us into black belts. Steel requires maintenance, just like the skills of Jiu jitsu. Even the finest steel will lose its edge and rust if poorly cared for, just as your skills will soon deteriorate without continual training and care. Blade steel must seek to satisfy inherently conflicting demands between toughness and hardness - this is the true riddle of steel. Softer steel is tough and won’t chip or break with rough use, but because it is soft it won’t hold a sharp edge for long. Hard steel holds an edge well but chips or even breaks due to its brittleness. So too with our training. We seek hard training for realism, but softer training for longevity and technical development - finding the right compromise between those two is our riddle. And so every time you see a beautiful blade you are reminded of these Jiu Jitsu themes