Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fukuoka-Axis Japan

Yes!  I just booked my ferry tickets for Fukuoka, Japan.  I will be in Japan from February 8th until February 12th.  I love going to Japan and every visit is a real pleasure.  In fact, my plan after finishing grad school is to maybe move to Japan.  I can't say enough good things about Fukuoka.  It's a beautiful city, and the people are very friendly (just like most of the country).  I've been twice before:  once to receive my Korean visa and another time for vacation (my last vacation in Japan was for three weeks). 

                               Korean embassy in Fukouka-대-한-민-국!

Also, I will get to visit Axis Fukuoka again!  The gym instructor and owner is Takeshi Kanda.

                                                     Glam shot

I had the pleasure of training with Mr. Kanda about a year and a half ago.  He was very warm and friendly, and I really dug his teaching style.  In fact, Mr. Kanda is a pretty small guy and just a little bigger than I am, so his style appeals to me very much.  Rolling with him was funny, because every time I would go into reverse DLR his eyes would get all big and he would let out a, "ooooh".  He had a smile on his face pretty the entire time.  For example:

                               Look at him toying with me

   Axis Fukuoka

I have trained at several gyms in Japan, and it has always been a really cool experience. 

                                            Paraestra Chiba City, Tokyo

                               Paraestra Tokyo

I can't wait. 

   A peaceful protest in Fukuuoka the last time I was there in 2011

Kung-fu and keeping an open mind

My BJJ instructor has studied Kung-fu for over twenty years.  In fact, one of the first gym logos said, "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kung-fu".

Kung-fu has actually influenced some of his views and philosophies about BJJ and even some of his techniques.  Now, you are probably thinking to yourself, "What the heck does Kung-fu have to do with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu"?  See, that's exactly what you don't want to do.  One of the things my instructor has drilled into my head is the importance of keeping an open mind:  in BJJ and more importantly in life. 

                     My  instructor Chae In-muk (far left) training at Barbosa Academy in Brazil

We were talking today, and he showed me this book on Kung-fu philosophy:

Then he started drawing a bunch of funny stuff on a piece of paper:

                                            I desperately need Lloyd Irvin to market this

Actually, it was quite an interesting conversation.  I can't say that I understood everything, but I got a clear idea of most of what he was trying to convey to me.  The left hand side is a rough sketch of a ten step hybrid philosophy of Confucianism and Taoism.  On the right hand side is my instructor's philosophy on BJJ influenced by Kung-fu.  I was surprised to learn that some of his most fundamental ideas on BJJ came from his study of Kung-fu.  I was even more surprised to learn that one of my best, most high percentage passes was something he learned/took from Barbosa and then built upon just a bit more with theories that he learned from Kung-fu!  

   Chae In-muk (third from left) with Marco Barbosa

As a grappler, I never want to fall into the trap of believing my art is the best, and that everything else is a waste of time.  That doesn't mean that I'm going to start wearing funny looking shoes and start Tiger Clawing people's faces when I'm rolling.  What I mean is, is that it is possible to learn things where you'd least expect it.  The longer I do BJJ, the more I realize how much I don't know.  The harder I work, and the more open I keep my mind, the more potential I have to grow as a martial artist and as a human being. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New stuff

I want to personally thank the Isami shop here in Korea for providing me with expensive RVDDW merchandise at insane discounts.  Kudos.

   Team rashguard

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


This past weekend we had our annual end of the year party at my academy.  Two of my teammates got brown belts and one got promoted to blue.   I'd like to say a little bit about my teammates.

                                            Master Chae, Choi, and Master Sung

Choi is a great guy and a good teammate.  He is also a life long Judoka.  He's been doing BJJ for a long time, too.  He was a purple belt back when I was just a white belt!  Choi earned his blue belt from Marcelo Garcia and his purple belt here in Korea.  He has a very interesting style that is very Judo oriented.  Don't let him pass your guard and get side control, because you will never get out!  He knows more gi chokes than anyone I know.  He is also a professional musician and music professor.  His jazz ensemble Page One plays every week here in Busan and is awesome. 

