Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ECU Fairfield in the News!

ECU Fairfield made the local paper!


Thanks and congrats to Alex and Joey for giving me a quick #23 (I have a great #25 planned, but was trying to find a direction for #'s 23 and 24.), but, most importantly, for running a great school. Every time I've trained at ECU Fairfield, I was happy I had.

I'm happy to see that my friends and training partners are doing so well.

If you're new to this blog, or just looking for some other mentions of ECU Fairfield, check out my post about my last visit to ECU Fairfield:


As always thanks for reading the ECU BJJ and MMA blog. Comments and suggestions are still welcome :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Question:

Courtesy of Jeff, via Facebook,

“If a friend said to you: ‘...why don't you wake up at 6 AM, go running or go to the gym like a normal person to stay in shape INSTEAD of Jiu-Jitsu, which seems to take up a lot of time...’ what would your response be???”

A couple of weeks ago, ECU Purple Belt Jeff Schneider asked this very question on Facebook. Of course, my flippant reply was, “Anaconda Choke!”

Several of my ECU brothers and sisters made similar replies, leading Jeff to complain, “Lol. Legit discussion, good debate and all my ECU brothers can come up with is an unsupervised BJJ clinic.”

I thought about it for a while, and came up with my own answers, but ECU Brother/Wanderlei Silva Fight Team member Peter Simone (Undefeated Professional MMA Fighter) posted a great response, and since I can’t do better, I’ll just quote it now and suggest that we focus on the last sentence:

“I'd say, ‘Lets wake up at 6am go running then go to the gym then go train BJJ at 12pm and then train again at 6pm. Who wants to be normal when you can be special?’ "

While most of us can’t train three times a day like Peter does, those hours that we can find are indeed special. We train in an art that challenges us both mentally and physically, and, in a great environment like ECU, find a second family.

Can you do that on a treadmill?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BJJ United Team Day

On Saturday December 18, JoJo led thirteen members of our team down to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu United in Jenkintown, PA for the BJJ United Team Day. In addition to eleven highly regarded Black Belts, there were over one-hundred, probably closer to one-hundred and fifty students from various schools in attendance.

Between a great promotions ceremony, followed by an awards ceremony for all of the Black Belts in attendance, I was truly happy that I’d made sure I’d made it to this session.

As the Black Belt certificates were given out, BJJ United Founder Jared Weiner gave each recipient the chance to speak. As I student I was moved. As a blogger/reporter I wish I’d had my recorder with me.

Nevertheless, my thoughts when we actually got to the training and, hopefully, some of the thoughts from the Black Belts will be appearing in the near future.

My sole purpose in putting up this quick little blog is to congratulate the ECUBJJ students who were lucky enough to receive their promotions at such a HUGE ceremony/training session:

Daniel Cion – Blue Belt
Freddy Medina – Purple Belt

I promise that I have a lot more to say about such a great Saturday, and will include the rest of the promotions from TEAM DAY as soon as I receive them.

Finally, I’d like to thank Mitch, Tom and Aldo for some great training. Somehow, you guys all brought out the best in me.

Thanks again for reading the ECU BJJ and MMA blog. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Couple of Links...

I've started reaching out among the BJJ community to connect with my fellow bloggers.

In the future, I plan a post with tons of links to other great BJJ and MMA blogs, but for now I'll leave you with two:

The Mental Dojo (http://thementaldojo.blogspot.com/) is a great read. Author Angelo Popofski takes the time to talk about the thoughts every BJJ player has, but doesn't always want to talk about.

Due to my posting a request for contacts on the NHB Gear forums, I've also been linked to the EDojo (http://www.edojo.tv/m/sites/home/) site. EDojo is a mix of great free information, and what looks like excellent for-pay content. I understand that there are some big plans for this site in the near future.

While I first and foremost enjoy training BJJ, I cherish the opportunity to share my love of the art with as many people as possible. Hopefully, I'll be meeting new readers soon, and more importantly, my current readers will make some new friends.

Just Keep Showing Up!

In my nearly five years of training BJJ, I’ve learned that consistency is one of the most important attributes a student can have. Consistency is not always easy, but if you can find a way to keep a regular schedule, you’ll greatly improve your chances for advancement.

I figure a few good case-studies will illustrate my idea.

Since August of 2006, I’ve tried my best to train every single day there’s a class available. I’ve probably failed twenty-five times to make a class – and half of those involved me training at other schools. I’d like to think that my dedication earned me my Purple belt.

Now, we’ll take a look at two of the other higher belts in the ECU family…

Tim Orwin has a huge talent for BJJ. As a graduate of SUNY Maritime, Tim has had to spend time at sea. The fact that he and I received our Blue belts on the same night embarrassed me. Tim was far superior. Naturally, he earned his well-deserved Purple Belt first. Now that Tim is working a land job, he’s re-dedicated himself to BJJ and reminds 99% of us just how scary it is when a 6’3” 200+ pound guy is actually good at Jiu-Jitsu. Any time Tim shows up, everyone but Jo-Jo is worried.

Alex Lileika M.P.T. trains twice a week. Between owning his own business and having a lovely family, Alex has a lot of people pulling him in different directions. However, Alex makes sure that he gets in at least two training sessions per week. While some of us train more often, none of us are more committed to making sure we get our sessions each week.

Alex reached the rank of Purple belt early in 2010.

This particular post was a direct response to some of the White belts asking me what it takes to progress. My response was, “Keep showing up!”

Another time, I asked Jo-Jo his opinion. He thought about it for a second, and then said:

“Keep training! Every time you come here you get better."

This is #19 does anyone have any suggestions for #20 or #25?

Thanks again to everyone who reads this.

PS, I already have #20 in the wings so think of ideas for #25.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Didn’t Always Like Jo-Jo

I know it sometimes seems like I’m just a cheerleader for ECUBJJ and in some ways, I am. However, I’m an honest cheerleader. To me, the last 14 months have been nothing less than phenomenal. To my mind, ECU founder JoJo Guarin has done everything the right way – but I wasn’t always JoJo’s biggest fan.

In order to make sure that I keep my honesty credentials intact, I’ll admit a deep-dark secret – my first impressions of JoJo were not all positive. I thought he was mean and hated anyone who didn’t have world championship aspirations. As a fat thirty-something professional, you can see how I wouldn’t like that. However, I knew JoJo’s credential’s and decided to trust him for that one class and if I didn’t like it, I’d move on.

When it came time for sparring, JoJo fed me to one of the most fearsome Purple Belts in the class. I was arm-barred repeatedly, and was mad at JoJo for feeding me to the Wolf. Halfway through the round, between JoJo’s advice and the Wolf’s, I’d learned how to defend my arms. Years later, I’m still known for my submission defense.

A lot of times, the student doesn’t like what the teacher tells them. Even more times, the student doesn’t like the WAY the teacher tells them. However, a great teacher, like JoJo, finds a way to give and tell his students what they NEED!

As I got to know him, I realized that JoJo cares about every single one of his students. He’s just supremely adept at deciding what they need - “RIGHT NOW”.

As students, we’re not always ready for the lesson we need to learn. Our teachers know what we need, and they do what they think is best.

I love BJJ, and I’ve read a lot about it. Almost everyone says that the instructor who takes you from Blue belt to Purple belt is the most important instructor you will ever meet.

I got my Purple Belt from JoJo Guarin. I am blessed!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Coming Back…

Somewhere along the line, everybody eventually gets injured. Whether it’s over-doing it during class, trying to hold out during a tournament, simply getting sick, playing tag with your young cousins, or just age, sooner or later, every athlete has to deal with injuries.

As everyone who reads this knows, I’ve been nursing a torn Hamstring. Thanks to Alex Lileika and New Rochelle Physical Therapy, I’ve managed to keep going on a limited basis (I could go harder, but decided to stop the “artificial hamstrings” that Alex creates before I got too accustomed to them.).

Two of my great friends have recently returned to full action. Their time away was brought on by different factors, but they did their best to keep themselves in the game.

ECU Fundamentals Instructor Eric Guido suffered an arm injury at a tournament in August. He later went on a trip to South America where he became ill. When he came home, he was immediately hospitalized. He’s slowly worked his way back, and is now ready to go.

ECU Head Kids' Instructor Anthony Vataj has had an even more convoluted path. Anthony slipped while playing tag with his cousins at a family party. He tried to keep training, but his doctors recommended that he take it easy. While he cut down on his own training, “Coach Vataj” arrived every day to teach the kids, even when he had to wear a boot.

While we all deal with injuries in our own way, it’s our friends who help us keep training.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Two More New Blue Belts!

JoJo also had two additional post-seminar promotions. Congrats to new Blue Belts John DiMarco and Shylton Matta!

My Latest visit to ECU Fairfield

This past Wednesday I was in Fairfield, so I decided that rather than battle I-95, I would train at ECU Fairfield. ECU Fairfield is a great facility located on Boston Post Road in the heart of downtown Fairfield. Open less than a year, ECU Fairfield already boasts sixty-seven students.

I was a little late, since I had attended a book signing (Baba Booey!) across the street, but was welcomed by ECU Fairfield Directors Joe Oppedisano Jr. and Alex Nachaev. Since the class was predominately White Belts, Alex demonstrated an excellent combination of fundamental techniques – Sweep to Americana to Armbar.

After drilling these techniques for a while, it was time to train. I managed to get in two rounds before my hamstring started acting up, and was extremely impressed by both Peter and Matt. If their skills are any indication, and I believe they are, Joey and Alex definitely have their students on the right track.

Whether it’s North White Plains, New York or Fairfield, Connecticut, the name East Coast United means quality training.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Open Up Your Game and Have Fun!”

I’ve been nursing a torn hamstring for the past couple of weeks. Thanks to the great Alex Lileika of New Rochelle Physical Therapy, I’ve been able to keep training, but I’m still not 80%.

Thanks to Alex’ help, I was still able to attend an outstanding seminar with “Rob G.” last Friday. Rob showed us an AWESOME series that I think will take everyone who attended the seminar to the next level.

Due to my hamstring injury, I avoided sparring most of the night. Late in the night, Rob asked if I wanted to train. Since I’ll NEVER turn down the opportunity to roll with a Black Belt, I immediately said, “Absolutely!”

Rob and I rolled for a while, I tried Spider, and De-La-Riva guards, but Rob quickly defeated them. Inevitably, I ended up in a bad position. I went into my defensive “shell”, and just tried to survive. Of course, Rob submitted me in the end.

Later, Rob took the time to talk to me about how I can improve my Jiu-Jitsu. While he had several excellent suggestions, the one that I think will be the cornerstone of my next steps in the game is the title of this article.