                               Master Chae, Young-suk, Master Sung

Young-suk has been doing BJJ for a very, very long time and trains very hard.  He is a very nice guy and will always help you and share knowledge with you whenever you need it.  In fact, one of the reasons my BJJ has progressed to where it is today is because of him.  When I was a white belt and a blue belt, he would always take me aside after class and teach me stuff.  I feel very grateful towards him, and I was very happy to see him get promoted.  Never let him get into deep half guard position, because you will probably get swept.  Young-sak is also a professional muy thai fighter and owns and operates his own BJJ/muy thai gym here in Busan. 


I always really enjoy seeing the guys I train with being acknowledged for all the hard work and effort they put in on the mat.  It always makes me feel really proud of them.  After the gauntlet and belt whipping, we ate lots of food (tons of pizza and fried chicken). I had a great time.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Team MAD training

If I was to describe myself in one word, I'd say "sleeper".  If I have a chance to sleep in, I will always take it.  Chores, grocery shopping, studying for the GRE; these things are not more important than sleep.  I've come up with the theory that I must have been a cat in my past life.  I'm moody, I love to sleep, and I require lots of attention.   

Today, I had the day off, so decided to go train at Team MAD here in Busan.  I wanted to go so badly, that I decided to pass on my beloved extra sleep and wake my butt up at, gasp....11:00 a.m.!  Anyway, last time I went, it was a real pleasure:

I made it to the gym at 2:00 p.m. with intentions of making the club's daily pro training.  There was one slight problem, though.  It was closed!  My friend Tom and I decided to get some coffee.  After a few minutes, I saw the owner walk by with his wife.  I went outside to talk to him.  He laughed and said, "Come back at 7:30 p.m.".  As Tom and I were having coffee, we ran into Tom's friend Jade (Team MAD fighter) who just won her first pro MMA fight in Japan at Jewels-22nd Ring.

We talked for awhile, and then Tom and I went to get some lunch.  I came back later that night, and had a good time.  This time, I was not sliding around in pools of my own sweat, so I actually got to do some BJJ. 

                               Jo "Crazy" Nam-jin (조남진)

                               Team MAD owner Master Yang (사부님 양)

I stuck around after BJJ, and watched the kick boxing class.  

                              Kickboxing class 

   Bae Myung-ho, Jo Nam-jin, and I

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to get good at BJJ

Seinfeld has a great bit about being grown up and getting to do anything that he wants.  He starts out by complaining about all the stuff his mother used get on him about when he was younger.  Stuff like, "Go to bed now" or, "Take out the garbage".  Then he goes, "You know, now I do whatever I want.  Sometimes I even do things on purpose that my mother wouldn't approve of.  I like to ruin my supper every now and again.  Like, I'll eat a bag of cookies and then call my mom up and say, 'Guess, what?  I just ruined my supper'". 

I think the key to getting really good at BJJ and progressing, is forcing yourself to do things that you hate or really don't like to do.  It's different for everybody.  Maybe, you don't like playing guard.  Perhaps, you think drilling is boring.  It could be that your cardio sucks, and you don't really want to spar every round or do any extra conditioning. 

For me, I had to force myself to play top for a good long while.  I had to do this, because this was the weakest part of my game.  Not only that, I'm really small and guys would just bench press me off of them and reverse me.  It took a long time for me to get better at top control and passing.  I'm talking a good two years of focusing on it relentlessly.  I made sure to still focus a lot on my guard, but I made certain days "Top Game Days"  where I would only focus on passing.  I actually love playing top now.

Also, being a fan of leg locks, I made myself not roll back from top position to go for any leg locks whatsoever.  At least on certain days.

The other thing that I have been focusing on ever since I hurt my MCL is doing extra cardio training.  I don't mind being squashed, twisted into a pretzel, or choked.  The hardest thing about BJJ for me has always been cardio.  I rarely sit out rolls, and I always spar after class.  I felt like I  still needed to do something a little extra even though I really didn't want to.  Since the summer, I've been hitting the exercise bike (something I absolutely loathe) at least twice a week, and I feel like I've seen some improvement. 

Make yourself do things that you hate and watch your grappling skills flourish.   Also, try to remember that in the end, BJJ is supposed to be fun, so don't lose sight of that either.  Here's some pics from Saturday.  I trained from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and then lifted weights when I really didn't want to....

                               Park Jun-young and Young-uk

                                         Jackie and Mr. Chuong

    Young-sak and Do-hyunh

                               Vince and Danny

                                                   Master Sung